Friday, August 28, 2020

Board Candidates' Panels on Facebook

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week (August 26-27) Gretchen Barron hosted Facebook LIVE panels for Richland 2 school board candidates.  

On Wednesday candidates McFadden, Meisner, Shadd and Terry responded to questions, and on Thursday candidates Agostini, Jacobs, Bell-Williams and Wright were there. Monica Elkins had a conflict with another meeting, and James Mobley was not present.

The candidates and the host did a great job.

The panel discussions are archived on Gretchen Barron's Facebook page. Go to her FB page and look for Aug. 26 (Part 1) and Aug. 27 (Part 2).

Or click here for her page, and toggle on the left arrow to move from Part 1 to Part 2.

Just before the end of each night's recording each candidate provides contact information. If you'd to know phone numbers, email addresses, website, etc., you can find them there.

I may be the only person on the planet challenged around making Facebook LIVE perform. There was a chat window on the page I was viewing, but I was unable to see the questions provided by other viewers. Gretchen later guessed that I may have been on a "Watch" page (whatever that is).

McKie - No Payment. Not a Penny!

Amelia McKie owes $51,750 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission, as of today.

How much has she paid on her debt? Not a penny. Not a single penny.

The Ethics Commission fined her for numerous violations (Eight Counts) of filing requirements between 2015 and 2018. Not one. Not two. Numerous!

July 3, 2018 The Ethics Commission issued a Decision and Order against Amelia McKie and ruled that McKie owed a total of $41,000, composed of a Reduced Late-filing Penalty of $24,425 plus a Civil Penalty of $16,000 plus an administrative fee of $575. McKie was ordered to pay $20,000 by December 31, 2018 and the remaining $21,000 by June 30, 2019.

The Ethics Commission further ordered that, if McKie did not pay in full within the time period specified, then a judgment in the amount of $51,750 would be filed against her in Richland County Court.

She did not pay even one penny.

July 10, 2019 A judgment of $51.750 was entered in Richland County Common Pleas Count against McKie. The Case No. is 2019CP4003809. 

The judgment is supposed to be collected by the S.C. Department of Revenue.

According to the Ethics Commission today, the balance due is still $51,750.

The 2018-2022 term for a board trustee runs to November 2022. If McKie started paying monthly in equal installments, with a commitment to pay off her debt by the end of the current term, she would have to pay $1,990 every month. 

The Richland 2 School District deserves trustees with impeccable financial history. Trustees are responsible for multi-millions of dollars of money, bonds, and assets. It's bad enough that McKie owes $51,750 and worse that she has made NO payment toward her indebtedness in two years. Not even token payments.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that she is not even a legal member of the Board, since she has never taken the oath of office legally. When the District finds itself forced to recover the $900/month it improperly paid out to a person who was not a legitimate member of the board, that will add $19.800 ($900 x 22) to her debt load.

In January or February 2019 a parent in the District asked during Public Participation at a Board Meeting for McKie to step down. McKie did not, and the rest of the Board won't insist on it. 

There is no appeal to her Ethics Commission debt, and I've been told that the S.C. DOR doesn't negotiate. The time allowed for appeal ran out a long time ago. When will the DOR collect on that judgment? It can take assets, and it can garnish her Richland 2 wages.

No oath. Lose eligibility to serve?

What happens when a candidate for office is elected and is "qualified" to serve, but never takes the oath of office after becoming eligible* to take it?

According to South Carolina state law (S.C. Code of Laws Section 8-13-1110(A)), the person elected cannot take the oath of office OR begin serving in that office until his (her) Statement of Economic Interest has been filed.

What happens in the case where the person elected files the SEI but then does not take the oath of office? 

First of all, it is illegal for that person to serve and to perform the responsibilities of the elected office.

Secondly, the public body should not pay any taxpayer funds to that person, because she is not legally in office.

Thirdly, the person who serves without taking the oath of office is usurping public office.

Are low-paid employees of the public body (here, the Richland 2 School District), who are just doing their jobs as trained and directed, liable for disbursing public monies illegally?

Are their supervisors, managers and department heads liable? Is the school district's superintendent liable?

How about the Board of Trustees (here, the School Board)? If they know about the problem and do nothing about it, are they complicit in the violations of the law?

The Richland County Elections Commission has been asked to determine whether an elected person loses eligibility to take the oath of office after some period of time?

On November 6, 2018 Amelia McKie and Teresa Holmes were elected to office.

On November 13, 2018 McKie and Holmes took the oath of office illegally. They had not filed SEIs. They were allowed to take seats at the November 13, 2018 Regular Meeting. They participated in the meeting and voted on motions. Although they were "qualified" for the office as Trustee, they were not eligible yet.

On December 4, 2018 McKie and Holmes filed their SEIs with the S.C. Ethics Commission. On that date they became eligible to take the oath of office and commence their official duties.

McKie and Holmes have not taken the oath of office (legally) on or after December 4, 2018. That is almost 21 months ago. Nearly two years!

The School District has paid them a monthly salary ($900.00?) and paid their expenses, such as S.C. School Boards Assn. memberships. No doubt that other expenses have been paid or reimbursed for them.

They are not legitimate board members. To become legitimate board members, all they need to do is take the oath of office on or after December 4, 2018. 

According to the Richland 2 School District, as of August 20, 2020 they have not done so (except for the oath they took improperly on November 13, 2018).

Do you agree that they should take the oath of office immediately or be prevented from further participation on the School Board? Please let me know by comment below, by phone or text (847/971-7083), or by email to Your response will be treated confidentially.

* The oath of office should not have been administered to McKie and Holmes on November 13, 2018, because the Elections Commission had not yet certified their election. The election was certified on November 9th and the earliest they could have taken office was one week later, on November 16, 2018, had they already filed their SEIs, which they hadn't.