Brown: ‘We didn’t go far enough’

Our county has got to focus on insuring that we resolve problems quickly and efficiently if we want to be in a good position coming out of the economic recession.

You have, no doubt, read with great interest about the ongoing plight of the Fayette County Water System. Obviously, the water system reaches a large number of residents within the county. Obviously, again, we expect clean water coming to our taps.

We have all had to endure a series of very unfortunate events with the water system. Since the beginning of May, I have had a crash course in water production and delivery.

I will be honest and say that the term “disappointment” does not even begin to describe how I feel.

Up to this point, I have seen mismanagement, misdiagnosis of water problems, poor maintenance, alarmingly poor communication, incompetence, poor planning and the inability of management to assume responsibility.

I was recently told that during my first two years as a county commissioner that water plants had to be shut off seven times. I was never informed of a single episode.

Based on what I have personally witnessed, recognizing the enormous impact the water system has on our citizenry, I have consistently maintained that top management in the system needs to be terminated.

Our County Administrator, with the support of the remaining commissioners, has recommended other measures that would be considered firm punishment under most scenarios. A press release has been disseminated on that subject.

While any disciplinary action is a step in the right direction, my personal opinion is we did not go far enough. However, the decision has been made and vetted through the Board of Commissioners, so we will move on.

There will be millions of dollars in expenses to bring the water treatment facilities up to an acceptable standard.

The county has some significant problems to address. You have a Board of Commissioners committed to taking on the challenge.

We have the stormwater infrastructure projects to vote on in November. The culverts and dams need to be addressed.

The cyclical fund for purchasing vehicles and heavy equipment was on its way to being de-funded by the previous board. Obviously, not having the funds to cycle the replacement of our patrol cars and other vehicles will cause significant problems down the road.

Some people misunderstood that when we said we worked to balance the budget after years of deficit spending, we were not saying all the financial problems were resolved.

Yes, expenditures do meet revenue projections and that is a good thing. However, if we fail to address those imminent issues you will experience serious financial problems in the near future.

Using the reserves to fund the replacement of failed stormwater infrastructure will only get you so far and put you in an even more hazardous future position.

The general public was not aware of these problems in the past. There are no excuses now as we all are aware of what is going on.

Steve Brown, Chairman
Fayette County Board of Commissioners
Fayetteville, Ga.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
Commission and Water Service Meetings

Find it hard to understand why Water is not on the agenda for the commissioners meeting tomorrow evening.

Water Service is supposed to be having a board meeting today. No time or location is noted on the county website. There is also no record yet from the July 24th or August 14th meetings.

Is this transparency?

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010
Water Committee meetings

What would be on the agenda to vote on tomorrow evening? Public comment is always on the agenda and anyone can get up and say whatever they want about any subject.

At the end of the meetings, each commissioner can talk about whatever he has to say. The last one had the hen advocate playing a recording of a rooster crowing that blared throughout this hallowed chamber of our county government. Just to prove the point that in Fayette County, no cock will do, when he gets the hens only ordinance changed. It also had another chastise and close to threaten a citizen over words written in these blogs. The entertainment factor is second to none.

Water committee had their usual meeting at 8AM at the water system HQ at 245 McDonough Rd. in Fayetteville. There was not meeting on August 14th. The minutes from July 24th are on their website.

Any questions about any of this, call 770-461-1146 option 5 and they will be happy to 'splain it.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

I believe that is the agenda from the July 24th meeting. Don't see the minutes
In fact, didn't see an agenda for todays meeting either.

I was not able to locate the meeting time or place anywhere on the website. Is this meeting always held during normal working hours and is the public allowed to attend?

There may not be anything to vote on regarding the water system, but with this being such a big issue, a normal person would expect to see some discussion or update.

Sorry, I missed the rooster crowing. Didn't get out of CHOA until 6:30 and had to fight the traffic to get the little one home in time for bed.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010

I just spent close to 30 minutes typing a detailed reply to you and then must have logged out before I hit the send button. I have just said some nasty things under my breath that no one should be privy to.

My shortened version:

There are 9 pages of minutes there for July 24th. You are right on today's agenda. Have not seen that missing before. Would be nice to get an explanation on why it is still missing.

8AM meeting, yes you are invited to attend. However the fact of the 8AM time is a testament that you are not really welcome. This is not the first time this has been tried in this county, and I will have comments about that at a later time. I just read Cal's entry about open meetings. Trust me, I will add to what he knows that there are some here who just think that is not required.

Hope your little ones are okay, In the big scheme of things, they are the priority much more than these meetings, now aren't they?

Here's to the end of my post and actually saving it this time.

WLVROCKS's picture
Joined: 02/13/2012
Same old, same old Steve Brown Rhetoric

Blah, blah, blah, blah, me. Blah, blah, blah, blah, me. I, blah, blah, blah. I blah, blah, blah.

Steve Brown
Steve Brown's picture
Joined: 12/02/2009
For the record

Contrary to what some of the blogs posts say, I have the utmost respect for my colleagues on the Board of Commissioners. They are all honorable men and on this one regarding how severe our response should be, we will agree to disagree.

I was a lot more involved in the inner workings related to the problems the water system encountered. With what I witnessed, there was no other choice in my mind as to what we need do.

The County Administrator and I disagreed on policy and we will disagree on other things down the line, I am sure. In the end, both parties are standing where they think there is solid ground, no animosity involved.

My confidence in our board is extremely strong.

The purpose of letter was to remind the public that we have significant issues that we must give our attention or risk falling in deep hole.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Same 'ol Steve Brown BS

"Contrary to what some of the blogs posts say, I have the utmost respect for my colleagues on the Board of Commissioners. "

Where do any "blogs" here state that you don't? Put up or shut up.

suggarfoot's picture
Joined: 10/10/2007
Thank you Steve


Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

You consistently maintained that top management in the water system needs to be terminated? When did this occur before now? Was this transparent?

I agree with you though. The leadership has to go. But so does your fellow commissioners who think this type of work is acceptable.

I don't think I will be contacting Mr. Ognio for any electrical work if he can put up with this kind of shenanigans. Mr. Barlows probably praying for a miracle fix. Mr. McCarty, you retired successfully after 40 plus years in construction and broadcasting. I doubt the people you led performed like this. Mr. Oddo, you need to look out for the people of the county. Being the nice guy doesn't always cut it.

And there she blows. Only this time, Mr. Brown is a little nicer when he puts his fellow commissioners out to dry.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Right, it is no longer "his" board, it is now "our" board

A small thing, indeed, but one celebrates improvement wherever it can be found.

I think you are correct about this just being another attention-getting step by the chairman, but I would be interested to see the rest of the board comment or interact in some way to put some pressure on Rapson to take this to the next level. Or to do the opposite - ala Barlow, if that is their inclination. We need to know where each commissioner stands on this issue so that when we have to dump one to satisfy the NAACP's demands, we will know which one.

Sure, Rapson is going by the book and trying to avoid lawsuits, but by withholding documents and stalling just for the sake of stalling, it makes one wonder if he really is going to terminate anyone. It also makes me wonder what he is trying to hide. Must be some smoking gun memo to or from somebody that Rapson deems worthy of protection. Best guess would be Tony Parrot downplaying some maintenance or testing need while displaying all of his wonderful redneck arrogance. Just a guess, pure speculation not supported by the facts. Better to wait until John Munford gets those requested documents - 10 days after the investigation is complete says the county attorney. This is starting to smell bad. Once again, the coverup can be more serious than the crime.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
"heads will roll"

There is no doubt how Steve Brown feels on this issue, but the Water Dept staff reports to county head Steve Rapson and Rapson has a lot more knowledge and experience in dealing with these decisions and actions necessary than Brown or any commissioner. This may be also why the rest of the commissioners seem to agree with the course being taken, according to Brown's letter here.

We haven't seen the exact measure of the discipline yet as it hasn't had to be released, but I have full confidence in Rapson's handling of this and don't expect to be surprised by anything once the disciplinary actions become available publically.

Gort's picture
Joined: 07/28/2009
I’m just wondering where the

I’m just wondering where the County Commisioners are going to get the money to fund the corrective action plan put forward by the County Manager, in a separate article.


• A comprehensive capital improvement plan for the system;

• An update to standard operating procedures;

• A comprehensive communication improvement plan; and

• A customer service improvement plan.

My guess is these things cost money.

It looks to me like, if the public doesn’t want to pay a ‘temporary special use tax’ for water runoff projects, perhaps they are willing pay it to hope ensure the water piped into their homes for human consumption is of good quality, eh?

In the meantime the, angry and outraged, public can demand harsher punishments of the underlings to satisfy their lust for ‘sticking it to the working man.’ 8 - )

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

Parrott and the Board need to go. Now.

The workers need to be reassigned to the positions they are trained to fill. If they don't have the knowledge or training, well, that's the way it falls. We don't really know all the details yet, but it certainly appears damning.

I doubt the storm splost will pass. Come spring, we will see a new water splost and a tax put in place for storm water.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

Rapson is probably doing it by the book. Will be interesting to see if they quit, retire, ask for the appeal, or are resigned to the punishment. Guess we will see how serious the punishment is when released.

Very disappointed in the other commissioners not behind Brown in firing Parrott. I won't be calling B&O Electric to change a lightbulb in my house since the boss thinks this type of management is in any way acceptable.

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Yes, Rapson is doing it by the book - the wrong book

I think he is consulting that award winning book entitled "The seven bad habits of highly paid government workers"

According to the newspaper this AM, no one will be fired and the county is stonewalling an open records request by The Citizen which seems to be asking for things that should have been released automatically, This is a typical bureaucratic response - sidestep and dodge and take care of your own. Now the stupid county has gotten it's attorney involved and when the documents are finally released (as they always are) there will 10 times the level of interest and second-guessing than would have occurred normally. Some people never learn.

Love the idea that Rapson has made it clear he is not a Brown toady and it does feel good to see the other commissioners standing up to him - but unfortunately this is bad timing and the wrong issue. Brown is 100% correct about wanting much more severe penalties for this horrible lapse of the water dept.

He also said there were 7 additional water plant shutdowns during the last two years of the Frady, Hearn, Horgan leadership which is proof enough of deep-seated and systemic problem that calls for a complete overhaul of the water department - starting with Tony Parrot.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012

The other commissioners didn't stand up to him. I don't believe any vote was taken. According to the papers, commission was waiting for Rapson to return from vacation. Remember, this is a personnel matter. Rapson is probably protecting county interest by proceeding as he did. We will see how hard he comes down on them when he finally releases the information. This letter is a PR move by the chairman.

As for the other commissioners, their silence (except Barlow, praising Parrott) is telling how weak leaders they really are. For gods sake, we talking about our water. If filters are falling off the wall, if testing was not performed correctly if at all, how sure can any of us be that they are telling the truth. Do they really think Parrott deserves a mulligan?

In all honesty, if Parrott is here on Monday we will have a serious problem. If Mr. Brown doesn't follow this up and ask for the water boards resignation, we also have a problem, since they also failed in their oversight.

Tortugaocho is probably right discussing a grand jury investigation.

AtHomeGym's picture
Joined: 01/18/2007
Comm. Brown & Comment

In 3 simplewords: Not my fault--OR Don't blame me!

tortugaocho's picture
Joined: 12/05/2005
I'll give Brown some credit---

I'll give Brown some credit--- this is a bad situation. At the same time, Holocaust Deniers like AtHomeGym are more worried about people getting canned when, in reality, they ought to be jailed. Have you hugged your bureaucrat today? MajorMike is right--- we need a citizens study committee. Except I think it's called a grand jury.

MajorMike's picture
Joined: 10/20/2005
tortugaocho - Citizen's h2o committee

What I had envisioned when I made that suggestion was a citizens group comprised of local experts from different disciplines working hand in hand with the FC Commission to determine the historical roots of the problem so that we could timeline our problems and perhaps head off future catastrophes. Perhaps a group of about ten men or women that share a common bond in the love of our community.

I know of one such gentleman that was personally involved in the cleanup of the Fayetteville water system in the late 80's and early 90's. In those days you either drank bottled water or booze if you dined out. These days Fayetteville water is rated right at the top as "the good stuff". Quite an improvement. The sad fact of the matter in any form of technology is that you must understand where you have been to plan where we are going. I believe that one Citizen blogger defined it this week with "he who ignores history is doomed to repeat it".

I submitted this one name to the Chairman Brown last week and suggested a coffee meeting, we must pursue the solution carefully or we are going to wind up like Atlanta with ongoing weekly EPA fines on the crumbling infrastructure.

The human factor concerns me as it does Athomegym, there is simply too much of a downside to make mistakes in that area. In this crappy economy HR actions against anemployee could easily cascade into the ruin of extended family units, not to mention the total destruction of individual careers.

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