31 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Check-in: Talkin' Hospital Authority, Water Woes, more Covington BS & More

Thanks for joining us tonight, friends.

So regarding the ORR that the Newton Co. BOC sent to the the Newton Co. Hospital Authority several weeks back - a couple of weeks ago and the authority finally responded...somewhat.

Basically they did a document dump. Hundreds and hundreds of pages of information & data; most of it wasn't what the BOC had requested.

Per multiple sources, the authority seems to be trying to bide their time, possibly hoping against hope that this will all go away.

It won't...


Did you know that Jim Weadick and Troy Brooks have collectively been making about a million dollars a year?

Did you know that Billy Fortson has been paid well north of a hundred thousand dollars per annum from the hospital authority?


There has to be a full accounting and reconciliation of all monies as it relates to the Newton Co. Hospital Authority for, at least, the last decade or so. Anything else should be unacceptable.

Ditto for the Industrial Development Authority and also the Joint Development Authority of Newton, Morgan, Jasper & Walton.

In our estimation, these state-sanctioned authorities have been very responsible for some of the most real damage done to the taxpayers of Newton Co. for years and years. Well, those authorities and then also Wm Thomas Craig, Esq.; but then again - Mr. Craig was the legal counsel for many, many years, per our sources, for all three of those authorities.

Fortunately, it seems as if there is no chance of this story ever going gentle into that good night. Not by the Citizenry, nor, as we understand it, by the current elected officials of Newton Co. (or at least a few of them), and that, my friends, is a very beautiful thing.

23 July 2017

[TPC] - "The Porch," a piece by Ellis Millsaps

The Porch 
A write-up by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps 

~ special to The Chronicles

So I'm sitting on my porch in Porterdale and Bruce Springsteen comes walking down the sidewalk.

This is not a common occurrence.

"Wassup?" I say.

"Wassup?" he responds.

I can't help but notice he's drinking something out of a paper bag. I'm rolling hand-rolled cigarettes and having my morning coffee. So I invite him to join me.

"Wanna sit for a spell?" I ask, channeling Granny Clampett.

"Well yeah," he says. "Doesn't seem like there's a whole lot happening on E. Palmetto St this morning."

"It's early," I reply, and pull up one of my three chairs. Turns out Bruce has a pint of Crown Royal, so I slide the tobacco and papers over.

I've never been crazy about Crown Royal, or Canadian whiskey in general. Seems like a watered down version of the real thing, but this already no ordinary day and all I had before was coffee.

Now I've got coffee and Bruce. Things could be awkward, we never having met before, but we seem symaptico and pretty soon we're chilling, talking about baseball with an occasional reference to Lou Reed when Bob Dylan appears and takes the third seat. 

Our pleasant conversation turns sour as Dylan and I start taking turns seeing who can be the biggest asshole, but at least the conversation is spirited as it ceases to be once Leonard Cohen appears on the porch. He doesn't walk up; he just appears. This is somewhat awkward because there are only three chairs.

Also there's the fact that Leonard is dead.

An uncomfortable silence ensues which is broken by the appearance of David Bowie and Elvis.

Of course they haven't brought any chairs either.

I've had about enough of this.

"Look," I say, "the three of us are sitting here having a pleasant, then spirited, conversation about what an A-hole Bobby is when you three show up. We're discussing baseball and Lou Reed and we're damn sure not having no "Love Me Tender" and we're sure as hell not having any "Suffragette City."

"And what the hell is that song even about anyway, Mr. Jones? And yes - I know your name is really David Jones, and I have no idea what you're doing here, but I don't think you do either, do you, Mr. Jones?"

"Yeah, something is happening here and you don't know what it is," Bob chimes in.

I glare at him.

"I know you think you're a duke and your buddy is a King, but my friend here is the Boss and he says all you dead people should leave. Zimmerman, you can stay if you behave yourself."

Bruce nods and the dead slowly fade from view.

"What was that all about," I ask Bruce.

"I thought you knew. I just got here."

To be continued. Perhaps... 

 Ellis Millsaps 

Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

17 July 2017

[TPC] - Monday Night Quick Bite: Vacation is over - what's the word around town?

Howdy, friends. Hope it's all good out there. Well, I just returned from a week on the Emerald Coast of Florida. I'm tanned up, well rested, and ready to go!

Right quick, I'd like to give thanks and another shout-out to you, fearless reader. My last write-up here covering the hospital authority and the ambulance service here in Newton Co. completely shattered my previous high number post, which, as some of you may remember, was "Bad News Bear Creek," an article talking about how Newton Co. was set to deed back approx. $1.5 million dollar's worth of land. More on that in a bit...

Between Facebook, and the unique views here at TPC, upwards of 5,000 people viewed, 

The old line in the press biz is to never oversell the lede, right? We always strive to do that here at TPC, friends. Regardless, the interest in this is appreciated, and it's proof, in this writer's estimation, that the people of the home county are rallying and ready to effect real and positive change and do away with the business as usual that we've seen for...what, a couple of generations now? 

Someone mentioned to me today as to whether or not I felt vindicated about the hospital authority. After all, for approx. 15 years now I guess you could call me Ahab, and that perhaps that state-sanctioned authority was maybe kind of a Moby Dick for me. Well, like I told this person - yeah...maybe, but whatever. I just want it to get fixed. I go back six generations in Newton, and this is where I intend to stay. I just want things to get right. That's all I care about. Truly. 

As a quick aside, I've had a couple folks ask me about the IDA, the Industrial Development Authority. Well, I know that there's a lot of noise in the system about that as it relates to the Three Ring Circus deal, and maybe there's something there. It hasn't really been on my radar. There's only so much time in the day. But just like the hospital authority, I think there needs to be a serious accounting and reconciliation of all the monies flowing through that authority, but not just here recently. I'd go back several years. And for the record, to properly file an ORR with the IDA (or any governmental authority in Georgia), you have to actually file it with the authority's authorized  and listed agent/secretary.

Going back to the second paragraph in this piece, talking about the mitigation property off of Hwy 11, if you remember, that land was set to be quit-claimed back to the original owners on July 15th of 2017. That was Saturday. I put in a call to Phil Johnson, Atty-at-law, to see if he went to the 3rd floor of the Judicial Annex and filed those bad boys. Knowing him, I'm sure it was done. We'll find out and report back to you. 

So, let's get down to brass tacks. 

Per two sources, the Hospital Authority apparently made history this past week. For the first time ever, they actually sort of followed state law and responded to an information request. As you may remember from previous articles, they'd apparently, for years, just always ignored those requests when they came from private Citizens. Perhaps it coming from the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners may have played a role; however, per multiple sources, the information they gave was not, really, what was requested. At all. 

I'm of the opinion that they Newton Co. Hospital Authority is stonewalling, and I'm not the only one who is thinking that. 

I also think they're playing an old-fashioned game of "Chicken." As a couple folks have pointed out, the optics of the Newton Co. BOC having to sue the Authority in order to get this needed information might look kind of bad. But, then again, this is Newton Co. This is Covington. We had a sitting mayor make CNN for stealing costume jewelry in the 90s. We had a mayoral candidate make state and national news for stealing the yard signs of his opponent just a few years ago... 

"They won't fit, Mr. Bobby!" 

"Nah, they'll go! They'll fit in there!" 
For the last few years, we seem to be a mainstay on the Atlanta news stations. The bizarre and curious case of Wm. Thomas Craig. The former fire chief getting arrested and thrown in jail. The intentional lowering of water levels at Lake Varner. The rotating carousel of county managers. The catastrophe that was the BOC Chairmanship of Keith Ellis. John Douglas. JC. The list just goes on and on, people. Hell, folks, this is just a part of who we are. Might as well just embrace it. Buy the ticket and take the ride, no? If it helps to get things fixed, then what the hell! That's what I say...

In any case, just know that we're on it, and we're here to get the full story. We'll be in touch soon.

- MBM 

08 July 2017

[TPC] - Hospital Authority "lawyering up?"; worst fears realized? The biggest scandal to hit Newton in a generation?

As this publication has mentioned multiple times over the last couple of years, and as many in the home county have been saying for decades, there may be nothing bigger, and possibly more corrupt, in Newton, as the Newton County Hospital Authority.

The Authority, a state-sanctioned body that was first officialized in 1952, has come into the news lately with the whole ambulance service story that has made headway the last several weeks here in town.

For years, per multiple sources, the hospital authority was always allegedly considered a "slush fund" of sorts. For over 30 years, it always received an earmarked millage in the county budget. For several years, it also received extra funds through the regular budget with no apparent oversight. Its legal counsel for decades, as we understand it, was always Wm Thomas Craig, Esq.

A couple of weeks ago, the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners filed Open Records Requests with the Newton Co. Hospital Authority. As this publication has reported a few times over the years - the Authority has a M.O. on this - they just simply never respond. And per three sources, we're seeing it again - the Newton Co. Hospital Authority is just simply not responding. 
So now - the governing and legally-recognized authority of Newton Co., a political subdivision of the state of Georgia, the Newton Board of Commissioners, has filed the paperwork, but per multiple sources, it's the same old song - the authority is just simply not responding. Again, I repeat, the authority has violated state law once again, and is not responding to legally filed ORRs from the Newton County government.

Per three different anonymous sources, the conventional wisdom is this: the Newton Co. Hospital Authority, is now, in essence, "lawyering up."

Why would they do that?

Another question on the minds of many - where is the money? Like, the up-front proceeds from the deal with Piedmont. Where are those funds? Where is the accountability?

There, apparently, seems to be none.

That seems to be obvious.

But who serves on the hospital authority? 

That was covered in this publication a few days ago.

Its secretary and CEO, and de facto agent, for many, many years, has always been Jim Weadick, who has been the chairman of the board of directors of the hospital for many years. So - know this - you've got the hospital and its board of directors, and then you've got the Hospital Authority of Newton Co. with its board. While there's oftentimes been overlap of membership of these two boards, they are separate & distinct.

Longtime board members of the Newton Co. Hospital Authority include Billy Fortson, as well as Timothy Park, MD, DL Knox, and others.

And when it comes to the ambulance service, just remember, we're not talking Piedmont Newton, we are talking about the Newton Co. Hospital Authority - they are the ones who actually hold the EMS license.


In this writer's estimation - there is something rotten in the county of Newton.

Many folks know it; a lot of folks have been talking about it for decades.

And always remember this, Dear Readers, while Weadick has been a centerpiece of the authority - the state-sanctioned governing authority -  he's also been, for years, the CEO of the actual board of directors for the hospital, and has, based on our information, been making approx $500,000 per annum for the last several years. His longtime associate, Troy Brooks, has been, as we understand it, making close to the same amount every year as well.

- FIN - 

It is our understanding that the Newton County Hospital Authority has, as they've done multiple times over the last several years, repeatedly violated state law multiple times regarding Open Records Requests.

The Piedmont Chronicles calls on Layla Zon, the District Attorney of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, to fully and totally investigate the Newton County Hospital Authority, it's CEO & Secretary, Jim Weadick, as well as any other board members, presently on the board, or any who have maybe been on the board over the last 20 to 30 years, post haste. There needs to be an accounting and reconciliation of any and all monies that have flowed through this authority. 

Yours in Liberty,

MB McCart

P.S. In this writer's estimation, somebody, preferably the actual governing authority of Newton Co. - the Newton Co. BOC - should sue the Newton Co. Hospital Authority for breach of fiduciary duties of a state-sanctioned authority. That way, you'd have subpoena power. That's probably the only way you'll ever get them to do anything. Layla Zon has shown time and time again she has no interest or ability to go after things like this. The time has come, friends. The time has come... 

04 July 2017

[TPC] - The Covington Crier, Independence Day Edition: Talkin' Chris Smith, Hospitality Drinks, Increased Taxes and Power Bills

-  The CC - 
4 July 2017

Howdy, fabulous readers, and don't you all just look lovely! Is that a new scent you're wearing? I like it. 

So...C-town, baby. Just like Newton, you always know that C-town gonna C-town. And also like Newton - it just seems to thrive on chaos. Egad!

So a few days ago and I posted about Chris Smith and publicly called for him to resign. After last night's council meeting, I'm repeating that call and raising the volume to 11.

Again, Smith showed why he is, in this writer's estimation, not fit to hold elected office. For one thing, his face can get redder that an UGA home jersey. And it happens all the time. He seems to have limited control of his emotions, apparently is always led by his ego & would maybe lie when the truth was better.

He's also almost always about trying to score some cheap political points; it's grown tiresome and many - Yours Truly included - are losing their patience.

Chris, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and just quit already. If your pride won't let you do that, then pull it together, son! We're all pulling for you...well, not really.

Hospitality & Brown-bagging

Well, I read the ordinance that was given out last night for the final reading. It's terrible. An absolute joke. Who the hell wrote this thing? Oh yeah, that's right, it was Frank Turner Jr.

Number 5 is the piece de resistance, though. Two two ounce pours for a three hour period. W T actual F? Are you kidding me? And how the hell are going to enforce it? Well, for the worshipers of more and big government, they're hoping that you'll have to add a new code enforcement officer or two. So, that's what including benefits and operational budgeting - another couple hundred thousand per year to take from the hard working folks of Covington.

What the hell has happened? Why has C-town gone full-on moron? Well, I pin it all on Chris Smith. When you have dysfunction and deformity like that - this is what you get.

And you're going to tell businesses they have to pay $500 for this piece of crap? My word...

Taxes and Utility Bills WILL BE GOING UP! 

Because Covington cannot separate its wants & needs we will be seeing a price increase. And since we have panderers on the council, we can't start getting real about fundamental and needed changes in our entire structure and concept of government.

The pensions. Something's got to get done. It's gonna start killing us - it really already is.

And the benefits and the salaries. It's got to change. It's unsustainable. I'm sorry, but it just simply is.

Have you noticed your utility bills keep going up and up? That's been done to offset them needing to raise taxes. But this time around, they're probably going to have to raise utility rates and there will be a millage increase. And that's because of...? Needs & wants; panderers, and lack of restraint.

And friends, you haven't seen anything yet. Just wait until Plant Vogle goes online. That's when the rates are really going to go up. And at the path we're on, Covington will most likely see exponentially growing tax increases for the next several years.

It's a problem. We need an A-team on the council; right now, we obviously don't have it. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Hope everyone has a great and safe Independence Day, and remember the real reason for the season.

Yours in Freedom, Justice & Liberty,

Marshall B. McCart 

02 July 2017

[TPC] - Ambulance Service & Hospital Authority in Newton Co - More Questions than Answers

On June 23rd, the Covington News reported that Newton Co. had come to an agreement with Grady Hospital to handle ambulance services for the county starting August 1st. This came about after Piedmont Newton had said they had no intention of continuing ambulance service in Newton Co. once it became clear that the earmarked millage that had previously always been set aside for the Hospital Authority and its EMS license was no longer going to be available.

It was made clear in the public record that this was the case. Very, very clear. As a result, Newton Co. had started the process of giving up the ambulance service license that it (well, it was never really Newton Co. - it was always the Newton Co. Hospital Authority) had previously held. But then after public backlash, a reversal was made on that decision.

But...strange thing - that all changed in the last few days. And according to the Covington News report that came out in today's Sunday edition - everything that had been in the public record for the last couple of weeks, apparently, was never the case, according to Piedmont and Dr. Jim Weadick.

That's interesting, though, because it was totally the case. Everyone knows it, and everyone who really knows what's going on pretty much knows that that was the case.

A few things:

The Newton Co. Hospital Authority is alive and well, and they are, by all accounts, very much kicking. They are the ones who actually have control over the EMS license, as we understand it. Many thought that once the Piedmont deal was done, the hospital authority was going to go away, but that is not the case, and per four different sources, the authority is actually who controls the license in this situation.

This is why, as we understand it, there is no legal recourse for reneging with Grady. The Newton BOC had no mandate there. It's only the authority who has legal control. The Newton BOC never had the legal capacity to even think about getting involved with this.

That's a hell of a note, eh?

So, who and what is the Newton Co. Hospital Authority?

Per the official DCA webpage: 

Creation Date:1/1/1952
Method of Creation:General Statute
Official Citation:O.C.G.A. 31-7-70
Single or Multi Jurisdictional:Single-Jurisdictional
Members:Newton County
James F. Weadick, CEO and Sec NCHA
5126 Hospital Drive, N.E.
Covington, Georgia   30014
Board Members:
D. L. Knox, Tim Park, M. D., Richard Brown, Bob Richardson, William D. Fortson, Dr. Melvin Baker, Vincent Eagan

As many sources have told this writer for many, many moons - there is no bigger thing in Newton Co. than the Hospital Authority. As I've been told by two different sources, ORR (Open Records Request)'s have been filed on the authority many times with always the same result - nothing. No response has ever been given, to this writer's knowledge, of any ORR ever filed with this authority.

So, what is the "why" here? Why would the authority, without continuing to receive the millage they'd always received, want to keep the license?

As three different sources have all said - chances are, it has something to do with money.

Also, many questions have been bantered about regarding Billy Fortson. Questions pertaining to a strip center on Hwy 278 where there is a MRI center related to the hospital. Questions about ambulances being used to transport patients to said center.

Also, other questions about the legalities of the current ambulance service legally being able to handle non-emergency transports. And even more questions about the air-ambulance services in Newton Co. Have federal and state laws been broken numerous times over the last several years?

So many questions.

This story is very much developing...