A factual look into an ethics hearing, inaccurate reporting, and the elephant in the room.
By Tim Enloe; Accessmilton.com
Ok. Let me preface the following words with one simple fact: I consider both D'Aversa and Longoria to be my friends.
Alrighty then, first thing we need to get out of the way is the testimony provided by D'Aversa and Longoria from this past week's ethics inquiry. If you watch the hearing taped by the city, you will find that their statements mirror one another 95% of the time. With that in mind, I do not view Longoria as the great puppet master in this debacle. I believe both were being honest regarding the discussions shared in the Fall of '09. There is a larger history in play here, however.
In regards to the Beacon article below, there are quite a few errors that need to be corrected. First, on a smaller scale, Finance Director Stacey Inglis' name is spelled "Stacey Inglis", not "Stacey English." O'Brien's attorney is "Mark E. Scott", not "Matt E. Scott."
Next, we come to the claim that Lisa Cauley held a fundraiser at her residence for Tina D'Aversa on "Doris" Road. First, the road referenced is spelled "Dorris", not "Doris." Next, the Cauleys don't live on Dorris Road. Third, the Cauleys did not have a fundraiser for Tina D'Aversa at their residence, and fourth the Cauleys did not pay for half of D'Aversa's campaign contributions.
What is accurate is that Mayor Joe Lockwood lives on Dorris Road and he held a fund raiser for Tina D'Aversa at his residence. There were monies donated to her campaign at this time by various individuals. With these discrepancies out of the way, lets move on.
For my fellow viewers, you might remember Ethics Chair Clint Johnson refusing to hear the majority of argument set up by D'Aversa's attorney Lucian Gillis. This in itself is problematic. Much like our Police heroes researching a history that led to a shooting in order to show why someone was shot, the same holds true regarding a case of someone being accused. It is imperative that both sides are given complete time to hear their defense; not just filtered bits and pieces.
This leads us right into a some what unique history of almost four years.
For those unaware, Tina D'Aversa supported Neal O'Brien in his 2006 campaign. I know because I ran against Neal. During their time in office together, obviously something transpired that shifted her support to Burt Hewitt for the '07 election. While I have heard rumblings as to why, rumor is not what this column is about.
As far as Milton's first election season of '06, who can forget the miniature train that sported around Bell Memorial Park showcasing both Neal O'Brien and Clint Johnson campaign signs? Lord knows I can't. It was common knowledge then, as now, that Johnson and O'Brien are supporters of one another. With that in mind, anyone claiming their was bias from one side of the equation must claim the same from the other side. Apples to apples, folks.
Now we roll into the the realm of hypocrisy.
As stated in the news media, this is Milton's fifth ethics hearing in the city's brief three plus year history. One such hearing involved past current council member Neal O'Brien and current council member Bill Lusk. They had used the City of Milton email list to let citizens be aware of an upcoming fundraiser for their campaigns. This charge was dismissed however. Did I mention that Clint Johnson was the Chairman of the ethics board at this time and he is also Bill Lusk appointment to the ethics board? Lets move on.
With that in mind, to have O'Brien call another's ethics into question is easily suspect, especially considering the fact that Tina switched allegiances in 07. If Longoria was the puppet master, I doubt he would have called on an individual with a checkered past to shine the spotlight on D'Aversa. Such a charge would have carried more weight if it were turned in by someone with less baggage and few ties, but that didn't happen.
Our next line item is a suggestion made by a current council member that Milton needs to "hire an outside source" when dealing with the ethics of the city. It seems every time I turn around, we are becoming more and more a city of wasteful spending. Who can forget when we were in the process of hiring a shrink to help our 2006 elected body get along? This made national news, by the way. (To read that story, click here=>
Now, we want to hire an ethics board? All this money wasted, yet our Milton Police are overworked and understaffed. Council needs to get their heads out of their nether regions and realize what their # 1 priority is -the safety of it's constituency, not prepping our hard earned tax dollars for the fire pit of idiocy.
Finally, we come to the elephant in the room - the political anarchy of Milton GA Politics.
Mayor Lockwood caught quite a bit of Hell from supporters for throwing his weight behind incumbents Lusk and Thurman this past year. Many viewed him as aiding the enemy in consideration of a spotty political history the three had shared to date. Others have said he was trying to eliminate the line that has separated the two factions in the hopes of making the city run more smoothly.
While that gesture is an honorable one, such an action will not succeed as a one person affair. Unfortunately, said line still lives.
In conclusion, Milton GA can be wonderful. It can be a great place for families, horses, and businesses all in the same breath. Our hometown can create a reality based in the mutuality of respect and objectivity in a place were everyone is a neighbor. Then again, if we continue with these political battles, those who are claiming that bankruptcy is right around the corner might not be too far off the mark.