By Beverly Gadson-Birch
Life in the Holy City just ain’t that holy anymore. Once upon a time, a man’s word was his bond. His word was so trustworthy, you could take it to the bank and cash it in. Fast forward to now! What happened to truth in lending, truth in contracting, truth in sentencing, truth in high places and just plain ole truth? One of the problems in America is honest leadership. I hang a lot on principles. This country predicates its foundation on “all men are created equal”, except for disenfranchised African Americans who must walk a straight line. The minute we stray off the line, the book is thrown at us. We are guilty until proven innocent and even then, we remain a suspect. Blacks receive inordinate sentences, harassed, profiled and are constantly above the radar. Leadership comes from the top down. When the bottom sees the top dysfunctional, it becomes dysfunctional.
Never in this country’s history have we seen so much unethical abuse of power than we see today, which brings me to the recent news regarding Judge Mikell R. Scarborough, Master-in-equity. According to Post & Courier, Scarborough is the second highest paid county employee. Would someone please tell me when is enough money, enough? With that salary, why would a man rob the least among us to fatten his coffer and live bountifully, or as some may say “high on the hog”?
Scarborough is being accused of spending taxpayers’ money on personal travels and lodgings. Looks like the Judge got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The Judge is being accused of siphoning off thousand of taxpayers’ dollars for personal first-class travels and luxurious hotels. What’s most egregious about Scarborough’s exorbitant travels and lodging is the average county taxpayer cannot afford to travel outside of South Carolina by car, train or otherwise. Forget first class! Now try those shoes on for size! Do you think that’s fair or what? Scarborough is alleging that his travels are job related. Well now! Maybe I missed something. What happened to local seminars to keep pace with job requirements? And, whatever happened to coach seats? The upper crust has an innate sense of privilege. Privilege means first class all the way even if it’s on the backs of others.
According to Charleston County’s website, “the Master-in-Equity facilitates relatively quick and inexpensive means of litigation resolution for non-jury matters. The Master hears most foreclosure cases and a substantial number of civil, non-jury matters as well. This is the only South Carolina court in which no action may be initiated; each case heard by a Master is assigned by the S.C. Circuit Court, using the procedural device known as an Order of Reference.”
The Responsibilities of the Master-in-Equity is to “hear cases for mortgage foreclosures, land partitions, judicial sales, actions to collect a judgment and complex cases as assigned by the Circuit Court”.
The title “Master-in-Equity” is the embodiment of fairness. To me the title means, when all else fails, I can expect to get a fair shake from the Master-in-Equity. Looks like the same person whose position dictates fairness has not been playing fair. Hear ye this! Just because you sit high doesn’t mean you are entitled to live beyond your means. The laws are applicable to everyone and should be applied equitably. If the makers become the takers and the breakers, then what good are laws? And, even more important, if you are the interpreter and adjudicator of the law, then you must be above the law.
Prior to the Post & Courier article, for years talk has been circulating in black communities around fairness in land cases involving the Master-of-Equity. And, while we are investigating expenditures, it just might be a good idea to investigate some of these land complaints.
Master of Fairness is what Master of Equity means to me. Reduce my taxes and “gimme my money back”. I can use it towards my Hawaiian trip once this virus settles down. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Are y’all listening?