Friday, May 28, 2010

Impertinent Observations

For what it may be worth, someone on the Overview Commission called yesterday to chat about the Clarke County Airport Authority, one of the aspects of the Unified Government’s Charter on which I have harped since my 2006 campaign for the District 1 seat on the Athens-Clarke Count Commission (see here, here, and here). At least it would appear that my rants are having some effect. In the words of C. Montgomery Burns, “Excellent.”

Yes, I am trying a new color scheme here on TOA. I periodically get complaints about the original red on black scheme from folks who say that they find it hard to read. I kind of like the original because 1) I am a two-time UGA alum (B.S.Ed and A.B.) and 2) I found it to be fairly unique in the blogosphere. However, I want TOA to be reader-friendly so I will try something different for a while and see what feedback I may receive.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Quick And The Dead

This post is a quick (pun intended), though well-deserved, “shout out” to local attorney Regina Quick. In addition to being a fine attorney and upstanding citizen, she has developed slaying the Unified Government into a fine art. To wit, see:

•The empty chair tax appeal case

•The undevelopable, sewage-infested property case

•The stoplight camera case

There may well be other examples that escape my memory at the moment. Be that as it may, at some point the folks who run the Unified Government – or better yet, the voters – should start paying attention to these sorts of things, as they are starting to add up.

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Both Witty And Wise

Thanks to Banner-Herald Editor Jim Thompson for his kind words regarding TOA in yesterday’s “The Editor’s Desk” feature. The genesis of Thompson’s mention can be found in my latest letter to the editor lamenting the obvious disdain in which the Unified Government holds the Charter. That letter to the editor was, in turn, a follow up to this letter to the editor which, in turn, led directly to this editorial.

As I have noted before, my recent series of letters is drawn directly from issues I tried to raise during my 2006 campaign, unsuccessful though that attempt may have been. It appears, though, that they are having the desired effect this time around, namely that of (at least partially) driving the political debate concerning the relationship between Athens-Clarke County’s citizens and the Unified Government.

As an aside, after I submitted that most recent letter via the Banner-Herald’s web site, Thompson contacted me to ask if I objected to him including TOA in his “The Editor’s Desk” feature (naturally, I responded that I did not), but I took the opportunity to comment on my rationale for the letter:

“I've always found Kelly Girtz to be a likable sort of guy (and I even agree with him for time to time) but, to me, this latest moratorium and Charter business is symptomatic of all that is wrong with our local government.”

I want it to be clear that I hold no personal animosity against Girtz.  Even so, I honestly think that the Unified Government has run roughshod over the Charter, not to mention existing zoning and development ordinances, on the basis of "progressive" ideology for a long time  - and I have years worth of examples on which I base that opinion.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Fire Station No. 6 Update

Long after the snowstorm that closed Fire Station No. 6 faded into memory, meaning some 15 months, the apparent demolition of the station began last week. I suppose that this marks progress of some fashion, but just what is transpiring there remains a mystery as the Unified Government still has made no public pronouncement on the matter whatsoever (certainly not on its web site and neither has there has been any such mention in the Banner-Herald or Flagpole).

Of course, that may be because the folks down at City Hall have been too busy imposing another development moratorium without any public notice (yet again) and devising ways to alter the Charter so as to deny those residents to whom water and sewer services were promised two decades ago (also yet again).  More on those to follow.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Here is my third salvo against the Unified Government; to use an old gunnery term, I now have City Hall ”bracketed.” This third effort, concerning turning control of Athens-Ben Epps Airport over to the Clarke County Airport Authority (be sure to read the comments underneath the online version for the context of my rejoinder below), follows closely on the heels of my first concerning extending water and sanitary sewer lines into the formerly unincorporated areas of the county and my second about instituting a lower millage rate in the general services district. Those readers who are perceptive will note that all three missives concern the Unified Government’s Charter. Those readers who are even more perceptive will note that all three issues are lifted directly from my 2006 campaign platform.

Regarding the current broadside, I fully anticipated that some would (rather intentionally I suspect) not get past the word “may.” However, as used in the Act (and hence the Charter), the word “may” gives the Clarke County Airport Authority the legal basis to request control of the airport from the Unified Government, and similarly gives the Unified Government the legal basis to transfer control of the airport to the Authority. Besides, any question as to the intent of the Act (and hence the Charter) is clearly answered thus: “It is declared that the conveyance of such property is necessary and essential in order to accomplish the purposes of this Act so as to secure the public welfare, safety, and convenience." So much for the “may” argument.

Regarding my interest in the matter, I flew through Ben Epps a couple of times on US Air and took my wife to an air show there years ago – and that is it. I have never owned an airplane nor had occasion to deal with any of the businesses located at the airport. So much for “hidden vested interest” argument.

The issue is important because it shows, yet again, the Unified Government’s approach to what is supposed to be its foundational document. Namely, that of ignoring it whenever City Hall finds the provisions of the Charter to be inconvenient or in conflict with whatever progressive shibboleth to come down the pike. And, of course, now is the time to discuss such matters if ever there was one, because the Overview Commission is in the process of its once per decade review of the Charter. At least in theory, anyway – quite frankly, given the (scant) press coverage of that which the Commission is concerning itself, I have little faith that the group will come up with much of value (but we shall see).

When I first became aware of the matter back in 2005 or 2006, I spoke to various folks who should have been in the know about the Authority – and got completely differing versions. Some thought that the Authority should be content with the status quo and let the Unified Government exercise its superior administrative and financial control of the airport; others lamented the fact that the airport turned a profit and that the Unified Government was siphoning said profit out of the airport for its own purposes (and as the Authority lacked its own attorney or control over its own funds, it could not fight the Unified Government in court). I do not claim to know which, if either, if the truth.

So why not put the matter forth for public discussion instead of City Hall simply stonewalling?

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