Editorial roundup: Views from around Georgia

Valdosta Daily Times: Taxpayers pay legal fees

The Valdosta Board of Education has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Board members must make better decisions and avoid costly lawsuits and investigations.

Specifically, the ouster of football coach Alan Rodemaker and the subsequent hiring and dismissal of controversial coach Rush Propst are board decisions which are using up resources that could be used elsewhere, like maybe improving academic outcomes or supporting teachers in the classroom.

When we elect people to office they become guardians of the public purse — or at least they should.

Ultimately, it is not the board members or the school system which pay these attorney fees and legal costs. It is Valdosta taxpayers.

Ironically, many taxpayers showed up at school board meetings and contacted board members, urging them to stabilize the coaching situation at Valdosta High School, put students ahead of politics, posturing and even ahead of winning and losing football games.

Unfortunately, they did not and now we are all paying dearly.

The bad news is, it doesn’t seem to be over yet and legal fees will likely balloon.

All of this could have been avoided by better decision making and, frankly, better relationships and cohesive legislative processes among board members.

Public service is a high calling and comes with a lot of responsibility, not the least of which is having vision, being more circumspect in decision making, thinking through long-term consequences and considering the implications of every decision.

For one clear example, anyone could have told board members that hiring Propst was never a safe bet. It did not take a crystal ball to predict controversy would follow the hiring decision.

Propst did not just come with a little baggage. Controversy, allegations, accusations and investigations have followed him ever since he coached at Hoover, Alabama, and came to Georgia.

When The Valdosta Daily Times made public records requests to uncover the legal costs of these two football coaching decisions, frankly we were a little surprised that it has not already cost taxpayers even more dollars, but we also know, it is not over yet.

Board members must make better decisions and must do a better job of guarding the public purse or voters must make better decisions about future board members.

Brunswick News: Commission can still salvage its search for a new manager

The Glynn County Commission has had two important jobs to fill this year — a new county police chief and a new county manager.

The search for a new police chief went pretty smoothly as the county worked with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives to pick a candidate. New chief Jacques Battiste, who was sworn in Thursday, seems to be a home run hire and a great fit for the community.

The search for a new county manager has been a rockier road thanks to self-inflicted potholes caused by some county commission members.

Commissioners seemed to be using the same playbook they did to hire a new chief. They contracted with the Mercer Group to interview candidates for the position. Commissioners then spent a few days meeting with candidates themselves. That’s where the path diverged into the ridiculous.

Commissioners tried to name someone who had not applied for the position as the sole finalist — Glynn County Tax Commissioner Jeff Chapman. The first vote was denied by a vote of 3-3 with one commissioner abstaining. A second vote weeks later passed 4-3 to name Chapman the lone finalist, and he appeared on his way to being picked for the post before withdrawing his name from consideration Tuesday.

Instead of following the parameters they set from the beginning — the same strategy that led to a superb pick for police chief — a few commissioners threw away their successful playbook and called their own number instead.

This is not a matter of Chapman’s ability to do the job. He has a vast amount of experience serving the public and has done a great job leading the tax office. He could have been the right choice, but his credentials — some of which did not meet the requirements the county desired — should have gone through the same scrutiny as the other applicants.

It is not the first baffling decision the county has made regarding the county manager post. When former county manager Alan Ours announced his intention to leave, he was planning to stay on until Aug. 27 while the county found a replacement. The commission instead decided in April to relieve Ours of his duty but still pay him through Aug. 27. Paying people without making use of their expertise, like with Ours and the Mercer Group, is a disturbing trend that should concern Glynn County taxpayers.

Chapman’s withdrawal gives the county a second chance to honor the process it laid out. The method worked for the police chief search. There is no reason to think it can’t work for the county manager post as long as everyone involved is on the same page.

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