Political notebook: Williams pens from the pen

October 5, 2012 

You can take the man out of politics, but you can’t take politics out of the man.

Former Warner Robins City Councilman John Williams is serving a 14-month prison sentence in North Carolina after he was found guilty of using his position to get a $1,720 kickback from the sale of a truck to the city.

But that hasn’t stopped him from sending at least seven handwritten letters to the council since he was jailed, according to documents obtained by The Telegraph. Williams pleaded his innocence in all of the letters.

“By hook and crook, I sit in jail,” Williams wrote July 17. “But not forever.”

In an undated letter, Williams counsels the council on addressing a drainage problem on Kimberly Drive and a curb issue on Miller Drive, where Williams owns property.

In another letter dated Aug. 21, Williams tells the council to take action, such as revoking a business license, against Naim Jaber, a federal informant who testified against Williams.

Williams also asks the council on Aug. 26 to pay him $7,500 plus 29.9 percent interest to help his wife, Elna, pay debt he left behind. He stated a separate Houston County case against him was frivolous, as proven when it was dismissed after his federal conviction. In that case, Williams had been charged with making false statements to police after he reported his city-issued cell phone stolen. It was found soon after.

“I was in no way responsible for the ... hardship this unfortunate and inexcusable incident has caused both the city of WR and me and my family,” Williams wrote. Williams makes the request in three other letters.

City Attorney Jim Elliott said the city has sent the request to its insurer, who will decide the validity of Williams’ claim.

Anti-social media

A social media post by Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen led to a not-so-social exchange Wednesday between Allen and fellow Commissioner Bert Bivins.

Allen took issue with Bivins, who near the end of a closed meeting distributed copies of a recent Facebook post by Allen concerning a then-upcoming meeting of the search committee that was tasked with finding the recently appointed new director for the county’s Animal Welfare Department.

Everyone at the table -- except Allen -- was handed a copy.

State open meetings laws allow for meetings to be closed for limited reasons, and there was no discussion about the Facebook post.

Allen had objected publicly to being left out of talks about the director’s hiring, and he used Facebook to announce the committee’s schedule to meet with commission Chairman Sam Hart. In the post, he wrote that “maybe I have violated a Bert Bivins rule,” referring to a Bivins proposal that would curtail contact between commissioners and department heads without the chairman’s knowledge.

“You’re good Bert!” Allen barked at Bivins when leaving Wednesday’s committee meetings.

“You’re good,” Bivins replied.

Allen then stepped back into the conference room and added, “I’m fixing to get a lot better!”

Bivins said after the exchange that he objected to Allen’s mentioning him by name on the social media site.

“I thought that was in bad taste,” he said.

As for Allen feeling left out of the search committee’s work, Bivins said, “Everybody’s not in the loop on everything. You set up a committee, and there’s some people on it and some people who are not.”

Leading by example

It’s flu season again, and to promote the importance of getting the flu vaccine, Bibb County Commissioner Bert Bivins suggested at Wednesday’s meeting that commissioners get their shots.

Most agreed, but they were not exactly fighting for a place in line.

Commissioner Lonzy Edwards turned to Sam Hart and quipped, “If you’ll lead the way, Mr. Chairman, we’ll be right behind you.”

Hart deferred to County Attorney Virgil Adams.

“I’ll take the tablet,” Adams said.

“They have a spray,” Hart responded.

“I’ll take that,” said Adams.

Dates worth noting

The last day to register in order to vote in the Nov. 6 general election is Tuesday.

Early voting begins Oct. 15.

The last day to vote early will be Friday, Nov. 2.

Cross purposes

Former state Sen. Billy Harris now has his own prestigious cross to bear in honor of his service to Monroe County, the state of Georgia and the nation.

The Cabaniss Chapter 416 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy presented Harris with the Cross of Military Service during its convention in Macon on Sept. 28.

Harris served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Coming together

The human resources committee of a Macon-Bibb County consolidation task force is slated to meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, 175 Emery Highway. The finance committee will begin a meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, followed by the technology committee meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the same place.

Bishop launches Macon campaign office

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, an Albany Democrat who had previously represented Macon, hopes to be re-elected to a redrawn 2nd Congressional District so he may once again represent parts of Macon and more of Middle Georgia.

To that end, he opened a campaign office at 498 Poplar St. in Macon, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

“I am happy to have my Macon/Bibb County friends back in the 2nd Congressional District. The warm welcome at campaign kickoffs has been encouraging. I don’t know of any way we can say any stronger how important Macon/Bibb County is to us than to put an office here,” Bishop said in a statement.

Bishop’s efforts for Bibb, Crawford and Peach counties will be led by Michelle Rodgers Sands as regional political director, with Kimberlyn R. Carter as regional strategist, Cliffard Whitby as regional campaign adviser, Sheddrick Clark as regional finance chairman and Kattie Kendrick as 2nd Congressional District chairwoman.

Bishop is scheduled to be in Macon on Saturday to address the members and leadership of the Georgia Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary at their annual fall conference at the Macon Marriott City Center at 8:30 a.m.

Rail-to-trail meeting set

The Central Georgia Rail-to-Trail Association is planning a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, 175 Emery Highway, Macon.

The organization hopes to discuss options for building a multi-use trail to connect Bibb, Jones and Baldwin counties, and will hear from Kevin Burke, who helped build the Atlanta BeltLine.

Contact Doug Oetter at doug.oetter@gcsu.edu or (478) 445-7379 with questions.

Candidate forum set

The Evangelical Ministers Alliance of Macon, Georgia, and Vicinity has scheduled a political discussion to begin at noon Oct. 20.

Candidates will be given three minutes to present their platform. Questions will be taken from the audience but will be asked only by EMA pastors.

The event will be hosted by New Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 795 Maynard St., Macon.

Writers Rodney Manley, Mike Stucka and Christina M. Wright contributed to this report.

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