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Thread: The Ray Tanner of Conservation Hires

  1. #1
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    Default The Ray Tanner of Conservation Hires

    COLUMBIA — Candidates for the job to lead South Carolina’s land preservation agency included people with years of experience in forestry, environmental policy and natural resources, according to applications obtained by The Post and Courier.

    Instead, the S.C. Conservation Bank board chose a former lawmaker who oversaw the agency’s budget — a nomination now under scrutiny in the state Senate.

    Confirming former state Rep. Mike Pitts to lead the bank has become so contentious that a committee voted to advance his nomination to the Senate floor Thursday without a seal of approval that’s traditionally almost automatic at Statehouse hearings.


    “It was pretty glaring that there were many of the folks in that stack who had qualifications that I think would better suit them to a job like that than he has,” said State Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, who reviewed the applications. “I’m sure he’s qualified to do a lot of good things, I just don’t think leading a multi-million dollar state agency, the Conservation Bank, is one of them.”

    A review of resumes for agency director showed the Conservation Bank passed over an utility employee with decades of experience in forestry, including for about six years at the S.C. Forestry Commission. That applicant had a master’s degree in forest resource management from Clemson University.

    Another applicant has spent more than two decades at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most recently advising on environmental issues affecting local governments.

    Other applicants had worked at a land trust and a conservancy, and had experience in accounting, grant applications or real estate. Names of the applicants were redacted from the copies.

    Instead, the bank’s board picked Pitts, a Laurens Republican and retired Greenville police officer, and formally nominated him as soon as he left the Legislature in January.

    The bulk of Pitts’ conservation-related experience appears to stem from his time leading a budget subcommittee that determined the Conservation Bank’s funding and his background as an avid hunter. He testified that he is passionate about improving the Conservation Bank.

    Pitts was president of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucus, a group that advocates for hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. He has been a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a nonprofit that works to “ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

    South Carolina law states that the Conservation Bank’s executive director “must possess experience in the areas of natural resources, land development, forestry, finance, land conservation, real estate, or law.”

    During an unusually combative Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing Thursday, the board’s vice chairman Michael McShane admitted that he personally wanted the next executive director of the Conservation Bank to be someone who could repair a once-damaged relationship with the Legislature.

    Lawmakers had stripped away funding from the agency over the years and considered closing it last year when audits found accounting problems.

    “In Mike McShane’s view, the No. 1 priority for the director was to regain the trust of the General Assembly in order for dedicated funding to come back to the Conservation Bank,” McShane said, referring to himself in the third person.

    “So, I mean, his No. 1 qualification would be his ability to lobby the General Assembly?” Sen. Dick Harpootlian, D-Columbia, responded. “Is that what you’re telling me?”

    “The search committee did a broad, thorough job to make recommendations to the board in the best interest of Conservation Bank,” McShane said.

    The bank board voted unanimously to hire Pitts, leading Harpootlian to question their competency.

    The testy hearing is uncharacteristic for the Legislature, where former lawmakers are often confirmed for state positions with few questions asked, and is expected to linger when the full Senate votes.

    The debate over Pitts’ nomination dragged on for hours, with the former lawmaker interrogated about his record in the Legislature last year. Senators accused him of casting votes on issues related to the Conservation Bank after he was approached about taking over as executive director.

    Harpootlian presented evidence that Pitts recused himself from a vote on a budget-related issue with the Conservation Bank in March 2018. And Pitts confirmed that he’d already been approached about leading the agency at that point.

    But after that, legislative records show Pitts continued to vote on other bills related to the Conservation Bank. That included a vote against a proposal that would have banned state lawmakers from serving as director until they’ve been out of office for more than a year.

    The proposal was eventually removed by negotiators for the House and Senate, allowing Pitts to apply for the job.

    “You voted against that amendment. You did not recuse yourself,” Harpootlian said, confronting Pitts with the vote tally. “Isn’t that correct?”

    Pitts agreed the documents showed him voting against the bill. But he suggested it could be a mistake with the record or an issue with the electronic voting machines that lawmakers use in the House.

    https://www.postandcourier.com/polit...b26b49bc0.html

  2. #2
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    Seems as though the good ole boy system is as strong as it’s ever been .......


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    Fact.

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    Yep
    Quote Originally Posted by Birddawg View Post
    I dont know how it was done. For all I know that weird bastard that determined it's gender licked it.

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    It ain't what you know it's who. Always been like that.
    Gettin old is for pussies! AND MY NEW TRUE people say like Capt. Tom >>>>>>>>>/
    "Wow, often imitated but never duplicated. No one can do it like the master. My hat is off to you DRDUCK!"

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    Did the Land Bank give the SCDNR the $3 million they owed them but spent?

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    I like Mike Pitts.

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    We see how well our natural resources have been managed under all the "certified" people.

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    Default The Ray Tanner of Conservation Hires

    Pitts once told me that the GA appointed the SCDNR to restock deer and turkeys. Now that job was done the legislators have the job to manage deer and turkey. DNR are the janitors for WMA.

    One another note Duck Tape can explain this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duck Tape View Post
    I believe Director Taylor will retire soon. The DNR Board appointed by the Governor will pick the next Director. The board and director make budget requests.

    I will lean toward public access and WMA improvement.

    I also oversee the Conservation bank and look to acquire and improve these lands for public use.
    Last edited by Bigtimber2; 03-03-2019 at 01:39 PM.

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    Drain the swamp. We need a "Trump" here in SC.

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    MSCGA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sportin' Woodies View Post
    MSCGA
    I see hat's and t-shirts.
    Gettin old is for pussies! AND MY NEW TRUE people say like Capt. Tom >>>>>>>>>/
    "Wow, often imitated but never duplicated. No one can do it like the master. My hat is off to you DRDUCK!"

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    Just gained a lot of respect for Mr. Pitts...

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    Easy to quit when you do not have the votes.

    Props to Harpootlian for calling out the good ole boy scheme. Tricky’s flexed helped too.

    There needs to be legislation to prevent a legislator from heading a state agency for at least 5 years.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigtimber2 View Post
    Easy to quit when you do not have the votes.

    Props to Harpootlian for calling out the good ole boy scheme. Tricky’s flexed helped too.

    There needs to be legislation to prevent a legislator from heading a state agency for at least 5 years.
    You are right. I was thinking he was already in, when the full Senate had yet to vote...

    Shame that you are also probably right that there does need to be legislation. I would hate for a good man to miss the opportunity to head an agency, but what is the probability of finding a good man in politics these days?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JABIII View Post
    Just gained a lot of respect for Mr. Pitts...
    Bullshit he should not have entered the fray to begin with. He only backed out because the heat in the kitchen was getting too hot, not because it was the right thing to do!
    Last edited by LabLuvR; 03-04-2019 at 09:47 AM.
    RIP Kelsey "Bigdawg" Cromer
    12-26-98 12-1-13

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    Missing you my great friend.


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    Pitts saw the writing on the wall and made a wise choice to withdraw.
    Thank God it wasn't a Demonrat running for the job.

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    Pitts is a veteran, former police officer, and one of the few legislators I know that is completely trusted. The National Chairman of the Sportsman's Caucus. The strongest defender of the Second Amendment in the house.

    He single handedly saved the conservation bank from the sunset clause. I understand you may prefer a legislator jump from the House straight to a dept head. This guy is one you would have wanted there.

    He is a man of honor who I will dearly miss.
    Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.

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