It’s For Your Own Good

Red Dawn prisoner camp

The governments of Milledgeville and Baldwin County have decreed that germs cannot spread during daylight hours. To keep you safe from this, you must remain at home between 10 pm and 6 am. This is for your own good! 2 people out of our 45,000+ population have the coronavirus so they’ve got to lock us all up at night. They’ve got to control your movements at night lest the germs spread like Gremlins being fed after midnight. What a medical breakthrough!

How do they know a curfew is the right thing? Laurens County did it! The huge metropolis of Unadilla did it! That proves that the only course of action for our area is to follow along with their knee-jerk reactions. No stupidity is greater than the stupidity of a group, and our elected officials are going full speed “saving” us.

They’re powerless to handle the overnight gang activity that has resulted in shootings, murders, and even arson over recent weeks but they can confine all law-abiding people to house arrest at night. Notice not one politician has even attempted to explain how being sequestered only at night will hinder the spread of the virus. They issue orders like they were an experienced medical professional and not just a part-time, small-town political nobody. A curfew is designed to protect people and property during times of natural disaster. It works great to control looting after a storm. It does nothing to prevent the spread of germs.

Gremlins
Local politicians think viruses multiply only at night, just like Gremlins!

Thousands of people can go to Walmart or Kroger during the day without question. They can fondle the produce or dig through packages of meat to find the right one. Nobody bats an eye at that. Are the kids bored? Get them out of the house; take them all to Walmart for a few hours! That’s totally legal if you do it at 3 pm. Driving around by yourself at 11 pm to get some peace? That’s a criminal offense. You’re (somehow?) endangering the lives of others!

How do they plan to enforce this? Will they stop every vehicle on the road? Just the ones likely to be driven by NIPs? (that’s non-important persons) What about the people traveling through on the highway who have no idea the town rolled up the sidewalks at 10 pm? Who decides what “reasons” are acceptable? Or is it more of the usual arbitrary, side-of-the-road People’s Court?

Why did the city and county each declare a State of Emergency?

Well, if they didn’t, they couldn’t enact restrictions on your free travel! Using those magic words gives them the authority to make you do whatever they want you to, even if they aren’t sure what that is yet. Keeping you locked up doesn’t really change anything but now they’ve done something. As you know, in politics, doing anything is valued over doing nothing. It makes it look like you have a clue as to what’s going on when you’re just as baffled as the rest of the general public.

“The county must do everything it can to discourage people from passing the virus person to person,” Chairman of the Baldwin County Commission Henry Craig said in a phone interview.”

— 13WMAZ article

Do you get the wisdom in that statement? You can go be in a crowd of hundreds in a store at noon and that’s legally acceptable but if you want to go from your house to a friend or relative’s after 10 pm it will spread the virus. You could go there at 8 am or 6 pm and be totally fine. 10:01 pm and you’re dooming them to certain death and you should be arrested. This is the genius of a curfew and it lays bare the complete lack of reasoning behind their decision.

Municipalities across Georgia are racing to enact curfews now. It’s as popular this year as adding roundabouts to every roadway was last year. It’s like they were all on a big conference call and decided that a curfew was the most small-town-government thing they could come up with. The press releases all mention something about being “for the safety of residents” but they never mention how they expect that to come about as a result of a nighttime curfew. The “reporter” never questions that either; they just parrot the press release as if it were gospel. Remember, this is the same government that took over a state park to use as a quarantine area, then decided they didn’t need it and took it all back out.

“I just don’t think a curfew is necessary. It’s not like a tornado or hurricane. It’s about staying apart right now.”

— Randy Toms, Mayor of Warner Robins (via 13WMAZ)

He gets it. He realizes that it’s a waste of law enforcement resources to have them playing “hall monitor” on our roads when there is more important work for them to do.

Most people aren’t going anywhere at night right now anyway. Great — that’s your own free will at work. To be be forced to give up that option without any useful reason whatsoever is what’s wrong with this situation. We’ve got people relishing their role of being “in charge” right now and they can’t wait to show you what other restrictions they can force on you in the future. If they’re this panicked now, just give them another week or two to really start the decrees flying! Next thing you know they’ll be declaring snow plow routes and alternate-side parking downtown, even if we don’t need those things or know what they are. Don’t question it — they’re busy governing!

In all seriousness, the nighttime curfew is very likely designed to be a smokescreen to get you ready to accept their eventual plan of tighter restrictions at some point. Like the frog in the pot, we won’t notice as they slowly raise the water temperature. “It’s for the public good” they’ll repeat. They hope you won’t notice when free will is replaced by the illusion of choice. You can do anything you want to – as long as they permit it.

It’s common sense: Don’t go out at any time of the day unless you have to. Stand away from others if possible. Only one person run errands; it’s not time for a family outing. Run errands for at-risk groups so they can limit their exposure. Wash well when you return home. All of these things will help, and none of them are tied to what time of day it is!

You Can Still Ride the Bus; You Just Have To Sit in the Back

How they sell the ordinance vs. an actual modern mobile home

Here we go again. Our county commissioners are using the same tactic they did last time: “Let’s sneak in new land restrictions during the holiday season when everyone is busy with other things. Then when they notice the new ordinances it will be too late to say anything.” They’re steamrolling the legislation into place as quickly as they can, again dictating how the county should be run instead of asking what you think first.

The war on mobile homes has been renewed. Hidden among the requirements for building a new neighborhood, apartment complex, or condominium development, we’ve got a complete ban on any mobile home that you can see. That’s right: your choice of home on your property is inferior to your neighbor’s choice, and you must hide it from their view in shame. That’s after you meet the county’s other arbitrary standard requiring that over 50% of the nearby homes also be mobile homes.

“Keep it out of sight” is the same approach drug dealers use for their meth labs. It’s also a common theme with legislation here. In the failed IPMC attempt, being able to see something from a neighboring property was frequently cited. Just what is their fascination with being able to see something from next door? Since when is anyone obligated to visually please their neighbor? If it’s not your property you don’t have any say-so as to what happens on it. If you want to live where plants and paint colors are regulated, go live in an HOA neighborhood.

The idea that you would be able to house your family in a 3br/2ba home for the same price some commissioners would pay for a new car seems like an affront to them. How dare you not be ashamed of your hovel and not wish to hide it from the stick-built home next to it?! Why do the rights of the stick-built homeowner override yours? Never mind whether the properties actually adjoin — if they can just SEE your mobile home from any distance, you can’t have it. Know your place, serf!

I offer this as proof that it is simple snobbery: Have you ever seen an ordinance in the other direction, where building stick-built homes is prohibited near existing mobile homes? I thought not!

The most chilling part of this is the absolute way Mr. Tobar and the commissioners state these requirements as if they’re common-sense things everyone should believe already. Housing discrimination seems to be totally ok with them. If you can’t afford a piece of land big enough to totally conceal your mobile home, you can’t have it. Even if you can buy a half-acre property and put a new mobile home on it, you shouldn’t be allowed to because their sensibilities override your fiscal responsibility. You should keep renting instead of becoming a homeowner because they don’t approve of your type of home.

Mr. Craig owns at least 33 properties in addition to his $500,000 home, either directly or via a trust, and stands to benefit from higher rent costs since many of his holdings are rental units in lower-cost areas. One of those is *gasp* A TRAILER! But it’s ok because it’s relegated to being next to other trailers. It knows its place.

Why won’t they admit the truth: they make more tax revenue from stick-built homes than they do mobile homes. That’s what it’s about — the almighty dollar. If you don’t want to pay that tax rate you should go live somewhere else. We don’t want your kind living here and we’ll legislate you out of existence.

Funny how hundreds, if not thousands, of people in this county once made a good living building mobile homes. That factory is still open today, producing homes and employing many people. Their product just isn’t good enough for Baldwin County anymore. We’re “above” that now. Keep your peasant housing to yourself!

“Mommy, where do speed cameras come from?”

(heading) How Did We Get These Cameras?

On this issue the “reporters” in our local media are a real let-down. They take the speed camera’s press release, sprinkle in a few quotes from local government officials and maybe a citizen or two, and then regurgitate it to us as “news.” No investigation, no fact-checking, not even any independent thought. Just a rehash of the company’s official take and presto, now it’s “facts.”

Only Bill Torpy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did any kind of digging on the subject and boy are his findings eye-opening!

“The proposal won the day because we all want our children to be safe. Also, it didn’t hurt that the effort was being pushed by lobbyist Matt Ralston, who represents a company selling the camera systems to local governments. Lobbyist Matt’s dad is House Speaker David Ralston, who allowed the bill to be approved past the midnight deadline of the legislative session’s final night

The bill had an unstoppable twofer in its favor — it was “for the kids” (a strong, sentimental favorite) and it carried real political clout (an even better predictor of success).”

— Bill Torpy, AJC

Is Georgia Racing to Join a United Nation of Speed Traps?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s mighty convenient that the camera company’s lobbyist is the son of our state’s Speaker of the House… The same man who pushed the bill through literally in the dead of night on the last day of the legislative session, past the usual cutoff point of new bills. That’s ok — it’s “for the kids.” Only a monster would be against school zone safety, right?

“The effort has a popular selling point: It costs nothing. At least that’s what police chiefs gush when they approach their city councils and county commissions. The formula seems to be 35 percent of the take goes to the for-profit tech company and 65 percent goes to the local jurisdiction, where it must be spent on public safety measures.

And the cops don’t have to do anything. They don’t have to run a radar gun or listen to civilians gripe about speed traps. They just watch the checks roll in.”

Greg Mauz, a researcher and activist with the Best Highway Safety Practices Institute, says that this is only the tip of the free money iceberg.

“And without a doubt, there will be mission creep. Getting laws passed for cameras in school zones is just the foot in the door, he said. Next, it will be road construction zones, and then “dangerous” roadways, and then …”

Yes, the “reporters” for almost every media outlet have done nothing to actually research these cameras. They just report on how the camera company came to town, the gross number of school zone speeders they discovered, and that the cameras don’t cost anything to the city. In fact, the fines are just civil matters; they don’t even go on your driving record. In every town it’s the same canned speech to sell the local politicians on the “urgent safety matter” for their schoolchildren. It seems to work too. You combine “for the children” with “bushels of free cash” and politicians can’t wait to sign!

By the way, you might be wondering “What happens if I refuse to pay these since they’re a civil matter?” The answer: you will be ineligible to renew your car’s tag the following year. Of course they’ll send the overdue fines to collections companies too, but they needed some kind of stick to force you to pay, right?

These speed cameras have another feature that isn’t being promoted nearly as much: they record the tag of every car that passes them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The local police or state government do NOT own this data! RedSpeed is free to sell this data to anyone they wish. Even better, our police have to pay every time they want to query this data for their own investigations. Meanwhile there is no oversight as to who can access this data or how long it is retained.

“this is a distinctive safety issue for children in school zones, and on top of that, it’s an added benefit for having 24-hour LPRs (license plate readers) in both those areas.”

Clayton County School Zones Could Get Speed Cameras, Tag Readers
Clayton News-Daily

Notice that there in Jonesboro they’d make over $60,000 a day in fines. Not a bad haul for zero outlay. “(Police Chief) Callaway said Red Speed’s president “would like to come and address this council and do a presentation.”

I bet he would! For a million dollars a month he’d probably do just about anything. And that’s the problem.

It’s My Money and I Need it Now!

School Zones fo Fun & Profit

Chief Swicord’s unprecedented fundraising attempt was in full swing Monday as he pressured the Board of Education to approve the speed cameras next to their properties — you know, “for the children.” It’s also “for the money.” Lots of money.

“A representative from the Florida-based company and Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord addressed the Baldwin County Board of Education during Monday’s work session to brief members and school officials on how the camera and penalty system for school zone speeding offenders would operate. The elected representatives seemed on board with the notion, but are awaiting feedback from the board attorney before giving their blessing. “

Why does the city need the Board of Education’s approval to place speed cameras on city streets? All the money from the fines is supposed to go directly in to the police department’s equipment budget. What is there for the BoE to approve? Does the Board realize that these cameras will cite buses too, and those citations will be mailed directly from RedSpeed to the Board for payment? There are no exceptions; these fines will be paid, so in essence the school board will be paying the police department a little monthly stipend whether they budgeted for it or not. Will they force the bus drivers to pay any fines they incur? Will there be consequences for drivers who are ticketed too frequently?

RedSpeed, the camera company, gets paid on a commission. They profit from every county they can convince to adopt their systems. Oh sure, they conducted “traffic studies” that “proved” we needed speed control methods. That’s like trusting the fox to count the number of chickens in the hen house! Do you think they send representatives out to every municipality they can find to do these “studies” and to schmooze with the politicians because of their civic duty? Hah! Of course not. RedSpeed gains new customers by sharing with them the same vision that drives their company: greed.

“The RedSpeed representative told the BOE that 18 school systems have signed on so far, and in previous cases, the number of speeders has dropped by 50 percent after the 30-day warning period. In a traffic study carried out by RedSpeed in April, a monitoring device recorded 494 drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph in the school zone in front of Baldwin High. The study was done over a nine-hour period on a school day. ”

Just for argument’s sake let’s take that at face value. These magical cameras cut the number of speeders in half. That’s 250 cars. At the minimum fine of $75, that’s:

  • $18,750 per day
  • $375,000 per month (just weekdays)
  • Over 4.5 MILLION DOLLARS each year

Per camera. Minus the paltry $1.5 million or so per camera that goes back to RedSpeed. These are indeed magical cameras; they produce money faster than spinning straw into gold. Think of how much money this will total when they slap up half a dozen cameras or more. The Milledgeville PD will have so much extra money they won’t know where to put it all. They’ll be equipped like MacGyver thanks to these Street ATMs.

RedSpeed also forgot to mention that last year their company lobbied our state government to establish a new law that allows speed cameras in school zones. First they get the laws passed, then they provide the solution. Neat, right?

“The chief stressed that such fines would strictly be “civil penalties” and would not go against the vehicle owner’s insurance or driving record, similar to a parking ticket. “

Previously he has also “stressed” that you will be able to contest these tickets in court — State Court — where a representative of the police department (not RedSpeed) will be there to defend the citation. The non-criminal citation that has landed you in state court… That sounds a lot like a regular traffic ticket to me, except that those are issued by a law enforcement officer to the person who committed the offense and not to the owner of the vehicle they were driving. “Civil penalties” have to meet a much less stringent legal standard than laws and are basically unregulated “fund raisers.”

MPD budget: $4.3 mil. Camera income: $5 mil.

Contact your school board officials and let them know you’re on to the city’s fundraising scheme in the name of “child safety.” Do the same for City Council members — let them know that the public is watching their actions!

If you’re a subscriber, read the article at the Union-Recorder’s site.

The IPMC Didn’t Fail if They Don’t Acknowledge It

This Land Was Your Land, and Now It's My Land!

A year ago our county rejected the IPMC and all its invasive provisions. The section most coveted by the Commission was on property seizure and resale. They had grand plans for a land bank and being able to take ownership of any property they thought would be profitable. It was all wrapped in the name of “blight remediation” and wouldn’t that be swell?

County making cleanup strides (Behind paywall)

The Union-Recorder marked the 1-year anniversary of the IPMC’s defeat with an update on the blight in the area. Much to their dismay, combating blight with existing ordinances has been quite successful! In the 8 months the new code enforcement officer has been on the job he has resolved issues at 37 properties. This serves as irrefutable proof that our existing laws work and that assertions to the contrary used to push the IPMC last year were outright lies.

That success is not enough for our county leaders though. They hired Mr. Tobar to enact the IPMC like he did at the other municipalities he worked for and it must be done here too! Now the approach is to adopt it piece by piece, under different names with various “reasons” as to why we need them.

As “proof” that blight is still about to destroy us all, he offered an article about how it’s an issue in Mobile, AL. We are supposed to assume that the article is written from a neutral viewpoint but as you read you’ll see it clearly is not. That’s ok though because we can dissect it ourselves.

Blight is eating America’s cities. Here’s how Mobile, AL, stopped it.

First of all, note that the entire push was funded by Bloomberg, America’s most socialist billionaire. He uses his money to purchase public policies that are in line with his Utopian vision. Here he funded the city’s “Innovation Team” which is a friendly-sounding way to say “find new ways to seize properties.”

There are 3 steps to scare the public into believing that blight is going to kill their city:

Step 1: Make blight a bigger issue than it is

“So they decided to create a “blight zone,” which included every residential property within 150 feet of a blighted home in the count. When they reran the numbers, they discovered that 22% of homes fell within a blight zone.”

Expand the term “blight” to include not just actually-blighted properties but any properties neighboring those properties. Just that act swelled the number of actually-blighted properties from 1,256 to over 12,500. Now it’s a crisis! By changing the rules they went from having 2% blight to 22%. Big government, come save us!

“So they created a blight index. Instead of allowing code enforcers out in the field to score properties based on their personal opinion of whether something fit the definition of blight, they would now check off “yes” or “no.” Each answer had a different weight, invisible to the code enforcers. Once the code enforcement team began using the blight index, the task force meetings became radically more productive. The task force no longer needed to debate whether a property was blighted. Either it was or it wasn’t.”

The illusion of “impartiality” is the best way to fool people into thinking a process is fair. Magicians have been doing it for centuries. Whoever decided those weights also decided which properties were blight by again manipulating the facts to make sure their desired conclusion was reached. Now nobody can contest whether a property is “blighted” because some “issues” are deemed (secretly) more important than others. Sorry – the form says it’s blight. Case closed.

Step 2: Make the process faster. MUCH faster.

“The innovation team realized they needed to change the system itself. The first step was to work with the city council to pass an ordinance allowing the city to change the meaning of a code violation. Instead of issuing fines, the city would now issue stickers informing property owners that they had 20 days to fix their property or the city would do it for them, and then place a lien on their property for the cost of the repairs.”

Now you’re cooking with gas. The owner of a blighted property will probably need time to come up with the money to get it repaired. Otherwise it wouldn’t be blighted now, right? So they give them 20 days or the city fixes it and bills them for it. Of course they can’t pay the city’s bill either, so guess what? They lose the property to the city!

“But in cities where the real estate is cheap, the market will not make blight just go away. In these cities, fixing blighted properties requires government and legal intervention.”

By all means, if land in your area isn’t expensive, the government might as well be able to take it away even easier. They lament that the state’s constitution provides protections to property owners.

“What this means for the city of Mobile is that when a property falls into disrepair, it is very, very, very hard for the city to take ownership of the property.”

Damn the state’s constitution! How dare they make the business of big government so complicated!

“Due to Alabama’s restrictive property laws, a property needed to be tax delinquent before the city could lay claim to it. But in a sick twist of bureaucracy, owners typically paid their taxes, because property taxes are so low that writing a $50 check to the city of Mobile each year felt like a fair price for keeping the family homestead going. They would pay the taxes, but they wouldn’t come back to Mobile and they wouldn’t sell the homes. And this is why no one lived in these homes. They were stuck in a tangle of outdated laws, shifting housing prices, and nostalgia.”

Damn those people for paying their taxes! We need another way to seize their property.

Step 3: Profit

So the “innovation team” lobbied the state government for a Seizure Express Lane.

“Rather than triggering a bunch of fines and notices, the city can now take active measures to bring a property in front of a judge, who can then hand over a property with a clear title to the city. They city can then, in turn, put the property back on the market. The funds from the sale then go to paying any back fines or money spent shoring up the house to ensure it is safe for occupancy. And finally, the city can get new people into formerly blighted houses. Mobile can build homes and neighborhoods instead of high grass and weeds.”

Since when is a city in the business of real estate and “neighborhood building”? Let’s just skip fines and penalties for not being in compliance with a law and just take the property away immediately. Skip due process – we want that property now!

“Passing a bill that removes property rights from residents and places them in the hands of government sounds like an exercise in futility in a state as deep red as Alabama. But the innovation team’s work had at least opened up the possibility of having a conversation about a bill with hints of socialism and a base note of big government.”

Wait till you try it in Georgia, where the citizens are informed and not as easily ambushed by a special-interests group and greedy politicians. “Hints” of socialism? A “base note” of big government? Give it any pretty name you want but that’s exactly what this is.

“While the crafters of the Alabama constitution wrote the document as a giant middle finger to the rest of the nation, to the government, and to any elected official who might ever try to wield power, Mobile’s modern-day residents have discovered that they need government’s help.”

Not here we don’t. Systems like this just perpetuate the “good ol’ boy” mentality where properties are pointed out for “blight remediation” by some real estate investor who can then buy it through a quick handshake deal for his own profit. Why buy out an owner if you can just whisper that it’s blight and whammo – it’s yours in a few weeks! Laws like this are easily “weaponized” against people who cannot afford to fight back. It might not start out that way but greed will eventually win and it’ll be used more and more frequently.

“They see their perpetual potential, and dream of the day when Starbucks comes to downtown.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is their measure of success. Is it yours? Your county commission wants to know. Be sure to tell them on Facebook, but be quick about it because they are known to delete replies and entire posts if things don’t pan out as they hoped.

Citizens have demolished 33 houses from October 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 in Baldwin County. The Unsafe Building Abatement…

Posted by Baldwin County Board of Commissioners on Friday, June 14, 2019

At Least Now We Know The Price

South Elbert St.

The city agreed to let GMC carve up South Elbert St. (aka State Highway 112) as long as they pay the bill. The price for one block of 4-lane highway in Milledgeville? $250,000. Our country hasn’t seen a land deal this cheap since we bought Manhattan Island for a few beads and trinkets.

Union-Recorder: Mayor Breaks Tie Vote

In exchange for the funds, “the city cannot make alterations or changes to the road diet project without written notification to GMC at least 30 days prior to proposing one or more changes.” Looks like $250k goes a long way in buying whatever influence you need around here.

“A motion was made by Alderman Walter Reynolds. The motion received a second from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Chambers.

Those voting to approve the agreement included the Mayor Pro Tem and City alder members Jeanette Walden and Walter Reynolds.

Those voting against the road diet agreement, meanwhile, were Denese Shinholster, Dr. Collinda Lee, and Richard “Boo” Mullins.”

— Union-Recorder

What will this “road diet” (all disruptive projects require a catchy name) project entail? The 4-lane truck route will be squeezed down to 2 lanes next to GMC’s gym. This will create a purposeful bottleneck that will bring traffic to a crawl 24 hours a day, even when the school is not open — traffic where the school’s own study showed that 98.5% of vehicles are already traveling within the allowed school zone speed limit. That’s not good enough for them though. The idea of their students actually waiting for the light to change to red is too complicated for the school’s administration. They can’t wait for the day their student body can barge out into the road without even looking, like the students over at GCSU do already.

Once the former highway has the vehicular capacity of a gravel driveway, they’ll still have the new speed enforcement cameras to look forward to. I don’t know how even Richard Petty could speed through their Disney-esque traffic controls but they’ll be prepared. I am honestly shocked that they haven’t figured out how to put a roundabout into this design but hey, they’re still only on the rough draft.

It’s All Smoke and Mirrors

GMC is throwing out all kinds of “reasons” for this project to distract you from their main purpose. You see, they have a ridiculous amount of golf cart traffic that darts across S. Elbert at E. Green St. Many students and employees also jaywalk there, where there is no crosswalk or light. This project will force traffic to slow to let them “Frogger” their way across as well. The school didn’t care when they placed their Engineering / Motor Pool across Elbert but now the highway is just in their way! But it’s “for the children.” You see, nobody can argue against anything when they say “for the children.”

Notice how GMC keeps putting up new buildings but just can’t manage to add parking spaces on the main block of the campus. Faculty, staff, and students have to cross one street or another to reach their cars — a design choice made by GMC and paid for by the citizens who have to dodge all the foot traffic. Those streets are such an inconvenience for the school. If only they could find a way to block them off, or at least make them so congested as to be unusable…

The Unmentioned Consequences

So now South Elbert is a traffic nightmare at the beginning and end of each school day. The narrowed road is further jammed by parents waiting to get into or out of school lots. Traffic backs up into the intersection at the Sparta Highway light. Emergency vehicles can no longer use this route because they will have no way to get around the traffic jam it creates by design. What about school buses at the gym for athletic events? They certainly can’t turn into the parking lot from a narrow 2-lane road! Citizens will soon learn to avoid Elbert (which is GMC’s true goal) and start looking for other ways to head south.

They can’t use S. Jefferson St. The bridge is out, and there really isn’t a timetable to fix it since the street is only lightly-traveled.

The next street is South Wayne St. It isn’t very wide in that block but at least isn’t blocked by flocks of students. Oh wait, it is the home of GMC’s new elementary school building! They closed the old driveway onto E. Franklin St. too, forcing the new traffic to use only South Wayne. That will bring hundreds more cars to compete with the ones displaced from S. Elbert. The tiny intersection at E. Greene St. (the old Western Auto intersection) won’t be able to handle the volume and that will create gridlock into downtown. Then imagine what happens if the funeral home dares hold a service when the school is letting out.

Traffic can’t use South Wilkinson St., the last of the large 4-lane roads (Memory Hill Cemetery past the Piggly Wiggly.) We’ve already “dieted” it down to 2 lanes to give it giant bike lanes! Lanes nobody uses, but that’s not really the point. Having enough bicycle lanes gets our town designed “bicycle friendly” and we certainly must have that!

“The projected completion date of the project is set for Aug. 1, just in time for the 2019-2020 school term.”

Yay. There’s nothing quite like the quality of a large project done in a hurry by the lowest bidder! In a previous article we mentioned that GMC was buying Elbert Street. At least now we know how much that costs.

Now You Owe The City For Rain

Death By a Thousand Drops

It’s time to pay the city more money! They’ve decided that your tax dollars aren’t enough to get runoff water from our streets to the river. Their idea? Let’s charge everybody because their house and driveway don’t absorb water! I mean sure, that water still absorbs into your yard and doesn’t go anywhere near their drains but they want money now!

What’s the largest source of water runoff? CITY STREETS. If they’re going to charge themselves a fee based on the square footage of all city streets, then it’s a fair fee. After streets, the rest of the excess water comes from places like shopping centers, the mall, apartment complexes, etc., and they’re the ones who need to pay. They know your driveway isn’t causing runoff. There are exponentially more homes than businesses in town though, so getting a little from everybody still means a great deal of money. They want to bleed everyone just a little so they can harness this newfound revenue stream and they’re pretty certain that people won’t bother to complain about only $3.95 a month. That represents a 10% increase on the base city water/sewage bill by the way.

“The City of Milledgeville is considering the creation of a stormwater utility and adoption of a stormwater user fee dedicated solely to addressing stormwater management and drainage issues. “

That sounds to me like they’ll need a whole new department and staff to run it. That means more money, and that’ll come out of your pockets! Look at all the money paid to the water department for the past half century that did not make it to pipe upgrades or maintenance at the water treatment plant. During that time the water system “just worked” so people did pretty much nothing proactive while the monthly payments just kept coming.

All the other cities are doing it. That’s their primary reasoning. If sixty other communities charge this fee, Milledgeville is missing out on revenue and we can’t have that. Maybe people won’t ask why they haven’t addressed the issue until now with the money from existing taxes and fees. This isn’t an issue or expense that just popped up out of thin air; it’s something that has been part of running a city for hundreds of years.

Read the city’s announcement here: Stormwater Management FAQ

How does the city manage runoff now? Not well. Ask the owner of the property at Tanglewood and Holly Hill Roads in Carrington Woods. His yard fills like a pond when it rains because the pipes under the roadway are inadequate to drain it away. Half the neighborhood’s drains lead to this location via gutters and pipes with only a small outlet at the corner of his property. What’s the city’s response? “That’s your problem, not ours.”

A few blocks away from that fiasco they added 8-inch curbs where there were none. They funnel water for the entire street to 3-4 drains to handle over 1/4 mile of pavement. The drains clog with silt and leaves in the first few minutes of a rain shower, leaving the lowest yards to fill with water for the duration of the storm. Does the city regularly clean these drains? Nope. Their response is “we don’t have the manpower” and they’ll clean them once or twice a year. If that’s the case, they never should have implemented this horrible design. The existing ditches worked fine for the neighborhood’s first 50 years of existence. This is what they want to do more of with your fees.

If you’re wondering how much some places would owe, a quick calculation shows that the mall would owe around $1165 a month and the Walmart shopping center would owe around $1625. That makes sense because they have acres of paved area to gather rainwater. Most people’s homes don’t have any runoff but the facts never get in the way of increased revenue!

They want your money and they want it NOW. These extra charges are scheduled to begin in July, and if you aren’t a customer of the city water department, fear not — they’ll graciously bill you monthly for just the stormwater fee!

Visit the city’s site to read more about the “proposed” program.

Oh, who are we kidding? This isn’t a proposal. This is a decree, nothing more. Our City Planner “plans” to get that money out of your pocket asap. They were just polite enough to give you two months notice.

GMC Buys Elbert Street, Closes It

Road Closed

Or at least they act like they own it, and they might as well have closed it. First, they built half of their campus on the opposite side of the street from the main square. They put the gym there 50 years ago and gradually kept adding buildings and moving students until the street is now a great inconvenience to them. They act like the street and its traffic volume is a new thing. They take zero responsibility for creating the issue by forcing a majority of their student body (plus faculty and staff) to cross a major highway many times a day. South Elbert St is also part of State Route 112, known locally as the Carl Vinson Highway. That’s ok though — our city is going to let them do whatever they want to with it. They’ll rubber stamp every request the school makes.

First up is the “road diet” — a neat term used instead of the more descriptive “block half the lanes to make you choose another route.” They’ll just force all traffic into 2 lanes there and when the road is blocked by people waiting to turn, you’ll just sit there. When parents stop in the road to let a child run to the car, you’ll stop and wait. People can’t speed if traffic isn’t moving at all!

Next is the speed camera installation. Boy is our police chief really into this one. These magical devices will pour money into the police department’s account by fining the owners of any vehicle speeding in GMC’s special zone. Never mind how that violates the principle that the operator of a vehicle is responsible for traffic infractions. No siree – Milledgeville has pulled the “JG Wentworth” card and wants their cash NOW! Chief Swicord assures us that this money can be used only for vehicles and equipment. Great — money coming from a responsibility that they are outsourcing can be spent without any effort on his department’s part. They just receive monthly checks from these philanthropic devices!

The cameras must also be ok because the city is getting them for FREE! Can’t beat that, right? Let’s totally overlook the conflict of interest where the rate of “offenders” directly affects the income of the outside company. There’s zero accountability for accuracy here, and zero opportunity to confront your accuser — you know, like how our police chief is doing right now in his drawn-out DUI court case where he was caught dead to rights by the GSP… He gets that right where the rest of Milledgeville’s drivers apparently will not. The camera is the judge, it is infallible, and you will pay.

It looks like RedSpeed’s salesmen are targeting towns all over Georgia for their product. Look who else had speed cameras for school zones just magically pop up this year:

https://www.news-daily.com/features/jonesboro-city-council-takes-up-school-zone-speed-cams-arts/article_8d673926-48cb-58ba-9d9c-5427f2f660dc.html

Note the same wording as for the reasoning, and take a gander at the fine amounts they will be raking in! In just the 3-day study period, if tickets were being issued the city would have made $62,000 and RedSpeed would have pocketed another $30,000. THAT is why these cameras are being pushed across Georgia, NOT SAFETY.

That trend will be reflected here in Milledgeville with these numbers: If 165 drivers owners per day are cited, that’s an income of over $370,000 per month for the cameras — $240,000 a month for the city and $130,000 for the camera company. Per month. Just for the Elbert St. location.Profit is the motive here people, not safety.

We’ll expand these revenue zones to Highway 49 in front of Baldwin High School and down nearly the entire length of Blandy Road. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, these devices will be cranking out violations and the city — and the camera company — will be raking in the money. Once they get a taste of this funding you can bet the camera numbers will grow. They’ll find a “need” for them all over town.

Hey, you can’t be against the cameras because they’re “only” fines. They won’t count against your license or insurance. That’s the chief’s other selling point. So basically they’re just a fundraiser for the city that’s bankrolled by the speed camera company. That company did a study of Elbert Street and discovered that of 11,000 cars daily, 165 of them are going 10 mph over the speed limit. Put another way, a whopping 1.5 percent of traffic is speeding, or 98.5 percent of traffic is within the speed limit. I’d say that means traffic enforcement there is already a resounding success! Why do we need any of this special traffic control at all?

Someone will bring up the subject of accidents. There’s a big number on Elbert Street and GMC spins the figures to make it sound like it’s right there at their campus. Where are most of them happening? At the intersection of the Sparta Highway and some at the intersection in front of Video Bazaar where they added all the student housing. Maybe 2-3 tops happen yearly at GMC.

GMC has a traffic light where students cross. This means that when students step into the street, all traffic should be going ZERO MPH. If they aren’t stopped or a car looks as if it will not stop, students should not enter the crosswalk. It really is that simple. Look up from your phones and pay attention. Take some personal responsibility. And if young kids are crossing there without supervision, that’s GMC’s failure. If the school’s entire student body is going to be traipsing across Elbert every day, maybe the school should build an overpass that wouldn’t be an inconvenience to any of the city’s travelers instead of making the city bend to their desires. They are sprouting new buildings and entire campuses like they’re made of Legos but can’t spare the money to build a proper overpass? We see those deep pockets — quit pretending you don’t have the funds to do it the right way.

Will our City Council just say “whatever you want” and let them enact this? Or will they stand up and act in the best interest of their constituents?

Here’s the story from Channel 13 so you can make up your own mind:

https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/local/milledgeville/milledgeville-police-want-to-put-cameras-around-school-zones-to-monitor-speeding/93-504e87df-8b37-4661-bcf5-502d9f0c7657

The IPMC Comes Creeping Back

Let’s sneak in a few land use restrictions while no one is watching!

Since the IPMC was voted down by the residents of Baldwin County, our esteemed commissioners have decided they’ll bring it back piece by piece. One or more of them must really have something against mobile homes because they’ve decided to place a 9-month “moratorium” against any new mobile homes in established neighborhoods. While they’re at it, they added tiny houses (anything under 500 sq ft) to the list. They also want to prohibit new event venues, motorsports venues, and RV parks. They pretend that this will be temporary but we all know that it will be permanent and probably even more restrictive than their current plans.

They seem to not understand that they are representatives of the public, not our rulers. They feel compelled to halt development while they come up with more restrictive land use ordinances that they expect to foist onto the ignorant masses without us noticing. The commission expects a lightly-attended but legally-required public hearing followed by a quick vote to enact the wishes of a few powerful area developers who still think they can turn Baldwin County into a resort community by outlawing common people.

There must be some kind of panic over a rumored “tiny house park” that they are totally against for some reason. We already have ordinances that protect against noise before or after certain hours so is a place to hold weddings or celebrations really a problem now? There is one that overlooks their sacred Greenway so maybe that’s the root of their animosity.

Sorry commissioners, but we won’t be Pearl Harbored again. When you start decreeing what will and won’t be done, just remember who put you in those positions. We can just as easily vote you out. The days of citizen apathy are over. We are watching!

Mr. Barlow Still Doesn’t Get It

 “Officials need to take a step back, reevaluate and return to the drawing board in figuring out how the code that is already on the books can effectively be enforced for the betterment of the community at-large.”

Congratulations. You have arrived at the point the rest of us were at nine months ago. Too bad they tried to shove the “medicine” down our throats. We’re not children and we won’t be told what to do just because you said “I said so.”

 “Doing so certainly didn’t win county officials any popularity votes but that is often the risk taken by those charged with leading. As leaders, it is their responsibility to bring others to the table to find solutions in an effort to make the community better.”

Leaders are supposed to reflect our wishes and values, not force their own upon us. You may be used to being the tyrant of your own empire but you have no powers here (with apologies to Glenda, the Good Witch of the South.) You can bet that Mr. Westmoreland and Mr. Craig will be able to enjoy a lot more of their retirement after the next election because they will not be burdened with commission duties after that. Voters don’t forget sneak attacks.

 “As leaders, county officials must bring others who have a vested interest in this issue to the table in order to figure out how to strengthen the existing codes and make them more effective.”

And there’s the crux of his argument: we need laws to strengthen the portfolios of real estate developers. They have money to make and our legal system must make it easier and cheaper for them to get it done.  I hate to tell you but the whole opposition movement has “a vested interest” because we live here too.

“How about bringing some of those opposed to the failed code changes to the table to hear their ideas?”

This has already happened. The problem with that idea is that some of the proposed changes are simply arbitrary standards that are diametrically opposed to the concept of private property ownership. A property owner should not have to give up ANY freedom in exchange for making others feel better. If you want to surrender that voluntarily, you move to a community with protective covenants in place. You have already done that while the rest of us continue to work to make sure the whole county doesn’t turn into the same thing.

“There are no winners if there is never any progress.”

No sir. Our county was the clear winner here. We simply proved that we do not want your definition of “progress.”

 

Mr. Barlow hides his publication’s contents behind a paywall so you may not be able to read the article here:

UR Editorial