Race relations mentioned again at BOC Oden, Van Ness defends hires

CONYERS -- More than two years after the election of its first black commissioner and chairman, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is still dealing with issues of race in the county government.

Brian Jenkins, Rockdale resident and candidate for BOC chairman, spoke during the public comment section of Tuesday's meeting in response to comments Chairman Richard Oden made regarding an inquiry by Rockdale resident Sam Smiley into the progress made by Finance Director Roselyn Miller on her college degree.

Jenkins' comments also looked at the racial division in the county.

"We need to stop this division of pitting whites against blacks and blacks against whites," Jenkins said.

Josie Dean, another member of the community, also spoke about race, springboarding off of the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., Monday.

Dean recalled meeting King as a young girl and said she was an activist for people's rights.

"We don't have enough black people in power now so they can change this stuff. Martin Luther King died to make sure that people like me can stand up here," Dean said.

Dean also said the death of King did not kill his dream, and that people should not "play the race card."

"I will not play the race card," she said. "When you get up and stand up for what is right, you don't have to play the race card."

NAACP member Jacquiline Johnson-Dickson spoke on behalf of the NAACP in relation to "inclusion."

"I have noticed when attending government meetings, the audience lacks inclusion," Johnson-Dickson said. "Where are the young in school, the Hispanic or Asians? Where are those who are physically handicapped and mentally challenged?"

"We must open the government process to all groups," she continued.

Johnson-Dickson said the county was changing demographically and it needed to work to help its citizens understand and accept that change.

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness also spoke on the subject of race and racial inclusion during the board comment section of Tuesday's meeting.

"I know the NAACP works on behalf of many people in our community and across the nation. I know they work to fight social injustice. I take that for all people," Van Ness said. "If we want to really be unified, we need to stop looking at people's skin color and look at the people."

Van Ness said Rockdale County was home to many highly educated and intelligent people and that the county would always be fair in its hiring practices.

"I'm very proud of the appointments that we've made recently," Van Ness said in reference to the appointments of Darryl Bowie and Franklin Wilson as the new director of Human Resources and chief of Fire and Rescue, respectively. "I hope we will continue to focus on the quality someone brings to the table."

Smiley's question concerned Ross' appointment as the county's finance director in 2009. She was interim director for seven months following the resignation of former county finance director Mia Wilson in December 2008. Miller was named finance director after Bobby E. Young, a former vice president of finance at Clark Atlanta University, withdrew from the job shortly after being announced as the county's candidate.

At the time, Miller held an associate's degree and was working to complete course work for a four-year bachelor's degree from Georgia State University.

Miller's appointment was met with criticism. Miller, who is black, was chosen over Linda Nabors, who has a college degree and is white. The county government also went through a revision of job descriptions that year for director-level positions that emphasized a four-year college degree or higher as a requirement.

Oden defended Miller and noted she guided the finance department through a difficult time in 2009 and cutting $1.2 million from the budget that year. She oversaw more cuts last year as the county faced a drop in tax revenue caused from the economic recession.

Also, the finance department was also recognized in 2008 and 2009 by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

Smiley's question was not answered directly during the meeting. Oden said in response that Miller was working hard on her degree.


citizen52 4 years, 3 months ago

If the qualifications says a degree is required, working toward it or had done a lot in another position doesn't qualify. My taxes pay for this person who needs to be removed. MLK Jr. said that we shouldn't judge a person by the color of his skin. Why do we have commissioners, when questioned, can only play the race card? It is sad that people like this are so insecure that they want to forever remain a victim instead of moving forward. This is a disservice to all people. ALL voters need to look at the QUALIFICATIONS of members. Do we need a person who cannot control his personal life (Nesbitt) yet wants to be on the board? Who you elect will change the course you live under as well as your children and grandchildren. You owe it to all to be careful for whom you vote. I am an independent, blind and active voter.


thescot 4 years, 3 months ago

This makes me sick. Most of the appointments Oden has made since he rode Obama's coattails into office have been race-based. In fact, he was only elected because of his race since he has no qualifications and has proved his incompetence repeatedly. He's also been quick to ether fire or make it uncomfortable for whites to stay in the county's employ, so I don't believe what these people have to say. The actions are so loud we can't hear their words. The fact that he would choose an uneducated black person over an educated white person speaks volumes. Duplicty reigns and racial preference in Rockdale County, and its not from the white community.

And what on earth does Ms. Dean mean when she says "We don't have enough black people in power?" Has she looked at the BOC? The White House? Give us all a much needed break from your race baitiing, Ms. Dean.


ClaytonBigsby 4 years, 3 months ago

I too wondered what in the heck Dean meant when she made that statement. The highest office in the land, the chairman of the B.O.C. in this county, and the school superintendent are all black. When is "enough", enough, Josie?


AThomas 4 years, 3 months ago

Job criteria college degree or higher. since person hired 2 questitons

  1. Was person given definite time frame to earn degree? if so if time has elasped and not able to prove graduation then should be terminated.

  2. Since person was unqualifed at outset of job and only given job based on preference of higher person over fully qualified person was incumbent pay based on actual skill and education ie a few courses at a junior college? . Was she compensated at 1/2 rate of a qualifed candidate?

  3. Article states hiring person only indicated "working hard on degree" when asked direct question "Has incumbent completed degree? Can only assume alot goes on under wraps in this poorly run environment by obviously incapable leadership.


Sundance 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree. If they are not qualified, what is the incentive to become qualified if there is no time-frame and they are recieving full pay?


VPublicola 4 years, 3 months ago

  1. 18 months, which has sinced passed. Yet, she is still employed and even received a raise.

  2. No. Keep in mind, that Ms. Nabors - also a candidate for job - has the degree & was the most qualified by the standards in place, but a less qualified person was given the degree.

  3. She has not received the degree.

Ms. Nabors has the required degree to be a member of Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA), but Ms. Miller can't be a member becuase she doesn't meet the minimum qualifications. The reason the county has the GFOA Certificate is because Ms. Nabors has a degree and also because of the procedures and policies Tax Commissioner Dan Ray has in place. As the Chairman said, "Don't believe the hype or the haters", but also remember that he was referring to himself.


Sundance 4 years, 3 months ago

"We don't have enough black people in power now " You heard it.It is in balck and white in theis article. This is the main qualification too many people think about. It is wrong. It has always been wrong. How many crappy politicians will ride this idiotic logic?


BOCWatch 4 years, 3 months ago

Another great article by Rachel Bunn; there was a LOT that happened in a short amount of time at Tuesday's meeting. This all started when I asked why certain employees were receiving raises over the last twelve months. Roselyn Mill happed to be one of those employees having received a 5% increase in May of this year.

I remembered the requirment put on her appointment by Chairman Oden and Commissioner Nesbitt in July of 2009 when she was appointed to complete her bachelor's degree in 18 months. We are now two years into her appointment and she certainly should have lived up to her end of the bargain.

However Chairman Oden decides to ignore the requirement and taught the awards that the finance department has received from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA); interesting enough Ms. Miller cannot be a member of the GFOA due to her lack of a bachelor's degree. You will find all of this information including the original ORA with the salary increases here:


I also have the public and board comments from Tuesday's meeting here:


Please look at the videos before drawing a conclusions, while Ms. Bunn is a good writer it is hard to miss points, the video will tell the story.


johndoemo 4 years, 3 months ago

Enough is enough. Rockdale has blacks running the county and to watch it today is a better show than watching Ringling Brothers circus. That little car pulls up and out jumps clown King, Clown Oz and clown Oden....what a show and what a waste of taxpayer money.


ljones11 4 years, 2 months ago

I would have to agree that the county should do an audit of all it's employees in regards to qualifications. Anyone not possessing a degree, that is required for the position, should be fired and new employees should be hired immediately. These hiring decisions should be based on a mandatory quota in terms of demographics such as race, sex, etc. That does seem fair.


ClaytonBigsby 4 years, 2 months ago

There you go with "mandatory quota(s)". Can't we move on, finally, to where we hire based on qualifications alone, rather than quotas centered around skin color, gender, etc. Just simply hire the best person who meets the qualifications, period. It's like if I, and a bunch of other Conyers residents moved to Bainbridge or Gainesville (you name the place) and decide that a certain number of available jobs must go to us because we're from Conyers. Sound ridiculous? Sure it does, because it is.


NitetimeinDaytime 4 years, 2 months ago

First things first - if she does not have the qualifications for the job, she should not have the job. There is a reason why you need to have a 4 year degree for certain leadership roles in Finance. Most importantly because that is when you learn all the higher level Finance & Accouting concepts. If you ask me, someone in that position should have an MBA, not just a undergrad degree.

So, on the whole "race" issue ---- in some of the comments above I sense an underlying bigotry on both sides. Overall, we need to be sure to include different races/genders/etc. in leadership positions, especially ones that are required to make decisions that will affect the health of a county in which all types of these people live. However, I do not feel warm and fuzzy AT ALL, about people being appointed to positions simply for that representation to exist. They should be the most qualified for the job.


Sign in to comment