|Vote for Lutz||
|March 31, 2009||
Tomorrow's agenda at city council only
has one major item on it, Ordinance 318A- Ethics. Yes, we already have
an ethics ordinance
and as far as I can tell, this one is the exact same ordinance as the last
one with the exception of the repealer and severability clauses. I
don't see a lot of meat here. When it all boils down to it, an ethics
violation only occurs when there is a direct financial interest.
Speaking of ethics, I read in the Gainesville Times that "A motion to have the county’s attorneys disclose any potential conflicts of interest was voted down at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting" last Thursday was voted down. Now why in the world would our commission not want to have full disclosure, openness and transparency in ALL of our government? Why would they vote against something that would open dialog to the public. Honorable Commissioners, what are you hiding?
We are aware that the majority of the three that voted against it are in business together and the lawyer who is the bond attorney is also in business and according to the Times, was dismissed from the Gainesville-Hall Development Authority. The curious question is what motivated the swing vote that went with the partners. Things that make you go Hmmmm.
|March 26, 2009||
Spending and deficits; at all levels of
government the fiscal irresponsibility during good economic times have
created burdens in poor economic times. At the city level, I have
watched our government buy buildings that are currently not being used and
then lease buildings across the street to use as offices; we have contracted
labor when there is no work; all of this leaving us cash strapped as sales
tax revenues and property tax revenues are on the decline. The county
keeps spending and building to the point where the interest on the debt of
our sewer system is more than the revenue generated by the people using
it. At the federal level when looking at the Preliminary
Analysis of the President's Budget
by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), the 2008 actual deficit was
$459b. The 2009 projected deficit is over $1.8 trillion. While
the deficit is projected to decrease over the next 4 years, the catch is
that the deficit is projected to increase in 2014 headed back to over a
trillion in 2018; presumably in someone else's presidency.
I think it is good to see how it is going in other parts of our world. Click here to see Daniel Hannen speaking to the Prime Minister of England at the European Parliament. While it is not the popular thing to do, we need to look at all levels to see how we can make government smaller and more efficient.
So what it all boils down to is the national debt grew by $2.5 trillion during the Bush's eight years; our current President has proposed a budget that will grow the debt by another $4.4 trillion over the next 4 years. If we elect another president in 2012, he will inherit a total debt of $10.2 trillion unless we can get some changes made in congress in the mid term election.
|March 25, 2009||
After listening to the President's press
conference last night, I am very disturbed about the financial direction our
country is headed. I will be the first to say that I was very
disappointed with President Bush and the 6 years the Republicans ran
congress for their lack of fiscal responsibility. Some will say that
9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to the
escalating deficits, but the thought of passing along our burdens to our
children and grand children just seems...... un-American.
However, this latest chart shows me everything that I need to see about our future:
According to some reports, every baby born in the U.S. comes with $22,000 of our nation's debt. It is time to stop spending our babies' futures!
|March 24, 2009||
"Commissioners want another look at
their sewer system rates in the wake of the current recession economy.
Commissioner Banks said sewer customers were challenging those rates anyway,
and the rates were based on development that did not happen." (click here
I smell trouble. There are a lot of ways to figure the rates, but the most simple way is to look at your fixed costs, your capital improvements, and your (fixed and variable) operating expenses and divide it by the number of users to reach an average; you then scale the average based on the variable use.
So, if your capital costs (in our case it would be the debt burden) are over $4 million per year (based on the 2010 estimate in the previous sewer study), your capital improvements are another $3 million to expand the sewer system to no where, and our operating expenses are $1.3m for 2010 we come up with a total of $8.3m to be divided amongst 1500 customers. So the average rate would be $461 per month!
Our commissioners probably thought that the capital costs would be offset by tap and connection fees for new users of the sewer system. The fees as passed by the commission on January 8th called for a tap fee of $745 and connection fee of $8,087 per new customer. Sterling on the Lake and Reunion have a lower rate as set by the contact when the plant was sold to Hall County starting at $5k in '09 increasing by $1k each year. With an estimated growth of almost 400 (assuming they are all Sterling or Reunion residents) new users each year, the tap fees would have generated an additional $2.4m in 2010 reducing the average cost of sewer to $163 per month (still way to high!!!!).
It looks like the Board of Commissioners bet on 7 and rolled craps. Now is the time for the commissioners to change their language from "SPLOST could be used to pay off debt", to "SPLOST WILL be used to pay off debt". That is the only way to make sewer affordable in South Hall County.
|March 18, 2009||
"Fetterman called for the
resignation of any council member who voted for the contract."
for the article) Yes he did. I was sitting next him when he said
it. "Council members Mary Jones, Allen Bryans and Pat Zalewski
supported the contract, but made no comments during the vote."
That is true as well. I was sitting across the table when they voted
for it but never gave a reason or uttered a word in
The issue I have is with the silence, not the call for resignation. The other members of the council were not interested in trying to justify the frivolous waste of taxpayers dollars. As the councilman pointed out, our building permits have dropped from 185 in 2007 to 82 in 2008. So far we have had 24 permits pulled this year, but 16 of them came from one place (click here for intensified development). I had a boss at Bellsouth that always told me that "one data point does not a trend make". So if we eliminate the outlier, we are on pace to have 48 permits pulled this year, which is a 42% decrease from last year.
I guess the other 3 feel that because the contractor is a nice guy (and he is a very nice guy) we should keep him on payroll even though there is not enough work for the full time employee we have now. This is obviously some sort of aegis program for nice people or a patronage policy for the "ruling" group. James Madison said; "the essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."
|March 17, 2009||
SPLOST passes. The Gainesville
Times reported that Hall
Commissioner Billy Powell said "he feels the results show voters are
confident in the commission." Considering that I voted for it, I
can say my vote had nothing to do with confidence and more to do with
sewer. The Commission's actions of running up a massive debt on our
sewer system before the SPLOST vote resulted in coercion that left many of
us without a choice but to vote for the penny tax.
Now let's hope that the Commission can restore some confidence by using the money to pay off the debt. I couldn't help but to notice that when asked about the debt, Hall County has said that it could be used to pay down debt, but they never actually said that they would use it to pay down the debt. Let's hope they act responsibly and come through for the citizens of South Hall County. But what am I worried about, from what I hear, it isn't really debt anyway.
|March 16, 2009||
Tomorrow is the big day for SPLOST as
the citizens head to the polls to vote if we should continue the penny tax
or pocket the penny. It has been entertaining listening to both sides
of the argument. When I listen to the vote "No" side, I read
into it a mistrust of government. There have been a lot of questions
as to why the vote was moved out, what is the government going to do, who is
it going to enrich, who is it going to empower?
Sadly, I drive by a sign on Blackjack sitting in front of a vacant parcel of land since September 2006 that says; "Your tax dollars at work!" However, no work has been done. I realize that if we get SPLOST passed, that our elected officials will determine not only if they will develop the park, but when. The unfortunate thing about the vote, is that the people can not vote on the priority. I am guessing our park will sit empty until year 6, if they decide to eventually put our money to work.
|March 6, 2009||
"We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are
instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these
ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
governments long established should not be changed for light and transient
causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design
to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their
duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their
future security..." Declaration of Independence, July 4,
This is the second paragraph of the document that severed ties with our former county. The important thing to reflect on is that the "rights" are individual rights, the power of the government comes from the people, the power is intended to preserve the individual rights, and when the form of government becomes "destructive" is is our right as a people to abolish it. I am not advocating revolution, but I want to point out that the actions of our government is the beginning of a "long train of abuses" that in my opinion will lead to an absolute autocratic government or despotism. The destruction has been the assault on my 401K, the seizure of my wealth to give to others, and the gradual loss of free market enterprises like banking and health care.
|March 4, 2009||
It doesn't look like we had a quorum
today. Unfortunately, when the council made the decision to have
meetings during the day (see minutes from Jan.
7, 2009 and Jan.
2, 2008) there would be times
when my full time job would interfere; today was one of those times as this
morning I had to go into Atlanta to give a presentation for work. When
Fetterman was called away on
business and the Mayor getting ill, it left the city with only 3 council
members, which is one shy of a quorum.
While I am sorry that people may have shown up for the meeting only to find out that we couldn't have one, it reinforces the point that we should have meetings at night when everyone can attend. My employer has been very flexible in allowing me to participate in Government, but there are times when the needs of the business take a priority. If the meetings were in the evening, then we would have been able to make a quorum.
|March 2, 2009||
I never thought I would see a day when
Gwinnett County Schools would have a snow day and the Hall County schools
had to go. I think downtown Atlanta got more snow than the
mountains. Unfortunately, my kids did not have anything to play
in. By the time I got up, there was no evidence that it ever snowed in
I have been trying to figure out the sewer agreement that I read about online. It looks one of those deals that the public never gets to hear about. You can see the agenda for the meeting by clicking here and the minutes by clicking here.
It disturbs me when our government lacks the transparency needed to keep the public trust. Considering the sensitive nature of the sewer issues in South Hall, the Commissioners should have placed this agreement as an agenda item in order to alert the public as to what was going on. As it stands, there is an additional $60k added on top of the already unbelievable debt we have on our sewer system. To get some perspective, that is about 1 months revenue for the sewer system.
|February 27, 2008||
Probably the funniest thing about being
in public office is the perception that you are the resident expert on....
everything. I get questions from the Home Owners Association budget to
sprinkler systems. But today, while talking to the guys around the
neighborhood, I was asked my favorite question; "what made you decide
to go into public service?"
If you've read my bio, you know that my tours down in South Louisiana doing restoration work after Hurricane Katrina provided a great influence on my life. While driving to different job sites, I got to see first hand how different relief organizations worked. In my opinion, the faith based organizations like the Salvation Army performed far better than the government organizations or government sponsored groups like the Red Cross. That is why I am very disappointed with the Presidents budget recommendation to limit the the tax benefits of charitable contributions for families that earn more than $250k per year.
As it is, during this recession, charitable organizations are struggling. Now the government wants to take away incentives for people who can afford to give. According to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, "Contained in the recovery act, there's $100 million to support nonprofits and charities as we get through this period of economic difficulty." Basically this means that the government wants to take away our choice as to whom we contribute to and give it to organizations of the governments choosing. Can anyone say ACORN?!?
This is another situation where the Democratic Party believes that the governments knows how to do it better than the people do.
|February 26, 2008||
While driving home last night the song
"Cult of Personality" by Living Colour came on the radio.
There are 3 quotes from 3 different personalities within the song, one by
Malcolm X, one by J.F.K. and one by F.D.R. It reminded me of the
speech by the president a few days ago. I was reminded of the campaign
rhetoric and how people compare him to J.F.K., how others mention F.D.R. and
the Great Depression. I am worried about the style over substance approach.
As we look at the promises, I am concerned about the future.
Today's Wall Street Journal ran an opinion today showing that those making more than $250k per year can not pay for the plans presented to Congress. Click here for the article. I am holding out that the President will honor his campaign promise of no new taxes for those who make less than $250k, but I do not see how he can meet his promise to cut the deficit by half while adding all of these new programs by only taxing the wealthiest group in America. Let's hope the we start seeing more substance and less style.
|February 25, 2008||
I'm back! I am back from doing my
best to kick start the economy by spending lot's of money down at
Disney. Yesterday after the park closed, while we were waiting for the
bus to take us back to the condo, I used my LG Vue from AT&T Mobility to
watch the President's speech to the joint session of Congress last
night. All I can say is that the more the President talks, the worse
my 401K looks.
While the President tried to put a positive spin on American ingenuity and drive, the issue has never been with the people, it has always been with the roll of government. Milton Friedman once said, "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand”. I will say that if you put the government in charge of medical, in 5 years there will be a deficiency in medical services.
|February 10, 2008||
Tonight I had the opportunity to hear
about some of the County's plans for the upcoming SPLOST VI (Special Purpose
Local Option Sales Tax) plans if the citizens of Hall County approve the
referendum on March 17. You can view an informational video by
You can view the SPLOST VI referendum by clicking here.
Before I offer an opinion, I want to acknowledge my fan out there in cyber space. It seems that my fan's greatest interest is is mischaracterizing what I say. But because I believe in integrity, I feel obligated to let people know that there are those who don't approve of my job performance and evidently one of them can be found here. While most people would run away from criticism, I embrace it.
It looks like my fan is going to vote for the SPLOST because my fan sees it as a jobs bill. Since you are looking to see what SPLOST has done for the county in the past, I can help you out, click here and here.
Why am I supporting SPLOST? To some extent, because I have to; if SPLOST does not pass, I will be one of 1500 customers on a sewer system with $46m in debt! But on a serious note, I have heard people argue that SPLOST increases your future taxes because you have operational and maintenance (O&M) costs associated with the new projects that are put in. To some extent, this is true. If you look at something like the community center, the tax payers will pay the electric bills and labor costs to operate the centers in the future. But this is offset by the fact that we can retire assets that have high O&M costs. For example, Flowery Branch plans to purchase new police cars with our share of the SPLOST money. If not for SPLOST, we would have to keep our high mileage cars which have high maintenance costs. It is also offset by the capital infrastructure projects like roads that bring development which offsets tax increases. It pays for police and fire protection which keep our insurance rates down. It provides recreational opportunities that bring in tourism dollars. And the best part, about 40% of the SPLOST revenue comes from other areas!
While there are projects that I don't approve of, you have to take the good with the bad or none of it at all. As it stands the good outweighs the bad, so I will be at the polls on March 17. See you there.
|February 5, 2008||
So where are we on the stimulus
bill? Hmm, it looks like we are approaching the $1 trillion mark while
we have the President asking Congress to hurry up (here).
This is due to lack of leadership and inexperience. You can't ask for
a stimulus bill from Congress without providing some direction as to what
should and should not be in the bill.
Now here we are; the president is scaring America by saying that if we don't pass it we will lose up to 5 million more jobs, but this bill is less of a stimulus bill and more of a social agenda spending plan. As I sit here and listen to the President speak to the Democratic Caucus in Williamsburg, he has drawn the line and began to insinuate that the Republican arguments are tired and what got us into this crisis. The President said that it doesn't matter is you drive a hybrid or SUV, when you are headed to a cliff you turn the car.
Well I have a cliff for you.... If you continue to spend money, you will devalue the dollar even further. That will cause inflation. When the economy is shrinking and we have inflation, it results in an economic situation called "Stagflation". If you want an example of what Stagflation can do, I present to you the 1970's. In the 70's a new measure was popularized, the misery index which is the sum of inflation and unemployment. The Carter Administration had the highest recorded misery rate, 16.27, since it was invented back in 1948. President Carter's 21.98 peak in June of 1980 is almost twice as high as George W. Bush's 11.30 peak. All I can say is if I am going over the cliff, I would rather be in the SUV.
|February 4, 2008||
We had a full and productive council
meeting today. Some of the highlights include meeting the latest
addition to our police force: Bart the police dog. Bart is a friendly
black Labrador. He is about 1 yr and a half old with plenty of
The meeting continued with other staff reports, the passage of an ordinance allowing bars and restraints to server beer and liquor until 2 am (I voted against it), and we voted to move forward with some infrastructure improvements.
Probably the most unusual part of the meeting was the vote to approve a gentleman's agreement that took place over a water tap fee. Unfortunately, the refund of the fee marks the closing of a Flowery Branch icon as the Mountain Man BBQ restaurant will be closing; we will miss you.
|January 28, 2009||
I see where the State Legislature is
looking at a bill to cap property taxes (H.R. 1) while the Governor is
trying to increase our property taxes by eliminating the Homestead Tax
Relief Grant. If you look at your property tax bill you will see
a note that says HTRG Credit and a note that says, "The ‘HTRG Credit’
reduction shown on your bill is the result of homeowner tax relief enacted
by the Governor and the General Assembly of the State of
Georgia." The reason that the note is on your bill is because it
is required by State law.
Now that the credit has been given, the state is tossing it back to the cities and counties. According to the Governor's spokesman, Bert Brantley, the HTRG has not reduced property taxes (Article can be found here). Evidently, Mr. Brantley missed the class on Taxation and has never served as an elected official. When we set the budget, we set the tax rate. After the rate is set, the tax credit is applied.
If Flowery Branch does not receive the credit back from the Governor and General Assembly, then the budget will be off. By law, O.C.G.A. 36-81-3(b)(1), the cities are required to maintain a balanced budget. In the case of Flowery Branch, the HTRG credit only amounts to less than 1% of our tax revenue. I guess we can turn off the street lights for half of the year, that should get our budget back in balance.
|January 24, 2009||
So how many jobs does $825 billion get
you? Well if you are to believe President Obama in his radio address,
he said that he was going to create up to 4 million jobs. According to
my math, that comes out to an average salary of $206,250 per year.
Wow! How do I get one of those jobs?
According to the president's address we will will have 3,000 miles of power lines (but I doubt they will go to coal fired power plants) and it will revamp 10,000 schools. All of this for what will probably end up being 1 trillion dollars.
Between 1981 and 1988 when President Reagan cut the highest margin income tax from 70% to 28%, "the tax burden on the top 10 percent of taxpayers increased from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers dropped from 7.5 percent in 1981 to 5.7 percent in 1988 (JEC Report April 1996)." When you look at the federal revenue as a percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the tax cuts came out to ~1% increase in revenue. When you consider that the GDP grew by about 23% and 16m jobs were created, I would argue that the tax cut didn't cost anything and created jobs.
The government needs to get out of the way and lower taxes.
|January 21, 2009||
I came across a blog
today that, in my opinion, misinterpreted my position on sewer
service. The blogger insinuates that my speech to the hall county
commission on sewers was a cry to stop building. I wouldn't say that I
oppose infrastructure improvements in a down economy. What I do
oppose, however, is running up $46,000,000 of debt with only 1500 customers
when there is not much hope of new customers coming online in the near
The last sentence in my speech (and the sentence following what was quoted by the blogger) said, "The responsible thing to do is to go back to the intent of House Bill 489, which is to use coordination and comprehensive planning to avoid the issues that have brought us all to this meeting tonight." My entire speech can be found by clicking here.
I would say that there is a fatal flaw in the blogger's theory that spending money on infrastructure will "put folks to work". This flaw is also echoed by the new presidential administration. If you examine the economics of FDR's new deal, you will find that with all of the programs, unemployment stayed roughly the same. You can extrapolate from this study by J. Bradford De Long that the New Deal was very ineffective in stimulating the economy because there was very little job creation for the dollars spent.
Government should be responsible for the infrastructure, but bridges to nowhere and sewer lines crossing in the night are poor examples on how to stimulate the economy.
|January 19, 2009||
Happy M.L.K. day.
It is the last day of the Bush presidency. I wonder how history will treat him. Bush appointed 2 very conservative Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice John Roberts and Judge Samuel Alito Jr. Bush took down a dictator and started a democracy in the middle east, Iraq. He kept the county safe from terrorists.
While he inherited a recession when he came into office, he is leaving in a worse economic situation. Unfortunately, the federal budget is in worse shape now as well.
It will be interesting to see what is written.
|January 18, 2008||
It looks like a full agenda for the
Council meeting on Wednesday where I will once again vote against the shortening
of the qualifying period for citizens seeking office in November. Let
me see, what else can I vote against: it looks like there are a couple of
ordinances to allow alcohol sales until 2am.
It is not that I am against a business making money. What I do not want is for people to leave bars in Hall County (serve until 12:45), Oakwood (serve until 12:00) or Braselton (serve until 1am) and head over to Flowery Branch so they can have another drink or two until we close it down at 2am.
My mom used to tell me that nothing good happens after midnight. As it is, our alcohol ordinances are weird because while you can only drink beer until 11:45pm, you can drink liquor until 1. I think we need to straighten this up, but until 2? I don't think so.
|January 13, 2009||
We have a Special Called session
tomorrow to go over an ordinance on sewer reservations. The Times has
an article that can be found here.
I would have never thought that things could change so rapidly in just a few years. The reservation fees were set up in an economic prosperity when there was a ton of demand for our sewer. Now we are in a economic ailment where we need investment in our community.
By removing some of the risk associated with investing in Flowery Branch, we hope to remove a barrier that would prevent planned development.
|January 10, 2009||
5 and a half months after knee surgery,
I made it back onto the court for a match... and won!!!! It felt good
to get out there.
Several people have asked what it will take to get the sewer issue fixed. Well to quote Matthew Oliphant from Useability Works; "There is no silver bullet and frankly you probably don’t need one. It is far more important to be able to find the right kind of gun, be able to load the gun … and perhaps most importantly, be able to figure out where the werewolf is." I will leave it to you to ponder over that one.
|January 8, 2009||
There was something of a compromise
today as the Commissioners split their vote on the sewer rates. The
Chairman offered an amendment to the resolution that set the rates locking
in the current rate for Sterling, Reunion and Deaton Creek until January of
2010. He also added that there would be public hearings in the 3rd and
4th quarter of this year.
It is hard to say if this is a win for the people. There is no doubt in my mind that the public outpouring had an impact on the amendment and the vote; but the fact is, if we do not fix the issues, we will be looking at these rates again next year. If you would like to read what I said to the Commissioners, please click here. When you consider that we had some protection from the sales contract anyway, this wasn't a huge win, but the encouraging report is the split vote with the swing vote saying some very encouraging things to the Times.
We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.
|January 7, 2009||
I have been so wrapped up in sewer, that
it is hard to believe I have other duties. Today we had our first city
council meeting of 2009. It was bellicose in its nature. I believe
the Gainesville Times hit it on the head by saying, "The Flowery Branch
City Council couldn’t agree on much this morning.." (Click here
for the Article).
We did, however, set the qualifying period for this year's election. As it turns out, the 3 that are always on the 3 side of the vote will all have there terms expire at the end of this year; they are all up for election if they choose to run. It is my sincere desire that all 3 of them choose to run again. I would really like for the voters to have the opportunity to tell them in the ballot box what the people think of the job they are doing.
Back on sewer, the agenda for the commissioners meeting is out and like I suspected, there is a resolution on the rates. If you are going to speak, ensure you do so on item e under other business, because I do not think you can give comments on item h which is a resolution.
See you tomorrow.....
|January 6, 2009||
I got a lot of calls and e-mails today concerning
this Thursday's Commission meeting. The biggest question I have been
asked is "What do you think will happen?" If I were a
betting man (and, by the way, betting is illegal in Georgia, so don't ask) I
would say that the motion would be something like, "I move to approve a
resolution to delete Chapter 13.10 entitled "Sewers and Sewage Disposal,
of Title 13 of the Official Code of Hall County and substitute in lieu
thereof a new chapter 13.10 after deleting section 13.10.090 Section 2,
paragraph A, subsection (1) and replacing with Monthly per unit sanitary
sewer user charges will be set by resolution..." Then it will pass 5-0
and a resolution to set the rates will come up in another vote either at
this this meeting or the next.
Basically, I think that they are going to set the rates in another resolution. It would make it a lot easier to change in the future. To me it looks like they have painted themselves in a corner. It is political suicide to approve the rates, but the money has been committed and they need to meet the lender's requirements. If I were a betting man (we have already discussed betting in Georgia), anyone who votes for these rates will have an albatross hanging around their necks in the next election.
|January 5, 2009||
This is going to be a long one, so bear
with me. Today started with a work session by our County
Commissioners. It began with Commissioner Powell and Chairman Oliver
being sworn in for their second terms. I was at the meeting to hear what
would be discussed concerning the second reading of Chapter 13.10 of The Official
Code of Hall County, specifically the sewer rates. The Chairman,
however, skipped all of the second readings and the issue was not
discussed. Then, during the Commission Time the Commissioner for post
one said something to the effect that while there are people who have said
that he has supported the rates all along, that he didn't and he would like
to go into executive session to discuss the rates. The Chairman
clarified the motion by saying that there was a motion to enter into
executive session to discuss potential litigation.
I could get on my soap box about transparency, but instead I think I will let a couple of courts who know a lot more speak to what the problems are: 1- "What the law seeks to eliminate are closed meetings which engender in the people a distrust of its officials who are clothed with the power to act in their name. It declares that the people, who possess ultimate sovereignty under our form of government, are entitled to observe the actions of those described bodies when exercising the power delegated to them to act on behalf of the people in the name of the State. (McLarty v. Board of Regents, 231 Ga. 22 (1973))"; 2- "To invoke attorney-client exception, the governmental entity must show a realistic and tangible threat of legal action, beyond mere suspicion or fear of being sued. (Claxton Enterprise v. Evans County Board of Commissioners , 249 Ga.App. 870 (2001))"
While there are issues with the contract and GEFA requirements that are conflicting, as far as I am aware, no one else has even threatened litigation based on the rates. I believe Braselton may sue based on H.B. 489, but that has nothing to do with rates. The biggest sign of smoke is when a governing body enters into executive session and it is not on the agenda. While the law says, "Failure to include on the agenda an item which becomes necessary to address during the course of a meeting shall not preclude considering and acting upon such item (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 2(e)(1))", the law specifically says, the "attorney-client privilege recognized by state law to the extent that a meeting otherwise required to be open to the public under this chapter may be closed in order to consult and meet with legal counsel pertaining to pending or potential litigation... (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2 1)". I find it hard to believe that the meeting was used to consult with legal council more than it was used to discuss the political ramifications of the sewer rates. Unfortunately, the only way we would know is if we challenged the meeting in court.
|January 2, 2009||
So I get from a reliable source that
there are "consultants" pouring over my web site. That may
be the reason for the increased volume. It would certainly account for
the recent hits on items from early in my campaign running for city
council. All I can say is, I hope your time is accounted on someone's
campaign disclosure report.
When I made the decision to serve my community, I was told that things like this would happen. As I have contemplated making a change and run for another office, things have certainly hit a new level. All I can say is, if you find any grammar issues or misspelled words, please let me know because that is all I will change on archived blogs. You can save the paper you are printing, I believe in transparency and I stand by my thoughts. Also, if any of this ends up on radio ads, please make sure you properly reference my web site. I can always use more visitors.
|January 1, 2009||
Happy New Year! I wonder how long
it is going to take to get used to writing 2009?
It is time to archive again. I do this to make the page load faster and more user friendly. Because I believe in standing by my word, you can read past blogs by clicking a link above.
Several of you may be viewing this site for the first time to try and learn more about sewer in South Hall county. Most of the information is located in my archived blog which can be viewed by clicking here.
In brief, we are asking for you to show up at the County Commissioner's meeting a week from today, Thursday January 8 at 5pm at the Georgia Mountain center in Gainesville. The Commissioner's will be considering changing Chapter 13.10 of The Official Code of Hall County, Georgia. This new chapter changes the way we pay sewer from a flat $42 rate to $9.87 per ccf (100 cubic feet).
If you look at your last City of Gainesville water bill you can use the table below to see what your new rate could be (This does not include the City of Gainesville Rate change effective January 2009):
I am looking forward to meeting many of you on the 8th. Stay tuned for changes.