Issue 14.30 | July 11, 2014
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ATLANTA, Ga., July 11, 2014 -- Elected officials are free to speak about what goes on in executive sessions, according to a leading authority on the Georgia Open Meetings Act.
Attorney David Hudson says elected officials do not give up their First Amendment rights to free speech simply because they hold office or because they participate in an executive session of a governing body.
Hudson told members of the Georgia Press Association earlier this year: "From time to time, elected officials such as city council members, county commissioners, school board members or appointed members of the board of government authorities will receive advice (usually from a lawyer representing the public entity) that the public official may not disclose information learned in a closed session. Such advice has no basis in fact or in law."
Hudson adds: "Elected officials are subject only to the voters."
He explains there is an obvious misunderstanding of the Code of Ethics contained in O.C.G.A 45-10-3 that prohibits them from disclosing proprietary information for "personal gain" or in violation of the public trust. He says: "None of its provisions would prohibit an elected or appointed member from disclosing what occurred in an executive session if the member felt it was in the public interest to do so."
In fact, Hudson feels that the state's Constitution might even compel an elected official to disclose what occurred in a closed-door executive session.
In the same article he commented on Article I, Sec. II, Paragraph I of the Georgia Constitution. "It states: 'Public officers are trustees and servants of the people and are at all times amenable to them.' Thus if the public officer learns of something that occurs in a closed session that he or she believes should be known by the people to whom the public officer is a servant, there is no prohibition in Georgia law that would prevent such disclosure or subject the public officer to any measure of discipline."
Hudson says that disclosing information from executive sessions might anger fellow officials, but in his opinion a public servant should weigh the public trust against the risk of creating ill-will with other members of the same elected body.
Local elected officials in county and city governments have told reporters and editors they are legally prohibited to disclose what is discussed in executive sessions.
In addition, Hudson has consistently opined that there are no requirements in state law to hold executive sessions for any reason. Rather, he has said, it is permitted or allowed for property acquisition, pending or actual litigation and certain personnel issues.
Jim Zachary, editor of the Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News Daily, and director of the recently-launched Transparency Project of Georgia, says: "There is a significant difference between being legally permitted to do something and being required. Every single time elected officials retreat to executive session, it is a choice they are making to conceal the public's business. It is important they know that if even just one of them chooses to disclose what was talked about behind closed doors, they can do so without fear of violating any state law."
continues: "These are extremely important legal perspectives. Citizens
should continue to put pressure on local officials to stop doing public
business in private."
JULY 14, 2014 -- There hasn't ever been an outpouring of correct guesses about a Forum mystery photo as happened in the last few days. Lots of people responded to the photograph of the Georgia Guidestones sent in by Janet Rinaldo of Dacula,with folks telling lots of detail about this mysterious formation of granite.
First in was Janet Gibson of Lilburn, who notes: "It's a mystery to folks in the area." Gary Webb of Lawrenceville says: "The Georgia Guidestones, aka, American Stonehenge, in Elbert County." Robert Hanson of Loganville adds: "And it's made of granite, the principal product of Elberton."
Jim Nelems of Peachtree Corners chips in with: "They are in 10 languages. Who paid for them has been a closely guarded secret." Phyllis Davis of Lawrenceville says: "This is the marker on the Georgia Highway 77 in a Hart County. It is made of Elberton granite. It is a unique marker."
Scott LeCraw of Suwanee got overjoyed at the photo: "Finally! One mystery photo I know! The Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County. Definitely a strange sight."
Karen Garner of Dacula adds: "It's commonly thought that the man calling himself R.C. Christian, the same man directly responsible for the creation of the Guidestones, did so in homage to Christian Rosenkruez, who was the founder of the mystical theology known as Rosicrucianism."
Rich Edinger Lawrenceville, says: "A message clearly conveying a set of ten guidelines is inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, (Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Swahili) and a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient languages' scripts: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs."
Bob Foreman of Grayson chips in: "These granite monoliths were erected in 1980 and contain a set of guidelines or suggestions for living on the planet. The inscriptions are not exactly the Ten Commandments, but appear to be the anonymous opinion of someone with deep pockets, trying to leave his or her mark on the world."
Howard Williams of Snellville tells us: "The Georgia Guidestones are located at the highest point in Elbert County, off Georgia Highway 77."
Lynn Naylor of Atlanta finds: "The Guidestones have captured the curiosity of astronomy buffs, peaceniks, pagans, and preachers over the decades since. Conspiracy theorists have decoded them; pagans have held rituals around them; graffiti artists have defaced them. They are as riveting for their curious origins and enigmatic intentions as they are for the cacophonous range of responses they evoke in observers.
"The monument was commissioned in 1979 by an anonymous donor calling himself 'R.C. Christian.' According to the deceased Joe Fendley, then president of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company, Mr. Christian was a tall, well-dressed stranger who showed up in his office on a Friday afternoon and offered to pay a substantial sum of money for the construction of the monument. Fendley sent him over to Wyatt C. Martin, then president of the Granite City Bank.
"Within a few weeks, Christian had wired money to the bank and brought in a wooden model of the monument, and the quarrying and construction had begun. Over 4,000 letters were ultimately etched into the surface of the stones. A year later, on March 22, 1980, the Guidestones were unveiled -- in a former cow pasture."
Others identifying the stones include Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill; Dave Heydinger of Elberton, Richard Lux and Harriet Nichols of Trickum, Gary Cobb of Hartwell, David Earl Tyre of Jesup, Libby Cromer of Lawrenceville, Ruth Lachman Paul of Norcross and Jeannie Haynes of Suwanee. And meanwhile, we bet other guesses come in today! Thanks, Janet, for your good mystery stimulator!
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Brand Banking Company, headquartered in Lawrenceville, where it has three offices, with additional branches in Snellville, Grayson and Flowery Branch. It is the largest privately held bank in Gwinnett, with assets of $1.920,000,000. The bank's main office is in Lawrenceville on the Historic Courthouse Square, plus there is another branch on Hurricane Shoals Road. Other locations are in Grayson, Snellville, Flowery Branch, Buford, Duluth and Buckhead. Member, FDIC and Federal Reserve System.
Editor, the Forum:
an article on the internet about the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer
in Texas and the crisis the farmers are facing there. The article was
"America's Breadbasket is Running Out of Water," by Brian Brown.
One can "Google " it if interested.
growth in that area of the state is astounding, particularly your county
of Gwinnett! We must remember that for each soul up there, you must have
By illuminating the vocabulary of sustainable agriculture, the Lexicon of Sustainability educates, engages and activates people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America.
Republicans pick Woodall to head House study committee
District Congressman Rob Woodall has been selected as incoming chairman
of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Following former Chairman Steve Scalise's elevation to serve as Majority
Whip, the RSC has chosen Woodall to serve as chairman until the regular
committee elections later this year. The committee's leadership will officially
transition to Woodall on July 16. Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional
District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Gwinnett and Forsyth
North Georgia Water Planning District invites individuals to capture the
beauty of our natural resources in photographs in an effort to remind
residents of the important role these lakes and rivers also play in providing
valuable water resources to the region's water supply. Submitted photographs
will be considered for inclusion in the 2015 Water Reflections calendar.
Lawrenceville resident joins dog gear distributor in Tucker
a manufacturing and retail distribution company providing seriously cool
dog gear for seriously cool dogs, announced today the addition of Rosemary
Hopper of Lawrenceville to its leadership team. In her new position as
product manager for MisterMigs.com, Hopper will oversee design and production
for its line of Migrubbie fashions and accessories. Hopper also serves
as associate professor of fashion design at Bauder College, a position
she will retain along with her role at MisterMigs.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia make up the state's highest mountain range. The range of rugged ridges and rounded, weathered peaks varies in elevation from 1,600 to 4,700 feet and harbors spectacular mountain scenery, as well as some of the world's richest biological diversity. In addition, the range contains Georgia's wettest areas, with higher elevations getting more than eighty inches of rain annually on average.
Blue Ridge, so named because its peaks and ridges often appear wrapped
in a soft blue haze, consists of a nearly unbroken chain of mountains
stretching from Virginia and North Carolina and extending nearly 100 miles
into Georgia. It makes up the southernmost part of the Appalachian mountain
chain, a vast complex of ranges that extends from north Georgia through
Northwest Georgia consists of several smaller ranges-the Cohuttas, the Unakas, and the Cumberland Plateau.
They are separated from the Blue Ridge by geologic formations known as the Hightower-Jasper Ridges and the McCaysville Basin in north central Georgia, along a boundary roughly marked by Georgia Highway 5. The Blue Ridge's southern boundary is along the Brevard Fault, at an elevation of 1,700 feet, where the Piedmont province begins. The Blue Ridge occupies all or portions of 11 counties in Georgia: Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White.
The Blue Ridge Mountains' crest, for much of its length, forms the drainage dividing line known as the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates rivers flowing eastward into the Atlantic Ocean from those flowing westward to the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, Georgia's Chattahoochee River basin, whose waters flow into the gulf, rises near the borders of Union and Towns counties. The Etowah River, which also flows to the gulf, rises in Lumpkin County. The headwaters of the Savannah River, which flows to the Atlantic, are the Chattooga River, which rises in the Blue Ridge near the juncture of the Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina borders.
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SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
For the 2014 primary season, GwinnettForum asked all candidates facing primary opposition in Gwinnett County to provide answers to six questions.
You can read answers of candidates who are in the runoff by clicking on the links for each race. (Candidate answers are provided by race; scroll down the document if you don't immediately see the candidate you want to read about.)
U.S. CONGRESS, DISTRICT 10
GEORGIA STATEWIDE CANDIDATES
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
GEORGIA LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES
SENATE DISTRICT 9
Free Brown Bag Concerts on the lawn at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville. Bring a lunch and enjoy music and other activities. Dates for the 11 a.m. Brown Bag concerts are on July 11 and August 1, all sponsored by the Gwinnett Parks and Recreation Commission.
Historical Findings Presentation of the Wynne-Russell House in Lilburn will take place July 12 at 11 a.m. by David and Shannon Byers of Timeless Paranormal. Elmer Nash, fifth generation Lilburn resident, will also give a commentary on the architectural and historic aspects of the 1826 house, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Meanwhile, there will be a yard sale beginning at 9 a.m. at the house.
Southern Wings Bird Club meets Monday, July 14 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center at 7 p.m. Speaker will be Emily Jo Williams. She is the Migratory Bird Chief/Assistant Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southeast Region. Her presentation is entitled "You had me at Hello .... how birds can inspire us to save the natural world and the breathable air and drinkable water that come along as a bonus."
(NEW) Ribbon Cutting at Little Mulberry Park, Tuesday, July 15, beginning at 4:30 p.m., with activities lasting until 8 p.m. This will commemorate the opening of an 18 hole disc golf course in the wooded area, a 2,400 square foot open pavilion; new playground, new restroom facilities, 0.3 mile paved track connecting to the existing trail system, and a new 600 square foot wooden deck overlooking the lake. The park is located at 3900 Hog Mountain Road near Dacula.
(NEW) Summer Stage Concerts in Duluth begin on Saturday, July 19, featuring the Bicho Brothers at 8 p.m. on the Town Green. There will be two other events in the series, on August 16 and September 13.
Peachtree Corners State of the City Address by Mayor Mike Mason will be July 21 at 7:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Norcross. The breakfast event is hosted by the Peachtree Corners Business Association. Admission is $5 for Association members and $20 for others. For details, send an email here. Reservations are required.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
CONTINUING OBJECTIVES FOR GWINNETT
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
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