Commissioners dissociate themselves from King’s response to “Ballot”

Published 4:32 pm Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lowndes County Commission Chairman Charlie King Jr. issued a response to “The Fiery Cross Ballot” on official Commission stationery, which lists the names of commissioners and staff, and the other parties listed on the letterhead are separating themselves from King’s letter.

“The Fiery Cross Ballot” was an anonymous and racist flier distributed around the county several weeks ago, and King issued a “Press Release” dated April 23, which was reprinted in its entirety in the April 26 edition of The Lowndes Signal.

In his release, King discussed previous incidents of alleged harassment from parties featured on the “Ballot,” and called for an investigation from the Attorney General of the United States.

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Commissioners Robert Harris, Dickson Farrior, Joseph Barganier and County Administrator Jackie Thomas submitted a letter to the editor of The Signal saying that “the document does not speak for us.”

The letter, which was signed by each of them, says that they did not know about the content of King’s press release until they saw it in the newspaper.

“We were not consulted at all and we object to being associated with this document,” the letter states.

It goes on to say that because King’s release doesn’t clearly state that it came from him, “it makes it appear that every one whose names is on the document subscribed to the content.”

“This is not the case and we are very concerned,” the letter states.

“The main message I want to get out is that that letter was not an action of the commission,” Farrior said.

Harris said the letter to the editor serves to address his concerns about the situation, a sentiment that was echoed by Barganier and Thomas.

“All in all, the letter did serve its purpose,” Harris said.

King said that since the events in question were relevant to his position as commissioner of District 2, he put his press release on official County Commission letterhead.

“There was nothing that included the rest of the commissioners,” King said. “It happened in my capacity as commissioner, and that’s what I wrote about.”

King said that it was standard procedure for commissioners to use official letterhead when writing about issues facing their district.

King also said that he was not trying to speak for the Commission, only about what happened to him.

The letter to the editor also points out that one commissioner’s name is missing from the letterhead — Marzett Thomas — and lists that as cause for concern.

King, who said he had not heard anything about the omission of Thomas, also said he doesn’t know why her name didn’t appear on the letterhead.

“That’s a stationery problem,” he said. “You can’t arbitrarily get a letterhead from the office and remove a particular commissioner from it.”

King also said that he has no problems with the other commissioners’ actions.

“If the commission has concerns about it, that’s fine too,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with that.”

Jackie Thomas said that Marzett Thomas’s name appears on copies of the Commission’s letterhead, with Marzett Thomas being the bottommost name listed.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was provided to The Lowndes Signal and is printed in its entirety. It has not been edited by The Lowndes Signal in any way.

To view the Commissioners’ response in PDF format, click here.

The following transcription of the letter is provided for clarity:

Dear Editor:

We, Lowndes County Commissioners Robert Harris, Dickson Farrior and Joseph Barganier and Administrator Jackie Thomas, read a document dated April 23, 2012 in the Lowndes Signal. The document was on Commission stationary but unsigned. However, our names appeared on the document. We are very concerned.

First, the document does not speak for us. We did not know anything about its content until we read it in your paper. We were not consulted at all and we object to being associated with this document.

Second, we noticed that one commissioner’s name did not appear on the letter head. We wonder how such a thing happened when Commission stationary is used and one commissioner’s name is removed but others appear without their permission. It concerns us greatly.

Third, since the document appears on Commission stationary, it makes it appear that this was an official action of the Commission. This was not an official action of the Commission.

Fourth, the letter does have the words “Press Release, April 23, 2012 Commissioner Charlie King, Jr. Chairman”, across the top. It does not say the press release is by him. Since the entire document was printed, it makes it appear that every one whose names is on the document subscribed to the content. This is not the case and we are very concerned.
Fifth, We ask that you, as editor of this newspaper, print this letter too so that the public will fully understand this situation.

Commissioner Robert Harris
Commissioner Dickson Farrior
Commissioner Joseph Barganier
County Administrator Jackie Thomas