Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is Brian Hicks Naive or Ignorant?

Following the party line?

So it seems with P&C columnist Brian Hicks in his latest column on the support of Charleston County's charter schools for Henry Copeland's appointment to replace Mary Ann Taylor on the CCSD Board of Trustees. Hicks echoes an article published earlier this week attempting to suggest those schools were illegally pushing for Copeland.

Has he been paying attention? Hicks goes so far as to suggest, based on her affirmation, that Superintendent Nancy McGinley is pro-charter.

Excuse the horse-laugh.

Maybe Hicks needs to visit a few public schools during school board elections. Oh, that's right! No politicking goes on there!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

McGinley-Meyers Candidates for CCSD Seat

Pay attention.

The P&C has not only put forward the obvious candidates--Seabrook, Moody, Miller, Copeland--for the recently-vacated seat on the Charleston County School Board. It has leaked the plans of the McGinley-Meyers nexus.

The long arm of former Board member Gregg Meyers has reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the name of William L. "Sam" Hiott, who the reporter mentions formerly served on the District 23 constituent board.

And now the rest of the story.

Meyers recruited Hiott to run against Sandi Engelman in the 2006 school board elections. After all, Hiott thought Engelman was "too divisive."

We all know those code words.

He had difficulty finding enough signatures for his petition to be valid, so the Taj Mahal found some more for him. Despite Meyers's plans, Ruth Jordan won that election.

No doubt Hiott has the common touch, since he made over $18 million dollars in 2009 in his last year as executive vice president of the Bank of South Carolina. He won't need to worry about this "salary" business. Now that he's semi-retired, he can mingle with the hoi polloi.

At least he's from the Low Country's "front porch."

Such cannot be said for McGinley's choice, Rew A. "Skip" Godow, whose Facebook page sports a 25-year-old picture, reveals no family, and states his interest in women.

The College of Charleston and Trident Technical Center employ this native of Chicago (well, Oak Brook, its tony suburb) in various administrative capacities. Who better to take McGinley's side than another member of the edublob? His Ph.D. in the Psychology of Philosophy (or is it the Philosophy of Psychology?) should come in handy on the Board.

Godow has served and continues to serve on multiple boards of directors--the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, the Charleston Education Network, the Education Foundation, and even the Community Advisory Committee to CCSD.

You get the picture. Just the type of bureaucrat McGinley wants--can be counted on to show up for meetings and not ask too many questions.

Let's see if the Charleston legislative delegation has any common sense.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CCSD Needs Voice for Taxpayers

As the editors of the P&C have correctly stated, the newly-appointed member to the Board of Trustees (to replace the resigned Mary Ann Taylor) should be a person who reflects Taylor's views.

In fact, it makes no sense to appoint either of her opponents, Miller or Seabrook, to the Board because the voters have already rejected them once in favor of Taylor.  Nor does it make sense to allow the Chamber of Commerce another seat on the Board in the person of Brian Moody. After all, the Chamber already controls the Board in the person of Chris Fraser.

No, the most feared appointee will be one who can read financial statements and ask intelligent questions, one who will guard the interests of students in the district by guarding the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. That attitude alone will put that person in the voting minority--at least until the next school board election.

Do we really want another go-along-and-get-along member as the superintendent's salary and those of her close administrative staff reach for one million dollars a year? 

Yes, Henry Copeland, has locked horns with the Taj Mahal over wasteful expenditures, uninforced policies, backroom decisions, and lottery shenigans. He sounds perfect.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Douglas Endorses Copeland for CCSD Board!

Former Charleston County School District Board of Trustees Chairman Hillery Douglas has endorsed Henry Copeland to fill the vacancy on the Board produced by Mary Ann Taylor's resignation. According to the P&C Douglas said that Copeland "would be the no. 1 person district leaders wouldn't want."

Of course, Douglas is well-known for his penchant for using reverse psychology to get his way. Those of us with longer memories of the CCSD Board Follies can call to mind Douglas's well-honed statements on such entities as charter schools and the Buist lottery.

Remember, he said he favored more charter schools and then voted against them?

Reverse psychology. In his heart, he knows he wants Henry.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OPM Spent on Ron McNair Questionable at Best

Since the Charleston County School District's much-touted Sixth Grade Academy silently folded its tents and faded into the night last summer, embarrassed by its failures, the Ron McNair building (formerly used while Orange Grove Elementary Charter School was being replaced) has stood vacant, a silent spectator of a wasteful building program in the district.

Never mind that Chicora Elementary, also in North Charleston, has suffered for years the slings and arrows of every heavy rainstorm that arrives. And they do.

In a masterful display of planning in advance, CCSD has now determined that Chicora's environment is so bad for its students that the school must move midyear to Ron McNair.

But wait. . .  

The district plans to spend $700,000 of OPM to ready the Ron McNair building for the influx. No mystery.

The San Franciscan's buddies are at the controls again.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taylor's Irresponsible Resignation

While I have the greatest respect for now former Charleston County School Board member Mary Ann Taylor, I must also respectfully disagree with her decision to resign from the Board over the salary issue.

Perhaps Taylor just didn't understand fully when she ran how nasty and vindictive CCSD's administration can be. Certainly she has gone several rounds with them previously. But Taylor was one of the sane voices on the Board of Trustees. Whoever replaces her is unlikely to know as much about the inner workings of the district or to have as level a view.

Having said that, what does Taylor want for the Board? Perhaps we need a ballot initiative: should only rich people serve on the Board of Trustees? Will anyone take a Board seriously that basically is treated as "volunteer" and paid gas money? A board that supposedly oversees a multi-million dollar enterprise with a "CEO" that packs away more than a quarter of a million dollars per year? Are the districts in Columbia and Greenville simply spendthrifts for the salaries paid to their trustees, or do they simply take their trustees more seriously?

The Post and Courier only added to the confusion by its outrageous headline today. Should we pay the county or city council members only $25 per meeting?

Think about it!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Tale of Spending OPM*: The Sky Is Falling

*Other people's money.

Imagine this scenario.

A business has existed in the same building, built especially for its purpose, for 80 years, a building now considered an architectural landmark. One day a visitor from San Francisco arrives and asks the owner if his building is earthquake-proof.

"Why on earth would you ask me that?" the owner replies. "No earthquake has occurred here during my lifetime, my father's lifetime, or even my grandfather's lifetime. In fact, only one earthquake has ever occurred in this area, and that was more than 100 years ago. Scientists think there might be another some day, but they have no evidence that any earthquake ever occurred in the area except for that one. We're not on a fault or the edge of a plate the way San Francisco is."

"Yes," the San Franciscan replied, "but there might be an earthquake. I can make your building safer from an earthquake if you will give me $5 million dollars."

"Five million dollars!" the businessman screamed. "You must be joking!"

"It's no joke. Listen, I have a plan. We can use OPM and I can make a buck or two while providing jobs for all my friends."

One day, a few months later, neighbors watched in disbelief as the San Franciscan removed and trashed a perfectly good slate roof that had sheltered the business for 80 years and would have done so, with a bit of care, for another 100. In its place the San Franciscan's buddies put plastic tiles, guaranteed to last at least for 20.

"Wait a minute," a bemused bystander interrrupted. "How does removing those beautiful slate tiles make the building more earthquake-proof?"

"Silly," the San Franciscan replied, "if we ever have an earthquake, one of the slate tiles might fall off the roof and hit someone on the head. The synthetic tiles aren't as heavy."

The bystander gaped for a few minutes, watching the carnage, then walked away shaking his head.

"What businessman in his right mind would make a decision like that," he wondered.

"Ha!" the San Franciscan mused as he looked at the headlines. "Mine is only the second-biggest job of its kind on the entire east coast of the United States. Those people up in Maine and New York City and Washington, DC, and New Jersey need to take some advice from a San Franciscan. I wonder why they haven't."