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Perugino: Grand Jury presentment
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The Grand Jury, that served the first half of this year, submitted a presentment to the Superior Court of Newton County that was published in this newspaper as required by the court. This presentment contained the results of a review conducted on the Newton County Department of Public Works Maintenance Project done on Cook Road.

The findings of the Grand Jury clearly showed that the provisions of state law, county enabling legislation, and county purchasing policy were not complied with.

Prior to the presentment of the Grand Jury being made public and published, several articles were written on the issue in this newspaper. Information in these articles that was provided to reporters is now subject to comparison with the facts presented by the Grand Jury. This comparison would probably make very interesting reading.

Further to the matter, the Grand Jury recommended that a review be conducted by the Board of Commissioners for any possible misconduct or infringement of policy and procedure, that specific budget requirements and cost controls be implemented and that the Neighborhood Stabilization Project be reviewed for compliance with applicable codes, regulations and policies. The presentment was submitted to the board by the Court but nothing has happened.

Despite the serious nature of the charges involved and the consequences to the people of Newton County, the Board of Commissioners has taken no action to follow through. Apparently the commissioners are not willing to take any political risk to demonstrate that there are consequences for not complying with laws and regulations in the operation of county government. We need not look to Washington to find no-risk, self-preservation politics at work. We have our own home grown variety.

If there is not sharp timely reaction and follow through to non compliance on the local level under our personal view, how can we ever expect to achieve accountability on the federal level?
This is particularly disturbing in these times of financial hardship. Our elected officials of Newton County have a fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of our money and jealously protect the spending of those funds.

The Circuit Court and the District Attorney passed the presentment on to the board. It's time for the board to act responsibly, take serious action and report to the citizens of Newton County.

William Perugino is active in local and regional politics and can be reached at