EDITORIAL: DA makes strong statement

There is an old saying, sometimes attributed to Aristotle, that “well begun is half done.”

The new Clayton County Commission is off to a good start.

BOC Chairman Jeff Turner was elected with more than 67 percent of the vote in the runoff election and hit the ground running Wednesday evening, riding the waves of that populace support.

Removing County Manager Wade Starr was a bold and decisive move.

Perhaps there were multiple reasons for Vice-chairman Michael Edmondson to introduce to measure to eliminate the position and for Turner’s motion to remove him from office.

The most important reason, however, is that it brings government closer to the people.

Hired professional forms of government are further removed from citizens, less accountable and generally more expensive.

Cities in Clayton County, especially Morrow, should be paying attention to Turner’s leadership and listening to what he has been saying about governing by elected officials rather than hired professionals, along with his pledges for greater transparency.

All elected officials should be paying attention and listening to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.

Lawson now is asking the court to rule on alleged Open Meetings violations by the former Clayton County Commission.

The last-minute adding of items to government agendas has long been a tactic to avoid public exposure and accountability. The courts would do a great service to the citizens of Clayton County by putting a stop to this “above the law” attitude that has gone on way too long.

We have said it repeatedly and we will say it again and again, “Government belongs to the governed not the governing.”

Lawson gets that.

Turner seems to get that.

It is time that all commissioners, city council members, mayors, board of education members and city and county attorneys get it as well.

Turner has indicated he will put a stop to the last-minute adding of items to county agendas and the failure to give adequate public notice. He also needs to put a stop to the epidemic of executive sessions plaguing Clayton County.

Do the public’s business in public.

Executive sessions are not required.

They are allowed by state law, but that does not mean that Turner and the commission must meet in closed-door sessions.

The executive session privilege has been abused, misused and overused in our county.

Reserve those closed meetings for rare occasions when very sensitive information protected under the law absolutely mandates an executive session. Do not use them just because you can.

Watchdogging and the calling out of public officials by the Clayton News Daily have caught many off guard.

It shouldn’t.

It is quite simply what a newspaper should do, but we should also let officials know when they get it right.

So far, Turner and Lawson are getting it right.

We will also be the first to tell you when they don’t.

This new administration has begun with a spirit of openness and public accountability. We hope that inaugural spirit becomes a legacy of true public service that will benefit all the citizens of Clayton County and put an end to back-room deals, political favors, nepotism and cronyism.

— Editor Jim Zachary