Commission seeks AG
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2000
opinion on secret ballot voting
By BETH LAKEY
March 13, 2000 11 PM
Because of questions regarding secret ballots cast by the Pike County Commission during its last meeting, commissioners decided to request an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office on advice from their counsel.
During the commission’s Feb. 28 meeting all six commissioners voted by secret ballot on the choice for director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency office.
Tallies from the secret ballots gave two votes apiece to Larry Davis of Brundidge, Michael Tatom and Deslie Galloway, both of Troy, but no indication was made publicly regarding which commissioners cast which votes.
County Attorney Allen Jones told commissioners there is no statute making a secret ballot vote illegal, but said seeking the Attorney General’s opinion may help if the issue arises again.
"I have no problem with the way the vote was taken," Jones said, adding it would be in "the interest of the public" to get the opinion.
"Let’s see what they say," Jones said.
After the motion to seek an Attorney General’s opinion was unanimously approved, Commission Chairman Larry Meeks made some comments.
"Our commissioners are always willing to work with our press," Meeks said. "What we did was not intended to be a secret."
He said voting by secret ballot was meant to keep the candidates’ "character and integrity" intact.
He said the commission is "happy to get an AG’s opinion."
Although the commission was expected to make a decision Monday night, it did not because Commissioner Willie C. Thomas was absent, Meeks said.
He said the commission is "going to make an attempt" to select an EMA director at its March 27 meeting.
"We have three very good candidates," Meeks said, adding he wants a unanimous vote by the commission.
In other business, the commission:
· Decided to apply for federal funds to repair/replace the culvert on County Road 25, north of Goshen, over Mill Creek. Recently, the weight limit had to be reduced to three tons, forcing school buses to detour.
County Engineer Herb Huner said the culvert was damaged in a 1975 flood and doesn’t think it’s wise to repair it because of the costs involved. He estimated it would cost $200,000 to repair it, but the county may be able to replace it for slightly less.
· Tabled decisions on some changes to the personnel handbook.
· Approved the drafting of guidelines of legal expenditures for the Special Projects Fund. Jones said each decision has to be decided on a "case by case basis."
· Voted to establish a county web page.
· Approved a retail beer and table wine off-premises license application from Interstate Oil Company, Inc., Elba Highway Chevron.
· Tabled a decision on a county litter program, which would involve community service, until insurance information can be attained.
· Voted to employ Heather Hicks as a Court Clerk II in the Probate Office and approved salary adjustments for courthouse employees reaching their anniversary date.