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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Trump Should Have And Did Win The SC Primary ...

It wasn't because of Evangelicals or other categories of voters. It was because the people felt subliminally  that we needed a General Patton like person to save our country.  When I was a little boy, I knew General Patton.  He was crass and vain.  He cursed profusely, and offended many people.  My mother told me that I must cover my ears when he was speaking to the troops, yet he was a gentle man(a professed Christian) in some ways and once had lunch fixed for us when my mother went to Hell Cat Camp in Louisiana where Daddy was training in the swamps.  General Patton was even censured by Ike for abusing a soldier, but I ask you, would you rather have lost the War with the Axis powers?

Many people, including myself, feel that America has lost its way with Obama, the Clintons, and other liberal and communists (like Bernie Sanders) and that we need the toughest type of leader to lead us out of the wilderness.  This does not mean that Cruz isn't a very good candidate and in my opinion would be the very best Supreme Court Judge.  But make no mistake, if we do not overcome the Agenda 21, the global warmers, the anti-capitalists, etc. right here in this period of time, our great country is doomed, and this includes the State of SC and Pickens County. 

So don't be hard on those of us that voted for Trump.  The press has everything figured out except the real reason!

Summary of the February 2016 Pickens County school board meeting ...

I want to thank all those from the Conservatives of the Upstate for being present last night.  Some people do not notice but AP Laws comes to a lot of these meetings to stand up in back of us who speak.  There were a number of parents that passionately spoke about not closing the three Northern Schools.  What I cannot to the life of me understand is that I laid out the solution in front of them last night and they refuse to hear it.  Parents cannot understand accounting 101 and the South Carolina Law that governs the accounting.  I am going to try and lay it out for you here again.

Every year a millage rate is set based on a regulated budget.  The Auditor of the county is supposed to make this decision.  He may listen to the representative of the School Board, the County Council, the cities, towns, and Tri-County Tech, but the decision for how much millage is the AUDITOR'S responsibility.  He also sets the collectability, which in Pickens County is somewhat over 100% because if you don't pay your taxes they take your property, and if you are late they charge a fee.  This is not the only thing the AUDITOR does. He is responsible for adjusting millage after reassessment.  Millage rates could go up, but history shows us that most of the time they go down.  None of the collecting entities have the right to benefit from the reassessment, yet over the years there has been a great influx of revenue after reassessment.

If millage is set too high which has been the case this year and has been case every year since inception.  The overage is supposed to be refunded to the Tax Payers either as a credit or in cash at the end of the year.  The same with the amount collectable.  If the % is low the entities (School Board,etc) collects too much and is supposed to refund the money or credit to the Taxpayers. These procedures are covered in 12-43-285.  I am told that the School Board attorney is telling the Board to violate the laws of this state.  So unless we can get a ground swell of people from this area to sue the Board we are going to be stuck with loss of 200 million dollars in over-collections by cities, towns, School board, County Council, and Tri-County Tech.

We have attorney's that are hired by the school board using our money that are going to be responsible for closing our schools.  It is a violation of a number of laws that you can look up:SC Constitution Article 11 Section 3,  Article 10 Section 5 and 15 and 12-43-285

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours
Representatives Neal Collins and Gary Clary from Pickens County have signed on to supporting House bill 4778 which requires ALL SC school districts to have to be accredited by AdvancED a non-profit, non-elected governmental organization beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. 2014 Financial disclosure shows AdvancED earned $27,103,603 in 2014. And that’s their income from not just SC school’s tax dollars.  Wonder what the projected income will be after it is MANDATORY that ALL SC schools use them? I foresee raises for the administration of AdvancED in the future from this sweet deal.  
Yes you read that right. Collins/Cleary are pushing legislation which would make a business a MONOPOLY in the state of SC. AdvancED stands to earn millions in fees from all the SC School Districts/Schools.
It is my understanding The School District of Pickens County pays AdvancED approximately $21,000 a year. The fees are based upon the size of the district. Now multiply that estimate of $21,000 by 81 school districts…not to mention fees to pay them to “rehabilitate” the district when they give them a bad review and offer classes on how to improve on “best practices.”
AdvancEd comes out with a sweet guaranteed income which pays un-elected people your tax dollars to tell YOUR elected school board what they can and cannot do.  
Is this even legal?  Can a legislature mandate all school districts do business with ONE particular business?
Recently, Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary along with Rep. David Hiott and Senator Larry Martin got involved in the School District of Pickens County when the school board had some difficulty with AdvancED, a non elected group of people who claim they are non-partisan.  AdvancED notified the School District of Pickens County they were not following “best practices.” This situation was resolved and there is no longer any controversy over the accreditation after the School Board fully cooperated with AdvancED’s mandates to follow their idea of what “best practices” are. 
A group known as Concerned Citizens of Pickens County led by Robin Nelson Miller have been advocating for higher taxes so that our school system can be “restored.” WE are one of the top performing school districts in the whole state so I don’t know what “restored” means other than let’s get more taxpayer money. CCPC has been in close contact with Rep. Neal Collins, Gary Clary and David Hiott as well as Sen. Larry Martin.  This group has not been pleased with the conservative board members on the board who are trying to keep our taxes low and even go so far as to accuse our conservative elected board members of not being education advocates simply because these conservative board members don’t want to fleece the taxpayer. CCPC and Rep. Neal Collins and Clary have been advocating for a 7th school board member for quite some time so that CCPC’s ideology of a tax increase for schools would more likely happen.
So guess what? Yep… House bill 4299 Legislation was introduced by Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary to make it a law that a 7th school board member be added. That bill is now in the Senate. This 7th school board member would be an at large member appointed by the Delegation and most likely would be a person who has the ideology of supporting tax increases for the schools which would make Robin Nelson Miller and CCPC deliriously happy.
Now let’s connect the dots. Why would Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary be on board with legislation to add a 7th school board member AND also legislation which mandates that AdvancED be given the sole contract for accreditation of ALL SC schools?
My theory is “If Collins/Clary scratches AdvancED’s back by lining their pockets with our hard earned dollars then AdvancED will scratch theirs by making sure they keep the School District of Pickens County School Board members in line with their idea of what “best practices” are. Now tell me again how AdvancED is non-partisan?
Pressure from AdvancED will be applied to our duly elected School Board members to bow to Rep. Neal Collins/Clary/ and CCPC’s ideology of raising taxes because that is “best practice.” And AdvancED has already gotten a sweet deal via Collins’ because these legislators just awarded them exclusive contracts with ALL SC PUBLIC SCHOOLS to make them an assured millions of dollars annually.
Now let’s continue to connect the dots.  As of right now we have another crisis in the School District of Pickens County.
The school board is threatening to close several small schools and consolidate by reconfiguring grade levels as well as raise taxes. Is this an example of AdvancED’s idea of  “best practices”? My guess is AdvancED would love this reconfiguration plan and closure of small schools. My guess is Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary along with most of our other Pickens Delegation legislators would love it as well. My guess is CCPC and Robin Nelson Miller loves this plan as well. Rep. David Hiott stated in a recent email to me that, “Our main priority is making sure Pickens County Schools do not lose their accreditation.” I’m fairly confident the “our” in his response meant Pickens legislators Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary, as well as Robin Nelson Miller’s group CCPC.
It is my belief that AdvancED is the driving force behind everything our board is doing since this whole threat of losing accreditation occurred.  AdvancED are the ones pushing our duly elected school board members to make decisions based on AdvancED’s idea of what “best practices” are by threatening to withhold accreditation from our school district if they don’t follow their “best practices.”  Isn’t that called bullying or strong armed politics…coming from a group who claims to be non-partisan and is non-elected?
Do you like the thought that a non-elected business controls your school board? I don’t.
However, Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary must want AdvancED to have this power so the scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours cooperation will be in place and produce a win win for them…but a loss for Pickens County children and taxpayers. How can closing small schools be in the best interest of a child where there is lower teacher-child ratio?
Too much power over children’s education is being given to AdvancED who are not held accountable by WE THE TAXPAYER. Unelected bureaucrats making decisions about children’s future and our tax dollars is not acceptable.
Our School Board is accountable to us…if we don’t like what they are doing we vote them out.
 If you don’t like what AdvancED is requiring of your school district… too bad…you have no recourse as Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary want to make it mandatory that all that power is given to AdvancED all over the ENTIRE State of SC.
You should contact Collins and Clary and tell them you don’t like their “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” tactic and you should also vote them out of office next election cycle for even thinking that a non-elected business should have that much power over your tax dollars and children’s future.
And while you are it…ask them…Why can’t the School District of Pickens County have the option of being accredited by the South Carolina Department of Education like charter schools? 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Points to ponder about the school closings in Pickens County:

Much misinformation is being spread about the school closings ...

Here are some facts:

• Each of the board members that are solidly voting to close schools also voted against prayer in Pickens County. (Edwards, Cooper, Swords)

• Each of these board members listed above are not in the affected areas of the school closings (Pickens)

Herbert Cooper (Clemson)
Judy Edwards (Easley)
Brian Swords (Liberty)

• Each of the above voted for 3 teacher pay raises for a single calendar year (rather than stagger) - illegally putting the school budget into deficit for the current school year AND projected future fiscal years. The school board must have a balanced budget. Each KNEW upon vote (I was present as they were warned) that the school budget would go into deficit.

• The group Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County (CCPC) advocated for this 3x pay raise and used the example of Oconee County teachers receiving higher pay. Oconee County recently gave teachers a district wide total $1.2 million pay raise. Coincidence? They are closing schools and doing so without public input (which are also strongly against) to save $700,000.

• This same group, CCPC, advocates for a 7th school board member along with Easley Representative Neal Collins. This board member, based on active voter registration and population would come from Easley or Clemson. If this 7th board member were already in place, the schools would ALREADY be closed!

Implementing a 7th school board member (monthly stipend, paperwork, administrative costs, election costs) would cost close to $40,000 first year (according to Rodney Allen at election commission and County Council) and $7000 each additional year. Would this money not be better spent on school supplies or a reading retention program?

If the board numbers are the issue, why go to 7? What about 5? There are only 4 high schools and technically only 5 zones - with Easley and Pickens sharing the 5th zone. Why do they not consider this? Because it would give more to board member Alex Saitta - who just so happens to be completely against the school closings. Saitta also is the only board member who advocates cutting spending and reducing waste and wants. Why give him more power right?

• Every school board trustee in office in SC swears on a Bible with the following words "I promise to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this state and this country" ...

Article 11 section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution:

"System of free public schools and other public institutions of learning.

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."

If the "support" is to come from "The General Assembly (i.e. the State of SC Legislature) how can "a county" possibly "support" the schools - according to our State Constitution?

 • The real underlying reason a budget issue continues to come up is because of the building plan. The state must step in and assume this responsibility. I don't care if those that perpetrated it are held accountable. As balloon payments rise, this will continue to be an issue. Schools will be forced to close, teachers will lose their jobs, and children will suffer. 

 • The affected schools for proposed closure are 100% budgeted for. What you're not being told is:
 1. Admin wants a new building

 2. They want to grant yet another pay raise

 3. The district is very top heavy with admin and principals.

 4. The district wants to continue to buy wants such as ChromeOS laptops that kids are barely using, are breaking, are ancient technology in the tech world, and are severely limited in their use and functionality.

February 2016 COTU Meeting ...

Thursday February 11, 2016 at 6:30 PM will be our regular monthly meeting at:

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671

We will have our first Candidate's night with Don Joslyn who is running against Senator Martin.  We are asking him questions from the floor and he will tell us about his conservative platform.  Please come and invite your neighbor ... the meeting is open to the public.

Next meeting we will have Rex Rice who is also running for State Senator, and in April we have asked Tim Morgan a candidate for Sheriff of Pickens County.

Junius Smith
President, Conservatives of the Upstate

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Guest Speaker For February 2016 COTU Meeting ...

Don Joslyn, candidate for the SC Senate District 2 seat currently held by Larry Martin, will be the guest speaker at the next monthly meeting of Conservatives of the Upstate. 

The public is invited to attend the meeting and ask the candidate questions. 

Joslyn will also be addressing his personal campaign against coal ash dumping in Liberty.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 6:30 PM. 

The location is:

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671

Monday, February 1, 2016

About that penny sales tax in Anderson ...

An editorial from an Anderson County resident ...

According to an article from January 15, 2016 ... School District Five made a $14 million investment in improving athletic facilities at Westside and Hanna high schools. If I'm not mistaken that is approximately the total amount expected to be received from the penny sales tax passed last November. I also have read in the paper (and seen) that both of these schools have new football fields and scoreboards. I believe some HVAC work was also done at Hanna High School. According to a sign on Greenville Street, McCants is also having construction work done. Another school district is getting a rodeo arena. The District Five administrator received a 5 percent pay raise. The District Three administrator received a significant pay raise.

Since education is one of my hot buttons I have to ask, is any of the one-cent tax going into academics? There must be, or should be some money going into the classroom. Am I wrong? I have to ask these questions because I see so many problems in Anderson County that can be traced back to the lack of education. No, I am not blaming the schools or the teachers. It is another problem that requires another discussion at another time. Until then perhaps an article will be published explaining the new expenditures for academics.

The question here is: They raised the sales tax to build stadiums? Or for that matter to build anything? How does building something help test scores?