2009-02-19 / Front Page

Simply beyond us...

Lincoln County Commissioner Larry Collins was right: "It's simply beyond me why anybody would look at a system that is working, like our EMS department is, and want to tinker with it."

It's beyond us, as well.

At the February 12 meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Darrell Henderson, Commissioner Rob Robinson, and Chairman Wade Johnson voted to take the E-911 center from Public Safety Director Ernie Doss and place it under the control of Sheriff Gerald Lawson.

The commissioners took this action in spite of:

.. The overwhelming support of Doss from those present at the meeting.

.. The fact that the move was never discussed in an open meeting; instead, it was illegally discussed in closed session.

.. The fact that it will cost money. After justifying personnel cuts with the cry of budget shortfalls, it does not make any sense to spend money on something that is presumably working just fine. And if it isn't working fine, what is the problem?

If there is something wrong with the operation of the E-911 center, those citizens, whose lives may depend on the center one of these days, deserve an explanation.

.. The fact that none of the commissioners who voted for the move could give an explanation that even begins to merit the change.

It's simply beyond us.

What does make sense is to keep the E-911 center under the auspices of the public safety director, whoever that may be.

In addition to the sheriff's office, the E-911 center also handles calls for the city police department, the fire departments, the ambulance service, and the rescue unit. It follows only that the dispatch center would fall under the public safety department.

Moving the Georgia Crime Information System (GCIS) terminal to the sheriff's office is no big deal — sheriff's personnel should probably have been handling it all along.

But the E-911 center is another matter entirely. The pros and cons of the move should have been discussed in open session and the decision made with input from the public.

We believe the commission is comprised of honorable men. Nevertheless, some the decisions they have made appear backwards and ill-considered.

We aren't sure what factors are at play here. They could include plain old ignorance, misinformation, the belief that the public does not need a full accounting of the actions taken, a struggle for power, making good on political promises, or a combination thereof.

One thing is certain: the way the commission is functioning now is not in the best interest of the people as a whole.

It's simply beyond us.

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