Neal Erwin, a Warner Robins City Council Post 6 candidate, dug into incumbent Councilman John Williams with a flourish of Facebook posts this week.
The posts, written primarily in capital letters, include a dictation of a dated summary from Human Resources Manager Bryan Fobbus about a sexual harassment allegation a city employee reported in June.
According to public records, the city employee reported to City Clerk Alton Mattox that Williams made an inappropriate sound as she walked away from a circle of city officials who were chatting in the middle of City Hall.
“She states that as she walked away she overheard Mr. Williams comment uumm, uumm, uum,” wrote Bryan Fobbus, the city’s Human Resources manager, in a summary item dated June 17. The employee “reports that this is not the first time Mr. Williams has made comments to her, that he has said ‘come over here and sit by me,’ ‘you sure do smell good’ and licked his lips.”
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Fobbus said this week the employee did not want to file an official complaint, and the matter is considered closed. No other complaints against Williams have been documented or filed with City Hall.
However, city officials who were either notified of or present during the alleged harassment documented the complaint as well as actions Mayor Chuck Shaheen, Mattox and Fobbus took to deal with the incident. The officials met with Williams and the city employee separately, the records reveal, though Councilman Mike Daley notes he did not think it appropriate for Mattox and Shaheen to meet with the employee in the breakroom.
Shaheen said this week he took the complaint seriously and told Williams he was not to have contact with any women in City Hall except the mayor’s secretaries.
Speaking as the chairman of the executive committee of an 11-county regional roundtable, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert found himself speaking in support of regionalism, “not about what’s going to be in our backyard and what’s going to be in our county.”
To help a project in Twiggs and Houston counties on Ga. 96, Reichert was willing to give up on a $40 million bridge at Interstate 16 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“It ended up being my damn project that got moved out of Bibb County,” Reichert said. “But I want it on the record that I voted for it.”
Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker agreed. Houston County is planning to give up two projects to make the Ga. 96 work happen.
The executive committee’s recommendations for the changes go Wednesday to the full regional roundtable, which will meet at 1 p.m. in the Middle Georgia Regional Commission offices in Macon.
Transportation tax reconsidered
About two dozen comments on a proposed 10-year, 1-percent regional transportation sales tax have been left by concerned residents. They included comments on specific projects, on details as small as whether sidewalks should be on both sides of a road.
Some of the comments reflected on the tax itself.
“This evolution seems like one big threat from State of Georgia to citizens, i.e. if you don’t pass this, you will regret it.” “Good plan! I’m in favor ...” “In the current economic climate, we do not need any additional taxes.” “Good concept. Good for all. Good for local economy. Good way to find needed projects. Good projects list.” “No new tax.” “Current project list does not meet Middle Georgia’s economic and logistic needs for the next 10 years.”
It’s up to voters next year to decide whether the transportation sales tax makes sense.
But the commenters seemed to be keeping a close eye on Robins Air Force Base. Several comments said Ga. 96 provides the logical additional access to the base, not the proposed Sardis Church Road extension.
In that, they were echoed by Twiggs County Commission Chairman Ray Bennett, who is pushing for a completely widened Ga. 96 corridor from Interstate 16.
“There’s 18,000 employees at Robins Air Force Base, which is the biggest employer in the state,” Bennett said. That brings traffic needs.
“To ignore it would be ignoring the economic engine of Middle Georgia at our own peril,” he said.
In earmarking some money last week to build the Filmore Thomas Recreation Area, Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas gave a long speech on how nice it will be to have the city facility open to all in the area. As a child she wasn’t allowed into the segregated skating rink at the site when it was known as Durr’s Lake, she said, but she defiantly sneaked across the lake as a shortcut.
Though he’s frequently Lucas’ ally, Councilman Henry Ficklin couldn’t resist a comment on her word choice, drawing a laugh from other council members.
“I know Councilwoman Lucas has been accused of a lot of things, but I didn’t know she walked on water, too,” he said.
Bibb County commissioners have been talking for at least a year about improving access along Level Acres Drive, but property owners have offered mixed messages about whether the county should claim a longer stretch of the road and get better access for emergency vehicles.
It’s not even recent problems; the county engineer wrote a letter about it in 1991.
But commissioners seem to be moving closer to forcing a resolution, one way or another. Commissioner Lonzy Edwards said a county takeover may be the only way to bring the resolution. Commissioner Bert Bivins agreed, saying, “This is the kind of situation where we need to consider condemnation.”
No decision has been made. Edwards, who represents the eastern Bibb area off Ocmulgee East Boulevard, said he’s only willing to make one more try to get two holdout property owners on board.
They’ll campaign anywhere
Warner Robins City Council Post 6 candidates will campaign just about anywhere, they showed this week.
In the same week Neal Erwin, 41, took his campaign to the Internet, incumbent John Williams, 72, turned his council seat into a stump.
During the typically short council comments portion of the regular council meeting, Williams began to respond to a Jefferson Hills resident who had just told City Council not to forget her neighborhood -- which is in Post 5.
“When I came into office, one of the first things I did was get over there,” Williams said. “That section of town is going to sparkle.”
The councilman then launched into a lengthy review of his four years on council and his views on major city topics, including the need for industrial development, Robins Air Force Base and job development.
International City Fall Festival needs help
Organizers of the Warner Robins International City Fall Festival are looking for more volunteers, vendors and sponsors, they told City Council on Monday.
The Downtown Development Authority board is holding the festival Oct. 1 in the Commercial Circle area. They hope to raise seed money to revive the International City festival in the spring, which they intend to hold every spring.
Writers Jim Gaines, Mike Stucka and Christina M. Wright contributed to this report.