Moment of truth for local officials

Steve Brown's picture

At the end of a bull fight comes the “el momento de la verdad,” meaning “the moment of truth,” denoting the point in the contest when the matador finishes the bull off. Ernest Hemingway introduced the phrase to American readers in 1932.

Fayette County will have several moments of truth in the near future. Perhaps we slay the wrongs confronting us, or possibly succumb to rotten logic, maybe waffling under the pressure.

Peachtree City’s moment is right down the road. After blowing the reserve funds, the city finds itself in a most precarious position, watching sales tax revenue drop, selling city assets to get by, letting many long-time employees go, still facing a considerable shortfall.

The Logsdon administration chose the perilous path of excessive spending without sufficient revenue. Now, we suffer from the implosion caused by those decisions, including a problematic set of priorities.

I am outraged by the City Council’s decision to pay tens of thousands of dollars for 15 minutes worth of fireworks over keeping our library open. Many people have complained about the city significantly cutting the library hours while shelling out our limited tax dollars for some short-lived puffs of gunpowder.

When the coffers are flush with cash, let the fireworks rip; however, when our financial ship has been run aground, it’s time to set some realistic priorities. Placing the pomp ahead of the practical application of government cheats all of the library patrons and the city.

The city’s moment of truth will come with a decision on whether to increase the taxes again to keep up with spending or keep hacking away at city services. Either way, it is a bad situation, but for goodness sake, put your spending priorities in the proper order.

The Fayette County Board of Commissioners is approaching their moment as well. Will they really decide to go through with the fraudulent West Fayetteville Bypass, known today as a developer welfare project, using our tax dollars? Maybe they will back off as they did once the phony TDK Extension was exposed.

Look, the truth is Fayette County was the only county in the state of Georgia that chose not to abide by the fair distribution of funding law for SPLOSTs. Another fact is the traffic model used to justify the projects was loaded with inaccurate, biased data.

Commissioner Lee Hearn was formerly a county employee in charge of working with the engineering firm URS when they pulled the computer modeling hoax, falsely pointing to bad numbers, fooling 51 percent of the voters to go along. Will Commissioner Hearn take a stand against the injustice?

Commissioner Robert Horgan told me he was just a new commissioner at the time the county’s transportation SPLOST was passed, and did not know what he was doing. Will he take a stand now?

We know URS and Fayette County had access to the real data. In addition, we know the added infrastructure for the bypass will encourage more dense residential development in the center of the county, eventually causing more traffic on Ga. highways 74 and 54, something we cannot afford.

The commissioners’ weak assurances on the bypass closely resemble the hype we were all fed on the TDK Extension project. Remember, like the bypass, the TDK Extension was sold to us as a project to “move traffic.” Sadly, the bypass will encourage more traffic.

Use the remainder of the transportation SPLOST funds to pay down debt, instead of stimulating more development.

The commissioners need to have the courage to avoid selecting a bunch of “yes” men to their Technical Advisory Committee and Stakeholders Committee on transportation. They need to have the insight not to ask for another continued increase in the sales tax and to avoid entering the county into ultra-expensive regional mass transit agreements.

The moment of truth for the Fayette County Board of Education (FCBOE) will be deciding whether they return to their opaque ways of the past, once the new E-SPLOST funds arrive, or adhere to strict policies of openness, inclusiveness and fiscal accountability. The type of secrecy behind the FCBOE’s flawed decisions needs to be eliminated for good.

If anything, the FCBOE has proven that believing whatever the Smith-Smola-Wright triumvirate tells you can burn you well into the tens of millions of dollars.

The taxpayers and the local media need to demand absolute accountability of the new E-SPLOST funds. A repeat of the bond funding fiasco could make things much worse than they are now. Again, do not put a bunch of “yes” people on the E-SPLOST committee.

Taxation across Fayette County will be at record levels. Let’s make sure the spending is justified, ensuring any unused funds are returned to the taxpayers and not exploited as a spending windfall.

Over the last couple of years, I have been telling people the symptoms for a major decline in our quality of life are present.

The last reckless year has made believers out of many. How our government officials react in these moments of truth determine whether we win or our quality of life crashes.

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

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DarkMadam's picture
Submitted by DarkMadam on Thu, 04/16/2009 - 3:45pm.

You nailed it right on the head. Spend Spend Spend, go into debt, then Tax tax tax. I am looking forward to November and the months leading up to the election. The folks that are running will be shoveling lots of "stuff" at us. It is up to us the voters to decide what is believable and what is not.

Submitted by allegedteacher on Sat, 04/18/2009 - 8:21pm.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I am for an "oust the incumbents" movement, and I'm doing my part, beginning the next opportunity I get to vote!

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