County attorney locked out public, sued Fayette to get billboards here

Tue, 06/17/2008 - 3:52pm
By: Letters to the ...

Whatever happened to ethical and open government in Fayette County? When running for office, our elected officials always claim that is what they want, but what are we getting from our current County Commission?

By now many of you know that our commissioners violated Georgia’s Open Meetings law and, when the violation became apparent, they covered it up by changing the county’s official records.

Only Commissioner Pfeifer fought to get the records to reflect what really happened, but was ignored by the rest of our commissioners. You can consult my website,, to see the video and refresh your memory. The video of the meetings leaves no doubt.

This newspaper recently published letters to the editor from Mr. James Wingo and Commissioner Pfeifer that take the County Commission to task for changing the county’s long-standing policy of providing very detailed minutes of Commission meetings. You now know only what their votes were, but little more. The pros and cons of an issue, the citizen’s opinions and the commissioner’s rationale for their vote are now not shared with the public.

Why? Do they believe the public doesn’t care or can’t comprehend what the commissioners are doing? Do they believe the public “can’t handle the truth”? More likely it is the direct opposite. They fear the public would not tolerate much of what the board is doing if the information was readily available to them. The commissioners are elected to represent the citizens, to inform them and work for them. They are not there to keep the public in the dark.

In last week’s Citizen, John Thompson’s article points out clearly that the policy was not changed by a public discussion and vote, but rather it was a “staff directive” recommended by the county attorney. Since when are long-standing policies of such importance changed without the involvement of the commissioners? I know that Commissioner Pfeifer was not consulted. I also know that the interim county administrator can only exercise the authority delegated to him by the County Commission. How did it really happen?

It should come as no surprise that our county attorney, Scott Bennett, recommended such a change. He was the city attorney who advised the City Council of McDonough that citizens had no right to film public meetings. It created such a citizen uproar that it ended up as the subject of a Fox News I-Team Investigation aired on Aug. 13, 2007. A check of my website ( will lead you to that video also. The video clearly indicates that Mr. Bennett either didn’t know the law or chose to ignore it.

The commission created a committee to review and make recommendations as to the top candidates for the position of county attorney. Mr. Bennett was among the top three recommended to the board. How could the board not know the problem and embarrassment Mr. Bennett caused the government and citizens of McDonough? Worse yet, did they know and not care?

When I heard Mr. Bennett was selected, I immediately recognized the name. I had met him in federal court in Newnan. He was suing Fayette County to force us to allow his client to erect billboards in the county. The federal court upheld Fayette County. Mr. Bennett immediately went to superior court and sued us there. That case is still pending after numerous appeals.

Don’t be surprised if a deal is struck and new billboards begin to appear in the county.

It seems just a bit ironic to me that Mr. Bennett fought so passionately in court for the “First Amendment rights” of his corporate client, but he advises the governments of McDonough and Fayette County that our citizens do not have the right to know what their government is doing.

Have you heard or been able to read any detailed discussions about the $3 million pay raises (not including their COLA) recently approved by the board?

Have you heard or been able to read the details of the proposed defined benefit retirement system the board is preparing to approve for its almost 800 employees?

It could potentially have the most significant impact on taxes in our history. Do you know why they would even consider it in these challenging economic times?

Will you be informed of the unfunded liability many governments in our area are experiencing because of the prohibitive costs associated with defined benefit programs?

I ask again, what happened to ethical and open government in Fayette County? In my eight years on the board we had it. Sometimes it makes commissioners uncomfortable because our citizens ask tough questions and demand rational answers. I believe it is just part of the job. If you can’t explain to people what you are doing and why you are doing it, you shouldn’t be in office.

I’m running again because I believe the vast majority of our citizens want to know what their commissioners are doing, whether they agree with them or not. Those of you who know me are well aware that I was always open and candid about what the commission and I were doing and preparing to do, even if I knew you might not agree.

Many times honest input from the public altered the final outcome. It can’t happen when information is kept “under wraps.”

I ask for your vote on July 15 to bring back ethical and open government to our community.

Greg Dunn

Candidate for County Commission

Fayette County, Ga.

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Submitted by Save Fayette on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 9:01am.

First off only you (Greg Done) and Phifer feel that an open meeting law has been broken. Peter sent one of his letters to the Georgia AG and was told to take a hike. No body else other than Greg and Peter, even after seeing Janet Dunn’s utube coverage feel that anybody has covered up, or did anything wrong. Unlike when Greg Done actually held an executive session and started talking about something else. He claims to be all mighty and came out the next day and said he did something wrong. The only reason he went public was that another commissioner said he would go to the press about his talking out of turn during executive session. Greg, you violated Georgia’s Open Meetings law. In regards to what you talk about in Mr. James Wingos letter. You fail to tell the whole truth that when you were on the board, the instruction from the Sixth commissioner was to destroy any and all recorded records of all the commissioner meetings. Can you provide any recorded records of any meetings during your term in office? No! McNalley had the staff destroy all audio, of any meeting. The county provides more information now then what ever was taken during your term. As far as billboards; had you not gone to court three different times, and lost. There would not be a problem. Just more of your sue happy with citizen money and line Mcnalley’s pockets. If a deal is struck, it is because you were to blind and stupid to change the ordnance and now we have to live with your mistake. The county has been working on a proposed defined benefit retirement system for over a year. Have you ever read anything about it? Ever attended a workshop?. I don’t think so. The only information you get is from Peter, who voted FOR a Defined Benefit retirement program. The so called record that you talk about shows where Peter voted yes and Herb was the only commissioner who voted no. I think the vast majority of our citizens do know what our commissioners are doing; Peter and you are out to lunch.

Submitted by realdeal on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 10:27pm.

People, wake up and smell the coffee! We need to get honesty and integrity back in our local government. The employee pay raises that we can't afford and open meetings violations are just the tip of the iceberg. The current crew of commissioners (with the exception of Peter Pfeiffer)have proven themselves to be shady, backroom characters and need to be voted out of office. Vote for Dunn and Pfeiffer on July 15th and bring back ethical government to our county!

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 5:49am.

Electing Dunn for another run makes about as much sense as bringing Nixon back to run against Carter because at least we know what Nixon stands for.

You must be Janet, so I'll give you a prediction that will make your day. Even without my vote, it will be Dunn 65% and Horgan 34%. The missing 1% will be my write-in vote for Dar Thompson - along with Dar's own vote and 12 others that belong to World Gym and saw his campaign poster over the urinal.

Voice of Fayette Future's picture
Submitted by Voice of Fayett... on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 9:35pm.

Let's look at what Greg did for us with Attorneys. He was big pals with Overbill McNally the New Yorker who billed us $500k a year, always got beat in court and arrogantly pissed on the cities. And then there is the reservoir attorney who gave big bucks to Dunn hoping that Greg would give him and Overbill another big bond fee check.

On Money? Dunn set the stage for these huge employee entitlements. Horgan spends the county money like every dollar is his own. Unlike Government Greg, Horgan is a small businessman who feels the pinch of taxes and overhead. With Greg and Linda we got the Fountain and the Taj Mahal and a bulldoze of an historic landmark.

On Open Government? You never could find out what Dunn and Overbill were up to in the "Executive Session" closed meetings. They didn't keep minutes.

No thanks.....I'm giving Horgan another term.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 5:38pm.

$3 million pay raises (not including their COLA)

County employees have been told that they are NOT getting COLA raises this year.

In my eight years on the board we had...

...county employees with extremely low morale; money wasted on lawsuits that had no basis. Years with NO COLA raises for county employees, when the economy was doing great. I could go on and on.

The department heads are tightening their belts as much as possible to protect the raises that bring many employees to just barely comparable salaries as surrounding counties of similar size, so that they can retain the employees rather than go to the expense of hiring and training someone new.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 8:11pm.

Who cares? Cola raises are not some kind of birthright and most private employers don't give them. The reason being is that cola raises are designed to fool the stupid. If someone thinks that a cola raise is something in addition to the "normal" or "merit" raise, they probably get shafted whenever they buy a car, a mortgage, etc.

It's real simple: X amount of dollars are available for "raises" before anyone gets a dime. Whether you want to call it "A% for merit plus B% for cola" or just that everyone gets C% as a total raise, the raise is the same. If the employer decides the average raise will be 4%, does it matter at all if they call for "merit" or for "cola" or any combination thereof? NO. The amount is the same.

Dunn is one arrogant dude but he beats what I've seen from the present commissioners hands-down. His letter only raised a few of the points about this commission's ineptitude.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 8:03pm.

That's how I'm doing it. I don't even know who he is running against, but his opponent is my new best friend.

Hubby made me edit this since he says Dunn is running against Horgan and we actually like Horgan, so Horgan deserves his own votes - not just the anti-Dunn vote. Well. OK.

Submitted by skyspy on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 8:07pm.

I agree with mudcat on something.

We have already given Dunn the bums rush once......time to say goodbye forever.

Dunn you are done, now go find a job!

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