Apparently some of our state lawmakers don't share the governor's optimistic view of conditions in South Carolina.
Charleston's own Rep. Wendell Gilliard has signed on to a bill to prohibit state agencies from answering the phone with the sunny greeting "It's a great day in South Carolina!" mandated by Gov. Nikki Haley.
"How can you say it's a great day in South Carolina when unemployment is so high, after this latest port fiasco, or when you look at our education system?" Gilliard asks. "It's sad to have to say that, but it's the truth."
Well, that's depressing.
The bill, which Gilliard says has a good chance of passing, sets some pretty tough standards for when it's OK to proclaim the day great. It says, in part, that it will be a great day when unemployment is under 5 percent, when every state resident has health insurance and when our rural infrastructure is adequate.
In other words, never.
The best of times
Perhaps this proposal, admittedly a partisan jab, is overly harsh.
After all, what's wrong with a little stiff upper lip in the face of adversity? Maybe a compromise is in order. How about letting state agencies fashion their own customized greetings? Like these:
--Commerce Department: It's a great day in Paris! Leave a message, we'll call you back next week.
--Department of Health and Environmental Control: It's a great day to fill wetlands and choke rivers in South Carolina!
--College of Charleston: It's a great day to raise tuition in South Carolina!
--Governor's Office: Nikki says it's a great day in (whatever state she is in collecting checks that day)!
--State Ports Authority: The Fantasy is in port today! It's a great day in Charleston ... unless you live downtown.
--Employment Security Commission: It's a great day in South Carolina if you can say "Do you want fries with that?"
--Department of Natural Resources: It would be a great day to catch drunken boaters in South Carolina if the state hadn't cut our staff!
--Governor's Mansion: It would be a great day in South Carolina if taxpayers would pay for the Haleys' wine cellar!
That would be transparency.
The worst of times
Now, the governor was not amused by this attack on her sunny disposition. She told our Yvonne Wenger that the Legislature needs to focus on real issues.
"Out of all the legislation proposed and all of the agenda items that we are working on related to jobs and the economy," Haley said, "is this really the bill that your news outlet thinks the people care about?"
Of course, when reporters ask questions about the jobs or the economy, the governor invariably delegates the response to her press crew. So obviously someone found this more important than most issues.
Since our biggest economic generator has been handcuffed by DHEC's decision to concede the arms race to the Savannah port, maybe state agencies should just answer the phone like this:
"It's a great day in Georgia."
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.