Changes have not been good for Fairburn

Mon, 08/27/2007 - 9:11am
By: Letters to the ...

Dear Editor:

To say what I have to say would take more than the two minutes allotted at Fairburn City Council meetings. The last time I asked a question at a council meeting I was threatened with a lawsuit by a city employee, so I am writing, fully confident that I will never receive a reply to my comments. Nonetheless, I would appreciate it if you would extend me the courtesy of at least reading my comments. I attempted to contact the city council by email but, not to my surprise, my comments were intercepted by city hall staff. Though I received a response, it was not from a member of the city council and my questions went unanswered.

I moved to Fairburn about 10 years ago and I found it to be a warm, friendly and concerned community where every neighbor was also a friend. Then the Peachtree City plague began. My first indication that things were changing for the worse came when I walked into city hall one day and found a large glass wall separating the citizens from their city government. My wife said it was done in order to increase efficiency but, in truth, it was done so the city administrator could keep track of who came into city hall, who they saw and why they were there. The increased efficiency led to the loss of insurance for all city employees, including the mayor and council, because one of the Peachtree City transplants forgot to pay the premium. My wife, a former employee, had to pay $600 in medical expenses because a member of the highly efficient staff forgot to put one of the necessary forms in her ‘New Hire’ package.

One after another, I saw dedicated, long-time city employees terminated and replaced by Peachtree City transplants or friends of the new administrator placed in new positions above the present department heads. Often times these transplants had little or no experience in their new positions.

The biggest personal insult came when the city had a Chief of Police who held a master’s degree, had 40-plus years of experience, was a graduate of the FBI National Academy, a graduate of chief’s school and had thousands of hours of training, yet a new position of Director of Public Safety was created and the chief was made subservient to a volunteer fireman with no law enforcement experience whatsoever. The Public Safety Director was so cowardly that he took two armed officers with him when he was ordered to terminate the chief. I served as a police officer for many years and the appointment of this person as Director of Public Safety was an insult and embarrassment to every real police officer. Why was it done? For no reason other than the city administrator wanted it that way.

When a city employee appeared on city property in an intoxicated condition and was removed by the Assistant Police Chief, the city administrator warned the assistant chief that the intoxicated employee was not to be touched. When certain city employees became involved in inappropriate relationships with other city employees they were terminated, but when members of the city administration became involved in similar relationships, they were congratulated.

The city has had six police chiefs in seven years: Carson, Midkiff, Brown, Midkiff, Long and now Midkiff again. For what reason? Each time a chief was removed it was because a few cry babies all went to the city administrator and complained. There was no investigation, only the word of the city administrator that the chief had to go. It doesn’t seem that the chiefs are the problem, it seems that the city administrator or city clerk are either incapable of making good personnel selections or they want to run the police department themselves. If the complaints were from citizens, you, the governing body of this city, had the obligation to investigate the matter, not simply do as the city administrator said.

Employees are repeatedly harassed and discriminated against. They are disciplined while those harassing and discriminating are rewarded and protected. When a seasoned, veteran police officer developed a weigh problem there was no place for him. No compassion, no understanding, no assistance, but the mayor’s maid’s daughter was given a position as a dispatcher. The former chief’s secretary served for many years and was well thought of by all her chiefs and had consistently high ratings. Now there are three highly efficient people doing her job, one of which either spins in her chair or sleeps.

For years, the same employee got down on his hands and knees in freezing cold or blistering heat to read the water meters. He was assured he would keep that position when the new automated system was put in place. But when the time came his position was given to a relative of the city clerk. Maybe that’s how Peachtree City rewards its faithful employees, but it wasn’t that way in Fairburn before the plague.

There was a time when neighbors would ask neighbors if they could help if the neighbor’s lawn became overgrown or their cars weren’t running. Now citizens are encouraged to call Code Enforcement if the same situation occurs. There was a time when the city provided dumpsters for items that were too large to place in trash cans. That service was eliminated and replaced by the policy of ‘let them pay for two trash cans.’ Fairburn used to be a community of neighbors helping neighbors. Now it is becoming a community of neighbor against neighbor.

When the citizens did not want a trash heap decreasing their property value, they were ignored and the trash heap was permitted because the city administrator wanted the revenue. In spite of the smell, damage to roadways and decreased property values, the city enlarged the facility, despite public outcry.

City council, how long is it going to take for you people, who are supposed to serve the public, to realize the Peachtree City transplants are not the solution to your problems, they are the cause? You, the elected officials of Fairburn, were elected by the people to serve the people, to listen to the people and be the voice of the people. It seems you have forgotten your responsibilities and choose to listen only to what the city administrator says. Some of you do not even have public listings for your telephone numbers, further removing you from public contact. If you all like the way Peachtree City is governed, move there. Don’t bring it here. Let Fairburn be the warm and friendly city it once was.

W. F. Tallman


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