Monday, June 30, 2008

Hudson's Express in Cayce closed

It ain't the first time this particular parcel on Knox Abbot Drive has broken poor Gervais' heart.

According to sign on the door, Hudson's Express has closed its doors, but will relocate in the near future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Something fishy about new "conservation" group

That little kid in the Sixth Sense had knack for seeing “dead people.” I have a gift kinda like that, except totally different.

My gift is the ability to see through carefully named groups, usually with Palmetto Tree logos, that are totally the opposite of what they seem.

So when I first heard about “Citizens for Sound Conservation,” our state’s new “conservation” group, I was a little bit wary. Don’t we already have a few effective groups aimed at conserving our state’s natural splendor?

Like the Conservation Voters? The Coastal Conservation League? The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina? The SC Wildlife Federation?

There’s plenty of actual conservation groups out there, doing their part to protect our state’s natural resources for future generations. And I appreciate it, as I’m sure my little Petunia and Gervais Jr. will too.

So while I have an affinity for actual conservation organizations, something seems a little off about this group.

I checked the website, and the group was formed on Earth Day, by such notable South Carolina conservationists as … well, there was no one with any sort of conservation or environmental track record to speak of.

In fact, the organization has no board at all, so I guess the “citizens” portion of the name is purely speculative.

Still, the website had some great links to articles about the environment, such as “No reason we can’t get cheap oil – just drill!” and “Want to lower gas prices? Then drill,” and “Showing ‘intent’ to drill might just work wonders.

Then there’s “Global warming alarmists like high gas prices,” and “Conservation League should reveal whether it really wants a port.”

Most of the articles are pro-development, pro-new power plant, or pro-port expansion.

In fact, if there’s one thing that Citizens for Sound Conservation doesn't really advocate, it’s the preservation of South Carolina’s natural resources. It's almost as if the group was formed to oppose actual conservation groups.

But, of course, that's crazy talk.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Knotts, Herndon win in Midlands GOP runoffs

From The State, Knotts, Herndon score big wins:

Knotts declared the tax credit issue, often called school vouchers, “dead” in South Carolina….

“Howard Rich can bag up his baggies (of money) and he can move to another state because they are not going to make any headway in South Carolina against public education.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lexington votes

You gotta love Lexington County politics.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Runoffs

Gervais doesn’t do endorsements. A blogger who does endorsements is like Tae Bo instructor who gives out black belts. Don’t ask me exactly how that simile works, or what year Tae Bo disappeared from the cultural consciousness, just trust me.

I did "Undorsements" a couple years ago, but come on.

So here are “the runoff races I’ll be watching closely” with “commentary indicating how I would vote if I lived in the district” and I wasn’t a “convicted felon”:

Knotts/Shealy: The fireworks stands are opening their awnings, which is good because the 4th of July is coming early this year in Lexington County. In this Senate 23 GOP Primary, candidate Katrina Shealy has ridden a wave of out-of-state voucher cash to land in a runoff with Jake “Light Fuse Get Away” Knotts. Dueling endorsements, dueling TV ads, and in some remote hamlets of Lexington County, dueling banjos. By far the hottest race in the state on Tuesday.

Talley/Bright: Everyone knows the SC Club for Growth shares the same bed with SCRG. The only question is who rolls over whom to press the snooze button in the morning. In this Spartanburg County Senate 12 race, candidate Lee Bright has received abut $15,000 in contributions associated with the Club. Then, the Club’s executive director spent his first few months in SC firing missives at Scott Talley, and blogger Will Folks unearthed a scandal of epic proportions by asserting that on some nights Talley might not have read to his kids. Amazingly, Talley still managed to come out on top in the primary, about 500 votes shy of an outright win.

Herndon/Few: This is a runoff between two former Kershaw County GOP chairs. David Herndon has the endorsement of outgoing House 79 Rep. Bill Cotty. On the other side, voucher candidate Sheri Few has gotten more money from Howard Rich over the last two years than his own wife, but has yet to win an election with all this voucher cash. The winner faces Democrat Anton Gunn in the fall.

Rivers/Brantley: As usual, Jasper County is the epicenter of political upheaval in South Carolina. House 122 Rep. Curtis Brantley is the sole Democrat and the sole member of the Legislative Black Caucus to support vouchers. It’s refreshingly independent, until you realize that 84% of his campaign funding in 2006 was from Howard Rich and other out-of-state voucher donors … then, it doesn’t seem very refreshing at all, and definitely not independent. Former Rep. Thayer Rivers, who was blindsided by all the out-of-state cash last go-round, has forced a runoff with Brantley on Tuesday.

Young/Singer: In this Aiken race for House 81, SCRG sent out mail attacking Tom Young, so he’s probably the best candidate. I really don’t know much about this contest, so I googled “young singer aiken.” I still don’t know much about the race, but that Clay Aiken really has some pipes!

Should make for an interesting Tuesday night.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Gangs of New York"

From Tuesday's Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

The common thread between [state senate candidate Lee] Bright and [Tom] Davis is that they are backed by S.C. Club for Growth, South Carolinians for Responsible Government and Conservatives in Action - three organizations that state Rep. Harold Mitchell collectively refers to as the "Gangs of New York" because of their ties to private school voucher proponent and New York millionaire Howard Rich.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blue Ridge BBQ Festival

Last weekend was the Bridges family’s first-ever trip to the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival in Tryon, NC, and it’s definitely going to be an annual event. We had a great time.

There was non-stop music, great barbecue, kiddie rides, crafts, cold beer, and even a cool river to wade in when the mercury got too high.

If you’ve never been to this festival, I wholeheartedly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are some of the South Carolina teams that competed this year:

Bare Bonz BBQ, Greenwood (1st Place ‘Anything But’)
Big Herbs Smokin’ BBQ (5th Place ‘Anything But’)
Bone Heads, Charleston
B.S. Pittmeister, Boiling Springs (5th Place Chicken, 2nd Place Pork Ribs)
Butts-R-Us, Spartanburg
Cannon’s BBQ Hut, Spartanburg
Common Interest, Charleston
Divine Smoke, Greenwood (4th Place Pork, 3rd Place Overall)
Pappa Smoke, West Columbia (Gervais’ team)
Smokin Tigers BBQ, Simpsonville
Southern Hillbilly Smokers, Moore
Sue E. Pigg, Clemson (4th Place ‘Anything But’)
Swine Time, Murrell’s Inlet
Too Bad You’re My Cousin, Greenville (2nd Place ‘Anything But’)
Up In Smoke, Greenville

*My other favorite team names were Funk Q & The Pig You Rode In On, and Silence of the Hams (slogan: “It puts the sauce on itself”).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Howard S. Rich vs. Gervais S. Bridges

Gervais got a nice note in the mailbox last week. It was a letter from the State Ethics Commission telling me that SCRG president Randy Page’s complaint against me had been dismissed.

This is really good news, because now I have zero pending ethics complaints, which happens to be my target number.

Those of you who’ve been following Barbecue & Politics for about a minute know that I like to skewer Page and the rest of the employees of the “South Carolina” school voucher faction a lot. Usually it has something to do with SCRG being funded by a NYC millionaire whose interest in education only goes as far as diverting funds from public schools in our state.

In fact, other than being a complete sham, I really have no major gripes with SCRG.

Some might say I’m beating a dead horse, but to me it feels more like a piƱata. Except instead of a stick I’m using a laptop. And instead of candy, it’s slimy politics and out-of-state cash that oozes out.

For Gervais, this stuff is fun. And people get all sensitive about it, which makes it even more fun. It has a high Squirm Factor.

But that’s just Gervais S. Bridges. When I’m not using the nom de plume, I like to talk about this stuff too.

I talk about the candidates who got 99% of their funds from out-of-state.

I talk about the phony letters SCRG sent to the newspaper, and the radio ads that mispronounced “South Carolinians,” because I think it says a lot about what’s going on here.

I like to talk about the oaths against public education, the many LLC’s Howard Rich uses to get around our state’s contribution limits, and the guy who was listed as a $1000 contributor to a voucher candidate even though he didn’t give a red cent.

I speak to the people leading the fight against this voucher scheme, and help them articulate the message about what exactly is going on in South Carolina politics, from a blogger's perspective.

I speak to groups of people around the state who just want to know about this stuff.

I’ve even fueled up the truck and driven across the state to have one-on-one chats with real-life SC lawmakers, trying to fix this problem.

Now here’s where I’ll give you a warning. Before you go gettin’ the notion that you’re going to talk to a lawmaker about a problem, you better keep reading.

I’ve discovered that some folks don’t particularly like it when you talk about SCRG being one of Howard Rich’s front groups. And nobody dislikes it more than someone who gets paid $88,000 a year to pretend that it’s not.

So when I got a call from the Ethics Commission a couple months ago letting me know SCRG president Randy Page had filed a complaint against me accusing me of being an unregistered lobbyist, I wasn’t altogether surprised. The truth is, I’ve grown to enjoy the exasperated “you and your blog” look that my wife gives when things like this come up.

Until somebody invents a machine that automatically turns New York money into frivolous complaints and junk mail, this is Page’s job.

And if he thinks it’s a good use of Howard Rich's cash, I’m not going to argue with him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Scientists converge on SC to confirm sightings

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, black GOP lawmaker allegedly spotted in Palmetto State

B&P News – N. Charleston

Scientists from around the country are traveling to South Carolina this weekend to investigate the appearance of an entity long thought to be extinct, and also to look for a bird. The experts are in the Palmetto State hoping to confirm alleged sightings of a black Republican elected to the State House, and the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in the Lowcountry.

“This is really amazing to me,” said ornithologist Cooper Hawkins of Minnesota. “Against all odds, there are rumors of a black Republican lawmaker in South Carolina.”

Scientists are also excited about the Ivory Bill.

“Sure, I guess that’s neat,” said Hawkins. “But come on, Republican?”

There have been no confirmed cases of black Republican election in the South Carolina State House since Reconstruction, and the last established sighting of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was also decades ago.

Still, authorities have found the initial reports credible enough to warrant a full-scale investigation, even if previously alleged South Carolina sightings have been forgeries.

In 1971, then-legislator Alex Sanders claimed to have heard the distinctive double rap of the Ivory Bill in the Santee Swamp. The claim is now widely believed to have been a hoax aimed at conserving swampland.

Ten years later, freshman state senator Glenn McConnell of Charleston claimed to be the first black Republican lawmaker since Reconstruction, but researchers later ascertained that he was in fact very, very white.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bill Sandifer in House District 2 GOP primary

Bill Sandifer: 72%
Ed Rumsey: 28%

From the Anderson Independent Mail:

Sandifer, 63, had little trouble fending off Rumsey in the Republican primary 3,269 to 1,283, according to unofficial returns Tuesday...

Rumsey, a salesman and former chairman of the Oconee County Republican Party, campaigned for school choice and received financial backing from people outside of South Carolina who favor school vouchers.

Carl Gullick in House District 48 GOP primary

Carl Gullick: 52%
Kyle Boyd: 48%

From the Charlotte Observer:

“They spent some money,” Gullick said Tuesday night. “Kyle Boyd seems to be a nice guy. That wasn't the issue. The issue was SCRG. They attempted to buy a seat, and they almost got it.”

The organization put out more than a dozen varieties of pro-Boyd fliers, including one sent this week that claimed legislators voted against hunting and fishing rights.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mike Sottile in House District 112 GOP primary

Mike Sottile: 56%
Joe Bustos: 44%

Pictured: junk mail from "South Carolinians" for Responsible Government

Mike Forrester in House District 34 GOP primary

Mike Forrester: 56%
Ken Roach: 44%

Pictured: "issue advocacy" mail from "South Carolinians" for Responsible Government

B.R. Skelton in House District 3 GOP primary

B.R. Skelton: 54%
Trey Whitehurst: 46%

Pictured: junk mail from "South Carolinians" for Responsible Government

Keith Kelly in House District 35 GOP primary

Keith Kelly: 55%
Roger Nutt: 45%

Pictured: junk mail from "South Carolinians" for Responsible Government.

Vote Today!

And follow the results of the primaries tonight at In the past, the SC Votes site has done a good job posting results as they come in from the counties. Just add soda pop and the trait of political nerdiness, and let the good times roll!

UPDATE 7:32 PM: Results are trickling in over at WIS-TV's website.

Friday, June 06, 2008

More SCRG in the news

SCRG is having some good news days lately if their goal is bumping their name recognition up a few notches. If, on the other hand, their goal is not being exposed as a front group for an anti-public education ideologue in New York City... well, they better buy up all the newspapers they can with all that money.

Spartanburg Herald-Journal: "Whenever you hear the pig squeal, you know you're getting its attention," [Republican Rep. Bill] Cotty said. "We have an immigration problem in South Carolina that the bill we passed didn't handle: The immigration of out-of-state dollars by rich special interests who are trying to buy our state election by election, issue by issue, without revealing who they really are, where they're really from and what they're really about."

Anderson Independent-Mail: Oconee County’s Bill Sandifer, a Republican in the South Carolina House, is the latest local lawmaker to come under attack by voucher and tax credit proponents (read: public money for private education) disguised not too cleverly as “responsible” citizens of South Carolina.

Free Times: Perhaps exemplifying SCRG’s role in the South Carolina project, an Anderson County councilman, Ron Wilson, said [SCRG president Randy] Page called him in ’06 and offered him big-time financial backing to run against Rep. Dan Cooper, R-Anderson and chair of the powerful budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee, according to a Feb. 28 article in the Post and Courier.

Get your voter registration cards out, people. Sandlapper Super Tuesday is just a few days away.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

B&P EXCLUSIVE: A look at the hit list pledge

The State
newspaper recently mentioned a “contract for change” which may or may not be a political stunt, may or may not have been drafted by former Sanford spokesman Will Folks, may or may not have been plagiarized from The State’s editorial pages, and may or may not have been signed by the slate of voucher candidates who are being funded by NYC millionaire Howard Rich this cycle.

The contract is a farce, but truth be told, I wondered if the Hit List Compact had some solid ideas.

By posing as a candidate in fictional “House District 317 in Chesterburg County,” Gervais has obtained an exclusive look at the pledge.

Here are some of the key provisions:

Spending: Gourmet coffee served at State House to be secretly replaced with Folgers Crystals

Bureaucracy: Mandatory use of “ghost men” on base paths during agency softball games

Restructuring: Comptroller General will report directly to executive branch of whichever state he has driven his publicly owned minivan

Government Efficiency: Streamline cumbersome Budget “and” Control Board into more efficient Budget “&” Control Board

Checks and Balances: Saying “G’day Guvnah” in funny British accent will be jailable offense

Crime and Punishment: First-time criminal defendants get three chances to “roll doubles” and avoid jail time

Judiciary: When liberal, activist judges legislate from the bench, confiscate bench for 60 days

Education: Fully fund public schools, but only if Air Force has a bake sale to build a bomber

Workers Compensation: Avoid saying that workers comp premiums cost “an arm and a leg” in vicinity of workers who have actually lost arms or legs

Ethics: Lawmakers may only apply pine tar to first 18 inches of the mace of the House of Representatives

As you can see, it’s a pretty good pledge. Like the media, I gave it all the consideration it was due. But ultimately, Gervais didn’t sign it.

At the end of the day I only have one pledge, and that’s to do my best for the people of Chesterburg County.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Never about vouchers

The folks over at Take Back SC are doing a good job keeping up with voucher group SCRG's various mailpieces as they ooze into mailboxes around the state. The latest one assails a lawmaker for his "failure to protest" a vote.

Seriously, postal workers need to wear gloves when handling this stuff.

These SCRG hit-pieces have covered every topic from gays to gasoline, from prophylactics to poetry, and from marijuana to Mark Foley.

In fact, there's only one issue SCRG goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning when attacking a candidate.

Monday, June 02, 2008

SCRG in the news

It’s been a rough week for those among us shilling for libertarian millionaire Howard Rich:

5/28 Aiken Standard: SCRG is a pro-voucher organization that wants to stack the Legislature with others of a like mind. It targets those who have a record of being in favor of public money going to public schools only. And rather than merely supporting candidates it likes, SCRG uses scurrilous negative advertising in an effort to scuttle the campaigns of those it is against.

5/28 Anderson Independent-Mail: In a recorded telephone message received at Pickens County households on Tuesday, [Rep. B.R.] Skelton said that the statements in the mailers are an “absolute lie” and that South Carolinians for Responsible Government is “a shell group set up to ruin our educational system in South Carolina.”

Skelton said in the message that, “This group is financed by Howard Rich, a New York millionaire, and is not a South Carolina group at all.” The closing to the message was Skelton saying “My vote is not for sale.”

5/29 Seneca Daily Journal: Outside interests continue to hold significant sway in Rumsey’s campaign, as $3,000 of his contributions come from purported Howard Rich connections in New York City. … Rich is known for funneling money through obscure LLCs, a tactic used to circumvent South Carolina’s contribution laws that restrict contributions to $3,500 for statewide offices and $1,000 for local offices.

6/2 The State: “I call them political terrorists,” said state Rep. Gene Pinson, R-Greenwood. “They’re outside of the state, trying to do a hostile takeover of state government. I like for South Carolinians to run South Carolina.”

Gervais says, if the Palmetto State's fourth estate keeps peelin' the onion on the out-of-state voucher lobby, I might have to give out some pulled-pork Pulitzers.