Dear DSS: The game, as they say, is afoot

D. C. Moody Mood-y Swings

May 6, 2014

I am — now at least — an exceptionally patient man and go out of my way to be fair when it’s deserved, especially in my personal life. My professional life is a little different because I expect everyone else to play as hard at it as I do, and that just isn’t the case. As I sit here writing this, I am fuming and my patience is gone.

As many of you know I have been working on an investigative series of pieces concerning the state of affairs inside South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. Two weeks ago I finally had an opportunity to sit down with some the upper echelon in management with the organization and should have known, based on how it began, this would be where I would end up.

Three months it took me to get an interview with the department’s communications director and a deputy director … patiently dialing day after day and week after week until finally I think they reached a truism where I am concerned: I don’t quit. So they scheduled the date and time. I show up and here’s where the fun begins. And yes, I am being sarcastic.

I am then firmly planted in the lobby where the young woman running security informs me no one is answering upstairs and am I SURE I had an appointment. I made a quick phone call, ascertained the latitude my boss was going to give me and informed security I would not be leaving and I would need the number for pizza delivery. I think it was when I asked if she liked pepperoni she got back on the phone and I was gathered up once more within a couple of minutes.

This time I made progress, left to cool my heels with what was supposed to be pleasant conversation for a while, at least another 20 minutes or so. Finally the deputy director arrives and informs me I have 10 minutes.

One false start on an interview, an off the record conversation, and the schedule was suddenly “cleared” when I explained I was doing this interview as a courtesy to them, in no uncertain terms, delineating what I had to take to press and the atmosphere changed. I was sure they had an understanding I wanted to give their side of the story as well, being completely fair across the board. The misunderstanding was mine.

Over an hour’s worth of interview later, I was promised every document and budget-related item I requested. As of the moment I am putting these letters to the page, I have yet to receive one return email, one returned phone call, and zero documents.

So, I felt it only fair to pen this letter of sorts, to inform you, South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, that when I gave you my word if you lied to me, jerked me around, or in any way politicized your dealings with me I would rain down upon you with great vengeance and furious anger, I meant it.

I have been patient, I have been fair, I have done my job as a professional where you are concerned, and even in your own words paraphrased here, I had treated you more fairly than any other media member in the state … and now the game is afoot.

This isn’t about me, it’s about truth … and the appearance of sin.

In closing, I believe there’s only one way to put where all of this stands as I begin to put the series together: The game is afoot.

D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at dmoody@civitasmedia.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.