Pullias: ‘Think positive’ candidate to push for better communication

Tue, 09/08/2009 - 3:37pm
By: Letters to the ...

One of the platforms of my campaign that is touted on my website is to “Think positive when you think Pullias.” In keeping with the positive theme I discuss the greatness of our town, and the need to cooperate as a council and with the local county government in a positive, constructive way.

Some of my fellow citizens like this position, and some find it to be placating and wishy-washy, a lot of “fluff,” to quote one in particular. So this article is written to give some more teeth to my “Think Positive” position and to tell you exactly how thinking and acting positively will better our town and how we run it.

Peachtree City is great but it will only stay great if we as a council remember that we serve the people.

No one wants to participate in a municipal government that bickers amongst themselves to serve themselves. Constructive debate amongst council persons is healthy and absolutely necessary. It also encourages the public to provide their input, which combined with healthy debate, most often results in good decision making.

We need the public to participate in our government, but we as a council have the responsibility to create an environment that welcomes that participation.

To give you an example, two years ago when the West Village annexation was being considered, I sat amongst a group of citizens in a rather full chamber while this was debated on council. This project is HUGE and will affect all of us profoundly when it is complete.

Yet the room was full of those that already lived in the village and there were just a few of us that spoke to represent other parts of PTC. It stunned me that a project of this magnitude held the interest of so few. So I asked people why they did not come to the meetings.

Overwhelmingly the answer was “they won’t listen” or “they have already made up their minds, it doesn’t matter what I say.” This is definitely not positive, and maybe if more people had been there we would have seen a better outcome.

It is a pet peeve of mine that no one comes to meetings. I know that some people genuinely are just too busy. However, I think the consensus among most is that even IF they are heard at meetings it won’t matter. This needs to change. But how do we do this? How do we get more positive participation?

By making it easier to participate. Here are some ideas:

Meetings — All meetings need to be better advertised. Public hearings are held on almost all issues before council votes on it. Right now they are advertised in the paper if you look for them, but they should be advertised in a bigger font, possibly in its own easy to find section.

The Citizen online site does not even list the meetings. The city could request a “Local Meetings” link on that website.

As it is done now, it seems like council really does not want to hear what the people have to say. They hold the obligatory “public hearing” and make their own decision. Instead, their decisions should always in part be based on the public hearing, not despite it.

The monthly newsletter — This has been a great addition to the city’s communication with the citizens. But it needs to be more detailed and comprehensive. It should include upcoming projects that planning commission is considering, annexations, budget hearings, comprehensive plan updates etc, all with a link to the page on the website that gives details. The city’s website (www.peachtree-city.org) is highly underutilized. It is a great resource.

PTC Update — A weekly supplement to the newsletter that is emailed to residents. Some do not even know this exists. It is a great resource.

Have people provide an email address when they send in their Peachtree City Water and Sewer Utility bill and ask if they would like to receive the weekly update. A link to the council and planning commission agendas as well as their emails should always be provided, so people can just click and comment on issues that interest them.

Surveys — Include a link to surveys several times a year either in the PTC Update or the newsletter that will give people an opportunity to voice their opinion on hot topics. (The trick here is that council needs to prove that they actually listen to the results of these surveys and that they are not ignored. Once again we serve the people and our decisions need to reflect this fact.)

Village forums — Once a year we should hold well advertised forums in each village. Council and members of planning commission should be present to hear what is important to the residents of each village. What they want to see, what concerns them, etc.

Utilize civic groups — Have positive, good communication with citizen advocacy groups such as the Peachtree City Civic Association. Encourage neighborhoods to develop HOAs and ORGANIZE so they can work together and share the burdens as they age, and so that when we want to know what Wilshire Estates or Larkin’s Landing thinks about an issue we can find out.

Cooperation and communication with the county is essential — We need to know what is going on at the BOE, and have a city representative attend each of those meetings. They need to know that we as a city care about the decisions that are made, and will report to them any needs or concerns that we may have to help them make good decisions for PTC.

By the same token members of the BOE should be asked to attend our meetings as well. If we stay involved we can be a positive part of the process, rather than purely reactionary. We will more likely be heard and considered when big issues do come up if we are a consistent presence at the meetings.

These are just some of the ideas that I think would help create a more positive, constructive local government that is clearly working with the people.

Despite public opinion lately, government is not a bad thing. Local government is the best form of government. It can be the most in touch with the citizenry, and it has a duty to reflect and fight for their collective needs and wants.

I will fight for what you want PTC to be. I encourage everyone to come to as many meetings as you can, email like crazy, and be heard because I will listen and hopefully gain your trust.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Beth Pullias

PTC Council Candidate Post 1


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mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 5:35am.

Everything you said makes perfect sense, but won't increase attendance at city council meetings. In fact nothing will because the overwhelming majority of people are happy living here and content to leave the managing of what they see as a perfect city to others. I know it seems like there are huge problems when you read these blogs and response, but that's only about 20 people after you discount the multiple identities that Steve Brown and others have. Then you have about 100 like yourself who actually go out and do things and try to make a difference. That leaves 35,880 who will just drift along in their bubble until someone trys to build something in their back yard.

I would submit to you that the problem is not attendance at city council meetings, instead it is knowledge of what is actually going on and what the true issues are. Solution: Broadcast all the city council meetings and some planning commission meetings when there is a rezoning to all residents or at least to all Comcast subscribers. Haddix says he brought it up and was shot down by one of those infamous 3-2 votes.

The 3-2 won't be a problem anymore. Haddix is the next mayor and you and the other 2 ladies will be on council. I'd love to see the 3 ladies and Doug on TV. Maybe Haddix can stop wearing brown suits (only someone with Ronald Reagan's physique and charisma can get away with that) and get a little bit of color in his complexion and he could pass for alive on TV.

Seriously, Beth, the best way to get the word out is TV. We are a city (and nation) of couch potatoes and not likely to give up our couch (or recliner) and beer after working all day. Getting dressed up even a little bit and sitting in city hall has no appeal on Thursday nights for me or hubby. He looks sexy in his ratty gym clothes, but I wouldn't want him walking into city hall dressed like that. We'd watch city council occasionally on TV and if your other publicity ideas work, we would know when to watch and who to call and tell them to watch. We would even invite our neighbors without cable TV over to watch.

I realize Emerson would roll over in his grave if he observed how most of us currently define a life "lived well" but it is what it is. Changing it is impossible, dealing with it is not.

Good luck with your campaign - you have my vote for sure.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 5:44am.

Other cities and some counties conduct public hearings at a reasonable hour - like 4PM and then they wait 2 weeks to actually vote on whatever the issue is. The reason for the 2 week delay is to allow members of the public to express their views in person or writing to the members of the council.

Those that conduct business this way are acknowledging that not everyone with an opinion can always attend a meeting -regardless of what hour or what day of the week.

If we televised our public hearings in Peachtree City and had council vote 2 weeks later - after publicly reading some of the comments that came in during the 2 weeks, then Beth's goal of greater involvement would be achieved.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 5:47am.

I seem to remember the cable company whose name I can't recall televising the council meetings back in the late 1980's for a year. It was like watching paint dry and probably cancelled for lack of viewership. But there may be more emotion and controversy nowdays.

I really do like the idea of a 2week cooling off period after public hearings. It eliminates (or should) the tendency of elected officials and appointed officials to make their decision before the meeting even begins because they know they'll have to vote that same night. The delay puts real decision making back in the process. hat other cities do it that way?

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