REQUESTED TO ATTEND BOC MEETING MONDAY NIGHT TO “PROTECT”
CHAIRMAN BERNARD FROM CITIZENS
deputy was present during the BOC meeting on Monday night
At the last
BOC meeting (7/10/06), Chairman Bernard demanded that a
deputy be present at all future meetings to keep citizens
from commenting during the meeting. This
move is ironic because Mr. Bernard was quite vocal during
several BOC meetings while he was running for a commission
seat and for the 5 month after being elected but before
being sworn in.
Chairman, Mr. Bernard is progressively making the BOC meetings
more and more citizen unfriendly, even downright hostile.
He routinely cuts off citizens during both agenda and general
comments when he doesn’t like what they say. He also refuses
to answer direct questions from citizens, but instead states
that they will have to take up the question or problem with
the County Manager. He gives little attention to those that
do speak by looking around the room, shuffling papers, and
even passing notes to other commissioners.
Bernard has earned his title of “King Jack”.
The BOC meetings are about him, his ideas, and his requests.
He campaigned for open government and promised citizen involvement,
including “town hall meetings.” No one can remember any
town hall meetings being held by Comm. Bernard.
At the 7/10/06
BOC meeting Chairman Bernard stated that he and Greg Williams
had gone over the minutes to several meetings. He then directed
Williams to tell the rest of the Commissioners what they
discussed. When Comm. Pennamon brought up the fact that
the BOC requested Williams to put certain things in the
minutes and asked how it was that the Chairman and the County
Manager decided what would be in the minutes instead, Comm.
Bernard said he and the County Manager hadn’t discussed
it. (The TWG chairman went back and listened to the tape
to make sure this is what happened and who said what.) During
the minutes discussion, which lasted almost 30 minutes,
a citizen made a comment to correct what was said. The gavel
was banged several times and everyone was threatened with
removal if they commented. (King Jack doesn’t want anyone
questioning his power or his comments.)
Later in the
meeting during the discussion of the new Zoning ordinance
--which will require any new house
built in R215 and R140 districts to be 1800 sq ft (not just
new lots, but any existing lot will be affected), Chris
Anderson (Zoning director) was asked who directed him to
come up with this ordinance. Mr. Anderson replied
that the BOC did. Comm. Pennamon stated he wanted to see
the minutes that showed when Mr. Anderson was directed to
do so. Comm. Bernard called for a 5 minute recess. During
the recess, Comm. Bernard took Chris Anderson aside and
talked with him. Comm. Bernard
had been tripped up again, and Mr. Anderson was going to
take the fall for him this time. Any citizen
attending the meeting knew something was up, but everyone
had to wait until the end of the meeting to find out exactly
During the next
item on the agenda (Part time employee for Animal Control)
another citizen commented and Chairman Bernard became angry.
He banged his gavel and the citizen said she was leaving.
He then banged the gavel continuously until the citizen
was out the door and demanded the County Manager have a
deputy present at every future meeting the BOC had.
Is the deputy to be there to protect him or to do his job
of controlling the meeting? It certainly seemed
as if Comm. Bernard was taking his frustration out on the
citizens after being caught in conflicting statements on
At the end of
the 7/10/06 meeting, Mr. Anderson told the BOC that he has
misspoke. That the BOC didn’t ask him to develop the ordinance,
but that Comm. Bernard had
come to one of the P&Z meetings—"as a private citizen”—and
suggested this ordinance. TWG questions
how the Chairman of the BOC can go to a department meeting
(P&Z) and say he’s a private citizen and ask that something
be done. It’s rather difficult to turn down a request from
your boss, who signs your check, isn’t it? Comm. Pennamon
laughed that Comm. Bernard deemed himself a private citizen
in that instance.
TWG encourages the other BOC members to reign in Chairman
Bernard. He is not elected county-wide. He
is elected by voters in his district only. He is then elected
Chair by the other BOC members and basically serves
at the pleasure of the majority of the Board. He
is one of five equal members. Chairman Bernard has built
up his authority and power in his own mind and is
acting inconsistently with his own previous positions and
BOC members need to tone down the Chairman or else elect
someone who can conduct a meeting and show respect to citizens
and their ideas and comments. It seems to us
that the citizens are much better prepared on many of
the topics than the commissioners are. Citizen’s comments
have provided some insight to the commissioners and County
Oh, and the
deputy? He protected the Chairman from 2 elderly gentlemen
at the last meeting. We sure hope Comm. Bernard felt safe.
We doubt he’ll feel that way when election time comes again.
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and
laws being discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.