Fayette County taxpayers, they are ripping you off

Steve Brown's picture

People of Fayette County, I want to object to your terms of political argument. The truth will set you free, but you need to be able to identify the truth.

When you actually wake up to what is going on around you, challenging the familiar, you might be reinvigorated into action.

Most observers would conclude that civic virtue and the common good abound in our local government. Certainly, the police catch the bad guys and your fires are extinguished. You have roads and schools.

But are you really attuned to your surroundings? As proof, we effortlessly wasted multi-millions in tax dollars on a brand new empty school, half-empty schools and outlandish Board of Education real estate deals without blinking an eye.

We forked it over to the BOE because “schools” are good; thus, we never questioned their sincerity or intentions.

Further proof: it was believed a small group of men on a government authority were incapable of dishonest intentions in their actions dealing with a local tennis center until we found they were also secretly on the board of the local bank making the outrageous, under-the-table loans.

Another political argument we all make is roads are good. Everyone loves a road, getting you from one place to another, nothing wrong with that.

Certainly, one road, the TDK Extension, was pitched to the masses as a road of great value. Anyone who dared question the virtue of the “road” (I know this first hand) was labeled an agitator of the highest degree, a menace to traffic efficiency and someone who just could not get along. How dare anyone question a road?

The Chamber of Commerce wanted it (they still do) and notable politicians from both Fayette and Coweta Counties extolled the righteousness of the “road.” Well, all the hoopla made it effortless for taxpayers to cheer for a project of this magnitude, that is, until they found out the hoopla was a hoax.

People shook their heads as if they had just received a severe blow to the skull. Their “road,” up to 50,000 or so cars per day, was going to grind Peachtree City’s busiest intersection to a standstill.

Our current SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) is all about virtuous roads, right? The tax increase we voted for ourselves received the same assurances from the people — wait a minute — the same people who swore the TDK Extension was all about providing traffic relief.

Well, was the SPLOST a great opportunity or were special interests being opportunistic?

The positive, feel-good rhetoric was so strong they got the taxpayers to swallow the biggest transportation rip-off in Fayette County history, the West Fayetteville Bypass.

The fact is the bypass provides no real traffic relief, coming to an abrupt halt at Ga. Highway 92 with no access to the interstate. The fact is no one can logically justify building the $51,842,000 boondoggle.

Moreover, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), which funnels federal road funds to metro Atlanta counties, listed the West Fayetteville Bypass as “did not score high enough [in the evaluation process]/too expensive” and we built it anyway.

Here’s an analogy: You need a new $3,000 roof. The SPLOST roofing company comes to you and says, “We can repair that roof for $2,999.” You are relieved until they tell you the package also includes new windows, doors, shutters, furnace, AC, kitchen countertops, lighting fixtures and garage doors for a total of $249,999.

You explain you only need a reliable roof, that’s all. They reply, “We will give you a reliable roof, but you have to buy the whole package.”

Now, the intelligent readers of this column would never enter into that deal, right? Before you answer in the affirmative, please know that is exactly what you did with the last Transportation SPLOST, and they are hoping you are dim-witted enough to do it again in November.

Get this: approaching the referendum vote of the current SPLOST, we were told the West Fayetteville Bypass would cost $17,523,000 and that the federal and state governments would chip in $5,782,590. Now the cost is three times the original estimate and there are no state or federal funds. So, to get a few needed road and cart path repairs, we wasted over $51 million dollars on a pet project.

After County Commission Chairman Jack Smith was elected, the Bank of Georgia took the ordinary CPA and installed him on their bank’s Board of Directors. Keep in mind the bank was making a huge killing off of loans to developers and builders in the area. Also keep in mind that Chairman Smith is fighting to keep the unjustifiable road project on course. The bank did not need another CPA; they needed a political broker.

The developers and builders benefit the most from the construction of the West Fayetteville Bypass (Developer FREEway). The route is one of the most highly speculated areas in the entire county.

Where is the justice in taxing the masses to provide benefits for a chosen few? Is this the greatest good for the greatest number, or have we created a transportation welfare system?

The attitude of the Smith regime appears to be something akin to “we will pay attention to you, but leave the government to us.” In turn, it is they who will determine what is good for us, unless you change your previous assumptions on local government. It’s time to say NO to SPLOST in November.

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

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grassroots's picture
Submitted by grassroots on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 2:05pm.

Steve is right. This ballot is a laundry list that we'll lose our socks despite the carrot dangled in front of us the third time. More crooked highways to nowhere. Remember in the cartoon Peanuts? When every time Charlie Brown went to kick the ball she would pull it away. After awhile he looked pretty stupid. Take the SPLOST Poll at : http://www.splostpoll.blogspot.com/
Vote your poll and make your comments heard. See where and when to vote. Absentee is also easy. I got my ballot in one day.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 4:47pm.

He is one of the few who has the guts to tell it like it is.

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 9:48am.

at that comment.....

Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Sat, 10/24/2009 - 9:48pm.


Make up your mind. You railed against me when I ran against Logsdon as someone who was stopping the TDK Extension. Now you try to convince people otherwise.

Your good friend Bob Lenox had the guts to tell the truth, see his letter below from the archieves.

October 12, 2005
Lenox: Brown has often impeded road projects

It was pretty obvious in reading Mayor Brown’s letter about TDK Boulevard last week that he had little or no knowledge about the history of this project. I particularly liked the part where he said some previous council should have built the road so he wouldn’t have to worry about it. Here is an historical timeline and the salient facts about this road:
From 1997 through 2000 no new roads were allowed to be built in the Atlanta metro region as a result of a court order in an environmental clean air lawsuit. This meant no widening of Ga. Highway 54 or Ga. Highway 74, and no building of TDK Boulevard.

When the court order was overturned in 2000 the city immediately began work on TDK with the goal of building it before the widening of Hwy. 54 West.

Peachtree City agreed with Coweta County to pay for the design and engineering of the entire road because it was cost-effective to do so, it was going to save a lot of time, and it gave us control over the project.

The original design met then existing FAA regulations and with prompt action by the city the road could have been built to these original plans.

When Steve Brown took office on Jan. 1, 2002, the design and engineering work was virtually complete, all the necessary right-of-way was either in hand or committed to the city at no cost, the city had the necessary financial resources to build the road, and it was estimated that the road could be completed and opened to traffic by July 1, 2003.

For the next two years Steve Brown personally stonewalled this project. You don’t have to take my word for this. Pick up your telephone and call Greg Dunn, Fayette County Commission chairman, or any member of the Fayette County Commission. Call Ken Steele, mayor of Fayetteville, or any member of his council. Call Mitch Seabaugh, our state senator at the time. Call Lynn Westmoreland, then our state representative, now our representative to the U.S. Congress. Call the chairman or any member of the Coweta County Commission.

Ladies and gentlemen, building a road nowadays is an arduous and complicated undertaking that can easily take many years. Getting it done means that many good people must stay the course over many years.

Unfortunately for us it also means that stopping it requires only one bad or incompetent person who fails to do the job when necessary.
It is not often in government that you can clearly find the culprit when things go wrong, but in this case every one of us who has worked for years to make TDK Boulevard a reality knows that Steve Brown stopped it.

Congratulations, Mr. Brown. That was your goal when you took office and you did it. I hope you feel proud.

TDK will get built some day when competent leadership returns to our city. It will cost us all hundreds of thousands of unnecessary dollars and it will, of course, be far too late to take the pressure off of Hwy. 54 West during the widening.

Our industrial park will continue to lose jobs and not be able to replace them. The Braelinn Road business community will continue to suffer. It is amazing the amount of harm one bad person can do.

Bob Lenox
Former 3-term mayor, 1992-2001
Peachtree City, Ga.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 5:48am.

He sure explained what he thought of you. He tells it like it was and it shows why we need someone competent to be Mayor this time around. For the record, any of the 3 current candidates for mayor ARE CERTAIN to be be a better mayor than you were. I will be voting for the guy with a full-time job since I believe someone with relevant and current exposure to today's business environment is most likely to be a better leader than some others.

birdman's picture
Submitted by birdman on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 6:12pm.

We have had this discussion before. You didn't get it then and don't now. I previously chalked it up to you being a typical politician. Now I'm beginning to think you can't really figure it out.
My point was that you are a waffling ego-maniac. You will say whatever you think will appeal to the people. The whole TDK letter you wrote exactly proves my point. Now, this is where I seem to lose you so I will try and put it in the most simplistic terms (try reading it slowly).

When you ran for office in 2001 you opposed TDK. In fact you dedicated an entire part of your website to this opposition. I NEVER stated that you were actually "for" TDK. But in 2005 it seemed that the people were in favor to TDK. So you wrote the letter to the Editor that I referenced. In that letter you go to great lengths to take full credit for moving TDK along. You blamed Lenox for not completing the project. That is why Lenox wrote the above letter.
My entire point is neither for or against TDK, it is simply to point out to the people how you are willing to rewrite history, bend the truth, take credit for something you didn't do, or outright attack and lie about others.

Lately people have been saying how "honest" you are. Really, Steve, you aren't "honest" or "forthright," or "honorable." You simply see yourself in some sort of "savior" role, to "save" us all from "evil developers." You attack everyone (including me) who dares to cross you. You even stated in your answer to me that my "good friend Bob Lenox" told the truth. While, you don't even know if I know Bob Lenox. So why the connection? Because you assume that everyone in PTC will disregard me if I am "connected."
So here's a news flash. I am not a developer, not "good friends" with anyone from previous or current governments. I am simply a citizen who detests the way you accuse, lie, and insinuate. But mostly I can not stand how you see yourself as the self appointed savior of Peachtree City.

So Steve, I'm not sure I put this in simple enough terms for you to understand. I doubt I can make it any easier.

Too bad. You could have actually been a good mayor but for your ego-maniacal desire to ride into town on your white horse and lead us from the despair that you found here when you moved in.

Simple enough?

Submitted by Spyglass on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 9:02am.

if he came up and knocked on my door.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say with this post, to tell you the truth.

All that said, who are you voting for in the upcoming Mayoral election? Still undecided here...

Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 12:45pm.

There is not much of a choice in that race. The voting records are clear between two candidates and the third works full-time and has no experience and no record of advocacy on the issues.

Submitted by Spyglass on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 7:01pm.

should have the job over someone with an actual CAREER?

Maybe I misunderstood your comments.

Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 7:15pm.

Will a housewife do?

birdman's picture
Submitted by birdman on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 9:02am.

Steve Brown would like you to think he is a man of "high character," but he is simply a failed politician. He will say whatever he can to attack his opponents and to get votes. He has proven this time and time again. In fact his current fluff piece is a typical example. He says:

"Certainly, one road, the TDK Extension, was pitched to the masses as a road of great value. Anyone who dared question the virtue of the “road” (I know this first hand) was labeled an agitator of the highest degree, a menace to traffic efficiency and someone who just could not get along. How dare anyone question a road?"

Steve opposed TDK in 2001 when he ran for mayor, then he boasted that "Our current council was the only one that actually programmed funds in the city’s budget for TDK." (Citizen Letter to the Editor Oct. 5,2005) Now he says he was always opposed to it. So, first he was against it, then he was for it, then he was against it. Sounds familiar?
If Steve will constantly change his mind on TDK, what else will he constantly change on?
Annexation: Opposed in 2001, tried to negotiate with Weiland Homes in 2005, the annexation of the West Village. All the while during an Annexation moratorium.
Experience: He chastised current candidates last week over "lack of experience," but when he ran for Mayor his experience consisted of part time manager of a dental office. Every candidate is more experienced than Steve was (then again, look at how he turned out).

His history is "on the record." If you want to read his own words regarding his support of TDK simply click the "archives" button at the top of this page and select "2005," "Oct.5", "Letters," and scroll down to the letter entitled "Consider what record shows about council’s TDK extension decisions."

As I said, he will change according to popular opinion. It makes him neither "honest," "grass roots," "right," a "man of the people," or anything else. He is simply a typical "politician" who has too much time on his hands.

Submitted by Spyglass on Sun, 10/25/2009 - 9:02am.

and Steve never has a comment for it.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 6:34pm.

Always right and being one of the few who has the guts to tell us is certainly 2 different things.

Steve always tells it as he sees it and he is right (meaning correct)about 75% of the time. Not sure if my correct % is any better, but who cares?

He was a terrible mayor, but it seems he has settled into his role as Cal's mouthpiece - which I must admit - suits him quite well. I would never want him back in any position of power and I guess if he didn't jump into this incredibly fertile anti-incumbent race for mayor or city council (3 seats), that he never would again.

Never say never, but I think we are safe for at least 4 years.

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