Laurens school tax hike defeated 77% margin!

Our friend Dianne Belsom reports:

Last night we showed what WE THE PEOPLE CAN DO when we work together! In spite of being out-spent on a massive scale, plus being slandered repeatedly, and many who were threatened and bullied or otherwise intimidated, not to mention all of our sign and banner theft, we still pulled off an incredible win of the Establishment vs. the People. (For those outside of Laurens County, we voted down by a 77% margin a massive tax hike Bond Referendum to build a new high school.)

And a news spot from FoxNews:

Residents in Laurens County School District 55 overwhelmingly voted no on Tuesday to a bond referendum that would have issued up to $109 million in bonds for the construction of a new high school.

The school district’s board of trustees held a press conference in late August to speak out in support of the referendum.

Those in support said the funds for the new school will reduce overcrowding and provide a “21st century educational environment” for ninth through twelfth grade students.

The trustees said if the new school is constructed, Laurens Middle School will be rededicated as a new elementary facility. Some of the district’s existing school would “have a new home in separate areas of the current high school campus,” a trustee said.

There are three possible locations on the table for the new high school: property across from the current school on Highway 76, property off Raider Road, and property adjacent to the Bi-Lo shopping center. The trustees said there are additional properties that meet their needs if they cannot secure one of these at a fair price.

The trustees said the bonds, if approved, will cost the average family approximately $20 per month in home and personal property taxes.

Unofficial results released shortly after 8:45 p.m. revealed a failed bond referendum. Officials say 1,961 voted in favor and 6,559 were opposed.

By |September 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tom Davis NOT running for SC Governor

From Tom’s FB page:

I had promised to announce what my plans would be for the 2018 gubernatorial race right after Labor Day, so I am – though I feel a bit self-conscious making such a political statement at a time when so many South Carolinians are terrified of Hurricane Irma and the havoc it might bring. In that regard, I will continue to do whatever I can to assist others in preparing for that storm and be prepared as I have in the past to help them recover from whatever it might bring.

As for the 2018 gubernatorial race, I want to start by thanking all of the people from across the state who took the time in recent weeks to offer a word of support or advice; I am truly humbled and honored. But I’ve concluded the timing simply isn’t right for me to run a statewide campaign. From a family standpoint, a business standpoint and a personal standpoint, I’m just not in a position to undertake an endeavor of this magnitude. This became evident to me during conversations with my family, friends and constituents over the past few days.

From a political standpoint, in thinking about this, I’ve tried to be honest about where and how, at this particular point in time, I can do the most good for our state. And the answer to that lies in this: South Carolina government is dominated by the legislature, and recent history has shown that reform-minded governors without legislative support can’t get much accomplished.

I don’t want to tilt at windmills; I want to get things done, and I’m in a unique position in the State Senate to impact public policy on behalf of individual liberty and free markets – in some cases to a greater degree than if I were in the governor’s office. The role I played in shaping the recent debates on pension reform, the gas tax, and highway spending is evidence of that.

I think there’s an argument to be made that taxpayers are better served right now by having me exactly where I am, especially if we can get more reform-minded lawmakers elected in 2018 and 2020. And so that’s where I will be for the foreseeable future. There’s a lot of hard work ahead for all of us, but together we can get it done.

By |September 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Cathy Rogers takes action!

So proud that my friend Cathy Rogers participated in some individual activism this week at her local school board meeting, speaking up on behalf of her community!

From SHJ:

After a lengthy discussion from both residents and Spartanburg District 7 trustees Tuesday night, Drayton Mills Elementary School still has its name.

As with the vote that gave the new elementary school its name, board members voted 5-4 against a motion to rescind the school’s name and continue with further discussion. The motion to rescind was made by Vernon Beatty and seconded by Rick Gray.

At the August meeting to name the school, the four African American trustees on the board expressed dismay at using the Drayton name because of the Drayton family’s ties to slavery. Beatty said inclusion of the Drayton name in any form was unacceptable.

“I do challenge my colleagues, which one of you will say we didn’t get this right, we didn’t do this right, let’s start over,” Beatty said Tuesday. “Which one of our colleagues will be like John McCain and do the right thing.”

“I would hate for my granddaughter to look up at me and say, ’Papa, what were you thinking 10 years ago,” Gray said.

Several trustees who supported the Drayton Mills Elementary name stood their ground. They argued that Drayton Mills Elementary is enough of a distance from the Drayton family and any possible connection to slavery.

“You certainly know I’m not a racist. My parents taught me all people are equal in God’s eyes. This is not a racial issue, it never was,” said Andy Hayes. “We made an intention to make that detachment from that man, from that name. That’s the effort we did with the name.”

The trustees’ discussion was preceded by about 45 minutes of citizen comments about the name issue.

Nine residents spoke, with some supporting the school name and others urging trustees to reconsider it and unanimously choose a new name.

Cathy Rogers said she had lived in the Drayton Mills community her whole life and her family had a long history there.

“I appeal to you, please do not change the new elementary school’s name. We were so proud when we saw that,” she said. “This name gives us a wonderful sense of community, the community where we live.”

GO CATHY!

There a bit more to read at the link above.

By |September 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

So you want to put together a Bug Out Bag?

Have you wanted to learn how to put together a bug out bag ? (a bag you stash in your car or closet that you can grab and go if you have to get out of your house in an emergency – what you need to survive for a week).

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have our minds on “what if…?” and a bug out bag gives you a lot of surety in a potentially nerve wracking situation. I’m going to host a small class led by my friend Brian Adams either Sunday afternoon 9/17 or 9/24 here in Spartanburg. No charge, just a good neighborly thing. Message or call me to get on the list, details to follow!

By |September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Will Convicted S.C. Representative Bring Down State-Wide System?

MyrtleBeachSC.com links up some names from Friday’s guilty plea from Jim Merrill …

After telling everyone in the S.C. House of Representatives and the S.C. Senate that the charges against him were flawed and indicated he planned to fight the allegations, a former S.C. House majority leader walked into court this past Friday, September 1st and announced to all that he had been co-operating undercover with the F.B.I. and the State Law Enforcement Division since March 2017 as an informant against other corrupt S.C. legislators.

“I plead guilty, sir,” the Charleston Area Representative (and powerful state political consultant)  Jim Merrill told Judge Robert E. Hood on Friday.

Merrill’s sentence will have him serve just one year in jail, but he has agreed to the same co-operation promised by Harrell.  Harrell’s cooperation lead to both Merrill’s conviction and the indictment of Rep. Rick Quinn, of Lexington, S.C.  Quinn is also one of the most powerful lawmakers in the state.

Merrill is accused of failing to report money he received from companies, not for profits (example: Chambers of Commerce) and groups that lobby legislators, using his office for financial gain, failing to file reports of campaign-related spending from the House Republican Caucus and overcharging for his work.  Had he not pleaded,  Merrill was looking at serving 30 years in prison.

The article goes on to tie Merrill to other state pols, including:

Rep. Rick Quinn

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson

Santee Cooper chief executive Lonnie Carter

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster

HUGH LEATHERMAN, President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate

LUKE RANKIN, District 33 S.C. Senator

ALAN CLEMMONS Myrtle Beach Area S.C. State Representative

 

 

By |September 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

GSP Republican Women meeting Sept 11 – Senator Tom Davis!

Men welcome to attend!  Please mark your calendar … September 11, 6:30 dessert social, 7:00 meeting

Pelham Batesville Fire Dept.

2761 South Highway 14, Greer

 

By |September 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Corruption seems to be the currency in Columbia. Catch up.

I recently found a series of 4 articles written by Phil Noble that lay out some recent history with corruption in Columbia.  Worth reading if you want a bigger picture of how we got where we are.

It is hard to really grasp if you come into this new, from another state, or just have not been keeping up.

Check out Phil’s webpage where you can sign up to receive all his columns.

S.C. Political Corruption, Part 1: Jim Merrill

Political Corruption, Part 2: How We Got Here

S.C. Political Corruption, Part 3: Courson, McMaster, and the Quinns

S.C. Political Corruption, Part 4: Image, Ethics, Business and South Carolina’s Future

 

By |September 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ex-SC Rep. Merrill agrees to be witness for FBI/SLED

Reported by TheState.com:

Former House Majority Leader and Republican insider Rep. Jim Merrill will help the FBI and SLED in an ongoing corruption probe targeting his colleagues in the S.C. State House.

Merrill, 50, who represented Berkeley County, pleaded guilty Friday to using his office for personal profit. His plea to one count of misconduct in office, a misdemeanor, came shortly after 11 a.m. at the Richland County courthouse in Columbia.

The plea agreement, signed Thursday, requires Merrill to help the FBI, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, agents with the State Law Enforcement Division and special prosecutor David Pascoe in their investigation involving members of the South Carolina General Assembly.

Merrill had been facing 30 criminal counts and accused of pocketing more than $1 million. Under the charge to which he pleaded guilty, he could have been sentenced to up to one year in prison.

In return for his guilty plea on the one charge, Merrill:

▪  Will have 29 counts of various criminal charges against held in abeyance while the public corruption probe continues. If Merrill provides “subtantial assistance” to state and federal prosecutors, those charges will be dismissed at a later date. If Merrill doesn’t live up to the plea agreement, he faces prosecution on those charges.

The charges, made in December in separate indictments, include specific counts of taking money from various groups to influence legislation on their behalf and using his office to make money. The charges date to 2002.

▪  Resigned the S.C. House seat he has held for 17 years. His resignation was effective just before Friday morning’s hearing. Merrill had been suspended since his December indictment.

▪  Agreed to testify before grand juries and in court proceedings.

▪  Agreed to submit to lie detector tests.

Read more at the link above.  Bobby Harrell made his plea deal in 2014. Hopefully it won’t take THREE YEARS for justice to roll out after Merrill’s plea deal.

 

 

By |September 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

SC Rep. Merrill resigns

WHY are these things taking so dang long?

TheState.com reports:

Former House Majority Leader S.C. Rep. Jim Merrill submitted a resignation letter to the House Speaker’s office on Thursday, a day before a hearing during which he might plead guilty in an ongoing public corruption probe.

In the letter, provided to The State newspaper by the House Speaker’s office, Merrill said his resignation would take place Friday at 10 a.m.

That is an hour before a hearing for Merrill, a Berkeley County Republican, at the Richland County courthouse.

Merrill, 50, was indicted in December on 30 criminal charges of various ethics violations and misconduct in office dating from 2002.

Since 2002?  How deficient is our ethics situation here in SC, that 15 years later, there is action?

Guilty pleas in state court are usually the subject of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between prosecution and defense and are only revealed at a public hearing.

Another possibility in the case is that Merrill might be making some kind of motion at Friday’s hearing.

As a consummate insider with knowledge of how money fuels politics in the Palmetto State and ties to the workings of the Legislature and lobbyists, Merrill is in a position to give prosecutors plenty of information about how to convict his fellow lawmakers who might have committed criminal offenses.

Well, let’s hope so.

 

By |August 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Who should pay for SC public employees’ retirement?

Good read by Cassie Cope at TheState.com.  Complicated issue, but I really have ZERO faith that our current legislators can do anything … they are so hopeless at solving and really hopeless at getting out of the way 🙁

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster wants to offer only a 401(k)-style retirement plan for new state workers, making those employees — now covered by the financially troubled state pension system — primarily responsible for saving and investing for their retirement.

In a letter made public Tuesday, the Republican told a special panel of House and Senate members that he wants to abolish the state’s current pension systems.

The benefits those systems promise have put the state and its taxpayers on the hook for paying billions in underfunded pensions for state and local government workers, including teachers.

But advocates for state workers warned that ending one of the few perks for underpaid workers would lead to an exodus of employees at already understaffed state agencies.

“Our state workforce is already fragile,” said Carlton Washington, director of the S.C. State Employees Association, adding, “Pay is extremely low. Too many critical jobs are going unfilled.”

The current pension systems have promised to pay roughly $20 billion in retirement benefits that the state does not have on hand.

To reduce that debt, the House-Senate panel earlier this year approved increasing the money that public-sector workers and their employers — state agencies, local governments and school systems, funded by S.C. taxpayers — must put into the pension system.

Now, that same panel is deciding what further changes need to be made to shore up public workers’ retirement.

Ending the pension system?

McMaster urged the special panel to cut off the state pension plans to new employees.

Now, the S.C. Retirement System provides pension benefits to retired state workers, local government workers and S.C. teachers. The separate Police Officers’ Retirement System pays pension benefits to retired law enforcement officers.

The pension systems guarantee a set retirement benefit to public workers. If payments into the pension system — by workers and their employers — and profits from the system’s investments do not cover those benefits, S.C. taxpayers are on the hook to make up the difference.

McMaster wants the state to shift to a 401(k)-style retirement plan, where more of the responsibility to save for retirement would be on the employee.

“I strongly believe that we must maintain our commitment to the 11.5 percent of South Carolina’s population that relies on SCRS and PORS (the current pension systems), while protecting taxpayers from bearing any additional financial burden caused by inaction or indecision,” McMaster wrote.

McMaster also urged the House-Senate panel to consider closing the state retirement plan to local government and school employees, saying those workers “may find more suitable defined contribution plans through the free marketplace.”

There’s a bit more to read at the link above.

By |August 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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