Politics & Government

Political Notebook: Better days forecast

Macon-Bibb County commissioners held their fourth and final session of the year with consultants from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Mara Register and Gordon Maner led commissioners through strategic planning sessions, helping them set priorities. Macon-Bibb officials have come a long way in the 11 months since consolidation, consultants said.

“We see an extremely bright future for this community, and it is all due to your leadership,” Register told commissioners. Maner predicted that Macon-Bibb would see an Athens-like transformation over the next dozen years.

The consultants will be back in January to make sure department heads are on board with the commission’s goals and will meet with elected officials in six months or a year to check on progress.

One thing to watch for, Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said, is the state of employee morale. As Macon-Bibb continues to tighten its budget, many workers fear for their jobs, and that affects performance, he said. How rank and file employees treat residents reflects on those higher up in government and will help determine how people come to view consolidation, Shepherd said.

FLOWING WELL

The city of Perry seemed to have set a record in terms of how well things flow through the city.

Jack Dozier, executive director of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, said he’s used to making presentations to city councils. But Perry’s presentation last Tuesday was different.

“Normally when I do this, I bring an award. Today I had to bring a pickup truck,” he explained. “I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and I’ve never given six awards in one night.”

Perry’s water service is run through city officials and a contractor, ESG. The two organizations won for best direct media, best new media, best consumer confidence report, best laboratory quality assurance program, a gold award for wastewater collection systems as well as a safety award.

Mayor Jimmy Faircloth announced he was proud of the awards, “but I’m more proud of the people who caused them to happen.”

KEEP FREE SPEECH FREE

Over the years, some politicians have gotten creative with the SPLOST acronym -- making a splash for pronouncing it SPLOSH, SPLOTS or similar malapropisms.

But a morning TV news anchor’s interpretation Friday created a whole new version of taxation -- Special Purpose Local Opinion Sales Tax.

For the record, The Telegraph opposes levying a fee on the First Amendment.

DRIVE TO GIVE

The Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade, which takes gifts to patients at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, is coming Dec. 2.

But this year, in consideration of Macon-Bibb County government consolidation, it’s the “Mayor and Commissioners’ Christmas Motorcade.”

This week Commissioner Al Tillman put his donation check into the pot and asked the other eight commissioners to chip in at least $25.

“I think our goal should be $500,” he said.

Mayor Robert Reichert and most commissioners won’t be on hand to lead the caravan to Milledge–ville. They’ll be at required training in Athens that day.

All Macon-Bibb employees and the general public are invited to give. The deadline for donations is Nov. 26. There will be collection boxes in the commission chamber at 700 Poplar St.

The Georgia Municipal Association started the Christmas Motorcade in 1958 and expanded it in the 1980s to serve all seven state and regional mental hospitals. Gifts go to patients who otherwise would not have a Christmas. Many have no known relatives.

Patients need clothing, personal hygiene and recreation items. A full list can be found at www.gmanet.com/Motorcade.aspx?CNID=27969. Cash is welcome as well. Checks can be made out to “Macon-Bibb County, Georgia” and given to Janice Ross in the commission office.

SCARING IS CARING

The Warner Robins City Council recognized people who helped the Warner Robins Police Department raise some $3,300 for Special Olympics.

Police officers and volunteers transformed the former police station into a haunted house. Volunteers included members of the Dettlinger family, who were there every day, department spokeswoman Jennifer Parsons said.

“They had their own room altogether,” she said. “We called it the murder room.”

Mayor Randy Toms said he showed up to appreciate the effort, but from a distance: “I went to my safe place.”

MAJOR MINORITY TURNOUT

Macon-Bibb County and other government agencies held a “reverse vendors fair” Nov. 14, hoping to attract more small local and minority-owned businesses to bid on government work and purchases.

It drew a good crowd, Assistant County Manager Charles Coney told commissioners this week. More than 200 people showed up, all 50 of the information packets available were taken, and 30 businesses said they wanted to register as “disadvantaged,” he said.

That designation applies to any area business that’s at least 51 percent owned by women, minorities, veterans or the disabled.

FULL CRUNCH AHEAD

A Houston County judge this week signed off on a $105 million bond issue through the Houston County Development Authority after no one objected, said authority attorney Mike Long.

The money will help Frito-Lay modernize and expand production at its Perry plant, adding new production lines. The site makes about 300 million pounds of snack food per year.

Writers Liz Fabian, Jim Gaines and Mike Stucka contributed to this report.

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