When it comes to passing meaningful reform legislation, S.C. Senate President Glenn McConnell has always been, as the saying goes, as “useless as tits on a bull.”
Occasionally he’ll talk a good game, but that’s all it’s ever been – talk.
Of course when it comes to winning palace intrigues and delivering feisty rhetorical jabs at his political opponents, McConnell is unrivaled in state government (here or anywhere). For example, consider the comment that McConnell offered to The Charleston Post and Courier last week regarding his efforts to undo the “Savannah River Sellout” – Gov. Nikki Haley’s recent betrayal of our state’s economic and environmental interests.
“I call it the rape of the river,” McConnell said of Haley’s betrayal. “That’s what it is. This is as bad as when the Indians sold Manhattan for $27 in trinkets, but at least they got trinkets. All we get is toxic sludge.”
Wow … bomb officially dropped.
Last November, Haley’s appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (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 will help position 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.
In case you’re keeping score at home, up to this point in the debate it’s been Democrats (i.e. S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen, S.C. Rep. Boyd Brown, S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis) and fiscal conservatives (i.e. S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms) who have been Haley’s most vocal critics on the sellout … err, rape. Now you can add “Republicans in Name Only” to the mix … with a bullet.
That’s because in this instance McConnell isn’t just talking trash, he and S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (one of the state’s other leading RINO politicians) have filed legislation that would suspend the authority of Haley’s SCDHEC board to approve or deny dredging-related permits on the Savannah River.
Obviously that proposed legislation runs parallel to the work of S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson – who 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’s maritime interests on the river.
Sources in the governor’s office tell FITS that Haley is fuming over McConnell’s legislation (and his rhetoric). In fact we’re told that the governor was busily plotting “personal and political revenge” against McConnell and his chief of staff – whom she suspects is pushing the Senator to take a firm stance on the issue.
As we noted in this story on Monday, it’s clear that the fight over the “Savannah River Sellout” – which dominated headlines last November and December and dealt a major a body blow to Haley’s administration – is far from over.
Good … Haley’s decision represents one of the most disastrous appeasements of outsider interests in South Carolina history, and the fact that there may have been financial and political favors provided to her in exchange for selling out her state only makes it all the more reprehensible.
Here’s the bottom line: Private companies are willing to invest billions of dollars to expand port infrastructure in Charleston, S.C. and build a deep water Port in Jasper. Hell, they’d even pay to do the dredging if we let them …
Accordingly, Nikki Haley need only do in this situation what “Republican” politicians are always saying they’d like for government to do … which is to simply get out of the way.