Just when you thought it could not get any worse, it does.
In 2010 we had a situation where a full quorum of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners was spotted having an improper meeting in a local restaurant in Fayetteville to discuss how they were going to change the county’s Board of Elections to their advantage.
Just before the end of the year and their terms (Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell had been voted out of office), the Board of Commissioners did make some significant changes, including veto power over any person either the Democrat or Republican party appointed as their representative to the Board of Elections.
Of course, those changes cast a dark shadow over our local government with elected officials having total control over the people who oversee their elections.
Then the new commissioners Allen McCarty and Steve Brown took office. Both of the new guys began raising serious objections to the improper meetings and the fact the previous Board of Commissioners wasn’t following county policy and procedures. They called the new law regarding the Board of Elections “a serious threat to impartial elections.”
The public stink caused by Commissioner McCarty and Commissioner Brown worked and the three holdovers (Commissioner Herb Frady, Commissioner Lee Hearn and Commissioner Robert Horgan) backed off the new law and restored the old method of letting the two political parties select their own representatives to oversee elections without interference from the Board of Commissioners.
Another problem presented itself when the three holdovers voted off the only Board of Elections member with any solid elections experience as the other members were new. Both Commissioner McCarty and Commissioner Brown tried to convince the three holdovers to keep the experienced member because a fouled-up election could bring the U.S. Department of Justice into town.
The three holdovers ignored the two new commissioners and appointed a “friend” of Commissioner Lee Hearn instead.
What the three holdovers attempted to do with controlling elections and getting rid of experienced members was bad. However, it gets worse.
At the April 6 Commissioners workshop meeting, Commissioner Brown came out and said that he heard the person the three holdovers appointed, instead of keeping the experienced person, was a cousin of Commissioner Hearn and asked if that was true.
Sheepishly, the three holdovers looked down and Commissioner Hearn mumbled under his breath that what Commissioner Brown had just said was true.
So this new Board of Elections member whom Commissioner Hearn described as “someone he knew from church” when they appointed him and is supposed to impartially oversee our elections is really a relative of Commissioner Hearn.
After Commissioner Hearn was forced to come clean, Commissioner Brown angrily pointed out the family relationship had never been disclosed and said Commissioner Hearn should have made a full disclosure to the public and the two new commissioners.
Does it look right for a county elected official to appoint a relative to a board that is going to oversee his re-election results in about 12 months?
Corruption is when a government official rigs things for his private gain and I’m going to let the reader decide if you think this case applies.
One thing we can say without hesitation is the good old boy system is alive and well in Fayette County. We’ve got the useless West Fayetteville Bypass as the symbol of government mismanagement and good old boyism.
The three holdovers said they are opposed to mass transit in Fayette County but voted to keep the bus routes in our county. We’ve got the same three holdovers who voted against giving the public 24-hour notice on anything they might vote on in a Board of Commissioners meeting.
Is this the kind of government we deserve?