November 12, 2007

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
--Lloyd Gayton, Pike County Watchdog

JCWSA –Ethics, Open Meetings, and Lack of Memory

The JCWSA will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday night, November 13 at 6:00PM in the Bank of Monticello Annex building. The agenda was posted longer than the usual 25 hours before the meeting this month. It was posted either Saturday evening or Sunday morning preceding the Tuesday night meeting. With the Courthouse being closed Monday, a weekend posting doesn’t let many citizens know in advance, and the meeting date was not in the Monticello News calendar.

The JCWSA agenda has been consistent over the past—all that has ever changed was the date at the top. TWG as well as other citizens have encouraged the JCWSA to not only post the agenda several days in advance, but to also put items on the agenda that will be discussed under Old Business and New Business. The November agenda does list a few items, including “Response from Attorney General.”

There have been at least 3 violations reported to the Attorney General’s office—not posting Committee meetings, not taking minutes at Committee meetings, and problems with the posting of the agenda. Interestingly enough the Attorney General had responded back in November 2005 about complaints. Chairman Pound said, “They just didn’t know,” when questioned again in September 2007 about posting and taking minutes during Committee meetings.

System Operator and former member, Tom Brazil, brought it up at the October JCWSA meeting that “The Watcher” kept track of the agenda posting. There are several “Watchers”, and unfortunately there has to be. With memories of Bear Creek Reservoir and the secret meetings with Newton County Commissioners in the past, every one should be “watching.” Last month the JCWSA went into Executive Session to discuss “Land Acquisition.” Could it be Bear Creek Reservoir again? Newton County says they are applying for permits. Could it be land in the Cedar Creek area? Even if no one is “watching”, the Authority should have the integrity to follow the law.

As questions of integrity and ethics have been posed, Board member Jehan El Jourbagy drafted a “Conflict of Interest” Policy for the Authority to review. After some discussion, one member said, “No one would serve if we passed this.” Really? That certainly brings into question what types of conflicts are being ignored now by the Authority Board.

See link to proposed policy here: http://www.taxdogs.com/111207JCWSADraft2.doc

See Link to State Ethics laws here: http://www.ethics.ga.gov/EthicsWeb/references/pdf/EthicsInGovernmentAct.pdf

Another amusing comment at the October meeting was when Chairman Brack Pound emphasized that the authority had always been extremely open about any planned water lines in open meetings. He said he takes the plans to all the real estate agents in town and shows them the plan. The implication was he’s open and honest and has done his duty be telling someone.

To see and hear more, citizens should plan to attend the next JCWSA meeting this coming Tuesday night at 6:00PM.


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