September 2, 2014

 The special called meeting to hear the appeal of Ronnie Franklin who was recently terminated has been cancelled.

The only reason we know this is because someone saw it on the courthouse door this afternoon. Cancelled

Even though I saw 2 commissioners and the County Manager today at 2:00PM, not one of them mentioned that the meeting was cancelled.

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August 31, 2014

Calc with Tape

Mike Benton has been chosen by County Manager Karen Degges to become the Financial Director for Jasper County. His first day on the job was Monday, August 25, 2014. This choice came as no surprised as it has been rumored for more than a month that Karen Degges would hire Mr. Benton. Karen Degges’ title has been County Manager/Finance Director. The county website has been changed to show Karen Degges’ title as only County Manager now.

According to his employment agreement, he will start at $50,000 per year and be eligible for a raise after six (6) months.

Mike Benton’s past employment was that of CFO of Angel Food Ministries (AFM) from 1995-2009; he also sat on their board of directors as Treasurer.  Mr. Benton was also Chief Financial Officer for the following for-profit subsidiaries that Angel Food Ministries used:

AFM Staffing, Inc.

AFM Security, Inc.

Angel Food Ministries, Inc. 401(k) Plan

Good Hope Construction Co., Inc.


Mr. Benton is also taking the place of Phyllis Studdard, who was Finance Manager until Mr. Benton was hired. Ms. Studdard has been moved across the hall to help in the Planning and Zoning office. Her exact job title is unknown to us at this time.



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August 29, 2014

  gavelA special called meeting will be held Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 6:00PM in the Commissioner’s meeting room. This meeting is to hear the appeal of Ronnie Franklin who was recently terminated.

 Ronnie Franklin had worked with Jasper County EMS for 14 ½ years as a Paramedic and was fired on July 30, 2014. See more here.

County employees may want to attend so they can see how the process works. You never know who will be next.


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August 26, 2014

Ken Jackson 2012

Ken Jackson

Questions continue to be asked about how Ken Jackson can declare himself a part-time Chief Magistrate when he was elected as a full time Magistrate. The answer seems to be that this is Jasper County, and we have our own special laws here.

Ken Jackson is now employed full time as a high school History teacher and a coach at Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough, GA. The first day of school was August 4, 2014, which leads us to conclude he was hired before that date. However, according to the response to our open records request, Ken Jackson wasn’t considered part-time until August 11th.

Once an employee is part-time they are not eligible for health insurance with the county. Not so for Judge Jackson; he gets to stay on county health insurance until September 1st. According to the county HR director, Ken Jackson only has to pay his $15 per pay period for his coverage and whatever the county requires on his family coverage.   Isn’t it possible that this is being allowed so that his insurance at his new full-time job can take effect? How many other county employees would be allowed to do this?

The last blog post mentioned how Ken Jackson has worked outside the county during regular courthouse hours and coached in the afternoons for many years and was still paid 40 hours a week. Ken worked regularly as a juvenile defense attorney in Greene, Putnam, Jones, Baldwin, and Morgan County as well as Jasper (receiving a check from Jasper in addition to his salary). He also receives an additional separate check for legal representation in Jasper Probate Court.

Let’s see, Jasper County writes him a check for his “full-time” Magistrate salary, one for Juvenile Court, and one for Probate Court, but that’s not all. We have been informed that Ken Jackson also worked as an umpire at the Jasper County Recreation fields this summer and was paid for that as well!

Judge Jackson hasn’t turned in his hours for August yet, but when he does it will be quite interesting to see how many hours he supposedly works. To drive from Monticello to the other side of McDonough each morning, teach school all day, coach after school, and then drive home won’t leave much time to do Magistrate work. Since Ken Jackson has never been accountable to anyone, especially not the taxpayers, we will have to wait to see how many hours he says he does Magistrate work.

At present Angie Steele gets paid $11.52 an hour, 40 hours a week, from the Clerk of Courts office. This pay is considered her salary. In addition, she gets paid $22.22 for any hours doing Magistrate work. These hours can be the same (and are the same most of the time) that she gets paid by the Clerk of Courts. Click here for her Magistrate hours.

Angie Steele also notarizes Ken Jackson’s certification that he works 40 hours per week. Click here to see how Ken verifies he works 40 hours a week.

It seems to be fine to double-dip on the hours you are already being paid for as long as you are supposedly doing Magistrate work in Jasper County.   It is also not a problem to get health insurance when you are part-time if you are a Magistrate.

Remember all you Jasper County employees, if you are not one of the favorites, the personnel policy is used against you; if you are one of the favorites the personnel policy is either ignored or used for you. The personnel policy (including the PTO policy and turning in time sheets) is never applied equally or fairly by the Jasper County HR Department.


Make your comments on our blog and/or our Facebook page.

Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com                 www.facebook.com/taxdogs

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August 25, 2014

(See Sheriff Pope’s comments below)


“Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Since its inception, the US Government’s 1033 program has transferred more than $5.1 billion worth of military property to local law enforcement. In 2013 alone, $449,309,003.71 worth of property was transferred to law enforcement.

In recent years we’ve heard about the Department of Homeland Security buying up billions of rounds of ammunition, military grade rifles, armored vehicles, riot gear and a host of other supplies. But local police stockpiles have remained fairly hidden from the public, save for the brief peeks we get during mass policing actions like those in Ferguson, Missouri over the last week.

If you’re interested in what your local county has been stockpiling, compliments of the Department of Homeland Security, a database can help.   MILITARY EQUIPMENT RECEIVED FROM THE DHS BY STATE AND COUNTY CAN BE FOUND AT THIS LINK.



Search Again

State County Item Name Quantity UI Value Ship Date
GA JASPER BOOTS,COMBAT 20 Pair $89.79 11/7/2013
GA JASPER CAN,MILITARY 4 Each $20.93 11/19/2013
GA JASPER FASTENER TAPE,HOOK, 10 Roll $31.33 11/19/2013
GA JASPER FLASHLIGHT 10 Each $896.71 11/4/2013
GA JASPER GOGGLES,INDUSTRIAL 30 Each $63.17 11/14/2013
GA JASPER HOOLIGAN TOOL 2 Each $282.36 11/19/2013
GA JASPER KIT,MODERN ARMY COMBATIVES 1 Kit $14,463.67 11/19/2013
GA JASPER LUGGAGE 8 Each $0.00 11/7/2013
GA JASPER MODULAR SLEEP SYSTEM 20 Each $263.05 11/14/2013
GA JASPER PADS,KNEE 30 Pair $20.41 11/14/2013
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $499.00 9/9/2008
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $499.00 9/9/2008
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $499.00 9/9/2008
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER 1 Each $120.00 8/16/2012
GA JASPER SCOOTER 1 Each $0.00 11/19/2013
GA JASPER SCOOTER 1 Each $0.00 11/19/2013
GA JASPER TRUCK,UTILITY 1 Each $39,052.00 11/19/2013
GA JASPER TRUCK,UTILITY 1 Each $60,409.00 10/7/2013

Note: a 5.56 mm Rifle is M-16, AR-type platform Machine Gun/Assault Rifle

Note: Utility truck –one is armored; the other is not an armored Humvee type vehicle


We spoke with Sheriff Pope on Thursday, August 21, 2014, about the perceived militarization of the police. He was very upfront and honest with us about the questions we asked. He said the safety of his men was his #1 responsibility and this equipment helped to keep them safe. He said the equipment was not intended to be used against law abiding citizens in an intimidating or aggressive manner. The Sheriff also said that he would never be able to afford it if it wasn’t for the 1033 program.

Sheriff Pope said we have an ever growing culture of violence. He said all patrol cars carried the AR type platform weapons (assault rifles) after receiving 40 hours of training. He said he felt with the rural nature of our county, it was necessary to have these weapons. The HMMWV vehicle could be used in an active shooter situation or when there was a barricaded gunman; the HMMWV would give the deputies a place of protection to enable them to advance.

In his final comment, Sheriff Pope said, “Ultimately, the safety of the people of Jasper County as a whole is my #1 responsibility, and using these tools will enable me to do this.”


Sheriff’s Office Acquires Humvee


October 10, 2013

Pope w HumVee

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office recently received a HMMWV (Humvee as it’s commonly known) under the 1033 program. This vehicle came to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office at no cost to the taxpayers of Jasper County, explained the sheriff.

Sheriff Donnie Pope says “Our office is very fortunate to have such a specialized vehicle. The safety of our citizens and deputies is my responsibility, and I do not take that lightly. Giving our tactical team such a tool for their protection is a blessing.”

“I am proud of all our employees. They work very hard and perform a dangerous job. They deserve to have equipment that helps keep them safe. We will continue to seek federal grants and opportunities to acquire resources that could not otherwise be purchased.”




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August 22, 2014

Ken Jackson

For the past 2 or 3 weeks it has been kept very quiet that Ken Jackson, Chief Magistrate Judge, has taken a full-time teaching/coaching job. No one seems to know where he is coaching or at least they are not saying where if they do know. (It is not Shiloh Academy, Piedmont Academy, or Gatewood School.)

It was impossible to get in touch with anyone today at the Courthouse to get more details. Dan Jordan, Clerk of Courts was on vacation. Sharon Robinson (HR Director) and Karen Degges (county manager) were both out of the office as well today. We have requested information through open records, but will have to wait until Sharon or Karen is back in the office because the BOC won’t allow just anyone to produce information for the public.

We do know that Ken is still designated as Chief Magistrate with Angie Steele working under him. We also know that Ken is now considered part time and is turning in his hours worked to be paid as a part time Magistrate. We also found out from the Probate office that even though Ken Jackson was elected, there will not be another election. Yesterday during the court session many found out that Ken Jackson was gone and Angie Steele has moved into his office upstairs in the Courthouse.

All this is ironic because when Ken Jackson ran for the Magistrate Judge position again in 2012, he vehemently spoke against treating the position as part time when debating attorney Tim Lam. Now he has decided he can work full time elsewhere and still be the Chief Magistrate on a part time basis.  TWG has requested both Ken Jackson’s and Angie Steele’s pay schedules and hours worked, as well as when Ken decided he would be part time.

The question is, can Ken Jackson decide he can become a part-time Chief Magistrate when he ran and was elected as a full-time Chief Magistrate? In reality, this position has always been part-time to Ken Jackson. He is usually seen on the job only a few days a month.

CoachKJKen Jackson has always had a passion for coaching. In fact, it has appeared his coaching has always come first, before his Magistrate Judge duties. TWG has written many articles over the years detailing how Ken Jackson works more outside the county each week and on the ball fields than he does in the Courthouse. Angie Steele has been responsible for performing most of his duties for many years.

During the past several years Ken has certified in writing that he works 40 hours a week. He has been paid as a full-time Magistrate based on that certification, even though he works in various other counties each week as an indigent defense attorney. He also works as an indigent defense attorney in the Jasper County Probate Court and Jasper County Juvenile Court and gets a separate check from Jasper County for doing this in addition to his pay check as a full-time Magistrate Judge. You can see on the county check registers that Ken gets paid anywhere between $400 and $1200 a month in addition to his full –time Magistrate Judge pay of approximately $55,000 a year.

It will be interesting to see how many hours Ken Jackson turns in as doing part-time Magistrate work while he works full time teaching and coaching.


Make your comments on our blog and/or our Facebook page.

Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.



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Georgia’s Cost of Refugees & Illegal Immigrants

August 21, 2014

From Georgia Insight,   August newsletter

  (This article is about Georgia and near-by area counties.  Our state income taxes pay for government benefits for illegal aliens, including schooling and welfare benefits.  Each county will also be responsible for any local costs through increased property taxes.)

As 2014 began, 66,000 refugees had been resettled in Georgia, costing Georgians $17 million in welfare benefits in 2010, including $4 million from county property taxes. The federal government pays most of the cost for 90 days. Then, Georgians absorb the welfare costs.

Georgia’s High Cost of Supporting Refugees, with More to Come

FY 2010: Total Local Costs $3,886,416.43

FY 2011: Total State Costs $2,930,131.89

FY 2011: Total Federal Costs in Georgia $10,241,728.93

FY 2011: Total State, Local & Federal Costs $17,038,275.25


New Resettlement in Athens to Get 150 Refugees, Additional 60 Families each Year

“Our community doesn’t reject refugees…. But in a community that already has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, to add another level of stress to all the agencies and organizations that are trying to help people in difficult situations it’s very concerning. What I feel is the most distressing is that the local people who are going to be taking care of the needs are not brought into the loop until the very end.” 
– Athens Mayor Nancy Denson

From 2004 through 2011, only one refugee was sent to Oconee County. But that lone refugee in Athens will soon be joined by 150 of the current crop of refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A third of them will be school age.

On August 4th, The Red and Black story “International refugees to find home in Athens,” might have shocked life-long residents, but J.D. McCrary, International Rescue Committee (IRC) executive director, is looking for office space in Athens, while advertising for a site manager and caseworker. IRC works in 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities. Athens is city number 23.

McCrary said, “These people have been invited by the United States to settle here. Our organization, IRC, simply helps them with that process.” Unaccompanied alien children don’t meet the refugee definition, but if classified as such, they get furnished apartments and at least six months funding. They’re enrolled in English classes, the kids are enrolled in school, the adults look for jobs and receive Social Security cards, plus all necessary documents.

Foundations for the current flood of illegal aliens were laid by Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on March 17, 1980, St. Patrick’s Day.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) takes into custody unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at the border and those apprehended within the U.S. Another agency, the Department of Unaccompanied Children Services, was created within ORR to handle the massive paperwork required for the thousands under age 18.

Adults accompanying illegal alien children may be deported, but the illegal alien children are released to “family” members. Absent a “family” member, UACs are placed in foster care.

The Georgia Office of Family Independence (OFI), which is a Division DFACS, which is a Division of DHR, employs a Refugee State Coordinator and six Project Administrators to serve refugees, asylees, Vietnamese Amerasians, Haitian entrants, and victims of trafficking.

Individuals classified in any of those five categories receive certain welfare benefits, including food stamps, energy assistance, foster care, Medicaid, education, subsidized child care and TANF, i.e. monthly cash to needy families. TANF cash is limited to 60 months per lifetime.


Georgia Insight – August 2014- Georgia Insight is a conservative publication financed entirely by its recipients.


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