2016
12.31

Today is Bebe Ann Heiskell’s final day as Walker County sole commissioner.

She took office on January 1, 2001 and leaves on December 31, 2016. Sixteen years, or exactly 5,844 days, in power.

During her four terms, Bebe Heiskell raised taxes at least five times, bought and then sold a county ambulance service, watched Hutcheson crumble to dust, created government jobs for relatives and friends, hired a convicted drug dealer to serve as county attorney, abused the county’s tax exempt status, wrecked her county owned vehicles at least a half-dozen times, spent over $8 million buying farmland, gave county buildings and a thirty-year tax to the Development Authority for a $10-million loan, ruined the county’s credit rating, bought a trolley, attempted to kill Waker Transit, spent untold hundreds of thousands on pet projects for a single politically-supportive family, watched the county’s roads and bridges go to hell, was compared to TV’s Boss Hogg by the Wall Street Journal, and was seen on several occasions drunk in public.

Among many other things.

All with minimal accountability as sole commissioner – a system of government that went out with powdered wigs and buggy whips, used today by only nine counties in the nation yet still supported by many in the State of Georgia.

Heiskell was hailed as Walker County’s savior when she first took office, won reelection handily in 2004 and 2008, squeaked out another win by only 214 votes in 2012, and finally lost this year’s reelection bid in a landslide to Shannon Whitfield – who supported her himself until 2015.

On December 27, LU asked Facebook readers to reveal what they would say to Heiskell if she was sitting in front of them.

Those comments were a mixture of resentment and relief, many of them brutal:

Many simply said “Bye, Felicia” – a phrase snagged from a 1995 movie that has become a popular meme, essentially a dismissive term for an unimportant woman best forgotten.

Bebe’s time in office has, to say the least, left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Some, still, had better things to say about her:

Fortunately, after all these years, those with a positive view of Heiskell have finally become the minority.

Heiskell herself told Chattanooga reporters that the Underground bears much responsibility for her decline. Ultimately, her own actions are what did her in – but we’ll gladly take at least SOME credit for making voters aware of those actions over the years.

During the last few years LU has used a number of memes and other humorous images to get that point across about Heiskell. As we part, here are a few favorites:


(Click picture to advance slideshow)

Bye, Felicia.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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6 comments so far

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  1. Be careful for what you wish (vote ?) for, Walker County. What you get may seem better but in actuality, be the same or….worse!!!

  2. So, what is the procedure to have a multi-commissioner board? Also, how do residents request a full accounting of the books and her actions to uncover illegalities?

  3. To get a board government, the county’s charter has to be changed. That can only be done at the legislative level, in other words Jeff Mullis, Steve Tarvin, and John Deffenbaugh (the county’s three state legislators) have to do it.

    Tarvin represents the county seat, LaFayette, in the GA House, so he would have to propose a bill to change the county charter, and that would be voted on by the other two and then the General Assembly as a whole. (If Tarvin, Mullis, and Deffenbaugh approve the other legislators would go along with it as a courtesy since it doesn’t involve their districts.)

    They have the option of directly changing the charter, or they can let the people vote on a change to verify that’s what we really want. The former option would be faster, they could do that this year and we’d have a board in 2018. They won’t do it that way, it will definitely be left up to a vote.

    Problem is, none of them will do it unless the sitting commissioner demands it. Whitfield SAYS he wants it, but he and Tarvin and Matt Williamson (the Republican Party chair for Walker) all say they can’t do a vote until 2019 which means a board wouldn’t take office until at least 2021 – after Whitfield completes his four year term.

    They claim there are legal reasons it can’t be done sooner, but cannot cite the specific law beyond vague statements of process and etc. If they REALLY wanted the system put down, they could do it now.

    Whitfield said before the election in May he didn’t see any difference between a board and a commission, ethically. He’s not for a board, he just needs to appear he is – while making excuses for why we can’t have one yet.

    Contrasted to Perry Lamb, who said he would demand they do it sooner rather than later.

    As for accounting..

    The county has to have a basic audit every year by state law, but the audit is based on figures provided by the commissioner and county accountant. A forensic audit would dig deep into those figures and track down where every dollar went, for as far back as the audit goes. That would cost a good bit more money, at least a quarter million dollars, but would be well worth the cost to find out if anything criminal was done.

    Whitfield said back in the spring he would not do that because it could cost a half million dollars, and he will instead have his own “financial advisors” do an audit and turn in anything illegal they find to the state. (Lamb, again, made doing a forensic audit one of his top priorities.)

    The problem with Whitfield’s people doing their own forensic audit? What if they find something that involves them? Do we trust Bobby Teems and Shannon Whitfield to audit books that involved their own businesses or properties? Even if they’ve done nothing wrong, it can hardly be defined as an independent audit when they have political/financial/personal issues involved in what might or might not come out.

    Walker County voted itself into a huge mess in November.

    — LU

  4. I just wish they had more things for kids to do besides swim in summer an skating in the winter, there’s nothing for kids to do in this town, turning the Cove into a place where only people have money can go, really sucks for the majority of us who don’t have money. I hope that things will turn around for the people in our city/county,

  5. “things to do” come when the economic situation encourages businesses of that type to come in. Government should not be opening movie theaters and bowling alleys with tax dollars.

    We have Mars Theater and a live play about half the weekends of the year. There’s also Movies in the Park in LaFayette, which Menlo also is doing. There’s the card/gaming store downtown too, and rec. sports leagues of some kind all year.

    There is stuff to do, just maybe not the stuff you like.

    — LU

  6. I need a good lawyer to fight for my husband his 4th amendment has been violated we were pulled over on Sept 2 2016 for no tag I had insurance the officer said I didn’t I had then and I still have the paper proving it to be good he wrote me 2 tickets 1 for no tags 1 for no insurance and then wanted to search the car i told him I didn’t think it was nessasary he said he was towing my car because my insurance was not good he ask again if he could search the car i didn’t care but I didn’t think it was necessary he then handcuffed my husband and put him in the police car and told him it was in his best interests and began to search the car he found some utensils and a empty bag and he took us to jail since then I have been to court plead guilty to what was in the car i also told the D.A. that I had loan my car out the night before and I also told the officer that to they told my husband lawyer I turned state evidence on him and that I said some of it was his I never said Amy of it was his not one time did I say it was his he is still setting in walker county jail and has been there ever since please if there is anyone out there with any compassion the the people who are not guilty and have been victimized by the state please help him.