Tag Archives: open meetings

VLCIA pleads technical glitches on web page

Here’s something from the Industrial Authority that never happened before.

The first person I saw going into the State Legislative Luncheon yesterday was Andrea Schruijer, Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA). She spotted me inside, and said “I want to apologize”. Surprised, I asked for what? She said for the date of VLCIA’s Tuesday meeting being unclear. She said she had read about that in this blog that same morning.

She said they had recently changed the way they were handling their web pages and hadn’t yet figured out how to update it correctly. Since I was never very impressed with how it was handled before, I readily accepted that as a good excuse. I look forward to the updates. I’m guessing the new PR and marketing person they’re hiring will take care of this.

She also volunteered that they did inform the VDT and it was in the VDT’s calendar. I agreed that that was so; we had checked, and it appears the meeting was legal because of those notices.

She also said she thought she had said Monday evening, “see you tomorrow.” I allowed as how if she did, I missed it.

In any case, I have to say that her predecessor would never have made that much effort to make amends to a mere blogger. Once again, tiny LAKE is flattered by mighty VLCIA, although in a more positive way this time.

Congratulations on the new industries announced at VLCIA’s Tuesday meeting. Maybe more about those later.

Here’s looking forward to the Strategic Planning Process announced at that same meeting as coming up early next year.


Industrial Authority held unannounced meeting last night

The VDT has a story this morning about an Industrial Authority meeting last night, Two new industries announced by Kay Harris. That’s a bit of a surprise, since they didn’t have that date on their own web page and they didn’t post an agenda. Also, I saw both VLCIA Executive Director Andrea Schruijer and their Chairman Roy Copeland speak Monday night, and neither of them said a word about their meeting date being changed to the next night.

Here’s some irony in the VDT’s story:

Schruijer also discussed the Authority’s plans to move ahead with the Strategic Planning Process right after the first of the year. Following the Community Assessment which was conducted over the summer, the next phase is a full fledged commitment to begin the planning process.

The intention, according to Schruijer and Copeland, is to include community partners in the process as the assessment showed that many in the community think that the various entities work at odds with each other, rather than on the same page, when it comes to economic development.

Why ever would people think that?

According to VLCIA’s website: Continue reading

We’re not done working on this —Jason Davenport @ GLPC 28 November 2011

Continuing the Comprehensive Plan Short Term Work Program (STWP) updates, the chairman asked if the board was ready

Lowndes County Planner Jason Davenport responded:

We’re not done working on this. But if you think it’s time to bring it before y’all.
Later, at about 11:40 in, Davenport clarified:
And the only that’s different right now is Lowndes County. Because Lowndes County did not hold a public hearing as required, so we’re on a different timeline. And if Mrs. Quarterman would have given me about until December 13th she would have seen that.

Because our initial resolution was not the same as the other communities. We’re on a little bit of a different timeline because we have to address that issue. That’s one thing; the county in this instance will be handled a little different than some of the smaller cities and Valdosta.

That would be the initial resolution the county did not provide in response to an open records request about the draft the county did not publish as required by the state. If the county had answered questions weeks ago, instead of waiting until they had to do makeup homework, nobody would have had to ask about it at that GLPC meeting….

Anyway, the County Planner has said there will be a public hearing. However, remember it was the County Chairman who said that the public hearing item on the agenda was not really a public hearing. It’s the Chairman, not the Planner, who sets the agendas for the County Commission. We’ll see what’s on the 13th December County Commission Agenda, and whether it really is handled as a public hearing in that meeting.

Then GLPC Board Member John Page expressed his concerns: Continue reading

GLPC: Greater Lowndes Planning Commission, 28 November 2011

There’s a meeting of the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission tonight. They discuss rezoning requests relevant to the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County, Dasher, Hahira, and Lake Park. We don’t know which rezoning requests they will consider tonight, because they no longer post agendas.

The City of Valdosta’s writeup about GLPC still links to the Southern Georgia Regional Commission pages about GLPC, which is where GLPC agendas used to be, but no longer:

As of July 1, 2011 there will be no more updates to this site. For question contact:

Jason Davenport – Lowndes County
Alexandra Arzayus – City of Valdosta

The Lowndes County government’s website has nothing listed for GLPC, and when you search for it you get:

Search Results: planning commission
No Results Found

Sad, really, considering that GLPC used to be a good example of local government transparency.

Maybe they’ll have an agenda at the door tonight.


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.


Georgia open records law revision

There seems to be disagreement about access to open records in civil suits, regarding changes Attorney General Sam Olens proposes to Georgia’s Open Records Act. There are other issues, as well.

Jim Galloway wrote for the AJC on 1 Sep 2011, Sam Olens, Mike Bowers at odds over change to Open Records Act,

At issue is House Bill 397, which was drafted by Olens and received its first public hearing at the state Capitol this week. One provision in the bill would prohibit those who file lawsuits against state or local governments from using the Open Records Act to obtain records for use in court.
Bowers has successfully used open records to win a lawsuit on behalf of fired librarians. The proposed law would prevent such uses. Olens said:
“What we’re trying to do is incorporate past judicial decisions so we’re all on the same page,” Olens said. “When you’re suing the government, you should have no other advantage that you would when you’re suing a private party.”

The current Georgia sunshine law has two parts: open records and open meetings. Continue reading

Georgia hearing on open meetings law

GA Attorney General Sam Olens is trying to change Georgia’s open meetings law and there will be a hearing on it next week (30 August 2011).

Walter C. Jones wrote for jacksonville.com 5 August 2011, Sunshine law changes to come up in Georgia redistricting session Public records statute is part of redistricting session, says state AG.

Olens unveiled news of the hearing by the House Judiciary Committee while he was participating in a panel discussion hosted by the Atlanta Press Club.

Members of the club offered him suggestions on how to broaden the law to help them get documents from government agencies.

One reporter even suggested extending the open-records requirements to the governor. Current law exempts the governor’s office, but recent occupants have chosen to voluntarily comply in most cases.

Olens said he had to be realistic.

“The problem is I need a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, and I need to get the bill passed,” he said. “Everyone should be subject to the Open Records Act … but you have to make a decision if you want to improve the law or you just want to whine.”

Good point.

AP reported more detail back on 1 March 2011, Georgia may change open meetings law: New attorney general offers many changes, tougher penalties Continue reading

Quartzsite police chief puts most of the dept. on leave for whistleblowing

They were complaining about the conduct of the police chief. He also put them under curfew and selective house arrest. This is the town where activists were dragged out of city council meetings and arrested by that same police chief, over the protests of the mayor.

Tory Rangel wrote for abc15.com 21 July 2011, Town of Quartzsite puts more than half of its police department on leave

An Arizona town has put more than half of its police department on leave and officers tell ABC15 they feel it’s retaliation for speaking out against their boss.

William Ponce said he now feels he could lose his job with the Quartzsite Police Department after he, and eight other officers, came forward and accused the police chief of misconduct and abuse of power.

“I feel this is retaliation against the officers that signed this letter and came forth speaking out against corruption,” said Ponce.

After complaints from officers, DPS launched a criminal investigation into allegations Chief Jeff Gilbert had workers run criminal background check on people he didn’t like.

Maybe the chief felt he had to look into their character. I wonder if he made them all take drug tests?

That was a week ago. As of yesterday, Continue reading