To the editor: In Friday’s News, columnist William Perugino took to task as a group anyone expressing opposition Tuesday night to actions by the Newton County Board of Commissioners stripping Chairman Morgan of powers granted by the County Charter and bestowing them upon John Middleton as newly appointed County Manager. While Mr. Perugino listened keenly to and was offended by public outcries during the vote, he seems not to have listened closely to comments after the vote.
There was no “group opposing the county manager position.” I called several commissioners before the meeting and I spoke at the end of the proceedings. That does not make me part of any group. And, as I stated clearly, I am not opposed to the County Manager position. My complaint is with the manner in which the change was orchestrated without public input to subvert the will of the people expressed in the 2008 election. A Chairman elected by over 21,000 voters to represent 100,000 people was effectively removed from office by three men who collectively represent but 51 percent of the population. The move was orchestrated by a Commissioner (Mort Ewing) elected by just over 5,000 voters and a County Attorney (Tommy Craig) elected by no one.
I never threatened anyone. I never shouted during the meeting, though I understand quite well the shock, disgust and rage of those who watched helplessly as this group trampled upon the principles of democracy on which this country is founded. The Board of Commissioners has a longstanding tradition of muzzling public input at every turn, but it never gets easier to take. I did make the reference to Muammar Gaddafi, which Perugino (and apparently others) misunderstood. Gaddafi is a dictator who came to power by means of a military coup. My point to Commissioner Tim Fleming — and the others — was that disliking the job performance of the Chairman is not just cause to overthrow her position. Such logic has been used since the beginning of time by every person or group making a grab for power. The authority to judge job performance and retain or replace the current administrative leader of the county belongs to the people, not to three men. What Ewing, Fleming, J.C. Henderson, Craig, and Middleton perpetrated Tuesday night was nothing short of a bloodless coup. That may just be “hardball politics” to Perugino, but it’s something far more sickening to me. Then again, it’s easy for him to be dispassionate about these events, living as he does in Rockdale County, outside the reach of this new regime.