Bibb commissioners publicly ratify property votes

Five days after residents filed a joint lawsuit alleging the Bibb County Commission illegally voted in private to buy property, commissioners ratified those votes in public.

Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to ratify the actions of Aug. 5, 2008, and Nov. 18, 2008, when they voted during two closed sessions to buy up to $3.3 million worth of property near the county jail for a new courthouse complex.

County Attorney Virgil Adams said the move was not an admission that the commission’s original votes were illegal.

Rather, it clears any question of the vote’s legality, he said.

He said the public votes were “sort of like free insurance” for the commission.

Adams said he still would advise commissioners to take all subsequent votes regarding property acquisition in private.

Lindsay Holliday, one of the three residents who filed the lawsuit, said the move was irrelevant.

Commissioners “need to face the public and explain what they’re doing behind closed doors and not just pop out for one second, and say, ‘Hey, we’re voting,’’’ said Holliday, who learned of Tuesday’s vote from a reporter. “I don’t think this little late action of theirs is in any way sufficient to cure a very illegal action.”

Holliday and two other residents filed a joint lawsuit in response to a Telegraph article in which a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office said voting in private on any matter is illegal.

Adams says voting on property acquisition in private is a general practice and is allowed.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.