Will the grownups in the room please stand up? Maybe that should be the rallying cry in Winder these days as citizens try and figure out why the city government continues to embarrass itself.
As if one high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit wasn’t enough, two Winder policemen were recently disciplined for similar complaints. Winder gives a whole new meaning to “Sex in the City.”
And then there was last week’s illegal meeting by the city to discuss the town’s upcoming budget. While we’re glad to see more city council members involved in the budget process, when a quorum meet to discuss city business, those meetings have to be announced in advance.
It’s not like city officials are unfamiliar with the open meetings law. They know the rules, but apparently chose to ignore them. It’s very clear that some city officials don’t want to discuss city government business in the open. Why not?
But perhaps the most serious incident in Winder’s government is the apparent attempt to cover-up an illegal search of at least one home by the town’s police department 12 months ago.
City officials claim that in the incident, Winder policemen were just backing up Barrow County deputies, a charge that Sheriff Jud Smith denies. Smith says the BCSO was backing up WPD officers.
One lawsuit for illegal search has been filed against Winder in that incident and another home was also apparently illegally searched as well on the same day. Further litigation is possible.
What is incredulous about this issue is that Winder officials claim they have zero paperwork about the incident.
Frankly, we believe city officials are being less than honest. Police protocol dictates that officers fill out reports on everything they do. To suggest that the WPD created no report from that search is unbelievable.
The common thread in all of this is a pervasive attitude by some Winder officials that they don’t have to follow the rules.
So what if sexual harassment gets a shrug in the city government?
So what if city council members hold illegal meetings?
So what if city policemen illegally search a private home or two?
So what if city officials attempt to cover up questions about that search?
The citizens of Winder deserve better than this.
Accountability is a big buzzword in government circles these days. But there can be no accountability without transparency — and honesty — in government.
I have commented on the subject of the actions of the WPD before, so; there is not more that I can say except; what more can we expect out of some people with a badge, a gun and a car with flashing blue lights?