Sunday, October 23, 2011

Holy Cow! What Were They Thinking?

The debacle of the HOT lanes on I-285 is amazing. I heard on the news Sunday that there was a tremendous increase in traffic in the HOT lanes from 3,200 cars on Monday to 4,700 on Thursday, almost a 50% increase. Unfortunately, 50% of nothing is really nothing. And the bureaucratic spin continues. They are also going to do a study to see if the HOT lanes contributed to the extraordinarily backed up traffic last week. Like DUH?

Is it any wonder why many of us do not trust government? The Feds along with state bureaucrats came up with a plan without consulting us or considering the possible outcomes. And the governor states his hands are tied.
How is it that no one could see that charging the two passenger vehicles for what they had for free would cause a problem?

Here is where the problem truly lies. We have people with so little connection to us making decisions that they are made in such a way as to do more harm than good. The further away from us the decisions are made, the
less likely they will have a positive impact.

So at the Federal level, we have two Senators representing an entire state. They can have a bit of an impact as they are two among 50. We have a Representative who is much closer to us in terms of how many people he represents, but his voice is only one out of 435. Decisions made at this level (if they bother to decide) can be disastrous for those of us at the local level. And don’t even get me started on the unelected bureaucrats!

At the State level, it gets a little better. We are closer to our Senators and Congressmen. But the decisions are still made at the macro level and we still have an unelected bureaucracy to deal with. Case in point, I have been self-employed for many years. I took a “real” job last year and owed no taxes. In one quarter last year, I orgot to
file my GA Unemployment Tax (OK, so I goofed). I got a notice that I owed $40 in penalties, so I filed and paid. A few weeks later, the check was returned to me. No note, no nothing. I called and finally found someone to answer my question, “Why?” Turns out they can’t impose a fine if you don’t owe the money. So much for the State being “user

Then there is the County. Again, we get a little closer to home. I have found most county departments to be responsive to my requests. The decisions made are better because the decision makers are closer to us. But still, we have just one voice out of 5 on the Board of Commissioners. One voice representing over 200,000 people and growing. What happens when the one voice representing our needs is outvoted? Decisions are made that have a negative impact on us.

That is why a city is so important. We will be represented directly by our neighbors and friends. Folks who will be as impacted as we will be by the decisions they make. Seven voices all speaking for those of us who live in Peachtree Corners! Local government, not another layer of government.

When voters are upset with government, how easy is it to remove incumbents en masse? In the case of the Federal and State governments, impossible. At the county level, we in Peachtree Corners have the opportunity to remove a single Commissioner every six years. At the city level, in year two, Districts One and Three can each vote for their City Councilor and everyone votes for one at-large Councilor. There is a possibility of removing three Councilors! Two years later District Two gets to vote for their Councilor and we all get to vote for two at-large Councilors and the Mayor! It is possible, within a span of four years to replace the entire City Council.

That means that these people, once elected, really need to listen to us! If they don’t, well… I guess they won’t hold office for any length of time.

How many of us have spent an hour plus during rush hour trying to get to the County Board of Commissioners or Planning Commission meetings? It makes it difficult to participate actively if you hold down a job and care for a family. By having Council meetings in Peachtree Corners, it will be easier for us to participate in our own government. Even in rush hour traffic, we can get to anywhere in the city limits in 15 minutes or less.

So by voting Yes on November 8, we are voting for direct, local representation. We are voting for the ability to quickly remove those from office who do not represent us well. We are voting to have more access to our
government on those issues that matter most us: Planning and Zoning, Code Compliance and Solid Waste Disposal. Can you say "No brainer"?