One reason our country is great is that critics can voice their opinion. In fact, on my Facebook page and in life, I seek out opposing viewpoints. However, there is a difference between critiquing and either misunderstanding or misrepresenting. As our community is becoming more aware, there are a handful of people in this county that are against everything. Three have published letters in the past two weeks against me. This is nothing new. Typically, I haven’t responded to letters by this group, but these three have crossed a truth test wherein I have to respond.
First, Mr. Schafer submitted a letter listing four “I think” sentences which were all completely wrong. Mind you, a column is limited to 350 words, so to have four incorrect sentences out of 10 is an impressive feat. One, Mr. Schafer wrote that I had an active voter registration in NC last year.
False: I voted in 2014, 2012, 2010, 2006, 2004, 2002, and 2000 in Pickens County. Two, he stated I don’t like how “two conservatives” on the school board are voting. False: I have not and will not comment on how others are voting. Three, he stated I lost chairman of the party by a significant margin. False: I was not on any ballot nor was I in attendance when voting occurred at the GOP county convention. Four, he wrote the state GOP denied our protest by a 34-2 margin. False: The state GOP ruled 34-2 to run the next county convention since this one was marred. In fact, one of our remedies was for the state to oversee the next convention.
Second, my opponent from last year, Mr. (Rick) Tate, submitted a letter with the same misunderstanding with the 34-2. Mr. Tate even compounded it with “Chairman Bowers was vindicated.” If vindication is that the state GOP now has to run our next county convention, then yes, Philip Bowers was vindicated. By the way, since these same people believe in all sorts of conspiracies, for the record, I have nothing to do with the SLED investigation into Philip Bowers. As has come out lately, it has nothing to do with the marred county convention.
Third, school board member Mr. (Alex) Saitta sent a letter to constituents. In it, he conveniently asks himself questions. One question was, “Why did Easley State Rep Neal Collins propose to add the 7th seat? Alex: In my opinion? Politics. The people in Easley want to add a 7th seat to the board. They are pushing for a second middle school.”
This is false on a number of levels. I, along with State Rep. Gary Clary, proposed H4299. We met with AdvancEd, the School Board Association, the attorney for the school board, Dr. (Danny) Merck, and Dr. (Brian) Swords in regards to Pickens County being the only district in the state being monitored. Not once in all of those meetings did we discuss a second middle school.
The actual reason we passed H4299 is because our school district was issued two warnings solely because of inappropriate actions by three school board members, including Mr. Saitta. As a representative of this county, I could not sit idly by without either changing the school board or sending a clear message that their actions were inappropriate and behavior would change. I am confident one or the other will occur.
Again, I welcome critiques, but they must be factual. Do not factually mislead my constituents. This also brings up an issue for this paper. I understand drama helps sell papers, but inaccurate information and/or constantly publishing the same people only detracts from this historical paper. For the betterment of the paper, a policy should be instituted.
Rep. Neal Collins