By Paul Gable
No more proof is needed that Home Rule is a myth in South Carolina than Gov. Nikki Haley’s State of Emergency declaration Tuesday.
With a few words, Haley eliminated county governments and school districts from decision making processes that should have been left in local hands.
Our so-called conservative politicians complain all the time about big government intrusion on people’s lives, but it’s all talk. The conservatives in South Carolina love to exercise that power as much as any politician.
Specifically, Haley closed county governments and school districts for three days beginning yesterday because of impending emergencies associated with Hurricane Matthew. That closure applied not only to coastal counties, but rather to all counties east of Columbia.
It made no difference that Matthew was around Haiti and Cuba at the time the state of emergency went into effect in South Carolina.
It made no difference that students went to school in Florida on Wednesday, a state that will be affected by Matthew at least 48 hours before any storm effects make it to Horry County, but stayed home locally by order of the governor.
It made no difference that future hurricane track predictions are notoriously subject to change.
Haley had an opportunity to jump on the national stage again and she took it, ignoring local officials in the process.
And, Haley’s emergency declaration is conflicting. According to county officials, it applies to county governments and school boards, but not to municipal governments
Over the last six years, we have seen Haley’s reaction whenever she perceives the federal government intruding on her executive powers, but she had no problem doing the same to local governments Tuesday.
If you watched the regular meeting of Horry County Council Tuesday night, you could sense the frustration of local leaders as they announced county government offices and schools would be closed for the next three days by order of the governor.
According to Horry County officials, local plans were to have county employees report to work as normal on Wednesday and to make day to day decisions on government closure as warranted by local conditions.
Is this really a big deal?
Yes! According to county sources, all Horry County government employees will be paid for the three days off. However, county administrator Chris Eldridge said 60-70 percent of county government employees will be working Wednesday through Friday because they are included in county emergency preparedness plans. They will have to be compensated by either overtime or compensatory time off.
While those extra costs to the county are mounting, Hurricane Matthew will still be south of us. The most serious effects from the storm will not arrive in the local area until the Saturday night, Sunday morning time frame, according to current projections.
When Haley was making her state of emergency declaration Tuesday, Matthew was projected to make landfall near the NC/SC border sometime early Saturday. Now, the storm center is projected to get no closer than 60-90 miles offshore to the southeast of Horry County before heading further away from the coast.
Local officials are best situated to make these types of decisions based on local conditions and to monitor adjustments and changes as they become necessary.
USC is now scheduled to play a football game against Georgia in Haley’s backyard Sunday while the Grand Strand will probably be worrying about flooding.
Haley has as much business plotting offensive and defensive strategies for the Gamecocks as she does deciding what is best for Horry County.