The Barrow County Board of Commissioners has a long laundry list of problems, but its current desire to meet behind closed doors and track media actions could make those problems much worse.
When the BOC met last week to discuss investigating HR Director Norma Jean Brown, it did so out of the public’s eye.
Part of that was fine; state law allows public agencies to discuss such personnel actions behind closed doors.
But it is not legal for evidence against an employee to be given in secret. State law says a board can discuss discipline or dismissal, “but not when receiving evidence or hearing argument on charges filed to determine disciplinary action or dismissal of a public officer or employee.”
The county attorney says the board stayed within the law, but we’re not so sure. Doesn’t making an accusation leading to an investigation involve some kind of “evidence?”
As for tracking the media, commissioner Ben Hendrix is upset because this newspaper often asks for open records that he doesn’t know about in advance. He wants to be notified by county officials every time this newspaper asks for documents. Both he and commissioner Larry Joe Wilburn said they don’t like having to read the newspaper to find out what’s happening in county government.
Well. Should we be flattered?
Frankly, we don’t care what kind of gyrations county officials do to make sure Hendrix and Wilburn know what we’re asking for. Perhaps if they started asking their own questions rather than being lapdogs for the chairman they might find out for themselves what’s really going on in the government they’re supposed to be leading.
But we expect our open records requests to continue to be met in a timely manner as provided by law and not hamstrung while county department heads scramble to report to Hendrix and Wilburn. We don’t need their approval to see county documents.
Both of these issues, along with a slew of other nutty actions by this board, portray the county government as one more concerned with its own image rather than getting things done.
Maybe if it got things done, its image would improve on its own.
Mike, I agree with your comments 100%. We the voters have every right to OPEN GOVERNMENT. I wish the Board of Commissioners would quit whining and do their due diligence with integrity and respect. Enough of the fussing and fighting.