Tag Archives: 1 October 2012

Library process transparency —John S. Quarterman

John S. Quarterman videoing SPLOST VII Kickoff Speeches It’s good to see that someone responsible for allocating millions of dollars of taxpayer money is willing to answer questions about related decisions, as Kay Harris is doing! It would be even better if there were a regular process by which the taxpaying and voting and library-using public could ask such questions and get answers.

If there were such a process, it’s pretty likely Ms. Harris or the Library Board or the County Commission would have been asked about the architect selection, considering I wasn’t even involved in that selection and my ear was scorched with complaints as soon as it was announced. Maybe Ms. Harris can suggest a way to produce such a process.

Let me take Ms. Harris’ points in order.

“First, they were the only one of the four finalists who did a full cost evaluation of the project, estimating $16 million while others were more than content to use the state’s estimate of $21 million.”

That’s very interesting news, which clarifies for me what she was getting at in the VDT writeup on that selection:

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Why we selected an out of town architect —Kay Harris

Received yesterday on New Library —Kay Harris. My response follows in the next post. -jsq

I was never asked why we selected an out of town architect, but will Kay Harris happily answer that question now. First, they were the only one of the four finalists who did a full cost evaluation of the project, estimating $16 million while others were more than content to use the state's estimate of $21 million. Second, they brought to the project a consultant who is considered the country's leading library consultant; only one of the other four brought in an outside expert. Third, the principals of this firm live right over the county line in Florida—they are within the 50 mile radius that is considered "hiring local", so they are indeed a local firm. They also brought a local engineering firm, from Valdosta, to the table, and have agreed to hire as many subs from the local area as possible. So I truly don't understand the "jab" about hiring non-local… if it was that big a concern, why not just ask me the question? Mr. Quarterman wasn't even in the room at the time I spoke….

-Kay Harris


New Library —Kay Harris @ LCDP 2012-10-01

At Monday’s Lowndes County Democratic Party meeting, LCDP Chair Gretchen Quarterman introduced Kay Harris as chairman of the Library Board. You can see that board in action a few weeks ago in these previous videos.

Kay Harris said she was not there as editor of the newspaper, since as such she wouldn’t be allowed (presumably by the newspaper) at a partisan meeting. She was there as chair of the library board. She said this is her fifth year on that board, and her second year as chairman.

Here’s a video playlist.

She said the county put her on that board to move along the library project, which had been in process for some time. She said she had led negotiations with the City of Valdosta for the Five Points process. She mentioned the Five Points Steering Committee, of which she is also a member.

About the current library building and how the new one would be better, she said,

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Hahira Honeybee breakfast @ Honeybee 2012-10-01

Monday morning was the first event of the 31st annual Hahira Honeybee festival: early morning food and conversation at the Honeybee breakfast.

Food Servers

People eating Gretchen Quarterman and Ashley Paulk laughing

This was underneath the water tower, at the community center on Randall Street, where the Senior Walk is going on this morning.

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Streetlights and Georgia Power @ Hahira 2012-10-01

To get a decent deal on streetlights, a small Georgia city may have to help change the Georgia Public Service Commission. Or, an energy concern in Hahira happened to coincide with a visit by PSC candidate Steve Oppenheimer.

Ralph Clendenin, City Council member, is looking into converting Hahira's streetlights to LEDs or maybe solar. He has discussed that with Georgia Power, which will do it for $250,000 up front. At a savings of $1,000 a month, that would take quite a while to pay back: more than 20 years.

Steve Oppenheimer, running for Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), found the streetlight issue interesting:

Just like you're looking at options the city might do for better choices for lighting in terms of serving the people and meeting your budget, as Georgians we need that, too.

He indicated that there are more solutions than we're being told.

To me what's improtant are homeowners rights, and we get control over the power rates, because our residential rates and small business rates have gone up about 31% in five years.

He brought up Dublin's solar streetlights, and solar for energy and jobs. He indicated energy was a future source of jobs.

What it comes down to is people like you in this room in the small communities figuring out what pieces do we put together to make our community better for tomorrow.

Afterwards in the entranceway, Ralph Clendenin showed Steve Oppenheimer how he'd figured out that Georgia Power was charging about 73% maintenance above the electricity cost of the streetlights. Oppenheimer said there were many options. Clendenin suggested one:

The option I see right now is, the Commission somehow, has got to change the rules on how Georgia Power… structures payments.

Oppenheimer suggested a way to get there:

We need a commission with some new leadership, with some separation from industry, that doesn't have the apparent conflicts of interest.

Ralph summed it up pithily:

Ralph Clendenin: 73% is that forever payment to Georgia Power.

Steve Oppenheimer: It's a great deal, if you're on the right end of it.

What say we change the end of the stick we the taxpayers are getting from the PSC?

Here's a playlist.

Work Session, Hahira City Council, Hahira, Lowndes County, Georgia, 1 October 2012.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).