Cherokee voters weren’t particularly keen on turning over the remaining rural parts of their county to developers. They booted pro-developer county commission chairman Mike Byrd and instead opted to give existing slow growth commissioners a powerful ally in newly elected “Buzz” Ahrens. Ahrens is about to put the brakes on a massive new development in North Cherokee that the locals aren’t crazy about…but only if sore loser Byrd doesn’t beat him to the punch by approving it during a lame duck session for outgoing commissioners.
Even though county voters sent Byrd a clear message that they wanted change, he may call a meeting anyway to pay off his developer friends. For some reason Byrd really wants this project to fly. As an elected member of the Atlanta Regional Commission he voted to overrule career planning professionals hired by the Commission when they
drafted a report that told Cherokee not to proceed with the project. In a go along to get along mood, Chairman Sam Olens (of Cobb County) presented the committee substitute, drafted by Byrd, which passed overwhelmingly. Seems developers have a lot of friends on the ARC.
As a taxpayer, I’m amazed at the lengths some local government officials will go to in the light of day to appease their developer friends. As a political observer, I’m amazed that Georgia Republicans, led by Glenn Richardson and Sonny Perdue, want to give these officials even more cover with legislation like HB 218, which passed the House last year and would allow them to conduct more of their business in secrecy until the completed plan is announced.
You see, up to this point Glenn’s attitude has been that if the voters don’t like the deals their elected officials make, they can kick them out of office at the next chance. Of course, many of the deals the voters didn’t like would already be well on their way to completion and would be incapable of being reversed by that point. If you’re willing to seriously torture your understanding of how a Democracy should work, then I guess that makes sense.
However, I think Cherokee’s current dillema perfectly illustrates the fatal flaw of Glenn’s illogic. Byrd lost in the Republican primary almost 6 months ago, but he remains in office until the new year. Voters have already kicked him out, but with the added government secrecy afforded to him by HB 218, there is no telling what he could do during those lame duck months. In other words, if HB 218 passed, a lame duck county commission, legislature or governor could do whatever it wants even after voters have booted them because they don’t approve of the way they govern.
In Georgia, I think the voters should have the last say on their government. Every two years on election day we get to exercise a powerful veto on the actions of our elected officials. Why do Sonny, Glenn and Mike Byrd think developers and defeated lame duck politicians should get to override that veto?