Courier Letters to the Editor 12-24-14

No to Pickens County tax increase

Dear Editor,

In 2005, the residents of Pickens County voted down a $197 million building plan. The next year the school board did an end run around the voters and voted for a $387 million plan and a 39-mill property tax increase. School taxes have risen three times since then.

The school administration aims to increase property taxes 13.3 mills to continue excessive spending.

This tax was being pushed through on the fast track during the holidays when no one is watching.

The school buildings are in excellent condition, and the county taxpayer is already in debt for more than $300 million.

The district administration is threatening to close schools as a scare tactic to coerce you to pay more taxes.

Double taxation is irresponsible and unfair to the citizens of Pickens County. The state is not returning money we already pay for government services.

In 2007, state general fund revenues were about $6.6 billion, and state per pupil funding was about $2,400 per student. State revenues decreased several times and bottomed out at $5.3 billion in 2010, and student funding was cut to $1615.

In 2011, state revenue increased to $5.7 billion and student funding was increased to $1,880. State revenue increased to $5.9 billion in 2012, and student funding rose to $2,012 per student. In 2013, state revenue was $6.3 billion — almost the same amount as in 2007 — and yet student funding rose to just $2,101 where it stands now — $300 less per pupil than before the recession.

Weldon Clark

Treasurer, Pickens County Taxpayers Association


The other side of the barricades

Dear Editor,

The statistics for this letter came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and Bureau of Justice Statistics. Analysis calculations were by me.

There are about 930,000 federal, state, county and local law enforcement officers (LEOs) with the authority to make arrests. In 2013, they processed 1.163 million violent crimes (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults) and 8.632 million property crimes (burglary, larceny and motor thefts). Include misdemeanors, traffic violations, and other less serious infractions, and you end up with more than 10 million interactions between the LEOs and the public.

During the 2003-2013 years, the average annual number of LEOs feloniously killed while doing their job was about 51. This is a murder rate of about 5.5 per 100,000. Accidental deaths in the line of duty that met the same criteria as feloniously killed was about 64, a 6.8-per-100,000 rate. Together, the death rate for LEOs is 12.34 per 100,000. An LEO is 2.37 times more likely to die in the line of duty than being murdered among the general population, which has a 5.2-per-100,000 rate.

In 2013, there were 49,858 assaults against LEOs. Firearms, knives and other objects were used in 20 percent of the cases, which is a rate of 1,084 per 100,000. Hands, fists and feet were used in 80 percent. In the general public, the assault rate with weapons was 169.2 per 100,000. An LEO is 6.4 times more likely to be assaulted with a weapon while doing their job than the general public’s rate, even though weapons are used more often against the public, in 73 percent of the cases.

There were 11.3 million arrests in 2013. Sixty nine percent were white, 28 percent black and 3 percent other groups. Arrest-related deaths occurred about 687 times a year during 2003-2009. The 2010-2013 years were unavailable for some reason. Typically, 418 were killed by the LEO and 269 died by suicides, due to intoxication, accidents and natural causes. 42 percent were white, 32 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic and 6 percent were other groups. The arrest-related death rate by homicide per 100,000 arrests was 3.7, which is less than the 5.2-per-100,000 murder rate among the general public. There were about 14,200 murders in 2013.

I suppose there are three key numbers to take from all the above. While doing their job, LEOs are killed at a higher rate than the general public. They are assualted with weapons more often. And the people being arrested are killed at a lower rate.

It’s strange how the news coverage during the past few weeks has failed to mention those numbers. It seems like all they focus on is a white cop killing an unarmed black person. And then there were the protests, demonstrations, riots, looting and burning across the nation. I wonder how many of the people shouting at the LEOs across the barricades really knew what an LEO’s life is like? For sure, some officers may be quick on the trigger, but no one ever thought to ask why, other than to try and make it a black-and-white issue.

Among some of my Hughes rules, there are these two (I was making up rules a long time before Jethro Gibbs of NCIS). No. 1. Trust no one. Do your own research and analysis, with the least objectionable data. No. 2. You always find what you look for — nothing more, nothing less. Choose wisely what you seek. For the NCIS fans, Gibbs rule No. 36. If you feel like you’re being played, you probably are. The news media and special interest groups played us yet again.

Jerry Hughes