Well, I guess the old adage about "no sense having power if I'm not going to abuse it" has not died, most especially with our illustrious commissioners.
Sound like an interesting start to a story? I hope so 'cause I got another story to tell in how our elected county officials operate.
On Friday 13, July 2013 (perhaps I should have paid more attention to that date), I went to the county commission office (same one where I found them holding the illegal meeting) and requested certain public documents, to wit, the commissioners monthly expense report AND..... travel pay for each commissioner.
They have devised a form I'd never seen before so I'm sure if it's an approved form it must have been adopted at another of those secret meetings they are becoming known for. It bears the name and district of each commissioner, Anthony Bishop, County Attorney and Judy Covan, County Administrator and is labeled "PUBLIC DOCUMENT REQUEST FORM." It goes on to have the requester put their name on the document and a contact number. It then list a place for the AMOUNT PAID, NUMBER OF PAGES AND RECEIPT #. That's the top half of the sheet, the lower half consist of: TYPE OF REQUEST____________
REASON____________________ then it makes the following statement: Please allow up to 10 business days to process your request. A copy of the Policy and Procedure: Pubic Documents Request and Fees is available upon request. By signing below you agree to our policy and procedures. Conecuh County Commission has the authority to deny any request.
Does anyone see the irony in this? Remember the words PUBLIC DOCUMENT? What does that tell you?????? Now, remember the closing sentence, Conecuh County Commission has the authority to deny any request.
Hello!!!!! If they're public documents how can Conecuh County Commission deny anyone access. I refer you to the Code of Alabama Section 36-12-40 which basically states that virtually any and all documents with very few exceptions be made available to the public at their request. Furthermore, Section 36-12-41 states that if a person request the copies to be certified, it shall be done.
Now that I've got that out of my system let me do the Paul Harvey thing and say, "and now, the rest of the story."
Yesterday, 23 July, I went to the commission chambers to request a copy of the paperwork I'd completed and to ask for a blank copy of the Public Document Request Form. I was greeted by Ms. Mary Skipper, receptionist and Ms. Stephanie Brown, Accounting Clerk. I told Ms. Brown that I would like to get a copy of my request and a blank request form. She advised me Ms. Skipper would take care of that for me and that she had some of the requested paperwork done if I desired it, to which I responded that I did. Ms. Skipper retrieved a blank copy for me and remarked to me that Mr. Bishop said I had to put down a better reason to be able to obtain those records. I had put "review" in the reason portion of the request.
Let's do a quick review, I requested public documents, I'd filled the public documents request form and now I've got to give a better reason why I want them. My response was that I DID NOT have to have any further reason nor was a reason required, I requested public documents and I was the public therefore, I wanted the documents. Ms. Skipper popped back at me in a rather hostile voice that "WE have the right to deny that request." I quick advised her in no uncertain time "WE" do not have the right to deny anything, both the Alabama Open Meetings Law and the Freedom of Information Act negated that and it would not take long to get the Attorney General involved.
I could tell immediately that she was upset and I apologized to her saying that I was well aware that the county attorney was the one making those rules but they are not right and I was sorry that I had taken my frustration out on her.
I received and paid for the items Ms. Brown had available for me and left the area after again telling Ms. Skipper I was sorry for being harsh on her.
I received a phone call this AM, Wednesday, 24 July, letting me know Ms. Brown had my remaining document ready. I told her I would come in this afternoon and pick them up.
I get to town and Lordy, Lordy the whole world is abuzz with things. I hear through the grapevine that Ms. Skipper is upset, one of the commissioners has been involved and several other things. I take that with a grain of salt and continue my business. A little later another friendly whisper comes to my ear in that a police report has been done and there has been more involvement. I nose around a little and find out a police report had been made and, when nothing came of that, I'm told David Cook, Chairman of the commission has gone to the city magistrate and has filled an incident/offense report against me alleging disorderly conduct. I have yet to find out what will come of this but are you starting to get a picture here?
In March 2013 Johnny Andrews and I had a confrontation , after three police agencies (State of Alabama, Conecuh County, and City of Evergreen) investigated the incident and filed no charges, Mr. Andrews filled a phony, bogus complaint with the city magistrate resulting in my arrest for harassment. That was dropped like a hot potato the next day, not to Mr. Andrews satisfaction. Let's go with the bullying "You can't do me that way, I'm a county commissioner" moves. First he wants to go after the city prosecutor. He goes so far as to threaten Mayor Wolff in an attempt to have the prosecutor fired. That goes nowhere so....Not to be outdone, let me take my complaint to the District Attorney, no help there, let me go next to the Attorney General, again he does not get the results he wants so.... I know, lets call the FBI. Again, not the outcome he wants so, by his orders and condoned by the other commissioners, my wife and I are subjected to being patted down each and every time we enter the County Government Center. See a pattern of abuse coming on? This pat-down continued until I wrote a letter telling them to stand by for court if it did not cease. Guess what, it ceased immediately but as of yet has my wife or I received an apology for these outlaw actions.
Shortly after this stunt I receive word that David Cook, Chairman of the Commission and supposedly grown up person goes to Mayor Wolff to complain about a city employee having clicked "like" on my News and Views face book page. Mr. Cook basically ask for an apology from the employee that did that horrible crime of "like"ing my face book page. In fact, it was suggested to the employee it could be in their best interest to issue an apology to both Mr. Cook and Mr. Andrews who was also offended by that action. (See the website page titled "Who Do You Think You Are" for more info)
Next we have a county employee getting upset at me for telling him the truth. He concocts a the story that I pull a gun on him. Again, investigated by the Evergreen Police Department with no charges filed. Mr.'s Cook and Andrews attempt to help this individual get an arrest warrant issued against me for this "gun" incident. That fails but.....The very next day it seems a little group of folks visited the County Attorney, Anthony Bishop, and upon leaving his office, a complaint is filled against me for "interfering with child custody" and I am arrested on Friday. Now I'm out on bail awaiting the grand jury to make a decision on these trumped up charges.
I'm of the belief that group of yahoos running the county thought I'd go away when the phony charges and arrest happened. I'm sure they want me to go away.
Sure seems odd when I requested their travel expense sheets they renew their efforts to put me in jail.
What do they have to hide? Well, I have more info on that and I intend to post it soon. I'm sure the county residents will be pleased to see just how our governing body is "serving" the public. Perhaps the public needs to look at how they are serving their commissioners.
I was chatting with a person just the other day and they remarked they're not going to get involved in anything, this is Conecuh County and you can't change it.
I told them that so long as that attitude existed, nothing would change. It's time the citizens of this county stepped up to the plate and demand that which they so rightly deserve. Honest government working to make Conecuh and Evergreen better places for our families. It goes right back to what I've preached for years, you the voter holds the key to correct things in this county. So long as no one wants to get involved or to speak out against the obvious, there will be no better for you.
Right now they are attempting to shut me up and shut me down. Should that happen what goes from there? Just keep in mind what's happened to me and to my wife. When I'm out of the way and it's your turn will you be sorry then you didn't speak up when you had help?
The Truth is the Truth even if no one believes it,
A Lie is a Lie even if everyone believes it.