We Don’t Hate You

My initial reaction to Erick’s post yesterday was anger. Not the kind of anger after having had a bucket of cold water thrown in your face but anger that I think he’s wrong on one important point. It is most certainly true that many, perhaps even most of Georgia’s citizens do not trust their government. Erick is right when he says Governor Deal’s announcement he was ending the 400 tolls next December was met with skepticism and hurt rather than helped his efforts to pass TSPLOST. There was also a stronger than usual anti-incumbent mood Tuesday as evidenced by 14 State level incumbents being tossed out or forced into runoffs. It’s worth noting almost as many Democrats were defeated or forced into runoffs as Republicans. There were incumbents thrown out at the local level as well. Incumbents of all persuasions who fail to heed the message of Tuesday could find themselves in trouble in two years.

Where I disagree with Erick is his statement that “much of the political establishment in Georgia holds the citizens in contempt.” I know this comment wasn’t directed at me personally but it was directed at the political establishment of which I am a part. I don’t agree with that sentiment at all.

Almost everyone I’ve met who ran for office did so because they thought they could help their community. Some lose their way once elected but most don’t. To say most elected officials feel contempt for the very people who elect them just isn’t true.

The lack of trust voters have for us is a serious problem we must deal with immediately. Every proposal to address problems we face is met with skepticism. It’s growing increasingly more difficult to deal seriously with the issues. If we don’t make substantial strides in earning voters’ trust soon we’ll be in deep trouble as a State.

We didn’t get here overnight and I’m convinced some of this distrust has spilled over from what goes on in Washington. When people say “all you politicians are the same” they’re not just talking about Republicans and Democrats, they’re talking about politicians at every level of government. Enforcing our current ethics laws and strengthening them where they’re weak is a good place to start as is taking steps to increase transparency in the process of making laws. We must try to earn voters trust because the road we’re on takes us to a place we don’t want to go.

But we don’t hate you.

128 comments

  1. Blake says:

    Don Balfour. Chip Rogers. Nathan Deal ….

    I assume you talk personally with these guys, Buzz, and you therefore have some sense of them being “good guys” and not contemptuous in their attitude; however, actions speak louder than words, and these three and many more have expressed their contempt for their voters loud and clear over and over again.

  2. PegM says:

    I, for one, am represented under the Dome by the finest group of people you can find. The entire Gwinnett delegation is beyond reproach, hold the highest standards, and are an example of what all those who govern should aspire.

      • Calypso says:

        PegM obviously doesn’t live in my senate district, which is represented by the epitome of political jerks, Don Balfour.

        • John Cook says:

          They are so concerned with “taking one for the team” that they have forgotten that the voters ARE the team. In 2010, HB277 gave us the TSPLOST vote. They respected the opinion of the voters so much that they put a “big stick” threat saying if we didn’t pass it they would penalize us. The Gwinnett delegation that is beyone reproach supported this “big stick” contempt for the voters! Plan B should be to find someone to replace each one who voted for HB277 and the 2008 HB1216, which removes voter control by establishing regional governance. I see a NO vote by Franklin, but not from the others. They swore to uphold the GA Constitution, but don’t if the Governor, Speaker, or Majority leader tell them to jump.
          http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb277.htm
          http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2007_08/sum/hb1216.htm

  3. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    Hate is a strong word.

    I think y’all (note the plural, here) in elected office are simply just “not that into us” citizens and voters.

    I think y’all (again note the plural) are more into the next political office and staying off the s*** lists maintained by the Chamber, GA Right to Life, Grover Norquist et al.

  4. So we can assume you’ve never had occasion to meet Senator Mullis. He told the Chattanooga Times that his constituents would get no further assistance from him on any issues related to roads if we didn’t pass the TSPLOST (even though his district is hardly the entire TSPLOST region), and vowed a return to “horse and buggy days” if his baby was rejected. It failed by a 2 to 1 margin in every county he represents except Dade, where it barely squeaked by. I expect Sen. Mullis to dip into his considerable campaign account and begin purchasing those horses any day now.

    Buzz, just because they’re respectful to you doesn’t mean they’re respectful to us.. And whatever level of respect you find in Atlanta, you certainly don’t find among local government officials here in Walker County.

    — LU

  5. griftdrift says:

    Here’s a couple of things that would help.

    Ratchet down the “government is useless/evil/the problem” rhetoric. It was a good political cudgel in a two party state, but now that your party is the only party, you are the ones being hammered. Exactly how are people supposed to trust the government when they’ve been told for decades it’s all but worthless? Criticize where needed but governing is surgery, not butchery.

    Secondly, you’ve allowed “conservatism” to be so narrowly defined that any step out of bounds, no matter how practical, will brand you an apostate and will further feed the distrust engendered in the first point.

    My view of conservative is “as little as possible, as much as necessary”. As long as you only emphasize the first, when the time comes to execute the second, you will only amplify both of my previous points.

    • Anyone But Chip says:

      Very well said. In example of how narrowly defined conservatism is in Cherokee county is that any Board of Education member that didn’t vote for an extremely poorly written Charter School application was asked to renounce their Republican Party affiliation. The fact that their stated intent was fiscal conservatism and ensuring that the taxpayer did not get left holding the bill for a private entities debt was no excuse for violating a sacrosanct school choice mandate.

      After that, they only used their power to change how the school board is elected and redistricted seats in such a manner as to ensure that those who opposed the charter were in the same district.

      This is why / how trust gets thrown out the window.

  6. CobbGOPer says:

    I just have one statement, Buzz: “We’ve been doing this 20 years and keep getting re-elected.” If that’s not contempt, I don’t know what is. And yet this man is STILL chairman of the most powerful committee in the Senate.

    They may not always express their contempt openly, but it’s there. Not all of them share that contempt, but enough do. And those people need to go.

    However Erick also meant that the big corporations – Chamber of Commerce groups also hold extreme contempt for us regular citizens not ‘doing what we’re told.’ Dave Williams from the Chamber saying basically that we should listen to Delta because they create jobs, something tea parties don’t do. And when these guys start throwing money at politicians to push their own agendas – agendas that hold us regular citizens in contempt – then we have serious problems.

    • DeKalb Wonkette says:

      Amen on the big corporations!

      Check out this new video “How a bill becomes law – ALEC style”!

  7. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I agree with Grift on the larger points he makes.

    On a personal note I would add that my own Rep. Matt Dollar may not “hate me”, but he does hold the voters and activists with a wry contempt. This is evidenced by his complete lack of contact with the district, zero returned phone calls, zero visibility -until he was primmaried that is. While he may get elected repeatedly, he hasn’t “represented” district 45 in at least 3 cycles.

    Judson Hill is on par with Matt in the MIA department.

    Absence in this case does not make the heart grow fonder.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Funny that when given a choice over half of your neighbors chose to keep him. He must really be awful.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          Ok. So the neighbors are ignorant or were voting for incumbents in the most anti-incumbent election in years. Not.

      • Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

        Interesting math you have here Bob.

        Since the Cobb turnout was only 31% of registered voters, “half my neighbors” didn’t do anything on Tuesday but keep playing tennis and shopping at Whole Foods.

        A third of the voters in 45 came to the polls and only 6,137 of them voted for Dollar. In East Cobb we get more people to a Walton Football game.

        Dollar would be more than foolish to think he’s liked or respected. I’d say differently if he’d earned 80% but he didn’t.

        MATT DOLLAR (I) (REP) 58.06% 6,137
        NICK JOHNSON (REP) 9.95% 1,052
        CYNTHIA M. ROZZO (REP) 31.99% 3,381
        10,570

        • Napoleon says:

          People who don’t show are expressing an opinion too. They don’t care enough about the incumbent to vote him out, but don’t care if he stays there either.

          • Ken says:

            The other option is that they don’t believe their votes will matter. Ironic, because if those who failed to vote agreed on a single candidate, they could elect him nearly effortlessly.

  8. John Konop says:

    The problem as I see it, is the GOP grew with a very anti-government message ie trust issue. The grass roots groups somehow think the out dated infrastructure that we have now grew out of nowhere. This group cannot comprehend that infrastructure investment by tax payers has been the cornerstone of our country since the beginning. And that this type of investment from Lewis and Clark, railroads, airports, highways, electronic grid, internet……………is what made us great. We are now falling behind places like China, Brazil……..while we get into irrational debates about even if we need the investment.

    Instead of the debate about real solutions we hear crazy talk like local control. They are not even rational enough to understand that planning cannot be done in a local community for the needs we are facing. As I said before, places like Texas, NC, China……are laughing at you guys!

    • CobbGOPer says:

      John, I’ve lived in China, and trust me, their infrastructure is nowhere near ours right now. Though I grant you they are throwing trillions at their infrastructure development. But they’ve still got a loooong way to go.

      • Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

        1 in 3 people in Beijing and Shanghai have no kitchen or bathroom of their own. In fact most urban folks I spoke with in March are completely mystified why we’re so concerned about them, they see their own issues as crippling and can’t imagine how we’ve become so concerned.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      John: May I point out that some very smart people looked at TSLPOST and decided that we could do better with our limited resources. Not one person was anit-government or anti-growth or imporvemnt in infrastructure. In fact it hurt to vote no.
      Every day there are examples of government waste. And our Federal dollars are drying up.
      Just because we wanted our tax dollars to create traffic relief does not give anyone the right to say we are anti-infrastructure.
      Its a shame Governor Deal doesn’t see the opportunity here to go big and raise the bar.
      We had a hard time voting against TSPLOST, but I live in a county where the County Commissioner has been self serving and he is now a very rich man and he picked the projects. I believe other counties have seen graft from their commissioners as well.
      So keep on dumping on the tea party or what ever blame group that is in fashion……..its just not them………its us the unwashed that are wanting better for our children and to say anything else is just false.

  9. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    I haven’t met you in person but based on your writings here, I don’t believe YOU hate us or were one of the people Erick was pointing too.

    If you want to see what Legislators think about their constituents, talk about allowing background checked Georgians to carry firearms in Churches and in Schools. You will quickly see how LITTLE the majority of the Legislature thinks of Georgians. The legislators treat us as if we are little toddlers and they are the parents trying to keep sharp objects from our hands.

    I’ve been told numerous times that Georgia Weapons Licensees are just criminals that haven’t committed a crime yet, that the Legislators won’t let us carry in Church because we will drop our gun and kill someone in the choir, and that we can’t carry in Schools because the government decides what your child needs in school. These are statements from Republicans. You should hear the stuff my Rep says about Georgians that carry guns. :0

    The part that drives me nuts about Republicans defending gun control is that Georgia Weapons Licensees are more law abiding and responsible than any other demographic/social group in the state, including law enforcement. Yet, Speaker Ralston and Lt. Gov. Cagle don’t trust us to defend our families and children in a responsible manner, despite having proven that we are responsible with the fingerprint and background investigations. Its insulting.

    I don’t think you hate us, but I know that the Lt. Governor, the Speaker, and majority of Legislators don’t think much of Georgians.

    my experience in lobbying for gun rights here in Georgia,

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Does Lt. Governor have the need for an SUV and driver paid for by taxpayers? He is a very nice man. Perhaps a peach pass and a electric car would set an example for Ga’s future?

  10. IndyInjun says:

    Buzz,

    After SB 31 and now this debacle, we are not feeling the love.

    IF there had been the true desire to improve trust in the aftermath of GA 400, the DOT accounting meltdown, and the missuses of trust funds, it does seem that their “base case” IT3 stats might have reflected reality rather than 8% growth next year. More lies added to the fire that was smoldering.

    IF there had been the desire to look like anything other than jackbooted thugs, there would not have been TSPLOST advocacy all over the place in state and local government and there would not have been illegal signs all over rights of way.

    You are a good guy, but most of the gold dome crowd are bums and the people know it.

    Indy

  11. Blog Goliard says:

    It’s nothing personal, Buzz…but I, for one, simply presume that all elected officials have a disdain for their constituents until proven otherwise.

    Why wouldn’t I presume so, when the presumption has proven a far better fit to reality than my former presumption, that most elected officials are just good people trying to do their best to serve their constituents?

    Why shouldn’t I presume so, when I can count the number of fundraising letters and campaign mailers that I’ve received over the past decade that *don’t* insult my intelligence on one hand?

    On this subject, as on so many others, people have every right to consider the word “incumbent” as synonymous with “guilty until proven innocent”. This sucks for the few diamonds in the rough, yes…but on the other hand, I’ve seen so many diamonds become tarnished from staying on display for too long that if this negativity drives even the good people out a term or two earlier than otherwise, that’s actually to the good.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      What a horrible disposition you have! To believe that disdain motivates a person to lay down their private life, become a public figure and run to represent their neighbors is completely conterintuitve.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        You have a very noble view of governing, but government history is a long line of people who set out to do well and become victims to their own thirst for power. Cap that off with the fact that the American people have a long and proud history of generally not trusting government by default. It’s nothing personal; I just think it’s in the blood.

  12. Baker says:

    Balfour, Rogers and others not withstanding, I definitely agree there was a lot of mistrust spillover from Federal to state that is unfair. Both over wasteful spending and over infrastructure investment in general.

    Related but a tangential point: The Obama “stimulus” was not a stimulus. Only 7% of the money allocated in that bill actually went to infrastructure. The rest was a Congressional slush fund for unions, state budgets, probably defense, and it was a bipartisan problem but mainly led by Nancy Pelosi. Hold the tomatoes please, but if they had shrank that bill in half and poured the whole thing into infrastructure, we’d be looking at a much different situation.

    • Charlie says:

      Which further feeds the mistrust. We were sold a “stimulus” that anyone paying attention and with any understanding of economics knew wasn’t one. And then it didn’t work, and the administration wanted to do another one. For reelz this time.

      This distrust is being earned at all levels of government.

  13. joe says:

    Buzz,

    Over the last 5 years, I have had conversations with my county commissioner, the chair of the BOC, my GA Represntative and Senator, an my US Representative. Their attitudes ranged from bored to condescending to arrogant.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      In Hall County, our Chairman made the rule that no citizen shall have more than 2 minutes to speak at any meeting. He and others also do not allow you on their agenda unless they approve. Its like they think its their own personal TV show.
      My state and house reps will not help thousands of Georgians with a little problem with Buford Gas. Have you seen Buford Citys recently built TRUMP TOWERS, Donald Trump would blush. You see Buford GAs keeps your deposit of $300 for ever with no interest, they also do not care if there rates are within market norms. While I am happy for Buford, many poor folks this amount is almost more than half a years bills………………..its really hurting the elderly and working poor…………no help from anyone. No answers to emails, or phone calls.
      And we could go on and on and on……………….They seem to cover for government taking advantage of poor people.

  14. TPNoGa says:

    I have to agree that a good portion seem to imply contempt for the voters.

    In fairness, I have to say I like my state Senator, Fran Millar. He has actually been the one to answer his phone and actually listened. I don’t think he has any contempt toward his constituents. I am sure he gets annoyed at times, but I don’t sense any contempt.

    • Charlie says:

      You have an exceptional and unique Senator. One I need to spend more time talking to, quite frankly. He’s part of the solution, not part of the problem.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        It is very nice, and seemingly somewhat kind of rare, to hear someone speak highly of an elected official these days.

        • Charlie says:

          There are many who do a great job, are honest, and try to do the right thing. The problem with Georgia at least recently is that too many in the upper positions of leadership and power are able to almost insulate themselves from the voters with institutional incumbent protection. Those bad actors are the most visible, and hold the broad brush that their peers are painted with.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            That’s what happens when much of the population of eligible voters was born somewhere else as is the case in Metro Atlanta.

            • Calypso says:

              A transient population which accounts for short-term institutional knowledge coupled with voter apathy are some of the reasons worthless incumbents keep getting elected.

              Add the incumbency protection program in which the legislature loves to indulge and you have the mess we do now.

              • saltycracker says:

                Most of the transients would not be in Atlanta if it were not for those stinkin’ jobs.
                And more of them will unexpectedly (for them) stay in the area near their kids.
                The good news is they raise the skill/educated pool.

          • Ken says:

            Charlie,

            A large part of the problem is that many voters (defined as citizens who, possibly out of curiosity, visit a polling place at election time) do not bother to learn anything about the legislation or the legislators.

            Even worse, many are content to remain ignorant or rely on less-than-reliable sources for their information. At some point we ceased educating our people on the awesome responsibilities of citizenship.

            There is sufficient guilt to go around and it’s easier to blame our elected officials than to blame our next-door neighbor or family. The man who has a brain and refuses to use it is effectively worse than the man who is not mentally capable of making a good decision.

  15. ryanhawk says:

    “It’s growing increasingly more difficult to deal seriously with the issues”

    Respectfully, when has the state or federal government dealt “seriously” with any issue of import? From my viewpoint the big issue at the Federal level is entitlement spending. And yet not a single elected Republican or Democrat will talk openly about a real solution to runaway Medicare spending or Social Security benefits that are overly generous given the available funding. Instead what our elected Representatives have done is make the problem worse. Medicare part D was an unfunded expansion making that problem worse and the payroll tax cut made the Social Security problem worse. Seriously? I don’t think so. As Mitch Daniels said, the threat to these programs comes from people who in plain contempt of simple math refuse to do anything.

    At the state level the serious issue is education spending. We spend more and more and get no better results. More and more people are opting for private school and home school because that is the only way they can get the customized education their children deserve. And yet we can not even get something as simple as a “Tim Tebow Bill” out of committee in the House, much less any real meaningful reform which would reduce spending, expand choice, or increase accountability. Georgia trails far behind other states with Republican majorities in education reform. How are you “seriously” dealing with any of that?

  16. Bob Loblaw says:

    They need to deal with “serious issues” and the first thing you cite as an issue the legislature hasn’t acted upon is the Tim Tebow Bill? That’s serious to parents who don’t want to send their kids to public schools except for extra-curriculars, but there’s a long line of “serious” issues before you get to that one.

    • ryanhawk says:

      If you will read a little more carefully BL I cite a “Tim Tebow Bill” as something simple and contrast it with “any real meaningful reform.”

  17. Rick Day says:

    “..we don’t hate you”

    Then practice what you preach, Buzz. Because you follow conflicting oaths.

    You have to pledge to follow the GA GOP platform, or you can not run for office as a “Republican”.

    That platform is built on a foundation of bigotry and fear, which lead to hate and intolerance.

    And before you can take office, you must take an oath to uphold the respective Constitutions. The hate comes when you use the latter to come in line socially with the former.

    There was only 30% voter turnout, considered “brisk” at 31 out of 100 voters. And voters only represent about 65~ out of 100 citizens.

    When I voted, I did not support one incumbent. I refused to click on anyone running opposed (only a thoughtless drone would do that). More people are using that as their ‘choice’, an yr god bless ’em for that.

    You guys best do something sane this time around, and quit picking on the poor or the homosexuals. Like create a medical marijuana revenue generating program. Now that is a tax I am sure many would get behind, Buzz.

    Thanks for sticking your chin out here. It’s rare anyone has the stones at the GD to do so to a room full of critics. It says a lot about your character and a whole lot about your compadres lack of same.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      “When I voted, I did not support one incumbent. I refused to click on anyone running opposed (only a thoughtless drone would do that).”

      Nice to know I wasn’t the only one. If I didn’t have the option to write in a candidate for an unopposed seat (which I wasn’t able to do with my state senator and rep, why? I was able to write in for the unopposed judge positions…) I left it blank. Then I proceeded to vote for non-incumbents in the contested races.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        I’d add to don’t vote for the unopposed whether they’re incumbent or not. Also, I don’t withhold voting for the unopposed in every instance. I will vote for the unopposed when the candidate was my exceptional support, but that’s a single digits percentage occurance.

    • Ken says:

      Rick,

      I could be wrong, but I’m not (Eagles reference). The GOP requires an oath that says one accepts the principles of the Republican Party and does not have allegiance to another political party. It varies.

      Those principles are open to interpretation.

  18. Kilkenny Kid says:

    I agree with Buzz. The “everyone legislator is cynical and/or corrupt” theme from Erik and Charlie is getting really old and it’s just not true. The vast majority of legislators are in it for the right reason – public service & trying to make a positive difference. While there may be a few rotten apples in the bunch, that can be said for any group of people.

    The pounding that people like Chip Rogers has taken on this site during the election cycle is completely unwarranted and short cited. Chip is a leading advocate for smaller government, less taxes and the important of free-enterprise. For this he and others (like Buzz) deserve our support not a bunch of arm chair QBing and claims that they’re “not worthy.”

    • Anyone But Chip says:

      It’s sentiment like this that creates the situation we are in. I hope you are not a Cherokee voter, but it seems that a large part of his constituency agrees with you.

      I am a Cherokee voter and I will never pull the lever for Chip Rogers again. Is he conservative, you betcha. Am I? You betcha! Do I agree with smaller government, less taxes and the importance of free enterprise. Heck yeah!

      But I feel that a legislator should retire when he becomes a professional politician. This happened some years ago with Chip and now his campaign coffers are filled by out of state corporations and he’s signing his name to an “Incumbent Protection Program” to ensure that no one can come close to raising enough money to beat him.

      His agenda is written by ALEC and when he deigns to pay attention to his constituents it’s to orchestrate a gerrymandering of BOE districts because he can’t stand the fact that a Charter School was denied. He’d prefer that local tax dollars go to pay for land that will be owned by someone else and that private debts would be absorbed by the county because it ticks off a box on his Conservative checklist. He’ll create a State level amendment to force the localities to comply, all along suggesting that he’s doing it for the parents.

      He’s doing it for the power, and you sir are sitting on the porch rocking in your chair admiring him for it.

    • George Dickel says:

      “The pounding that people like Chip Rogers has taken on this site during the election cycle is completely unwarranted and short cited [sic]”

      Chip Rogers could be flayed mercilessly on this site 4-chan style and it would be warranted.

  19. seenbetrdayz says:

    This post sort of reads like a chick who covers for the boyfriend who beats her. You okay buzz? If they threatened you to get you say this, we understand.

    • Calypso says:

      I never thought about that. Perhaps Buzz can give us some sort of signal in one his replies if he’s being held hostage to write this as well as his responses.

      Buzz, the signal will be to use a vowel in any of the words of your next reply, then we’ll know you’re being held against your will and threatened by Ralston with a having your office moved to the basement and sharing it with Stacy Abrams and Able Mable Thomas.

  20. Dave Bearse says:

    Hate’s much too strong a word, Buzz, but face it, you (not you personally, GOP representation in general) don’t like us if were Dems. If that weren’t true, the travesty of DeKalb redistricting would not have occurred.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Heck. They don’t like republicans who criticize republicans, either. —Which is unfortunate, because you have to hold your own party accountable or else they smear the party’s image. A young man stood up at State Convention in Columbus earlier this year and used the phrase, “dragging this party’s good name through the mud.” Well, he was right-on. That’s what the most powerful and influential folks in the majority leadership are doing to the GOP right now.

      I’m sure there’s plenty of folks who envy democrats for they’re ability to speak up against it. It’s pretty much expected that they criticize republican ‘leaders.’ But when a republican criticizes his party by calling it like he sees it, well, it’s almost as if you’d thought that critic had spit on Jesus or something. That’s why fewer and fewer people are finding a place in the GOP. You either play along with it or shut up.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        And, knowing what I know about partisan hackery, I’m sure there’s probably the same attitude on the democratic side, you know? — Some unwritten rule that ‘you don’t dare question your leaders. ‘ Then, what happens? The ones paying attention to the fact that their party was going off the deep end were marginalized by that party’s leadership, and then the pendulum swings and the other party takes the majority, only to suffer this same exact pattern that ruined their predecessors.

        —It’s the pride before the fall.

  21. jiminga says:

    Saying Georgia politicians don’t actually hold citizens in contempt doesn’t make it true. It’s about time they prove it isn’t true.

    T-SPLOST is a good example. Our politicians knew is was fatally flawed but decided to “let the voters decide”, wasting valuable time and lots of money on both sides of the issue.

    A good analogy is our tort system. In days past the merits of a lawsuit were reviewed by the presiding judge and he/she either threw it out or allowed it to proceed. Today, most judges prefer to “let the system decide”, causing huge court expense and backlogs.

    Both Georgia and the nation suffer from a lack of leadership, with most “leaders” preferring to not cause any waves. Those that do try to lead are called radicals.

  22. SabrinaWorks247 says:

    Buzz: I have not had the opportunity to meet with you, but I have heard that you are one of the good guys in Gwinnett. I was a little surprised by your comments. As we all know, in Gwinnett, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners resigned in lieu of indictment, one commissioner was indicted for bribery, and another commissioner entered a guilty plea to bribery and drug charges. The U.S. Attorney asked for a delay in sentencing for the most recently disgraced commissioner because she is cooperating in their continuing investigation to root out corruption in Gwinnett County, so it’s possible there could be additional arrests. Gwinnett citizens have been subjected to a steady stream of decisions by our elected officials that cost taxpayers dearly, including questionable land deals, the Braves Stadium, the Collins Hill Golf Course, the trash plan, the rezoning for a waste transfer station next to the Vietnamese Catholic Church, and efforts to bring 737s to our local airport.

    Given that, why do you question Erick’s statement that “much of the political establishment in Georgia holds the citizens in contempt”? What many of the elected officials in Gwinnett have done is contemptible. Why shouldn’t Gwinnett citizens be skeptical? We know all politicians are not corrupt, but our track record in Gwinnett provides a very good reason for being skeptical. One Gwinnett community leader asked why a grandmother like me would spend my spare time filing open records requests to learn more about our local government. I told him it is because so many Gwinnett residents get no response at all or are treated with contempt when they contact their elected officials. He laughed.

    Buzz; if you would like some grandmotherly advice, I suggest you spend some time talking to the residents of Gwinnett who feel that they are being left on the side of the road by elected officials and community leaders who don’t want to be bothered by average citizens. I will post an example of some emails that I believe show the contempt with which average citizens are held by elected officials and community leaders in Gwinnett. Do you think that grandmothers like me who have questions about their local government should be “researched”, subjected to sarcasm, and made to follow “ground rules” for simply asking how tax money is being spent?

    • Sabrina,

      Thanks for your comments. Your efforts to draw attention to wasted money is greatly appreciated. It’s particularly egregious that our School Board is spending money on “economic development” and giving their Superintendent a big raise while complaining about budget cuts and refusing to hire more teachers.

      I know full well the corruption that 3 of our Commissioners were involved in. I’m as outraged as you are. You should also know that I’ve knocked over ten thousand doors for my campaign and while campaigning for others, including over 100 just last Saturday. I’ve had a Town Hall meeting, and participated in a couple of others in my two years in office. I interact with Gwinnett voters on Facebook, via email, phone calls, and on this blog. I’ve had plenty of discussion, and even been cussed at a few times. I know full well how Gwinnett voters feel.

      I quoted above the problem I have with Erick’s post. It’s wrong to say every or even most elected officials across Georgia have contempt for their voters. It’s flat out wrong.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Buzz,

        It may be wrong to you to say that every or even most elected officials across Georgia have contempt for their voters, particularly because you now have the viewpoint of being an elected official, and it may even be flat-out wrong in the overall scheme of things as most elected officials likely are not corrupt.

        But widescale public perception, both here in Georgia and across the nation, is that elected officials as a whole have contempt for the voters, a perception that has largely been fed by the unethical and corrupt actions of a select few in key leadership positions.

        Often if something looks to be very awry with those who visibly lead an organization, then the entire organization often gets perceived by the public to be completely corrupt and rotten-to-the-core (see Enron, the White House, Congress, Wall Street, big banks, MARTA, GDOT, etc) even though it may have been a select few within an organization or body that engaged in the very corrupt and highly-unethical activity.

        The problem here is Georgia is that, through repeated and recurring incidents, political leadership has been so seemingly increasingly incompetent, inept, ineffective and corrupt that the public thinks that all elected officials are corrupt and contemptuous of voters.

        It’s so true that just one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch. something that especially seems to be true here as the type of unethical and corrupt behavior that has voters so upset and angry at their elected officials seems to be tolerated and even encouraged in many government bodies from local government all the way up through federal government.

        • seekingtounderstand says:

          A group of citizens where actually told by a PSC elected offical that we would have to lobby with money to get help with Buford Gas issue. He said thats just how things work and to get over it.

      • SabrinaWorks247 says:

        Hi Buzz:

        I hope we have the opportunity to meet and discuss some of these issues. As I said, I have heard you are one of the good guys, and we sorely need those in Gwinnett! I spoke to Sam Olens on Thursday and his office is going to help with my latest open records request to allow Gwinnett taxpayers to learn more about how their tax dollars are being spent. I had already retained an attorney to assist me with that and another related issue. I think it shows that we still have a lot of work to do in Gwinnett County when a private citizen has to hire attorneys and ask the Georgia Attorney General for help just to get basic information about government expenditures.

        It is especially troubling that the Gwinnett County school board started making the payments of Gwinnett Chamber employees’ salaries in 2007, but open records requests do not show one shred of documentation except for the one page invoice that the chamber sends to GCPS each year. Despite the following statement that GCPS gave to me to explain why they pay these salaries, there are no minutes of any board meetings where this was discussed, there was no vote of the school board on this, and there is no contract that would outline what the chamber would do in return for the payments.

        “In response to the Chamber’s invitation, CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks approached the Gwinnett County Board of Education about the district appropriately joining the Partnership Gwinnett initiative. The Board agreed with the benefits outlined and the funding approach identified. The Board insisted that the funding be done on an annual basis and that the benefits of the district’s involvement be evaluated each year.”

        If it was not so egregious, it would almost be funny that GCPS described the chamber asking them for money as an “invitation”. When panhandlers on the street ask you for money, do you consider it an “invitation”?

        I am glad you are troubled by the GCPS payments to the Gwinnett Chamber. I would love to have your help in asking GCPS to explain this, so we can get this straightened out, put behind us, and GCPS can focus their attention (and our education tax dollars!) on educating students.

        Isn’t it sad that just because I asked the very basic question of what government entities provided funding to the Gwinnett Chamber, and in what amounts, that they immediately assumed I had some ulterior motive? We are always respectful of organizations when we ask questions and we never make requests that would require an inordinate amount of time. The questions we asked should have taken 2 minutes to answer, as the information should have been readily available. I can understand that it would be bothersome if everyone asked for information every day, but that has not happened. It is not as if they had a line of other grandmothers lined up around the building asking questions! Despite what the chamber seemed to think, I really am just a grandmother who is interested in learning, and informing others, about what goes on in our local government.

  23. SabrinaWorks247 says:

    Perhaps if community leaders were a little more willing to be open and transparent about the use of taxpayer money, we would not think that “much of the political establishment in Georgia holds the citizens in contempt.” Read the following emails and explain why we should not think we are held in contempt.

    From: XXXXX
    To: SabrinaWorks247
    Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2012 10:25:35 -0500
    Subject: Meeting Opportunity

    Sabrina:
    Hello. XXXX and I would like to schedule an appointment with you. The agenda for the meeting will be to present the XXXXX to you in an effort to give you an understanding of the strategy. We will also attempt to answer questions that you might have about XXXXX.
    I have researched “Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government” and I cannot find much information on your website. Is the group registered with the Secretary of State’s Office? Are you a registered Lobbyist? Who are the members of your organization? You have been widely quoted in the media, but that is all that my research has uncovered.
    Sincerely,
    XXXX

    On Mar 6, 2012, at 10:51 AM, “Sabrina Smith” wrote:
    Hi XXXX:
    I am simply a grandmother sitting at home with a laptop who is interested in local government. Gwinnet Citizens for Responsible Government is not registered with the Secretary of State’s office, we are not lobbyists, and we are not a non-profit organization. We are approximately 300 people who originally started working together to learn more about our local government when then-Chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Charles Bannister complained that the “problems in Gwinnett County are caused by residents who do not understand local government.”
    I would be happy to meet with you and will look forward to learning more about XXXXXX.
    Sabrina Smith, Chairman
    Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government

    Sent: Tue 3/06/12 11:11 PM
    To: Sabrina Smith
    Cc: XXXX
    Sabrina:
    A simple grandmother is either the understatement of 2012 or an attempt at humor. Either way I will check with XXXX’s calendar and get back with some dates and the ground rules for our meeting.
    Sincerely,
    XXXX

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Yeah, that last e-mail was totally uncalled-for. I hope whomever that person works for is no longer in office in Gwinnett if his staff is going to be so unprofessional to constituents.

      • SabrinaWorks247 says:

        Hi CobbGOPer: I think that last email makes my point to Buzz better than anything I could write. My point in saying that I am simply a grandmother was missed entirely by the email recipient. I am no one, just like thousands of other Gwinnett residents who are worried about the actions of our elected officials. Apparently, unless you are someone, you are to be treated with contempt if you ask questions about government.

        • bowersville says:

          I am no one

          So are we. But the no ones add up at the voting booth. Welcome to the grass roots of politics.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Problem is, you can’t just be a ‘concerned citizen’ anymore without politicians thinking you’re just out to get them (hence ‘ground rules’ when meeting constituents). This is how people act when they are afraid of losing power/control…

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Yes.

        If anything, I’m timidly hopeful that there are people within the GOP who are starting to speak up against their leaders. It shows that there may be a portion of the party that realizes ‘thinking for oneself’ is still a viable alternative to following others off a cliff. Keep it up, and the GOP might actually turn into a vibrant party full of coloful opinions and bold free speech—you know, something actually worth joining.

        • seenbetrdayz says:

          or coloRful opinions, even;

          BTW this non-edit stuff just isn’t working. Comment with errors and you can’t fix it. Then you try to comment again to correct yourself, and it takes you to a page that says ‘you’re posting comments too quickly, slow down.’ LOL

        • CobbGOPer says:

          Sad part is, the GOP used to BE the party of ‘thinking for yourself.’ But now they’re just like Democrats: if you don’t agree with me, you’re evil/stupid/against me.

          • Ken says:

            Some people love power more than they love truth. When the GOP became the majority party in Georgia we either inherited or produced a lot of those.

              • Dave Bearse says:

                They’ve demonstrated themselves to be a party of minority party principles, which is why they’re failing as the majority party.

                The solution, increase the majority and the lessership’s political power!

          • Dave Bearse says:

            You’re only noticing that now because the GOP hierarchy now has the power to turn on you as a GOPer. The evil/stupid/against me argument was been a decades long GOP staple applied to anyone outside the GOP.

  24. saltycracker says:

    Don’t see it as hate, a strong word. A better analogy of attitude may be intoxication from an absence of term limits. Politics should not be a career at least not in the same office.

    Or career politicians could see the average constituent as the young pretty ladies perceive old Harry and Calypso……..invisible.

    • Calypso says:

      I must clarify, Balfour is my only state representative that treats me as if I were non-existent. I have a good relationship with the other, including commissioners at the county level.

  25. RAMBO says:

    Buzz, do you keep up with your peers habits? I have lived in my home since 1986. My GA state senator has not held one townhall meeting in a great number of years. As far as I know, he has never had one during his entire time of being in office. When spoken to he is distant, you seem like a nuisance instead of someone he is supposed to represent. I have a friend that has shaken the senators hand over 30 times and each time the senator tells him, “It’s so good to meet you.” How many times do you “meet” someone?
    The GA state representative is a little better. In about a decade he has had one townhall meeting that I can remember. The meeting was not well publicized, I think intentionally, to keep informed citizens from asking tough questions. Other than his family member about 7 people showed up and the only tough question was met with “I’ll get back to you on that.” He never did.
    The Republican party is kept small intentionally so a few can stay in power. There are more than 80,000 registered Republicans in the county and less than 300 paying members. That, my friend, is a shame.
    It’s hard to feel love for a group that, for the most part, treat you with little respect, don’t vote according the the plafform they ran on and continue to find ways to hide additional taxes levied on the public. An example is the HB 1055 better known as “Drivers License Bill” that evolved from HB307. That became known also as the “hospital bed fees” that placed additional fees on patients in hospitals. The sick and infirmed are the last that need to be taxed. Kindly show me the logic in that.
    On the same bill(s) which is also referred to as the Ralston Amendment almost all Republicans voted to attached said amendment to the Georgia Budget. Those Republicans having opposition in the primary for their bid to remain in office were given the luxury of not voting for the final version thereby enabling them to say “I didn’t vote for a tax increase” to make their campaigns look better. The average citizen did not know the truth. If they did not believe in the amendment then why did they vote to attach said amendment to the budget? This bill also increased almost every license and certificate the public needs or uses. Fishing, hunting, birth/death certificates and so on. Many had increases of 250%. I can’t hear the kindness in the General Assembly’s voice due to the screaming of their behavior in representation or lack thereof.
    Again tell me why I should feel all warm and fuzzy about the General Assembly that deceives me so frequently. Did I forget to mention TSPLOST? Land deals? Stadiums? Padded expense accounts? Lobbyist gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars for campaigns from developers and many others from outside the state? Trips for families to foreign nations?
    Come to think of it, you guys should really be sucking up to us!

  26. OK. I’ve read almost all of these comments. It’s clear y’all don’t like your elected officials.

    I sure hope you folks don’t talk to your elected officials in person the way you do anonymously here on Peach Pundit. Believe me, it gets old being told you’re corrupt, an idiot or just to stupid to write a post on a blog for yourself. You can only let that stuff roll of your back so often. I’m sure there are people in my district who think I’m a jerk but when an email starts of with “if you don’t do exactly what I tell you to do I’m going to vote you out” sometimes you tell them to go for it. There are 53,000 other people in my district who want me to do exactly what they want me to do too.

    I’m sure this will stir things up because as an elected official I’m supposed have skin thick enough to take insults over and over again without responding. Respect is a two way street folks. People who are going to hurl insult at their elected official because they disagree with him/her over a few votes are not helping improve the political process.

    • SabrinaWorks247 says:

      Buzz: I do not think I insulted you and that was not my intention. I did not call you corrupt, or an idiot, stupid or a jerk. I am not anonymous. I am Sabrina Smith, and I do not understand why you think we are insulting you because we are trying to explain to you why voters are worried about the actions of elected officials. We’re all worried about Gwinnett County, the State of Georgia and the entire country. We’re all scared right now. Aren’t you, too? I really DO understand why you feel offended because voters are skeptical of all politicians, even though you are honest. Do you NOT understand why we are skeptical? I apologize if you misunderstood my comments, but your response just reinforces why many average people are hesitant to talk to their elected officials.

    • Anyone But Chip says:

      Thanks for the belly laugh. You stick your foot in it and it’s all our fault. You sir, are a fantastic politician!

    • saltycracker says:

      Buzz,

      Psychology 101 – doesn’t take 100% shocks or rewards from politicians to form a response unless the recepient is untrainable.
      The overwhelming steady stream of shockers of multi-groups gets a free pass only from the select rewarded groups or the incorrigble.

      B.F.. Skinner & Pavlov explained this long ago.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Buzz – You don’t count as being representative of the G.A. As I’ve mentioned on PP before, I’d e-mailed about a half dozen times last session all of the members of a particular Committee or Group on specific legislation or another matter before that Committee or Group. I received one response, from you—placing you among the 1-2%.

  27. seenbetrdayz says:

    Well, one chief complaint on here is that a lot of folks have a rediculously hard time actually getting to talk to their elected officials in-person, so whether they’d be polite or not seems rather moot.

    I do have to say though, that you’re definitely getting points in communication by ‘sticking your chin out’ as Rick Day mentioned above. Maybe you should be the Speaker.

    • mountainpass says:

      I can talk to my reps anytime I want. I have their cell phone numbers.
      I helped in one of their campaigns and offered in the other. I would imagine it would be more difficult if I had picked the wrong horse, or had just gotten involved with politics and inherited an old warhorse. Also I email a couple of others and hear back from them within a couple of days.

  28. RAMBO says:

    Buzz, if you have a clean slate then your chin should not be sore. The jab was intended for those guilty of that type of behavior. I don’t believe anything I said was untrue. The newpapers, radio, television and personal experiences have confirmed most of the deeds, if not all, mentioned. Personally, I like you but the behavior, actions and end results of the General Assembly as a group representing Georgia, make me not trust most (not all) under the Dome.
    Here is Websters definition of Govern:
    Gov´ern: v. t. 1. To direct and control, as the actions or conduct of men, either by established laws or by arbitrary will; to regulate by authority.
    If the elected went in office with a servant attitude and conducted their term with that mentality there would be no problem. Most seeking office want to serve until elected and then they want to GOVERN! There is a great differnce. Nothing personal.

  29. Jimmy orr says:

    Buzz, you only have to go back to Tuesday, July 31, 2012, and understand why TSPLOST became TSPLAT to reflect back on why the natives are restless so to speak when it comes to trust of their elected officials. Take January 2011, when per HB 277 (Transportation Investment Act) a roundtable was seated from among the ten counties within our Atlanta Region Transportation District. Do you recall that members of the roundatable were to be the county commission chairman from each of the ten counties and a mayor from each county who was to be selected by his/her peers from the incorporated cities within each county? Thus, a duly selected 20 member roundtable was seated. From among those 20 members a 5 member Excecutive Committee was appointed with Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson appointed to serve as Chairman. Now that we are up to speed let’s look at what happened in January 2011. Intrusion by Mr. Speaker and others saw the 20 member roundtable increased to 21 members and the 5 member Exceutive Committee increased to 6 members with the intrusion of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Mayor Johnson retained his position as Chairman of the Executive Committee without voting privileges. Never could figure that one out. What begin as a plan to relieve traffic congestion begin to unravel with such buzz (no pun intended) words thrown in such as economic development (Atlanta Beltline Project), job creation, and, in my opinion, begin to look like a bailout for MARTA. MARTA projects that “stuck in my craw” were TIA-M-001 through TIA-M-014 MARTA State of Good Repair and Station Enhancements (Consolidated) in the amount of $600,000,000 million dollars. Among the aforementioned projects was to be the upgrade of existing escalators in existing MARTA rail stations. Wouldn’t you think that the repair and upgrade to escalators in their rail stations should have been a budgeted in their ongoing operating & maintenance expenditures from day one? Ask yourself the question, “How would upgrading existing escalators in existing rail stations releieve traffic congestion? Look at it this way. During the course of one month I travel most of the interstate network in Metro Atlanta. I have yet to see anyone commuting to and from work on an escalator. Hopefully, my comment will help you understand where the distrust factor comes from. as it pertained to TSPLAT. James H. (Jimmy) Orr, Jr.

  30. seekingtounderstand says:

    We need a new system a 1,2,3 steps for smart busy people to make smart votes!
    I have asked many to vote this time and register. Smart people who are running businesses and raising families. They say….I do not have the time to be informed and I do not trust sound bites or the media anymore.
    Develop a 1,2,3 with a rule of “if not sure on who to vote for its always best to vote out the current office holder so that they do not get to powerful”. Public office was not suppose to be a career.
    Step 1 click on web site that shows current ballot, and remember Ga is a one party state. If you say your a Democrat you will have no one to vote for sometimes.
    Step 2 click on voting record of current office holder.
    Step 3
    We print up millions of these cards and pass them out to everyone and run ads. Make voting easy and make smart votes.

  31. GTKay says:

    “If not sure on who to vote for it’s always best to vote out the current office holder so that they do not get to powerful”?

    What a silly thing to say. It’s your vote so knock yourself out, but your whole post is about making researching a candidate easier in order to vote responsibly. But, oh well, if you don’t have the time to do the research, take it out on the incumbent.

    • Blog Goliard says:

      Even good people start doing harm if left in office too comfortably and for too long. I’ve seen it happen too often to too many people I once greatly respected.

      So yes, when in doubt, one should absolutely vote against the incumbent. For their sakes, as well as yours.

    • Harry says:

      We Gwinnettians must stop re-electing incumbents even if it means putting a few Democrats in office. There, I said it.

        • Harry says:

          Mostly they are too interested in furthering their own interests – at least in Gwinnett. They represent to have a servant’s heart, but the opposite is the case.

  32. SabrinaWorks247 says:

    Hi RetiredGolfer and Harry: Please join me in demanding that elected officials provide an explanation of the taxpayer money given to the Gwinnett Chamber. It seems as if they hope we will forget it and go away. I have been quiet and polite for months, but my patience is wearing thin.

    • Harry says:

      Thanks, I’ll see if I can take your information and put together something. I basically like Charlotte Nash, because as a retired county employee I’m sure she doesn’t really identify with the big shots. Having said that, I did advise her to reform the county pension program because we taxpayers just can’t afford it. Of course, at that moment she was surrounded by county employees and nobody wanted to hear about it.

      • SabrinaWorks247 says:

        Hi Harry: I like Charlotte, too, and she has been the most responsive of all to whom I have spoken. There are many county employees in our group and they say that morale among county employees is much better since Charlotte was elected.

  33. Dave Bearse says:

    This is directed to Rambo and others commenting on the lack of responsiveness of elected officials. It’s part of the one party government package that representation doesn’t have town halls or need to respond to constituents because it’s unnecessary to do so to be re-elected. Incumbents get almost all of the money, and campaigns when necessary, are a competition for extremists.

    My experience as a 12 year resident of the 81st, one of only a half dozen competitive districts statewide, is that the representation in a competitive district, whether it be GOP (Chambers) or more recently Dem (Parent), has been responsive and engaged. It’s pre-requisite. While I became increasingly dissappointed with Chambers over time, particularly her campaign tactics, I’d tell anyone that would listen to me that she would listen to them.

Comments are closed.