Friday, October 28, 2011

Self-Determination - What Does it Mean in Peachtree Corners?

Over the last few months the Peachtree Corners YES committee has held numerous town hall meetings in an attempt to sell the residents of PC on the idea of a city.  As the public became more informed on the topic, resistance to the idea increased and many of the ‘selling points’ were discredited. Even Mike Mason admitted at an UPCCA meeting Monday night (10/24) that we shouldn’t pay any attention to the feasibility study, he doesn’t know if we can save any money on trash or not and said that if you read the charter you will need a lawyer because it is hard to understand due to all the legalese. “Sorta” sounds like the Peachtree Corners version of ‘we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it’, doesn’t it? So, Mason said, they have now come down to one issue: self-determination. 

So what is self-determination and how does it apply to us here in Peachtree Corners? Webster’s defines self- determination as:

1. Free choice of one’s own acts or states without external compulsion, and 
2. Determination by the people of a territorial unit of their own future political status

Sounds like a great idea! Who can argue with that? After all, in the 1770’s the colonists wanted self-determination and to be out from under King George’s thumb. On TV the other night, Wayne Knox repeated the party line, saying that “the people who live in Peachtree Corners deserve the right to determine their own future and not have that future determined by politicians that we do not elect.”  I don’t know what part of Peachtree Corners Mr. Knox lives in, but in my part we get to vote for a county commissioner and a commission chairman, as well as judges, PSC commissioners, school board members, sheriff, a district attorney and others who have a direct and indirect influence over our lives every day. The essence of their argument is that we in PC only get to vote for one commissioner out of 4 serving a county of 800,000 people and thus are subject to the whims of the other three. By their logic, perhaps we should consider becoming our own state- after all we only get to elect one state representative out of 180 and one state senator out of 54 representing a population of almost 9.7 million Georgians.

The reality is that if the new city does only the three services the Charter and YES organizers promise (zoning, code enforcement and trash), then those are the only areas where PC would have anything resembling self-determination. A trash plan mandated by the city and charged on your property taxes is the same thing we already have. Code enforcement contracted out to a for-profit company that works on commissions is arguably worse than what we already have. That leaves zoning and most of the property in Peachtree Corners is already developed according to existing zoning. All the other services PC receives (fire, police, schools, parks, roads, libraries, etc.). will continue to be provided by the county,  and we will still only have that dreaded one voice of 4 for 800,000 people on those issues. 

Does all this sound like enough self-determination to warrant higher taxes and fees on you and your family and taking the other downside risks of another government body?