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Many readers disapprove of officials in e-mail probe

By Steve Stewart
steve@decaturdaily.com· 340-2444

Daily readers said they want to know what’s in Morgan County Courthouse computers, but they criticized officials on all sides of an ongoing investigation.

“I personally think the people involved should be more professional,” Jeremy Winchester of Danville wrote in an e-mail, responding to an online poll.

“Everyone needs to stop and think about the money and effort being spent on this subject. This is an embarrassment for all of Morgan County that these are the people voted into office. All they seem to be able to do is argue back and forth. ...

“Turn the hard drives over. Guilty or not, they do not belong to the officials; they belong to us, the taxpayers.”

The courthouse investigation involves possible inappropriate use of county computers. It started after issues were raised about postings on an online forum and a racy e-mail.

The two-day, unscientific poll at www .decaturdaily.com drew 527 votes, with 344 voters (65.3 percent) saying yes to the question “Do you want to know what’s on the computer hard drives in the Morgan County

Courthouse?” A total of 183 voted no. People could vote from anywhere.

Jerry Kyker of Hartselle said he had “no interest” in knowing what’s on the hard drives.

‘Bunch of nuts’

“What I want to know is how we can get rid of the whole bunch of nuts that work there. I am talking about Stacy George, Sheriff (Greg) Bartlett, Amanda Scott, John Glasscock and all the others that can’t do the job they were elected to do without making this county look foolish.”

He was referring, respectively, to the chairman pro tem of the County Commission, the sheriff, the revenue commissioner, and the County Commission chairman.

Citing security and privacy concerns, Bartlett and Scott have refused to turn over their hard drives to investigators working for the County Commission.

History of conflict

Some readers criticized one side or the other.

Mike Dowdy of Hartselle noted a history of conflict involving George, Scott and Bartlett but said county commissioners “have every right” to have hard drives examined.

“My money says it has nothing to do with personal information or nonpublic records, but has much to do with personal comments made to and from Scott and Bartlett, that they don’t want the Morgan County commissioners to see,” he wrote.

Aaron Potts of Decatur said he cannot understand why George doesn’t get a court order to take Bartlett’s and Scott’s hard drives.

“Who died and left these two in charge of county equipment that our tax dollars paid for?” Potts asked.

He added that the county should refuse to pay the locksmith Scott hired to change her office door locks.

‘Something to hide’

Bill Blackburn of Decatur commented, “Hang in there! There is definitely something to hide.”

Laura Eick of Falkville, a former civilian employee of the U.S. Army, said she wants to know what’s on the hard drives that is relevant to the investigation but expects investigators to safeguard what should be private.

“Apparently, we have some people on the public payroll who don’t understand that their offices, the doors and locks, the desks, the computers and hard drives and everything else purchased with tax dollars does not become their personal property and they cannot hide it from someone duly authorized to take possession of it for a specific purpose such as this.”

‘Who is it hurting?’

Michelle Baker of Decatur wrote, “Stacy George and the Morgan County Commission are spending more of the taxpayers’ money by dragging this out instead of just saying, ‘Hey, guys, don’t do this anymore.’ The people are grown, and if they want to send clips of whatever back and forth to each other, who is it hurting? No one, as long as they are doing their jobs ...

“I guarantee you that if you were to check every working person’s business computer, you would find some kind of e-mail or Web site that other people would think shouldn’t be there.”

‘A witch hunt’

Melanie Moore of Decatur wrote, “It seems like Stacy George has been on a witch hunt for a long time now, and it appears he particularly begrudges Greg Bartlett and Amanda Scott. ... I, for one, couldn’t care less if they have some private e-mails. I only care that they do a good job.”

According to James E. Shook of Decatur, “This whole issue is a nonissue. I think the County Commission’s time could be better spent on more important matters. I have seen several witch hunts during my 40 years of work, and they are, with few exceptions, someone’s attempt to gain more power.

“I hate to see our county government ripped apart for no good reason.”

Good housecleaning

Terry Vandiver of Decatur called for “a good old-time housecleaning for some of the county commissioners and some of the elected officers of the county government. ‘He did, she did’ is all that has been done by some of the commissioners since they were elected. Some of them are like little kids trying to keep themselves in the public eye.

“It is time to put all the petty bickering aside and get on with serving the people who elected them.”

Vendetta, shedding light?

Winchester said he believes George “has a vendetta with Sheriff Bartlett and Ms. Scott,” and Kyker said, “Stacy George has created one problem after another.” But Eick commented, “Thieves and roaches don’t like light. Mr. George keeps turning on the light, and that’s a very good thing for the people of Morgan County.”

Michael R. Trammell of Decatur expressed a wish to “get to the bottom of this problem and move on. ... I have lived in Morgan County for about six months, and I am not impressed with the way things are run in the county offices. Please fix it. Morgan County has so much to offer and so little is demonstrated.”

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