Grand Jury pre­sent­ment goes nowhere

The Covington News - - OPINION - WIL­LIAM PERUG­INO COLUM­NIST Wil­liam Perug­ino is ac­tive in lo­cal and re­gional pol­i­tics and can be reached at 3pe­rug­i­nos@bell­south.net.

The Grand Jury, that served the first half of this year, submitted a pre­sent­ment to the Su­pe­rior Court of New­ton County that was pub­lished in this news­pa­per as re­quired by the court. This pre­sent­ment con­tained the re­sults of a re­view con­ducted on the New­ton County De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works Main­te­nance Project done on Cook Road.

The find­ings of the Grand Jury clearly showed that the pro­vi­sions of state law, county en­abling leg­is­la­tion, and county pur­chas­ing pol­icy were not com­plied with.

Prior to the pre­sent­ment of the Grand Jury be­ing made pub­lic and pub­lished, sev­eral ar­ti­cles were writ­ten on the is­sue in this news­pa­per. In­for­ma­tion in th­ese ar­ti­cles that was pro­vided to re­porters is now sub- ject to com­par­i­son with the facts pre­sented by the Grand Jury. This com­par­i­son would prob­a­bly make very in­ter­est­ing read­ing.

Fur­ther to the mat­ter, the Grand Jury rec­om­mended that a re­view be con­ducted by the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers for any pos­si­ble mis­con­duct or in­fringe­ment of pol­icy and pro­ce­dure, that spe­cific bud­get re­quire­ments and cost con­trols be im­ple­mented and that the Neigh­bor­hood Sta­bi­liza­tion Project be re­viewed for com­pli­ance with ap­pli­ca­ble codes, reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies. The pre­sent­ment was submitted to the board by the Court but noth­ing has hap­pened.

De­spite the se­ri­ous na­ture of the charges in­volved and the con­se­quences to the peo­ple of New­ton County, the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers has taken no ac­tion to fol­low through. Ap­par­ently the com­mis­sion­ers are not will­ing to take any po­lit­i­cal risk to demon­strate that there are con­se­quences for not com­ply­ing with laws and reg­u­la­tions in the op­er­a­tion of county government. We need not look to Washington to find no-risk, self-preser­va­tion pol­i­tics at work. We have our own home grown va­ri­ety. If there is not sharp timely re­ac­tion and fol­low through to non com­pli­ance on the lo­cal level un­der our per­sonal view, how can we ever ex­pect to achieve accountability on the fed­eral level?

This is par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing in th­ese times of fi­nan­cial hard­ship. Our elected of­fi­cials of New­ton County have a fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­ity to be good stew­ards of our money and jeal­ously pro­tect the spend­ing of those funds.

The Cir­cuit Court and the District At­tor­ney passed the pre­sent­ment on to the board. It’s time for the board to act re­spon­si­bly, take se­ri­ous ac­tion and report to the ci­ti­zens of New­ton County.

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