28 January 2020

[MB McCart] - The Latest Mishaps With the Newton Co. Rec Department

There are things you can count on in this world. The sky will be blue; the sun will rise from the east & you can almost always count on dysfunction with the Newton Co. Wreck Rec Department. 

As this publication has been researching for a few weeks now, the Newton County Recreation Commission had, in violation of state law, unanimously approved bonuses for several members of the Recreation Department including its director.

Per a Newton Citizen article:

The bonuses totaled more than $28,500, with each employee receiving 8 percent of their annual compensation, as follows: Executive Director Ternard Turner, $6,166; Assistant Director Dwayne Mask, $5,120; Athletic Manager Horace Stroud, $4,171; Finance Manager Greg Sullivan, $4,298; Recreation Administrator Matt Taylor, $4,373; and Recreation Administrator Kale Curtis, $4,373.
 The bonuses were unanimously approved by the Recreation Commission board at a Thursday, Dec. 12, special called meeting"
[Newton Co. Chairman Marcello] Banes said the payments are not legal under the state’s gratuities clause, which states that the General Assembly shall not grant or authorize extra compensation to any public officer, agent, or contractor after the service has been rendered or the contract entered into. The clause is applied by extension to local governments, authorities and agencies.

That violation of the gratuities clause was the conclusion this writer & a couple others came to 3 weeks ago.

I can tell you that the county drug out the process of responding to this ORR request.

Also, last week, I'd reached out to the Newton Co. Public Information Office to get a public statement. This is what I received back: 

The Newton County Recreation Commission Board voted on & approved a one-time 8% pay bonus for the Newton Co. Recreation Commission staff members Turner, Mask, Curtis, Stroud, Taylor & Sullivan. The action was taken during its duly advertised Dec. 12 meeting & funding was from the current Recreation Commission Budget. The Newton County Recreation Commission, an appropriation of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, is run by the Newton County Recreation Commission Board [emphasis added].

I pretty much knew after reading this response that the BOC was going to be letting the Rec Commission hang in the wind with this one. And while the Citizen article quoted Banes as saying he was "disappointed," my sources tell me it was more like furious.

So, apparently, this obvious violation of the law is all on the Newton County Recreation Commission Board. 

They are as follows:

- John Anglin, Chair

- Timothy Price, Vice Chair
- Mike McCrorey, Sec. 
- Lanier Sims - Newton Rep 
- Sonya Carter - Covington Rep
- Tenard Turner, Director
- Dwayne Mask, Deputy Director
- Keith Davis
- Tiffani Johnson 
- Chris Edgar
- Flemmie Pitts

The kicker, though, is this: after consulting with the county attorney, county manager & Chairman Banes, the Commission Board was told that the bonuses will have to be repaid, and the board has told those six aforementioned employees that they will have to return the money.

Which begs the question - what if they don't have it? They've already spent it. Or, what if they simply just say no? Interesting... 

Well, thank goodness we saw that total sh!tshow with the Rec Commission in 2017 & 2018 and all the various power plays, paydays & tarnishing of reputations that came with it. And by all accounts it seems as if the Rec Department is really doing a great job now!

As the world turns in Covington, Newton Co., GA, USA

- MB McCart