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Should grand jury investigate Hearn?

The public comment portion of the meeting of county commissioners on May 12 was revealing. The comments were primarily directed at Commissioner Lee Hearn, who was absent. The comments were critical of his appointment of his first cousin Addison Lester III to the election board and the fact he did not reveal his relationship to Mr. Lester. In fact he tried to hide that information by stating he knew Mr. Lester from church.

The comments were also critical of his strong position of support of the West Fayetteville Bypass. It has been revealed that Mr. Lester had been a member of the Fayetteville Planning Board and has a family trust that owns 109 acres of land in the vicinity of the West Fayetteville Bypass (WFB). The family names with ownership have not been revealed but I think it would be interesting to know who they are. When was the property purchased? This would be another good question that should be answered.

I also made a comment of support for those who spoke. I also directed a question to commissioners Frady and Horgan. I asked them when they were aware of the information that has been revealed. I also asked how the county financial situation could change so dramatically from August of last year, when the former Chairman Jack Smith was touting how financially strong the county was.

From doing well to four months later, the county manager was expressing a need for tax increases. Mr. Frady, Hearn and Horgan were members of that board, and in fact handed out pay raises to employees prior to Jan. 1, 2011. Were they all without vision or were they playing with numbers to influence the primary election? The commissioners had no comment to these questions.

It was also revealed that there is an attempt through proposed regulations to gag the public comment portion of meetings by moving comments to the end of a meeting. The new regs would also require comments be submitted to the county five days in advance of a meeting. Additional rules of the road are being proposed to stifle free speech.

It is hard to believe that the commissioners understand they work for the people. I think power does corrupt. The people have discovered a lot of smoke. The silence of this board including the chairman and vice chairman adds to the distrust people feel.

Should a grand jury investigate some of the dealings that have been revealed? The county controls millions of dollars in contracts. The commissioners’ silence, plus new provisions to silence the people, is not transparent government. I wish I knew the answer.

Ray Watt

Peachtree City, Ga.

Location: 

Comments

PTC Observer's picture

The county commission has a history of attempting to limit public comment, they have also attempted to "summarize" minutes so there's no accurate record of what was said, they have also added items to the public agenda at the last minute. All of these actions by the Board proves that they simply don't trust the people that elected them. It proves that they want to limit debate on items that may cause them pain in getting re-elected. What other motives they have is anyone's guess but one could question whether they are acting in the public interest and not their own.

An open and transparent government that reports its decisions, actions, etc. in a timely manner, a government that encourages public debate and input is only a dream in Fayette County. Look to Mr. Frady's actions as representative of how the meetings are run to limit opposition and input. Look to Mr. Horgan to illustrate the kind of character we have running the government in Fayette County. Look to Mr. Hearn to see what passes for acceptable ethics.

Maintaining power and the bothersome re-election process seems to be behind most of these actions by the board.

Until the electorate takes interest in their local governmment and what they are doing, we will be "ruled" by special interests and a small group of powerful men. We get the government we deserve when we don't participate or show interest in how our government is run.

We all know that Lee Hearn was Public Works Director for 10 1/2 years beginning in 1996. Quite a bit of West Bypass activities went on during that time. But in 2007, he left his appointed job due to differences with former County Administrator Chris Venice. Soon, Ms. Venice was ousted by ardent West Bypass supporters former Commission Chairman Jack Smith and company, over the objections of umpteen former commissioners.

The West Bypass in the late 1990's had an original alignment unlike the one it has now. The big question is who changed it? It would strengthen the support of an investigation if the realignment occurred during the period that Hearn was the PWD.

Commissioner Hearn has publicly announced that the West Bypass was "his baby." That being the case, it would require somewhat less than a great effort to find people in the know of what actually went on in getting a new pencil to the project. And while Hearn denies that the Lester property is on the bypass, you can see for yourself just where it is by pulling up the Fayette Tax Assessor's Office on the web, and looking up the Lester property located at Veteran's Parkway and SR54 West. We saw two huge tentacles of it stretching to the road above and below the property sold to the electric utility.

It looks like there are many prominent families involved in big land holdings in that area, and much of the property has been "flipped" time and time again. How many are related to Lee Hearn? What strengthens the case is Lester's position as a director of the Fayetteville Development authority, an entity akin to the same city as Mayor Steele, who is desirous of annexing property in the Bypass area into Fayetteville.

The three amigos in the Commissioners office won't budge on the road for a reason. The public is dying to know what it is.

Do you suppose this issue may be getting a little bit political?

Robert W. Morgan's picture

The dispute Hearn had with Venice - wasn't someone misusing the county credit card?

But enough about the past, on to the future - Mr. Horgan's future. The boy has a golden opportunity to use this issue to break from Hearn and Frady and side with Brown and the other guy and look like a hero. He can even get elected again by claiming he helped to get rid of Addison, brought back Watts, contributed to Hearn's certain defeat (possibly Frady's) and can bluster with Brown about stopping the bypass - east, west, whichever one sounds best. God knows the voters actually fall for this stuff - look at the last election.

Go for it Mr. Horgan. Destiny awaits.

Live free or die!

ginga1414's picture

Apparently, Commissioner Hearn's past was just a glimpse into his present day shinanigans.

When Hearn left his position as Fayette County Public Works Director, he stated on his Fayette County Exit Interview that the duties he had liked best while working here were "road maintenance & construction."

He left as a disgruntled employee and immediately returned as County Commissioner to finish the job he dreamed of with the West Bypass.

I wonder if he plans to use the same piece of equipment he purchased with his abused county credit card on construction of the West Bypass?

CombatCorrespondent's picture

Here as Fayette County Commissioner Lee Hearn nominates his cousin Addison Lester to the Fayette County Board of Elections. Nowhere in the nomination does he mention that Lester is his cousin.

http://www.kombatkamera.com/Journalism/Local-News/News-Stuff/7952631_aot...

Hearn video (in Combat Corresp's post) makes him look like Nixon when Nixon said "I am not a crook". He looks nervous as a he tries very hard to make a "full disclosure" without disclosing that he's related to the guy. A Baptist, retired from a utility company that has time ? Heck, there's probably dozens of folks with qualifications like that in Fayette County.

CombatCorrespondent's picture

[quote=fay79isus]He looks nervous as a he tries very hard to make a "full disclosure" without disclosing that he's related to the guy. A Baptist, retired from a utility company that has time ? Heck, there's probably dozens of folks with qualifications like that in Fayette County.[/quote]

He does look a bit nervous trying to pull it off ...

Here's another video of Hearn ...

http://www.kombatkamera.com/Journalism/Local-News/News-Stuff/7952631_aot...

just as he has been doing to all of Fayette County.

ginga1414's picture

Thanks so much for your dedication to the people of Fayette County.

The video and sound are clear as a bell.

There is no mistaking what's been going on in the Commission Meeting room.

Mike King's picture

A second cousin on his mother's side? Heck, can anyone on this blog name all their first cousins in one attempt?

There continues to be quite a banter about this West Fayette Bypass, and for some reason there are those that believe it will be stopped. Would Commissioner Brown comment on his campaign platform to stop it, or will he admit to all of us that it is indeed a 'done deal'?

I can name all 18 (2 are adopted) from both sides. None of my parent's cousins attended either church (1st Baptist or Methodist) in Senoia. My issue is that a lady donated her time and accumulated a whole lotta education & experience to be just shown the door because someone needed a job or could throw an election or whatever. I don't even know if she is an Demo or Repug, I think she deserved better.

ginga1414's picture

It just doesn't make pretty good sense to throw out a well educated and highly experienced person for someone with no education and experience in the elections process.

That fact along with the previous BOC trying to control veto power over the Elections Board are the two actions that caused people to ask questions and look for answers.

If Hearn didn't have anything to hide, why in the world didn't he just tell everyone that Lester is his cousin when he nominated him?

Why didn't Hearn disclose that Lester owns property along the West Bypass and his family had already sold property along the West Bypass to the Fayette County Board of Education and Oglethorpe Power?

It is just another case of a public official belittling the intelligence of the citizens!

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