This Just In

Senator Calls for DSS Director’s Firing

Plus, Hearing Set in House Speaker Ethics Investigation
By Eva Moore
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |

Sen. Joel Lourie called on the governor to fire Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller yesterday, saying the director has “has violated state statues and endangered the lives of children in DSS care.” Koller told senators last week that her agency’s doing pretty well, and refused to resign.

A hearing is set for next week in the grand jury investigation of whether House Speaker Bobby Harrell improperly used his position to benefit his company and used campaign funds for personal use. Harrell’s attorneys tell the Post and Courier they’ll ask the circuit judge to rule that Harrell should be investigated by a panel of House members instead of by the grand jury. But a key reason the Harrell investigation was taken up by the attorney general and forwarded to a grand jury in the first place was out of fear that, as speaker, Harrell wields too much influence over the House Ethics Committee.

An audit by a Michigan firm called Funston Advisory Services has found the state’s pension agency “doesn’t overpay in investment fees but rather reports those fees more thoroughly than any other public pension fund in the nation,” according to the Post and Courier. State Treasurer Curtis Loftis has spent years arguing the fund is mismanaged, pays too-high fees and performs poorly. Auditors say the fund is actually quite transparent. They did admit, however, that it pays higher-than-average management fees, though they say that’s because the fund deals in a lot of alternative investments. In fact, reports the Post and Courier, “Funston’s nearly-300-page report says the dysfunctional relationship between the commission and Loftis, a member of the agency’s board, is one of the most significant risks to the $27 billion portfolio that benefits more than 550,000 public workers, retirees and their beneficiaries.”

The New York Times profiled the College of Charleston’s recent travails yesterday, notably the state Legislature’s rage over students having been assigned Alison Bechdel’s memoir, which deals in part with her coming out; and the college’s hiring of Confederacy-lovin’ Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as its next president. According to the Gray Lady, these incidents “have thrust this oldest college south of Virginia into protracted turmoil as the latest flash point in the nation’s culture wars.”

Richland County cops also say a man jumped off the I-20 bridge into the Broad River during a traffic stop Tuesday. Department of Natural Resources patrollers have been unable to locate his body. The man who bystanders say jumped off the Gervais Street bridge last week has not been found, either.

Richland County sheriff’s deputies shot at a suspect Tuesday, hitting him in the arm. WIS says the man is accused of selling drugs, and that he threw marijuana out of his car during a chase.

The first major task of Skip Holbrook, Columbia’s new police chief, will be hiring a bunch of new cops to fill vacancies at the department, The State reports. He’d particularly like to focus on hiring minorities and females so the department’s demographics better represent the Capital City.

Lexington County Council is considering raising taxes for the fourth year in a row, The State reports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Sen. Lindsey Graham for reelection Tuesday, surprising nobody.

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