Citizens group eyes openness

Tue, 09/09/2008 - 2:56pm
By: Ben Nelms

Citizens group eyes openness

There’s a new political player in town, and it has its aim on opening up local government to public scrutiny.

Former Fayette County Commission Chairman Harold Bost in July helped organize the new Fayette Citizens for Open Government (FayCOG-PAC) Political Action Committee.

The idea, Bost says, is to encourage citizens to work with elected and appointed boards throughout the county. Bost said he filed the organization’s paperwork in July after sending an opinion letter to registered voters.

Bost said the mission and goals of the new organization are three-fold. First up, FayCOG would like to see timely, accurate, detailed and complete meeting minutes by every publicly elected or appointed board within Fayette County, Bost said.

A second goal is to energize and educate Fayette citizens to become involved in all political processes.

And the third goal is to act as a watchdog on behalf of citizens, to monitor and inform them of issues of importance, Bost said.

“The first goal is very, very important and we will work on all three goals at one time,” he said. “We’re not trying to tell the governments how to do their business. We just want citizen involvement.”

Bost is a former county commission chairman, having served from 1996-2000. Bost served for a time with former commissioner Linda Wells and with former commission chairman Greg Dunn, who is also affiliated with FayCOG.

A part of the new organization’s objective, said Bost, is to have a more detailed accounting of the meeting minutes of the Fayette County Commission.

“I’m a stickler for government being open and honest. That’s what we had here,” Bost said. “In my experience (Wells and Dunn) are for open government like I am. While serving with them, Fayette County government, in my view, operated in a crystal bowl. All business was conducted out in the open. People could see honest, open discussion. Nothing was done behind the scenes. The complete agenda was published prior to the meetings and meeting minutes were detailed with nothing hidden. We did everything possible to operate out in the open.

“Now we have agenda items brought up at the meetings that were not published on the agenda and we have incomplete minutes,” Bost said. “FayCOG is not trying to be unreasonable. We know the technology to do this is available. We want to start with this initial objective so we can get back to where we were.”

Bost said a starting point for FayCOG will be to meet with the commission to see if they will agree to producing full, detailed, meaningful minutes. While his reference was directed to the County Commission, Bost said FayCOG holds to the same premise for all elected and appointed board in the county.

Bost said regardless of the elected or appointed board involved, Fayette residents should consider getting involved with local government.

“FayCOG needs to raise community awareness. If people don’t want to get involved, then that’s fine,” said Bost. “I know we’ve got a big job ahead of us.”

FayCOG-PAC currently has a formative group of county residents and former office holders working to evolve the organization. Those include co-chairs Bost and Jim Wingo, secretary David Cree and treasurer J.D. Holmes. Others affiliated with the PAC include Angela Bean, Janet and Greg Dunn, Dave Simmons and Peter Pfeifer.

Bost responded to the question about whether some in the community might believe that former county commissioners involved in FayCOG might have an unspoken agenda. He said FayCOG did not form to take over government.

“We’re just looking for open, honest government from those elected by the people. So let the people know what’s going on,” said Bost. “We’re not trying to tell the commissioners what decisions to make and how to do business. Just conduct it is such a way that the citizens will not have to wonder what they’re trying to hide. If or when there are areas later that we differ on, we’ll let them know and will request that our viewpoint be heard.”

The FayCOG meeting will be held Sept. 30, though the location had not be determined at press time.

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Submitted by Margot on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 5:37pm.

We already know the problems in our governments. The problems have been identified more or less as follows.

1.Secret government, creating an uninformed citizenry.
2.Elected officials who make promises just to get elected, then ignore those promises.
3.Lawyer controlled governments who don’t represent the people.
4.Unethical behavior in government.
5.Refusal of officials to follow the law.
6.Apathetic citizens

If we can improve and solve these six areas all other problems and complaints such as poor management, overspending, unqualified representatives and employees, zoning and other necessary functions of government will take care of themselves. All but one of the major areas cited have to do with the people running governments. Electing new representatives every four years is a proven failure. Individual citizens going it alone, or in small groups doesn’t work effectively. Only one Fayette newspaper, The Citizen, even challenges the government, but only on specific issues and not with consistent follow through. State government from whence local governments derive their power could care less. But there is more than enough federal, state and local law for efficient government operation, if governments could only be made to follow it.

The best solution is to elect citizens to serve on a legal government oversight committee with access to their own government paid lawyer, to handle complaints that violate the law. You cannot allow the legislators or city management to appoint an oversight committee, because all you get is Yes people, beholden to their sponsors, who have no real power. An elected oversight committee would have subpoena powers for investigation, make recommendations to council and file lawsuits if laws are not followed. The members would meet at least every two weeks and be paid well for their services. A course in constitutionality would be required after election, taken in Nov. & Dec. before taking office. A vote of confidence for each member would be on the ballot every two years. If the vote is No, the runner-up in their previous election would be installed for the remaining two years. The committee should be five members to avoid tie votes. Citizens and land owners would have a legal complaint form to submit and the committee must investigate and give a written reply to the citizen of their findings. Most legal problems would be corrected without going to court between the government’s lawyer and the citizen lawyer. The committee would be free to designate its lawyer or change lawyers. All other complaints and operation of the government would still be handled by the council or commissioners. The committee would be responsible for insuring that all legal functions of the council and planning commission were followed such as legal notification of hearings, executive sessions and other regulations. An elected oversight committee would put fear in our sorry representatives. Maybe then more citizens would gain confidence to become involved in their governments.

The question is how do you establish an elected over-sight committee law? Councils and commissioners are certainly not going to vote it in.

Submitted by 30YearResident on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 3:24pm.

I really don't know if he's surrounding himself with the right people in this venture .... or for the past 6 or 8 years in politics for that matter.
Mr. Bost has good ideas, he's an excellent organizer and has a good, level head for how to succeed in business. He has strong conservative values and has demonstrated that in the past.
But with people like Dunn, Wells and Pfeifer in this team, I have some real reservations on his political sense.

It's really beyond me why Mr. Bost hasn't figured Dunn and Wells out by now. Why doesn't he see what the rest of the voters in this county have seen?
Mr. Dunn is a retired Army Colonel and tried to run and boss the county like it was his regiment instead of a business. Mrs. Wells became an arrogant elitist, who felt "She" was the know all authority of the county and how dare we, the underlings, question her decisions.
Mr. Pfeifer was just a little puppy dog that did whatever Mr. Dunn trained him to do... speak, fetch, etc.
I would have hoped that after the last election, Mr. Dunn and Mrs Wells would have learned that the majority in this county do not want them back again. I would have thought Mr. Bost would have figured that out as well.

Submitted by swhusky on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 1:14pm.

First, we start this article by saying there’s "a new political player in town". In the very next sentence, we find out that it is Harold Bost, and a couple of ruffled tail feathers, hence the ousted democrats: Linda Wells, poor ole Greg Dunn, Peter Pfeifer and a few other close democratic friends. The only new political player in this group is Dave Simmons. Maybe the turkey (Harold Bost) and the tail feathers should start listening to Dave for new ideas. Seems to me he was the closest in the last election to winning. But this is what we do when we have yet another embarrassing election loss. We cry foul in public; we claim how bad and closed in the new commissioners are in hopes the mindless masses will start to believe these things, and we start Political Action Committees. We do this only to harass and continue to inject venom in our county government. Never do we with any respect say "good election; congrats." What we do is just keep looking around for someone else to blame, because it’s never the message we chose to run on; it is always the other guy’s fault, somehow. Not that the people of Fayette County just disagree in a majority, time and time again with the turkey and his feathers.

Truly, are these democrats really going to hang their hat on this hook of --"We’re just looking for open, honest government from those elected by the people. So let the people know what’s going on."? -- Does that mean that you honestly believe that we have closed door commission meetings every other Thursday and no one is allowed in the building? Do you expect the people who voted you out to believe this? Has anyone ever been denied the right to sit in and take notes on any commission meeting? If that were the case, then nothing is hidden as the ole Turkey has implied or said. And FayCOG what is the cost to the citizens of Fayette County of "producing full, detailed, meaningful minutes". Not just producing them but then maintaining them for years? Do you even know or are you and your friends just trying to stir up dust in a puddle of mud. O well it’s obvious to me and other citizens of Fayette County that the true reason that "FayCOG" wants the exact minutes is so they can spend day after day scouring them, just trying to find something that will give them a reason to get up in the morning. And on a lighter side thank you so very much FayCOG for giving J.D. Holmes something to do!

Second, "the goal is to energize and educate Fayette citizens to become involved in all political processes" is a great idea no matter who was dragging it in the door for discussion. Maybe "FayCOG" could do a little past history investigation and find out why and how Harold Bost single handily cost the citizens of FAYETTE COUNTY an additional eighty to one hundred thousand extra tax dollars on a special election! UGGH ARGH PAPPHF PIFF POOF - Maybe it was because Harold Bost was trying to avoid paying taxes, AKA tax evasion? Maybe it was because Harold Boast wasn’t a citizen of Fayette County during the elections. Who knows what the reasons are, but be assured that FayCOG will get to the bottom of this as soon as they get done reading all those county commission meeting minutes. Maybe one of the many reporters for the Citizen can find out what really happened, or heck the author of the above article might take a challenge and do some serious reporting.

Thirdly, why would we trust FayCOG to watch out for us, the individuals in the new Political Action Committee are still licking their rear ends to get the taste out of their mouth from the last election?

WARNING: The above article "Citizens group eyes openness" is a suspected phishing scam.


mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 09/09/2008 - 7:00pm.

Shouldn't you disclose that Frank Caywood is behind the Board if not actually on the Board?

He owns the newspaper, you know.

I will join your group just to keep up with the agenda.

THE BOSS's picture
Submitted by THE BOSS on Tue, 09/09/2008 - 6:40pm.

FayCOG-PAC, LOL “The Good Ole Boys” will love this.

Elected officials answering for their actions to the people? It’s about time.

You have the right people as watchdogs. That’s for sure.

Thank you and Good Luck – Harold Bost, Jim Wingo, secretary David Cree, treasurer J.D. Holmes, Angela Bean, Janet and Greg Dunn, Dave Simmons and Peter Pfeifer.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 7:05am.

Maybe he'd make a good mayor next year in Peachtree City - I think he lives here.

Then we could have Bost, Dunn, Wells coaching our mayor and helping him run PTC. How heavenly is that.

At least we take and distribute the minutes of the meetings - tape them as well. So they couldn't get on us over that issue.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Tue, 09/09/2008 - 9:04pm.

Is this the same Harold Bost that stuck "We The People" with the near $100K tax bill for the special election he hung us with after winning relection for county commissioner and then abruptly resigning on us? Puzzled Just why exactly was it that he screwed us like that to briefly move to Florida before returning back here? Your PAC of Pals say it was for health reasons. Word on the street says that it was for personal tax reasons. You screw us over like that and then expect us to get on board with your so-called watchdog group? That has about as much credibility as Teddy Kennedy calling to order an Alcholics Anonymous meeting.

Look... I don't trust the current board as far as I can throw them. But you guys (including you Mr. Boss) are the ones that got booted because of your own questionable political leadership. I for one will pass on Mr. Moneybag's PAC that is nothing more than an elect Dunn, Pheifer & Simmons Election Committee.

Elected officials answering for their actions to the people? It’s about time.

And that's why Bost's Boys are no longer in office.

You have the right people as watchdogs. That’s for sure.

Oh please...... That'll make just about anyone throw-up.

Just ride off into the sunset guys. Fayette County is 'Unkept' enough after your reigns.

Hmmmm.... wonder if this post will earn me some more gay porn pics sent to my mailbox and intimidating e-mails regarding my wife and children.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:59pm.

Got elected, then left. Now he's back teaching us ethics?

Laff,laff, you gotta cry.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Thu, 09/11/2008 - 9:54am.

I think they call it 'Mud Slinging". It's Mud Slinging when you bring up past questionable decisions and practices of public figures that have been buried with time. Because of our comfortable positions and our laziness, we fail to remember these atrocities. It is no wonder our country is going bankrupt and spiraling into an amoral abyss. We certainly have earned the government we deserve.

Politically, these are sad times indeed......

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 8:28am.

Thanks for writing what I was thinking. Bost/Dunn/Pheifer part of a watchdog group? LOL, that is rich. Did we not say no to these knuckleheads several times?

Submitted by susieq on Thu, 09/11/2008 - 10:50pm.

Trouble-making group is more like it!

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