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Columbia’s Play-Play Elite Fired Chief Tandy

Earlier this week, I was floored when I got a text message from WLTX alerting me that Columbia’s city manager, Steve Gantt, had fired the city police chief, Tandy Carter. Say what? Hasn’t Tandy only been serving the City for six months? Actually, it’s been more like two years, but after paying a search firm $10,000 to find him and paying him a more than 100k a year, it may as well be only six months.

After I picked my bottom lip up off the floor, I logged on to see what the reason was behind the termination. Did Tandy kill someone? Steal something? Deal drugs out of his SUV and extorted money from drug dealers? Run off with his mistress and not tell anyone? Federal tax evasion? Get his mama to take out a loan for city funds? What? Surely not because he refused to turn the investigation of the Benjamin/Rubens car accident case over to another agency. Surely not. But that’s exactly what it was!

Well, I’ll be…

It appears City Council members wanted the investigation to be turned over to another agency to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Tandy refused to turn over the case because he said that his police department was more than capable of running an honest and unbiased investigation. He further said that the departmental investigation was well within his scope of his duties. After all, Mayor-elect Benjamin is still a regular citizen until he takes office in June.

Makes perfect sense to me. But that rationale wasn’t good enough for City Council members… they wanted Tandy to jump when they said jump. They wanted Tandy to do what they wanted him to do, rather than what was within his professional discretion.

That’s the problem with Columbia, and it has been for quite a while. In Tandy’s press conference, he made reference to a report released by a community panel, led by SC Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest Finney. The report was critical of Police Department operations, saying that many of the problems of the department resulted from City Council members meddling in police decisions. And it seems the firing of Tandy proves the Finney Report right.

The Columbia Police Department needs an outsider who doesn’t have any of the good ole’ boy alliances and ties. The search firm found exactly what Columbia needed when they found Tandy Carter two years ago… a strong, experienced, professional, well-credentialed police chief who could do his job without feeling bullied by City Council. Unfortunately, the Council is just too full of itself and its elitist status to recognize it!

Elitist status? Yes! Elitist status. You see, South Carolina (Columbia, in particular) does not have a real elite class. We do not have a professional sports team. No NBA team. No NFL franchise. No large cultural scene. No significant presence of the Arts. No rap stars. No reality show stars. Nothing. We are smack dab in the middle of Atlanta and Charlotte, both of which have all of those things, yet we don't. We couldn’t even sustain the Three Rivers Music Festival. We can’t even get the NCAA to bring their tournaments here; much less bring a professional sports team here!

So, in absence of high-profile athletes, rap artists, business tycoons, and cultural artists, the Columbia professional became our elite class. That includes our media personalities, local politicians, young lawyers and doctors, House of Representative members and City Council members.

In larger cities where there are professional athletes and other ‘bona fide ballers’, it is common to come in contact with those oversized personalities and egos… those that have a false sense of entitlement; want something for free; want the room to stop when they walk in. But since we don’t have the real thing here, our play-play elite takes on that role. Have you ever noticed how when certain members of the House, Bar and media walk into a room, they stop and look around to see who is watching them? Play-play elite.

That’s why Chief Tandy was fired. Because Columbia’s play-play elite wanted him to dance to their music. And he refused. And if we continue to allow the city to be run this way, that’s all Columbia will ever have; play-play elite. Edit

5 comments

Yep, that's Columbia, South Carolina. It would be something if any of the council or even the city manager seemed spectacular at their jobs but they aren't. Watching city council meetings on TV is like looking back in time some 20 years.

And now they want to look at combining the Police department with the county sheriff's department. NO!! I live in the county, not the city - keep your hands out of our law enforcement! Get your budget together and then let's talk. Delete Reply

I agree 100%. As a native Columbian if you will, I have become immune to these type of tactics. The leadership in general in this state sucks. The sad thing is it will not get better until citizens either grow some balls or these people die off all together. It is hard to believe that we are sandwiched in between Charlotte and Atlanta, but yet worlds apart with no clear road map in sight. If you don't like Carolina football (they suck), the confederate flag, or the numerous watering holes disguised as bars then there is nothing really here. Delete Reply

Let's not even talk about the fact that Southwest will not fly here but is flying to Charleston and Greenville, Main Street is on life support, the mentally handicapped who are also homeless wandering the streets, and a mass transit system that uses a calendar as a schedule. Try opening a business in the city limits.

I love Columbia, but our leadership lacks vision. Delete Reply

Derek: You took the words out of my mouth. Charleston and Greenville got Southwest Airline and the Capital City couldn't do it. Boy, we have issues! Now they wanna merge with the County and screw us up too... Delete Reply

T: Well written and good points about council.. I had a cartoon image of town council sitting at thier table ,, all pious and looking down on Chief Tandy dressed as Mr Bojangles .Saying "dance boy" and 'sing us some work songs".. The sad thing is Chief Tandy is a very capable and honest man.They offended his honor and intergrity by asking him to get assistance. Many Politicians do not understand honor or duty. Because of thier own lack of honor and duty they feel it is acceptable and just to question others honor and commitment to Duty.. It is a shame ..but it set up to work this way.. An honorable man does not have a chance in public service when he has to be a slave to a few....But that what council wants.. A puppet Again you are right on with the facts and the reason.. Delete Reply

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