Commissioners and the Public Kept in the Dark

Failure to discuss Agenda items during monthly work sessions keeps commissioners and the public in the dark.   Even though we regularly attend county meetings, we find it difficult to find out what is going on.  Based on commissioners different interpretations of their recent vote on petitions, it’s pretty clear that they don’t know what’s going on either.

Enabling Legislation for the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) requires a Work Session each month for
commissioners to discuss issues they will vote on at the next scheduled Commission Meeting.  After discussing the issues among themselves during the Work Session, they should be able to speak knowledgeably with constituents about the issues before they have to vote during their regular monthly Commission Meeting.

Unfortunately, the BOC no longer has much discussion during their Work Sessions.  Chairman John Raber has, for the last several months, made an announcement during the Work Sessions that there is no need to discuss most issues on the Agenda because he has already talked with each of the commissioners individually; and they already know what they are going to do. 

By avoiding public discussion of issues, Raber not only keeps the public in the dark; he controls the other commissioners.  By preventing them from sharing information, he eliminates the possibility of discussion enlightened by the knowledge and experience each member brings to the table.  He can continue to control meetings and prevent discussion as long as the other commissioners let him do it.

Voters did not elect John Raber to be a sole commissioner.  It is time for the district commissioners to insist upon discussing all issues during a Work Session before they are placed on the Regular Commission Agenda.

The Dahlonega Nugget article on 8-26-09 “Commissioners hear from public on budget concerns” discusses complaints about meetings held during working hours and the fact that the public doesn’t learn much when they attend.  Chairman Raber’s response to the complaining resident was that most of the discussion takes place during BOC Work Sessions with little discussion during the regular Commission Meeting unless there is dissent among the commissioners.

Since the discussion is not happening, it is time we call on our district commissioners to assert their rights and fulfill their responsibility to discuss issues just as they asserted their position in establishing the budget.  The commissioners need to know that we appreciate their questions and comments during work sessions and all their efforts to keep the public timely informed.

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