This is a very powerful civics lesson from my friend Michael DeLance Thomas. Michael eloquently explains the correct relationship between God, the individual (people/mankind), and government both state and federal. In a free society, each individual has a role to play and I’m not just talking about voting. You first have to understand the proper relationship of authority. It’s a different mindset. Some of the things you will learn by watching:
- Do you know the difference between ‘government’ and ‘politics’?
- How about the difference between a ‘representative’ and ‘leadership’?
- What’s the difference between a ‘right’ and a ‘privilege’?
- Do you know where your rights come from?
Worth the time to watch. If you don’t understand your role, are you really free? If you don’t know what your rights are, do you really have any?
Who does your representative work for? Do they work for you or for themselves?
Have they lived up to the campaign promises to represent their constituents? Or, are they pressured to follow the leadership of their party to drive a certain agenda.
Do they honor their oath to the US and Georgia Constitutions or are they beholding to special interests that have lined their pockets with campaign contributions?
I’m sure that is why most of you are here today at Georgia’s first Republican Assembly Convention. You are principled people that expect the same of your representatives whether they be local, state or national.
Good morning, my name is Field Searcy. I’m with Restore & Preserve the #Constitution, a grass roots organization founded on the ideas in that name. Who are we? I think first of all, we are God fearing people that know there’s a higher power who gave us life and granted us natural rights. Secondly, we are Constitutionalists. We revere the Constitution over any party or personality. Thirdly, we seek the truth in all things and expect our elected representatives to do the same as well as honor their oath and the founding principles.
As an organization, we are activists with a passion for liberty and for informing our fellow citizens of the tremendous responsibility we have as the sovereigns over our government to be engaged in this process of self-government.
We are proud to partner with the GRA as an official educational affiliate. Our missions are very similar and our goals are similar as well. We seek to engage Georgian’s in every county to effectively hold their representatives accountable to their oath and the law. Provided those are just laws.
There are many things to be concerned about with our government today:
Out of control government spending;
Unethical behavior and corporatism at all levels;
Efforts to change the Constitution instead of following it;
Efforts to change our form of government through #Regionalism;
We also see centralization of:
Our schools through #Common Core Standards;
Our medical care through the Affordable Care Act;
Our safety through grants and equipment to local law enforcement that is militarizing what used to be known as “Peace Officers”.
There are other examples but I think you get the idea.
More importantly, our natural rights protected by the Bill of Rights are being challenged on a daily basis. Every single right outlined in that document is under assault.
Some would say, we’ve tried to stop these violations but it seems there’s no use. They happen anyway. In a lot of cases, that is true. But what we’ve found, is that when the people are properly INFORMED AND they get ENGAGED, they can make a difference. Let me give you a few examples:
In 2012, when the State of Georgia sought to impose the largest tax increase in the history of the state through TSPLOST, a group of people from all over the state with very little money got ENGAGED and INFORMED their fellow citizens of a special election, the TSPLOST was defeated in 9 out of 12 regions.
In Habersham County where the county commissioners were considering implementing onerous Property Maintenance Codes that would have devastated property values, a few citizens got INFORMED and ENGAGED others. From the normal citizen participation of a handful of people at the commission meeting, they rallied over 150 people to challenge the elected representatives and the Codes were turned down 5-0.
There are other examples. The point is, when the people are INFORMED and ENGAGED, they can make a difference. Sometimes when you stand up, you get attacked but we have to learn to leverage those attacks to rally more people to become engaged and stand up for what is right.
However, still leadership drives the agenda whether it be your local city council or county commission, the state house, or the governor’s mansion.
So, what can WE do about it? The solution is WE THE PEOPLE. We are the sovereigns of the government, not those that we elected to represent us. We need a bigger voice from around the state to show that the people are paying attention and will hold the elected accountable.
Hence was born The Key Is WE and The Weekly Enumerator. The Weekly Enumerator is a scorecard for legislation and policy. It’s a way to:
VOICE your opinion
BUILD voter consensus
CHANGE the status quo
Each week during the legislative session, we send out an online survey of a key piece of legislation or policy initiative in the state government. We don’t tell you how to vote, but we do provide direct links to the legislation, articles or opinion pieces on both sides of the issue, and a way for you to express your opinion and comments. It only takes a few minutes to vote but you can spend more time if you desire to research the topic to come to an informed decision based on your values and principles.
We’ll have questions like:
Should Georgians support Rep. Stephens on HB 677 in his bid to allow casino gambling?
Should Governor Deal instruct the Attorney General Sam Olens to join with Kansas, West Virginia, and thirteen other states to challenge the EPA Clean Power Plan announced on August 3rd of this year?
Should Georgia’s support passage of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in the 2018 session?
Our target is to get responses from all 159 counties in Georgia. A state of over 10,000,000 residents. This is another area where we are similar to the GRA in that we want representation from all Georgia counties, not just the Atlanta metro area.
We need representation from each county. I have to believe there are at least 100 concerned citizens in each county that will spend 10-15 minutes per week to become INFORMED and ENGAGED. That’s 15,900 people. Only .15% of the population.
If you’ve ever been to the Capitol during the legislative session, you’d know that many voices would be a POWERFUL voice of the people.
With your vote and comments, we compile the survey data and publish a 4 color flyer that’s hand delivered to your representative’s mailbox at the capital. Each edition covers a single survey. It contains:
The Survey Question
The Tally: How Georgian’s Voted: YES, NO, MAYBE
A heat map showing how each county voted
Selected quotes from the comments submitted (all survey results and comments are anonymously displayed on the website)
And, a photo of the bill sponsor and other elected representatives statements. Sometimes they like getting their picture on the flyer. SOMETIMES THEY DON’T.
The Weekly Enumerator is a way to:
Enlist like-minded Georgians in 159 counties
The Focus of our surveys will be:
9th and 10th Amendments
US Bill of Rights
Georgia Constitution & Bill of Rights
Georgia Legislation and Regulations that affect our liberty, #representative government and the free market system
As Samuel Adams said, “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting the brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
That’s what we are looking for. The commitment of a minority of concerned citizens willing to spend 15-20 minutes a week on a survey and help spread the word to friends and social media.
We have to remember how powerful a minority can be. During the American Revolution, only THREE PERCENT of the people actually fought against Great Britain.
For the Key is WE, we’re only looking for .15 % of Georgian’s.
You can get engaged by signing up for our surveys, download our materials and spread the word. We have handbills, business cards, and buttons. You can download the Weekly Enumerator (PDF) and share with your friends or mail to associates. We’ve tried to make this really easy. These were some of the effective techniques we used to defeat TSPLOST.
You can also donate to our cause or purchase some of educational materials:
The 5000 Year Leap by W. Clean Skousen
Sovereign Duty by KrisAnne Hall
The Law by Frederic Bastiat
American Needs Revival Not Revision
Technocracy Rising by Patrick Wood
Also, a new set of books for children to teach them the principles of liberty, limited government, the golden rule and more.
Speaking of KrisAnne Hall, please save the date November 3rd and 4th. If you have not heard KrisAnne and her Constitutional Education series, this is not to be missed. She’ll be speaking at Adventure Outdoors on Friday night and Saturday at noon. Come earlier on Saturday and enjoy the shooting range with KrisAnne.
Come visit our table where you can signup for the Weekly Enumerator, peruse our book selection and get more details about the KrisAnne Hall event. You can also signup at www.TheKeyIsWE.com . Visit our Facebook page and like and share. We’re on Twitter too.
Thanks to the GRA for this opportunity to present to you.
Thank you and America Bless God.
By: Angela Bean, Fayetteville, Georgia
When voting, my number one rule is to always vote NO to any question on the ballot asking to amend our Georgia #Constitution IF the question is new to me and I don’t understand the issue. The reason to vote NO is simple: repealing a bad amendment to the state constitution is much more difficult than repealing bad law. Take the 16th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution as an example.
In November, voters will be asked to amend our constitution to “allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance.” This is about Governor Deal’s program called “Opportunity School Districts” to rescue failing schools.
Due to the secular curriculum teaching anti-American and anti-Christian values (teaching created by the federal Supreme Court in 1962 when they told us we couldn’t pray in public schools) most conservatives support publicly funded “school choice.” This taxpayer funded “choice” was created 20 years ago by the federal government in the form of charter schools. At one time these parent/community controlled charters were the answer for many children. But in the last few years the federal government has co-opted charters which are mandated to follow the same federal #Common Core standards. Unfortunately most haven’t caught onto this fact yet.
In 2015 the Georgia General Assembly passed SB133 laying out the Opportunity School District (OSD) program. SR287 was passed to allow for a constitutional amendment to be placed on our November ballot because this program is currently UNCONSTITUTIONAL and only “we the people” can change our constitution via a vote to allow it.
Like most amendments to our constitution that government wants to implement in order to give them more control, the ballot language of this amendment is deceptive.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended
to allow the state to intervene in chronically
failing public schools in order to improve student performance?
( ) YES
( ) NO
This amendment isn’t about helping students achieve. This amendment is about a shift in our form of government with elected representation to appointed councils. If this passes in November our state will establish a NON-ELECTED council to oversee how our tax dollars are spent on state/federal run charter schools. A state created criteria to determine if a school is failing will be used and “qualifying schools” will be “transferred” from under local control to control by this council. The state can “take over” up to 20 schools a year from the locally ELECTED school boards and place them under NON-ELECTED school councils and a new OSD state school superintendent that will also be appointed by the executive branch.
Currently our U.S. Constitution guarantees us a #republican form of government which is one that allows the people to elect representatives, who are accountable to the people, to make decisions on how our tax dollars are spent. With our elected school boards, “we the people” have access to all board meetings and votes and can request to see the records of how our school board is spending our tax dollars at any time under the “Freedom of Information Act.” We also have access to review all curriculum to include textbooks, online programs, videos, etc. that are taught in our schools.
Opportunity School Districts will go against this republican form of government with accountability to the people. And, worse, according to legislation that has already been passed, these schools can be turned over to PRIVATE companies called EDUCATION MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATIONS (EMO) to manage the tax dollars that the state will be giving the schools for each student enrolled. (Local tax dollars from property taxes will not be used, our state tax dollars will make up the difference.) The EMO of each school can appoint a board of advisors for the school and, according to HB797 passed in 2012 which governs how charter schools can be run, none of the advisors need be a parent. Are you getting the picture yet? Does it make you uncomfortable to have the state and federal governments assume full control of a school, and our children, and give the tax funds (over $7000 per student) to their cronies to manage?
Barak Obama has supported the federal funding of state run charter schools. Isn’t this enough to raise alarm bells as to the real agenda for our children being removed from local control into state/federal run charters? NOTE: according to HB 797 these public charters MUST comply with the same Common Core standards and student testing system that the traditional public schools are under. What these state/federal charter students are taught without community oversight should concern us.
If that isn’t enough to make you concerned about this shift from parent controlled charter schools to state and federal controlled charters, please read this article about the Gülen Movement, a mysterious Islamic group operating over 100 charter schools in the U.S., with over $500 million tax dollars, including two charters in Fulton County, Ga.
Vote NO on this one and let’s work towards finding a better solution to our education problem.
Angela Bean is a an active citizen watchdog of government at the federal, state, and local levels. Angela has a proven track record of working for good government as an activist traveling the state promoting federal reforms such as the FairTax, and pushing back against the federal overreach of the Affordable Care Act and Common Core state standards in Georgia. Angela is a dedicated constitutionalist who works with other like-minded organizations including The Eagle Forum, The Madison Forum, and The Restore & Preserve the Constitution coalition.
Signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 which was the genesis of the grand jury
Photograph: Universal History Archive/Rex
“Historically, this body has been regarded as a primary security to the innocent against hasty, malicious and oppressive persecution; it serves the invaluable function in our society of standing between the accuser and the accused, whether the latter be an individual, minority group, or other, to determine whether a charge is founded upon reason or was dictated by an intimidating power or by malice and personal ill will.” Wood v. Georgia (1962)
By Paul Nally
Obviously, the continued effort of our legislators is to throttle the free and unrestricted use of our Liberties is exemplified by the fact that throughout the verbiage of this HB, the term “district attorney” is used. This, instead of the generic “prosecutor”, is an unabashed attempt to make a reader of the law, a reader of the rules of practice and procedure, believe that ONLY an elected district attorney, or one appointed by the Attorney General, has the sole authority of law to present a case of police use of excessive or deadly force to the Grand Jury. Further, that such presentation be made within one year. That is found in the proposed language of 15-12-71(B) in Section 1.
That one paragraph turns this proposed legislation into an instrument of a legislative plunder of the rights and power of a Grand Jury and a citizen’s First Amendment Rights.
The precise verbiage used by those entities who author our laws and are skilled in craftily contrived deceptive advocacy are too often placed in our printed statutes. The reasoning behind this is rather simple.
A conscientious judge, hearing a claim of being obstructed in a citizen’s access to the Grand Jury, would know that the letter of the law must be interpreted in the light of a citizen’s protectable guarantees and all other statutes which pertain to that particular issue. This is required of judicial interpretation so that the totality of the law, the totality of meanings and applications of the law, are all in harmony. So, a good judge would know that the use of “District Attorney” or “one appointed by the AG” would not be interpreted as exclusive language to just those two, but would be a general reference which would not exclude any citizen.
But, if you have a corrupt lawyer, corrupt District Attorney, and/or a corrupt Judge who seek only to exercise the maximum control over a group of citizens, then, when a citizen tries to access a grand jury to lay before them his / her evidence of corruption and crime, the lawyer, judge, or district attorney can drag out the statute, point to it, and “show” the citizen that “the law” plainly gives the authority to the DA, or Judge.
What is a citizen to believe?? He does not know of, or understands, the concept of judicial interpretation. He is looking at the black letter of the law being shown to him, but because of his lack of education, he cannot understand why the verbiage used by his legislators is wrong. He knows it’s wrong, he just doesn’t know how to express his understanding that the words used don’t jive with his concept of what his Liberties mean. Therefore, he is left to accept as true, or believe, a lie and simply assume that the Legislators had some “good” reason for denying him the use of his Liberties of petition, free assembly, responsible speech, and his right to be heard, in the words of our Constitution, by those vested with the power of government to redress his grievance. This is how those skilled in deception will tell you just enough of the truth so that you will believe a lie. Deceptive verbiage has become the new weapon, the gun and knife, for the deprivation and theft of Liberties.
This is one of the most effective methods of preventing citizens from bringing evidence before a grand jury of political and governmental corruption; using our ignorance as a tool to bring about our enslavement. And, so, we are left at the mercy of thieves and liars who have convinced our neighbors to elect them as “public servants” when, in reality, they are a part of an autocratic oligarchy, an “elite of society”, subverting the law and turning it to an instrument of plunder.
Each morning you awake to a new day; yet, in reality, it is just another day of you and your children being the victims of a very deceptive theft of your liberties. The instrument of that theft is not a gun or a knife, it is the words and phrases of bad laws and bad applications by judges and lawyers, with the tacit, at least, approval of the State Bar, and the enhancement and ease of use of those tools by our own ignorance.
That is the very reason our founders put the supreme power of government into the hands of citizens when, in our Constitution, they acknowledged the power of a citizen, in a Grand Jury assembled, to be the ONLY lawful “Judges of the Law” in this State, and with that power, they have the authority of the Supreme Law of this State to punish those who would subvert the law and turn it to an instrument of plunder.
But, unless we, the people. are willing to educate themselves to understand the depth, the breadth, the sheer magnitude of the concept of being a “Judge of the Law”, and be willing to exercise that awesome power, we all will suffer servitude at the hands of our servants; and now, as I’ve just recently learned, there is evidence that we, and our children, are being poisoned, and in some cases killed, by those same servants so that they can receive large sums of money and influence by poisoning our medicines. That is definitely within the jurisdiction of a Grand Jury to investigate, but until corrupt judges and DAs are removed from standing between a citizen and his evidence and the Grand Inquest of a Grand Jury investigation, we will be subjected to physical abuse, harm, and death by those who pretend to serve our best interest. We can no longer afford their indifference to their ignorance or their criminal negligence.
Paul Nally is retired from GaDOT. Formerly city patrolman, Bartow County Deputy, Chief of Police w/ City of White, Ga., and former judge of the 827th Militia District, Bartow County (Justice of the Peace before that court was merged with the Magistrate Court in the 1983 Constitution).
Editors note: For more on the Grand Jury, see The Fifth Amendment’s Grand Jury: A Proud & Lost Protection of Liberty.
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. ~
Every 4 years, we march to the polls believing that if we change the occupant of White House it will fix the problem. For the vast majority of the population, it’s really glossed over that there are 469 other elected offices at the federal level that will also be on the ballot this November. Nationwide, it’s estimated there are as many as 30,000 offices up for election. These state and local political offices oftentimes have just as much or more effect on your individual freedoms, property rights, zoning regulations, licensing regulations, local and state taxes as do the federal offices.
The great philosopher Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” It’s not your fault though. In fact, it seems that you’ve been discouraged. We’ve been told not to speak about religion or politics, it’s not “politically correct”. Or, maybe you have been interested but haven’t known or been taught how to be politically involved.
If you happen to read your county paper under the fine print legal ads, you might have seen an ad similar to this which ran for 7 days between 1/22 and 1/29 in the Marietta Daily Journal. The county party is required to run this ad as the “call” for the Precinct Mass Meetings.
If you really want to get involved in the political process, it starts at the grassroots; at your local precinct. In Georgia, it works like this. Every odd numbered year and during the national election year, the local county Republican Party issues a call for the precinct mass meeting. If you are a registered voter and believe in the principles of the party, you are qualified to participate in the precinct mass meeting to be elected as a delegate to the county convention held in March.
Why is this important? The delegates to the county convention elect delegates for the district convention and the state convention which in turn elect delegates for the national convention. Of course, the delegates to the national convention will determine the nominee for the party to run for President in the general election in November. If you want to have a voice and see that good government and the principles you believe in are upheld, the precinct process is where it begins. You can be a part of shaping the party at the local and state level as well as the federal.
From government overreach, wasteful spending, over taxation, failed promises and corruption, to willful violations of the Constitution and outright attacks on the Bill of Rights, angst against local, state and federal government is at an all-time high. The solution will not be found in a single man or woman in the White House. If you want to retain limited self-government, The Key Is We! We the people are the sovereigns. All of the elected representatives work for us. It’s our responsibility to keep them in check within the bounds of their oath of office to the Constitution. George Washington stated it plainly, “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.” It’s time to get informed. It’s time to get engaged.
PRECINCT MASS MEETING INFORMATION
If you are a registered voter in Georgia, your voter information can be found at https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do . Visit this site and enter your first initial, last name, county and DOB in the MVP Login to find out your voting precinct and districts.
If you happen to live in Cobb County, you can register for the mass precinct meetings at https://www.cobbpmm.com/register.php. Online preregistration is available through Wednesday, February 17, at 11:59 pm. The Cobb GOP Precinct Mass Meeting takes place on Saturday, February 20, 2016, at 10 am. The location is 774 Roswell Street Baptist Church, Marietta GA. Walk-in registration will be available starting at 8:30 am. Please bring a valid photo ID. Participants in the Precinct Mass Meeting will elect delegates/alternates to the Cobb GOP County Convention in March.
Be sure to arrive early as doors close at 10:00 am and no one will be allowed to register after that time. You should also know that precincts that do not have any participants are not allowed to form and cannot send delegates to the county convention.
OTHER GEORGIA COUNTIES
For all other Georgia counties, go to http://gagop.org/ (scroll to bottom of page) to find your county GOP contact information or check your local newspaper for the legal ads.
The dates for the conventions have been set as follows: (please note that due to Georgia GOP Rules Changes, some individual counties may have elected to adjust their county convention/precinct meeting date. Please verify with your local county GOP)
Precinct Mass Meetings for Counties over 80,000 Population: February 20, 2016 at 10 AM;
Precinct Mass Meetings for Counties under 80,000 Population: March 19, 2016 at 9 AM;
Precinct Mass Meetings have each Precinct ELECT, by majority vote in each precinct, Delegates to the respective County Convention.
County Conventions: March 19, 2016 at 10 AM; County Conventions ELECT, by majority vote, Delegates to the District and State Conventions.
District Conventions: April 16, 2016 at 10 AM; District Conventions ELECT, by majority vote, 3 National Delegates and 3 Alternates to the National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
State Convention: June 3-4, 2016 in the Augusta Convention Center in Augusta, Georgia; The State Convention ELECTS, by majority vote, a National Committeeman and National Committeewoman to serve a 4 year term on the Republican National Committee (RNC), as well as 31 Delegates-at-large and Alternates-at-large.
The initial 15 minutes of the livestream is a video by KrisAnne Hall that was shown prior to the debate, in which she explains the Strong Cities Initiative. If you wish to bypass this piece, skip to 15:04 into the video.
Lincoln-Douglas Debate LIVE STREAM 7pm EST, February 4, 2016
WHAT: Debate: Is Ted Cruz a ‘natural born Citizen’?
DEBATERS: Attorney Jason Shepherd and David Welden
WHERE: Cherokee Cattle Company, 2710 Canton Road, Marietta, GA
WHEN: February 4th 7:00pm – early dinner arrival 6pm
The Northwest Georgia 9/12 will present a “Lincoln Douglas” style debate with former businessman David Welden and Attorney Jason Shepherd.
Is Ted Cruz eligible to be President? YES! According to Attorney Jason Shepherd, Cruz is constitutionally eligible, as described in his recently published paper on the subject.
Retired Cobb business owner, David Welden, disagrees with Shepherd and has challenged him to a formal debate. Welden claims Cruz is not constitutionally eligible to serve the Presidency because he is not a natural born Citizen.
By Craig Kootsillas
As sources of capital dry up, developers have turned to Private / Public Partnerships (PPP) touting them as innovative solutions to funding challenges as critics eye them with deep suspicions over the blurring of the line between public and private.
This series of articles is the result of an examiner.com investigation concluded today of a large-scale transit plan now branded as “Connect Cobb“. The public record was examined and this investigation’s findings reviewed by officials at the county, region and federal level. Cobb County is a northern suburb of Atlanta that generally is urban to the south and generally suburban to the north.
A consortium of owners of commercial property centered around the largest malls in Cobb County (GA) lie poised to implement a transit plan they created in secret over a decade ago as all levels of government overlook years of concealment, deceit, conflicts of interest and potential fraud clearly documented in the public record.
The plan, for which development first began in 1999, has come to be branded as “Connect Cobb” and the effort involved a number of quasi-governmental entities, also described as “public/private partnerships” (PPP).
Georgia law provides for the creation of “community improvement districts” (CID) when the majority of owners of commercial property within an arbitrary and contiguous area agree to the formation. They then elect officers and a board of directors from within their membership.
A CID functions similar to an investment club with the government operating as a no-cost money handler. CIDs agree to invest an amount proportional to the the value of the property they own within the boundary of the CID.
This is considered to be a “millage rate” and the investment is collected by the government as a tax. After being pooled by the government, the entire amount is made available to the CID.
When deciding on all matters, CIDs vote in a manner in which the value of each member’s vote is determined by the value of the property owned within the CID.
This process is derided by critics as “the golden rule” wherein “he with the most gold rules” and point to the fact that the largest property owners are conglomerates headquartered well outside the CID and county.
Georgia law provides CIDs the ability to to use pooled revenue as local matching funds to seek grants from federal, state and local governments. With this dynamic, CIDs regularly “leverage” their pooled funds paying only 10 percent of the total cost of large transportation projects with the balance funded by various governments.
This savings is referred to as a “rate of leverage”; in this example a “10 to one leverage rate” would be touted.
Georgia law also provides for the creation of “development authorities”, a PPP to which elected officials appoint board members who then elect officers and establish rules. Development Authorities are able to package “inducements” to individuals and firms that include abatement of school and property taxes, the issuance of tax free bonds and lump sum payments.
Cobb County elected officials view development authorities as independent entities and rely on courts and mandated federal hearings to provide oversight.
While some development authorities will work closely with local government given authorities’ ability to alter and create development patterns, the Development Authority of Cobb County does not. This has led to controversy within Cobb by members of the public and authority board members centered on the charge that the DACC has granted a disproportionate share of inducements to owners of property within the Cumberland CID causing development to focus there.
Examination of the DACC’s record and Connect Cobb’s analysis of job opportunities within Cobb substantiates this claim.
Two local firms worked alongside Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation to develop the plan beginning in 1999 and have since merged.. Don Hix, one time CEO of one of the local firms (then associated with Mayes, Sudderth and Etheridge), now is employed by the other firm, Croy Engineering.
Since before development of the plan and until recently, Hix served as chairman of the Development Authority of Cobb County (DACC) and not the only project insider to serve on the DACC.
Upon completion, the Bechtel plan was delivered to the chairmen of the two CIDs, at the time Kessel Stelling, now Synovus Chairman/CEO, served as the chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the Cumberland CID and was a member of the DACC board.
Like Croy, Stelling would return to Cobb during the 2008 update of Cobb’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) by reassuming the chairmanship of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
During the development of the project transportation planning, management and most other roles of Cobb government regarding transportation were being “privatized”. In a recent interview during his bid to reclaim the chairmanship of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, an office he held during the development of the transit plan, Bill Byrne pointed out the fact that the privatization plan was developed with guidance from Croy.
Since then, Croy has remained one of Cobb’s most influential consultants.
After overseeing the privatization of transportation in Cobb as Cobb’s Director of Transportation, Croy went on to head the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and the creation of the Greater Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) under Cobb native and former governor Roy Barnes. GRTA was a campaign imperative of Barnes. Once elected, Barnes appointed Croy to begin what was labelled as Barnes top issue: the development of transit corridors within the Atlanta metro region.
While heading SRTA, Croy became the center of controversy when it was revealed that toll revenue was being redirected from tollway operations, including $10 million to purchase land for a development located near the terminus of Connect Cobb.
Then, in 2008, Croy returned to Cobb to oversee development of Cobb’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), the document in which local governments choose targets for state and federal funding. He went on to serve as Cobb’s liaison to the Northwest Corridor Study (NWCS), a study considered to be a precursor to Connect Cobb during which a variant of the 1999 plan was considered then rejected as too expensive and too slow.
Croy continues to be deeply involved having been chosen to oversee multiple efforts totaling many millions over the years required to implement Connect Cobb.
The original stakeholder committee formed to oversee development of the plan was co-chaired by Tad Leithead, who spearheaded the development of Cumberland while at Cousins Properties, and Bob Voyles, founder of the Seven Oaks development firm, both long-standing members of and developers focused on the Cumberland CID.
Leithead would succeed Stelling as chairman of the Cumberland CID, a title he holds till today. Leithead also served as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Atlanta’s federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization, the local body charged with oversight and allocation of federal funds.
After acceptance of the plan by the Cumberland and Town Center CIDs, the plan received no public hearing and was not brought forward for consideration or adoption by Cobb’s Board of Commissioners.
In spite of having been adopted into Cobb’s 2008 Comprehensive Transportation Plan in a manner that has sparked controversy, the public would remain unaware of the plan until revealed by CDOT at a work session of Cobb Commissioners May 4, 2010.
Next up: The strategy
As we’ve been pointing out over the last few years, there’s more to this regionalism thing that just cooperation between metro counties. There are definite plans for wrestling control away from duly elected local governments and replacing it with regional governance that’s unelected and unaccountable to the people. Even worse, control is being shifted to the federal level which is absolutely tone deaf to “We The People”.
Maybe for some it has to smack you right in the head, or the pocketbook. Or, maybe that’s the way you want it. Now that Cobb County has hired Comm360 to the tune of $186,000+ to lobby state and federal agencies for legislation and grants, I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige these new federal rules. There are always strings attached to federal grant money. It’s not too late to reject federal money and intrusion into local control and home rule.
The following article by Stanley Kurtz from National Review highlights additional concerns with regionalism.
by Stanley Kurtz July 20, 2015 10:01 AM
It’s difficult to say what’s more striking about President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation: its breathtaking radicalism, the refusal of the press to cover it, or its potential political ramifications. The danger AFFH poses to Democrats explains why the press barely mentions it. This lack of curiosity, in turn, explains why the revolutionary nature of the rule has not been properly understood. Ultimately, the regulation amounts to back-door annexation, a way of turning America’s suburbs into tributaries of nearby cities.
This has been Obama’s purpose from the start. In Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, I explain how a young Barack Obama turned against the suburbs and threw in his lot with a group of Alinsky-style community organizers who blamed suburban tax-flight for urban decay. Their bible was Cities Without Suburbs, by former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk. Rusk, who works closely with Obama’s Alinskyite mentors and now advises the Obama administration, initially called on cities to annex their surrounding suburbs. When it became clear that outright annexation was a political non-starter, Rusk and his followers settled on a series of measures designed to achieve de facto annexation over time.
The plan has three elements: 1) Inhibit suburban growth, and when possible encourage suburban re-migration to cities. This can be achieved, for example, through regional growth boundaries (as in Portland), or by relative neglect of highway-building and repair in favor of public transportation. 2) Force the urban poor into the suburbs through the imposition of low-income housing quotas. 3) Institute “regional tax-base sharing,” where a state forces upper-middle-class suburbs to transfer tax revenue to nearby cities and less-well-off inner-ring suburbs (as in Minneapolis/St. Paul).
If you press suburbanites into cities, transfer urbanites to the suburbs, and redistribute suburban tax money to cities, you have effectively abolished the suburbs. For all practical purposes, the suburbs would then be co-opted into a single metropolitan region. Advocates of these policy prescriptions call themselves “regionalists.”
AFFH goes a long way toward achieving the regionalist program of Obama and his organizing mentors. In significant measure, the rule amounts to a de facto regional annexation of America’s suburbs. To see why, let’s have a look at the rule.
AFFH obligates any local jurisdiction that receives HUD funding to conduct a detailed analysis of its housing occupancy by race, ethnicity, national origin, English proficiency, and class (among other categories). Grantees must identify factors (such as zoning laws, public-housing admissions criteria, and “lack of regional collaboration”) that account for any imbalance in living patterns. Localities must also list “community assets” (such as quality schools, transportation hubs, parks, and jobs) and explain any disparities in access to such assets by race, ethnicity, national origin, English proficiency, class, and more. Localities must then develop a plan to remedy these imbalances, subject to approval by HUD.
By itself, this amounts to an extraordinary takeover of America’s cities and towns by the federal government. There is more, however.
AFFH obligates grantees to conduct all of these analyses at both the local and regional levels. In other words, it’s not enough for, say, Philadelphia’s “Mainline” Montgomery County suburbs to analyze their own populations by race, ethnicity, and class to determine whether there are any imbalances in where groups live, or in access to schools, parks, transportation, and jobs. Those suburbs are also obligated to compare their own housing situations to the Greater Philadelphia region as a whole.
So if some Montgomery County’s suburbs are predominantly upper-middle-class, white, and zoned for single-family housing, while the Philadelphia region as a whole is dotted with concentrations of less-well-off African Americans, Hispanics, or Asians, those suburbs could be obligated to nullify their zoning ordinances and build high-density, low-income housing at their own expense. At that point, those suburbs would have to direct advertising to potential minority occupants in the Greater Philadelphia region. Essentially, this is what HUD has imposed on Westchester County, New York, the most famous dry-run for AFFH.
In other words, by obligating all localities receiving HUD funding to compare their demographics to the region as a whole, AFFH effectively nullifies municipal boundaries. Even with no allegation or evidence of intentional discrimination, the mere existence of a demographic imbalance in the region as a whole must be remedied by a given suburb. Suburbs will literally be forced to import population from elsewhere, at their own expense and in violation of their own laws. In effect, suburbs will have been annexed by a city-dominated region, their laws suspended and their tax money transferred to erstwhile non-residents. And to make sure the new high-density housing developments are close to “community assets” such as schools, transportation, parks, and jobs, bedroom suburbs will be forced to develop mini-downtowns. In effect, they will become more like the cities their residents chose to leave in the first place.
It’s easy to miss the de facto absorption of local governments into their surrounding regions by AFFH, because the rule disguises it. AFFH does contain a provision that allows individual jurisdictions to formally join a regional consortium. Yet the rule leaves it up to local authorities to decide whether to enter regional groupings — or at least the rule appears to make participation in regional decision-making voluntary. In truth, however, just by obligating grantees to compare their housing to the demographics of the greater metropolitan area, and remedy any disparities, HUD has effectively turned every suburban jurisdiction into a helpless satellite of its nearby city and region.
We can see this, because the final version of AFFH includes much more than just the provisions of the rule itself. The final text of the regulation incorporates summaries of the many public comments on the preliminary rule, along with replies to those comments by HUD. This amounts to a running dialogue between leftist housing activists trying to make the rule more controlling, local bureaucrats overwhelmed by paperwork, a public outraged by federal overreach, and HUD itself.
Read carefully, the section of the rule on “Regional Collaboration and Regional Analysis” (especially pages 188–203), reveals one of AFFH’s key secrets: It doesn’t really matter whether a local government decides to formally join a regional consortium or not. HUD can effectively draft any suburb into its surrounding region, just by forcing it to compare its demographics with the metropolitan area as a whole.
At one point (pages 189–191), for example, commenters directly note that the obligation to compare local and regional data, and remedy any disparities, amounts to forcing a jurisdiction to ignore its own boundaries. Without contradicting this assertion, HUD then insists that all jurisdictions will have to engage in exactly such regional analysis.
Comments from leftist housing activists repeatedly call on HUD to pressure local jurisdictions into regional planning consortia. At every point, however, HUD declines to demand that local governments formally join such regional collaborations. Yet each time the issue comes up, HUD assures the housing activists that just by compelling local jurisdictions to compare their demographics with the region as a whole, suburbs will effectively be forced to address demographic disparities at the total metropolitan level (e.g., page 196).
When housing activists worry that a suburb with few poor or minority residents will argue that it has no need to develop low-income housing, HUD makes it clear that the regulation as written already effectively forces all suburbs to accommodate the needs of non-residents (pages 198–199). Again, HUD stresses that the mere obligation to analyze, compare, and remedy demographic disparities at the local and regional levels amounts to a kind of compulsory regionalism.
HUD’s language is coy and careful. The Obama administration clearly wants to avoid alarming local governments, so it underplays the extent to which they have been effectively dissolved and regionalized by AFFH. At the same time, HUD wants to tip off its leftist allies that this is exactly what has happened.
At one level, then, the apparatus of formal and voluntary collaboration in a regional consortium is a bit of a ruse. AFFH amounts to an annexation of suburbs by cities, whether the suburbs like it or not. Yet the formal, regional groupings enabled by the rule are far from harmless.
Comments from housing advocates (pages 194–197), for example, chide HUD for failing to include a mention in AFFH of the hundreds of federally-funded regional plans already being developed by leftist activists across the country (the “Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant” program). These plans entail far more than imposing low-income housing quotas on the suburbs. They embody the regionalist program of densifying housing in suburb and city alike, and they structure transportation spending in such a way as to make suburban living far less convenient and workable. HUD replies that these plans can indeed be used by regional consortia to fulfill their obligations under AFFH.
So a city could formally join with some less-well-off inner-ring suburbs and present one of these comprehensive regionalist dream-plans as the product of its consortium. At that point, HUD could pressure reluctant upper-middle-class suburbs to embrace the entire plan on pain of losing their federal funds. In this way, AFFH could force the full menu of regionalist policies—not just low-income housing quotas—onto the suburbs.
There are plenty of ways in which HUD can pressure a suburb to bend to its will. The techniques go far beyond threats to withhold federal funds. The recent Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has opened the door to “disparate impact” suits against suburbs by HUD and private groups alike. That is, any demographic imbalance, whether intentional or not, can be treated by the courts as de facto discrimination.
Just by completing the obligatory demographic analysis demanded by AFFH—with HUD-provided data, and structured according to HUD requirements—a suburb could be handing the government evidence to be used in such a lawsuit. Worse, AFFH demands that suburbs account for their demographic disparities, and forces them to choose from a menu of HUD-provided explanations. So if a suburb follows HUD’s lead and formally attributes demographic “imbalances” to its zoning laws, the federal government has what amounts to a signed confession to present in a disparate-impact suit seeking to nullify local zoning regulations. With a (forced) paper “confession” from nearly every suburb in the country in hand, HUD can use the threat of lawsuits to press reluctant municipalities to buy into a regional consortium’s every plan.
Regionalists consider the entire city-suburb system bigoted and illegitimate, so there are few local governments that HUD would not be able to slap with a disparate-impact suit on regionalist premises. It’s unlikely that any suburb has a perfect demographic and “asset” balance in every category. All HUD has to do is decide which suburban governments it wants to lean on. With every locality vulnerable to a suit, every locality can be made to play the regionalist game.
Leftist housing activists worry that AFFH never specifies the penalties a suburb will face for imbalances in its housing patterns. These activists just don’t get it. A thoughtful reading of AFFH, including its extraordinary “dialogue” section, makes it clear that HUD can go after any suburb, any time it wants to. The controlling consideration will be politics. HUD has got to boil the frog slowly enough to prevent him from jumping.
It will take time for the truth to emerge. Just by issuing AFFH, the Obama administration has effectively annexed America’s suburbs to its cities. The old American practice of local self-rule is gone. We’ve switched over to a federally controlled regionalist system. Now it’s strictly a question of how obvious Obama and the Democrats want to make this change — and when they intend to bring the hammer down. The only thing that can restore local control is joint action by a Republican president and a Republican congress to rescind AFFH and restrict the reach of disparate impact litigation. We’ll know after November 8, 2016.
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