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Dispute rises over local legislation

ATLANTA -- State Rep. Winfred Dukes said Monday local legislation that would allow the four members of the Legislature who represent Albany and Dougherty County to appoint a member of the local Board of Elections and Registration had passed in the House and was on track to receive Gov. Nathan Deal's signature and become law.

Local officials, and one of Dukes' colleagues in Atlanta, however, weren't so sure of the measure that would allow the legislators to select the fifth member of the elections board rather than continue to have that member selected by the four other board members. The local Republican and Democratic parties and the city and county commissions each appoint one member of the board.

"We've had to deal with some election issues in Dougherty County lately, and that's become a concern of the (local) delegation," Dukes, D-Albany, said in a phone interview Monday morning. "Rep. (Carol) Fullerton, Sen. (Freddie Powell) Sims, Rep. (Gerald) Greene and myself have discussed this issue and feel that we can add value to that board (by becoming involved in the process).

"It seems that board has developed an incestuous kind of relationship and is in need of a change. I talked with the mayor and chairman of the county commission and neither seemed to have any serious heartburn with it, so we moved the process forward."

The legislation passed in the House late Friday and was being considered in the Senate Monday. Even as it was moving through that process, though, County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard and Fullerton, D-Albany, said Monday they were surprised to learn that the local legislation had made its way through the House.

"I met with Rep. Dukes a while ago and he briefly mentioned (the proposed legislation)," Sinyard said. "I told him I had some concerns with it, and the conversation turned to something else. I hadn't heard anything else about it, and I have to admit I was surprised when it was mentioned today."

County Attorney Spencer Lee informed commissioners of the proposed legislation during the commission's work session Monday morning, leading Commissioner Lamar Hudgins to remark, "They wouldn't do this and not tell us, would they?"

Lee replied, after a pause, "They did."

Fullerton said Monday afternoon she had not signed off on the legislation and would be surprised to see the governor sign it.

"Not only did I not sign this piece of legislation, I don't intend to sign it," she said. "I frankly don't think this is something we ought to get into. I don't know if the Senate has passed this measure, but I do know if there is concern about it the governor is not likely to sign it.

"I don't understand really why Gerald (Greene) signed off on the legislation."

Neither Greene, R-Cuthbert, Sims, D-Dawson, nor Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard had responded to messages seeking comment for this article Monday by The Herald's press time.

The primary question that a number of local officials, several of whom spoke off the record, had with the proposed legislation is that it was not discussed extensively with local city or county leaders. Dukes said that is not a requirement.

"Yes, generally local legislation in the House originates with local leaders, but that is not a requirement," he said. "Frankly, (legislators) are the ones who are responsible for such legislation. We don't really need someone else to tell us what our duties are; we're not subject to local governments.

"When I heard no objection from the mayor and commission chairman, I didn't think this would be much of an issue."

Alan Pendleton, who currently serves as chair of the Dougherty Board of Elections and Registration, said he did not have enough information to comment on the legislation itself. But he did express disappointment that the matter had not been discussed more locally.

"My reaction is basically one of surprise," Pendleton said. "I'm surprised that Mr. Dukes -- or any of the other members of our delegation who supported this measure -- didn't have the courtesy to come discuss it with somebody in Dougherty County before doing this.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed in the lack of courtesy shown by all members of the delegation who might have had a part in this."

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year ago

"We've had to deal with some election issues in Dougherty County lately, and that's become a concern of the (local) delegation," Dukes, D-Albany, said in a phone interview Monday morning. "Rep. (Carol) Fullerton, Sen. (Freddie Powell) Sims, Rep. (Gerald) Greene and myself have discussed this issue and feel that we can add value to that board (by becoming involved in the process).

SAY WHAT? This sounds like an SNL skit. It has to be a comic work up and some where Freddie Powell Sims will have to do a complete twirl in her full length mink coat.

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waltspecht 1 year ago

It's a shame we all can't realize that once elected the Politician doesn't really care what the voters have to say. They, and their EGOS know what is best for all of us. One has but to look at Sanford Bishop to see this is a reality.

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RedEric 1 year ago

The board has developed an incestuous relationship? You mean by controlling whose name gets on the ballot? Eliminating uncooperative candidates? Nawwww! Maybe they heard the State is taking over operation of Albany and they want to demonstrate helpfulness and concern. Nawwww!

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

I like this idea!! Seems fair to me. The State needs to be more involved in this process. Some people don't like me speaking out about this board but I will continue to and I do hope the Governor signs that bill once it is passed.

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whattheheck 1 year ago

Is this payback for dumping Lorenzo Heard since neither Carol nor Jethro were aware of it? Normally, those in the legislature do not undertake things not first blessed by the local politicians, particularly the Chairman of the Co Commission. Problems within the election process are generated by those who do the day-to-day work like Nickerson who seems lacking in ept.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

Do you remember what happened to Cheryl Calhoun and Melissa Strother? They had a court case as well.

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whattheheck 1 year ago

Yes they did and it was a screw up by the Nickerson-run election office that caused the fiasco. Calhoun's ward should have been easy to determine when she filed, a "no brainer" caused by an unsupervised worker who could not read a map. Strother's lawyer screwed up in the filing of her case which was lost on a technicality--she would have won.

All this said, the Board is guilty of a lack of supervision of the elections office. This can happen regardless of board composition. The state will not be getting involved in the local election process, as you will see.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

Don't hold your breathe about the State not stepping in. Seems they have already done so with the Attorney General's assistant coming down here to look into the matter further. That case may have been over a couple of years ago in Court but NOT with the State.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

I am convinced this was not an error. Unfortunately Strother's attoney committed technical errors which put an end to her very strong case.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

You hit a bull's eye when you said the Elections Board and staff are inept. However, do you really think Duke, Sims and Jethro could disentangle the mess? I would rather have Spencer Lee write a new ordinance. Well, maybe that is too radical. Let's just get some folks in the office other than political hacks to operate the place.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

Spencer Lee has no say in this. This is the State's decision not the County and that was Dukes' point to Sinyard that he didn't need their permission to move the bill forward.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

The consideration of Local Legislation in the General Assembly is a "tradition" where local potentates either propose or support a law's passage with the concurrence of the local delegation's membership. This isn't true in this case. Duke did not have either. The final step is the Governor's signature after passing both Houses. The local potentates will have impact on the Bill even if it is at the Governor's desk. I agree that Nickerson has done a poor job but I do not want Dukes and Sims or any other legislator holding the power to place a person on the board of elections.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

Duke called Sinyard to discuss it so why didn't Sinyard take him seriously? Plus, Duke is only looking out for our best interest and not the "good ole boy" system.

I am sorry that we don't agree on this issue but if you knew all the facts that surround why this bill went to the House then you would understand a little better why the rules need to change with the Board of Elections. I sure hope for the voters' and candidates' sake the bill passes and the Governor signs it. What happened to Mrs. Calhoun was straight WRONG.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

Okay. I will listen. Tell me the facts around this bill. I want to know. What happened to Mrs. Calhoun was an absolute injustice and I do not believe for a second it was a mistake. I also know that Mrs. Strother's circumstances were soiled by what the election staff did as well. I will be sure whatever you share on the thread will be filtered through the local representatives. Please share your information.

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budcollier1956 1 year ago

What is clear in the Squawk is that some people who have the least education, have never done anything, do not do anything, and have the least discernment are the very ones who are quick to tell others how to do it and express their opinion so quickly. If doing so gives one a misplaced sense of self-importance, while the rest of us work to preserve their liberties to do so, have at it.

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erock 1 year ago

Let's just wipe the slate clean and start over. Neither of you jacklegs have our best interest in mind anyhow.

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WeAreThey 1 year ago

Just like Freddie Powell Sims quietly running through a bill to protect the Hospital Authority and Phoebe Health Systems from further investigation of their actions. After Slick Eddie tried and failed - in the cover of night. Talk about bi-partisan cooperation!!!

Now Winfred thinks he can pull off the same thing - sneaking a bill through without anyone knowing until it is too late.

Seemingly, three of our elected state legislators serve a very small number of masters and they buy off the voters, and local elected officials, with grants and gifts of state money. And we will stay 'bought' while they line one pocket and steal from another.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

Actually, you need to direct that anger towards the Elections Office for failure to do their job correctly for not serving the voters and candidates.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

I agree with Kaos, frustration and impatience should be directed at the elections office. But don't compound the problem by giving Duke and Sims the authority to place a member on the board of elections. The blind do not lead the blind.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year ago

The blind has been leading the blind at the Elections Office for many years. I find your statement hilarious.

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FryarTuk 1 year ago

Okay. Tell me what you know about the presentation of the bill and perhaps we can both have a good laugh. By the way, I'm not arguing the elections staff isn't blind. I am saying that Sims and Duke have no vision, sight or insight as well. Hence the blind can't lead the blind. Get it. Now tell me about the specifics of the law that will bring wisdom to the puzzle.

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whattheheck 1 year ago

If our state legislators are willing to introduce legislation without approval of the local officials, how about introducing some property tax relief legislation, like senior school tax or frozen assessment legislation? It is done by the same process. And why doesn't the same group of legislators introduce a bill to make the DoCo tax assessor include values on tax exempt buildings in property records records so all can see that it is likely the value of exempt property now exceeds the value of what is taxed? Do something with more value to the citizens paying the bills!

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Abytaxpayer 1 year ago

Whatthe ROFLMAO "Do something with more value to the citizens paying the bills!" Those days have long passed, they only work for the votes not the taxpayers any more.

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B4it 1 year ago

On another note, how about introducing the recommendation to consolidate the Albany City and Dougherty County governments to eliminate many of these wasted time LOST negotiations, service duplications and excessive spending? This should lower our property taxes and make us more attractive for new businesses?

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