November 22, 2017

Heard Commissioners Appoint former City of Franklin Attorney to County Position (Video)

At a special called meeting held Thursday, January 12, 2012, the Heard County Board of Commissioners voted to replace county attorney Jerry Ann Connor.

Commission Chairperson June Jackson stated that some interest had been shown by the board in replacing Connor with a new attorney.

Commissioner Sandi Allen told the board she felt that Connor’s service to the three different entities in the county was a conflict of interest to the county. Connor has also served as the attorney for the Heard County Water and Development Authorities for several years including the last seven where she served all three concurrently.

Heard BOC Discussion and Vote to Replace Longtime County Attorney from HeardCitizen.com on Vimeo.

Jackson said that she, along with Commissioner Allen and County Clerk Patty Jiles, had taken a trip to Lagrange to meet with Jeffery M. Todd of Lewis, Taylor, and Todd, P.C.

Jackson added that Todd had 20 years of experience as the city attorney of Lagrange and that he or his firm had represented several different municipalities including Todd’s two-and-a half-year stint as lead counsel for the City of Franklin.

Commissioner Frank Crook asked Jackson what the difference in pay would be for the new attorney. Jackson stated that Todd would charge $160 per hour as compared to the current rate charged by Connor of $125 per hour, but she did also indicate that Todd would not charge the county for some items that Connor did bill to the county.

We asked Jackson in the later in-depth interview for some examples of these items that would not be billed but she could not recall any of the specific items at that time.

Commissioner Isenhower told the board that she would like to have the opportunity to meet with Todd before making her decision about the appointment.

Commissioner Allen told Isenhower that in their earlier meeting Todd had told them that it would be improper for that to happen and that he would not meet with Isenhower or any other board members until after the decision had been made. Isenhower again stated that she didn’t think it right to be forced to make a decision about someone she had never met personally.

Jackson responded with a remark about Todd’s stint with the City of Franklin a couple of years ago: “He (Todd) was the council for the City of Franklin for a little while and I think at one point he told one of the council members that what he was wanting to do was illegal and that council member immediately had asked for his resignation,” stated Jackson.

Isenhower again asked how could she be apprised of Todd’s ethics or where he stood on things without the chance of meeting him in person. Jackson responded to Isenhower, “20 years with the City of Lagrange? I’ll tell you he is a Christian and he’ll tell you he’s a Christian.”

Commissioner Allen agreed that Todd’s record speaks for itself. Commissioner Crook asked County Clerk Patty Jiles for her opinion and she replied that she had no opinion either way that she was fine working with either attorney. Crook stated that he had known Todd for a long time and respected him.

Commissioner Allen motioned to appoint Todd as the attorney which was seconded by Commissioner Crook. During the discussion Commissioner Jacob Cammon asked why if the conflict of interest was the primary issue could the board not consult Jerry Ann Connor about possibly resigning from her other positions with the water and development authorities in order to eliminate the conflict.

Jackson stated that it wouldn’t be fair to ask Connor to make that choice. “This is nothing personal it is just county business,” she said to the board. We later asked the Commission Chairperson why Connor had not been given the option to leave the other positions as Cammon had suggested. “That might have been an option but we didn’t do it that way,” said Jackson. She added, “It was nothing that Jerry Ann did or did not do that led to this decision.”

The board approved the appointment of Todd by a vote of 4-1 with Isenhower voting against.

After the meeting District #1 Commissioner Isenhower gave the following statement when asked why she voted against the appointment of the new attorney: “I could not in good conscience vote to appoint someone that I could not meet with beforehand.

I do not understand why it was deemed to be inappropriate for me to speak with Todd before making my decision but it was perfectly fine for Commissioner Allen, Jackson, and the County Clerk Patty Jiles to meet with him.

This seems unfair not only to me but to the citizens I represent in my district. It also doesn’t make sense to me fiscally to hire a lawyer that charges $35 more per hour.

Furthermore, I also don’t understand why suddenly Connor representing the others (HCWA and Development Authority) has become a conflict of interest when it wasn’t considered a conflict for the last several years. I think it was unfair for Connor to be ambushed this way.

She should have been present to speak to us (the board) on her own behalf and possibly given the opportunity to resign her other positions if that was indeed the real issue with her performance.”

During the exclusive interview with Jackson we also asked her about the source of her statement about Todd’s being asked to resign by a Franklin City Council member.

She replied that she had indeed heard that, but she could not remember who she had heard it from. She advised us to obtain a copy of the tape from the city of Franklin of that meeting which took place January 7, 2010.

We did obtain a copy of that meeting from Franklin City Clerk Myra Braswell and found a different version of the events than what Jackson had described. The minutes and tape show that during that meeting Franklin Councilman Jimmy Hamil had asked to amend the agenda to discuss the City Attorney appointment for the new year.

During his department reports,  then city attorney Jeff Todd told the council that his appointment was not a yearly appointment and that if they were going to make a change he would like to know right then.

Councilman Johnny Adams stated that the council was interested in swapping attorneys. Todd then immediately tendered his resignation and left the meeting. Adams told Todd before he left the room that he was only speaking of his own intentions to make that motion to replace him and that he could not speak for the rest of the council.

Todd stated that “you do not have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing” and left the meeting anyway. See below for exclusive audio of this exchange at the January 7, 2010 Franklin City Council Meeting.

Jeff Todd resignation from the Franklin City Council (Audio from 1/07/10) from HeardCitizen.com on Vimeo.

Due to a conflict with the new attorney’s schedule, the board approved a new regular meeting time. The monthly meetings will now take place on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 at the usual location in the courtroom of the Heard County Courthouse. The next meeting is scheduled for January 26, 2012.

We attempted to contact Connor for a statement but our phone calls to her office were not returned. Heard County Water Authority director Jimmy Knight did tell us that the water authority board was very pleased with Connor’s work for them during her past 10 years of service.

Also during the meeting the board approved the purchase of a new tag along trailer for the Public Works Department. The director Darold Wiggins stated that the repair of the lowboy tractor would cost between $4000 and $8000 which he said was basically more than the current value of the truck.

Wiggins told the board of a tag-along trailer that was being sold by local resident Todd Turner for $16,500. He stated the trailer could serve his purposes temporarily while he searched for a replacement for the lowboy. The board approved the purchase of the trailer. After an executive session to discuss personnel the board adjourned the meeting.

 

Comments

  1. My Opinion.There should be some type of agreement or contract with attorney Todd& Heard County Board of Commissioners which would be covered under open record act.It does not make sense for Mrs Jackson to pay $35.00hr more for attorney whenever she stated in previous meetings reason for going to 1 board meeting a month was to save money for tax payers. Seems that Mrs Jackson is determined that Mrs Isenhower will not have any say what goes on in County Business.We should go to a soul commissiner.That’s the way it’s being run.It’s also my opinion there should be a complete audit where every dollar of the previous SPLOST money went.

  2. Isenhower is determine to be a leader for her district—- not a follow.

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