Thumbs up to the Clemson football team. For the second consecutive year, the No. 2 Tigers will meet No. 1 Alabama for the national championship. Alabama won 45-40 last year, but most people thought Clemson outplayed the Crimson Tide. The rematch is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday in Tampa, Florida. Alabama (14-0) is a seven-point favorite. The Tigers (13-1) thrive on being the underdog, but many experts are picking them. We think the teams are evenly matched. Alabama has the nation’s best defense, but Clemson’s might be a close No. 2. We give the edge on offense to the Tigers, who are led by veteran quarterback Deshaun Watson, the runner-up in 2016 Heisman Trophy voting. Watson was magnificent a year ago, accounting for 478 of Clemson’s 550 yards (405 yards passing). He threw for four touchdowns. Alabama has been vulnerable in recent years to mobile quarterbacks who can escape pressure in the pocket and run loose for long gains. The Tigers are coming off their most impressive performance of the season, a 31-0 semifinal victory over Ohio State. Alabama looked a little lackluster in its 24-7 semifinal victory. The Tide will come into the game with a new offensive coordinator. Clemson might not know what to expect. Nobody, really, knows what to expect. We expect a classic game. The Tigers are more than capable of coming home with their second national championship and first since the 1981 season. It’s going to be a fun game to watch.
Thumbs down to online shopping. We know, we know. It’s so convenient. You turn your computer on, click on a website, click on a purchase and a package soon shows up at your door. You avoid traffic, parking lots and crowds. What’s not to like? How about big retail stores closing and local jobs going away? We’re seeing that in Florence. The Sears at Magnolia Mall is among the stores in the chain that will be closing. While we worry about the future of similar stores, we wish mall management well as it tries to attract another anchor store. Meanwhile, the next time you shop on your computer, consider the consequences.
Thumbs up to Freedom of Information reform. We hope a bill that is being introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives sails through the legislature this year. We’ve had hopes of meaningful progress dashed the past few years. The new bill would create the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review under the Administrative Law Court. The office has hearing officers that issue orders containing findings of fact and conclusions of law. Appeals from the hearing officers would go to the Administrative Law Court and then to the Court of Appeals. The office has jurisdiction to hear cases, including where the public body fails to comply with a request, where a fee is challenged, where a disclosure determination is challenged and where a request is believed to be overly broad. This bill addresses the costs of obtaining the material and the speed at which a response is given by a public body. A fee schedule shall be posted online by a public body. A deposit of up to 25 percent of reasonably anticipated costs may be required. A public body shall respond to a FOIA request within 10 days (the current law is 15 days). A public body has 20 days to respond if the material is more than 24 months old. The material will then be furnished within 30 days from the date of the public body’s response or the receipt of the deposit if one is required. A public body has 35 days if the material is more than 24 months old. This bill also addresses the disclosure of certain material. The 911 recordings of a dying person’s last statements must be redacted. Dash-cam video that involves an officer-involved incident resulting in death, injury, property damage or the use of deadly force is available; however, law enforcement may apply to the circuit court to prevent the disclosure. This isn’t a perfect piece of legislation, but it would be a good step in the right direction. We need more sunshine in South Carolina. We encourage you to encourage our local lawmakers to pass this bill.
Thumbs down to the management of the Federal Building on Evans Street. That thought comes from reader Robert Harris of Florence. “After waiting months and months for the new parking lot so that we do not have to park on busy Evans Street to get to the building and post office, you now need to still enter on the Evans Street gate,” Harris wrote. “You cannot park in the new parking lot and walk through a gate straight to the post office. The handicapped spaces are now a waste. How can a handicapped person park in the back, walk all the way around the building to get in? Why can we not park in the new parking lot and walk through the gate, like we have done for years? Makes no sense to me. Where is constituent service? Both the federal building management and USPS management should be changed. Give us some relief.”
Thumbs up, thumbs down is a regular feature of the Morning News and appears each Saturday on our Opinion page. We seek nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at email@example.com. Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.