Well, it looks like this year's school board races are gonna resemble some activities usually confined to the schoolyard, itself the cradle of most life lessons — and not necessarily all good ones.
Last week brought some bad news for the self-described "A-Team" from the state Ethics Commission in the form of an official notice that the group's fund-raising activities have run afoul of the law.
For those out of the loop, the A-Team was formed last March by former U.S. Congressman and S.C. state Sen. Arthur Ravenel Jr. (R), former U.S. Congressman Robin Beard (R-Tenn., 1973-1983), and three Republican school board incumbents: Lurline Fishburne, Ray Toler, and Sandi Engelman.
The A-Team ("A" for accountability, or "all-white," depending on your perspective) planned to run as a conservative candidate slate with the stated objective of gaining control of the Charleston County School Board and school district.
The group feels that problems endemic to the CCSD require them as citizens to act and step forward with new ideas.
Among the ideas they're not vocalizing are not-so-secret intentions to fire Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who happens to be African-American, and a plan to sell off the district's HQ on Calhoun Street.
The Eye has been listening to the rhetoric being spouted by these jokers and there's been a lot of chatter about running the district like a business, neighborhood schools, creating opportunity rather than providing it, and ingrained bureaucracy.
Now, on a surface level, what's wrong with these topics?
Superficially, not much. However, if the voters were to listen closely, the language being used is full of buzzwords designed to scare people about the big black menace in the district's midst, bringing down the schools — and the property values — for all the fine white folks.
A couple of weeks ago, Engelman was ousted or quit the A-Team (depends on which version of the story you prefer) over a dispute concerning her planned support of her husband David Engelman's plan to run for school board chairman after the election.
Ravenel is planning on assuming the chairmanship, should his candidacy prevail in November, and the spat has been most entertaining to The Eye, as Engelman is a known loose cannon, and Cousin Arthur is what he is.
In a finding by the state Ethics Commission, Executive Director Herbert Hayden told the A-Team that it's not allowed to raise campaign finances as a unit.
The four remaining A-Teamers can now only raise money together at single events.
The kicker about the whole deal is that Hayden's letter also specified that for the A-Team to be in compliance with state campaign finance laws, all monies raised thus far must be divided equally among the original five members.
The Eye is more than willing to bet that this has ol' Cousin Arthur's shorts in a twist, because Engelman brought a mere $575 to the collective treasure chest and, according to Hayden, stands to receive an equal share of roughly $60,000.
Now the A-Team has to cease all current fund-raising and the team fund-raising committee and individual candidates have to file amended campaign disclosure forms by August 28.
Regarding Engelman getting a share of the ill-gotten gains, Hartley told the Post and Courier, "That ain't happening."
Isn't a most excellent grasp of language and sense of fair play possessed by Mr. Hartley?
The children of the Charleston County School District have no idea of the benefits the A-Team and its ilk like Hartley can bring them.
It's best that way — children need to be shielded from obscenity.