If you are not aware of what happened at the Newton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, 8/18/15, you should find the video on the Covington News site and watch. It is masterful.
Masterful, that is, as a puppet show. I swear, you can't even see the strings!! It almost looks like Keith Ellis and JC Henderson are acting on their own in what appears to be an orchestrated attack on long-suffering county employees who dared to do their jobs and expose the truth of the underbelly of county politics.
Someone should capture the script and write a play - maybe a musical - dedicated to the heroes who stand up to the dysfunctional folly that is our county government. It might almost be comical if it were not so appalling and so devastating to our finances (that is, your money), our future and our reputation.
The plot, briefly, is that the interim County Manager, Harry Owens, and the Finance Director, Michelle Kelly, came before the board to first recommend a thoroughly researched financial option to best fund needed work on our now-closed library. Later, Harry pointed out that a sizable no-bid contract for operating the so-called solid waste convenience centers had a clause stating "payment not to exceed" but had routinely been substantially overpaid with no traceable record of how such overpayment had been authorized. These were both laudable actions on behalf of the best interest of citizens and transparency in government.
You would think the board, as ostensibly representatives of the people would have expressed thanks. If so, you don't know squat about the working of this lot. Enter the ambush, stage left!!
Suffice it to say here that they were shamefully attacked and abused for their efforts, with Tommy Craig and Keith Ellis tag teaming to undermine them on the library funding option with a brazen push for some sweetheart deal with a local lender instead. Later, JC Henderson attacked the effort to bring transparency to county finances by claiming that pointing out violations in county purchasing policy by overpayment of a "not to exceed" contract somehow personally disrespected him .
Kudos to Lanier Sims for leaving his commissioner seat to join the citizens in protest at this shameful charade. You can watch the video and read the full shocking details elsewhere.
People get the government they deserve, the saying goes. If true, it is a doubly sad commentary on the utter dysfunction in Newton County's elected county government (the employees do a fine job under the circumstances) and the miserable state of her citizenry to allow it to continue.
The truth is, there are probably less than a thousand people in this entire county who have a remote clue about the endless self-inflicted crises that plague this county, and probably less than a 100 who have even a vague grasp of issues. That's what keeps this lot in power. Sad. So very sad.
So here is the question: what the hell will it take to wake up the other 101,000 people in this county to actively demand, and thereby deserve, a better county government? If you are awake, nudge the sleeping person next to you.