It is not common practice or my nature to answer opinions in the newspaper.
I respect everyone’s right and freedom to voice their view as long as it is the truth. Mr. Bruce Pilon in the July 3, 2008, Madison County Journal questioned the Madison County Board of Commissioners’ decision to take away some of the chairman’s power. This action was taken quite awhile back. It is strange that you asked 12 days before the election that will take place July 15. I am going to try to answer your question on why I voted the way I did. This will hopefully clear up any misunderstanding with you, other readers and voters. My decision to take this action was not easy or made in haste. The voters elected me to lead and not be a puppet or a “yes man.” Just before the 2004 election, Mr. Nash stated to me that he runs the county, and he could “make me or break me.” Mr. Pilon, I hope this is not the power you were talking about in your article. In February 2005, I was riding a bus to Atlanta to inquire about getting some business, jobs and grants.
Mr. Nash called me and told me that I would not get any grants. He told me I did not need to go because it would not do any good. After being directly involved in getting $205,000 in local assistance grants from the DCA and the state and helping talk to state officials about getting $70,000 more, I feel the trips were worth it. Later in 2005, we had budget meetings with department heads to cut the budget and save as much money as possible. The budget meetings lasted three to four hours each. We had 14 meetings on the budget and chairman Nash only attended one of those. This happened when he still had all his power. It is hard to run the county when you are not there to see where needs are and where money is spent.
What pushed the commissioners to take action was when we were notified our state mandated audits were two years behind, and we were about to lose all our state funding. Chairman Nash had stated before this that all our audits were current and in good shape. During this process, two $500,000 mistakes were found in our budget process. These mistakes were made over a two-year period by our county clerk. Chairman Nash was asked during a public meeting if any disciplinary action was taken and he said “yes.” He claimed to have given a reprimand on this matter. Five minutes later the clerk came into the room and said he never got a reprimand. There was no paperwork to show that any action was taken. With a lack of leadership, attendance, and discipline what was the board to do? This is when the vote to remove some power happened. This all happened about the time of the attempt to recall me and efforts to remove me from office. Chairman Nash has a county cell phone paid for by the taxpayers and public records state that on this phone he had 34 calls to the recall chairman and 16 to the recall consultant. That is 50 calls in 30 days leading to the recall on his county cell phone. We do not know how many were made from his office. This recall effort cost the county over $6,000 for nothing but a desire for power and control. It seems our chairman has time for recalls, but no time for budget meetings and discipline.
Chairman Nash has problem doing what the board has voted to do on time limits at our meetings. Close reviews of our audit also show about an $850,000 shortage in EMS collections in the last eight years. Auditors stated we were only collecting about 35 percent of our bills. Almost $1,000 bills were mailed out and some were three years old. Our chairman defended the person collecting these bills at a public meeting, saying she was doing a great job. I do not want the chairman’s job or his duties, but I do feel for a person to make a salary of over $70,000 of taxpayers’ money, the above issue should have never happened. I hope someday we will be able to give the control back to the chairman of our county. I have never forgotten the citizens in my district and the power of their vote. The information I have provided is not opinions, cartoons, or campaign lies, but facts that can be verified. Chairman Nash is not my opponent in the election, and I have no political gain in this matter. What I do have is an obligation to make sure that my voters in District 1 are clear about the question that Mr. Pilon asked about in the paper.