Broken promises, powerful politicians

Tue, 02/19/2008 - 4:01pm
By: Letters to the ...

Many have asked if the voters have the right to sue elected officials for broken promises. How about compensation for physical injury like the whiplash caused by the 180-degree change in course once they are elected?

Locally, we have Mayor Logsdon’s famous, “I want to use my experience in financial planning and business operations to help better manage our budget and reduce the tax burden for our citizens” (2005 Citizen Candidate Essays). Well, we now find ourselves with the highest rate of taxation and expenditures in the city’s history.

Mayor Logsdon also vowed, “The West Village land must be developed to our planning standards, and as mayor I will be proactive to ensure those standards are met.” This one missed the boat, too.

Most recently, the mayor’s love affair with big box retail stores took another leap forward. Capital City Development received approval to own city property and “to seek up to three stores of no more than 50,000 square feet each and a total combined size of 175,000 square feet for the entire development.”

Simple logic would suggest the last place we would want to locate three additional big box stores is the arterial highway that is most susceptible to traffic congestion and the most difficult to modify.

Add to the increase in volume the additional impediment of another traffic signal, and the future traffic movement picture does not look bright on Ga. Highway 54 West.

Mayor Logsdon made enough promises on traffic and roads to fill a book. However, actions speak louder than words.

Now shift to the state level and the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. I remember hearing Speaker Glenn Richardson telling a crowd of listeners that local matters were best handled at the local level, that the Republican majority was going to represent everyone in a fair manner and the day of big government telling the average citizens what to do was over.

Fast-forward a few years down the road and Speaker Richardson demotes any House member who will not vote for his choice on the state Transportation Board. Incidentally, he wants to replace the board member who is exposing all the shortcomings of the DOT.

The speaker also has a new tax plan that wipes out local property taxes for schools and creates a new sales tax under the control of the state legislature, and not the local Board of Education. His plan strips local control away and opens the door wide to shifting funds from one part of the state to another to appease political interests.

In the most dangerous move of all, Speaker Richardson is trying to prove he is also above the law. His divorce papers were snatched out of the judicial rotation by a judge who was a former law partner. The judge bypassed the current laws and created a divorce decree outside the bounds of state law and sealed it to protect the speaker.

There have been some assertions made that the documents might include information regarding “ethical” matters having to do with the legislature.

Obviously, this type of political maneuvering is not new and spans back through the ages. However, the sad part is the local citizens are helpless to act. Remember, shattering campaign promises is not against the law.

Unfortunately, we must rely upon our elected members of government to rein in the rogue members and hold the course intended. But only a small handful have the courage to speak truth to power. More often than not, good people will simply go along, giving up pieces of their integrity as they do. And for their lack of action, the people suffer.

Steve Brown

Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown served as mayor of Peachtree City 2001-2005.]

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