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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Islamic Indoctrination in our Public Schools?

Islamic Indoctrination in our Public Schools? Say It Ain't So...

Children across the USA are learning about Islam in our public schools and while most parents have no objection to their child learning about other religions, they do have a problem with bias and favoring one religion over another. The problem in our public schools is that the textbooks, curriculum, tests, and standards are not educating children but rather indoctrinating children. South Carolina is not immune to this indoctrination going on.

In Summerville, SC parents objected to a worksheet that had fill in the blanks from a lesson on a Islamic child . Here is the fill in the blank worksheet: 

“Islam is a religion of ____________________. If I believe in Islam, I am called a ______________. In the Islamic religion, we call God _________________. I may dress differently than other kids. I feel __________ that a few people of my religion committed terrorist acts. I do not believe in terrorists idea of a holy war. Answers: (peace, Muslim, Allah,bad)

The issue with most parents that are objecting to these lesson plans is they seem to be biased. In the majority of the cases this is happening in middle school grades where World Religions are introduced according to the states' Social Studies standards. There are plenty of examples online that you can research showing that children as young as the age of 10 are having to memorize the 5 Pillars of Islam. However, no one can find evidence of a public school requiring children having to quote the Ten Commandments or Jesus' Great Commission. There have been instances where children are being required to learn the Shahada an Islamic acceptance of their religion which states, “There is no god but Allah Muhammad is the messenger of God.” By saying this aloud one has accepted this religion.
However, children are not aloud to recite John 3:16. Students have even been required to write in calligraphy the Islamic prayer in Arabic. In many of these instances if the parent opted the child out...the child received a failing grade for that assignment.

In Powdersville,SC One set of parents are being pro-active and know their daughter is getting ready to study Islam and wanted to opt their child out of these lessons because they feared there would be requirements made of their daughter that went against their religious beliefs and they were told by the Principal initially her child could not opt out. She is protesting as we speak.

What can you do? 
1. We have started a petition on change.org to propose legislation to stop this from happening in SC.

2.We also are asking for you to call SC Superintendent Molly Spearman at 

Tell her you want her to make it clear to all county school boards in SC that a parent has a right to opt out of any Islamic lesson plan they think is objectionable to their religious beliefs...much like parents can opt out of Sexual Education lesson plans. 

3.We also are asking Superintendent Molly Spearman to allow parents to be part of this Social Studies review of the standards. According to the SC Department of Education a Social Studies Standard review is coming up soon. 

4.We have also started a Facebook Group you can follow 

Monday, February 27, 2017

School District Of Pickens County Denying Citizens Rights To Be Notified

Several citizens have requested to be on the email notification list of the School District Of Pickens County. John Eby, Communications Specialist for SDPC has specifically denied COTU members and other organizations that they find objectionable while allowing "media outlets" and "agreeable organizations" to be notified.
_________________________________________

We have been advised that our regular public posting of our meeting dates, times and locations on the district website fulfills the legal requirements of the statute you referred to.

John Eby
School District of Pickens County
Public Information Specialist
_________________________________________

Sometimes these "news organizations" don't place these notifications in their papers or on their websites. Several have paid access.

Seriously? 

How hard is it to just add someone's name to a list of automated emails?

Both Senators from Pickens County are on the following legislation:


Sponsors: Senators Larry Martin, Thomas Alexander (+ others)

SECTION 30-4-80, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA

(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

Approved the 8th day of June, 2015, Nikki Haley

School District Of Pickens County Board Meeting Tonight ...

The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 5:00PM for a work session prior to the regular monthly meeting at 6:00PM.

All meetings will be held at:

Curtis A. Sidden Administrative Building
Griffin Mill Road, Easley, SC.

 Executive Session will take place at the end of the public meeting.

Link to agenda and other docs:

A conversation you need to see ..

School board member Philip Bowers has been on a tear recently on social media - making fun of taxpayers, calling people names, and belittling former teachers. 

On January 13, 2017, Bowers commented that he didn't cash his checks for his stipend on the school board since he started. 

Through quite a bit of work and back and forth using FOIA requests with the school district and the district accountant, we finally have the truth. 

What is the motivation to question a teacher's pension like this or the motivation to lie about cashing stipend checks?  

Oh, lest we forget, it's coming from the mouth of a currently seated school board member.




Saturday, February 25, 2017

On this day, February 25, 2013 ...

When you vote this November, please do not forget that on February 25, 2013, the school board of Pickens County under the leadership of Brian Swords voted AGAINST using Jesus' name in prayer. Swords even used his board correspondence time to relate a story from his childhood about stepping on a snake - comparing prayer to that memory. 

The following is the speech Rusty Smith gave at the Pickens County School Board meeting that night ...

I ask each board member tonight, even though you already know how you are going to vote in a few minutes …

Are YOU praying?

God, specifically asks us to pray …

This is from Pslams, a book of praises and prayers written by a king, dedicated to The One True King, the God of Israel …

Psalm 18:3 …

"I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies."

This is from the book of Romans, a book written to the hardest of those to convert and the ones that were caught up in rules, regulations, and rituals.

Romans 10:13

"Everyone who calls upon the Lord will be saved."

Notice these passages don't say whisper. When I call someone on the phone, I'm not silent expecting them to know the purpose of my call.

Jesus didn't command the disciples at the Lord's Supper,

"Now say this inside your head."

At the sermon on the mount, Jesus didn't whisper to the thousands gathered.

Romans 14:10 …

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God."

One of my favorite stories as a child was about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the book of Daniel Chapters 1–3.

The three are not just biblically recorded, but historically recorded and their story known for their exclusive devotion AND PRAYER to God.

In particular, they are known for being saved by divine intervention from Babylonian execution - being burned alive in a fiery furnace.

When faced with execution, the three said …

Daniel 3:16

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the execution furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Soldiers of the King’s army were ordered to firmly bind the fully clothed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and cast them in the blazing furnace.

When Nebuchadnezzar saw what appeared to be four men in the furnace, unbound and walking about, he called to them to come out.

After this, King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the power of God, even going as far as to make a decree, whereby any nation who says anything against the God of the Jews is an act of war.

School board, we are showing you that your troops believe the decree of Nebuchadnezzar.

Where is your decree that anyone who says anything against the God of Israel is an act of war?

Are you praying?

Rusty Smith

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rex Rice To Pass 7th School Board Member Onto Governor; Breaking Campaign Promises ...


Transcript from linked video above from 2016 during Rex Rice's campaign:

"I'm going to tell you that if I'm elected, I'm gonna sponsor the legislation to do that. 

In addition to that though, I'm gonna have in that legislation; recall legislation so that if the school board did something that is way out of line, such as closing down schools, that the general public didn't wanna do that, by petition the public could go to that school board and ask them to reconsider that question. 

I think that's very important. If I draft that legislation, I will take it around the county, I will hold town hall meetings throughout the county to make sure that we put a piece of legislation together that everybody can get on board with. 

I think that's one problem we have right now is we've got a number of people that want the same thing. They want our kids to have a great education but they all come from different sides. The ultimate thing is to get the education for the kids. They think they're different but I think a lot of them are the same."

Did you attend a town hall meeting? Are you on board with this? How does adding a board member educate a kid?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pickens County GOP Meeting ...

The monthly meeting of the Pickens County GOP will be at 7:00PM Thursday February 16, 2017 at

Easley First Wesleyan Church
104 West 6th St
Easley SC
The guest speaker: State Representative Josh Putnam.

Precinct reorganization is just around the corner.

COTU NOTE: Pickens County Senator Rex Rice is also expected to attend and will discuss opposition to the 7th school board seat.

Summary: Rice presented a redistricting map to add a 7th seat on the school board in 2018 by election in Dacusville. This comes after holding a secret unadvertised meeting last week with "buddies in Dacusville" where very few were in attendance and no one was invited. It also comes after he promised other meetings with other groups,. He stated he's sending the bill onto the governor with no extra input.

February 2017 Pickens County Council Meeting

 

Monday, February 13, 2017

History Of The Pickens County Rec Fund ...


History of Recreation Fund in Pickens County

A FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request was sent to Pickens County regarding a speech that Pickens County Attorney, Ken Roper gave to the County Council at their last retreat before they went into Executive Session. 

A second FOIA has been sent to request each council member by name and expenditure from their accounts by amount and to which entity received said amount.

A document was sent back entitled, “Pickens County Recreation Fund-Background.” 

Here is a summary of this presentation:

In 1993, a 1 mil tax was mandated for the recreational funding in Pickens County. Council appointed an Advisory Committee. A written manual with procedures that laid out the manner in which these funds were to be administered was created. Entities would have to apply for these funds by following the bylaws of said manual. Any rollover of funds not used for that year had to be approved by Council. Strict guidelines were put in place as to what constituted "best practices" for funding certain recreational requests. Some items such as bleachers and landscaping expenses were not considered priority funding. Items such as: playing field land acquisition, walking paths, picnic shelters, etc were considered priority. A competitive bidding clause was added into the manual's procedures. The main beneficiary of these Recreational Funds were the municipalities.

After 2006, the appointed Advisory Committee was allowed to expire and the County Council decided they could best be in charge of making decisions on the allocation of funds. In 2007, each individual council person began to be in charge of directing the funds to their districts. There was an annual budget of $300,000 designated as RECREATION FUNDS. Council, at their individual discretion and without full vote of the council, had 1/6th of that total ...which equated to $50,000 a year each.

When this "new allocation method" went into effect and there were no written guidelines also came no appointed advisory committee to provide oversight. Some of these elected council members began thinking of these funds as “theirs”. The only guideline in place was that funds had to go to non-profit groups. Funds became to be used for other purposes than recreation. Council members even began to use funds to curry voting favor. Some funds were used to pay entities that benefited other council members.

Some council began to believe it was fine to purchase real property with their allocation. Council realized problems were arising from that decision.  A full vote of council to approve any land purchases was added as another clause.

In 2013, the fund was given the name “Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality Fund.”. A resolution was passed that these funds could be given out by the individual councilman as long as it "looked wise" to the other councilmen. Noteworthy, the whole council was not being advised of the individual members allocation of their funds in their district.

The council's lawyer has now advised the council that what is taking place is in violation of the Home Rule Act SC Code Section 4-9-660 that “council shall deal with county officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the county administrator solely through the administrator, and neither the council nor its members shall give orders or instructions to any such officers or employees.” 

Section 4-9-620 says, “council shall employ an administrator who shall be the administrative head of the county government and shall be responsible for the administration of all the departments of the county government which the council has the authority to control.”

According to FOIA the current balance status as of 12/31/2016 the Recreation funds are:

District 1 
$119,849 ( no allocations recently)

District 2 
$25,033.05 (Six Mile and Central received $20 thousand each)

District 3 
$11,050.14 ( $17,000 for renovations at Senior Center Auditorium, $20,485.15 for a tractor at Hagood Mill 

District 4 
$107,018.50 (recently funds were dispersed for Liberty Civic Auditorium, marketing of events, equipment, curtains and ongoing services by a private production company. In the final days before the new councilman took over, there were directives made toward the School District, the Library, the Town of Central, Easley Museum, Upstate Equine Club, Clemson Music Festival and Easley Soccer Club) One such allocation paid for Chastain Road Elementary students to go on a field trip to Washington DC - is that of local benefit or local tourism to ALL constituents in that district?)

District 5 
$71,587 (no allocations recently)

District 6 
$58,717.80 This fund pays for a county employee who is manager of recreation in Dacusville area as there is no municipal recreation department in that area.

The fact that each member gets to use “their” funds for "their" district based on "their feelings”... is not good governance. The new council should go back to setting up stricter guidelines on how this money can be allocated. It is understood that when the old system was in place that sometimes the smaller districts did not get their “fair” share when the whole council had to vote on the allocation of funds. That could be a problem. But, leaving the decision up to one council person can lead to garnering votes for re-election. Money does buy votes! Council should control this funding, which is our tax dollars, in a more ethical way. No tax dollar should be treated as a private stash. 

Remain vigilant taxpayers! 

We need to all be watchdogs and remember you do have the power of FOIA!

*Written by members of COTU with special thanks to Johnnelle Raines.

* initial request regarding Southern Wesleyan University funding

Friday, February 10, 2017

Letter To SC Governor Henry McMaster To Veto 7th School Board Legislation ...

Please contact governor McMaster and tell him that the people of Pickens County do not want a 7th seat on the school board.

You may use this template if you like:

Dear Governor McMaster,

Congratulations on becoming South Carolina's 117th Governor.

The people of Pickens County are proud to have you serve; especially with your knowledge of law - serving our state as SC Attorney General for 8 years.

The people of Pickens County want your office to be aware of a local legislation bill that may cross your desk to add a 7th school board trustee to the School District Of Pickens County School Board.

These are the legal concerns we have with this bill and therefore request you veto the measure:

1) This is the third time taxpayers and those truly involved with and that care for our community have had to deal with this affront by a special interest group. The measure was soundly defeated in town hall style attendance meetings by a margin of 18 to 4 speakers with 100+ in attendance.

2) This local legislation was NOT supported by our local legislature. Only 2 of 4 of our legislative delegation House representatives voted for the measure to pass on to the Senate. It should be noted that another NAY vote came from our neighboring county. (Rep. Jonathan Hill )

3) The legislation unconstitutionally has a political representative in an office longer than ANY elected position in the state (5 years). The position (according to the bill) would be appointed for five years then move to an elected position. The people of Pickens County will have no vote.

4) The bill, after the appointed trustee term expires, will be an At Large seat. This violates The Federal Voter Rights Act as minorities and rural areas in the county would be disenfranchised and excluded entirely from the process. This should be akin to your support of President Trump as the seventh School board trustee election would be like Southern California having the say in our presidential election. So would Easley, our most populous (and most liberal area) have control of this seat into perpetuity.

5) Based on population, this is the most likely weight on the board if passed ...

- Easley carries 2.8 seats
- Daniel carries 1.85 seats
- Pickens carries 1.45 seats
- Liberty carries 0.9 seats

6) On February 16, 2017, a vote was held at the Pickens County GOP monthly meeting. All 23 in attendance (that could vote) raised their hands in OPPOSITION to this measure.

As you can see, there are multiple issues with this bill that deserve your scrutiny and veto.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Junius Smith
Pickens, SC

CONTACT HERE @ THE LINK BELOW:





The Liberal Paradise ...


"... A "Liberal Paradise" would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only Law Enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed exist… It's called prison."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Phoenix, Arizona

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Longer than ...

The legislation to add a seventh School Board trustee in Pickens County is unconstitutional as presented to the Senate.

How?
A majority of  the House Delegation failed to vote for its passage onto the SC senate (a requirement for local legislation) AND  it unconstitutionally has a political representative in an office longer than ANY elected position in the state (5 years). The position (according to the bill) would be appointed for five years then move to an elected position.

View the bill and the "5 year appointed position" clause here:


As our new governor is also our former Attorney General, it should be clear that this bill is flawed and should be rejected.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Why Senator Rice Should Oppose "The 7th Seat" For 7 Simple Reasons

3+2+1+0=7
this is the math
that Collins wants
you to like.

1) House Bill 3346 (adding a 7th board of trustees seat to Pickens County) isn't even supported by its author, Representative Davy Hiott. Upon voting to pass this local legislation, not even a majority of the Pickens County House Delegation supports it. Rep. Joshua Putnam also voted against it.

2) Is it not the irony of ironies that the very legislation Rep. Collins and Rep. Clary are trying to pass ("to get an odd number of votes on the school board") is the very dysfunction they cant solve themselves? 2 for 2 against. If passed, they are saying we also need 5 representatives from Pickens County. Maybe that 5th one can actually be an oath fulfilling Republican?

3) The basic civics lesson here is that a tie vote IS A VOTE. It means you couldn't get a majority and the measure fails.

4) Support for the 7th school board trustee has not been proven. Support for opposing this bill has been proven, not once, not twice, but three times. In 2013, with 100+ in attendance the opposition to this measure was 18-4. The 18 were uncoordinated individuals from across the county. The 4 were 2 and 2 from coordinated special interest groups ~ specifically The League Of Women Voters out of Clemson & Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County out of Easley. The second time the bill was introduced, it sat in committee because the committee determined it was against the Federal Voter Rights Act; as minorities would be disenfranchised.

5) The math doesnt add up. As the board stands now, the math by population is ...

- Easley carries 1.74 board seats
- Daniel carries 1.82 board seats
- Pickens carries 1.55 seats
- Liberty carries 0.9 seats 

Here is the most likely attendance area breakdown for the most likely 7 seat board district arrangement:

- Easley carries 2.8 seats
- Daniel carries 1.85 seats
- Pickens carries 1.45 seats
- Liberty carries 0.9 seats

Liberty is disenfranchised yet again. "Yet again" is used because several key spending votes, votes that led to severe budget deficits, were made when Liberty had no representation on the school board due to trustee Ben Trotter's resignation.

6) The county elected Senator Rice.  The special interest group that wants the 7th school board member, soas to spend more in Easley, will leave the rest of the county out in the cold. How do we know this is true? "The Easley crowd" voted to close the two rural schools "due to savings" yet they want to build new admin facilities and a new middle school - both in Easley.

7) If the 6 member format works well on Pickens County Council, and those 6 have actually achieved tax reductions due to growth of the tax base, weathering a recession wisely, AND/OR not raising taxes - what does this say about a 7th school board member other than, if its dysfuntional by an even number, it'll be twice as dysfunctional with an odd number?
 

February 2017 COTU Meeting ...

Conservatives Of The Upstate will hold its February 2017 meeting ...

Thursday February 15, 2017 @ 6:30PM
         

Blue Ridge Bible Church
769 Belle Shoals Rd
Pickens SC 29671

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Liberty about to be thrown under the school bus with 7th seat legislation ...

Everyone in the 29657 zip code is being thrown under the bus in the false narrative that is being spread by the Concerned Citizens Of Pickens County group. If you don't do something, your property taxes are likely to skyrocket. That's not a scare. It is a reality.

COTU has maintained that IF ANY ACTION needs to take place, it's best to reduce the board to 5 and give the Six Mile district to Liberty. Liberty is currently underrepresented. The math here shows that Easley will get 3 seats worth of power on the board. Meanwhile, Liberty maintains less than 1 effective population vote.

________________________________

From Voice of Pickens County ... 
(Author Henry Wilson, SDPC School Board)

"Whether or not 6 votes is better or worse than 7 is an academic discussion, because tie votes are very rare (as in 14/700 votes).

There are real differences in the distribution of representation between 6 & 7 board seat arrangements when you compare the board districts to our 4 High School attendance areas: Easley, Daniel, Pickens and Liberty.  

The attendance areas are not equally distributed across the 6 board seats.  Here is the actual distribution by HS attendance area:
- Easley carries 1.74 board seats
- Daniel carries 1.82 board seats
- Pickens carries 1.55 seats
- Liberty carries .9 seats

Here is the most likely HS attendance area breakdown for the most likely 7 seat board district arrangement:
- Easley carries 2.8 seats
- Daniel carries 1.85 seats
- Pickens carries 1.45 seats
- Liberty carries .9 seats

That is a considerable increase for the Easley attendance area!

Here is a rough breakdown of which attendance areas each State House member represents:
- Easley: Collins
- Daniel: Clary
- Pickens: Hiott
- Liberty: 90% Hiott & 10% Collins

It is crystal clear who benefits the most from changing the board to 7 seats."

"7th Board Seat bill passed the House with support from just HALF of our 4-member State House delegation:
- Gary Clary and Neal Collins voted for it
- Josh Putnam and Davey Hiott voted against the bill, even though Hiott sponsored the bill.

Changing the school board to 7 members has come up before, but has never had majority support in the community, and previously fell short of passing because our State Senators have declined to support legislation that does not adequately represent the interests of our entire community.

The bill's principle supporters, Collins and Clary, have yet to offer a consistent, fact-focused reason for the 7th board seat bill, and many now recognize the nakedly self-serving political pandering driving their efforts to pass this tragically ill-conceived legislation.

The rest of this write-up will give you some insight into the real reason Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends are pushing this bill in a practical discussion about the legislature's chronic underfunding of local schools and the inability of any level of local tax increases to compensate for the state's funding short-fall.

During the recession, state funding for education was dramatically reduced.  Since then, our economy has recovered, but state education funding is still woefully short of the state's funding obligation.

Currently, the legislature is under-funding their commitment to Pickens County schools by at least $6,000,000 or more.

Collins and Clary have both publicly stated that we should all give up on the idea that our state legislature will ever fully fund their obligation for our school, and BOTH have aligned themselves with a small group of loud tax & spender's to  push our school board toward raising local taxes to make up the state funding gap.

All these games are at the core of many local education funding issues:

- Every year the state legislature MANDATES about $1.2-1.5 MILLION in education cost increases for Pickens County

- Since the economic recovery started, the state has typically raised the per pupil rate annually, but the total increase rarely covers their mandated cost increases, and has often come at the cost of reductions in other school funding

- Most people believe the legislature's next Per Pupil rate increase will be between $40-60/pupil

- A $50/pupil increase would bring about $600k extra to SDPC, leaving a $6-900K gap for the school district to absorb

Think about that.  The legislature barely funds half the cost increases THEY mandate AND they are not even fully funding the amount state law obligated them to fund!

If that wasn't bad enough, Collins and Clary's tax & spend friends have been promoting local property tax increases since the beginning of the recession, and continue to promote any possible means for increasing taxes.

Well, anyone who thinks taxes should GO UP during a historically deep RECESSION isn't a very credible financial or economic advisor.

Now, let's talk a bit about education funding and the issues driving the tax increase debate locally.

Please recall that the district has two main budgets: operations and capital.  Thanks to Act388, the local funding for operations is solely dependent on commercial property taxes (businesses, rental property etc), while the capital budget is funded by taxes on commercial AND owner occupied homes.

If our school board raised local property taxes for operations the MAX amount allowed by the legislature, the most they could increase revenue is about $1million extra a year.

At that rate, it would take 10-15 YEARS of repeated tax increases to cover the legislature's UNFUNDED mandates AND make up for the revenue gap created by the legislature's chronic underfunding of education.

On the capital side, which funds equipment and major investments like roofs, there is a growing gap in projected spending and available funding.

Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends have repeatedly promoted local tax increases to fund capital spending.  Unfortunately, their property tax increases come with some significant  limitations.

First, their pro-tax proposals are pointedly anti-poor.  While some of the tax & spenders like to paint commercial property owners, particularly rental home owners as greedily selfish rich penny-punchers that are trying to avoid their responsibilities, the reality is that $9 out of every $10 tax increase always gets passed on to renters.  

That economic reality means that Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friends want to put a major part of our local education funding off onto some of the most financially strapped members of our community, the renting poor.

That's just terrible politics and terrible personal philosophy.

Some folks have advocated a 1 cent local option sales tax (LOST) increase as another means of raising capital funding.  According to its supporters, this option could cover the school district's need, want, wish and dream lists for capital projects AND help the district pay down debt from the recent building program.

Here is the issue: voters have to approve any LOST by referendum, and our state representatives have to pass local legislation to put it on a ballot.

Last year 5 of 6 of our school board members voted to formally ask our state legislator's to put a sales tax referendum on our 2016 ballots.  

That's right, 5 out of 6 on our school board thought voters deserved a voice in the school funding debate, and issued a formal request for our delegation to support that effort.

After repeatedly attempting to twist the issue into a poison pill situation for everyone involved, Collins, Clary and Hiott simply refused to help our schools.  

Then, in a particularly tasteless act of election-year back-stabbing Collins, Clary & Hiott issued a nakedly political hit-piece that lashed out at members of the school board who were vocally critical of the state legislature's chronic under-funding of our schools.

Lets summarize:
- Our legislator's are underfunding their obligation to PC schools by at-least $6,000,000
- Our legislators MANDATES at least $1.2-1.5 Million a year in spending increases
- Our legislators barely fund HALF the spending increases THEY mandate every year
- Our legislators stubbornly refused to give local voters a voice in tax increases 
- Our legislators routinely stand shoulder to shoulder with their tax and spend friends to passionately support every manner of local tax increase 
- Our legislators have repeatedly attacked any school board members that publicly pushes them to meet their obligation for funding local education
- Our legislators want US to believe that a 7th board seat will solve all these issues

How will a 7th board seat help address these real education funding issues for our community?

It doesn't.

All it does is pave the way for Collins and Clary to APPOINT one of their tax and spend friends to fill a 7th board seat they dreamed up to help them pass the buck on funding the state's commitment to local education.

Unfortunately, even if Collins and Clary successfully get their shill on the board, it won't be enough to dig our schools out from the hole created by our legislator's chronic under-funding of our local schools.

What can you do to put an end to this political junk?

Please contact OUR State Senator, Rex Rice at (864) 616-5657, rex@rexrice.com, or on Facebook!

Please give Senator Rice the support he needs to actively ignore Collins, Clary and their tax & spend friend's political games.  

Please offer to help Senator Rex Rice push our State House delegation to fight for full funding of the state's obligation to our schools.

Unless you take immediate action, this bill could be passed this week!

Monday, February 6, 2017

February Pickens County Council Meeting ...

PICKENS COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING
2017 SCHEDULE

Council will meet the first Monday of each month at 6:30PM in the Council Auditorium
at:
Administration Facility
222 McDaniel Ave.
Pickens, SC 29671


LINK TO AGENDA: 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Named, so it can be spent ...

I just received my agenda for the County Council meeting Monday night.  Item #12 Second reading of Ordinance no. 526 Establishing conditions  and procedures for the declaration of a state of emergency within Pickens County and for the operation of County Government subsequent thereto or how to legally take $45 million dollars from the people of Pickens County.  

This was the whole purpose for COTU meeting with County Attorney, Ken Roper. 

In other words, the County is making all this over-collection legal by telling you exactly what they are going to spend the money on after the fact, and even naming the amount that they have taken from the people.  Some of the things they have not considered is that they have already by vote committed the money to a county jail for which they are using "a letter from the state" to justify.  They have no money left, but they probably will clean up the budget and put this ordinance in so they can collect more money from the people.(another $23 million)

When this comes up, we need to object as the amount is excessive and has already been partly spent on other things.  In fact, they spent $160,000+ of the over-collection in last years budget because they spent too much.  

This is what many thieves call "covering your tracks" 

Junius Smith
President, COTU

Saturday, February 4, 2017

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

COTU Meets With Pickens County ....

On January 31, 2017 Conservatives of the Upstate members Johnnelle Raines (Board member) Carol Smith (Board Member / Secretary) and Junius Smith (President) met with the Pickens County Attorney Ken Roper, Pickens County Administrator Gerald Wilson, and the County Information Specialist, Lauren Gilstrap to discuss the concerns that we had about over-collecting by the County of $45 million dollars since 1991, and seven other items that we felt were violations of our State Constitution and statutory laws ..

We sincerely thank the county for this opportunity. Here are our thoughts and we hope to continue to work with the county to understand these issues going forward.

The Conservatives of the Upstate contend that the County Council has over collected $45 million dollars from 1991 to now and should be refunded to the people per SC Law 12-43-285. The County feels that SC law 12-43-296 supersedes SC 12-43-285 and gives the County the supreme right to violate the 285 law, and provide the County with a 6 month slush fund of $23 million dollars to be used for emergencies like an earthquake, tornado, etc.. County Attorney, Ken Roper maintained that funds over collected before 12-43-296 was enacted fell into this category. We disagree. We also disagree that 12-43-296 gives the County Council such a broad range of funds quoting the amount as “being reasonable” $23 million is not reasonable and is simply an excuse to say the money was not misappropriated. The Council has shown it cannot be trusted with such a large amount of money as they have currently designated the money for a new jail which is in deference to their whole argument.

The number must also be arbitrary because it is said to represent 6 months of government operation for the county in the case of emargency. The county budget is $56 million. $23 million is 41% of the annual budget. The "emergency fund" also doesn't take into account that we'd get no State or Federal assistance.

The Conservatives of the Upstate pointed out that another $22 million dollars (approximately) had been over-collected prior to SC Law 12-43-296 even being enacted. The money had been spent on various unbudgeted items like grading of the industrial park to donations to the Boy Scouts and horticulture for the main street in Pickens for a festival. The revenue for these items was collected by the “conservative approach Council makes toward estimating revenues” as quoted in nearly every audit report since 1991 and probably before that.

Why do we use 1991 as the base year? 

 It was around that year that Junius Smith went through every reassessment bill in the County and found that the County had gained 13% when the allowable amount was 1%. This type of gain was being realized every time a reassessment was being held in the County. Junius Smith informed the Auditor, Mr. George Bryant, as all this research was done in the Auditor’s office. There were other irregularities found during this Audit.

The delinquent tax account was being used improperly: Every time a citizen used their right to protest their property tax, the money was pulled from the main body of funds which lowered the figure for the total amount used to calculate whether the reassessment had over-collected on the 1%. The same is true on the new formula provided to calculate “millage rollback” furnished by Ken Roper to us for this meeting. Junius Smith was told that some of this was corrected, but the money had already been over-collected and was never refunded and is part of the money they have either spent or have today.

One million dollars was paid to the County ($400,000) and School Board ($600,0000) by Duke Energy after the budget was formulated and the people charged the tax on the erroneous amount. Mr. Bryant was quoted as saying he had called the Department of Revenue and it was their opinion that the money had to be refunded to the people. It never was refunded.

It is also our opinion that the recreational fund has been operated in error. Donating a track and tennis court to a church supported school smacks right to the heart of the separation of church and state. We believe such a transaction is unconstitutional. It does not matter from which governmental fund the money was donated - either tourism or county recreation, we feel it to be unconstitutional and favors one church over the other. (1st amendment of the US Constitution). We also question the return on investment. Other recreation funds used in Liberty $60,000+ netted less than $1700 in revenue.

We feel there is no need for a county recreation fund. It is wasteful and has been shown to be a slush fund for reelection.

Going forward the Council has toyed with funding items for Tri-County Tech. The latest is a $6.5 million dollar charge for a building on the campus. It is the opinion of the Conservatives of the Upstate that this is a State responsibility under Article 11 Section 3 and should not burden the people of Pickens County. Our report shows only 18% of the students at Tech are from Pickens County. In addition, Pickens County has spent tens of millions of dollars building two Career Centers, equipping and staffing them which was Tech”s original mission and its reason for being. 

In summary, The Conservatives of the Upstate believe the County owes the people of Pickens County $45 million dollars payable to the property owners. We would settle if the Council would put the $23 million on the ballot and let the people have a say with their money, abolish the recreation fund expenditures until such time as Pickens County has its own recreation department, stop any donations to church supported schools, stop any donations or payments to Tri County Tech, and do away with slush funds and only have reserves of money to be spent only in specific, critical areas like gas and oil. It is further recommended that budgetary percents like collectibility % be modified to reflect what is happening now and in the past and prevented from making huge gains so as to build slush funds. All this would prevent costly legal fees to make the county compliant to state standards and gain the confidence of the people.

The oath of elected representatives is to “preserve, protect, and defend the constitutions of the US and State” and the greater knowledge is this:

Luke 3:12-13 

"Then Came the tax collectors to be baptized, and said unto Him, Teacher what shall we do? and He said unto them, 'Exact no more than that which is appointed you.'"