Union Democrat staff

Columbia 'bonuses'

To the Editor:

Newspaper editorials and general public outrage at the antics of the Columbia school board and its administration seem insufficient to deal with the characters who occupy the beautiful facility just off Parrotts Ferry Road.

Columbia's latest overreach involves the bestowal of $2,000 "bonus" payments to district employees. On its face, this appears to be an illegal gift of public funds.

The board's decision to distribute district monies was done in closed session, under the cover of the Ralph M. Brown Act exception allowing private discussion of labor negotiations.

The fact that another board in this county did the same thing does not excuse it.

If they reopened an existing contract and arrived at a new agreement, that contract should have been subject to public scrutiny before it was approved. Further, it appears from the Union Democrat's story that the board did not reconvene in public session and vote openly on the action.

If it did not do so, the action taken in closed session would be null and void.

It should be noted that the negotiations exception to the Brown Act's open meeting provisions should apply only to sessions in which the board gives its representative secret instructions on how far he can go in the give-and-take across the bargaining table.

It is not intended to cover what appears to have been a policy discussion on how to give away public monies. Policy discussions may not be conducted in private.

It's time to convene a Grand Jury to investigate this district and the cavalier behavior of the board and superintendent.

Michael Ackley


Helping stranded stranger

To The Editor,

On Monday, Nov.19, I was in a collision on Phoenix Lake Road. I was alone and pretty upset up at the time.Two men stopped to see if I was all right and asked me several times if they could help. I declined and then decided I would really like my husband with me. One of the men drove in his truck to bring my husband back to me and the other stayed with me until he arrived.

I forgot to get their names but I would like to say thanks to these men. I think it can be scary to stop these days and help a stranger but they did not hesitate and stayed with me for an hour. I so appreciate their kindness and thoughtfulness.

Judy Lyon

Phoenix Lake