Search Results for: richland commission

Republican Craig Plank appointed to Richland County Election Commission

For years, there have been issues with our local Richland County Election Commission . Rather than rehash those, click that link and you’ll remember the nightmares.

In any event, I was very pleased this week to learn that Craig Plank had been approved by the Governor’s Office to serve on the commission. It’s my hope, Craig, along with independed Duncan Buell, and the 3 other Democrats will finally “fix” one of the most vital parts of our democracy.

NEVER should we experience what we did in 2012 , and never should votes go “missing”. I need to stop before I get fired up again.

Why is this news? There are 15 Democrat members on the Richland County Delegation. There are only 2 Republicans – me and Rep. Kirkman Finlay. Law requires there to be at least one member of the “majority party” and “minority party”.

After reviewing more than 100 applications and hearing from more than 50 applicants over a period of 4 hours, the delegation voted. Unforutnately, the Delegation did not appoint a Republican in the Top 5 – although we were told one of the 5 “voted Republican”. Equally shocking, 3 of the top 5 vote getters didn’t even bother to attend the public meeting to present themselves before the delegation.

In any event, I feel better that we were able to have the former Chairman of the Richland School District Two Board of Trustees appointed and serve our county in this capacity.

Better things ahead for our county once the commission hires a new director and works to ensure smoother elections for all.

No new money for Richland County Recreation Commission

Money

Just like Representative Finlay and I did by sustaining Veto 31 of an “Indoor Aquatic and Community Center” relating to Richland County and recreation, I am wanting to be sure no new funding is available or projects approved by the Recreation Commission until there is resolution from the ongoing local, state and federal investigations and lawsuits.

(Veto message)
Pool

Below is an email I sent our delegation today relating to the Park and Recreation Development Fund . The last thing that needs to happen is these tax dollars (your tax dollars) be spent without knowing more about what’s going on with the Commission.

(Email to Richland County Delegation)

2017 PARD

Related posts:

Richland County – sands through the hourglass

Delegation takes action with Recreation Commission

Meet your Richland County Recreation Commissioner

Personnel changes needed at Richland Election Commission


Photo courtesy of wistv.com

From Friday’s The State (@adambeam)

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — State Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, said Friday officials should fire elections director Lillian McBride.

“If the other members of the Richland Delegation and the County Election Board listen to our citizens, I believe they will come to the same conclusion,” Ballentine said in a news release.

He is the first member of the county’s delegation to publicly call for her dismissal.

McBride has been criticized for her office’s handling of the Nov. 6 general election, after a balloting mess that prompted lawsuits, intervention by a circuit court and the state’s highest court and triggered election protests. Some Richland County voters had to wait in line for up to seven hours to vote and, in some cases, cast their ballots well past midnight. Other voters, faced with massive lines, left polling places in frustration without casting ballots.

It took Richland County elections officials more than a week to certify the results. In one race, County Council District 9, officials initially ruled incumbent Val Hutchinson had won only to discover later she had lost to Democratic challenger Julie-Ann Dixon.

It is unclear who has the authority to fire McBride: the Richland County legislative delegation, to whom she directly reports, or the county Election Commission. An Attorney General’s opinion earlier this week said a court likely would side with the county election board. Thursday, Election Commission members voted to accept that opinion.

Ballentine suggested other changes he said would help future elections.

“Personnel changes are simply not enough however, and I believe my colleagues and I should consider legislation that will directly hold local election commissions more accountable,” Ballentine said. “Additionally, I think we need to reduce the size of each precinct in our county. As a state official, I will work on legislation to do just that.”

Video courtesy of ABC Columbia

Meet Your Richland County Recreation Commissioner

I hate to follow up a post about Young Life with this type of post but folks, I’m for transparency and I wanted y’all to know what’s going on in government.

This time locally – with Richland County.

Many would never know that our community, once again, has NO representation on the Richland County Recreation Commission if I didn’t tell you. But I’m telling you and I’m telling you how it happened.

For years before I was elected, we had no representation but I was fortunate after y’all sent me here to work with the delegation (10 Democrats, 5 Republicans) and get an Irmo citizen elected a few years back. I thank my Richland House and Senate members for understanding our area had long been underepresented on the commission and they supported my nomination.

Unforunately, our commisioner’s stint was a short one as he was unceremoniously removed by the ranking Senator on our delegation because our commissioner supposedly “wasn’t voting correctly” (what I was told). You may recall (or may not) how this Recreation Commission is the pet-project for this ranking Senator and how that Senator is very much involved in what goes on.

My philosophy has been that we should empower the individuals we appoint instead of micro-managing them. If you’re SO interested in the day-to-day operations and votes, then you should run for the position yourself but don’t be a puppet-master. [Read more…]

Richland County needs you!

I’m hopeful we have constituents in Irmo/Chapin willing to serve on and, in many cases, improve upon, our Boards and Commissions. I could spend all day talking about the process and the outcomes.

Our Delegation is looking for good people to volunteer their time and expertise to our county boards and commissions. See press release below for more details and click here to print application (please submit to the county – and let me know by contacting me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov)

If you have any questions about the boards/commissions, please reach out to RCLegDel@rcgov.us or contact me.

Thanks in advance for your interest!

*Note: For those with attention to detail, you’ll notice the Delegation Office hasn’t updated letterhead yet. You’ll still see names of individuals no longer on the delegation.

$350,000 for Richland County parks goes to….

…City of Columbia, Parks and Rec Department
Colony/North Pointe Recreation Project Phase 1 – $88,914.74
Colony/North Pointe Recreation Project Phase 2 – $ 274,376.15

Yes, you read that correctly. Richland County money that our county parks could use for safety and other improvements went to the City of Columbia – for a new park. For perspective the City already has 60 city parks and green spaces; 600 acres of city-maintained park land; 55 tennis courts; 16 city pools, spray pads and ponds; and 9 city-maintained fountains.

I discovered this after I stopped in my State House Office the first day back from a family vacation. (Yes, I kept in touch while away, returning constituents calls, working with colleagues, making a request of our Speaker and calling in from Montana to Keven Cohen’s show when the bombshell of VC Summer news broke. More on that tomorrow.)

When reviewing the paperwork from the “FY 2017-2018 PARD (Parks and Recreation Development Fund) Recurring Funds Allocation booklet” that SC PRT mails to House/Senate at the end of July, I came across the lines items mentioned above “Columbia, City of Parks and Rec. Dept”. I’ve discussed PARD funds before on this website. Bottom line, PARD funds are allocated each year to COUNTY DELEGATIONS to be used for parks and recreation.

Much has been written about the mess with the Richland County Recreation Commission for many years on my website ) and I was pleased to see a group of my colleagues finally come together and support the push for much needed change at the Commission. In addition, I was pleased to see them agree for my push a new way for the delegation appointed members (the old way is what helped empower the former Director and led to the many problems that have been finally reported).

We have finally restored some confidence and trust in that department by replacing the former commissioners with individuals chosen from more than 60 applicants – all given a chance to speak before the delegation.

Earlier this summer, after the delegation secretary forwarded an email PARD request to the entire delegation for the Bookert Heights Community (which I shared with a colleague I would support), I replied to the entire delegation:

“How have we decided to handle PARD going forward? There is (sic) LOTS available to impact our communities and I want us to all be able to help our areas. I remember Chairman Neal had us “divide the money evenly”. Recently, it seems we have individual requests coming in. I’m supportive one way or another; but want to be sure the delegation is aware of the enormous amount available and that we work together for each other. Thoughts?”

Our delegation chairman responded: “We have usually wanted to make sure each member has an opportunity to make this important resource available to their constituents where appropriate. We have not done it always the same way. I will reach it (sic) to staff today and reply to the group with an update on the fund.”

There was no update until today when I opened the report. Worse, the update showed me that not only did the request everyone received not get approved, 2 OTHER requests were approved that the entire delegation DID NOT RECEIVE.

I called PRT and learned that 52% of the weighted average of the delegation had signed a letter of support. While a majority is required, what should be EXPECTED is that the delegation discuss these matters together – in meetings – not continue to have individual House members and Senators work to garner support from just enough colleagues to get 50.01% and not let the entire delegation know of their request.

That is what happened with these requests. Under secrecy, a money grab was made. As if that was not enough, the money – GIVEN TO COUNTY DELEGATIONS – was handed over to the City of Columbia.

Shouldn’t the City pay for their own parks?

Shouldn’t these delegation decisions involving hundreds of thousands of dollar be vetted in public at delegation meetings?

Out here in our area, the answer to both those questions is Yes. Where you live, I’m pretty sure that answer is Yes, too.

Maybe the approved project for the City is worthy and would have been supported anyway. Maybe. But our delegation cannot continue to spend money in this manner. YOUR MONEY. County tax dollars going to City project…and not even debated our discussed by the entire delegation.

I’ll continue my push to make these reforms to the way Richland County delegation operates. We need more meetings. We need more discussion. We do not need rogue officials supporting City projects with money that our county parks can use.

Richland County – sands through the hourglass

Daysofourlives

As I kid, I “grew up” watching Days of our Lives with my Mom.

This was back during the days of those rather large VHS recorders and my Mom would “set the timer” every day to record her show and watch after she had finished her day teaching at Greenville Tec (25+ years) and making dinner for our family. When I went off to college years later, I happened to catch an episode or two and it seemed the “characters were still the same”.

I share this because it seems like I’m watching the same thing here in Richland County. Again.

First the Election Fiasco and then the Recreation Mess.

While I’ve been one of the first elected officials to call for drastic measures in both instances , it takes awhile for resolution to occur. While the Elections Director was not fired – she was at least finally replaced. While the Recreation Director has not been fired – he has at least been relived of his duties – until further notice.

In both instances, it took time. More time than I – or you – believed necessary. But that’s politics and that’s what happens when you have a larger block of votes against you.

My constituents recall years ago when a Senator unceremoniously removed my appointment to the Recreation Commission. I knew then that some members of the Legislative Delegation were too much “involved” in the operations of the Commission. I was told our commissioner was removed because he “wasn’t voting correctly” (verbatim from the Senator).

I agree with an editorial I read today . Some of us have been asking questions; what have the others been doing? Helping or hindering?

Here’s a question I have for the legal minds out there: Can a commissioner be removed (like my appointment was years ago) simply by having enough votes to remove him/her? If so, then I will ask my colleagues to remove the current commissioners – much like we did the Elections Commission (except for one holdover).

If we don’t remove the Commissioners (along with the Director), it means this soap opera will continue just as Days of Our Lives has for years. Same characters and basically the same story line. One of these isn’t good for ratings; the other isn’t good for our employees, our children and our taxpayers.

Delegation takes action with Recreation Commission

Letter

From The State

COLUMBIA, SC – State lawmakers from Richland County called Tuesday for the suspension of the county Recreation Commission’s executive director until law enforcement investigations into his office are complete.

James Brown III would be suspended with pay if the Richland County Recreation Commission, which has authority to hire and fire its director, follows the legislators’ recommendation.

The Recreation Commission’s board is appointed by Richland legislators. However, the legislators’ recommendation is advisory only.

Legislators voted 9-5 to recommend Brown’s suspension against the backdrop of ongoing investigations into allegations of public corruption at the Recreation Commission, and civil lawsuits accusing Brown of sexual harassment and other improper behavior. Richland County Council also has frozen the majority of the Recreation Commission’s 2016-17 funding until an audit shows how the agency spends its money.

To read more, click here.

Other articles of interest

SLED is 3rd agency asked to investigate Recreation Commission (April 2016)

Meet Your Recreation Commissioner (October 2008)

Richland County: It’s happening…again

2016 GOP primary

Everyone makes mistakes. But it seems Richland County is getting “real good” at making “mistakes” lately: the county Penny Tax county Recreation …. county elections .

Thanks to my neighbor, who first brought this to my attention April 29th when he walked over and showed me the letter you see above, I learned 203 voters in our community received this letter…by mistake.

The letter begins:

“You requested an absentee ballot for the REPUBLICAN Primary on June 14th, 2016, but there will be no REPUBLICAN primary for any of the offices you are eligible to vote….Therefore, you will NOT be receiving a REPUBLICAN ballot for June 14, 2016.

Not sure how the county didn’t know there was a Republican race out here. It’s the only Republican race in the entire county so it should stand out. I would hope they wouldn’t “forget about us” about here – but looks like they did.

The State wrote about it this week and I’ve copied some of the article below.

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC

More than 200 voters in Richland County mistakenly were told by the beleaguered county elections office that they could not vote absentee in the June Republican primary for state House District 71.

Thousands of voters across the county requested absentee ballots for the June 14 primary. Most of them correctly received letters from the Richland County Voter Registration and Elections office telling them there is no Republican primary for them to vote in, elections director Samuel Selph said.

But 203 voters in House District 71, who are eligible to vote in the county’s sole Republican primary, received those letters by mistake, Selph said.

“We were just trying to be proactive” by informing voters when there were no primaries in their districts, Selph said. “We made a mistake and sent it to some people in District 71, and we corrected that. … You don’t like for these things to happen, naturally.”

Read more here

The county has since mailed those 203 voters a corrected letter (see below) and it’s my hope that all voters will receive their absentee ballots and that come June 14th, every vote will count and the county will have the legal number of (working) machines at every precint.

2016 GOP correction

Elections update: Richland County needs poll workers

Are you interested in working at the polls on Election Day? Poll Workers are needed in Richland County to serve at the polls on election day.

The deadline for applying to be a poll worker for the June Primary is now TOMORROW Thursday, May 8.

To accommodate the 25 new precincts due to be in operation for the June 10 Primary, 300 extra poll workers were needed. They are close to reaching that goal, however, there is a real need for workers in our community, the Northwest area of the County – specifically Irmo and Chapin.

The poll worker coordinator suggested that this close to the deadline, it would be more expediant to come into the Election Commission office located at 2020 Hampton Streetto fill out the paperwork necessary to be considered an employee. This should not take more than 15 minutes. You will need to complete both their online training and an in-person training prior to the election. For more information, call the Election Commission at576-2200.

Each poll worker will be paid $120 for their time both training and on Election Day combined. Consider this service a way to say “thank you” to all of our public servants who fight for our right to have free and fair elections as part of our democratic republic.

Remember, the best way to insure fair and efficient elections is to have competent and honest poll workers running them.

Qualifications:

A resident of Richland County, or an adjoining county
If age 18 +, you MUST be a qualified registered voter to work on election day
16 & 17 year olds may serve as poll managers
Complete online and in-person training
If you are interested, please contact the Election Commission Office at 576-1512 or Click Here for the Poll Worker Application.