I would like to respond to the letter written by Bobby Hulsey Oct. 29, "Letter critical of tax assessors unfounded." It appears Mr. Hulsey is basing his opinion only on long time friendships with these men and their families.
Mr. Hulsey, have you reviewed the Hall County payroll records to see for yourself if my accusation on payroll padding regarding holiday pay is correct?
Upon review, you will see these two assessors received holiday pay for 14 holidays beginning on May 27, 2002, and extending through May 31, 2004. Tax assessors are only part-time employees and have never been eligible for holiday pay.
Commissioner Bobby Banks and Commissioner-elect Ashley Bell requested these men simply pay back the improper holiday pay they received. The Times on Aug. 16 reported the response of these men speculating that someone "accidently marked a holiday for a day worked." Could this accident have happened 14 times for each man over a two-year period without being discovered?
Mr. Hulsey, the GBI tax assessor investigation report reveals that Assessor Terrell Gaines stated that he had never completed a time sheet from 1993 till 2005, and just assumed Assessor Emory Martin was turning in his work days correctly. Was he not aware he had received pay for official holidays until he read it in the newspaper?
In the GBI investigation report, Assessor William Vaughan stated he had "dementia" and asked the GBI agent not to hold him to "some of this stuff." Vaughan also stated he never completed a time sheet and did not know if he had ever received pay for a holiday. Should not this medical condition be enough reason for Vaughan to remove himself as a board member without even considering the holiday pay issue?
The reason the tax board is now conducting business by the book is that various citizens demanded action by Hall County commissioners as evidenced by numerous letters to the editor published by The Times.
To their credit, the commissioners have responded by removing health insurance, establishing a monthly stipend and adding two members to the board for more oversight. It appears not one Hall County resident has spoken favorably in a letter to the editor, other than Hulsey, of the actions of these two remaining assessors regarding the holiday pay issue.
Mr. Hulsey, even you admit these men were negligent in never looking at their time sheets. That these men accepted improper holiday pay over a two-year period is a documented fact and their continuing membership on the tax board cannot help but cast a shadow over the three new members on this board.
I feel I was right on target with my letter of Oct. 25 asking the various questions regarding the tax assessors' performance. I was simply asking the residents of Hall County if they wanted to know the truth regarding the tax assessors' payroll padding, among other things.
I again ask the question. Do you want to know the truth? I do!
Paul S. Barnes
There's too much water in our economic soup
What happens when we have just enough soup for our meal and unexpected company arrives, hungry company?
It's OK; we can feed a couple of unexpected guests if we put some water in the soup. This works if the soup is hearty and guests few, but carried too far the soup would become dishwater.
What happens when we have just enough money for the national budget and Congress makes unexpected expenditures? We print more money, billions more, and dilute the value of every dollar in circulation. Each dollar must give up some of its value, even those dollars under our mattress.
The value of the U.S. dollar has dropped 40 percent since 1995. Too much water in the soup.
The total U.S. currency in circulation in 2004 was $700 billion. Why does that number seem familiar?
Lee S. Bowers
New State Court judge deserving of position
On behalf of the State Bar of Georgia, I extend congratulations to Judge Larry Baldwin on his recent appointment by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the State Court judgeship created to address the burgeoning judicial case load in Hall County.
The people of Hall County will enjoy improved access to timely justice made possible by this expansion of the bench in a county that has experienced rapid population growth and a need for additional judicial firepower.
Gov. Perdue has made an excellent selection. Judge Baldwin's 10 years of experience as a prosecuting attorney, including the last four as solicitor general, will serve him well in his new office.
We wish Judge Baldwin well in his new duties and commend this public-spirited lawyer for accepting these important responsibilities.
Jeffrey O. Bramlett
President, State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta