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09/15/00 - Public Service Retirement By Wendell Dawson

 

A Special Report
On Public Service Retirement
By
Wendell Dawson
P.O. Box 528
Watkinsville, Georgia 30677

September 11, 2000

 To: Citizens and Friends of Oconee County:
 
                Since the last newsletter, I have announced my coming retirement from public service at the end of this year and my current term of office.  This decision was not made lightly.  I have been considering it for the last couple of years.  Several factors motivated me and I plan to discuss them in this letter.
                 Initially I decided last December that I would not seek reelection.  I prepared a statement to that effect and told close friends and family during the holiday season.   After the holidays, others encouraged me to serve one more term to help with some important projects.  With this encouragement and my desire to leave the county in good hands, I reconsidered and announced that I would run.   As the year progressed, it became apparent that some of my political adversaries had learned of my hesitancy and set out to make life interesting for me. I will discuss this more in later portions of this letter.
                 I have spent over 30 years in public service.  I started as City Attorney for Watkinsville (18 years) and North High Shoals (22 years) and as School Board Attorney (18 years) before I served as a County Commissioner from 1973-1977 and later as County Attorney for 10 years before being elected Chairman of the County Commission in 1988.  I will be 60 years old on October 12.  I believe I can be active in private career pursuits for the next 10 to 15 years if my health allows it.   There are areas of law practice, mediation and consulting that I want to pursue.   I will be able to increase my income and work with many new challenges without the glare of public office.
                 I plan to continue to write articles and newsletters about our county, region and state even after I leave office provided I have the financial means to do so.  I am setting up a Web Site for the articles to be viewed online.  See www.AnotherVoiceFromOconeeCounty.com.   As long as I breathe and have some mental faculties, I will be interested and supportive of our community, our region and local and state government.   I believe my experience and training gives me extraordinary insight into these matters.
 
                Thanks to the many of you who have expressed support and encouragement to my family and me.  Spouses, children, siblings, parents and other relatives are the ones who really pay a price for public service by a loved one.   They have to sit by and endure the public criticism and adverse publicity even when they know the true facts.  I appreciate their patience and support. 

To family, both immediate and extended, and to my many friends and supporters, I say THANK YOU!!!                                                                                                                                                      Sincerely,                                       
                      
                                                                                              Wendell Dawson                        

 RETIREMENT CONSIDERATIONS:     While I considered retirement off and on for the last two years, events of this year made me aware of personal fatigue and lack of “fire in the belly” for another four year commitment.    Several factors weighed on my decision:  1.  A desire to slow down and have more of a personal life while I still had the health and ability to enjoy it;  2.  Having served in public life for 30 years, I have seen lots of office holders “come and go”.  Most go through a metamorphosis as they learn the job but it takes time and patience and frankly, I have “been there, done that!”;  3.  We have new officials coming into office in the General Assembly, as District Attorney and Clerk of Superior Court as well as new commissioners;  4.There is less and less State money available for local Road and Transportation needs while the mandated standards keep increasing;  5.  There are very stringent stormwater and water quality rules taking effect under State and Federal environmental regulations and federal court order and local governments will be caught in the middle of this approaching train;  6.  A new mandated Uniform Chart of Accounts that sets up “standards” for all local governments to follow, regardless of size, and will require reclassifying assets etc, i.e.; Roads will have to be valued and depreciated ( who will buy one?) and facilities like the Civic Center will be treated differently, as an income producing entity even though it is subsidized by the county taxpayers; all of this will result in more staffing needs and auditing costs;  7.  More needs with limited resources;  new board members will be shockingly surprised at the cost of consultants to work through the tremendous mazes created by our federal and state governments and passed onto the local government as UNFUNDED MANDATES;  8.  Retirement of a number of veteran, dedicated commissioners and friends from around the state and our general disillusionment with the system and its impossible “hoops”; 9.  I had heard more than once that I was targeted and would be “harassed” through the fall and in the new term.  Frankly, the job is tough enough without that waste of energy.
            My decision was crystallized after the July 18 primary results and the defeat of persons I had worked with for years;  Senator Paul Broun;  District Attorney Harry Gordon; Commissioner Albert Hale; Clarke County Sheriff Jerry Massey, a longtime friend;  and others from around the state. 
            The day after the Primary, REALITY really set in and hit me between the eyes when I made my first visit to meet new DOT Commissioner Tom Coleman, a friendly and capable person.  He jokingly asked me which of our counties had defeated “my good friend, Paul Broun”?  I jokingly and quickly responded that “Clarke County did!!”.  While it was said in jest, I came away more certain than ever of the limited state transportation funds available to local governments. 
             Our consultants and I went to Atlanta to talk about joint funding of a section of the Jennings Mill Parkway where we have serious inquiries by large commercial interests.   We asked for State participation of 1.4 million dollars- the county would need 1.6 million which would be a big challenge.  The DOT staff present were cordial and complimentary of me and the county to the DOT Commissioner.  They explained how we had always worked with the Department with our planning and zoning and working with 316 upgrades etc.   Then a friend, Jim Hullett, Executive Asst to the Commissioner looked in the black book and told the commissioner that the “formula” gave Oconee an allotment of $00,000 for next year.  Last year, the state spent about 1.3 million on the Oconee Connector or as the Commissioner said, “1,000 % of our formula entitlement”. 
             The state will work with us on Federal Aid projects but the process takes several years and cannot even begin until after the concept and environmental plans are submitted at a cost of a lot of money to local governments.  This means that it could be five years before we could even accept donated ROW for the Jennings Mill Parkway Bridge ( linking the Oconee Connector and Jennings Mill Parkway) which will cost approximately 9 million dollars with 80% provided by the Federal Hwy Admin and the remaining 20% by state and local.  This project has been put in the long range federal-state program and has been labeled a good project by DOT officials.  It will require shepherding through ACORTS (competing with Athens projects) and the long Federal and State Planning process and local funding will have to be arranged.  It is a long and challenging process.  I have experienced it with the 316- 78 Interchange; Watkinsville ByPass and Hwy 53 interchange; widening of  Hwy 441 and presently with the widening of Hwy 53 and Mars Hill Road to University Parkway.   The rewards of ones efforts can come years after the fact. 
             While Oconee will get its formula share of funding, I do not think it will be realistic to expect much extra help from a Democratic  State Administration with freshmen legislators from a minority party.  I do not see this improving anytime soon.  In fact, I can foresee Oconee being gerrymandered next year to make it more of a challenge to elect a Republican Representative and Senator from Oconee County. Congressional boundaries will change also.  I have already heard of several possible scenarios.  Watch the process closely as events unfold next summer in the legislature.  
             Local government, and certainly Oconee County, has many challenges ahead.  It will require intelligent, educated, energetic and persevering leadership.  It is time for someone else to “take the wheel”.

 

DECISION PROCESS: While I made up my mind after the July 18 primary, I decided to wait until after completion of the certifying process for the Independent Candidate and until after the Primary Runoff to make an announcement.  I prepared my withdrawal notice at home on the computer about two weeks before.  While my wife, daughter and close friends and confidants knew of the pending decision, I kept the letter confidential until after the runoff.   Since I served on some state level Boards (and I wanted a break from meetings and traveling) I asked my Executive Assistant confidentially to prepare letters of resignation to the ACCG Board of Managers ( I was  on the Executive Committee and some special Task Forces,  ACCG-IRMA Board of Trustees ( I was Chairman) several days ahead but dated August 9.  She was asked to prepare envelopes for copies to my 32 fellow members of the Board of Managers and 6 fellow IRMA Trustees from around the state.   On the morning of the announcement, I finished a background statement for the press, fellow commissioners, staff and all department heads.  My assistant was asked to keep the copying confidential.  It was my intent to announce my decision in early afternoon to the daily paper, so it would be published the next day (as it turned out it was online by 4:00 pm and I copied the article to more relatives and friends around the state).  I considered telling staff at a noon meeting but thought it would be less disruptive later in the day.   While the letters were being copied and addressed and packages were being prepared for Dept heads, fellow commissioners and administration staff, I met with the daily reporter at 2:00 P M and released my Letter of Withdrawal and statement.  I answered some questions about my decision and the process to follow.  The reporter left to interview others, including “ non-Wendell fans”.   I told my Assistant to put the letters in the mail and the packages into the departmental distribution boxes.  I then met with the staff at 3:30 and told them and gave them copies of the letter and statement.   Many of them and department heads seemed shocked and saddened, contrary to some rumor mill.
            
I then left the office and did not take phone calls or visits for several days because I had made my decision and did not want the emotional trauma of friends and associates expressing support and asking that I reconsider.  I expected to hear from the commissioners, some department heads and others from around the state.    The phone voice mail recorded between 50 and 100 messages.  Emails were frequent and urgent.   The first days were contacts asking for reconsideration.  However, as everyone realized I was resolute in my decision, the messages became supportive and wishing me well in my new career.   We have received numerous cards and letters from throughout the county and region.  We heard from dozens of colleagues and friends from around the state who were surprised-some said shocked- but who understood.    The messages were very heartwarming and sincerely appreciated.   We started a file folder but have not been able to answer all of them personally.
             Contrary to rumor, I did not name my successor but stayed home and tried to stay out of the process.  I had minimal contact with the Executive Committee Chair because of the timing of the filing of the official affidavit, which I typed at home, in the absence of such a form.  I had understood that if I withdrew, the Party could name my replacement.  I was not aware of the short deadline that required the Party to name someone by 4:00 P M on the following business day after my official withdrawal.  After learning that from the county attorney and local party chairman, I agreed to hold off filing through the weekend to give them time to consider possibilities.
             While, it is emotionally taxing to make a career change, I am comfortable with my decision and look forward to new challenges and personal pursuits out of the spotlight of public office.

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE:   By mid-June, I heard that petitions were being circulated to qualify an Independent Candidate  for Chairman.    Several friends and supporters told me that they were asked to sign, and given all kinds of reasons, but refused to do so.   I later learned that a group was organized in a “pep rally” atmosphere to circulate the petitions.  I have heard since that I was accused of everything but White Slavery and causing the drought!  It was described as being similar a mob-like frenzy.   Various false accusations were made and passed around in some areas of the county.  I later learned that my old nemesis, former Commissioner Jay Campbell, aided and helped orchestrate the frenzy and plan the attacks.  They got some media coverage and also targeted every employee who was ever fired or left disgruntled along with anyone who had a complaint with the county.  Some of the accusations were contradictory but that did not matter to the perpetrators who had set out to embarrass me and spread gossip and biased information to accomplish their goals.   Part of their strategy was to go to subdivisions neighboring rezones over the last few years.  Some of the participants had a history of obtaining rezones for themselves but they used “growth” issues to gain signatures in these neighborhoods.   The young candidate was used as a tool of many of the participants to attack me and exact revenge for some exaggerated wrong allegedly perpetrated on them.   They did not care about qualifications or experience or the county for that matter. 
             At least two persons took petitions to their churches in Athens and got a number of  Oconee residents’ signatures on Sunday.   A number of Athens Fire Dept personnel were involved, including the Fire Chief who lives in Oconee County.  His secretary, who lives in Clarke County, notarized 72 of the affidavits.  Several of  the petitions appeared to have been  signed on the job.  Several Oconee County deputies signed, apparently while in uniform and on duty, in my opinion in violation of the county’s Personnel Policies.  At least three former members of the Recreation Board became very active in the process.
             After I made my withdrawal announcement, I heard more details about Mr. Campbell’ s involvement.  I also learned that he was “politicking” behind-the-scenes to get the Republican nomination.   I understand he also attended at least one meeting of the County Executive Committee with proponents of Mr. Davis.   From what I have heard it seems that Mr. Campbell is supporting two candidates for chairman..   ( I did tell the Republican Chair that weekend that if Campbell were the choice, that I would not file the Withdrawal Affidavit and would reconsider).   I do not think Mr. Campbell has any vision or real interest in the county.  He is very intelligent but in my opinion and experience he uses his ability to tear down and spread biased and untrue information.
             He is one who perpetuates the theory that I do not let the “staff run the county.”   As to the rumor that I “threatened” and “terrorized” employees, I do confess to having a reputation at one time, particularly in my law practice, of being a perfectionist.    I learned years ago that you cannot get perfection this side of heaven but you can strive for high standards.  I believe citizens expect and deserve that.   I am reminded of something the late Ray Middlebrooks, longtime Road Superintendent, told a relative about me.  He had heard early on from some of my critics accusing me of various things.   He said, “Wendell and I get along fine.  You don’t have any problem with Wendell if you do your job!” 
             As to the rumor that I “was rude” and “ran over” people in meetings, I will only point to the hundreds of meetings I have participated in and presided over in my career.   Hundreds of persons have witnessed my performance and, even when not receiving a favorable decision, said I was fair and ran a good meeting.  My reputation will stand with those folks who have first hand knowledge of me and my performance.   Candidates and critics have spent much of this year putting out their spin on our meetings.  I admit to an occasional flare of anger in public meetings.  Some of it I call  backbone.  I have never seen any public officials who didn’t show  some  occasional emotion when enduring public criticism and ridicule.

The whole experience has shown me and my family  another meaning for the term-  “dirty politics” and mob psychology.   Angry people can reinforce each other and attack without having the other side presented.

This type of politics can effect campaigns but one cannot govern effectively with this type of actions and support.

 

RECREATION Department:  The commissioners and I have taken a bad Public Relations rap about the change in the Recreation Director.   I had planned to let it die but some of my detractors have distorted and exaggerated it beyond reason.
            
First, the commissioners unanimously and affirmatively agreed to terminate the previous director.  (I talked to each one before sending the letter). While detailed personnel matters are confidential and protected by law, I feel some general comments are needed in view of the published accounts of the matter.   We had problems for years with lack of reports on activities, personnel and financial matters.  It was a common complaint to and among staff and administrative personnel.
            
 Some specific problems that were involved:  1.  Checks were not turned into the finance dept. for weeks at a time when policy required daily and no less than weekly;  2.   After this was addressed, it happened again with a $,000 check that allegedly lay in a desk drawer for weeks (months);   3.  Personnel matters were not handled according to law and county policy- in 1999 two key people were hired, apparently with the knowledge and participation of some of the Rec. Board but the hirings did not follow ordinance mandated policies as to advertising and fair competition.  Shortly, after the announcement was made by the Rec. Dept., I received more than one report that one of the people had been fired in another jurisdiction for failing a drug test.  We tried to confirm or refute this but were refused this “personnel” information by the other jurisdiction-even with an Open Records Request. (This employee is no longer with the Rec. Dept.).   We cannot prove it one way or the other but some citizens were upset about the allegations and the failure to follow personnel policies in the hiring;  4.  We learned through our personnel office that a van driver employee had falsified his driver’s license and we believed the Department was at least careless in the matter;   5.   The Finance Department,  Administrative Officer and other staff had trouble getting reports on the receipts and costs of several projects at Heritage Park (Rodeo, Dog Show, Equipment Auction, Bike Races, etc.)   These reports were requested by staff over several weeks;   6.  Other employees, staff, commissioners and I were constantly blamed for these and other problems.   7.  Complaints of difficulty in finding the Director on a day-to-day basis. 
            
 A number of counseling sessions were held and notices given.   I was criticized by some for letting it drag on too long.

RECREATION BOARD:   The Recreation Board is basically a citizens advisory committee set up by and appointed by the Board of Commissioners.   It has no authority over personnel, spending and administration.  Its main duty is to make recommendations on recreation policy  to the commissioners.    For some time, the board apparently held meetings without minutes being provided to the Commissioners as provided in the Resolution setting up the Recreation Advisory Board.   We understood a number of meetings were held that did not comply with the Open Meetings requirements as to notice and schedule.   Some of the meetings did not always have a quorum. 
            
The long-time chairman of the recreation board (and a long-time friend of mine) attended High School with the Director and was a strong supporter and advocate for the recreation director from the start.  He encouraged his hiring and always defended his actions when problems arose. Some of the complaints we got were dismissed as “nit-picking” or personality conflicts.   To defuse the last insinuation, about two years ago, I assigned recreation matters to a specific staff person-the last being the Operations Director.   The problems continued and were in violation of county ordinances and policies.
            
When the decision was made to change the director, we gave him several weeks’ notice that he should look for a new job.  We agreed to give him a good recommendation as to management of recreation programs but not administrative matters.   I understand that he met with the Recreation Board and gave a one-sided version of events.   The Recreation Board got angry.  We talked to several of them and explained the background and thought they better understood.   The Chairman got really angry (refusing to talk to me at first) and demanded a “closed meeting” with all the Commissioners and the entire Recreation Board.  We advised that the Open Meetings law, Personnel Policies and privacy laws prevented this.  We did allow some members to review some of the file material with the consent and presence of the employee involved.  We really thought that we had answered their concerns.
             However, most of the members (one did not participate and some had not been briefed) showed up at our June public meeting with a mass written resignation with an obvious intent to try to embarrass the Board of Commissioners.    I repeatedly stated we could not publicly discuss personnel matters. 
The presentation occurred near the end of our meeting after most folks and one media representative had left.   Some candidates for commissioner were present along with one or two frequent critics of the Board and me.  One of the critics and two commission candidates reportedly conferred on the critic’s later published letter castigating me personally and distorting the events.
            
The recreation board arrived as a group for the meeting.  Several matters were on the agenda that night including rezones etc.  The room was almost full for much of the meeting.    The first item was approval of the current Fiscal Year county budget.  Although this was on the agenda given to the Rec. Board, they decided to wait in the hall and have a loud discussion of their “agenda” before their part on the agenda. The presentation started off with some questions and demands of the commissioners.  I explained that we could not talk about personnel matters in this forum. 
            
Some were apparently angry because they were not asked about the change.   Some of this is understandable but the county staff and commissioners have the legal responsibility to act in such matters.  There were some vigorous exchanges but they were not as one-sided as reported.  Staff and others present volunteered later that they had never seen a group act so disrespectfully of the Commissioners and persisted in an angry presentation after being repeatedly told we could not discuss personnel matters.
            
My only regret is that we did not let them go first with the room full of witnesses and more media representatives present.  Some have said that I should have just let them fuss at us and the public would have seen for themselves.  That would have not worked this late in the meeting when so many had left.  Frequently, the public only hears a sketchy and frequently biased report of what really happens. 

Responsible citizens without a specific agenda must start attending meetings of the 
Board of Commissioners to keep everybody honest.

CHAIRMAN DUTIES:   The Local Legislation for Oconee County dealing with the office of Chairman does not require Full-time or Part-time service.  It does provide that the Chairman will be the Chief Executive Officer of the county.   In all counties, the Chairman is called the Chief Elected Official who executes  important county contracts and commitments with state and federal agencies.  The Oconee legislation says the Chairman shall sign all Resolutions and Ordinances ( I have always had a policy of having all commissioners sign except for Proclamations by the Chairman).   The Act also provides that the Chairman shall be the ceremonial head of county government and this requires attendance at many Official, civic and community functions.  The Act also provides that the Chairman shall sign all contracts and shall preside at all meetings of the Board and shall state the motion or question before calling a vote.  The Chairman only votes in the event of a tie.  The Chairman helps organize the agenda and supporting documentation.
            
The Chairman serves on the following boards or commission by law or as provided in by-laws: 1. County Board of Health-(meets once a quarter);  2.  Oconee County Development Authority (meets monthly);  3.  Northeast Georgia Regional Development Commission Board of Directors (meets monthly);  4.  Athens-Clarke-Oconee Regional Transportation Study (ACORTS) Policy Committee (meets at least quarterly); 5.  Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority (meets monthly);  6. ACCG training program (40 hours required of new Commissioners by law);  7.  Annual 3-4 day Convention of Association County Commissioners of Georgia- at Savannah or Jekyl Island;  8.  ACCG policy committees  (at least quarterly in Atlanta or Macon for the most part).  All commissioners serve on at least one policy committee to be informed and meet state officials and other networking opportunities.
             
Others are optional, such as tourism groups, i.e.: The Historic Heartland Association of 22 Counties; and the 441 Tourism and Development Association;  Oconee River Soil Conservation Service District annual meeting;  University Parkway Alliance; The Oconee River Research, Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) meetings-except expected to attend annual meeting;  Chamber of Commerce meetings-expected at Annual Meetings and Fall Festival; OCAF Receptions etc.
             
As ceremonial head of the government, the chairman is expected to welcome groups to the Civic Center and to Oconee County  (ACTION annual meeting; Trade Groups; Regional Associations); attend the FFA annual banquet; the 4 H awards program; Christmas Parades; Veterans Parades and Programs; Volunteer Firefighter dinners, retirement receptions; ribbon cuttings; groundbreakings; presentations of awards; and speak to civic organizations, locally and while representing the county at regional events etc.
             
A new chairman will have fewer official meetings because a new chairman will not be chairing an ACCG Policy Committee; serving on the ACCG Board of Managers or Executive Committee; serving on or chairing  ACCG insurance Board of Trustees or special policy or legislative  task forces of ACCG and joint ones with GMA (Ga. Municipal Association); or appearing before Legislative Committees; serving or Chairing the Regional Advisory Councils for the State Dept. of Community Affairs and the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism.
            
Other responsibilities of the Chairman include responding to the calls and visits of citizens, department heads, staff, and county visitors.  It also involves speaking with  representatives of businesses considering coming to Oconee (lots of meetings and appointments involved with Home Depot, Lowes, Publix, Kroger, and others).   In the evenings and on weekends, citizens remember the Chairman’s name when there is a problem with water, sewer, road obstructions, a need to get in Civic Center, and other county problems.
            
To do the job requires time to read letters and documents, time to talk to staff, time to review personnel actions, observe county projects, review financial and banking reports at least monthly,  authorize transfer of county funds from one account to another, etc.
            
While we have capable staff, from time to time they do need to communicate with the Chairman for clarification and general direction on implementing county policy.   This is not always as clear as it sounds.  Trying to keep everybody working on the same page and working toward common goals is a challenge.   For example, the county is supportive of economic development and high development standards.  It has limited sewer capacity and other infrastructure limitations.  Large national companies require some communication to coordinate those goals and to work through the infrastructure limitations.  At department level, one is not expected to have a broad understanding of the different policies and goals of the County.  This is a policy and leadership coordinating responsibility.

Admittedly, the job is a challenge and most of the Chairmen in Georgia would tell you so.

COMMENT:    I agree with many that think our county and its government will be navigating some untested waters.   Oftentimes, candidates running for office have a naïve understanding of the legal responsibilities, fiscal constraints, pressure from various sources and the real duties of the office.   Many go through a metamorphosis after a few weeks in office and realize the “old crowd” was not as wrong as they thought!  It is like the teenager who thinks his parents are dumb but observe how smart the parents “have become” by the time the youngster reaches adulthood.  We will be led by inexperienced persons working through a maze of federal and state regulations and responsibilities and duties that they have never observed in a public meeting or in the media reports.  Most of the work is done outside of these venues.  Our county is strong and will survive.
             I do think responsible citizens and leaders of our community must step up and assert themselves.  Do not let a small but vocal and sensational minority dominate the county’s programs.   This requires attendance and speaking up at meetings of Commissioners and being part of citizen committees.  We cannot abandon these important entities to special interests and activists.   If responsible people do not get involved on a regular basis, we will be weakened and can become a regional media spectacle rather than the regional model.   GET INVOLVED!
            
As a commissioner, one has many challenges: taxes, budgets, citizen needs, representing the county at regional and state levels, keeping informed of county projects and happenings etc.   I have found the greatest impediments to be:   1.  SPECIAL INTERESTS- and they come in different packages;   2.  NIMBYS- Not In My Backyard-  This can be a very vocal group on a neighborhood rezone but then go home (sometimes mad) and remain oblivious to other issues facing our community;  3. ACTIVISTS:   A small but vocal and demanding group who are usually articulate and skilled at getting media coverage.  This group can distract the county from the larger picture and total needs of the community;    4.   GOOD OLE BOYS:   This system is live and well in all governments-frequently behind the scenes.   I have always resisted the Good Ole Boy system and tried to approach issues, personnel matters and county services from a professional standpoint with much input and discretion in the competent professional staff.  This can cause anger and retaliation by proponents of the “Good Ole Boy” system!!  Sometimes these four groups can be working simultaneously for separate agendas but do join with each other to some extent to criticize and attack although they agree on little else.  Cititzens must be alert to these interests and help keep them from dominating the agenda or sidetracking the county in its “big picture” plans and progress.

THIS ‘N THAT:

·          The Pay Raise Issue:    Most folks did not seem interested in this debate because Oconee is a high-income county.  (Some friends tease me about being a “low-paid lawyer”!).    This was an issue fanned by a small core of “Wendell Haters”.    The commissioner who led the move behind the scenes to double salaries of the members escaped public criticism and had no political opposition.

·          Republican Nominee Process: A prominent elected official of the Republican Party suggested that the Independent Candidate be named and avoid any divisive election!    In my opinion, this is sacrificing local interests for a state political strategy and hurts our local government.

·          Myths about Two Candidates:    One faction of the “Wendell Haters” put out the rumor that Charlie Hoag was “Wendell’s candidate”.    Another faction of the “Wendell Haters” put out the rumor that Melvin Davis was “Wendell’s candidate”.    As a matter of fact, I knew of neither one’s candidacy nor selection until after they were interviewed or meetings had been held to select them.  I did not attend either press conference.

·          Rumor Mills and Sources: Frequently, media representatives and political adversaries seek out county employees and committee members as “news” sources.   It is not always the most competent and informed sources.  In fact, they may be disgruntled or underachievers who are not really in the loop.   Most of the time the information is either biased or inaccurate.  That is how many rumors and gossip gets started with little basis in fact.

·          Campaign Disclosure Reports: One wonders why the reports of the Clerk Candidates and Commission candidates received front page (headline) local media coverage but the Sheriff’s reports, or lack thereof, was hardly discussed.   Who paid for the ads??

·          County Legal Organ: The selection of the County’s Legal Organ is made by a majority of the following:  Sheriff, Clerk of Court, and Probate Judge.

·          Consensus:   While some candidates criticized consensus positions, it is the only way  a local government can be effective.  It takes much work and effort to have consensus.   The alternative can be confusion and stalemate.

·          Election Mandates:  There are no clear mandates in this year’s elections thus far.   The lack of consensus will add to the challenges and responsibilities of the county’s government.

ENDURING TRUTHS:  

For sometime I have had on my office wall a framed quote by the late Speaker Sam Rayburn who said,  Any jackass can tear down a barn.  It takes a craftsman to build one!”   I have always tried to be a craftsman.

In my early adult career, I was working on a matter with an elderly gentleman in Cobb County who quoted and old saying of his daddy,  “ The truth will stand.  A lie will fade away!

        Both of these quotes have frequently come to mind during my public service.


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