WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman James E. Clyburn was elected majority whip on Wednesday, once again becoming the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House.
Clyburn thanked his House Democratic colleagues in a statement he released after the vote.
“I am deeply honored to have the support of our caucus and humbly accept this position with a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Clyburn said.
The 6th District congressman announced he was seeking the position after the Democrats gained a majority in the U.S. House in the Nov. 6 mid-term elections. He initially faced opposition from Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, before she withdrew from the race on Nov. 19.
Clyburn was unanimously elected by the House Democratic Caucus.
This will be Clyburn’s second stint as majority whip. He first served in the capacity from 2007 to 2011.
Democratic National Committee Associate Chair and Senior Counselor Jaime Harrison, an Orangeburg native, believes Clyburn will have an impact in the position. Harrison ran the whip operation when Clyburn was majority leader in the past.
“He has a history of being an effective whip and during that time he was successful in passing some major legislation, from the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes Bill to the Affordable Care Act,” Harrison said.
Harrison also noted Clyburn is the only member of the House Democratic leadership from the South.
“It’s going to pay tremendous dividends to our state and to his district having him there at the leadership table and bringing up the issues that impact communities like those here in South Carolina, like Orangeburg,” he said.
“If we had to leave it up to bureaucrats, small towns and small communities wouldn’t get the priority. But having Jim Clyburn at the table, knowing the needs of communities like Orangeburg, the need to have good water, infrastructure and all, it provides a tremendous advocate for those communities and for the state,” Harrison stated.
Harrison also stated that, “once Jim Clyburn decides to step away, we’re going to lose a lot of seniority and a lot of clout in Washington D.C., so we better take advantage of every benefit we have of him at that leadership table.”
In his statement, Clyburn said, “America is already a great country: our challenge is to make its greatness apply fairly and equitably to all of its people."
"As the only member of elected leadership from a red state and largely rural district, I will work tirelessly to be a voice for the millions of Americans who feel left out and communities that are too often left behind,” he said.
“I am committed to staying connected to all of our caucuses and regions and building a whip operation that is reflective of the diversity of our caucus and that empowers a new generation of members to have a voice in our legislative process.”
At Wednesday afternoon's final Bulldog Weekly Press Conference for the 2018 season, South Carolina State head football coach Buddy Pough spoke of the surprising turnaround for his current team, wanting to continue coaching at his alma mater and ongoing discussions concerning his future with the program.
Pough has not officially been told, after 17 years at the helm of the Bulldog football program, if he will be getting another contract when his current one-year contract expires in the coming weeks.
But he expects to have further discussions with SCSU Athletic Director Stacy Danley and the administration within the next week. Pough coached on a one-year contract for the 2018 season.
Earlier Wednesday, Danley and S.C. State President James Clark said the story was premature because no final decision has been made.
"The athletic director has not brought any decision to me about the coach," Clark said.
According to a release from SCSU Sports Information late Wednesday, no final decision has been made on the future of another possible contract with Pough.
“Discussions regarding Coach Pough’s contract have not taken place at this time," Danley said. "I will have the appropriate discussions, with Coach Pough and President Clark, to determine the state of the program.
"Subsequently, a decision will be made based on what we believe will be in the best interest of the university.”
Pough told assembled media from across the state that negotiations and decisions are in the works with the university, but "with a lot of moving parts."
"We've got a story brewing, that I'm coming back (for 2019), and at this point that story is a bit premature," Pough said. "We will be working with our administration to figure out exactly what the status of the football head coaching position is here at South Carolina State.
"Mr. Danley and I have gone through the evaluation process of the program for the year. We've gone over the good and bad things and everything else that you talk about. He is now in the process of getting through the rest of the administration and the board to decide exactly what will be done. But, as of this point right now, we have not decided -- from his side as administration or from my own personal side -- if this is going to be an agreement that is going to come together for 2019."
Pough believes he still has some good coaching years ahead of him.
"Under the right circumstances, I think I would like to come back," he said. "Contractually, I'm not exactly sure what I'm open to. But I can tell you that I enjoy doing what I do here, so that makes you a little bit vulnerable in the way that people negotiate with you. They know you want to be here and you love the place.
"I'd like to continue to work for another few years. I'm still young enough that I can still run around some. If it wasn't for these artificial hips they gave me a couple years back, I think I could still outrun some of these guys."
The 2018 Bulldogs team started off 0-4 but rebounded for a 5-6 record, including a four-game winning streak and a 4-3 record in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play. One more win in conference play would have clinched second place in the conference standings for S.C. State, which ultimately finished in fourth after Saturday's 21-17 home loss to N.C. Central.
"We normally wouldn't have had an agreement in place this soon (after the season)," Pough said, four days after a makeup game from September was played to complete the season a week later than originally scheduled. "Generally, with a university such as ours, you've got to go through several layers of administrative kinds of personnel and just let things play out.
"I'm not saying they don't want me to come back. I think they do. At the point when we said it was going to be one year last year, I generally thought it was going to be just one year. Given some of the circumstances we were dealing with, that team (2017) was a lot different from the team we have ending this season."
With as many as 15 freshmen or redshirt freshmen playing considerable roles for the Bulldogs this season, Pough admits he got more excited about continuing to coach.
"Those guys really have come about in a way where it gives you a big piece of confidence in the fact that this team could be really good for years to come," Pough said. "I'm excited about the possibility of what could be with this group of kids. And I would like to be around to try to see them through it all. Our running backs, in particular, are about the finest group that we've had around here in some time. And we've got a really good quarterback coming back, along with that secondary full of freshmen running around making plays.
"Last year, we didn't have a single kicker returning on our team. We've got two of those guys and a long snapper now, all freshman. The pieces are in place to where you can say this team can be pretty good for years to come. At this point, I've fallen in love with some of these guys, they've grown on me in a way where it's really, really important for me to have an opportunity to hang around and watch them grow through their college careers."
Pough said in recent weeks that his major concern is not whether he is coaching next season. Instead, his focus is on what's best for the program and that his assistant coaches know if they should plan to continue working toward next season. On Wednesday he said that the relationships made while coaching are more important than any single win or loss.
"We've got some guys graduating, the (Austin) Rugers and the (Quan) Caldwells of the world (both redshirt seniors this past season), that are close to me, and that's always tough seeing those guys go away," Pough said. "But we've got this other group coming along, that's going to be doctors and lawyers and so much down the road. Those are the relationships that keep you young and excited about this.
"But everybody seems to think I'm just old and decrepit and sitting around here waiting for the rocking chair."
In his 17 seasons leading the Bulldogs, Pough's program has posted a 125-70 record, for a win percentage of 64.1. That includes a record of 99-37 against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference competition.
"There are some time considerations and some budget considerations, some things that need to be somewhat better for me to be able to have an opportunity to be successful here," Pough said. "But, at the same time, the university has its considerations also.
"So, it's not just me; it's both sides of the ledger. We'll get it cleared up in the next week or so. If it's not done in a week or so, then you will probably, for sure, see a change. But, for now, we are trying to be sure about what we are doing here."
Tuesday was a historic night as the board of trustees for Orangeburg County’s soon-to-be consolidated school district met for the first time.
The nine newly elected board members – Betty Macon Pelzer, Vernell H. Goodwin, William O’Quinn, Peggy James-Tyler, Idella W. Carson, Ruby Edwards, Mary Berry Ulmer, Ralph Lee “Poppy” Brown and Debora B. Brunson – were sworn in by Orangeburg County Clerk of Court Winnifa B. Clark.
South Carolina School Boards Association General Counsel Dr. Tiffany Richardson presided over the early part of the meeting.
“I’m so excited to be here – I hope you are too – to be with THE Orangeburg County School Board,” Richardson said.
“I’m going to steal a quote, and paraphrase it, from the movie ‘Drumline’: One board, one sound,” she said. “So as you move forward, I want each of you, as a group and individually, to keep that in mind.”
Richardson conducted the election of officers.
Trustees elected James-Tyler as chair, Pelzer as vice chair and Carson as secretary.
After taking the gavel from Richardson, James-Tyler opened the meeting with a welcome for the crowd gathered in Orangeburg County Council chambers.
“I hope we will work for the betterment of the children of the Orangeburg County School Board,” she said.
“We can do it if we work as a team. ... We can do it, but it’s going to take the community, the parents, the teachers and all of our students working together to make this thing happen, and with God as our guide, we can do it.”
The board heard from Orangeburg Consolidation Transition Committee Chairman Donnie Hilliard.
Hilliard said he was not ready to present the committee’s official report to the board as it is still being finalized. Even though the transition committee was supposed to disband after the formation of the new board, the group will continue until its report is finished, he said.
However, Hilliard gave an overview of the committee’s work to trustees. He said that the committee has prepared a budget for the new district and forwarded it to the Orangeburg County Legislative Delegation.
Hilliard also reported on the work of various subcommittees. He said that some might describe these initial steps as “the first leg of a relay.” But he thinks of it more as building a platform for the new district to stand on.
S.C. School Board Association Executive Director Scott T. Price addressed trustees as well. He said he sees “new faces ... and some veterans” on the new board and offered his agency’s help as they get started with their task.
“You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you,” Price said.
Richardson introduced two policies for the trustees to read and study – a governance section and an administrative section.
After considering the policies, the trustees will vote on first reading for their adoption, she said.
Price said he would work with James-Tyler to set up a daylong training session for the new members to cover roles and responsibilities, the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, ethics and meeting management.
After discussion, trustees agreed to communicate by email with Richardson to decide on a date for the training session that works for everyone.
The board then voted to enter closed, executive session to discuss a contract for the superintendent search and an administrative assistant position.
Returning to open session about half an hour later, trustees approved a motion by Carson to authorize James-Tyler to work with the School Boards Association in the district’s search for a superintendent. The board also approved a motion by Goodwin to move forward in looking for an interim superintendent and an administrative assistant.
Trustees have not yet decided when the next board meeting will be held.
Lawmakers approved legislation last year requiring the merger of the county’s three school districts into one by July 2019. The consolidation transition committee has been planning for the combination of school districts 3, 4 and 5 into a unified district.
The three districts end their work on June 30, with July 1 being the first official day of operation for the new, consolidated school district.