Sunday, April 29, 2018

WHAT'S BEHIND THIS CURTAIN?

As our readers know, we only post when we want to discuss an important issue that has gone unaddressed and unresolved. Through the grace of God, for quite a while, all important issues have, in one way or another, been addressed by the forces that be. Such is not the case here of late.  Despite numerous efforts from several quarters, there remains an unresolved, unacceptable situation in one of Berkeley County's elected offices.

First of all, we need to provide a bit of file information on a few rules that apply to all Berkeley County elected officials. The procedural information I provide here came directly from one of these officials. It seems that, when BC officials take office, they are expected to operate, mostly, by the honor system. Elected officials such as the Sheriff, the Coroner, the Supervisor, the Clerk of Court, etc. do not carry any "official" vacation time, personal leave, or sick leave.  They are not required to punch a time clock or keep any record of their time on the job. These elected officials are supposed to use common sense and judgment when taking time off from their jobs. It seems that the only authority to be exerted over these officials concerning this issue, would be the voters.  So,  in reality, there are no rules governing the number of hours an elected official spends daily, weekly, or monthly doing his or her job.  There are no rules as to the accessibility to the voters to an elected official. There are no rules as to the participation in civic affairs by an elected official. Consequently, one could expect any number of individual results from the various elected officials. Let us delve into just two comparisons.

During the last election cycle, the voters of BC elected a new Sheriff. Since his election, it has come to the notice of the voters that this new Sheriff seems to have no concept of what constitutes a regular work day. At all hours of the day and night, the Sheriff can be found either at his desk, out on patrol, or in the process of breaking up criminal activity in the County. The voters have been made aware of his efforts by the reduction in the crime rates and the destruction of numerous drug rings within the County.   Even after putting in such long hours at his job, the Sheriff finds the time to attend  numerous political and civic gatherings, even if he only stays a short period of time due to other pressing official business. Also, the Sheriff is very accessible. It is relatively easy for a voter to reach him to discuss any problems that might arise. If he doesn't answer the call straight away, he returns calls in a timely manner.

Let's recap:

The Sheriff is in his office every day.

The Sheriff is accessible to the voters.

The Sheriff is regularly seen at gatherings around the County.

The Sheriff makes himself available to the media.

The Sheriff is doing the job the taxpayers hired him to do.


Now, let us flip this coin over and look at the other side.

We will start this comparison with a question.

WHEN IS THE LAST TIME ANYONE READING THIS POST HAD A FACE TO FACE ENCOUNTER WITH THE CLERK OF COURT?

Speaking personally, the last time we actually saw Mary Brown in the flesh was over two years ago. Since that time, we haven't seen her at the court house.  We haven't seen her at any political functions. We haven't seen her around town.  We haven't seen her at any civic functions or special occasions. We haven't seen her, period.

Naturally, after some time passed, we became curious. We started asking questions. Frankly, the answers we got were very confusing and upsetting, not to mention unbelievable.

The first information we received, over 18 months ago, was that the Clerk was in extremely poor health. These reports indicated several strokes and hospitalizations and indicated that she was almost totally bedridden. These reports were received with great sorrow and sympathy. Considering the seriousness of her infirmity,  we anticipated her resignation. After a year and a half, that resignation has not been forthcoming. Then came further reports.

Could it be possible that the elected Clerk of Court has not been in her office to do a day's work in over a year and a half?

Could it be possible that the Clerk of Court has not put in a full work week at her office in over three election cycles?

Could it be possible that a County employee drives the Clerk's personal vehicle to the courthouse parking lot every day to make it "appear" that the Clerk is at work in the building?

Could it be possible that an employee of the Clerk's office makes numerous daily trips to the Clerk's house carrying official court documents that require the Clerk's signature?

Could it be possible that an employee at the Clerk's office is, and has been for years, responsibly for all of the Clerk's courtroom duties?

Could it be possible that a closed circuit television system has been installed in the Clerk's office and the courtroom that is connected to the Clerk's home computer, at taxpayers expense? If this is true, how secure from hacking is this system? If true, who else has access to this system? If true, how is the privacy of "closed proceedings" assured? If true, do the judges know about these cameras?

Could it be possible that three local television news outlets and one major local newspaper have, over a period of the last two years,  received stories on this subject, submitted by their own reporters, and have neglected to publish the information?

Unfortunately, from personal observations, personal knowledge, and eyewitness accounts, all these things are not just possible but facts.

First and foremost, if the Clerk's health is as bad as reported, she has our full sympathy and our most sincere prayers, BUT, there is such a thing as responsibility to duty when one attains elected office. All elected officials swear an oath. All elected officials know the duties they are expected to perform. It is unreasonable to expect the taxpayers to pay an elected official while, also, paying other employees to perform the duties of said elected official.

But, the bigger question is "WHY?"  Why would the Clerk of Court go to such lengths to retain control over the Clerk's office?  Many elected officials reach the age where they are no longer capable of performing their duties and they retire. No shame in that. It happens all the time. We are cognizant of the fact that this Clerk has been in this office since the boat came over and she might be resistant to the idea of leaving, BUT, that does not explain all the elements of this situation.

Why would the Clerk perpetuate this illusion for so many years?
Why would an employee enable the Clerk to conceal her inability to do her job?
Why do other employees at the courthouse so adamantly refuse to even discuss this situation?
Why have other officials, even those with authority over the Clerk's office, ignored this?
Why have various local news outlets refused to expose this story?

In our humble opinion, that which is known (and, moreover, that which is still unknown) dictates that it is time for a complete, systemic change of leadership at the Clerk of Court's office. No one who was involved in this coverup should continue to be associated with the Clerk's office. It is past time for a clean sweep and new leadership.

The primary is a little over a month away. The existing Clerk is not seeking reelection. Check out the candidates who are running and ask questions.


UPDATE:  MORE OF THE SAME

This week the SC Association of Clerks of Court is holding its 2018 Spring Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. As a rule, the various Clerks of Court, Deputy Clerks, and selected department heads (Supervisors) attend. The reservation cost is $300 a person.

As might be expected, the BC Clerk of Court is not attending this function due to health issues.  The BC Deputy Clerk and a few Supervisors did make reservations to attend.  The Supervisors are at the conference as we speak. However, the Deputy Clerk has been observed yesterday and the day before in the Cain Bay and Hanahan neighborhoods erecting campaign signs.

This choice on the part of the Deputy Clerk would be of absolutely no interest to anyone except for the fact that the reservation fees are payable in advance and are nonrefundable. This waste of money places the burden on us, either directly or indirectly, as it's funded with public money.













Friday, October 21, 2016

ORGANIZED VOTER FRAUD? NO WAY

We are currently on the Left Coast observing how the other half lives. There seems to be no end to the surprises we encounter. This is, truly, another world.

However, we will stick to one subject in this post.

This morning,  we read that the SCGOP is encouraging voters to vote absentee in this election. The article suggested that, so far, the effort has been a huge success. But, from our experience yesterday, the GOP may have overlooked one tactic.

We had reason to be on the computer train from San Francisco to Hayward yesterday afternoon. About halfway through the ride, 3 young Black men walked into the car. They were well dressed and carried clipboards with stacks of forms. They approached only other Black riders. One of these people approached was the young lady seated next to me.

The young man introduced himself and said he was a "voting rights advocate". He asked the young lady if she was registered to vote. She replied she was. He, then, asked if she had ever considered voting absentee. She said she never had. He went into a long explanation of the process and how it would save her a lot of time on election day. She said she didn't think the process would work for her as she moved around from one relative's house to another.

But, he had the solution for that problem. He told her she could fill out and sign the ballot request document, putting HIS address on it, and he would "get back with her when it came in". He said she could just tell him who she wanted to vote for and he would fill the ballot out and mail it in for her.

About that time the train was arriving at the young lady's stop so she thanked him and said she liked to vote in person. With that, she walked away leaving the young man standing there. We couldn't help it; the words just seemed to jump out: You do realize that would be voter fraud?

The young man summoned his friends and left the car.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

IS IT GREED OR STUPIDITY?

I do believe that our Founders were Divinely inspired when they wrote the documents for the formation of our Republic. In creating the Bill of Rights, they guaranteed all Americans that the newly formed government would not possess the power to infringe upon a variety of freedoms. Unfortunately, hidden between the lines of these stated freedoms lurks the "Right to Stupidity". From our observations, some people over-exercise this right. We digress.

The Constitution of the United States of America clearly states the responsibilities and powers of the Federal government. It, also, clearly states that all other powers, those not stated, belong to the several states and to the people. Well, as we all know, this little portion of the document is no longer in fashion. For decades now, the Federal government collects, some say steals, monies from the individual citizens and, then, uses these monies as bargaining chips to inflict the Federal will upon the entire nation.

Some of these activities are accomplished as "pork barrel projects" initiated by our elected officials in the Congress. Others are in the form of grants created and controlled by unelected bureaucrats. No matter how they are created and offered, there are ALWAYS strings attached.

Overly simplified, here's the way it works. Some unelected bureaucrat, (with absolutely nothing to do to fill his workday) sitting in an office somewhere in the nation, comes up with a "bright idea" of how to spend some more of our money and/or take away another freedom. After he/she sends the proposal up the 15 layers of supervisors (who, also, have nothing to do with their time) to the decision makers, it is concluded that the taxpayers will NEVER stand still for this "bright idea". BUT, all the bureaucrats really, really like the "bright idea". At this point, the implementers take over. These implementers look around for a likely grant onto which they can attach the "bright idea" as a provision of receiving the grant. This "bright idea" can concern any agency from the EPA to Homeland Security and everything in between.

This is where the aforementioned "Right to Stupidity" comes in.  The conveyor of the Federal grant ties the hundred dollar bill to their proverbial bumper hitch and takes off for the nearest trailer park.  "Hey, State of Whichever, do you need some extra money to revamp your high school curriculum? Well, bless your little hearts, we've got a bucket load of cash we'll give you. All you have to do is agree to implement this one small "bright idea"." (Has anybody ever researched the genesis of Common Core or the Storm Water Management Program?)

Originally, if there was any cost involved with implementing the "bright idea", there was money included in the grant to pay these costs for a year or so. After that, the recipient of the grant was left to hold the bag for any continuing expenses. But, the process has evolved to the point now that the expense of the "bright idea" is left entirely to the recipient, start to finish. But, even more insidious, are the "bright ideas" in which the recipients contractually convey a variety of actual rights and powers to the Federal government.  Even if the Federal government does not immediately execute this acquired power, the ability to do so is sitting there like a time bomb.

This process has become so successful, due entirely to either the greed or the stupidity of the States, Counties, and Municipalities, that the Federal Grants Program  has accelerated the process to the point of being ridiculous. A grant of less than $50,000 can now carry literally scores of mandates. It is beyond belief that, despite the obvious risks involved, recipients are still lining up around the block to put their names on the dotted line and take the cash.

If you require proof that all this is true, watch the video of the last BC Council meeting. A Federal grant to the Sheriff's department of just over $30,000 was discussed. This grant has an unbelievable FIFTY FOUR attached mandates. Wait for it...............it passed with only 3 dissenting votes; Mr. Whitley, Mr. Farley, and Mr. Newell. To make matters even worse, during the discussion, it was stated that the funds for the equipment in question are available from the general fund. And, with all due respect for your rising blood pressure, the only justification for taking the grant, despite the attachments, was that a refusal to do so might have "a negative impact" on any future screw jobs the Federal Grants Program might offer BC.

As always, the final determination is left to you, the reader. Our only question is, "How far down this rabbit hole will this country go before the bill comes due?"



Thursday, June 11, 2015

SCHOOL BOARD

Did anyone need more proof that we have serious problems with the Berkeley County School Board? If that is the case, that proof was provided at last Tuesday's meeting. With only three votes, the board approved a satisfactory appraisal of the job performance of our indicted, former Superintendent. We have officially entered the Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GOVERNMENT MAKES OUR HEADS HURT

BACKGROUND

Hwy. 311 is a major State road and has been since it was built. Road 59 is a secondary road that intersects 311.  There has always been a stop sign on 59 at the intersection. Several times over the last 30 odd years, folks traveling on 59 have failed to stop at the intersection and have been blipped by rock trucks. Two months ago, two miles down 59 from the intersection, a lady pulled out of her driveway into the path of another vehicle and was killed.  The state DOT saw a problem with the roads and decided they needed to find a solution. They opted to install a 4 way stop at the intersection of the two roads.

Now, we come to the big questions.

How did the mishap 2 miles from the intersection have anything to do with the safety of the intersection?

How could anyone think it is safe to install a stop sign midway a road that has ALWAYS been a major throughway?

How will installing a stop sign on 311 prevent folks from running the stop sign on 59?

Just asking.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A MAN'S WORD IS HIS BOND

Since the dawn of civilization,  certain principles have formed the bedrock of human interaction.  These principles are numerous and slightly varied depending upon the era and the culture. But, generally speaking, they are uniform in interpretation. Among these basic principles, the ones that govern honesty and integrity have always been considered to be the foundation on which the other governing principles rest.

Through the years, people have put so much stock in the basic principle of honesty that proverbs have made their way into the lexicon:

"A man is only as good as his word."

"A man's word is his bond."

"If a man will lie, he will steal."

"Honesty is the best policy."

Even in today's sketchy world, most of us base our interactions with others on whether or not the other person is to be trusted. Who would loan money to a thief? Who would go into business with a dishonest man? Who would agree to work for a man with a reputation of cheating people out of money? Who would believe a man who lies? Who would hire a man who cannot be trusted?

Unfortunately, some people have lost sight of the importance of these basic principles. Many of the greatest offenders have chosen careers in the arena of politics. The political landscape is always littered with casual claims made during stump speeches and rallies and, then, promptly discarded after election night. It goes without saying that this practice is not admirable but rarely do practiced politicos take seriously any "off the cuff" commitments made in the heat of the campaign.

BUT, there are times when people take promises and commitments from politicians very seriously:

1. When a promise or commitment is made personally.

2. When a promise or commitment is linked to voter support or funding.

3. When a promise or commitment is critical to the candidate's success.

4. When a promise or commitment is used as collateral to a third party.

In any and all of the listed situations, promises and commitments are considered binding. There are never justifiable reasons for breaking such a pledge. To put it in the simplest terms, a move like this is just not smart. In every case of such a pledge being haphazardly violated, the root cause rests in the basic dishonesty of the person who made the false commitment. The person who made the pledge never intended to keep it.

These dishonest politicians seem to think they can make a commitment in order to gain benefit and, then, cast it aside when another benefit presents itself. But, no matter how a wordsmith tries to massage these actions, sometimes such moves simply turn out to be huge mistakes.




Friday, November 21, 2014

FEAR FOR THE REPUBLIC

Over the eons, the ability of the human race to consider the consequences of various actions has allowed them to survive. In the cave man era, when the opportunity for a cool dip in the river presented itself, survivors always checked around for crocodiles. When they came upon a fresh kill of life sustaining meat, they checked to be sure a lion wasn't in the bushes guarding the feast. Being cautious and developing the ability to connect the dots was a plus in the survival and expansion of the species. Though the threats have changed, deductive reasoning is just as vital today as it was in those dark developing years.

When a thoughtful person looks around today's world, connecting the dots can be a very frightening exercise. When one sees certain actions being taken by those who are supposed to be running the show and one considers the predictable repercussions of these actions, the possibilities tend to spiral out of control. Playing the "what if" game is no longer amusing. It is frightening.

Last night, the President of the United States made a speech. He outlined how he intends to do an end run around Congress and initiate law on his own. He indicated that he believes these actions are within his constitutional authority. The problem is that a majority of the American people and a majority of legal scholars disagree with this position. Although many in these groups agree with some of the provisions in his proposal, they all disagree with his process. All in these groups agree that his actions demonstrate a violation of the Separation of Powers as iterated in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and court precedent.

Owing to the severity of these proposed actions, large numbers of American citizens are outraged. These citizens view the actions of the President as a blatant violation of the U S Constitution. His detractors fear these actions will be the first of many such violations and they are concerned as to where the trend will end. As a result of these concerns, many in the opposition are exercising their Constitutional rights of peaceful protest by making plans to go to Washington to have their voices heard.

In years gone by, with different Presidents, this would not be big news that would be a cause for great concern, BUT, this is today, with a President who doesn't take criticism well. Considering the punitive actions he has taken against Conservative groups in the past, his reaction to mass defiance of his authority might not end well. This is where the "what if" game gets really scary.

WHAT IF a half a million angry citizens show up in front of the White House?

WHAT IF this President follows form and over-reacts?

WHAT IF just ONE of the protesters gets out of hand?

WHAT IF just ONE of the DC police makes a mistake?

We can all agree it is never a good idea to touch a match to a powder keg. From his actions, one would think this President just loves to play with matches.