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December 5, 2007
 

DEALS, PROMISES, AND COMMISSIONERS PERSONAL INTERESTS

TWG expects the next Chairman of the BOC, to be elected at the January meeting, will be Comm. Hill.  

It appears that some promises were made to forge a coalition of Comm. Yarbrough, Comm. Hill, and Comm. Bernard at the December meeting.  It is believed that the Chairmanship was promised if Comm. Hill went along with certain appointments wanted by Comm. Bernard.

Being Chairman is not more important than serving the people of the County and doing what is best for the County as a whole, but that was hard to see at the December BOC meeting.

The BOC meeting started on an interesting note.  Before the meeting could start, the County Manager had to find Comm. Hill and Comm. Yarbrough--they were in one of the offices "talking." It didn't take long for those in attendance to sense that "back room deals" had been made.  The normal 3-2 vote during the December meeting consisted of Comm. Hill, Comm. Yarbrough, and Comm. Bernard vs. Comm. Johnson and Comm. Pennamon.

The "Zoning Committee" appointments were on the agenda.  This is the Committee that the County Attorney said wasn't necessary when questioned by Mr. Francis Cason at the November meeting; he decided that is was "part of the contract" after all. (Mr. Cason had read the contract and knew what he was talking about!) Comm. Bernard did his best to stack this Committee and got help from Comm. Hill and Comm. Yarbrough. 

Nine people signed up for the Zoning Committee which will review and make recommendations on the proposed NEW/REVISED Zoning Ordinance.  Comm. Pennamon and Comm. Johnson said all 9 should be put on, but oh, no, Comm. Bernard wanted only 5 so he could make sure the people he thought would not tow his line would not be put on the committee.  The other Commissioners never speak up and suggest someone from every District, instead they allow Comm. Bernard to submit most of the names and ignore the citizens that apply on their own.  

Some of the people suggested by Comm. Bernard have never attended meetings or shown an interest in county matters. Not one person put on the Zoning Committee represents Agriculture in the County--while the majority of the land in Jasper County is zoned AG.  

The following people were put on the Zoning Committee--Michelle Jackum, Gail Folkerts, Nancy Wood (all recommended by Comm. Bernard and then were asked to submit "resumes"); Tyson Harty, and Dennis Hart.  Comm. Bernard also recommended one other citizen that was not appointed.  TWG is not saying these people won’t do a good job or make reasonable recommendations but more balance is needed. 

No one from District 1, District 2, and no one living in the AG district were appointed.  The proposed Zoning Ordinance has serious limitations in the AG district--fence heights, metal buildings, etc.  One wonders if all of these appointees have ever read the Zoning Ordinance or any proposed changes.

Comm. Bernard has pushed several zoning issues and may think he can push these committee members into what he wants in the new ordinance rewrite.  He certainly attempted to manipulate the "Hospital Committee" and those appointed to that committee.

Comm. Bernard attends P&Z meetings and hearings; speaks out at those meetings; and then votes on the same issues at BOC meetings--such as the 1800 sq ft requirement that has the County in a current lawsuit.  This appears to be improper for a member of the Governing Authority of the County.  Other members of the BOC fail to call Comm. Bernard's hand on these activities.

Citizens need to pay attention to what the Zoning Committee recommends and approves.  Zoning Ordinances affect your private and personal property!  Committee meetings are open meetings, must be posted, and can be attended by the public.

JUST WHERE IS DISTRICT 2?

Comm. Hill has problems knowing where his district is. Even though he was one of the Commissioners setting the boundaries of the current (gerrymandered) districts, he isn't sure of where those boundaries are. 

During the Zoning hearing he asked two or three times what district the zoning request was in.  Apparently, he didn't read the zoning report included in his meeting packet.  He found out to his surprise it was in his district--that being District 2!  The people of District 2 are not well represented.  District 2 doesn't have any roads being paved under the SPLOST program because Comm. Hill failed to recognize that none of the roads were in his District--even after attending SPLOST promotion meetings where the roads were listed! 

The next BOC Chairman?  We will all soon see if promises are honored.


TWG
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