February, 2011 posts
- Today Democratic State Sen. Brad Hutto held a press conference introducing a healthcare opt-out plan for elected Republicans who love to rail against government healthcare while happily enjoying their own lavish, taxpayer-subsidized state healthcare. Cue the Republican rationalizing… “But we’re part-time state employees! Waaaaaahhhh!” Seriously? That’s the best you can do? (PS, how many part-time jobs in the real world come with benefits? Some, I’m sure, but….) Those of you who want to limit healthcare access for our state’s most vulnerable citizens should be more than willing to show a little selflessness and forego your own fat-cat state healthcare. *This* is the kind of aggressiveness I like to see from South Carolina Democrats. This isn’t pigs-in-the-statehouse stunt stuff. This is a valid criticism — on the merits — pointing out Republican hypocrisy and holding them accountable for their words and actions.
- The so-called “charter schools bill” supported by Gov. Nikki Haley and Superintendent of Education Mick Zais was impaled in the SC House today and passed without the key component — the financial component — which would have forced local school districts to pony up money to state charter schools within their borders. It was a terrible idea, and I’m happy to see it fail. Charter schools, by design, exist outside of the purview of local school districts. That’s part of the point. Particularly in light of the budget shortages in districts all over South Carolina, local school districts should not be forced to bear the burden of supporting state charter schools in addition to local public schools. Good to see that the House agreed: 85-32 at that. If charter schools need more funding (and it sounds like they do), it should come from the state because the state chartered them.
- Remember earlier this week when The State‘s John O’Connor posited as to whether the legislature’s honeymoon with Haley was over? Looks like it might be. Today Senate Republicans blocked Haley’s signature roll-call voting bill. We’ve seen this movie before. It’s déjà vu all over again, y’all. Democrats actually stood willing to back the bill and move on to, say, things like addressing the eleventy kabillion major problems facing our state as opposed to all of these small potatoes issues that Republicans are wasting time and taxpayer dollars fooling with. (Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. That rule’s not really even a thing. So there.)
From the State Senate Democratic Caucus…
South Carolina Senate Democrats today attempted to ensure passage of Governor Nikki Haley’s signature roll call voting bill so legislation that will actually improve quality of life could proceed – like job creation and tax reform.
Their efforts were blocked by Republican leadership in the Senate and members of Haley’s own political party. Haley’ bill will require all votes in the General Assembly to be on the record and subject to roll call votes.
Senator Brad Hutto of Orangeburg applauded Governor Haley on her spirited lobbying efforts on behalf the bill. “She spoke and we listened,” said Hutto. “I stand ready to vote for this bill and I know a majority of the Senate is ready to vote for the bill. We have much more important things to do.”
…Hey, when you don’t have power, you have to use the tools ya got. Though this press release is bubbling over with snark (Hey, Phil!), it does drive the point home that Haley’s own party is blocking her prized bill. And they should have to answer for that.
A source familiar with the situation says that current USC Law School Dean Walter Pratt wasn’t informed until last Friday afternoon that former Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster was being hired on a contract basis to lead fundraising and alumni relations for the law school. According to the source, there was no consultation with Pratt’s administration or the school’s faculty that the position was being filled by McMaster. It was very much a unilateral decision.
Additionally, there is some scuttlebutt that this position may amount to a “Dean-in-Waiting” post. McMaster’s contract with the law school is only for three months. Is he being given an opportunity to prove his fundraising prowess on a trial basis while the decision-making on the new dean is delayed? Apparently the school has admitted that it isn’t limiting the search to these five candidates if they aren’t satisfied with any of them at the end of the vetting process.
Again, none of this sounds good for current Academic Dean Rob Wilcox‘s chances of being promoted. Which sucks.
Apropos of nothing, I’ll leave you with then-Attorney General Henry McMaster testifying before a Senate committee regarding a bill requiring a woman to view an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion procedure. Submitted without comment … because there ain’t much to say, really. (It’s just fun to tee up some teabagger rage in the comments.)
In case y’all didn’t know, Columbia’s Shop Tart went all healthy last week. Inspired by her steamed fish and spinach post, I picked up a small mahi-mahi steak at the Publix in Trenholm Plaza tonight and decided I’d cook it Shop Tart-style. It even happened to be on sale. Yay! (But I got the last one. Sorry.)
I opted to broil my fish rather than steam it a la Shop Tart …because I just don’t have the willpower that she does. (I’ll always listen to the little Paula Deen whispering in my ear on one shoulder rather than to the little angel on the other shoulder.) And I decided I’d prepare it with Asian flavors.
Here’s how I did it.
- Move the top oven rack to roughly six inches from the broiler. (This may vary depending on how powerful your oven is.) Preheat broiler to high.
- Rinse the mahi-mahi steak off with water and pat dry with a paper towel. (This recipe would also work with any thick, mild fish — swordfish, salmon, halibut, sea bass, grouper, etc.)
- Rub both sides with a little olive oil and generously salt and pepper.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice on both sides of the fish and place on a broiling pan or cookie sheet after spraying pan or sheet with cooking spray. I used a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil so that I could just wad up the messiness when it was done and have less to scrub. Broiling can make a mess.
- Steam and salt your fresh spinach if you have it, or heat up frozen spinach according to directions.
- Now for the glaze. As the fish begins to cook, mix together a small amount of vegetable or canola oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, soy sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar (not really necessary if you have the lemon juice … you just need one acid … but it adds an interesting flavor element if you have it), garlic powder or minced fresh garlic, a few drops of honey, a drop of sesame oil (if you want … just remember that one drop goes a LONG way), and fresh ginger. I cheated and used this ginger stuff, which can sometimes be found near the refrigerated salad dressings. (Freshly-grated ginger tastes and smells awesome, but it’s also a pain to grate.) Apologies for the lack of specifics on measurements for each of these ingredients. I just eyeballed it. Start with a small amount of each and season to taste. You won’t need much of any one ingredient.
- Keep a close eye on the fish under the broiler. Try to resist moving the tray around, but be careful that fish doesn’t start to burn and that smoke doesn’t start billowing out of the oven …because, man, will that make your house reek. Billowing smoke = bad.
- Depending on the thickness of the fish, it should broil for about 8-10 minutes or so and doesn’t need to be flipped. The fish should have a golden crust on top and easily flake apart with a fork when it’s ready.
- After removing the fish from the oven, place on top of bed of spinach and drizzle glaze on top.
- Serve with Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Wild/Brown Ready Rice, which is surprisingly tasty and is ready in 90 seconds. (I top with a little bit of butter and salt. I have Paula Deen on my shoulder, remember?)
Verdict? Loved it. And so will you. It’s simple and takes practically no time to prepare. Bon appétit!
- John O’Connor has a story in The State today on how much money DC Republicans forked over to prop up Nikki Haley in the general election — almost a million dollars, including most of the television advertising at the end of the campaign.
The largest donation to the two pro-Haley accounts, set up by the Republican Governors, came from cigarette-maker Reynolds American, which contributed $125,000 to the RGA South Carolina IE, or independent expenditure, PAC. That group filed its initial paperwork with the State Ethics Commission just days prior to the election. It spent about $205,000 on media.
The large Reynolds American donation, and four others to the RGA South Carolina IE PAC, took advantage of a federal judge’s September ruling that struck down campaign contribution limits on PACs and other third-party groups in South Carolina. Efforts to reach Reynolds American were unsuccessful.
Haley and Sheheen were on opposite sides of the state cigarette tax debate last year. Sheheen supported the 50-cent-a-pack tax hike that became law last year; Haley opposed it. As governor, she has pledged to oppose any tax hikes.
A second Republican Governors fund spent almost $700,000 on Haley’s behalf.
It received donations from some of the biggest names in business: conglomerate General Electric, oil company Exxon Mobil, retailer Wal-Mart, carmaker Nissan, drugmakers Eli Lilly and Pfizer, restaurant operator Waffle House, cable company Comcast and Baltimore Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti.
Now that Haley’s on a crusade to gut Medicaid, I’m betting Eli Lilly and Pfizer are wishing they’d considered donating to her opponent. It is pretty weird that a Republican candidate in South Carolina needed so much help financing a top-of-the-ticket campaign. People like donating to campaigns that are likely to win, and a Republican nominee in a Republican state in a Republican tidal wave year, well…
- 15 year old Midlands doggie, Jonnie Girl, woke up her owner by licking her to alert the owner that their house was on fire. They escaped safely.
- Greg Hambrick of the Charleston City Paper takes on Senator Jim DeMint for DeMint’s assault on Sesame Street.
- A Spartanburg woman was arrested after stealing copper vases from graves in a cemetery. Police chased her into a briar patch. Owwwwww. (Pretty sure there’s an Uncle Remus joke in there somewhere.)
- Is Haley’s honeymoon with the legislature over? Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down Haley’s preferred legislation on her signature issue of stricter on-the-record voting measures after she made the unusual move of attending the committee meeting to make her case for her preferred bill. An observer relayed to me that the committee’s vote seemed to have more to do with rebuffing Haley’s finger-wagging and borderline belligerent tone than it did anything to do with their unwillingness to agree to more stringent on-the-record voting rules. (I wasn’t there, so I have no idea whether or not that was the case. I’m all for more transparency in government, but I also don’t think it’s the most pressing issue at hand right now.)
This afternoon USC’s student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, tweeted that former Republican State Attorney General Henry McMaster has accepted a position at the University of South Carolina School of Law to lead fundraising and alumni relations for the struggling law school, which not too long ago plunged into the third tier of law schools nationwide. (AKA “the pits.”) According to sources, McMaster will be paid $7,500 per month for his duties.
McMaster was recently passed over to fill the position of dean of the law school, soon to be vacated by current dean, Walter Pratt, who has performed abysmally at the job and who was, without question, the absolute worst professor I had during my rather long stint at USC Law School. (We watched videos from the early 1980′s for at least 75% of the entirety of classroom time throughout the semester, and the videos were far more palatable than having to suffer through class with Pratt himself actually teaching. But I digress.)
I’ve said on here before that I don’t think the idea of McMaster assisting with development at the law school is necessarily a bad idea. The guy has been a leader in the reigning political party in this state for decades. He knows the legal community here and has good relationships with many in it. He clearly has experience raising money in politics. And of course the higher-ups weren’t actually going to seriously consider him for the position of dean. That position will undoubtedly go to some egghead with horrendous people skills who hails from somewhere outside of the Southeast — likely from a school that the powers-that-be believe has a better brand name than USC Law.
So McMaster in a development role at USC Law ain’t necessarily a bad idea. That said, I do have a few questions and matters of note.
First of all, did USC go through a formal, open interview process for this specific position? There’s a “senior director of development” position for the law school advertised on the University’s jobs site on February 11th. Is this it?
Second, on WACH Fox 57 tonight, McMaster said that he will be performing the job “part-time.” $7,500 a month for PART-TIME work for a washed-up politician at a public university in a state that’s in the midst of a ginormous budget crisis. Yep, sounds about right.
Third, the state’s salary database indicates that Rachelle Bussell, a development professional with 20+ years of fundraising experience, made $125k full-time last year. So Henry has a pretty friggin’ sweet deal if he’s making 90K a year part-time and has never done any sort of higher ed fundraising before (of which I’m aware at least).
It’s worth remembering that McMaster fell in line as a loyal foot soldier — when he didn’t have to — after being creamed by Nikki Haley in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Haley then hired McMaster’s right-hand man, Trey Walker, as a senior strategist in the general election and after that as a deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office. Walker, who is one of three deputy chiefs of staff, is now making the same salary in the governor’s office that he was making when he left the attorney general’s office after eight years there — $122,775/year in a non-lawyer position — and is surely now the highest paid deputy chief of staff to the governor in South Carolina’s history. Heck, Walker is making almost $25,000 more per year than Mark Sanford paid his CHIEF OF STAFF. (It’s pretty obvious that Walker’s salary was negotiated first and that Haley Chief of Staff Tim Pearson‘s salary — $125,000/year — was pegged a few dollars higher than Walker’s for Pearson’s indefatigable loyalty during a grueling primary. Either that or it’s hush money……………..?)
Haley also hired McMaster press aide Rob Godfrey after the primary and brought Godfrey and his girlfriend, former South Carolina Policy Council Staffer Jamie Shuster, on staff in the governor’s office each at salaries of $65,000 annually. (Haley may have hired other McMaster peeps as well, but these are the only ones of which I’m aware.)
So, I’m jumping to conclusions here, but it sure looks like McMaster and his folks fell in line behind Haley after the primary, and now McMaster is being rewarded sweetly with a $90,000/year part-time job at the law school. Hiring a guy with the South Carolina bona fides of Henry Mac also frees up USC Law to hire the misfit, overpriced, out-of-state egghead from a B-list school and who has a marginally impressive academic pedigree because they believe he or she may raise the school’s marks in U.S. News and World Report‘s law school rankings .0000000001%, which is clearly all they care about.
Hiring Henry Mac to raise money also seems to signal that they, once again, won’t do what they ought to do and promote current Academic Dean Rob Wilcox — a South Carolina guy that South Carolina lawyers as well as law students actually like and who is eminently qualified for the job. Boooo.
Guess we’ll see. Regardless, Henry Mac lands a sweet part-time gig. I mean, it’s not as sweet as Nikki Haley’s previous fundraising job at Lexington Medical Center pulling in $110K a year for a 10 hour work week, but by normal people’s standards, it’s still pretty darn sweet.