I attended the April 5, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.
All commissioners were present.
The first agenda item was Visitor Badges for Boards. A representative from the Sheriff’s Office stated that there have been a lot of complaints from Planning and Zoning Board and Sewer Board members about having to wait in long lines at the metal detectors at the courthouse.
The Sheriff proposed a “Visitor’s Badge” system that would allow certain designated individuals to bypass the metal detectors. This would include all of the Board members. Each elected official would also get a few visitor badges they could assign to visitors or contractors.
This agenda item was approved unanimously.
The next agenda item was the 2020 Audit Review. It’s April 2022, so what better time to look through the issues we had back in 2020? According to the Auditor, this was the second consecutive year where there had been no findings (bad things) in the audit.
Commissioner Hasty joked (at least I think he was joking) that this “means that we’re the most honest county in the state!” Kendra, the Treasurer, asked when the contract with the current fiscal audit accountant (Daniel Jones) expired? It seems the county is contracted with them for two more years.
Kendra stated that Daniel Jones normally handles audits for second and third class counties. She suggested Camden County hire an auditor that performs audits on first class counties.
Commissioner Williams agreed and said he would like to switch the audits back to Evers(?)
The Camden County Auditor told the Commission that once the audit was approved, he could forward it to Standard and Poor’s to help establish the county’s credit rating. Commissioner Gohagan asked the Auditor how much Camden County pays for these audits. He responded that it was between $18,000 to $20,000 per year.
There was then a long discussion between the Commission and the various elected officials about the improvements they had made over the past few years. They overcame COVID, they modernized all of their financial computer systems, and established a fiscal policy that put checks and balances on expenditures. One of the members of the Auditor’s office suggested that it would be nice if someone could write a newsletter that talked about some of the improvements and good things that Camden County government has accomplished.
As I could feel all of the eyes in the room turn to me, Presiding Commissioner Hasty pointed at me in the back pew and said, “Well, I think he’s sitting right back there.”
[For the record, I am a big fan of the Camden County employees. I would never want to live in any other county. All of my family is from Audrain, but I love it here. And I’m not saying that because I’m usually surrounded in a room that’s filled with them! Our mid-level elected officials are all good people who really care about doing a great job. I’ve met almost all of them and no matter what they might think of me, I think they are top quality and underpaid.
From my own personal experience, when I tried to register my truck in Eldon (the best license office around, Shhh!) and I forgot to bring my personal property waiver, Camden County picked up on the first ring and had that document faxed over to Eldon in two minutes. I owe those gals a lunch.]
(Back to the meeting)
I joked, “I’m sorry, was I supposed to be writing all of this stuff down?”
Commissioner Gohagan then made a motion to give me a Visitor’s Pass for the Courthouse. I began to get concerned this might require me to write an actual newsletter.
Commissioner Williams was vehemently opposed to this. He said “No!” several times. (Booo!)
Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty then rose up in his chair and towered over the proceeding. His eyes blazed like starlight and with all of his authority and charisma, the room darkened, and his voice thundered that he would break the tie to give me a coveted Camden County Visitor’s Pass! And so it was done.
(See, I could write a pretty keen newsletter)
Everyone, including me, was stunned.
I was caught off guard. Although I did wonder if this pass came with an assigned parking space?
Presiding Commissioner Hasty flared his nostrils and barked that “Even though you only write bad stuff about me”, he wanted me to have a Visitor’s Pass.
Shielding my eyes, I responded to Hasty, “I only write what you say.”
All of the county officials in the room roared with laughter.
The Commission room seemed to brighten a bit. As the darkness faded, the Sheriff’s Office personnel seemed pretty shocked that the Gadfly had been given a Visitor’s Pass.
Is it a trick? Or a treat? We all know the Gadfly won’t be seduced by gifts.
I’ve decided to take this as a compliment and perhaps an indication that the current Camden County Commission is willing to accept some true transparency and operate in a manner that is more accessible to the public. In the past year, I have attended more Commission meetings than anyone on this planet, including any Commissioner. On many occasions, I have been contacted by Camden County employees and asked to search through my notes or my articles to ascertain what the Commission decided on a particular day. I’m devoted to this mission and happy to perform this role for my county.
I will confess that afterwards, I went downstairs and joked with the friendly deputy who runs the metal detector at the courthouse entrance. I told her she has no power over me anymore and she pointed out that she has a Taser.
As I walked through the distant parking lot to my truck with the wind blowing at my back, I could still hear Commissioner Greg Hasty’s voice echoing over the conference room microphone: “He only writes bad stuff about me.”