Courthouse e-mail probe finished, but lacks sense of closure
A good salesman is a person who can successfully close the deal. A good public crusader is one who isnít constantly tilting at windmills.
Always tilting and rarely closing might well describe Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George who raises a multitude of seemingly legitimate questions about operation of county government but finds it difficult to bring closure.
The e-mail scandal at the courthouse is his latest failure. It started with someone other than Mr. George leaking to a television reporter a highly questionable e-mail sent from fired county human resources director Jack Underwood to Commission Chairman John Glasscock, who forwarded it to Decatur Mayor Don Kyle. Mayor Kyle said he requested that the chairman not send any more material of that nature.
Mr. George seized the occasion as an opportunity to purge the countyís e-mail system of non-government-related transmissions because of an earlier charge that employees used their computers to participate in a chatroom site during work hours.
As chairman pro tem of the commission at the time of the e-mail investigation, Mr. George engineered the hiring of a Huntsville law firm to help with the case and to hire a computer expert to retrieve information from county-owned hard drives.
Morgan County Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott and Sheriff Greg Bartlett refused to give up county-owned hard drives even though many county residents want to know whatís on them. And because itís county equipment, people have a right to know.
Ms. Scott took her defiance a step further and changed the locks to her office at the courthouse. Mr. George said he tried to get something done about it, but Chairman Glasscock remains in charge of the courthouse.
Instead of granting Mr. Georgeís request to have the locks changed back, Mr. Glasscock sent the other three commissioners a memorandum basically condoning the lock change by saying Ms. Scott would pay for the new locks out her discretionary fund. But thatís taxpayersí money.
Glasscock knows thatís not her personal money.
After obtaining a few hard drives without resistance, county commissioners voted to shut down the investigation.
Last week, a majority of the commissioners said they have been even handed in the matter — going ahead with inspecting the hard drives of the few people who willingly complied and closing the door on those who didnít.
Mr. George is a modern-day Don Quixote who happens to be part of a county government that foments intrigue.
Does that mean he is wrong?