County commissioners’ ‘blame it on the voters’ is unbelievable
I find myself absolutely amazed at the hucksterism used by the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. Their theme is “blame it on the voters” and not them.
The commissioners do something we don’t like and they say it’s our fault. For example, regular people like you and me can’t speak at a commission meeting when an agenda item is being discussed because, first of all, we are just ignorant citizens (we did vote the current commissioners into office so maybe there is credence there). Secondly, if the people are allowed to speak when an agenda item is called, the meeting might last another 15 to 20 minutes longer.
They can’t tolerate the meeting lasting another 15 minutes as they might not make it home in time to watch the beginning of “American Idol.”
Commission Chairman Jack Smith and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, as our representatives to the regional government, voted in favor of a regional transit plan called Concept 3 that called for transit buses routes all through Fayette County from Clayton County, Henry County and Coweta County.
But even though you can read the meeting minutes with your own eyes and see how they voted, Smith and Steele claim they are being misrepresented. They say it’s our fault for looking up their votes and not understanding their intentions (whatever those intentions might be because they never came back home and told anyone they voted for the mass transit plan).
Back in February of 2000, the county commissioners (a different Board of Commissioners than who we have now) decided to move forward with building a bypass, the East Fayetteville Bypass.
Later, County Commissioners Greg Dunn, Herb Frady, Linda Wells, A.G. VanLandingham, and Peter Pfeifer proposed a Transportation SPLOST which just barely passed in 2004. Those commissioners also agreed the priority transportation project they could substantiate building was the East Fayetteville Bypass. They began spending SPLOST funds on engineering and permits for the East Fayetteville Bypass (the project the county and the cities agreed was the top priority).
According to former Commissioner Peter Pfeifer, “The ‘Old Commission’ — Dunn, Wells, Frady, Pfeifer and Horgan — initiated Phase I of the ‘West Bypass’ (the part almost completed). The purpose was to improve traffic movement around the hospital. The ‘Old Commission’ DID NOT place a priority on the rest; Phases 2 and 3 of the ‘West’ [Bypass]. That commission DID PLACE A PRIORITY on the East Bypass” (My upper case emphasis.).”
Then enters the Board of Commissioners composed of Jack Smith, Eric Maxwell, Lee Hearn, Herb Frady and Robert Horgan around 2008. All of a sudden the project that had always been the top priority (the East Fayetteville Bypass) was wiped out overnight. This was also the same time period when our county commissioners thought it was no longer important to listen to their constituents.
Without any warning and without any public vote and without soliciting any public comment, the new commissioners decided the priorities had changed (or should I say their priorities became more important than the county’s priorities).
Even though we had already begun spending on the East Fayetteville Bypass, the top priority of the county and cities before and after the 2004 SPLOST vote, the new bunch thought they knew better and switched to the West Fayetteville Bypass.
It takes a whole bunch of arrogance to think, as a newly elected group of commissioners, that you know better than the two previous county commissions and all of the voters who had been told the East Fayetteville Bypass was the top priority.
Chairman Jack Smith and Commissioner Maxwell made up a bunch of pitiful excuses as to why they chose to personally realign the voters’ priorities for them.
All five of the current commissioners blame you, the voters, for their rearranging the priorities from the East Fayetteville Bypass (the most useful road) to the West Fayetteville Bypass (the developer special interest pork barrel project). They say YOU WANT the West Fayetteville Bypass instead of the top priority project of the East Fayetteville Bypass.
Commissioners Jack Smith, Eric Maxwell, Lee Hearn, Herb Frady and Robert Horgan want you to believe that YOU are to blame and not them even though they can CHOSE to fund any other SPLOST project they desire.
The voters trounced the 2009 SPLOST that included phase three of the West Fayetteville Bypass. The voters also elected the two anti-West Fayetteville Bypass candidates. So why it is our fault the West Fayetteville Bypass is being constructed?
Whenever our Take Back Fayette County PAC showed groups of people the county map with the path of the West Fayetteville Bypass on it, they threw their arms in disgust. The only thing the West Fayetteville Bypass is good for is creating roads to build more new homes, nothing else.
If the lame duck Chairman Jack Smith has any integrity, he will quit the board of directors of the Bank of Georgia. A lot of people are assuming that his reckless planning changes are setting him up for a financial payoff at the bank in years to come. The potential for conflict of interest has always existed and Smith should do the right thing and resign from the bank board. He is truly a small-minded person.
Of course if Smith and his bank do end up making a fortune in the years to come off of the West Fayetteville Bypass, that will be, as the commissioners like to say, your fault too.
I’m sad that I missed the meeting this past Thursday, Sept. 23. I understand my fellow TBFC PAC members were out in force. We will prevail in defeating Frady, Horgan and Hearn in 2012.
President, Take Back Fayette County PAC