Corruption Accusation Irresponsible

Lake and Main reported comments by Lexington County Council candidate Dino Teppara in which Mr. Teppara accused current members of the council of “trying to import corruption across the river by trying to pass the SAME corrupt penny sales tax” as is in Richland County.

Mr. Teppara is running for the county District 6 seat in November.  The seat is currently held by Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat who has decided not to run for re-election.

On his Facebook page, Mr. Teppara, referring to a SLED investigation of Richland County Council members for misappropriating funds, posted the following:

This is shocking but we shouldn’t be surprised! Our local government is not working for us, they’re in the back pockets of special interests! Taxpayers in Lexington County be forewarned: our County Council is trying to import the same corruption across the river by trying to pass the SAME corrupt penny sales tax in Lexington County! In fact, our County Council already passed a 7-2 vote to bring back this corrupt tax – it will be on the ballot again this fall and we must defeat it! bit.ly/1Jv2Rei ‪#‎TeamDino

Before I go any further, readers should know that I have been appointed to the county’s Capital Projects and Sales-Use Tax Commission.  The purpose of the Commission will be to select and prioritize submitted projects to be funded by revenue from a proposed one percent sales tax increase. The same “penny” sales tax was defeated in 2014 primarily because voters rejected expenditures for projects other than road repair and improvements.  Chairman Jeffcoat is on record saying ““We can tell the committee you’re welcome to put anything (on the project list). If it’s anything other than roads, county council has the final say … We’ll vote it down if it’s anything other than roads.” [Emphasis added]

Mr. Teppara’s comments are offensive not just to the current Council, but to the citizens of Lexington County.  I posted the following response on his Facebook commentary:

Dino, my friend, this is insulting to Lexington County. Because there is corruption in Richland doesn’t mean there is or will be in Lexington. Calling our county representatives importers of corruption because they recommend a tax to fix serious problems is irresponsible. Why is the tax “corrupt?” Who’s to say the 2 person minority on Council aren’t the corrupt ones? Unless you have evidence that the county Council is engaged in unethical, illegal or unscrupulous practices, the citizens of this county would be better served without such charges.

County politicians were educated by the voters’ whip in 2014 and seem to be intent on submitting to the will of the people regarding the tax and how the proceeds will be spent.  Road repair and improvement is critical to Lexington County and, as has been stated and proven multiple times, there are no other monies coming to solve that problem. 

Strict and proper stewardship of the funds derived from the tax is necessary, not only because it is what the taxpayers want, expect and are promised, but because the integrity of our county is at stake. 

Still, for Mr. Teppara to channel anti-tax sentiments into allegations of corruption is wrong.  Certainly, if there is tangible evidence of corruption, it should be identified, attacked and removed.  But Mr. Teppara’s charges – saying Lexington is “corrupt” because Richland is – defy common sense. 

I believe Dino Teppara owes the council on which he wants to sit, and, more importantly, the people he wishes to serve an apology.

 

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