Courier Letters to the Editor 11-19-14

Against all amnesty

Dear Editor,

I am opposed to any kind of amnesty for illegals. I think we should attach a provision that will charge illegals “rent” for being in our county illegally to any bill that will actually get through Congress.

Illegals cost us money in many ways. We should charge them rent for being here illegally. In fact, we could waive the rent if they leave our Country and do not come back. This provision must be designed by attorneys so that it does not require a trail to find that an illegal has not paid his rent.

I suggest using some of the provisions that the tyrants at the IRS use to collect rent money from the illegals. Another effect is to give the IRS tyrants illegals to chase and take a number of them off of our backs.

Weldon H. Clark Jr.


Expressing appreciation

Dear Editor,

Last Tuesday, I attended the Veterans Day ceremony at Pickens High School. Leaving the ceremony left me with appreciation for our students, teachers and community. The JROTC cadets honored local veterans as we celebrated living in a nation that has been blessed in so many ways. PHS principal Marion Lawson has fully recovered from a heart attack in June. His recovery is a blessing. To experience Veterans Day with him made the occasion even more special.

During the past seven months as superintendent, I have experienced a tremendous number of positive events throughout our district. Our students recently experienced success at the highest level in band competitions, volleyball, cross country and golf.

We are in the process of developing five-year plans for the general fund budget and capital needs. All districts face enormous funding challenges. We have four budget teams providing recommendations so that all areas are represented as we attempt to provide our students with the best opportunity to succeed in life.

Our academic standing is currently rated between 15 and 20 in most areas, but we also have many areas of outstanding achievement throughout our district. Several of our schools have performed at the highest level on the SAT, ACT, and ESEA Waiver Report Card. Our goal is to be among the top five in the state in academics. In order to provide autonomy in the middle of a changing structure of public education, each school has developed site-based leadership plans in order to move the district into the top five. We have confidence that each school will be successful in achieving this goal within five years.

The landscape in education has completely changed due to new standards, evaluation, assessment, technology, reading initiatives and report cards developed at the state and federal level.

Despite the never-ending changes, my experience at the Veterans Day ceremony reminded me that each school offers daily opportunities to provide a winsome culture in the middle of the transformation of education. It is easy to forget the great accomplishments of the past if we dwell on the struggles of today, so please join me in expressing appreciation to many who sacrificed so that we can enjoy our freedom. I would like to thank each veteran for the freedom that we have in the greatest county in South Carolina, Pickens County!

Danny Merck

Superintendent, School District of Pickens County

Can you hear me now?

Dear Editor,

So, the president, with his Vulcan hearing, heard what two-thirds of us were sayng with our silence in the voting process. Since he didn’t elaborate on what he thought he heard, I’ll share what my 120-millionths part was saying.

Davy Crockett, the frontiersman and politician, was a favorite of the Whigs in the 1835 congressional elections, and they used his “homespun virtue and rugged honesty” for their own shrewd goals and objectives. He lost. His parting comment concerning the political environment of the times was, “quit the states until honest and independent men again work to the top of the heap.” Had he stayed out of Texas, away from the Alamo and lived to a respectable old age, he would have still been waiting.

A hundred years later, in the 1930s, there was another election cycle. A while back, I was looking through micro-film of old issues of the local newspaper and I found an article. The title: “Good men don’t run for public office because of bad press.” We were still waiting. (Negative political campaigning has been around a really long time.)

Another 40 years later, there were the Pentagon Papers and Watergate incidents, along with Hoover’s personal spying files. My first voting in a presidential election was 1972, and I cast my for Nixon. He won. I lost to an (expletive deleted) politician. In the 1976 election, I voted for Carter, who was an outsider to Washington politics. As his history played out, he was chased out of D.C. and later proved to be one of the homespun virtue and rugged honesty types. I quit the voting like Crockett quit the states.

Forty more years later, and 180 years after Davy Crockett, the heap of fighting has only gotten higher and meaner. The election process has degraded into selecting our political leaders by who can make their opponents appear as evil incarnated. If you can’t say anything that’s good about your own candidate, then talk about how bad the opponents are. If you can’t say anything bad about your opponents, then connect them to someone already considered bad — guilt by association. Millions are spent on those negative ads because they work. Those who say they vote for the candidate and their policies only think they have free will.

Follow the money. A few from the wealthy classes can each donate millions to their favored candidates. It takes 100,000 of us common folk donating $10 each to have the same influence as one person’s $1 million. Donors and lobbists are lined up with untraceable negotiables in hand at politicans’ doors to plea their case for favored legislation.

I could go on and list other things I find objectable about the election process. But I’ll just end with this: it’s a corrupted, broken, biased political system of governance, even though it may disguise itself as free democratic elections and democracy. It’s worst at the national level, not as much so at the state level and hopefully least at the local levels.

Some of us non-voters are still waiting for honest and independent men and women to make it to the top of the heap.

Did you hear all that from my not voting, Mr President? Governor Haley? Senator Graham? Representative Duncan?

Jerry Hughes



Saitta clears up tax issue

Dear Editor,

The notion school taxes have not been raised in Pickens County is untrue. The school district levys two taxes. School operations taxes fund day-to day costs to run the schools. School debt taxes fund school construction and repair. School operations tax rate plus school debt tax rate equals total school tax rate.

It is misleading to only talk about the operations tax rate, which has been relatively stable, trying to create the impression school taxes have not been raised.

While the tax rate for school operations has been relatively stable, the tax rate for school debt has risen four different times. As a result, the total school tax rate has risen significantly, from 128 mills in 2007 to 165.2 mills today.

Looking at the school debt tax hike in dollar terms, taxes for school debt were $7.7 million in 2007. This year, Pickens County taxpayers will fork over $24.9 million to fund school debt. You see, in 2006, when the school board borrowed $354 million for its building plan (I voted against the plan), it structured the deal so the bond payments would rise from 2007 through 2015.

In 2015, the bond payment will rise for the last time, to $26.1 million, so a fifth increase in the school debt tax rate is likely. The annual payment levels off at $26.1 million until 2031.

The notion $387 million in new schools were built (equivalent to building 38 new Easley libraries) and school taxes were not raised is baseless and misleading.

Alex Saitta

School Board Trustee