Calhoun County Commissioner Danny Ray Wise has called for a grand jury investigation after questions were raised about travel payments to County Administrator Sonny O’Bryan.
The matter came up during last Tuesday evening’s board meeting. Commissioner Wise began by asking two questions of County Attorney Matt Fuqua. The first question was, “Have you, as a county attorney, prepared a resolution or ordinance as to Florida Statutes 112.061, allowing Mr. O’Bryan’s travel allowance to exceed Florida Statutes?”
Wise then asked Fuqua if he had prepared an ordinance in accordance with Florida Statute 125, Part 3, allowing the Board of County Commissioners to appoint a county administrator.
Fuqua responded “no” to both questions.
Commissioner Wise then made the following statement, “As a duly elected official of Calhoun County, I am requesting a grand jury investigation by the State Attorney of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, Glen Hess. This request will include Ruth Attaway, Clerk to the Board, Don “Sonny” O’Bryan, and the Board of County Commissioners. I am also requesting a review of all county contracts, all road bids, purchasing procedures, including the $985,000 on limerock in this fiscal year. A copy of my request will also go to Governor Scott.”
Clerk Ruth Attaway offered the following response to Wise’s actions:
“The Title of County Administrator. As far as I am concerned the County Commission can call their employee whatever they like. If there is a legal question, let the Board Attorney deal with it.
“The 48.5 cent per mile travel pay. I pay on County Policy. The County Travel Policy was amended effective 1/1/06 to allow the IRS mileage rate of 48.5 cent per mile. The motion was made by Danny Ray Wise and seconded by the late Jim Pickron. If Danny Ray’s motion was incorrect or inconsistent with statute, the Board Attorney should have advised accordingly.
“The script also suggested a review of County Contracts and the use of limerock. The Commission should regularly review their business at a Board level and personally.
“The investigation he asked for is certainly welcomed by me. I am audited, reviewed, and investigated by everybody from the Governor’s office, the IRs, Independent Board Auditors, and the Federal Government on Child Support payments. So ya’ll come on in.
“At the end of the day, this is not about me – it is about impacting the County’s local elections.”
Commissioner Wise has issued the following statement to clarify why he is requesting a grand jury investigation:
“First to begin with, I wanted Glenn Hess, State Attorney, to look at different matters which may fall under Florida Stature 112.061 Subsection 10 fraudulent claims to be sure we have abided by the law since I will be leaving the Board in November and desire not to have reproach on my record.
“When is the right time to seek answers to questions raised by concerned citizens of Calhoun County? It’s when it becomes so overwhelmingly evident that questions posed by so many citizens need to be addressed in order to ensure that local government (elected officials) are truly representing the citizens in their best interest. Our country was founded on the basis of equal representation with the Constitution forming the guidelines which our government is operated by, to insure that our actions, as elected officials, are truly in the best interest of our citizens.
“With that said, it should be plain that I take my position as a Board member of the Board of County Commissioners seriously enough to not take the easy road out. Can you say it’s politically motivated or I’m bitter of losing my race for Clerk of Court? Sure you can if don’t understand what being a public servant is and the huge responsibility of representing the citizens with the trust they have empowered you with to run their government.”