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Newton Chamber president asks columnist to stop writing

COVINGTON — Newton County Chamber of Commerce President Hunter Hall has asked Newton County Board of Education Vice Chair Jeff Meadors to stop writing his column for the Newton Citizen.

Hall made the request during the public participation portion of the school board’s monthly work session Tuesday night, saying he was speaking on behalf of the Chamber and its board.

Hall specifically pointed to Meadors’ recent column for the Citizen comparing statistics of graduation rates and college entrance exam scores among the county school systems that make up the Joint Development Authority, Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton. Newton ranked last in much of the data.

Hall addressed Meadors during his comments, saying the column was “harmful” to the Chamber and its efforts to secure industries like Baxter International. He mentioned that he and Meadors previously talked in private about the piece.

“I know that the data you pulled was accurate,” Hall said, adding that there was other data Meadors could have used that didn’t show Newton schools performing last.

“It hurts the efforts not only of the Chamber, but if I’m sitting in the seats of your board members, you put a knife in my back,” Hall said. “That was really a dangerous piece.”

He told Meadors that as a school board member who represents District 1, where Baxter will be located, and as an employee of Georgia Perimeter College, which also is in District 1, his statements were not supporting or believing efforts made by the school system and did not explain positive trending data that Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews had previously discussed.

“It takes the knees out from under the Chamber’s efforts,” Hall said.

Hall mentioned that the Chamber is trying to get Baxter employees to live in Newton County.

He then asked Meadors to stop writing his column, which has appeared weekly in the Citizen since January.

“I don’t see any positive that comes from it,” Hall said, adding that if he wouldn’t stop writing, then to instead highlight positive topics or bring solutions.

“Highlight the good,” Hall said. “Every chance we get, let’s highlight it, let’s highlight it.”

Hall said that in addition to negative anonymous posts that come after his columns and “in light of (Meadors’) current legal situation,” that he also should not write.

Earlier this year, Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter brought a civil suit against Meadors, saying he has made false statements about her on the Newton Citizen website under pseudonyms or gave information obtained through his capacity as a board member to others who made the comments. Meadors has denied the allegations, and the lawsuit has not been resolved.

After making his request, Hall said he was leaving a book with Chairman Eddie Johnson, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.”

Hall added, “Do not blame the paper. ... The paper makes money doing what they do. They’re going to allow anonymous posts, whether on this opinion piece or anything else.

“Your job as the Board of Education is to not give them information to write about,” Hall said. “Your job, my job, city council, public service is to not give them reasons to write.”

Afterward, some members of the audience clapped.

“You’ve knocked it out the ballpark tonight,” Johnson said after Hall’s comments.

Mathews added that he also had talked to Meadors about the column, telling him it wasn’t fair to compare the systems since Newton was a larger system.

“It’s an apples to oranges comparison,” Mathews said.

School board member Almond Turner added a note to teachers, telling them that regardless of the “negative things” they see, that the board appreciates them and they are not going unnoticed. He said it was the board’s responsibility to work with the Chamber and portray a positive image, but not hide problems. He also added that people who wanted to blog should instead come to the board with solutions.

Fellow board members Abigail Coggin and Shakila Henderson-Baker did not speak in reaction to Hall’s comments. At one point during Hall’s speech, Meadors tried to speak, but Johnson wouldn’t let him.

Hall spoke on the topic for more than 10 minutes, and Mathews and the board held discussions afterward for nearly four minutes.

According to the school board’s Public Participation policy, “a maximum time of five minutes will be allotted to a single individual or a single topic based on the number of requests. … Personal attacks against any member of the Board will not be tolerated.”

Meadors said late Tuesday that he will not stop writing his column. The Newton Citizen, which is a member of the Chamber, has not requested that he stop writing.

“Mr. Hall has a right, as do I, to his opinion. When he called me initially, he acknowledged that one of his greatest challenges in attracting new business and industry is the achievement in our schools. I don’t think you ignore truthful data in order to grow. Looking at hard numbers helps us to get better,” Meadors wrote in a statement. “I have covered many very positive topics about NCSS in my columns. He has consistently stated to me, and again (Tuesday) night, that my data is accurate. Truth is our friend here and hope is not a strategy if we want to improve schools.

“Our teachers are high quality and work tirelessly. Data shows how much they need all of us to move us to the right of the school improvement continuum,” Meadors continued. “I will not cease writing opinion pieces and they represent only my personal opinion based on honest numbers.”

Comments

CadyJackson 2 years, 3 months ago

Speechless. So Mr. Hart is ashamed our schools as well, but SHHHH, don't tell anybody, and maybe the problem will go away.

The fact is that Jeff Meadors is attempting to get the word out that YES SIR we do have a problem with our schools. He is not sticking his head in the sand and ignoring the problem. He is attempting to get the public involved to motivate our elected officials to do SOMETHING to address the issues, instead of putting a bandaid on them. It may not be the best course of action, but when you have lame board members who refuse to address problems and administration that looks the other way at continual infractions, taking it to the public screams of last a ditch effort of a solitary soldier trying to save our schools.

I'm sorry Mr. Hall is ashamed of Newton County schools. WE SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED that NCSS has been allowed to flounder for so long, and I don't mean just since 2009--it's been going on for many years earlier than that.

OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER.

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Frustrated 2 years, 3 months ago

Keep doing what youre doing Mr Meadors. Someone has got to get the word out that the schools are lacking. If Mr Hart wants to paint this rosey picture to entice business, let him do it elsewhere. They will find out the truth sooner or later. The facts are the facts. You have stated nothing more and nothing less. Its obvious which side all the other members of the BOE are on.

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deathtotaxes 2 years, 3 months ago

The Newton Chamber of Commerce should tell the BOE to step it up!

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cheepette 2 years, 3 months ago

Stand your ground Mr. Meadors. You have every right to your opinion just like everyone else in this country does. It's sad that other board members will not take the same stance that you do. It's sad that the other board members will not fight for all of our children. I'm tired of hearing about AHS and the current principal. My child graduated or rather escaped from there a year ago, but I have 2 other children who are supposed to go there soon. I will not send them to AHS. I will do everything in my power to send them elsewhere.

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amp72 2 years, 3 months ago

So let me see if I understand this. Mr. Hall (and a couple of BOE members who probably encouraged him to speak, and speak over his allotted time I might add) think that ONE column written on August 21 is enough to persuade a major company such as Baxter and others who may be looking at Newton County? And we are supposed to believe Baxter and others will ONLY look at Meadors' columns and that they are not smart enough to dig deeper and look at other sources of information on our county? I suspect these people are smarter than that. Mr. Hall crosses the line when he demands that Meadors stop bringing attention to matters of public education. And he crosses the line when he tells the BOE what they should and shouldn't be doing. This would be like a ticket sales manager telling the coaches of a baseball team not to talk to the press about wins and losses because that might not help them put butts in the seats. You worry about sales, and let the coaches do their jobs. You know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig. And what does Dr. Mathews imply when he says comparing those counties to Newton is "apples and oranges?" I was under the impression we were supposed to believe that ALL students can learn and succeed. What happened to "non-negotiable" in this county? We have too many cheerleaders and not enough LEADERS in this county.

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Satan69 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes I agree Mr Meadors stand your ground. There is no reason that opinion pieces need to be stopped it seems to me that the reason they want you to stop is the focus on the problems where others have failed. You seem to be the only one that cares enough to focus on what needs to be done and how to handle it, then when it is brought to light they ask you to stop. No, the public and yourself have a right to speak matter of opinion whether your on the board or not. That is insane don't stop your columns due to the current situation. Here is a little truth for Mr Hunter Hall they put you in the law suit to make you look bad and since they can't get what they need from the deposed parties they want to throw a tantrum. That is to bad for them.

Keep up the good work and keep your head up, you have more people behind you then against you.

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MsLoy 2 years, 3 months ago

wow this is an attack on truth and speech in a free country - what does he want the real truth hidden what a freak - the column today has the words success written all over it isn't that positive - last time he wrote about the high scores at eastside high school - this sounds more like it's coming from someone's husband who is vindictive against everyone who calls out his wife's failing school the deeper this goes the more truth comes out and that principal has much to lose

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MamaTurd 2 years, 3 months ago

I am tired of the attacks on Republican elected officials. That is all this is and it is tiresome. They attack Mitt Romney and say he is a felon and murderer and they attack local Republicans. Eddie Johnson has attacked Meadors since Johnson became board chair. Look at the board. You have one real Republican and one white male so are you as tired of this onslaught as I am? He is telling the truth about the data Mr. Hall so go beat your bag of wind elsewhere. Our schools are the pits and by looking at the truth we can get better

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Calisweetheart 2 years, 3 months ago

I have a new respect for this board member now I would have been arrested for punching the chamber prez in the nose.

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56vick 2 years, 3 months ago

You didn't fool everyone did you Mr Meadors ! Just your little handful of cronies that always jump to your defense.! What a sad affair.

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momofone 2 years, 3 months ago

56 Vick, I am a little confused. Who was Mr Meadors trying to fool? He used the truth in an article that compared NCSS statistically to the surrounding counties. Even Mr. Hall admitted that the article and data was truthful. If you don't like what was said, work to change it, don't try to hide it.

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Covingtonian 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Hall has a valid point. Shouldn't we expect a member of our school board to highlight the positives of the system? How many businesses publicize the deficiecies of their companies to the public? If Mr.Meadors motives are sincere he should offer positive solutions or help find ways to turn this ship around. By the way a ship doesn't just turn on a dime, it takes time, just like the school system has taken time to make positive changes. Although no one is trying to hide the schools ills, why highlight it in the paper? Especially during hard economic times when jobs are needed? The words of Mr. Hall resonates "“It hurts the efforts not only of the Chamber, but if I’m sitting in the seats of your board members, you put a knife in my back,” . “That was really a dangerous piece.”

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Covingtonian 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, i misspelled deficiencies

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Kodaanddylansmom 2 years, 3 months ago

It is so bad this board does not comply with its own policy.  SACS needs to now step in.  The first majority minority BOE in Newton and we look like Clayton.

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56vick 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr Meadors is obviously a large part of the problem . What miracles has he performed while on the school board . But wait it's easier to blame than fix a problem,.I think it's a matter of trying to get five minutes of fame .

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Tairuna 2 years, 3 months ago

bet most boe members could not pass a basic grammar exam.

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Covingtonian 2 years, 3 months ago

So who are you upset with the constituents who voted them in or the board member?

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MissLoy 2 years, 3 months ago

Will Quan and Eddie and Steph and Dennis sue Mitt for commenting on Libya?

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Watermelonlover 2 years, 3 months ago

Hunter wants him to stop writing and start lying is all I can figure.

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SharonBlock 2 years, 3 months ago

There is no confidence in the BOE.

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Yallneedprozac 2 years, 3 months ago

Dear Covingtonian as usual you offer chopped logic.  Your post reveals you like Hall the bag of wind have not read ALL of his columns.  They are filled with positive thoughts, ideas and accomplishments of NCSS.  You're a dumb dumb.

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Teedoffparent 2 years, 3 months ago

Hunter Hall is the type to give away the farm.  Bring liqour by the drink to us.  Give tax incentives and give away whatever he can to put feathers in the cap on his bald head.  Full of one liners from 1970's leadership training.  He knows the schools are bad.  He knows the biz he has brought here is crime producing.  He knows the police chief has made it real known that Walmart draings public safety dollars.  The Bd of Commisioners failed to give him all that money he wanted so he screams like a wet diapered baby at a board member who he admits tells the TRUTH.  Hall needs to GO!

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Silverbullet 2 years, 3 months ago

The problem with Covington and Newton County is the elite few always find a way to repress the truth. Fears of reprisal are a part of life here and have been for years. You cannot say what you think or what you know without some sort of act or action coming against you or yours. But the citizens are becoming much braver and more brazen. Hunter Hall must be a total dufus if he thinks the people dont realize what he is trying to do. He should have been speaking directly to the School Board, not Mr. Meadows. WIth such questions as "Why dont we have a more successful school system?" And expecting some honest answers! If this mentality projects the feelings of the Chamber of Commerce, we are in a sad state of affairs. Instead of solving the problems, let's just cover them up. And as others have mentioned, a person who attempts to void the Second Amendment to free speech in the Constitution of The United States is generally deemed an internal terrorist.

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mgh1966 2 years, 3 months ago

I think you mint 1st not the 2nd. the 1st is free speech religion and protest. the 2nd is the right to bear arms.

Just be carefull some people will take your statment the wrong way

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Personalsavior 2 years, 3 months ago

Dennis Carpenter is the one who started the clapping.  I sat appalled at him and his behavior.  He is the worst thing to happen to Newton County next to his wife in recent history.  Matthews is negligent to let him act like this at meetings. 

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Frustrated 2 years, 3 months ago

After reading the article and pondering what was said I honestly believe this was all a set up. Why did Mr Hall find it necessary to bring this up in open forum at the BOE meeting? Couldnt he have just as well had a meeting with Mr Meadors and discussed this and asked him to stop then? Why was Mr Hall, if its true, allowed to violate therules of order for open comments without being stopped? Lindsey couldnt stop Mr Meadors so they seem to be trying other tactics. Just my opinion and something that makes you go hmmmmmm.

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Covingtonian 2 years, 3 months ago

If you look in the fourth paragraph of the article Hall stated " that he and Meadors previously talked in private about the piece." Your reading comprehension makes me go hmmmmmmmmm.

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Frustrated 2 years, 3 months ago

so Hall felt it necessary to bring it to the open BOE meeting? I hope Johnson actually reads the book Hall left him. And trust me I saw the part where Hall said they met. Teh heart of the matter is the fact that Hall had no right to aske Meadors to stop writing columns for the sake of trying to recruit businesses. Do you not think the people making the decision to locate in Newton County dont research and look into the scholl systems as well as other functions of the County?

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will 2 years, 3 months ago

Hunter Hall should have been a man and called out the BOE. He has shown me what he is about when he said Salem Rd was a prime location for a high end restaurant. Its beyond me how he can represent the COC and make comments like he does. He wants to hide the pathetic school system we have.

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Personalsavior 2 years, 3 months ago

frustrated you are right on - a set up for sure - Hall already tried to whine to his employer now attacks him personally, mentions some frivolous suit brought by Dennis Carpenter in reality and goes on a rant but the guy has the best attorney in the region so any of them should know nothing was done wrong by this man other than telling the truth - why not ask the BOE why are you covering up the corruption that one person has uncovered?

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56vick 2 years, 3 months ago

Hello people have you still failed to realize that Meadors is also on the BOE ! He has done nothing to improve anything with the school system .Covingtonian I don't think these cronies of Meadors want to understand anything .They are just trying to sling mud for the GREAT and POWERFUL MEADORS of OZ .

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Tairuna 2 years, 3 months ago

Hey slick Vick no one had ever said meadors was a god and we are all very aware of the fact he is on the board too. The thing is no matter how you look at this Hunter Hall was out of line who cares about someone writing columns on factual information? Mr Hall is pretty much saying hide the truth and tell everyone what they want to hear. As a parent I would want to hear of our problem areas not please everyone and kiss tail to get bs answers. You keep saying meadors cronies well first of all I don't think any of us are cronies. Just because we agree that the man shouldn't have to stop writing his columns because hunter hall wants to cry about it doesn't mean a thing.

Let me ask you something, how many more members of the board are there ? They don't do anything except sit there never offer up anything to contribute to conversation let alone ways to help the situation at hand. At least meadors offers ways to help current situations. Case in point at the BOE meeting tuesday night the only person that everyone contacts is meadors, not Henderson baker, not coggin or turner any ony one so just don't blame one blame all my friend if your going to point the finger. Because when it comes down to it he gets more contact then any of the other members.

You and covingtonian always have something to say about someone but can't stand it when someone comes back at you.

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Calisweetheart 2 years, 3 months ago

I agree that Hunter Hall was out of line. Uh oh I must be one of meadors cronies. Never met the guy.

To here these two jokers covingtonian and 56vick everyone that think Hunter Hall is out line is a crony. Please dude get a clue will you?

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Covingtonian 2 years, 3 months ago

Stick to the facts please. Reread everything I have printed, do you once see the word crony in my writings. If the shoe fits wear it. I haven't seen a direct response to my intial message about Hall having a valid point. @ Calisweetheart you take umbrage at being called a "crony" but don't have a problem referring to me as a "joker". Sticks and stones..........hypocritical wouldn't you say?

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Calisweetheart 2 years, 3 months ago

I do believe what i said was Vick was calling people cornies? You can call me what you will I don't care. Let's not talk about being hypocritical you should where that label proudly.

People could careless about you think just like they could careless about what I think so what ever.

Am I crony no!!! Am I hypocrite if you say so I'm whatever you want me to be.

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Tairuna 2 years, 3 months ago

covingtonian you have told us about you a little in the past you must be a carpenter or lindsay relative - have to be!

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ajones 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Hall, for showing us exactly how you communicate with the public. Now I know that when you give your economic development reports, they are not to be fully believed because you think it is preferable to only highlight what you think is "positive" instead of what is real. With that philosophy that you have now made very public, how in the world do you think prospective businesses will have any faith in what you tell them. I think trust is as an important variable in economic development as the musings of one board member — who, by the way, was elected by a number of people who contribute to your salary — and you have just shown that your word is not to be trusted.

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Crazyhooker99 2 years, 3 months ago

Covingtonian u so high u look like u real daddy

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Crazyhooker99 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah I was at that meeting too Dennis Carpenter why is he in that job he had to call some guy up to answer a easy qstn about a bus how dumb is that?

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Tairuna 2 years, 3 months ago

Hunter Hall acted like a school girl.  He had his chamber thugs with him that he asked to be there.  One said she did not even want to be part of this but he told her to be there.  How do I know?  I was sitting there and she told me later.  Then they all three marched out like mama and baby ducks.  Shameful shame on the chamber and shame on Eddie Johnson.  Eddie Johnson created an illegal meeting.  Both papers filed Attorney General complaints.  Kent Campbell where are the results of that?  Dennis Carpenter is behind this sham. . He is the one who loudly started clapping and Mathews is to scared of the race issue to discipline him.  THis BOE violated Meadors rights and they shouldu be reported to the State Ethics Commission.  It was a personal attack that was uncalled for.  Hunter Hall I helped to elect the person you attacked and you and your nasty behavior are the problem here.  Gary Matthews has praised this man's columns in my presence in the past when more than one was on school improvement people that Turner and Johnson voted against.  I am ashamed of these monster.

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Watermelonlover 2 years, 3 months ago

Folks it is just this easy.  Majority black school board.  One white male Republican on the  board.  Any questions?  I hope the local GOP gets behind this man or this whole county will end up looking like Clayton and DeKalb and Richmond and Dougherty.  Ricky Corley is running in District 2 on November 6th on the GOP ticket.  GET OUT AND VOTE.

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56vick 2 years, 3 months ago

You sir (watermellon) are a disgrace to the republican party . How racist can you truly be . It shouldn't matter what color you are .

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Frustrated 2 years, 3 months ago

The taxpayers of Newton County should be calling for Hall's firing. It is our tax dollars that pay his salary. He was out of line with this and should be fired.

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Grandcanyon 2 years, 3 months ago

Note to Hunter Hall:  Your behavior was despicable.  Your modeling of leadership gets an F.  I am disgusted with you as Chamber leader and your minions.

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Iknowddatsright 2 years, 3 months ago

What do the Carpenters (LaQuanda Carpenter and Dennis Carpenter) have to hide so bad that they do all of this.  They have tried every way possible to run him off.  What does he know that they don't want us to know that is the burning question.  That is what needs to be investigated.  When you have Dennis Carpenter leading the applause and Stephanie Lindsey blogging before 8 a.m. the very next morning on the article at the other paper then this is very questionable.  Hall - well he is irrelevant and has been for some time. 

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Tatersalad 2 years, 3 months ago

shame on hunter hall shame on you and your lack of leadership and you go around like you are a rock star with your leadership newton garbage - ashamed of you man

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suerprincipal 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Hall why didn't you ask the board why no one has had the NCSO look in to allegations of missing or mismanaged club funds at Alcovy High? Why didn't you ask the BOE what they intend to do to improve graduation rates?

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Chambermaid 2 years, 3 months ago

@Iknowddatsright it is in fact a burning question and it does in fact make you wonder about the whole corrupt system. He must know an awful lot for people to keep attacking him the way they do. I think some of it is the depositions didn't go as planned and now it retalliation time from Team Lindsey. Hey that is ok and all but it isn't going to change the fact the there was nothing then and there still isn't a thing. I like the fact that some certain individuals come on here ranting and raving about others on here contridicting their every word they talked about earlier and yet they have nerve to call Anoymous bloggers liars and hypocrites.

Now they are doing it themselves ha, HYPOCRITE is the word of the day. Their are a few on here that need to look up cyber bullying and see they fit that category. Im not bothered by any of you as a matter of fact I find all of you quite entertaining.

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oxfordowl 2 years, 3 months ago

I find it amazingly humorous that people would want only the sugar coated feel good views. Mr. Meadors is an elected official and I am sure if the people of his district do not support him then he will be gone when his term is up. I also find Dr. Matthews comments interesting. While pointing out that Newton County is a larger system than the others and should not be compared to them, he left out the fact that Newton pays its teachers less than the other systems. Our teachers do a tremendous job with fewer resources and increased work load, yet with falling pay and benefits. When was the last time Newton County gave its teachers a raise on the small part of their pay that comes from the county? Maybe Mr. Hall and the CoC should be more concerned with that than a citizen exercising their free speech rights.

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Duster 2 years, 3 months ago

Thats it mr hall. Dont tell the truth. Lets keep it all under the rug. Then spring the bad stuff on them later. I have lived in the county 44 years. My father and grand father before me. I am a true newton countyian. I for one need to know the truth. I dont live in a lala land of "its all good" If its looks like a duck, it has to be a duck. We "The people" are not stupid! This multi county thing has been in the works for decades. It started with a landfill and ended with the industrial park. If you dont like it leave. I did not invite you here to start with!

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Newtownqq 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Hall is an employee of Newton County, the Chamber is funded by the BOC and City of Covington. He is asking that the First Amendment be cancled unless it can aid his adgenda. Mr. Hall's views do not represent District one's views who elected Mr. Medors. Mr. Hall needs to step down with these comments he made!!!

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Hotmess 2 years, 3 months ago

We all know who you are 56Vick haha you were outed.

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Satan69 2 years, 3 months ago

Ole Stephanie Lindsey should probably be thinking about this. The legal opinions around the streets say she needs a lawyer herself.

Abuse of process is a cause of action in tort arising from one party making a malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action. It is a common law intentional tort. It is to be distinguished from malicious prosecution, another type of tort that involves misuse of the public right of access to the courts.

The elements of a valid cause of action for abuse of process in most common law jurisdictions are as follows: (1) the existence of an ulterior purpose or motive underlying the use of process, and (2) some act in the use of the legal process not proper in the regular prosecution of the proceedings.[1] Abuse of process can be distinguished from malicious prosecution, in that abuse of process typically does not require proof of malice, lack of probable cause in procuring issuance of the process, or a termination favorable to the plaintiff, all of which are essential to a claim of malicious prosecution.[2] "Process," as used in this context, includes not only the "service of process," i.e. an official summons or other notice issued from a court, but means any method used to acquire jurisdiction over a person or specific property that is issued under the official seal of a court.[3] Typically, the person who abuses process is interested only in accomplishing some improper purpose that is collateral to the proper object of the process and that offends justice, such as an unjustified arrest or an unfounded criminal prosecution. Subpoenas to testify, attachments of property, executions on property, garnishments, and other provisional remedies are among the types of "process" considered to be capable of abuse

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Chambermaid 2 years, 3 months ago

How much does Hunter Hall care about Newton every other word from his mouth is liquour by the drink.

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Billy 2 years, 3 months ago

I was thinking about joining the COC until I read this...

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