By Joe Parker Jr.
Coastal Courier (Hinesville, GA) Correspondent
The Liberty County Grand Jury presentments released this week address several controversial areas, including — on the first of their 14 pages — the festering dispute between the Liberty County Hospital Authority and Dr. Glenn Carter.
The grand jury heard from Carter and a presentation from the Hospital Authority and recommended, in bold face type, “unless it can be firmly established that Dr. Carter was guilty of conduct that was illegal, unethical or immoral to a degree that would cause his license to practice to be revoked by the State of Georgia, his privilege to practice at the Authority's facility here in Liberty County be reinstated as soon as possible.”
Besides the hospital authority, the grand jury takes on the Liberty County Commissioners, the school board, the LCPC and the development authority in what it describes as a quest to have public functions carried out for the citizens’ benefit at the lowest possible cost.
The grand jury received business-as-usual reports from the governmental agencies and, after analyzing them, concluded that they were similar to the reports submitted year after year to succeeding grand juries.
This grand jury, headed by Foreman Paul Krebs, wanted more. It asked for specific information in four areas:
A brief description of the significant events of the recent year and the outlook for the current year.
A mission statement of what the agency is charged with doing, its directors, their terms and their experience.
“Sharply improved financial information.” This included the compensation and benefits paid to the two top executives of each agency. With this information, the grand jury concluded that, “The top staff members in all agencies are sufficiently well compensated to be held responsible for being able to produce meaningful annual reports to this and all future grand juries.”
The response to the grand jury’s request was varied. One agency, not named in the presentments, largely met their concerns.
Another responded that they were independent, that the requests were “highly irregular,” not in keeping with their submissions to previous grand juries and that they were busy with other matters.
The Courier will carry further detailed reporting on the grand jury's findings are recommendations.
Here are summaries of some of those topics:
Since the Liberty County Board of Education has unrestricted cash reserves of about $38 million it should develop a plan to reduce the tax burden levied for education.
Because of failure to comply with requirements for a $2 million federal grant, the development authority has incurred $112,000 in unnecessary interest expense which is still continuing to accrue.
The grand jury recommends that the LCDA rescind or terminate its agreement with CH2MHill, a global consulting firm, even if contract cost termination fees are incurred.
Operating entities which require continuous subsidy from the county commission are also a concern to the grand jury. These include Liberty Regional Medical Center, the Solid Waste Authority and the E-911 Emergency System.
The grand jury has established a blogspot for concerned citizens to express responsible opinions about these and other matters. The address is http://LibertyCountyGrandJury2007.blogspot.com
A special display of the grand jury’s complete presentments will appear in the Sunday edition of the Courier.
2007 Liberty County Grand Jury members
• Paul B. Krebs Jr., foreman
• William F. Goodwin, vice foreman
• Beverly M. Childs, clerk
• John W. Stetzer Jr., assistant clerk
• Franklin D. Bradford
• Diane Kroell
• Juan R. Colon
• Dolores S. Mitchell
• Lamar T. Cook
• Jose A. Ortiz
• Maria J. Crowe
• Charlene D. Rocker
• Debra Frazier
• Lamar Speight
• Pijit P. Healy
• Cato Walthour, Jr.
• Tom Holmes III
• Maria C. Winnubst
• Oralia Jiminez
• Mary E. Woods