County commission fails to inform public

Tue, 06/03/2008 - 4:18pm
By: Letters to the ...

[To the assistant county administrator:] I am disappointed that I have not heard from you on your proposed meeting concerning the proper documentation of the minutes of the Fayette County Commission. I was looking forward to giving you insight into the basis of my concerns surrounding this issue and getting answers to my questions submitted in my earlier letter to you.
I have noticed that the minutes of the commission were updated on May 16 and after May 22, including minutes that were several weeks overdue. Unfortunately, they, along with a number of other documents, are filed under the “Agenda” link instead of being posted on the appropriate “Minutes” link on the website.
The separate scanned documents are not posted as attachments to the official minutes and therefore are disorganized.
I appreciate your diligence in this matter and I am sure these errors will be corrected in a timely manner.
The intent of this letter is to inform you that you will soon be getting a significant number of open record requests from me via registered mail. These requests will center on the attachments that were made part of the official minutes but not posted as part of the minutes on the county website. I will start with the most recent first so as not to lose time in informing all of the citizens of the county on recent proposals presented to the commission.
These undocumented proposals could have a significant impact on citizen taxes through unfunded liabilities. Increased future taxes impact the quality of our lives and deprive us of our property.
My requests will be made pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Law (O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 et seq.). I will request all files, records, and other documents that are referred to in the minutes. Based on these documents, I may request further documents that refer or relate to these attachments and all communications and correspondence that are held by the county government or private parties on behalf of the government.
If these requests are denied in whole or in part, you will be required under O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(h) to cite in writing the specific statutory exemption upon which you have relied, as required by law. I will also ask that you release all separate portions of otherwise exempt material. I will also ask that you waive any and all costs associated with this request, or inform me about such costs as required by Georgia law.
We can save a lot of time and get this information to the people quickly if the commissioners simply allow you to post complete minutes of commission meetings, including attachments, and post them in the appropriate place on the website.
My first request will focus on the defined benefits proposal first raised publicly on Sept. 5, 2007, “Attachment 17,” an issue still pending before the commission.
This omitted attachment serves as the basis for all future dialog related to the defined benefit (DB) issue.
I will follow with separate requests for later meetings related to the DB issue on Oct. 3, 2007; Nov. 29, 2007; and Dec. 5, 2007.
If I have not heard from you by next week, I will assume that you will not address my concerns and I will begin my open record requests. I will not stop until I have all of the attachments that are referred to in the minutes and all of the associated documents related to this issue. I will make certain that these documents will be publicly available to all Fayette County citizens, thus fulfilling an obligation that the commission chooses not to fulfill as elected representatives.
I note in the minutes of May 22 that the commission believes it is fulfilling its minimum obligation in documenting its proceedings. Each commissioner has voted against changing the format of the minutes, with the exception of Mr. Pfeifer who made the motion to return to the earlier method of verbatim minutes.
I respectfully disagree with the commissioners voting against Mr. Pfeifer’s motion, and hope to set this right to the benefit of taxpayers. I will take my concerns related to open government directly to the citizens through all means available to me.
My only intent in this effort is to ensure that our elected representatives live up to their obligation to provide timely, accurate, and complete documentation of the people’s business.
By not fulfilling this obligation, the commission stifles debate and free speech by limiting potential citizen participation. I have no other agenda but open government. I do stand against a DB plan, but this opposition is secondary to the issue of open government.
I am certain that eventually the current or future commission will do the right thing on behalf of the citizens of Fayette County.
I look forward to hearing from you.
James Wingo
Peachtree City, Ga.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by thenatural on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 5:25pm.

Kudos for continuing to bring this issue to the attention of all of us. This board has set a pattern of keeping the public in the dark, on a variety of subjects when it deems fit.

We citizens deserve full disclosure and transparency of information from our elected officials. Instead these people are hiding the truth from the people that elected them. What are the afraid of? Maybe they are afraid of the voters finding out what they are really doing. As much as people on here don't like to hear it, Pfieffer is obviously the only one that cares about the truth. That is precisely why Horgan and Frady need to be gone and he should stay.

yardman5508's picture
Submitted by yardman5508 on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 8:38pm.

for trying to bring these matters to light for the citizens of the county. Ben Nelms wrote last of his desire for televised meetings, something that the local Democratic Party included in its local platform (issued last November). There is no good excuse for operating local government out of sight of the people, and the voters of the county should take note of the continuing desire to do such by the current commission. Keep the faith.

Even a dead fish can go with the flow.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.