Milledgeville council caught on tape | News
A cell-phone recording of a heated discussion after a closed session of the Milledgeville City Council is raising questions about retaliation and fairness.
The recording has some wondering whether city officials in Milledgeville moved millions of dollars in city funds away from the Century Bank and Trust in retaliation against its president.
Back in January, Chat Daniel, the bank president wrote an op-ed in the Milledgeville Union Recorder.
He criticized council for not supporting Milledgeville consolidating with Baldwin County.
Among other things he says the council "arrogantly thinks they know better than their constituents." City Manager Barry Jarrett later discussed with council moving 5.1 million dollars away from Daniel's bank to Wells Fargo.
After a closed meeting in March, Councilman Walter Reynolds recorded council members discussing whether moving the money would be seen as retaliation. In one part of the clip, Councilman Reynolds questions the idea when Jarrett responds "What's wrong with retaliation? It's the way you do business."
Council members say they didn't know they were being recorded as the argument got more heated.
In another part, Councilwoman Denese Shinholster says "the public is only gonna perceive what you tell them."
We spoke with several council members who said the city manager's decision wasn't about retaliation.
They said it was about getting a better rate at Wells Fargo that would earn around 80 thousand dollars more a year in interest.
"I don't necessarily like the manner in which it was done," says Councilman Steve Chambers. " I think it could have been done with a lot less emotion, but in the end, I am pleased with the return that we're getting."
At their last meeting, the council voted to investigate the recording to find out if it's ever happened... before or during a closed session. Councilman Walter Reynolds says he stands by the recording because it brought an important issue to light.
"I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but after hearing their explanation in that recording, after hearing them say things like retaliation is the way that you do business and that the public will only perceive what you tell them, I mean that just didn't sit well with me at all. ," he says.
Other city funds are still deposited at the Century Bank and Trust. Mayor Richard Bentley, who wasn't there when the discussion happened, says the tone of what was said concerns him and that he'll be looking into it.
Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge.