GOD’S WILL OR MAN’S MESS?

JCWSA logoNovember 25, 2014

The next BOC meeting is Monday, December 1 at 6:00PM. “JCWSA Billing Proposal and Intergovernmental Agreement” is on the agenda. We have requested information concerning this IGA and are waiting to receive it. It is strange how an IGA could be on the agenda when the county attorney has never been directed to work on one…at least not in a public meeting. We contend it is against open government laws to direct and discuss these things in closed door Executive Sessions. Precisely what we expect happened at the hastily called 11/20/14 BOC meeting.

Our Commissioners take turns praying before every meeting. To those of us who go to the meetings, these prayers seem to be political and self-serving. Here are some examples of what they said in their recent prayers.

“The Lord has laid out the agenda for us”—Trammell 8/11/14. At this meeting they pulled out a draft of an intergovernmental agreement for 31 years and gave JCWSA $50,000 plus $42,900 for 31 years. The public was kept in the dark; the IGA was not on the agenda and no one was allowed to see it before it was passed. Was this the Lord’s agenda?

“Christ is leading all our decisions”—Trammell 10/6/14. At this meeting they listened to Stan Studdard detail how his wife (Phyllis Studdard) had been harassed and verbally assaulted for months then fired with intent to destroy her reputation and with the intent to keep her from ever getting gainful employment. The BOC knew what was going on all along because the county attorney had received two written complaints. Was this Christ’s decision?

“Look to God’s guidance in everything we do”—Salmon 10/15/14. At this meeting they heard a 45 minute presentation from JCWSA about the county taking over JCWSA and signing on a note for them. Karen Degges then told the BOC that all this could be done easily with all the spare time staff has and “wouldn’t cost the county anything” except for postage and a few supplies. If staff has so much time why isn’t everything in the county right up to par and doing great? Is this what God is guiding them to do?

“All we say and do glorifies God”—Luke 11/3/14. At this meeting JCWSA Billing Proposal was on the agenda; however, because an injunction was filed it was tabled. That morning Salmon, Trammell, Degges, and two attorneys for the county met to plot their plan. Open records requests for information were answered with “there are no documents.” We found out that all this was “just a twinkle in someone’s eye.” Do lies glorify God?

Monday night, we will see what kind of mess these men will get the county into and for how long. Please let the BOC know how you feel about the county spending time and money on doing something that is not in their realm of duties, while other duties such as roads go lacking. Here is their contact information:

Jasper County Commissioners

District 1 – Carl Pennamon
District 2 – Bruce Henry
District 3 – Gene Trammell
District 4 – Craig Salmon
District 5 – Doug Luke

 

Since the BOC opens each meeting with prayer, we will end with some Bible verses.

Proverbs 22:20-22(NIV)

20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,
so that you bring back truthful reports
to those you serve?

The county offices will be closed both Thursday and Friday. The meeting is Monday night. We hope to see you there.

 

If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

You can make comments on our blog or our Facebook page:

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

 

Posted in County, Water | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

FUN AT EMS

November 22, 2014

EMS and Fire personnel in Jasper County usually have extra time on their hands because, thankfully, they are not that busy. But instead of mowing grass, cleaning up the stations, checking the equipment, or a variety of other tasks, they spend time having fun and playing on Facebook.

Debria Murphy has worked for Jasper County less than a year. She got her job by being hired as “an auditor” to “audit” the billing and other work of Kathy Skinner, eleven year Jasper County employee. After “auditing” the billing, Debria Murphy along with county manager, Karen Degges, made a report vilifying Ms. Skinner and fired her. Ms. Murphy was then hired as the billing clerk. See more here. Ms. Murphy was hired under false pretenses, but nevertheless, the BOC allowed it to happen.

Debria Murphy makes $12.50 a hour and works two jobs. She is the EMS billing clerk and she works as an EMT. She earns a lot of overtime by being allowed to work both jobs. At $12.50 an hour, Ms. Murphy earns more than those with a Paramedic license who have been here more than 5 years. You can check this link for more information: Why is the New EMS Billing Clerk Allowed to Have 2 County Jobs?

While Ms. Murphy works as an EMT she has fun.

RoyPerry1goofyRoyPerry2goofy

 

 

 

Debria Murphy’s Partner, Roy Perry

 

 

 

RoyPerry.DMurphy.FBCommentsBlocked110814

She has time to take pictures and post them to Facebook and talk about dealing with crazy patients. (Just wondering, does someone know if this is a HIPPA violation?)

The first quarter financials revealed that EMS isn’t bringing in any more money under the new billing clerk, Ms. Murphy, than it was with Ms. Skinner. Wasn’t that the reason that was given for firing Ms. Skinner? Ms. Murphy knew how to bill better and get more money coming into Jasper County cofers?

 

 

Why is Debria Murphy allowed to work two jobs, make lots of overtime, and play at work? She has told people that James Gregory (Fire/EMS Director) couldn’t tie his own shoes if she wasn’t there to help him. Maybe that’s why.

 

 

Posted in County, EMS | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BOC MEETING LAST NIGHT?

November 21, 2014

There didn’t appear to be any special emergency to call a meeting on a Thursday night, but here is what happened at the meeting. This was the 3rd meeting that Carl Pennamon has missed. He had back surgery in early October.

There were no citizen comments. The BOC has moved “Commissioner Items” up on the agenda to be after citizen comments. These are their comments:

  • Comm. Henry once again asked for a more detailed report from Public Works (this is the 3rd time at least) and Karen Degges said she had asked Selective Solutions to give her access to the online work orders “but she hasn’t gotten anything back from them yet.” Neither the BOC nor Comm. Henry pressed her for just when something might be done and when they would get better reports.
  • Comm. Trammell handed out the “Short Term Work Program” (something the county is required to file approximately every 5 years) and said it was part and parcel with the Strategic Plan that is being worked on. He then said, “There are lots of items charged to Economic Development to do [in the Short Term Work Program], and we need to add money and staff for economic development to do them.” Maybe this is why he and economic development director David Dyer are seen in each other’s company frequently. Why not let county staff do this since they have so much extra time, according to the County Manager, that they can take on all of JCWSA day to day operations, billing, and management?

 

The curbside pickup contract was next on the agenda. Advanced Disposal wanted another contract or a 3 year extension on the current contract. NO DETAILS were discussed in public about this contract and the county attorney made no comments. There was no indication that the county attorney had looked at the contract extension. When Comm. Henry brought up that they had agreed to put out contracts for bid before extending them, Comm. Trammell made the comment that this is a service that people don’t complain about. He then said, “This is good and won’t get better if we do get bids.” Wow! Really? How would he know this, if the service is never allowed to be bid out? The vote was 4-0 to extend the contract for 3 more years.

During the curbside discussion, Comm. Henry asked why this contract wasn’t put out for bids. Karen Degges said that she had just finished an RFP for audit services. (We have heard rumors that this would happen since last year.)  She also said that RFP’s and bidding take time and she has four other RFP’s to work on and she needed to prioritize what she already had been asked to do. Of course, she was at home most all day Wednesday (11/19/14) and didn’t come in to work until after 2pm if at all, and she is late to work and not at work frequently.  It seems the BOC just has to wait for some things that they want done unless they actually require Ms. Degges to be at work on a daily basis like most employees. Watch this short video here and listen to the excuses:

 

Next on the agenda was a DNR Trail Grant for the Recreation department. Karen Degges said there was a grant opportunity with DNR, and the deadline was next Wednesday. Based on the conversation, the grant didn’t just appear, but most things this BOC is presented with are always at the last minute so the details are sketchy, not all questions are answered, and they have to vote right then. The grant can be from $25,000 – $100,000 based on the design and cost of the project. Based on what we could understand from the conversation, there is a proposed walking trail around the lake, then from the lake to Sr. Center. Ms. Degges said there would be a 20% match, but then said the maximum the county would pay would be $25,000, indicating a 25% match. Karen Degges asked the BOC to authorize her to apply for grant. She said any match money would be taken out of contingency. This passed 4-0.

Ms. Degges then informed the BOC that there was a workshop in Macon that she was going to in order to get helpful tips from DCA about applying for grants. She said, “I have managed CDBG grants, but I have not applied for them.” She then proceeded to tell the BOC that DCA/CDBG grants can be used to pave dirt roads and address blighted neighborhoods. Then she said, “We don’t have blighted neighborhoods, but do have blighted parcels.” She continued that the BOC would propose the project and DCA approves it or doesn’t. Comm. Trammell said, “CDBG grants can be used for sewer and water.” After all this conversation it was decided that she was going but no BOC member was going.

An update on signage at Bethel Church Road/Hwy. 212 revealed that signs saying “Cross traffic does not stop” were placed under the new “Stop Ahead” signs approaching the intersection on Wednesday. There was quite a bit of discussion about this and where the signs should be placed—the BOC preferred at the intersection. We will keep you updated on this issue.

The BOC adjourned into Executive Session to “get an update on litigation.” Remember, there is nothing that requires them to go into Executive Session; this is a choice to keep information from the citizens. We have already reported that the judge dismissed the injunction, so maybe, just maybe the BOC went into executive session to decide on their next steps with JCWSA–out of the public eye, which is how everything with JCWSA has been done. They stayed in Executive Session for an hour and 22 minutes; no telling what kind of “back door deal making” went on during that length of time.

 

If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

You can make comments on our blog or our Facebook page:

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in County, Economic Development, Water | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

BOC TO SNEAK IN ANOTHER “SPECIAL CALLED” MEETING—THURSDAY NIGHT AT 6:00PM

November 19, 2014

BOCLaugh2014

Laughing at us as they keep us uninformed.

 

For the past 10 years or more, the BOC has met on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. People could make plans to attend if they wished based on this fact. There were also set times for these meetings, and everyone knew when the meetings started.

Not so with “the best board ever” we now have. They do have a meeting on the 1st Monday of the month, but if you want to attend any other meeting they have, you have to watch the courthouse door on a daily basis. And you never know when a meeting might start—5:00, 5:15, 5:30, 6:00, or just whatever time they decide on so they can keep the public confused. This BOC does its best to call meetings and post the agenda with barely a 48 hour notice. By calling meetings this way there is no notification in the paper, thereby keeping citizens ignorant of what is going on and when.

At two recent meetings the agenda was “amended/revised” 15 minutes before the meeting and a new agenda was handed out when the meeting started–a violation of open meetings laws.

The next meeting, which was posted last night, will be Thursday, November 20 at 6:00PM. JCWSA is not on the agenda—yet, but we expect it will be added at the very last minute in order to keep the public out of the loop.

Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than it is to convince them they have been fooled.” However, we think this Board of Commissioners has much more in common with Jonathan Gruber, Obamacare architect, who said, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.” This is how things get passed that no one knows about and finds out the details later—like the 31 year agreement to fund JCWSA.

Transparency equals honesty. Our Board of Commissioners seem to lack both qualities.

 If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

You can make comments on our blog or our Facebook page:

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in County, Open Government | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

JCWSA DISCUSSES ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR METER REPLACEMENTS

November 17, 2014

The JCWSA Board met last Tuesday evening (11/11/14). On the agenda was the item “Engineers Report-Update on contracting with the County to handle administrative operations.”

During this part of the meeting Frank Sherrill, JCWSA engineer and now their liaison, discussed a lease-purchase for new meters rather than trying to get the county to sign on a note along with JCWSA for the meters.  Watch video here:


Mr. Sherrill told the authority members that he gave the same presentation to the BOC on October 15th as he gave to them (JCWSA) on October 14th. He said the proposal was now tabled by the BOC and the BOC was gathering more information. Read presentation information here.

JCWSA has been talking about going to GEFA to get a loan for purchasing new meters. According to Mr. Sherrill, GEFA requires endorsement from either the city or the county. Since the BOC tabled the JCWSA proposal on 11/3/14, Mr. Sherrill did some further research and said he had found that, “We can go out on our own and do a lease purchase–not go through GEFA–and we don’t need to get the county to endorse it.” Sherrill said they need to replace meters because they are old and there are failures in the radio-read heads. He also said meters slow down as they get older. Installation costs would be included in the price of the lease purchase as would the reading equipment and the software. By going this route JCWSA would be staying with the same family of meters.

Members expressed their liking to this proposal. One member said, “That is a sweet deal,” and Mr. Sherrill agreed. They could replace 240 meters at a cost of about $80,000. The lease-purchase cost would be slightly higher than the GEFA loan, but JCWSA was sure they could manage the costs as they will have one of their notes paid off in 2017. This lease-purchase would be for 10 years, the same length of time as the proposed GEFA loan, with no backing from the county taxpayers being necessary.

Sherrill said there would be a no bidding process by doing a lease purchase. He also said, “We can do this in 2-3 months. We are paying a premium to go out and read and re-read meters now. This will save us money.” All authority members agreed, and Mr. Sherrill said he will have proposals for them to consider in December.

Sherrill did mention the injunction filed at the JCWSA meeting and said they were waiting for the results. Late Friday afternoon we got a notice from the judge’s office that the order for dismissal had been signed.

We certainly hope the JCWSA will use this lease purchase as a viable alternative to fund their new meters, thereby standing on their own, rather than using the county taxpayer once again as their crutch.

 

If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

You can make comments on our blog or our Facebook page:

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in County, Water | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

AFTER A MONTH, BETHEL CHURCH RD AT HWY 212 W HAS NEW “STOP AHEAD” SIGNS

November 14, 2014

New stop ahead sign at Bethel Church & Hwy 212 W.  Will it be enough to get drivers to stop?

New stop ahead sign at Bethel Church & Hwy 212 W. Will it be enough to get drivers to stop?

Will these new signs be enough to get drivers to stop?

At the November 3rd BOC meeting, the Bethel Church Rd.& Hwy 212 W intersection was on the agenda again. The problem with intersection was brought to the BOC’s attention at their 10/15/14 meeting after a fatality at the intersection. By October 27th there had been two more wrecks there.

It is unfortunate that neither the County Manager nor any member of the BOC did any research at all about the wrecks at this intersection. The statistics from the Georgia State Patrol and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office were presented to the BOC on 11/3/14 by Mary Patrick (who lives near the intersection).

Sheriff Office Report

GSP Report

The reports show wrecks at the intersection from 2002-present. There have been 27 wrecks; however, since January 1, 2013–present there have been 12 wrecks. Almost half the wrecks in twelve years at that intersection have occurred in the last 22 months.

The BOC was asked again to “do something” instead of making excuses and trying to blame others. It seems obvious to the people that travel in this area that traffic has increased, and it is time for the BOC to step up and fix the problem.

When the BOC discussed this issue—it was on the agenda—there were several ideas presented. The Sheriff did say that the best thing to do was to make this intersection a 4-way stop. However, that takes time with the State DOT. The speed limit, highly reflective signs, warning signs, and rumble strips were discussed. Comm. Henry had already suggested a sign that warned drivers that Hwy 212 did not stop. Mary Patrick suggested a sign that said “dangerous intersection.”

 It has been over a month since the fatality at Bethel Church Rd. and Hwy 212 W. This week there are now two new “stop ahead” signs that have been placed on Bethel Church Rd.; these signs are in between the old “stop ahead” signs and the actual stop sign at the intersection. There are no warning signs—such as the one suggested by Comm. Henry or one that states “dangerous intersection.” The speed limit signs have all been changed to 45mph as well.

 When Comm. Salmon talked to citizens along Bethel Church Rd. before the 11/3/14 meeting he asked them if they thought there was a problem. He was told it was a serious problem and more than a change in a speed limit sign would be necessary. We agree. We also think that just an additional “stop ahead” sign will have little impact on the problem; however, we can continue to hope there will be no more fatalities or wrecks at this intersection and that a 4-way stop will be pursued.

 

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/taxdogs

Posted in County | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

CITIZEN CITED BY CODE ENFORCEMENT FOR LACKING NUMBERS ON SIDE OF MAILBOX

November 12, 2014

Mailbox numbers Oct2014

There have been many complaints about the lack of code enforcement, especially in the Turtle Cove, Rollingwood Cove, and Alcovy Shores areas.

At the October 15th BOC meeting, the County Manager told the BOC there were 5 active code enforcement investigations at Turtle Cove. This appeared to be said to impress the BOC that despite complaints, something was actually being done by Code Enforcement. However, when open records were requested for citations on these investigations, the answer we got back was, “while these are active investigations, they are not at the stage where citations have been issued.  Therefore, there are no records responsive to your request.”  

 There are no citations, just investigations. There are no logs for our code enforcement officer, people can’t find her in the office nor can we find out what she does because of lack of citations, but the BOC is assured she works.  This BOC never asks questions and never asks for any documents or details about anything they are told or led to believe.

Recently, the building inspector (Brad Cherry) was acting as the code enforcement officer and wrote a citation to a citizen because the house numbers were not on the side of the mailbox. You can’t see the side of this mailbox when you look at it because it is at the bottom of a hill in a cul-de-sac.  (You would have to drive up to this mailbox like a mailman would to see the side of it.)  Numbers were placed above the mailbox so EMS, Fire, Police, Mailman, etc. could see them when they came down the hill.

So now there are numbers on the side of the mailbox and above the mailbox as shown in the picture above. This issue was of utmost importance to code enforcement!

Now let’s look at some things Code Enforcement hasn’t bothered to do anything about for years—

Burned out house on Hwy 212 W that has been sitting for almost 1 ½ years

Burned out house on 212

Burned out house on County Line Rd. that has been sitting 4+ years

County Line Rd Burned out house2 2014

Extreme code violations –industrial site in residential area on Stag Run Dr. that has been having buildings, etc. added over several years despite complaints.

Stag Run 3 Industrial Site in R3 2014 Pole Barn.Equip

Safety violations—tree across trailer for almost a year, and yes people did live here! Tree across Trailer 2 RWC Oct2014

House covered and hidden with weeds and overgrowth for many years

Grown up house2 Oct2014

Trailer without windows and broken windows

Trailer broken out windows Oct2014 RWC

These are just a very few of the problems that people that live nearby have to look at every day and that cause their property values to decrease.

These blighted and burned-out properties are eye sores and bring down surrounding property values.  Most of these properties are in the same neighborhood as the “mailbox violation” that was given a citation!

Citizens of this county should not have to tolerate something like this being next door or in their neighborhood for a year, or two, or more. That’s the reason for code enforcement.

 

If you like this newsletter, please forward to a friend and recommend they subscribe, too.

Citizens, be informed and stay informed! 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

 

Posted in Code Enforcement, County | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments