Put Meetings On Line
by Alex Saitta
February 12, 2018
I read the article entitled, “Residents grill county council about meeting videos”. I understand why citizens are upset the council is not posting its meetings on-line after that was promised last year. Government transparency is essential to a healthy local democracy and an informed citizenry.
Anyone who follows government issues, realizes the county council and school board is not fully informing the public these days. By nature, most elected officials are always campaigning in some way, promoting only the positive issues and telling half the story (the positive half).
For instance, the council is telling us how they upped the funding for Tri-County Tech, about the Liberty Center and upgrading Mile Creek Park. They haven’t dwelled on their record borrowing and their largest property tax hike in 14 years that you’ll see in your October bills.
Or you when the school board voted to close AR Lewis, along with Holly Springs, they argued AR Lewis had to be shuttered. They said they lacked the $900,000 for needed upgrades and at 200 students the school too small to operate.
I voted against closing the schools because the district had the money, and smaller schools are better for children. This year they reopened AR Lewis for another purpose and hailed the event as saving the school. Well the rest of the story is they just spent $1,000,000 for the needed upgrades and the school houses only 51 students.
The school board has already been videotaping its meetings, however it doesn’t put them on-line. It should.
Then candidate, and now Pickens trustee, Shannon Haskett promised in various newspapers and on his campaign literature he would “employ technology to make school board deliberations more widely available to the public.” An admirable promise he can follow through on by simply asking the administration to put the meetings on-line.
Speaking of school board deliberations, what the heck did they do at the October meeting?
Closing the two schools added students to Pickens Elementary. That school’s car pick-up line was already a nightmare and it is worse with cars going down Monroe Street, stacking up on Highway 178. Dangerous, and the city police have warned the district about this.
A $500,000 car loop redesign was slated for Pickens Elementary. Looking at the 5-year plan I received just before I was defeated for re-election, the fix was scheduled for this summer. Bad news, the board voted 6 to 0 in October to push the fix back to 2022.
And the money is there – the budget has risen from $33 million to $40 million in two years. They just spent nearly $500,000 to tear down an abandoned building (old Skelton Center) and are spending a whopping $350,000 on restrooms and a press box at Gettys Middle. Sorry, those are lower priorities than fixing the car-loop at Pickens Elementary.
This is kind of shenanigans that goes on when unity is the ultimate goal, and trustees are just raising their right hands in the spirit of go-along-get-along. And the public is never the wiser.