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Chairman Emeritus Gayle Averyt Slighted by The State

June 10, 2008

After their back-handed endorsement of Jakie Knotts last week, The State Newspaper published a scathing response from Governor Sanford.

Yet, when Columbia businessman Gayle Averyt, Chairman Emeritus of Colonial Life, offered up his own op-ed response, The State limited him to a 250-word letter to the editor.

Here’s the full text of Averyt’s op-ed.

As a man who has spent most of my life in the trenches of business and politics, prior to yesterday I genuinely believed I’d seen it all.

Then, I opened The State newspaper to read one of the most scathing criticisms of a politician I’ve ever read. Your description of incumbent Senator Jake Knotts stated that he “twists the facts to his own purpose and presents half-truths with such force that no one dares question him.” That’s close to calling him a liar and a bully.

You followed that saying, “He has been dismissive of the Supreme Court’s orders for the Legislature to obey the constitution.” That is unethical at best.

You then stated he has used his office “to intervene in criminal cases on behalf of friends.” That’s obstruction of justice.

Then, you endorsed him for re-election to his Senate seat!

Why? Because you “think” that “maybe” one of opponents “might” be in favor of expanded school choice because she has received donations from groups supporting that concept. And if she wins, and “possibly” supports school choice, this “might” lead to school choice becoming law – and thus surely in your minds destroying public schools and ultimately all of state government.

For the benefit of readers, I will point out that this is the same opponent you described as “articulate, and knowledgeable about the problems facing our state.”

I hardly know where to begin a response.

Although I am not sure if I would personally support any given school choice proposal, there are legitimate reasons why it is worth debating in South Carolina.  Our state spends well above average on a per-student basis, yet consistently ranks near the bottom in educational outcomes.  But you view the potential support of school choice – or even support from supporters of school choice – as the litmus test that disqualifies people from holding public office.

It is abundantly clear from this endorsement that the battle against expanded school choice is your top priority.  Based on your biased logic on this one issue, you have concluded that residents of Lexington County should willingly sacrifice another four years of representation by someone you basically call a liar and a bully, who is unethical and obstructs justice.

Given the power wielded by a single senator, you have also indicated your willingness to sacrifice true reform our state desperately needs (like restructuring), in order to prevent those of us who support expanded educational opportunities from having even an appearance of a victory.  Of course, while preventing that “appearance” of victory, you are also preventing “actual” victories for supporters of government restructuring, stronger DUI laws, stronger seat belt laws, rationale spending decisions, and ethical government.

That’s quite a price to pay for everyone involved – especially the good folks of Lexington County.  I, for one, believe they deserve much better than that.

Gayle O. Averyt is Chairman Emeritus of Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company and is active in political and community affairs.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. George permalink
    June 10, 2008 6:36 PM

    With all due respect to Mr. Averyt, the out-of-state proposal to rob public school funds to enrich private schools has been debated to death. Although he feels …”there are legitimate reasons why it is worth debating in South Carolina,” the truth is it has been debated and defeated, and polls indicate a decided majority of us oppose it. Give it a rest, Gayle.

  2. June 10, 2008 7:06 PM

    With all due respect George at least we have an idea from a man with a true passion for improving our education systems. The status quo is not working and will not work. The option you suggest then is more of the same resulting in a lack of quality of life for all South Carolinians via lack of jobs due to the 50% drop out rates, increased crime rates et cetera, et cetera.

    We have to change something, what are your ideas, spend more money on a public education system that fails time and time again?

  3. Darrell Wallace permalink
    June 11, 2008 12:41 AM

    It may be that George would hate my input on South Carolina failed schools. If we would teach our kids the Constitution they would be wise enough to put the quietus on that bunch in Columbia when they try to sneak things over on the voters. But then, since the State won’t do it, give parents the choice with vouchers to attend private schools that will. But REALLY NOW, WE DON’T WON’T TO DO THAT DO WE?

  4. June 11, 2008 4:34 PM

    You cannot trust the news media and that is a fact.They edit what they wish and since they control the public is left without recourse therefore I no longer pay for a newspaper. Sometime back I wrote and opinion to the Chester News and Reporter. There had been an opinion in there criticizing Dr. Thomas Sowell on his stance against Obama. I was contacted by the editor and told it was too long and I was limited to so many words. I edited it and resubmitted and he responded and said I sure had cut it back and he would bet back to me. This was several weeks ago and no response. Needless to say with the way the media operates I would not use a newspaper in dire straights for toilet tissue,no telling what one may catch from them.

  5. Lucy permalink
    October 12, 2009 9:31 PM

    Darrell – I doubt if you’ll ever see this since your comment is over a year old, but I’m dying to know if you learned that usage of “WON’T” in a public school or a private school.

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