AGENCY STILL EMBROILED IN SCANDAL …
|| By FITSNEWS || In the aftermath of our exclusive reporting earlier this week, the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) commission is backing off of its threat to fire a whistleblowing auditor.
“We intend to work together and try to work out the concerns that we have,” SCDOT chairman Jim Rozier told The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
Rozier was referring to SCDOT auditor Paul Townes, who told lawmakers last week that audits which made SCDOT look bad were frequently “tabled” (i.e. withheld from legislators).
Not only that, SCDOT’s vice-chairman Mike Wooten – who oversees these internal audits – appears to have hidden them from the public as well, saying such reports were not subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law because they were never made “final” (i.e. approved by the SCDOT commission).
Sounds like Soviet-style governance, doesn’t it? Sure does … in fact it makes you wonder what they’re hiding.
Anyway Wooten didn’t like Townes’ whistleblowing one bit.
“Either Mr. Townes needs to understand that we are his boss, the Commission, or he needs to find another job,” he said.
A vindicated Townes told the paper SCDOT had no reason to terminate him.
“Being honest is not grounds for getting rid of somebody,” he said.
Indeed … in fact this guy should probably be given a promotion. Or better yet, S.C. governor Nikki Haley should put him in charge of the agency instead of her college roommate (who is the choice of the corrupt commission, by the way).
Haley’s first two choices to lead SCDOT have been disasters (here and here), although to be fair they are puppets of the commission – which wields the real power on behalf of influential lawmakers with vested interests in the status quo.
S.C. Rep. Phyllis Henderson of Greenville is pushing commissioners to release the hidden audits – as she should – but we’re looking at a much bigger problem here. SCDOT is corrupt to its core, and is failing miserably at its job of maintaining the state’s infrastructure – despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in new money.
Over the last seven years, SCDOT has seen its budget soar from $1 billion to $1.6 billion annually – a 54 percent increase. Still, a major push was undertaken last year by status quo lawmakers to raise South Carolina’s gasoline tax – even though Palmetto State residents already pay more of their income in fuel than residents of any other state (save Mississippi and West Virginia).
The reason? Plugging a so-called “shortfall.”
Thanks to S.C. Senator Tom Davis, the gas tax hike was unsuccessful.
More than four years ago, this website began exposing widespread corruption at this “reformed” agency. Specifically, we uncovered a massive vote-trading scam aimed at routing scarce funding toward non-essential projects (while critical maintenance needs went unaddressed).
We’ve been all over this agency ever since … repeatedly documenting its failure to prioritize existing needs so that it can continue subsidizing wasteful projects.