I don’t know Cherry Laurens, but she writes a GREAT Letter to the Editor in today’s SHJ:
Spartanburg County School District 5 is asking its residents to rebuild Byrnes High School for $71 million. That is a lot of money for any project.
Dorman High School was built for $65 million. This isnâ€™t a case of competing with the Joneses. We do not have any reason to compete. Byrnes is an excellent school in its own right. Byrnes is a strong school for athletics, the arts and academics. That is more than enough reason for students and the community to be proud of our school.
Byrnes High School is in need of upgrading. There is a lot of congestion in the main areas of the schools, and small, cramped classrooms. There are also problems with some handicap access. Security, safety and traffic flows are also problems the school faces.
However, I think these problems can be solved with a little bit of ingenuity, not rebuilding nearly the whole school.
The school district is asking us to pay for a capacity increase of 500 students, and it expects to need more room in fewer than 20 years. In other words, it wants a $71 million Band-Aid. That is a very expensive Band-Aid.
How about the novel idea of using a bit of creativity to create a durable long-term solution? What if we were to actually plan ahead for the future instead of just trying to fix the here-and-now to get us through the next 20 years?
Keep in mind that 10 years for school planning is a very short time, so only looking 20 years ahead doesnâ€™t get us very far. By the time this bond would be paid off, it would be time to start planning again for the next project.
Now THIS was interesting!!!
Tonight Tommy Dimsdale and I went precinct walking in Clifdale. The first woman who opened the door to speak with us is named Donna. She was wearing a shirt like this. With blue pants and red sandals with sparkly stars. And if THAT wasn’t enough, she was wearing blue earrings in the shape of the state of South Carolina with a palmetto tree on each one!!! She is very excited about organizing her precinct!
You too can share stories like this. Get out and walk a precinct with us! Ask Bill Conley for more info!
At our July meeting we had the press in attendance … Alexia Campbell and Reena Flores of the National Journal were spending a few days in the Upstate reporting on immigration.
Here is their story on the Spartanburg Tea Party, with myself, Tommy Dimsdale, and Bill Conley being interviewed.
CLICK HERE to for links to the entire series of SC articles reported on during those few days.
We are blessed in Spartanburg to now have TWO Councilmen committed to transparency and consistent, ongoing communication with voters in the County.
In addition to Roger Nutt who has been putting out newsletters and videos from the start of his first term, Justin Bradley is already beginning his outreach.
CLICK HERE to read Justin’s latest newsletter.
This issue’s topics are the Local Government Fund and the Courthouse.
CLICK HERE to go to Justin’s website and sign up for his email list and receive this newsletters yourself.
The Local Government Fund: As I discussed many times during the campaign, our state leaders are placing our counties in a tough position with numerous mandates and failing to comply with state law to fully fund the local government fund. The issue reached a new level this week with word leaking that the chair of the House Ways and Means committee is considering eliminating the local government fund completely, but of course leaving the counties stuck with the mandates. I wrote an article this week outlining the issue which was published in a statewide blog. You can read the full post here. This only harms the taxpayers and our employees, and we will need your help to keep pressing this issue.
The Courthouse: Another issue that ties directly in with unfunded mandates is the issues with our county courthouse. You have probably seen the news reports about the issues with the county courthouse. I had a chance to tour the courthouse last week and see these issues for myself firsthand. We have enormous problems, but we can address them. However, I am firm in stating that our county should put all options on the table and assess each one fully. One important point to note is that this is not just a county issue. I made the case for that here.
Courtesy of The Clarion-Ledger. . .
While some might wish that he’d just go home, Chris McDaniel is going big in his challenge of the Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate. His latest salvo is to subpoena all voting records for 46 counties.
According to the subpoena, circuit clerks in the subpoenaed counties will have to deliver “original election documentation” to the Jones County Circuit Clerk’s office by Friday. The original election documentation covered by the subpoena includes:
Democrat poll books and sign-in sheets for the primary
Republican poll books and sign-in sheets for the primary runoff
Envelopes for all absentee ballots cast in the runoff
Applications for all absentee ballots submitted for the runoff
All receipts/tapes from electronic voting machines for the runoff
Chain of custody logs for all election material from the Republican primary and runoff
Poll manager’s certificate of precinct results from the runoff
Ballot inventory or chain of custody receipts from the runoff
Any tally list, count or inventory made or performed by poll managers, county executive committee or the circuit clerk of votes casts in the runoff
Any list of Democrat voters given to runoff poll workers for the primary and runoff
All absentee ballots cast in the runoff
You can imagine the holy heck being raised in more than half the courthouses in the state.
Talk about making friends and influencing peopleâ€¦
You remember I’m sure reading about Bill Conley leading the Spartanburg County GOP’s effort to build the strength of our party through the Precinct Strategy.
A few weeks have passed and I hope that many of you have gotten voter lists from Bill and are walking neighborhoods, offering voters the opportunity to have a VOICE and a VOTE in their local party!
Tomorrow Tommy Dimsdale and I are going to walk his neighborhood. We’ll probably walk it a few times between now and the September 13 precinct organization meeting date that is set.
Wanna go for a walk with Tommy and me? Just let me know!
If you are more interested in using some of your summer days to fight the upcoming $71M tax increase in School District 5 … I am planning on walking my neighborhood and handing out flyers this weekend.
Wanna go for a walk with me? Let me know!
Calvin Cowen has this “virtual guest blog” today. He created some flyers which provide information about the upcoming $71M tax increase vote to be held on September 9 in School District 5.
If you are interested I know Calvin can arrange to get some copies to if you want to have them to hand to friends, family, neighbors in District 5 and alert them to the $71M tax increase coming their way unless they vote NO on September 9.
You can reach Calvin by email:
Throughout primary season, the National Republican Senatorial Committee in alliance with groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Partnership have treated the Republican base as their enemy.
Running scorched earth campaigns, they have attacked conservative groups, they have attacked conservative activists, and they have funded third party campaigns to paint the tea party and its candidates as racists. They have been able to win a number of primaries doing this. In conservative events around the country, conservative activists still use Mississippi as a rallying cry against the establishment.
So let us not be surprised by this news.
In every single one of the Crystal Ballâ€™s toss-up states, (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina), the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them. Democratic nominees have been running hard and staying slightly ahead, or close to, their Republican foes.
I get it everywhere I go regardless of the group Iâ€™m speaking to. Long time Republican voters ask me why they should even bother. These are not just conservative voters, but traditional Republican voters, particularly in Southern states who saw the NRSC collaborate to paint Chris McDaniel as a racist in Mississippi and saw also the harsh attacks in North Carolina against conservatives.
The Speaker of the North Carolina House is losing to an unpopular Democrat. Tom Cotton, who was basically coronated, is having trouble. Joni Ernst, a great candidate against a terrible Democrat prone to gaffes, is not as far ahead as she could be. It is a consistent pattern across the country. Wonderful people like Joni are being impacted by this.
As Jeremiah Wright said, the chickens are coming home to roost.
When you treat your base as the enemy, donâ€™t be surprised when the base treats you as the enemy. Put another way, the NRSC is now reaping what it sowed in the primaries. I expect the Republican candidates to win. But I expect it to be far harder than originally thought. And as much as I expect the NRSC and its outside allies to push back against the idea that its own base voters are reluctant to support them, the evidence should be inescapable to the media.
Jerry Moran and Mitch McConnell, this is what you get when you call your most reliable and dependable voters â€śracistâ€ť and then say it wasnâ€™t you, but some third party group.
Call for Presidential Leadership
South Carolinaâ€” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) today issued this joint statement:
“We are increasingly concerned about the horrific actions and brutality of ISIS spreading across Iraq and Syria and the lack of a clear plan of action from the President. Religious minorities and innocents have suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of these oppressors.
Our nation’s current foreign policy is nearly impossible to decipher while ISIS grows emboldened by the day. We call on the President to clarify and communicate to the Congress and the American people his strategy for how he is going to counter this growing threat to humanity and our national security.”
There is no reason why voters cannot work on this issue and compel legislators to follow the current law and not tax 46 counties twice.
Well … the only reason would be if people didn’t learn about this, didn’t get involved, and didn’t advocate strongly in their respective counties.
Let’s see how that goes. Justin Bradley has done ALL THE WORK for you! Here is his work, laid out with all details, at Fits.
It is down to you, county voters. It is down to you to begin discussions with YOUR county council members, who will bear the brunt of this double taxation by having to pass a budget in their respective counties to make allowance for having mandates from Columbia for which their voters have already been taxes, yet the monies are kept in Columbia. Compelling them to double tax their voters in their budgets.
STATE MANDATES MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY STATE RESOURCES
Every taxpayer should pay attention to the attempts in Columbia by legislators to ignore their statutory obligation by raiding the Local Government Fund (LGF). Since 2009, our Republican legislators have voted to override the law and fund the local government fund at less than the amount required by law â€“ 4.5 percent of the previous yearâ€™s revenues according to SC Code Â§ 6-27-30.
This started as an understandable, but short-sighted, way to save money during the recession since revenues in 2009 were significantly lower than their peak.
However, this charade became very transparent this year, when elected officials in Columbia were scrambling to spend larger than expected revenue estimates on their pet projects while crafting the FY 2014-15 budget. This week, word leaked that Republican Representative Brian White, who chairs the House Ways and Means committee floated an idea at the House Republican Caucus meeting this month to eliminate the LGF completely.
Shouldnâ€™t fiscal conservatives champion attempts by lawmakers to cut spending? Of course, but cutting the LGF does not reduce spending at either the state or local level. In fact, this action has had the opposite effect.
At the state level, lawmakers are not reducing the LGF to shrink the bottom-line. Instead, these dollars are being spent on other items. Even though lawmakers raided the LGF in this yearâ€™s budget, the end result was the largest spending plan in South Carolina history.
The impact on our counties and municipalities is much greater and requires a background on the LGF itself to understand the effect. The Home Rule Act in 1975 established county governments in South Carolina; however the Act did not completely cede complete control to the county government. Instead, counties were given a dual role: 1) as a local government providing local services, and 2) as an arm of the state providing state agency support. As part of the second role, the state has imposed numerous mandates on the counties, from providing facilities and personnel for state agencies to carrying out specific state functions. CLICK THAT LINK TO SEE THE NINE PAGES OF MANDATES
One of the more ironic mandates is for the counties to provide an office for our county legislative delegation. As The Nerve recently reported, a county can avoid doing so but would be required make substitute payments directly to lawmakers.
The State Aid to Subdivisions Act, which encompasses the LGF, is intended to help local governments offset these costs and blunt the impact of property taxes when the county is performing a function of state government. When the LGF is not fully funded, counties are forced to make up the shortfall with county revenues, after taxpayers have already sent state dollars to Columbia for this purpose. These county tax dollars could have been spent on county functions, such as county roads or parks, or even returned to the taxpayers. Instead they are diverted to fund state services. In other words, taxpayers pay taxes twice â€“ once to the state, and again to the county â€“ but receive services only once.
One misconception is that the LGF means that local governments are flush with cash. In Spartanburg County, the LGF does not even cover the cost of the mandated functions. In 2009, the amount that should have come to Spartanburg County under the statute was $15.2 million. State mandates resulted in a net expenditure by the county on state functions of $15.1 million, which would have netted Spartanburg a $67,325 gain from the LGF. That year, legislators raided the LGF and Spartanburg actually received $13.9 million and county taxpayers had to come up with $1.2 million to pay for state functions and offset the cut.
The numbers have only become more severe over time. In FY14, Spartanburg Countyâ€™s revenue under the statute should have been $13 million. If that had been the case, county taxpayers would have still been forced to come up with $1.3 million to cover additional state mandates. Instead, the revenue was $10.4 million and county taxpayers were forced to come up with $3.9 million to pay for state mandated functions.
In those instances, counties are left with two choices, raise taxes to cover the shortfall or cut essential services (which you, the taxpayer already paid for with the taxes sent to Columbia). Either scenario harms the taxpayer.
It is true that we could use more fiscal restraint in all levels of government, which is what motivated me to run for County Council. We need true reform, such as modernizing our budget process to tie spending to results and make elected officials more accountable to the taxpayer. However, these are debates we should be having at the local level, not in Columbia. Raiding the LGF is not the conservative position, especially if it forces counties into raising taxes. It only means lawmakers in Columbia are able to claim the title of fiscal restraint while forcing local officials to clean up their mess.
I welcome a real debate with Rep. White about home rule and ways to truly reform the system. But eliminating the LGF is yet another reform-in-name-only tactic by those in Columbia seeking to preserve their power in the status quo.