The best governor in America - and you've never heard of him.THE BEST GOVERNOR IN AMERICA-- and you've never heard of him
The needy have found some unusual sanctuaries recently--USA for Africa, Hands Across America--but none more peculiar than South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. , one of the most politically conservative states in the country: the state that fired the first shot in the Civil War, the state where a judge recently sentenced a rapist to castration castration, removal of the sex glands of an animal, i.e., testes in the male, or ovaries and often the uterus in the female. Castration of the female animal is commonly referred to as spaying. , the state that historian C. Vann Woodward called the "historic firebrand fire·brand
1. A person who stirs up trouble or kindles a revolt.
2. A piece of burning wood.
Noun of violent extremism,' the state whose chief justice is nicknamed "Bubba bub·ba
1. Chiefly Southern U.S. Brother.
2. A white working-class man of the southern United States, stereotypically regarded as uneducated and gregarious with his peers. .'
In South Carolina, social issues such as education and health care have found an unlikely welcoming committee of business executives, community leaders, chambers of commerce, and even the state's conservative voters. In 1984, this coalition convinced the state legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
Ask anyone around South Carolina who's really responsible for the change, and they'll tell you it's the Democratic governor, Dick Riley. Plagued in his twenties by a degenerative bone disease, Riley, now 53, was left with a fused spine that keeps him forever leaning forward as if he were about to fall. Although he is said to play a wicked hand of poker, he is a straight arrow straight arrow
1. A morally upright person.
2. A person regarded as being extremely conventional.
[From the phrase straight as an arrow. out of a Frank Capra movie. In his nasal voice A nasal voice is a type of speaking voice characterized by speech with a "nasal" quality to it. It can also occur naturally because of genetic variation. In vocal context, the opposite of nasal is adenoidal or denasal. , he affectionately calls everyone he meets "Bud.'
A lawyer from Greenville, the governor is no cunning hick. Nor is he Huey Long Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935), nicknamed The Kingfish, was an American politician from the U.S. state of Louisiana. A Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. . At a time when many governors resemble Phil Donahue Phillip John Donahue (born December 21, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American media personality and writer, best known as the creator and star of The Phil Donahue Show, also known as Donahue, the first tabloid talk show. The show had a 26-year run on national (U. , Riley is refreshingly dull. His speeches are filled with facts, goals, and timetables and topped with a little poetry, such as the last couplet couplet
Two successive lines of verse. A couplet is marked usually by rhythmic correspondence, rhyme, or the inclusion of a self-contained utterance. Couplets may be independent poems, but they usually function as parts of other verse forms, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, from Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled.' He is Pat Caddell's worst nightmare.
His talents, both friends and enemies agree, are his unusual honesty and his tenacity; he is open but tough. Riley is not an arm twister. He tweaks people's consciences. He talks principle. And when he wants an issue to go his way badly enough, he gleefully glee·ful
Full of jubilant delight; joyful.
glee wades into the swamp at which so many politicians balk balk
the action of a horse when it refuses to obey a command to which it usually responds. See also jibbing. : the voters.
As slick as cornbread
In 1984, the issue Riley badly wanted to have go his way was education reform. A year earlier, the legislature had voted down a reform package. So Riley reconsidered his approach and came up with a textbook strategy for how to pass progressive legislation in conservative times.
Armed with polls showing that South Carolinians were willing to pay higher taxes for education reform, Riley went to the state's top businessmen for support. He appealed to their pocketbooks: unskilled, often illiterate laborers are bad for commerce, the governor told them, and they scare away Verb 1. scare away - cause to lose courage; "dashed by the refusal"
daunt, frighten away, frighten off, scare off, pall, scare, dash
intimidate, restrain - to compel or deter by or as if by threats new business. After he found nearly three dozen business leaders who agreed with him, Riley put them on a commission. He asked them to come up with ideas, while a counterpart "technical' commission--mostly educators--worked out details. Some of those details required horse trading Noun 1. horse trading - the swapping of horses (accompanied by much bargaining)
barter, swap, swop, trade - an equal exchange; "we had no money so we had to live by barter"
2. . For example, Riley wanted a merit pay Noun 1. merit pay - extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)
pay, remuneration, salary, wage, earnings - something that remunerates; "wages were paid by check"; "he wasted his pay on drink"; "they saved a quarter of all system for teachers. The idea's natural enemies were the state teachers unions, the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA SCEA Sony Computer Entertainment America
SCEA Sun Certified Enterprise Architect
SCEA South Carolina Education Association
SCEA Silicon Valley Chinese Engineers Association
SCEA Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis
SCEA Southeast Center for Education in the Arts ), and the Palmetto State prop. n. 1. South Carolina; - a nickname alluding to the State Arms, which contain a representation of a palmetto tree.
Noun 1. Palmetto State - a state in the Deep South; one of the original 13 colonies
SC, South Carolina Teachers Association. To gain their support, Riley knew he would have to offer salary increases, but they were opposed by the business community. Riley hammered out a compromise. In exchange for union support of merit pay, Riley got the business community to endorse a 16 percent pay raise that would bring the traditionally low South Carolina teachers' salaries in line with the regional average.
By the fall of 1983, the Education Improvement Act (EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance, Arlington, VA, www.eia.org) A membership organization founded in 1924 as the Radio Manufacturing Association. It sets standards for consumer products and electronic components. ) was on paper but headed for the House, where anything associated with a tax increase faced immediate defeat. Even with the business community on Riley's side, only 13 of the 124 House members supported him. So Riley took his case to the voters, mounting an election campaign with EIA as the sole candidate. His staff mailed out thousands of copies of the plan and sent do-it-yourself letters-to-the-editor kits to the voters. The staff also set up a toll-free number so citizens could call in their complaints and ideas, and phone banks so constitutents could harass their representatives and senators. Supporters contributed $100,000 to pay for EIA ads; soon televisions in homes across the state were filled with images of pregnant mothers, bluecollar workers, and pin-striped executives confessing they feared for their children unless the state improved the education system.
In one three-week stretch that fall, Riley, the father of four, pushed his reform package in more than 100 speeches. At seven rallies in high school auditoriums around the state, Riley told 13,000 South Carolinians the ugly numbers: one-third of South Carolina's students couldn't pass the state's basic skills test; South Carolina ranked 49th out of the 50 states in spending per pupil; most South Carolina prisoners and unemployed were illiterate. "When you're dead and gone, what do you want to leave your children?' Riley asked at the end of one of his speeches, stirring the crowd with his home-baked cornbread rhetoric. "I say to you, as far as Dick Riley is concerned, I'd rather leave my children and their children the possibility of a quality education than the biggest house in South Carolina.'
Riley's political maneuverings were as sophisticated as his rhetoric was homey. He persuaded the General Assembly to consider EIA section by section, instead of trying to swallow the entire $213 million plan at once. He got legislators to agree to separate on the substance of the plan from that on its funding. If the plan were approved first, Riley figured, it would be easier to convince the legislators to raise taxes. "There was a big battle on the floor of the House,' says Dwight Drake, a former legislative aide to Riley. "But we had the telephone and letter operation. The people would call their legislators and give them hell. One by one we picked them off . . .. By the end, some legislators were promising to vote yes if only we'd stop the phone calls.'
The General Assembly then approved a 25 percent sales tax sales tax, levy on the sale of goods or services, generally calculated as a percentage of the selling price, and sometimes called a purchase tax. It is usually collected in the form of an extra charge by the retailer, who remits the tax to the government. increase to cover, among other things, $60 million in teacher pay raises, a $58 million building program, and a $60 million remedial system aimed at steering potential dropouts toward graduation. Three merit-pay plans are now being tested in nine of the state's 92 school districts. The "campus model' plan measures overall school progress--grades, graduation rates, reading scores--and awards all teachers if there is improvement. The "bonus model' rewards individual teachers with a $3,000 bonus, based on a personal evaluation that looks at teaching skills and the extent to which the teacher has taken on additional responsibilities, such as revising curriculum and helping beginning teachers. They also set up a "career ladder' model that is similar to the "bonus model' except that deserving teachers can receive from $1,000 to $3,000 in bonuses. A statewide advisory committee of teachers, administrators, parents, and businessmen is working to fine-tune the plans and implement one or more of them in 25 school districts, affecting one-third of the state's teachers. All teachers in South Carolina will be included in a merit pay plan by 1988.
The EIA package also gave cash bonuses to schools deemed most improved and set up a probation system for substandard schools. If they don't improve, the governor can intervene, with full powers Full Powers is a term in international law and is the authority of a person to sign a treaty or convention on behalf of a sovereign state. Persons other than the head of state, head of government or foreign minister of the state must produce Full Powers in order to sign a treaty to fire personnel.
In the two years since EIA has passed, state officials have been fielding about a dozen phone calls each month from educators around the country asking for advice. A RAND Corporation Rand Corporation, research institution in Santa Monica, Calif.; founded 1948 and supported by federal, state, and local governments, as well as by foundations and corporations. Its principal fields of research are national security and public welfare. study pronounced EIA "the most comprehensive single piece of legislation' improving education to come out of any state.
General Sherman's canons
The progressive reforms Riley has pushed through can be traced to his New Deal roots. He comes from a family of politicians sympathetic to the New Deal and tied to the Roosevelt administration There have been two Presidents of the United States with the surname "Roosevelt":
At the same time, however, the governor is a fiscal conservative, not only because he works for a tight-fisted state but because that's his per sonal practice. Riley sold the governor's stretch limousine and bought a Pontiac. He writes a $1,000 check to the state each year to cover personal calls made on state telephones. He saves money on the mansion staff by using 13 prison inmates to work on the grounds and clean.
Before 1980, governors did not really control the 147 agencies on which most executive responsibilities rested. Members of the agency boards are usually appointed by the governor to staggered terms staggered terms
Membership terms for a firm's directors that expire in different years. A firm with 12 directors might have 4-year terms with 3 seats up for election each year. Staggered terms make it more difficult for a raider to gain control of a board. , so it invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil took a governor's entire term to get a team in place. In 1980, Riley convinced both the voters and the General Assembly to amend South Carolina's constitution to allow the governor to be reelected for a second term. Riley won and was thus in a position to move the agencies toward his policy objectives. Moreover, he created umbrella committees, such as the Children's Coordinating Council and the Coordinating Council for Economic Development, to bring together directors of related agencies to synchronize their efforts.
Throughout most of South Carolina's history, political power coalesced co·a·lesce
intr.v. co·a·lesced, co·a·lesc·ing, co·a·lesc·es
1. To grow together; fuse.
2. To come together so as to form one whole; unite: in the hands of a few titans in the General Assembly. Legislative giants like Marion Gressette, Edgar Brown Edgar Brown may refer to:
Obtuseness (See DIMWITTEDNESS.)
Oddness (See ECCENTRICITY.)
Oldness (See AGE, OLD. exceeded only by their longevity. When Blatt died in May, he had the distinction of having served longer than any legislator in American history. Blatt first ran for office when Herbert Hoover was president, and he served for 53 years, 33 of them as House speaker.
When Ernest Hollings was governor in the 1950s, he wanted a state network of technical schools to train laborers as an enticement to industry. Hollings went to Edgar Brown's house one night with a fifth of bourbon under his arm. When he left, the story goes, the bottle was empty and South Carolina had a new system of technical schools.
A former legislator who fought to reform the moss-backed power structure, Riley is now the most influential governor in the history of South Carolina South Carolina is one of the thirteen original states of the United States of America. Its history has been remarkable for an extraordinary commitment to political independence, whether from overseas or federal control. . He is more than simply tenacious. Like many South Carolinians, who take pride in the fact that the blue granite walls of the State House still bear the marks left by General Sherman's cannons 120 years ago, he is a rare mixture of stubbornness and kind-heartedness. During one tough House fight, his staff had proof of the opposition's drinking and womanizing wom·an·ize
v. woman·ized, woman·iz·ing, woman·iz·es
To pursue women lecherously.
To give female characteristics to; feminize. . The staff wanted to go public; Riley nixed the idea. "It's just not his style,' says Bill Prince, a former aide. Another aide admits, "I once suggested the ancient and honorable political tradition of saying one thing and doing another, and he looked at me as if I were from Mars.'
Riley stays judgment on the least self-restrained of his fellow politicians, quite a feat in South Carolina. One roguish rogu·ish
1. Deceitful; unprincipled: Set adrift by his roguish crew, the captain of the ship spent a week alone at sea.
2. Playfully mischievous: a roguish grin. senator, notorious for hiring secretaries with one talent, complained, "God dammit dam·mit
Used to express anger, irritation, contempt, or disappointment.
[Alteration of damn it.] , Dick, I'm getting blamed for fucking everybody.' "Oh,' said Riley, "I'm sure there's some you're not getting blamed for.'
"Riley is not the kind of guy who enjoys that kind of banter,' said Drake, "but he can get along with them without seeming like a prude prude
One who is excessively concerned with being or appearing to be proper, modest, or righteous.
[French, short for prude femme, virtuous woman : Old French prude or a wimp.'
One aide ascribes Riley's equanimity e·qua·nim·i·ty
The quality of being calm and even-tempered; composure.
[Latin aequanimit to his "Boy Scout, tenth-grade, civics-class view of government. He passionately believes government can do good. He is patient, doesn't hear the word no, and when you screw him over in the assembly, he comes back and does you a favor.' Riley's approach has served him well. He is the most popular politician in the state. Polls show he could defeat either incumbent senator, Thurmond or Hollings. When the National Governors Association polled itself recently on who was the most effective governor, Riley came in third. Mario Cuomo came in twelfth.
Riley's friends and acquaintances trace his Zen patience and his mulishness to his bout with a back disease. One day in 1955, aboard ship in the Navy, Riley sneezed so hard he was thrown to the floor. His back rippled in spasms. The doctors diagnosed it as spondylitis spondylitis /spon·dy·li·tis/ (spon?di-li´tis) inflammation of vertebrae.
spondylitis ankylopoie´tica , ankylosing spondylitis , a degenerative disease that can be treated only by letting in run its course.
Victims of spondylitis suffer intense pain as boney spurs slowly grow out of the vertebrae Vertebrae
Bones in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the body that make up the vertebral column. Vertebrae have a central foramen (hole), and their superposition makes up the vertebral canal that encloses the spinal cord. and fuse. Fever, clammy clam·my
adj. clam·mi·er, clam·mi·est
1. Disagreeably moist, sticky, and cold to the touch: a clammy handshake.
2. Damp and unpleasant: clammy weather. skin, and bouts of vomiting occur daily. The back discomfort can be relieved by bending over, so some victims allow their spines simply to curl, crushing internal organs, sometimes fatally. Riley refused all medication, including aspirin, watched his weight drop below 100 pounds, and pushed back against his spine despite the pain. Eventually the disease ran its course--15 years later.
"When you lose some physical attribute you substitute another for it,' says Alex Sanders, chief judge of the state appeals court and one of Riley's oldest friends. "The backbone that the force of nature took away, he found in his head.'
Building on what's right
Riley's critics say his success at pushing through the education reform package is the result of his success at passing out the pork. As they see it, he wins over the opposition with a wink and some money. They say Riley bought off the retail merchants' opposition to a sales tax increase by promising to support the abolition of the inventory tax. And, they say, he bought off the auto dealers' opposition by putting a $300 cap on the sales tax on cars. "It's nothing but good ol' boy politics,' says Alex Macauley, a Republican state senator. "It's the oldest trick in the book. Any rendeck politician knows about that.'
Riley claims he always supported the merchants on the inventory tax and says he fought the auto sales Auto Sales
The major producers of domestic automobiles report sales monthly. These numbers are seasonally adjusted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and are available to the public one to five business days after the end of each month. tax cap until the end, when, he admits, he conveniently caved in. "All my supporters know I opposed that,' he says. "but the [General Assembly] was convinced it was important and I went along with it.'
Dick Riley's stubbornness is not consistent. He has refused the leadership role on some though issues like the death penalty, school prayer, and gun control. Earlier this year, Joseph Carol Shaw, convicted in a gruesome multiple-murder case, was scheduled to die in the electric chair. While Riley is personally opposed to the death penalty, he refused to stay Shaw's execution. South Carolinians may accept his progressive vision in areas like education reform, but they remain extremely conservative on law-and-order issues. Asked about his lack of leadership in these areas, Riley was uncharacteristically vague: "Leaders can either bring out good instincts in people and make progress or bring out bad instincts and regress REGRESS. Returning; going back opposed to ingress. (q.v.) .'
Despite its reputation for conservative extremism, South Carolina has a tradition of pragmatism. The state's religious, law-abiding, no-frills reputation is the base for both its reactionaries and its pragmatists. This dichotomy thrives today in Congress in the come-hell-or-high-water statesman Strom Thurmond and the pragmatic compromiser Ernest Hollings. And the voters who clamor for the death penalty might, with a little prodding, also support education for children and health care for the poor. To South Carolinians, it's all a question of "what's right.'
Riley used his understanding of this tradition to push through generous health care legislation in 1985. The statistics on health care in the state were as grim as those on education: a family of four making more than $2,748 a year--one-fourth the proverty level--was not eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was the name of a federal assistance program in effect from 1935 to 1997, which was administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. (AFDC AFDC
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
AFDC n abbr (US) (= Aid to Families with Dependent Children) → ayuda a familias con hijos menores
AFDC n abbr ) and, therefore, not eligible for Medicaid. Newspapers had published horror stories of poor, uninsured patients who were shunted from hospital to hospital, some dying on the circuit. Riley argued that not just the patient, but everyone was losing--insurance companies were raising their rates and the counties and the hospitals were losing money because of nonpaying patients.
Any state can raise or lower AFDC requirements. Riley argued that South Carolina should raise its eligibility level to $4,500--about 50 percent of the proverty level--which would add 42,000 people to the AFDC rolls, all of whom would be eligible for Medicaid. Riley appealed to the pocketbooks of the politicians and the hospitals. Most state constitutions, including South Carolina's, require county governments to provide medical care for the poor; counties across America are, therefore, paying hospitals for unionsured patients. Despite this subsidy, treating the uninsured is not profitable for private hospitals, so they dump patients on public hospitals. Riley argued that by granting insurance to 42,000 potential charity patients, those hospitals with large numbers of these cases actually might start making money treating the poor. Riley even turned South Carolina's poverty to its advantage: for every dollar South Carolina--one of the nation's poorest states--spends on Medicaid, the federal government generously pays 73 cents.
Riley convinced county governments that it would be cheaper for them to help pay Medicaid costs than to continue bailing out local hospitals. He told the business community that by reducing the number of nonpaying patients his plan would slow the rise in medical insurance rates.
With another coalition in place, Riley easily won passage of Medically Indigent indigent 1) n. a person so poor and needy that he/she cannot provide the necessities of life (food, clothing, decent shelter) for himself/herself. 2) n. one without sufficient income to afford a lawyer for defense in a criminal case. Assistance Act, making South Carolina the poorest of the 15 states that have raised the income level for Medicaid eligibility in the past four years. Riley also insisted on state funding for those who do not qualify for Medicaid. Riley convinced both hospitals and counties to each contribute half of a $15 million fund to pay for preventive care for pregnant women and children whose income is between 50 percent and 200 percent of the property line, the group that often falls through the crack between Medicaid and private insurance.
Riley redux Refers to being brought back, revived or restored. From the Latin "reducere."
Dick Riley's message is one that democrats anywhere could promote: education and health are not like the other boxes on the budget score card. If neglected, society pays for that neglect over and over. If the message Riley is trying to get across succeeds in South Carolina, it certainly has a chance elsewhere.
There is only one month left in Riley's term, and the campaign for Riley's replacement is in full swing. As if to confirm Riley's success, no Democrat or Republican dares question his programs. The candidates argue only about how to fine time what's in place. Riley has been offered teaching jobs, and, of course, law firms call. He says he would be happy to return to the plow, but he won't rule out anything, including possible federal posts. Yet it is clear that his true love is the governorship. "I thoroughly love this position,' he says. "If I never get into another public office, it's not going to bother me.' So, maybe his 1980 amendment to the state constitution allows him to run again in four years?
"Well,' he says, "we've already checked that out.'