Promoting our history can help build future
As the chairman of the organization that put on the recent annual event commemorating the Columbia area's Civil War history, I take issue with Neil Mahoney's Sunday letter, "Columbia has cried enough about the past." Had Mr. Mahoney actually attended our educational and entertaining event, he would not found people "looking back for something to cry about."
On the contrary, he would have found people dedicated to accurately preserving history both for the appreciation of our collective heritage that helps us better understand who we are today and to promote the area's history for tourism purposes.
The Civil War era history of our area is a very compelling and important story. Mr. Mahoney shows his ignorance of that history when he compares it to a cow burning Chicago. Our residents and visitors can still actually experience firsthand the landmarks, structures and streets that were a part of that history. It is the uninformed attitude of Mr. Mahoney and those like him that continues to keep us from capitalizing on our potential tourism future by not wanting to talk about our past.
Those interested in learning more about the area's Civil War history should go to www.shermansmarch.com.
Chairman, Greater Columbia Civil War Alliance
Reader offers plan to fix labor agencies
Reorganizing the Employment Security Commission presents the state Legislature with a golden opportunity to do it right. It needs to combine ESC, Vocational Rehabilitation, Workers' Compensation and all other agencies focusing on labor into one agency. A start would be to combine ESC and vocational rehabilitation, because the primary mission of both is to find employment for S.C. residents.
The boards and commissions should be abolished, and the director would be appointed by the governor with approval of 60 percent of the state Senate and 60 percent of the House. A 60 percent vote of the Senate and a 60 percent vote of the House should be required to remove the director.
All employees should be hired by the director or his staff, not the governor, and the director could not have held elective office within the previous 36 months.
Advice to candidates: Listen to constituents
I would like to share one word with Henry McMaster and all of the Republican candidates running for governor or any political office - lottery.
The prevailing reason Democrat Jim Hodges won his bid for the governor's office in 1998 was his support for a state lottery to benefit education. A much stronger Republican candidate, David Beasley, misinterpreted the mood of voters and ignored that sentiment to his political demise.
Now we have McMaster and other Republicans saying they will not support a cigarette tax increase because they oppose any tax increases. I consider myself a staunch conservative, as a majority of our state's voters claim to be, and I am strongly in favor of a cigarette tax at least as high as the nation's average. We have seen a constant series of letters from our state's brightest medical professionals pointing out the correlation to a decrease in youth smoking, and have been shown surveys that reflect fully three-quarters of the population firmly in favor of this tax increase, yet many Republican leaders continue to ignore these facts.
I for one hope not to be saying "I told you so" after we watch a Democrat win the election for governor. I will vote for the candidate who supports the tax. Listen to your constituents, and vote as we compel you to vote. Or face the same political fate as David Beasley.
Nothing is unfair about voter photo ID
Voter fraud is an issue in the entire United States. For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would be against a voter photo ID.
I've read articles that compared this to the literacy tests required during the Jim Crow era. Who in the world made such a dumb statement? Also, critics say it would be unfair to the elderly and/or those who do not have driver's licenses. But anyone who doesn't drive still can get an official state ID card from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
So what's the big deal?
BENNIE S. WEST