Clearing the Woods: Just the beginning
By Tom Knighton
Lajuana Woods has resigned from the ADICA board. Don Buie’s trial has started. Shanon Buie, Nicole Brown, and Tim Washington have all pled guilty. It’s easy to think that this whole mess is behind us and that everything is just fine. I mean, those who have been implicated seem to be getting what’s coming their way, right?
If you believe that, I’ve got some beachfront property in Northwest Albany to sell you.
First, all that is about settled are these particular cases. There’s still a lot unresolved and unanswered, and those with the authority to address and answer don’t seem interested in actually doing so.
For example, while Assistant City Manager James Taylor seems to have ADICA moving in a positive direction, a move he should be applauded for, there needs to be a serious overhaul in how things are done if ADICA is to continue to exist. Two people signing checks isn’t going to cut it either, since some of the questionable checks were signed by ADICA chair Jane Willson.
There are broken mechanisms in this local government, and so far they haven’t even been looked at in a meaningful way. The only attempt at oversight has really been Commissioner Roger Marietta’s proposal that ADICA members serve at the pleasure of the Commission, meaning that they could remove members who aren’t doing their job. Granted, there’s a potential for abuse there too, but that’s where we voters kick in .. we oversee the commission, after all.
And none of that will deal with the disaster downtown that is City Manager Al Lott. The man who allegedly doesn’t check references because he never made a poor choice in personnel hasn’t had his wings clipped in the least. In fact, now he’s telling employees not to answer the “interrogatories” of a committee appointed by our elected officials and even seems to dispute the authority of that committee to ask those questions. Apparently, in Lott’s world, the people don’t have a right to ask questions or … you know … know anything.
Yes, the whole Buie-gate fiasco is soon to be resolved. But the situation that permitted all of that to happen still exists. Unless that underlying system is changed to prevent future abuses, it will happen again. We are already seeing abuses of a different kind by our city manager who apparently doesn’t believe in open government.
Bouncing Lott into the unemployment line would be a great start in cleaning up our government, but he’s not the only problem. The City Commission needs to step up and remember that these people (And they themselves) work for us, and should be answerable to us. If they do that, then maybe there’s a chance for this town.