Yes, Georgia, accountability exists

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“Dear Steve, some of my little friends say there is no such thing as responsive, accountable government.

“Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Citizen it’s so.’

“Please tell me the truth; is there really such a thing as responsive, accountable government?”


Georgia O’Baffle, age 8


Georgia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They have allowed a few bad apples to destroy their hope in a government which derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

When our federal government turns a blind eye to the dishonesty and sleaze of the financial sector and then asks your parents, you and your future children to foot the bill, don’t be discouraged, my dear.

The state legislature is trying to take over local taxation and threaten the local control (also called “home rule”) of your community. Once the state has dominion over your local taxes, too, the people will lose their influence on taxation.

The local Board of Education (BOE) told untruths to senior citizens, like your grandpapa and grandma, and promised them they would not have to pay the debt service on school bonds but made them pay it anyway. Have faith.

The BOE fibbed to your parents in 2004 and told them the student population was growing and more schools were needed. And now the BOE wants to bilk a computer manufacturer out of $90,000 the BOE agreed to pay. They are also creating an E-SPLOST oversight committee full of “yes” people.

The county’s transportation SPLOST was based on fraudulent data. The flawed West Fayetteville Bypass has come to light as an enterprise designed to create infrastructure for developers. Yes, Georgia, the bypass touted as a traffic reliever will actually generate more traffic and clog your papa’s commute. Now the county commissioners want more sales taxes to build the dirty little road and another box of promised goodies. Let your optimism shine.

Peachtree City’s West Village, also known as Wilksmoor Village, also known as an unplanned defilement of a city which used to appreciate planning, is a major blotch on our planned identity.

Mr. Logsdon’s deficit budgeting, paired with a bad economy, means he will probably be selling our parks and playgrounds to developers. (Yes, he did promise your parents he would reduce taxes. Maybe he forgot.)

The mayor got a bunch of goodies from a local Chinese business and then voted in favor of a handful of variances the company wanted. No apology, though; the mayor said he would do it again.

Keep a cheerful heart.

Yes, Georgia, there really is responsive, accountable government! It exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no responsive, accountable government. It would be as dreary as if there were no little Georgia O’Baffles. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

You see, my little darling, the contentment you seek will never be found in those phony Scrooge-like elected officials who promise you the world and then deliver it to someone else. The secret to responsive, accountable government is YOU.

Now go light your tree, hang your stocking and delight in the notion that one of the greatest gifts one can give to his or her community is to pay attention and be vocal when confronted with government action that could hurt the community.

NOTE: A portion of this column was borrowed from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the response from veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897 (

[Steve Brown is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at]

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