Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Questions For The Unified Government

The roof over the engine bay of Fire Station No. 6, located at the intersection of Olympic Drive and Athena Drive, collapsed as a result of the snow storm back on 01 March. It appeared that staff and equipment were immediately withdrawn from the station. A couple of weeks later, a chain-link fence sprouted up around the building. To date, however, there has been no information posted on the Unified Government’s web site or printed in the Banner-Herald as to when the station may be operational again. As generalized fire protection is one of the few services actually available out in the euphemistically named “general services” district where I live, the sooner Fire Station No. 6 is back up and running the better for those in the formerly unincorporated area of the county.

The Clarke County School District held the second of three legally-mandated public hearings on its upcoming budget yesterday evening.* The Unified Government, on the other hand, has yet to present its budget for FY 2010 or release the schedule for its public hearings. The only indications from City Hall thus far are that the budget increases by “about 2%” and that homeowners should not expect much of a decrease in their property tax bills. Given that the new budget takes effect a mere nine weeks from today, any time now would do. A cynic might speculate that the Unified Government is keeping something under wraps, but we shall see.

*As an aside, I must congratulate the Board; by my count six of the nine Board members were in attendance. It is my understanding that Board rules mandate that at least one member of the finance committee (or whatever the appropriate term is) attend the public budget hearings. In past years, I have been at hearings at which only that single member of the Board attended, so last night was a good showing indeed.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Comment On A-CC PD Reaccreditation

As part of its Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) re-accreditation process, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department is scheduled for an on-site assessment to verify that it meets professional standards with regard to policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services.

Citizens may submit their comments on these areas to the Assessment Team by calling (706) 613-3888 (extension 400) from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, 26 April. Comments may also be made at a public information session scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Commission Chamber at City Hall (Room 205) on Monday, 27 April.

Comments, made either by telephone or in person, “are limited to ten minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA’s standards.” Copies of the standards are available at the Police Department’s headquarters office (3035 Lexington Road) and the Regional Library (2025 Baxter Street).

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Athens Tea Party Recap

The wife and I attended the Tea Party sponsored by the College Republicans at the UGA Arch (the demonstration permit was for 30 people, but a couple of hundred showed up). I’m not sure who all spoke, as we did not arrive precisely at the beginning of the event. Even so, I did hear District 1 Congressman Jack Kingston address those assembled. State Senator Bill Cowsert and State Representative Bob Smith were also in attendance. It turned out to be a pretty lively affair; several reporters, photographers, and a couple of camera crews interviewed various attendees (see coverage in the Banner-Herald and the Red & Black.

Some of the local "living wage" crowd showed up for a counter demonstration. I’m not sure how out-of-control government spending and their pet issue are directly related, but this is Athens and all of the lefty groups support one another (being composed of pretty much the same people anyway, who have yet to meet any “progressive” cause they did not all support). After they engaged in a bit of bullhorn assisted rabble rousing, Athens’ finest moved them off of the pedestrian island in the middle of Broad Street, where they were obstructing both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, to the north side of the street. I wonder if they had a permit, too? I’m inclined to think not.

I just hope that Janet Napolitano's Homeland Security cameras caught my good side. Everyone knows what dangerous radicals we believers in small government, low taxes, and federalism are.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Troubling Tax System

Here is a video documenting the current mess that is our tax system, courtesy of the fine folks at the libertarian Cato Institute. Enjoy.

As an aside, those who are making light of the current explosion of tax protests are missing the point and anyone who buys the "95%" argument put forth by the Obama Administration is a (willing and) complete fool. Your federal taxes are going to skyrocket to pay for the trillions of dollars in new federal spending, both for the direct spending and for the interest on the debt incurred. It cannot be otherwise.

Then there is the matter of the federal government appropriating entire industries - boards of directors and stockholders be damned - with no constitutional authority to do so whatsoever (mortage lending, automobile manufacturing, insurance, etc.) and imposing myriad restrictions on those not directly taken over. Then there has been the rushing through of bills that contain all manner of unrelated provisions about which no one knows (in direct to Obama's campaign promises - big surprise there) as the White House tries to enact its hard left political agenda under the guise of economic stimulus. And there is no end in sight to any of this - protesting against current taxes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Besides which, for the last weight years I've been relentlessly lectured that dissent is the highest form of patriotism - I guess it just depends from what one is dissenting, huh?

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Kingston At UGA

District 1 Representative Jack Kingston, who grew up in Athens and is a UGA alumni, will be on campus to give his take on the current session of Congress. Kingston is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies, and a member of the Subcommittee on Defense, so he should know of what he speaks.

The event, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 15 April, in Room 214 of the Miller Leaning Center, is jointly sponsored by the College Republicans and Dawgs for Israel.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Athens Area TEA Parties

Have you been Taxed Enough Already? If so, you can participate in one of the “Tea Party” protests scheduled for the Athens area on Tax Day, 15 April. They include:


11:00 a.m.
Oconee Veterans Park (3500 Hog Mountain Road)
For more information, contact William Mayberry by phone at (706) 206-7168 or by email.

Athens – Eastside
4:45 p.m.
Locos Grill & Pub (1985 Barnett Shoals Road)
For more information, contact Bob Beal by phone at (706) 543-0928 or by email.

Athens – Downtown
5:00 p.m.
UGA Arch (College Square)
For more information, contact the UGA College Republicans.

Those not in the Athens are may find other Tea Party locations by clicking here and here. If anyone knows of other Tea Parties in the
area, feel free to drop me a line.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Newt Stumping For Paul Broun

I’ve just returned to the office from a lunchtime fundraiser for 10th District Congressman Paul Broun. The event, which featured former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as the “special guest,” was held in downtown Athens at the Classic Center’s Empire Room (readers may remember that Newt has a couple of appearances scheduled at UGA later today – see the post immediately below).

Based on my assessment of the turnout, I would guess that the Broun campaign made out pretty well today.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Newt At UGA (X2)

Former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich will deliver this year's School of Public and International Affairs Getzen Lecture on Government Accountability. The lecture, entitled “Effective American Policy in a Dangerous World,” will be delivered at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 07 April, in the UGA Chapel on North Campus. The event is open to the public. For more information, contact Joy Holloway via email or phone at (706) 410-5182. The Getzen Lecture will be streamed live online (to view the lecture, click here): you will need to have RealPlayer installed (download it for free here).

Also, Gingrich will address the UGA Law Republicans, giving a presentation at 5:00 p.m. in Classroom B of the School of Law (a 20 minute presentation with a 10 minute question and answer session followed by a 30 minute dessert reception in the lobby area outside of Classroom B). Seating will be open and on a "first-come, first served" basis. However, seating is somewhat limited – so, unless you already have a reservation, don’t count on getting a seat.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

CCSD Making Progress

I have long criticized the District for its financial practices on a number of fronts: i.e., for excessive spending, for playing fast and loose with state law, and for not making its budgets available in a meaningful manner (as a handy illustration of this criticism, see my post of yesterday).

Today, however, I will give credit where it is due. The District’s tentative budget made its debut last evening, a summary of which has been duly posted on the CCSD web site. Although it is not a full budget, the summary is a considerable improvement over what has been available in the past.

According to the summary, the schedule for public hearings on the budget is as follows:
• 23 April – Gaines Elementary School (6:00 p.m.)
• 28 April – Alps Road Elementary (6:00 p.m.)
• 30 April – Central Office Board Room (6:00 p.m.)

Tentative approval of the budget and millage rate will take place on 09 April, with the final adoption of both slated for 04 June.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

FY 2010 Local Budgets

It’s that time again, time for local “requesting” and “taxing” authorities to present and hold public hearings on their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

Regarding the Clarke County School District, the Board of Education will adopt a tentative budget and tentative millage rate at its agenda setting session this evening (see agenda items 2 and 3 under New Business, pages 42-43 of the PDF). There is, as yet, no indication of the budget amount, which will be presented at the Board’s regular voting session next week, or the schedule for public hearings. The millage rate remains at 20 mills – no surprise there – which is the maximum imposed by the state Constitution in the absence of a local referendum authorizing the Board to exceed that limit.

In the past, the CCSD has done an absolutely abysmal job of making its spending plans available for public review. Printed copies have not been available anywhere around town (see below) or as PDFs on the District’s web site. The only way one could get a copy was to call ahead and arrange to pick it up at the District office on Mitchell Bridge Road (even the time that I did that, the budget I received was woefully incomplete). Let’s hope that the situation improves somewhat this time around.

On the other hand, though, I must acknowledge that the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County does an excellent job of making its budget available for public review by placing printed copies in various locations around town – such as City Hall and local libraries – and posting the relevant PDFs on its web site (with the caveats that deciphering the details of the budget requires considerable effort, but that is another matter, and that I frequently disagree with its spending priorities, but that too is another matter).

Be that as it may, to date the Unified Government has not made public its budget amount or anticipated millage rate for FY 2010. Neither has it released the schedule for public hearings. Nonetheless, all of that information should be forthcoming in the very near future.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brush Fire Alert

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds. - Samuel Adams

Tired of bailout boondoggles, trillion-dollar deficits, and increasing government control of your lives? Then do something about it, starting with this event – because Hannity and company over in Atlanta should not have all of the fun.

A “Tea Party” protest is slated for 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 April, at Oconee Veterans Park, located at 3500 Hog Mountain Road (across from Herman C. Michael Park). Expected speakers for the event include State Representative Bob Smith and someone from the office of U.S. Representative Paul Broun.

For more information, contact William Mayberry by phone at (706) 206-7168 or by email at

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