Who are Larry McSwain and Barbara Morgan and what experience do they have with Sheriff’s Office legal problems and expenses? These people have never run for nor held an office and have have never tried to do anything for the common good of this community. Yet, they want to be the shot-callers and dictate how others should run their office with no valid information.
I went to speak with Sheriff Ezell Brown concerning putting out some facts as it relates to the letter submitted by McSwain, Morgan and Tom West. I found out that the Newton County Sheriff’s Office is the largest employer among all county departments and has 40 percent to 50 percent of the county’s budget. We understand that in 2014 and 2015 roughly $25,000 was spent on attorney fees to Tommy Craig. During the time Craig was employed by the county, he provided legal services to all departments, no matter which end or department withing the county it came from. The monies came from the same pot. How McSwain arrived at his amount for Jarrard and Davis being less than Craig’s does not add up. The Sheriff’s Office has more exposure and more lawsuits due to the nature of the job, but yet still pays less than the county in legal fees. I think it to be irresponsible for someone to write a letter in an attempt to swing the county citizens down the path of a rabbit hole by providing information they truly have no knowledge or experience on.
For starters, the county’s current attorney bills for more than $1 million and the billing from Tommy Craig’s office runs from $200,000 to $300,000 for the Sheriff’s Office annually. Craig started doing legal work for the Sheriff’s Office when Jarrard and Davis started exclusively working for the county. You cannot even defend a drug case for less than $25,000. How can anyone who is unfamiliar with the function and cases of the Sheriff’s Office put a price on legal fees.? The sheriff does not really like to talk about ongoing cases, so he did not go into detail about the cases, which is very understandable considering security issues. But the sheriff was able to show me that Craig saved the Sheriff’s Office roughly $6 million in two lawsuits, not to mention other cases presented before the BOC. Sheriff Brown feels that just that alone outweighs the argument these individuals are making. He showed me where the Sheriff’s Office consistently turned back money to the county each year. Each year the Sheriff’s Office turns back about half a million dollars at the end of the fiscal year. The Sheriff’s Office turns back that amount even after funds he’s given to other departments who may have fallen short.
The sheriff has his own independent spending authority, and Larry McSwain has questioned why hasn’t he changed attorneys. Why is this? Either McSwain dislikes Tommy Craig or he dislikes Sheriff Brown for reasons that have nothing to do with the operation of the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Brown believes it is his duty to protect the core fabric of the Office of Sheriff. Every man has their opinion and it is easy to talk about things they have no direct involvement with or knowledge about. However, it does not change the fact that those carrying out the functions on a day to day basis are more knowledgeable of the need, the facts and solutions.
One thing about it, a negative mind will never give positive feedback, thoughts or anything else. They are too busy searching for the negative instead of recognizing the positive. I feel Sheriff Brown has proven to be a knowledgeable and forward-thinking sheriff who cares about the well-being of Newton County. His term has resulted in many positive results, to include accreditations ranking as one of the top agencies in Georgia and the nation. With that being said, the naysayers are grasping for things to say. Keep up the lip service — that will probably only elevate them to a higher level.