At 5:30 PM on the 30th of March, David Hodges will be speaking at the Reidsville Library. David is an interesting man. He is an engineer, and author of “How to Build a Hodgepodge Lodge”. As reviewed by Janisse Ray, this book “… chronicles his experience building his own home, pool and hot tub. It includes how-tos for plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electric work.” David will be discussing many of those topics next week. We really look forward to attending, and hope our readers can be there also.
This one is tough to write. I’ve been hard on various local officials when I think they deserve it, and I have given credit when I believe credit is due. Out of all the shady and evasive actions taken by various Manassas city officials, one such official I have always thought was above that fray was Councilman Shaun Edwards, son of Councilwoman Tonya Edwards.
Unfortunately, that vision was shattered by something I read in the Tattnall paper recently. And that thing was the biography accompanying his nomination as Citizen of the Year, as published on page 15 in the March 2nd, 2017, edition of The Journal Sentinel.
Don’t get me wrong. If Shaun were Joe Citizen, I would have a lot of respect for the man. Outside of the context of his association (by virtue of his council seat) with some of the ridiculous actions of the Manassas government, if you just met him, spoke to him, and saw him interacting with people, any rational person would respect him. Until this expose’ in the paper, and connecting those dots with some of the fishy actions in Manassas, I still held a lot of respect for him. Outside of his involvement with the city government, I would have thought that he would make an excellent choice as Citizen of the Year. But that isn’t what this is about.
“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.”
from “Yertle the Turtle”, by Dr. Seuss
At February’s city council meeting, Manassas Mayor Wanda “Yertle” Rogers issued a new edict limiting citizen comments at the end of city council meetings. Video of this Marxist new policy is provided below:
Note the denial that this is a new policy. Evasion and denial is an important feature of the Manassas government, so we’re not surprised that she would try this new approach, and then deny that it is a new approach, yet glancingly concede that it may have been prompted by our previous interview of Councilman Michael Godbee in January (Godbee is absent in the video above). The Dr. Seuss world of Manassas doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to entertain.
While a city (or county) government body can restrict citizen comments or questions during meetings, or forbid them entirely, it is rarely done, and when it does, citizens become justifiably suspicious of what the officials are trying to hide. Even more so when an official has created a ridiculous criminal allegation against a citizen after that citizen merely presented a lawful records request and insisted that the city government follow state law. Only recently, Reidsville considered such a muzzling policy, then quickly backed off of it after realizing that it would cause more harm than good. Unfortunately, it appears that Manassas intends to dig in its heels, leaving us all with having to assume the worst when silence prevails.
In other news, Mayor Yertle claims to have been advanced to the position of President of the Tattnall Chapter of the Georgia Municipal Association. If true (her claims are becoming increasingly less credible the more we dig into city operations), this could prove to be most embarrassing.
My first clue that Manassas is a far cry from Mayberry was when our old school complex was burglarized back in January of 2015 over a multi-day period, and not one city official admitted to seeing a thing (this factoid will become really interesting when we publish a map). My second clue was when Mayor Rogers, within minutes of being sworn-in back in January, 2016, held a special city council meeting in her office, and took votes, while the public was gathered in the meeting room down the hall. Our regular readers may compare this shady behavior against the provisions of the Georgia Open Meetings Act.
We attended the Manassas city council meeting on the 13th of February, and were greeted by our fan girl! Notice Councilwoman Tonya Edwards snapping paparazzi photos as we entered and began setting up our equipment:
While she was snapping these photos, I was reminded of my Naval Academy days. Tourists were always snapping photos like this; I always thought it was kind of flattering, especially when a tourist would want to have a picture taken with some of us in front of any of a number of historic Annapolis monuments.
During the Manassas city council meeting held on the 9th of January, 2017, Leech City interviewed Councilman Godbee regarding the funding of his 2016 Mexican vacation romp. This interview is shown below:
Note particularly Councilman Godbee’s initial evasiveness, in an embarrassingly petulant fashion that would make an unruly teenage girl blush with shame. Later, Godbee attempts to conceal the connection between his vacation and Cole Swindell, Cole’s record label or the former city attorney B. Jay Swindell, Cole’s half-brother, and then finally caves and admits these connections. If he truly believed there was no conflict of interest, then why try to hide any of this?
The Friends of the Library announces their February program, a chocolate cookoff preceding what promises to be an interesting presentation on the history and heritage of rural Georgia churches. Details below:
Enter the Chocolate Cook-off
Do you love to bake? Are you crazy about chocolate? Do you have a favorite dessert that contains chocolate?
Now is your chance to be the Grand Winner of the Tattnall County Library’s first-ever Chocolate Cook-off. We’re calling the event “Chocolate Heaven.” Come celebrate Valentine’s Day, our community, and the glory of chocolate at our local library!
All you have to do is bring a chocolate dessert to the library by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9. A panel of judges will choose the very best chocolate dish. That evening, after the program on Historic Rural Churches of Georgia, the chocolate entries will be available for sampling as refreshments for the event. Coffee will be served.
So there are two things to do. First, plan what chocolate dish you want to use to delight and impress all of us. Then, prepare it and bring it to the library on Feb. 9. And attend the fabulous talk planned for that evening in order to see all the desserts and try the impressive desserts of others.
If you are going to enter a dish (and please do), call Stephanie at the library at 557-6247. Or call Friends of the Library, which is sponsoring the program, at 557-1053. We will let you know the three simple rules for the Chocolate Cook-off.
And tell your friends! We want all our great bakers to enter.
Last summer, due to pressure from us, Manassas adopted the first actual budget it has had in decades, if ever. Now, like a pre-teen who spent her allowance and wants to rifle through Daddy’s wallet to go to the mall with her friends, a few months ago Councilwoman Tonya Edwards led an effort to bypass the budgeting process.
Now, we are proud to report that we have also exposed this effort, using a combination of meeting attendance and open records requests to smoke out truth from fantasy and subterfuge. This story isn’t over yet, though, it has just started, and you, fellow leech watcher, will get to see it unfold live on these pages.
First, the timeline:
A previous article, Leechwatching Tools, introduced many laws and other resources that a citizen can use to keep their local government in line. While I am not an attorney, and none of what you read on this site is legal advice, the applicable laws, both state and federal, are clear enough for anyone to read them and know what they mean. In a previous article in this series, we introduced the Georgia Open Meetings Act. That law is an important tool which allows you to identify attitude problems in public officials and to spot lies, both of which help direct leechwatching efforts. In this article, we flesh out an even more powerful tool, the Georgia Open Records Act.
At the Manassas city council meeting on Monday, the 12th of December, three of the four council members admitted to not having had the state-mandated elected officials training, and agreed to attend this training in the new year.
Pictured above are the three officials in question, each wearing the royal purple, perhaps reflecting their voting as one mind: Councilwoman Tonya Edwards (left), her son Councilman Shaun Edwards (center) and their newly seated friend, Councilwoman Emily Callaway (right). Not pictured is long-time councilman Michael Godbee, who was absent. This action photo shows the trio at the moment of admission to not having had training, and thus, by extrapolation, literally not knowing what the hell they are doing in their respective offices, stumbling around like blind mice.