Despite county policy, 24-hour notice goes down, as do term limits
Needless to say, it was discouraging for Commissioner McCarty and me to watch our three fellow commissioners vote against a measure to mandate that the citizens of Fayette County and the news media be notified a mere 24 hours in advance of any item coming before the Board of Commissioners for a vote.
The official Fayette County Policies and Procedures Manual plainly states, “All requests for placement of an item on the Board’s Agenda shall be submitted a minimum of two weeks in advance of the requested Agenda date,” (Administration, Commission Agenda, Section 100.03).
The official policy says “two weeks” and Commissioner McCarty and I were only asking for a meager 24 hours, but the answer was a resounding “no” from Chairman Frady and Commissioners Hearn and Horgan.
Why does Fayette County have ordinances and procedures, if not to abide by them?
I would be lying if I told you I expected Commission Chairman Herb Frady, now approaching 20 years in office, to support the measure on term limits brought forth by Commissioner McCarty and me.
Chairman Frady asked us for reasons to support our proposal on term limits and here is what we gave him.
Overwhelmingly, polls show voters prefer term limits.
Term limits downgrades seniority, favors meritocracy.
Term limits increases competition, encourages new challengers.
Term limits breaks ties to special interests.
Term limits improves officials’ tendency to vote on principle.
Term limits introduces fresh thinking, new ideas and eliminates the “that’s the way we always done it” routine.
Term limits reduces power of staff, bureaucracy, special interests.
Term limits creates less time to establish pork-barrel appropriations.
Term limits encourages lower taxes, smaller government and greater voter participation in elections.
Term limits builds a “citizen”-led government and drives out career politicians.
There are more reasons in favor of term limits than reasons against.
Term limits provides representative balance (The Founders Fathers called it “rotation in office”).
Commissioner Lee Hearn noted “that he believes voters are educated when it comes to electing commissioners and adding that he would hate to see someone such as a potential Thomas Jefferson limited to two terms” (The Citizen, “Fayette Commission says ‘No’ to term limits, 24-hour notice to public,” Thursday, Jan. 7, 2011).
To be absolutely honest, Thomas Jefferson supported our move to establish term limitations. In fact, Jefferson writing a proposal on behalf of the Virginia delegation, called for term limitations “to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress ....”(Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian F. Boyd, et al., Princeton University Press, 1950).
Jefferson’s proposal made its way, unedited, into the Articles of Confederation. The fifth Article states that “no person shall be capable of being a delegate [to the continental congress] for more than three years in any term of six years.”
Jefferson, writing to his friend James Madison Dec. 20, 1787 from Paris, noted objections to key parts of the new federal Constitution. First and foremost, Jefferson noted the absence of a bill of rights and the failure to provide for “rotation in office” or term limits, particularly for the chief executive. (Manuscript Division, Jefferson (106), Library of Congress).
Thomas Jefferson offered a two-term limit. In 1807 he wrote, “if some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life”( Thomas Jefferson: Reply to the Legislature of Vermont, 1807. ME 16:293).
The movement for term limits in Jefferson’s day found its origins at the local level. The “rotation of office” came out of a sense of duty and a love of liberty. It was not until President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the current form of “perpetuity in office” began. President Roosevelt’s snub of self-limiting government was corrected by the Twenty-Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1951.
It would be nice to get that next Thomas Jefferson in Fayette County sometime soon as we can unquestionably use the third vote to acquire term limits and 24-hour notice on any agenda item being voted on by the Board of Commissioners.
Fayette County Commissioner, Post 4
Peachtree City, Ga.