Resident asks for ethics probe of Opp

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Opp resident has filed a complaint with the state ethics commission and the attorney general’s office in regarding Opp’s City Council and mayor.

Resident George Young said Wednesday, he made a written request to be on the agenda for the council’s Jan. 20 meeting.

Young was placed on the agenda, but was not given time to speak in the meeting, he said.

“(I) was denied my rights by not being recognized during the meeting before there was a motion to adjourn made, seconded and passed,” he said in a letter to both organizations. “My wish is to request investigation of and ruling from the state of Alabama responsible departments of addressing the legalities and ethics of such actions.”

Young said he wanted to address the council to speak as a concerned citizen about the legalities and ethics demonstrated by the Opp City Council during the sale and transfer of the Opp Cable Television system, which was owned and operated by the City of Opp.

In late October, the city approved the sale of the cable company to Andy Cable. The sale was finalized in December.

“The actions associated with the transaction have caused concerns, misunderstandings and doubts that the interests of the citizens were advanced,” he said in his letter.

Young said he wished to make the following points in the city council meeting:

• “There is a law covering the transfer of government-owned assets, which I understand require competitive bidding. I planned to ask for copies, or access to, the Request for Proposal (RFP) as written, the list of entities offered the opportunity to submit a bid, the list of respondees, and the evaluations of all responses;

• “Was the elected mayor and city council in conflict with Alabama Code by the fact that my councilman informed me that the system was losing money due in part because of mismanagement? My reading of the code is that the elected government is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and taking action against the reasons for the mismanagement. Was the council legal in selling rather than correcting the situation;

• “How were the actions taken concerning the $4.5 million that Andy Cable paid decided? The council has not provided a total listing of where those funds are being placed. The council appears to be spending the funds on unnecessary projects while the funds could be used to entice industry, needed jobs to town for the many unemployed. One project — $130,000-plus for a concession stand at the baseball field. Another project for a new utilities office, which as I understand, stands to cost more than $225,000. There has been many assets purchased that were not budgeted included two Chevrolet Tahoes ($33,000 each) and an unbudgeted lawn mower at a cost of more than $14,000. The citizens are concerned that, if $4.5 million is legal, aren’t there better economics and planning in order;

• “The citizens were told that there would be no degradation of provided services when Andy Cable took ownership of the system. There may be an increase of $5 per month for cable television and Internet services. Many citizens received notification of large increases and reduced Internet speeds. Did the city council members mislead the citizens purposefully?”

Young said he approached Mayor John Bartholomew about “closing the meeting without finishing the agenda…without recognizing my properly requested concerns, or tabling them for the next meeting as Robert’s Rules of Order requires.”

Mayor John Bartholomew said Wednesday that, he did place Young on the agenda on Jan. 20.

However, at the work session, which occurs 30 minutes prior to the meeting, he gave Young the option to speak.

“I asked him did he want to talk now or wait until the council,” Bartholomew said. “I assumed he had gotten everything out he wanted to tell.”