As the year 2011 comes to a close, I went through my notes on the Board of Commissioners meetings. It’s easy to see the differences in our elected officials.
At the Jan. 5 meeting, Commissioner Steve Brown and Commissioner Allen McCarty asked for term limits on commissioners. They were voted down 3-2 by Chairman Herb Frady (around 20 years in office), Commissioner Lee Hearn and Commissioner Robert Horgan. Chairman Frady declared, “The voters control term limits.”
Commissioner Brown asked the board to agree on a policy that prohibits a vote of the Board of Commissioners on any item not on a meeting agenda available to the public and the news media at least 24-hours in advance.
The previous Board of Commissioners had a long string of votes on items without ever placing them on a public agenda. The Frady-Hearn-Horgan block killed the policy.
The Jan. 27 meeting was a real eye-opener. Commissioner Brown had followed the formal county procedure and placed an item on the agenda for the West Fayetteville Bypass. Chairman Frady and Commissioner Horgan had made some false statements in the newspaper claiming Commissioner Brown had supported the road to nowhere when he was mayor in Peachtree City.
Commissioner Brown was going to provide direct quotes from past meeting minutes openly showing he had always opposed the bypass. However, Chairman Frady refused to let him speak and removed his item from the agenda.
The chairman’s actions were obvious censorship and the huge audience was furious.
The Feb. 2 workshop meeting was the beginning of a new trend. Traditionally, workshop meetings used to be held in a small conference room, but so many citizens kept attending that the county had to start holding those meetings in the big meeting room.
Commissioner Brown also questioned why the county didn’t advertise openings on county boards, commissions and authorities. I have to agree it looks awful bad to have those public positions chosen in a backroom without advertising the openings to the public.
The Feb. 24 meeting was when Addison Lester III was selected by the Frady-Hearn-Horgan block to be one of the three members of the Board of Elections. Commissioner Hearn “stated that Mr. Lester attended church with him” and moved that he be approved. Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty voted in opposition.
It was later discovered Mr. Lester and Commissioner Hearn were relatives. Mr. Lester would actually be in charge of his relative’s re-election vote count in 2012. Commissioner Hearn had to admit the relationship but refused to take his relative off the Board of Elections.
To make things noticeably worse, it was later found out that Commissioner Hearn’s relatives, including Mr. Lester, owned a large section of land near the West Fayetteville Bypass.
The March 2 meeting included Commissioner Brown’s resolution regarding “Fiscal Responsibility and Protecting Fayette County’s Quality of Life” asking our county to remove all planned transit projects in Fayette County from all plans. The Frady-Hearn-Horgan block voted the resolution down. The citizens in attendance were extremely angry.
The March 24 meeting had Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty asking why the county was not bidding out simple services like cutting grass at local parks. The Frady-Hearn-Horgan block voted in favor of the no-bid contracts.
Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty also opposed the project list for the Transportation Investment Act. They said projects had been placed on the list without any public disclosure. The Frady-Hearn-Horgan block approved the list anyway.
The April 6 meeting had Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty asking the Board of Commissioners to follow the actual T-SPLOST priority list the voters were shown before voting.
Commissioner Brown said, “The previous Board of Commissioners, with no public input, no public announcement and no public vote, changed the priorities of our citizens, deciding instead to build the developer welfare project known as the West Fayetteville Bypass or the Road to Nowhere.” The Frady-Hearn-Horgan block voted them down.
So far, every elected official who has backed the road to nowhere has lost their bid for re-election. You don’t need a magnifying glass for this one. The people have said it loud and clear they don’t want any more expensive special interest projects.
At the June 9 meeting the Frady-Hearn-Horgan block voted against Commissioner Brown being able to present his agenda item asking that the commissioners reprioritize the funds from the West Fayetteville Bypass to plug a budget deficit gap using House Bill 240. Numerous citizens spoke out in support of this motion. Commissioner Brown was able to give the presentation at a later meeting and his motion was voted down by the Frady-Hearn-Horgan block.
On occasion I hear people in our community say bad things about Commissioner Brown. For the entire year, both Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty have voted against everything to do with the West Fayetteville Bypass. They have consistently taken a stand for ethical government, conservative finances and looking out for the citizens.
As someone who attends the meetings, I support what Commissioner Brown and Commissioner McCarty are doing for us and invite all citizens to attend the meetings as often as their time permits. I’ve learned a great deal about Fayette County government by doing so.
I pray for all Fayette County employees and ask God to guide and direct each of them as we approach another year of difficult economic times.
God bless America and God bless Fayette County.