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Should elected officials judge other politicians?

Former Commissioner Lee Hearn has left an unfortunate legacy when it comes to appointments to local government boards.

Most will remember the infamous appointment Commissioner Hearn made to the Board of Elections. A name popped up on an agenda and the person was going to be immediately voted in with no questions asked. Fortunately, Commissioner Steve Brown and Commissioner Allen McCarty objected to the appointment, saying they received no background material on the appointee.

When Commissioner Brown asked about the appointee, Commissioner Hearn said the gentleman was “a friend of his from church.”

After the appointment was made the following meeting, it was discovered that Commissioner Hearn had appointed a relative, not a friend from church, to the board that was going to oversee his bid for re-election.

Just recently Commissioner Hearn appointed Brooks Mayor Dan Langford to the county’s Ethics Board. If you will remember, Mayor Langford’s picture appeared on many of Commissioner Hearn’s election campaign advertisements along with bold endorsements.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder if you’re a political enemy of Commissioner Hearn that it could affect your outcome in an ethics hearing.

Commissioner Brown raised an objection to Mayor Langford’s appointment, saying the Ethics Board was meant to be the citizens “check and balance” on elected officials and government employees.

I agree. Having elected officials ruling on the conduct of their fellow elected officials is like the fox watching the hen house and our citizens deserve so much better.

I looked up the county ethics ordinance. Under section 2-213 (a)(2) (page 5, paragraph 2), it says, “No person shall serve as a member of the board of ethics if the person has, or has had within the preceding one year period, any interest in any contract, transaction, or official action of the county” (http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/information/ethicsord.pdf).

It is my understanding that the town of Brooks has numerous contractual arrangements with the Fayette County government. Wouldn’t this prohibit Mayor Langford from sitting on the Ethics Board?

We all know Commissioner Hearn could have easily found someone to serve who was not a relative or a political campaigner for his re-election, but he chose not to do so.

And even though the voters spoke loud and clear in the 2012 election, Commissioner Hearn’s appointment legacy will plague us for years to come.

Ginga Smithfield

Fayetteville, Ga.

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