Local officials and the party that always wins

Cal Beverly's picture

What relation do stated political party affiliations have with positions taken by many — maybe most — local elected officials?

Answer: No relationship whatsoever to the votes and non-votes that matter the most.

For example, forget that all five Fayette County commissioners run on the Republican ballot. At least four of the five are really joint members of the real but unnamed party that controls Fayette County: The Government Party.

Three of them responded last week to a bid to remove Fayette from regional mass transit plans by becoming official hypocrites or government-funded prostitutes, take your pick.

Government Party rogue Steve Brown exposed the deep cynicism displayed by many local officials addicted to the government money needle.

Brown won election last year by pointing out that then-Commission Chairman Jack Smith — as well as Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele — had a long record of voting in Atlanta in favor of stuff they swore to the local rubes that they stood four-square against.

Over and over again, Smith and Steele voted for mass transit plans they told folks back home they opposed. Why would they do that? you ask. Read on.

When Brown asked the holdover commissioners to consider a resolution to remove Fayette from those plans, commissioners Frady, Horgan and Hearn demurred, saying they wanted more time to study the impact and worrying that future Fayette trips to the big money trough might be imperiled by actually standing for something they professed to stand for.

That means either that they knew of and condoned the Smith-Steele hypocrisies, or that they have been out to lunch for the past several years. Either way, they flunk the test for serving their constituents.

This screed is not intended to make a case for or against regional mass transit. It is intended to show that our exalted leaders often mislead and outright lie to their constituents about some important stuff.

Mayor Ken Steele of Fayetteville is the de-facto leader of the local Government Party. Once a populist rebel against local government corruption in the form of a massive annexation with questionable motives, he now has become a slicker, more efficient version of that which he once abhorred.

Steele loves that public trough, and he loves his place at the Big Table that decides who gets their snouts deepest into the trough. Jack Smith loved it, too. Smith got a regional award recently for representing the “Atlanta region” so ably. Problem is, Smith was elected to represent the residents of Fayette County, not the “region.”

Many local government officials have been shooting up on other people’s money for so long that they look at you as if you just sailed in from Mars if you suggest that maybe they themselves are the real, deep, underlying problem. They believe it’s OK to lie and mislead local constituents so long as the chosen few can keep the Government Party money flowing into their coffers.

I give you a bunch of new sidewalks in Fayetteville (and one fancy new walking bridge out on Ga. Highway 92 North) as exhibit number one.

Steele and the Fayetteville Council are as proud as new papas over those expensive stretches of concrete that few citizens had ever asked for. But they will tell you with puffed-out chests that they got those sidewalks built mostly with government grant money, some state, some federal (http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/01-26-2010/f%E2%80%99ville-authorizes...).

It never once occurs to them that Fayetteville is paving un-asked-for sidewalks with tax money extracted from taxpayers outside of Fayetteville, outside of Fayette County, outside of the state of Georgia.

I say bluntly, why the hell are taxpayers in South Dakota or in Waycross, Ga., being forced to pay for unneeded sidewalks in Fayetteville, Ga.?

Steele and crew would be astonished that someone would even ask the question. Their starting position would be, “That’s the way the game is played. Somebody is going to get that money. Why not the citizens of Fayetteville?” And they think that settles the issue: “Somebody’s going to steal money from other taxpayers. We might as well get our share of the stolen loot.”

Steele has become a master of that game: bringing other people’s money into Fayetteville.

That’s the Government Party’s world-view: “The pot of taxpayers’ money is there. We just want our share.” (A spelling lesson: “Other people’s money” is spelled “SPLOST” and “government grants.”)

Their addiction to other people’s money is so pervasive that they cannot even entertain the notion that maybe their mindset is at the root of this nation’s financial problems.

I said at least four of the five commissioners are members of the Government Party. Yes, Virginia, rebel Steve Brown is a member of that party, too. His main beef is that he wants to spend other people’s money on things other than what Frady, Horgan and Hearn want.

Once he gets effective control of the Government Party money, he has his own agendas, not always in sync with those who elected him. Case in point: The last three years of his one term as Peachtree City mayor.

Brown is best for ordinary citizens when he is out of power, digging up embarrassing truths that Government Party officials would rather be kept hidden from public view.

The problem is, when Brown gets control, we taxpayers need a Steve Brown clone to keep tabs on him and his ad lib governing style.

Where will new Commissioner McCarty come down? Give him a couple of years. Odds are, I’m afraid, he’ll become a Government Party convert as well.

I wish I could say that won’t happen to many, if not most, of those earnest reformers we keep electing and sending off to change the way things are done.

But I’ve been doing this for a long time. Human nature never changes much. Elect a firebrand reformer, and elect him long enough, and he will become just like what he ran against.

Cynicism? I’d call it long-time observation.

Exhibit number two: The Peachtree City Council. What can one say about this bunch? How about, “One term”?

Exhibit number three: Our local so-called Republican legislators. (Forget the Democratic legislators; they proudly trumpet their taxpayer-dollar-stained snouts.) Check the GOP votes on setting up a regional transportation sales tax trough.

It’s the same-old same-old. The Government Party wins every election. Just watch the spineless back-pedaling of GOP lawmakers in Washington, D.C., in so-called “budget showdowns.”

My point: We don’t need to just change the rules of the “game” being played so well by the Government Party. We need to change to an entirely new and different game — with taxpayers’ rules.

Where are the principled adults who will say, “Enough! It stops here!”? Who can get elected who will not eventually be seduced by and turn to “the dark side”? Know anybody like that?

So who’s cynical now?

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

conditon55
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I am not sure I understand

I read the article a number of time and I still cannot understand the point.

Concern for the corrupting influence of power?

Why this bizzarre focus on Steve Brown? Is it that he is the only one in the county, state country who really uunderstands? Please. Gimme a break.

There is some thing strange going on here. Something under the surface. Something that Brown and Company are not talking about.

What is it?

PTC Observer
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Mr. Beverly - This

This column is actually in my opinion the best piece you have ever published.

The botton line is this if you want a service then you should pay for it, not someone else. Budget control will only happen if those spending the money actually have it come from their own pocket.

In our world robbery is a crime, but if we elect someone to do it for us, well....it's just smart politics.

grassroots
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SPLOST OPINION INDEBTED TO CAL's OPEN FORUM

Whatever people, we can always depend on Cal to "Have A Take". Thanks for opening up your printed and now digital forum to the community to show the world we have a voice and vote. Think global, act local. It works.

Spear Road Guy
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I Have To Disagree

I bought all the hype against Steve Brown and campaigned for Harold Logsdon. I made a serious mistake!!!

Brown was right about the development on the Coweta side of the TDK road. Cal was right saying Brown exposed the crap in our governments.

What he's doing now with the other new commissioner is what the people want. I haven't heard anyone come up with a decent argument to what he's done as a commissioner.

The bed wetting mass transit liberals need to move to Atlanta and enjoy that fresh air and those wonderful schools.

BHH
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A new name is appropriate

Some of them certainly don't act like Republicans at times.

JeffC
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Yes they do BHH

You are in denial. This is what the Republican Party is when they actually have to govern and answer to constituents. Reagan appeased Hezbollah by fleeing Lebanon without retaliation after they bombed our Marines. Then he negotiated with terrorists in Iran and sold them arms. Now, most Republicans consider him their best President in the last hundred years.

Almost impossibly, the Republicans seem more delusional than my Democrats.

PTC Observer
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JeffC

Both parties are equally delusional, there is not bit of difference in either one. Their spending priorities are different that's all. Both are equally guilty of destroying our country and our freedom. We are slaves to the state because of our two national parties.

Finally, it is not a question of who is the best President in the last hundred years, but who is the worst. We have a lot of characters to choose from, don't we Jeff? It is really difficult to choose, don't you think? Of course, Mr. Obama is not finished yet.

Joe Kawfi
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Jeff

Reagan was better than that panty-waist nincompoop Jimmy Carter by a long shot. As for Obama, he isn't fit to shine Reagan's shoes.

roundabout
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kawfi

...and piss on your FATHER'S BOOTS ALSO!

Reagan did have a shoe shiner. Nancy.

Joe Kawfi
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Typical liberal

Roundy-boo -- is that all ya got? Don't get mad at me just because Jimmy Carter and Obama are such miserable failures to America.

JeffC
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Yes Joe

But I'm filtering your comments with the knowledge that your hero was someone whose approach to dealing with terrorists was to appease them, negotiate with them, and sell them arms.

Now, I don't mind who you like or dislike; it's none of my business. But it does kinda call your reasoning and analytical abilities into question.

Davids mom
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What ability?/Joe?
Quote:

reasoning and analytical abilities into question

'Ability or lack o'f are the operative words here.

Joe Kawfi
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Appeaser Jeff?

I've heard Reagan called a lot of things, but he was far from the appeaser in chief that Jimmy Carter was.

Reagan ended the cold war throught strength, not appeasement.

Jimmy Carter was a miserable failure on both the domestic and international front. That is why he lost the election so badly to an actor.

Davids mom
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Iran/Contra

'Nuff' said.

JeffC
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LOL Davids mom

I believe that Joe has proven my point about his analytical abilities.

BHH
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Give credit where credit is due.

If you are providing for their strengths then you can deduce their weaknesses. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Maybe Reagan was smarter than you give him credit for.

roundabout
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New names

I said calling them hypocrites was OK knowing all the while that they were all republicans (including the TEAS) but I suppose Jeff is correct.

JeffC
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They're Republicans Cal

These are not "Government Party" elected officials; they are Republicans each and every one. Jack Smith - Republican, Steve Brown - Republican, Ken Steele - Republican, Frady, Horgan, Hearn, Republican, Republican, Republican.

In the whole county there no Democratic elected officials anywhere and there haven't been any for years. It's the seventh most conservative county in the United States under the total and absolute control of Republican officials.

There's no Government Party here at all. In 2012, Fayette citizens will flock to the polls and vote for Republicans because they are Republicans and they like being represented by Republicans and these are the Republicans that reflect their Republican values. Fayette government is Republican government top to bottom.

You're living in a Republican paradise!

This is as good as it gets for you Cal.

Cyclist
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Really JeffC,

I could have sworn that in the part of Fayette County that I live in, we're represented by Democrats in the State house. They get re-elected every year. (eyes rolling)

JeffC
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Yeah, but...Cyclist

That has nothing to do with local Fayette government. Everybody here is in denial about the coming Republican utopia. The ones they don't like they label RINOs in an effort to deny that they are representative of the Party.

Don't start with me. I'm a Democrat but I'm neither blind nor stupid. I freely admit being embarrassed. You would be too.

Mike King
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Jeff

If I may-You are indeed too nice to these local elected officials. They have turned my stomach, and my political party affiliation.

For the want of another Zell Miller.

roundabout
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MIKE

I don't believe what I just read!

What is your party affiliation now? I know it is not democrat!

Now as to Zell, I know him and about him pretty well. His only problem was he sounded like a bubba, acted like a bubba, and couldn't shake it enough to become President.
He did do a good job in the republican convention speech even if he had to hold his nose tightly.

The ONLY reason he turned republican is because he couldn't get elected here any other way, polarization, you know?

Did you like his constant boots for shoes? (70s you know, I had a pair then)

bad_ptc
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Cal, I think Imker set a new record joining the Govt. Party

PTC: no fix needed for Crosstown-Parkway

“If we don’t get to spend it here, guess where they will spend it: the same location as other projects such as the East Fayetteville Bypass,” Imker said. “So we want to get a piece of the pie.”

Chris P. Bacon
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The "Government Party"? *snicker*

Alas, poor Cal Beverly....still bound by oath and honor to hold true to Saint Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican..

That sure makes life difficult for a crusadin' newspaper publisher!

In order to circumvent this odious restriction, Cal has to come up with a new party, a third party, the "Government Party", to draw attention to "gummint malfeasance".

Well Cal, I can appreciate the pickle you are in, but the fact remains that everyone and his brother in an elected position is a card-carryin' Republican. And should you ask these Republicans about their personal philosophies, I'm sure that to a man they'd all wax rhapsodic about how deeply conservative their principles are!

As the saying goes: Reality has a well-known liberal bias!

Cal, you're old enough to recall the "dark days" here in Georgia, when evil Democrats ruled the roost and the wink-nudge good ole boy backroom deal was the expected norm.

The Democrats have been supplanted by God fearin', Satan hatin' Republicans for almost two decades now, and to borrow a phrase from those surrender-monkey French folks: La plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Fayette county seems to be a hotbed of what I call "whack-a-mole politics". Something rotten is identified and "whacked down", and another rotten thing pops up someplace else.

This week's civic malfeasance, for example, was rezoning without sunset provisions in Peachtree City.

The West Fayette Bypass, the TDK extenstion, the Tennis Center payoff, Sheriff Wayne Hannah's political paybacks, the Horndog Judges scandal ...all should be enshrined in the Fayette Civic Hall of Shame.

I think Steve Brown should be lauded his for his exposure of the rank hypocrisy of the Fayette power structure ("We hate mass transit but we vote for it coz there might be some money in it for us"). I believe Commissioner Brown's position (mass transit is fiscally irresponsible given the light population density in Fayette) is both sound and prudent.

I'm not sure what you mean, Cal, when you ascribe nefarious intent to Commissioner Brown's political agenda, to my knowledge Brown doesn't appear to have agenda, at least one he's publicly discussed anyway. "Assuming the worst" is a bit cynical, in my opinion.

I also think you've given short shrift to the PTC city council. I believe they're growing as a group...they're not the best in the world but certainly not the worst. As a whole, I think they hold up pretty darn well against previous councils (the autocracy of Emperor Lenox 1st, the anarchy of Steve Brown's council..*coughDanTennantcough*, and the spineless Logsdon/Plunkett/Rutherford group).

I agree that it will be interesting to see if McCarty goes over to the dark side of the Force. I was dismayed by McCarty's neo-prohibitionist comments in the AJC recently. Drinkin' might lead to dancin' dontcha know!

One common denominator of virtually all elected groups here is that they seem bound and determined to grab...and spend...any and all monies made available to it. This seems to transcend party designation. We've put politicians between a rock and a hard place: We want services and amenities, we just don't want to pay for them. When we get grass "as high as an elephant's eye" in the median of Highway 74 we grouse.

Are we better off under these so-called Republican elected officials, now that the Democrats have been purged altogether? To my admittedly jaundiced eye, it would appear that the musicians have changed but the song remains the same.

Oh well, Herb Frady won't live forever!

Voter
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Cal Beverly's editorial

This was a very good read.I will wait to judge the new Commissioners. They have proposed term limits, meeting agenda's posted 24 hours before a meeting, ending the road to nowhere and removing ourselves from mass transit. All of these ideas are popular with a majority of the people but were rejected by Frady, Horgan and Hearn. I agree that Peachtree City and our local State reps have not represented us in a way that protects the taxpayer. I think the various tea parties will continue to stay active and will remove politicians who ignore people by saying one thing and doing another. Articles like yours today will serve to wake more people up and hopefully get them involved to prevent the abuses by elected officials.

Doug
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The transit deal

As many have commented in letters to the editor, Steve Brown nailed the case for excluding mass transit in Fayette County. I was one of the disgusted group of people in the audience that walked out after Herb Frady, Lee Hearn and Robert Horgan said one thing and voted the other way.

The misrepresentation of the people at the county commission is so obvious you're left wondering what it takes to land a majority of members who will actual do the right thing.

I thought the criticism of Allen McCarty was unfair. The guy has only been in office for less than 3 months and appears to be voting with the people.

We all know Steve Brown is a lightening rod, but his stances are generally on target and I can't recall him ever pushing anything that was self serving.

I think a huge omission from Cal Beverly was Steve Brown and Allen McCarty tried to get term limits passed in January and they were voted down. They seriously went after the extended stays in government that usually lead to corruption. They're owed some credit there.

NUK_1
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Criticsm of McCarthy not unfair

The guy has had three different tax liens filed against him in recent years and some think that makes someone a good choice to be on a Commission overseeing management of a County and all the $$$$ involved? Hardly not.

As far as Brown, Cal nailed that one too. He obviously has a MUCH better memory of Brown's time as Mayor than a lot of others who blindly believe without question anything Brown says or does.

EDIT: I DID agree with Broiwn and NcCarty pushing for no votes on any items not on the agenda with 24hr notice. That's sensible. Term limits are not and plenty of people are against term limits when voters can enforce term limits any time they wake up from their slumber, get off the couch, and go vote. Otherwise, they get exactly the government they deserve.

BHH
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Hits the nail on the head

Cal, thank you for those comments and thanks for this newspaper. You are absolutely right if you are saying there needs to be more scrutiny in what we take outside money for. Because it is needed at times, but there does seem to be a prevailing opinion of let's spend it whether we need it or not.

roundabout
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Cal Beverly: Hog snouts, spineless republicans

Isn't another name for Government party, Hypocrite party? At least that is what I have called them on here for some time.

You write that you resent these politicians who take state and federal money for certain prescribed things such as sidewalks.

But the real problem is that Georgia and it's counties could not run anywhere near a decent state without the billions of handouts, which do at least produce jobs and will probably be needed in the future.

The Interstate highway system would NEVER have been built had it been left up to Georgia to pay for its share with Georgia taxes, for instance.
You can't get elected in Georgia if you want to build highways, have good schools, provide for the poor, and provide a way for good health!

You must take handouts for those items.

Have you also noticed that the Georgia republican government, in addition to the Regional Commissions (where majority vote for the whole region rules), that we are going to have several other tax increases soon?
Almost surely a gasoline tax, and added sales tax, and grand and glorious
millage rate increases.
Not to speak of starting to tax retired people who can't live well now on their incomes.

I don't know your thoughtful solution to all this, but it can't be to just stop taking handouts from the state and federal governments.

Do you think Georgia is willing to raise local taxes sufficiently to cover needed items now paid for by other people as you say!

Those other people are the Chinese and American Treasury Note holders!

Surely we won't go back to the county "poor houses," home remedies for the sick, and one-room school houses? Will we?

roundabout
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Important Cheese?

I amend my "poor House" comment above due to a shipment of "important cheese" that just arrived in Fayette County from the federal government.
I do recall a similar thing many years ago when the government food handout truck stopped in each city and town regularly where one could go and get a ration of important cheese, macaroni, powdered milk, beans, flour, corn meal, cereal, sugar, salt, spam, and canned goods....slightly dented.

I suppose that kind of thing would actually happen instead of the old "poor houses." The building codes would rule out the old houses of the poor.