Did you read the News-Times’ July 24th letter to the editor? If not, we’ll paste it below:
Do you remember the 2008 presidential debates? Sen. John McCain stated that Sen. Barrack Obama acquired an inordinate amount of taxpayer funds designated for earmarks, aka, pork. Obama’s response was that when compared against the total federal budget, his billions in pork really weren’t that much.
I recalled this soon after I learned of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners paying $10,000 to become part of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Circle – Diamond Level, and approving $22,000 for coffee. Columbia County is nine figures in debt, yet the commission keeps on spending.
Sen. Everett Dirksen said, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.”
Nothing against the fine Chamber or any of its members, but why is county government using tax dollars for a seat at the table of “a non-profit, membership driven organization that advances business in the CSRA” through “community leadership, economic advocacy and membership programs”?
Traditionally, government has stifled business, and aren’t chambers set apart from governments in order to support and advance the business community, only contacting governments in a unified voice when issues and concerns arise?
Furthermore, a Columbia County judge is on the Chamber’s Board of Directors. In plain view at a public gathering, this judge violated Canon 7 of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that judges may not “make speeches for a political organization or candidate or publicly endorse a candidate for public office.” He violated the canon by endorsing County Commission Chairman Ron Cross at his reelection announcement. Now, the Commission gives the Chamber $10,000. Coincidence? That’s up to you.
The Augusta-Richmond County government is constantly in the spotlight for its antics. For reasons mentioned above, and others too numerous to mention within a letter to the editor’s word limit, Columbia County’s government deserves at least the same amount of time in the limelight and under media scrutiny – that is, if an honest and open government is desired.
The letter writer did not mention who the judge was…but we will. It was Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Bobby Christine. Aside from Christine’s and Cross’ deafening silence, we have to question why the media has not written extensively about this and their refusal to explain themselves. At least Ben Harbin found a new campaign committee. The people have to wake up and demand better or we’ll continue to get more of the same. Contact County Commission Chairman Ron Cross and Chief Magistrate Judge Bobby Christine and let them know what you think.
The letter raises some interesting points…facts. Bobby Christine did endorse Ron Cross. The Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct does prohibit endorsements by judges. Judge Christine did it regardless. Judge Christine is on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The County Commission (Ron Cross Chairman) gave $10,000 to the Chamber of Commerce. WHOA! Columbia County’s debt is in the 9 figures. Columbia County and Barack Obama have the same spending philosophy. Columbia County Republicans keep on supporting the same group that has gotten us into such debt. Columbia County Republicans sure can spend and then turn right around and complain about Barack Obama. WHOA!
Guess who’s part of the Augusta Futurity 2011 Champions Club… yes, it’s none other than…”Columbia County Commission”. WHOA! Who gets to wear the black cowboy hat that comes with the hefty donation? Our opinion is that Ron Cross dons the prize.
Back to the letter to the editor. We sent an email to the letter writer and asked for some feedback. He had no comment other than, “I submitted the editorial and Barry printed it, as he said he would in a cordial and professional email to me confirming receipt.” “Something that I found odd (and suspect that you will pounce upon) is the below response from Columbia County to my Open Records Request for total money given to the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce since 2004.”
Good Morning Lee,
The estimated cost of retrieving and copying the invoices is $57.02 (Procurement staff x 2 hours less first fifteen minutes =22.38; Finance staff x 2 hours = 32.64; Copies = 2.00).
Please let me know if you would like to proceed with the request.
Columbia County wants $57.02 to answer a simple question? IT WILL TAKE THE PROCUREMENT STAFF 2 HOURS AND THE FINANCE STAFF 2 HOURS TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH IT GAVE THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE? 2 HOURS FOR EACH STAFF? 4 HOURS TOTAL? WHOA! How pathetic! Is Columbia County’s record keeping system and bookkeeping system that bad and disorganized? Why not just hit some buttons on a computer and get the information that way? What are you hiding? You people devote 10 grand to the Chamber of Commerce, 22k to coffee, who knows what to the Augusta Futurity, and the list goes on (more on that list in a few days), but demand that a Columbia County resident pay to be told how much you GAVE the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce? For that you get two: WHOA! WHOA! Why is Columbia County afraid to answer a question about how much taxpayer money they gave to the Chamber of Commerce? Do you not want him and all others to know? Barack Obama said that his health care bill will provide coverage to all Americans. But Nancy Pelosi suggested that “we pass the bill to see what’s in it”. Why was a bill to mandate insurance for all Americans over 3,000 pages? Why are all of Obama’s bills 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 pages? So it’s extremely hard to know all that’s in it. Why does Columbia County want $57.02 to answer a resident’s simple question? Oh…ok…because it will take bureaucrats 4 hours to find the answer. Vintage Ron Cross leadership.
The truth will eventually emerge. What do you think will happen first?
- Bobby Christine will publicly explain why he blatantly violated judicial code
- Ron Cross will publicly explain why taxpayer money goes to places it shouldn’t
- Barry Paschal will write about Bobby Christine’s violations
- Columbia County Republican Party will publicly scold Bobby Christine and Ron Cross and demand more from elected Republican officials
- None of the above will ever happen
Send us your answers…after you contact Bobby Christine, Ron Cross, and your County Commissioner. No excuses folks. The links are above.