January 06, 2006

Bid process sidestepped

ANDERSON INDEPENDENT-MAILBy David Williams Oconee-Pickens Bureau
January 4, 2006

WALHALLA - County officials have admitted that work to clean up the planned site of Oconee County's new industrial park sidestepped the bidding process. The work has been described as a simple exchange of goods for services,

County attorney Brad Norton said this week that it was his fault bush hogging work on the land was not put out for bids. Oconee County farmer Kenny Cain reportedly was allowed to cut hay off the land in exchange for bush hogging portions of the nearly 400-acre site.

Several other questions have also been raised concerning the cutting of hay on the property that was under contract to the county last summer but was not officially deeded to Oconee until Aug 2.

"We should have bid it out," Mr. Norton said of the bush hogging along S.C. 59. "It's 100 percent my fault. We wanted to keep it clean and not cost the taxpayers any money."

The 397 acres was purchased for $2.3 million or about $5,850 an acre. The property is earmarked for industrial development that includes a wastewater treatment plant to support the South Carolina Welcome Center at Exit 1 on Interstate 85. The treatment plant could also support other development along Oconee's share of the interstate corridor.

Mr. Norton said he incorrectly advised County Council Chairman Frank Ables and Jim Alexander, executive director of the county's Economic Development Commission, that it was not necessary to bid out work to clean up the site.

Mr. Ables said the hay was cut and baled before the land was officially deeded to the county and that Mr. Cain had been working the land for about two years.

"Everything is above board," Mr. Ables said Tuesday prior to the regular County Council meeting, which included a session behind closed doors.

Attempts to reach Mr. Cain Wednesday were unsuccessful.

County administrator Ron Rabun said no money was involved in acquiring Mr. Cain's services to bush hog the property.

"However, we should have gone through the procurement process," Mr. Rabun said. "Any asset the county has, you have to go through the procurement process."

According to one Oconee County official, hay on the land was last cut June 20.

Large round bales of hay have been grouped on the back side of the property and one Oconee County farmer, who did not want to be identified, estimated that 25 to 30 acres of hay has been cut. Estimated figures place the price of a large round bale of hay at $35. At five bales per acre for 25 acres, 125 bales would cost $4,375. A large tractor used for bush hog work operating at $75 an hour for a 40-hour week would cost $3,000.

Council member Steve Moore raised the question as to whether or not the county was liable for any accidents that may occur without going through the proper bidding procedure.

"It's hard for me to believe that the county attorney of many years is not aware of the bid process." Mr. Moore said. "It's mine as well as other council members' responsibilities to guard county-owned assets regardless of what something may be worth."

Mr. Rabun said the county has improved the access road to the property and installed a gate. Mr. Ables said the gate and the "Keep Out" signs have been stolen.

David Williams can be reached

At (864) 882-0522 or by e-mail at

Williamsde@IndependentMail.com

November 30, 2005

Letter from Greenville News...

Dear Editor,

I just read that House Republicans voted to cut student loan
subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by
unfair trade practices. They also plan to cut Medicaid, food
stamps and farm subsidies.

The article said that President Bush met with House and
Senate GOP leaders and said he was pleased with the progress.

With all the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq and the huge
tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, what are they doing -
making cuts to the people who can least afford it - the poor,
middle class, students and farmers.

If they cared a whit about us, they would be taking the big tax
break back from the wealthiest and trying to find a way to get
us out of Iraq. That would be a start. We need a Congress
and President that will stand up for us, not for a few far right
wingers.

Even with the illegal activity and scandal surrounding this
White House, many preachers are still upholding Bush and the
GOP no matter what they do. They still believe that Bush is a
good Christian man and the Republican Party is on their side.
It's about time they opened their eyes to the fact that they are
only being used as a political pawn so these politicians can get
re-elected and push through their agenda. Bush talks-the-talk
but doesn't walk-the-walk. The Bible says to help the poor,
sick and helpless. That was what Jesus was most concerned
about - not abortion and gays.

If cutting programs for the least of us is the Christian way,
then they've changed the definition of being a Christian.

Diane Palmer
Six Mile, SC

The Case for Political Moderation in America Today

As 2005 winds down, and 2006 looms on the
horizon, my fervent hope is for the spirit of
political moderation to grow in this country. What we
desperately need is for liberals and conservatives of
good will-both in government and throughout the
nation-to engage in constructive dialogue and
formulate reasonable solutions to a number of pressing
problems, in the areas of economic reform,
church-state issues, and our foreign policy (among
others).

It is vital that we resist the temptation to
distrust-or, at the extreme, demonize-those with whom
we have an honest disagreement. To remain healthy as a
people and a nation, we need to allow a wide diversity
of opinion to be expressed; but more than that, we
need to hone our ability to truly attend to each
other's arguments, and then creatively combine the
soundest of the alternative perspectives.

As a moderate-liberal and Democrat, I recognize
the value of the conservative outlook. I have come to
appreciate free enterprise, in terms of its power to
motivate individuals to strive for excellence and
personal productivity.

I believe that what most of us share as a
people-love of freedom, concern for human rights, a
sense of optimism and generosity of spirit, and firm
commitment to democracy, including the practice of
free and fair elections-far outweigh our political
differences. What most of us reject, as Americans, are
intolerance, bigotry, lawlessness, a cynical disregard
for principles of right and wrong, crass materialism,
and the self-serving exercise of power and control
over the general populace by a select few.

Most Americans, too, are repelled by evidence of
hypocrisy in our political leaders-of whatever Party
or point of view.

It is important for us to forthrightly state our
views, while seeking to avoid a narrow perspective.
For example.

*I am opposed to the Iraq War, feeling that it is
doing more harm than good, in terms of generating
animosity and strife in the Islamic world, while
failing to quell the threat of terrorism. Yet, I am
mindful of the sacrifice of those men and women in the
military who are separated from their families and who
put their lives on the line every day, in the service
of our country and the greater good. And I believe
that people of conscience can fervently disagree
regarding our conduct in the Middle East, and the
ultimate value of this war, or any war. (I say "any
war" because I am a pacifist and Conscientious
Objector)

*I am deeply concerned about the level of both
national and personal debt in the Unites States,
feeling that deficit spending exerts a corrosive
effect on both our economy, and our well-being as
individual citizens, as well as the cohesiveness of
our families. I think that we can all acknowledge,
liberals and conservatives alike, the vital importance
of learning to budget and live within our means. In my
opinion, our addiction to credit buying should be
severed (Credit cards should be torn up) and, at the
national level, deficit spending should be strictly
prohibited.

*I believe that we should preserve the boundary
between church and state-because we live in a
religiously diverse nation, and it is wrong for anyone
to-directly or indirectly, impose their religious
views on others. However, I believe that free and
mutually respectful discussion of religious questions
should not be inhibited within the educational
context, including our public schools.

I have come to recognize that a simple black or
white approach to the consideration of public policy
issues in inadequate, and can have dangerous
consequences, in terms of breeding close-mindedness
and intolerance. It is of little concern to me if the
positions I have arrived at are labeled liberal or
conservative by the media, or my neighbors. For the
sake of our well-being as a people and nation, we need
to transcend these labels once-and-for-all, and give
serious consideration to adopting a moderate political
perspective. or, at least, abandoning rigidity, in the
formulation of our opinions.

Patrick Frank
Seneca, SC

October 03, 2005

Gulf Coast Reconstruction

The cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, while huge, is far less than what President Bush has given away in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent.2 National crises like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are times for all Americans to stick together and put in our fair share.
So today we're launching an urgent petition to Congress to fully rebuild the Gulf Coast and pay for it by ending Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy, not by slashing vital services that Americans need. If we can gather a quarter million signatures this week, we can show them that this destructive plan just won't fly.
Please sign today

The Republican proposal, titled "Operation Offset," was authored by the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 influential members of Congress, including powerful committee chairs and members of the Republican leadership.3 The proposal starts with support from at least these 100 representatives, and they are looking to quickly build momentum.
A full reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region is generally estimated to cost around $200 billion.4 We could more than meet this cost by rolling back Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for just the wealthiest one percent of the country, which would save us an estimated $327 billion.5
"Operation Offset," however, calls for an astounding $949 billion dollars in cuts over 10 years to vital national services.6—almost five times the full cost of reconstruction. To further put that in perspective, it's also more than 4 times what we've spent in Iraq.7
This plan is not about "offsetting," or rebuilding—it's about exploiting this crisis to push their longstanding goals for America. As conservative movement leader Grover Norquist has often put it, the goal is to get government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."8 This proposal is their latest attempt to drown the public sector.
The excess of the Republicans' proposed cuts is almost unbelievable. You can read the full proposal here.

Here are just some of the most egregious cuts:
$225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
$200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
$25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
$6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
$7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
$5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
$3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
$8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
$2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
$2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
$417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
$4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program
And the list goes on and on.
Which and how many of these cuts move forward in Congress depends largely on the public response this week.
As the reconstruction begins our country faces a basic question: Will we respond to Katrina by banding together to solve national problems, or by helping the wealthy and powerful cut and run while those left behind fend for ourselves?
The radical Republicans have spoken up loud and clear with their answer, and we must respond with ours.

Please sign today:

September 18, 2005

What Noble Cause?


By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Perspective


It has been one month, one week, and 4 days since I sat in a ditch in Crawford, Texas. My request was very simple: I wanted to speak to the man who has sent over a million of our young people over to fight, kill, and die in a country that was absolutely no threat to the United States of America. I wanted to ask him: "What is the Noble Cause that you keep talking about?"

Well, we all know now that George Bush never came down the road to talk to me. Thank God! Many people have been saying that I am the "spark," "catalyst," "face of the anti-war movement," etc. I beg to differ. George Bush and his arrogant advisers are the spark that lit the prairie fire of peace activism that has swept over America and the entire world. If he had met with me that fateful day in August it would not have been good for him (because I knew he was going to lie and I would have advertised that fact) but it would have had less of an impact on the peace movement if he had.

Upon reflection on the events of this past August, I have come up with two reasons why George could not meet with me: He is a coward and there is no Noble Cause. If George had as much courage and integrity in his entire body as Casey had in his pinky, he would have met with me. But, ironically, if George had that much courage and integrity he never would have preemptively invaded a practically defenseless country. His syncophantic cabinet and hangers-on are also incontrovertible evidence that he is a coward. No one had better dare disagree with him. How dare a mom from Vacaville, California, have the nerve to contradict the emperor of Prairie Chapel Road!!??

All of the "Noble Cause" reasons that George has variously given for the invasion and continued illegal occupation of a sovereign nation are also patently false and ridiculous. He has been claiming recently (since he admitted a long time ago that Iraq had no WMDs or links to 9/11) that this occupation of Iraq is spreading "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. Really? Does he have any idea that the constitution that the Iraqi governing body is working on is based on Sharia and that it undermines the freedoms of women? Does he realize that for over 50 years women had equal rights with men in Iraq? Does George realize (of course he does) that the puppet government the US put in place in Iraq is comprised of the very same people who encouraged the invasion to line their own pockets? What kind of freedom and democracy is this? If George is so hell bent on freedom and democracy for Iraq, then why doesn't he practice it here in America? Up to 62 percent of Americans believe that what George has done in Iraq is a mistake and we should begin to bring our troops home. Well, George, 62 percent is a clear majority and you should begin to listen to the people who pay your salary.

He has also claimed that what we are doing in Iraq is "making America safer." Another statement that is easier to disprove than the "freedom and democracy" baloney. To disprove this little bit of deception, all we have to do is look at the Gulf States. Ask the people of New Orleans, especially, if they feel safer. By misappropriating all of our personnel, equipment and pouring billions of dollars into the sands of Iraq, George has made our country more vulnerable to attack by outside forces. Also, from the cold and callous statements of people like Michael Chertoff and George's own mama, the people of New Orleans seem to be "acceptable" collateral damage to the ruling elite of this country. It is my humble opinion that the only thing that will make America safer is to get George and his unfeeling and dangerously incompetent supporters out of our White House.

We all now know the reason that we are in Iraq. George told us so from a break he was taking from Crawford in San Diego on the same day that Katrina was hitting the Gulf States: it is for oil. It is so George, Dick, and their evil buddies can rape more profits from our children's flesh and blood. This is not a Noble Cause - as a matter of fact, it is the most ignoble cause for any war that has ever been waged. We as Americans knew either in the front of our brains, or in the back of our consciousness, that this war was to feed the corporations. 15 brave young Americans have been killed so far this month while our attention has been focused, and rightfully so, on the Gulf States. Over 200 innocent and unfortunate Iraqis have been killed in this week alone. How much more blood are we as Americans going to allow George, Congress, and the corporations to spill before we demand an end to this war and an accounting for the lives that have been needlessly ruined?

It is also time to stop hemorrhaging money in Iraq. I witnessed the abject poverty and sense of abandoment the less fortunate people of New Orleans were living in even before the levees broke. It is time to start pumping hope back into our own communities. It is time to start taking care of Americans. How many millions of our tax dollars are we going to allow George, Congress and the corporations to misuse and waste in Iraq?

Not one more drop of blood. Not one more life. Not one more penny for killing.

If you love our country and want to see a change for the better, come to DC on the 24th of this month and stand up and be counted for peace. The entire world is counting on you.

September 16, 2005

letter to Bush

In case you missed HBO¹s "Late Night with Bill Maher," here was his open letter to the President: Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished. Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: "Take a hint."

September 15, 2005

Vote For Lee Ballenger!!


LEE BALLEGER needs TWO MINUTES of your time! Lee has been nominated to the Democracy For America "GRASSROOTS ALL-STAR" list, and needs your vote to get onto the first 12 who will receive nationwide endorsement. I was lucky to be selected to this list during my 2004 campaign and I can tell you from experience.... if we can get Lee on the endorsement list... is will help him BIG TIME! My campaign received thousands in donations from across the nation - and for Lee to compete against the deep pockets of the Barrett campaign, he will need some funding help.

Vote now by going to this link: http://tools.democracyforamerica.com/housevote/

Dean on Roberts

The Verdict on John Roberts
Governor Dean wrote the following op-ed for national distribution:
John Roberts is a decent family man and a bright, articulate, thoughtful judge. He has a quality absent in previous right wing candidates like Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork, namely a judicial temperament that makes litigants feel that they have been respectfully heard whether they are on the winning or losing side of a verdict.
But John Roberts is the wrong man for the job. Despite the fact that the White House has withheld key documents either out of incompetence or a fear that those documents might prove embarrassing, we have learned enough from the files on Roberts at the Reagan Library to make it clear that he should be rejected. This conclusion has only been solidified by Roberts' testimony during this week's hearings. He has been a polished performer, but in failing to present clear answers to straightforward questions, Roberts missed a crucial opportunity to answer legitimate concerns about his record and show compassion for those who have been excluded from the American Dream. The consistent mark of Roberts' career is a lack of commitment to making the Constitution's promise of equal protection a reality for all Americans, particularly the most vulnerable in our society.
He has opposed laws protecting the rights of girls and young women to have the same opportunities in sports as boys and young men. He has argued that politicians, not individual women themselves, ought to control women's reproductive health care. He has opposed various remedies for the racial injustices which have occurred in America since slavery and which persist today. He has consistently joined the radical right in seeking to weaken voting rights protections, in essence attacking the rights of black and Hispanic voters to cast their ballot without paying poll taxes or being subjected to intimidation or gerrymandering. He fought against protecting all Americans from workplace discrimination. Most worrisome, he refused to answer questions on his limited view of the right to personal privacy that most Americans take for granted.
Over the last half century, we have made great progress in promoting equal opportunity for all Americans, but there is still much work to be done. Hurricane Katrina was more than the most catastrophic natural disaster in American history. Those who have in so many ways been denied the opportunity for full participation in our society once again suffered disproportionately in this tragedy—seniors, African-Americans and those burdened by poverty. Now is not the time for a Chief Justice who is bent on turning back the progress we have made in moving America forward.
Judge Roberts is said to love the law, but loving the law without loving the American people enough to protect their individual rights and freedoms will make our American community weaker. And the exercise of the law without compassion—something that Judge Roberts and so many on the far right have consistently been guilty of—undermines the grace and wisdom of the founders whose sense of balance and fairness made this country great.
In the past few weeks we have seen what happens when politics and indifference supercede compassion and organization. The enduring lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that there still are too many Americans who are disproportionately vulnerable. Despite the fact that they worked hard and played by the rules, their luck ran out. Americans are a compassionate, fair-minded people. Our nation is great and strong because of that compassion, not just because we have a strong military. We also have strong moral values which include an innate sense of justice often absent in many other parts of the world.
Our Government today shrinks from compassion. In doing so they have first diminished America in the eyes of the rest of the world, and now they have diminished America in the eyes of our own people. This is a time for justice tempered with mercy and understanding. There is no evidence of either in Judge Roberts’s career. The President should be denied this nomination.

Judge Roberts

September 15, 2005
Ready? Cue the Sun...
By DAVID BROOKS
Arlen Specter Welcome to Day 3 of the confirmation hearings of John Roberts. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind the nation of what a wonderful job I'm doing chairing this committee, and I'd like to let the ranking member tell me so.
Patrick Leahy Absolutely, Mr. Chairman! And let me kick off this morning's platitudes about the grandeur of our Constitution by quoting its first three words, "We the People." That means that here in America the people rule - except on issues like abortion, where their opinions don't mean spit.
Specter Very well put, Senator Leahy! And welcome Judge Roberts back before our committee.
John Roberts Jr. Aw, shucks. This has been a humbling experience, Mr. Chairman. To think that a boy from an exclusive prep school and Harvard Law could grow up and be nominated for the Supreme Court - it shows how in America it's possible to rise from privilege to power! That's the hallmark of our great nation.
So while, of course, I can't talk about specific cases, or any emotions, weather patterns or sandwich meats that may come before the Supreme Court at any time between now and my death in 2048, I do want to reiterate that I feel humbled by this experience. I feel humbled that my wife is dozing off behind me. I feel humbled by this committee's inability to lay a glove on me. And I feel modest. You see this suit? I skinny-dip in this suit. That's how modest I feel.
Tom Coburn Well put, Judge Roberts. Yet when I think of the polarization that still divides this great nation ... waaaahhhh ... waaaahhhh. (Senator Coburn breaks down weeping.)
Jeff Sessions This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don't write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.
Specter Senator Sessions, let me interrupt you right there. We're not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We're here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee. So let me turn to Senator Bid - -
Coburn And when I think of the flaws in the reconciliation process! And the gerrymandering! Oh, the suffering! Oh, the humanity! Waaaahhhh ... waaaahhhh. (Senator Coburn collapses and is taken back to his office on a stretcher.)
Specter As I was saying, Senator Biden, you have the floor.
Joseph Biden Jr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought this might be a good moment to give the committee a complete history of my heroic sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act, but before I do that I'd like to interrupt myself by mentioning that I ride the train every day, often speaking with regular Americans, but before I do that I'd like to interrupt my interruption of myself by asking the chairman to restrain the nominee. During my first round of questioning, the nominee continually interrupted my questions by trying to give answers. I could barely keep up my train of thought on stare decisis.
Edward Kennedy Starry De Cysis? Didn't she do a fan dance down at that old burlesque house in Providence?
Roberts Mr. Chairman, I certainly don't mean to draw attention to myself, for, as I have said, judges are like umpires - not home plate umpires, but those umpires stuck way out by the right-field foul pole. Nobody ever went to a game to watch the umpires.
But as you know, Judge Ginsburg, during her confirmation hearing, had herself wrapped in duct tape for fear that any involuntary reflex gestures she might make would mar her impartiality in deciding cases later on. Following her example, I have decided to spend the rest of these hearings in a soundproof booth, sunk in a tank of ravenous sharks and accompanied only by the illusionist David Copperfield. But before I go into isolation, I would like to mention the intense modesty I feel at this moment, notwithstanding the fact that not a single one of you slobs could have charged $700 an hour the way I did in private practice.
Richard Durbin Judge Roberts, before you go, one of the ways we in the Senate prove our superior souls is by emoting mawkish sentimentality on cue. Would you please emote sadness and pain on behalf of politically powerful but downtrodden groups?
Roberts I am emoting, senator.

Video To Watch


Click HERE (then scroll down a bit) to watch a hilarious... and very accurate... commentary on the disasterous presidency of George W. Bush.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/10.html#a4892

Bush Is Anti-Labor

A great comment:

It is understandable that during G W Bush's vacation and the horrible devastation of Karina, he did not get around to proclaming, on Labor Day, the appreciation of the people that make this country what it is and provides this countries many wonderful things. After all, it takes him a little time to get back in the groove. But it didn't seem to stop him of thinking about dropping the requirement to pay people in the effected area minumum wage. Says it will put more people to work. What a great guy! After all, they got no car so, so what if their hourly wage matches the price of gas. And the great Republican philosophy, if they are hungry enough, those good for nothing freeloaders will work for anything. Great idea Brownie, 3 days without food and water will drive down labor wage pressures.

George M.

September 14, 2005

dry drunk?

From: "Gary Kohls" Date: September 21, 2004 12:09:47 AM GMT+07:00Peace Friends: Here is vitally important information from Jerry Mazza, Joseph Price, MD, and James Fallows.Essentially, Bush's history of alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse, nicotine abuse and probably eating too much toxic Texas beef (all containing deadly neurotoxins that kill brain cells, albeit usually slowly and undetectably until it's too late to do anything about it) - plus his neglectful over-privileged child-rearing history likely accounts for his foul mouth, his indifference to human suffering, his patriotic cruelty to non-Americans and the non-elite, his impulsivity, his obvious lack of intelligence and lack of knowledge, his dyslexia, his arrogant and insulting behaviors, his intolerance and his concretized thinking (celebrated as steadfastness in his leading America towards a cliff and utter disaster).Even though the unelected Bush is mostly puppet and inarticulate spokesperson to the ruthless Rove/Cheney/Ashcroft/Rumsfeld cabal, America will be forced by justice-seekers everywhere to reject and impeach the whole bunch in disgrace (and, equally likely, be crushed economically by the rest of the appalled world).