It has been a pretty delightful summer, weather-wise. Our Fourth of July holiday was spent on the sandbar with our youngest daughter and a gaggle of friends and neighbors.
Our older children have been away at camp for most of the summer, which is allowing Rose and me a small foreshadow of an impending empty nest.
Noticing a bit of melancholy in her parents, Eliza Rose, always attentive and empathetic, declares she will not leave us for a very long time. Her sweet assurances make the moment all the more poignant.
Our neighborhood has suffered the loss of our across-the-road friend, Carolyn Bremer. She was part of the local generational memory of white-gloved Southern womanhood. Her newspaper columns were always like pleasant little time capsules of seemingly simpler times.
She and her swimming partner, Lucy Cobb, would always announce when the May River was available for a dip without instant hypothermia. Condolences to the Bremer clan.
Also, our neighbor and friend, Charlie Golson, has recently been in poor health. As of press time, he has been at the Medical University of South Carolina for more than four weeks. His wife, Nancy, and daughter, Margaret, have kindly kept the anxious community apprised of his progress via social media.
They assure us that he is improving daily, albeit more slowly than they would like. Please count the Newtons as fervent members of the enormous prayer circle surrounding this lovely man and his family.
Moving on to legislative business: The first half of session is over but work in Columbia carries on. Those of us in leadership still make periodic trips up to the Statehouse.
In my case, as chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, I attend regular committee or subcommittee meetings year-round. Our mandate is to do a programmatic analysis of each state agency or designated entity no less than once every seven years. Anything less than a year-round effort would fall short.
Next on our schedule are: the Adjutant General’s Office; Commission on Minority Affairs; Patriot’s Point Authority; and finally, the Department of Natural Resources.
It has been our experience that if the agency is pretty much squared away, our investigation is brief and complimentary. However, if there are serious, usually systemic problems, such as we discovered in the Department of Juvenile Justice, our probe is lengthy and involved.
In that case, we called in the Legislative Audit Council to add another level of scrutiny to the process.
A somewhat counterintuitive observation we have made is that agencies in disarray are not usually uncooperative or defensive. Although we have subpoena power, and can alert law enforcement if necessary, the reason that these folks are usually forthcoming is that they want to do a good job, but there are organizational or administrative impediments in their agency.
Our recommendations for increased efficiency carry considerable weight with our colleagues. It also works out that efficient, smooth-running agencies usually require less funding, sometimes much less.
Good service from a smaller government must be efficient. Therefore, sandbar or no sandbar, we work year-round.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.