Savannah River Sellout: Not Done
For the last few weeks this website has been consumed with the 2012 “First in the South” presidential primary, a $12 million goat show which (mercifully) drew to a close on Saturday – with South Carolina picking yet another ideologically suspect “Republican” as its presidential preference.
More on that here.
Now that the quadrennial circus has left town, though, we’re beginning to turn our attention back to the annual goat show that takes place from January to July beneath the dome of the S.C. State House.
For those of you unfamiliar with how state government “works” in South Carolina, each year the state’s “Republican-controlled” General Assembly convenes at the capitol building in Columbia – where its leaders spend record amounts of money perpetuating a totally dysfunctional government/ school system on the one hand while providing the citizens of this state with no tax relief and the parents of this state with no choices for their children on the other.
It happens every year … and every year our state gets a little bit dumber and a little less competitive as a result.
Anyway, we keep raging against that machine because … well, that’s what we do. And occasionally in performing that role we break stories that turn out to be very, very big.
For example, last November our website published a post in which it was alleged that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s loyalty to several powerful business interests in the state of Georgia may have been purchased. Later that same month, allegations of political favor-trading were thrown into the mix.
Neither of these stories would have gone anywhere, however, had Haley’s appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) board not provided a definitive quo to the alleged quid offered by these Georgia money men
On November 10, the day our second story ran, Haley’s appointees to the SCDHEC board reversed the agency’s previous decision and granted a controversial environmental permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).
That decision – which prompted outrage from Republicans and Democrats alike – has positioned the port of Savannah to handle larger container ships, thus enhancing its competitive advantage at the expense of the Port of Charleston while effectively eliminating any chance that a deep water port will ever be constructed in Jasper County, S.C. It also guarantees that U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for Savannah’s expansion – rather than private capital going to fund a Jasper County facility that would create thousands of South Carolina jobs and cause much less damage to the environment.
Needless to say, the decision by Haley’s appointees was hugely controversial – and the intense backlash it prompted spilled over into legislative hearings. And while the controversy died down last year with the arrival of the holidays, we’re told by several sources that the “Savannah River Sellout” isn’t over yet.
First, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson is continuing to investigate the matter on behalf of the Savannah River Maritime Commission – the state agency that’s statutorily tasked with representing South Carolina with respect to shipping interests on the river.
Beyond that, several state lawmakers – Republicans and Democrats alike – promise that more fireworks are coming.
“I’ve still got several unused hot coals,” one lawmaker told FITS last week, adding cryptically that “deposing attorneys will ask much better questions than the (Senate) Medical Affairs Committee.”
The “Savannah River Sellout” has already been a body blow to the Haley administration … but we were assuming it was one that the governor had managed to absorb. Now it sounds like there could be more hits coming …