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Commissioner Hearn defends West Bypass decision

A source of confusion and consternation for opponents of the West Fayetteville Bypass has been over how, when and why the Fayette County Commission decided to proceed with the project instead of the East Fayetteville Bypass.

At the end of the May 23 commission meeting, Commissioner Lee Hearn explained the process, referring to a discussion the commission had at a January 2009 retreat, the same month he took office.

The consensus of the board at that meeting, “based on the engineering and concept work, was to move forward with the West Fayetteville Bypass and not to move forward, at that time, with the East Fayetteville Bypass,” Hearn said. “... The consensus of the group was that more folks were going to get to use the West Fayetteville Bypass at that time than the East Fayetteville Bypass.”

During his comments, Hearn explained that he is unaware of how the commission handled the prioritization of the bypass projects between 2007, when he left employment with the county, and January 2009, when he took office.

The commission had awarded at least one bid for work on the West Bypass in 2008 before Hearn came on the board.

Critics of the West Bypass have accused the commission of acting in secret to go ahead with that project instead of the East Bypass, but Hearn said it’s not true.

“There were no backroom deals, there was nothing inappropriate done in terms of the planning,” Hearn said.

The commission did not abandon the East Bypass at the January 2009 meeting, but it was put on hold, Hearn said. He added that he liked both projects.

Hearn’s insight also is colored by several years experience as the county’s public works director, as he served in that position until taking a similar job in Henry County in 2007.

Hearn was elected to the Fayette County Commission in 2008 and took office in January 2009.

Critics of the West Bypass have complained there is no county documentation of the board making this decision. But an article about the discussion was published in The Citizen Jan. 28, 2009.

The article highlighted the concern of county staff that there may not be enough money to complete both bypass projects due to questions about $7 million in state funding needed for the East Bypass. There were also questions about whether the county’s estimated budget for the East Bypass was too small.

Critics of the West Bypass have pointed repeatedly to the minutes of a 2003 meeting of all Fayette governments in which the consensus was that the East Fayetteville Bypass should be the county’s top priority transportation project.

After explaining the rationale behind the commission’s decisions on the bypass priorities, Hearn apologized to residents whose land is “negatively impacted” by the West Bypass.

“I truly wish that we could build this road, and every other road improvement project, without negatively impacting somebody’s property,” Hearn said.

Hearn recalled that as a teenager, a family farm in south Fulton had some property taken for use as a city lake.

“As a teenager, I was devastated. But my dad said at that time that our old farm was more valuable for providing water for the city of Palmetto for years to come than it was for our family’s use as a farm,” Hearn recalled.

“My dad was able to look at the bigger picture, and that’s something I challenge each of you to look at,” Hearn said.

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PTC Observer's picture

Look at the bigger picture when government steals your property to the benefit of other? I don't think so.

On the other hand maybe your dad got enough money to make him see the bigger picture. If so, that's great.

So, I suppose Mr. Hearn is for the WFB, then we simply un-elect him in the next election.

NUK_1's picture

“My dad was able to look at the bigger picture, and that’s something I challenge each of you to look at,” Hearn said.

I challenge you to explain the bigger picture in a concise manner to FC residents on what the benefits are to the WFB, especially in terms of dollars spent and the supposed positive results from that expenditure. You, Frady, Horgan, Smith, Maxwell, and others have done a truly pathetic job of making a case for how the WFB is going to be a good use of collected tax money and how the positives gained from this project are far greater than the negatives.

I know in your arrogance that you think because the FC voters foolishly gave you a blank check for road projects no explanation is needed, but your buddies Maxwell and Smith were casualties of this mind-set, and both ran against very weak opponents and still lost. Maybe it's time to stop ignoring the people against the WFB(or EFB for that matter) and lay out your arguments for how these projects are beneficial and get specific. The opposition to WFB isn't going away even though they shot themselves in both feet over and over about lawsuits that didn't happen and now you view them as a joke, but there is going to the same kind of opposition to an EFB to contend with, and if the WFB history is any consideration, you and others have no clue at all on how to respond or even bothering in the least to explain the benefits you believe will happen.

PTC Observer's picture

However, Hearn, Frady, and Horgan are good at digging in their heels.

Let's show them the door.

You going to run or should I? Talk about weak candidates!

ginga1414's picture

PTC, Mr. Hearn is in favor of the WFB. After all, as he once told me, it is his baby!

When Mr. Hearn talks about the "bigger picture," he is comparing the need for water which is a necessity of life to asphalt and concrete which aren't necessities of life!

If anyone is interested, there was a half page article in this past Sunday's Metro Section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mr. Hearn had some very telling things to say about the citizens of Fayette County and the West bypass. As an example: In addressing the reporter's statement that the commission meetings have been packed with angry citizens “demanding answers,” Commissioner Hearn said, “It’s better to just let them vent and go on. If we try and explain or answer, it creates arguments that could go on for hours.”

During today's (Apr. 6, 2011) Commission Meeting, Mr. Hearn was forced to admit that his nominee for the Board of Elections just happens to be his cousin. When Mr. Hearn made his nomination a while back he said that the nominee was a member of Hearn's church and a very prominent member at that.

It seems that Mr. Hearn will smile at us with that boyish grin, shake our hands and then speak about us as if we are just so much dirt to be tolerated.

PTC Observer's picture

Interesting, let's un-elect him. In fact, let's un-elect all three of them.

You running? Let' us know.

I had seen the Minutes for the Meeting/Retreat on January 22-23. I had recently left office and was interested in that was discussed at that Meeting.

I had forgotten how “detailed” the Minutes for Commission Meetings were back then.

The reason nobody can see what was discussed, and what was said, was that those Minutes are pathetic. It was a 2 day meeting. The Minutes are covered in 8 sentences. One of those sentences says; “No official actions were taken”.

So, there still is no “Official Record” of any discussion by Staff, nor Commissioners.

Perhaps, The Citizen could republish the article from Jan. 28, 2009.

PTC Observer's picture

moment they stop taking detailed minutes is the moment you know something really, really bad is going to happen to you as a citizen.

The fact is the commission is willing to invest in all sorts of things but they are unwilling invest in the technology to have an open government that documents their positions.

Wonder why?

Steve is AWOL on this issue, wonder why?

ginga1414's picture

It is most certainly "Deception," and "deception" is one of the definitions of "fraud."

The first line of Mr. Munford's article says, "Switch in priorities done at public meeting in January 2009, Hearn says."

IF it was a "public meeting," then why was it called a "Board Retreat?" IF it was a "public meeting," why are there not a public record of "minutes" posted on the County Website?

The WFBC has been requesting information pertaining to when and where priority and money was switched from the East Bypass to the West Bypass for over a year. Even when we asked Frady, Horgan and Hearn this year those same questions, we did not receive an answer.

AFTER this year's March 24th Commission Meeting, Frady told an irate citizen that the priority and money was switched during the Jan. 22 and 23, 2009 "Retreat Meeting." John Munford, also, told the irate citizen that he was present during that "Retreat Meeting" and that he has a lot of information as to what transpired.

Why has it taken well over a year to get one of our county officials to answer the question of when and where the priority and money was switched?

According to the dictionary, "fraud" and "deception" are the same.

PLEASE MR. BEVERLY AND MR. MUNFORD, REPUBLISH JOHN MUNFORD'S ARTICLE FROM JAN. 28, 2009, SO THAT THE PUBLIC WILL BE INFORMED OF WHAT TRANSPIRED AT A "PUBLIC MEETING" THAT WAS CALLED A "RETREAT!"

John Munford's picture
ginga1414's picture

I have tried repeatedly to access this article through the Archives. I really appreciate you sending the link. Is this the article you wrote based upon information you received during the Jan. 22-23, 2009, Retreat Meeting?

grassroots's picture

In Dale Carnegie's 1937 classic all time best seller on human behavior "How to Win Friends and Influence People" , he spends the whole opening chapter on how humans won't admit when they're wrong, even all the way to the gas chamber.
"If Al Capone, “Two Gun” Crowley , Dutch Schultz and the desperate men and women behind prison walls don’t blame themselves for anything ___what about the people with whom you and I come in contact?" he quotes a warden.
"John Wanamaker, founder of the stores that bare his name, once confessed: “I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough troubles overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to evenly distribute the gift of intelligence.”
"Wanamaker learned this lesson early, but I personally had to blunder through this old world for a third of a century before it even began to dawn on me that ninety- nine times out of a hundred, people don’t criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be.
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment." Dale Carnegie.
We're in three wars because of it.
Like water Mr Hearn, Frady, Horgan and Krackheel....we'll (WFBC) just go around, over, and through you despite your stubborn , predictable behavior.
Then we'll practice the rest of the book and win the people over.

PTC Observer's picture

Excellent, excellent

Let's un-elect them....you running?

grassroots's picture

I was asked, but I heartedly decided to help defeat the incumbents. I'm currently checking the status of the WFB zombie's birth certificates. It seems they may have been born human, but on Mars. There's more options than these guys to stop the WFB. Watch the dollar.

Come on, there's a difference in condemning property because the county needed water as opposed to development being in the public interest. The WFB would make sense if the county had a water shortage, and it were the only road to water. If that were the case, I would lead the charge to build it. Here, Hearn is so desperate for excuses, he is throwing anything he can find at the voters.

But when folks compare his Palmetto situation to what's going on now, all they can do is realize just how much deeper Hearn's credibility is buried than previously realized. It's now at least 3 more feet of concrete on top of what was already there. We should add another 3 feet because he totally ignores the majority of voters who voted against the WFB in the last election, and the ones he hears and reads about complaining. If there ever were a positive public comment on the road, he would milk it for all it's worth, but there aren't any to milk. Maybe Mr. Hearn, himself should start writing letters to the editior about the WFB. The very idea that he would claim that he is representing the majority of voters in supporting the road is horse feathers. Especially since they were tricked into voting for it in the notorious 2004 SPLOST. There are none so blind as those who don't see.

If the commissioners decided to divert the many millions of dollars of East Bypass funds to the WFB, they should have made an announcement it was coming and been up front with the voters rather than letting them read it in the paper.

PTC Observer's picture

Let's un-elect all three of them.

You running?

That’s it? The article says more than the Minutes say, which isn’t hard since it’s longer than the 8 sentences in the Minutes.

But, here’s the key sentence from the Article. “Mallon said he would be getting updated cost information and other background data on both projects before the commission makes a final decision”.

“Before the Commission makes a final decision”.

So, that agrees with the Minutes. “No official actions were taken” or, no Decisions were made.

We still don’t know when the DECISION was made.

PTC Observer's picture

I could guess.....in a back smoke filled room? OK, skip the smoke.

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