Tempers flared at the Monday, May 13, 2013 meeting of the Dodge County/Eastman Development Authority after chairman Jack Burnham called the meeting to order. After the invocation, board member John Jessup made a motion that the meeting agenda be changed to include election of officers for 2013.
Chairman Burnham stated that he would entertain the motion provided that Jessup and board member Butch Kirkley not be allowed to vote. Jessup asked why and Burnham said that the two members had a conflict of interest due to the fact that they were employed by banks and there was pending litigation with the three banks in Eastman.
Jessup stated that there was no pending litigation before the (Dodge County/Eastman Development Authority) board.
After some heated discussion, including new board member Buddy Pittman stating that Burnham, also being a member of the airport authority board had a conflict of interest, Jessup made the motion that board member Butch Kirkley be elected chairman pro tem. Burnham objected saying there was a conflict of interest. The motion was seconded and members Jessup, Kirkley, Pittman and Brian Watkins voted in favor and board members Burnham, H. Peacock and Terry Coleman did not vote.
At that point, Kirkley took control of the meeting over objections from Burnham and called for a motion for election of officers. Jessup made the motion, seconded by Pittman and the vote was once again four in favor and three not voting.
Jessup then made the motion that Butch Kirkley be made chairman and it was seconded, with a protest from Burnham, and the motion passed, once again, four in favor and three not voting.
Pittman then made the motion that Jessup be made vice chairman, seconded by Watkins and passed four in favor and three not voting.
Kirkley then continued the meeting and followed the agenda, with all members discussing items on the agenda.
Later in the meeting, Jessup made the motion to appoint two new members to the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport Authority, namely Butch Kirkley and Phil Bearden. Under protest from Burnham, the motion was seconded and was passed, once again, four in favor and Burnham and Peacock voting no and Coleman abstaining. Kirkley and Bearden will replace airport authority chairman Eddie Driggers and member Jack Burnham.
Kirkley noted that the appointments would take effect immediately.
After hearing several comments from the audience of approximately 30 citizens, the meeting was adjourned.
It seems to me there is a real simple solution to this problem. If there is such a conflict of interest in every person, Board member, or issue; why not get rid of all the old timers on this and other Boards and get some citizens that actually represent what Dodge County wants now as opposed to 40 years ago. I'm sure all these gentlemen were fine upstanding men back in their day but do they honestly think they represent the majority of the Dodge County citizens? No one cares who can play politics anymore! Do something positive for Dodge County for a change! Get over yourself from back in the day and let someone with a working knowledge of this community represent the real people of this fine county.
I do believe it's good to have bank affiliated members on these boards. It makes for a more open line of communication when it comes time to generate capital when needed. However, Dodge County is so shell-shocked by the political gamesmanship that has occurred for decades that any resemblance of corruption or conflicts of interest are met with a heavy handed response. Butch is a good fit for the Airport Authority board but the Development Authority jumped the gun on appointing him. This lawsuit either needs to run it's course or a Airport Authority board free of any bank related confections needs to dismiss its lawsuit. But I understand that the Development Authorities much needed rebellion has left them a little shorthanded. So I will pray for Butch because of no fault of his own he shall become the focal point of contention now.