Henry County Election Results

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Congratulations Henry County. You’ve just raised your own taxes. SPLOST passed 54% to 46%.

As my friend Don Henderson opined best on Facebook this evening, “What I would ask is that all of you who voted FOR this new tax is that you NOW hold the feet of the BOC to the fire of priority in the area of Public Safety FIRST.” It’s on all of us now to ensure that this money is spent the way it is intended to be spent with no crony payoffs, golf courses, or “parks” that are really just big swamps. And Hampton, it’s up to you now to be involved with how this money gets spent so you don’t get screwed out of another senior center. Pay attention and don’t ask again.

In the city elections, McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland was handily re-elected with 68% of the vote. So the saying goes “if it ain’t broke…”.

Hampton has a new Mayor. Congratulations to former Councilman Steve Hutchison. Truly a man for the people of Hampton.

Also, I would like to personally congratulate 20 year old Zakery Daniel for his positive campaign in the Hampton City Council special election which he won by a whopping margin of 65% to 33%. Fine young man, he is. Well done, Zak.

And last but not least, Stockbridge appointed “Mayor” Mark Alarcon came in fourth out of four. Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Tim Thompson.

Find all the election results here.

Vote NO on Henry County SPLOST Today

No SPLOST

Today is Election Day in Henry County.

Vote NO on SPLOST TODAY.

  • A 1% sales tax increase on all purchases for the next 6 years.

  • Authorizes the County to incur $100 million in debt that will accrue interest

  • Filled with pork projects such as a senior center and amphitheater.

  • Not enough out of County visitors to support it. Only one annual NASCAR race and new I-75 managed lanes will not have exits for out-of-towners to stop.

  • Many previous SPLOST projects were never completed

  • No guarantee it will be used for list of approved projects.

  • No guarantee projects will not exceed the estimate of $190 million

For assistance finding your voting location contact the Henry County Elections Office at (770) 288-6448.

Please forward this message to your family, friends, and neighbors.

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Public Safety Held Hostage by SPLOST Pork. Solution Begins with NO Vote Tuesday.

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The primary argument by many of those supporting passage of the SPLOST IV 1% sales tax increase is, they say, because it is necessary for public safety. Included in the list of proposed (not guaranteed… proposed) public safety projects to be paid for out of SPLOST revenue are, in part:

  • A police station estimated to cost $4 million,
  • Three new fire stations estimated to cost $2 million each
  • Replacement of two fire stations estimated at $2 million each
  • An unspecified number of police cruisers estimated at $1.4 million
  • An unspecified number of Ambulances estimated to cost $380k
  • Jail Renovations estimated at $5 million
  • Replacement of the 911 radio system estimated at $7 million

Most rational people would agree that there are very convincing reasons for which these public safety expenditures are necessary and, in some cases, even urgent. This is probably why many members of Henry County Fire Department  are supporting SPLOST. 

I would encourage public safety employees to reconsider this stance. Once these other pork projects in SPLOST IV are built, such as the senior center, airport terminal, and amphitheater, the public safety departments will then have to compete with them every year for funding. All of those facilities will require either staffing, insurance, maintenance, or a combination thereof that will come from the same pot of money that pays their salaries and buys their equipment. The General Fund. Either they won’t get the funding they need or property taxes must be raised to accommodate the new expenditures.

However, it is unreasonable and unfair for the Board of Commissioners to force the citizens of Henry County to agree to irresponsible and unnecessary projects as a condition of having our public-safety needs met.

We simply cannot afford to spend $3.5 million on another Senior Center which will only benefit a handful of residents in Hampton. Yes, they were promised one in 2007 in SPLOST III but economic times have changed and the previous administration (including current Commissioner Reid Bowman) is guilty of diverting those funds to other pork projects that benefitted themselves and their cronies. The $10 million golf course comes to mind here. The folks in District Two who were cheated out of their SPLOST III Senior Center and now demanding one in SPLOST IV should’ve been paying closer attention back then to prevent the fraud, waste, and abuse by the Mathis Administration.  It is clearly no longer enough to just vote and then go home and ignore politics until the next election.

Additionally, owning and operating an amphitheater is not an appropriate function of government. Asking citizens to pay $2.5 million for one in SPLOST IV is outrageous given our current economic conditions.

Lastly, The taxpayers of Henry County had no say whatsoever in the purchase of Tara Field Airport in 2011. The deal was struck by the previous administration behind closed doors under the cloak of Executive Session because they knew the public would be outraged. The sole reason for buying it was to reward cronies and donors of Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, State Senator Rick Jeffares, and ousted County Chairman BJ Mathis. Similar to Obamacare, this airport was shoved down our throats and we are now expected to indefinitely support it with our tax dollars. According to the 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (p.4) the airport took a nearly $16k loss last year. Based on its history from when Clayton County owned it, that trend will likely continue.  Now, however, the BOC asking for an additional $1 million to throw down the airport sinkhole for a terminal building. If we don’t, you can forget about any new police or fire stations.

Not. One. More. Penny.

These are just a few examples of how the Board of Commissioners is extorting the taxpayers into paying for the public safety and road projects for which they have a duty to provide to us in the first place. Either cough up money for pork projects, they say, or Public Safety gets the axe. And, for good measure, all your road projects will be killed, too.

The Solution is to Downsize

But if SPLOST is defeated, you ask, how will we ever pay for the public safety and road projects that we really need? Well, here is one solution that could go a long way toward that goal.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley recently made the following post on her Facebook page. We should follow her lead:

NikkiHaleyDownsize

I’ve compiled a list of just SOME of the wasteful and unneeded properties that Henry County currently owns. If the Board of Commissioners were to ask each department, including the Water Authority and the Development Authority, to submit a list to them of all leased and owned property currently in use, surely this list would grow.

HC LandList(Click on the image above to view detailed information of this list in new browser tab or click here.)

How often have you cleaned out your clutter of unused stuff by having a garage sale or, say, listing them on eBay? It’s a good way to get cash to purchase things you do need without using your credit card. The same concept applies here. The County should sell assets we don’t use, don’t need, or cannot afford before we bond more debt to pay for new assets, public safety or otherwise.

We have a golf course, which no government should EVER own;  two “parks” that have sat undeveloped for five years; a firing range which we could keep but sell the remainder of the land it sits on which we cannot afford to develop; an empty bank building for which we currently pay to heat, cool, and mow the lawns; and a half million dollar historic building in Locust Grove being leased to the convicted felon we bought it from and who’s running his private business out of it.

I’m guessing this list is just the beginning of unused or unnecessary assets which the County owns or leases. Selling these would go along way toward funding at least some of the public safety projects proposed in SPLOST IV.

Even if these properties were sold at their assessed values, which are normally much lower than the actual Market Value, we would have enough to pay for a new police station and at least two more fire stations.

The problem is that these are hard decisions to make and harder decisions to implement that would ultimately have political consequences. I doubt most of the current members of the Board of Commissioners would have the testicular fortitude to put themselves in that position, regardless of the benefit to the taxpayers.

In other words, the only way it will happen is if you make it happen.

Send a message to the Henry County Board of Commissioners that we require solutions from  them that do not waste our tax dollars.

Vote NO on SPLOST IV this Tuesday, November 5th.

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Vote NO on Henry County SPLOST IV Tuesday, November 5th

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If you live in Henry County you have an election to participate in next Tuesday. For those of us who do not live in one of the four cities, there will be only one item on the ballot.

SPLOST IV.

The Special Interests and politicians hope you won’t show up.

Over the years SPLOST’s have morphed into a kind of permanent tax where as soon as an old SPLOST expires a new SPLOST replaces it. To ensure that the tax is continued the SPLOST referendums are often held during special elections or during primaries where there is lower voter turnout and special interests can be marshaled to turn out and ensure that the referendum is passed. This off-year election is no different.

SPLOST, or Special Local Option Sales Tax, is a one percent sales tax used to fund a variety of capital and road improvement projects. Here is the actual wording you will see on your ballot when you vote next Tuesday:

Ballot Language for SPLOST IV Program Approved

( ) Yes
( ) No
“Shall a special one percent (1%) sales and use tax be reimposed in the special district of Henry County for a period of time not to exceed twenty four (24) calendar quarters and for the raising of an estimated amount of $190,000,000 for the purpose of financing the following capital outlay projects to be owned or operated or both by Henry County, Georgia, the City of Hampton, the City of Locust Grove, the City of McDonough, City of Stockbridge or any combination thereof: (1) roads, bridges, sidewalks and transportation facilities, (2) public safety facilities and equipment; (3) public works facilities and equipment, (4) public building development, construction and renovation, (5) parks, recreation and community facilities, (6) land acquired for public use, and (7) repayment of any debt or other obligations associated with any of said projects.

If reimposition of the tax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Henry County, Georgia, in the principal amount not to exceed $100,000,000 for the above purpose.”

To be clear, if you vote to approve SPLOST IV, you will be voting to allow the County to incur debt that will be paid back over six years (all the while accruing owed interest) from a 1% sales tax increase.

It’s not “one penny”.

It is a 1% sales tax increase and authorization for the County to incur debt.

Notice too that, even though much effort has been put into creating a list of projects that will be paid for by SPLOST IV, the actual wording on the ballot does not guarantee any of those things. How do you think we ended up with a golf course paid for with SPLOST III funds? That was never on the “approved” list of projects back in 2007.

Henry County is already $54 million in debt  (CAFR p. 128) (thanks mainly to ousted former Commission Chairman BJ Mathis’ unhinged spending spree over the last eight years). And, the Henry County Water Authority spent a whopping 41% of their entire 2012 fiscal year budget on debt service payments. Let that sink in for a minute. Forty One Percent of the entire annual budget for the Henry County Water Authority went toward payments on all the debts they we owe.

Yet, according to the legislation that creates SPLOST (O.C.G.A. 48-8-111(a)(G)), one of its authorized uses is “…the retirement of previously incurred general obligation debt of the county”. Has anyone even heard any of members of the Board of Commissioners suggest that maybe we should pay off our existing debt before we are asked to incur more?

SPLOST will increase our property taxes

Henry County residents pay higher property taxes than 83% of all property owners in the United States. SPLOST’s and Education SPLOST’s are often sold to us as way to reduce property taxes. Yet, in Henry County, property taxes have increased since the implementation of the previous three concurrent SPLOST’s.

According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, the 2002 Henry County tax digest millage rate was 31.89 mills. This was comprised of 17.65 mills for schools, 11.24 mills for unincorporated county (BOC), 2.0 mills for the Water Authority, and 1.0 mill for the Hospital.

By 2012 the millage rate had increased to 36.5 mills with 20.0 to schools, 14.5 to the Board of Commissioners, and 2.0 to the Water Authority.

That’s an increase of 14.46% over ten years.

And, property taxes will continue to increase under SPLOST IV. While SPLOST provides for the purchase of parks, senior centers, airport terminals, and technical colleges, all of these new facilities will require long term financial commitments in the form of staffing, insurance, building and grounds maintenance, just to name a few. These will all be paid from the County’s General Fund which is funded by your property taxes.  More services and more buildings will require more money to maintain them after they are built.

We are also told that the majority of the revenue generated by the SPLOST sales tax will come from those who do not live here. Yet, the new managed toll lanes under construction on I-75 won’t even have exit ramps that would allow out of town travelers to stop and make purchases that pay the tax. We’re also down to only one NASCAR race a year now whereas before we had two per year. That’s whole lot of out of state people not spending their dollars here anymore.

SPLOST is not intended to be permanent tax yet as soon as one SPLOST ends, an immediate push is made to begin a new one. The Board of Commissioners, members of the Henry County Development Authority, (District Three Commissioner Barham appointee Charles Mobley owns Propitious, LLC, the poster of this video ad supporting SPLOST IV), the Chamber of Commerce (click on link that says “SPLOST IV Facts”), and the Henry Council for Quality Growth all begin making wish lists and touting slogan like “Keep the Penny Working!”. Of course they do this because they are ones who will benefit, either politically by claiming credit for the completed projects, or financially by getting the contracts that build the projects.

Fire Stations and Road Improvements Held Hostage

Among the approved SPLOST projects are several new fire stations, which is why many members of Henry County Fire Department  are supporting SPLOST.  I certainly am not against building new fire or police stations but SPLOST is not the way to do it. Public Safety is a normal and expected function which our county government has a duty to provide. It should be funded annually through normal county tax revenues including provisions for its growth.

In fact, I’d like to see the BOC sell off much of the unnecessary land we own. Nash Farm and Cotton Field golf course come to mind. As well, we should be cutting other expenditures that are not functions of what a government is supposed to do for its citizens.  Senior Centers and van services come to mind here. For that matter, why is the Tax Commissioner David Curry driving a taxpayer-owned brand new 2013 $36,000 SUV? These items should be addressed so that we can pay for new fire stations out of our normal budget.

Instead, we are forced to pay for all manner of projects, such as senior centers and airport terminals that we may not want and cannot afford, in order to get the fire stations we need.

SPLOST holds our road improvements hostage, too. Road projects desperately needed in District Four, such as the widening of Rock Quarry Road, will be withheld from us unless we agree to pay an additional $2.75 million for improvements to Kelleytown Park (this amount is in addition to the $3.2 million we paid to purchase this park itself in 2009 with SPLOST III funds).  In District Two we are being told the dangerous intersection of Mill Road at Highway 81W will not be addressed unless we agree to cough up another million dollars for a terminal building at our new airport (which lost money last year, by the way).

In 1869 the Georgia Constitution was amended to allow the legislature to create county boards of commissioners. The maintaining the county roads were such a high priority that it was prevalently placed in the name of the new Boards.

The first “Henry County Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenues” was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1879. One of its primary responsibilities was “to establish, alter, and abolish roads, bridges and ferries”.

The law which governs our current Board of Commissioners was passed in 1974 and it, too, specifically tasks them with responsibilities over the roads of Henry County (Ga. Laws 1974, P. 3680, Act No. 1323, § 16). From the Henry County Code of Ordinances:

Sec. 2-2-37. - Road maintenance.

It shall be the duty of the Board to maintain the public roads of the entire county. Said Board shall have the authority to hire a superintendent of roads and such other persons as may be necessary for the proper working of the roads and building of bridges and keeping the same in repair, and to pay the same out of county funds.

(Emphasis added.)

History in Georgia makes it clear that our roadways have always been the responsibility of County government as a regular function of their regular duties under regular taxation. Yet, with SPLOST, the taxpayers are forced to fund of other expensive capital projects, some of which they may oppose, in order to get road improvements they need. Our Commissioners have a duty to maintain the public roads of the entire County, whether SPLOST passes or not. We should make them.

Taxpayers must pay no matter the cost

The Board of Commissioners says that SPLOST IV will cost an estimated $190 million. There is no guarantee, however, that this will be the actual cost. If the cost to complete all of the projects exceeds the estimated $190 million, the taxpayers must pay it. The Georgia Supreme Court even said as much.

In 2004 the Georgia Supreme Court opined in Haugan vs. Henry County  that when costs of the approved SPLOST projects exceed the amount estimated by the Board of Commissioners, the taxpayers are required to pay for completion of the approved projects as long as funds are still being collected during the term of the SPLOST. In other words, if the SPLOST IV projects end up actually costing $200 million, as opposed to the estimated $190 million we are now being told it will cost, and SPLOST taxes are still being collected during the six year term of the tax, then we must use the additional $10 million dollars collected in SPLOST taxes to complete those projects. Even though the law says that excess SPLOST proceeds must be used to reduce ad valorem taxes.

SPLOST III ran out of money before it ran out time (6 years). But if that is reversed and projects are not completed, we will keep paying to complete them until the term of the SPLOST expires, regardless of the actual cost, which could be much higher than $190 million.

To quote the dissenting Justices who saw this unfairness for what it was:

“Last, but certainly not least, the majority’s decision works a grave injustice to the taxpayers of Henry County.  The result is that the burden of the uncompleted county projects is shifted to the unwitting taxpayer, rather than holding the taxing authority accountable for a seemingly unrealistic assessment of cost and/or project scope.  It forces the taxpayers of Henry County to fund county projects in an amount which was never disclosed, and certainly never approved by them.  In the final analysis, it is simply that the taxing authority should say what it means and mean what it says. The taxpayers deserve no less.”
(emphasis added)

Vote No on SPLOST This Tuesday

Next Tuesday, November 5th, you have an opportunity to give yourself a raise by reducing the amount of sales taxes you pay by 1%.

This Tuesday, November 5th, go to your local polling station and vote NO on SPLOST IV.

Then, demand that your county commissioners, as well as their appointees on the Development Authority and the Water Authority, cut their budgets and reduce their debt so that we can begin to make our fire stations, police stations, and roadways – the things we taxpayers actually need and use and is a duty of our Commissioners to provide to us– the first priority in spending our tax dollars.

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Locust Grove City Council Candidate is Confessed Drug Dealer

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“When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.” ~Noah Webster

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Donald K. Dunlap, Jr. is a candidate for City Council in Locust Grove, GA. According to records obtained from Henry County Superior Court, in March 2007 Dunlap was arrested for Violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substance Act with intent to distribute. The arrest warrant states:

“Donald Kelder Dunlap, Jr. did commit the offense of VGCSA possession of Xanax with intent to distribute when on March 2, 2007, affiant had set up a controlled buy with the subject in the parking lot of Los Avinas Mexican Restaurant located at 235 Atlanta Street, McDonough, Henry County, GA. Subject showed up with approximately 120 Xanax pills in a clear plastic baggie.”

According to the final disposition, Dunlap pleaded guilty under Georgia’s Act for Probation for First Offenders to one count of felony possession with intent to distribute, and a second felony count of obtaining a controlled substance by theft. He was sentenced to five years probation, 60-120 days of Detention Center, a $500 fine, and restitution in the amount of $193.90.

Dunlap eventually petitioned for and received a discharge (Edit:corrected link) on June 4, 2012, which as a “First Offender” restored all of his “civil rights and liberties” including the right to hold elected office.

This is the second instance in this election cycle we’ve seen a candidate in Henry County with First Offender status for a serious crime.

The first was when McDonough City Councilman Rufus Amis, who’s is running for reelection, was brought before the Henry County Elections Board last months with a challenge to his eligibility.The Georgia Constitution states:

Article II, Section II, Paragraph III

“Persons not eligible to hold office. No person who is not a registered voter; who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude, unless that person’s civil rights have been restored and at least ten years have elapsed from the date of the  completion of the sentence without a subsequent conviction of another felony involving  moral turpitude;”

Amis had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for shooting his son – an offense for which he is still on probation – under the Georgia First Offenders Act. However, the  Henry County Elections Board found him eligible to continue his candidacy because First Offender status protects him from being considered “convicted”.

But, just because Rufus Amis was declared eligible to hold elected office doesn’t mean the citizens of McDonough must do so on election day. For Pete’s sake, the man admitted to shooting his own son.

And by the same token, just because the law says Don Dunlap, Jr. is eligible to hold elected office doesn’t mean the citizens of Locust Grove must disregard his past criminal actions. He’s an admitted drug dealer for crying out loud.

Surely, Henry County can do better.

Hampton Mayor Chris Moore Defaults on Taxes; Blames Blogger

The Mayor of Hampton, Chris Moore, is running for reelection. Yet he somehow feels he should be exempt from any vetting process.  Apparently, asking to ensure our election laws are being followed is now considered an “attack” according to an assertion he made on his Facebook page yesterday.

Mr. Moore should know it’s called vetting and when you enter the political arena as a candidate for elected office, it should be expected. Even encouraged.

My blog readers would not be surprised to learn that about two weeks ago I contacted the Henry County Elections Director Janet Shellnutt with evidence that Mayor Moore appeared to have unpaid delinquent taxes. I also made her aware of previously unpaid delinquent taxes by Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon, so any claim by Moore that I have singled him out for persecution is simply not true.

In 2009 the Georgia Department of Revenue filed in Henry County Superior Court a document that said Chris Moore had neglected to pay nearly $1,800 in sales taxes in 2002. My understanding at the time was that Georgia law prohibited tax defaulters from running for elected office which is why I contacted the Elections Office.

In speaking with Ms. Shellnutt, I advised her that I was aware I was not eligible to make an official complaint since (1) the deadline for citizen complaints for the upcoming election had already passed and (2) there was a residency requirement to file such a complaint. I don’t live in the City of Hampton. But, the law does allow her, as Elections Superintendent, to make eligibility challenges up to the date of the election. Ms. Shellnutt asked that I forward Mr. Moore’s delinquent tax lien document to her for consideration so as to err on the side of caution. She put the matter to the Election Board and a hearing was held last Friday.

Moore admitted the tax was unpaid until the matter had been brought to his attention by Ms. Shellnutt. He claimed he had previously disputed the tax but assumed the matter had been resolved merely because he hadn’t heard anything back from the Georgia Department of Revenue.

But if he disputed owing the tax, why then did he agree to pay it last week? Well, he’s running for reelection and can’t very well ask voters to allow him to oversee millions of their tax dollars, while at the same time ignoring his own tax debt. That would be hypocritical, no?

So rather than verify the matter had actually been resolved, he chose to run for office with an outstanding tax debt which caused his eligibility to come into question.

Moore, Moore, Pitiful Me

Because the Election Board found sufficient evidence to question his eligibility and hold an official hearing, regardless of the outcome, Moore was forced to finally pay his delinquent taxes and explain to them the circumstances surrounding it. Yet, now he wants us to believe that he is the victim in all of this somehow.

Prior to Friday’s hearing, I had a brief encounter with Mr. Moore at the Bear Creek Festival. We’d never met before, so under the circumstances I thought I should introduce myself to him. His first response was to ask me if there was something he’d done to make me mad at him. This was confusing to me because most political candidates seem to understand that there’s nothing personal about the vetting process. It is, or should be, an expected part of running for elected office. For him to take it so personally shows great arrogance on his part in my opinion.

I assured him there was nothing personal about it and explained I’d been blogging for several years about Henry County politics in an attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. I said to him “As a citizen activist, I am just doing my job. It’s what I do.” He was quite relieved to hear this and his last comment to me was that I had restored his faith in humanity.

I put my remark in quotations because I want no misunderstanding of exactly what I said. Over the weekend Moore has been twisting my words to make himself look like a victim. Apparently, he, and Hampton City Council candidates Arley Lowe and Fred DeRuvo have embarked on a coordinated effort to use my words out of context by trying to infer that when I said  “I’m just doing my job” that I was somehow admitting to being a paid opposition researcher. I am not.

Arley Lowe has even gone so far as to commit potential libel in order to try and save Moore from this horrible, awful, terrible, evil citizen activist blogger when he wrote the following false statement on his own Facebook page:

ArleyLoweFB 10.4.2013

I never said any such thing.

And, for the record, I have never accepted any monetary compensation, favor, or any form of quid pro quo from anyone, ever, regarding my political activism, research, or blogging. Nor have I ever made any admission or statement saying as much.

Besides, Arley Lowe wasn’t even at the hearing so how would he know what was said there?

Moore is also telling his Facebook followers that I apologized to him. Anyone who knows me knows that this is patently ridiculous. I did no such thing.

For these three candidates to go to such length to try and impugn the character a citizen activist is really quite extraordinary.

The Telling Resumes

Voters have every right to information made available in public records in order to make informed decisions as to a candidates qualifications. How a candidate handles their own finances, to the extent of what is publicly available for us to see, should be a consideration when deciding on who they wish to allow to make decisions about their tax dollars.

For instance, the fact that Mayor Chris Moore had a property foreclosed just two years ago is, I believe, information voters may find relevant as to his qualifications to oversee Hampton’s multi-million dollar annual budget.

Not only was he foreclosed on, but I believe an argument could be made that he actually allowed it to happen.

According to Henry County property records, Moore purchased a home in Locust Grove in 2002 which apparently was his primary residence until he purchased his current home in Hampton in 2008 for $207,004.00.

Records then indicate that in September of 2010, his Hampton home was refinanced in the amount of $207,418.00. That’s more than the original loan amount of just two years prior.

So, if equity was taken out of his Hampton home, why weren’t those funds used to prevent the foreclosure less than a year later in 2011 of the Locust Grove property that he still owned? Someone should ask him about that.

And, while we’re in the spirit of vetting candidates, the voters of Hampton may be also be interested in knowing that, according to the website Bankruptcy.com, just two short years ago a Frederick P. DeRuvo, Jr. of 204 Skopas Ct of Roseville, CA filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Federal Bankruptcy Courts. It was discharged (granted) in October 2011. Online records appear to show this was the DeRuvo’s address prior to moving to Hampton. If that’s the case, this bankruptcy would also explain why Henry County property records indicate he doesn’t even own the house in Hampton where he currently lives.

These are the people who are asking residents of Hampton to allow them to manage a multi-million dollar budget for their city. Surely, Hampton can do better.

Stockbridge Spiral of Corruption

Prediction: Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon will fire City Manager Milliron over the investigation that he posed as a law enforcement officer and he will then appoint BJ Mathis as Interim Manager.

Mark. My. Words.

From todays Henry Herald :

“A truck driver in Laurens County says he wants to see charges pressed against the Stockbridge City Manager, alleging the city’s highest-ranking employee impersonated a police officer by pulling him over in a city vehicle.

David Milliron will supervise the work of the future chief of police for the Stockbridge Police Department after it is formed, but the truck driver, Joe Milholen, said the city manager may have gone too far when he turned on his flashing lights and motioned for him to pull to the side of the interstate.”

Mr. Milliron is indeed a public officer, but I doubt he holds the credentials required be considered a “Peace Officer”.

Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.)

“By statutory definition, a peace officer is any person who is vested expressly either by law or by virtue of public employment or service with authority to enforce the criminal or traffic laws through power of arrest and whose duties include the preservation of public order, the protection of life and property, and the prevention, detection or investigation of crimes.”

That being said, this Georgia statute might very well apply to Mr. Milliron’s conduct (emphasis added):

O.C.G.A. 16-10-23 (2010), 16-10-23. Impersonating a public officer or employee

“A person who falsely holds himself out as a peace officer or other public officer or employee with intent to mislead another into believing that he is actually such officer commits the offense of impersonating an officer and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.”

Early voting begins October 14th. Let your voices be heard if you want to stop this downward spiral of corruption and cronyism.

State Senator Rick Jeffares Power Grab Derailed – For Now.

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Four Representatives from the Henry County Legislative Delegation met this morning to discuss, in part, Senator Rick Jeffares legislative plan to remove powers from the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners and give it to the County Manager.

I have spoken separately with three individuals who attended the meeting this morning. According to all three of them, the four Representatives who attended, Andy Welch, John Yates, Brian Strickland and Dale Rutledge all stated their opposition to allowing this bill to move forward in the House.

Since their rules require that at least five of the eight House legislators to support any local legislation, this means that, for all intents and purposes, there is no road for Senator Jeffares ill-conceived, hypocritical, abuse of power plan to move forward.

Please show your respectful appreciation to all of them.

House District 73 John Yates
404.656.5126 john.yates@house.ga.gov
 
House District 109 Dale Rutledge
404.656.0109 dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov
 
House District 110 Andy Welch
404.656.0109 awelch@swblawfirm.com
 
House District 111 Brian Strickland
404.656.0109 brian.strickland@house.ga.gov

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I would like to publicly extend my appreciation to Representatives Welch, Yates, Strickland, and yes, even Representative Rutledge, for listening to and respecting the will of their constituents in this matter.

Special recognition should also go to Larry Stanley who provided valuable information to his readers in The Citizen Newsletter over the weekend.

Charles Downey also deserves our thanks for making a coordinated effort with member of his group the Henry Community Coalition (HCC) to get involved.

Many member of the Henry County Republican Party also took time to let their views be known on this matter at their annual convention on Saturday in which most of these legislators were in attendance and received quite an earful. Thank you to all of you.

To all of my readers here at Proof of Right, thank you for responding to this call for action. Your responses and concern for our community provide me with fuel to continue. I know my readers are smart and, when armed with information, will continue changing our community for the better.

And, to all Henry County citizens who took action with their phone calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter comments – Congratulations. You made your voices heard.

For now.

Don’t expect this issue to go away forever.

As for Senator Jeffares, I hope he will consider the citizens voices first in the future instead of his own petulant ego. I won’t hold my breath.

P.S. Dear Commissioner Brian Preston, please feel free to make an official appointment to the Water Authority at any time now. We can’t wait to let you know exactly where we stand on that. Again.

P.S.S. I predict that in the next few weeks we will see in uptick in the number of hit-piece articles in the Henry Herald aimed at Chairman Tommy Smith as a result of this episode. It’s their S.O.P.

State Senator Rick Jeffares attempts to nullify election of Henry Co. Commission Chairman

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Herald Legal Notice 3.6.2013This legal notice appeared in the Henry Herald this week. Senator Rick Jeffares is trying to silence our voices by changing the law so that the Commission Chairman, currently Tommy Smith, can no longer vote on matters that come before the Board of Commissioners.

The current Henry County Code reads:

Sec. 2-2-24.1 Additional duties of the Chairman

(a) The chairman of the board of commissioners shall be the chief executive and elective officer of the county and shall be a full voting member of the board of commissioners.

Apparently, Chairman Smith is an obstacle to Jeffares agenda of big government spending (41% of the The Water Authority’s current annual budget goes to debt service) and crony capitalism (See Jeffares airport land owners campaign donations) over at the Water Authority where he, in my opinion, illegitimately sits as a board member.

District 2 Commissioner Brian Preston has been, for two months now, skirting the intent of the law that required him to make a nomination to the Water Authority at their first meeting in January. Just prior to that meeting, Preston felt the backlash from voters who opposed his intent to nominate Jeffares, so instead, he cowardly tabled the matter indefinately so he could have it both ways; Jeffares gets to remain on the Water Authority as a carryover from his previous term, and Preston got to escape any further heat from the voters who opposed him on this.

Sec. 2-10-21. – Water and Sewerage Authority generally.

[S]uccessors shall be appointed by the board of commissioners every two (2) years at the first meeting of the board held in January. Successors shall be appointed for terms of office of two (2) years and until their successors are appointed and qualified.

Chairman Smith has made it known that, if and when Jeffares is ever officially nominated to the Water Authority, he will vote against it. It’s clear this egregious abuse of power by Jeffares is nothing more than a personal vendetta to try and show everyone who’s boss. What a thug.

And here is how we know this is nothing more than Jeffares attempt at retaliation.

Last year when local legislation was put forth regarding changes to the City of McDonough’s Charter, Jeffares said he opposed it because the City Council had not unanimously voted to support the changes. And, the year prior, when local legislation was put forth that made changes to the City of Stockbridge, again Jeffares opposed it for the same reason; the City Council was not on board with the change.

Henry Herald April 20, 2011

“To me, this was a day-to-day operation bill,” Jeffares said. “The City of Stockbridge, as large as it is, needs a city manager, in my opinion. The bill got changed to a referendum in the House. That’s not what the city officials asked for. That’s why I voted against it. If they don’t ask for it, I don’t think it’s something we should push.”

(Emphasis added)

Yet now, all of sudden, Jeffares hypocritically intends to introduce this local legislation without any notification or input at all from the governing body affected by it, namely the Henry County Board of Commissioners. As a matter of fact, Jeffares waited until this last Wednesday, the day after the regularly scheduled meeting of the BOC, for this notice to be published. This was likely a move to deny the Commissioners any opportunity to even vote on the matter prior to the deadline to submit it before the end of the current legislative session.

If Jeffares believes so strongly that the Chairman should not be allowed to vote on matters that come before the Board of Commissioners, he should have introduced this legislation LAST legislative session so that it would have gone into effect on January 1st of this year. But he didn’t, even though he was well aware that in an election year the possibility existed there might a new Chairman. Instead, he wants to change the rules in the middle of the game to satisfy his own personal vendetta. And this, ladies and gentleman is coming from the Chairman of the State Senate Ethics Committee. Shameful.

Additionally, if this was not a case of Jeffares seeking to specifically nullify the election of Tommy Smith, he would write this legislation so that it doesn’t go into effect until after Smith’s term ends in 2017. But there’s no indication that’s what’s happening here.

This power grab stunt would also give control of the BOC meeting agenda to an unelected bureaucrat in the form of County Manager Fred Auletta. This may prevent issues important to the citizens who elected Smith, like ethics reform or selling off wasteful land purchases, from ever coming in front of the BOC to be considered.

Jeffares legislation also seeks to give the County Manager authority to hire and fire employees who work directly for the BOC. Not only would this prevents the taxpayers from ridding ourselves of employees who have contributed to the fiscal mess created by that last Administration, but it would allow Auletta to stack those positions with individuals who would like nothing more than to sabotage the efforts of the Chairman we elected.

The citizens overwhelmingly elected Tommy Smith in order to stop the elite ruling class from holding hostage our local government any longer. Chairman Smith campaigned that his voice would be OUR voice in restoring fiscal sanity and stopping the cronyism to special interests paid for with our tax dollars. That is a problem for Senator Rick Jeffares which ultimately means, YOU are problem for Senator Rick Jeffares. By attempting to silence Chairman Smith he is tying to silence OUR voices and OUR agenda of smaller, more responsible Henry County government.

Take action to stop this power grab.

Contact Senator Rick Jeffares NOW and demand he stand down on filing this legislation that shuts out your voice.

rick.jeffares@senate.ga.gov

Then, call his office first thing Monday morning and demand he stop this assault on your voice. 404.651.7738

Then, contact your state representative and tell them to oppose any legislation that takes the peoples voice away from the current BOC Chairman who was duly elected by the citizens.

House District 73 John Yates
404.656.5126 john.yates@house.ga.gov
 
House District 76 Sandra Scott
404.656.0314 sandra.scott@house.ga.gov
 
House District 78 Demetrius Douglas
404.656.7859 demetrius.douglas@house.ga.gov
 
House District 90 Pam Stephenson
404.243.0200 pam.stephenson@house.ga.gov

House District 109 Dale Rutledge
404.656.0109 dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov
 
House District 110 Andy Welch
404.656.0109 awelch@swblawfirm.com
 
House District 111 Brian Strickland
404.656.0109 brian.strickland@house.ga.gov
 
House District 130 David Knight
404.656.7857 david.knight@house.ga.gov
 
Senate District 10 Emanual Jones
404.656.0502 emanj@mindspring.com
 

Also, contact your District Commissioner and let them know you expect them to take action to lead the effort to stop this. Especially Bo Moss and Gary Barham since they campaigned on giving our government back to the citizens. Let them know that if this passes, it takes their own power to hire and fire their own employees, and they will have to go begging to Fred Auletta for their issue to be placed on the meeting agendas for a vote.

District 1 Bo Moss bmoss@co.henry.ga.us
District 2 Brian Preston bpreston@co.henry.ga.us
District 3 Gary Barham gbarham@co.henry.ga.us
District 4 Reid Bowman district4@co.henry.ga.us
District5 Bruce Holmes bholmes@co.henry.ga.us

You made time during the campaign for your voice to be heard. It’s important that you make time now to protect that voice. Please don’t ignore this. Take action then share this with your friends and ask them to take action. If you get a response from your elected official, post it in the comments below.

For more information on this issue be sure to read today’s issue of Larry Stanley’s  Citizen Newsletter.

Gird your loins: Stockbridge Hires Ousted Henry Chairman BJ Mathis as City Economic Development Officer

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Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon has announced the hiring of ousted former Henry County Chairman BJ Mathis as its new Community and Economic Development Officer.

This makes Mark Alarcon unfit to be Mayor.

Either Alarcon is aware of ethically challenged Mathis’ history of abusing taxpayer funds and approves of foisting her corrupt behavior upon the residents of Stockbridge.

Or, he is painfully negligent in his oversight of City Administrator David Milliron who hired Mathis without any knowledge or input from City Councils members.  They only learned of the hiring at the same time the public did in an email sent Thursday by Alarcon Friday by Mr. Milliron.

And, let’s face it; it would be an insult to our common sense for Alarcon to claim he was not involved in the selection of Mathis for this position.

From what I gathered during last year’s campaign, it was common knowledge that Mayor Alarcon supported Mathis’ reelection.  Additionally, Alarcon’s wife was the vice president of a political organization, Conservative Republican Women of Henry County, which held a fundraiser for Mathis’ reelection effort. That group is led by Sahar Hekmati who was recently arrested for disorderly conduct. Hekmati and Mayor Alarcon are both officers of the Georgia GOP 13th District whose convention was thrown out for flagrant rule violations by the Georgia Republican Party at their statewide convention last year.

Alarcon w Mathis

Left to Right: Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon; Accused Child Molestor and BJ Mathis Campaign Donor who benefited from the airport purchase and Board of Haalth Appointee Billy Abbate; Ousted Chairman BJ Mathis; Former Zoning Board Chairman Terry Echols who resigned in disgrace from Mathis Administration after pleading guilty to charges.

Mayor Alarcon chooses in his press release to try and glowingly justify hiring Mathis based on her experience as Chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners. But the truth is, her record in that position is exactly why he should not her any decision making authority over taxpayer funds.

Mathis facilitated Henry County’s purchase of a $17 million dollar airport which directly benefited its adjacent landowners who contributed more than $15k to her campaign coffers. Her biggest donor from this group was none other than Billy Abbate whom was also appointed to the County Board of Health during Mathis’ reign of terror. He is currently in jail awaiting trial on 24 counts related to child molestation.

Mathis oversaw the purchase of property for the new 911 Emergency facility in which the-Zoning Board Chairman Terry Echols profited $34k in taxpayer money for payment of a real estate commission on the deal. If that’s not bad enough, after being investigated by the District Attorney, it turned out Echols was not even a licensed real estate agent. He pleaded guilty to charges and was forced to resign from the zoning board.

Mathis’ signature appears on the purchase agreement which falsely identified the seller of a property in order to hide the fact that disgraced Zoning Board Chairman Terry Echols’ uncle was the actual seller who absconded with $380k of taxpayer funds.

In the same exact vote in which she spent $4 million to purchase land from the nephew of  the police chief after his zoning request was denied, she also spent $3.2 million to purchase 123 acres for a vacant lot in Kelleytown from her crony real estate developer and former president of the Henry Council for Quality Growth after his zoning request was also denied.

Mathis illegally approved the appointment of former District 2 Commissioner Fred Auletta as County Manager when former manager Butch Sanders resigned last year. The County clearly stated Auletta was ineligible for the position yet she allowed it anyway.

All of this spending that Mathis undertook to reward her cronies resulted in a $10 million underfunding of the annual budget last year which resulted in a property tax increase for the residents of Henry County.

So, that is the record Mayor Alarcon should have considered before hiring BJ Mathis. But instead of protecting the taxpayers of Stockbridge, he’s played her same game of Reward the Cronies.

Gird your loins, indeed.

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