September 27, 2010

© 2010 jbjd

James E. Clyburn (D-SC) is the only Congressman the citizens of the Palmetto State’s Sixth Congressional District have known since a contentious re-apportionment created the oddly shaped majority minority district in 1992.  Here’s how the Congressman describes the Sixth on his Congressional web site.

The Sixth District contains five of the state’s six poorest counties and has the state’s lowest per capita income.  Many of these counties are found along the I-95 corridor, which bisects the Sixth District.  This two hundred mile stretch of interstate has been dubbed the Corridor of Shame, because it is home to inadequate public schools, high unemployment rates, widespread poverty and alarming rates of strokes, diabetes, and prostate cancer.  Textile plants have closed throughout the district due to outsourcing, and tobacco farmers in the eastern portion of the district have seen their livelihood evaporate…

The Sixth Congressional District has suffered from decades of neglect.  However, Congressman Clyburn is providing the leadership and vision to create a better future for all its residents.

Well, Mr. Clyburn, may I just point out, if the “Sixth…has suffered from decades of neglect,” the last 2 (two) of those “decades” have been at the hands of your “leadership and vision.”  Indeed, the I-95 corridor, contorted to retain its majority minority status, just became known as  the Corridor of Shame under your watch.

Here’s how it earned that name.

The Charleston Tea Party, which wants to replace Mr. Clyburn with Jim Pratt (R) – “If he has made no improvements in eighteen years why should we believe he will be different in the future?” – posted this Map of the Recession in South Carolina (Post and Courier).  Immediately below that is the map of the Sixth District as it appears on Mr. Clyburn’s House web site.

Did you notice how closely the ‘Corridor of Shame’ overlaps Mr. Clyburn’s Sixth District?  (Did you notice that the video advertising the film “Corridor of Shame” features Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) but not him?)

So, why is the Sixth so poor?  Well, as Mr. Clyburn points out, one reason is that industry is moving away.  This means, unemployment is rising.  Property values are falling.  And funding for schools is in large part determined by property taxes.  So, what is the powerful Majority Whip doing specifically to attract new businesses and try to hang onto the old?  Listen carefully.

Congressman Clyburn has been a vocal advocate of improving these negative statistics by focusing on a brighter future for the Sixth District through transportation and tourism.  He has established and secured funding for the James E. Clyburn Transportation, Research and Conference Center at South Carolina State University.  This facility will enhance transportation infrastructure in South Carolina especially in rural areas.  It will conduct research in alternative fuel sources, and educate transportation innovators of the future.

Get that?  He has “established and secured funding for the James E. Clyburn Transportation, Research and Conference Center at South Carolina State University.”  (In his campaign advertising, Mr. Clyburn claims SCSU is his alma mater.) What he didn’t say is that he began securing funding for transportation related research and programs at the school in 1998.  That’s 12 (twelve) years ago.  So, why the dramatic increase in poverty and unemployment in SC’s Sixth under his watch?

Maybe because the funding for the project stopped in 2006 when most of the 50 (fifty) million dollars spent thus far could not be accounted for.

From The Post and Courier, June 14, 2010.

Transportation center stalled

ORANGEBURG — Twelve years and more than $50 million later, the site of the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center remains vacant, no transportation research is underway and the center lost its federal designation.

The center, a collection of programs at South Carolina State University, was launched in 1998 as one of dozens of such centers around the country with money from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It was supposed to conduct research and train skilled workers, especially minority workers, in the transportation industry.

But the DOT cut off further funding after 2006. The programs have limped along since then with money left over from the transportation grant and other federal grants.


Diane Knich
The future site of the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg

A federal audit on one of those grants, the National Summer Transportation Institute, found that the school’s financial records were so messed up that accountants couldn’t tell where millions of dollars went.

This past summer, with the actual James E. Clyburn Center building scheduled to break ground, state legislators began asking questions as to what happened to all of that money, some of which was contributed by the state.  University officials just don’t know.  And when asked, the Congressman explained, “He brought tens of millions of dollars to the school for those programs, but that’s where his role stopped.” Rep. Clyburn denies role in lost millions

Clyburn said he and his staff receive many requests for federal funds. They review those requests and decide which ones have merit, he said. Then, if possible, he earmarks federal money to those that do.

After a state institution has been awarded money from a federal agency, “My office, my staff, nobody has anything to do with it,” he said. “The relationship is between the federal agency and the requesting agency.”

In the case of S.C. State University, the money for transportation programs came from the federal Transportation and Energy departments.


Clearing for the Center building began in August. even though grant funding for the center was not renewed by DOT in 2006, effectively ending further funding for the center. “A federal audit of one grant, for the National Summer Transportation Institute, found financial records were confusing and accountants could not tell where money went.” Id.

But not to worry.

Sure, most of the citizens of the Sixth are in dire financial straits; there are few if any good jobs, property values have plummeted, and the state of the education system documented in the movie has earned the District the moniker, ‘Corridor of Shame.’ But there is still some good economic news coming out of the District:  Representative Clyburn is raking in the dough.  First, there is his annual $174,000 Congressional salary for overseeing this economic disaster zone.  Then, there are these millions in unearned income spread out on culled from the myriad reports compiled by the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”), our watchdog agency for contributions to and expenditures by federal officials.  (Keep in mind, these are only preliminary figures from 2010.)

And even using just these few millions his BRIDGE PAC has taken in, Representative Clyburn could still buy enough influence to put a dent in the problems plaguing the Sixth.  Regardless of whether anyone is able to track how the money is spent.

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