Many, including myself, believe that Cleveland County is in a bad place in regard to leadership. New problems and new scandals come out just about every day. Continuing problems and continuing scandals everywhere. Lawsuits too. Right now, there are active, or soon to be active lawsuits against Cleveland County Schools, the Cleveland County Commissioners and Cleveland Community College. We even have stupid lawsuits where the Schools have sued the Sheriff. Also, the City of Shelby has been sued for their stupid acts by Mr. Willie Green, who is on the way to cleaning the clock on the City Manager and most likely the Mayor and City Council too. And, the violence. Real violence. Murders, rapes, shootings, stealing. And the gangs that seem to be everywhere, despite all the ignoring and denials that allowed the gangs to take root.
Then, consider some details that comprise the pieces of the downfall of Cleveland County caused by the lack of leadership.
Cleveland County is a “Dying” County according to official state measures. We all know that our population is decreasing. And not from deaths, but from people leaving the county to find jobs and better jobs somewhere else. According to Cleveland County School records, student numbers have dropped 250 students per year, on average, for many years now. The smarter parents and graduating students are leaving for better jobs and better opportunities elsewhere. And the savvier parents are taking their children with them.
And, that is the good news. People bettering themselves. Elsewhere!!! Because there is NOT opportunity enough HERE in Cleveland County.
But there is a solution to turning all this bad stuff around. A new majority on the County Commission as well as the School Board. The old set of Commissioners and school board majorities, that have taken us to the low point that we are in, are up for re-election in 2020. And plenty of new candidates have stepped up to take their places. Here seats, a majority, on the County Commission are up for re-election and six candidates have filed for those three offices. Three Republicans and one democrat candidates believe they can do better than the two incumbent commissioners who filed to run.
A similar scenario with the School Board. A majority of five is up for re-election. Two declined to run for re-election but three of the worst ones filed. However, eleven new candidates filed to run against the incumbents.
Now, it is up to use citizens and voters to sift through the list of candidates to figure out the best three for commissioners and the best five for the school board.
The process of figuring out who to vote for is tricky, as the incumbents will lie about their record in office. But we are tricky too. We are going to list the problems and issues in Cleveland County and ask questions about them to all the candidates. Of course, that is how our democracy is supposed to work. Find the truth and identify the lies. And pick the best of the crowd.
So, let’s get started by looking at the major problems facing Cleveland County. Right now, and in the future. Let’s start with this list noted below and expand that list during the 2020 election campaign.
The List: (Not in any particular order at this early part of the 2020 election process.
DSS records say there are over 20,000 people (over 20% of the total population) are on Foodstamps!
Over half the schools in Cleveland County are “Free Lunch” Schools. Free Breakfast too.
Over 9,000 working people are “under employed. Making less than poverty-level wages.
Cleveland County Schools graduate almost half their students (around 450 graduates per year) who can’t read, write or do math at “proficient” levels.
Teachers and Teacher’s Assistants are underpaid while the bulging CCS Administration are overpaid and over staffed. The CCS Maintenance Director has four secretaries. The Assistant Superintendent for Maintenance and Human Resources is unqualified in both, yet draws a very big salary.
The American Series World Series Baseball, Inc. loses around a Million dollars per year, which is made up by tax dollars.
The Earle Scruggs Center, Don Gibson, the Shooting Range, the FAIR and the LeGrand Center lose another million dollars in tax dollars per year.
The Communities-In-Schools, the Math Academy and other failed programs have no accountability, plenty of internal scandals,
All four Cleveland County High Schools are over 50 years old with no plans or money to build new schools in our lifetime.
The Charter School, Pinnacle Classical Academy, has out-performed all 29 regular Cleveland County Schools.
The Cleveland Community College Board of Trustees are planning major and expensive expansions, based on taking the State Highway and Fair property to do it, when the population is decreasing. Note that a new Board of Commissioner majority appoints the Board of Trustee members. A new Board of Commissioners can eventually put a stop to the CCC “Pie in the Sky” expensive and ill-conceived projects.
The Commissioners do not hold the DSS and the Health Department accountable for anything. And pay off lawsuits because of their lack of leadership.
The County is broke because of the poor leadership of the Cleveland County Commissioners.
The Commissioners, School Board and the Cleveland Community College all refuse to allow a proper citizen input into their doings and hold themselves above accountability. And above the law too.
The Cleveland County Jail is full. In large part because the DA holds the accused in jail for years to induce plea bargains. A process that is likely unconstitutional.
Every county department and agency uses the fear of retaliation to keep employees from exposing wrongdoing. When it is a fact that the only way to fix problems is to find and identify them first and then fix them in an appropriate manner. Cover-up is always wrong because nothing, especially waste, is ever fixed.
CCS administration and school board covers-up sex crimes against students.
No “Close the Gap” effort ever closes the gap.
Corruption, deception, waste and cover-up permeates Cleveland County leadership at about every level.
Now, consider this preliminary list and other items will be included into campaign questions for every Cleveland County elected leadership position in the 2020 Elections. Every candidate will be expected to participate and answer the questions presented. Candidate forums will be held. Speak-ups at agency public participation agenda items will be held. Along with various other protest events and boycotts. Cleveland County Citizens are fed up with the status quo and are demanding changes.
Stay tuned folks. This 2020 Election season is a unique opportunity and no stone will remain unturned in figuring out which candidates should be elected to office. Out with the meek and mild. In with the bold and courageous.