News+Opinion » D. A. Smith

Statehouse security proposal would be a waste of money

Lightning Can Strike Twice: Stranger things have been known to occur

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Following his monthly cabinet meeting last week, Gov. Mark Sanford said that he thought $5.3 million in proposed security improvements to the Statehouse was a waste of taxpayer resources. And I agree with him. Who knew?

At issue are previously budgeted monies that will put card-accessible gates in the garage underneath the capitol building, create additional checkpoints throughout the complex, and place metal detectors and security cameras at Statehouse entrances, according to a report in The State.

Following his cabinet meeting, the governor said the $5.3 million would be better spent on addressing violent crime in the state. According to recently released FBI data, South Carolina is first among states for violent crime.

Great, something else to add to South Carolina's "Hit Parade."

According to The State article, Sanford told reporters, "I have yet to read about any terrorist attack on a state capitol."

He then added, "I don't think it's a high priority [target], though sometimes I would like it to be."

I'll bet he would, given his contentious history with the General Assembly.

State Department of Public Safety Director James K. Schweitzer supports the improvements. He told The State, "Should this be at the top of the list? Should it be done? ... I believe it's a good thing, but I also agree with the governor."

Both Schweitzer and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart say that the U.S. Secret Service and private security consultants pointed out the ease of accessibility to the legislative chambers from the underground garage. The cops are also of the opinion that the improvements would help deter violent crime on the Statehouse grounds.

The governor had something to say about this too. He asked, "How many rapes have occurred [in the garage]?"

Stewart later responded, "How many do we need before we do something about it?"

Sen. Glenn McConnell gave The State a real whopper of a comment about Sanford's opinion of the $5.3 million.

"I think we have a duty to ensure that visitors to our public capitol are protected and that we have taken reasonable measures to do so," the Charleston state senator said. "I am disappointed that the governor would try to calculate the cost-benefit analysis on citizen's lives."

What a hoot! Politicians do this all the time. Who does this idiot think he's fooling? Need an example? Just take a gander at the state of the physical plants of most public schools in South Cack-a-Lackey.

I'd like to know why nobody thought about these much needed improvements when South Carolinians ponied up $51,530,000 during the 1995-1998 Statehouse renovations.

Don't tell me 9/11.

I'm getting a little tired of this tragedy being used as a catch-all justification for legislators' vanity projects because that's all this is.

Of the three incidents of violence on state or federal capitol properties over the last 10 years, all three involved firearms and mentally ill individuals. This is also true for violence on school property, post offices, grocery stores, rest areas, workplaces, you name it.

People at the Statehouse can take care of themselves. If they feel threatened, then the state can hire more guards.

South Carolinians have more to fear from the Statehouse switchboard than they do from a terrorist attacks on the General Assembly grounds.

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