SC

SCDEW’s Chief Of Staff Steps Down

ANOTHER HIGH-PROFILE RESIGNATION AT NIKKI HALEY’S EMBATTLED “JOBS AGENCY” The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) didn’t just lose its top unemployment insurance official last week – the embattled cabinet agency’s second-in-command also stepped down, sources tell FITS. Retired Colonel Joseph Lowder – chief of staff to SCDEW director…

ANOTHER HIGH-PROFILE RESIGNATION AT NIKKI HALEY’S EMBATTLED “JOBS AGENCY”

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) didn’t just lose its top unemployment insurance official last week – the embattled cabinet agency’s second-in-command also stepped down, sources tell FITS.

Retired Colonel Joseph Lowder – chief of staff to SCDEW director Abraham Turner – abruptly resigned his position late Friday.  No reason was given for his departure, which has yet to be announced publicly by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s office (which oversees SCDEW … in theory, at least).

Joseph Lowder

As reported exclusively by FITS earlier this week, SCDEW assistant executive director Laura Robinson abruptly resigned her post late Friday – also providing no reason for her departure after only nine months on the job.

Robinson’s resignation came one week after FITS revealed an error in assessing unemployment insurance rates that will cost South Carolina businesses an additional $9 million this coming year (over and above their existing unemployment insurance costs).  The agency is more than two months behind schedule in notifying businesses about their 2013 unemployment insurance (UI) tax obligations – which along with our tax dollars are helping pay back a $933 million debt to the federal government.

Much of that debt was racked up during the recession – as the agency provided extended unemployment benefits to jobless South Carolinians.

“Some believe the resignations had something to do with the UI tax issue that (FITS) wrote about not (too) long ago,” one source at the agency told us.

Of course there are plenty of other theories floating around …

Whatever the reason for these resignations, the fact remains that SCDEW has been one of the most poorly managed agencies in state government since Haley appointed retired Army General Abraham Turner to run it last September.  That’s ironic when you consider that the agency was supposed to be a shining example of the “enhanced accountability” that comes from restructuring – namely, placing it in the governor’s cabinet.

In April another top SCDEW staffer, Nicholas Anderson, resigned his post abruptly after just six months at the agency.  Anderson’s resignation came as FITS was following up on a scathing audit of the agency with an exclusive new report highlighting additional waste and duplication.

Meanwhile another top staffer at the agency, David Salley, was fired over the summer – allegedly for refusing to approve an improper disbursement of unemployment benefits to a politically connected recipient.

SCDEW has been one disaster after another since Haley took office.  According to federal statistics, one out of every five dollars in unemployment benefits doled out by the agency is awarded erroneously – the eighth-highest percentage in the nation.  Not only that, South Carolinians who use the agency’s reemployment services take an average of 26.5 weeks to get off of the public dole.  Those who do not use SCDEW took only 22.3 weeks to find gainful employment.

That’s astounding … and further proof that government has no business “competing” in the job placement industry.

How have SCDEW’s leaders gone about “addressing” these issues?  With taxpayer-funded golf … and sunshine.  Hell … they took another glorified vacation over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

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55 comments

johnb December 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

Is that a raccoon on his head ?

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Sam Donaldson December 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

That looks like my rug. Thanks, Fritz.

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Smirks December 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

Maybe a dead otter?

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Ruby December 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

That’s one helluva comb over.

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same ol' same ol' December 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

Just go bald or shave the noggin. This shit happens when you get older, it sucks, but no reason to fret over it.

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south mauldin December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

Daniel Boone was a man……

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hhuuhh?? December 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm

He’s had the same hair cut since kindergarten.

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The Colonel December 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm

It’s a cat.

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? December 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

I find it a bit of irony to see “heads rolling” over a 9 million dollar error(if that’s actually the case) in scope of a 933 million dollar debt that was basically accrued at the start of the great recession in 07/08.

The alarm bells should have been going off a lot earlier and changes like this made then instead of now…and over 9 mil…

Isn’t the total state yearly budget around 6.7 Bil? This fiasco represents a huge chuck of states tax collections.

I find it most interesting that the two most dysfunctional state agencies, this one and the SCDOT are both run by former top military brass. They should ashamed.

More importantly than their shame though, it is a clear indicator that a career in military command does not always translate well to running a civil agency.

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? December 4, 2012 at 8:48 am

edit: “the state tax”

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interested December 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

This is the most stupid shit I see here on FITS. Did you ever consider that the military guys are selected to run shitty organizations in the hopes they can pull them out of out of their hole? The military guys are not the CAUSE of the shittiness.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

AND – if there was this vast cadre of business types who were standing ready to lead our shitty government, where are they? busy making money. the only ones available to serve in bureacracy are failing at making money – so why would you want them?

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? December 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

Maybe, but if it’s me and I’m selecting PROVEN commodities in turning around shitty agencies I’m getting Jack Welch types…not guys used to having money thrown at them to get a job done.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

Well, we will all be patiently waiting while you go recruit Jack Welch. In the meantime, by all means continue with your hate for the military guys, most likely because of your self loathing that you never had the balls to serve.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

I responded at the same time you posted your 2nd response.

First, let me start off by saying that the “lack” of people available that have turned around a business(which I frankly think is a dubious claim, but I’ll roll with your assertion) is not an excuse to hire people that can’t do the job.

Second, there have been plenty of examples of people taking $1/year salary’s to do stuff like this…but first you have to have LEADERSHIP in recognizing the problem and second asking for help from the business community.

I have no doubt that if a plea was sent out from leadership that a committee of successful business people in SC could be formed in a heartbeat that would work for nothing to straighten out the mess…..ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO SCDEW as it impacts business people the most.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:05 am

Hey, you don’t know who I am or what I’ve done/where.

You can take your pious service bullshit someplace else keyboard commando. You get paid for what you do.

The bottom line is that there is massive failure & incompetence on display and it’s former military brass responsible for it.

Wrap yourself in the flag and plug your ears but it doesn’t detract from their failure.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

Make no mistake, the Jack Welch personalities of the world ARE used to having money thrown at them to get a job done – THAT’s how it works. that’s how you recruit top talent. That’s capitalism. And if those guys you are throwing money at can’t fix what’s broke, then throw them out and try again.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

“Make no mistake, the Jack Welch personalities of the world ARE used to having money thrown at them to get a job done – THAT’s how it works. that’s how you recruit top talent.”

You don’t know shit, you must have your experience solely on the military side.

There are tons of turn around specialists that do this shit with negative fucking equity and no cash flow. It’s ignorance on display.

A lot of firms or specialist take stock and put their ass on the line to turn shit around and walk out the door with money in their pocket. You’re making my case for crying out loud.

SC has the business people here, a right minded individual could pool that talent for nothing given the situation.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:19 am

So again, where are these eager business saviors? I have no doubt you consider yourself one…no doubt you offered yourself up for service, were rejected either by the governor’s office or by someone else in government at some level and now make it your life’s work to prove how incompetent the current status quo is. And the sad theme that former military guys suck a business seems to get traction around here.

Did you offer your own service for nothing? no. So since you think I don’t know shit, help educate me here: Let’s talk about those in business who have offered their services for free in the past decade. Go ahead.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

Seriously “?” I am waiting on a list. please enlighten us all.

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Charlie Way December 4, 2012 at 9:29 am

I served as Sec. of Commerce for no pay in the Beasley administration.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

Hey Dick, I was responding to your other bullshit.

” I have no doubt you consider yourself one…no doubt you offered yourself up for service, were rejected either by the governor’s office or by someone else in government at some level and now make it your life’s work to prove how incompetent the current status quo is. ”

I don’t offer myself up for anything. And yes, you better believe I turn shit around and I’m good at it.

If someone asks for help I might give it, but they have to ask first. Many people in gov’t think they have the answers so they obviously aren’t asking.

I’m simply making the observation they are failing. You obviously don’t like it and want to turn it into bullshit like “you hate the military” or some other stupid shit.

They need to “own it” and stop blaming others or the situation.

If the governor or even the general in the agency himself sent up the flare to the business community he’d get a response…but no one is going to go there with the audicity of “I’m begging you to let me help” aside from the possible implicaitons of wasted time.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thank you “Charlie Way” for the note, I appreciate the reinforcement of my point.

One of the reasons gov’t is way bigger than it should be is that there is not sense of humility from our pols and opportunites for civic contribution limited as a result.

If you could directly translate lower taxes in SC to voluntary/free advisorys panels of SC business people to consult for cabinet agencies they’d be turning away executives looking to help.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

So your lengthy stable of willing and capable business saviours consist of one anonomous poster on FITS? I’m still waiting. But honestly the only thing you have proven is that you are sour that you were not invited to save some state agency such as DEW and you go out of your way to make some disparaging point about “military brass.”

If you weren’t such an ass you’d see you and I agree on most everything else but that one point you are straining to make.

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? December 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Pot meet kettle. At least we agree that other is an ass.

By the way, I’m not sour on participation on anything. I’m pointing out the truth, very simply.

What I am sour on though, is stroking big checks to a mismanaged cluster fuck.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Tell you what, I’ve got a motherfucking brainstorm – why don’t you go the the SCJOBS website, do a search for jobs at DEW, apply for the chief of staff position, (Ooooh, I hear it’s open!) You apply, hell, I’ll apply, and we can cordially greet each other in passing in the lobby! LOL. All kidding aside, the spot is open so this is someone’s chance to campaign for a chance to do good work. Hell, even offer to work for a dollar, since that was your suggestion!

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interested December 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

Oh damn, give the guy a break. He probably has over 25 years with NO HAIR because he was serving his Country….He has to learn to wear a head of hair! LOL.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

The “former military brass responsible for it” are responsible in a technical sense because they assumed responsibility, not because they created the problem. It appears that in one year or so, some very smart .mil guys were unable to fix the problem. So translate that: you can tritely say therefore military guys suck, which you have essentially said…..or you can say DEW was so broke not even smart military guys could fix. And Lowder and co. had the balls to say so and walk away instead of remaining as sinecures and drawing a check.

You also must admit at the heart of the scrutiny is the POLICY of unemployment, followed by the implementation of the program. So many here disagree with the policy they are blinded by logic. So many others hate the implementation of the program, they could care less that Lowder and a few others really cared about fixing things and did their best.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:17 am

“So translate that: you can tritely say therefore military guys suck, which you have essentially said…..or you can say DEW was so broke not even smart military guys could fix.”

That’s you reading into shit, I said their experience doesn’t always translate.

Let me put it to you in a military analogy:

Would you let a Sgt. specializing in ordinance run a bomb diffusion unit with virtually no training before sending him in the field?

Of course not. The fact is that the retired generals have never operated in the crucible of a bad economy managing limited cash flow and civilian personalities.

Why put them in charge of a dire situtation when you have a pool of SC business executives that may volunteer their time to help using their experience on both sides of the problem?

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Brigid December 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

There should be immediate intervention in this agency. You cannot go around threatening people and refusing to listen to people that know how to do their job–you should be eliciting expertise from staff, not berating them and using hostility to manage people. A state bureaucracy is not run like boot camp full of teenagers. I personally know someone on the receiving end of Turner’s abuse and intimidation. And what sounds like emotional instability. These agency heads have turned out to be disasters for Haley. This will be her legacy, not the things she thinks will be her legacy. Instead, she is micro-managing how they answer the stupid phones.

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Dave December 4, 2012 at 9:16 am

YES!!!!

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:23 am

Again, I agree with this.

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Dan December 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

What about the abusive and arrogant leadership at the former SCESC up until 2010? Believe me, they were even worse!!

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JohnBoy December 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

BUT – the state has never operated this way. Make a wave, report a crook, step on the toes of a Senator’s friend, and get fired or transferred to a bare office with nothing to do.

Been there, done that. I “Retired” because the juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze.

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Dave December 4, 2012 at 9:15 am

It isn’t the military guys fault they inherited the mess they have – it IS their fault what they’ve done with it since they took over. Turner is more interested in advancing his political agenda and he has put in place multiple people in these high management positions that have zero experience. Sure, the military guys may have been selected to attempt to pull the organizations into a working order, but at least on Turner’s part that hasn’t happened. He keeps saving himself by having other top management “resign” as if he had nothing to do with it. If he is the executive director, then he is accountable for all of it. He can’t just keep going through top management scapegoats and pretend he is “fixing” the problem. The gov’ner really should be looking at cabinet appointees when they have upper management turnover at the rate SCDEW has had in the past year. Every big public mistake, someone resigns. Wouldn’t it make more sense to let the person that made the mistake fix the mistake and move on with the experience? How does forcing them to resign and then hiring yet another non-qualified person for the position to make yet another big mistake make sense? Turner is using the management as a patsy to cover for his own inexperience. He was a great general, but that doesn’t mean he is a great executive director. At least not with DEW.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

“Dave” I have to agree with most of what you said here.

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

“Wouldn’t it make more sense to let the person that made the mistake fix the mistake and move on with the experience? How does forcing them to resign and then hiring yet another non-qualified person for the position to make yet another big mistake make sense?”

Your whole comment in right on the mark, kudos to you but I picked out the above point you made because it’s most important.

In the business world you come to accept the faults of both yourself and the people around you.

A competent manager understands these are plays toward peoples strengths and avoids situations that plat to their weaknesses.

Someone made a comment on the last SCDEW write up a couple of days ago about how 1 year doesn’t seem like a long time to give someone to turn things around…they are right in some respects and wrong in others.

If you are talking about technical work with complicated underpinnings yes….but at the end of the day the big boss has to make the #’s work. He look at a balance sheet and says “That’s gotta change right now” or “we can wait on this” but makes the damn #’s work with the revenue he has.

He’s doesn’t run up the fuckin tab and then go to uncle Sam or Haley’s and bitch that everything is fucked up and whine for a bailout. Bullshit.

So on one hand, yea-you don’t fire every underling cause they fuck something up if you think in the long run they can turn it around and their job is tough…however if the boss isn’t gonna make the tough calls and swing the economic axe he needs to go ASAP.

For example, if they agency is losing huge dollars you don’t say “Oh, the ecnomy is bad and I feel so sorry for the unemployed-let’s double the lenght of their benefits” when the agency is bleeding red.

You be a damned leader and say “no way”, F U, whatever….but at the end of the day you draw a line in the sand and say you’re not running it into the ground.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:29 am

“For example, if they agency is losing huge dollars you don’t say “Oh, the ecnomy is bad and I feel so sorry for the unemployed-let’s double the lenght of their benefits” when the agency is bleeding red.

You be a damned leader and say “no way”, F U, whatever….but at the end of the day you draw a line in the sand and say you’re not running it into the ground.”

^
THAT is why you are upset – you disagree with the policy of unemployment. How about this -I agree with you!

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? December 4, 2012 at 9:35 am

“THAT is why you are upset – you disagree with the policy of unemployment. How about this -I agree with you!”

That’s not the only reason I’m upset, the whole agency is a mismanaged cluster fuck that has huge implications and direct negative impact on the business climate here.

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Wundermench December 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Da General is a dick – plain and simple. It has nothing to do with him being a military man; he would be a dick no matter what his background. It is also foolish to give a man with a degree in music from SC State (one of the worse 4 year colleges in the state) so much power. While it obviously gave him the skills to “blow his own trumpet” (yep, the man loves himself),it didn’t give him any personnel management skills. He is also the first military person I have ever worked with who does not have any self control or common sense.

It is time to demote this General to Major Fuck Up.

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same ol' same ol' December 4, 2012 at 9:23 am

All top brass military do not necessarily have business acumen, same as civilians. It takes a business leader with that acumen to know another. So, look at the person doing the selecting and you can pretty well figure out why a true business leader is not at the helm.

My guess is that the assignments were handed out based on good ol’ boy criteria, not actual qualifications, with the belief that well, he was a O6 (or whatever) with 30 years in the military, so, he must be a good manager. Again, not to pick on just the military, same can happen with civilians.

Dude may be a great leader, one who’s forces would willingly follow into battle, just ain’t got no business sense.

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interested December 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

DEW is HUGE! My guess is that assignments took into account who would be loyal to Turner in a pinch. Followed by solid leadership and ability to manage people, two different concepts.

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Dan December 4, 2012 at 9:46 am

What is with Charlie Way’s comment about working for $1.00 a year? Are we suppose to say “Thanks!”? He milked SC Dept of Commerce for all the political and financial insights he could get. A rich individual became even richer from the established connections.

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Dan December 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

And don’t get me started on that school yard bully that directed the SC Dept of Commerce from 2005-2010. A millionaire that was paid over $130,000 annually.

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insider December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

Why is Christian Soura making $120K a year?

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WillieManickney December 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

Because he/she can

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marty December 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

Donald Trump and this fellow use the same hairstylist obviously.

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sam December 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

I think it is about time for someone to do an in-depth story on ALL the Haley appointees and the total havoc they have wreaked on state government. Like it or not, we do expect some modicum of professionalism and these folks, as a group, have none.

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hhuuhh?? December 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Well, since Nikki doesn’t have a “modicum of professionalim”, there is no reason to believe she would recognize it if she saw it.

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honeydo December 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I agree with Dan who stated that the previous leadership of the SCDEW were abusive and arrogant….can’t say if they were worse than the current leadership but I do know that they were indeed arrogant and abusive..staff worked under constant threats and intimidation. Just prior to the LAC Review several years ago and nearly immediately following the “scathing” review quite a few of the top heads of the agency were “relieved” of their duties BUT there were some who were merely moved around within the agency but still kept on (big problem). If you remember, back then, there were claims of mismanagement and claims that at times, persons filing for UI benefits who were not actually eligible (could have been for any number of reasons) were awarded benefits anyway. It was out and out fraud as those in command WERE notified of what was going on (some actually played a part in ordering the fraud)and not one thing happened…those who could or should have stepped in and stopped it simply covered their ears and closed their eyes and pretended not to be aware of what was happening all to keep their jobs. See, then, just as now (or so it seems) if one speaks up against anything wrong they see going on within the agency they are either retaliated against or simply fired for some trumped up reason. Some very good, decent, honest people left the agency back then because they were forced out. What’s the saying, “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything?” Well, they stood up and refused to commit fraud and they fell and fell hard. Those staff wanted those entitled to benefits to receive them and wanted to make sure that those who were not entitled, be disqualified as the laws and policies dictated. Those very people who left the agency were actually looking out for all of your tax dollars and for every single employer as their UI insurance rate was based on the number of persons who filed a claim against them and was granted benefits. The problem now is that when the big “overhaul” of the agency happened instead of promoting from within those who knew the program inside and out and using their in-house talent, they hired new people in leadership positions who knew nothing about the agency, the laws or the policies AND they were/are too stupid and big headed to ask questions of staff who had been there for years. I learned a long time ago, that a good leader is one who quickly learns who his talented staff are, is willing to listen and take advice from them and isn’t afraid to ask questions. Thats just being “smart!” Anytime someone begins a new job in a leadership position and they just go in and start making changes and ask zero questions, get ready because the ship is going down! The SCDEW ship is nearly completely submerged. Now, the question is, what now? If you are an employer, scream from the steps of the capital that you demand change and don’t stop screaming until your voices are heard. Its your businesses that are suffering (in part)because of the gross mismanagement of this agency. Aren’t you tired of being taxed to death? Oh yea, and scream, yes scream until your elected officials who can make changes do just that!

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Jerry December 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

The politicians are responsible for the UI tax rate problem because they didn’t increase the tax rate for 20 years. You have politicians that want their constituents to get their UI regardless of eligibility, then they want to holler how inept the employees are that work in the agency. Yes, leadership in the SCDEW is a problem, and sure some employees needed to go, but many were let go because leadership wanted to hire their team regardless of those that had the knowledge. The SCDEW leadership didn’t care about knowledge, they had it all. If you don’t believe it, just ask them. The place just sucks.

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Dan December 5, 2012 at 8:35 am

Honeydo: excellent description; thanks for sharing. I worked there – I know all too well.

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hhuuhh?? December 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I know Sic likes to dissemble…but, honestly doesn’t anyone remember the REAL source of the SCDEW debt?

It was covered by the state’s newspapers and McClatchy (which ran a piece that covered SC and the 30+ other states in the same boat a couple of years ago.

SC and the 30+ other states decreased UI taxes on businesses year after year for about 20 years during the good years because they/we were too simple minded to realize that, like most insurance, you don’t decrease premiums/taxes in the good years if you expect to have the money to pay claims in the bad years. But, it’s a great example of what happens when politicians take their marching orders from Grover Norquist.

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blame game December 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm

When you have an agency that has a management ratio of 5:1 what do you expect. Noting runs well because everyone wants to call the shots and no one left to do the work. The few parts of the agency that actually run well never get recognized. What about the people that work hard everyday to identify and collect on fraud? When you have local offices that have lines from sun up to sun down it is hard to catch everyone that lies to get UI benefits. These offices are understaffed, but Turner likes management that can “think outside the box.” He actually thinks more supervisors can put ideas in play that will have less employees work better. I would love to know in what universe less people to serve thousands will work. This agency let so many go stating that the agency lost federal funding. Anyone every near DEW knows this was only to pay for all the salaries of these new supervisors. Removing the people that actually do the work makes no sense. Then there is the testing issue. I would love to see how well Turner or any of the top people would do on that test. Most of them know very little about the actually UI benefit process. Anyone that saw Turner’s response when questioned about his testing knows that to be true. Until the REAL problem is removed DEW will never improve. There are very loyal employees that have been with DEW for years that could do a much better job running this agency. Why not look at those that actually know something about UI to fix the problems then some lawyer from a health insurance company or a retired military man.

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Brigid December 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Long legged mac daddy.

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