Gov. Haley refuses to answer questions
about FOI request
Last week, Gov. Nikki Haley refused during a public appearance to answer a reporter's questions about public documents her administration has failed to provide.
The Dec. 15 appearance was the time her spokesman said the governor would be available to discuss a possible violation of the state public records law and other recent criticism of her influence over an independent health panel.
Haley presided over a 20-minute meeting of the state Budget and Control Board. Haley routinely makes herself available for media inquiries after such meetings.
Confronted by a Post and Courier reporter who was among other members of the media, Haley refused to speak or make eye contact. A group of aides surrounded her, keeping reporters out of the way.
"We have to move along today," a staffer said.
When told the public appearance was the one time the governor's own spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said she would be available, a staffer said: "You'll have to talk to Rob Godfrey about that."
Godfrey could not be immediately reached.
Haley, surrounded by her group of aides, waited for an elevator in silence as a reporter asked why emails sent from Haley were not included in response to a May public records request by the newspaper.
Bill Rogers, Executive Director of the S. C. Press Association, likened Haley to "a deer in headlights."
"She backed out of her responsibility to answer the questions," Rogers said. "A press release doesn't cut it."
Haley's office for three days has refused to say why emails in question were not a part of its response.
The March emails show Haley dictated the findings of a committee she set up to study how the state would handle the federal health care overhaul before the panel met for the first time.
The Health Planning Committee's November findings mirrored Haley's directive that "the whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange."
A central part of the federal health overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.
The Post and Courier in May requested documents related to the exchange from the governor's office, which released no emails from Haley.
Haley's emails surfaced Friday after a different state agency responded to a separate request for documents.
The two requests are nearly identical.
To view a video of Gov. Haley ignoring reporter's questions, click here.
- By Renee Dudley of The Post and Courier
Still time to sign up for annual legislative workshop
It's not too late to register for the annual Legislative Workshop for the Media, which will be held on Jan. 5, at the Statehouse.
This event will preview the 2012 legislative session and is a one-stop shop that will allow credentialed media to interview key members of both the House and Senate. Legislators will discuss various topics including the budget, tax reform, spending limits, restructuring through the Department of Administration, the state retirement system, economic development, road management, tax fairness and more. All discussions are on the record.
If you register before Dec. 28, the cost to attend is $50. A $10 per-person late fee will be charged for registrations made after that date. Click here to register.
What do you like best about your job?
Like nearly everyone else in the industry, I never know what each day will hold. A surprise is always awaiting me when I come in to the office! Cliché, but true. I also enjoy getting to work with and know ad reps all over the state. When I'm on a road trip and we drive through a city that I've never been to, I can always name the local newspaper and act like I'm much more knowledgeable about the area than I really am :)
How do you view the future of the newspaper industry?
I think there will always be a demand for the high quality product that the newspaper provides, but I believe it will be presented much differently - whether that's tablets, mobile, stories targeted to your specific interests, etc. - I'm not sure. I'll leave that to the head honchos to figure out!
Favorite thing about working at SCPA/SCNN:
Come hungry, leave happy. There is never a shortage of tasty goodies around the SCPA/SCNN offices - especially in December. And if we don't have what you like, you can be sure to get a great recommendation from Bill Rogers (that is, if you like barbecue).
What profession would you have chosen if you could not have worked at SCPA/SCNN?
Good question. I did a little research on this one, and have decided on Ferrari driving instructor. According to dailyworth.com, a former NASCAR driver makes upwards of $120k/year doing that. And it must be fun. But first I'd have to learn how to drive a stick shift...
Any big plans coming up?
I'm headed home to visit my family in Austin over the Christmas holiday, and hopefully to Vegas for my birthday in a few months!
Former backer slams Haley: Operative says deleting emails shows lack of transparency
Gov. Nikki Haley drew criticism last week from an influential member of her own party and former ally, who came down on the governor's policy of deleting certain email exchanges with staff members.
The Post and Courier reported that
Ashley Landess, a conservative political operative, pointed out that Haley promised voters her administration would "fight for accountability and transparency."
"When you run on a platform of fully open, transparent government, you better be the most open elected official at the table every time without exception," said Landess, an architect of Haley's most notable victory while in the Legislature, roll-call voting.
Haley's policy of deleting certain emails became an issue when controversial messages from March surfaced Dec. 9. They revealed Haley's influence over an independent, taxpayer-funded committee she established to determine how health care reform should be implemented in South Carolina.
The Department of Health and Human Services provided the emails to The Post and Courier last week. Haley's office failed to include them in its response to a separate, nearly identical request in May.
Asked why the emails were not included, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said Thursday the governor's office was
"in full compliance with the law" and "any suggestion otherwise is totally inaccurate."
He continued: "What I'm saying is that the email had not been retained."
Haley's office has a policy of deleting internal emails, archiving only public correspondence, The State newspaper reported in November. Staffers told The State that Haley almost never uses email to conduct state business, instead relying on phone calls and in-person meetings.
City delays response to request for records in Lamar Jack case
City leaders in Anderson refused again last week to release an email detailing steps the police department has taken in handling the death of college basketball player Lamar Jack. The email that city leaders are withholding is supposed to detail the steps the Anderson Police Department took in responding to Jack's parents' request and in handling the investigation of the young man's death. The email was provided to the city council, but city leaders first denied, and are now reconsidering, the Independent Mail's Dec. 2 request for the document.
Jay Bender said the city has no good reason to delay in responding to a request for a public document.“How difficult is it to find an email?” he said. “I can
find my email fairly quickly.
“It seems to me that what they are doing is what a lot of public bodies do: Harass their citizens by delaying access to documents that are readily available.
“It reminds me of Shakespeare's soliloquy in 'Macbeth': 'Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day.'”
|Columbia police prepare to enforce anti-cussing law
The AP reported this week that police in Columbia say they’ve decided it’s time to enforce an ordinance that outlaws profane language within city limits
WIS-TV 10 reports that blue signs with the words “No Profanity” written on them could be coming to parks in Columbia.
Columbia Police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons says officers are renewing efforts to stop people who are using vulgar language in a public place. Police deny the ordinance violates First Amendment rights.
“We do respect people’s first amendment rights,” Timmons said, as reported by WIS. “If they want to curse, do it in their own home. Why do you have to do it in park where they are other children, other people who will. This, it’s just quite frankly, pretty rude.”
Others believe that enforcing such a law leaves it to police to judge the fuzzy distinction between what might be offensive speech to some people but not others.
NY Times Co. confirms talks to sell Regional Media Group that includes Spartanburg Herald-Journal
The New York Times Co. announced earlier this week that it is in advanced discussions to sell its Regional Media Group, consisting of 16 regional newspapers, including the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, to Halifax Media Holdings LLC. The potential deal includes other print publications and related businesses. Poynter's Rick Edmonds shares more details on the pending sale.
AP Stylebook's new tool automatically edits your writing
The Associated Press unleashed software Thursday that proofreads content using AP Stylebook’s guidelines on spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style. The new plug-in software, AP StyleGuard, works in Microsoft Word and will come in handy for writers and editors who produce and publish news articles and press releases. AP StyleGuard is available only for PC users, but in a tweet, @APStylebook hints at someday bringing the tool to Macs. The product operates on Windows XP and higher and Microsoft Office 2003 or higher. The introductory rate (available until April 1) for AP members is $39.99. The introductory rate for non-AP members is $49.99.
Understanding the latest financial reports of some newspaper industry leaders
By Lou Phelps of the Savannah Daily News
For many in the newspaper business, the national media 'story' and 'spin' on our industry is frustrating. Who are these people who report on the financial strength of our companies, including on the performance of the publicly traded publishing companies?
And why do they fail to understand the successful restructuring that most newspaper publishing companies have now achieved, either through creative and aggressive management decisions or through the benefit of beneficial bankruptcy filings?
There is no question that our revenues have declined significantly over the past five years, but so have our expenses. Unlike many business sectors, our expenses are tied very tightly to revenue. And, our industry, generally, is not burdened with significant research and development costs or patent attorneys, such as those in the drug or manufacturing sectors.
Take a restaurant, for example. It has to have employees standing there to cook and serve, and has to purchase the food items listed on the menu whether customers come in the door on Friday night or not.
Not so with the newspaper business. If our ad revenues decline, we cut newsprint/ink usage, we buy fewer stories and photographs, and we don't pay sales commissions (particularly optimum if sales reps are on straight commission.) Well-run newspaper companies have controlled all of their overhead and operating expenses, and changed their staffing strategies to be able to adjust to these vagaries.
Where people get information about restaurants and local businesses
People looking for information about local restaurants and other businesses say they rely on the internet, especially search engines, ahead of any other source. Newspapers, both printed copies and the websites of newspaper companies, run second behind the internet as the source that people rely on for news and information about local businesses, including restaurants and bars.
Local news outlets among Googles most-searched terms
The regional breakdown of Google’s year-end study of search terms shows how much people use the search engine to find local news sources, says Johanna Wright, the company’s Director of Product Management. “In nearly every single U.S. city we looked at, the top ten local terms showed that people were using Google to find local news stations and learn more about educational organizations,” she writes. (A Google employee clarifies that she was referring to various media outlets, not just broadcast.)Among the things that pop out from the most searched terms in 30 cities:
- People associate broadcast stations with weather news.
- In some cities, people type in the name of a news website, while in others they search for the name of the newspaper connected to the news site. In some cases, both terms make the top 10.
In Defense of a Proposal
The column began: "If you indulge me for a moment, I'd like to tell you about someone very close to my heart." It was by a former student of mine, a self-admitted "hopeless romantic." It ended 750 words later with this: "Whitney Bragg, will you marry me?" It drew national attention to the small South Carolina daily. Bragg said "yes." But it's what some others had to say that brings me to rise in defense of the proposal. The note back from the columnist, Nick McCormac, to my congratulatory message said it could have been a better day. Some responses apparently were pretty mean, and some comments on stories done about the column carried the same tone. From the comments on Poynter: "An abuse of privilege and an affront to hard-working journalists" and "gag me."
Don't let phasing faze ya
At least 99% of the redesigns I've done have been full-bore-knock-down-drag-out pedal- to-the-metal-do-it-now projects. We may work on the redesign for months, but when it's ready, we launch it with a Big Bang. But occasionally, some are more inclined to a phased approach, introducing the redesign slowly. There are two key reasons for this approach: 1. Concern that readers and advertisers will react negatively to what they see as too much change. 2. Knowing that your newsroom and designers are a small group who need to be able to juggle the redesign project with their day-to-day duties. Don't let a phased redesign faze you.