Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” seem less enduring than thought by the president in 1863.
Ken Loveless joined the Richland-Lexington District 5 school board by election in November of last year. In a letter published in the Irmo News (Jan 16), Ken goes to great lengths to tell those who elected him that as a member of the board he has limited access to knowledge of plans for designing and building a new elementary school.
If a member of the board is kept in the dark, then it follows that the citizens who will foot the bill are precluded from knowing how their money will be spent or even what Is the basis for building the school. One might go further afield than Mr. Loveless and ask where or when and by whom the decision was made to spend the millions of dollars to build the school. There was a time in the not too distant past when a bond issue would have been approved (or disapproved) by the taxpayers. There has been no bond issue put before the voters of D5 in more tan a decade, but numerous schools have been built or undergone major renovation.
In the town of Irmo. A major controversy has gone on for more than two years about whether to allow a handicapped person to build a carport she deemed necessary for her personal safety. A complaint of discrimination against a handicapped person resulted in action by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in concert with administrators of Fair Housing Act (HUD) giving the Town of Irmo a choice to allow the woman to build the carport and pay her $40,000 as compensation for the injustice or to have the case litigated in federal court. The town was given until November 12, to comply or face a lawsuit.
On November 12, a special meeting was called to address the letter from DOJ. Citizens came to the meeting and expressed strong sentiment in favor of the lady. Council went into executive session. When council came out of executive session, the mayor issued a curt statement that the “insurance lawyers” would represent the town in federal court. At a one-on-one meeting with the mayor on January 4, I alleged that open meeting laws were not followed. It would seem as an observer of the meeting, that a decision was reached while in executive session because no vote was taken by council after the executive session, but yet the proposed conclusion as recommended by DOJ was not going to be followed.
The mayor stated that there was no infringement of open meeting laws because the decision had been made long before the special meeting and the executive session. He could not tell me when the decision was made nor show me a record of a vote to go forward with litigation. I am chagrined to think that our council would go forward with a special meeting ostensibly to decide the issue of going to litigation or adopting the DOJ proposal when the decision had already been cast. I can call action by council on Nov 12 by no other name than a blatant lie and overt action to pull the wool over the eyes of their constituents.
The D5 situation and the Irmo Council situation are but two current examples of government that is anything but ‘by the people’! These are examples of government going about the people’s business that is hidden from the people and is contrary to precepts of open and transparent government
Patrick Donlon – Irmo S. C.