“TUMPY” CAMPBELL REFERS TO REGION AS “THAT AREA OF THE WORLD” IN E-MAIL OBTAINED EXCLUSIVELY BY FITSNEWS
FITSNews – January 18, 2007 - State Ports Authority Board Member Carroll A. “Tumpy” Campbell III derisively refers to Jasper County as “that area of the world” in an e-mail obtained exclusively by FITSNews.
The Campbell e-mail, provided to FITSNews by former Ports Authority Board Member Glen Kilgore in response to questions regarding a separate highway issue, offers a rare, inside glimpse at what SPA board members following the lead of current Chairman Bill Stern actually think of Jasper County.
Written in response to an e-mail from Ports Authority lobbyist Barbara Melvin, Campbell’s e-mail questions the wisdom of “rebuilding (the SPA’s) relationship with the (Jasper area) locals” because he is “not so sure anything we do will help with that area of the world.”
Campbell’s e-mail was composed in September 2005 – eight months after the Ports Authority’s Board of Directors issued a press release promising to bring the “the full faith and resources of the State of South Carolina to bear” on the Jasper County project.
Two years later, of course, nothing has happened.
Then again, the State Ports Authority paying lip service to a Port in Jasper – which would create thousands of new jobs and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment to one of the poorest regions of South Carolina – is nothing new.
But that lip service disguises a clear bias against Jasper County – articulated by Campbell’s comment and evidenced by the recalcitrance of the Stern board to consider private investment in Charleston (thus starving state revenue from Jasper, which the Supreme Court has ruled must be built with public funds).
In 2002, prior to supposed free market-backer Mark Sanford taking office, SPA Executive Director Bernard E. Groseclose, Jr. responded to a Legislative Audit Council report by quoting the following statement that had been made eleven years earlier by the State Budget and Control Board:
“Most of the economic benefits associated with a Jasper County terminal would accrue to the State of Georgia and Jasper County would benefit at the expense of costly subsidies by the state, and job losses in Charleston and other areas of the state.”
What Groseclose’s 2002 rehashing of 1991 data completely ignores is the current explosion of global container traffic, predominantly from emerging markets in Asia, which South Carolina’s competitors are capturing en masse through free market port expansion.
The bottom line? With container traffic projected to continue surging over the next decade, there’s plenty of business for everybody.
Unfortunately, South Carolina is missing out on its share of this shipping boom by refusing to consider landlord-tenant deals and other forms of public-private partnerships. Simply put, no one is going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new job-creating, economy-expanding infrastructure without some degree of operational control during a pre-determined “lease” period.
South Carolina’s insistence on maintaining “total state control” over port 100% of port operations has placed it at a serious competitive disadvantage, as evidenced by the fact that the Port of Charleston has dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 among America’s busiest ports.
According to Ron Brinson, retired CEO of the Port of New Orleans, the Ports Authority’s continuing opposition to free market expansion (led by Stern, Butler and Campbell) only digs the hole deeper for South Carolina’s economy.
“The Ports Authority now pursues its North Charleston terminal development plans under a long-standing mandate of state government,” Brinson wrote in a recent op-ed in the Charleston Post and Courier. “In the marketplace, it is years behind in the development needed to protect its market positions, the very positions that create a broad matrix of economic benefits for South Carolina.”
In addition to missing out on news jobs and new capital investment created by that “matrix,” South Carolina’s “total state control” mantra also deprives us of millions of dollars each year in tax revenue – the result of keeping these lucrative industries off of the tax rolls.
For his part, Gov. Sanford has failed abysmally to live up to his stated support of free market port expansion, possibly owing to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he has received due to Stern’s involvement in his reelection campaign.
The governor’s fidelity to virtue, it would appear, is negotiable.
To read a copy of Campbell’s controversial e-mail, click on the thumbnail below: