August 29, 2015

Audit questions Farmers Market land deal involving political donor

Farmers sheds at the State Farmers Market (Image: SCDA)

Farmers sheds at the State Farmers Market (Image: SCDA)

A new audit into the State Farmers Market claims South Carolina agriculture officials did not follow good real estate practices when they purchased sections of the site from a property owner who had donated the maximum allowed towards the reelection campaign of South Carolina’s agriculture commissioner.

The report released by the Legislative Audit Council on Thursday warns an appraiser who evaluated the $7 million sale may have relied too heavily on the limited liability corporation that benefitted from selling the land. It also said Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers should have informed legislators that a political donor owned the property when he asked those legislators to set aside funds for the purchase.

But Weathers angrily accused the audit of making inappropriate insinuations of a political quid pro quo even though no laws were broken.

State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, requested the audit last year after the Department of Agriculture paid $7.06 million for about nine acres of additional property at the farmer’s market in 2013. Three years earlier, the market relocated from its old downtown Columbia location to the site near Dixiana in order to provide better highway access for the larger wholesalers which operate on the property.

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Walker addresses cadets at the Citadel

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and GOP presidential candidate used addressed cadets at the Citadel Friday afternoon.

Walker said he would get tough on the terror group ISIS. “The policy of a Walker administration will be to confront radical Islamic terrorism using the full range of our options.”

He said the Iran nuclear agreement cannot happen. “If this deal goes forward, it will be remembered as one of the greatest foreign policy failures in U.S. history. If Congress fails to stop the nuclear deal, I will terminate it on day one,” Walker said. “I refuse to live with a deal that threatens our safety and that of our closest allies.”

Walker went after Hillary Clinton. “Her disregard for top secret, classified and sensitive information on her email server shows she cannot be trusted to be commander in chief,” Walker said.

He said now is the time for leadership and his experiences make him the right person to be president. “I have been tested like no other candidate in this race. As president I will send the following message, the retreat is over. American leadership is back,” Walker said.



SC emergency officials paying close attention to Tropical Storm Erika

Erika's path. Click to enlarge (National Hurricane Center/NOAA)

Erika’s path. Click to enlarge (National Hurricane Center/NOAA)

State emergency officials say they are paying close attention to Tropical Storm Erika as the storm slugs its way through the Caribbean Sea on Friday.

Erika’s position at 2:00 p.m. Friday was over the Dominican Republic, but current forecasts models have it moving over the Florida panhandle on a path north next week. The storm is expected to weaken but could reach South Carolina by Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters warn it is still too early to know Erika’s path or strength in another five days.

But the South Carolina Emergency Management Division is partially activating the state’s Emergency Operations Center and raising its status to Operational Readiness Condition 4, which is the second-lowest of the state’s five operational conditions.

“We’re hopeful that the storm won’t affect South Carolina, but we’re making preparations in case it does,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said in an emailed statement. “We need to be prepared for the possibility of storm surge, heavy winds, rain and even tornadoes next week.”

He urged residents in potentially vulnerable areas to review their plans now in order to prepare for any actions they would need to take next week if the storm threatens South Carolina.

#PalmettoPrimary Four candidates in the state on Friday

Rick Perry spoke to about 200 people at a Columbia town hall hosted by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott

Rick Perry spoke to about 200 people at a Columbia town hall hosted by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott

A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.

Four Republican candidates will be in South Carolina on Friday, hoping to gain momentum in a race that’s been dominated by Donald Trump.

The most high-profile event will likely be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker giving a speech at The Citadel laying out his foreign policy plan. The 12:15 speech is expected to lay out an aggressive, give-no-ground strategy to confront ISIS, Iran, and other groups working against American interests.

“As president, I will send the following message: the retreat is over,” Walker said in an excerpt released to news outlets on Friday morning. “American leadership is back and, together with our allies, we will not surrender another inch of ground to terrorists or any other power that threatens our safety.”

Walker is scheduled to begin speaking at the Mark Clark Hall at The Citadel around 12:15 p.m.

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Rubio emphasizes future in town hall with USC students

Florida U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio focused on the future during a town hall stop on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia on Thursday.

Rubio said it’s time the federal government moves into the 21st Century. “We have government policies from the past that just don’t work anymore.” He told the crowd of roughly 1,000 attendees that the economy is very different than it was 15-30 years ago and the U.S. must change to move forward.

 Marco Rubio speaking to a crowd of mainly college students on the campus of USC Thursday. South Carolina Radio Network photo.

Marco Rubio speaking to a crowd of mainly college students on the campus of USC Thursday. South Carolina Radio Network photo.

He said America must do more to keep companies inside its borders. “If we keep the highest combined corporate tax rate, more companies are going to keep moving to other countries,” he said. “That’s why they move to Canada.”

Rubio is hoping to kickstart his campaign. He currently sits among the half-dozen Republican candidates whose support varies from 4 percent to 8 percent in the polls — far behind frontrunner Donald Trump. The most recent poll of South Carolina voters found just 6 percent supported the junior Florida senator.

Rubio told the crowd of mainly college students that he supports a student investment plan where private companies help pay for students to attend college, rather than taking out student loans. In return, a small percentage of the student’s income will go to the private company for the first ten years the student is employed.

He said many Americans are disillusioned with the future of the country. “They call it ‘The American Dream’ because it happened for so many people in this country and it’s been so rare everywhere else. And so it should trouble us, it should concern us that there are now millions of people who think that  ‘The American Dream’ is no longer possible. And there are a lot of reasons why people feel that way,” Rubio said.

Rubio was one three GOP presidential candidates in South Carolina Thursday. Rick Perry at different event, also spoke in Columbia. Primary frontrunner, Donald Trump, spoke in Greenville.