After a closed meeting on March 3rd to discuss a legal matter, Councilors Collinda J. Lee; Jeanette Walden; Denese Shinholster; Walter Reynolds; Boo Mullins; Steve Chambers; City Manager Barry Jarrett and City Attorney Jimmy Jordan remained in the Executive Chambers and discussed a city financial matter.
The non-public discussion was whether or not moving monies from Century Bank & Trust would be perceived as retaliation for the bank president's letter to the editor published in the Union-Recorder.
The Union-Recorder obtained audio of these conversations from the Executive Chambers.
The nearly nine-minute recording features comments from all city councilmen that made up a quorum, Jarrett and Jordan. Mayor Richard Bentley was the only elected official not heard on the recording.
Full audio transcript from Council Meeting:
Walter Reynolds: Well, y'all can lay it out anyway you want to, but the reason why I have an issue with this is because of the way it was presented to us. At the same time that we were all handed a Xerox copy of an editorial of a private citizen critiquing the city council, we were also asked if we wanted to move funds. Now, I don't see any other way that can be sliced except for retaliation. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if in the same meeting you say here's an editorial and we say we might want to consider moving our funds I have….
Barry Jarrett: May I ask a question? What's wrong with retaliation?
Denese Shinholster: Yeah.
Barry Jarrett: It's the way you do business.
Denese Shinholster: They were retaliating against us.
Barry Jarrett: If you go to the Chevrolet place and you don't like the way the salesman handles business, you go to the Ford place. You might even go to the Macon and go to the Chevrolet place over there.
Walter Reynolds: Well sir, you as a private individual have every right to do that, but I think we as a public institution don't have the right to do that.
Denese Shinholster: Yes we do. Yes we do.
Barry Jarrett: Yes you do.
Walter Reynolds: We are lashing out for him exercising the highest form of protected speech, and that is to critique one's government. You can criticize your government, and you shouldn't have to face retaliation from that.
Denese Shinholster: I guarantee…try it with the federal government. That's all I've got to say.
Walter Reynolds: I can critique the federal government all day long as a private citizen.
Denese Shinholster: And they have a right to do whatever they need to do.
Boo Mullins: They have a right to move Air Force bases.
Denese Shinholster: They close Air Force bases.
Boo Mullins: They do it. They close down everything. Large things…we talking about military complexes.
Denese Shinholster: Yeah.
Boo Mullins: Because (inaudible) there. Central State Hospital.
Denese Shinholster: Central State Hospital is a prime example of retaliation.
Barry Jarrett: It sure is.
Denese Shinholster: Let me tell you something, and I'm going to tell you something today.
Walter Reynolds: Just because they can doesn't make it right.
Denese Shinholster: Let me tell y'all something that came up today.
Steve Chambers: That's what concerns me more than anything is because we can…
Denese Shinholster: Yeah we can, and we are.
Steve Chambers: Why do we have to?
Denese Shinholster: We are.
Steve Chambers: The thing that I've always tried to do no matter what anybody says to me or whatever…I've always tried to never bring myself to the same level per say.
Denese Shinholster: And we not. Oh we not.
Steve Chambers: I can guess because I know you well.
Denese Shinholster: You don't know me that well though. Haha.
Steve Chambers: Ma'am I know you fairly well.
Denese Shinholster: You don't know me that well, so you don't know what I'm thinking.
Steve Chambers: Denese.
Denese Shinholster: Steve say what you got to say and leave me alone OK?
Steve Chambers: No the only thing I would like to say if you will let me complete it is that the public perception…
Denese Shinholster: Let's take it to a vote, and you have the right to vote. The public is only going to perceive what you tell them.
Steve Chambers: I don't tell them anything.
Denese Shinholster: Alright then. They won't know why we are moving our money other than the fact that in order to…
Jimmy Jordan: You don't need a resolution.
Boo Mullins: We don't need a resolution. Y'all just tell the man to move it.
Denese Shinholster: You can tear this up, and we can move on.
Jeanette Walden: Tear it up. Shred it.
Jimmy Jordan: I thought what the understanding was that each one of you would come by and speak to Mr. Jarrett, and that Mr. Jarrett would decide what he wanted to do.
Collinda J. Lee: Move it.
Boo Mullins: Collinda say move it. Mrs. Walden move it. What do you say?
Denese Shinholster: I say the same thing.
Boo Mullins: What you say Walter?
Walter Reynolds: I am abstaining from this issue.
Boo Mullins: What you say Steve?
Steve Chambers: I would love to shop it around.
Boo Mullins: We've got four votes.
Steve Chambers: I'm not saying move it. I'm saying shop it around.
Denese Shinholster: Five...
Boo Mullins: Excuse me no votes, but you can count.
Denese Shinholster: Shop it around that's right.
Jeanette Walden: Let me tell y'all. I come up here, and the main thing we've got to do is look out for the interest of this city, and that's what I try very hard to do.
Denese Shinholster: All the time.
Jeanette Walden: I come up here to Barry because I am on the pension committee with you. I know they do a good job because that lady sits here, and I say Barry I don't have a problem, and Barry can vouch for this. I said I don't have a problem with moving money if you shop around and find a better interest rate, but the pension money because of the way they have handled it and they way they do business. I don't want us to do anything with that because they are real good, and you know that.
Denese Shinholster: But at the same time Jeanette.
Barry Jarrett: This is not retaliation.
Denese Shinholster: Even at the same time, they've been looking at places for pension.
Barry Jarrett: I was notified the other day that it's time to change the members on the pension board, so we have to change everybody on the pension board. This is not retaliation.
Jeanette Walden: Well that's fine with me. I'd be glad to let you change it I promise you.
Denese Shinholster: Even with the pension money, they've been looking at other avenues.
Barry Jarrett: I apologize. I said that wrong. We don't have to change the members. It's time for us to reappoint them.
Jeanette Walden: I've been on it for 14 years y'all.
Denese Shinholster: Even with the pension funds y'all have been looking for other avenues too with the pension fund.
Steve Chambers: Yeah, and I ain't got a problem with that.
Denese Shinholster: OK. Then why are you singling out this as retaliation?
Steve Chambers: Because it's written all over it.
Walter Reynolds: I mean anyone could put two and two together. We are all handed a Xerox copy of this editorial and in the same meeting asked do we want to move this money.
Denese Shinholster: No. We were not asked that in that meeting. Who asked you that in that meeting?
Barry Jarrett: Who asked do you want to move the money? Are you implying that I asked that question?
Walter Reynolds: Well, it may not have been do we want to move the money. It's do we want to consider moving our money.
Denese Shinholster: Who asked you to move the money?
Walter Reynolds: How did this question get put to us in the form of a letter? Somebody brought it up.
Barry Jarrett: What I did is I brought a copy of an article here. That was the second article. I wanted to make sure, and I bring copies of a lot of things up here and pass out to you. Whatever I think you might need to see that I've seen, I pass it out to everybody.
Walter Reynolds: Who mentioned moving the money then?
Boo Mullins: I mentioned moving money.
Barry Jarrett: I don't know who mentioned it. I didn't say anything about it.
Boo Mullins: I mentioned moving it up at GMA. I mentioned moving that money.
Walter Reynolds: OK.
Boo Mullins: As being on city council, I said we need to move our money. I'm the one that did it.
Denese Shinholster: See Steve.
Walter Reynolds: Whoever initiated it, I just don't feel like that's the right way to go about it.
Boo Mullins: That's your priviledge and that's my right. I had the right to say I want to move it. That's what I'm saying.
Denese Shinholster: See you are blaming it on the wrong person.
Steve Chambers: We aren't mad over here.
Denese Shinholster: You are blaming it on the wrong person, and you didn't even know what he was talking about.
Jeanette Walden: But y'all if we can get a better interest rate and one of our things is coming up to be renewed and be looked at being renewed anyway. That's a lot of money that we were talking about.
Barry Jarrett: That's at Wells Fargo, and we're renewing it at Wells Fargo anyway.
Jeanette Walden: And they've got a real good interest rate there.
Barry Jarrett: Yeah.
Denese Shinholster: Uh huh.
Steve Chambers: You remember several years ago we tried to move some around and I know Exchange Bank in particular said that they weren't interested in it.
Barry Jarrett: But they are now.
Steve Chambers: OK and hopefully that has changed. That's the only reason I mentioned about shopping even outside of the City of Milledgeville.
Barry Jarrett: The bulk of the money is in Century Bank, but I think I try to inform you of this all the time. I move that money on a regular basis. We check interest.
Denese Shinholster: We've always done that. That's not new.
Barry Jarrett: I've not moved any pension money, but you know Wells Fargo has been here, BB&T, GMA. Each one of those has come in, and we've given information on the pension.
Jimmy Jordan: That's what makes the letter unneccessary. The letter is the smoke and mirror.
Barry Jarrett: I haven't touched the pension, but I move that money on a regular basis.
Denese Shinholster: That's why we have you. To keep us from...
Jimmy Jordan: laughter.
Jeanette Walden: Thank you for telling us that.
Denese Shinholster: I gave it back to Barry.
Jeanette Walden: Shred it. Make sure he has.
Steve Chambers: You couldn't loan that money out to make money off of it. Why pay us to keep it?
Jeanette Walden: Barry have you got both of the copies, so you can shred them?
Barry Jarrett: Yeah. I got them.
Jeanette Walden: You have both of them?
Barry Jarrett: Uh huh.
Jeanette Walden: OK. Then look at it, and I mean that's why we pay him what we do to make those kind of decisions.
Denese Shinholster: That's right and that's why we have the right. Next time you get ready to accuse, you better know what you are talking about. Haha...that's all I've got to say.
Boo Mullins: I'm the one that told it to Steve.
Jimmy Jordan: Adjourn.
Boo Mullins: I'm the one that told him to change the language.
Jimmy Jordan: Goodnight everybody.
Steve Chambers: You are the one that told him to change the language? I appreciate that.
Boo Mullins: I told him. I did that.
Steve Chambers: I am not accusing anybody.
Denese Shinholster: Yes you were.
Steve Chambers: No I am not Denese.
Denese Shinholster: Well, I took it that way Steve!
Steve Chambers: Well you keep coming back at me.
Denese Shinholster: I'm coming back at you because I took it that way. You came at me. I told you to leave me alone.
Steve Chambers: Denese.
Denese Shinholster: You were wrong. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it from you because you were wrong.
Steve Chambers: The only point I've ever tried to make is about perception.