In the wake of all the ethics discussions Augusta commissioners have had thrust upon them, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on the need of so many others in our midst to drink long and hard from that same cup.
* It is all fine and good to hold city elected officials responsible for not following the rules when it comes to doing business with the government they are elected to run, but the minuscule infractions pale in comparison to the gargantuan misdeeds of other politicians, who were far more flagrant in their business dealing with local governmental entities they helped control. Anyone remember this clip, written 11 years ago by Dave Williams, of the Morris News Service:
“Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker agreed to pay $8,500 in civil penalties Friday, resolving an ethics complaint that he failed to reveal his business dealings with two state-funded hospitals…
”…I accept responsibility for my actions, and I have sought to make amends,” Walker said in a written statement released by his lawyers after Friday’s vote. ”Now, I will move on.”
The most serious among several complaints charged that Walker failed to list on his financial-disclosure reports income his temporary-services company received from Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital and the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
The ethics law requires elected officials to report annual income greater than $20,000 they get from doing business with the state.
More than a year after the complaint was filed, Walker amended his reports, revealing that Georgia Personnel Services Inc. received nearly $1.5 million from Grady and almost $130,000 from MCG between 1997 and 2000.”
Kinda makes the “currently accused” look like a bunch of chronic underachievers.
This stuff was par for the course for many of our state legislators for years. Henry Howard always seemed to have business going with some local municipal service, Tom Allgood built a “nursing home empire” on money piped in straight from governmental coffers, George Brown’s family business sold enough food through government programs to feed several armies, and who could forget the aforementioned Senator Walker’s Richmond County Sidewalk Scandal that saw lots of dough flow his way for ill-trained labor who built crap-shackle quality sidewalks that eventually had to be torn out and replaced?
Local elected officials have been sucking from the government teat as far back as anyone alive can remember. So be angry that rules were not followed, but don’t get carried away with righteous indignation. Augusta politicians have a hunger for government contracts built into their DNA.
* I am still compiling data on this, but has anyone noticed how many new faces have popped up (or old faces popped into) in positions with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office since January 1? Tracking the pay of the new folks, there are some veterans lagging behind them who are seething. While Sheriff Richard Roundtree seems to be within his rights creating a bunch of new rules, and arbitrarily throwing out old ones, very few I hear from agree that these are logical or ethical decisions.
* David Kitchens, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, the last 19 of which have been spent with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. It is that agency that is charging him with illegally accessing department records, reportedly at times when he was on the clock with the county, for the purpose of turning the names and addresses of those listed in crime reports as prospective clients to attorneys and others who do business with such people. It is one thing to mine public records on your own time, but if Kitchens was doing it before records were properly filed, cases closed, or for the expressed purpose of putting certain attorneys on the trail of potential clients using information usually kept quarantined for a time, boy is his fanny in a ringer.
As far as the attorneys that may have been paying him to do such a thing, with the added bonus of soliciting prospective clients personally for them, while he was in uniform, the Bar Association is going to want to have a few words with those folks to be sure. As we go to press, it appears the lawyers he may have been working for are all from out of town. Time will tell. You Might Also Like: