Greenville leaders talk money for roads, advocates call for more “fair minded” library board members

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:19 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Greenville County Council held a public comment session giving residents a chance to voice their concerns to council leaders.

FLAG calls for Allan Hill’s removal

At the meeting, Freedom in Libraries Advocacy Group - known as FLAG - presented the council with a petition, calling for the removal of Library Board Chairman Allan Hill.

“We need new blood, we need to see people who seek good governance,” said Patty Byum, a former librarian.

FLAG’s petition with more than 2,000 signatures accuses Hill of breaking state ethics, and making disparaging comments about the LGBTQ+ community among other things. The group is asking for a more balanced board.

“A library that’s a place where all kinds of people with all sorts of viewpoints are welcome. Where they find books and resources that both reflect and serve families like theirs, and those that help them learn about other beliefs and cultures,” said Susan Ward, speaking on behalf of FLAG.

The petition comes after months of tension over a few things including LGBTQ+ books in the children’s reading section. Councilman Steve Shaw alleged a board appointee was a quote “gay/transgender advocate” and should not be appointed. And finally, the board’s new policy to temporarily remove all displays, after a Travelers Rest Pride Month display sparked controversy.

Advocates also expressed concern about library branches being understaffed.

“I’m concerned about staff morale, how the staff shortages are impacting the services and about the waste of taxpayer money,” said Bynum.

Along with giving Councilman Shaw a “special rainbow” colored copy of the petition, FLAG advocates presented a paper chain, one link for every signature. Council leaders had no response.

What to do about the roads?

Before the council opened the floor for public comment, county staff gave a presentation on roads and infrastructure challenges. They said the county’s road maintenance has failed to keep up with development. And even though Greenville is the largest county in the state by population, we invest the least amount of money into our roads per capita.

“We’re almost on the brink of what is called ‘manage decline’ of our road system because we’re investing so little in them. It is now up to the public, we as Greenvillians to decide, what are we going to do about the roads? Because they are not going to fix themselves, and if we stay just like we are, they are just going to continue to decline and get worse,” said Councilman Ennis Fant.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the county’s next steps.