Fiscal responsibility and legal actions –John S. Quarterman @ LCC 2013-05-14

Chairman Bill Slaughter said “At this time we can’t discuss that issue” of why the Commission thinks its a good use of taxpayer funds to sue a local business with a valid business permit, after the Commission apparently recently didn’t want to defend against a potential lawsuit against itself.

In the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session Tuesday 13 May 2013, I spoke in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, noting a trust indenture is a legal contract, and since as building a well often leads to development, as someone (Commissioner Page a few minutes before) pointed out, why don’t trust indenture decisions lead to public hearings? This might be a legal question for the state (although I would guess the County Commission could hold a public hearing on whatever it likes, even if the state doesn’t require it).

But a lot of commissions actually let the public speak on any item. For example, the Tallahassee Council lets anyone sign up at the beginning and say I want to speak on X. It’s a thought.

But during that particular item I found it particularly refreshing to hear Commissioner Page say that he was concerned about what the majority of the neighbors and property owners think about the use or potential use of the property, and nearby property owners and the majority of people who live in that area.

Now it’s curious how we did not hear much concern about that on an item a few meetings back about Old State Road. The majority of the people who live in that area did not want that road closed. The majority of the property owners, as near as I can tell from the names on the petition, did not, but no one seemed concerned about that. It is a nice concern to have.

Now at that time I heard through various people that the main reason, and correct me if I’m wrong here,

the main reason the Commission decided to close that road was that they were afraid that the applicant might sue. Now I cannot believe that any Commissioners personally would be afraid of that, because you’re all veterans of elections, so why would you be afraid of a simple lawsuit; surely things happen in elections that are much worse than that. So I’m guessing it must have been because of the expense, of the legal expense of a lawsuit. I’m guessing you wouldn’t want the taxpayers to have to pay for a thing like that. Even though I assume you have Directors and Officers insurance, but still.

So that leads to my question, which is: Why, if it wasn’t a good use of taxpayer money to defend a lawsuit that was only potential, that might not even happen, why is it a good use of taxpayer money to initiate a lawsuit against a business in the county that has a valid business permit? Like one of the previous speakers, I don’t really understand that. And I’m wondering if perhaps the Commissioners and the Chairman could explain that to the public, not just to an individual. That’s my question.

And the Chairman’s answer:

At this time we can’t discuss that issue.

So I thanked them and sat down. They proceeded to go into Executive Session for the purpose of attorney-client communication. Hm, I wonder what legal case they could be discussing? The Chairman didn’t say why they couldn’t discuss the trash case at this time, but could it be because of the lawsuit? If so, they apparently spent much longer in Executive Session discussing it than it took me and Tom Hallman to ask the questions that never got answered. Why does the County Commission think it’s a good use of taxpayer funds to sue a legitimate local business on behalf of investors in New York City, and why won’t they explain that to the public?

Here’s the video:

Fiscal responsibility and legal actions –John S. Quarterman
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 14 May 2013.