2013-01-18 / Government / Neighborhood

Richland County Council discusses the vote on members of the Transportation Committee

By Mike Cox

The Richland County Council meeting January 15 emphasized the recently passed Transportation One Penny Tax initiative. During Citizen’s Input, three citizens asked the council to include actual bus riders in the Transportation Tax Committee makeup.

Brittany Higgins told the council something called the Midlands Transit Riders Association had been formed to provide a voice to the CMRTA and local politicians from the ridership of the bus service.

Kaneka Atanaku also asked the council to make sure the voice of bus riders was heard in the transportation committee selection. Atanaku was so eloquent in her suggestions, calling the input of actual bus consumers invaluably important, that she was eventually cut off by Vice Chair Greg Pearce when she spoke well past her allotted two minutes.

Marsha Johnson echoed the two previous speakers; saying how important it is to support the MTOC.

During his administrator’s report, Tony McDonald informed the council that the protest filed in Richland County over voting irregularities, primarily pertaining to the one penny vote, had been advanced to the State Supreme Court.

The Richland County Council also spent considerable time discussing how to vote on the members who will make up the Transportation Committee. A process was approved in the last council meeting to allow council members to make use of information provided on all 45 applicants, call and interview prospective members if necessary, and fill out a ballot before the first council meeting in February.

Paul Livingston suggested a different process at this week’s meeting. Due to concerns about Freedom of Information issues, Livingston suggested the council have a live election during the next meeting.

This suggestion brought about much discussion. Everyone except new member Julie Ann Dixon expressed an opinion, asked a question, or offered clarification. For some reason, no one suggested bringing the already agreed upon ballots to the next meeting and allowing each council member to read his or her choices. The council finally decided to have the aforementioned live vote during the next meeting.

David Overly also received his allotted two minutes of citizens input to express his displeasure about the recent handling of the Election Day fiasco. Overly said the salary paid to Lillian McBride in the newly created job she moved to as a reward for her fine work engineering the latest election would pay for two extra Richland County deputies.

Overly also wondered why no one else was considered for the new job since someone was likely better qualified than McBride. Acting Chair Greg Pearce thanked Overly for coming to the council meeting and expressing his opinion but reminded him that the Election Commission made all decisions concerning the handling of irregularities, and that commission does not answer to the Richland County Council.

Robin Ebert, from Goodwill, was on hand to give a presentation about a new employment program for recently released criminal offenders. The program is fully funded by the Federal Department of Labor and involved 17 locations around the country. The only three southern locations are Birmingham, Miami, and Columbia.

No violent criminals are allowed and the screening process is designed to keep bad pairings from happening. For instance, shop lifters wouldn’t be involved in a retail sales program. The program is designed to provide education, placement, and employment assistance to anyone 90 days before release or six months after. Studies suggest that anyone still employed one year after placement is more likely to remain out of jail.

Vice Chair Greg Pearce, Joyce Dickerson, Julie Ann Dixon, Norman Jackson, Damon Jeter, Paul Livingston, Bill Malinowski, Jim Manning, Seth Rose, and Torrey Rush were present. Chair Kelvin Washington was absent. More detailed information as well as complete agendas and minutes from past meetings can be found at the Richland County website: richlandonline.com

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