Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Greenville News on vaccinations:
Too many children in the Upstate are not getting vaccinations that can protect not only themselves, but also other children in their schools and day cares, from sometimes dangerous and contagious diseases.
Although the number of unvaccinated students is only about 1.6 percent of the total school-aged population in the county, the trend is growing, according to a recent report in The Greenville News. And the greater the number of unvaccinated children, the higher the chance of some all-but-eradicated diseases gaining a foothold in the population once again.
Diseases like chicken pox, measles and mumps once were common in the United States, and still are common in other parts of the world. Systematic vaccination has all but wiped out those diseases here, but there have been sporadic outbreaks that have spread among children that haven't been vaccinated. The diseases can be dangerous.
South Carolina, like other states, has a law that requires school-aged children to be vaccinated. However, there are religion-based exemptions. And many parents are taking advantage of those exemptions based on much-publicized, but scientifically invalid, reports of a link between vaccinations in children and autism.
Students who are not vaccinated can contract illnesses they otherwise would be protected from. Some of these diseases are very easily passed along and the growing number of unvaccinated students can lead to outbreaks. There's a certain amount of protection from so-called "herd immunity." Essentially, that means that everyone benefits — even the unvaccinated — if an overwhelming majority of school children have gotten their vaccinations. But it's a tenuous veil that can leave students vulnerable if a disease breaks through. ...
Short of an exemption based on religious conviction or an existing health problem, there's no reason for a child to not be immunized. ...
... Your child's health, and the health of every child in South Carolina, depends on it.
The Post and Courier of Charleston on the Lowcountry Open Land Trust being recognized nationally:
The Lowcountry Open Land Trust is one of only 181 land trusts in the country to become an accredited member of the Land Trust Alliance. That means that LOLT's operations have been scrutinized and determined to be, well, trustworthy.
Given that there are 1,700 land trusts, the distinction is particularly significant.
For 25 years, LOLT has worked successfully to conserve land through easement acquisition. It has protected 88,040 diverse acres. Land protected in 2011 alone includes a cattle farm, tree farm, historic rice impoundments and recreational lands in Charleston County, Hampton County, the ACE Basin, and Santee Cooper lakes. Executive Director Elizabeth Hagood said, "Our land trust is a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program."
The work of land trusts is vital. Every acre that is protected helps ensure clean air and drinking water, food security, scenic landscapes and views, recreational places and habitat for nature's plants and animals. Nationally, land trusts have conserved 37 million acres of land — an area roughly the size of New England.
To understand the value of the LOLT in this area, we can look at a lovely marsh view from the Ashley River bridge, or spot a colorful painted bunting that has found a safe home here. But to understand the full value we must look even beyond the green benefits. Ask someone who owns property near a greenbelt, and he'll likely say the value of his land has increased. Ask taxpayers how they like knowing that the kinds of smart, efficient development that the LOLT encourages means less need for tax-funded infrastructure, including those that promote sprawl.
Being vetted by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission signals that LOLT adheres to high standards as it pursues these goals of conservation. ...
That's very good news. The more successful the LOLT is, the healthier the Lowcountry and its environment will be.
Herald-Journal of Spartanburg on taxpayers' money being wasted while crucial roads deteriorate:
As the Herald-Journal reported recently, and as state Sen. Harvey Peeler opines on the opposite page, the Upstate is not getting its fair share of state highway spending. In fact, necessary road improvements across the state are suffering while the pet projects of some politicians take priority.
The root of the problem is the obsolete and fractious structure of state government, particularly as it applies to the state's highway system. Too many agencies and departments in Palmetto State government are run by unaccountable boards. State lawmakers appoint these boards, but no one has enough sway over them to be accountable for their actions.
These board members are not elected, so they aren't held accountable to voters.
Transportation is typical of the system. The state Department of Transportation is run by a board of seven commissioners appointed by lawmakers. We also have the Transportation Infrastructure Bank, also run by a seven-member panel appointed by lawmakers.
Both bodies have made terrible decisions. ...
The Legislative Audit Council even pointed out to lawmakers how the department had hidden funds in order to deceive lawmakers about its financial position.
But lawmakers were unwilling to truly reform the department.
Instead, they passed a package of cosmetic reforms. That way, they were able to claim they fixed the department. It's clear to see they haven't.
The answer is obvious. ...
We have a long tradition in this state of letting the legislative branch of government dominate and control the executive and judicial branches, but that tradition has not served us well. It is an obsolete, ineffective and inefficient system of government. It wastes our money and holds us back.
Transportation is just one example. South Carolinians can only hope that it has become such a sore spot that lawmakers will finally give real reform a chance.