Drama and power grabs

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If you were looking for something entertaining to watch on television this week, you should have checked out Clay County’s newest drama.

It’s called “Power Grab: the story of a misinformed chairman.”

The story began to unfold last fall when the Board of County Commissioners appointed the Charter Review Commission. Under state law, because Clay County government operates under a charter-based form of government, the county commission is required to empanel a Charter Review Commission every four years to review the county’s governing documents.

According to CRC chair Amy Pope-Wells, this week’s installment of the commission’s drama began to unfold June 1 when she said she received “42 messages” from constituents who were concerned about a Clay County School District employee who was seen assisting a candidate file for office at the Clay County Supervisor of Elections office while, she believed, was on the school board clock at the time of the spotting. Ooh, looks and sounds like a spy drama, doesn’t it?

However, to the outside, it looks like Cornfield County.

“When consulting with the CRC attorney. He advised that we collect all the information and share it with them, with the body[meaning the CRC members],” Pope-Wells told county commissioners Tuesday.

I would have loved to have been able to hear the county commission members’ inside thoughts when Pope-Wells was speaking, especially since she was speaking about something that was absolutely none of her business or that of the CRC.

But, thank God for true leaders like Gayward Hendry. He was the only county commissioner who sought to gingerly tell Pope-Wells she was off base. Way off base, in fact.

“I don’t see as there’s anything to resolve,” Hendry said.

Pope-Wells refused to understand what Hendry said.

Allow me to assist.

You were appointed to attend to matters involving the Clay County government and its charter. The Clay County School District does not fall under nor is governed by the county charter. Deductive reasoning – which we’re supposed to be taught in about third grade if my memory suits me right – creeps in and tells us Pope-Wells did not clearly understand her duties.

Or, she perhaps is attempting to grab some freshly-tilled power of her own in hopes of running for public office herself one day. A lot of previous CRC members have done just that – Travis Cummings, Brian Campbell, Michael Kerekes, to name a few from recent years.

Perhaps, the saddest scene from this week’s installment of “Power Grab” is that the BCC chairman made a poor attempt to tell Pope-Wells that the school district was not under the CRC’s body of work it had been tasked with. Yet, Pope-Wells continued to ramble on giving those attending the meeting in person, online and on cable a glimpse into her really confusing bad information.

She even threatened to hold another CRC meeting if she does not get an answer from the school district regarding the employee’s time card she said she requested as a public document. This is a power grab. Back home in Georgia, I could hear my uncle telling Pope-Wells, “You need to mind your own business and get back to work.”

Her comments regarding the school district, at face value, looked like an attempt to cast shade on that body’s integrity.

And for those constituents who messaged Pope-Wells. Please, take a Leadership Clay class so you can learn more about Clay County or something similar.

The CRC is scheduled to hold its final public hearing on June 13, after we go to press. In that hearing, commission members – if they all show up – have their last opportunity to hear from voters about two proposed charter amendment questions that will be on the ballot this fall. On average, about seven of the 15 appointees have not been attending meetings since the pay hike issue was brought up and quickly passed.

One ballot measure asks voters to modify the current term limit ordinance to allow county commissioners to serve three, four-year terms, whereas, currently the charter only allows two, four-year terms.

The other amendment asks voters to kill a 10-year-old citizen-initiated charter amendment that capped BCC member pay at $37,500. This ballot measure gives BCC members pay hikes for the next four years.

Perhaps it’s time for the county commission to address whether a CRC is an actual viable entity it needs to utilize in the future? If nothing else, please thoroughly educate these CRC members as to clearly what their roles are.

Regardless of what you do, please become informed.

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Pamela Jordan

The BCC members currently make $37.500 a year for a part-time job. This is in the ballpark of the salary a beginning, full-time teacher makes. This says a lot about priorities in this county.

Thursday, June 14