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Legislature: Delegation takes aim at missing member

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

With about 30 people in the audience, a meeting of Georgetown County’s legislative delegation on Wednesday had the best turnout delegation members said they had ever seen.

But one key person was notably absent.

S.C. Rep. Kevin Ryan, one of four delegation members, didn’t attend. If he was hoping his absence would save him from coming under fire from the rest of the delegation for not being a “team player,” he was sadly mistaken.

Several items on the agenda were deferred until the delegation’s meeting, set for September, and the three delegation members present made sure everyone knew it was because Ryan wasn’t there.

“If we were all here, it would be different, but we’re not,” said Sen. Ray Cleary, the delegation chairman, after refusing to give a needed second to appoint a candidate to the state board of education. He didn’t want the delegation accused of not doing its due diligence in interviewing candidates for appointed positions, he added.

Ryan and Cleary butted heads recently over an appointment to the state Aeronautics Commission, which led Ryan to argue for more transparency in the process. He wants to see open positions advertised and said appointments should be made only when a quorum is present and after the candidates and their qualifications have been discussed by those voting.

Part of the reason for calling the meeting was to talk about how appointments should be handled in the future, Cleary said.

“All the delegation members were notified of this meeting and all agreed to this day,” said S.C. Rep. Carl Anderson, who also sits on the delegation.

“Actually, I set the meeting up around [Ryan’s] schedule,” Cleary added.

The meeting was postponed previously because Ryan said he wouldn’t attend.

“He needs to realize whether he wants to serve as a representative for this area or not,” Anderson said. “He can’t keep putting off stuff.”

The way Ryan has been acting is “not fair to the 32,000 people he represents,” Anderson said. “They’ve sent a baby to do an adult’s job.”

In seven years on the delegation, Anderson said the current situation is the worst as far as communication between the delegation members, and he blames Ryan.

“It’s turning into Peyton Place,” one audience member said of the delegation.

Ryan said last week it was unlikely he would attend the meeting and questioned its validity, calling it an attempt by Cleary to “divert attention from himself and to distract from the real issues.”

“We’ve got some growing pains going on now,” said Sen. Yancey McGill. “When I was brand new, I used to question everything that was going on, but we’ve got to get down to business. We’ve got to know what our agenda is and follow it.”

He wished the delegation had been able to make an appointment to the state Board of Education that was on the agenda, he added. It was among the items deferred until all four delegation members can be in attendance.

Despite Ryan’s absence, the delegation did accomplish some things on its to-do list. Members decided to start meeting every other month. A meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in Georgetown. Plans are to discuss whether meetings will take place in Georgetown or rotate around the county.

Three appointments were made: Richard Smith joined the County Transportation Committee; Alice Barron was appointed to the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District; and Mary Joyce Holmes and Jimmy Young joined the Georgetown County Board of Elections. There were also four members reappointed to the Board of Elections.

In addition to the state Board of Education, an appointment to the Aeronautics Commission was deferred. There are two candidates for the position: Dr. Gerald Harmon and Ervin Lambert.

Anderson nominated Harmon, but Cleary wasn’t ready to make a selection.

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