Politics & Government

Political Notebook: Justice, meet Stuart. Stuart, Justice

Stuart Morelli left his job as assistant county attorney for Macon-Bibb County in 2014, for a post as senior assistant county attorney in Gwinnett County. And that position, it transpires, is a steppingstone to everyone’s aspiration: Internet fame.

To be fair, Morelli’s notoriety does not spring from a riveting cat video or drunken fast-food drive-through spectacle. No, he is a bystander in an entertaining court case that only involves his employer peripherally. But that was enough to attract national media attention this week.

“Can’t say I ever expected a case of mine, much less this one, getting a write-up on The Washington Post,” Morelli said on a Facebook link to the story.

The April 23 story is about a filing from April 20 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The court document is from Tamah Jada Clark of Pensacola, Florida, who apparently tried to sue pretty much anyone she could think of over the 5-year-old arrest of her husband, Jason. He was picked up on aggravated assault and other charges in south Georgia, but was at one point transferred to the Gwinnett County jail due to overcrowding.

Clark filed a $10 billion lawsuit against all sorts of people and institutions, alleging ... well, it’s not clear exactly what. Judge Willis Hunt Jr. threw out her suit in March, and Clark responded with 11 pages of obscenity-filled ramblings. With expletives deleted, the remainder is mostly “sovereign citizen” baloney. That’s a conspiracy theory holding that the U.S. government is somehow illegitimate, and thus if believers use the right language, laws -- usually tax laws -- don’t apply to them.

Several “sovereign citizens” have killed police during traffic stops over the last few years, and Clark herself was arrested in Pelham, Georgia, when police caught her car loaded with weapons (and her 1-year-old son), apparently on her way to break hubby out of jail.

Her latest filing is addressed in part to Morelli, in his role as defender of Gwinnett County. But he faces a powerful foe: one of Clark’s less-incoherent exhortations proclaims “I AM Justice!”

BETTER FENCES MAKE POORER NEIGHBORS

Central Georgia Technical College will spend about $21 million building the Roy H. “Sonny” Watson Health Sciences building, which several officials think may be placed in a less-than-desirable neighborhood.

The issue? A nearby sewer lift station owned by the Warner Robins government. There’s not much equipment above ground in a small lot, perhaps a few dozen feet on a side. It’s surrounded by a 6-foot chain-link fence topped with three strands of barbed wire.

And so the school and Watson were among the officials asking Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms for a better-looking enclosure: a block, brick and cast stone wall with two decorative steel gates. That work, and changes to a short access driveway, weighed in at $88,605.51, according to a quote.

Warner Robins City Council members heard that every lift station owned by the city -- and there are about 50 of them -- is surrounded either by a privacy fence or a chain-link fence. They rejected the wall, but indicated they might be amenable to a privacy fence.

PLAN THE FUTURE

A citizens group dubbing itself Warner Robins 2050 plans to hold an organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Centerville Library, 206 Gunn Road.

One of the organizers, Cathy Silengo, said the group aims to enhance the kinds of planning the city already does. It’s interested in nuts-and-bolts operations such as transportation, as well as quality-of-life issues such as the arts. Another major focus is the future of Robins Air Force Base, which affects so many other issues in the city, Silengo said.

PHOTOBOMBING A POTENTIAL PRESIDENT

Bibb County school board member Jason Downey took to Facebook when he realized he had appeared on CNN.com photobombing a potential U.S. president. Downey had been photographed near Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and a picture ran with a story about whether billionaire David Koch had picked a presidential candidate.

“That moment when you are reading CNN’s article on Governor Scott Walker and while perusing the photo album, spot yourself in a PHOTO BOMB,” Downey wrote on Facebook. In the picture, he’s close to Walker, clad in a white shirt, dark vest and perhaps a gold tie. To clarify for his Facebook followers, Downey offered directions: “Hard to miss the shiny bald head.”

TILLMAN JOINS STATEWIDE COALITION

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Al Tillman sponsored local passage of a “Ban The Box” ordinance, which commissioners approved in March. At about the same time, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a statewide executive order on the same subject. Now Tillman is joining others to take the idea to a higher level.

Tillman has joined the statewide “Ban The Box Coalition,” which is urging President Barack Obama to sign a federal executive order.

“The Box” refers to a check box on initial applications for government jobs, asking if the applicant has any criminal history. By removing it, proponents say, people with some past trouble won’t be rejected automatically. Applicants can be asked about it in later interviews, but by then they can show their qualifications and explain why past incidents shouldn’t disqualify them from future jobs.

Making it easier for people with criminal records to get jobs is one of the best ways to prevent recidivism, Tillman said.

In Macon-Bibb, the box ban doesn’t apply to forms for Parks & Recreation jobs that involve work with children, the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

The Georgia Ban The Box Coalition includes state and local officials, who planned to meet Friday with Obama administration officials to ask for a nationwide box ban, according to a news release.

Telegraph writers Jim Gaines and Mike Stucka contributed to this report.

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