News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Commissioners should come clean

Lawrence County commissioners found out something about their county engineer that caused them to put him on paid administrative leave.

Monday, two weeks after taking Gordon O'Neal off duty while they conducted an investigation, commissioners voted to accept his resignation.

Then strangely, commissioners said they couldn't talk about the reason for the investigation or why Mr. O'Neal resigned. They cited legal ramifications and his "good name and character."

That's good old boy barnyard product that's used too often these days to cover up. In this case, we, of course, have no idea how egregious the reason for the investigation or if Mr. O'Neal resigned as part of an agreement to hush up the matter.

The commission made the decision after a 45-minute executive session, which Alabama law allows when a public body discusses a person's good name or character.

But good name and character begin to erode when a county commission puts an employee on administrative leave while it conducts an investigation and that employee resigns.

The matter could have had a political origin because county commissioners are infamous for being at odds over road-building.

Lawrence County residents deserve to know the details so they will be satisfied that Mr. O'Neal was in the wrong, and to know if the commissioners simply had the votes to force him out the back door.

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