Tent "town" protests Sanford's stimulus stance - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Tent "town" protests Sanford's stimulus stance

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - About two dozen protesters have set up a tent town to protest Gov. Mark Sanford's refusal to use federal stimulus money to protect South Carolina teachers and schools.

Organizers have set up a half dozen tents in a popular downtown Columbia park across the street from an unemployment office and a block from the governor's mansion. They're calling the area Sanfordville.

Organizers said the group represented thousands of South Carolinians who believe the governor's stimulus stance is a threat to jobs -- especially teaching jobs -- and homes.

Among those stopping by to express support was Orangeburg Sen. Brad Hutto.

"This is just sort of a microcosm of what I hear in my district, is that people don't understand. They don't understand how this money that we're going to have to pay back anyway, it's available to us and he's saying he's not going to take that money. It's just not making sense to people," said Hutto.

"That $700 million is there to keep kids in school, keep teachers employed and cops on the street. Those are all critical functions of South Carolina," said former Gov. Jim Hodges.

Across town, Congressman and House majority whip Jim Clyburn continued his verbal battle with the governor.

"And I think that everything that the governor has done since they've been in office has been anti-public education. Show me one positive thing he's done for public education," said Clyburn.

Sanford has said the $700 million in federal money that he'll control during the next two years should be used to reduce debt and not to support failed programs. He said the protest is another attempt to make him change his mind.

Opponents said the money should help protect public schools and teachers' jobs amid budget cuts.

Sheila Gallagher, a middle school teacher from Florence, was a Sanfordville resident.

"We have teachers already who have received their pink slips and so we know this is going to be a bad effect for public education because many of those receiving them are younger teachers," said Gallagher.

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Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Jeremy Turnage

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