23 September 2020

A Moment from MB: The Chairman's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Chairman of the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners  Marcello Banes isn't having a very good week & it's only Wednesday. 

Chairman Banes

First, a story this writer was made aware of last week & the Newton Citizen reported on the first of this week, was the revelation that Banes had hired his good friend & attorney, Stephanie Lindsey, to petition the county for a 40% pay raise for himself & probate judge Melanie Bell, as well as over $100K in back pay! 

To consider the move lacking in deftness & tact would be an understatement. 

From our friends at Citizens for a Better Newton: 

In an incredibly self-serving and arrogant move, these two local officials hired private attorney Stephanie Lindsey to represent them. As everyone knows, Ms. Lindsey is close personal friends with Banes so her analysis of the laws governing salaries would be suspect from the start. If they had questions about their pay, the logical and reasonable approach would have been to ask the county attorneys to review the laws and make a objective determination.

Lindsey presented a written analysis to the Board of Commissioners that concluded that these two were being underpaid by $40,000 per year and are owed $180,000 in back pay from when their terms started in 2017. Banes now makes $101,000 and Bell makes $103,000, not exactly chicken feed!

But things were just getting started for Mr. Banes. 

According to sources, and as reported by the Citizen, he was also going to just go ahead & take down the Covington Confederate Memorial last night despite being expressly prohibited from doing so by a Court of Law. 

Per a source: 

Chairman Marcello Banes nighttime plan to remove the confederate statue on the Covington City Square was blocked Tuesday Sept 22  by a sharply worded order by Superior Court Judge John Ott (see Newton Citizen article below).  Sources say that Mr. Banes planned to removed the statue Tuesday night despite the Judge's earlier statement that the statue would remain until after appeals of his earlier order were exhausted.

On September 14, Judge Ott  issued a ruling  that dismissed the petitions to prevent the county from removing the statue but stated that no action would be taken until after his decision had been appealed and decided by a higher court. Ott said that had  been agreed to by both parties but Banes apparently claimed that he had not made such an agreement on behalf of the county.  However, he just learned that the word of a Superior Court Judge outweighs that of a county commission chairman.  

Our county chairman continues to demonstrate unacceptable arrogance lately, first by hiring a personal attorney to argue for a $40,000 pay increase and now by ignoring a judge's direction not to remove the statue. His credibility and effectiveness as commission chairman has suffered a major setback.  Not a good week for Mr. Banes. 

Yeah, not a good week or look from the Chairman, and frankly quite a loss of goodwill w/ many throughout the home county across personal, racial & political lines. 

- MB McCart