The column this month is something of a housekeeping document. We are confronted with a serious, albeit unpredictable hurricane a few hundred miles off our coast. We are also looking at a menu of cancelled, but hopefully rescheduled events, such as the 30th annual Beach Sweep/River Sweep set for Saturday at Bluffton Oyster Factory Park.

I have just listened to the governor’s hurricane update on S.C. Public Radio, broadcast at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. In truth, I was hoping to hear whether changes in the Hurricane Florence storm track were going to reset our local evacuation, which was recently rescinded. It wasn’t. What I didn’t expect was to be so impressed with the overall quality of the presentation.

Gov. McMaster gave a brief opening statement encapsulating what you were about to hear. He called upon each of his department heads to fill in the details of how their agencies had responded to the weather emergency we were facing.

If I had just moved to South Carolina and was looking to the state government for insight into how they were handling the situation, I would have listened to these public servants in awe. They knew their information, they answered the governor’s questions concisely and accurately, and follow-up questions from the press were answered with equal precision and respect. It certainly would instill confidence in the way the emergency, at least at the state level, was being confronted.

Even after I learned what I needed to know, I kept listening. From lane reversal schedules to where state prisoners were being housed, the presentation was outstanding.

At the local level, our Bluffton Republican club meeting last week was somewhat sparsely attended. Apparently, at the last minute, there were issues with the venue and the tent at Rose Hill. Kudos to Paul Runko, Republican Club vice president, for securing the temporary clubhouse for our meeting.

I gave a brief Statehouse activity update. We then heard from local Republican candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot. They were Ken Fulp for probate judge, Chris Hervochon for Beaufort County Council District 8 and Rachel Wisnefski for school board. Always good to see folks stepping up for public service.

At the state level, I was pleased and grateful that our Legislative Oversight Committee, of which I am founding chairman, was recognized by the National Conference of State Legislatures and National Legislative Program Evaluation Society. We received the 2018 Certificate of Impact for our programmatic study of the Department of Public Safety.

I was unable to attend the meeting and awards ceremony, but two of our senior staff folks did attend. It is certainly gratifying to know that our mission to oversee the efficiency and mandate legislative compliance of the agencies of our state is serving as a model for other jurisdictions.

As we flesh out the particulars of our government reorganization to make more vivid the lines of accountability, it is important that we create and maintain a mechanism for overseeing the performance of our state agencies.

On a related note, I have been nominated for the Carl Levin Award for Effective Oversight by the Wayne State University Law School. According to the prospectus, “When conducted well, on a bipartisan basis, with a commitment to finding the facts and uncovering the truth, oversight fulfills the checks and balances envisioned by our Constitution, fosters legislative relationships, builds public trust in legislatures, and improves public policy and government programs.”

Obviously, I am honored by the nomination, but win or lose, it is such a clear statement of my commitment to public service, I am happy to be in the pool of nominees. We all share a special kinship.

 

Weston Newton, R-Bluffton, represents District 120 in the South Carolina House of Representatives. His column runs monthly. He can be reached at westonnewton@hargray.com.