It's a great day in South Carolina, and if you didn't believe it, asked the governor. On September 27 the governor ordered the 16 directors Cabinet agencies under the direct control to change the way their employees answer the telephone. So now when phoning, save the Department of alcohol and other drug abuse services or Department of employment and workforce, callers are supposed to hear the cheery greeting saying: "It's a great day in South Carolina. How may I help you?"The governor says the new greeting will boost the morale of state workers and help to sell the State. It is part of the who I am campaign she says. As hokey as some people think it is, it I'm selling South Carolina as is great, new, positive state that everybody needs to look at. The blogosphere has been inundated with people mocking the new salutation and proposing alternative greetings. One suggestion was "It's still better here than Mississippi. How can I help you?" another was more explicit suggesting that when answering the phone employees should say "Thank you for calling South Carolina where unemployment is high, morale is low and political leaders are very busy wasting resources. How may I direct your call?"The irony is that nothing is particularly great in the Palmetto State at the moment. The unemployment rate stands at 11.1%, the fourth highest in the country.
State workers have not received cost of living increases in four years and no merit-based raises since 2001. Cuts to their pension plans are now being discussed. Health insurance premiums for 410,000 public employees, retirees and family members are going up by 4.5% in January. Medicare payment rates to physicians were cut across the board by 3% in April which is expected to lead to reduced services for the poor and disabled in rural areas.And so it goes on. This year the state's public schools missed out on more than $144 million in federal stimulus money earmarked the teachers because the Gov and her education chief refused to apply for funds which would mitigate a teacher layoffs. The money was then redistributed to the other 49 states which did want it. The new order has gone out that South Carolina and to do not possess a government issue photo identification card who tend to be black and poor will no longer be able to vote.For a clincher, racial hostility seems to be alive and well.
One employee who recently left Sandy Cooper, a state-owned utility of the largest power providers in South Carolina has filed a complaint with the equal opportunity employment commission alleging that in late 2009 the man supervises sense and employees a text message with an image of a gallows from which from the noose and a sign saying for sale near swing set. The complaint is under investigation. Some state agencies have obediently begun complying with the Gov Sonny directive and others apparently not yet got the message. Or are they perhaps indulging in some daring bureaucratic resistance?