Two Lee county officials were bound by law and contract documents to procure bid proposals before spending taxpayer money. Records show one manager was not protected for her actions; the other was protected and lauded for his admitted wrongdoing. This familiar “tale of two bureaucrats” in a county believing in Mike Hubbard is as follows…
One county manager was placed on administrative leave with pay, brought before a County Commission executive session, tendered a resignation and received severance pay for allegedly failing to follow bid processes on a vehicle purchase. No documents were provided for public consideration, no discussion of failed oversight by her superior(s) and Commissioners. The ‘Malice in Hubbardland’ spirit is still alive and well in Lee County.
The other County official recently (mis)managed a Recreational Project. Some recall this County TWICE rejected Parks & Recreation tax votes on general election ballots to be placed on a special election/low turnout result to manipulate passing, further evoking the ‘bidness [sic] as usual’ spirit in Hubbardland. This project required a bid proposal and Change Order [C/O] prior to performing any work outside the scope of contract. Subcontractor(s) removed $100K of rock without notification or submitting a bid for the C/O. Despite contract requirements, the county manager requested Commissioners approve payment, and ‘bidness [sic] as usual’ - they did.
Commissioners didn’t question this bureaucrat nor put him on administrative leave with pay until an executive session to discuss his admitted failure to enforce bid proposal requirement(s) on the project he managed. Upon asking Commissioner Lawrence if he’d read the contract which expressly forbid payment without notification and bid requirement of a C/O, Lawrence asserted he didn’t need to, he trusted the county manager, an unelected bureaucrat. The commissioner is elected by voters (who actually show/participate) for oversight of taxpayer money and resources. His comment was admission of abdicating this duty/responsibility. Little surprise to those who keep watch over an increasingly corrupt Commission, this particular bureaucrat/county manager wasn’t placed on leave or obliged to resign. Since the commission is not forthcoming with the facts of either case, one cannot determine why these two bureaucrats were treated so differently.
This ‘bidness [sic] as usual’ pattern of malfeasance in Lee County is easily recognized by those who regularly witness Commission meetings, even though the county operates with little to no transparency. Another illustration of the ‘me too’ corruption was shown at the same [11/12] Commission meeting for another favoured bureaucrat. The county renewed their highway engineer‘s employment contract as the top official overseeing safety of the travelling public. During his tenure, ALDoT stated in a letter this manager’s repeated delay in providing plans for a joint effort to improve a dangerous RR crossing jeopardized the travelling public. Indeed, several more accidents occurred at this dangerous crossing due to his dilatory behavior. The commission did not admonish him for this and other instances of poor performance upon renewing his employment contract at the same meeting announcing the separation with a bureaucrat who appeared much less destructive in comparison. When one considers this engineer was not bonded for most of his tenure in violation of the Code of Alabama, one further sees the pattern of failure to follow process, lack of accountability and little oversight by Commissioners/Judge responsible for his bonding and adhering to County Access Management Policies.
Concerning transparency, if one wants to obtain facts, an open document request must be filed. For example, the only hard fact disclosed about the EMA Director’s plight is failure to follow bid law when she purchased a vehicle. We don‘t know if it was an independent citizen, federal or State investigators who pressed/uncovered this or discovered by the county. We also don‘t know what federal/State grant money was forfeited by this mismanagement and how it will be reconciled along with separation pay. During budget discussions, the county administrator did volunteer he could manipulate $50k around without much difficulty. Commissioners successfully keep their public [dare I type subjects?] in the dark…
The Commission has repeatedly failed to follow policies, process and uniform accountability - the pattern is clear. Three high-level bureaucrats improperly performed duties; two remain in their position and the one whose malfeasance seems least is no longer in office and appears to be paid for silence. Little surprise this will not be pursued/reported by local papers dependent upon ads and revenue support from corrupt politburo members; it seems the ‘plot sickens’ when another of several long time Lee County Voters League member county Commission ‘watchers’ [Senior Apostle Prophet C.F. Davis] submitted a battery of questions on April 8th.
As I recall, Apostle Davis began his inquiry on how/when the authority to set up a 501c3 through EMAC [East Alabama Medical Center] to receive disaster relief funds (a.k.a., M.E.N.D.) was determined. He requested data on amounts raised (to date) and disbursements of expenditures making clear the Spirit of his public request for documents were for purposes of clarification and transparency. Davis did not have enough data to be conclusive. If commissioners were not forthcoming/self-explanatory, he respectfully requested making them agenda item(s).
Davis also asked for data on the percentage of overall Lee County disaster relief fund (designated to the County EMA) for safe rooms and the status of tornado survivors wrongfully arrested and/or detained for a lack of ID due to the tragedy. Had all been addressed legally via just due process? Is there some discussion of compensating anyone wrongfully detained/impeded during this terrible episode and effort to reduce this happenstance in the future? No reply wasn’t surprising, the Commission has made it clear they don’t answer questions from their ‘subjects’ - for the record this lowly citizen did ask the Commission for comment [12/9 meeting] to reconcile this blatantly different treatment of bureaucrats before writing this column.
Apostle Davis finished his request/questioning on why black nonprofit organization survivors endured different scrutiny in comparison to white nonprofit organizations with respect to receiving adequate funds and supplies or being set as viable station/locations to facilitate their communities. He specifically cited his observations/findings on Pastor Linda Threat’s Ministry which appears to be part of a continuing 'pattern and practice' of systematic actions disproportionately burdening black churches and their wellbeing as part of the traveling public especially in rural Lee County - e.g., RR crossing closure harming primary access to Salem Chapel C.M.E. Church; returning bond money to developer instead of doing road/safety improvements (mandated by County policy) for Green Chapel, etc.
One may reasonably expect action from Montgomery and/or DC given State/federal monies in the mix… that may be a bit foolhardy in Hubbardland or any other county who operates straight from the ACCA [Association of County Commissions of Alabama] playbook to protect corrupt commissioners and broker crony contracts to those receiving the funds. Fellow Commission watcher Peter Byrd submitted enough documentation, facts and narrative for Rep. Bandy to agree to investigate malfeasance at ALDoT (disproportionately suffered by mostly black rural citizens/churches in Lee County) a couple months before Mr. Bandy’s terrible vehicle accident/death. Now, Apostle Davis noted recent efforts to impede his ability to get on a Commission meeting’s agenda to obtain further answers and discipline corruption in Lee County. Davis said, "I was told I must go through Judge English’s approval before I’d be placed on the agenda to speak on subject matter possibly exposing him; this seems odd having observed past meetings where any commissioner would add an agenda item independent of the probate judge’s determination or discriminating criteria."
Hard to know what triggers outcomes on the margin, but efforts to reactivate the Lee County Branch of the NAACP began December 2019. I pray the NAACP will effectively address deleterious and at times deadly issues of this sort. All the current (Democrat and Republican) county commissioners have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt holding onto power, crony contracts and increasing their pay/wealth matters more than the safety and general wellbeing of the citizens they take an oath to represent.
This is ‘bidness [sic] as usual’ in Hubbardland County, where a Mayor who doesn’t understand economics continues to shill for his first ‘Gig City’ debacle, politburo members lack the spine and integrity to remove Felon Hubbard nomenclature from a road in their county as their own greed blinds the ability to see their sin in others… It is stomach churning to witness these sycophants slobbering over this felon ‘public servant’ they’ve adored these past years. I’m not surprised clergy, commissioners, councilpersons, mayors, representatives, senators, etc. are willing to make a buck cashing in on the reduced quality of life of others instead of promoting healthy profitable growth; I am surprised so many think it will be OK if the Alabama Supreme Court let’s Hubbard off. It will be similarly disappointing when the US Senate gets Trump off for his wrongdoings, how it will be deemed OK for others to do so… Clearly I’m not the norm asserting Biden and Trump have both earned being removed from ever holding any public office again. I see no difference between felon Hubbard’s $12k/month crony payment from Southeast Gas in Alabama and Hunter Biden’s $50k/month via Ukrainian corruption. This will not change until those who simply put on their preferred colour jersey and sell their souls to the blue or red demons realize they are doing the bidding of the same fallen angel… and even more difficult, actually change their paths toward righteousness away from corruption.