Monday, March 31, 2008

I *heart* government

I was at a couple of Macon City Council meetings this evening. Three things out of that to fill your soul with confidence in government:

Example one: Macon City Councilman Charles Jones, who I occasionally have to remind to pay his property taxes, is on the council sub-committee researching how to write an ethics ordinance for the council.

Of the various "Charles Jones hasn't paid his property taxes" stories I've written, I think this one had the best excuse. It's from 2007:
Jones owed back taxes on two properties, one on Curd Street and another on Thorpe Street, according to tax commissioner records. The Thorpe Street bills totaled $2,514.42, but Jones said the amount he actually owes should be less than that. A building that was once on the property was knocked down two or three years ago by order of the city's Municipal Court, he said.

I don't owe property taxes on that building because it was in such bad condition that the city ordered me to knock it down. Nice. By the way - the number of people that ran against Rev. Jones in last year's city elections: Zero.

Example two: The city is going to pay the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority $14,000 over two months to hire off-duty city cops to provide security in the Terminal Station, a city- owned building the transit authority is headquartered in.

So you've got the city government paying another government entity city money to hire city cops to protect a city building.

Why not just have the city cops protect the city building and cut out the middle man? Apparently it's cheaper to do it this way because, due to manpower shortages, the department would have to pay cops overtime to patrol the building, city CAO Mike Anthony said.

Example three: The chief of police gave me different numbers for the cost of housing city prisoners at the county jail than the sheriff quoted me last week. And he did this as he was asking the council for more money to cover the costs.

So who's wrong and was the chief's budget request, which passed committee and goes to the full council tomorrow, accurate? That's tomorrow's question. I'm going home and starting my "Travis for Dictator" campaign.

UPDATE: I haven't heard back from the chief yet.

UPDATE 2: It's 4:30 p.m. and still no telephone call. No response to my follow-up email, either. I think Chief Burns and I have different definitions of the phrase "first thing in the morning."

UPDATE 3: Sigh. I continue to await an answer from the police department, which has really effectively provided me with little to no new information since Monday night. The city is also doing a fantastic job of passing the buck on another issue: How we managed to sign a contract for gas and diesel fuel price lock ins that we thought would last for one year, but was really only for six months. Having seen the contracts myself, I don't see how that's possible, and I await an explanation.

UPDATE 4 on April 8: In case anyone is still paying attention to this, Chief Burns answered my last question today. He made an error and plans to correct it at the next meeting. Still waiting on final resolution on the gas contract thing.

My only point is this: City of Macon employees sometimes play a little fast and loose with the facts, even when talking to council members. And you can get the run-around when you try to figure out just what the truth is.

1 comment:

VictoratGaImproper said...
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