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Beard: Officials concerned about Bannister nomination

A week after two Gwinnett officials went head-to-head on a citizen member of a regional board, Buford City Commission Chairman Phillip Beard wanted to set the record straight on his role in the

fracas.

Beard said he was contacted by several Gwinnett elected officials who were upset about County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister's choice for citizen membership of the Atlanta Regional Commission - former County Manager Sam Brownlee.

The commission - which deals with regional issues such as air quality, water and transportation planning - is made up of the 10 county chairmen from the metro area, 12 mayors and a councilmember from Atlanta. Those officials elect citizen members by districts.

While county commissioners have denied involvement in the situation, Beard said people - mayors and other officials that were unnamed - were concerned with Brownlee's past, including his involvement in a lavish trip to New York that cost Lillian Webb another term as county chairwoman in the early 1990s. "There was a resentment of everyone with that group," Beard said.

Others on the agency were also concerned about Brownlee's past dealings in Fulton County, he said.

"Phillip Beard did not have a dog in this fight," Beard said. "I talked with him (Bannister), but he said, 'It's my appointment, and I want Sam Brownlee.' ... You don't get in other people's territory unless something sticks out. There was no support for Mr. Brownlee."

The day before the vote, Brownlee bowed out of the position, and Bannister said he wanted more time to find a new person. He said he simply wanted to name a different individual to establish his own administration a year after ousting a 12-year incumbent.

But Beard said Bannister simply wanted revenge on Judy Waters, the citizen member whose term was expiring, who endorsed Wayne Hill in the 2004 race.

"Judy Waters has done her job. It would be bad to turn your back on your friend when they do a good job," Beard said. "He just didn't want Waters. Wayne Hill's name wasn't mentioned until Bannister brought it up."

When the board voted 16-3 against delaying the citizen member election, Bannister tossed out the name of Chip Randall, a member of the Recreation Board who does not live in the southern Gwinnett district in question.

The law for the governing board allows any of the elected officials to nominate people for the position, so Beard renominated Waters.

"Normally, I would have seconded whatever Charles Bannister would want to do," Beard said. "He was totally ill-prepared. I've got no bones to pick with Charles Bannister but I got a bone to pick with somebody that doesn't represent this county right."

King honored

A day after news spread about the death of civil rights figure Coretta Scott King, members of the U.S. Senate honored her with the passage of a resolution.

"I had the privilege of knowing Coretta Scott King since my days in the Georgia Legislature," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, said. "She was an equal with Dr. King in the civil rights movement, and she was a tireless advocate in ensuring that the legacy of Dr. King and his movement is perpetuated in American history."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss said he was also glad to see the Georgia woman honored.

"Coretta Scott King was one of the most influential women leaders in our world," said Chambliss. "She and Dr. King were unified in mind, purpose and spirit and the great legacy of the King family will never be forgotten."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.