Advance America boosts execs’ salaries

The board of Advance America has approved substantial salary increases for the company’s chief executive and chief financial officer, the company announced this week.

CEO Kenneth Compton’s salary is being bumped to $725,000 from $619,712 while CFO Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s will get a boost to $425,000 from $339,423, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

During the 2008 fiscal year, Compton earned a total of more than $2.2 million, which included bonuses, stock awards, option awards and all other compensation, according to SEC documents.

O’Shaughnessy’s total compensation during the same period was $957,003.

Spartanburg-based Advance America saw its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 increase to $12.6 million, up from $8.5 million a year earlier. For the previous nine months, the company earned $34.4 million, compared to $32.5 million in 2008.

Stock in Advance America is trading at more than $5.50 a share, well above its 52-week low of 80 cents.

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Financier resigns from TSFG board

South Financial Group board member Darla Moore has resigned from financial services company’s board of directors, effective at year-end.

In a letter to TSFG Chairman C.B. Smith, Moore briefly outlined the reasons for her impending departure:

“As you know, I’ve been considering this matter for some time, primarily as a result of the level of other commitments that I have. Please understand that this has nothing to do with my level of support for TSFG or Carolina First Bank, and I certainly wish the Company nothing but the best, particularly as it traverses these difficult economic times.”

The past two years have been difficult for South Financial, which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since 2007, including  a net loss of $323.5 million during the three months ended Sept. 30.

South Financial’s stock is currently trading for less than 60 cents a share. Two years ago, the company was trading for around $15 a share.

Moore, a native of Lake City, SC, has given tens of millions of dollars to the University of South Carolina in recent years. USC’s business school is named for her. She has also made contributions to Clemson University.

A director since 2005, Moore is a vice president of Rainwater Inc., one of the nation’s largest private investment firms. She serves on the boards of the University of South Carolina and New York University Medical School and Hospital.

Moore also serves on the national advisory board of JP Morgan and the board of MPS Group Inc.

Trifle with Bill Connor at your own peril

Even in a state with a penchant for Cro-Magnon-like political machinations, one would hope for better than thinly veiled threats against penny-ante bloggers.

It would appear my Tuesday post ridiculing Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor’s sky-is-falling act regarding the hacking of his website by purported cronies of Osama bin Laden (no, really) ruffled a few feathers. 

Shortly after I called out the Connor campaign for insulting the intelligence of South Carolinians with the suggestion that Islamic extremists might be targeting Connor because he served in the Army in Afghanistan, I received the following comment:

KD

It’s really dangerous for someone with your position to continue this personal vendetta. Your posts on this blog and fits are inappropriate for you, especially from your work computer. There are a number of people in Cola that would be shocked at this and make appropriate moves.

The missive, from an individual who identified themselves as only “W,” was sent from a hidden Internet Protocol address, of course.  

Now, seeing how my total readership is so small that they could all fit in the backseat of Yugo, it’s always nice to get feedback. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a few moments to respond to my new-found friend.

First, I’m not sure how highlighting the antics of someone running for elected office (such as here, here, here, here and here) constitutes a “personal vendetta,” but even if it did, I’m even less clear why it would be “really dangerous for someone with your position.”

Dangerous to whom? The candidate? Unless someone’s got some truly horrific skeletons in their closet or are pretending to be something they’re not, I can’t see how the ramblings of a single blogger carry much weight.

Oh, wait. Perhaps my new buddy meant that it would be dangerous for me to continue writing about Mr. Connor. Yes, I suppose there is a very real danger that by continuing to pay attention to Mr. Connor’s bellicose buffoonery my already-suspect IQ could be irreparably harmed.

As to the remark that my posts on this blog and FITSnews are inappropriate, “especially from your work computer,” I will concede that as I do often work from home at night, I suppose one could say I did indeed write the offending post from my work computer.

As to why they’re inappropriate, though, I’m a bit hazy. We do have libel laws, however, so if someone connected to the Connor Camp feels a wrong has been perpetrated, then by all means seek legal redress.

But my new pal saved the best for last: “There are a number of people in Cola that would be shocked at this and make appropriate moves.” First, the smattering of people in “Cola” who know me would hardly be shocked that I wrote something antagonistic about a self-important clown who thinks he can whip up support by fabricating a tale about Middle Eastern extremists targeting him because of his views on the War on Terror.

I’ve taken shots at a number of individuals, companies and entities who have crossed the line into the absurd, inane or shady, including Mack Whittle, Collexis Holdings, Anderson 3 School District, the Greenville News, the Green Movement and Bob Coble, to name a few. 

As to what my new amigo meant when they said that there were a number of people who would “make appropriate moves” if I continued, one can only guess. But I’d like to make a few suggestions:

  • Buy me a Thesaurus. After just a year of running this blog, I recognize that my writing can get repetitive and even pedantic. Perhaps a copy of Roget’s latest edition would spice things up a little.
  • Buy me a new laptop. Maybe if I had a better setup I wouldn’t be such a grouch and feel the need to point out the myriad foibles of individuals such as Mr. Connor.
  • Buy me a ticket for a nice vacation, preferably somewhere warm with good fishing. Perhaps a week or two away would lift my spirits enough that I would be better able to overlook the insipid claptrap from candidates such as Bill Connor. Probably not, but let’s give it a try and see what happens.

Just who’s trying to ‘hack & own’ whom?

Radical Islam represents a far greater threat to America than most of us realize. Why, just this week Osama bin Laden’s minions apparently hacked into the campaign website of South Carolina Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor.

A screenshot of Connor’s website Tuesday morning showed the following: “This is hacked & owned … by Dr. Hiad” in the green, red and white colors used on the flags of several Middle Eastern countries, according to WIS.

Ah, yes, “hacked & owned” – a rallying cry of Muslims since the days of Saladin.

“We are investigating the breach,” Connor campaign spokesman Joshua Gross told FITSnews. “Obviously it’s Islamic in nature so we’re assuming it’s related to his service in Afghanistan.”

Yes, obviously Islamic, and obviously extremely crafty and nefarious, to boot.

Conner, a Columbia attorney and Lt. Colonel who served in Afghanistan, took the opportunity to set up and knock down a veritable army of Islamic straw men.

“From Garmsir to Fort Hood, we face in radical Islam an enemy whose attacks range from petty web hacks to mass murder,” Connor said. “What was done to our campaign website is nothing compared to the real damage that Islamists can do to kill our citizens and undermine our laws and Constitution. We have seen that in attacks against US soldiers and civilians alike around the globe.”

However, a computer expert contacted by The Associated Press who studied the site says the alterations are similar to those made about 4,500 times elsewhere on the Web.

Ray Dickenson of the technology security firm Authentium also says the alterations do not appear to have any political content in them.

But then again, The Associated Press, Ray Dickenson and technology security firm Authentium are all probably fawning lickspittles of bin Laden and other Middle Eastern extremists, willing to do whatever it takes to bring down budding political giant Bill Connor.

Seriously, can anyone running for statewide office really be so stupid as to believe that Islamic extremists give a hoot about the South Carolina Lt. Governor’s race, whether or not one of the candidates served overseas?

Better yet: Can anyone running for statewide office really think they can fool South Carolinians into believing radical Muslims give a hoot about the S.C. Lt. Governor’s race?

This is the kind of inanity that would derail the average person’s bid to win election to something as mundane as the local water and soil conservation board, never mind the second-highest elected office in the state.