Government Ethics

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.

Watchdog Group Leaders Call for Ralston’s Resignation

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Contact: Garland Favorito
(404) 664-4044

ATLANTA, GA –A dozen leaders of various organizations plus many other concerned citizens gathered at the Capitol today and made a personal call for House Speaker, David Ralston, to resign his seat. A complaint with evidence of three separate ethics related concerns was delivered to Governor Nathan Deal.

The leaders contended that the Speaker’s House procedures are dictatorial and subvert the principles of a representative democracy. They asserted that all decisions as to what bills are heard and which bills can be voted to move to the floor are made in secrecy and not by votes from their elected representatives. They further lamented that bills can be gutted, supplemented, modified or limited for debate without a floor vote or permission from the authors.

Secondly, the leaders contended that the Speaker and some Representatives flood certain House races with money to elect candidates who will accept the established dictatorship. Records of a 2012 primary show the Speaker’s $5000 and $27,000 from legislators, helped create a 5:1 spending advantage for a candidate who raised 93% of his funds from legislators, corporations and PACs. His challenger, a minister, raised 96% of his money from individuals. The leaders cited such funding as conflicts of interest that undermine the will of the people in the districts.

Finally, the leaders insisted that the Speaker and some Representatives conducted a politically motivated, false attack on a bill introduced by Rep. Sam Moore with intent to destroy his reelection chances. Records proved that the Speaker and some of the same Representatives are funding Moore’s previous primary opponent, who is running for that seat again. Legislators contributed over $17,000 of the $30,000 total for his opponent, who raised only about $800 from in district individuals. Moore has refused to take cash from corporations, PACs, lobbyists or legislators.

To disprove the Speaker’s claim that one of Moore’s previous bills to remove loitering laws would have jeopardized children, three separate child protection statutes and current loitering laws were explained. The leaders contend the Speaker had to know that the legal premise of his claim was false since he was a criminal defense attorney who represented several child molesters in high profile cases.

Georgia ranks as America’s most politically corrupt state. Its ethics commission was recently found liable for a $700,000 judgment in the first of several wrongful termination suits by employees who were involved in investigating Gov. Deal.

###

Favorito-David-Ralston-Complaint1.pdf

State Sovereignty vs. Convention of States

U_S_-Constitution-Lessons-From-Our-Founding-Fathers1

As I was studying The Federalist Papers last night, I marveled at the founders’ knowledge of world history and human nature. Their vision and wisdom of the proper form of limited government was astounding. Yet, for at least 100 years, we have lost that vision. Based on the current actions of Congress, I hardly think that the legislators of today have the same vision and understanding.

All of our elected representatives have taken an oath to defend the Constitution. Many I’m sure carry a copy with them. Some are quick to whip it out and boast about reverence for its principles. Yet, precious few follow and vote according to its precepts.

Congress has repeatedly violated their oath to support the Constitution. Consider the situation we find ourselves in today. Congress has:

  • Exceeded its enumerated powers into all sorts of areas, exploding the national debt to over $17 trillion not counting the unfunded liabilities probably in excess of $100 trillion.
  • Allowed the Executive branch to launch wars of aggression under the authority of NATO and the UN as in the case of Libya.
  • Allowed the continued violation of the 4th Amendment protections of privacy by not stopping the spying of all U.S. citizens by the NSA.
  • Allowed the Executive branch to make repeated changes to existing law without any check, as in the case of Obamacare.
  • We could go on and on, but there are too many to name in this short time.

And yet, where is Congress when these executive branch usurpation’s occur? Where is the Executive and the Judicial branch when Congress exceeds its authority?

A Balanced Budget Amendment doesn’t address the unconstitutional spending which caused the massive debt in the first place. Passing more amendments will be also be ignored or worse used to legalize the status quo. What makes us think Congress will abide by these new amendments? Further, why would we want to give authority to these violators of the Constitution, the power to modify or change it. It’s not the Constitution that’s broken, it’s the elected representatives that don’t honor it.

As for a Convention of States, there are no provisions in the Constitution on the authority to hold an Article V Convention of the States or on the rules that will be followed. Only Congress can call for a convention. The convention would set its own rules. What special interests would want to control the convention? Which states would not want to get more federal money? What kind of vote swapping and deal making would occur to give more authority to government and take away liberties from the People?

The reality is that we are in a post-Constitutional era. Unless the States force the Federal government into compliance by exercising the rightful remedy of nullification under the 10th Amendment, we will continue to see the usurpation on the Constitution.

We’ve seen the letters from legislative council warning that calls for nullification of federal laws is sedition and tantamount to treason. My fellow Georgians, this is just not so. On no less than two occasions in recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the dual sovereignty of the states and the federal government. See Mack/Printz vs. USA and Justice Roberts opinion on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The real issue is whether the Georgia Legislature is willing to refuse federal money? When accepting federal money the state is beholding to federal authority.

I’m sure that most of the proponents of an Article V Convention of the States have good intentions. We are all sick and tired of an out of control Federal government. A COS only delays the true remedy and is a dangerous move that could open up the entire Constitution. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. We have the tool of stop the overreach now: Nullification. Use it!


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