Last week, The Insider took news from another part of the state and helped shine a little light on a questionable contract in Rockdale County.
Basically, the Metro Spirit was contacted by several concerned citizens living around Conyers, Ga., about a recent contract that the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners approved in January without public discussion.
Earlier this year, the five-year, no-bid contract was given to a company called Greenhood Industries to provide “consulting and management” for a residential waste collection program in Rockdale County.
Under the contract, the company, Greenhood, would provide a countywide collection program of household waste at a “monthly rate to be determined.”
The fact that citizens had no idea what this countywide collection program might cost them down the road and there was no public debate over the contract outraged several residents.
But what amazed some of our local citizens was the managing member of Greenhood Industries was Augusta’s own Charles “Champ” Walker, Jr.
Walker, the once 12th Congressional District candidate and son of former state Sen. Charles Walker, heads Greenhood Industries.
Even more baffling to some Richmond County residents was the fact that the chairman of the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners was none other than native Augustan and former Richmond County deputy marshal Oz Nesbitt.
While the connection seemed comical here in Augusta, it was no laughing matter in Rockdale County.
This was a five-year contract with no specified price tag for its citizens from an out-of-town company that did not go through a bidding process.
It had nothing to do with the politics of the Walker family (wink, wink), but the major concern was the fact that there was no public debate over the merits of this contract.
Well, needless to say, the citizens of Rockdale County let their voices be heard.
More than 200 residents of Rockdale County packed last week’s meeting in reference to the contract.
According to The Rockdale Citizen, a total of 105 people signed up to make comments on the issue, but only 63 were given time to speak during the four-hour meeting.
The four-hour long meeting.
You know the Rockdale County commissioners loved that gathering.
After the huge public outcry over the contract, Nesbitt, who has served two four-year terms as Commissioner Post 1 in Rockdale County and is currently serving a four-year term as chairman of the commission, quickly tried to put out the flames over the issue.
In a recorded video message to citizens last week (which happened to begin with stately music that was almost reminiscent of music played prior to a mock election debate featured on “Saturday Night Live”), Nesbitt addressed the public about the garbage and waste collections contract.
“I want each and every one of y’all who came out and spoke and sent a message to know, you were heard,” Nesbitt said, smiling at the camera. “As chairman of Rockdale County, I want all of you to know that you were heard very loud and very clear. As far as I’m concerned, this trash issue is dead in the water, and this contract will not have my support.”
Boom. Just like that, the garbage deal was done.
It was over for Greenhood Industries in Rockdale County.
On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to rescind the contract with Greenhood Industries.
Nesbitt even apologized to residents for the confusion over the contract, adding that he hoped citizens will continue to be willing to assist the county in stopping illegal dumping, according to The Rockdale Citizen.
“I think this conversation in terms of garbage and trash has really sparked a new conversation in this community about cleaning up the image of Rockdale County collectively as a whole,” Nesbitt reportedly said. “I think we will all agree that this is not just one person’s problem, it is not a city of Conyers problem, it is not a county problem, it is a community problem and it is going to take the entire community together to work at cleaning this up.”
Nice job to the residents of Rockdale County for “cleaning up” a potential mess headed their way.
As for Nesbitt, he learned a valuable lesson this month: Politics ain’t always pretty. In fact, sometimes it’s garbage.
The best advice is to stand by your constituents, even if you upset your pals.