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Commissioners hear argument against oversight committee

A final decision regarding the creation of an oversight committee as recommended by a grand jury is still weeks away and on Tuesday, Grady County Commissioners heard a strongly worded argument why such a committee is a bad idea.
Whigham Mayor George Trulock requested time on the board’s agenda to discuss the oversight committee proposal, not in his capacity as mayor, but as a concerned Grady County resident.
“This is a really, really bad idea,” Trulock said. He said that if the grand jury believes the board of commissioners is incompetent then there is no reason to have two commissioners serve on the committee. “It makes no sense,” the Whigham mayor said.
Trulock reminded the commissioners that they all asked for the job and the voters had favored them with the vote. “You are responsible for the management of the county’s revenue and road collectively, it’s not the responsibility of an appointed committee,” he said.
“I really believe and if y’all that think it is a good idea should resign this morning. A committee is not responsible, y’all are. Think long and hard about it, long and hard. If the management is bad enough you need someone to supervise y’all to keep you out of trouble or micromanage, how does that reflect on you individually and as a group? It doesn’t say a whole lot.”
Trulock said that there is already oversight in the county through a grand jury. He said that a grand jury can investigate and if action is required they can do that.
The Whigham resident praised the commissioners and noted they had hired a “good administrator” and now have a new auditor and attorney. He encouraged the commissioners to talk to them on a regular basis and take their advice.
Trulock said he had come to speak out in the “strongest possible terms” for the board to forget the idea of an oversight committee. “Do the job you were elected to do,” he said.
Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said that the proposal had come as a recommendation of the grand jury and was not a mandate. The county administrator also said even if the commission moves forward with the oversight committee it would have no power and could not disrupt him and his staff from conducting day-to-day business of the county.
Administrator Johnson also explained that it was the board’s feeling that the group, if formed, would meet infrequently, possibly once or twice a year to review the county’s annual audited financial statements.
“It’s still a bad idea,” Trulock responded.
“We are the elected officials and the buck stops with us. They (the committee) can tell us all they want to, but it will not influence our decision making,” Commissioner Ray Prince said to Trulock.
The Whigham mayor urged Prince and the other board members not to give the committee any standing.
Chairman LaFaye Copeland stated that she did not understand why the recommendation even came up from the grand jury. Johnson said false allegations of false spending had prompted the grand jury to investigate. According to the county administrator, “a great deal of money was spent to investigate a bunch of crap.”
Commissioners June Knight and Keith Moye also voiced their opinion that the committee was not necessary.
“I hope you don’t form one,” Trulock added.
Earlier in the meeting, Tony Ward, a resident of south Grady County, questioned why the board was considering appointing two commissioners to the proposed oversight committee. Ward said only citizens of the county should be appointed and not elected officials. “How would that be with them overseeing themselves?” Ward asked.
Ward also endorsed the appointment of Richard Jordan, a former District 1 county commission candidate, to the committee.
Chairman Copeland reminded the audience that the board was not making any final decisions until a new commissioner from District 5 was elected in the special election next month.
Jordan also spoke up at Tuesday’s meeting saying he would do anything he could to help. He called for the oversight committee to have a defined scope of work. “I’d love to do it,” he said.
The Grand Jury for the adjourned September Term 2018 made a recommendation for the creation of an oversight committee in December to serve as a check and balance on the county finances. That same Grand Jury also investigated the county’s purchase of hay for road department use from the son of Commissioner Prince, but no action was taken as a result of the probe.

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