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Commissioner Hearn: Fayette is doing a lot right these days

Many contracts that Fayette County has for goods and services have options for one-year renewals. If both parties are satisfied with the service and price, there isn’t a problem with renewing the contract.

Please remember that our purchasing department works every day to ensure that we spend the taxpayers’ dollars wisely and honestly.

I want the citizens to know that Fayette County hired one of the best transportation planning firms in the metro area in 2003 to conduct a transportation study.

An important part of the study was to recommend projects that would help meet the growing demand on our road network with our projected growth. The West Fayetteville Bypass was one project recommended by our experts.

I want to remind our citizens that I left my job as [Fayette County] Public Works Director in May of 2007 and was not a part of the decisions being made until I took office as commissioner in January 2009.

When I took office in January 2009, Jack Smith’s Board of Commissioners had relocated phase one of the WFB to line up with Huiet Road. I was not a part of that decision.

I would point out that this section of the WFB also is the section which affects the Lester property.

I am puzzled how my challenger could accuse me of wrongdoing on this matter as I was not a part of the Fayette County government when this decision was made.

I am truly sorry for the properties that have been negatively impacted by the WFB. I am also sorry for the properties that were taken for the construction of Lake Horton, but I am certainly glad we have the water to meet our needs for years to come.

I believe Fayette County is doing much right these days. We have tightened our budget and managed it well during this time of declining revenues. We have built a $12,500,000 reserve during the past 5 years in preparation for these tough economic times.

Our Finance Department routinely wins budget awards, our library is second to none, and our emergency services is world class.

As an example or our forward thinking, Fayette County is offering an early retirement to its employees which will save the county $800,000 annually if we have one-half of the employees eligible take the offering.

Fayette County has saved several million dollars the last two years by refinancing the Justice Center and Water System debts.

We are being proactive and continue to work hard at making sure Fayette County is managed well.

Having served 10.5 years as the Public Works Director and now 3.25 years on the Board of Commissioners, I realize how important it is to look at the big picture and strive to make improvements to our government.

In these challenging times we need leaders that don’t mind making tough decisions and having the strength to carry on even when there are skeptics.

The future is too important for anything but positive,strong, clear leadership. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your District 3 commissioner.

Lee Hearn

Brooks, Ga.



ginga1414's picture

With regard to the county's 2003 "best transportation planning firm's" planning study, exactly where did the county derive their "projected growth" figures? "Projected growth" figures didn't work out very well for the Fayette County Board of Education; did they?

Did the "experts" planning study include traffic figures to show where the traffic originated and the motorists' destination? Or, were the figures derived from a mechanical vehicle counter?

My father attended Ga. Tech and was employed for many, many years as a Traffic Engineer before his retirement. My son has a degree from Ga. Tech. Both my father and son have told me that a true traffic study includes, among other vital statistics, origin and destination. They have both told me that many Ga. Tech students have helped conduct true traffic studies which require the stoppage of traffic to ask motorists just such questions.

Why did you leave your job as "Fayette County Public Works Director in May of 2007" just to return as County Commissioner in Jan. 2009?

When speaking with West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition members, you have repeatedly referred to the West Bypass as your "baby."

Why have you very frequently referred to the W. Bypass as your "baby?"

Why did Jack Smith's Board of Commissioners RELOCATE "Phase I of the WFB to line up with Huiet Road?"

You said, "I am truly sorry for the properties that have been negatively impacted by the WFB."

What about the human property owners? Do you feel sorry for them because of the destruction of quality of life? Are you sorry for the diminished property values to 2, 3, and 400,000 dollar homes because the property has been destroyed due to the WFB?

You have referred to a "$12,500,000 reserve." Will you please tell me where I can go to see that figure in black and white?

IF there is a "$12,500,000 reserve," why is the county in the hole?

Is the county government's "forward thinking___early retirement" plan due to the fact that the county is more than $2,000,000 in the hole and that hole will do nothing but get deeper in 2013?

It seems to me that if our county leaders were truly "forward thinking," and didn't mind making "tough decisions," you and the other two commissioners would have sacrificed your "baby" by utilizing HB-240 and thereby saving multiple millions of dollars by stopping the West Bypass. You would have taken those millions of dollars and put them to better use. If you were truly "forward thinking," you would have realized that it is going to take many years of economic recovery before the housing industry will be elevated, if ever, to what it once was.

Personally, I just don't see where there has been "positive, strong, clear leadership."

BBQ Jones's picture

I too am a proud GA Tech graduate in civil engineering. In 2003, it was standard practice to use the ARC traffic model for forecasting. Those are the "experts" who provided the data.

You should ask Jack Smith why the road was re-located. However, it makes sense to me to line the new road up with Huiet Road.

It is clear from your coments that you don't understand HB 240. Please read the bill.

I'm not sure why Mr Hearn left his position at Fayette County. I believe he left in good standing and took a similar position at Henry County. During his time at Fayette County, I only heard good things about Mr Hearn and the leadership he provided as head of the Road Dept. If you look at our road system, Mr. Hearn did a good job managing the them. Fayette County doesn't have some of the problems that Clayton and Fulton have with their roads.

Ginga, you seem to be very negative. We have much to be thankful for in Fayette County. I wish you would look at things a bit differently.
The glass is more than 1/2 full.

ginga1414's picture

I really wanted Mr. Hearn to answer my questions. However, I do appreciate your interest, BBQ.

I have probably read HB-240 more times than most folks.

With regard to Commissioner Hearn's qualifications, I have made many searches into public records. Just to save time and to keep things concise and simple I have posted the following from the internet. It can be found under "Fayette Citizens for Open Government - Saturday, July 19, 2008."

• Within weeks in office, this Board of Commissioners (referring to the Jack Smith administration) fired Chris Venice as County Administrator. Chris was an extraordinarily dedicated, honest and hard working expert in Planning with 19 years experience in planning and enforcing county standards. She was our Administrator for almost 1 ½ years. Very quietly, with little discussion, she was fired “without cause”, thus they had to pay her one years’ severance pay. Suspicions are they fired Chris because she gave LEE HEARN an unsatisfactory performance review as head of the Road Department. LEE had been written up for “failure to provide adequate supervision, failure to oversee compliance with county procedure that compromises departmental operation; Third written reprimand.”
LEE HEARN also violated County policy in the use of his County Credit Card (P-Card) The report is that he swiped the County Credit Card 22 times to pay for a $38,178 job on which he did not obtain the required competitive bids. County Policy is that $2,000 is the maximum authorized to be charged at any one time. This represents two policy violations.

Also, there is a matter where the State of Oklahoma Licensure Board fined Peachtree Protective Covers, Inc. and Bennett Lee Hearn, P.E.24440 ( page 8) "For offering and performing engineering services in the State of Oklahoma without a Certificate of Licensure to do so, Bennett Lee Hearn is found Guilty, assessed an administrative fine of $750.00 and is hereby Reprimanded." Please note, that disciplinary action was posted in the State of Oklahoma Licensure Board's Bulletin July 22-23, 2010. At that time Lee Hearn was a Fayette County Commissioner.

I agree. "We have much to be thankful for in Fayette County." However, when one has been so negatively impacted as I and others along the W. Bypass have been impacted, negativity has become a part of our daily lives through no fault of our own.

I'm sure you have heard the term "closure." Speaking for many people in Fayette County, we foresee being able to put a close to some of this negativity when Frady, Horgan, Hearn, and a few school board members are no longer in office.

.. that would help meet the growing demand on our road network with our projected growth. The West Fayetteville Bypass was one project recommended by our experts."

Mr. Hearn, when "we the people" of this county spoke out against the WFB project, what did you do? The decision was made, as you state, by the genius's before you. So, what did you do during the time of disdain and dissidence over proceeding and continuing with the phases of the WFB?

Would you also respond to where the study is located online?

Your proclamation that your years of work history and elected office makes you one to vote for, think again. We have your history. It's time for term limits....or what can be done today, vote for Randy Ognio.

Renewal of contracts. According to Commissioner Hearn, "if both parties are satisfied with the service and price, there isn't a problem with renewing the contract." That may be true to a degree, but what about all the other firms that could also perform the same service satisfactorily for perhaps less money if bidding competitively were allowed? New companies are being denied the chance, because Commissioners Hearn, Frady and Horgan have continuously voted down Commissioner Steve Brown's recommendations to allow more competition through bidding. This makes it hard for other firms to get their foot in the door. Too many "favorite sons" in the county workplace spoil the budget. You can't restrict competition and get the best prices.The 3 to 2 majority the holdover commissioners have effectively thwarted efforts by Brown and McCarty to gain full and open competition. For that matter, their votes mean nothing against three solidarity votes.

While Commissioner Hearn has claimed the West Bypass as "his baby", he now is bestowing credit upon "one of the best transportation planning firms in the metro area." Did you know that the Atlanta Regional Commission, the organization that is sponsoring the forthcoming regional TSPLOST, paid for 80% of that plan? The ARC also determined that the WFB was not significant enough to get outside funding.

Mr. Hearn is quick to separate himself from "decisions made before January, 2009 regarding his cousin's property. He credits the Jack Smith Administration with moving the WFB to join Huiet Rd. Phase I of the WFB begins on the other side of Highway 54 from Huiett Rd. and ends at Sandy Creek Rd. The West Fayetteville Neighborhoods project is to the West of, and adjacent to, the WFB. It begins on Phase I, continuing on into Phase II at Sandy Creek Rd. There are several "hamlet" developments proposed for the project. Mr. Hearn has a cousin who controls a large tract of land containing one of the proposed hamlets. Developers will have their names on the others. While he has supported and connected himself to the WFB from day 1, Mr. Hearn disavows any influence or connection regarding the property of his cousin. In making an appointment nomination to the Fayette Elections Board, Mr. Hearn introduced his cousin to the commissioners as "a member of my church," but did not mention that he was his cousin. The same man was then appointed to the Elections Board, ousting the incumbent. No qualifications were presented for Mr. Hearn's cousin, and the reason for the nomination was that the incumbent's term had expired, and "we need new blood." Is this being truly objective?

Mr. Hearn has continuously stood behind the WFB as a road Fayette County needs "to reduce traffic in Fayetteville." Then, at the Commissioners' Retreat, he advocated suspending the WFB, Phase III in favor of starting the East Bypass which he says will move more traffic than the WFB will.

There have been numerous instances where the same three commissioners repeatedly appoint the same person to the same job. Commmissioner Brown attempted to get them to advertise the positions and choose the best candidates, but again he got outvoted.

Next, Mr. Hearn goes on to say that he is truly sorry for those whose property was impacted by the WFB, and the properties taken for Lake Horton. The latter case involved obtaining county water, which is a whole different situation than cutting a road through developers' properties with free developer curb cuts, leaving many of the smaller tract residents landlocked from the WFB side.

Mr. Hearn's post gives what appears to be a "vote" campaign oriented email address for himself. He will undoubtedly declare his candidacy for re-election by next month. But bear in mind that Mr. Hearn has joined Commissioners Horgan and Frady in blocking efforts by Commissioners McCarty and Brown to establish transparency in the Commissioners Office. I have attended almost all of the commissioners meetings for the past 4 years, and cannot remember any instances where Mr. Hearn or Mr. Horgan voted against Mr. Frady. So instead of having five commissioners, if we had just Mr. Frady, we would probably get the same results in passage and stoppage of items.

In order for Commissioners Brown and McCarty to be effective, the bond among the other three commissioners will have to be broken "by new blood."

Steve Brown's picture

The firm was URS. Both Ed Ellis from URS and then-Road Director Lee Hearn came to my office in Peachtree City and explained to me why the EAST Fayetteville Bypass was the county's top priority for the future.

A lot of us have the copy of the memorandum from Lee Hearn stating that the East Fayetteville Bypass was the number one priority of the county.

Hearn never once tried to resume implementation of the priorities on the list after being elected a commissioner. Most people know why.

Mike King's picture

...Now Steve. Was this office visit when you for the TDK Extension or when you were against it? Surely, you'll be honest enough to specify.

of the TDK issue...same with district voting.

That said, I've waffled a few times too on road issues, I still think that if Fayette/Coweta don't work together for more access across the County line we share, we are both in for BIG delays. Much like Cobb and North Fulton used to be at times in crossings of the Hooch. I've asked SB for his thoughts and all I get is crickets.....

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