Although specifically warned not to do so, the board of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has submitted the name of Catherine Templeton as its nominee to become the agency’s next commissioner.
Is Templeton the ideal choice to run this agency?
Based on her one-year tenure as director of the S.C. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR), it could be argued that Templeton is the very last person who should be entrusted with this responsibility. More to the point, given the SCDHEC board’s starring role in Gov. Nikki Haley’s recent “Savannah River Sellout” – we’re not sure that any of these board members should be entrusted when it comes to representing the state of South Carolina’s best interests.
Georgia’s best interests, yes … but not South Carolina’s.
Anyway, as a result of all this we expect Templeton’s confirmation process to be quite rocky … as it should be.
But when it’s all said and done – when all of the well-deserved body blows against the Haley administration have been thrown (and landed) – should Senators vote for or against Templeton’s nomination?
Oddly enough, we believe that Templeton should be confirmed.
Wait … what?
Remember, the State Senate’s role in this process is to “advise and consent,” not to make the choice for the executive branch. In fact in a larger sense this whole process is a compelling indictment of our state’s totally splintered, totally unaccountable structure of government – and in particular is neutered executive branch.
Yes, the Senate should be (strenuously) advising and (reluctantly) consenting in this case – but that doesn’t change the fact that we have an executive branch that’s perpetually run by “dysfunction” no matter who the people elect.
True, some executive agencies in South Carolina – perhaps 20 percent of them – are run by the governor. Others are run by independently elected officials. Most executive agencies, though, are run by unaccountable amalgamations – boards and commissions comprised of appointees chosen by varying percentages of executive and/or legislative authority. Then there’s the S.C. Budget and Control Board (SCBCB) – a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative “five-headed monster” that oversees the vast majority of the state’s executive administration.
Who is it accountable to?
Everybody and nobody … which is the problem.
To his credit, former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford – and more specifically his chief of staff Tom Davis – pushed hard to streamline executive authority in South Carolina in recent years, but they were repeatedly rebuffed by state lawmakers who refused to surrender any of their power.
Now, much of the momentum for executive restructuring has faded – due in no small part to the fact that Nikki Haley has emerged as quite possibly the most corrupt, immature and incompetent chief executive that the voters of South Carolina have ever installed as their governor.
But the election of Haley is a mistake the voters made – and one they will have several chances to revisit in the coming years (sooner rather than later if a recall amendment were to pass).
What cannot be allowed to happen is for Haley’s innumerable flaws to result in a further dilution of executive accountability in this state – even if it is Haley herself pushing such a plan.
For better or worse, governors should be permitted to run their own branch of government. And if they fail in that respect, voters should throw them out. The solution should never involve extending a dysfunctional system that pushes real power further underground – where no accountability exists for our state’s perpetually abysmal outcomes.
Make no mistake: Catherine Templeton is an unqualified candidate selected by a bunch of mindless stooges who were appointed to their posts by a corrupt governor. Still, that doesn’t mean it is the State Senate’s prerogative to reject her nomination – not unless they uncover legitimate grounds to do.
Accordingly, after exacting its pound of flesh, the State Senate should approve Templeton’s nomination and let the voters be the ultimate judges in this case. In fact, they should pass a recall measure providing a more direct line of judgment for Haley and future governors who clearly refuse to act in the best interests of the people who elected them.