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 Sole Commissioner Story in the AJC 1/22/06
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MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  11:07:20 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey All,
Here's the link. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/0122commish.html

Looks like yet another disaster courtesy of one man rule. I say yet another for those of you that recall Lumpkin County's multi-million dollar loss thanks to their sole commissioner. Of course Union Co. could say the same thing if you qualify astounding over-spending and financial mismanagement...but then that's just my opinion; I could be wrong... What do y'all think? The article's a fun read if nothing else.

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.

coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  11:36:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't get the link to work, sorry.

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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  11:48:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Now, it is working, very interesting article, thanks!!

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  1:27:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
For what it's worth, this is the article that the AJC came up to work on before getting distracted by John Buchanan's story.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

hrspowr

USA
161 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  2:01:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I think there are more pros than cons to having a multi-commissioner county. Sure there will be bickering amongst them but if one man has the authority to run everything there will be even more problems, like the saying goes "absolute power corrupts" Our county is a prime example of that.

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mad4martinis

USA
13730 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  2:02:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's scary about the funds or lack of funds in Towns County. It's too much control for one person. It probably would have been better if there were more than just a sole commish. It's ice age & for sure control freakish to have a county with a sole commish.


Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.Go to Top of Page

hrspowr

USA
161 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  2:09:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:

That's scary about the funds or lack of funds in Towns County. It's too much control for one person. It probably would have been better if there were more than just a sole commish. It's ice age & for sure control freakish to have a county with a sole commish.


Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.


I agree with you, the AJC tried to slant the story to say that it was only newcomers who wanted towns co. to have a board of commissioners. Well, I've lived here all my life and I think that union county desperately needs one.

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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  2:39:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know the commissioner is paid a salary. When I moved here in 84, Fannin had 3 commissioners and they were fighting all the time.

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  2:57:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Now that I've read the article, I believe it to be a poorly researched article. While the examples about the sole county commissioner's challenges and benefits were told from a Towns County perspective, nothing was included about how other North Georgia counties that have sole commisioners (such as Union) are faring.

Why wasn't there information about Union County's experiences with the sole commissioner type of government? The reporter was up here to look into sole commissioner structure and yet nothing about our form of county government warranted mention in an article expressly about sole commissioners.

Lumpkin County just changed in 2005 to a multi-commissioner (five total now) model. Why isn't there any information about their transition and comparisons between the difficulties with the sole commissioner model before versus the impact of the changing to the multi-commissioner model?

Coosa raised the difficulties experienced by Fannin County in their transition over to a mutlti-commissioner, yet no information about that or how they've adjusted since were deemed worthy enough to research and include in an article about sole county commmissioners.

This article could have been so much more. I didn't get much out of it as printed.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukha

Edited by - ShadowMan on 01/22/2006 2:59:00 PMGo to Top of Page

puddin pop

USA
4628 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  3:02:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When my husband worked for Lumpkin county at times I had to call the bank to see if they would even cash his check.

My reality check bouncedGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  3:21:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
From http://www.dca.state.ga.us/development/PlanningQualityGrowth/programs/downloads/LumpkinCaseStudy.pdf#7 :

quote:
With growth come greater financial responsibilities for a single commissioner. It also brings larger and larger financial decisions. As the tax base broadens, increased revenues are both a blessing and a curse. More can be done within the county but the prospect of financial irregularities becomes greater. By 1996, Lumpkin had amassed a budget surplus of three million dollars.

In that year, a new Commissioner was elected as the sole commissioner to a four-year term. Four years and $17 million dollars later, Lumpkin County was in a budget crisis. By 2000, the county had $14 million in debts due to overspending on infrastructure andother projects. The solitary nature of the sole commissioner system may have allowed much of the financial irregularities to go unnoticed by the citizens of the county until itwas too late.

In 2000, the county elected Steve Gooch as Commissioner in large part on his stated desire to open up the government of Lumpkin County to more citizen involvement. However, Commissioner Gooch would go beyond campaign promises. He created a number of Citizen Action Groups (CAGs) to deal with various county issues. These committees were designed to provide both citizen involvement in county governmenta new openness.

The formation of CAGs was not enough for Lumpkin County to ensure a more representative and open government. Starting in 2004, the county will switch to member County Commission. This will coincide with the end of Commissioner Goochtenure. In the meantime, we have seen that the CAG concept has fundamentally altered how Lumpkin County will look and operate in the future with regard to its land use regulation.


The transition to multi-commissioners seems to have occurred in 2005 instead of the 2004 mentioned in the article.

Regarding switching to the multi-commissioner form of government, Lumpkin County's process is being looked at closely as Bartow's example to follow now that Bartow County is desiring to move to a multi-commissioner government. That's especially interesting because Bartow County got to see how to do the transition badly when watching neighboring Haralson County go through the process.
Article located here: http://www.accg.org/detail.asp?ID=4744

Also of note regarding Lumpkin County's change to multi-commissioners: http://www.georgiatrend.com/site/page6238.html
(last article at bottom of page titled "Stephen Gooch: Turnaround Artist")

Shadow

This is my kirttimukha

Edited by - ShadowMan on 01/22/2006 3:30:52 PMGo to Top of Page

MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  3:28:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jim (and others too I'm sure!),
Actually not a stupid question, a very good one! To have a multi-commissioner form of government, the state legislature has to change it. This means that both our state representative and senator have to push for it. In practice, this isn't done unless the sitting commissioner wants it. Otherwise they put a bill through to have a referendum that decides, which usually the sitting commissioner and his/her political people push against as it is to their personal detriment/power loss. A referendum is NOT required as some people believe. The legislature has the power to simply make it so, though they are loath to do it without intense pressure or consent of the commissioner, as it did in the case of Lumpkin Co. after their not-so-distant multi-million $ disaster thanks to their sole county commissioner.

As for costs, the % of the overall budget that goes to pay commissioners is so small as to be hardly worth debating, not to mention the intangible 'insurance factor' as it is virtually impossible to get 3 out of 5 to agree to steal/embezzle or for all 5 instead of one man to miss an important and possibly expensive detail/factor of a project. However, typically the multi-members work part-time and earn a small stipend of $250-$750 per month, and either the chairman (who is elected at-large) or a hired county manager works full-time and earns an actual salary of measure; i.e. $40,000+. Therefore, as a purely financial matter, it would most likely cost more by approximately $10,000-$20,000, but as a factor of an $18 Million budget that is a minute amount, plus the benefit of the addition of many thoughts/voices, and broader experience/representation, I personally think it is WELL worth it! I know that Lumpkin (which lost Millions upon Millions) would love to turn back the clock and spend the few dollars more to save millions. I suspect that Towns Co. may soon, if they aren't already, be feeling the same way.

Personally, I believe the diverse types of projects now faced in our modern world require diverse minds, to say nothing of mistakes or intentional wrong-doing that can and often do cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of our hard-earned tax dollars. I would feel better knowing that we have a commission made up of people from diverse backgrounds/educations so that as a team they can look at each situation from a variety of perspectives. I've always thought the adversarial process led to better, more effective policies and decisions. But that's just my opinion...I could be wrong...

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.

Edited by - MountainThinker on 01/22/2006 3:31:44 PMGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  3:50:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The AJC article didn't specify, but the nine counties that still have sole commissioner forms of county government are:

Bartow
Bleckley
Chattooga
Murray
Pickens
Pulaski
Towns
Union
Walker

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

justamom

USA
313 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  5:36:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In my opinion a countywide elected representation would assure that not just the opinions a few would be served. The days of the sole commissioner form of government will become a thing of the past in the not so distant future. The majority in GA as Shadow pointed out have already seen the light. Justa matter of time for us here, the sooner the better for me!

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mad4martinis

USA
13730 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  5:39:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, but it seems that the only way for your senator or anyone to get the ball rolling for this would need our commish to say the word. I don't see that happening with him.

Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.Go to Top of Page

hrspowr

USA
161 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  7:21:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If enough people pressured Charles Jenkins I believe he would support the idea, I don't think that he is very fond of our current commissioner. He works for us, not the commissioner.

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fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  10:39:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fill in the blank
( _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ) ďA ruler having absolute authority and supreme jurisdiction over the government of a state; especially one who is considered tyrannical or oppressive.Ē Remind you of anyone? Meaning taken from American Heritage Dictionary. A republican took over sole commissioner in Lumpkin in 2001 and found a 17 million shortfall in funds left by a previous commissioner. He worked hard and was a good businessman and brought them back into the black by 2005 when a multi-commission took over. He was honest and had the public as his first concern. Towns elected a new sole commissioner and the new one is finding a shortfall and had to borrow money. Rumor has it that the shortfall is above six million. Union had to borrow big money to keep our county running. Unpaid IRS employment taxes and other things. These are the three counties that are closest to us that are governed by one person and all had or have problems. I personally think sole commissioners are against our constitutional (State & Federal) rights. Read them; they both guarantee us three branches of government. Executive, Judicial & Legislative. Where is our Legislative branch under a sole commissioner? Other reasons against-- How and why would a successful businessman abandon his lucrative business (as required by law) and take a lesser paying job unless there is an ulterior motive behind the move. It is no coincidence that land developers seek and use the office to gain and improve their holdings. A part time commission uses successful businessmen that donít have to abandon their business. They are paid a small, by meeting, or by month, salary and hire or elect a full time chairman. It is all up to the individual county how they want it formed. 80 some percent of the counties in Georgia have 5 or more commissioners and operate successful. Most counties report that their commission costs actually go down after the change. There are a lot of smart people that could become citizen legislatures if it was not a full time job. Seems like I heard that suggestion somewhere about the time of our Continental Congress. The argument that they are always fighting is the silliest one to me. I call it checks and balances. These deals that are made behind closed doors by a sole commissioner, with the excuse of expedience, are sometimes even illegal and violate the open meeting laws. I would like to see it changed and voted so when I had the chance. It was defeated and I have lived under the rule since. As long as people classify our population as locals and outsiders and use the difference to promote their particular agenda we will remain in the dark ages. I lived under one good sole ruler that was for the people; letís hope we will find another

note Jenkins did vote for bill 137 for Towns, only asked that it be voted on by the people. He does listen to his constituents.

sonnyGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  11:20:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
ďA ruler having absolute authority and supreme jurisdiction over the government of a state; especially one who is considered tyrannical or oppressive.Ē

Yeah, yeah, we're supposed to mentally fill in the word "dictator".

quote:
Remind you of anyone?

Sure, I can think of a number of historical figures that fit the bill. You mean currently? In the US? In Georgia? In Union County? No. It does not remind me of anyone.

The definition didn't just say "authority and jurisdiction over". It said "absolute authority and supreme jurisdiction".

Nobody has that kind of authority over you here. The fact that you're typing all those words in proves it. Dictators don't have opponents (at least publicly).

You had some decent points regarding what the Founding Fathers intended versus what we've got with a sole commissioner. They don't quite offset your characterization of sole county commissioners as the equivalent of Idi Amin, Hitler, or more recently - Saddam Hussein.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  10:50:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Shadow -- You are the one characterizing our sole commissioner with those killers, not I. There were others, Tito, Shaw of Iran,Peron. I will give everyone a challange; since there is not a discription in the dictionary for sole commissioner, find one that better describes one than my choice.

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  11:11:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Challenge accepted. The word is "efficient".
Not to be confused with "effective". It's possible to be efficient, yet not effective.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  12:12:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A possible strategy to get the matter before the citizens of this county for them to vote on it:

Ask current Sole Commissioner to support a referendum on the matter.
If yes:
* Take that support to state representative and state senator with request for submitting a bill for the referendum.

If no:
* Canvas the county for petition signatures supporting the referendum (I think you'd need a little over 4000 signatures).
* Take collected signatures to state representative and senator with request for submitting a bill for the referendum.
* Make support for referendum a political measuring stick for next Commissioner's election race.

Also, a reminder - Towns and Union were the last two counties in Georgia to have a probate judge running the affairs of the county. We've historically taken our time on adopting change around here.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  3:47:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Shadow
What you are suggesting is one way to go about attempting to change to a multi body legislative government. However, we already had that opportunity at the end of Haroldís term. It was defeated soundly. Several things attributed to the defeat. The biggest being the lack of a Florida income tax and the high homestead exemption there also. These two factors keep the people that have dual homes from registering to vote here in Georgia. Fear is probably next. Fear of their taxes increasing to pay for all those new commissioners. Fear of job loss with a new system. Fear of outsiders taking over. Apathy is a big factor also. Itís a shame, but people have gotten to a point where they donít care as long as it doesnít affect them. To really change the system it could be done with an organized civic group. They would have to be a mixture or cross section of our community. Locals, outsiders, democrats and republicans from all walks of life should be in this collection. If all the details were worked out on what would be best for our community they could present it to our legislators and ask that a bill be written. It would be up to the civic group to hold hearings and debates to convince the public that it would be best for our community. Doing it this way would bring about a vote the people wanted. The next best method would be a challenge to the constitutionality of a sole commissioner on the fact that it does away with our legislative privilege at the local level. At a estimated 300,000 dollar cost it probably wonít happen unless I hit the lotto


sonnyGo to Top of Page

daughterofconfederate

USA
29728 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  4:29:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jim, yes you are right that the full time locals should however SOME part timers dont involved themselves here as far as this goes.
Then there are SOME that are intimidated by the local majority and SOME who just dont like change and are set in their ways and wouldnt know the difference because they are silencing themselves of change with the only reason being that THEY JUST DONT WANT CHANGE. Wouldnt know if it was hurting them for not wanting to deal with it. Then there are LOTS who just dont give a flip about voting or politics or anything of this nature.. and while I am at it, there are LOTS who dont like the choices we have and dont want any part of any of it.

I vote, I dont like politics at all and think its a good way to tick someone off os to discuss politics but I do CARE about them and I do vote and I will sit and ponder over who I think will be better for the job.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.

Saint Francis of Assisi
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mad4martinis

USA
13730 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  4:46:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fairplay, I kind of see what you're saying there, but doing it by the "book" so to speak like Shadow described is probably going to get more attention than some civic group. Everyone realizes you have to go through the red tape before getting something you want.
Has Lamar Paris ever been approached on this subject? If that were my job (very glad it's not), I'd much rather have someone come to me & ask first. (*option 1) If I didn't want to have multi commishes, then I'd have to expect a petition & know that they'd have to go over my head to get it. Can't fault them for doing it, but at the same time...if I were in that job for the people I'd want to listen to them.

Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.Go to Top of Page

daughterofconfederate

USA
29728 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  4:54:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
AMEN GIRLFRIEND.. thats what I thought these offices were about?

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.

Saint Francis of Assisi
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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  4:55:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
To really change the system it could be done with an organized civic group. They would have to be a mixture or cross section of our community. Locals, outsiders, democrats and republicans from all walks of life should be in this collection. If all the details were worked out on what would be best for our community they could present it to our legislators and ask that a bill be written. It would be up to the civic group to hold hearings and debates to convince the public that it would be best for our community. Doing it this way would bring about a vote the people wanted.

This really addresses a thought I had earlier that someone (or some group) would really need to do a SWOT analysis to help identify the expectations from the change, and manage the risk in such a change by being able to articulate not only benefits, but potential weaknesses and how they would be addressed.

Change just for the sake of change isn't helpful. I think that's what Murray County experienced when they shifted from Sole Commissioner to multi-Commissioner, and back to Sole Commissioner. They were trying to get away from a problem (voter fraud, I think?), made the change to multi-Commissioner, experienced a new, worse set of problems, and ultimately reverted back to what they knew (ďYouíre better off with the devil you know than with the devil you donít.Ē)

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

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