As I sat down to prepare for a normal day of work, I ran across a recent copy of The Simpsonville Sentinel that was almost entirely dedicated to covering news about the recent firing of Keith Grounsell, the newly appointed Chief of Police in Simpsonville, SC.
Needless to say, I ended up reading this paper for the next couple of hours and was shocked (but not that surprised) at everything I saw. We all know that our government at basically every level seems to corrupt in one way or another, but it is a completely different story to have a very strong reason to believe that it is happening in your own backyard.
Technically, I live in nearby Greenville, just a short drive away on I-385, but I have always viewed Simpsonville as one of the more prominent and respected areas of Greenville. I also work in Simpsonville, grew up going to the businesses in the city, and now my kids enjoy Heritage Park. My father and brother own a business, Stevenson Tax & Accounting, right on Main Street and an uncle-in-law owns Burns Wholesale just down the street from the Police Department, so the city definitely has a special place in my heart and others in my family.
All of this combined increased the shock value of this story for me personally. Before the Holidays, I recall reading another newspaper article interview with Mayor Perry Eichor about the potential for a walkout by officers and other police staff. I thought it was a strange article because of the way Eichor talked about the incident. It really seemed as though he had little or zero care for the employees of the city of Simpsonville.
Little did I know at the time, but there was much more to that story than we knew at the time. This was yet another shock considering the Mayor’s election campaign that promoted a transparent government. If we really had that, we would have been informed a long time ago about what was really happening here.
I also found it to be slightly amusing that Perry Eichor closed his recent letter to The Simpsonville Sentinel with “the door is still open and the light is on”. If I am not mistaken, doesn’t a door need to first be opened before it can be “still open”? Perhaps I am just a silly common citizen that doesn’t know anything though. After all Mayor, aren’t we nothing more than “inmates” in your eyes now?
Now on to the real reason why I wanted to write something about this story: Keith Grounsell.
I have never met this man before. Up until a couple of hours ago, I really didn’t even know the name of the new Police Chief in Simpsonville. I have also never met any of the other figures involved in this situation including the City Council, City Administrator, or the Assistant Chief of Police, Colleen O’Neil. With all of that said, I’m truly an impartial party to this whole situation with the exception that it is happening where I work and near where I live.
From what I know about the now former Chief of Police Keith Grounsell, it sounds like he is a superb example of the type of leaders that this country really needs to get back on track. Simpsonville has been “dirty” for more than 12 years now, even according to police officers employed by the city. The country as a whole has been practicing this type of closed-door politics for a century or more now.
Is democracy really a democracy when the average person isn’t happy with the decisions being made for them? Sure, we can set things right when it comes election time, but ultimately, there is no guarantee for us average citizens. As we have seen from the election of Mayor Eichor, there is nothing to stop our government from lying to us and then stabbing us in the back.
One single word comes to my mind when I think about government and politicians as a whole: HYPOCRITE!
As a citizen of the USA, I have a tiny voice in what really happens in my life. Most of the laws governing me were set in place long before I was ever born and will never change unless hundreds of millions of other people want the exact same change. Even then, they have to trust that the one person they have appointed to carry out that duty will actually follow through with it.
We are forced to pay our taxes and our bills in a timely manner. If we avoid our taxes, we get thrown in jail. If we avoid our bills, we get branded for life with bad credit. In the same manner, the government has certain responsibilities but zero consequences if they fail. They simply write a new law that makes it OK to put the problem off for the next generation of politicians to deal with.
Ultimately, I feel as though Keith Grounsell has been targeted in this same manner because he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his own ethics and morals to bend to the very corruption that he sought out to destroy in the first place. After all, Simpsonville hired him to do this job, but it seems like they had a problem when he actually tried to carry out that mission. I suspect that this may be the result of personal relationships between important officials in this city.
One common thing that I saw repeated numerous times today was talk of the upcoming election in November. Ultimately, there are only two people in that election that the average person in Simpsonville would like out of office. If the Mayor of Simpsonville, the City Administrator and the City Council have the right to simply fire someone because they are “not a good fit”, why should us citizens not have that same right? Even if there is nothing in the laws that gives us the opportunity to remove an elected official from office, it doesn’t mean that proving criminal misconduct would leave then unscathed. They are obviously trying to run their own agenda in this city, want to hide it from the average citizen, and are even willing to damage careers of honest, hard-working people to keep us in the dark.
As a common citizen, you think that police officers are your direct supervisor. The Chief of Police obviously supervises them directly or indirectly. If the Mayor, City Administrator and the City Council have the right to supervise the Police Chief, then who has the right to supervise these people? If the answer is truly nobody, then perhaps we are all doomed in this city except for those in charge. However, I would imagine that they have their own supervisors in one way or another and now might be the time to give them a call to step in to save this city.
In addition to saying thank you to Keith Grounsell for your dedication and hard work to protect all of us from corruption, I also wanted to say thank you to Geneva Lawrence and Sylvia Lockaby. From the bits and pieces that I know about you two ladies, it sounds like you also represent a shining example of what we need and have also likely suffered as a result of trying to stand up to the likes of Mayor Eichor, Mathew Gooch, George Curtis, Julius Welborn, Brown Garrett, and others that seek to continue to run the city of Simpsonville as if it were their own personal playground.
Like most of the other citizens, I believe the 5 of 7 council members (including the Mayor) should simply step down from their positions to try to salvage any amount of dignity they may have left. We do not deserve to have to wait for your terms to expire just to be able to have a CHANCE to start fixing this city! Keith Grounsell should be reinstated so he can continue his work to fix the great city of Simpsonville, South Carolina.