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BOC feels the heat from angry citizens

The Newton County Board of Commissioners felt the full force of citizens’ anger Tuesday night as the fallout over County Attorney Tommy Craig’s reappointment continues to unfold.

Craig’s firm was paid $1.1 million in 2014, a fact that was widely publicized by a Channel 11 news report last week on his salary, unpaid taxes and handling of county business.

The Historic Courthouse was packed and, one by one, citizens made clear just how unhappy they were, both with the board’s reappointment of Craig and certain commissioners’ reactions to citizens’ concerns.

Local resident Sandy Spears spoke of the blatant “mismanagement of resources” while Thomas Buchner received loud applause for his suggestion Craig resign.

Aaron Brooks demanded an apology from commissioners John Douglas and Levie Maddox for a joint letter to the editor that ran in The News Sunday in which they dismissed citizens who opposed Craig’s reappointment as a “modern day lynch mob.”

Wesley Dowdy, a member of the vocal group of local residents to whom Douglas and Maddox’s letter referred, told commissioners to “wake up to reality” and “stop blaming the citizens for the media attention which is caused by your lack of diligence.”

“The arrogant tone used in your joint letter shows your disdain for the public outcry; your actions show your lack of responsibility and point to your failures as commission members,” said Dowdy. “The facts are: We spend way too much on legal costs in this county.”

Douglas, for his part, apologized for his choice of words, saying he should have recognized the citizens as “passionate and involved.” Maddox appeared less contrite, telling the public, “I apologize…for writing a letter that challenges the community to come together.”

With the Citizens’ Comment portion over, the board quickly wrapped up its other business, which included approving two notices of public hearing related to the county landfill and a pending settlement with the East Georgia Land and Development Company.

According to attorney Bob Norman of Macon, who is mediating the deal and presented the notices, the county is considering entering into a public-private partnership for the lease and operation of the landfill that would also facilitate the purchase of land by the county.

Presumably, the land in question is the site of a proposed private landfill by the East Georgia Company, which recently won the right to build the landfill before the State Supreme Court.

See this Sunday’s edition of The News for the full story on the BOC meeting.