Sidebar 2 Blog 1 18 09


Norris Interview with Banner-Herald


Adam Thompson's blog of Jan. 16, 2009,  contains answers to a variety of questions he said he posed to former Oconee County Commissioner Don Norris but did not publish in the paper.

The format is a little hard to read in the blog. Below I’ve reformatted a part of the interview.

The published part of the interview appeared in the paper on Jan. 12, 2009.

Also of interest is a story posted on the web site of The Oconee Enterprise on Jan. 14, 2009, about Norris.

Former Oconee County Commission Chairman Wendell Dawson responded to that piece on his Another Voice from Oconee County web site on Jan. 17, 2009. The response is well worth reading.


So here’s the excerpt from the interview Thompson did with Norris:

Thompson: What are the unique things about Oconee that you tried to encourage?

Keep it rural in some areas, be able to support the school system, support our other elected officials and to work together to get things accomplished. And by and large, we worked well with the other elected officials to get where we are today. There was no big egos that you have to overcome. But I'll say this, too: I worked from a team approach. With the commissioners, there's five on the team. But in many cases three people have to carry the team, and a lot of times, I was part of the three-member team. And that didn't sit well with some people.

Thompson: You mean you, Melvin (Davis) and Jim (Luke)?

Well, whoever it was. What I tried to do was, when I went to take a vote, I knew everything there was to know about the issue beforehand. If I had any questions, if it was a rezone, I'd call the land-planner that was handling it or, if it wasn't handled by a land-planner, the lawyer or the petitioner itself -- get those questions answered beforehand. And, if there was any legal aspect, I'd call Mr. (County Attorney Daniel) Haygood. But I never called a commissioner and said, "I'm gonna vote this way, how are you gonna vote?" I never did. It was all my decisions, when I raised my hand and said yes in a public meeting, I was expressing my opinion and my opinion only. And it had not been tainted. Now, the naysayers are saying different, but that's all right, but they have never been able to prove anything ... Sometimes, especially -- it's gotten very complicated to conduct the county's business anymore.

Thompson: What do you mean?

Especially, you know, with the open records requests and everything of that nature. When we went to Madison, Georgia, that was purely coincidental, no one planned it. It just happened.

Thompson: What do you mean no one planned it?

You know, planned to have a secret meeting out of the county. It was just one of those situations where the advertisement just did not get published.

Thompson: Do you think of yourself as a guy who does things behind the scenes?

Like I said, if I had any questions, I would go see the parties involved and ask them, "Are you sure you want this?" "What are going to be the ramifications?" "Can you stand the heat that you're going to get?" But as far as coercing with anyone else, no.

Thompson: When you think about your responsibility to answer to the public …

If anyone asked me a question, I answered it. And I'll be the first one to tell you, Lee Becker was not one of my big friends. And my opposition to him was, you know, I felt that he was not pursuing it in the best interest of the county. It was always a personal issue with him.

Thompson: Personal how? You mean, he just didn't like you?

Sure, he didn't like me. It's just like the issue of the dumping of sewer into Barber Creek that we allegedly were going to do. It just was not -- he would not accept even the engineering reports. Now, when you get to that point, I threw up my hands and said, "I don't know what the guy wants."

Thompson: Was there any personal animosity before that?

No. But that's the only one I can think of. But, you know, Charles Baugh, he never called me, but that's fine with me.

Thompson: Have you always had naysayers, as you call them, are those the only two?

Oh, no. There's others in the community, but that goes with the job. It's like, "A dog's gonna pick up fleas."