It’s good to see that someone responsible for allocating millions of dollars
of taxpayer money is willing to answer questions about related decisions,
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.”
I was never asked why we selected an out of town architect, but will
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
At Monday’s Lowndes County Democratic Party meeting,
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.
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,
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.
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?