The session is well under way, with most of our administrative matters complete. As chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC), I have been trying to finalize the subcommittee assignments so as to best deploy the talents of new members.
You might remember that we started LOC from scratch two years ago. In tackling this mammoth undertaking, we had to hire staff, develop committee rules and standard practices, as well as reporting formats.
We are charged with a mandate to do a programmatic analysis of each of the departments and agencies of the state, consisting of well over 100 entities. We have seven years to complete the process before it starts all over again. At this time, we are pretty much on schedule.
From the beginning, the LOC’s vision was to help each agency to become, and continuously remain, the most focused and efficient in the country. Admittedly a tall order, but our processes have proven very effective in eliminating waste and redundancy of effort.
We have made certain that each agency understands why it exists, how we measure success, and that we, as a committee, have the investigative tools to ensure compliance.
We have also let these folks know that part of their mission is to be as above-board and transparent as possible. I believe we have set a good example by creating an interactive website where the public can read our reports and comment, if they choose.
In addition, all our meetings, committee and subcommittee, are streamed on SCETV. Incidentally, since we started our ETV connection, many other committees have chosen to follow suit.
Leadership by example, even a fairly subtle example, can be remarkably effective.
Finally, it was my pleasure to accompany my son William’s eighth grade class on their field trip to Washington, D.C. The trip, possibly excepting the 11-hour bus ride, was splendid. It is so impressive to see and hear the reactions of young folks as they experience our experiment in representative democracy.
Congressman Mark Sanford graciously took us into the House Chamber as they were reading the Constitution into the record for only the third time in history. It was intended as a bipartisan reminder that there is a higher purpose to their efforts beyond the day-to-day “sausage making.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham left an important Senate Intelligence Committee meeting to meet with us. We are indebted to these two dedicated public servants for their kindnesses.
I was immensely impressed with how the group of future leaders absorbed the experience. We visited the FDR Memorial as well as the memorials to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., World War II and the Korean War. These sites were all new to me, and I was just as excited to visit these places as any of the eighth graders.
It is so important that young folks see and feel the possibilities of our republic, without the unfortunate cynicism that emerges when leadership, at whatever level of our federalist system, is not commensurate with the values and obligations embedded in the document we heard being read into the congressional record.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.