Petition/ Referendum: 
By Alex Saitta 
May 7, 2016 
Like I said early on about the Pickens County school board closing AR Lewis and Holly Springs, the root of the problem was the ďan utter and complete breakdown of representative governmentĒ.  
The public had loud, broad and unanimous opposition to closing any schools. Letís face it, board majority and the district administration didnít hear the message, and voted to close the schools anyway.  
Stating it another way, the public owns the school system, hires trustees to not only listen, but hear and when the directives from the public are clear, broad, and unanimous, the trustees are to follow them. That process broke down miserably.  
Then when they considered the idea of having a sales tax referendum, they stated even if the sales tax was increased, the school would be closed. See the attached video. The public would never support that. 
Referendum is a good idea that needs to be expanded and redirected.  
Nationwide Problem: 
The government not listening is a nationwide problem, reflecting the rise of Donald Trump. When candidates get into office and move just beyond the reach of the voters for another four years. Too many then do what they want or even the opposite of what they promised during their campaigns. That is frustrating the heck out of people, and rightly so, so it must change.  
At the county level, the solution might be in giving the public petition/ referendum power to repeal items passed by the school board. This would put a little decision making power in the hands of the people directly -- what they yearn for, and such veto authority could be used anytime the board goes wayward on an issue like our school board did this week. 
If such a law was in effect now, residents of Pickens County could start a petition against the closures (signatures equal to 10% of registered voters) and submit that petition to the board chairman. If the board refused to reverse their decision, the item would then be put on the ballot for all voters in November for repeal.   
Looking at Title 5, Chapter 17 (cities) and Title 4, Chapter 9 (counties) of the state code, residents have similar authority already with their city councils (see below) and the county council. Residents in all counties of the state need similar authority over their school boards.   
Ultimate Solution: 
First, modify and streamline the process for cities and counties. For instance, it should be limited to repeal of action, not new initiatives. The repeal of a tax hike should not be off limits. The threshold of required signatures should be dropped to 10%. After the law for cities and counties is modified in those ways and possibly others, petition/ referendum should be applied to school boards too.  
Title 5 ó Chapter 17 
SECTION 5-17-10: Electors of municipality permitted to propose ordinances.The electors of a municipality may propose any ordinance, except an ordinance appropriating money or authorizing the levy of taxes. Any initiated ordinance may be submitted to the council by a petition signed by qualified electors of the municipality equal in number to at least fifteen percent of the registered voters at the last regular municipal election... 
SECTION 5-17-20: Within sixty days after the enactment by the council of any ordinance authorizing the issuance of bonds which requires a pledge of the full faith and credit of the municipality, a petition signed by the qualified electors of the municipality equal in number to at least fifteen percent of the registered voters may be filed with the municipal clerk requesting that any such ordinance be repealed. 
SECTION 5-17-30: Special election subsequent to councilís failure or refusal to act upon initiative petition in manner desired by electors. 
If the council shall fail to pass an ordinance proposed by initiative petition or shall pass it in a form substantially different from that set forth in the petition therefor or if the council fail to repeal an ordinance for which a petition has been presented, the adoption or repeal of the ordinance concerned shall be submitted to the electors not less than thirty days nor more than one year from the date the council takes its final vote thereon. The council may, in its discretion, and if no regular election is to be held within such period, provide for a special election. 
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