What is it with South Carolina politicians and their taxpayer-funded obsessions with old naval vessels?
Seriously, we already knew about Senate President Glenn McConnell’s phallic obsession with the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley (an open taxpayer tab which has cost us tens of millions of dollars), but now another Lowcountry RINO is getting into the act.
State Treasurer Converse Chellis unilaterally decided yesterday that S.C. taxpayers were going to spend $9.2 million to repair a decommissioned Korean War destroyer.
No really …
Funny, but isn’t this one of the guys who just a few short weeks ago was saying that the budget was so bad we were going to have to fire teachers and let inmates run wild in the streets?
Anyway, from the Charleston Regional Business Journal:
State Treasurer Converse Chellis announced today that the state will lend $9.2 million to Patriots Point for repairs to the USS Laffey, a destroyer with significant rust damage that threatens to sink it.
Chellis announced the loan after touring the ship, including the rusted bottom, which he said felt like a sponge. The destroyer’s hull has developed several holes since fall, and although they were patched, the ship remains closed to the public.
The Laffey repairs are among $50 million in repairs needed for the historic ships at the Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, one of the state’s high-profile tourist attractions. Patriots Point does not receive state or federal money for operations or maintenance, and officials have in recent months asked state and federal lawmakers for help.
Patriots Point officials are seeking $20 million from next year’s federal budget, which would allow them to repay the state loan, said Dick Trammell, interim executive director. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., has submitted that request to Congress, Trammell said.
Let’s see if we’ve got this straight … some friggin’ RINO politician rubs the bottom of a ship, discovers it’s a bit limp and some guy tells him we need millions of dollars to make it hard again? And he says “sure why not?”
Because that can’t be right. It just can’t be.
Seriously, we have to be misreading this … they must be getting this ship ready to go fight the Koreans. Like right now. Because the last time we checked they were spoiling for a fight over there, even though President Barack Obama appears to be in no mood to give one to them.
Anyway, here’s how it went down …
After spending about 45 minutes touring the Laffey and hearing stories about its glory days from former crew members, Chellis pulled out a cell phone and called two other members of the state Budget and Control Board, Rep. Dan Cooper and Sen. Hugh Leatherman.
“I hope I can count on you at the Budget and Control Board meeting,” Chellis told one lawmaker. “It’s unbelievable what they’re working with here.”
Chellis said he had not seen the ship damage and wanted to view it for himself before signing off on the loan.
He said the two lawmakers pledged their votes. With Chellis’ support, the measure has the three votes it needs to pass the five-member board, which is scheduled to meet next on June 29.
45 minutes. 2 phone calls. $9.2 million dollars of your money gone … just like that.
Seriously, if this isn’t a metaphor for South Carolina’s totally whack funding priorites, we don’t know what is.
Like AIG, GM, Bank of America or any of these other bailout babies, if Patriots Point can’t turn a profit it is not the taxpayers’ job to bail it out.
Pic – Charleston Regional Business Journal