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Monday, December 29, 2014

Communist Uprising?

Screenshot from CNN.COM
Is the Ferguson rioting really spurred by racial tensions?

Notice at the bottom of these signs ... it says


Visit the website ...

http://www.revcom.us

Well isn’t that interesting…

Does anyone REALLY wonder what is behind this all now?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Recently, the leader, Robin Nelson Miller, of the political action group masquerading by the name Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County posted another vitriolic attack of Conservatives Of The Upstate on their facebook page ...

As usual, her post was devoid of facts and full of misdirection. She defended CCPC "business partner" Tom O' Hanlan's use of special requested tax reductions while advocating taxes be raised on all other businesses that DON'T get such credits ...

Miller never said we were not correct. The facts are; Mr. O'Hanlan has avoided part of his taxes by paying fees, and maybe $7,000 dollars isn't much to Ms. Miller, but it is almost one quarter of a new teacher's yearly salary. I congratulate Mr. O'Hanlan on being a rich man and paying his fees.  That was not the issue.  The issue was that he took a position that he favored the citizens of Pickens County paying more TAXES not FEES and if he had 10 other properties, he avoided the taxes on the one we printed.  When he favors Pickens people paying more taxes, he avoids the issue of Article 11 Section 3 of the SC Constitution where the State is responsible for education; not the counties.  He avoids the fact that the School Board refuses to refund the money they have over-collected from the citizens by violating SC Law 12-43-285 (probably between $45 and &100 million). He just simply forgets that the School Board is trying to refinance revenue bonds that they do not own.  They spent interest that was not theirs; maybe $55 million.

The children have the best buildings in the state, they have the best athletic facilities, they have technology, but instead of all the former; they should have invested more in up to date things that move with Technology.  Technology is moving so fast by the time you get it installed; it is obsolete.  They should have gotten off Common Core which is a poor excuse for an educational standard.  It is part of the liberal, progressive take over of this country.

I pity Mrs. Miller because she will not read the law (we are a democratic republic who voluntarily obey the laws).  The politicians of this land take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend both constitutions, not find every way to subvert them. 

Yes, I am an older man who loves this country; the USA.  One who admires the technology that causes us to pay our taxes, and love our children.  I am not going to cow tow to a group of folks that want to do something whether it is legal or not.

Junius Smith
Conservatives Of The Upstate

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We'll Let YOU Pay For It Because WE Don't


Sealevel Systems pays a reduced tax called a "fee in lieu of taxes" ...

Total taxes paid: $10,097
Total bill if they were NOT getting this tax break: $17,430

Roughly 58% of business taxes in Pickens County goes to the schools.

According to Pickens County Auditor, Brent Suddeth Sealevel's School taxes would be broken down thusly:

Operating $4804.01

School Bonds $2281.90

(out of their $10,097 paid)

If Sealevel weren't paying this fee in lieu of taxes, their total tax bill would be:

$17,430

This would bring in an additional $4,250+ of revenue DIRECTLY to the school district if Tom O'Hanlan were doing with his multimillion dollar business what he's asking the average below poverty line citizen in Pickens County to do.

Fact or Fiction Regarding Recent Media Coverage Of Pickens County School District?

(Please read this document image in full)

Regarding recent posts made in The Greenville News ...

No summary of recent meetings or editorial has said a word about the Conservatives of the Upstate contesting the legality of such action. 

Article 11 Section 3 of the SC Constitution specifically says that the state is responsible for funding schools for the children. They have collected the lottery and added 5% in sales taxes over the years for educational purposes, and each time the Legislature has put the money in the general fund and spent large amounts of it on other things. 

The people of Pickens County are not responsible for funding education or paying for the buildings.  Had the money they taxed us for and the lottery been put into education, there would be schools on every corner and the teachers could make $100,000 each. Bu,t by statutory law and plucking at the citizens "chudrun" strings, they have pushed the responsibility to the counties.  If the school board needs to fight, it is not with our poor citizens who make less than an average of $24,000 a year (reported by Appalachian Council of Governments), while the teachers make an average of $48,000 (report same).  If you take the current teachers salaries out of the average, the people make less than $17,000.  

Most workers in Pickens County often have to have 2 jobs just to make ends meet.  The info that has been given about the teacher raises is fictitious.  Teachers have received multiple cost of living increases and can EASILY gain raises through enrichment and certifications, while many have seen decreases in the wage because of inflation. 

Now let me cover the refinancing of the Revenue Bonds that are owned by SCAGO.  The School Board DOES NOT own the bonds, they cannot own the bonds by law, they cannot pay the refinancing fee because that would prove ownership of the bonds which they cannot own.  In my opinion, SCAGO is the only entity that can refinance and they must pay the refinancing fee. This school board has over-collected taxes and failed to refund as required by law.  They have spent the interest on the bonds that did not belong to them.  If you say that they were entitled to the interest, then they have exceeded the 8% constitutional law.

When this debacle first came into being, it was improperly set up in the wrong accounts in the treasurers office, I have not been able to find out who told the treasure to mingle the taxes paid on the SCAGO Bonds and the General Obligation debt which carries the full faith and power of the School Board and the revenue bonds which do not.  This is costing the Pickens County citizens $391,000,000 over 25+ years.  It also is against the law because Pickens County has broken the 8% collection rule.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives Of The Upstste

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some folks out there do not understand why I oppose the refinancing of the revenue bonds that are purchased by the "dummy" corporation called SCAGO to build all the new school buildings.  It is simple.  In my opinion it is against the law and wrong to saddle our great grand children with the debt made by this generation.  I keep hearing how we need to do this for the "chudrun", but raising our taxes, lengthening the period of the debt which raises our taxes, paying some bond seller a huge fee to refinance a loan that does not even belong to the School Board of Pickens County and raises the amount of the loan does not seem like good business.  In fact it sounds like someone is trying to pull a fast one.

First, these bonds belong to SCAGO not the School Board.  Second, they are revenue bonds which does not guarantee their repayment by the Board which usually means a higher interest rate not lower, unless someone is trying to peddle them as general obligation debt which is definitely unconstitutional.  Third, it would erase a lot of the record of what has happened in the past.

 I have discussed this issue with a former school board chairman and he tells me that all finance matters must be discussed in open meetings.  The citizens of Pickens county have not heard from the Lawyer who says that all this is legal and why.  They have not been allowed to say whether they favor this type of longevity for future children.  We have not heard from the Board as to whether all the projects are needed.

There is much more to this story.

Junius Smith

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November Pickens County School Board Insulting To Pickens County Residents...

The Pickens County School Board meeting this Monday night was appalling. With new members Wilson, Swords, along with Edwards and Cooper; the Board has taken on the appearance of a Communist, Marxist, and Agenda 21 type group. They have formed an adhoc committee which does not have a single member identifying themselves as conservative.
The new Board is promoting tax increases to pay teachers, do maintenance on the schools, and make debt payments on school buildings.

The notion of "teachers will be fired if we don't raise taxes" was repeated as a bully tactic by Dr. Merck, who is the new Superintendent of PC Schools.

Dr. Merck also denied saying that the plan by the Adhoc Committee included the closing of the three mountain schools (Ambler, A.R. Lewis, and Holly Springs). We had a half dozen witnesses that attended a morning meeting that knew this was not true; including at least two members of the Board. 

Junius Smith reminded the board of the past history that the citizens of Pickens County had provided for the school system and that revenue from locals had increased 700% over the past 15 years while the CPI was not more that 45%. He reminded the board; the State of South Carolina is responsible for education under Article 11, Section 3 of the SC Constitution. 
A rebuttal to the school board plan was voiced by several conservative members of the public ... 

One speaker pointed out that Spartanburg had just rejected such a tax increase.
A respected taxpayer advocate discussed the fact that the State of South Carolina had extra money and that the School Board should go after that. He said this fact seemed to be falling on deaf ears as the new Board has their minds set on extracting more money from the local economy.
One member of Conservatives Of The Upstate said ... 
"Suspiciously, terms like "vision", "sustainable" and "stakeholders" were used in presentations." 
The last time we heard this term was at a public meeting with our former superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew.

Dr. Pew was asked by Conservatives Of The Upstate who "stakeholders" were.

She replied, "Parents, teachers, administrators, business leaders."

The speaker said, "As a parent, I was not consulted."

She replied, "Parents are not on the level of stakeholder we consulted."

We also heard that a group of large businesses has given their approval for the tax increase. Realize that most of these businesses don't pay taxes; instead they pay fees in lieu of taxes. So, of course they're for taxes that they don't have to pay.

Citizens were told they will not be impacted by the tax increase because it's only on business and rental property.

That's untrue, ACT 388 took the taxes off our primary residence, leaving the taxes on our neighboring family parcels, our cars, and our boats and ATVs. 
Junius Smith also reminded Chairman Swords of the fact that he had presented to him the following discrepancies in Board actions through former School Superintendent Pew and the Sheriff of Pickens County:
• Disenfranchisement of Liberty voters  
• Ignoring SCAGO as owner of bonds and interest money 
• Conflicts of interest 
• Violations of oaths of office 
• Over collection of taxes and failure to refund 
• Improper handling of Duke Energy taxes-did not refund to the taxpayers 
• Improper handling of protested taxes put into Deliquent Tax Fund 
• Improper use of bond funds on operational expenses
Slides from the district presentation:


Study finds no link between spending & achievement ...

This past week, the School District Of Pickens County unveiled a 5 year plan called "Vision 2020" that has a goal to make Pickens County a "Top 5 District".

The plan calls for aggressive taxation, spending, and potentially cuts of facilities and staff of up to seven schools.

One of the needs identified is a new HVAC system that is aged but working at a school identified as a potential closure target. So the district wants to spend potentially $1 million + only to sell a school for less than ½ a million a year later?!?

Here is a study that shows that increased taxpayer burden and increased school district spending isn't helping achievement ...

From CBSNews:

Decades of increased taxpayer spending per student in U.S. public schools not improved student or school outcomes from that education, and a new study finds that throwing money at the system is simply not tied to academic improvements.

The study from the CATO institute shows that American student performance has remained poor, and has actually declined in mathematics and verbal skills, despite per-student spending tripling nationwide over the same 40-year period.

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/04/07/study-no-link-between-school-spending-student-achievement

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Your Presence Is Needed At November 24, 2014 School Board Meeting

Dear Conservatives,

It has come to my attention that a group called Concerned Citizens of Pickens County intends to bulldoze their way into your pocketbooks by getting some newly elected Board members to raise your taxes illegally by designing a scheme similar to the SCAGO bonds to build schools debacle that raised taxes by 50-60 mils, and bypassed State Constitutional and statutory laws. 

Remember, this is the same group that manufactured a scare tactic lie out of thin air concerning the School District's accreditation with AdvancED. They used this scare tactic to bully businesses and residents into voting against the more conservative board members - causing a false sense of divisiveness on the board.

The group was also behind the illegal move to add a 7th school board member to the Pickens County School Board - move that would have cost tax payers possible litigation, 10's of $1000's to implement and just simply unnecessary.

Contrary to what you will read on their facebook propaganda, Pickens County and 11 other school district citizens are paying for these school building mils while 29 other counties are paying nothing. Six counties are getting their buildings payed for by the state which means that Pickens County citizens are paying for their buildings (Supreme Court ruling 26682).  The argument is that our teachers are not paid enough money in their salaries which is the State's responsibility under Article 11 Section 3 and code of laws (Act 388) where a one cent sales tax was added for the purpose of the state being able to pay for all operating expenses. 

This group completely ignores the fact of the extra sales tax.

It also should be brought to your attention that it is a violation of state ethics laws for a board member to vote on anything that directly effects the increase of the economic condition of the elected person or his immediate family.  

In the past, the Board has disenfranchised voters in the Liberty area and spent money without proper authority according to their bond agreement for the building plan (SCAGO).

Our teachers are paid double the salary of the other residents of this county (Report issued by Appalachian Council of Governments).  They have the best benefits, more off time and holidays, and a great retirement which is the same time that a soldier who risks his or her life for the country can retire.

Any county that breaks the law in order to outbid the teaching services of other counties is subject to the Constitution of the State.  If teachers want to leave Pickens County for a few dollars, then so be it.  Do your commuting, but remember that there is a reason these other counties are paying more.  The population of the students in this county is quite different than Greenville or Anderson.

Please come to the School board meeting on Monday, November 24, 2014 and express your opinion.

November 24, 2014 / 7:00PM
Curtis A. Sidden Administrative Bldg
1348 Griffin Mill Road, Pickens, SC 29640
Junius Smith
President, Conservatives Of The Upstate

Friday, November 14, 2014

Publication that twists Bill Of Rights used in Pickens County

The publication "Studies Weekly" is used in Pickens County Schools ...

Take a look at what this Common Core aligned publication has to say about the Bill Of Rights ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day ...

HAPPY VETERANS DAY!

Thank you to all men and women who have lived, loved, and served for this country.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prayer At School Board Meetings ...

On the final vote to reintroduce prayer at school board meetings ...

Shelton, Swords, Cooper, Edwards vote to delay implementation of prayer before school board meetings.

Saitta, previously against but now for due to legal issues worked out - now for

Gillespie voted for.

Issue of prayer before school board meetings fails / gets tabled / delayed 4-2

Quick commentary ...

It's shameful to me to see other schools pray and use "Christ's name" and we do not - we just have a moment of silence.

It really makes me feel sad to be bullied and not stand up for Jesus.

Philip Smith
web, Conservatives Of The Upstate

When It Came Down To The Final Vote; The School Board Disappoints Yet Again

Dear Conservatives:
I am in hope that you will not make the mistake of voting for McKenzie, Qualkenbush, or Woods for the school Board of Pickens County. 
I have always said that elected officials should not have the power to fatten their own pocket books by a vote that directly benefits themselves or their family. Two of the above candidates Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Qualkenbush have wives that work for the School District. Ms. Woods works for the Government also. Therefore any vote that they make concerning salaries, working conditions, retirement, and teacher benefits is a DIRECT conflict of interest. 
Current Board members who have this primary conflict of interest, Shelton (sister) and Edwards (retired teacher) have voted almost 100% of the time for benefits for their relatives. Teachers in Pickens County make almost twice as much salary combined with the best benefits as the average citizen that must pay these salaries and benefits.

This leaves Phillip Bowers who has dedicated himself to serving all the folks in this county. His only flaw is that he made some decisions while serving as Chairman of the local Republican Party that a few of the people didn't like which is certainly understandable.
Now, concerning the October 2014 School Board Meeting …
Based on the information I have received form several sources, the Board is delaying the school prayer issue until after the election. Ms. Edwards, Mr. Swords,and Mr. Shelton continue to break every rule of by ethical conduct by voting on issues of salary, etc. that directly effect their own relatives, themselves, children, and spouses.

In my opinion, they are waiting on the candidates that are running for the Board so they can continue to fatten their own pockets. Additionally, Supt. Merck was out last week telling how they were going to close the three mountain schools (which are local favorites) and use portables until they can steal more money for a new school so that they can save money and finance the high energy costs at all the over-sized schools they have illegally built.

The School Board had previously castigated the local population for causing them to use portables. Additionally, Article 11 section 3 of the SC Constitution explicitly says that the state is responsible for education. SC Statutory law Act 388 says that the State is responsible for all operational expenses. What the Board is trying to do is shift all the expenses to the local Pickens County people by building other schools or using portables at existing schools. There is not any thought given to the amount of travel that is involved in the new set up and the expense to both the schools and the people.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives Of The Upstate

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Editorial: School Board Candidates With Conflict


School Board Candidates With Conflict
by Philip Smith

After hearing the candidates for the Pickens County School Board Seat II, some critical distinctions can be observed in the candidates.

Tony Qualkinbush and Kevin McKenzie both receive significant household income from the school district since their wives work there. McKenzie also works for the State, so his whole household income is from the government. Jennifer Wood also works for City government. Phillip Bowers is the only candidate who does not receive household income from the government.

Qualkinbush and McKenzie cannot lawfully vote on any issue that benefits them personally. So, since the budget is roughly 90% salaries and benefits which include their wives paycheck, they will be almost useless on the board since they can't vote on budget matters.

If voters are not careful, we will end up with a board member that can't vote on ANY important matters.

I do not believe government employees should serve on boards that are designed to oversee the government on behalf of the citizens.

Indirectly, we already have a large teacher vote represented with Judy Edwards, retired School District Of Pickens County teacher.

Editorial: Dehumanizing Danger ...


Dehumanizing Danger
by Philip Smith
EBOLA isn't just a deadly virus … It's a catchy buzzword.
Instead of the word "OJ" killing the word "Nicole Simpson" assisted by the words "gloves that don't fit" we have just one word killing ALL of us … "EBOLA"!
Instead of evil people by the names "Radical Muslims" … we have the names "ISIS" and "ISIL" and "Al Queda" which actually sound a little mysterious and friendly.
We aren't scared of people any more in the days of social media … "We are scared of buzzwords"
Stop falling for it!
Call a spade a spade and call out the media that's USING YOU for ratings.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SC Legislative Body Meeting Rules / Freedom Of Information

For your reference:

Legislative Body meetings / FOIA

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t30c004.php

(a) All public bodies, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, must give written public notice of their regular meetings at the beginning of each calendar year. The notice must include the dates, times, and places of such meetings. Agenda, if any, for regularly scheduled meetings must be posted on a bulletin board at the office or meeting place of the public body at least twenty-four hours prior to such meetings. All public bodies must post on such bulletin board public notice for any called, special, or rescheduled meetings. Such notice must be posted as early as is practicable but not later than twenty-four hours before the meeting. The notice must include the agenda, date, time, and place of the meeting. This requirement does not apply to emergency meetings of public bodies. 

(b) Legislative committees must post their meeting times during weeks of the regular session of the General Assembly and must comply with the provisions for notice of special meetings during those weeks when the General Assembly is not in session. Subcommittees of standing legislative committees must give notice during weeks of the legislative session only if it is practicable to do so. 

(c) Subcommittees, other than legislative subcommittees, of committees required to give notice under subsection (a), must make reasonable and timely efforts to give notice of their meetings. 

(d) Written public notice must include but need not be limited to posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting or, if no such office exists, at the building in which the meeting is to be held. 

(e) All public bodies shall notify persons or organizations, local news media, or such other news media as may request notification of the times, dates, places, and agenda of all public meetings, whether scheduled, rescheduled, or called, and the efforts made to comply with this requirement must be noted in the minutes of the meetings. 

Please Attend The County Council Meeting ..

Please attend the Monday September 15, 2014 Pickens County Council Meeting to support conservative issues discussed at this month's Conservatives of The Upstate meeting.

One issue: Greenville County has recently adopted this resolution (below). Pickens County MUST pass a similar resolution to protect its citizens.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 2014 Meeting

Please try to attend the September 2014 meeting of Conservatives Of The Upstate.

6:30PM Thursday September 11, 2014

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We've let the legal system take over the legal system?

One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp that I've heard out of this whole removing prayer from schools issue and really a lot of issues currently facing our country is that the 1st amendment is actually 5 amendments.

What?!?

• There's case law (which I say if the words aren't exactly in the amendment then each "case" must be thought of individually BEFORE A JURY)

• Freedom of speech (with the infringement clause, see above regarding exact wording)

• Freedom of religion (with the exception of proselytizing and public practice that somehow has to be non secular and all inclusive)

• Freedom of protest and assembly as long as you're a certain distance and as long as your voice is in a normal tone, and as long as you take 3 minutes or time divided up equally in a 30 minute time period.

• And finally there's - if you have money & power - your rights matter - otherwise - you're goin' to jail OJ Simpson!

We've let the legal system take over the legal system.

What do you think is a real solution that can actually be implemented?

Friday, July 18, 2014

U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford From SC Explains Road Funding ...


Appropriately funding our nation’s roads, airports, bridges and transportation corridors is vital to American competitiveness in the 21st century. But can I also say the nonobvious? How we fund those needs is an equally big part of what will make us competitive in today’s international race for jobs, capital and way of life.

Since I came back to Congress, I have been blessed to be on the Transportation Committee and I have seen first-hand how real the needs are, but on the House floor today, I joined 45 other Republicans in voting against an extension bill to highway funding. The needs are real, but this proposal did not pass the test of funding in a way that does not make us less competitive and dig our nation’s financial hole still deeper.

The bill passed and authorizes an additional $10.8 billion in spending through May of 2015 for the Highway Trust Fund. We will see what the Senate proposes, but in the meantime I wanted to offer a few thoughts on why I voted as I did.

The Highway Trust Fund always spends more than it takes in because it funds a host of transportation alternatives that do not pay into the trust fund. Mass transit is funded, but pays nothing into the trust fund. Trucks and cars do, as we pay gas taxes at the pump that are ideally there to pay for the roads we use.

The numbers are simple...and disastrous if you want to build roads on the foundation of sustainable finance. The federal government collects 18.4 cents on every gallon of gas sold, which amounts to roughly $35 billion per year. It spends $52 billion per year. In fact, since 2008, taxpayers have had to bail out the Highway Trust Fund five times to the tune of $54 billion. Instead of trying to fix the problem of spending more than we take in, or trimming from the fund the parts that do not pay in to it, Congress chose to “fund” this extension with an accounting maneuver that doesn’t contribute anything to the bottom line. This essentially amounts to a tax increase over the long run - because not paying the bill for something you use now in government means handing the bill to the next generation.

This bill relies on a budget gimmick called ‘pension smoothing’. It lets companies pay less into their pension funds and get fewer tax breaks for their contributions. So the added taxes that come into the US Treasury as a result of companies now not fully funding their pension requirements means that the Congressional Budget Office can score the hypothetical tax savings as the money that would offset the new money going into the Highway Trust Fund. Can you say Ponzi scheme?! The real trick here is that these companies eventually have to pay in every penny plus interest, meaning over the long-run, there ends up being no savings other than the accounting fiction that is created in pretending that the companies won’t have to do what they will eventually have to do! Even worse, the federal government could lose money in the future if it has to bail out companies that can’t make those bigger pension payments down the road. It is indeed a road to nowhere in prudently funding roads that desperately need it across the country.

It’s doubtful, but as the Senate does its work on the bill, let’s hope they include the reasonable notion that any short-term extension is paid for with actual spending cuts. In the interim, I am working on legislation that would insure that only programs that pay into the fund get money from it. The more I learn here the more I see that common sense ideas and plain accounting are keys to fixing roads, bridges…and a whole lot more.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Discussion Of The Issues ...

Discussion ....

1.  The oath of office taken by all elected officials and found in our South Carolina State  Constitution demands that the official "preserve, protect, and defend"  the Constitution of the United States and of the State of South Carolina.  It doesn't allow the leeway of politicians to override these Constitutions with statutory law that doesn't agree with these Constitutions.

2.   Article XI Section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution demands that the State shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State…

The system cannot be open to the children unless a building is supplied for the children to attend. This is the obvious intent of the writers of the Constitution,  and a later vote in the 1950's during Governor James F. Byrnes administration that asked the people of South Carolina to approve a 3% sales tax for the purpose of "building schools".  In 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States vetoed the concept of "separate but equal schools".  The General Assembly illegally grabbed the money and started spending it on anything they wished.  It was just moved to the general fund and consequently the counties were forced into constructing their own schools which is a violation of the SC State Constitution because it violated Article X, Section 14 & 15 (8% rule) and Article XI Section 3.

Article X of the Constitution limits the amount a county can borrow in general obligation debt to 8% of the appraised value of the property in that County.  The intent of this part of "the 8% law" was to give the counties some leeway on capital items of a nature critical to the immediate operation of the schools.

3. Along comes the McNair law firm and with the creation of SCAGO (South Carolina Association of Governmental Organizations) for the purpose of subverting "the 8% law". It has been litigated at least three times, and each time the SC Supreme Court has allowed the citizens of the counties to be unconstitutionally pushed into massive debt: Now $411,000,000 in Pickens County alone, even when the intent of "the 8% law" was to not allow these type of shenanigans.  The people of Pickens County in a referendum rejected massive debt by a vote of 9195 to 5538 in November of 2005, but this didn't even slow down the School Board.  They threatened the people and said they would set up a dummy corporation under SCAGO, and if the people tried to stop them legally, they would borrow the money by December 31, 2005 (The General Assembly Deadline) from a European Bank.  When the Supreme Court ruled that Colleton County Taxpayers Association v. School District of Colleton County, (371 S.C. 224,638 S.E.2d 685, 2006) had not violated statute 11-27-110A defining a "financing Agreement" and that the agreement was not with the alter ego of the school board, they were off to the races even though there was not a single contract that needed borrowed funds or was there even any plans for this project.  The money ($336,165,000) was borrowed for the purpose of paying the debt and was borrowed by The "dummy" corporation (SCAGO Educational Facilities Corporation for Pickens School District").  The money was placed in an interest bearing account at Wells Fargo Bank and accumulated over $13 million dollars in interest by 2013.  The people of Pickens County had been paying taxes on this money the whole time, but are not guaranteed  under the law to continue to do so, as these are revenue bonds; not general obligation debt.

This year Ben Trotter, representing the Liberty-Easley District, decided to resign and the School Board conspired to spend the interest from the revenue bonds without notifying or communicating with the SCAGO dummy Corp (broken contract).  The quorum rule cannot satisy this type of voting because the Liberty-Easley district was not represented at all. (16% of the county population) Therefore, the vote was unconstitutional and Article X Section 5 comes into play,  

"no tax… shall be established, fixed,  laid or levied under any pretext whatever,without the consent of the people or their representatives lawfully assembled."  

There will have to be an additional tax levied to make up for the loss of the $13.5 million. This will be double taxation. The taxpayers have already paid for that interest in monies from taxes that should have been used to reduce the debt. The whole vote is unconstitutional. The vote is illegal because of "the 8% rule", the Constitution (Article XI Section 3) , the oath of office, the structural make up of the local SCAGO Board (there are no elected officials on the SCAGO Board that can even set millage - The Auditor and the Treasurer are "ministerial"in duties.) The whole intent is to subvert the Constitution, and make the people of Pickens County pay more for schools, that the State should pay for.  The people of Pickens County clearly voted against this.

Comments:

In 2008, a group of citizens met with Mark Sanford and explained their concerns.  The Governor heard their complaint for over an hour and a half. Afterwards, he recommended that they meet with Attorney General Henry McMaster.  They discovered that the Senate had passed a procedural rule that called for your local Senator to set up individual meetings with the Attorney General. They wrote Senator Larry Martin and asked him to make such plans for them. He refused.

In addition to the above complaints, the group considers the whole SCAGO contract is an operating expense and should be covered under Act 388 of the General Assembly where the state added a 1% sales tax to pay the operating expense. This was a tax to replace property tax on an SC resident's owner occupied home.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Case Against The School Board Is Building ...

A Case Against The School Board Is Building ...

1.  The School Board of Pickens County and the McNair Law Firm ( as officers of the court) have consistently refused to follow their oath of office, which requires them to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitutions of the United States and of The State of South Carolina.

2.  Both the School Board of Pickens County, and the General Assembly have violated Article XI Section 3 of the SC Constitution by engaging in a scheme through SCAGO (the dummy corporation used to facilitate the school building plan) to overcharge the people of Pickens County for buildings and repairs that should be paid for by the State of South Carolina.

3.  The School Board of Pickens County has violated Article X, Sections 11 and 5 which limits the borrowing of the Board to 8% of the appraised value of the County property by borrowing $411,000,000+.  This part of the Constitution was enacted with the intent to help with emergencies, not implement massive school construction schemes.

4.  The Colleton County Taxpayers Association v. School District of Colleton County  defined a "financing agreement" and also ruled that a "SCAGO dummy corporation" was not the alter ego of the school board.  This means the SCAGO Dummy Corp. is entirely separate from the School Board.  The School Board of Pickens County has switched back and forth; as if the separation was not there: Selling mortgaged schools and taking $13.5 million in interest collected on the early borrowing by SCAGO and spending it on replacement computers, repairing roofs, installing air conditioners, etc. in existing schools (which are operational expense items and should be paid for by the State under Act 388).

5.  There is not a qualified elected official on the Pickens County SCAGO Board to set millage for the repayment of the loans to fulfill the obligation to the mortgagor.  The Auditor and the Treasurer of Pickens County can tell them how much the millage amounts to, as a ministerial member of the Board.  This is taxation without representation under Article X Section 5. If the School Board touches this money, as they have in the past, it violates the 8% rule.

6.  Holding two positions, as a board member of SCAGO, and as Treasurer or Auditor is amongst the many conflicts of interest.


7. It is our opinion, that the payments on the new schools are operational expense payments because they are lease payments which is an operational expense that should be  paid for by the State under Act 388.  Six school districts sued the State and won their case in opinion #26682 and are currently receiving payment from the State for their schools.  The reason Pickens is not being paid for by the State is because of the account which it is being paid from.  It cannot be paid legally from the bonded Indebtedness account.  We need to find out who told the Treasurer what account to pay the payments from.

8. The money borrowed in revenue bonds, $336,165,000, has grown to a $386,000,000 est.  plus general obligation bonds of $30,000,000 est. without any authorization from the taxpayers.  The school board has also spent $13.5 million on other projects from the interest on the original bonds.  This is after a vote by the people of Pickens County who said no by a 2 to1 margin before construction ever started. Monies are HIDDEN each year for budgetary reasons.

9. SCAGO has been melded into the school board as its alter ego just as we said it would in our suit against the School Board in 2005.  The School Board of Pickens County manipulates the taxes from the millage set on the bonds, and the mortgages on the schools which are the collateral that SCAGO has to guarantee the Bonds.  This is unconstitutional and violates the SCAGO contracts.

10.  When a resignation of a School Board member (Ben Trotter, Liberty) occured, three other members immediately conspired to spend the $13.5 million in interest derived from the early bond sales in 2005 without consulting SCAGO. In doing so, they violated the constitutional law by putting a tax on the people without representation.  A vote by a quorum is not correct here because the seat had been vacated, thus causing 16% of the people of Pickens County to be disenfranchised.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hiott Introduces A Bill To Steal Your Property ...

Introduced last week into the SC House:

2013-2014
120th General Assembly
House Bill 5182
Provide That A Public Utility May Use Easements Related To Public Highways Or Roads For Purposes Related To That Utility If Granted A Permit By The State Or Local Government Entity And Satisfaction Of Other Conditions, And To Provide That A State Or Local Government Entity May Grant The Permit Based On Its Prescriptive Authority For The Expansion Of Utilities.
http://legiscan.com/SC/bill/H5182/2013

Representative Hiott took it himself to placate the utilities and give them our property!

The Over-collecting Taxes In Pickens County ...

Over-collecting of Taxes

1.  The Pickens County School Board has over-collected taxes every year since 1990 by simply adjusting the percent collectible to 95%.  All taxes are either collectible or the property is taken by the county for sale.  There are also delinquent fees compiled every month on the tax amount.  A very close estimate is not 95%, but 103%, which is 8% more than was budgeted.  In the County Council Audit report of 2008, it shows on Page 15 (item II) & Page 115, this conservative budget approach.  It also shows that the County Council benefited more than $5 million dollars in 2008 alone.  Delinquent taxes or sales of properties were not included in these figures.  The Pickens County School Board has continued this practice even after it was pointed out to them.  The County Council made a stab at correction by estimating 99% collectible after our group pointed this out.  Still, the County Council over-collected more than $800 thousand in 2013.  The cities in Pickens County employ the same over-collection method and have not refunded or credited the overage to the taxpayers.  In our opinion, the political entities have conspired to over-collect without following the accepted method of credit or refunding to the taxpayers. ( 12-43-285 Certification of millage rates )

From 1999 - 2008 and in 2013, because of this conspiracy, 9,000 pieces of property have been scheduled for sale over the past 15 years.  Budgets have been padded every year which has allowed larger increases in taxes and fees than normal year over year and $40 to $100 million dollars has been over-collected during this period.

2.  The same general problem exists  with over-collection of taxes due to reassessment.  The reassessment year that Junius Smith audited the books; he found an increase of 13%, which is far more than allowed, yet there was no meeting with the public as prescribed by law to discuss the extra money.  This situation has greatly improved since Brian Suddeth has become Auditor.  Still, there is no meeting with the public when there is an overage. There have been no refunds as prescribed by law. A zero gain has to be realized from reassessment of properties, yet there shows a tremendous increase every reassessment year.  Every political entity shows that they have a slush fund created by this type of activity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

School Board Election Issue: Accreditation

Election Issue: Will Pickens County Lose Accreditation Because Of The School Board

On April 9, 2014 ... AdvancED granted full accreditation to the School District Of Pickens County.

Outside Influences from Easley, made the issue of losing accreditation a hot topic during the recent Liberty School Board election. The group went as far as to say that only one candidate, the candidate they endorsed would be able to save accreditation. The group also claimed that a 7th school board member would also help "alleviate problems on the board" and help with receiving accreditation.

I suppose, none of that's was true ... but WE knew that all along right?

Friday, April 4, 2014

SC State Lawmakers Proposing 1¢ EXTRA Sales Tax

In case you didn’t feel taxed enough, some lawmakers in South Carolina are asking to be able to add a sales tax to pay for school construction projects.

Hold on. I thought SC had a Republican majority? Don’t they want to advance bills that would eliminate Obamacare, Common Core, abortion and reduce the size of government?

Well, not really. The most important thing for the majority of Republicans in this state to do is find ways to tax the middle class for their pet projects.

According to theState, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a bill Tuesday, sponsored by state Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, that would allow school districts in all of the state’s 46 counties to ask voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax for building projects.

Currently only two counties – Horry and Charleston – now collect the 1-cent-on-the-dollar tax (cleverly called a “penny” tax). The tax can be imposed for no more than 15 years before voters must be asked to re-authorize it (yeah right).

Under the current law, in which a county where a  school district operates must raise $7 million in accommodations taxes, imposed on vacation and other temporary rental properties, before it can ask voters to approve the sales tax for education, causes a disadvantage to counties that don’t have tourist attractions. Peeler said an advantage is given to school districts in Charleston and Horry counties.

“I wanted Cherokee County to be able to enjoy what Charleston and Horry counties have been enjoying for years,” said Peeler, the Senate’s majority leader. “We don’t have a beach. We don’t have an ocean. We do have a ‘Yellow Mall,’” he said, referring to the name locals use for Gaffney’s outlet mall.

The Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill on Tuesday. But a fellow Republican, Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson, objected to the bill, making its road to passage tougher.

Bryant said the people who will benefit from the additional sales tax will push it, while “the poor fellow trying to find a couple of extra pennies in his pocket is at an unfair advantage. That’s why I’m against all these tax increases.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Was The Vote On Spending Legal In The Pickens County School District While Liberty School Board Seat Was Vacant?

Over the past few months, the Pickens County School Board has voted on nearly $14 million in improvement spending for schools. The money was taken from the general fund budget and from an interest account, exhausting an extra funds the district has.

According to Article X: Section V of the SC State Constitution, this appears to be a violation of constitutional duty. Liberty Board Trustee, Ben Trotter resigned in November of 2013. Immediately following his resignation, the School District Of Pickens County [SDPC] Board began to vote on spending tax collected money ~ money that would have to be made up BY COLLECTING more tax to replace it as the funding would actually put SDPC into the red for the 2014-2015 year.

By Trotter not representing the citizens of Liberty, the vote on spending and therefore new tax collection appears to have been illegal.

SECTION 5. No tax without consent; taxes to be levied in pursuance of law.
No tax, subsidy or charge shall be established, fixed, laid or levied, under any pretext whatsoever, without the consent of the people or their representatives lawfully assembled. Any tax which shall be levied shall distinctly state the public purpose to which the proceeds of the tax shall be applied.

Monday, March 31, 2014

SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION ISSUE: Low teacher morale & pay


SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION ISSUE
Low teacher morale & pay

One issue brought up by all candidates in the school board election is that teacher morale and lower than surrounding school district pay scales are affecting good teachers staying in Pickens County.

The truth of the matter, with approximately 1100 teacher and admin positions throughout the county, about 70 leave or retire for various reasons each year. This is 6.3% … which is identical to our surrounding counties of Anderson, Oconee, and Greenville. Take into account that Anderson and Greenville are much larger - so their >7% equals more heads.

Also, take into account that Pickens County is currently about two thirds through a retirement cycle with a few more than normal having to retire because of TERI [Teacher & Employee Retention Initiative]. The TERI program forces retirement after a certain number of years. In order to save money, the school district has elected not to rehire most TERI program teachers because they have already double dipped into pay and retirement.

Here is a recent letter from Elliot Southard, Principal at Chastain Road Road Elementary in Liberty. You have to take this at face value. While it's certain, that in order to get a good recommendation, Southard wouldn't mention morale or pay, none the less - he doesn't mention it.

While it is evident that teacher morale isn't rosy - I do believe the same sentiment exists in most school districts in these times that we are in.

Letter addressed to Admin and Teachers ...
It is with mixed emotions that I write this email. After much consideration and prayer, I have decided to accept a position in Anderson School District Four as the principal of Mount Lebanon Elementary and will not be returning to Chastain Road in the fall. This was not an easy decision and came down to the simple fact that Mount Lebanon is much closer to home and will allow me to spend more time with family. 
I am grateful for my time at Chastain Road and consider it an honor to have been able to open this school with you. I have often said that opening a new school was the hardest thing that I have ever done professionally, but I also acknowledge that it was successful only because of the effort that each of you put forth from day one. And I could not be prouder of the school that Chastain Road has become. I truly consider each of you part of my family and that makes this decision bittersweet. I wish each of you nothing but the best in the future and anticipate continuing to hear wonderful things from CRE. 
I will be working with the district to determine a timeline for selecting the next principal at CRE and will communicate those details with you as soon as I know them. 
Thank you in advance for your understanding and support of my decision. If you have any questions or concerns as we move forward, please let me know.   
Elliott M. Southard 
Principal, Chastain Road Elementary



Tuesday, April 1, 2014 voting for the Liberty Area School Board Trustee will occur from 7AM to  7PM at usual polling locations.

District 4 (Liberty Area) will conduct a special election on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 to fill the unexpired term of District 4 Trustee Ben Trotter. The candidate winning this election will have to run for re-election in November 2014 and will then serve a 4 year term.

This is a non-partisan election and no party affiliation will be placed on the ballot.

Candidates were required to file an Statement Of Economic Interest online during the candidate filing period with the State Ethics Commission.

Additional information about this election may be found at the Pickens County Registration & Elections Commission’s website


By contacting the commission by phone (864-898-5948 or 864-898-5949)

Or by email elections@co.pickens.sc.us

The following candidates are running for the position:

Brian D Swords

Roy Costner

Bonita Thomas Holland

Bob Folkman

The following precincts and polling places will be open from 7:00AM until 7:00PM on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

Only registered voters inside School Board Trustee District 4 are eligible to vote.

127 Skelton-Tri City Baptist Church -1401 Griffin Mill Rd. Easley, SC 29640

128 Rices Creek-Liberty First Baptist Church-403 Edgemont Ave. Liberty, SC 29657

129 West Liberty-Calumet Baptist Church-400 S. Peachtree St. Liberty, SC 29657

130 East Liberty-Eastside Baptist Church 920 Anderson Dr. Liberty, SC 29657

131 Flat Rock-Flat Rock Baptist Church-115 Slab Bridge Rd. Liberty, SC 29657

132 Zion- Emeritus at Countryside-706 Pelzer Hwy. Easley, SC 29642

133 Smith Grove-Smith Grove Baptist Church-1220 Smith Grove Rd. Easley, SC 29640

134 Arial Mill-Arial Mill Baptist Church-618 Rice Rd. Easley, SC 29640

155 North Liberty-Liberty United Methodist Church -310 Mae St. Liberty, SC 29657

156 Pendleton-Grace Baptist Church-930 N. Old Pendleton Rd. Liberty, SC 29657

157 Fruit Mountain-Jones Avenue Baptist Church-614 Ross Ave. Easley, SC 29640

All voters will be asked to show one of the following Photo IDs at your polling place Tuesday, April 1, 2014:

• S.C. Driver’s License

• ID Card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

• S.C. Voter Registration Card with Photo

• Federal Military ID

•U.S. Passport