Leaning light spared from pounding surf

A boat passes the Morris Island Lighthouse on Saturday. Work is under way to preserve the landmark.

Tyrone Walker

For those of you keeping score at home, South Carolina State still hasn't shown us the money.

Despite the Freedom of Information request from The Post and Courier, the calls from the state's top elected officials and a pending Legislative Audit Council investigation, the university still has not provided any information about what happened to around $25 million in federal funds earmarked for a transportation center.

In fact, some college officials act very much like all these pesky questions will just disappear if they refuse to answer -- you know, the Nikki Haley defense.

Last week, the chairman of S.C. State's board told The State newspaper that the few board members questioning recent actions at the school should resign, and they'll get on with building the transportation center.

"This train is going to move forward down the tracks," Jonathan Pinson said.

Wrong. This train already has derailed -- but apparently the conductor hasn't figured that out yet.

Nowhere to hide

On Tuesday, state Sen. Robert Ford -- long a supporter of the university -- asked the state attorney general, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell to look at various problems at S.C. State. Ford is talking about special legislative sessions, which is in keeping with his earlier predictions that the Legislature might need to step in and take over -- you know, like the state did in Allendale way back when.

That would be embarrassing, perhaps unprecedented, but he's right that something has to be done. He said the school is in turmoil.

"Several controversies are eminent that distract and affect the ability to educate students with the existence of internal rhetoric," Ford said.

While Pinson has asked for whistle-blowing board members to resign, those folks in turn have suggested that perhaps the entire board should step down and bring in new folks -- which is the best idea out of S.C. State in some time.

Word is some folks at the university who have spoken up about internal problems have been punished, and board members who dare to ask serious questions are pressured to quit.

That doesn't sound like a forward-moving institution.

It sounds like a place with a lot to hide.

Still shoveling

Also on Tuesday, Congressman Jim Clyburn -- namesake of S.C. State's transportation center -- voiced his support for the university going forward with its announced plans to start building the transportation center.

You see, they know where the construction funds are -- it's all that other cash they are fuzzy on.

But Clyburn told Post and Courier reporter Schuyler Kropf that they should go forward with the construction, and tried to blame all the problems on the state government.

Yeah, that's exactly what school officials need to do: build a transportation center when they have no idea where they put some of the money set aside for it.

If South Carolina State thinks it's a good idea to have a ground-breaking ceremony in this climate, they are going to have to rustle up some stronger shovels for the photo-op.

The ones they are using now are wearing out.