Friday, Oct. 29, 2004
Rapson lashes out at video
By LEE WILLIAMS
Peachtree City Councilman Steve Rapson criticized Mayor Steve Browns decision to tape a spot refuting information provided during a Fayette County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored SPLOST forum.
Rapson said Brown mentioned something to him during a brief conversation, but he had no idea that he planned to tape a five-minute spot to rebut various information provided at the forum.
He said he went over to Andy (Macke, director of Government and Community Affairs for Comcasts Atlanta region) and talked to him about that he was not happy with the way the forum was conducted, Rapson said. It was a fleeting conversation and we didnt go into detail what that actually meant.
In a previous interview, Brown said he disagreed with the distribution formula itself, and not to making road improvements.
In the television spot, Brown insisted that he was acting as a private citizen. But Rapson simply doesnt buy that theory.
People know I am a council member, Rapson said. I cant step back and forth freely between a council member and a private citizen.
He said the people should not have to separate between the two.
I couldnt stand before the county commissioners and say this is how I feel although I am not a council member right now, I am speaking as a private citizen, Rapson said. I think its one of the smoke-and-mirrors things that we all hate.
Rapson said he would never take a political stand for or against the issue simply because City Attorney Ted Meeker urged the council not to take a stand.
You are held to a higher standard when you are a political being, he said. You should not publicly take a stand that your attorney told you not to.
However, City Councilman Murray Weed said Brown does have the right to give his opinion on the matter as long as he is not acting in his official capacity.
"The mayor and the City Council are all prohibited from making speeches saying that we support or are opposed to the SPLOST. Thats why I have not done anything like that, said Weed, who is also the city attorney for Hapeville. But if he is talking as Steve Brown the individual, he has the right to do whatever he wants to. Thats my understanding of the law.
Weed said he is surprised that he would film a spot regarding the issue.
Weed said he would never give an opinion in his official capacity as a city councilman. But personally, he agrees with Brown. As a private citizen, he does not support the SPLOST because he think its unfair.
I will be voting in favor of the school bond, but not the county SPLOST, because of the current breakdown, Weed said. We are the only city and county in the state of Georgia who are doing it under the old law. I believe the Fayette County Commission is doing that so that we dont get our fair share.
Chamber President Virginia Gibbs, who has not seen the video, offered her thoughts on the issue.
He [Brown] is trying to make us look bad. We have 42 years of mayoral leadership from 1959 through the end of Bob Lenox. Every living mayor has signed his name and strongly support this SPLOST, so he is the only one against it, she said.
The chamber president also addressed concerns that Brown was stonewalled during the forums.
There were two types of questions that we did not ask. One of them was a direct personal attack. The second type of question that we did not ask is if they asked us why the County Commission did or did not do something, she added.
While Gibbs said the Chambers focus is not getting involved in politics, she believes the SPLOST proposal is a key to improving the quality of life in the county.
It is important that we act together as a county and we dont let millions and millions of dollars go somewhere else.
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.