An open letter to Gov. Mark Sanford and the S.C. Legislature:
Closing USC-Union will have devastating, immediate and long term personal and economic ramifications for Union County as well as the state. On the surface, it seems a logical and prudent budgetary action, but with much detailed examination the results aren’t quite as clear and straight forward. With the proposed closing, the people of Union County could be set back decades economically and take years to fully recover, if ever.
The proposed SC Executive Budget, Fiscal Year 2009 –2010, is an earnest starting point in this year's difficult deliberations over the state budget. But with wise and substantive deliberations, USC-Union should prove to be a sound investment to the state. It should be kept open and encouraged to grow.
A strong economic Union County is a strong tax base for the state. USC-Union is an important and necessary component to the economical growth of Union County. Not only does it provide a higher education advantage for the now economically depressed Union County, but as importantly, a long term investment for the state.
According to the highly esteemed Urban League Institute, “over the next 22 years 235,000 new residents, 118,000 new households, and 203,000 new jobs will be added to the Upstate region.” So the investment in USC-Union can be seen as a valid and wise one. Union County, if not crippled by the closing of USC-Union, will have a fighting chance for some of this encouraging economic growth forecast. USC-Union, and its educational role, represents the kinetic energy required to accelerate our economic momentum forward. This is the time for the state to solidify its conviction and investment in the people and institutions of Union County.
At the more human and individual level, agreed, “having a postsecondary program serves little purpose if our students cannot afford to participate” by way of costly transportation and time. For the many full or part-time working students, displaced workers, the single mothers that are struggling to advance their position in life through education, and other less privileged students, especially students living in the southern part of the county, driving out of the county for higher education puts on them — an undue burden. Closing of USC-Union will cause, for many, their hopes and dreams of a more productive life to be dashed – never to reach their full potential. An unfair burden that may prevent some of them from succeeding in getting off costly state and federal subsistence. This is the time for the state to solidify its conviction and investment in the people and institutions of Union County.
USC-Union is also an important economic engine for Union County feeding the economy of the county and state. With its projected FY 2009-10 budget of $897,851, the university processes these funds and directly stimulates the Union County and state economy. Some of the obvious losses/burdens to the county and state can be summarized: jobs with associated taxed salaries, property taxes employees pay, potential burden on the temperate state unemployment system, and federal and other funds that may be jeopardized with the proposed closing.
We well know, as a community, we have the prominent responsibility to “use it” or “lose it.” We know we all have to compromise and tighten our budget belt. So, give us some realistic goals and time frames to reach in order to prove our worthiness for USC-Union to remain open. If nothing else, offer us some options. Maybe, there are some additional cost cuttings that can be implemented such as in the advertising/marketing activities.
On a more personal note, I am presently enrolled in and thoroughly enjoy American Government taught by Dr. Hugh Rowland, Dean USC- Union. I think I am a better and more productive citizen because of my educational studies at USC-Union. I am sincerely grateful for my own educational opportunities at USC-Union to date, but I am deeply concerned and troubled with the possibility that our communities’ higher educational opportunities may be taken away.
With the recent prestigious Best Small Library in America 2009 award Union County Carnegie Library proves that Union is moving forward. Exquisite local architecture, southern historical preservation sites, and the renowned post-educational institution, such as USC, attract the special talent to Union with the likes of library director Nancy E. Rosenwald. As reported in the Library Journal, “Rosenwald was immediately attracted to the job posting by the photo of Union County Carnegie Library’s gem of a beaux arts Carnegie building … I saw the picture and decided I wanted to work there.” USC-Union also serves as a magnet for special talent needed to promote and continue the economic progress for Union County. This is the time for the state to solidify its conviction and investment in the people and institutions of Union County.
For all of the citizens, especially the economically challenged of Union County, and the state, please, re-prioritize and keep the historical and beloved USC-Union institution open, productive and flourishing.
Televise public meetings
To the editor:
“You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” especially when they have access to council, school board, and all public meetings via the Union Connection Channel 14 Government-Access channel. It’s almost certain the Morgan –Lawson “kickback” scheme could not have been successful if the council and other public meetings had been filmed and shown openly to the intelligent public as they should have been. The more the Union County citizens get involved with the workings of their local government, the more accountable it will be.
How much can we, as a community, take and how long will we remain in denial, without standing up tall and taking control of our runaway local government? The federal authorities have promised more indictments – an indication that the magnitude of the government corruption in Union County is much more far reaching than we ever imagined. U.S. District Judge Henry F. Floyd, in a disgusted tone and in referring to public corruption in Union, stated during the Morgan and Lawson sentencing, “from what I know, Union has a big mess down there!” That means, and it was confirmed, there is an extensive ongoing FBI investigation to completely sanitize our local government and bring all the perpetrators to justice.
It is paramount, we citizens educate ourselves on what our local government is doing and how they conduct official business. We have a wonderful informational tool that has been purposely denied us. The Union Connection Channel 14 Government-Access channel was justified, procured, and brought on-line to provide Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access. The staff is very capable even with the limited equipment they presently have.
DVD copies of all Union Connection programming could be made available via the Union County Carnegie Library DVD loan system to those with no channel 14 access. I would question the motives of any elected or appointed official that does not actively promote and demand the filming and airing of all Union County public meetings. In the name of good government stewardship, it’s up to the citizens to humbly request from their respective representatives that the Union Connection start immediately filming and programming all public hearings.