Videos: Appointments to Hospital Authority and Parks and Rec + well pump @ LCC 2017-07-10

Nope, there are no LAKE videos of yesterday morning’s Work Session, because, remember, they moved the meeting half an hour earlier so when Gretchen showed up it was already over. The county does not video its Work Sessions, so there is no county video, either. Since the Valdosta Daily Times apparently did not run a story (I don’t even know if they had a reporter there), this means you won’t know what the Commissioners discussed nor who else was there Monday morning before they vote this evening at 5:30 PM.

Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson welcomes new 23d Wing Commander Col. Jennifer Short at the July 10 Change of Command ceremony.
City of Valdosta PR 2017-07-10: Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson welcomes new 23d Wing Commander Col. Jennifer Short at the July 10 Change of Command ceremony.

Commissioner Scottie Orenstein asked, on facebook, in response to yesterday’s LAKE blog post about the moved meeting:

Please don’t make assumptions that we deliberately tried to inconvenience anyone. The change of command at Moody was this morning and the chairman wanted to make sure those attending had time to get on base before the 9:23 start time.

Please don’t complain that I’m quoting you. You responded as a Commissioner about a Commission meeting, which Georgia Open Records Law says is quotable. Also, if your voice mailbox hadn’t been full, Gretchen would have had this discussion with you by telephone. I do thank you for responding, however.

Gretchen replied on facebook:

I would have come to the meeting at 8AM if I had known. What burns me is that I wasn’t notified by e-mail even though I was subscribed to all the updates in the clerk’s area through the lowndescounty web site. And, not one person thought to notify me as the only citizen that regularly attends. That let’s me know for sure that no one likes me being there. “Hi Gretchen, just checking to make sure you know the meeting is at 8 and not 8:30 on Monday, Thanks, Bye”

Probably most people don’t have the time or inclination to check to see if regularly scheduled meeting times are changed for every or any meeting. And just for a moment, imagine that you are a regular person and show up to attend a meeting and it’s already over, heck that could happen when the meeting is held at the regular time but only lasts 8 minutes. It is very discouraging to participation.

I am however pleased to report that after several calls back and forth with staff in the clerk’s office, a new subscription is available that may in the future notify subscribers of changes to the front page (that little “alert” bit on the right hand side of the web site) and to calendar changes and additions.

I noted on facebook:

Looks like Valdosta sent the City Manager, not the entire Council. http://www.valdostacity.com/valdosta-welcomes-new-moody-commander

Sementha Mathews, Valdosta City PR, 2017-07-10 11:24 AM, Valdosta Welcomes New Moody Commander: Commander makes history as first female

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Col. Jennifer M. Short took command of the 23d Wing from Col. Thomas E. Kunkel during a change of command ceremony on July 10 at 9:23 a.m. Col. Short is the first female and first fighter pilot wing commander of the 23d Wing home of the world famous Flying Tigers….

(WALB posted video of Col. Short thanking Valdosta for being welcoming, but curiously not Lowndes County. Valdosta Today carried Moody AFB’s press release after the event, and the VDT ran a story: neither mentioned Valdosta nor Lowndes County.)

Commissioner Orenstein responded:

So are you suggesting that we should have just sent the County Manager? We both know, John, that if it were the other way around, you would have said that we didn’t even have the decency to make arrangements for the Chairman to be there.

To which I wrote:

Scottie Orenstein, you don’t know what I would say, as has been demonstrated many times when commissioners get in a huff when I say it. Stay tuned for this morning’s LAKE blog post.

And here is what I say: previously, the Commission sent Chairman Bill Slaughter to Texas with Moody Colonel [Susan M.] Riodan-Smith,. The Commission did not reschedule their regular Work Session that time, instead the Chairman left Vice Chairman Joyce Evans to chair the 13 March 2017 Work Session.

All I criticized about that was that the Chairman’s whereabouts were not revealed until he got back. And I dug up what was not revealed, which is the name, date, location, etc. of the event he was likely attending, and blogged that. You know, the county could have posted all that and used it as good PR, like Valdosta just did yesterday with the City Manager at Moody. Instead I did that work for the county. Some Commissions might take that as a compliment.

So no, Scottie Orenstein, I would not criticise the Commission for sending the County Manager or any one of their own number to represent them at Moody, while the rest of the Commission got on with the business of the county at their regular time.

In fact, Gretchen made a point (see above) of praising the county staff for doing something after yesterday’s moved meeting to make sure people actually get notified. And I complimented you above for responding.

Meanwhile, the Lowndes County Commissioners do:

  • Deliberately require anyone who speaks in a Regular Session to be a county landowner or taxpayer. I have spoken at many county commission meetings in Georgia and Florida, and this is the only county that requires that. When I mention this in other counties, the universal reaction is: “They do what!?” It’s embarrassing, really: the biggest county for 100 miles around, the one with the most effect on that surrounding area, restricts speakers in a way nobody else does.
  • Deliberately selectively enforce your illegal bill of attainder to require only LAKE to sit in the back corner when videoing, while letting anyone else photograph or video from any seat in the room. Please see U.S. Constitution, Article Section 9, clause 3: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” Now I predict Lowndes County Commissioners and staff will latch onto this one item and ignore everything else in this blog post. Which would be great if it caused them to repeal their illegal ordinance.
  • Deliberately hold your Work Sessions at 8:30 AM when working people cannot attend.
  • Deliberately hold your Work Sessions at a time when one of your own Commissioners can never attend.
  • Deliberately take down your own videos of your Regular Sessions from your website after two weeks.
  • Deliberately NOT video your own Work Sessions, which is why Gretchen is still there videoing after seven years, which is longer than most of you have served on the Commission.

I phrased my speculations in yesterday’s blog post as questions, not assumptions. However, given all the above things the Lowndes County Commission deliberately does, it’s really not a stretch for people to wonder whether the Commission was hiding something when it moved its meeting earlier.

Especially when two appointments to the very controversial Hospital Authority are on the agenda for yesterday’s opaque Work Session and for tonight’s 5:30 PM Regular Session. Nobody knows whether any of the candidates showed up at the Work Session, or whether any of them spoke, or whether any Commissioners questioned them about anything. Ditto for the two Parks and Rec Authority appointments. Also, what was said about yet another emergency pump replacement?

Now, to the county’s credit, staff did post on Friday July 7, 2017 an announcement of the Work Session time change and they did update the agenda that same day. Another facebook commenter says Chairman Bill Slaughter mentioned it on the radio on 105.9 FM. So there was some attempt to get the word out. Which is an improvement over back when the county would reschedule meetings with nothing but 24 hours notice out front and sent to the VDT.

Nonetheless, the county’s alert system failed, both for this time change, and for the scheduling of two budget sessions. Yet, as Gretchen remarked, county staff are working on fixing that. I add my thanks to hers for that.

Someone else commented that the Moody installation ceremony had been scheduled long before last Friday, so the county’s late time change was poor planning by someone. I can’t confirm when that ceremony was scheduled, but it’s hard to believe an Air Force Base would not have scheduled a change of command well in advance.

Anyway, I would be blogging the LAKE videos of the Work Session, if there were any. Instead I’ve blogged this soap opera about why there aren’t any.

I conclude by thanking county staff for doing something to fix the county’s alert system, and by thanking several Commissioners for communicating about this issue, especially Scottie Orenstein for responding in public.

That plus: they’re appointing two Hospital Authority members tonight at 5:30 PM, and that affects all of Lowndes County and at least two other nearby counties that have satellite hospitals, not to mention all the people for 100 miles around who got to South Georgia Medical Center. So maybe some people would like to come to tonight’s meeting and see what the Lowndes County Commission is doing, and maybe even say a few words in Citizens Wishing to be Heard.

-jsq

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