COUNTY MANAGER TRIES TO STOP CITIZENS’ MEETING ABOUT LANDFILL

StopMarch 27, 2015

This morning at 9:32AM an email arrived in my inbox with a big red explanation point next to it ! (that means high priority) from County Manager, Karen Degges. Here is a copy of that email. Apparently the Commissioners condone and encourage the kind of intimidating correspondence by the County Manager that follows in this blog.

 From: Karen Degges [mailto:kdegges@jaspercountyga.org]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 9:32 AM
To: ‘Mary Patrick’
Cc: ‘Trammell Gene'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Bruce Henry'; csalmon@jaspercountyga.org; ‘Doug Luke'; ‘Jim Alexander'; ‘Kathy Mudd’
Subject: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5
Importance: High

Mary,
Please advise as to who authorized holding a citizen’s meeting at Fire Station #5.  I just talked with the Fire Chief, who was unaware you were advertising an event at County facilities.  I believe you had a similar issue with us allowing Kelly Fox to host a meeting to assist citizens with registering for health insurance last year. I know no one contacted me or Jarrett, and there has been no public vote to approve it by the BOC.

Karen E. Degges
County Manager

Obviously, Ms. Degges had read the blog put out last night by TWG which included information about the upcoming citizens’ meeting on Thursday, 4/2/15 at 7:00pm.

Following are the emails back and forth with Ms. Degges as she continues to try to intimidate and bully me as she copies everyone on the email, including the county attorney and the Sheriff.  Her emails are in purple; my emails are in green

 From: Mary Patrick [mailto:mppcpa@netzero.net]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 9:36 AM
To: ‘Karen Degges’
Cc: ‘Kathy Mudd'; Bruce Henry; ‘Carl Pennamon'; Luke; Salmon; Trammell
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

It is not my meeting.  I’m just helping get the word out.

Mary Patrick

From: Mary Patrick [mailto:mppcpa@netzero.net]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 9:38 AM
To: ‘Karen Degges’
Cc: ‘Trammell Gene'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Bruce Henry'; ‘csalmon@jaspercountyga.org'; ‘Doug Luke'; ‘Jim Alexander'; ‘Kathy Mudd’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

As a note, Kelly Fox is a highly paid consultant that wanted to use public facilities to make more money.  This is a citizens meeting using the facility they pay for with their tax dollars. 

Mary Patrick

From: Karen Degges [mailto:kdegges@jaspercountyga.org]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 10:43 AM
To: ‘Mary Patrick’
Cc: ‘Trammell Gene'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Bruce Henry'; csalmon@jaspercountyga.org; ‘Doug Luke'; ‘Jim Alexander'; ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Donnie Pope’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

Surely you understand the inappropriateness of holding a meeting at a fire station…a facility that is not designed in any way for that use, and would have to be activated for public safety use if a fire occurred in that area of the County that night.  Also, by allowing you to set a precedent, then anyone who wants to set up their yard sale in front of the station every Saturday could do that.  Come on Mary, you know better than this.

In any case, please send me a copy of the signed Facilities Use Form that you obtained in order to hold this event at a County facility.  Otherwise make arrangements to move your event to a more appropriate facility (Thomas Person’s Hall, the Chamber, Charlie Elliott, a church….of course only after getting their permission).

Karen

Ms. Degges always sends her emails to me in this tone, like I’m a little child and she needs to reprimand me and tell me what I am and what I’m not going to do and what I’d better do and how I’d better do it, because Ms. Degges is sure she is in charge of everything in Jasper County.

From: Mary Patrick [mailto:mppcpa@netzero.net]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 10:36 AM
To: ‘Karen Degges’
Cc: ‘Trammell Gene'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Bruce Henry'; csalmon@jaspercountyga.org; ‘Doug Luke'; ‘Jim Alexander'; ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Donnie Pope’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

 As I said, this is NOT MY meeting!  Mr. Joe Johnston called for this meeting along with Citizens for a Clean Jasper County. 

Also, please cc: Jarret Slocumb

From: Karen Degges [mailto:kdegges@jaspercountyga.org]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 10:45 AM
To: ‘Mary Patrick’
Cc: ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Bruce Henry'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Luke'; ‘Salmon'; ‘Trammell'; ‘Jarret Slocumb'; ‘Donnie Pope’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

Then you better get the word out that you’re holding it somewhere else.

Karen

Now this is the email I liked best. I had better get the word out that I am (even though it’s not my meeting) holding the meeting elsewhere! The only thing she didn’t add to this email, even though it was implied was, “Or else!!”

From: Mary Patrick [mailto:mppcpa@netzero.net]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 10:38 AM
To: ‘Karen Degges’
Cc: ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Bruce Henry'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Luke'; ‘Salmon'; ‘Trammell'; ‘Jarret Slocumb'; ‘Donnie Pope’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

Is that a threat? 

From: Karen Degges [mailto:kdegges@jaspercountyga.org]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 11:36 AM
To: ‘Mary Patrick’
Cc: ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Bruce Henry'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Luke'; ‘Salmon'; ‘Trammell'; ‘Jarret Slocumb'; ‘Donnie Pope’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

Don’t be ridiculous Mary.  You said you were helping get the word out didn’t you? 

So what Karen Degges started at 9:32am, she ended at 11:36am—2 hours of county time spent harassing a citizen. Of course, when you have 4 other people in the office helping you do your work (or doing it for you), it doesn’t matter too much how much time you waste.

Later in the day, after Comm. Trammell had a discussion with Mr. Johnston, the following email was sent to me by Ms. Degges:

From: Karen Degges [mailto:kdegges@jaspercountyga.org]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 3:13 PM
To: ‘Mary Patrick’
Cc: ‘Trammell Gene'; ‘Carl Pennamon'; ‘Bruce Henry'; csalmon@jaspercountyga.org; ‘Doug Luke'; ‘Jim Alexander'; ‘Kathy Mudd'; ‘Donnie Pope'; ‘Jarret Slocumb’
Subject: RE: Citizen’s Meeting at Fire Station #5

Mary, I spoke again with Jarrett, and he advised that particular fire station has been used for other events in the past, on a very informal basis.  Jarrett was unaware the County even had a policy on this type of thing, and he has assured me the fire equipment will be positioned so that it could pull out quickly if necessary.

Please be advised that the rated capacity for that facility is 316 people, which must be enforced to ensure public safety.  From this point forward, County policy must be followed and the proper paperwork submitted for use of any county facility.  His Captain gave Joe verbal permission, and we will stand by that informal arrangement this time.

Karen

So, now everything is ok, “this time”, but from now on she will determine if people can meet or not at the Piedmont Community House, which is at the Piedmont Fire Station on Smithboro Rd.

Folks, we don’t want to disappoint Ms. Degges—we need at least 316 people to show up for this meeting! We need to let the BOC know we don’t like behind the door deals like selling the landfill or bringing in regional waste that will affect our quality of life and the wear and tear on our roads. We feel sure Ms. Degges, Comm. Trammell, and one or two other commissioners will show up for this meeting. They like to come and tell the citizens what’s what, even though citizens can’t discuss things at the BOC meeting for more than 3 minutes.

Here’s another reason why you need to come to the Citizens Meeting. The BOC Chairman, Gene Trammell, isn’t even sure there is a resolution for a Solid Waste Authority. That’s exactly what he told me on Thursday, 3/26/15. That he had not seen the resolution! That is so strange since he voted in favor of it after the Executive Session on 3/16/15. So if he’s not sure that there is a resolution or what it says, we need to let him and the others know what we think should happenthey are supposed to represent what we want, aren’t they?

MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND CITIZENS MEETING—APRIL 2ND AT 7:00PM—PIEDMONT COMMUNITY HOUSE—NEXT TO FIRE STATION #5 ON SMITHBORO RD. This is on Hwy 212 E toward Milledgeville, at Smithboro Rd., about 6 miles from the Monticello square.

On another note, the Piedmont Community House was built by the people in that community and it has been used for years for reunions, birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, etc. A few years after the Community House was built, the people in the area worked hard to get a fire station, which was located on the same donated property next to the Piedmont Community House. It is hard to believe that Ms. Degges is now going to be in control of who can use it and when. Of course, she runs Jasper County, not the commissioners.

TWG

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Posted in County, Landfill, Open Government | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

JASPER COUNTY LANDFILL IS FOR SALE

March 26, 2015

 For SaleAccording to The Monticello News article in today’s paper, Comm. Trammell has said, “Every landfill in Georgia is for sale, including this one.”

 This is news to everyone that attends county BOC meetings or reads the paper (unless The Monticello News missed it), and it is not recorded anywhere in the minutes of any BOC from 1/1/13 to present.

 So we have a question for Comm. Gene Trammell, and any other commissioner that has the answer: When did you commissioners vote to put the landfill up for sale?

 Comm. Trammell also said every landfill in Georgia is for sale. Commissioners, please give us a list of all these landfills that are for sale, because we haven’t heard of any others for sale, or read about any for sale in any newspapers, and Google® search doesn’t produce results. So please send us a list of some landfills in Georgia for sale or that have just been sold recently. We would like to see what the terms of the agreements were and how it is all working out.

 One more query–How many tons of garbage a day does the landfill bring in now (or by the week since it is only open 3 days a week), and how many tons of garbage a day will it have to bring in to break even?

 We are anxiously awaiting your response(s).

 In the meantime, Citizens, plan to meet Thursday, April 2 at 7:00PM at the Piedmont Fire Station—Station #5 on Smithboro Rd.—for a citizens’ meeting about the landfill proposal and Solid Waste Authority.

 Next BOC meeting is April 6 at 6:00PM in the Courthouse. Please make plans to attend both these meetings.

 

TWG

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LEGISLATION READY FOR A VOTE ALLOWING THE STATE TO INTERVENE & RESTRUCTURE LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

March 23, 2015

School BldgToday, March 23, 2015, the House Education Committee voted out of committee the Governor’s Constitutional amendment SR 287 and the enabling legislation SB 133 to take over local schools that are considered “chronically failing schools.”

A constitutional amendment to “authorize the state to assume the supervision, management, and operation of public elementary and secondary schools which have been determined to be failing through any governance model allowed by law.”  That authorization would include “the power to receive, control, and expend state, federal, and local funds appropriated…in accordance with general law.”

 The information below was sent to us and is from the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA) about these bills.

You should be aware of this information as it can affect how local schools will be controlled.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

The language being placed in the Constitution is very broad particularly since the state determines all aspects of this process — the accountability system, definition of failing — and can change any of the operational details through general law.

The cap on the size of the OSD is not in the Constitutional amendment so could be changed at any time.

The state is once again turning to a funding model that takes local dollars for state schools and this time they take the facility too.  If the school taken over becomes a state charter, the facility and local funding remains with the school forever.

 Below are some of the provisions with line numbers to SB 133, if you’d like to check it.  The word “transfer” is used in the bill rather than “take over.”

 

Who runs it? 

The Opportunity School District (OSD) Superintendent would be appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the Senate, and serve solely at the Governor’s discretion.  The Superintendent:

  • sets the rules for the operation of the OSD (line 49)
  • has sole discretion in which schools are “transferred” (line 62)
  • has sole discretion in the timing and sequencing of transferring the schools (line 64)
  • determines which intervention model to use (line 75 and lines 106-7)
  • can close and reassign students (line 116)
  • is authorized to waive most State Board rules, regulations, policies, and procedures (line 77)
  • supersedes any charter, charter system, or IE2 contract in place (line 96)
  • decide whether any personnel previously assigned to the school remain, if not the local board must decide what to do and follow the Fair Dismissal requirements (lines 157, 161-166)
  • shall select, approve, or remove the school principal for the OSD schools and governing board members for OSD charter schools (lines 175-177, line 189, line 200)
  • determines each student’s proportional share of local revenue that will then be deducted from the state earnings of the local school district (lines 303 – 305, 315-317)

Since the OSD Superintendent has no board, there are no public meetings where decisions would be discussed or made in the open as is the case with the local district, the State Board of Education and State Superintendent, and State Charter Schools Commission.

There is no appeal process for parents, taxpayers, or the elected local board. 

What goes besides the students?
Facilities of the schools taken are under the control of the OSD (line 235). 

  • All contents of the facility must remain with the facility. (line 239)
  • If the OSD Superintendent closes the local school, the local board is not allowed to open a school with the same grade span or attendance zone for three years. (lines 242-244)
  • OSD is responsible for routine maintenance but the local board is responsible for extensive repairs and capital expenses (lines 245-252).
  • If the OSD school becomes a state charter, the local board is required to continue all facility use and service agreements for as long as the school wants even after the state charter is no longer part of the OSD (lines 219-222).

There is no requirement that the OSD get the local board’s permission before making structural changes to the building.

 

If the local board needed another facility, taxpayers would have to pay for more land and another building since they would be unable to use their own. 

 

How is this funded? 

As noted above, funding of the schools in the OSD includes a “proportional share of local revenue” which is determined by the OSD Superintendent.  That amount is then subtracted from the local district’s QBE earnings (or whatever it’s called by then).  State and federal funding, of course, goes with the students.

  • The Superintendent can hold a school in the OSD for 5-10 years (lines 257-266).
  • Within 3-6 years though, there are unlikely to be any students left for whom the local board was ever directly responsible given the usual school configurations of K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

If the Superintendent chooses the state charter as the intervention model for the school (line 112), that school continues to get local funding forever (lines 318-320).  The Constitutional amendment also contains this provision (lines 15-17).

The OSD can withhold up to 3% of all the funding as an administrative fee, just as the State Charter Commission is funded. (line 306)

 What is the role of the local board? 

Other than serving as a revenue source and doing what the OSD Superintendent says, the local board has little to do with the school(s) taken.  It is not clear whether the “agreements” are actually negotiated or whether the terms are simply dictated.

  • The OSD Superintendent must conference with the principal, local board, and local superintendent to share his evaluation findings to discuss options for remediation before taking a school over (lines 66-71).
  • One of the intervention models is shared governance in which the OSD Superintendent and local board enter into a contract for the board to operate the school and the OSD Superintendent to make the decisions. (lines 109-111)  There is also a required agreement for specific goals for higher academic outcomes for students, quality careers for graduates, safe and positive learning environments for children, parents, and community engagement, and the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars (lines 192-196).
  • The OSD school may purchase services from the OSD, the local board, or an educational service provider for routine student support and operational services.
  • The local board is required to cooperate fully with the school to make available at a reasonable cost all appropriate services requested including, but not limited to, transportation, cafeteria services, custodial services, alternative education, broadband, utilities, special education services, test administration services, and student information services. (lines 144-149)
  • If the OSD school did not become a state charter, the OSD Superintendent is to engage the school, the school community, and the local board in a negotiation to determine the best transition plan for the school to leave the OSD (lines 267-269).
  • If an OSD state charter does not want to remain under the State Charter Commission, the OSD shall coordinate the development of a transition plan back to the local board which may include approval by the local board of the school as a local charter. (lines 275-277)
  • The local board is responsible for all data reporting under the shared governance model. (line 288)
  • If a school qualified for take over but was not taken, the Department of Education can do an on-site evaluation that includes the local board chair. (330-333)
  • If a local board fails to implement interventions prescribed by the State Board of Education or the Office of Student Achievement, the school system will earn only funds for nurses, accountants, visiting teachers, school psychologists, and secretaries.

This bill should come up for a vote soon as it was voted out of committee today. Contact Rep. Susan Holmes sdholmes@bellsouth.net and let her know your feelings on this matter.


Posted in Schools, State Legislation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

On the Ga House Floor Today–SB 94–Secret Search Warrants & Illegal Surveillance

The following was published by Political Vine.  Sometimes it seems unbelievable we actually have state representatives that think this stuff up and swear it is good for us.

Political Vine LogoSB-94 on The House Floor Today: More than meets the eye

Today, SB-94 will be on the House Floor for a vote.  Under the Agenda, it is listed as concerning only “Criminal Procedure; require a procedure for enhancing witness identification accuracy.”

However, that is not all this bill contains.  This bill has been modified in the House Judi-Non-Civil Committee with all of the contents of what WAS in HB-430.  SB-94 went from a 3-page bill passed by the Senate to a 30-some-odd-page bill that will be before the House today.  It still contains the original SB-94 subject matter, but it has quite a few more substantive changes to “search and seizure laws” in Georgia.  Some of these changes include:

1)  It enables law enforcement to obtain secret search warrants (Page 8, Lines 272)

2)  It enables law enforcement to secretly retain seized property (Page 11, Lines 338,339)

3) It removes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by extending probable cause for a search warrant to include crimes “about to be committed” instead of a crime that is “being committed” or “has been committed” (Page 6, Line 184)

4) It allows non-certified personnel to apply for or issue search warrants based on their limited knowledge and experience even though have no “duty of enforcing the criminal laws..” (Page 6, Line 182)

5) It allows the state to appeal an unlawful search verdict and thus further delay the return of property unlawfully seized (Page 11 lines 357-358)

6)  It allows law enforcement to video record in a property without the consent of the owner  (Page 22 lines 741-743)

7)  It removes local control and accountability of surveillance in a jurisdiction by allowing it to be initiated and monitored remotely without consent and participation of local authorities (Page 17, lines 563-564).

8) It allows law enforcement to, essentially, ruin someone’s life with an illegal surveillance, BUT they are exempt from prosecution or taking responsibility in any way if they claim they had “good faith” in doing the action (Lines 568-570, Page 17)

Frankly, it is at this stage of the Session that I believe I can put myself…partially…in the life of most of you legislators.  I said “partially” because I have no idea what you individually have to deal with in your own lives, separate from your responsibilities in the Legislature.

But, you are nearly 2.5 months into a near daily grind of dealing with brand new subjects, meeting with tons of people, sitting through committee meetings, taking phone calls, trying to still stay connected to your “regular life with regular people and family,” all the while trying to focus on making “good decisions.”  It’s very tough, no doubt.

But, I just have to ask you to please, consider just half of points above of concerns about this modified SB-94 bill, and consider all the times you’ve heard “Well, we had good intentions” when a truly, preventable, bad result (an officer got killed in the line of duty and/or an innocent person for injured or killed) occurred as the result of a law enforcement action in this state.

Supposedly, there were “good intentions” when the Habersham County sheriff deputies busted in a house and threw a flash-bang that injured an 18-month old. There were “good intentions”, supposedly, of sheriff deputies descending upon a house in Laurens County on the basis of the word of a known thief that there was “meth” in that house…and killing a good man who had no drugs in the house, or anywhere else

The answer to “bad results” is not to enable more people to be able to engage in acts to cause more bad results to happen, and then to give immunity to the results of their actions, all on the basis of “well, we acted in good faith.”

Judi-Non-Civil Chairman Rich Golick, at the end of the discussion in committee last Wednesday said this about HB-430/SB-94: “Balance must be struck…in giving law enforcement the proper tools…without going too far.”

With the “good faith” clause entered on this bill, there is no “going too far” because even if law enforcement ‘goes too far,’ they will get immunity.  And, since it is usually law enforcement that investigates their own…there will be no concept of ‘going too far.’

It is said often that the Road to Hell is paved with “good intentions.”  The Road to More Deaths via Law Enforcement Acts in Georgia is going to be paved with “good faith” if SB-94 passes the House…and if it then passes the State Senate’s ‘Special Orders’ process.

You legislators are exhausted…but, please, do not make a decision of such significance as this one on a bill that will not get both chambers’ careful review or scrutiny.

This is not an issue of “Well, we should negotiate with the Senate that we’ll pass SB-94 if they pass HB-XYZ” type of deal.  This is not a bill that creates the Official Georgia State Snake-in-the-Grass (well…wait, that might be accurate, actually..) that has insignificant results if passed.

Political Vine Publication Disclosure

The Political Vine was established on July 24, 2000 by Georgia Republican activist Bill Simon. All material contained herein (unless otherwise noted) is written by a commonsense political thinker whose agenda is to deliver researched facts, analysis, information, humor, and opinions in a satirical/sarcastic environment that is far different from any other news source you will come across.

Posted in State Legislation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WHY DOES THE LANDFILL NEED A SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY ALL OF A SUDDEN?

March 20, 2015

Jasper County Citizens, we are going to have a regional landfill here with 3 commissioners leading the way under the cover of a new authority that was hatched behind closed doors, if you do not make your wishes known now and at the April 6th meeting.

BOCLaugh2014

LAUGHING AT US WHILE BREAKING THE LAW

 

If everything was on the up and up, wouldn’t the BOC be willing to discuss this issue in open meeting—as they are required to do? Why does the county attorney want the appointments to the Solid Waste Authority ready by the next meeting (April 6th)? What is the rush and what is the reason for it, other than to accomplish something before the citizens know about it?

What has happened to all Karen Degges’ potential solutions? Now, all of a sudden, the BOC is going in a totally different direction.

Listening to the following video you can pick up some vibes that the urgency appears to be driven by the County attorney– at the very end of this clip he alludes to the fact that he wants to talk to the commissioners about the subject in the executive meeting.

We can’t emphasize enough that all this was done illegally in Executive Sessionthe discussion, drawing up a resolution, etc. to keep the citizens from knowing what is happening. No one could get a copy of the Resolution or the draft of it, even though it was voted on Monday night, until today—after the county attorney “cleaned it up.”

Here’s a copy of the resolution.

FACTthe (Solid Waste Management Authority) SWMA is set up to EXPAND the landfill by accepting waste from “a broader geographical area.” That is the same thing as a REGIONAL LANDFILL

FACT—THREE Commissioners will sit on this authority along with four of their own appointees. If so, why can’t the BOC make their own decisions?? Why is there another layer of government added? We say it is to keep all this out of the public eye, which is what authorities do best.

STRANGEthat Newton County is in the process of making a deal to have their landfill (which loses $2M a year) become a Regional Landfill. Coincidental? We doubt it!

Karen Degges has repeatedly told the BOC over the past year that progress was being made on removing the fiber at the landfill. This has been a “big deal” with these commissioners. They have repeatedly commented on how other boards never did anything, how everyone else lost money at the landfill (most landfills do lose money unless they bring in regional waste), and how this BOC was busy getting things done. So far they have had 2 or 3 EPD extensions (maybe more), spent untold amounts of money, billed us an extra 1 mil ($316,000) on our recent property tax bills to take care of the landfill fiber and EPD consent order, and still haven’t gotten the fiber moved nor has it been converted to electricity or any other energy source—all touted by Karen Degges as getting done.

All that has happened at the landfill over the past year that can be readily seen is, Karen Degges has hired a couple of buddies from North Georgia to work there. She pays the one there now $300 a day to run the landfill. But our BOC can’t figure out why they are losing money!

We should also be concerned about what is going on in Newton County because Newton County’s landfill is on the Yellow River that flows into Jackson Lake.

The citizens of Newton County reacted to a proposed regional landfill and showed up by the 100’s and had a citizen’s committee appointed before their BOC did anything. If Jasper County citizens don’t do the same and show up at the April 6th meeting, we will face the consequences of underhanded, back room deals.

Here are some very informative articles and videos about what is going on in Newton County:

Hurried Newton County Landfill Deal Riles Residents:

http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/03/hurried-nc-landfill-deal-riles-residents/

11-Alive Newscast:

http://www.11alive.com/videos/news/local/covington/2015/03/18/24943901/

Covington News Articles:

Landfill tabled, chair powers to be restored

http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/58652/

County postpones vote on landfill deal:

http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/58588/

County hears landfill deal

http://www.covnews.com/section/190/article/58423/

Jasper County Citizens, we are going to have a regional landfill here with 3 commissioners leading the way under the cover of a new authority that was hatched behind closed doors, if you do not make your wishes known now and at the April 6th meeting.

 

TWG

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Posted in County, Landfill, Open Government | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

THEY HAVE NO SECRETS? WHY DOES THIS BOC KEEP LYING?

Liar Liar PinocchioTHE JASPER COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TALK BIG, BUT HIDE THEIR ACTIONS & INFORMATION FROM THE PUBLIC

March 18, 2015

After “reminding” the BOC and the citizens that this was “SUNSHINE WEEK” at the called meeting on 3/16/15, Comm. Henry later voted with the rest of the BOC to go into Executive Session to discuss the landfill and a Solid Waste Authority. Neither issue is allowed as an exemption to go behind closed doors to shut out the public from hearing the discussion.

We wonder if Comm. Henry brought up Sunshine Week trying to impress those in the audience. He has said before that this BOC has no secrets; something he and the rest of the BOC like to TALK about but don’t follow. In this video (starting at :55) he says they want to continue to “keep everything out in the open.”

Yes, this is Sunshine Week; a week set aside nationally to highlight open government—open meetings and open records--but recognizing it and following it are miles apart with this group of men.

In the BOC meeting it became obvious that landfill issues had been discussed privately and extensively out of the public eye.  A presentation with charts was prepared showing how the county could make money by allowing outside waste to come in by selling the landfill. Then the BOC went into Executive Session. The BOC came out of Executive Session and voted to set up a Solid Waste Authority with a resolution already drawn up, obviously in Executive Session.

It is totally amazing that a resolution can be drawn up in Executive Session and voted on when the issue had not been discussed. County attorney(s), Jim Alexander and David Ozburn, will obviously allow anything to go on behind closed doors and in fact seem to encourage it. These lawyers and the BOC have no trouble lying to the public and the newspaper about their secret meetings.

The BOC has told us several times in recent BOC meetings that they have no secrets. Watch this video as 3 commissioners get on board the “open government train”.

The next BOC meeting is April 6, 2015 at 6:00PM. You need to make plans to attend now because the county attorney told the BOC he wanted the appointments for the Solid Waste Authority ready by the next meeting. What is the rush and how is Jim Alexander involved in this? Does this have anything to do with the landfill issues in Newton County?

Start asking questions and calling your commissioners! Let us know what they tell you, then we all need to watch what they say in the next BOC meeting.

The only time to stop an expansion of our landfill is NOW, and the only way to do it is for YOU to get involved. You can find the commissioner’s contact information here.

This BOC wants more transparency and they have no secrets, except when it comes to important issues and/or controversial issues. Then everything is done behind closed doors.

It is Sunshine Week, but for this BOC, it turned out to be a total eclipse for whole week.

 

TWG

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Posted in County, Landfill, Open Government | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BOC SNEAKS IN “LANDFILL OPTIONS” AT MEETING—REGIONAL LANDFILL COMING TO JASPER COUNTY?

March 16, 2015

No regional dump

Tonight at the BOC meeting an item on the agenda called “County Manager Items—Landfill” turned into a discussion about options of what to do at the landfill. County Manager, Karen Degges, had prepared the following chart. (Click to enlarge)

 

Landfill Options 031615

It seems this discussion carried over into the Executive Session (behind closed doors). When the BOC came out 50 minutes later, all the citizens had left. Thankfully, Kathy Mudd, editor of The Monticello News stayed until the meeting was called back to order. The BOC VOTED 4-1 with Comm. Pennamon against, to establish a 7 member Solid Waste Authority. There were no details, but supposedly a resolution will be available from the county attorney, Jim Alexander tomorrow.

Unfortunately, this BOC does its very best to keep the public in the darkest corner possible while telling us how transparency is so very important to them and how they have no secrets.

What started as an update on the landfill tonight, ended up being something that appeared to be pre-planned. A solid waste authority, selling the landfill, or leasing the landfill were NOT on the agenda nor in the agenda packet obtained early this morning. So this item was clearly not labeled correctly in an attempt to hide it from the public and move on it without the public’s knowledge. This is a clear violation of open meetings and the spirit of and the reason for the open meetings law.

As you can see on this chart, the last 2 options involve leasing the landfill and allowing waste from anywhere—thereby making it a so-called Regional Landfill. Karen Degges said the county had another 150 acres of land and we could expand the landfill or allow the “lessee” to expand it. Comm. Luke made a comment that we could always trade the landfill for 10 Sheriff cars, jokingly of course, but this seems to be the mindset. Karen Degges also made several comments that everyone (meaning other counties) wants out, and that even bigger counties are the feeling pain of this (landfill costs).

Newton County is doing the same thing with their landfill, and honestly we have to wonder just how involved the county attorney, Jim Alexander of Newton County, was in these proposals tonight. Our BOC sees nothing but dollar signs, and “proposals” based on “ideas.” (Like the Deer Signs that were going to make all kinds of money—so far TWO have been sold.)

Tomorrow night (3/17/15) the Newton County Commissioners are holding a meeting and will possibly vote on expanding their landfill by allowing another company to come in and bring in waste from all over.

Here is part of the story from The Newton Citizen:

COVINGTON — Residents aired dozens of complaints and questions at a lengthy landfill expansion public hearing Thursday night….. http://www.newtoncitizen.com/news/2015/mar/13/no-vote-thursday-on-newton-county-landfill/

And from WSB-TV:

The Newton County Board of Commissioners got an earful from opponents of the proposal and from those concerned about the potential impact on the Yellow River. Attorneys insist the impact on the area along Lower River Road would be minimal despite ongoing complaints about pollution, the odor, buzzards and traffic….. http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/newton-county-residents-worried-about-potential/vDKfTw/

 

Citizens of Jasper County, it is time you started attending meetings and voicing your opinion. Do you want a regional landfill near the Recreation Department and 3 schools?? Do you want more big trucks loaded with debris coming through Jasper County to dump at the landfill? If not, now is the time to speak up and speak out!

We will have some video and more information in a few days. Also, this Thursday’s Monticello News should have more details of what went on after the BOC came out of Executive Session and voted on this.

 

TWG

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Posted in County, Landfill, Open Government | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments