Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Securities problem with $26MM Bond Notes sale?

On April 11, 2019 some representatives of the Richland 2 School District are believed to have signed a document for the sale of $26,000,000 Bond Anticipation Notes.

I haven't seen the official, signed document but, upon information and belief, it was signed on that date (or another close date) by Amelia McKie as Board Chair, Supt. Baron Davis, and Chief Financial Officer Miley.

The signature of the Board Secretary was required, but the Board Secretary would not sign. Before the end of April the then-Board Secretary Lindsay Agostini announced her resignation as Board Secretary, giving the reasons that she could not and would not sign special additional statements related to Amelia McKie's status on the board, wishing to avoid the risks of personal and civil liability.

At the April 30, 2019 board meeting, the board elected Trustee James Shadd as Board Secretary and he signed the bond documents that night.  *

The 140-page bond document can be read at  In particular, questionable wording can be read on Pages 51-52. You can use the Page Number block at the top of the .pdf document to get in the general area of the document. Then use the Page Number at the bottom of the actual page to find the references in LEGAL MATTERS (see Opinion and see Litigation) and MISCELLANEOUS (see Certificate as to the Official Statement).

Elsewhere in the document it identifies Amelia McKie as a Board member and as Board Chair, and Amelia McKie's occupation is listed as "Community Volunteer".

If 50 years of reading legal documents, I don't think I have ever before read that a person's "occupation" is Volunteer.

Today (July 31, 2019) I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request with the School District for copies of the signed Certificate of Incumbency and the Signature and No-Litigation Certification. These are the two documents that Mrs. Agostini refused to sign. They are part of the bond documents but not part of the documents filed on a website for public viewing.

If and when it is eventually determined that Mrs. McKie was not a Board member after November 6, 2018 and was also not Board Chair, was it legal for her to sign the bond documents as Board Chair?

The attorney for the School District and the bond counsel should have been well-informed of the challenge to McKie's participation on the board.

The board should have cleaned this up in February 2019 by having McKie take the oath of office legally. McKie first became eligible to take the oath of office on December 4, 2018, when she filed the Statement of Economic Interests Report that should have been filed before she repeated the words of the oath of office on November 13, 2018. On November 13 she was not eligible to take the oath of office or to enter upon her official responsibilities, but she did both.

* [CORRECTION. The Certificate of Incumbency and the Signature and No-Litigation Certificate were signed by Amelia McKie, as Board Chair, and by James Shadd, as Board Secretary, on May 2, 2019.]

Friday, July 26, 2019

Shoulda, coulda ...

When the controversy first arose about the legality of two trustees-elect participating on the school board earlier this year (February? maybe January?), the Board should have appointed a committee to investigate and consider what was being challenged.

Did it? Not according to any action officially taken.

What should have been the composition of such a committee? Obviously, the two persons challenged should not have been on the committee. A Committee of three might have been appropriate, with at least one of them being an officer of the board.

Should the superintendent have been on the committee?

As the senior staff employee of the District and one who must work closely with the Board Chair, the superintendent should not have been designated to be on the committee. This would have protected him and helped separate his role, which was to support the Board Chair, whoever the person was.

Should one or more members of the public have been on the committee?

Perhaps one or more of the several members of the public who were complaining should have be invited to be part of such a committee. After all, they were the ones waving the flag.

Such a committee would have had to study the laws and should have obtained the advice of the legal counsel for the school district. Then the committee would have brought its findings to the full board.

And then the Board should have announced the committee's findings and stated what action it would take, if any.

At least one board member seemed to agree with the challenges that were being raised. When it came time to sign a Certificate of Incumbency and a Signature and No-Litigation Certification in connection with documents for the sale of $26,000,000 Bond Anticipation Notes, that board member's concerns were so great that she consulted with her private attorney to determine what risk, if any, there was for personal or civil liability, should she sign the documents as Board Secretary.

As a result of that consultation, she refused to sign the documents and resigned as Board Secretary on April 26, 2019.

At the school board meeting on April 30, 2019, her resignation was announced, and she explained her reasons at length. The Board was in a pickle, because it needed a Secretary to sign the documents, including the two special certifications. Board Trustee James Shadd was nominated, accepted the nomination and was elected by the Board to the office of Secretary, to complete the Secretary's term-of-office to June 30, 2019. That same night he signed the bond documents as Secretary.

Will he someday regret the "honor" of serving as successor Secretary? Will he wish he had taken time to consider exactly why the previous Secretary had resigned? Has he given thought since April 30th to the possible effect of signing a document that stated Mrs. McKie was the Board Chair and that her term of office was July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019?

When the District and the Board finally have to admit that, after all this time (since November 6, 2018), Mrs. McKie has been a trustee-elect (only) and not a Trustee, making the Certificate of Incumbency false, how will this reflect on those who signed it?

Most on the Board must hope this issue will just go away.

The Board or the District has never tried to explain to me why they are right and I'm wrong. For my part, I don't care about being "right". I do care about what is right.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Board can't control who sits on Board?

At the school board meeting on July 23, 2019, I made the following comments during the Public Participation segment of the meeting. These comments can be watched and heard on the YouTube recording of the meeting, starting at 9:57 on the meeting timer.

I was cautioned twice by the Board Chair; both times were done so politely, professionally and respectfully.

First, my comments:

"Over the past four months I have many conversations with law enforcement and other agencies regarding the problems that I have called to the attention of the Board.

"Among my contacts have been the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the South Carolina Ethics Commission, the Attorney General, SLED, the South Carolina Dept. of Education, the Governor’s Office, my State Senator and my State Representative, the School Boards Association, and others.

"In a March meeting at the Sheriff’s Department, a sergeant-investigator asked me if I wanted Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes “kicked off the board” (his words). I answered that I did not. All I wanted was for them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board.
"I still do.
** First caution occurred here. 

"The purpose of my comments tonight is to request a meeting with the Board Chair and the attorney for the School District to discuss two matters.
1.     1. Why the District believes that two trustees-elect, who did not legally take the oath of office, are allowed to sit on the Board, and
     ** Second caution occurred here.
2.     2. Whether the District has engaged in securities fraud because of erroneous, misleading and incomplete information in the bond documents for the $26,000,000 sale of Bond Anticipation Notes on April 11 of this year.

"I will contact Mr. Manning to arrange the meeting."

Regarding the first caution, I disagree that a member of the public use a board member's name in Public Participation or cannot repeat a comment about two board members made by a law-enforcement officer. The important part is that I disagreed with that law-enforcement officer.

Regarding the second caution, I disagree that the School Board does not have jurisdiction over who sits at the Board. It's not a matter of ethics; it's a matter of legality. I was told that the Board does not have direct control over whether a person is illegally on the Board. 

If the Board doesn't have control over who sits on it, why couldn't anyone just show up at a meeting and take a seat in one of the nice chairs at the front of the room?

Mrs. McKie and Ms. Holmes have never legally taken the oath of office and cannot be on the Board officially, until they do. On December 4, 2018 they first became eligible to take the oath of office, because that is the date they filed their Statement of Economic Interests Reports. The law (S.C. Code of Laws §8-13-1110(A)) is clear.

Next Board Meeting - Tuesday, August 6

Richland 2 School Board meetings are normally on the second and fourth Tuesdays.

There will be a Special-Called Board Meeting on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

The starting time for the Executive Session is scheduled for 5:30PM. The length of the executive session is being determined, and that will determine the starting time for the public session. It could be 6:00PM, 6:30PM, 7:00PM.

Monitor the Agenda on the District's website for more information. The Agenda will be published on Thursday, August 1.

Go to
At the upper right, click on EXPLORE
Then click on School Board
Then click on Agenda
Under Meetings, click on Regular Business Meeting (wording might change for this Special meeting)
Note the time for the start of the public session
Click on View the Agenda

At the July 23rd Board meeting, the Agenda for the "next" Board meeting was discussed and approved. They considered the "next" Board meeting to be the one on August 13.

The superintendent and the Board knew that the "next" Board meeting would be in two weeks on August 6. Why didn't they discuss the Agenda for that meeting?

There is this little thing called Transparency.

Could R2 have a bonding problem?

A local newspaper, The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County, published an article on July 18 about a recently-appointed Fairfield County magistrate, whose bond application was denied by that county's bond insurer due to the new magistrate's credit.

That new magistrate quickly secured a bond independently and provided it to the county.

This caused me to wonder whether school board members must be bonded. I'm rather sure that they must, because their fiduciary responsibility is high.

If a school board trustee has credit problems that include foreclosure action and an unsatisfied judgment in a significant amount, would that cause a bonding company to cancel any bond that had been issued?

It's the School District that should require Trustees to be bonded.

Of course, if the person to be bonded is not actually a legal trustee, that will present its own problem for the bonding company.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Special Education and IEPs

Do you have a student in Special Education? Or know of one?

There is a wealth of information available to you in the publications available from

One excellent book is From Emotions to Advocacy. In this book you can learn basic and advanced tools to help you understand IEPs and how to deal with teachers and administrators in special education.

If you would like to borrow my copy of this book (I'm stingier than the library. Two-week loans. Pay for it if not returned on time), contact me.

I gave away my copy before moving to Columbia in 2014. I purchased the book again when the family of a student at Spring Valley HS asked for help. Their son was about to be expelled for the fourth time.

My showing up with the parents saved his bacon.

And soon after, Spring Valley made a fifth attempt to expel him. I attended the hearing with his parents again.

Not only did the effort to expel him fail, but a top administrator told the IEP Team at the end of the meeting, "You can't do what you are doing."

The first good rule for parents is Never Go to an IEP Alone.

Always take someone with you. Take an advocate or a family member or a neighbor or a friend - somebody to observe (and keep the team honest).

Got questions about Special Ed and IEPs. Ask them in the Comments section below.

Want them kicked off?

During the public participation segment of last night's board meeting, I repeated a question that I had been asked by a Richland County Sheriff's Department investigator on March 20, 2019. I had gone to the sheriff's department to read a report filed against me for harassment. The report was filed the previous day by Teresa Holmes.

After I read the report, I pointed out to the sergeant-investigator and his boss the many false statements in the report. (The boss quickly determined that I had done nothing wrong.)

At one point the investigator asked me, in a rather forceful tone, if I wanted Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes "kicked off the board" (his words)..

It felt to me like the investigator was baiting me and expecting a reaction, but he didn't get it.

I paused and calmly told him that I did not; i.e., I did not want them "kicked off the board". I told him that what I wanted was for them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board.

Keep in mind - this was five months ago. And they still have not taken the oath of office legally.

When I repeated his question at last night's board meeting, it appeared to shock Teresa Holmes. And Mr. Manning, Board Chair, cautioned me not to mention any Board member names in my remarks. I think my response to the investigator's question was lost. I had said "I still do", and I repeated "I still do", meaning that I still do want them to take the oath of office and become legal members of the board.

Last night - a first

Somewhere before the end of the first thirty minutes of last night's school board meeting, Amelia McKie must have excused herself, because I noticed the gap to Lindsay Agostini's left. And, from where I was sitting, it looked like her chair was gone, too, although her nameplate remained on the desk. I didn't notice exactly when she left, but it was shortly after the meeting reached Item 12 on the Agenda. [EDIT. When the YouTube video for this meeting became available, McKie's chair could be seen; it was pushed back and turned sideways behind Holmes' chair, so that it wasn't visible to the right side of the room. She left the meeting at 28:55 on the timer and had apparently pre-arranged her departure. 7/25/19 10:30AM]

It seems to me that there should have been some comment made by the Board Chair to excuse her from the meeting. The meeting began with seven present, plus the superintendent. When McKie left, there were still six. The Minutes of the meeting should reflect her departure and the time.

The question from the public should be, "Where was Amelia McKie?"

To do business, a quorum is required, and a quorum for the Richland 2 School Board is five.

Considering that McKie and Holmes are not official, legal members of the Board, not ever having legally* taken the oath of office, a quorum of five means that Agostini, Manning, Shadd, Caution-Parker and Elkins-Johnson must be there. If all five are not present, business must stop. If McKie or Holmes is not present, it doesn't matter.

So later, when Dr. Elkins-Johnson left the room briefly, a quorum was not present, and the business part of the meeting should have stopped. Without a Parliamentarian to remind them of the rules, how would they know that? The superintendent should know the rules and should prompt the Board Chair, if needed.

* McKie and Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, but they did so illegally. Each became eligible to take the oath on December 4, 2018 but has never taken it legally. Thus, they are not legal Board members and will not be, until they do take the oath of office.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Unusual start to Board Meeting

Tonight's School Board meeting had an unusual start. All board members were in their seats at 6:30PM. Board Chair James Manning began speaking, but there was considerable noise in the room due to conversations in the audience. He did not rap the gavel to gain attention before speaking.

All of whatever he said could not be heard, and then all board members stood and left the room, leaving the superintendent alone at the front of the room. About seven minutes later they all came back and took their seats, and Mr. Manning opened the meeting.

Too bad he didn't speak into his microphone. He said something about the Moment of Inspiration, and next thing I knew people had bowed their heads in silence.

That was certainly inspiring!

And then the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, and the meeting took off.

Teachers: contact Board member re Your Records

At tonight's Richland 2 School Board meeting, there was a long discussion about revisions to Board Policy GBJ, found as Item 12.6, Personnel Records and Files, in the agenda for tonight's meeting.

To read the Policy and proposed revision, click on Item 12.6 in the agenda, and then click on the attachment in the "Agenda Item Details" window that opens.

Dr. Elkins-Johnson raised significant points about whether a Principal or Immediate Supervisor should have access to a teacher's HR records. If you are teacher, you will want to watch the YouTube video, which will be posted on about July 25. The discussion was in progress at about the 59:20 mark on the meeting recording timer.

Dr. Elkins-Johnson was emphatic that a principal and a teacher's immediate supervisor should not have access to a teacher's HR records. Teresa Holmes joined Dr. Elkins in her strong position.

Unfortunately, when the motion was put to a vote, the vote was 2-4 (Failed). Only Elkins-Johnson and Holmes voted in support of limiting inspection of a teacher's HR file.

During the closing comments by Board members and the superintendent, Dr. Elkins requested teachers to let her know how they feel about it.

Email Dr. Elkins at  If you want to telephone her, her phone number is listed on the School Board's webpage.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Where does Amelia McKie live?

A requirement of the Richland 2 School Board is that trustees live within the District.

An easy way to confirm residency is to view the most-recent Campaign Disclosure Report filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. The address on the report reveals the confirmation of residency.

EXCEPT when a filer uses a Post Office Box for the address.

Does the trustee live inside the Post Office Box? Not likely. And receiving mail at the United States Post Office with a ZIP Code within the School District boundary is no assurance that the filer actually lives in the District.

The $51.750 Judgment filed on July 10, 2019 against Amelia McKie shows an address in The Summit.

Other legal activity in Richland County Court records shows that address in The Summit. Why would McKie use a P.O. Box, instead of a home address?

Ignorance and Apathy

Years ago I read a story about a college professor who was addressing a class of senior students. One young man sat in the front row, slouching in his seat and yawning loudly.

The professor addressed him. "Young man, do you know that the two biggest problems of college students today are ignorance and apathy?"

The kid answered, "I didn't know that and I don't care."

What does this story have to do with this blog?

The problems of ignorance and apathy are right here in River City (apologies to Meredith Willson); errr, I mean Richland County. And there aren't new.

In his 600-page tome titled Operation Lost Trust And The Ethics Reform Movement 1989-1999, former Common Cause/SC Executive Director John Crangle wrote:"... the public is often apathetic and ignorant about such scandals." He was referring to major criminal scandals in state governments. (Page 164. ©2017 Published by the Crangle Company, Columbia, S.C.)

Have we got our own "scandal" right here in Richland 2 School District?

Would you care, if we did?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ethics Commission files Judgment against McKie

On July 10, 2019 the South Carolina Ethics Commission filed a $51,750 Judgment in Richland County Common Pleas Court against Amelia McKie. The Case Number is 2019CP4003809.

This Judgment is to collect the $51,750 in fines and fees that she owes the Ethics Commission under Decision & Order No. 2017-023, which was issued on July 3, 2018.

That Decision was based on McKie's failure to file numerous required documents between 2015 and 2018, including Campaign Disclosure Reports and Statements of Economic Interests Reports.

Those reports are required; they are not optional. It would be hard for McKie to say that she didn't know they were required, because she did file at least one report when she was running in 2014 for her first term as a Richland 2 School District trustee.

The 2018 Decision & Order informed McKie that, if she didn't make payments as scheduled with due dates of December 31, 2018, and June 30, 2019, the Judgment would be entered.

And so the Ethics Commission followed through and promptly filed.

McKie can expect further collection attempts to be pursued. Will she pay?

School Board Meeting - Tuesday, July 23

The Richland 2 School Board will hold its one July meeting on Tuesday, July 23, at 6:30PM for the public and preceded by a 90-minute Executive Session that will begin at 5:00PM. The Board meets at R2i2.

This meeting will the first in the new school year, which started July 1. The Board Chair is James Manning, who has been a trustee since 2010 and is the longest-serving trustee.

Eleven Board Policies are up for decision, and FOURTEEN (14) Policies are being submitted for review but no action. How did the District ever survive with all the policies in place before so many came up for attention, review and vote?

Too many times last year decisions were avoided by the throw-away phrase "will of the Board". Rather than determining what the "will of the Board" was, business just moved on. Board members failed to demand a vote by making a Motion of the topic that had just been discussed or learning the consensus of the Board.

The Board should probably consider a Parliamentarian, which Richland School District One has. That person could help the Board Chair keep meetings moving along. When Board members ramble or are slow to consolidate their comments, the Parliamentarian could prompt them to speak directly and to complete their remarks.

Hopefully, meetings will no longer run two hours, three hours, or more than three hours.

The next Board meeting will be Tuesday, August 13, 2019. There will be two meetings in August, September and October. Then the Board will meet once in November and once in December.

Parents: tell the kids they are on their own for dinner and start showing up for these meetings.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

McKie Files Report 8 Days Late

Amelia McKie is sitting on $4,265.01 in her political campaign fund. This means she must file quarterly campaign disclosure reports. The reports are due for Calendar Year quarters. Reports are to be filed by the 10th day of the month after the end of the quarter. For those who have a hard time calculating this, the reports are due by January 10, April 10, July 10, October 10.

By that calendar the Campaign Disclosure Report for the second quarter of 2019 (April 10-June 30) was due July 10.

Since July 8th I've been monitoring the Ethics Commission's public information found behind the Online Reporting link on a daily basis. Each day I have checked; each day there was no report for the second quarter. This morning there was no report for the second quarter. Today is July 18; the report was due July 10.

And finally, today, July 18, 2019 her report for the second quarter was filed.

Riddle me this...

McKie was fined for numerous filing violations and now owes the S.C. Ethics Commission $51.750 under a Decision & Order No. C2017-023, dated July 3, 2018. As of July 9, 2019 she had not paid. The Ethics Commission will file a Judgment in that amount to be entered on the Judgment Rolls of the Richland Court Clerk of Court's Office.

One would think that McKie would have begun paying close attention to filing all required reports on time. By January 9, 2019 she had filed numerous past-due reports. All are of public record and can be found on the website for the S.C. Ethics Commission at

For the 4th Quarter 2018 McKie filed her Campaign Disclosure Report on time (1/9/19).

The next quarterly report was due April 10, 2019. When did she file it? MAY 8, 2019. LATE!

The next quarterly report was due July 10, 2019. When did she file it? JULY 18, 2019. LATE!

The School Board counts her as one of seven Board members. I do not. She is a Trustee-elect, not a Trustee, for reason I have written about extensively.

What possible valid reason could she have for missing two filing deadliness this year?

There is are procedures for removing her from the Board.

One is S.C. Code of Law Section 59-19-60.

Board Policy BCA - Board Member Code of Ethics. It reads, in part, "School board members are under the jurisdiction of the 'Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act,' S.C. Code Section 8-13-100 et seq. School board members are expected to comply with the act." [emphasis added] I am not aware of any record of discipline by the School Board for McKie's repeated violations of Board Policy BCA.

A second way is that Governor McMaster could remove her, if he found her failures to file the required returns in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 to be acts of moral turpitude.

Being a Trustee of a billion-dollar school district is an incredible responsibility. Can this district tolerate any longer a Board member is so inattentive to such a very basic obligation? Oh, wait; she's not really a Board member.

School Board still minus two legal Members and now minus one legal Officer

Reporter Michael Smith of The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County contacted me for a comment after the Richland 2 School Board elected its officers for 2019-2020.

In his July 3, 2019 article on  he correctly reported my position, when he wrote "Philpott maintains that McKie and Holmes aren’t legally allowed to serve because neither filed Statements of Economic interest forms until after taking the oath of office. State law prohibits elected officials from taking the oath when SEI forms haven’t been filed."

Further Smith quoted me correctly, when he wrote, “They are, in my opinion, not legal board members,” Philpott said. “Teresa Holmes was nominated for the position of vice chair and was elected. My contention is since she is not a board member, she cannot serve as an officer.”

Smith also contacted Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes, and Smith wrote, "Holmes said she doesn’t plan to step down, and disputes that she’s not legally qualified to serve on the board.": 

Smith quoted Holmes: “There is no reason that he should continue to say that,” Holmes said. “He knows that that’s not true."

So, basically, Holmes is calling me a liar.

Teresa Holmes has a Ph.D. She should be able to understand the law and that the order of the words in the law in important.

Why do I continue to say she is not a legal member of the Board? It's as simple as 1-2-3. While she is legally “qualified”, she is not legally “entitled” to serve on the Board.

1.     At the time Holmes took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, she was "qualified" to be a member of the Board, because she had been elected.
2.     However, when she took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, she was not eligible to take it, because she had not filed the required Statement of Economic Interests Report with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Therefore, it is as if she never took the oath of office. The oath that she did take has no force or effect.
3.     She filed the required Statement on December 4, 2018, but she has never taken the oath of office legally; i.e., after she filed the Statement.

Because Holmes hasn't taken the oath of office, she is NOT a legal Board member. And, because she is not a legal Board member, she cannot serve as Board Vice Chair. She is only a Trustee-elect, not a Trustee. She is NOT entitled to sit at the Board or to vote or to attend Executive Sessions or to serve as Board Vice Chair. She is not entitled to receive Trustee compensation or have any expenses paid or reimbursed for meetings, conferences, out-of-town Association meetings, etc. Nor should Amelia McKie, for the same reasons. All monies paid to or for McKie and Holmes should be returned to Richland 2 School District.

Richland 2 School District has never provided me with any response or statement regarding my allegations. It has informed me that "The District’s legal counsel continues to advise us that actions taken by the Board are valid under these circumstances." That statement is NOT a response to my allegations. And it’s only true if a quorum of legal Board members was in attendance.

As early as mid-March I suggested to the Board that there was a simple "fix" to this problem. Holmes and McKie need to raise their right hands and take the oath of office. Then, and only then, will they become legal board members.

As soon as they do, then the Board will have to re-examine every vote on or since November 13, 2018 that was affected by votes by McKie and Holmes. Many decisions will change.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Could it happen here? A gender-less student body?

Could the insanity happening in NYC schools be foisted on students and parents of Richland 2 School District?

Read this article carefully.

Maybe this article is just a big joke. Maybe is just a branch of The Onion. And maybe it's not. Maybe this is true.

This is why, Parents, you must attend school board meetings and be involved! Don't just ship your kids off to school and think that the schools, teachers and administration will do what's best for your kids.

YOU decide what is best for them. YOU are the governors of the school district. YOU elect school board members, and YOU must watch them carefully.

The only way to know what is going on is to view the agenda before each meeting and to understand it. Read the proposed revisions to Board Policies. These are not just policies that apply to the board. Many of these are policies of the Board that will be applied to your children and to staff.

If you don't agree with something, you must speak out - effectively.

One way to do that is to gather your friends, family and neighbors and speak up at Board meetings. Don't fall for the "one speaker on a topic is enough". Every one of you should speak. If the Board calls "Time's up", tell them "No, the time is not up."

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Remembering Operation Lost Trust

Were you in South Carolina when Operation Lost Trust broke open the issues of corruption and lobbyists' vote-buying in South Carolina government almost 30 years ago?

Recently I began reading the 600-page book titled Operation Lost Trust, by John V. Crangle. Crangle was the Executive Director of Common Cause/South Carolina from 1986 to 2016.

As I work my way through this tale of intrigue, I find myself thinking of the unresolved questions at the Richland 2 School District about the legitimacy of the School Board.

Operation Lost Trust quotes former S.C. House Speaker Bob Sheheen: "When you've got people involved in leadership who are under scrutiny, that reflects not only on them but on the institution." In the same paragraph on Page 43, Sheheen is further quoted: "you don't know what's coming next."

Sheheen's words ring true in 2019, not about the S.C. House, but about Richland 2 School District.

I have found myself at times becoming impatient with the wheels of justice and, at the same time, admiring the investigation and preparation skills of others who prepare such cases.

Thorough preparation often means that charges are announced and very quickly guilty pleas are entered. How does this happen? Defendants know that prosecutors have them "dead to rights".In other words, there is no way out of it for them.

The whole story will end up here one of these days.

An important decision was made by the School Board when it elected James Manning as the Board Chair for the 2019-2020 School Year. Manning is the longest-serving member of the Board, and he has been on the Board since 2010. His term as trustee runs to 2022.

The Board and the public are likely to see a noticeable change in leadership style. It may take him a month or two to institute changes. Meetings should be much better organized, smoother and shorter.