Clayton County, Georgia…Still The Wild, Wild West!
By Dr. John R. Alston Trotter
I just saw (yes, I am a little late of Clayton news these days) that the Morrow City Council voted off one of its members, John Lampl. Lampl had been elected back in the late 1980s as a City Council while in his twenties. Then, he became Morrow’s City Manager. He held this post for years. I don’t know any details as to why he left this post, but in March of 2010, he won overwhelmingly to re-gain a seat on the Morrow City Council in a special election. I don’t really know John Lampl. I think that I met him just once. Nonetheless, I feel that the Morrow City Council has gone too far…kicking off one its members. I thought that the voters did that; however, the voters seem to like ole John Lampl. But, his fellow Councilpersons tend to think that he ruffles feathers and talks down to employees, a city finance director in particular. So, they hire a law firm to “investigate” this grievance filed by the city finance director against Lampl. The law firm “found” merit in the complaint. Ha! Sure the law firm “found” merit; this is what it was hired to do.
Now the City of Morrow says that John Lampl has 30 days to appeal the action of the City Council in Clayton Superior Court. Enters Judge Deborah Benefield, the homer judge who appears to relish “handling” the difficult cases. I don’t know if she wisely and judiciously handles them; I believe, though, that she politically dispatches with the cases, sometimes even making rude and inappropriate remarks to the lawyers whom she doesn’t appear to care for. Deborah seems to wear her feelings on her sleeves, the very thing that a wise judge should not do. She’s hardly “Judge Deborah” from the Bible. Now will Clayton’s Judge Deborah give John Lampl his right to a “judicial determination,” as the Georgia Code Section requires before any office-holder can be removed from office? She did not do this for Norreese Haynes when the rogue Clayton School Board illegally removed him from office, even after the Georgia Secretary of State had issued two investigative reports exonerating Haynes on his legal residency. (By the way, not a member of this rogue school board lasted…all eight either resigned under duress or were removed by the governor a few months later. But, this is another story.) Deborah came up with this fanciful and wild notion (wow, it was indeed a terribly written order…looking like she just cut and pasted the opposing counsel’s ludicrous arguments) that Haynes had sued the wrong party. Wrong party?! He sued the school board, the very entity that had illegally removed him. Judge Deborah “bought” the opposing counsel’s fanciful and outlandish argument that Haynes should have sued Annie Bright, the Elections Coordinator. Annie Bright?! All Annie Bright did was simply announce that there was an opening on the school board. That’s like suing a Funeral Director for publishing an “In Memoriam” bulletin about a gentlemen who was gunned down in cold blood by a thug. No, you sue the thug, not the funeral director. [As aside: I think that Judge Deborah Benefield is a smart person. I just think that she allows her biases to come through. A judge should be unbiased.]
Clayton County. Never a dull month. If the oligarchy doesn’t like the pointed questions from an elected official, no problem. Just get the majority on the school board or city council to vote off the gadfly. Then, get the homer judge to put her imprimatur on the illegality. Ignore the Georgia Law! It doesn’t apply to Clayton. Clayton is the Wild, Wild West! Ha!