Take note. This is, indeed, a rare occurrence; one of those things that only happens when the full moon is in the seventh house of the twelfth of never on the third Tuesday after the first Monday of the only month with five Thursdays in a year ending in zero. In other words, this don’t happen much: I am speechless.
That describes my lack of verbal reaction after reading the narrative surrounding the recent move of former Barrow County Human Resources Director Norma Jean Brown’s personal effects from her former office at the Barrow County Annex to her neighbor’s driveway, I suppose my shock and amazement at the whole chain of events stems from piling on. After all, the citizens of Barrow County have been treated to a veritable soap opera emanating from the county’s offices for quite some time. But this last episode sounds like it turned into a circus of epic proportion: allegedly absconded personnel files, vanishing fire chief resumes and applications, he said/she said, bouts of amnesia over who said what to whom when. The list reads like a black hole of allegations.
Now before anybody gets all excited, let me be clear: This is not an indictment of anyone, but is more of a citizen’s observation of the seemingly endless string of faux pas plaguing the day-today operations of Barrow County administrators. It’s reached the point that the county’s business appears to be secondary on the list of position jockeying, gotchas, and occurrences that I’m surprised are not punctuated with “nonny-nonnyboo- boo”.
It only stands to reason that there will be a period of assimilation when one group of admin-istrators replaces another. The introduction of new management styles, personalities, priorities, and procedures will always clash to a degree with the pushback that comes from those accustomed to “the way we’ve always done it”. Compounded to the nth degree by strong personalities and opinions, personal motivations and aspirations, and the occasional axe to grind, you’ve got a recipe for a train wreck – and that pretty much describes what we’ve had coming from our county offices. It will soon have been two years this has been going on. And it’s embarrassing.
This could - and should - have been addressed long ago. Sometimes the process of sitting down to share expectations among new and old officials of the county can sort a lot of this out at the get-go. However, that requires everyone caring not only about the image our county presents to others in a position to help or hurt us, but also that everyone get on the same page so they can work as a welloiled machine rather than Cinderella’s coach with one wheel in a ditch, a second losing its hub, and the horses turning back into mice faster than the Fairy Godmother can wave her wand.
Every week the people who read the local newspapers are treated to yet another installment of what has to be one of the most stressful working environments in the state, if not the country. Then you’ve got the poor folks in the offices just trying to do their jobs and go home every day. They’re trying to keep a low profile and keep the county offices running efficiently while being good stewards of the taxpayer dollars that pay their salaries.
With all the skullduggery going on, investigations, alleged clandestine activity, the never ending backbiting and tale-toting, and the I said/ He said/She said swirling around everything from what time they came to work to what they took from their office when they ceased to be an employee, it’s no wonder the county’s broke. How could they possibly be getting anything productive done with all of that stuff going on all the time?
For every five minutes of controversial conversations and situations we hear about, there’s another hour of simmer down time per employee so they can get their mind back on whatever they’re being paid to do. It doesn’t take an efficiency study to tell us the state of our county’s work environment and reputation is just about at rock bottom – and let’s not even discuss “efficiency”.
Until somebody runs out into the hall and yells “STOP THIS. IT’S COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!” and takes steps to fix it, we’re going to be subjected to another two years of it. There are just too many egos. Too many axes. And way too much being said.
A little speechless can go a long way.
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.