The son of a prominent former conservative governor is slamming the current occupant of South Carolina's State House for his abandoning of conservative principles in dealing with labor organizations.
Businessman and political consultant Carroll Campbell supported his father's successor, Mark Sanford and witnessed Sanford's victory first-hand.
"I did so because I truly believed Mark Sanford was a man of honor, vision and integrity. Sadly, I was wrong," lamented Campbell during a telephone interview.
Campbell worked ferverishly to get Gov. Sanford elected and in 2003 he appointed Carroll to serve on the board of the State Ports Authority. However, political observers were surprised this year when Sanford asked for Campbell's resignation. Campbell believes Gov. Sanford's move was a direct result of his buckling under to pressure by unions representing port workers.
"My dad [former Gov. Carroll A. Campbell, Jr.] taught me many lessons, one of which is that the private sector can do many things better and more efficiently than government, said Campbell.
"Another thing I learned from watching him transform South Carolina's economy is that one of the state's most powerful job creating tools is our state-operated port system. As Governor, he used the SC State Ports Authority as a resource to attract world-class companies that would have gone to other states without our state-owned and operated ports," he said.
When the young Campbell demanded an explanation for Sanford's change of heart, at first he gave reasons about the nature of Campbell's business (a governmental consulting business) possibly creating the appearance of a conflict of interest despite the fact that Campbell wasn't a lobbyist.
Campbell also points to the fact that there are several other sitting board members that are either lobbyist principals or serve as a contact for lobbyist principals, yet Gov. Sanford has made no attempt to remove them. Gov. Sanford then claimed that the actual reason for removal was that Campbell did not support his plan to relinquish ownership and management of one of South Carolina's most precious and valuable state resources -- its seaports.
According to Campbell, the board of the SC State Ports Authority recently took important steps to protect port assets from forces that could cripple them.
"A majority of us voted to maintain state control over a proposed port in Jasper County instead of turning it over to a private marine terminal operating company that would have had all decision-making authority to run the port and set prices," he said.
Unfortunately, Gov. Sanford admits that he favors turning over control of the state's ports to a private corporation. Campbell quickly voiced his opposition by pointing out that if a private company were in-charge of running the ports, the governor and his economic development team would have had no ability to negotiate port services or pricing.
"The best they could have done would be to go hat in hand to the company and plead for an attractive incentive package. Thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment would have been dependent upon a company that could be headquartered halfway around the world with no accountability to the citizens of South Carolina," said Campbell.
According to Campbell, state control over SC port facilities is so vital that six former governors earlier this year signed a letter that said, "We were always able to count on our port officials to do whatever was necessary to give us a strategic advantage in negotiations...This is a critical advantage that must not be compromised."
This is one reason why Campbell made the motion for the Ports Authority board to reject outside pressures to turn the proposed Jasper port over to a private company. The other reason he said he made the motion is that such action would pave the way for further unionization in South Carolina.
Currently, South Carolina's ports have union and non-union employees working side by side. That's the way it should be, according to Campbell. "This model has made South Carolina ports one of the most efficient in the world." he said.
But marine terminal operators, private companies that manage ports, are contractually obligated to hire union workers. Relinquishing total control of a state port to such a company (the so-called landlord/tenant model) would force officials to abandon their position as the nation's largest operating port in favor of the organized labor model that has been forced on virtually every other US port.
The costs of doing business with a unionized port could skyrocket, hurting every South Carolina-based company that uses our ports, according to Campbell. He's also concerned with organized crime infiltrating the unions and ports such as has happened in New York City and New Jersey.
"New York spends millions trying to control organized crime in their harbor and ports. And they still haven't been able to halt the racketeering that goes on," Campbell said during his interview.
"Moreover, our state has a proud tradition of being a right-to-work state and has the second lowest unionization rate in the country. Giving the keys of a valuable state resource to a 100 percent union operation would betray that legacy," said the staunch conservative.
Campbell says that the board of the SC State Ports Authority has charted a course that gives the taxpayers the best of both worlds. "We will maintain control of our ports, but we also are seeking private sector partnerships as we expand our facilities at the former Charleston Naval Base and build a new port in Jasper County," he said.
"The private sector has much to offer the state, and we want the expertise and investments that business can bring to the table. We are preparing an open, competitive bid process to make sure the taxpayers get the best deal. But we will not bow to outside pressure to give away one of South Carolina's most powerful job creating tools to a unionized company" Campbell stated.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.