Only the full website address works when linking on social media. Please use


*You can scroll beyond the COTU Twtter feed to read more in depth articles and see a decade + of COTU archived posts in the right side column

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If nobody ...

Maybe This Is What They Meant By "The Green Alternative"

Bicycle trails are being pitched as means of "safe, green, free" exercise.

It seems as if all three of those benefits are now in question.

With the safety concerns of the Swamp Rabbit Trail (and other similar trails across the country) being so high that an millions in police protection being added, from studies that find that the air may not be so healthy to breathe as trails border roads and walkers and bikers breathe in car fumes, now comes word that bicycles are being considered for taxation.

Maybe the politicians and "green" groups mean THI$ kind of "green"?

Seems like all the promises of these trails and all the presentation points in these "focus groups" are exactly what Conservatives Of The Upstate has said, all along - another part of politics - another part of agenda 21's quasi environmentalism.

Chicago Illinois weighing bike tax:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Upcoming 2014 Events ...

On Thursday January 2, 2014, there will be a meeting of our legislative delegation (Hiott, Skelton, Owens, and Martin).
It will be held at the Dacusville Community Center at 5:30PM. 
There are many issues we need to bring to them like education, ethics, and tax reform. This will also be a good time to talk about pre-filed and pending legislation. It will be a good opportunity to express our opinions on the Hiott-Skelton at-large school board bill too.
The next Conservatives Of The Upstate meeting will be Thursday January 9, 2014
Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671
We have a lot of things to discuss - including how we will continue to make the most difference with ACTION of any Upstate conservative group.
The next Pickens County GOP meeting will be Thursday January 16, 2014. The guest will be Senator Lee Bright, candidate for U.S. Senate; opposing Lindsey Graham in November 2014.

The 2nd Pickens County School District Town Hall meeting has been postponed …
Town Hall Meeting Moved To February 25, 2014 
An "Ask Anything" Town Hall will be held @ Gettys Middle School Auditorium with Dr. Kelly Pew on February 25, 2014 at 6:30PM 
The meeting will include an open-mic session for you to ask questions. 
You can email your questions beforehand … Send them to

Friday, December 20, 2013

Look Them In The Eye & Ask Tough Questions

Look Them In The Eye & Ask Tough Questions
by Michelle Wiles

Dear Editor,

Delegation Meeting:

There will be a Pickens County Legislative Delegation meeting on January 2, 2014 at 5:30PM at the Dacusville Community Center. This will be a great time for all citizens to look our delegation, Larry Martin, Phil Owens, BR Skelton, and Davey Hiott, in the eye and ask tough questions about why South Carolina's educational system, our ethics laws, and our roadways are consistently rated some of the worst in the nation. These guys have been in Columbia for years, and we still see little to no improvement in these core functions of government.

We can also ask why our delegation overwhelmingly voted against Governor Haley's common sense budget reductions. It seems odd that they would vote against common sense measures to reduce spending in June, and now there is talk of tax increases to fund road work. Why do they always look to grow government and spend more? We need less, more efficient government. Another example is the Hiott-Skelton at-large school board bill. Do we really need more politicians in education, or do we need to focus on teachers and students? I believe we need to listen to and support teachers, and reduce the number of politicians with their fingers in the pie.

And finally, we need to pin them down on Common Core educational standards. Our current educational standards are developed by South Carolinians and are rated some of the best in the nation. Yet, some in Columbia want to hand over education standards to out of state interests; many who do not reflect our values. Our children are too important to hand over to unaccountable out of state interests. We must stop nationalized educational standards. 

I hope to see you on January 2nd in Dacusville!

Michelle Wiles
Pickens County Republican Party

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Could Dissolving The Education Oversight Committee Be South Carolina's Answer To Common Core?

SC Policy Council reports:
A bill prefiled for the 2014 legislative session would get rid of the Education Oversight Committee and hand the bulk of its power to the Superintendent of Education. That may sound like bureaucratic shuffleboard, but it would make an important change. Right now, citizens have virtually no real voice in determining whether the Common Core Standards are imposed on our schools or not. 
This bill could dramatically change that – and it doesn't even mention Common Core

Read more

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2nd Pickens County School District "Ask Anything Town Hall" Rescheduled

From The School District Of Pickens County:
You’re invited to a town hall meeting with our superintendent, Dr. Kelly Pew. She’s looking forward to talking with parents and community members about the state of the district. Topics will include goals, instructional initiatives, the future of our schools and more. Each meeting will include an open-mic session for you to ask Dr. Pew, Pickens County Superintendent, questions.

Town Hall Meeting / Auditorium Opening On February 25, 2014

Come out to see the newly renovated Gettys Middle School Auditorium and attend a town hall meeting with our superintendent, Dr. Kelly Pew on February 25, 2014 at 6:30PM
The auditorium, which was built in 1939 has been rejuvenated to serve students for decades to come. Dr. Pew is looking forward to talking with parents and community members about the state of the district. The meeting will include an open-mic session for you to ask questions...about anything!
You can even email us your questions beforehand! Send them to

Important note: this meeting was originally scheduled on January 9, 2014. It was moved to February 25, 2014.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Local Group Against Common Core Denied 1st Amendment Rights @ Easley Christmas Parade

On Saturday December 7, 2013, a local chapter of SCPIE (South Carolina Parents Involved in Education) was denied their 1st amendment rights … being told by a representative from Dunburk's Events in Easley that the peaceable group would not be allowed to carry signs in the parade because the "group was political".

Upon reading the city ordinances … there is no such restriction for parades or even protests. Furthermore, if politicians participated in the event - are they not political?

When the group leader informed the event coordinator that the SCPIE group was peaceable and non-partisan and that their application had been accepted weeks before the event, the event coordinator became defensive and said he would go get the police and the mayor.

See the video and a full story that's getting national attention:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lowering The Flag To ½ Mast For A Marxist?

Lowering The Flag To ½ Mast For A Marxist?

On Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama made a presidential resolution that flags across the country should be flown at half-mast to honor the passing of African revolutionary; Nelson Mandela.

On Friday, Liberty resident and Pickens County Sheriff, Rick Clark noted on his facebook page that he would not comply with the resolution on the grounds that Mandela was neither an American citizen nor served the United States in any official capacity.

While I believe Mandela to be a revolutionary (in all senses of the word - both good & bad) … I do believe Clark is correct on this matter - even in an unaddressed way.

Mandela was a great man. He had a big heart. He was though, also a communist - a marxist! We cannot and should not honor an admitted and detail doctrine adhering marxist with one of our highest honors. The honor is strictly reserved for those AMERICANS that have served our country - military, extraordinary emergency response, exemplary longstanding political office, and notable service to the community, state or country - that's it.

Be serious for a moment - when the Ayatollah passes should we honor him with our highest honor? He is also a world figure recognized for goodness, but is the spiritual leader for radical Islam.

Should we give the honor to the reverend Billy Graham when he passes? Absolutely! He IS an AMERICAN spiritual leader with an exemplary and notable impact on this country.

Please stop saying this is racially motivated or even racially stereotypical of something that would happen in the South.

I'm proud of Clark for doing this not just because it was correct, but it shows me that he stands behind the citizens of Pickens County FIRST! That goes a long way with me - realizing some inevitable future events.

Thank you Sheriff Clark.

Philip Smith
Webmaster, Conservatives Of The Upstate

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SC Legislators Frenzy Of Pre-filed Bills Awaiting 2014 Session

In December of each year, SC legislators pre-file bills to be considered for the upcoming 2014 SC legislative session in January.

Here's a list of the bills pre-filed so far …

* Tip to Spartanburg Tea Party for the info & link

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Safety Tip ...

From South Carolina Incident Alerts:
It's December! That means Christmas is in full swing! Just a reminder, if you have a real tree inside your residence or business please make sure it's properly watered. A dried out tree with lights on them can go up in flames in minutes; followed by the rest of the room. Lets all have a safe Christmas/Winter Season. (SCIA—01)

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Conservatives Of The Upstate
A little history …
A common myth is that The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America actually took place in San Elizario, a community near El Paso, in 1598 ~ 23 years before the Pilgrims'. They staged a reenactment of the event that culminated in the Thanksgiving celebration: the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate on the banks of the Rio Grande. De Onate is said to have held a big Thanksgiving festival after leading hundreds of settlers on a grueling 350-mile long trek across the Mexican desert.
* Information gathered from

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Open Letter To NBC Affiliate WYFF Concerning The Live Broadcast Of "The Voice" On November 26, 2013

Dear WYFF,
As our local NBC affiliate, you represent us … through the news, through your support of local charities, through advertising our local businesses. Thank you.

The general consensus that I get from my community and from social media is … We all love the music talent show, "The Voice". My personal assessment of this show is that it's much better than American Idol because it doesn't seem edited. It seems more professional than other TV reality talent and competition shows.

I, along with people in my community (Liberty SC) are concerned about the November 26, 2013 broadcast of "The Voice". In this episode, the semifinalists sang a rendition of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"

According to lyrics website AZLyrics, the lyrics are …

"Will the circle, be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by?"

The contestants were "coached" (may I used the word, "forced" also) to use these lyrics instead …

"Will the circle, be unbroken, by and by OH, by and by?"

I'm confused by this.

What is controversial or even religious about using the word "Lord" in a HYMN?

This song is a gospel hymn. It refers to heaven. The music was chosen, knowing it was a gospel hymn.

I'm also confused because characters on MANY of your shows say "OMG" or "Oh My God" or even "Lord have mercy" … none of which constitute praise or have religious undertones.

Furthermore … If you featured the number one song in the country … "Royals" by "Lorde" would you introduce them like this … 
"Here's the song Royals, by the band OH"?

The song featured on "The Voice", as sung, lacked harmony and didn't fit. It was a blatant slap in the face of all viewers of all religions or even no religion.

Please pass this along to NBC and express to them that we noticed.

Philip Smith
Liberty SC

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notes From November 2013 Four Hour Long Pickens County School Board Meeting

November 2013 SDPC Board Meeting

Boy Scouts led Pledge Of Allegiance

Dr.Nesbitt gave a presentation on technology today's children are growing up with. Confusing and lengthy video with a child not listening as an adult asked child to do certain tasks and child didn't really listen. The video was pitched as "how well children interact with technology" and it came across as a bad example.

Presentation points:
• Education environment is significantly different from just 5 years ago and future generation's work and educational environment will be driven by "iPad like technology".

• Forest Acres Elementary demonstrated software developed for teacher/student academic interaction, highlighting a math application & showing smart board uses. Technology turns classroom teaching into immediately available "app" children can access at home. VUROOM.COM

• Gettys Middle "Bring Your Own Device" pilot program, 120 participated, used secure internet to protect access, kids used an array of tools, broadens access & lowers cost, limited discipline issues with increased sharing and collaboration.

• Liberty High School featured technology innovations and indicated kids prefer their own device to an issued device because the district won't update and will limit use. Students indicated sharing was no problem where some may not have a device. Enhances learning through visual hands on. Coach Stewart from Liberty High School demonstrated his AP History Class' use of Wikispaces to collaborate on answers. He stated that whereas students used to write a sentence or two … now they write paragraphs because they have a consensus about the topic.
• Public Input
• Philip Smith, Liberty asked for a follow up on Pickens High School bullying case brought before the board at last month's meeting. Mr. Smith also relayed a story where he stated that several Liberty Middle School parents had contacted him about:
On November 7, 2013 Liberty Middle School was having girls basketball tryouts. The girls were trying out at the gym at the school.

The chorus had a concert that evening, so the tryouts were moved to Liberty First Baptist Church family life center. The girls were allowed to call the parents to let them that they were having to go to the church for tryouts that day. The girls were told they were being bussed to the church. A parent called up to the school to verify that they were going to be going by bus and was told that they were.

A student texted their mother at 3:20PM and told her that they had been driven to the church by Principal Edwards and 3 other faculty in their personal cars. The parent made some calls and found out that they did not notify and parents of this. The parent called the school district and talked to Mr. Skelton and he said he would have to find out from the school. Mr. Edwards called the parent and told them that he had taken 2 girls in his car, and three other teachers had taken the rest of the girls. The parent informed him that he nor any of the others had her permission or her knowledge of them driving them over there. Edwards said it was a last minute decision of his to transport them to the church in their personal cars.
• Mr. Smith communicated to the board that he was also concerned about the insurance liability.

• Superintendent Kelly Pew commented on Mr Smith's issues with two simple statements that both matters had been addressed.
Fund Balance discussion/seminar - Clark Webb, school district accounting firm
• Tax revenue is trailing 2012 by $100k, salaries up due to step raises and custodial additions, purchased services down, supplies moderating, property sales transferred into capital expenditures.

• Fund balance usually gets attention. Powerpoint presentation on " What The "Fund Balance" is NOT
• Not a checking account,
• Not a savings account
• Not a surplus
• Not a rainy day fund
• When revenue equals expenditures fund balance is unchanged.

• Recommendation is to have two months operating exenses in the general fund, or 17-25%.

• SDPC's goal is ~20%

• SDPC has used sound financial strategy to survive economic hardship, yet faces challenges. (Healthcare listed as number one, and retirement as number two issues)
Board member, Alex Saitta commented:
• Can't give everyone, including people working less than 15 hrs/wk - medical insurance

• District needs stronger budget management, and needs to cut lower priority items

• Problem with culture, Department Heads don't know what things cost, teach them to manage budgets
Board member Judy Edwards commented:
• "We've cut as deep as we can" & "Budget cuts are impacting morale." & "We have to do what other districts are doing."
Board member, Jimmy Gillespie:
• Appreciates District accounting firm Clark Webb's service.
Instructional Committee:
• Staffing standards reviews: standards are clear, some schools are high

• When the new committee is formed, actions can be taken on the recommendations of the committee.
Staff Political Participation:
• Policy change: No campaigning during working hours.

• Policy approved on 2nd reading
Discussion Of Sale of Gettys Middle:
• Board member, Alex Saitta made a motion to sell Gettys for $250K to Campbell Young.

• Board member, Jim Shelton asked to table the motion until a formal appraisal was received.
Board member, Judy Edwards seconded.

COTU NOTE: Is the property actually going to go for the appraised amount or sit and rot? It's clear that Edwards and Shelton have been told to WAIT and see what the 7th school board member result will be so they can build 2nd middle school on Gettys property.
• Board member Alex Saitta, against delaying the sale because past buildings were sold at significantly lower than appraised value and we may lose an opportunity.

Board member Jimmy Gillespie: "We lost a deal on Pickens Middle, we won't get the appraised amount."

Motion to sell Gettys was abled by 4-2 vote (Shelton, Trotter, Edwards, Cooper voted to delay sale of Gettys by tabling offer)
Student Appeal:
• Trotter moved to not hear appeal
• Gillespie wants to hear if for nothing to have precedent
• Hearing appeal passed 3-2 with Board member Herbert Cooper abstaining / Board will hear appeal

A Home-school request:
• Allowed by unanimous vote
Pickens School Property Price change:
Board member Alex Saitta moved to reduce price to $99k and put up a sign with a price. 
• Board member Judy Edwards: "This hasn't been reviewed with realtor, if selling real estate is important for funding the district, then we should look at the $9MM interest to be returned to taxpayers in 20 years

• Reduced price failed 3-3
New Business:
• Chairperson Ben Trotter: Should review mileage policy and spending.

• District accountant, Mr. Clark made a comment that mileage is not itemized separate from travel, so this is a manual and intense effort.

COTU NOTE: If you're on retainer, do it!
• Board member Alex Saitta: We need to control rising costs, give ideas/insights into the costs, one recession from collapse

• Board member Judy Edwards: travel is required, we don't need to know what the expenses are, they are what they are. We should see if pay is in line with other's costs and other districts.

COTU NOTE: Yes, Edwards actually said, 
"We don't need to know what the expenses are."
Local Board Approved Courses
List of pre-approved courses

• 2 Fine Arts Courses (1) media editing (1) guitar

• Career & Tech Center: VEX Robotics course
Board member, Alex Saitta asked to narrow course offerings in High School, saying there were too many electives, and that they cut into resources for core courses.

Admin response: "Course requests drive offerings, we need to meet 24 credit hour requirements for electives, need to expand career field exposure through electives for pathways opportunities, all electives are driven by teacher requests, higher learning organizations require more than just 24 hours."

• All items passed except guitar ensemble at EHS

Calendar Discussion
• Proposed Early Release Time instead of whole day teacher in service days: Tuesdays that count as instructional day, but used for development while kids sent home early

COTU NOTE: Half days are a waste of time and a nightmare for working parents.
Motion to review & tweak calendar in Public Relations committee

Board member Judy Edwards: not going to impact kids learning if they are released two days, better to give teachers time.

Admin response: "Often teachers stay to 5:00 or 5:30 to do planning."
COTU note: Rarely does one see teacher cars in any school parking lot at 4PM much less 5PM.

Calendar approved: Passed 4-2, Saitta & Gillespie against

Policy changes:

• Using Tech in Classroom (Bring Your Own Device), sent to committee, but given 1st reading … will need 2nd reading to become new policy.

• Dr Pew: "Hope was for Board to approve BYOD policy before holidays to enable purchases etc to support use in classroom."

Clarified that issue must be handled properly by two readings in separate meetings and that first reading was tonight and it will be sent to a committee to analyze. There will be no December meeting. Next meeting will be last Monday in January.

COTU NOTE: Confused as to why parents would need the school district to dictate a Christmas list … an iPad, iPod Touch etc should be a NUMBER ONE PRIORITY for parents this Christmas.

• Board member, Alex Saitta: Big picture problem is revenue decline & expense increases, people on Board will want to raise taxes which is a disregard for the public who has been squeezed more than public school environment, people should be friendly to the public, WE WILL see more charter schools, school choice, and homeschooling if we continue to make the public angry.

• Board member Judy Edwards motioned to end meeting early and adjourn. Not every board member had spoken.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Penny Sales Tax For Bike Lanes?

A recent poll on The Greenville News website indicates some interesting numbers …

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



There will not be a meeting at the church tomorrow night because of the Doodle Trail Input meeting at the Pickens YMCA at 5:30PM and the Election Commission meeting held @County Council Auditorium at 4:30PM.

 Please attend the other meetings.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doodle Trail Input "Workshop"

The City of Easley and the City of Pickens will hold a public workshop focusing on the Doodle Rail Trail Feasibility Study on Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 5:30PM -7:30PM.

The workshop will be held in the multi-purpose room at the YMCA in Pickens.

Public input will be sought for the project.

For more information, contact

Easley City Hall
(864) 855-7900


Pickens City Hall
(864) 878-6421

Monday, November 11, 2013

Your Fireplace … next on the banned list?

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has lowered the amount of fine-particle matter per cubic meter that new wood stoves are allowed to release into the atmosphere by 20%. Most wood stoves in use today are of the type that is now illegal to manufacture or sell, and old stoves traded in for credit towards new ones must be scrapped out. More and more local governments are banning wood-burning stoves and fireplaces entirely, citing smog and air pollution concerns.

Notes From The Pickens County School District "Ask Anything" Meeting

The School District Of Pickens County held the first of two "Ask Anything" meetings on Tuesday November 5, 2013 …

Forty one were in attendance. Three Conservatives Of The Upstate members were present.

Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew gave an update on school district statistics and financials and also updated the public on the last phases of the countywide school building plan.

Dr. Pew stated that a common misconception of "common core" is that it is a "curriculum". She stated that "common core" was a "standard" - not a "curriculum". She said that recent negative press has misrepresnted "common core" and that the "examples" posted on Facebook and circulated in social media and email were from Greenville County and Charleston and not Pickens County.  Dr. Pew stated that the Pickens County "standards" were behind the times and weren't rigorous enough, so Pickens County chose to adopt the standards along with the State Of South Carolina.

After Dr. Pew's presentation, Philip Smith of Liberty asked the following question …
"During your presentation you mentioned the term "stakeholders" as being the body you consulted to implement common core. Can you identify who these "stakeholders" are? Pickens County parents don't feel like they were consulted. Also, can you tell us what all of these statistics would be without Clemson area schools factored in and would we still have the grade of "B" without them?"
Dr. Pew responded that stakeholders were Teachers, Principals, Parents, Businesses, The School Board, and The State Department Of Education. She stated that the School District doesn't break down statistics to the public in that way on a school by school basis. The District DOES however break these statistics down for the principals of all the schools.

Philip Smith followed up …
"You identified "stakeholders as parents. Again, "parents" as stakeholders don't feel represented in the matter."
Pew responded ...
 "Parents are not at the level of stakeholder that we sought input."
Junius Smith of Pickens asked …
"At a previous school board meeting I presented to you a court case from California and their Federal District court that ruled a council prayer was legal. This past week a New York District court gave another ruling that a city council was allowed to pray however they chose. The people don't feel like you've responded to any of their concerns on this matter."
John Eby, School District Of Pickens County Public Relations asked to respond partially …
"We have seen these cases but the issue with them is that they are in other districts. This is the 4th District and this district has a much more strict interpretation of the "prayer issue"."
Dr. Pew followed stating that the School District and School Board had consulted their attorneys and came up with the best possible solution that still involved a "board led prayer". She said the School District had to take a position where their insurance would cover them. She mentioned that other school districts have stopped prayer all together or have a moment of silence - so at least we have something more than that. She mentioned that each board meeting since the prayer issue, a preacher from a Pickens County Church, without coordination or coercion, has come forward to say a prayer as part of the public input portion of the board meetings.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2014 Pickens County Delegation Meeting Scheduled

The date, time and location has been set for the 2014 Pickens County Legislative Delegation Annual Public Meeting.

EASLEY, SC 29640

Pickens County Senators: Larry Martin & Thomas Alexander
Pickens County Representatives: Phil Owens, Davey Hiott, B.R. Skelton

Thursday, November 7, 2013

But You'll Be Able To Keep Your Insurance He Said ...

When "The Affordable Healthcare Act" was first pitched by President Obama his words were …

"You'll be able to keep your current insurance."


"Your premiums will actually go lower because their will be more competition."

Here's a graphic from FOXNEWS about the epidemic of insurance policy cancellations across the country ….

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meeting Notes From The October 2013 Pickens County School Board Meeting

Meeting Notes From The October 2013 Pickens County School Board Meeting ...

Public Input:

• Phillip Bowers, Six Mile, chair of Pickens GOP spoke that he is in favor of a 2nd Middle School in Easley by means of a sale of Gettys to Legacy Charter School = no cost to taxpayer

• Michelle Wiles, Pickens, vice chair Pickens GOP seconded the idea of a sale of Gettys to Legacy.

• Johnnelle Raines, Pickens stressed to the board that Common Core standards were bad and that they can and should make a resolution against it

• Philip Smith, Liberty, expressed concerns over a speaker at last month's school board meeting that suggested a lynch mob follow trustee Ben Trotter home. Smith stressed that the speaker was a vengeful person and tries to ruin the life of anyone that gets in his path.

Smith also pointed out that according to the Pickens School Board "about section" of the School District website - three trustees maintained Easley addresses and that an additional "at large" seat or redistricted board would most likely come from Easley - making 4 of 7 members have an Easley address. Completely unfair to rest of the voters.

• A preacher stood up to give a prayer for his three minutes.

• ___________ Bearden, Pickens, appealed to the board for something to be done at Pickens Middle about his daughter getting beat up and bullied. The matter brought tears to some eyes. Bearden ended with a legal action statement.

• Weldon Clark, Liberty, affirmed Bowers and Wiles statements.


• SDPC superintendent Kelley Pew was given a raise from $500 to $750 a month for travel expenses. Saitta & Gillespie opposed. Motion passed 3-2. Saitta noted inflated figures for Federal mileage standard. Shelton noted it's not just gas, it's wear & tear on car.

(Note: Pew makes $120K plus benefits a year! It's almost certain she takes mileage off her taxes!)

• Clark Accountant Firm gave the annual financial report and the district received the highest rating possible.

• The district has 19.7 million in the bank. Which is good.

• Concerns: booster clubs, PTAs not keeping proper receipt records "ultimately although separate legal organizations, these entities are tied to the school district and their actions would result in consequences for the school district."

Concern was also expressed over booster clubs and school fundraising orgs not properly maintaining 501c3 charity status/records/taxes

• Healthcare and significantly risings costs of retirees are a major concern for any government body heading into 2015 - especially school districts. Current trend is unsustainable.

• Trustee Judy Edwards spoke out against the sale of Gettys - saying "we'll need the property someday"

• Trustee Alex Saitta spoke in favor of the sale of Gettys to Legacy charter saying "they are coming anyway, we might as well make some money off them" ... "Maybe we can find a way to partner with them."

• Trustee Jimmy Gillespie thanked the Clark Accounting Firm for their hard work and noted to the board and public that they "warn us if anything is going wrong and keep us in line"

• Trustee Jim Shelton said that he was in favor of selling Gettys but not lowering the asking price.

Executive session lasted until 7:30PM meeting lasted until 9:30PM - most attendees were there for 3.5 hours!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Scientists Refusing To Accept Logical Studies On "Climate Change"

Nebraska researchers from the Climate Assessment & Response Committee say they refuse to be used as political pawns citing,
'The problem is that the bill behind the study specifically calls for us to look at 'cyclical' climate change. In so doing, it completely leaves out human contributions to global warming.'
This is after, of course, global warming advocates had to change their name to "climate change advocates" because some areas were actually getting colder on the planet and no longer fit the global warming moniker.

Why we don't need another school board member

Why we don't need another school board member
by Philip Smith

On Tuesday October 22, I attended the delegation meeting on the Hiott-Skelton bills to add another school board member.

The delegation consisted of Senator Larry Martin and Representatives Owens, Hiott, and Skelton. Senator Thomas Alexander was not present.

The arguments presented by the delegates and by the speakers from the public, stated two reasons for adding an additional member to the school board:
• 38% of the students in Pickens County attend school in the Easley District, and supposedly the majority of their parents feel that they are not fairly represented, and

• An uneven number is supposedly needed on the board in order to avoid tie votes.
The first reason, that the parents are not fairly represented, is conspicuously false, as there is only one school board and, as Pickens County Councilman Neil Smith pointed out, all residents in Pickens County are represented by a school board member. It was also pointed out at the September 2013 school board meeting that the Liberty Area Board member, Ben Trotter, often fielded calls from all over the district and Easley Board Member Judy Edwards even went as far as saying, "Ben often helps me with calling back parents in my district."

Furthermore, School Board Member Jim Shelton's district is close to 70% Easley and only 30% Dacusville. Combined with Edwards comments - Easley seems the most represented with two and a half members!

Eleven speakers supported the bills, and several of them were not even from the Easley district! If only 3% of the parents in the Easley District desired this bill, at least 190 parents should have shown up.

The second issue is a non-issue that has only happened once according to School Board minutes.

Senator Larry Martin expressed that an at large member may be illegal, yet the League Of Women voters had four speakers and the NAACP also joined in to advocate an at large seat. An at large seat (and really ANY ELECTION) is unfair to minorities because they are poorly represented by both number and socio-economics in the county.

There must be unstated reasons for those bills to have been introduced. The only certainty about this bill is that it would increase government.

With bills like this, why would we desire MORE government, as opposed to less?

Philip Smith
Conservatives Of The Upstate, webmaster

Friday, October 25, 2013

At October 2013 Delegation Meeting To Gain Public Input From Taxpayers Of Pickens County, Hiott Says He Doesn't Have To Keep Constituents Informed

Some notes regarding the Tuesday October 22, 2013 Pickens County Delegation meeting to receive public input on the addition of a 7th school board trustee to the School District of Pickens County …

A few years ago ...

1. Pickens County Senator Larry Martin put through a bill to eliminate the two at large seats on the school board.

2. At the time it arrived on SC Governor Mark Sanford's desk, Junius Smith called his office. The Governor's representative told Mr. Smith that the Governor had no reason to sign it because no one from Pickens County had called his office requesting it be made law.

3. Junius Smith personally arranged for more than 100 people to call in one hour.

4. A representative from the Governor's office finally called Mr. Smith back and told him that our calls were blocking the Governor's business and that he would sign the bill if the calls stopped. Mr. Smith agreed.

The reason we had asked Governor Sanford to sign the bill was because the school board in place at the time used the "Greenville Plan" to put Pickens County taxpayers under the highest tax burden in the history of the County.

The debt now stands at $378 million+ of Greenville Plan debt plus another $32 million+ in legal 8% bonded indebtedness. Taxes are due to go up next year to meet the increasing existing debt. We cannot allow another school board member, designed SOLELY to gain enough votes to vote in ANOTHER $35 million for a new school.

Easley is going to spend millions on a bicycle trail and maybe it would be more prudent to spend that money on another school for their children.

Our Legislative Representative, David Hiott, was asked a simple question by Junius Smith and again by Philip Smith,
"Why were we not informed properly by the delegation of their meeting held on Wednesday September 18, 2013 discuss this issue?"
No PUBLISHED notice was made by ANY news organization concerning this meeting.

The meeting was held in the morning on a Wednesday (when arguably most are at work or at the Pickens County Flea market in this county.)

After Philip asked the same question, Representative Hiott reacted violently and nonprofessionally, and yelled at Philip that he had "… no intention of calling him every time that he decided to do something." Representative Hiott forgets that it is his job to keep the people informed of his plans for our county, that the seat he occupies in the legislature belongs to the people not him.

Philip is a member of the press; editor and writer for The Liberty Monitor, and both Junius and Philip are his constituents from two different areas.

After the meeting, Philip asked Hiott for an apology. Hiott angrily pointed towards his secretary and said, "Come over here! I'll prove to you we gave notice."

Hiott asked his secretary, "Didn't you notify the press about this meeting?"

The secretary confirmed she had not notified the press properly in order for publication and public notice of the event. Hiott continued to spout off angrily.

 Mr. Hiott should resign his office and let someone who cares about his constituents have the seat.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives Of The Upstate

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A 12 Step Recovery Plan For Our Leaders

12 Step Recovery Plan For Our Leaders
submitted by Johnelle Raines

Our elected leaders have once again caved in and increased the debt ceiling. We are nearly 17 trillion dollars in debt, but yet our leaders do not have the will power to stand their ground and say enough is enough, we have to stop spending and get our debt under control. I think we can officially say our leaders are “SPENDOHOLICS”. This compulsive, uncontrolled desire to spend taxpayer's money to the detriment of our children's future is irresponsible and honestly downright criminal. When a leader continues to ignore the consequences of their spending behavior on the American citizens...I'd say they have an addictive personality problem which I call Spendoholism. Our leaders need to begin the 12 step program immediately. Please send the following 12 steps to your Representative, your Senator, and to Obama:

Admit you are powerless over spending other people's money and your life is unmanageable.

Come to believe there is a God who is greater than you and can restore your sanity.

Make a decision to turn your will and life over the care of God.

Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.

Admit to God, yourself, and the taxpayers the exact nature of your wrongs.

Become entirely ready for God to remove all your defects of character.

Humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings.

Make a list of all taxpayers you have harmed and be willing to make amends to them all.

Make a direct amends to the taxpayers wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

Continue to take a personal inventory and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

Seek through prayer to improve your contact with God praying for knowledge of His will for you and the power to carry that out.

Having had this spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, carry this message to other spendoholics and practice these principles in all your affairs.

Maybe, just maybe this will wake them up and serve as an intervention...

Submitted by: 
Johnnelle Raines

Do you want to be liked or accomplish something?

"If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time and you would achieve nothing."

~ Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pickens County School District Town Hall Meeting

From The School District Of Pickens County:
You’re invited to a town hall meeting with our superintendent, Dr. Kelly Pew. She’s looking forward to talking with parents and community members about the state of the district. Topics will include goals, instructional initiatives, the future of our schools and more. Each meeting will include an open-mic session for you to ask Dr. Pew, Pickens County Superintendent, questions.

You can even email your questions beforehand!

Send them to

November 5, 2013 6:30PM  
Daniel High School Auditorium

January 9, 2014 - 6:30PM 
New Gettys Middle School Auditorium

Cities Of Pickens & Easley To Host Doodle Trail "Workshop"

The City of Easley and the City of Pickens will hold a public workshop focusing on the Doodle Rail Trail Feasibility Study on Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 5:30PM -7:30PM.

The workshop will be held in the multi-purpose room at the YMCA in Pickens.

Public input will be sought for the project.

For more information, contact

Easley City Hall
(864) 855-7900


Pickens City Hall
(864) 878-6421

The "Hiott- Skelton" Bills To Add A Pickens County School Board Member

Representatives Davey Hiott and BR Skelton filed two bills in May of 2013 to restructure the Pickens County School Board (Hiott-Skelton bills H4258 and H4165) As you know, in 2007, H3782 deleted the at-large seats. A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:00PM.

Pickens County Career & Technical Center
990 Chastain Road
Liberty, SC 29657

At this hearing, the delegation (Larry Martin, Phil Owens, Davey Hiott, and BR Skelton) will hear from the public as to whether Hiott-Skelton should pass.

The "logic" for Hiott-Skelton is that the six member board does not function properly because it has an even number of members. That "logic" is meritless. There have been only a handful of split votes and those were worked out amicable either in the same meeting or subsequent meetings. The other purported reason for Hiott-Skelton is that Easley is not equally represented on the board. That argument is meritless as well. Law requires all districts to be approximately the same (number of voters). The six single-member district model has worked very well for the school board, and has also worked well for County Council for years.

Any at large seat favors Easley.

You are encouraged to attend the hearing on the 22nd and voice your opinion.

One final and very IMPORTANT note, we need to daily monitor what our representatives do when in Columbia. H4258 could have passed with little to no public input were it not for some who opposed that tactic. Hiott-Skelton actually tried this deceitful maneuver on May 30th, but were unable to slip it through. You can read all about their maneuvering in House Journals for May 30th and June 4th. If this is such a good thing, why did Hiott-Skelton file two separate bills and try to avoid public scrutiny?

Greenville County: 1% Sales Tax For Roads or Bike Lanes?

A new 1% local option sales tax proposed was proposed by Greenville County Council on Tuesday October 1, 2013. It was said the money would be for "the capital improvement of County roads".

Roads sound great, but Greenville County roads are in good shape. The potholes are in State Roads. This 1% tax will not fix State roads. It will however fund more bike lanes and narrow our already over crowded streets.

1% Tax Resolution is attached...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reading The Affordable Healthcare Act ...

The Truth About the Health Care Bill
Michael Connelly, Retired Constitutional Attorney

I have read the entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional.

What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected.

To begin with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession.

The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business,and put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the government.

I have concluded that this legislation really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred,or even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been destroyed.

I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of Congress to regulate health care.

If you decide not to have healthcare insurance, or if you have private insurance that is not deemed acceptable to the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be a tax imposed on you. It is called a tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. However , that doesn't work because since there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the imposition of the tax, it is definitely depriving someone of property without the due process of law.

The 9th Amendment that provides: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;

The 10th Amendment states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are preserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Under the provisions of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were theirs to control.

I could write many more pages about this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights. Article 6 of the Constitution requires the members of both houses of Congress to "be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution." If I was a member of Congress I would not be able to vote for this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the American people would hold me accountable.

For those who might doubt the nature of this threat, I suggest they consult the source, the U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. There you can see exactly what we are about to have taken from us.

Michael Connelly
Carrollton, Texas

Monday, September 30, 2013

Constitutional Literacy Course Offered


Let's all get better in learning how to enforce our leaders' to preserve, protect and defend our U.S. Constitution.
"This is for OUR AMERICAN LIBERTY! I'm excited for this opportunity. This is low key, interactive, and will be fun! I look forward to seeing you." 
~ Michelle Wiles, 2nd Vice Chair Pickens County Republican Party

October 1, 2013 6:30PM
104 W 6th Ave.
Easley, SC 29640

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The New Schools Will Make Things Better?

When the new school building plan in Pickens County was approved (despite a two to one referendum against it) we were promised a few things …

"There will be better morale at the schools."

"The new facilities will afford children better test results because of better resources."

"The new schools will boost the County's tax base by attracting employers."

Two full years into the completed building plan in Pickens County, here's what we have:
Test scores excluding Daniel, Edwards Middle, and Clemson Elementary are for the most part flat or down at all the other schools. Some schools have seen only marginal improvements. 
We must also factor in something else when considering Daniel - a select few students perform perfectly or close to perfectly on tests. This, in turn, also skews Daniel's results <--- or any other school's results for that matter. 
Proof of lackluster Daniel performance can be gained from athlete's college acceptance. Athletes from Daniel have failed to qualify for college. 
Daniel (and the Clemson area schools) were performing exceptional in comparison to the rest of the Pickens County School District BEFORE the new buildings. 
In 2013, Pickens County students remained above the state average, but fell below the national average overall. 
The average score for Pickens County was 1483 compared with 1423 for the state. The average score for Pickens County in 2012 was 1541. (A 58 point drop overall)

According to
Eye Taken Off The Education Ball: 
In 2009, most [functions] were in a mess, so the district’s focus was on dealing with those problems and not on the educational effort. That was a major problem.

Buildings: In 2009, the building program was two years old …  all the administration and the board did was buy some land, push around a lot of dirt and draw and redraw plans, wasting millions of dollars. The program was stalled and the building program budget was being eaten up by contractors. The district lacked expertise at the top when it came to the building plan.
In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level on the PASS test fell 0.5%.

The last time that we had more than six board members they spent over $400 million dollars on new schools and mortgaged the future of our children.

Schools that were deemed unusable have been remodeled to the tune of millions each.

Athletic facilities costs have run rampant. Stadiums, practice fields, minor sports facilities, and massive land purchases have replaced the already adequate facilities that were in place. Some may argue that moving the stadiums from the city centers may have also affected business districts that were previously built up around these facilities. The new buildings may have also made land near the new schools less desirable.

An eight member school board, save one, voted to increase the $311 million cost of the new schools to over $375 million and precipitated the largest tax increase in Pickens County history.

These issues should be throughly examined before we add additional board members for any reason.

Will additional board members save us money?
Not according to previous boards with more than six trustees. Redistricting is estimated at $30-$35,000. The monthly stipend the additional board member would receive would be better spent on additional resources or teacher and support staff pay.
Will additional board members educate our children better?
Nothing added has created a better education for Pickens County students. Statistics shown above prove that. 
Will the tax burden continue to rise?
It was mentioned that the school board may need to raise taxes next year to meet the new plateau for payback of the school building fund.
With Common Core curriculum implementation, will we have any control at the local level? 
Your answer there lies with the success records of any federal program - such as No Child Left Behind.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gun Free Zones From Schools Extend Into Your Front Yard?

FoxNews reports:
Two 7th grade students in Virginia Beach, Va., were given lengthy suspensions Tuesday that will last until the end of the school year for playing with an airsoft gun in one of their front yards while waiting for the school bus.

13-year-old Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark will face an additional hearing in January to determine if they will be expelled for "possession, handling and use of a firearm" because the guns were fired at two others playing in Caraballo's yard.

A neighbor saw Khalid shooting the airsoft gun in his yard and called 911, telling the dispatcher, "He is pointing the gun, and it looks like there's a target in a tree in his front yard," the station reported.

Khalid claims he never took the toy gun to the designated bus stop or Larkspur Middle School, according to the report. Two other students who fired guns were also suspended.

It's Called "Climate Change" Now … Don't Ya Know ...

Gone are the days when "environmentalist whackos" use the term "Global Warming". Why? Because it just isn't happening.

Instead, they use the word "Climate Change" now. Good word, much more vague. It will fit into any sentence or statistic the left throws out there now.

From The Daily Mail UK:
A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Defund ObamaCare

Defund ObamaCare to Fund the Government
by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) & Michael A. Needham

For a lawyer, President Obama has displayed quite a disregard for the rule of law and the separation of powers. As he continues to pick and choose the laws he will enforce and the ones he will ignore, the President should remember the Constitution grants Congress the ultimate “power of the purse.” If Congress, led by the Republican-controlled House, chooses not to fund ObamaCare for the upcoming fiscal year, the Obama Administration cannot implement the law.

Earlier this year, the House demonstrated its ability to set the agenda by successfully resequencing some major fiscal battles to the benefit of the taxpayer. House Republicans were able to lock in sequester savings while also forcing the Senate to pass a budget for the first time in years. While this was a good first step, now is the time to do more.

House Republicans can and should pass a government spending bill ensuring that not another dime is spent on ObamaCare. At that point, House Republicans can say they’ve done their work by passing a bill to fund the government and jumpstart job creation but simply leave out funding for the increasingly unpopular ObamaCare program. The President has said that he will not negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling; Republicans should not negotiate with the President on funding ObamaCare.

Any blame for a government shutdown would then fall on Senate Democrats and President Obama, who would be left defending an unpopular law that they’ve admitted is not ready for primetime. But they will have a hard time winning the public argument because the case against ObamaCare is growing by the day. Over the past several months, it’s become painfully obvious President Obama’s signature legislative achievement is holding back job creation, driving health costs higher, and pulling Americans away from their doctors.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration announced it would delay the implementation of the employer mandate. Unfortunately, this temporary reprieve will do little to stem the tide of layoffs and hour reductions directly tied to this provision of ObamaCare.

And while the economy slumps under ObamaCare’s weight, the real burden is being born by the very people the law was intended to help. Not only are jobs hard to come by and hours being reduced, but the cost of health insurance continues to rise. The President promised to “cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year.” Yet, Indiana recently announced the cost of the average health insurance plan would increase by 72% next year.

Many of us were skeptical when President Obama guaranteed “If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Sadly that skepticism was well placed. In South Carolina, the second-largest health insurance company recently announced that they’re closing their doors because of ObamaCare . And not only are doctors more likely to retire because of the new healthcare law, but the government’s website kindly informs visitors that they only “may” be able to keep their current doctor.

Presidential guarantees don’t mean much these days, which is why few are rushing to the law’s defense. Even the heads of three major unions -- unions which aggressively supported the law -- now believe the law could “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The Obama administration understands two forthcoming dates -- October 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014 -- serve as the lynchpin for ObamaCare’s future. If the law advances past these two dates, it will have a built in constituency, making repeal in pursuit of a patient-driven health care system nearly impossible.

Coincidentally, October 1 also marks the start of the new fiscal year. A full and complete defunding is the only way to halt ObamaCare’s new entitlements before they start. It would also prevent the implementation of the law’s 18 separate tax increases and thousands of job-crushing regulations.

Rest assured some political pundits - even some of our friends - will say this cannot be done.

For us, it’s simple: we need to fund the government, but defund ObamaCare.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pickens Sentinel / Easley Progress Spin Legislative Meeting

The spin from The Pickens Sentinel & Easley Progress here is pretty rich …

(click link to read full story)

The meeting was held in relative secrecy with no public notice, potentially violating quorum rules.

Last line: 
"Public forum details will be announced as soon as they are made known."
How can public input be sought if you meet in secret and don't have a date?

The Twisted Amendments ...


As reported by The Blaze:
"… Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville, SC, has received “several emails and phone calls” expressing concern over how the textbook, “The Americans,” defines the Second Amendment.

... the district has “looked into the matter and found that page 149 of the state-adopted textbook does not accurately present the Second Amendment.”

“It states that citizens have the right to bear arms as members of a militia of citizen-soldiers,” he added. “This is not accurate. We will inform our high school social studies teachers that they should refer to page 166 of the textbook which accurately presents the Amendment (as originally ratified).”

The textbook, considered by the American Textbook Council (ATC) to be a “widely adopted” history book across the country, is also “state-adopted” in South Carolina.

… the “State Department of Education (DOE) was notified of this issue so they can take appropriate action.” Any future action will be determined by the state DOE.
Read the full story here:

Conservatives, also should pay close attention to the lumping of the fourth through eighth amendments ~ completely eliminating property rights.

Another question would be … if this textbook is in wide use around the country, under Common Core would the states, or local school districts have the the say so in its use? Or, instead of questioning it on a local level, would we have to take it to a federal level?

Conservatives Of The Upstate is in the process of determining whether the textbook is used in Pickens County?

According to The School District Of Pickens County:

"The book The Americans is not in use in Pickens County Public Schools."