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Monday, March 31, 2014

SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION ISSUE: Low teacher morale & pay

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

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why does a candidate for the Liberty seat care so much about Easley?

Brian Swords is a school board candidate for the Liberty seat in the special election on Tuesday, April 1st. Swords is backed and financed by leaders of Easley.

In the February 25, 2014 Greenville News, Swords said the following ...

"We have to bring all the stakeholders around the table and figure out a way to address the need for a second middle school in the Easley area."

Does that word "stakeholder" sound familar? It should. It's one of the buzzwords in Common Core implemenation and one of the ways Agenda 21 describes "involved participants" …

At one of the recent Pickens County School District "Ask Anything Meetings" … Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew gave an opening speech stating that "stakeholders" were involved in the process of Common Core implementation.

When questioned who stakeholders were by Philip Smith of Conservatives Of The Upstate, Pew responded …

"Stakeholders are students, parents, teachers, administration, business, government, and non governmental organizations."
Mr. Smith followed up …

"As a parent, I was not consulted ... I have not spoken to any parents that were consulted about Common Core implementation."
Pew responded …

"Parents were not on the level of stakeholder we consulted."

On his website, > The Issues, Swords wrote, 

"My position: The selling of the old Getty’s Middle School is not in the best interest of our students or our taxpayers... Easley is going to continue to grow, and property is at a premium. We need a second middle school."

Never mind that LEGACY Charter School is coming to Easley. 

Taxpayers have already spent nearly $400 million on new schools. Borrowing another $25 million and raising property tax rates again for a second middle school in Easley isn't needed. 

But the real question should be … why does a candidate for the Liberty seat care so much about Easley?

Mr. Swords list of campaign donors uncovers the answer I believe.

Donors to his campaign include:

• Chris Mann (Easley City Council)

• Kent Dykes (Easley City Council)

• Bill Houston and Betty Garrison (former Easley High School principals)

• Tom O' Hanlan from Liberty who helped perpetuate the accreditation scare and seems to be in the pockets of almost every Pickens County, State, and Federal politician.

and various residents and business owners in Easley.

Your vote is critical.

Obama: Greatest Threat To Press Freedom In A Generation

"New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”
See the full story on

Parents Not Involved In Academic Process Makes Common Core Illegal

According to a recent article on South Carolina Watchdog Website, The Nerve:

State law requires that before changes are made to state educational standards and assessment tests, a group of parents, business and industry representatives, community leaders and educators must review the proposals. 
… The South Carolina State Education Accountability Act of 1998 (Section 59-18-350 of the S.C. Code of Laws) says the SBE, “in consultation with” the EOC, “shall provide for a cyclical review by academic area of the state standards and assessments to ensure that the standards and assessments are maintaining high expectations for learning and teaching.”
At one of the recent Pickens County School District "Ask Anything Meetings" … Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew gave an opening speech stating that "stakeholders" were involved in the process of Common Core implementation.

When questioned who stakeholders were by Philip Smith of Conservatives Of The Upstate, Pew responded …
"Stakeholders are students, parents, teachers, administration, business, government, and non governmental organizations."
Mr. Smith followed up …
"As a parent, I was not consulted ... I have not spoken to any parents that were consulted about Common Core implementation."
Pew responded …
"Parents were not on the level of stakeholder we consulted."

Philip didn't say anything to that, what was there to say?


Indiana becomes first state to drop Common Core standards

While many say it can't be reversed once it's implemented … the federal overreach into education known as Common Core has officially been axed in Indiana:


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Conservatives Of The Upstate In Action & Representing You

Junius Smith Speaking before Pickens County School Board
at the February 2014 Public Input

President, Junius Smith being honored at halftime 
of a Clemson Basketball game

At the March 2014 Pickens County Council Meeting
discussing your property rights

At a Common Core protest in from of Pickens County Senator
Larry Martin's Offices

Our So Called Republicans WANT Obamacare In South Carolina? What?

On Wednesday March 19, 2014 the SC State Senate had a 2nd Reading of Bill H3101 known as "The Freedom of Health Care Protection Act" also known as "Nullify Obamacare"

The bill FAILED.

Final vote: 8:56 PM on 3-19-2014


The following so called Republicans voted NO to nullifying Obamacare in South Carolina …

Alexander, Bennett, Campbell, Cleary, Courson, Gregory, Hayes, Hembree, Leatherman,Martin, Massey, Peeler, and Rankin.

Here is a response from Senator Shane Martin of Edgefield on why he voted with larry Martin on the issue:

I think Obamacare is the easily the worst piece of federal legislation passed in my lifetime.  I don’t think there’s even a close second.  It’s horrible.  I think the individual mandate is the biggest stretch of constitutional limitations since the 1930s.  I think the expansion of Medicaid is terrible policy, an expansion of the disastrous Great Society.  So I think we should fight it as much as we can.  To that point, we’ve taken pretty strong stands by being one of the first plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality, we refused to implement a state exchange, and we refused to expand Medicaid.  Although I think we’ve taken a pretty strong stand so far, I don’t think we should stop there.  I’m all for doing what we can to make the law collapse outright.  But you don’t advance that fight by passing bad legislation that ensures a federal lawsuit we are certain to lose.  Geez, the end result of that is to embolden the Obama crowd.  If you’re going to pick a fight, pick one that you can win.  If you pick a fight that you lose, you just make the other side stronger.  And that’s exactly what the House version of 3101 would have done.  The House version – what we ultimately – had to vote on, was just a show.  There was no nullification in that bill, and you ought to be ticked at those who told you there was.  It wasn’t going to stop anything; it was just going to make state taxpayers assume the financial burden.  That’s just dumb.  And beyond that, it was going to result in the lawsuit I mentioned that we were sure to lose.  And we were going to lose big . . . in a public fashion. I supported what Sen. Davis was proposing.  He put a lot of time into an amendment that would push back in a constitutional and legal way.  It was a very creative way of using state sovereignty to combat this federal overreach.  I was with him.  When those amendments were knocked out, though, we were left with that terrible House version.  I just couldn’t vote for that. I don’t think the fight is over, though.  We still have the budget debate, and we can propose most of Sen. Davis’s amendments during that discussion.  I actually think we can get some of those things passed.  At least, I hope we can, and I’m certainly going to support that effort. Thanks again for your input. Shane

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Easley & Pickens May Have To Answer To The Supreme Court In Regards To Doodle Trail

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Deliver Blow To 'Rails-to-Trails'

In a setback to the U.S. government's long-running policy of converting abandoned railroads into public trails, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Wyoming property owner who objected to a plan to extend a pathway across his land.

In a decision that could affect similar cases across the United States, the Supreme Court ruled by an 8-1 vote that the right-of-way across Marvin Brandt's land that was established by a railroad was extinguished when the railroad was later abandoned.

As a result, the U.S. Forest Service cannot build a public trail along a half-mile stretch of the railroad that crosses Brandt's land in Fox Park. The land is in the Medicine Bow National Forest, about 40 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that the decision …
 "undermines the legality of thousands of miles of former rights of way that the public now enjoys as means of transportation and recreation."
She said the court's decision could lead to more expensive litigation over other trails, including compensation claims filed by landowners.

The railroad in question, the Laramie, Hahn's Peak and Pacific Railroad Co, was 66 miles long, running from Laramie to the Colorado border. The line was formally abandoned in 2004, prompting the U.S. government to seek title so it could transform the land into a trail, as it has done to former railroads throughout the country since the 1980s.

There is currently a twenty one mile  trail that includes a detour around Brandt's property.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy, which backed the government in the case, had previously said a ruling for Brandt could affect popular trails, including the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota and the Rio Grande Trail in Colorado.

There are currently about 20,000 miles of so-called rail trails, according to the Conservancy.

But Kevin Mills, the group's Senior Vice President of Policy & Trail Development, said the ruling would make certain trail projects … 

"more vulnerable to litigation from adjoining landowners."

Writing for the majority … Chief Justice John Roberts rejected the government's claim that the right of way reverted to the government once the railroad ceased operating.

He said that the terms of the agreement that allowed Brandt to assume ownership of his land from the federal government in 1976 largely determined the outcome. The contract made no mention of the right-of-way switching to the government, Roberts said.

The case is Brandt v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, 12-1173. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Should Our State Sales Tax Be 2% or 6%?

In the early 1950's, SC Governor James F Byrnes asked the people of South Carolina to vote in a 3% sales tax for the purpose of building "separate but equal" school buildings. He realized that the State government was responsible for the building of schools under Article 11 Section 3 of South Carolina Constitution (Here). The people voted for the sales tax and it was put into the tax structure of the State of South Carolina.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court opined in the case Brown vs The Board Of Education (here) that it was unconstitutional to build "separate but equal" schools.

Article XI SECTION III :System of free public schools
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State and shall establish, organize and support such other public institutions of learning, as may be desirable.
So, by order of the Supreme Court, the PURPOSE of the tax was nullified. However, the money flowed in, and the State Of South Carolina quit building schools, and has for decades, shoveled the expense off to the counties, all the while STILL collecting this tax. The lack of State oversight and budget control has allowed school boards to raise taxes to levels that prohibit residential and business growth in the State in many areas.

At this point, Pickens County residents owe over $400 million dollars on school buildings and it will cost nearly $800 billion to pay the debt off.

Read the SC State Constitution shown above again … "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools …"

Where do you read that it is the job of a COUNTY to provide for the maintenance and upkeep of our schools? As this $400 million in schools ages - all at once - and the older schools get older - where should the money to maintain them and fix them come from? The SC State Constitution says it should come from the State Of South Carolina - NOT Pickens County. Then why did our school board just vote over $13 million in maintenance costs for our schools? (see here page 7)

The failure of the legislature has been hidden in a myriad of statutory laws with catchy names like "The Education Finance Act". (see here) Note that a statutory law cannot trump the Constitution, but just like we've learned from Obama using unconstitutional power to change a law with executive order - as long as the people won't DEMAND a challenge - our country, our county, and our towns across America will continue to be pillaged.

Ohio Boy Suspended For "Hand" Gun

A 10 year old Ohio boy was suspended from school for making a gun gesture with his hand.

He said "bang" as he pointed it at another student's head.

He says he was playing.

The school says it has a zero tolerance policy.

Maybe there should CHP. (Concealed Hands Permit)

* source / The Blaze Network

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

His definition VS The Founding Fathers' ...

Apparently "bear arms" means "storing or owning guns" to our Pickens County Senator.

I really had to read this twice to believe someone who represents us would say or think this way.

Martin's comments are making national headlines amongst gun control lobbies. The sentiment certainly does not represent the majority of his constituency.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Other Side Of The Story About Accreditation In Pickens County ...


I want to warn all of you about believing anything that comes out of the Concerned Citizens of Pickens County (CCPC).

They have been circulating lies about the accreditation of Pickens County Schools.

1. We have been guaranteed by Superintendent Kelly Pew (news release) and by the School Board (release) that the Pickens County Schools have been approved for accreditation.

There were several items for us to straighten out before the next five year / Phase II part of the process which will come in 2019. So you see the untruths that this group is capable of.

The situation reminds me of the information that was put out by Upstate Forever and the City of Easley concerning the Doodle Railroad trail.

2. The petition (found here) that is on and the page on facebook (found here) requires you to "LIKE" the propaganda they are pushing in order for you to see who is supporting this, voting, and making comments.

Yesterday, when I looked at the site they had 1540 "likes" on their "site". In this figure were people who said they liked it just to get a look at the people who said they liked it.

There are people all over the upstate; not just from Pickens County on these pages. Also, take into account that one can place ANY location they wish on the petition.

What they are not telling you is that this is not about accreditation, but about another new middle school in Easley. They want to spend another $35 million on a school they don't need and one they could have had if they had not crammed the old Easley High School down the throats of the School Board.

What's even worse is that their representative at the School Board meeting this week stated they had 10,000 people signed up, then gave a significantly lower number (+/- 5000) to the press (see here). As it turns out, there appears to be somewhere around 900 including people outside Pickens County. But note that most are from Easley!

The truth never entered into the equation.

3. From the beginning of the fiasco, to get a second Easley Middle School, former at large school board member Kevin Kay stated that he was going to do "whatever it took" to get a second middle school.

Whatever it took?

The spendthrifts in Easley are trying to get the old board back. A board where they had at large members from Easley and Clemson controlling the Board.

So I ask you. Is this fair to the people in Pickens, Six Mile, and Liberty?

I say not!

In years past, I remember when school board member Alex Saitta could not even get his recommendations to the old board seconded. I

If these folks railroad their way in and on to the board, prepare for your taxes to skyrocket!

There are now 40 mils that you pay in Pickens County for schools when the actual number should be zero according to Act 388 (see here) and South Carolina Constitution Article XI Section 3 (see here).

I ask you another question …

Why won't Pickens Senator Martin, and Reps. Davey Hiott, and B.R. Skelton not jump in and help their constituents?

Junius Smith
President, COTU