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Is this the next Fayette Commission chairman?

Steve Brown’s position in play as critics challenge his leadership

If Commissioner David Barlow can get another vote next week, Commissioner Charles Oddo (in photo at right) will take the chairmanship from Commissioner Steve Brown.

As custom for the first meeting of the new year, the Fayette County Board of Commissioners next week will vote on who will be its chairman for the 2014 calendar year.

Due largely to behind-the-scenes political sparring, current commission Chairman Brown will be facing a challenge for his leadership role when the agenda item comes up at the commission’s Jan. 9 meeting.

Commissioner David Barlow confirmed Monday that he will support Commissioner Charles Oddo for chair this year, in large part because he feels Brown lacks true leadership skills. Barlow noted that his first preference was to have Commissioner Randy Ognio as chair, but Ognio is far too busy with his electrical business to have the time to handle the role.

While Barlow was complimentary of Brown’s work as a county commissioner, he had harsher words for his work as commission chairman.

“I have said publicly to a number of people that I think that Steve Brown is a dictator from his keyboard and that he is not a leader,” Barlow said. “... I’ve said that publicly bunches of times.”

Barlow’s keyboard comment stems from his unease with Brown writing letters to the editor and blogs which Brown signs at the end as “Fayette County Commission Chairman.” Barlow contends if Brown wants to publish his title with such writings, he should get input from his fellow commissioners before sending them, or instead simply sign it in his individual role as “Fayette County Commissioner.”

Below, left, Commissioner David Barlow.

“It gives the indication that we are in agreement with him, when actually we may not be in agreement with him,” Barlow explained.

Barlow said he has asked Brown to stop that practice “and he refuses to honor that.”

Barlow claims that Oddo already has experience with handling public relations duties for his company and will handle that portion of the job very well.

Brown contends Barlow’s problem is more of a personality conflict that developed early this summer when Barlow vocally supported then-Water System Director Tony Parrott in the middle of the weeks-long crisis involving foul smelling and bad tasting water delivered to homes, restaurants and businesses in the county.

Brown on the other hand was publicly critical of Parrott and urged for him to be fired, but ultimately with the support of the commission Parrott initially was disciplined instead of demoted, and several weeks later he was demoted for failing to make adequate progress on recovering from the foul water problem.

Parrott weeks after the incident admitted that he had incorrectly guessed at the cause of the smelly, foul water which was later attributed to equipment problems and improper procedures undertaken at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant.

While the commission chairman’s role largely involves running the meetings, whoever is chairman by law is a voting member of the Atlanta Regional Commission, a planning agency for the 10-county metro area which controls the purse strings to federal and state transportation dollars.

Brown contends that he has been able to successfully lobby for $8 million in land acquisition funds for interchange improvements at Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 74 just across the county line in Fairburn where many Fayette residents meet a choke point during their daily commute.

Brown said he is still pushing for a partial cloverleaf design that would allow southbound traffic leaving the interstate to spiral up to Hwy. 74 so it could merge into the southbound lanes, but the Georgia Department of Transportation hasn’t made a final decision yet.

Barlow, citing unnamed sources he has spoken to privately, counters that Brown is despised by his counterparts at the ARC to the point where they do not want to work with him on Fayette projects.

Barlow contended that Oddo would be a better fit with ARC in terms of working with other regional officials, and he added that Public Works Director Phil Mallon is really the county’s point man for transportation issues in the region.

“He understands the road conditions, the road needs, what the Georgia Department of Transportation will do,” Barlow said. “... Brown actually interferes with our ability to get along with, and potentially make long term arrangements with, the ARC.”

Brown said if Barlow’s goal is to agree with every cause advanced by ARC, then it would be counterproductive for Fayette County, in large part because Brown contends that attitude is what got Fayette included in a regional mass transportation plan several years ago.

Barlow also claims that Brown is interfering with regular county government operations, and he pointed to a push Brown is making to install a four-way stop on Redwine Road at the intersection of the Whitewater Creek and Highgrove subdivisions. Barlow says Brown promised the four-way stop to residents, even though it doesn’t meet the county’s regulations that require proof that a four-way stop is necessary.

Brown says the county should look at changing those regulations to accommodate a four-way stop, particularly because there have been close calls with golf carts crossing Redwine Road from one subdivision to the other. There is no room to put a tunnel under the road, Brown noted.

Below, left, current Commission Chairman Steve Brown.

When the matter is brought up for a vote by the commission, Barlow is free to vote against it, Brown said.

“I think everything I’m going to do from this point forward, he’s just going to kick sand at it, I guess,” Brown said.

Earlier this year, a provision of the county’s ethics ordinance prevented commissioners from becoming involved in dealing with county staffers; instead a previous informal policy was to have commissioners take issues to the county administrator to be handled appropriately as he saw fit.

But the current commission eliminated that restriction from the ethics ordinance earlier this year, citing that it prevented them from doing something as mundane as informing staff that a restroom was out of toilet paper, for example.

“It is what it is,” Brown said of his conflict with Barlow. “Unfortunately it’s more of a personality thing than an issues debate.”

Brown said he has tried to be “very civil and very professional about the way we conduct our business, and we have been extremely open and extremely transparent and have tried to reach out to the public whenever possible and I think we had a lot of productive results to show for it.”



Surely you know that we HAVE an experienced Administrator who manages the day-to-day business & activities of the County Govt. And if you want to get rid of amateurs, let's start at the top of the US Govt!

Yes, I am aware that Fayette County has an experienced administrator. But he is appointed by the county commissioners and that is not what I was referring to.

Most U.S. counties use one of three forms of government.

The largest number of counties use the "commission" form, in which a board of commissioners -- or sometimes a lone commissioner -- runs the county’s day-to-day operations.

The second is the "administrator/manager" form of government, by which commissioners hire someone to run the county’s operations, like Fayette County. And in Georgia, In Georgia, about two-thirds of the state’s 159 counties use the administrator/manager form.

The third is the "elected executive" form where county residents vote for someone to lead and run the government.

More counties are moving toward hiring an administrator (as Fayette County does) or electing an executive because of the array of duties associated with operating a county government and as things get more complicated and counties have more services to provide.

My original comment was in response to the amateurs we seem to keep electing here in Fayette County to serve as county commissioners.

Maybe its time to have a dialogue about the third option where we elect a professional to run the county in a professional manner and take the reins from people like The Brown Clown and The Silver Haired Preacher Man.

mudcat's picture

Shelia Huddleston would have solved 2 problems for us - we would never have seen Barlow on the dais and she would have been easily tapped to be the chairperson - keeping Brown and his letter writing on the back bench. See how nice and easy that would have been.

Need I again mention Cyndi Plunkett being rejected for the Haddix goofball? People called her a developer's tool. So what? We wound up with just a tool.

I don't think the system is broke, I think the voters need to step it up a bit and do some research. I also think that Cal used to provide a great service with an extensive Q & A format right before elections. Think that was scrapped because of lack of advertising revenue or something. But it was good and you could learn something about the candidates.

If only, mudcat. I'm with you on Sheila and Cyndi. I don't know what it is with Fayette and PTC voters except people 'round here are more interested in keeping their golf carts charged up than taking the time to vote. And the ones that do vote seem to be one note voters and fall for the "no-growth" spiel spouted by the likes of The Brown Clown and Donnie Darko. I'll give them credit though...they know how to stoke the fires of anti-development and keep the sheeples scared of a Kohl's store. I'm not for unbridled growth but there are more issues than growth facing us and it would behoove voters to look at those other issues when voting. Said it before....will say it again. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his study of “Democracy in America”, we get the government we deserve. And if we keep electing Brown Clowns and Donnie Darkos then we deserve what we are getting.

ginga1414's picture

While John Munford has given us Commissioner Barlow's opinion, and he has included a few comments from Commission Chairman Steve Brown, he should have interviewed Commissioner Oddo.

Even though Fayette taxpayers don't have a say in who the next Commission Chairman will be, I think we should certainly have a comparative interview from Mr. Oddo.

First, if Barlow had a brain, he wouldn't have played this out in the paper.

However, since he likes the spotlight, he opened his pie-hole and shown his true self to Mr. Brown and FC.

Once Barlow spoke, Oddo should have been interviewed along with Ognio and McCarty in order to get the whole picture.

However, what have any of the 3 had to say or do, this past year?

That's exactly what I would have expected him to say. Bluster, as some have and do demonstrate, is simply not his style. Because he reacts in a considered, careful manner, you would be mistaken to think that he is a pushover for someone else's position on any issue.

He's been in another country for the holidays.

Getting too involved, yet he is following health inspectors doing their jobs inspecting restaurants in his town of Tyrone.

Why is that?

I suspect he would tell you it has to do with being a member of the Board of Health--but then again, maybe he's just looking for a safe place to eat!

Sort of a ride along to learn
Is he getting too involved in the day to day?

Just happened to be inspecting Tyrone. Coincidence?

All commissioners were elected at large by the people to represent the whole county. All five have the same status.

The chairman is elected by the five commissioners to represent the commissioners.

When a commissioner signs a letter chairman, he is then representing the other commissioners. If he is unwilling to share what he is doing with the commission, the other commissioners have the right to feel outraged at the lack of respect for their opinion or position.

Who spoke to the press first on the subject of chairman? Mr. Brown or Mr. Barlow?

Who would benefit more by causing a stir? The story seems to have ignited the cyber bullies against Barlow. I think Mr. Barlow was asked a question by the Citizen concerning comments made by Mr. Brown. He did not start the story.

Any of the five commissioners would be able to run the meetings.

The commission has done a good job with its public face and I suggest they be left to determine the leadership among themselves.

It is my understanding that commissioner contact with county employees is to be limited and county employees are directed by the county administrator, not a commissioner.

All 5 commissioners voted themselves the option to interact with county employee business. Some of us saw this as wrong, but Barlow wants to make sure there is TP in the restroom and his Tyrone restaurants pass the health code. We all knew Mr. Brown would push the envelope.

I don't consider Mr. Brown using his title in his letters as speaking for all. For gosh sakes, they all think its impressive putting their titles on the Facebook pages.

All I know is my personal dealings. When I wrote to all, I got responses from Mr. Rapson, Mr. Brown and Mr. Barlow. None of the other 3 knuckleheads took the time to care about my issue.

Mr. Rapson and Mr. Browns responses were quick, factual, and provided me the options I needed to know. Mr. Barlows response was dismissive, saying, he would allow someone else to respond. Both Mr. Rapson and Brown followed up with me. Mr. Barlow and the other 3 still have not and unless I see a complete turn around, will not be on my next ballot.

This doesn't seem like a story started by the chairman. It appears Mr. Barlow wasn't bright enough to keep his opinion to himself and just vote for who he wanted.

Tell me Voter, or anyone else. Can you provide me 4 demonstrations of leadership for each commissioner, and then tell us who and then why one would be best in front of the ARC and state in getting FC it's just due.

I think the paper could and should clear up who brought this subject to life.

Mr. Barlow is on the Health board and the State does the inspection. I understand that all commissioners are offered the opportunity to ride along and observe the inspection.

Limited contact by commissioners with directing county employees was the intent of the change. Mr. Rapson is the main contact for commissioners to deal with county employees.

I have confidence in all members of the commission and all would do well as chairman. It is a shame that this matter was not handled internally. Rotating a chair person would be a good idea. Who let the cat out of the bag?

Should never be able to contact county employees. It places undue pressures on them to perhaps do something they are uncomfortable doing, out of fear. If a commissioner wants something, they should go thru proper channels.

Now we see why.

You didn't answer my question. It's been a year. Name 4 things each commissioner did individually to show their leadership. I just want to see what some have done to be worthy of the leadership position. Change is good if people have logical reasoning. Personality clashes will happen in every group.

Did you read the news story???

“I have said publicly to a number of people that I think that Steve Brown is a dictator from his keyboard and that he is not a leader,” Barlow said. “... I’ve said that publicly bunches of times.”

Who in the heck do you think started it??? Duh!

Shame on David Barlow and Charles Oddo for going all over the county and spreading this kind of trash talk in public!!! NO CLASS!

Pls provide an example of Comm. Oddo doing what you have accused him of doing--don't think you can find one.

Do you really think that Charles Oddo and David Barlow are not in cahoots on this???

It ain't rocket science.

So is that your final answer? No proof huh? That's what I thought--and you talk about 'class'!

NUK_1's picture

Of all the county commissioners, he's the one I thought would be the best to serve and definitely supported him when he ran and was subsequently elected It's a shame that a spat with Brown and Barlow has his name being thrown around(and he totally denied it anyway just to make it clear.)

This isn't a power-play by's Barlow going off the rails yet again and dragging him into this soap opera that sounds more like a lover's quarrel between him and Brown.

I don't believe Oddo started this at all. I understand he has been out of the country visiting his wifes family.

This is all Barlow and its being fueled by an ex PTC councilman.

I have to disagree with you on the chairman though. Oddo is a nice guy, but he's not chairman material.

No matter how much we all dislike Mr. Browns past, he has improved, and he was the only commissioner who had an actual opinion on the water problems. Yea, Barlow had an opinion but he likes biblical water (Thanks Mr. Sullivan. We are going to need someone to lead the water fix once the report is complete. 4 of the 5 on commission have shown no leadership.

The Board of Commissioners doesn't need to be micro-managing Steve Rapson. He gets paid to make things work and that includes the Water System and our new Water System Manager. Obviously he inherited a system that where true management and leadership had been missing for some time.

I never said the BOC was to micro manage. We all know that's Rapsons job. However, there will be a lot of decisions that must be made with the methods and costs for the fixes. Having someone with limited experience will not be in the best interest of the county.

I don't want them to micromanage. But I do expect them to have an opinion of the water system. Only one person had the guts to put it out there.

I certainly understand that this problem was 20 years in the making and of NO fault to present commission.

And by the way, there are more than one on the board micromanaging now.

So would you share with us just who--in your view, is micromanaging who? A charge like that deserves amplification/clarification or else it has zero credence.

Steve Brown's picture

None of the commissioners is micromanaging anything.

We do have commissioners pitching-in at times, mainly meeting with constituents and researching things, due to low staffing levels, but this is done in conjunction with the County Administrator.

The Board of Commissioners doesn't need to be micro-managing Steve Rapson. He gets paid to make things work and that includes the Water System and our new Water System Manager. Obviously he inherited a system that where true management and leadership had been missing for some time.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Who dat? Rapson was a city councilman abour 10 years ago, but I don't think he turned on Brown - yet. That will happen eventually, BTW.

Who else? Deinhart? I thought that was you or you were Deinhart.

I guess Haddix was a councilman first, but he has disappeared.

Can't think of anyone else pulling Barlow's string.

And I disagree with you - Oddo would be a great chairman. You have obviously lived through Brown and Haddix and their antics and think that's normal behavior for a leader. No, its not. Let's try calm and mature for a change.

Live free or die!

There is a new blog making the rounds and it certainly shows someone's colors. You can find it pretty easy if you do a search.

Oddo is a nice guy, but not a leader. When the water issues hit the fan, we are going to need a bulldog.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

In fact, the slobber from a bulldog will stain your yuppie corduroys. You don't make any sense. Who is the ex-councilman you keep referring to and what is that all about? Huh?

Live free or die!

Start looking at Facebook. Type in some names and you can figure it out

Steve Brown's picture

There is a lot more to this.

Unfortunately, people all over the county, from the Chamber of Commerce and non-profits to homeowners associations, had been fed the grievances from the commissioner over a period of time.

It all comes down to whether you think the Water System and the old management was doing a good job or not. This was the real crux of the disagreement.

I truly wish we did not have the significant problems with the Water System and I also wish that we did not have to recently approve around $330,000 for engineers to come up with what will probably be an expensive fix to the facilities, but it is what it is.

There was no way I would defend the Water System Director and I could never say the Water System was in good working order.

If that costs me the chairmanship, so be it.

If there was ever was a better reason for a Chairman of the BOC to speak publicly to those who use the water system in this county about a complete and utter failure of duties, responsibility and public trust than what Tony Parrott did this past summer, well, someone make it public, please.

As established by the Georgia Constitution and the Official Code of Georgia, County Commissioners in this State, including Fayette County, are charged with the responsibility of providing a system of local government services designed to "protect the health, safety, and welfare" of their citizens. County Commissioners are empowered to make policy and pass laws if necessary to meet their responsibilities.

I, myself, would rate safe drinking water right above public safety and any other health issue imaginable. Number 1 on the charts that, ultimately, any county commission board member is responsible for.

The paragraph above came directly from the county website under FAQs for BOC.
According to the most recent CAFR posted online, dated June 30, 2012, there are 27,821 customers of the county water system. Customers, not users. Multiply customers by how many have children, family members, employees, and customers (commercial businesses) using their customer water (account) and you would have an idea of the many more thousands of people who actually use the water provided by the county water system.

On August 15th, the EPD published a list of 10 drinking water rule violations,147 deficiencies in the water system and recommended that Parrot and 4 other employees be investigated for fraud, deception and/or incompetence. The very next evening, Barlow ranted from his seat in commission chambers, "I am taken aback by the unsubstantiated allegations being made against Mr. Tony Parrott, our water system director."

My, my, Mr. Barlow, unsubstantiated allegations? Let's see now, we had water that smelled and tasted like dead fish, we had dark brown water pouring out of water faucets, AND we had the State of Georgia listing actual violations of the law. With all of that, we had the one person in charge of making sure NONE of that happened, saying publicly, he guessed at the causes of the water issues. Guessed. For over $100k a year, with bennies, 30 years in the biz, a title of director, and he guessed.

Mr. Barlow, with your defense of this manager, where do you feel your actions have upheld your oath that you swore to the citizens of this county?

How else would any county chair make public this type of neglect without stating publicly he abhorred the neglect by the manager in charge?

How else would any county chair let the users of this precious water we all take for granted have acted, other than to make immediate and sweeping changes to the whole operation?

I, for one, am glad that this chairman took control, publicly and quickly, and if it was messy, upsetting, and not quite to your liking, well, see you at the polls, if not sooner.

This tirade of yours against the chairman speaks more of you, your character and your lack of leadership skills than anything else you have NOT accomplished in your term of office.

I don't always agree with Mr. Brown, but he took charge and actually had an opinion. And guess what, he was right.

Mr. Barlow was 100% wrong, made a fool of himself, and the other 3 had no opinions.

No .... Opinions? That's not leadership

We're about to be hit with some serious water issues in 2014. In my mind, the only one to walk us thru this is Mr. Brown. All the other lack the chutzpah.

Let them vote like they think they must, but I can assure you, like Mr. Brown or not, he's the only one of the five with the gumption to get us clean water quickly.

I read a blog this morning that credits Barlow with the following statements.

"Brown anti-social and would not even come out to celebrate Christmas with the various department heads and their staffs. Barlow alluded that Brown only made an appearance after being “shamed into an appearance” by another County official."

"Brown is a “Digital Dictator” who rules by authoring letters to the editors, without talking to the various citizens of Fayette County."

So let me get this straight. Barlow is upset because Brown couldn't attend all of the county Christmas parties? Really?

Then he gets upset about Browns writing letter to the editor. Gosh Mr. Barlow, why didn't you have this problem when he was writing letters on your behalf to get you elected.

Commissioner Brown and I have disagreed on issues in these blogs and in the paper. I did not vote for him. However, I have been rather pleased with his perfromance to date and more importantly his focus on behaving in a mature manner on our behalf. Do I agree with all his actions no, but he deserves credit.

The biggest disagreement seems to be what to do about our water. Mr, Brown seems to think we should have clean modern water where Mr. Barlow seems to accept a more biblical taste to our water.

But what is Mr. Barlow's vision? What is his end game? More importantly who is behind his actions? Some have expressed regret how public this has become. I disagree. To the discomfort of some, actions like this need daylight and citizen input to guide what is best for Fayette not what is best for some in shadow. Mr. Barlow come out and discuss in your name like me and Commissioner Brown.

In 2014 let's disagree where we must but lets find places where we can work together on common ground for the good of the people of Fayette County.

Take Care,


I like that Mr. Sullivan. Wish I thought of it, lol.

I don't know about anyone else, but I would like good, clean water for my family. Maybe Mr. Barlow prefers to change his water to wine in order to purify, lol.

I'm like you and call it like I see it. This past year, Mr. Brown exceeded my expectations. He is the only leader of the group, and the only one to offer an opinion of the water issues. When it comes to something important like water, I expect each on commission to have an opinion.

Mr. Barlow thought too highly of the former water head. Perhaps that he is getting too close to the county employees while enjoying their Christmas parties and condemning others if they don't have time to make all of them.

If anyone thought the stormwater splost was big, wait. About mid year, we are going to see a huge water splost or increase. Mark my word.

This is one of the big questions. We need our commission to let the employees to do their jobs but to also set the vision and oversee the work done. In the case of the water, any Fayette County employee who thinks Mr. Parrot did his job needs to be drug tested. Those who pass lake water off as clean should be stoned with stones (Leviticus alternate translation)not given a slap on the wrist.

But this is the challenge we see it at the county, city and BOE level. I won't say we let the inmates run the asylum as we have many good hard working folks. With many long tenured employees, changes in the commission or other elected bodies is often the only opportunity to expose our processes and systems to fresh eyes and outside experience. We need to always question as what has worked in the past may not be what works in the future.

Trust but verify

Trust but verify.

Our water is our most vital resource. We have members on the water committee that designed and were the engineers of record. Of course they are going to hide any problems.

But when the problem hit the fan, I expect our commission leaders to at least have an opinion. Brown was right, Barlow was wrong, and the 3 others had no opinion. Hands off.

I don't want commission meddling in the day to day stuff, but I do want them to be honest about the issues and certainly have an opinion.

Off the subject now, I see a former city councilman is stoking the fires on this issue and also PTC City Council warning the new council members to beware of the existing 3 having political agendas. Not good.

I got an email about that blog this weekend. My email was attached to full name which suggests to me that it was given by the republican party.

I have done it with the Visioning so I will not claim to be blameless, but it seems with this, there is something else going on. It almost seems Captain Brown brought these guys to power and not the pirates are making him walk the plank. Before we imagine Commissioner Brown as a modern day Jack Sparrow.

It is interesting to see Barlow and Deinhart who are TEAs as is Mr. Ross king of visioning. I almost believe their actions are not as sinister as it all suggests but where there is stink there is poop.

take care and Go Noles


Brown, Barlow, Oddo, Ognio, and McCarty (aka BBOOM-ers of Fayette) have all just announced they are giving up their seats a week from Friday. They said they cannot enjoy one more moment together than already necessary, so they are having a raffle to the highest bidders:

The Premier Gala Celebration; Pinewood Studios

An evening of elegant cinematic excitement. 6:30PM arrival, 7PM hors d'oeuvres reception and a 7:45PM Premier Experience and stage tour to follow.

A golf cart procession down Hwy 54 will begin at 10PM, to move the after-party crowd to Truitt's Hawaiian Luau till 1AM, when they will have a brief but oh so Pineywood skinny dip in the waterfall (no tiki torches allowed) and then move further down Hwy 54 to Twisted Taco, where a burrito apres-party breakfast will be served till sun-up on the Lido deck up above. Sheriff Babb will provide the necessary rolling roadblock for all of the above and the state and local politicians will provide the necessary gas.

The BBOOM'ers announced they will be just too tuckered out after all the frivolity earlier Friday from the FC Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon from 11:30AM to 2PM at the Dolce, where Bob Ross, Vicki Turner and Doug Warner will hand out the most coveted award for OutStanding in a Fayette Field of Wheat Development Achievement to Brian Cooper, Frank Blake and Ivan Dunleavy. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Donald will be handing out a Disneying array of keepsakes honoring the announcement of the new Star Wars Theme Park to open in 2016 on Old Farm Rd. in Woolsey.

Harrison, Carrie and Mark will be red carpeted in from the Millennium Falcon via our very own Falcon Field. Klieg lights will shine all over the vast quietness of this rural and peaceful county, ushering in the dawn of a new and glorious beginning. (from the Book of G. Lucas, Vol. 3, Ch. 9, Verse 2:6)

May The Force Be With You.

Amen. (Yes, I do believe I may have brain freeze...12 degrees worth)


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