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Sanford, Harrell Were Warned About State Port Crisis February 11, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

Port accident


FITSNews – February 11, 2007 – The biggest shipping association in the world – whose membership accounts for 95% of container traffic at the Port of Charleston – told South Carolina’s top political leaders seven months ago to either shape up or its members would be shipping out.

In a July 11, 2006 letter obtained exclusively by FITSNews, Chairman and CEO James A. Capo of the United States Maritime Alliance told Gov. Mark Sanford, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell that South Carolina’s restrictions against free market expansion were “counterproductive” and would “discourage interest in investing in the development of the new terminal” in Charleston.

Because of its refusal to allow public-private partnerships, South Carolina’s State Ports Authority is over a decade behind schedule in expanding its capacity in Charleston and in building a new terminal in job-starved Jasper County, home to the only deep water port location remaining on the Eastern Seaboard. As a result, Charleston has dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 among America’s busiest ports.

“We have a lot of concerned customers out there that we’ve been delaying,” said Ports Authority Executive Director Bernard Groseclose.

Talk about an understatement.

Except here’s the thing. Groseclose didn’t say that to FITSNews for this article. Believe it or not, he said it over six years ago – in a December 4, 2000 article that appeared in the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

That’s how long these idiots have kept our state behind the eight ball.

Despite the Ports Authority’s Marxist moorings, free market hopes soared with the election of Gov. Mark Sanford, who campaigned in 2002 on “less regulation” and “running government like a business.” Unfortunately, Sanford’s commitment to these principles proved negotiable after Ports Authority Chairman and resident S.C. political chameleon Bill Stern began lining his pockets with campaign cash for a 2006 reelection bid.

In fact, it was Stern who directed fellow Ports Authority board member Carroll A. Campbell III – another Sanford cronie – to make a fateful SPA board motion in September 2005. By a 5-3 tally (with Stern, Campbell, Harry Butler, Whit Smith and James Bennett voting in the majority) South Carolina’s outdated “total state control” model was extended to any future expansion at the Port of Charleston.

That decision will cost taxpayers at least $138 million this year alone as the state helps foot the bill for a port access road that could have easily been funded through private investment.

“The SCSPA (S.C. State Ports Authority) seems to have made up its mind to continue to use business models that have been in place for decades at existing container terminals in Charleston,” Capo’s Maritime Alliance letter continued. “What has worked in the past, however, may not be suitable for the terminals of the future.”

“Give (our) members the same economic choices they have been afforded elsewhere both in the United States and abroad,” the letter concluded.

Thusfar, neither Sanford nor Harrell have demonstrated that they posses anything resembling the political will necessary to make that happen.

Harrell is not inclined to support market-based reforms. He makes no bones about his big government approach to solving our state’s problems.

But the governor, a supposed fiscal conservative who has repeatedly voiced his support for public-private partnerships, is the one with the power to resolve the situation by appointing reformers to the Ports Authority Board.

Unfortunately, those positions have been bought and paid for with Bill Stern’s campaign contributions.



1. whoopie - February 11, 2007

I am a life long conservative and Republican.

I am completely disheartened in the national and State GOP leadership. How has it happen that our party has become completely dysfunctional?

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