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South Carolina editorial roundup

August 1, 2018

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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July 29

The Post and Courier of Charleston on the roadblocks a Medal of Honor museum faces:

Is a dispute over architecture and height limits worth throwing away a $100 million project?

Mount Pleasant officials say they really want the Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point, but obviously that isn’t entirely correct. They may want a Medal of Honor Museum, but town officials clearly don’t want the same thing as the project’s architect and museum officials.

“We really want the museum,” Mayor Will Haynie said. “We’re just tired of arguing about architecture and heights.”

Mr. Haynie still isn’t satisfied with the design of the museum after the architect reduced the height of his original design. That’s left museum CEO Joe Daniels frustrated in his efforts to move past the design stage and get on with fundraising.

During a public meeting ... members of the public embraced a reduced-height version of the original design that was rejected by Mount Pleasant’s officials. Museum officials wanted a soaring building that towers 125 feet over Charleston Harbor and makes a statement. Architect Moshe Safdie has lopped off 26 feet — getting its height below triple digits — but town officials are not budging. For whatever reason, possibly fears of anti-development backlash, they have refused to meet the museum part of the way.

The height still irks Mr. Haynie and Councilman Joe Bustos, head of the planning committee, because the site is zoned for only 50 feet.

“How are we supposed to react to that?” the mayor asked, adding that he felt like the museum team still wasn’t respecting the town’s zoning laws. Mr. Haynie said he was also led to believe that Mr. Safdie would have some completely new designs, not just variations on the original theme.

Obviously, there’s still a communications problems between the museum team and Mount Pleasant officials. And at this stage, it seems unlikely that Town Council would sign off on the latest design.

Mr. Bustos left the meeting early.

Mr. Daniels, who arrived in Charleston not long after the initial design was rejected, has done a good job of building public support for the project and repairing some frayed relationships on the museum board. But it’s clear he has more work to do in winning over Mount Pleasant officials.

Meanwhile, members of the public are being asked to weigh in on the latest designs via www.surveymonkey.com/r/NMOHMuseum.

Mount Pleasant gave the museum team a year to come up with a satisfactory design. So there’s still time for the two sides to compromise. But patience is wearing thin. After all, it has been about five years since the project got underway. And delays in settling on a design are holding up progress, most notably on fundraising.

It would be a shame for the Lowcountry to lose such a prestigious project. Patriots Point is a great spot for a national museum honoring our nation’s war heroes, and it is disappointing to see it held up by a design dispute. But if it won’t work there, the Medal of Honor Museum should consider another nearby city such as North Charleston, which has a deep military heritage and may be more welcoming to ambitious architecture.

At the start of the public workshop Thursday, Medal of Honor recipient Gen. Pat Brady concluded his brief address to the crowd with a good-natured, “God bless you. Get the . thing done.”

To that we say: Amen, general.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com

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July 21

Aiken Standard on how Donald Trump’s decisions can affect South Carolina:

We’ve heard the phrase “a New York minute” used to describe time passing quickly. Today, we may need to coin the term “a Trump minute” since time is moving faster than ever before.

It seems like months since the G7 Summit, NATO meeting, North Korea summit, European tour and most recently the Helsinki bilateral with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, but they’ve all happened in the last 45 days.

Trump’s summer abroad, appearing to be in a rush to negotiate new terms for trade and international relations, surely does not impact the average American’s daily life — unless they spend their days glued to cable news channels or the swinging stock market.

However, in Aiken County there are lives and livelihoods clinging to every second and tick-tock of a Trump minute. What’s happening internationally and in D.C. has a real impact on the CSRA.

As NATO’s weapons powerhouse, the U.S. diplomatic team, led by President Trump, casts doubt at the G7 among world leaders about the United States’ unwavering support for its allies and budding interest toward Russia. Was Trump using his lauded deal-making skills to solidify advantages for the U.S. or was there a nuclear-powered motive?

As a community nestled near several metric tons of plutonium, a leading cyber security facility at Fort Gordon and ongoing questions about our citizens’ roles in constructing the cores of nuclear weapons for the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy, we’re hoping there’s more to this deal.

Perpetual missions at the Savannah River Site will mean more jobs for national defense at the Savannah River Site and more money pumped into the economy of Aiken County.

The U.S. and Russia jointly agreed to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium in the 2000s era. That pact has been suspended and currently sits in limbo. The weapons-grade plutonium in question is enough to create thousands of nuclear weapons.

The MOX (mixed oxide) Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS is a product of that pact.

(...) White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders expressed President Trump’s desire to try a friendly approach with the eastern comrades: “Ninety percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are under the direction of the United States and Russia,” and, “it’s a good thing to get along with the other person that controls that much of nuclear arsenal across the globe.”

Perspectives change with every Trump minute.

Three minutes ago, we learned Fort Gordon deployed an intelligence group to an undisclosed location on a mission; two minutes ago, the U.S. government decided to cease the construction of the MOX facility at SRS with now-jeopardized disposition options; and one minute ago, we learned that the two men controlling 90 percent of the nuclear weapons on the planet met privately for two hours.

Time flies, and no one has time for conspiracy theories, but we could all use transparency.

Online: https://www.aikenstandard.com/

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July 31

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on the upcoming sales tax holiday:

The critics include reputable sources such as the Tax Foundation, which does research on taxation on the federal, state and local levels.

The foundation says sales tax holidays such as South Carolina’s this weekend are poor policy, costing states revenue while providing little benefit.

More policymakers are recognizing this less-than-desirable tradeoff, the foundation says. South Carolina is one of 17 states to use sales tax holidays in 2018, up one from 2017 but down from a peak of 19 states in 2010.

Findings of a Tax Foundation report from 2017:

- Sales tax holidays create additional tax compliance costs, but larger businesses tend to lobby for the holidays as a form of free advertising.

- Most sales tax holidays involve politicians picking products and industries to favor with exemptions, arbitrarily discriminating among products and across time, and distorting consumer decisions.

- While sales taxes are somewhat regressive, this does not make sales tax holidays an effective tool for providing relief to low-income individuals. In order to give a small amount of tax savings to those with lower incomes, holidays give a large amount of savings to higher-income groups as well.

- Political gimmicks like sales tax holidays distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief. If a state must offer a “holiday” from its tax system, it is an implicit recognition that the state’s tax system is uncompetitive. If policymakers want to save money for consumers, then they should cut the sales tax rate year-round.

While many may agree that sales taxes are due an examination and the state’s system has issues, they will not buy into the negative aspects of the tax holiday for back-to-school purchases.

There are good reasons locally for both buyer and seller to support the tax-free weekend.

Orangeburg is hungry for industrial development that will bring jobs — and is equally primed to see business growth in the retail and restaurant sectors.

Census numbers that are so critical to development decisions made by firms which have thousands upon thousands of choices in places to locate do not adequately tell the local story. The micropolitan area of which the City of Orangeburg is at the center is surrounded by a large county and surrounding counties that will support more business if given the opportunity.

One way people locally can boost the marketing effort is shopping at home. Successful retailers and restaurants are themselves a marketing tool. This tax-free weekend brings an opportunity to shop at home for one of the busiest retail periods of the year.

During the sales tax holiday, shoppers benefit from the exemption of the 6 percent state sales tax and local taxes on the purchase of school supplies.

To understand how important the weekend is for retailers, consider that the tax-free weekend has become the third-busiest shopping period of the year, surpassed only by the weekends after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

Parents will go back-to-school shopping regardless, but the tax holiday attracts cash-strapped shoppers who have delayed purchases.

And even if you don’t need school clothes, you can save money shopping during the sales-tax holiday. And you can find some great deals.

South Carolina shoppers typically save approximately $2-3 million over the course of the tax-free weekend. While larger markets such as Columbia and Charleston will get their share of the business, it is vital for the prospects of growth in Orangeburg and The T&D Region that local people prove businesses here can thrive.

It makes sense to spend money locally, where the economic growth promoted by the dollars will directly benefit quality of life. The boost in sales this weekend is important for retailers and the savings are welcomed by shoppers.

Online: https://thetandd.com/

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