igington asked to be placed on the Board of Commissioner's agenda so he could purpose a federal grant program that would allow him to hire up to seven additional deputies. BOC Chairman Richard Oden would not allow the sheriff to be placed on the agenda. The chairman claimed the Sheriff's Office would not qualify for the grant.
On May 26, at the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations, Oden deviated from the published meeting agenda and handed out documents designed to lambaste Sheriff Wigington and the way he manages the RCSO budget.
These documents told us how the RCSO budget has gone from $14.9 million in 2008 to $18.7 million in 2011. While calls, accidents, arrests, citations, inmate processing has gone down in recent years. What these documents didn't tell us was that in 2009 a new and larger jail opened, a jail the citizens voted for in 2004. Newer, larger jails need to be staffed and cost more to operate.
Coincidentally, Wigington was not invited to attend the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations meeting on May 26. And I doubt he had any knowledge that his office would be under scrutiny since it was not on the published agenda. However, candidate for sheriff Donald Ferguson was on hand to ask for an audit of the RCSO budget and perhaps do a little campaigning at the same time.
So, Chairman Oden shows up at a meeting with one-sided and half-truth documents. He deviates from the published agenda in order to present these documents. Ferguson just happens to be at this meeting. And Sheriff Wigington was not invited to attend the meeting to answer questions about his budget. Does this sound planned?
Video of and documents from this meeting can be found at www.BOCWatch.Org.
Now I would like to ask another question. If you moved to Rockdale County, why did you choose Rockdale County? If you've lived here all of your life, why did you stay?
Among my top three answers to this question: safety and security of the community. And while your answers may be slightly different than mine, I'll bet safety and security of the community is among your top three answers as well.
We the people of Rockdale County voted Chairman Oden and Sheriff Wigington into office in the same election. In essence, we hired them for the jobs they were seeking because we thought they were the best people for the job. As their employer, we should have a reasonable expectation that they will get along and do what is in our best interest.
Considering the events I outlined above, I submit to you that Chairman Oden has put politics ahead of safety and security of the community. Where on your list of reasons for living in Rockdale County does politics fall? For me, it doesn't even make the top ten. Therefore, I can reasonably conclude that Oden does not have my best interest in mind as he runs the county's business. And because he disrespected the person we the people hired for our law enforcement needs, he disrespected us as well.
If this county is going to be better tomorrow than it is today, then the people elected by the citizenry must work together and put their politics aside. If they do not, then it's a must for the citizenry to fire those people and hire people who will work together.
I would like to thank Chairman Oden for one thing. He gave Donald Ferguson the opportunity to prove to the people of this county that Donald Ferguson will likely do whatever Oden wants him to do should both be elected in 2012.
I would also like to thank Commissioners JaNice Van Ness and Oz Nesbitt for working out an agreement with Sheriff Wigington. Regrettably it was an agreement that had to be worked out in Executive Session, but none the less with Chairman Oden out of the way, they where able to take care of the people's business.
In conclusion, if you want people who work together for your best interest, study the candidates very carefully before casting your vote next year. And please, don't cast a vote for someone you don't know. But if you want people who will work together for their best interest, then by all means vote for Richard Oden and Donald Ferguson next year.
Arthur J. Kidney