Tag Archives: County Commission

More County Commission Transparency: Chatham County, Georgia

The Chatham County, Georgia Board of Commissioners has its agendas and minutes online. The agenda for 2 December 2011 does not include the detailed packet materials for most of the items to be voted on. However, it does include a table of dollar amounts and other details for bids that were to be voted on, so the public doesn’t have to go to the work session and scribble down what staff read aloud.

There’s also this interesting boilerplate:

Proposed changes to ordinances must be read or presented in written form at two meetings held not less than one week apart. A vote on the following listed matters will occur at the next regularly scheduled meeting. On first reading, presentation by MPC staff and discussion only by Commissioners will be heard.

Comments, discussion and debate from members of the public will be received only at the meeting at which a vote is to be taken on one of the following listed items.

So in Chatham County the Commission can’t just decide one day to change an ordinance.

Also it appears that the public does get to discuss and debate ordinance changes.

The minutes for 2 December 2011 contain quite a bit of detail as to who said what. Plus for each agenda item that was approved it includes the agenda packet information, such as item IX-2 on the right here, which is about local participation in jail construction.

This isn’t as transparent as Travis County, Texas. Chatham County doesn’t put the agenda packet items in the agenda, and doesn’t do videos. But it’s still more transparent than Lowndes County, Georgia, which doesn’t provide agenda packet items unless you do an open records request for each item you want to see.


Cloudy transparency on RFP & bidding —Barbara Stratton

Received today on Transparency by a County Commission. -jsq
I don’t know how you found this example, but good work & thanks for the research. This is a real genuine effort to produce government transparency. Anything short of this is faux transparancy. Can you find out how the citizens were able to get this good faith transparancy enacted?

I am expecially concerned with the cloudy transparancy on RFP & bidding procedures within our county. Having spent 12 years in government construction contracting I know the detailed safeguards that have been enacted to protect the taxpayers from contracting fraud & crony capitalist back door agreements. It is my observation that these safeguards are being bypassed by end around tactics & the current popularity of public/private partnerships has a plethora of possiblities for good old boy system abuses.

Recently a local contractor started work on an unfunded, unawarded government project that was exposed by the local newspaper. The city’s answer to the illegal contracting procedures was to issue a contract change order for $143,807 with a 10% contingency. It has been my experience that anytime a contractor starts work on an unfunded project said contractor eats the cost of any work completed & all contractors are aware of this rule.

In addition it is a dis-service to taxpayers for that amount of money to be

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Transparency by a County Commission

Here’s what local government transparency via the web looks like. Our county commission could do this.

Here’s how the Commissioners of Travis County, Texas do it:

Video files of commissioners court meetings are available online. Agenda items are available by noon the day after the meeting.
For example:
Voting Session Agenda
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Complete Agenda Backup Materials, 120 MB

This web page version is derived from a manual conversion of the official document of record for the convenience of the user. Travis County has posted this notice and agenda in good faith, in compliance with Government Code section 551.056. Please note that, in the event of a technical problem beyond the county’s control that prevents the county from posting here or that results in an erroneous posting, notice of this meeting and agenda posted at the courthouse remains valid

By “Backup Materials” they mean the packet the Commissioners got.

The rest of that web page fior their 13 December 2011 meeting has video and text for ciizens communications and consent items, plus each item that had its backup information in the Commissioners’ packet is separated out with video, text, and backup links.

And for next week’s meeting, 20 December 2011, the complete agenda with links to Continue reading

Notice regarding videoing or photographing

Through a chain of emails yesterday we received this item originating at the County Clerk’s office.

This may or may not be what the Commission voted on Tuesday. It’s not signed by any of the voting Commissioners or the County Clerk.

It says it’s a NOTICE. Is a Notice an ordinance?

It’s still not on the County’s website list of ordinances.

So many questions!

Cynics might have still other questions.


This is what a mayor with vision sounds like

Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio speaks at 44:25 about
…the nexus between sustainability and job creation. Every now and then, perhaps once in a generation, there presents itself a moment, an opportunity, for those cities that are willing to seize it, to truly benefit the region for generations to come.
Here’s the video: Continue reading

San Antonio promises to shut down a coal plant

We could do something like this. We’ve already made a start with Wiregrass Solar.

San Antonio, the Clean-Energy City? Look out Austin, SA Mayor Julian Castro promises to shut-down a coal plant by 2018.

At an event this afternoon at UT-San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro announced a suite of green energy projects that he said would position San Antonio as the nation’s “recognized leader in clean energy technology” and help fulfill his aggressive environmental goals.

Most notably, Castro and leaders from CPS Energy, the city-owned utility, pledged to shut down one of its coal-fired power plants 15 years ahead of schedule. By 2018, the city would mothball the 871-megawatt J.T. Deely Power Plant — a bold move in a growing state that’s seemingly addicted to coal.

So what are they going to use for energy? Continue reading

Valdosta City Governnment 101

Tim Carroll pointed out on LAKE’s facebook page that Valdosta’s Government 101 will be graduating soon. Jane Fleming Osborn remarked that
It is an enlightening and eye-opening class you should not miss !”
According to the city’s writeup about it:
…is designed to give City of Valdosta residents age 21 and older an inside look at how their city operates daily. Participants will be exposed to all city departments according to the following itinerary:
  • April 4 Introduction to Class
  • April 11 Public Safety and Municipal Court
  • April 18 Engineering, Public Works and Utilities
  • April 25 Financial Administration, Industrial and Economic Development
  • May 2 Community Building and Neighborhood Development
  • May 9 Facility Tour and Graduation

Last year’s class was the first, with 23 graduates.

For Lowndes County residents who do not live in Valdosta, the equivalent is… Continue reading

New Meeting, New Rules –Lowndes County Commission

Remember, the new rules take effect at the upcoming County Commission meeting:
  • 8:30 AM Monday Febuary 7th, 2010: Work Session
  • 5:30 PM Tuesday February 8th, 2010: Regular Session
Both meetings will be at 327 N. Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 31601. Only the regular session has Citizens Wishing to Be Heard.

The Lowndes County front page has links to the resolution the Commission passed last time, to the new rules, and to the new sign-in sheet, along with this notice: Continue reading

Celebrate citizen participation –John S. Quarterman

A message to the only elected body in Lowndes County that represents the entire county. I’ve added a few links, and otherwise what you see is the suggestions I sent to the Commissioners and the County Clerk Thursday after offering them Tuesday. -jsq
From: John S. Quarterman
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 1:40 PM
To: Commissioner@lowndescounty.com
Cc: Paige Dukes
Subject: Policies and Procedures for Citizens Wishing to be Heard

Dear Commissioners,

At your most recent meeting I mentioned I had a few suggestions about your new Policies and Procedures for Citizens Wishing To Be Heard, and at least one of you has indicated he would like to see them, so here they are.

“2. A maximum of 10 persons shall be allowed to speak at any meeting.”
I think that number is too low. On the one hand,

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Biomass Town Hall, 8 July 2010

On July 8th there was a town Hall meeting about the biomass plant proposed for Valdosta.

Pastor Angela Manning of New Life Ministries sums up why she called this Town Hall meeting:

Speakers included: Continue reading