Lawsuit surrender, Dial’s ambitions, parties

Cal Beverly's picture

The curious and the curiouser: Enquiring minds want to know . . .

The Fayette County Board of Education has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in capitulating to the NAACP district voting lawsuit shakedown, a suit totally unwinnable by the Democrats on the face of it.

As a result of members Terri Smith, Janet Smola and Leonard Presberg, every Fayette County voter has just been 80 percent disenfranchised.

Up until now, every voter got to vote on every member of the board that spends most of our local tax money. Now, thanks to the NAACP and Smith-Smola-Presberg, all of us get to vote on only one of the five members, and only once every four years.

The abject surrender — devoid of any public input or participation — likely will lead to both racial spoils and ward politics. Whatever leverage the voters had over the school board now is reduced by four-fifths.

Enquiring minds want to know: Was the fix in with Presberg’s appointment? What is the rationale of the three who voted away our rights to vote?

You ask, so what would you do different? How about fight the suit and win it? If that meant laying off some teachers and parapros to raise the money to pay the legal fees, that’s exactly what I would do. No apologies. The right to vote is worth a few jobs.

So, Mayor Eric Dial of Tyrone is the new Ken Steele wannabe. The mayors from those metropolises of Brooks and Woolsey (you didn’t even know Woolsey had a mayor, did you?) voted for the regional governance-friendly Dial as if the voters just two months ago had not banished Steele from elective office for his wrong-headed votes for regional transit and regional taxation.

Those three luminaries — previous backers of Steele in his quest to make Fayette County into a proper metro county, transit buses and all — outvoted the mayors of Peachtree City and Fayetteville and chose Dial to carry the regional governance standard into battle.

Let’s see: Peachtree City and Fayetteville contain about five times the combined populations of Tyrone, Brooks and Woolsey. And yet the mayors representing more than half the people in the entire county were shut out of this process. How’s that for fairness?

Enquiring minds want to know: What political prize does Dial have his eyes set upon? One senses in Dial a hunger for higher office than modest little Tyrone can provide.

I propose that all current elected officials in Fayette County be forced to declare for a particular party in order to appear on a ballot. Or at the very least, before getting our votes.

I said last week I embrace increased partisan labeling as a means to signal to voters how a candidate might treat public money under his/her authority.

Some disagree. I suggest true believers in what they call “non-partisan” elections labor under a significant load of naiveté. I repeat that column’s title: “Nonpartisan: Who are you kidding?”

The only true nonpartisans are those who are ignorant of the issues of the day, true blank slates. Yes, there are plenty of truly ignorant Republicans and Democrats holding elective office, but at least they did not run on a platform that proudly proclaimed their ignorance.

The only true nonpartisan in American politics was George Washington, and that was only because the parties had not had time to officially declare themselves. Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson soon brought that nonpartisan era to a close.

As for nonpartisanship lessening political strife, I present the Peachtree City Council as rebuttal witness number one. That nonpartisanship has really done well in Peachtree City, don’t you think?

Just for fun, let’s have a guessing game about the REAL political allegiances of those holding elective office in Fayette County and its municipalities.

I’ll start it off with a litmus test: Who among our local officials do you suppose voted for Barack Obama in 2008?

On the current PTC Council, I’d guess a minimum of one out of the five, and maybe two.

On the current school board, I’d guess a minimum of two out of five, and it might even rise as high as four out of five. Oh, wait, all the elected board members ran as Republicans, right? Yeah, right.

If this were 2004, I’d replace Obama’s name with that of George Bush. But you have your own fun with this little guessing game.

And by the way, the U.S. of A. is indeed a free country and you have the right to vote via secret ballot for whomever you choose. But, honestly now, wouldn’t you really like to know before you press that touchscreen ballot just what your candidate really stood for?

My argument is that requiring a candidate to make a party declaration is the minimum step required to figure out a candidate’s governing philosophy. The label doesn’t protect the voters from candidates who lie, deceive and cheat, but it does help to narrow the blame.

Voting for a nonpartisan candidate is like queueing up for a pricey movie ticket and being told at the box office, “You don’t get to choose which movie. It’ll be a surprise, and you don’t get your money back.”

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

suggarfoot
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"NAACP and Smith-Smola-Presberg"

"Up until now, every voter got to vote on every member of the board that spends most of our local tax money. Now, thanks to the NAACP and Smith-Smola-Presberg, all of us get to vote on only one of the five members, and only once every four years."

Ahhh yes, Smola, the old enabler is back. 2 years college as a Phychology major doesn't make an Einstein, a "Wizzardess of Wallstreet", nor someone who knows how to handle the millions of tax dollars that went on new schools for kids that weren't there.

Some people just like to have a 'learning experience'. Too bad it has been with our tax dollars, our kids futures, and the money that ...should...have gone toward the teachers salaries.

I hope everyone remembers come election day.

Robert W. Morgan
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BOE needs Phych major more than an economist, sugar

They seem destined to make bad expensive decision, so the Phych major might be needed for propaganda purposes.

Of course with this new unholy alliance and district voting they can just single out the person they don't like on the minority and close a school or two in his or her district. Then that will spawn new candidates to run for that district seat just to get back at the others for closing "their" school. Sound plausible?

So when is our first election day under the new system and who is the incumbent in which district? Anybody know?

NUK_1
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Naive?
Quote:

I said last week I embrace increased partisan labeling as a means to signal to voters how a candidate might treat public money under his/her authority.

Some disagree. I suggest true believers in what they call “non-partisan” elections labor under a significant load of naiveté. I repeat that column’s title: “Nonpartisan: Who are you kidding?”

This seems to imply that one of the political parties is a good steward of taxpayer money and fine leaders while the other parties aren't. Which political party would the "good" one here?

Labels help those who are naive enough to think that Republican=fiscal conservative(LOL!) or that Reagan=conservative(LMAO!) or that all Dems=liberals(which is actually what almost every Repub and Dem actually are). Never mind the actual evidence of Republicans engaging in record deficit-spending and huge government growth under Reagan and both Bush's. Since they had an "R" next to their name, that's OK.

Davids mom
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Nuk

Your comment expresses honesty, not naivety. Thanks!

PTC Observer
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Cal - But

Given the entrenched nature of politics in the USA, it is nearly impossible to run and win a race without being part of one of the major political parties. So, now we're back to philosophy and dare I say it....honesty.

To your point, declare that you are "Republican", vote once you are in office as a "Democrat", aren't we at the same place Cal? What difference does it make if we can "narrow the blame", the result is the same.

Or are you saying that we should trust the people who run for office?

Now who is naive?

Cyclist
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Cal - Abject Surrender

I suspect the BOE realized that the district voting scheme was not tenable. Chances are, our county commissioners will realize the same.

Ninja Guy
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As I Asked CitizenAl, Editor Cal

If at-large voting is so great, would you be in favor of adopting that system for electing Georgia's state representatives? If not, why not? Pretty simple question. No football or Poptart matters mixed in either! I seriously want to know how opponents of district voting within the FC could be against district voting within the GA?

Robert W. Morgan
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District voting in GA

That's what we have now. Changing to At Large voting in GA would pretty much be un-American. But looking down the slippery slope - Fayette County Commission will either cave or lose (because BOE caved) and then you have to look at the cities. We gonna divide PTC or Fayetteville up into 5 districts? Might be workable, but Brooks? Woolsey? Seems like a pretty small number of people with the power to choose a mayor or councilperson. How do you elect a mayor with district voting anyway?

Seems like with district voting you increase your chances of getting a gadfly or a special-interest hack elected.
For example a western district of 1/5 of PTC would be about 3,000 registered voters, 1500 households, meaning Planterra, Cardiff, Cedar Croft, the apartments, Wynnmeade. 20% turnout means 300 households vote and if some clown can impress 200 families in Planterra that he's going to do something good - like get a traffic light or oppose a traffic light or enact or oppose leash laws- he's elected to represent all of PTC. Not sure that's a good thing.

And with At-large voting you freeze out the special or localized interest group. That might be racist as the NAACP has claimed or it could just be common sense to give each candidate maximum exposure to all voters.

I can see both sides of this. Probably makes sense to draw the line somewhere based upon the size of the voting pool. Below the line you do At-large, above the line - District.

Ninja Guy
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Bobby M. Morgan, My Mistake!

I should have said,

I seriously want to know how opponents of district voting within the FC could be against AT LARGE voting within the GA?

Silver throwing star for you for noticing the incoherence of my statement!

By Editor Cal's logic, we are disenfranchised by 99.77% because we can vote for only 1 of 435 US Representatives!

In the GA, we fair a little better. We are disenfranchised by only 99.44% because we can only vote for 1 of 180 representatives!

Robert W. Morgan
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Right you are, Ninja, but what about the small group danger?

Is my concern over small districts valid - especially at the city level?
Where do you draw the line? States and certainly the U.S. have to be regionalized, constitution even says so.

Which raises an interesting point - do the cities and the counties have a charter that specifically states these things? Does the BOE? Can that charter be changed by just 3 people caving to a lawsuit? Anybody thought of that?

Ninja Guy
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Bobby M and The Voting District Conundrum

Yes, your concerns over small districts is very valid! As for the voting pool break-point for district vs. at large, I don't know! Makes no sense to elect Brooks city council using district system. Makes no sense to even have a Brooks if you ask me, as no one is even willing to open a store there, but that is not at debate here!

I am only thrusting my sword of truth into Editor Cal's rationalization for the district system.

Yes, where does the at large voting system for the BoE come from? Good thinking there Bob! Perhaps Editor Cal can find out for us, and whether a three-person majority vote can overturn it! Where is Judge English when you need him?!

Falcons cleaning the coaching house! Both coordinators gone!

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