Originally published September 29, 2014 |
ARC Public Comment Policy Falls Short
By Field Searcy
September 28, 2014
Last Wednesday, twelve private citizens addressed the Atlanta Regional Commission about the adoption of a more friendly public comment policy at the monthly board meetings. For some on the board, the comments were not welcomed. Maybe they were offended by the tone or the political correctness. Maybe the words cut to close too home. Or, maybe they’ve forgotten the price that was paid to secure the right.
The very foundation of the First Amendment was the right of political speech of the people to petition their government or challenge its authority. The ARC receives federal, state and local money. Its existence is the creature of government legislation at the state and federal level even its structure violates the republican form of government. In every way, it is bound by the #Constitution for the United States and the Georgia Constitution. In fact, the board members all swear an oath of allegiance to the same.
While all the ARC board members have busy lives and political careers, they should never be too busy to hear from the people that have delegated representative authority to them.
Indeed, the policy adopted is more liberal than the previous policy which required a 10 day notice, a motion by a board member, a second and a 2/3rd’s vote. The new policy on public comment remains inadequate for the following reasons.
- For a regional commission for 10 counties and a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) of 20 counties representing more than 5 million people, allowing a total of only 10 minutes with up to 2 minutes per person is not sufficient. Even Cobb County, which has recently been under fire for limiting public comment, has a more liberal policy.
- Given the limited amount of time allotted for public comment, safeguards should have been included to allow time for all points of view to be heard. Witness the backlash that was caused in Cobb by stacking of the deck with supporting voices against the citizens with opposing views. A true consultative approach of allowing differing opinions should be protected. A wise person once said “The shining spark of truth, cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.”
- Public comment should be guaranteed directly in the ARC governing bylaws rather than a policy that can be changed “from time to time.”
The ARC Board passed the new policy with a vote of 19-7. We don’t believe the 7 that voted “no” are against free speech. Quite the contrary, we believe they wanted the sounding committee to rework the policy with some of the reasons cited above in mind. We salute them for their courage to not vote in lockstep with the rest. This was really the significant event since rarely is there ever a dissenting vote on any ARC Board decisions.
For too long, the people have been asleep and silent; not paying attention to what our elected representatives have been doing. We were too busy or too trusting to notice that authority was being subverted to unelected persons that cannot be held accountable to the people.
That is no longer the case. All across the spectrum, a political awakening is taking shape. The citizens are coming together, rediscovering that “We The People” are the sovereigns’ of the government and are reclaiming our rightful place to keep the government accountable and safeguard our liberties.
Field Searcy, a Cobb citizen, represents RepealRegionalism.com an education campaign by the Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC which led the grassroots effort against the Regional Transportation Tax (TSPLOST) in 2012.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about exactly what the citizens of Gwinnett will be getting when they go to the polls to vote “Yes” or “No” on approving the only agreement signed between county officials and MARTA. Other contracts are yet to be written and agreed upon. Who will financially benefit from the contracts? In order to meet the transit goals proposed, what zoning laws and building codes will be changed to drive the economic development to these transit oriented locations and how will this impact other property values? If the citizens vote “Yes”, they are signing up for a permanent tax increase for the next 50 year with a lot of open questions. There’s no assurance that other taxes will not need to be raised in order to pay for ongoing maintenance. The voters have not been provided a cost per rider or cost/benefit analysis. What are the metrics for measuring success?
What happens if this Gwinnett transit plan becomes “too big to fail” and more and more money must be sunk into an aging system? Private enterprise solutions and exciting new technologies are on the horizon. For the amount of money proposed to be raised, there are other solutions the county could implement that don’t give up their autonomy. More importantly, is the county giving up its local control to un-elected and unaccountable regional boards and agencies that are difficult to remove? MARTA has a responsibility to shore up funding for the existing MARTA system which is continually underutilized and operating at significant losses from year to year. In essence, the voters need to ask themselves, will transportation problems in another county become Gwinnett’s problem? What is the exit strategy for Gwinnett if this goes sideways?
This is unreal. Real victims of assault and battery, sexual molestation, statutory rape, vehicular homicide and enticing a child for indecent purposes have waited 4, 6, 8 and as long as 10 years to have their day in court only to be repeatedly delayed by tactics of defense attorney and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston. Now, after collecting huge $20k retainers and using his power as Speaker of the House to delay cases indefinitely, his political acolytes are claiming that he’s a victim of the media.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and other outlets, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has utilized his position as the speaker to repeatedly delay criminal court cases. Of course, this was known at some level four years ago, but research since then has uncovered even more cases. It has been legal under Georgia law since 1905 for members of the legislature to request extension of court cases while the General Assembly is in session. Back in 2006, Ralston had a hand in the legislation to extend this privilege even when the General Assembly is not in session. As a defense attorney, he has the responsibility to defend his client to the best of his ability under the law. However, repeatedly extending cases for 4, 6, 8 and 10 years is certainly unethical and an abuse of power.
This is not the only time Speaker Ralston has faced ethics related concerns. He has a history of wielding dictatorial procedures to prevent bills from being heard from the floor, funding and encouraging other legislators to fund political campaigns against representatives who challenge or vote against his dictates and restricting assignment to choice committees. This is a conflict of interest which essentially consolidates his power to the detriment of the people who’ve elected these representatives that are willing to stand on principle or vote for their constituents interest.
Links to articles reporting on Ralston’s abuse of power:
Alleged victims say powerful Georgia lawmaker repeatedly delays cases
More Georgia lawmakers call for Ralston to resign as House speaker
Ralston helped write the law allowing him to delay criminal cases
Ralston seeks changes to law letting lawmakers delay criminal cases
Georgia Scandal Jeopardizes Perdue and Trump Victories in 2020
David Ralston is the Right Man to be Speaker of the Georgia House
HR To Remove Speaker Of Ga Drops- Minions Stand Strong, Pope Convenes Over Sex Abuse Cases- God Has A Possible Solution, HB418 Child Victims Act- Where’s The GOP?- WSB
Very interesting graphical representation on how US land is being utilized by all sectors of the economy. Imagine the impact of the UN Biological Diversity Treaty, which was signed by Pres. George HW Bush in 1992 and promulgated through all US federal agencies by Clinton with his Council on Sustainable Development, where most of the land is off limits to human use. Today, these policies have been adopted by local governments throughout the country in order to receive federal grants. This is also known as UN #Agenda 21 / Agenda 2030. The “Green New Deal” promoted by AOC is the fulfillment of these socialistic policies that would destroy the economy and take away our freedoms. There are other methods of conservation of the environment we should pursue that wouldn’t have these devastating impacts. See full article on Bloomberg here: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-us-land-use/
So, if a representative stands on their principles and votes independently of the majority, they are now irrelevant? Isn’t this what the voters expect when they elect a representative? I don’t think they ran for office with the expectation of future rewards from leadership. You didn’t mention the reasons why they voted no.
First of all, a new Georgia Supreme Court building designed to administer justice for all should not be named after anyone and especially not for an individual that will now be a lobbyist potentially seeking political favor within the same building.
Surely, the AJC can see the ethical contradictions. You should be calling out this obvious conflict of interest. I guess you expect them to vote in “lockstep” with the house leadership. This is exactly what’s wrong with our body politik.
Another view of the controversial Covington Catholic High School in Washington. This is a film made by their attorneys that are suing various media, celebrities, etc. that jump to conclusions over a 30 second clip. Lot more to the story here.
Nick Sandmann: The Truth in 15 Minutes
2 weeks ago, the mainstream media, politicians, church officials, commentators, & celebrities rushed to judgment to wrongfully condemn, threaten, disparage &…
As always, a good post from Hank Sullivan. It would behoove us all to get informed and get on the same page as to who is the real enemy of The People.
Not Far Right, Just Right
If you felt dismay reading my recent article, “Syria Pullout Explained,” I suggest your discomfort arose from the shock of finally reading …
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.