On Monday, November 16, 2020, the Greenville County Legislative Delegation conducted our quarterly scheduled meeting at County Square. The meeting started at 5:30pm and ended around 7:15pm.
The Delegation, made up of House and Senate members from both parties who represent Greenville County in the General Assembly, met to appoint citizens to various commissions and boards, hear presentations from agencies and give citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns on the subject of their choosing. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, we conducted our meeting in person while following social distancing recommendations.
Following the meeting, I received the below email from a constituent whose name I have withheld. I am publishing the email and my response as an attempt to avoid any misinformation.
The Constituent Email:
Dear Representative Stringer,
I was one of a large group of citizens who arrived last night prepared to respectfully listen to and address our elected delegates. As you are all in a position to be our representatives to the S.C. Government, it is your responsibility to be available, particularly in pre-designated venues such as last night, to listen to and respond to your constituents.
We were all alarmed and disappointed to be kept out of the hearings. While I suppose this is under the guise of “covid” recommendations, it is simply not acceptable. How long are we expected to live under such conditions of semi-lockdown and measures that are not only far from proven to be effective, but also extremely damaging in quite a number of ways. Where is the scientific proof required to impose any of these draconian measures? We, as citizens, are fed up with the shenanigans. We are already witnessing several states and nations rushing to impose more lockdowns and draconian measures. May this not even enter the mind of our Governor and legislature! Although it may appear as though I seem unconcerned with public health, I can assure you that it is quite the opposite. I have studied the science and data deeply for months. And I have lived it.
Finally, at the tail end of last night’s meeting, some of us (many had already departed since they were so discouraged and disappointed) were finally allowed to enter. I heard two issues discussed.
- The condition of our roads and the order of expected repairs. We heard legislatures say that they have no power over the DOT. Frankly, that is an outright lie and an excuse. I offer the following: https://scpolicycouncil.org/research/whorunssc We have a 65% Republican majority in Congress, and a Republican Governor. Where is our representation? You passed the gas tax to supposedly improve the roads. Where is the record of the monies received and how that money has been spent? Why are our roads still a mess?
- Constitutional Carry: I know that the bill that was attempted to be passed this past legislative season was NOT true Constitutional Carry, but only a very small slice concerning carrying in church. If that bill had passed, the chance to actually pass genuine Constitutional Carry would never take place, because we would be lied to again and told that it had already passed. Who is taking responsibility for this?
- The issue I personally had hoped to present to Senator Corbin in particular was with regards to the Heartbeat Bill because, as we know, all good bills die in the Senate. Again, with a 65% majority, what in the world is blocking this? We do not want, nor will we accept, excuses that place the blame on other delegates. We want, we demand, that our elected officials, our employees as it were, do what they were elected to do. Other states far less conservative than S.C. have already passed this bill. What is going on in Columbia?
We moved here to escape the liberal, progressive policies of a blue state. I personally was very excited to be able to make a difference in a state that was still conservative. I am disappointed in what I have witnessed here. Politics as usual, I am so very sad to say. We all took our evening to respectfully and sincerely meet with you all last night. We waited in the hallway for hours and were told that we would have the opportunity to meet our delegates afterwards to address our concerns. What did you do? Snuck out the back door into another parking lot while we waited hopefully in the lobby. Frankly, this is completely unacceptable and, to be blunt, rude. We elected you, and you tune us out. Where is our voice in Columbia? Who is willing to fight for the issues that you were elected to fight for? We see a tremendous amount of passing the buck, excuses and wasted money. That is the money that came from our pockets.
The tone of this letter is admittedly sharp, but it is honest and true. We the People elected you, and you have a responsibility to your constituents. When the trust placed in you is betrayed, where are we to go? I will be waiting for your response, and I will tell you that it will be shared with other concerned citizens.
Thank you for your service,
Thank you for your email concerning the delegation meeting this past Monday evening. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.
Before I address your concerns about roads, constitutional carry and the heartbeat bill, please allow me to comment on the inaccuracies contained at the end of your email
For the record, I did not “sneak out” by the back door as you state at the close of your email. In fact, I parked in front of the County Square building as I normally do. I went in through the front lobby and spoke to several people including candidates for election to various boards and commissions (one of the other purposes that called for a delegation meeting) as I made my way to the meeting room. When the meeting was over, I walked back out into the front lobby where I spoke with Tammy Jacobs about the status of Highway 290. She was standing beside Micheal Neves who made no comment. Both Tammy Jacobs and Michael Neves had previously addressed their concerns to the whole delegation during the meeting. I also spoke with Justin Summerlin who requested a meeting with me. I responded by ensuring that he had my correct email address. I then left by the front door. I cannot comment on what route the other delegation members took to exit the building as I do not know.
Concerning the Heartbeat Bill, with the Republican victories over Democrats in the Senate, I feel confident that we will pass the Heartbeat Bill this session. The House has been the vanguard of pushing pro-life bills through the General Assembly for years. Each bill was bitterly opposed by the progressive members of the legislature but we prevailed due to a strategy of incrementalism which I will address in the next paragraph.
Concerning the Constitutional Carry bill, it would have been better this session to have passed the “small slice concerning carrying in church” (which had already passed the Senate and the votes in the House to do so) than to end up with nothing, which is what happened. Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, believed that incrementalism in politics achieved more to secure our liberties over time than the all or nothing approach that seems to be the strategy of the more libertarian leaning members of the House currently waiving the conservative banner. Incrementalism worked over time with pro-life legislation. It could have worked this past session with constitutional carry. Maybe that is one of the differences between libertarians and conservatives – conservatives take the long view in politics while libertarians demand immediate gratification and if denied, will cut off their nose to spite their face.
Concerning the condition of our roads, several years ago I wrote on my website that South Carolina had over $1 billion in deferred road and bridge maintenance. This amount had accrued over a long period of time because of lack of funding for the roads. It comes as no surprise to me that it will take a long period of time to catch up on road repair and bridge replacement.
Concerning our response to COVID-19, I again will refer back to my website where I warned against the politicalization of the pandemic response. Two immediate lessons that can be gleaned from our response. The first is that the General Assembly should better define the current powers granted to the Governor by the state constitution to declare a state of emergency and the circumstances that he can extend it. The second is to acknowledge that our divided response to the pandemic reveals a breach in our defense apparatus (both on a state and national level) that would protect us from another such virus or a deliberate biological weapons attack. I have no doubt that our enemies have taken note of our lack of common sense.
You end your email by stating that you will share my response with other concerned citizens. I certainly do not mind and will happily publish both your email and my response on my website which can be found at www.tommystringer.com.
By the way, I find it curious that I received an email from a Pressley Stutts complimenting your letter to me even before I had read it. I don’t think that he is a constituent that resides in District 18. Who is he?
Thank you for expressing your concerns.