22 November 2006

And The Beating Goes On

ANOTHER disaster!

Two weeks after election day, the defeats just keep on a-comin'.

The closest election in South Carolina history is finally over. The recount between Democrat Jim Rex and Republican Karen Floyd has ended. Rex has prevailed over the Howie Rich-backed "school choice" candidate by 455 votes from over a million cast.

The Post and Courier [Charleston, SC]
Floyd concedes
Slim election margin gives Rex education post
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Republican Karen Floyd conceded the state superintendent of education race Tuesday to Democrat Jim Rex, one day before the deadline to challenge the results.

A statewide recount confirmed last week that Rex beat Floyd by the slimmest margin in the state's history of general elections, but Floyd refused to admit defeat immediately. She instead took time to investigate alleged instances of voter fraud and debate her next move....
The Myrtle Beach Sun-News editorial today puts the issue into context:
The Sun News [Myrtle Beach,SC]
Wed, Nov. 22, 2006
Jim Rex Prevails
Identify, remove remaining barriers to better schools

Why does it matter that in last week's unofficial recount of the Nov. 7 election results, Jim Rex defeated Karen Floyd to become the top S.C. education official? Because he understands that public education doesn't need to be privatized or reinvented, but does need to be challenged to improve at a faster pace. Unlike Republican Floyd, Rex, a Democrat, understands that more is right than wrong with S.C. public education.


Why reinvent the system, as Floyd advocated, when it's got so much going for it already? South Carolinians already have invested billions in school buildings and in a capable corps of teachers and administrations. Why not capitalize on that investment, rather than concluding that the money was wasted.

As evidenced by the many capable, bright graduates that the schools turn out every year, the money has not been wasted. The problem with the current system is that it does not yet ensure success for every student - though it has made great strides in that direction since Riley put school reform on the front burner back in the 1980s.

Against a tide of big-name endorsements for, and big-money contributions to, the Floyd campaign, Rex persuaded a majority of S.C. voters that his approach to school reform was superior to hers. For that reason, we're glad he won the election, and look forward to his first moves next year when he becomes superintendent.
As I've been reporting during this trimester of 2006's Republican annus horriblis, the friends of Howie Rich have been extremely interested in using South Carolina to push their "school privatization" agenda. If they've picked SC, then you can be sure that it's because the issue polled best in that state, as they admitted the "Terri Schiavo" law polled best in Nebraska earlier this summer.

You might remember that the Kochs, Alex Cranberg, Betsy DeVos and Howard Rich have been slushing as much money into South Carolina as the law allows -- stretching, as in the case of Floyd, campaign law to the limits by making the maximum legal contribution of $3500 through endless LLCs, PACs, family members and businesses.

The South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, was reelected, and took the most Howie Rich money. Sanford wants to push tuition credits and vouchers so that SC parents can move their children out of public schools.

The plan, as has become increasingly clear, is to slowly defund the public schools until it becomes a vicious cycle: the more students leave the public schools, the less money the public schools will have, and, therefore, the more students will leave until, in essence, there IS no more public education in South Carolina.

This seems particularly egregious in light of the fact that since 1954's landmark school Supreme Court desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education, our schools have become MORE segregated than they were in 1954 -- almost exclusively through private schools.

So, the Howie Rich agenda neatly dovetails with the Ku Klux Klan's agenda, though whether the "Free Market" Randians are consciously in bed with the bigots would seem to be a dubious connection. And yet, no one can claim that they are NOT collaborators in our new crypto-Jim-Crow.

But that's just MY editorial stance. The fallacy of claiming that since their kids are now attending OTHER schools and should, therefore, be given a credit for their tuition flies in the face of reason, if a couple moments are given to reason. (I guess they don't teach it in the private schools that the Richies attended).

We ALL pay into the public school system, whether we have children attending or not. Senior citizens, childless couples -- straight and gay -- singles and every other taxpayer contributes to public schooling. Because it is seen as a societal investment. Got that?

So, if tuition credits were to be afforded to parents for sending their kids elsewhere, then anyone without children ought to get a rebate, too, right? Absolutely -- IF the burden were only to fall on those with children in public schools. But it isn't.

I have wandered a bit here, but not, I think, without purpose. Once again, we have the agenda that rejects the idea of community, of society, that sees this whole rat race as a Darwinian struggle of the fittest, and if you can't keep up, then the strong can feed on your bones. After all, the best kept secret of this election season is that Howie Rich is NOT a real estate developer. And "real estate magnate" is a bit of a misnomer, as well. I am reliably informed that the basis of Mr. Rich's real estate wealth is his apartment rental holdings and the apartments involved are not, to be charitable, exactly four-star establishments.

We keep hearing "libertarian" attached to Rich's name, although he is not, strictly speaking, a Libertarian (upper case as in movement or party) or a libertarian -- lower case, as in believer in personal freedom and sovereignty.

Otherwise, why meddle in a third of the states of the union, and attack judges in Missouri, and a host of other politicians that Howie doesn't like? And why back imbeciles like Karen Floyd?

Ahhhh. You might ask how I, not a South Carolinian, can say such a horrible thing about this fine Republican woman lawyer when she's been so "noble" and "honorable" in her concession? I'll tell you why, but first, a heaping dollop of post-electoral "nobility":

The Post and Courier story says:

... Floyd refused to admit defeat immediately. She instead took time to investigate alleged instances of voter fraud and debate her next move.

She said she decided not to pursue a legal challenge because she wasn't sure whether she'd be successful and that the challenge would create a great deal of controversy and potentially result in a protracted process that wouldn't benefit anyone.

A special election could have cost the state $2 million, and she said that played a role in her decision not to push for a challenge, as well as the time that it would take to raise money to cover legal costs.

"I really did what I felt to be the most responsible thing for the people of our state, the state's children, for my family and me," she said....

The State’s Editor, Brad Warthen blogs (worth reading along with the comments): http://blogs.thestate.com/bradwarthensblog/2006/11/karen_floyd_con.html
Well, we asked her to give it up, and she did. Not that I think the two had anything to do with each other.

I spoke yesterday to Scott Malyerck over at GOP headquarters, and while he said there were folks still out there beating the bushes for excuses to protest the outcome (actually, he didn't quite put it that way; I'm paraphrasing), it didn't sound like they were coming up with much.

That's not surprising. Last week when I called both Zeke Stokes with Jim Rex and Hogan Gidley with Mrs. Floyd, Zeke was all charged up and optimistic and looking forward to the results of the recount, Hogan was more like, Who's Karen Floyd? OK, I'm paraphrasing again. What I mean is, he sounded like a guy who had put the whole campaign behind him and moved on with his life. In short, disengaged and uninterested.

But it took Karen Floyd being lady enough to stand up and say the other guy won to put an end to speculation, and I appreciate her doing that.

Speaking of the other guy, it sounds like Mr. Rex has put together a pretty good, bipartisan transition team. Here's hoping he lives up to his promises.
But I was explaining why I was saying horrible things about Ms. Floyd (or, rather, her CANDIDACY, which reflects on her as a person not at all, she’s undoubtedly a fine person and loves children, dogs and charity).

It’s this: the whole “free-market” crowd is supposedly about competence and the bottom line. But, when Floyd ran, she [viz. her campaign] cheerfully admitted no prior experience in education, and argued that she could, therefore, “bring a new perspective.” Here in Oregon, Republican Jack Roberts, former Lane County Commissioner, and the last State Labor Commissioner elected as a Republican -- he convinced the state legislature to make the position a ‘non-partisan’ office -- ran almost exactly the same campaign for the Oregon Supreme Court: “I don’t have any judicial experience, but I would bring a new perspective.”

And, while a significant number of voters bought this argument, I can’t imagine that ANY businessperson worth their salt would hire an employee based on that argument:
“I don’t know anything about steel, or steel mills, but I could bring a new perspective to running this one.”
“I don’t have any experience in bookkeeping, but I think I could bring a new perspective to your accounting department.”
“I don’t have any experience in brain surgery, but I could bring a new perspective to the operating room.”
But, to run a statewide educational system, or sit on a supreme court, no qualifications are all right. Right?

Strange, the contradictions we rationalize our way into.

And, finally, Rex carefully targeted Floyd’s reluctance to reveal to her agenda. As the South Carolinians for Responsible Government has filed a federal lawsuit against the SC Ethics Commission to block disclosure of their campaign contributors, as has “Montanans In Action” filed a federal suit to block disclosure of THEIR contributors, a goodly amount of which, it seems certain, is Howard Rich (et al). Patterns and patterns and patterns some more.

The STATE [Charleston, SC] noted on Tuesday:
... Rex focused his campaign on Floyd's evasiveness on school choice that would defray private school tuition with public money. Most of the counties that supported Rex have few private school options should the Legislature decide to offer parents tax credits or vouchers....
And, unreported in all of this is another facet of this whole mess. The Libertarian candidate, Timothy Moultrie, has filed a lawsuit that alleges the two candidates were on the ballot illegally (the parties didn’t renew their registration, and were, technically decertified, but no one seems interested in enforcing the state laws, evidently).

If the lawsuit is successful, the outcome of the Rex/Floyd race is moot, and Moultrie, as the third-place vote-getter, would be the victor.

Moultrie is in favor of a voucher plan. From Op-Ed News:
November 7, 2006 at 22:47:36
Will a law suit by Libertarians remove more NeoCons from office?
It could happen in South Carolina
by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

... Decertification of candidates now on the ballot could render those elections invalid and its officials and legislators elect unseated... Timothy Moultrie, a long time South Carolinian and a school teacher who has been worried over the educational opportunities offered to young South Carolinians for many years ran this year to promote his proposal for improving those educational opportunities.

His proposal is a tuition voucher that follows the student in the amount of $10,000.00 for each student....
But, for the time being, the friends of Howie Rich have managed to lose the closest election in the history of the Palmetto state, and the Rich Machine becomes ever more virescent.

Chalk one up for consistency.



The following is reproduced from the Aiden (SC) Standard without comment:


Ken Clark joins Rex's transition team
Wed, Nov 22, 2006
Senior writer

Less than six months ago, S.C. Rep. Ken Clark, R-Swansea, described his Republican primary loss in his re-election bid as a crushing blow.

He blamed his defeat in large part on the massive "attack" mailings of organizations like South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG), funded with out-of-state money.

But Clark, a former member of the Aiken County Legislative Delegation, was much more cheerful Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Karen Floyd, the Republican nominee for state superintendent of education, conceded the election to Democrat former Columbia College President Jim Rex. In a major surprise, Rex won by just 455 votes out of about 1 million cast. Even before Floyd's concession, Rex had announced that Clark and 73 others statewide would serve on his transition team.

"Floyd is a smart, hard-working person," Clark said. "But you can't take something as major as the state's educational system and turn it over to someone with no experience in that arena. Jim Rex is highly qualified and has the personality and experience, which is what's needed to move forward with education."

The superintendent's race clearly hinged on the single issue of tuition tax credits/vouchers, Clark said. He didn't support Gov. Mark Sanford's re-election and Floyd's candidacy for that reason. Floyd was steadfastly non-committal on vouchers during the campaign, but Clark expressed dismay at the funds she received from New York City resident Howard Rich, who has been linked in media reports with financing SCRG and its efforts to support voucher candidates.

"When Rex won," Clark said, "I said, 'Thank you, Lord.' People really see that tax credits and vouchers are not the answer to South Carolina's role. I'm encouraged about having a role on the transition team. I will be involved in public education one way or another."

A U.S. Naval Academy graduate who retired from the Navy as a captain and as a destroyer commander, Clark said he has long-held Republican credentials. He has served as a precinct president for the Lexington County GOP, and his wife Joanne is a Southern Region president for 15 precincts. Clark strongly supported Sanford until the governor began efforts to get the Put Parents in Charge tax credit legislation approved in 2005.

Pro-voucher forces targeted him after he voted against PPIC. Clark acknowledged that his battle with the town of Swansea over its debt situation may have cost him votes. But about $100,000 in out-of-state funds was spent in mailings "that totally distorted my voting record and character."

Ironically, the S.C. Education Association gave Clark a "report card" grade each year that wasn't much different from those of other Aiken delegation Republicans. But Clark clashed with many Republican House members in 2003 over cuts in funding in the base student cost that goes to each school district....


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