Saturday, February 19, 2011


The best way to assure a large attendance is to announce a meeting and NOT tell the public "WHEN" or "WHERE". This happened with Dan Davis' announcement in the P&C today of his free State of the County address to be held on March 1, 2011.

Once again the citizens of Berkeley County are given a prime example of the efficiency of Davis' administration. Good grief!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


GE&P attended the BC Council Committee meetings last night. If anyone needed an explanation as to why Mr. Davis insisted on changing Council Rules and abolishing the Committees of the Whole, these proceedings provided all the information needed.

Mr. Davis officially got the ball rolling on his Dan Davis Health and Human Services Campus last night. All of his supporting cast were there armed with documents to justify the purchase of the old fairground property for this project. He plans to spend $1.6 Million, $100,000 an acre, for this property. All supporting evidence was positive toward the purchase until you actually look at the facts.

Mr. Dennis Fish, one of the four Conservatives on Council, asked if an appraisal of this property had been done. Ms. Ewing and Ms. Smith said it had. Mr. Fish asked specific questions about the appraisal, "When was it done, how was it done, and could he see a copy of the document?"

Then the County Assessor came forward to provide the details of the appraisal. He confirmed the appraisal had been provided by the SELLER. He said he had dealt with the appraiser in the past and was happy with his work. But, GE&P noticed a few discrepancies with the Assessor's details. First and foremost, the "comparables" noted in the appraisal were not properties that have been "sold". They are properties that are "on the market". As we all know, "asking price" does not denote actual property values. One can ask any price one wants but that doesn't mean that price is valid or will be met.

GE&P did not notice Mr. Fish being provided with a copy of this document.

Mr. Fish asked for an explanation about the actual ownership of this property. In his question he, also, wanted an explanation of the tax records on this tract. The tax records show the Agricultural Expo, owned by Mr. Ben Flemming, not the American Legion, as being the owner of the tract. The records show 4 reassessments DOWN of the tax burden on this property in 2010. The sale history of this property on the BC records ends with a 1978 transfer of title. These are a few of the existing facts that bear further explanation. Unfortunately, none of these questions were satisfactorily answered last night.

Mr. Fish asked if Mr. Davis had investigated any other properties. Mr. Davis said, "No". Mr. Fish went on to suggest another property that has been offered "at a much reduced price". Mr Davis defended his selection of the fairgrounds property because he needed a property that would be on the public bus line. This argument is not valid as the "other, cheaper" property is, also, on the public bus line.

As more supporting evidence for this purchase being a good idea, Mr. Davis pointed out that, after moving the health department out of the old hospital property, he planned to refurbish that building to house extra courtroom space to alleviate the strain on the main courthouse. He neglected to mention that there is underutilized courtroom space at the sheriff's department building. This fact was addressed at a Council meeting early last year.

Mr. Davis could not, or would not, give the total price of his "Campus" project or the source of the funding to pay for it. It just so happens that GE&P knows the answer to both questions. According to the official BC Local Option Sales Tax Capital Improvements List, the Dan Davis Health and Human Services Campus will cost the taxpayers a minimum of $22 Million and will be funded with a combination of the 2010 $10 Million bond and the 29% from our LOST property tax relief. We all remember this 29%. This is our property tax relief that was stolen three years ago under the pretext that BC would go bankrupt without it. Now that Mr. Davis has his hands on our money in a more permanent fashion, he can spend it as he chooses.

It was rather obvious to GE&P that not many of the onlookers in attendance last night were fooled by the proceedings. From the comments we overheard, everything was as clear as glass to all. From start to finish, this deal is, at the very least, questionable. At worst, it reeks of government corruption. Anyone who has watched an expert at the old shell game knows how it works. The object is to keep the shells moving so fast and in so many directions that nobody knows exactly where the pea is located. In this situation, the pea is your tax dollars.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


As you have read in the P&C, there has been a huge furor created over a meeting of the Transparency Subcommittee that was held last Monday night. It seems the meeting did not receive the proper notice to the public. For surreptitious reasons, the Democrat Councilman from District 3 has conscripted the cooperation of his favorite surrogate to stir the pot on this issue. This less than informed mouthpiece obviously did not do his homework and has made some rather unfortunate statements.

The finger of blame for not properly noticing the meeting has been pointed, by this sub, at an innocent person. To the chagrin of the Democrats, popular opinion is that the County attorney had the ultimate responsibility to assure that the public notice had been issued. Since the attorney knew of the meeting in advance and did, in fact, attend the meeting, would it not be reasonable that she should have assured public notice?

In their attempt to falsely assign blame for this mishap they have drawn undo attention to this matter and the BC administration has done what it does best, create a circular firing squad, inadvertently hitting one of their own.

Also, the Democrats got their facts wrong on the people who attended the meeting. They listed several private citizens who were nowhere near the administration building that night. This misinformation further erodes what little credibility these people had.

Now that you know what actually happened, lets get into WHY it happened.

Informed sources have spread the word that the SLED investigation on the "burn your house down" issue has concluded. Without the excuse of a pending investigation, why isn't the approval of the February 22, 2010 minutes on the agenda for Monday night's County Council meeting?

Also, the issue of the purchase of the fairgrounds property for the Dan Davis Health and Human Services Campus IS on the agenda for Monday's Council meeting. The unanswered questions about this transaction could fill a book.

According to the BC tax records, this property is owned by the Agricultural Exposition, Inc. GE&P has learned that three local businessmen are the principals in this organization. Nowhere on the tax records is the name of the American Legion connected with this property. There is no "sale history" on record since 1978. And, the taxes owed for this property have been reassessed DOWN so many times in the last year it would make your head spin to read the record. GE&P inquired about these unusual records but was unable to get an explanation from any BC office. The only definitive reply we were able to get was, "I've never seen anything like this so you'll have to speak with my boss." After that transfer to "the boss" was completed, the well of information sort of dried up.

The plans for this project (Facilities Study) notes the need of 7 to 8 acres of land. The fairgrounds property in question contains 16 acres. As we understand, Mr. Davis wants to buy the entire tract, use part for the Campus, and try to resell the remainder at some point in the future, for a profit. This tract has been assessed by the sellers at $1.6 Million. That amounts to $100,000 an acre. According to BC records, the BC Assessor concurs with this assessment. Several real estate experts in the area disagree. These experts say this price is inflated and resale at a profit would be doubtful, to say the least. The big question is,"Why would Mr. Davis be so agreeable to paying an inflated price for this property?"

There is yet another fly in the ointment when it comes to purchasing the fairgrounds property for Mr. Davis' new Campus. Have you heard about the other property that has been offered to BC for this project? Oh yes, there is an alternative.

This other property is conveniently located; has easy access; is exactly the right size; and can be purchased for a MUCH more reasonable price. You may wonder why you haven't heard about this other property. Well, there's a good reason. Mr. Davis is hell-bent on building his Health and Human Services Campus no matter what the taxpayers think. He and the four other Democrats on Council have the votes to do it. There is no way to stop this project. If it became public knowledge that the County has the ability to purchase the necessary land for a fraction of the price of the fairgrounds property, the outcry might just upset this apple cart. (or should it be 'this table' under which this $1.6 Million has to pass?)

In this situation, as it is with almost every issue in which this County government is involved, be sure to ALWAYS look behind the action. Don't ever think the current flap is the real issue. Just because you think you know what the right hand is doing, don't take your eye off the left.

GE&P urges all taxpayers to attend the Committee meetings next Monday night. Admittedly, due to the new organization of Council, only the 5 Democrats (4 Councilmen and Supervisor Davis) have any influence on any of the votes, but you will still have the opportunity to witness government corruption at its best.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


In early January, Berkeley County School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Parker announced to the Berkeley County School Board his intention to retire at the end of the current school year. In just a few short days that decision changed from a pending retirement to Dr. Parker’s employment ending immediately and him being paid until the end of the year. As of this writing there’s much speculation and misinformation as to the reasons for his immediate retirement. I hope this column sheds some light on how this unfortunate situation came to be.

In the two short years Dr. Parker has been the leader of the District much has changed from the previous administration. The District went from building new high schools like Cane Bay High at 80 plus million dollars to models costing half or less. The current Cane Bay Middle School is targeted at less than $20 million versus the $46 million proposed by the previous administration. Dr Parker had a ten year vision and plan to build the future schools required as student population grows. The plan was based on sound data from the growth study initiated by Dr Parker and would have saved the taxpayers of this county several hundred million dollars versus the old method.

With Dr. Parker’s leadership, we went from a District with differing departments “working in silos” to a District that has a shared vision and purpose with the “centerpoint” focused on student learning. We became a District where school principals are expected to be the instructional leader, their school’s budget directly tied to their individual school improvement plan, and each improvement plan addressing the District goals set by the Board and Superintendent. We became a District that values its teachers. Instead of increasing class sizes and mandating furlough days, we eliminated 88 central office positions. We became a District that values personal growth and development, values best practices, and expects teachers to share and help each other in Professional Learning Communities. We became a District that values the dedicated hard work by maintenance, custodial and food service staff, values Dr. Parker communicated directly. These values and principles are evidenced every day just by walking into a school and seeing the way they look today versus 2 years ago. We became a District leading the way by engaging the community in decision making and the Superintendent actively participating in local education organizations such as the regional Education Foundation. We went from a District where the Superintendent spent much of his time in his office to one where the Superintendent spent much of his routine, 70 plus hour weeks, in all of the schools engaging principals, staff, and students.

Just a few months ago Dr. Parker received an annual review that was profoundly positive. In fact, Dr. Parker agreed to extend his contract period to a total of five years. All was relatively well until Dr. Hinson and I left the Board. Both of us would have stood steadfast against attempts to micromanage Dr. Parker. I suspect the minor level of interference increased dramatically since November and Dr. Parker decided he could not effectively lead in that atmosphere. The District and Dr. Parker entered into an employment agreement when we hired him that spelled out each other’s responsibilities and included provisions for either side to terminate the agreement. Since the District is paying Dr. Parker to the end of the year I assume he had cause to be paid. I would not be surprised if there is a non disclosure clause in the agreement announced at the special meeting on the 13th. His departure is certainly a failure of the Board’s leadership.

I will be offering a strong letter of recommendation for Dr. Parker in whatever endeavor he may choose to pursue. He has proven to be an effective educational leader and if he decides to continue as a Superintendent in another district they will reap the rewards of his talents and work ethic if they will let him do his job. As for Berkeley County we will have a hard time explaining Parker’s departure to prospective new superintendents so I sincerely hope the Board considers this in their treatment of future leaders.

Terry Hardesty