Didn’t Jack Smith get voters’ message in ’10?


What was Jack Smith, former Chairman of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners, thinking when he filed to run in the upcoming July 31, 2012 Republican Primary?

Does Mr. Smith think our memory is so short that we have forgotten about voting him and Eric Maxwell out of office almost two years ago? The voters clearly told them they had had enough of their brand of politics.

Smith is also the guy who gave us the 2009 SPLOST referendum full of special interest items the voters rejected by a 3 to 1 margin.

Many of us have not forgotten that Smith held a seat on the Board of Directors of his developer-friendly bank, Bank of Georgia, while serving as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

In a taped 2010 debate, Smith told the audience he would be able to judge when there was a conflict of interest between the bank and his commissioner duties (see 6/1/10 The Citizen article link below).

The public and press, of course, have no right to monitor the bank’s loan activity to ensure there are no conflicts of interest and, if there were, that Smith would recuse himself (www.thecitizen.com/articles/06-01-2010/brown-chairman-smith-misleads-tie…).

I attended most of the 2010 monthly BOC meetings and heard the public voice their strong opposition to the West Fayetteville Bypass but Smith and his fellow commissioners, Robert Horgan, Lee Hearn, Eric Maxwell, and Herb Frady, displayed outright contempt to anyone who dared question them on that or any other issue.

After one meeting, I overheard Lee Hearn saying to a fellow commissioner that the large crowds would soon die out. But he was dead wrong. The crowds continued to grow in 2010 with each passing month and the public began speaking out more forcefully, ending in the voters decisively removing Smith and Maxwell from office.

Mr. Smith also represented Fayette County citizens at the Atlanta Regional Commission meetings where they developed future transportation ideas. One of the Smith-approved plans, Concept 3, included transit buses and trains through the county. Smith assured Fayette County voters that buses and trains would never come to Fayette, but ARC minutes reflect his support of the plans.

Misreading the public and arrogantly plowing ahead with his developer-friendly West Fayetteville Bypass was, I believe, the main cause of Smith’s downfall.

Some people that attended a party held the evening of the 2010 election (which was supposed to be a victory celebration) reported that Smith and Maxwell were shell-shocked and couldn’t believe they lost the election since the entire local Republican “establishment” had endorsed their campaigns in a full-page Citizen Newspaper ad.

At a meeting on 10/28/10, just five days before the general election, Smith introduced a resolution that was unanimously passed approving $579,000 “pay for performance raises” for certain employees. Since this was not on the meeting agenda, there was no way for the public to know that item was coming up. See Citizen article of Nov. 3, 2010 entitled “Fayette Commission’s unannounced non-agenda item: Raises for county workers” (www.thecitizen.com/articles/11-03-2010/fayette-commissions-unannounced-n…).

See also 10/28/10 BOC minutes (www.fayettecountyga.gov/administration/boc/archives/2010/actionagenda/10…).

The maneuver described above was not unusual under Smith’s chairmanship and the practice has continued under Herb Frady’s leadership. Frady’s tenure will end soon and hopefully Horgan and Hearn will be gone too.

In summary, I believe re-electing Jack Smith would be like backing the Titanic up and hitting the iceberg again. Don’t get “Jack’d” around anymore!

Jim Richter

Peachtree City, Ga.