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Illegal Calhoun County Tire Pile Seen From Space

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South Carolina was in the national news again this week because of — wait for it — a giant illegal mound of vehicle tires that is so large it can reportedly be seen from space. How, when and why an estimated 250,000 tires ended up in a clearing deep in the woods of Calhoun County is a mystery. Only a winding dirt path leads to the area, and thick trees and foliage surround it. Images of the tire mound started showing up online, leading to the Gawker headline “America’s Great Wall is a Mound of Tires in South Carolina.” According to The Associated Press, the tire pile covers more than 50 acres on satellite images. Also, and here’s the kicker, according to the AP: The worst possible penalty that could be imposed locally? A single $475 ticket for littering. A great day in South Carolina indeed. — Corey Hutchins

A Columbia City Council committee continues to debate a policy that would require the city manager and department heads to live in the city. In the past, some city managers have enforced the rule, while others haven’t — including current manager Steve Gantt, who lives in Lexington County. Supporters say it would encourage employees to care about and invest in the city. But Mayor Steve Benjamin has called it a step in the wrong direction, saying it devalues regional cooperation and could scare off qualified candidates. The policy would also present tough practical considerations given the terrible housing market. — Eva Moore

As a way of dodging the state’s Freedom of Information Act and keeping documents from the public, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s office is routinely deleting emails between administration staffers and the governor, according to a report this week in The State. Haley ran on a signature issue of transparency and accountability during her 2010 campaign. Now, what she’s doing in office when it comes to hiding public records might even be illegal. “If you fail to retain public documents for some reasonable length of time, it’s a violation of [the law],” South Carolina Press Association attorney Carmen Maye told the paper. Haley’s email-deletion policy was uncovered after The State asked for all of the governor’s emails dating back to her first day in office. A Haley spokesperson told the paper that internal emails were “not considered worthy of retention” and take up too much space. — Corey Hutchins

Longtime Republican donor John Rainey, profiled last week in a Free Times cover story, has filed a 160-page lawsuit against GOP Gov. Nikki Haley with Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian as his attorney. In the suit, Rainey asks a court to decide whether the governor improperly benefited from income earned at Lexington Medical Center and engineering firm Wilbur Smith Associates while she was a lawmaker. Haley made roughly $150,000 from her work, but how and why she was hired — and what she did for the money — has never been clear. The lawsuit claims Haley was actually working as a lobbyist while a member of the Legislature, which would be illegal, and it also accuses her of failing to recuse herself from votes that benefited the entities paying her. A Haley spokesman called the lawsuit frivolous in a statement, according to The State. — Corey Hutchins

Meanwhile, Haley is still snared in a scandal involving her DHEC board reversing itself on issuing a water-quality permit for dredging to occur along the Savannah River, which could allow Georgia to deepen a port, taking business away from the Port of Charleston. The board had previously denied the permit two months before, but then decided to grant it. State Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, will challenge DHEC’s decision on behalf of the Savannah River Maritime Commission. Lawmakers have also accused Haley of intervening and possibly pressuring DHEC’s board, which she appoints, to grant the permit. A Senate committee led by Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, a Gaffney Republican and Haley ally, will investigate the matter in a hearing scheduled for Nov. 29. — Corey Hutchins

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