Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Questions In Absentia

I will not be able to attend the candidate forum at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education tomorrow evening. If the mechanics of the forum follow past practice, some written questions will be taken from the audience – not that any of my questions have ever been selected, mind you. Nonetheless, I hope that in my absence someone will pose these three questions to the candidates for Athens-Clarke County Commission (inquiring minds and all):

1. The mayor has repeatedly called for a “circuit breaker” mechanism that would link one’s property taxes to one’s income (see here, here, and here). Regardless of the difficulties that may accompany the implementation of such a plan, do you support this approach in theory? Why or why not?

2. Instead of limiting their use to emergency situations, the Commission has imposed a wide array of development moratoria as a means of crafting policy as a matter of course in recent years. These measures routinely are instituted with little to no advance notice, either by adopting them at special called meetings held on nights when votes would not normally be taken or by adding them to the agenda of regular voting sessions at the last minute. Either way, this practice has the effect of rendering the existing zoning ordinances meaningless, since they can be (and have been) suspended at any time. Do you support this practice? Why or why not?

3. For almost two decades, the Commission has steadfastly ignored those provisions of the Unified Government’s Charter that call for extending services into the formerly unincorporated areas of the county and for turning control of Ben Epps Airport over to the Clarke County Airport Authority. Do you support adhering to the explicit provisions of the Charter? If so, what will you do to implement them? If not, should the Charter be amended to eliminate these provisions? Why or why not?

I do not think for a minute that anyone will ask questions even remotely similar to these. Instead, I suspect that it will be the same old blather about the favored progressive topics that dominate political discussions in this town (i.e. transferable development rights, affordable housing, sustainable development, etc.) but without the critical insight that local government policy frequently has served to make each of these problems worse.

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