Thursday, January 06, 2011

Quick impressions from 1st Fayette County Commission meeting of the year

Steve Brown started the meeting by nominating Robert Horgan for Chairman. Allen McCarty seconded the motion. Then Robert Horgan nominated Herb Frady for Chairman and Lee Hearn seconded the motion. The vote was 3 - 2 in favor of Frady.

Next Horgan was nominated for Vice Chair. Both Brown and McCarty voted for the motion.

Quite truthfully, I was so shocked I couldn't tell you who made the motion to nominate Horgan for Vice. I want to say that either McCarty or Brown made the motion. It's a good thing I filmed the meeting so I can view what I missed while I was mentally shaking my head in wonder.

There were a number of things discussed in the meeting, I won't bore you with all the details. I'll be breaking the meeting down via video into the various votes, you can pop over to YouTube and watch those that interest you.

There's one I'd suggest you watch, even though it's rather long. They discussed the East Fayetteville Bypass. The East Fayetteville Bypass was the top priority of previous Boards and was underway when Maxwell and Smith joined the Board four years ago. They stopped the road and shifted their emphasis to the final phases of the West Fayetteville Bypass, phases that weren't scheduled to be considered for years to come.

Due to the movement of funds from the East Bypass to the West, combined with the Board giving an unscheduled 7 plus million to Fayetteville, there now isn't enough money to do the East Bypass. At least that's the way it seemed. They could stop the West Bypass, I think, maybe, and possibly complete a phase or two of the East Bypass. I'll have to take a look at the tape and look into it a bit more to determine whether that last sentence is correct. If you're opposed to the West Bypass, or you live along the East Bypass route, or you get stuck in traffic that the West Bypass won't fix, you may want to look at the video. Or you can pop over to the Fayette Front Page. I'm going to post the documentation on the site for anyone interested.

Back to the rest of the meeting:

Two motions by the new guys (aside from the ones I've already noted) might be of interest to some or all of you. I think both would have been excellent ideas.

Brown and McCarty tried to get term limits for Commissioners, asking for a limit of two consecutive terms. They exempted Frady, of course. He's been on the Board for 18 years (and finally managed to get elected as Chairman). The proposal died with Horgan, Frady and Hearn voting in opposition.

The trio also voted against the Brown McCarty proposal to require that anything being voted on during a meeting be visible to the public 24 hours in advance. I listened to Horgan, Frady and Hearn's stated reasons for opposing that one and quite frankly it sounded pre-rehearsed and like a lot of baloney. Frady said the meetings were going to be different, new era of Frady-ness. I suppose things will be different whether he likes it or not. There is nothing that we won't hear about given Brown's propensity for sharing mightily!

Technically, aside from the vote for Chairman and Vice Chairman, there weren't any 'real' votes. During the first meeting of the month they use the time to discuss items, gather information and then decide by consensus if things should be voted on in subsequent meetings. The last two items I mentioned died and won't be on any upcoming agendas. Maybe in two years. (From the rumor mill, in case you haven't heard - supposedly Maxwell plans to run again. Ditto on Smith. They both ran at-large last time, they'll have to run in their districts during the next election cycle if the rumors are true.)

It was a strange, strange meeting. It's clear that we're going to see a lot of 3-2 votes during the next two years.  It's also clear that we are going to be thrown a few curves. Another thing I have noticed in recent meetings is the high attendance by the public. For years I've been to meetings and in most you could fit all non-staff in the front row with empty chairs. It's been nice to see so many taking an interest in the meetings and I hope it continues.

I talked with Brown and McCarty after the meeting, asking both what in the world they were thinking nominating the only guy on the Board who was slapped with an ethics violation and had a drug arrest and conviction --- during his term as Commissioner no less. I thought about what I'd share from our conversation - both gave me permission to quote them. I just have to tell you though that I ultimately decided it's best that they share their rationale themselves. I just think I'd muddy the water more.

I am still shaking my head about the meeting. I completely disagree with McCarty and Brown's rationale and with their vote to support Horgan as Vice Chairman. Neither of them made the motion because they believed Horgan would be the best guy for the job.

I bet Robert Horgan is also shaking his head wondering how he ended up as Vice Chair. I think most of those who voted for McCarty and Brown are wondering, too.

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