Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review of Peachtree Corners Council Meeting - July 24

City Council lifts the moratorium on business
permits, licenses, etc.
The meeting started at 7:30 PM and did not adjourn until nearly 10:00.  Alex Wright was the only councilperson who did not make the meeting.  About 20 or so people made up the audience.  There were a lot of tedious items on the agenda.  A team of lawyers were present to go over amendments to the zoning ordinance, the sign ordinance, the Intergovernmental Agreement with Gwinnett, the contract with a zoning liaison, and the moratorium on building permits.  One businessman spoke during the public comments period about his need for a the last of his permits so he could open his new restaurant. He expressed frustrations at being stymied by the moratorium.  The mayor, after telling the man that he was not supposed to respond, responded to let the man know that the moratorium was on the evening's agenda.

The highlights of the meeting included the lifting of the moratorium on building permits, business licenses, etc. that have been frozen since May 1.  Everyone in the room was excited to see this business stifling moratorium lifted.  It is expected that the county will begin processing permits on behalf of the city today.

The other major item was the introduction and distribution of an application to be on the Zoning Commission or Zoning Board of Appeals.  The Mayor assured the audience that zoning would be done differently than in other cities.  The commission and appeals board are not to be political appointments but rather a citizen panel of qualified people with the best interest of the city at heart.  The Mayor promised broad representation from across Peachtree Corners.  The application is due on August 4th.  Click Here to download a copy.

The very last thing addressed by the council was a matter of litigation.  Apparently, a billboard company wanted to install a billboard on Peachtree Parkway near the Forum and is suing Gwinnett for some supposed procedural violation due to the moratorium.  I will not pretend to understand the legalese involved.  Bottom line is that the city has retained legal counsel to assist in dealing with this pending lawsuit.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to reviewing phrases and wording in various ordinances and agreements.  The council and lawyers tweaked little phrases and parts of ordinances in use at Gwinnett before they were adopted by the city.  It was detailed and tedious.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peachtree Corners Detailed Budget Proposal

The proposed budget for Peachtree Corners fiscal 2013 is now available.  Click here to review the budget and see how the council plans to spend $2.7 million of your money.  

The next 3 council meetings: June 14, June 19, and June 26 are all expected to deal with the budget, expenses, and proposed taxes to fund it all.  Please come to all the meetings you can.  They are held at the YMCA at 7:30 PM.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review of June 5 Peachtree Corners City Council Meeting

The Peachtree Corners City Council met Tuesday night, sans Post 1 councilman Phil Sadd. This is the third or fourth meeting he has missed, and we're not even a city yet...Doesn't bode well for District 1.

There were about 30 residents in attendance.  Also present were city clerk Joan Jones, consultant John Kachmar and city attorney Bill Riley and his assistant.

No residents made any public comments, although there was an opportunity to do so. The mayor introduced the city's new 'comment card' which the public will fill out beforehand and then the mayor will call on you...the card includes your name and address and the purpose/ subject of your comment. He explained this is for keeping track of comments for 'open records' purposes.

Next item - the council accepted the invitation to join the Georgia Municipal Association free of charge. Normally, membership would cost approximately $10,000 for a city our size but the GMA offered to waive the first year dues.  Jay Lowe stipulated that they would agree to first year free, but any subsequent years would need to be voted on before committing monies to join. The rest of the council agreed with Jay.

The first and main agenda item was a presentation on call centers from Kirsten, a '311' expert from CH2MHill...The presentation lasted about 40 minutes and it was obvious from the reactions of the council and the residents that it was overkill. She made the presentation based upon her experience running the call centers for Sandy Springs and Johns Creek (big surprise there!) and didn't seem to grasp the concept of 'limited services city'.  During the discussion after the presentation, under pressure from Alex Wright and Jay Lowe, consultant Kachmar finally conceded that CH2MHill's solution would likely cost the city about $150,000/ yr.  Even the mayor seemed a little taken aback at the size of the number.  It also pretty much killed the call center discussion for now.

Next item - consultant  Kachmar updated the council on the search for a city manager, saying they had received 48 resumes so far, many from out of state candidates.

Next item - city hall...the council have visited several sites and had basically narrowed it down to two locations, both in Tech Park.  One site has approx 5000 sq ft of space, and would need a bit of 'build out' to accommodate the council, staff and meeting areas...because of that, the 'rent' would be approx $20/ sq ft.  Site 2 has approx 8000 sq ft of space, but is already configured in a manner such that it requires little build out to meet needs, has better access and infrastructure and is available for $14/ sq ft.  The Council decided on site 2, even though it is a little larger than needed.  The attorney and consultant suggested that the council give the okay for them to negotiate the best deal and authorize the mayor to sign what they present.  Alex Wright and Jeanne Aulbach objected, and the council agreed that they should review any lease proposal prior to the mayor signing it.  Good call on their part.

Next item - The council adopted a fiscal yr to run from July 1st thru June 30.

Last item - The council adopted a set schedule for council meetings, effective June 19th, which will announce the schedule for the next few months...the reasons for this were:
  • cheaper to put out one announcement now, instead of a new one every week,
  • can always cancel a meeting if not needed,
  • eliminates the 'problem' they ran into last week where they couldn’t amend the agenda to allow public comment. 

Meeting adjourned approx 9:15.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 22 City Council Meeting: A Bait and Switch?

The City Council met Tuesday night to receive updates from the two consultants the council has hired to help set up the city.  John McDonough, current Sandy Springs city manager, and John Kachmar, current Johns Creek city manager, took the council through the agenda: 
  • Search for City Hall Office Space 
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) for Banking Services
  • Review of Legal Requirements and Timeline for Ad Valorem Tax Billing and Collection
  • Organizational Structure of the City
  • Neighborhood and Business Response Center Services 

The most enlightening and alarming item discussed  was the Organizational Structure agenda item.  The consultants provided a draft/sample budget for what it will cost to run the city.  Given the size of the staff and the services expected, they are estimating $2,869,225 to run the city.  This is nearly FOUR times the cost estimate in the Carl Vinson study touted by the Vote Yes group and State Senator and city sponsor Tom Rice during the cityhood campaign.  Alex Wright, Post 3, was visibly baffled by the idea that the two estimates were not even on the same planet.  Mayor Mason, a major player in the Vote Yes campaign, dismissed the study just short of rolling his eyes at the idea that anyone would believe it.  He said that The Carl Vinson study is not a budget it is just a feasibility study.  It was for Tom Rice and the legislature and not meant to determine the cost to run the city. 
Mr. Wright questioned the consultants throughout the tax and budget presentation.  The consultants recommended building up large reserves and contingency funds to which Mr. Wright responded, “It is against my personal philosophy to build up large reserves. I want to prevent government waste.”  The consultants scoffed at the idea that any waste would occur in government.  
At the current $2.8 million cost estimate, the city will need the full 1 mil in taxes allowed by the Charter.  All the Vote Yes promises that property taxes probably would not be needed at all to cover the expenses of the city are so quickly up in political campaign smoke.  The city council must vote on the exact level of millage that property owners will pay.  Before the vote, the council must advertise the millage rate under consideration and hold 3 meetings for the public to comment before the vote.  The consultants recommend advertising the full millage allowed by the Charter.  Councilman Wright seemed to bristle at the idea that so much would be needed given the Carl Vinson study.  The consultants assured him that it was the conservative and responsible way to go about it and their later budget discussion showed why.  The advertisement will occur on June 21.  The first hearing will be the morning of July 2, the second at 6:30 PM July 2nd, and the final meeting and vote on July 9th at 7:30 PM.
During this discussion, Mr. Kachmar let it be known that the councilpersons and mayor are not required to attend the hearings on the 2nd.  They may assign staff to take down public comments.  The PCBC is greatly disturbed by the suggestion that our elected officials would delegate listening to their constituents to hired staff and consultants rather than be present themselves and hope that they all reject this suggestion.
We also hope Mr. Wright sticks to his guns on expenses and taxes.  We hope he recruits some other council-members to stand firm against the mayor and the consultants on dismissing the Carl Vinson study, absorbing the full one mil in available taxes, and on stockpiling massive amounts of money for “rainy days” and nebulous “community investment projects”.  
Other items covered in the meeting:
The consultants presented a list of properties for the council to consider renting.  They reviewed their evaluation criteria.  4 of the 5 properties are in Tech Park.  They expect to make a final recommendation at next week’s meeting.
The RFP for city banking services was provided.  Councilman Weare Gratwick, At Large Post 6, excused himself and left the room during the discussion.  Mr. Gratwick works for a bank and wanted to avoid any accusation of impropriety or undue influence on the council discussions.  The RFP will be released in the coming days.  Ms. Jeanne Aulbach, Councilperson At Large Post 4, will serve on the RFP evaluation team with the consultants and lawyer.
They ended the session with a rushed discussion of a call center to respond to citizen inquiries.  The YMCA was shutting its doors so the council was instructed to think about the kind of services they want to provide and what a call center might do for a later discussion.
Councilpersons in attendance: Jay Lowe - Post 2; Alex Wright – Post 3; Jeanne Aulbach – Post 4; Lorri Christopher – Post 5; Weare Gratwick – Post 6; Mike Mason – Mayor.  Phil Sadd – Post 1 was not in attendance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review of the 5-1-12 Peachtree Corners City Council Meeting

The Peachtree Corners City Council had a special “called” meeting yesterday at 11:00 AM at the Peachtree Corners YMCA.  There was only one major item on the agenda: Whether to submit a request to the County for a moratorium on all permitting, zoning applications, business licenses etc.  
The lawyer – Bill Riley - laid out the argument that there is often a rush to the county for permits before a new city takes over.  He argued that folks will get caught having started the process under the county and may have to finish under the city causing confusion.  He recounted stories of troubles between Johns Creek and Fulton County.  Specifically that the county collected permit and inspection fees, but the city had to do the work because of the timing of the takeover.  That work had to be done without the funding because the county refused to turn over the money collected.  Although he says he does not anticipate any issues with Gwinnett officials, he is seeking to avoid this transition trouble through the moratorium.  In addition, he cautioned that without the moratorium, adult bookstores, massage parlors, etc. often try to slip into the area, believing that the county process will be easier than any new city process is likely to be.  
The councilpersons asked some good questions.  Wright, Aulbach, Lowe, and to a lesser extent Christopher and Gratwick all challenged the lawyer on the implications of doing nothing, the burden on businesses unable to get a license during the moratorium, etc.  Phil Sadd was not at the meeting.  The mayor had no questions for the attorney.  The discussion went on for a bout 25-30 minutes before the council was satisfied and voted to approve the request to the County.
Overall, I was satisfied with how the council handled this meeting.  The questions they asked were in my mind as well. I was pleased to see them challenge the lawyer’s recommendation, require examples of when the worst happened in reality, and explore the implications and burdens on residents and businesses that the moratorium may cause.
My dissatisfaction all centers on the speed that the meeting was called.  Most of us had only about 12 hours notice that it would occur.  It gave off the impression of a rushed, “secret” meeting, held at a time when most folks work and cannot attend.  The meetings are supposed to be announced in the Gwinnett Daily Post in advance.  The acting city clerk assured me that she contacted The Post last week.  Myself and others in attendance let her know that we were unable to locate that announcement, finding out through The Peachtree Corners Patch instead.  She promised to investigate the issue.
I talked to a couple of the councilpersons afterward, spending quite a bit of time with Jeanne Aulbach, Post 4.  I let her know that I felt this meeting ran better than the first one because we saw the council explore the implications of the issue before them.  They challenged the guidance they were getting to ensure it was sound and as many sides were examined as possible.  The last meeting was a series of approvals and hires without any feeling that due diligence had been done.  Those of us attending the meetings expect to see our council really engage and vet the issues, but it appeared they simply abdicated their responsibility to a contingent of Johns Creek bureaucrats.  Ms. Aulbach promised to do more to communicate with her constituents – which includes everyone in Peachtree Corners – so we see the due diligence happen and can better understand the trade-offs and ultimate decisions reached.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review of First City Council Meeting for Peachtree Corners

Well the first City of Peachtree Corners city council meeting is in the history books...and all I can say is “buckle up, it looks like its going to be a bumpy ride.”

Apparently the new mayor believes that any dialogue between the council and the citizenry should occur somewhere other than the council chambers. As he explained to one citizen who asked a question during the only ‘public comment’  period (before any city business was introduced)-  the plan is to have a few minutes at the beginning of each council meeting for citizens to approach the microphone and comment on the subject of their desire. The mayor made it clear he does not intend to engage in a conversation with anyone during this period, he will just nod his head, thank you for your input and move on to the next person. This policy needs to change. The mayor claims this is how ‘they’ do it, alluding to the cities of Johns Creek and Dunwoody. A check of both those cities websites reveals that their council meetings include public comment sections both before and after city business is introduced. 

Then the council gets down to business. The mayor taps his gavel and asks the new interim city clerk "what’s next?" The clerk reads the next point of order, the mayor asks the council for their comments or questions, asks for yea votes and nay votes, taps the gavel again and says "the motion is passed". Repeat that scenario as often as the agenda dictates.

I spoke to one councilman after the meeting and voiced my displeasure with the idea that the mayor and council were just going to sit up there and 'proclaim' things without any public input. I was informed that 'most of the actual work' is done in work sessions which are open to the public. The meeting is just a formality. But then he goofed and admitted that there wouldn’t be any public input at the work sessions either.

Am I the only one who remembers the council candidates talking about how accessible they would be during the campaign? How they would listen to their constituents? Some even posted on our fb page that issues would be open to public comment for 30 days before the council would vote on them.

For those of you who didn’t attend the meeting, there are a few things you might like to know. Despite the fact your new city isn’t even a legal entity for 73 more days:

  • You already have an attorney on the city payroll. You don’t know anything about him, or his compensation package.
  • You have a city clerk on the city payroll. You don’t know anything about her, or her compensation package.
  • You have an executive search firm on the city payroll, trying to hire a city manager. You don’t know anything about the search firm, or their fee structure.
  • You have hired a 'facilitator' to assist with developing a long and short term strategic plan for the city. You know nothing about this 'facilitator', or his salary.
  • You have purchased an insurance policy to protect the mayor and council, presumably from the consequences of any bad decisions they make. You don’t know anything about the coverage terms, or the cost of the policy.
The one thing we do know about our new city attorney, city clerk, city consultant, and facilitator is that they are all currently employees of the City of Johns Creek. We hired the whole bunch of them.

We thought we elected a mayor and a city council. Apparently what we got was a Czar and his ruling cabal...or perhaps a puppet regime of the bureaucrats of John’s Creek.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Peachtree Corners Finalizes the City Council - Looking Ahead

Yesterday's run-off finalized the last 4 contested seats for the inaugural city council of Peachtree Corners.  Turnout was very low with less than 12% of voters going to the polls.  Here is the new city council:

Phil Sadd will represent the geography of District 1
Jay Lowe will represent the geography of District 2
Alex Wright will represent the geography of District 3
Jeanne Aulbach will represent Post 4 At-Large
Lorri Christopher will represent Post 5 At-Large
Weare Gratwick will represent Post 6 At-Large

These six folks join mayor Mike Mason in the task of setting up the new city.  They will implement the 3 services proclaimed in the city charter: Code Enforcement, Zoning, and Trash Collection.  In addition, this council is challenged to settle a border dispute with Berkeley Lake, hire a city manager and other employees, procure office space, enter into vendor contracts, etc.

With so few voters turning out in this and the last election, the new council hardly has a strong mandate for sweeping action.  We expect that the members will act carefully and cautiously before committing the city and its tax payers to irrevocable, long-term obligations.  The council has been granted great power over many by very few.  They have the power to make taxes, code enforcement, fees, etc. a burden on citizens.  They should wield that power very delicately.  

The role of the Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee will continue to be as a watch dog of the new city government.  We will work to hold our new officials to the promises made in the campaign for city hood and their campaigns for city council.  We want to ensure that Peachtree Corners sticks to the promise of "city-lite".  This city was proclaimed to be something unique among governments - forever small, unobtrusive, and inexpensive.  We will be holding you to it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peachtree Corners City Council Candidate Debate – How Did They Do?

On Monday night, the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) hosted a final candidate forum for those competing in the run-off election for Peachtree Corners City Council.  Judge Warren Davis moderated the event which was composed, at least in part, of audience questions to the candidates.  Here is my assessment of how it went, who did well, and who missed the mark.
David Proud and Alex Wright are contending for the Post 3 seat representing District 3.  Unfortunately for these gentlemen, the questions presented to them were not very demanding and sometimes just silly.  Mr. Wright made jokes about his wife in an attempt to liven up the evening and counter the silliness of questions like how “squeaky clean” his background check might be and what to do if a vendor vying for a contract tried to buy lunch.  Mr. Proud answered most of these questions more earnestly but to the same result.  They had similar answers to questions about their vision for the city and whether they support a city-manager form of government (which the city has per the Charter so once again a silly question).  But at the end of the day, the questions left little ability for the candidates to sink their teeth in or differentiate themselves.  
Jeanne Aulbach and Robert Byars are in a run-off for the At-Large Post 4 seat.  They both sort of bumbled over the first question about what sort of ethics policy the city needs, each declaring themselves ethical people – whew.  And on the second question about being accessible to voters they both answered similarly, ready to hand out their phone numbers and email addresses to any and all.  They both declared themselves against building a city hall.  Ms. Aulbach seemed forever against it and Mr. Byars seemed only against it for now.  When asked about a plan to widen 141, Ms. Aulbach showed more command of the subject.  She understood the desire to alleviate traffic, but declared the current plan deficient because it does not address bottlenecks such as the intersection at the PIB-141 split.  The other complex question presented to this post asked whether the new city should annex additional properties and about property rights for owners.  Byars stated that he liked Peachtree Corners as is.  Aulbach agreed that she sees no reason for Peachtree Corners to expand.  Neither candidate referenced the Charter nor how it limits the city council actions on any of the topics presented.  Overall, Ms. Aulbach showed more thought and answered most of the questions more carefully than Mr. Byars.  The caveat is that Ms. Aulbach is very closely aligned with the UPCCA and I can’t say whether she had any forewarning about what some of the questions might be.
Post 5 At-Large is contended by Lorri Christopher and Gray Terry.  The first question asked whether they were in favor of TSPLOST (special purpose tax to support mass transit in our area)  They both support this initiative, which left me baffled.  They both sited bad traffic as the reason, but neither talked about who they expected to ride the new transit and to where.  Both seem to have a sort of “build it and they will come” attitude about it.  Gray Terry cited that MARTA is poorly run but seemed sure that folks north could somehow run a government transit system well.  They were also asked about implementing an early warning system for tornadoes.  Once again, they both jumped out in support, declaring that Peachtree Corners needs emergency warning and communications systems.  They were asked about animal control for the deer population.  They both declared a love of deer but that something must be done to prevent their take-over of the city.  Terry suggested using a spray on your yard or a 12 gauge.  Christopher said she built a fence to keep them out.   Neither ever mentioned the Charter and that the three services included are limited to garbage, code enforcement, and zoning.  These two are both ready to expand services at any moment.  Keep your eye on whoever wins this post.  They both have big vision for all the things that can be run, fixed, paid-for by the new city government.  Post 5 has a four year-term so the winner can be patient with their plan.  I sincerely hope that one of them is way more conservative than they appear.  I invite them to back-off some of their current rhetoric.  But we’d all be wise to guard our money; I think they have plans to use it.  
Finally Weare Gratwick and Brian Stickney are competing for the Post 6 At-Large seat.  Overall, these gentlemen fielded the most difficult slate of questions.  The first question asked the candidates how they feel about imminent domain and how it might be applied in Peachtree Corners.  Mr. Gratwick talked about local representation and planning and support of property rights.  Mr. Stickney stated that no power of Imminent Domain is granted by the charter to the city and it should stay that way.  The candidates were asked how they will stay informed about what is going on in the region.  Both mentioned working with the county government and chamber of commerce.  Mr. Stickney went further and emphasized the importance of understanding what is happening nationally.  He sees more people moving to the South and to our area in particular for jobs or for retirement to nicer climates and that has to be considered to accurately plan.  The next question asked for a vision for zoning for undeveloped parcels of land.  Mr. Stickney took umbrage with the question stating that is was just too generic to answer well.  Undeveloped parcels are in different parts of the city and each would have its own issues for traffic, surrounding residents and businesses etc.  The moderator narrowed the question to the land across from the Forum.  Mr. Stickney pointed out that the land there is already zoned by the county.  The city can hope to work with the land owner and to control how traffic and density is managed at the site.  Mr. Gratwick agreed, adding that the city would need to hire professionals to consult on the master plan.
Overall, I give the night to Mr. Stickney in Post 6 as having the best performance.  He was the only candidate who consistently invoked the city-lite concept and the 3 services outlined by the charter in his remarks.  His closing statement called attention to the fact that many candidates seemed willing to add services in a blink, but he understood the limits of the Charter.  If you are going to declare yourself a fiscal conservative you have to say “no” most of the time.  You cannot see government as the solution to so many issues.  He acknowledged that people don’t like to hear “no” when they want the government to solve their problems for them, but that is what a responsible political leader needs to do.  Bravo Mr. Stickney.
Be sure to vote on April 3rd.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Run-off Elections in April

Three posts were secured on Tuesday night.  Mike Mason, running unopposed, was confirmed as Mayor.  Phil Sadd will represent District 1.  Jay Lowe will represent District 2.  The other posts are expected to have run-off elections in early April.

Post 3 - Run-off between David Proud and Alex Wright
Post 4 - Run-off between Jeanne Aulbach and Robert Byars
Post 5 - Run-off between Lorri Christopher and Gray Terry
Post 6 - Run-off between Weare Gratwick and Brian Stickney

Congratulations to all the candidates for running great campaigns.  The Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee appreciates how well you engaged with us on the issues.  We hope that Scott Ehrlich, Brent Johnson, and David Leader  will stay as engaged in the City and the issues as they were during their campaigns.  We look forward to seeing you on our Facebook Page and at future city meetings and events.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee – Preparing to Vote

On Tuesday March 6, the voters of Peachtree Corners will go to the polls to elect their first city council.  The field is diverse.  A couple candidates seem to view a position on the council as a first step on their checklist to higher office.  One or two seem more focused on resolving their own personal issues with zoning or code violations.  Many are connected to the UPCCA and achieving what they were not able to achieve with volunteers through government dictate instead.  Some talk a lot and we are not sure what they mean.  But many seem genuine, un-political folks who really want what is best for the new city.  
Where does the Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee stand in all this?  We are committed to being a watchdog group.  We want to make certain that the mayor and city council follow through on all the promises made during the campaign for cityhood.  We want to see the promise of the Charter fulfilled – 3 services, limited government, minimal taxes, open and transparent.  And above all, we want the city protected from special interest and “I know what’s best for you” politicians that usually run away with our various other governments.  
You see, the Peachtree Corners Charter is protected from change, expansion, added taxes by the need to go to the voters in a city wide referendum.  We saw last week that quiet action by a politician or two and the Georgia State House can circumvent the Charter, dismissing our right to a vote.  The PCBC is committed to drawing attention to those that threaten the integrity of the Charter.  We will use all our tools – our writing, emailing, cartooning, blogging, Facebooking, calling, etc. to get voters and political leaders to take notice.  We are not afraid to employ a little snark and sarcasm as well if it helps get voters and council persons to pay attention to the implications of their actions.
So far, we have gotten most candidates to answer a slate of questions on the issues and posted those, unedited to our website.  We have engaged the candidates in a Facebook debate focused on several topics including:
  • Should Peachtree Corners build a multi-million dollar city hall? 
  • As a city councilperson, will you commit to only put referenda that expand city services or increase taxes on major election ballots: i.e. presidential and mid-term November election dates only? 
  • Would you support a mandate that all actions relative to the formation of rules, regulations and other be reviewed by the citizens of Peachtree Corners for a period of no less than 30 days for comments before a definitive vote is taken by the council?
  • What are your comments on the secretive land swap that just occurred between Berkley Lake and Peachtree Corners?  

Many candidates engaged and provided thoughtful answers.  Some we agreed with and some we challenged further.  Some candidates have decided not to participate.  They have ignored emails inviting them to engage and dismissed personal invitations to join in.  Visit our website and our Facebook page.  Read what those who want to reach the 43% who are skeptical about what this new city will bring and discern who thinks that group is not worth their time.
The Peachtree Corners Ballot Committee will not endorse specific candidates due to our status as a ballot committee.  We have challenged the candidates on the issues important to our small government, fiscally conservative, skeptical of the new city constituency.  Based on who participated in that dialogue and how they answered the questions presented, we believe voters can get a good feel for who will be focused on preserving the right to referendum and the small government, low tax promises the Charter attempts to ensure.
Vote on March 6!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is the Peachtree Corners City Charter a Sham?

Many in Washington look upon the Constitution as an ancient document written by a bunch of old guys with almost no relevance to today.  It is ignored or circumvented when working within its bounds is deemed too cumbersome or inconvenient.  The Peachtree Corners City Charter is the city’s “constitution”.  It describes the boundaries of the city, how the city will function, how it will add services, elect officials and collect taxes.  It clearly states that the charter may only be changed by a referendum of the city’s citizens.  But a small group of politicians just changed the charter without any such vote by the citizens.  
These politicians, including mayor-to-be Mason, the Berkeley Lake Mayor Salter and State Representative Tom Rice, met together, decided that a stretch of land along Peachtree Industrial would go to Berkeley Lake despite being ratified in the Charter as belonging to Peachtree Corners.  Bill 956 was passed by the State House on February 27, 2012.  It amended our charter by legislative fiat.  No citizen referendum.  Poof! 161 businesses are no longer in Peachtree Corners because a group of politicians banded together to go around the city’s “constitution.”  Promises were made during the vote for cityhood.  Those promises have already been broken.
Now, I believe that if a group of residents or businesses want to secede from the City, they should be allowed to do so by following the rules in the Charter and State Law.  What is shocking is how quickly Mr.  Mason and Mr. Rice directly circumvented a referendum because they saw the need to do so.  Mr. Rice has offered all sorts of “I know what’s best for you” reasons.  But rather than explain those reasons and let the citizens vote per the charter, he used his political power to simply act.  What else do these politicians think needs action and going to the voters is just too much trouble?  What do they think we need next:  Perhaps a police department, a big city hall, more tax revenue, more, more, more.  But we certainly need no votes by the citizens.  That is just too inconvenient and the voters won’t understand anyway.  They need the superior intellect of us politicians to tell them what is best!  Yikes folks.

In November, we didn’t vote to become a city because we wanted to write 'Peachtree Corners' on our return address- we voted to adopt the charter. The charter defined our boundaries. The charter was sold to all of us as having protections built into it that no other city had- it could not be changed without a referendum.  By legislative fiat, Tom Rice and his cronies just changed the charter without our vote.  This isn’t an issue of whether I pay the legal fees to fight Berkeley Lake annexation attempts, it’s much more fundamental than that.  The city we voted on in November will now no longer exist.  Is the charter still a legally binding document or not? And if it is, what good is the supposed requirement for a referendum if Tom Rice and his buddies down at the statehouse can sit down over a glass of bourbon and a good cigar and do whatever the hell they want to do anyway?  Remember that cities exist at the will of the legislature, so political friends there will allow quick changes to our Charter whenever it is convenient for them.  And the rights of we the citizens are just so much lip service.
Be sure to vote on March 6.  Be sure to pick people absolutely dedicated to protecting your right to referendum laid down in the Charter.   Do not surrender this city to the elitist “I know what’s best for you whether you like it or not” politicians.  Mike Mason looks to be that kind of politician.  Figure out who his friends are and who is a thorn in his side and make sure we have a council that will stick up for us.  Candidates, show us if you have any thorns please.  Post your comments on our Facebook Page.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Should Peachtree Corners Build a City Hall?

As soon as government purchases land that land is removed from private use.  The land ceases to be available for income-creating ventures and is instead dedicated to the income-taking venture that is government.   For this reason, it is the PCBC’s belief that government should almost never own land or buildings.  There are some exceptions – military bases and schools for example - but for most government activities, rented space works best.  
When government builds, it builds for future growth.  Why purchase land, hire architects and contractors, and issue bonds to create a space exactly big enough for the people and functions of today’s government?  Armed with this logic, many Taj Mahal city halls have arisen in nearby cities.  It can be controversial to have too many empty offices and meeting rooms in that giant new building.  This can prompt a race to fill the space up with more city employees working on projects that cost ever more tax payer money.  Allowing government to build a large building almost guarantees that the government will become larger itself.   
Many of the reasons cited for creating the new city were to support the growth of businesses and to help the blighted and under-used parts of the city thrive.  What better way for the city government to support downtrodden areas than to locate its offices in those areas?  What better way to set the example of how to work with landlords to bring properties up to code than to be a customer not just a dictatorial enforcement authority?
The PCBC appreciates the candidates that have come out against building a city hall in Peachtree Corners for now and ever more.  We need a city council that will take a strong stance against government spending and government growth that will ensure that the new city of Peachtree Corners is and stays city-lite. 
Click Here to read what the candidates have to say about city hall on our Facebook Page. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

What District Am I In?

The election will be held on Tuesday March 6th.  We will all vote for the Mayor and three "At Large" city council seats (known as posts 4, 5, and 6)  We will each also select one council person to represent our geography, either District 1, 2, or 3.  So what neighborhoods fall in each District? 

District One includes (but is not limited to) the neighborhoods of Apple Valley Condos, Deerings, Dunwoody Club Creek, Dunwoody Glen, Evergreen Corners, Flannigan Village Townhomes, Glenleaf Condos, Lockridge Forest, The Reserve, Spalding Glen, and The Views at Peachtree Corners.  

District Two includes (but is not limited to) the neighborhoods of The Barrick, Brookwood Condominiums, Cedar Corners, Chattahoochee Station, Dunwoody Manor, Forest Hills, Kedron Falls, La Hacienda, Neely Farm, Neely Neely Meadows, North Manor, Peachtree Forest, Peachtree Peachtree Forest Plantation, Peachtree Square Townhomes, Peachtree Station, Revington on the River, River Valley Estates, Spalding Bluff, Spalding Chase, Spalding Corners, Spalding Hollow, Spalding Park Place, Spalding Square Condos, Summit Trail Townhomes, Wedgewood Chase, Windsor Trace Condos, Woodlands Condos, Woodmont Landing, Wynfield Trace.  

District Three includes (but is not limited to) the neighborhoods of Amberfield, Amhurst Place, Apremont, Avala, Avocet, Belhaven at Regency, Bentley Place, Bridgeport, Brookfield Chase, Chateau de Roi, Chattahoochee Shoals, Coppedge Crossing, Fox Hill, Fox Run Farm, Gran River, Greenleaf, Highcroft, Ivy Mill, Jone Brisge Landing, Linfield, Miller Farms, North River Crossing, River Mansions, River Station, Rivercrest, Riverfield, Riverview Estates, Scotts Mill, Spalding Bridge, Spalding Estates, Spalding Mill, Sunburst, The tibers, Turnbery Oaks, Valley Mist, Walden Mill, Waterford Place, Wellington Lake, Wentworth, Westchase Commons, Wickershire, Wildwood Farms, Williamsport.

PCBC volunteers have done our best to identify the neighborhoods in each district, but please check the district map for the most accurate picture.  You can view a Sample Ballot for this District here.