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1-7-08 Oconee County BOC held “retreat” – (secret meeting) in Madison on 12-7-07

All of the commissioners were there. Some of them should have publicly challenged this “farce of a retreat”. It is amazing that Davis can keep all commissioners quiet on issues that may well defeat them.

AVOC

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January 6, 2008

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Oconee County BOC held “retreat” – (secret meeting) in Madison on 12-7-07

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Lee Becker, of Friends of Barber Creek, has uncovered some information about a Secret Meeting of the Oconee County Commissioners on December 7, 2007.   Lee Becker has many of the disturbing details on his Blog. http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

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I recommend that interested citizens read Lee Becker’s Blog.   It demonstrates the inadequacy of real media coverage of the Oconee County Government.    Many observers have known for several years that Melvin Davis was “wheeling and dealing” ‘off the record’.    Yet, he has not been challenged or brought to accounting by the media!

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Under consideration were more SPLOST taxes (new courthouse, more spending at Eastville’s ‘Big Park’, a new library, water and sewer).   The current SPLOST DOES NOT EXPIRE FOR 18 MONTHS!! - well after the incumbents may be out of office.     Our roads and schools are hurting from the “priorities” set by this board over the last several years.

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Beer, wine and liquor issues are still being discussed in private.

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All of the commissioners were there.Some of them should have publicly challenged this “farce of a retreat”.    It is amazing that Davis can keep all commissioners quiet on issues that may well defeat them.

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Melvin Davis is not held accountable by the Media covering Oconee County-

This whole episode should embarrass Reporters “Covering Oconee County”!

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Citizens need to be aware that qualifying for all BOC posts takes place in late April.   It is imperative that some responsible folks step forward and take charge of this county and put it back on the right track.   We cannot stand another four years of debt, heavy spending and haphazard, sprawling development all over the county.

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Folks, we have water problems and a housing slump.   We do not need to keep committing tax dollars to continue to pour down a “black hole”!


The Following Excerpts are from Lee Becker’s Blog:

http://www.oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

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January 6, 2008

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It's An Emergency: We Need to Get Out of Town to Talk

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By Lee Becker

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In a meeting Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis has tried to keep out of the public eye, the five-member board, the County attorney, five staff members and two County consultants met on December 7 in Madison, Georgia, to discuss a variety of issues, including water and sewage services and the sale of beer, wine and alcohol by the drink in the County.
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The meeting took place at the James Madison Inn & Conference Center in Morgan County. The Inn invoiced Oconee County the day before the meeting $ 250 for the meeting room, $ 36 for coffee services, $ 144 for continental breakfasts, and $ 180 for lunches. The total bill, including taxes, was $ 683.20, payable on the day of the meeting.
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Chairman Davis used emergency procedures to give minimal public notice of the meeting, which actually was planned at least three weeks in advance. Georgia law stipulates that the meeting had to be open to the public.
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In my open records request, I asked to see "A copy of the written notice posted in advance of any meeting or meetings of the Board of Commissioners held after December 4, 2007, and before December 18, 2007, and any evidence available indicating that the notice was posted "at the place of regular meetings" of the Board of Commissioners as required by Georgia Code Section 50-14-1 (d)."
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I received
two sheets of paper. One was a single paragraph notice of the meeting. Attached to it was a fax cover sheet directed to Vinnie Williams, the publisher and editor of The Oconee Enterprise. A hand written note indicated that the two pages were faxed at noon on December 6, or less than 24 hours before the meeting began.
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The Enterprise has not written a story about the meeting.

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I received a memorandum from Gina Lindsey, County clerk, addressed to the Board of Commissioners, Dan Haygood, the County attorney, Alan Theriault, the County’s administrative officer, and Jeff Benko, the County finance director.
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It was dated December 4 and indicated that "We have scheduled the BOC Retreat at the James Madision Inn in Madison, GA on Friday, December 7th from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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I also received a copy of an e-mail message from Lindsey to Chairman Davis written on November 16 indicating that "Tricia stopped by the James Madison Inn and Conference Center yesterday. She said it was beautiful...If this is satisfactory with you, we should go ahead and book it now. Please advise."
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Davis wrote back three hours later–at 1:49 p.m. on November 16, or three weeks before the meeting–saying: "OK with me."
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Commissioner Chuck Horton sent an e-mail to Chairman Davis at 8:16 a.m. on December 5, saying "I see that we have not been provided an agenda for the retreat on Friday. It is now Wed morning and if I am to have any thoughts on any issue it would be nice to at least know what the topics are in advance. ……………………

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As you know retreat sessions by Boards have normally been held in out of county locations. Madison is about as close as we can get."

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I received a copy of the agenda and the minutes, which indicated that all five commissioners attended, as did Haygood, Theriault, Benko, Lindsey, Strategic and Long-Range Planning Director Wayne Provost, and Planning Director B.R. White.
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In addition, Gary Dodd, former Utility Department director and now a County consultant, and Jimmy Parker, from Precision Planning Inc. and also a County consultant, attended.
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The December 7 meeting included a discussion of a "potential SPLOST referendum" by Theriault. The current SPLOST, or Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, ends in July of 2009, and, according to the minutes of the meeting, "Commissioners do not want lag in collections."Among the "ideas for future projects funded by SPLOST, according to the minutes, were courthouse space, "water, sewer, roads," community center facilities, new fire stations, and library expansion.

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"Educate public as soon as feasible as to need for another SPLOST," the minutes say. "Attendees suggested a minimum of six months is needed to prepare for a successful referendum."
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The minutes contain the following report on the discussion of beer, wine and alcohol by the drink:
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"SPLOST referendum should not be ‘tainted’ with this issue.
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The
Athens Banner-Herald contained a story on December 28–after the meeting in Madison--in which Chairman Davis is quoted as saying he has no immediate plans to ask Commissioners to vote on the issue.

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