Wednesday, September 29, 1999
'Yes' voter resents BOE's 'heavy-handed' treatment of voters

On Sept. 21, I held my nose and voted for the special purpose local option sales tax. The olfactory protection was necessary because of the behavior of the Fayette County School Board in their attempt to shove this tax down the throats of county voters. I voted yes in spite of the tactics of the school board and the other advocates of the SPLOST.

In the Sept. 22 Atlanta Constitution, school board chair Debbie Condon described herself as “embarrassed” and “disgusted.” She should be, but not because of the voters' rejection of the SPLOST. She should be embarrassed by the actions of the school board and its representatives.

They clearly thought that by calling for a special election and mobilizing their forces they could pass this 1 percent sales tax increase.

School open houses became opportunities for captive audience speeches on the virtues of the SPLOST. Employees of the school system were subjected to similar treatment. The school board treated the voters of Fayette County with contempt. Issues were not fully discussed or thoroughly explored. Opponents were dismissed as anti-education.

In the same issue of the Constitution, Superintendent John DeCotis blamed the defeat on “an anti-growth, anti-tax feeling by some people.” He is wrong.

Rather than seeking to blame others for their failure, Ms. Condon and Mr. DeCotis should look introspectively at their own behavior. I am certain that a SPLOST will eventually be passed.

But a SPLOST will become a reality only when the school board and its representatives reach an understanding that the voters of Fayette County resent their sneaky and heavy-handed efforts. Treat voters as ill-informed citizens who have to be coerced, and they will behave accordingly. However, if we are approached with the respect due informed citizens, a SPLOST just might be passed.

John Schmidman
Peachtree City

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