2 county workers fired in ’08 for drug violations

Wed, 06/10/2009 - 9:21am
By: John Munford

Busted for pot, Horgan hangs tough as contentious meeting looms

Editorial column: Talking pot, blowing smoke behind closed commission doors (CLICK HERE)

So far no one has filed an ethics complaint against Fayette County Commissioner Robert Horgan following his May 23 arrest for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and driving with an expired tag.

The Fayette County NAACP, however, is urging citizens to attend Thursday’s county commission meeting to express their views on the matter. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the county’s Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville.

Horgan, as an elected official, has an immunity not afforded to county employees: he can’t be fired. Last year two county employees were terminated for violating the county’s drug policy: one who tested positive for marijuana and another who tested positive for alcohol, according to county records. Both violations were discovered after random drug tests.

Four other county employees also tested positive last year for drug abuse. Of them, one resigned and three returned to work after participating in a rehabilitation program, according to county records.

The employee who resigned had tested positive for alcohol after a test was requested for “reasonable suspicion.”

Of the three retained employees, one tested positive for marijuana during a random drug test, one tested positive for alcohol during a random drug test and one tested positive for alcohol after a test was requested for “reasonable suspicion.”

The drug tests are administered by specially-certified officers with the Fayette County Marshal’s Office. A total of 325 employees, roughly half the county’s work force, were subjected to random drug screening in 2008.

The county also administers drug tests to potential employees before they are hired.

Should an ethics complaint be filed against Horgan, the most penalty he could face would be up to a $1,000 fine and a public censure.

Some have wondered why Horgan was not also charged with DUI since he admitted to smoking marijuana while driving his pickup. Fayette County Sheriff Wayne Hannah explained that the deputy did not detect any signs of impairment, such as weaving or erratic driving, before Horgan was pulled over.

Absent any evidence of impairment, a DUI charge cannot be sustained, Hannah said.

According to a detailed report from Dep. Justin Storm, who conducted the traffic stop, Horgan made a plea after he was handcuffed and placed under arrest.

“While Horgan was sitting in the back of my patrol vehicle, he asked Deputy J. Davidson and I ‘If there was anything that we could do to resolve this right here, right now!’” the report said. “I told him no.”

Afterward, Horgan was taken to the Fayette County Jail. The report does not indicate whether or not Horgan identified himself as a county commissioner, nor whether the deputies may have recognized him as being a county commissioner.

For the marijuana charge, Horgan faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a potential of up to a year in jail. He also could lose his driver’s license for six months.

However, the judge will also have the discretion of putting Horgan on probation for up to five years without a guilty adjudication for purposes of him participating in a “comprehensive rehabilitation program.”

Horgan, five days after his arrest, appeared in his official capacity at the May 28 County Commission meeting, indicating he did not intend to resign but instead wished to work to regain to restore the public’s trust in him.

Moments later, Horgan endured a barrage from several residents demanding that he resign his post. Horgan did not respond to their complaints and also declined an interview with The Citizen following the meeting.

In a news release, the NAACP lauds the Fayette County sheriff’s deputies for doing “the right thing” in charging Horgan instead of letting the matter slide.

“Other people in Fayette County have been punished and forced out of school or a job for possession of illegal substances and Mr. Horgan deserves equal treatment,” the NAACP letter stated.

The organization also said that had the county used district voting, in which a commissioner is elected to represent a geographic area, it would be “more cost effective” to try and file a recall effort to remove Horgan from office.

Filing ethics complaint is simple for any citizen

Filing an ethics complaint against a county official or county employee is a pretty easy, straightforward process.

The complaint, in writing, must be filed with the county clerk’s office. It may be turned in during regular business hours at the county’s Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville, across Ga. Highway 85 from the historic Log Cabin occupied by the American Legion.

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Submitted by JoeAnne10 on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 7:23am.

They received exactly what they deserved to be honest. I know some workers who were checking International Oddities website during their work time.

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 1:00pm.

It's blatantly apparent that you're fishing for someone to file a complaint and yet seem to lack the motivation to do so yourself.

I'm curious- did you ever take a course in journalistic ethics? Murrow would truly roll in his grave over this stunt.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 2:09pm.


The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 2:40pm.

Muckraking as a term dates to the 1800's. Are you stating that a newspaper is not to highlight corruption in the government. Isn't a free press essential to our liberties?

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 4:38pm.

to print what ever he wants. I just think it's fairly obvious that he is soliciting a "complaint" re Mr. Horgan. Again, that's his right..nothing says I have to agree with it, or that you have to agree with me.

Submitted by yada yada yada on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 9:51am.

does not need to ask the public to file a complaint, although he certainly has a right to do so. There are several groups that are planning complaints and recalls. This will not go away, HORGAN. Why don't you be a man and resign instead of embarrassing yourself and your fellow commissioners. People in other counties think we are hicks and you just proved it. Are you a teenager or a MAN?

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 3:26pm.

There is a chasm of divide between the media exposing governmental corruption (a highly debatable term for the Horgan case) and soliciting and encouraging action. Though there are instances such as this which cause doubt, this is a newspaper with the job of "reporting" the news, not becoming it.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 3:37pm.

"But an officer on duty knows no one -- to be partial is to dishonor both himself and the object of his ill-advised favor. What will be thought of him who exacts of his friends that which disgraces him? Look at him who winks at and overlooks offenses in one, which he causes to be punished in another, and contrast him with the inflexible soldier who does his duty faithfully, notwithstanding it occasionally wars with his private feelings. The conduct of one will be venerated and emulated, the other detested as a satire upon soldiership and honor."

In the case of County government, what can be said of a group of commissioners that wink at and overlook the offenses of one (Horgan) and yet causes others to be punished for the same offense. That to me, is corruption. Both government and of the soul

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 4:33pm.

Time-honored logic. The inaction of other commission members would certainly call for an examination of ethical values as a minimum.

highflyer2's picture
Submitted by highflyer2 on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 6:48am.

Yes, the man did wrong. Now we can do one of two things, #1 offer him the opportunity of participating in a rehabilitation program or #2 BURN HIM AT THE STAKE!
But I'm confussed about one thing, what is the NAACP doing in this? Did I miss something in the paper that Mr. Hogan did or said? Should we expect Jessie Jackson at the next Commission meeting ?

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 11:05am.

The organization also said that had the county used district voting, in which a commissioner is elected to represent a geographic area, it would be “more cost effective” to try and file a recall effort to remove Horgan from office.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Fred Garvin's picture
Submitted by Fred Garvin on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 11:49am.

News Corp. forms diversity council

News Corp. is forming an external diversity council in response to pressure over a New York Post cartoon that critics said compared President Barack Obama to a dead chimpanzee.
The cartoon appeared in February. News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch published an apology in the Post, but civil rights and community organizations demanded further action.

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said Wednesday that News Corp. had agreed to form a "diversity community council" that will meet semiannually with company executives.

The council will include members of the NAACP, 100 Black Men of America, the National Action Network and the National Urban League.

The letter also said that the company will include a "diversity statement of commitment" in its annual report.

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a
happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the
other. -- Ronald Reagan

Submitted by Dondol on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 10:29am.

The only thing that you missed is that Mr. Horgan is not black. If he were a black man then the NAACP & the ACLU would be saying that is only pot just leave it alone, but they desperately want a black representative on the county commission, so they go after Horgan. Same ol, Same ol, what's good for the Goose is not what's good for the Gander. As long as the NAACP is around we will never have equality in this country. They just keep stirring the crap and make it smell.

Obama's weapon of Choice!

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 10:39am.

Separation by any race is still separation..
As long as we have the NAACP, Negro College Fund, Black Miss America and the Black Caucus to name BUT A FEW.. we will never have true equality..

If we had the NAAWP, White College Fund, White Miss America and the White Caucus then we would all be rascist.. oh wait we did back in the 50's.. so.. I guess it makes it ok now.. What is that old saying.. Two wrongs does not make a right...
hmmm.. Apparently we have not learned ANYTHING..
""If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," Barrack Obama

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS..Evil

Submitted by wheeljc on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 4:39pm.

Thursday nights meeting will provide the County Commissioners to display what they all claim they possess: integrity and ethics. Their failure to act will also speak volumes for the County to hear. A bit surprised that the Chairman has not offered Mr. Horgan a "deal he cannot refuse". Guess we will just have to wait until Thursday evening!

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