Sunday, December 14, 2008

How Can We Fix Clayton County?

Just a few of the problems facing this once proud Georgia county.

At Issue

In August of 2008, the Clayton County School district, the fifth largest in Georgia, looses it's accreditation and became the first in the nation in the past 40 years to lose accreditation for failing to meet eight of nine improvement mandates. This means that approximately 50,000 Clayton students could have trouble getting into some colleges and universities, or receiving scholarship money. School Board corruption has been cited as the main reason for the failure in a number of articles and as the topic of conversation between parents and teachers.

At Issue

"Home prices in Clayton County appear to be taking a major hit from the crisis in the county’s school system. The average sales price of a home in the south metro county is down nearly 32 percent from a year ago, far worse than the rest of metro Atlanta, where the average sales price is down 14 percent."

At Issue

Victor Hill, Clayton County Sheriff [soon to be former], embroiled in controversy. According to a recent article in the Last Days Ministries, Sheriff Victor Hill called 27 of his employees into a jail holding area, ordered them to hand over their badges and gun, and told them they were fired. The sheriff called the move necessary, part of a plan to reorganize a dysfunctional department. Those fired - the majority of them white - say they were let go because of their race, age or support of Hill's political opponents including the white sheriff he unseated. The firings touched off a racially charged uproar and cast a most unwanted spotlight on a growing suburban Atlanta county where residents thought racial tensions were a thing of the past.

In December of 2007, The State Ethics Commission has ordered Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill to pay a $2,000 fine for using county money to advertise his campaign. The Ethics Commission found Hill "improperly used county resources" when he advertised two campaign fund-raisers in the department's newsletter and interoffice memos. Also in 2007, Sheriff Hill banned Clayton police detectives from interviewing inmates in the county jail.
In September of 2008, a federal jury ordered Victor Hill to pay $475,000 to the brother of the man Hill defeated to become sheriff four years ago. Mark Tuggle was arrested in January 2005 after calling and leaving angry messages for Hill following the sheriff’s firing of 27 employees. Tuggle, who was jailed 30 hours, sued for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Now, according to recent news articles, Mr. Hill is refusing to work with the incoming Sheriff-elect.

At Issue

As reported in Obi's Sister in May of this year.

"Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott and her husband, candidate for the
County Commission Chairman’s seat, Lee Scott, are being sued for more than $1
billion. Earl Randall, a candidate for the chairmanship, who used to work as the district attorney’s chief of staff, filed the law suit on Monday afternoon, alleging he was fired from his job in an act of political retaliation and suppression. Randall was fired right before Christmas. Jewel Scott reportedly said he was campaigning while on the job, but Randall maintains he was fired because he was running against Lee Scott in the 2008 election. “Within days of filing his Declaration of Intent [to run for county chairman], Randall learned that Lee Scott was very angry,” according to the suit. “Lee Scott was observed slamming his fist into a table at Fridays Restaurant while eating lunch with Jewel Scott and several employees of the CCDA. Lee Scott was heard screaming at Jewel Scott that the CCDA was his house and he ran his house. He paid $250,000 for Jewel Scott’s election."

It would seem that corruption, nepotism, palm greasing and personal agendas, which sound like words from the headlines of Washington, D.C., are widespread throughout Clayton County government. I would say that there needs to be better vetting of people seeking political office. However, if there's on thing you and I know about politicians (just think about the one's at work) is that they know how to make themselves look good. So, the only other option is to get them out of office when they mess up. The citizens of Clayton County must demand that a system be put in place that allows voters to get these folks out of office as soon as unethical behavior is proven. And, while any investigation is ongoing, they should be stripped of the power of their office. No other political protections should be afforded them.

Other than that, tell me, how do we fix all of this?


Homeland Colors said...

That is a sad sad situation.