One of the good guys, Tom Bardin, dies
I got a call a few hours ago to tell me, and now it's been confirmed, that Tom Bardin Jr., head of the S.C. Legislative Audit Council, has died at age 54.
He died while running in Beaufort, which is his hometown. He was apparently in town to visit his mother and was found by his wife, Angie, after his daily run.
Tom was a friend and former neighbor for many years till he and his wife moved up to Hilton along Lake Murray.
More than that, Tom was a friend to everyone in South Carolina who cares about honest, efficient government. He was truly one of the good guys. (See Post & Courier editorial of Aug. 31.)
Tom worked for the LAC in various jobs while I was at AP. He then left for a stint at the Department of Social Services before returning to head the council - the state's watchdog agency - in 2009, after I had gone to the University of South Carolina.
Tom was as straight-up a guy as they come. He and I chatted less frequently in recent years - the last time was about a month ago to congratulate him on his daughter's marriage. But while we discussed family, friends, the university and all those things you catch up on, the talk always turned to our experiences with state government and its various political figures. We exchanged some good stories and shook our heads knowingly, sometimes out of exasperation. But Tom also clearly was dedicated to making government run right.
He wasn't one of those on a "waste and fraud" witch hunt. But several of those whose agencies underwent scrutiny under Tom's steady hand likened it to having a proctological exam and root canal while giving a deposition - if it was there, Tom and his examiners were going to find it. That didn't make a lot of people in state government overly happy.
Most S.C. residents, especially those always bleating about taxes and spending, probably don't know who Tom was, if they even have a vague notion of what the LAC is. But they should stop a moment and take note, because he was one of those sometimes vilified "state workers" who, no question, was doing his best to work for them.
Our (Karen's and mine) sympathies go out to Angie; their daughter, Jill; and son, Tripp.
They also go out to those in this state who care about how things run. They've lost a champion for good government.
The LAC has been a bright spot with Tom and his predecessor and mentor, George Schroeder (who also had a brief stint as the state's first inspector general and will now be back at the audit council as interim director). Let's hope any successor is as good.
Update: Tom's obituary.