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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vote to fix faulty locks in Fulton County jail will apparently have to wait

Fulton County Jail
For several years, the Fulton County Jail has been ordered by a federal judge to improve the Rice Street facility. Among the issues, including overcrowding, are more than 1,300 cell-door locks which aren't doing their job.

The Fulton County Commission was close to solving this problem yesterday by voting to spend millions of dollars on repairing the locks, which inmates are able to open "using soap, toilet paper, pieces of cloth or cardboard." Fulton Chairman John Eaves thought he had enough votes on the seven-member commission to win the funding for the much-needed initiative but the measure failed.

Why? One of the key "yea" votes, Commissioner Tom Lowe, who represents Sandy Springs, Buckhead, and parts of Roswell, arrived late. Reports the AJC's Rhonda Cook and Johnny Edwards, who has the soul-crushing job of actually attending the county commission meetings:

Lowe, who is frequently late and leaves meetings early, said he was tied up with an important business matter Wednesday morning and declined to elaborate. Through much of the remaining meeting, he appeared to be napping.

Earlier this year, his late arrival at a meeting almost caused Atlanta to lose animal control services, as Lowe was the fourth vote to keep the service going amid a dispute with the city and county over whether to ban elephant bullhooks. Eaves took criticism for reconvening that meeting later in the day and holding a second vote.

Lowe, who said he would have voted for replacing the locks, acknowledged Wednesday evening that he has an obligation to be present for votes. "I understand that; it's my job," he said.

But he said he doesn't like listening to some commissioners' protracted grandstanding on many issues, and he makes no apologies for dozing off. Especially, he said, while Vice Chairwoman Emma Darnell is talking.

The entire report is worth a read. Both Cook and Edwards deserve a gold star.

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