Fall where it may

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

With ill intentions or not, the Decatur County Board of Commissioners needs to reconsider its decision to sweep under the rug its investigation and the results of that investigation of County Administrator Tom Patton and his management of the county staff.

Even though the allegations against Patton were unfounded and not corroborated, the report of that investigation should have been made in open meeting and should have been in writing.

Under Georgia’s Open Meetings Law, personnel discussions are exempt from open meetings, “but not when receiving evidence or hearing arguments on charges filed to determine disciplinary action or dismissal of a public officer or employee.”

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As Board Chairman Butch Mosely said when coming out of the closed meeting Tuesday, no disciplinary action would be taken.

The oral investigation was a side-step game: The allegations and evidence presented in considering disciplinary action needs to be public.

If the allegations were serious enough for the county to hire an independent, $200-an-hour attorney and spend the kind of money it did, shouldn’t the taxpayers have a right to know what those allegations were, who the accuser was and what the outcome of that investigation is?

Yes, they do.

And the intent should not be to drag Patton through the mud, but to air all the dirty laundry so the dirt, the rumors and the allegations don’t keep festering.

The business of the county can’t “move on” when rumors, allegations and more rumors and more allegations just keep being swept under the rug.

Make the investigation public and let the dirt fall where it may.