Rowdy Georgia DOT Board Meeting Ends With New Chairman

Wed July 07, 2004 - Southeast Edition

ATLANTA (AP) The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) board has changed chairmen for the third time in 10 months after a rowdy debate that included accusations of racism.

DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl called in Capitol police just in case anyone got out of hand June 17 during bickering over whether the board could replace chairman Brad Hubbert, who is black.

When the smoke cleared, there was a new, white chairman –– David Doss of Rome.

Hubbert, who is from Decatur, said he would seek a ruling by the state’s attorney general on whether the board overstepped its bounds.

Long known for good ol’ boy politics, the board in recent years has new members interested in more aggressive leadership. The tension has led to the leadership changes.

Hubbert took exception to the board’s decision last month to elect officers in June instead of March, saying it was a maneuver to kick him out of office. On June 17, he refused to hear nominations, saying the chair had the power to ignore the agenda item.

Proponents of the change said they wanted new members who take office in April to help choose the board’s officers. Hubbert said some board members have disagreed with his push to hire more minority road contractors.

“This entire matter will remain on hold,” Hubbert said before quickly asking for a motion to adjourn.

The motion failed and confusion ensued. Board members argued over whether they even had to vote to adjourn. They argued over whether Hubbert could be overruled. No one knew.

Board member Emory McClinton of Atlanta asked several times to adjourn but was called out of order by other members.

Some suggested a 30-minute recess to let the lawyers study the board’s bylaws. Board member Mike Evans of Cumming urged a vote: “Our bylaws are absolutely clear,” he said, “we’re to have an election today.”

Hubbert supporter Joe Beasley, Southeast region director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, chimed in from the audience. “It’s a lynch mob mentality is what it is,” he said.

Board members finally voted to call a recess. Linnenkohl called in officers, who waited in a stairwell.

When the board returned, the lawyers told them they could overrule Hubbert by a majority vote. They did and elected Doss chairman. He was the only candidate nominated.