Voice of the people: Barry Hinds

September 19, 2012 10:02:42 AM



Use of the CVB vehicle 


From the cdispatch.com web page: 


"Is Mr. Latimer a full fledged attorney or pre-law student? It should not take this long for him to answer these questions about the use of this vehicle. To me, it looks like he is stalling and trying to find a way to justify the unjustifiable. I can't see any justifiable reason for her husband to be driving the vehicle." 


In defense of Mr. Latimer on the timing of the public owned vehicle law presentation to the board: I attended the board retreat meeting in July and at that time he wanted it spread on the minutes that he presented the law to the board. Mr. Hicks thwarted that discussion because he was afraid a discussion about a specific person would take place. He delayed the presentation until a later date. Mr. Latimer only attends the board meeting at the specific invitation of the board and was not requested to be present in August. At the August meeting the board voted for him to be at the September meeting to make the presentation. I could see the frustration of Mr. Latimer in July and feel Mr. Hicks could have cut off any discussion on a specific person at that meeting by prefacing that presentation with the comment that specific individuals would not be discussed. 


I was also in the meeting this Monday, and my recollection of the discussion of use and the take-home does not match Commercial Dispatch reporter Jeff Clark's reporting. Mr. Latimer told the board that they could have a finding that a vehicle could be taken home if two conditions were met. That it would be beneficial to the CVB and the person taking it home is on call. He did not suggest that a motion be made to allow Nancy Carpenter to take the vehicle home.  


Mrs. Carpenter's argument for taking the car home was the fact that she is called all the time to come to the Tennessee Williams Home and to the CVB building to meet the police when the alarm is set off. Not one board member requested the hard data on how often these conditions occur. For someone that has been on call most of my adult working life and for many years tied to a pager for 24 hour access and response it is hard to see the justification for her to take home a car. 


Now let's posit a couple of situations. First, since she is using the car to and from home is it a violation of the law when she drives the car to a restaurant for lunch? Now she may bring her lunch everyday but what if? If that is okay then what would be wrong with her stopping on the way home from work to just pick up a few things? It appears to me she has been placed in a difficult position just for a "perk." 


It was interesting when (board member Whirllie) Byrd brought out the AG's opinion that any board member that entered into a contract with an individual that would allow personal use of a public-owned vehicle they would be removed from the board and subject to a fine. Do we have several members on this board that are already in that situation? 


I have just become interested in this board because of all the press they had been receiving and the fact it is funded by tax dollars. I don't have any axes or history to grind. My hope is the board members will also put away the personal feelings, pet projects and events and work for what is best for promoting the virtues of Lowndes County and the City of Columbus. 


Barry Hinds