ARC Prepares to Adopt New Bylaws
The Atlanta Regional Commission is drafting a new set of bylaws for their governing board. The following remarks are a list of critical issues raised at a recent ARC meeting.
CRITICAL BYLAWS ISSUES
- Bylaws don’t provide term limits for appointed members. Some citizen members have served for 15 years. In fact, 16 of the 39 Board members are not elected by the citizens of any jurisdiction. Research has shown that citizen appointed members attend ARC meetings more often than elected county representatives. Yet, appointed citizen members are not accountable to the voters or taxpayers.
- Past and current ARC Chairmen are appointed chairmen of Community Improvement Districts. The Georgia Constitution and Georgia Law prove that CID’s are political subdivisions. The ARC has violated its own bylaws since citizen “members at large may hold no elective or appointed public office nor be employed by any political subdivision of the area”. Even Lynne Rainey, attorney that setup most all of the CID’s in Georgia and is currently counsel to those CID’s calls them a “government entity” on his website. He’s probably the leading expert on CID’s in Georgia and I think he would know.
- Further, the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank was setup to provide funds for government units which includes CID’s. This is in O.C.G.A 32-10-122. If CID’s are not a political subdivision as you say, the CID’s might need to seek legal counsel on how to return the money they’ve received to avoid legal consequences!
- New Governance Committee creates an excessive centralization of power into the chairman’s role with no established term limits. Chairman may appoint members outside of the current duly elected county commissioners and mayors. To quote one of the Bylaws Committee members, “once a slate is nominated, the tendency is to accept.” The Governance Committee structure removes accountability to the public.
- One of the authors of the proposed bylaws has said that creating the Governance Committee with membership appointed by the Chairman is “more efficient”. Centralized power is always more efficient. Top down centralization is more efficient and I’m sure it begins in this benign way. But as this organization evolves and more authority is centralized into regional governance, given the right “crisis” the more efficient path is usually always taken. But that’s not how our system of government works where power rests with the people.
- ARC directs federal money toward transportation projects within CID’s. When the chairman of the ARC can be the chairman of a CID and also be employed by a firm that has major real estate investments in the CID, this creates a potential to steer funding that benefits investments in the CID. Or worse, the opportunity for inside deals to favored business interests. This inhibits free market competition.
The people gave you authority by electing your to represent them in your county and city, why are you giving up your authority to the chairman’s role?
With secret stadium deals and blocking of public comment, the denial of open records request for public private partnerships, and now insider land deals to sell Ft. McPhearson for pennies on the dollar, the citizens have a right to be distrustful.
The citizens of Georgia and metro Atlanta want and expect open and transparent government with a say. We certainly don’t need more centralized governance that is un-elected and unaccountable.