Lawd, the sky's gonna fall in. I disagree with The Chronicle.
Actually, we disagree all the time, to one degree or another. It's most visible with candidate endorsements, when The News-Times endorses the best candidate for the job, and The Chronicle endorses the eventual loser.
Just kidding. We've endorsed losers, too - and some of them have won.
Anyway, one of the people The Chronicle didn't endorse was J.B. Powell when he ran for state senate against Randy Hall. I wholeheartedly agreed with them: Hall is a fine man, and he was a great senator. Even better, he had beaten Charles Walker two years earlier.
Walker later was able to make a comeback, lest we forget, thanks to a redistricting map put in place by the then-newly empowered Republican majority in the state Senate - a majority created, in part, by Hall's election.
Redrawing those lines put Hall in a new, heavily Democrat district, where he faced former Richmond County commissioner Powell. In that new district in 2004, Powell cobbled together a bizarre coalition of black Democrats and pro-Confederate flaggers to defeat Hall.
Those redrawn lines also allowed Walker to run in a safe, majority black, majority Democrat (sorry, that was repetitive) district. When Walker was re-elected, I told the man he beat, former state Sen. Don Cheeks - the man whose 2002 switch to the Republican Party put the Senate in the hands of the Republicans who drew him and Hall into retirement - that the only way this community would get rid of Walker was in handcuffs.
On the way to Hilton Head this past weekend, I took a short side trip to snap a photo of the entrance of the federal prison in Estill, S.C., where Walker will live for the next 10 years. Guess I was right again. But I digress.
As far as we know, Powell hasn't broken any laws. And as wrong as Powell is for office, especially compared to Randy Hall, I think he's right in his latest effort: Powell has filed a bill to allow public initiatives.
What that means is that, if the bill is passed into law - and it won't be, because the politicians don't want to give up any power - citizens would have the right to mount petition drives to put laws on the ballot for voters to consider.
The stereotypical, and ill-considered, fear of public initiative is that all sorts of goofy ideas will make it onto the ballot, California-style. The key to a good public initiative law, however, is not to have such a low threshold that just any nut can get an item on the ballot, while not setting the bar so high that public initiative is possible only in theory.
Powell's bill, even though The Chronicle editorial writers dislike it, could be hitting the measure about right. It's an example, as the saying goes, of even a stopped clock being right twice a day.
But just as no one relies on a stopped clock to get them to work on time, almost no one in the state Legislature is going to work with Powell to get the bill passed. Aside from the fact that lawmakers don't want the unwashed masses to have the ability to bypass their elected royalty to propose their own laws - oh, the horror! - the Republican majority also keeps its distance from Powell, the monster they unwittingly created by shuffling Hall out of his district.
It's all a matter of choosing your allies. Just as the James Brown music festival might be a good idea in the hands of someone other than the son of Federal Correctional Institution/Estill inmate No. 12013-021, public initiative could have a chance at winning if proposed by someone other than the loser who beat Randy Hall.
Even The Chronicle would probably agree on that one.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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