Sunday, June 19, 2011

Haley excludes retirees from meeting with bond agency

Back in March 2010, Rep. Nikki Haley delivered a speech to the Spring Valley Rotary Club in Columbia titled "Transparency in State Government." One presumes, as she was taking on several more-experienced opponents in her party's gubernatorial primary, that Haley was "for" transparency. But no record exists of the speech, so we're left to wonder.

It's a fact that Haley ran in that primary, and won, on a platform of transparency. But given all of what has happened since she won that primary, South Carolinians have plenty to question about Haley's definition of the word.

Here's what one online source tells us is the dictionary definition:

trans·par·ent (trns-p├órnt, -pr-)
adj.
1. Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material. See Synonyms at clear.
2. Permeable to electromagnetic radiation of specified frequencies, as to visible light or radio waves.
3. So fine in texture that it can be seen through; sheer. See Synonyms at airy.
4.
a. Easily seen through or detected; obvious: transparent lies.
b. Free from guile; candid or open: transparent sincerity.
5. Obsolete Shining through; luminous.

Read 4b again: "Free from guile; candid or open." That's not our governor's definition, apparently.

A high-level meeting was held by Haley this week with representatives from Standard and Poor, one of the nation's top three Wall Street-based bond-rating agencies. These are the agencies who set a state's bond rating, which determines its standing among state and municipal governments when borrowing money at interest. When a bond-rating agency delivers recommendations concerning a state's fiscal health -- including its investments and investment strategies -- this is huge news because state leaders often follow the agency's recommendation to earn or protect that almighty bond rating.

And when such high-level meetings are held that may impact the state's retirement system -- which invests billions of state employees' and retirees' dollars on behalf of those employees, retirees and their families -- representatives of those groups are usually present to hear the conversation.

But Haley, who uses transparency as little more than a flashcard, excluded state employees and retirees from hearing what Wall Street experts advised her about their money.

We know this thanks to Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who boycotted the meeting over Haley's lack of transparency. The State tells it in today's edition:

Remember that big financial summit with all the New York-based bond-rating firms that Gov. Nikki Haley organized and then trumpeted as open to the public through her press office? Did you read about the meeting with Standard and Poor’s this week?

No?

Well that’s because the meeting to discuss state finances, presumably including the billions invested to pay for public workers’ retirement benefits, was held behind closed doors.

That did not sit well with state retirees who were excluded from any potential discussions about their pensions. Nor did it please state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, R-Lexington, who boycotted the private discussion of public money.

Remember definition 4a from the dictionary citation above? "Easily seen through or detected; obvious: transparent lies." Now read this part of The State's note:

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the meeting was private at Standard and Poor’s request.

“They requested the opportunity to have a meeting with state leaders where they were free to have open dialogue about the financial condition of South Carolina,” Godfrey wrote by email, “and we were happy to comply.”

Public employees have a right to know what advice is being sought and offered that will impact the investment of their retirement funds. To deny them that right, then to send minions to lie about it, is malfeasance on the part of Nikki Haley.

Here's another dictionary definition to ponder:

cor·rupt (k-rpt)
adj.
1. Marked by immorality and perversion; depraved.
2. Venal; dishonest: a corrupt mayor.
3. Containing errors or alterations, as a text: a corrupt translation.
4. Archaic Tainted; putrid.
v. cor·rupt·ed, cor·rupt·ing, cor·rupts
v.tr.
1. To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of.
2. To ruin morally; pervert.
3. To taint; contaminate.
4. To cause to become rotten; spoil.
5. To change the original form of (a text, for example).
6. Computer Science To damage (data) in a file or on a disk.
v.intr.
To become corrupt.
[Middle English, from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere, to destroy : com-, intensive pref.; see com- + rumpere, to break; see reup- in Indo-European roots.]
cor·rupter, cor·ruptor n.
cor·ruptive adj.
cor·ruptly adv.
cor·ruptness n.
Synonyms: corrupt, debase, debauch, deprave, pervert, vitiate
These verbs mean to ruin utterly in character or quality: was corrupted by limitless power; ... perverted her talent by putting it to evil purposes; a proof vitiated by a serious omission.

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