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.