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Opinion: Readers write about the 2014 election

House District 108 | Capital sales tax | U.S. 7th District

House District 108

Playing possum

Recent letters attacking Vida Miller’s integrity cannot go unchallenged. Whether or not his name is mentioned, the writers surely speak for Mr. Goldfinch. What they say and what he says in interviews match.

Some years ago, Ben, a friend of mine, a moderate Democrat (cut from the same cloth as folks like Sam Nunn), was running for Congress against an incumbent Republican in a Republican-leaning district. The incumbent, a young attorney, was in trouble. He was under federal investigation as a target in a sting operation aimed at money laundering. Many Republicans joined Democrats and independents in helping Ben. In desperation, the incumbent and his supporters began to lash out accusing Ben of all sorts of things.

During a last debate, the incumbent once more launched into his attack on Ben’s character. Ben looked him in the eye and said, “Being called dishonest by you is like being called ugly by a possum.” The editorial cartoon in the morning paper pictured the incumbent’s head on a possum’s body.

Along with the paper, enough independents, Democrats and Republicans had enough sense to figure out who the real possum was. Ben was elected and served all his constituents, regardless of party affiliation, well.

The parallel in the District 108 House Race is eerie, isn’t it? But then it is Halloween. Wonder what Mr. Goldfinch will go dressed up as this year?

Jim Watkins – Pawleys Island

Miller aided museum

Vida Miller, one of the few women elected to serve in the General Assembly for 14 years, deserves to be returned to it. Women, in politics or business, possess the ability to persuade men of different opinions, to compromise. The majority of men lack this ability.

Notwithstanding the Rice Museum and adjoining Kaminski building are county owned, both have always been, and will always be, in need of support.

The condition of the Kaminski building reached a crisis in 1998, so director Jim Fitch applied for a matching fund federal grant. Thanks to the support of Sen. Fritz Hollings, it came through. Then-Rep. Miller was instrumental in obtaining matching funds of $150,000 from the General Assembly and the long overdue renovation of the Kaminski building followed.

After the discovery and restoration of the oldest vessel built in the colonies, it needed to be made available to the public. The third floor of the Kaminski building was the obvious choice, but this required expensive renovation. Two years after obtaining renovation matching funds, Rep. Miller was instrumental in obtaining another $50,000 from the General Assembly for the renovations to admit the vessel.

Then, a bolt of lightning revealed the need for renovation of the Rice Museum clock tower so director Fitch applied for another matching federal grant. Thanks to the support of U.S. Rep. Henry Brown it came thru. Once again, Rep. Miller was instrumental in obtaining matching funds of $100,000 from the General Assembly and repair and renovation of the clock tower became a reality.

Every year, in the General Assembly, there is serious in-fighting over funds between senators and House members; party and race do not guarantee receipt of funds. Mrs. Miller has demonstrated her ability to hold her own in that arena for 14 years as well as her own commitment to the eternal “values” of history and family tradition.

Up until this House race, the engines of one party have always been hostile and critical of lawyers. Now, those engines are silent. Instead, they have had to be switched to damage control. All because of a little widow running a frame shop, who wants to serve the men and women of Georgetown County.

It’s something thoughtful people should think about.

Frank Beattie – Georgetown

The writer chairs the Rice Museum board.

No art in Miller’s personal attacks

My son and I just returned from a 2,750 mile cross-country road trip. We ate barbecue in eight states, successfully dodged Ebola and ISIS, but not a deer in the middle of the interstate in Virginia. Air bags exploding at 75 mph may be worse than either of the former threats.

On my first morning back home I sat down with two weeks of issues of our local papers to catch up on what has been happening on the local political front. What I found was interesting and caused me to reach at least one definite decision.

For years I have written opinions against Vida Miller’s political positions. I am a mostly conservative Republican and she is the opposite of that. But, in almost every reference to Ms. Miller I have been sure to qualify my opinion with the exception that “she is a good person but she votes with the liberal Democrats in Columbia,” a fact. I have also stated that I have been happy to have her artwork hang in my home. I just would never vote for her.

After reading Ms. Miller’s despicable, unwarranted attacks on Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, I am sadly changing my opinion of Ms. Miller, and I am returning her artwork to her as soon as possible. I simply do not want to have her name hanging in my home as a reminder of who she has become, or maybe always was.

I know Stephen Goldfinch personally. I know his character and I have seen how his character affects his personal life as well as his political life.

Ms. Miller’s lies about the “continuing federal investigation” that is in fact not continuing, her insinuation that it is a terrible thing that he was sued by a business partner, who, as Ms. Miller is well aware, ended up actually paying Stephen and her statements describing Stephen as untrustworthy and lacking in character, are over the line of acceptability.

If she cannot win an election without attempting to damage a person’s personal reputation for her self-gain, then she deserves any personal attacks that come her way.

We should all note that Rep. Goldfinch has not attacked her personally. It was only after her repeated personal attacks on Rep. Goldfinch that private groups stepped in and began their own counterattacks on Ms. Miller.

She is getting what she asked for, including some previously hung artwork.

Bill Hills – Murrells Inlet

The writer is a member of the Goldfinch campaign committee.

Miller helped cut taxes

In response to several letters to the editor suggesting that if Vida Miller is elected to House Seat 108, she will raise taxes, they are wrong. Even a cursory look at Ms. Miller’s past voting record will all but discredit those who make these claims. As a matter of record you will find that she co-sponsored legislation that reduced homeowner property taxes, voted for the elimination of taxes on groceries and prescription drugs, voted for the cutting individual income taxes and voted for a reduction in small business taxes.

There is more, but I will spare you a continuing, “I got you last” debate.

I would remind the reader you get what you pay for. South Carolina’s infrastructure is crumbling; bridges and roads are in disrepair,school buses are breaking down, our state park system is struggling. As her opponents continues to tell us, a Democrat in a Republican dominated legislature has no chance in S.C. I would remind you that such thinking as kept us stuck in the muck for to long.

As my dad used to say “you get what you pay for.” There are no free lunches. It is time that we move out of the dark ages and join the rest of world in providing fair wages and equal employment opportunities for all.

Hartmut Fege – Pawleys Island

Doubts about Goldfinch’s assurances

I read that former Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Bobby Harrell, resigned his seat and intends to plead guilty to violation of the South Carolina Ethics Act. Meanwhile, House District 108 Rep. Stephen Goldfinch remains subject to a U.S. District Court misdemeanor charge. Mr. Goldfinch assures the voters that this charge is a very minor issue and will be shortly resolved. That is very similar to the protestations made by former Speaker Harrell until he abruptly announced his resignation and intention to plead guilty.

More troubling perhaps is the pending civil case against Mr. Goldfinch in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. A former business associate of Mr. Goldfinch named William E. Kenon sued Mr. Goldfinch last year alleging, among other things, fraud and misrepresentation regarding a business deal between these two gentlemen. According to Mr. Kenon’s complaint, Mr. Goldfinch bragged that he was an influential state legislature and could use that position to assist Mr. Kenon financially.

According to the records on file with the U.S. District Court in Texas, Mr. Goldfinch and Mr. Kenon reached a settlement last May and entered into a “confidential settlement agreement.” In an order issued on July 22, 2014, the U.S. District Judge handling the case stated that “due to the complexity of this case” completion of the settlement would take an additional 30 to 60 days. The judge ordered the parties to file an order of dismissal or a report of the progress of settlement by Sept. 22. According to the public records on file, no such document was filed.

Rumors, gossip, and street talk have been swirling for weeks about what is going on with both the civil and criminal cases pending against Mr. Goldfinch. Does the “confidential settlement agreement” contain admissions by Mr. Goldfinch that he committed fraud and represented that he could use his status as a state representative to help Mr. Kenon’s business venture? Does the “confidential settlement agreement” commit Mr. Goldfinch to continue to use his official position to benefit his business associates?

It is understandable that lawsuits sometimes need to be settled in a confidential manner. It is also understandable that people engaged in business may not want their business dealings displayed in a public manner. However, when one is running for political office and, in fact, already holds a position of trust with the public, it is incumbent upon them to deal with the voters openly and honestly about their business dealings.

Confidential and proprietary information in any settlement documents are easily redacted to protect their value. Therefore, there should not be a problem with releasing the confidential settlement agreement with proprietary information redacted so that the voters will know what their representative has agreed to.

As it stands now, Mr. Goldfinch is asking the voters to buy a pig in a poke. If he wins re-election, will he shortly thereafter have to resign like Mr. Harrell because of a criminal conviction? Will we subsequently learn that he has engaged in fraudulent conduct and used his elective office improperly to obtain financial benefits with business associates? Hopefully not.

If there is nothing to hide, why isn’t Mr. Goldfinch being forthcoming about these serious issues?

Jack M. Scoville Jr. – Georgetown

The writer is mayor of Georgetown.

Time to clean house

Mr. Goldfinch’s reaction to the various criminal and ethical allegations against him reminds me of a scene from the movie “Stripes.” In the movie, Bill Murray is being asked by an Army recruiter if he’d ever been convicted of a crime. “Convicted? ... mmmm ... no” he replies implying that being “charged” with a crime is one thing, “convicted” is another. This would be funny if it didn’t apply to our state legislature at this time. The most powerful politician in the state, Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, has pleaded guilty this week to corruption charges and resigned in disgrace. He signed a “cooperation agreement” with the prosecutor. This means that he will cooperate in prosecutions of other members of the House. It is time that we the citizens of this State clean house of corrupt politicians.

A place to begin is at home. Our representative, Mr. Goldfinch, says he will plead guilty to a federal criminal charge. Is this really what the people of District 108 want in a representative? Do we really want a younger version of Bill Murray representing us? Since Vida Miller left office, she was replaced by an inexperienced kid and now we have someone with questionable business practices and ethics. Remember, we don’t have to vote a straight ticket. Republicans, Democrats, independents, let’s all vote to send Vida Miller back to Columbia on Nov 4. She is sorely needed.

Rita Granito – Pawleys Island

A vote for Miller

Thank you for keeping our community informed about important events. One of the most important events coming up is the Nov. 4 election. I have lived in Georgetown County most of my life and had the privilege of working with an outstanding group of men and women to establish Hospice of Georgetown County (later named Tidelands Community Hospice.) Along the way I have come to know many people in our community. Vida Miller is one of the most ethical, brightest and practical people I have ever known. I voted for her in the past and look forward to voting for her again on Nov. 4.

We need Vida as our state representative for District 108.

Brenda S. Stroup – Pawleys Island

Solid constituent service

I am really delighted that Vida Miller is a candidate for the seat in the state legislature she so ably filled a few years ago. Her knowledge and effectiveness in office have been badly missed for four years. During her years in office she contributed positively to the needs of the district. She is a strong supporter of quality public education, health and human services, public safety (Safe Routes to School legislation for instance) and improvement of our infrastructure. She won endorsement from the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, for as they stated, “she is committed to protecting both the special history and environment” of the area and “her sensible approach to conservation makes her the best choice.” She believes in a reasonable balance between growth and environmental protection.

As another writer stated, she makes herself accessible to constituents. I experienced her helpfulness personally during a former term after I witnessed the death of a dog on South Causeway by a seriously speeding motorist. I wrote about needing a lower speed limit there, contacted Vida, and she was instrumental in getting that speed limit reduced, which had been 45, the same as the highway all the way to the island.

Vida is respected for her experience, hard work, dedication to service, and the ability to achieve cooperation and results that benefit the community. We need her as our representative for District 108 in the legislature in Columbia.

Elizabeth Wiley – Pawleys Island

‘Legislator’ isn’t a reward

I have a friend, Joe, who is very bright, friendly, and active in this community. Joe is also a committed liberal and I am a conservative. We’ve had spirited discussions reflecting our completely opposite views on the proper role of government in the affairs of mankind. I like him and I respect him, but we see the world differently. If my friend Joe ran for the legislature I could not vote for him because I wouldn’t want to send to Columbia or Washington an advocate whose capable energy would be dedicated to opposing the very things I support.

“Legislator” is a job, not a reward. Elective office isn’t a walnut plaque or gold watch presented by voters to someone in recognition of years of friendship, business success or even community service. It is a big job with important responsibilities, and when done well, a legacy in the form of good laws and effective governance lasting far beyond the person’s term of office.

Elections really do mean something. The people you elect, or those your neighbors elect if you choose to stay home, will use their influence and cast real votes on issues that matter. Their votes will pass or defeat the issues you care most about, so you need to make sure you send a representative who actually believes in the things that are important to you.

What is at stake in next week’s election was made clear recently by President Obama, who reminded voters: “I am not on the ballot this fall, but make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot – every single one of them.” Obama is reminding you that when Democrats are elected to state and national office, they are there to vote for the Democrat agenda, not for yours, even if they happen to be your friend.

The president wants this election to be a referendum on his performance over the past six years, and I think that’s a grand idea. The very best way to send the president a clear message about the past six years of Democrat control is to vote on Nov. 4 for the straight Republican ticket.

Randy Hollister – Pawleys Island

The writer is chairman of the Georgetown County Republican Party.

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Capital sales tax

Projects will boost county economy

I would like to formally endorse the Capital Project Sales Tax, also known as the one-cent referendum or penny tax. The purpose of this tax is to fund critical infrastructure repairs, including roads, and dredging both the Georgetown port and Murrells Inlet. Economic impact studies indicate that dredging the port and the inlet will have a far greater financial effect on Georgetown County than the total cost of this referendum.

I would traditionally reject any kind of tax increase. However, I believe that this particular tax is worthy of our support and will benefit our county in the following ways:

• $4.4 million total economic output from dredging Georgetown port;

• improved water quality in Murrells Inlet;

• tourism boost to Murrells Inlet;

• better quality commercial fishing;

• critical repairs to numerous county roads;

• non-Georgetown-County residents will contribute at least 30 percent of the tax;

• essential fire and rescue enhancements.

I encourage all Georgetown County residents to promote and vote ye for the one-cent referendum and deliver some vital infrastructure improvements to our community. I would also encourage your readers to visit onecentmakessense.com in order to learn more about this tax referendum.

Larry Mercado – Pawleys Island

The writer is vice president of Mercom.

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Congress

Rep. Rice has aided port projects

In a U.S. congressional representative, it is a matter of effectiveness. For this simple reason, I am in support of Tom Rice continuing to serve as our 7th District, U.S. House Representative.

As chairman of the Georgetown Port Task Force, I have had the opportunity to work with Tom Rice in advocating for funding of maintenance dredging for the Georgetown port, which has lacked any reasonable attention for the past two decades. The Georgetown port has lacked funding for routine maintenance dredging because it has been unable to surpass 1 million tons per year in volume. Consequently, the port is a “chicken and egg” scenario where the port cannot be dredged unless the volume is above 1 million tons and the volume cannot be reached unless the port is dredged.

Tom has been effective in forging meaningful relationships with key federal leaders, which has enabled him to be is a position to advocate for the Georgetown port. Tom was effective is being assigned as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the committee that is responsible for oversight of America’s ports. Tom was effective in having the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee visit Georgetown, in order for him to see, first hand, the situation and needs of our port.

Tom was effective in co-writing language in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that allows Georgetown’s port to be eligible for federal funds for maintenance dredging, without having to meet the 1 million ton per year threshold established by the Army Corps of Engineers. Tom was effective in being selected to the water resources act conference committee, resulting in the act being signed into law.

Tom Rice’s effectiveness as U.S. House representative has been demonstrated by his support of the Georgetown port. Two years ago, he promised to work on behalf of the Georgetown port to secure federal funding and support. I am pleased that he has worked diligently to fulfill his promise by obtaining the ability to receive the matching federal funds required to dredge the Georgetown port. While the federal and state portions of funding have been allocated, the local 15 percent matching funds required will be on referendum vote on the Nov. 4 ballot for Georgetown County residents.

Tim Tilley – Georgetown

Voters should keep county in 7th District

Georgetown County – all 34 precincts – is in the South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, where it belongs, along with our friends in Horry County and six other counties in our corner of S.C. Lots of county and state Republicans worked very hard to make Georgetown a partner with Horry in the new district created after the 2010 census.

Our good friends in Horry County were among those who had a huge role in the effort; Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry) was chairman of the subcommittee in the House that handled redistricting. It is no accident that the western part of Georgetown County, which was previously a part of Democrat Jim Clyburn’s 6th District, was brought into the new 7th District and Tom Rice became our congressman.

Now, in 2014, a few in Georgetown are suggesting that we alter course and again become more aligned with Jim Clyburn and the Democrat agenda. A Clyburn-aligned Democrat from Greeleyville – Ronnie Saab – has just been assured election to represent much of the county, except for Waccamaw Neck, in the state Senate; a Clyburn-aligned Democrat – Carl Anderson – is running unopposed to represent much of the county, except for Waccamaw Neck, in the House. They’re all for more government.

And those few in Georgetown are also suggesting that we need another Democrat – Vida Miller – representing Georgetown in Columbia. That, folks, would further align us with Clyburn’s 6th District, which already contains most of the Democrats in the legislature. Doing that would be a huge step backward.

We need to let everybody know that Georgetown is a key member of the eight-county 7th District and send a clear message to Georgetown’s friends around the state that we really do stand for less government – not more; and that we stand for creating jobs – not government.

Finally, in 2020, we will redraw districts and, for now, Georgetown needs to grow and strengthen our position in the 7th District, to strengthen the whole 7th District, and South Carolina. Voting for Gov. Haley, Congressman Rice, and state Rep. Goldfinch on Nov. 4 will help Georgetown, our 7th District and South Carolina.

Charlie Luquire – Pawleys Island

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