02 December 2016

[TPC] - Guest Post by Fred Wheeler Concerning the Newton Co. Forensic Audit

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Another $100,000+ of County Taxpayer Money Wasted 
A guest post by Fred Wheeler

Oh no,

   I just reviewed the forensic audit report concerning the extreme mismanagement and wasteful spending our county government has perpetrated against us over the last decade. The audit team spent over 1000 hours at somewhere between $75 and $340 per hour carrying it out. It is very well done. But, of course, we know nothing will come of it. So, we have wasted our money having someone certify and quantify what we suspected already.

   The audit primarily deals with the self-dealing of J.C. Henderson and the scam that Tommy Craig carried out over the last twenty years concerning Bear Creek. Of course, neither could have been successful without the collusion or malfeasance of our elected officials. I've been to enough BOC meetings to have heard numerous citizens plead with the members to stop the insanity. But, they turned a deaf ear to reason.

   J.C. runs the fourth district like a ward healer. The audit documents repeated instances of self dealing between him, his church, the Nelson Heights Community Center, and the county. Unfortunately, because of demographics, J.C. has a lifetime appointment to the commission. Apparently, his self-dealings have cost the taxpayers over $40,000.

   This pales in significance compared to what Tommy Craig has hauled off. Professionals carry E&O insurance (the "O" stands for omissions). The auditor documented over twenty occasions when Craig made "false and misleading statements between 2008 and 2015" to the BOC concerning the Bear Creek permitting process. Many of these involved omissions of facts that he knew and should have conveyed the board.

   Craig operated as both county attorney (who should have represented the interests of his client, Newton County) and as water consultant (a contractor with a definite axe to grind). There was obviously a conflict of interest. As a result of his regular contact with the Corps of Engineers, EPA, and other agencies, he was well aware "years in advance" that the Bear Creek Project would not be approved. The EPA, for instance, advised him that the Reservoir Plan was fundamentally flawed and inadequate back in 2008.

   He continually "provided flawed, incomplete, or inadequate information to government regulators" about population estimates and water use. This is the same problem we confronted when the people had to fight against the imposition of the 2050 Plan. It's difficult to put a price tag on how much Bear Creek has cost us. If you add in the opportunity costs of lost tax revenues from the property it could approach $60 million dollars.

   Things like this are very discouraging. I, for one have resolved to vote against every incumbent and tax measure until the BOC cleans this mess up and puts the county on an even keel. By the way, the same geniuses who went to asleep at the switch on these matters will soon propose to "sell" our water and sewer system to the W&S Authority. Wait till J.C. gets his hands on that honey pot of money.