Sunday, May 17, 2020

Letter to the Editor, The Voice

The following Letter to the Editor has been sent to The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County. Be sure to read The Voice often. Remember, it is the paper that discovered that Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes had failed to file the Statements of Economic Interest Reports with the S.C. Ethics Commission before taking the oath of office. It also reported extensively of McKie's $51,750 debt to the S.C. Ethics Commission for four years' worth of failure regarding required reporting.

The Richland 2 School Board stuck it to the voters, taxpayers, parents, staff and students on May 12, when it voted to suspend Board Policy BEDH - Public Participation at Meetings. Not suspend it temporarily, as Amelia McKie explained. There was no "temporarily" about it. They voted 6-1 to suspend it. That means it is no longer in effect.

Is the suspension of BEDH a First Amendment violation? An infringement on free speech? After all, the school board is a public body. Meetings are (supposed to be) open. Trustee Agostini explained the "meeting portal" ( that the City of Columbia has opened. 

BEDH allowed the public to speak at board meetings. No more. BEDH allowed the public to suggest items for board consideration. No more. The Richland 2 Board suspended BEDH at the suggestion and encouragement of the S.C. School Boards Assn. Who runs the Richland 2 District? The SCSBA? No, the elected school board does. At least, it ought to.

When "temporary" was not part of the Motion, why would McKie say the suspension is temporary? Was that an attempt to mislead the public? Why didn't the Chairman clarify before the vote that the suspension would NOT be temporary?

Trustee Elkins-Johnson wanted the suspension only through the end of the summer, but she gave up easily when she wasn't supported. Trustee Lindsay Agostini was the only school member to vote NO. Thank you, Lindsay, for sticking up for the voters and taxpayers. 

Gus Philpott