The Fayette County Board of Commissioners held a special called meeting at 4 p.m. today to revisit a resolution on transportation bill H.B. 170.
A resolution put forth by Commissioner Steve Brown at last Thursday’s meeting led to a tense back and forth about whether Brown had submitted materials too late in the process for some other commissioners to be able to vote on the matter. Commission Chairman Charles Oddo cited “professional courtesy” in saying Brown should have communicated his intentions regarding the resolution with all the other commissioners first and with enough time that they could consider the resolution before discussing and voting on it.
Commissioners David Barlow, Pota Coston, and Oddo voted 3-2 to table the resolution to the March 12 meeting, but got resistance from Brown and Commissioner Ognio who said the bill could be passed before that meeting, thus rendering a resolution with the commission’s stance on the bill moot.
Brown said he was being silenced by commissioners Barlow, Coston, and Oddo.
“So the board decides what I have to say or what I don’t say. Do we have to have a secret meeting behind the scenes to decide what I’m allowed to talk about?” Brown said during the meeting.
Oddo rejected the idea that he or the other commissioners were trying to control Brown’s speech, instead saying the issue was maintaining the board’s policies and procedures as well maintaining a sense of professional courtesy among commissioners.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that the bill, which aims to generate around $1 billion in new revenue for maintenance of roads and bridges, was approved by the House Transportation Committee after having been stalled for some time.
The report noted certain changes were made to the bill, including the removal of a plan to get rid of local Special Option Sales taxes to be replaced by excise taxes, which would have affected local school districts.
Having been approved by the Committee, the bill moved to the Rules Committee Tuesday.
Commissioner Brown suggested Thursday that the Board consider having a special called meeting this week to address the resolution, but Coston would not budge on her motion to table to March 12. County Administrator Steve Rapson noted that a meeting could still be called as long as 24 hours notice was given to the public, which it was Tuesday.
Commissioner Brown in a letter to the editor (see page 3) criticized the actions of the three commissioners “holding the reins and the remaining two of us trying to cope with the new leadership.”
In the letter Brown characterized his two years as chairman as “the two best back-to-back years of the board in the modern era,” and said Chairman Oddo had told him not to give his prepared powerpoint presentation regarding the resolution, which he had submitted as supporting material the day of the meeting.
Oddo has said he did not want to prevent Brown from presenting, but did want the Powerpoint excluded as it was submitted too late for all the commissioners to review.
“Chairman Oddo, Commissioner Barlow, and Commissioner Coston claimed they did not have time to read the 11 slides,” Brown wrote. “The excuse was juvenile as the entire powerpoint consisted of around 13 lines of text, hardly strenuous reading for an elementary school student.”
Oddo has said he wants to curb the sorts of public disputes that occurred Thursday and encourage better communication amongst commissioners.
“I apologize to everyone tonight that had to see this because this is not the way it should be,” he said Thursday. “There was ample opportunity to bring this to the other commissioners. We’re all available to listen. Whoever calls me on my cell phone, 99-percent of the time I answer.”