Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Robert Lominack - Richland One

Take a look at this message from Robert Lominack, Richland School District One board member and candidate for re-election in his District. 

"I look forward to continuing to focus on the issues I have been raising for the past 10 months. 
    • We have to do more to support our teachers and staff. 
    • We have to be more transparent about what we're doing and why we're doing it.
    • We have to be willing to admit when we as a board and an administration are failing. 
"This is the only way we'll get better. It's the only way we will build back the trust we need. And it's the only way we will truly support every student in the district."

These are the words of a Servant Leader.

These words will never pass the lips of The Core Four in Richland Two.

Three of them are not running for re-election. 

Let's help the fourth come in about #12 on November 8th.

How the Board Chair Helps

This morning I emailed the Board Chair and others about the stone-walling by the superintendent to unlock his "Convocation" of last Tuesday, August 9.

Good morning, Chair Manning, members of the board, and trustees-elect Holmes and McKie,

Last Tuesday, August 9, 2022, Supt. Davis addressed the District staff in which is called a Convocation on https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10569733

As of this morning the presentation is still password-protected (locked) and cannot be viewed by the public. 

What is the big secret? The public is anxious to hear his remarks about the District's "brand" and how the District is under attack (which it isn't).

Tuesday night Libby Roof told me it was locked, because not all staff had heard it yet. Must the public wait until every last employee has heard it?

Will you please cause the presentation to be opened to the public today?

Thank you.

Gus Philpott

James Manning replied within an hour with "This is an administrative issue and you are already in touch with the proper staff regarding your concern."

Manning sent an additional message about three hours later, in response to a Trustee's request that the password protecting the Convocation be removed. His reply to her and me was, "District staff have received a FOIA request from Mr. Philpott.  Staff will handle that request in the timeframe allowed by State law."

For whom does Manning work in his elected position on the school board? Does he represent the voters or does he represent the superintendent?

The superintendent is clearly wrong to keep his message from the people of the District. He is a public servant, paid by the public, and he spoke on the public's dime at 8:30AM on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, using public property.

Just exactly what did he say that he doesn't want the public to hear?

I guess it's a good thing that he decided not to file for re-election. Voters won't get a chance to vote him out on November 8th for his unwillingness to represent the constituents of the District, rather than siding with the superintendent.

If you think Baron Davis is wrong to hide his Convocation, email him at badavis@richland2.org or telephone him at his office, 803.738.3236. His executive assistant, Georgette Council, will see that he gets your message (unless he tells her to just file it in the "round file").

Who over-spent the $7,000 allowance in 2021-2022?

In the school year just ended (2021-2022), several board members over-spent their $7,000 allowances for travel and training.

One good question is who approved reimbursing them for the excess, once they had hit their $7,000 limit.

Once they reached the maximum, a good Accounts Payable clerk would have cut them off. 

And maybe that "good A/P clerk" tried. But did someone else approve continued payments? At least two board members got more than $2,000 over the $7,000 limit. And that was for expenses before the end of the school year on June 30.

Where does the buck stop? Apparently, in Richland 2 the bucks don't stop. They just keep on rolling out. The superintendent acknowledged at one board meeting that he should have kept a closer eye on things.

But my question is, why would he even have a hand in the deal? Way down in the bowels of the accounting department, there is a clerk who does the accounting for the trustees' travel money. The limit should have been the LIMIT. But it wasn't. 

That clerk has a supervisor; the supervisor should not have approved the excess. And that supervisor has a department manager. And that manager should not have approved the excess.

I have a FOIA request in for the last two expense reports submitted by Teresa Holmes. I'm curious about the two signatures that over-ruled the A/P clerk.

Convocation still locked

On August 9, 2022 the superintendent made a speech to employees. It is at   https://livestream.com/richland2/events/10569733, but the recording is password-protected (locked).

On August 11th I emailed the superintendent and asked him to unlock it. There was no reply from his office or him.

I also filed a FOIA Request on August 11th, anticipating a delay on the District's part.

On August 15th I emailed Board Chairman James Manning and asked the board to direct the superintendent to unlock the speech. Manning replied, "This is an administrative issue and you are already in touch with the proper staff regarding your concern." Obvious, that is a totally unsatisfactory reply.

Today I emailed the superintendent again, making the same request.

I also emailed the Richland 2 Ombudsman this message:

"Good morning,

"Will you please let me know the reason that the 8/9/2022 Convocation is password-protected (locked) and when the password-protection will be removed?

"A dictionary definition of "Ombudsman" is "an official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities."

"I hope you will be able to answer this question. Thank you."

I doubt that the Ombudsman will be able to do so, because she is a Direct Report to the superintendent. She does what she is told to do.

I doubt that the Richland 2 Ombudsman has authority to investigate anything. She is more of a "traffic cop" and merely re-directs inquiries to others, who may or may not respond. Much like a secretary or administrative assistant.

In many businesses and government agencies, an ombudsman actually has some clout. Why do I think that is not the case in Richland 2?

School Board Candidates

Twelve (12) candidates filed for the Richland 2 school district. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Teresa Holmes (incumbent)

James Mobley

McGee Moody

Angela Nash

Niki Porter

Darrell President

Eric Rovelli

Larry Smalls

Terrance Staley

Joe Trapp

Tamika Washington

Maryann Wright

The two-week filing period closed at noon yesterday.

Of The Core Four, three did not file for re-election. They are Manning, McKie, and Caution-Parker. 

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The election could be certified by Thursday, November 10, 2022. The term-of-office for the new board members starts one week after the election is certified, which could be Thursday, November 17.

The first scheduled board meeting after the election is certified will be a Special-Called Meeting on Friday, November 18. The four candidates elected as school board members will take the oath-of-office and enter upon their official responsibilities, IF they have filed their Statements of Economic Interests Reports with the South Carolina Ethics Commission. 

You can bet that there won't be a repeat of the fiasco that occurred after the November 2018 election!

However, watch for a wrench in the works, if the Richland County Elections Commission does not certify the election on November 10. The following day, November 11, is Veterans Day, which is a U.S. and South Carolina holiday. This could delay certification of the school board election until Monday, November 14, which would cause a last-minute re-scheduling of the Special-Called Meeting.

This means that the last school board meeting for Manning, McKie, and Caution-Parker will be Tuesday, October 25. That meeting is five days after McKie's hearing at the Ethics Commission on her latest violation.