Who is Steve Brown, former Peachtree City mayor and current Post 4 candidate for county commissioner? Some people attempt to cast him as a villain, while others laud his stand on contentious issues, Let’s explore two of them.
If it’s easy to find stories about Steve Brown (which it is), it’s even easier to find newspaper articles by Steve. And while you may not agree with all his positions, even his greatest detractors would have to concede that he thoroughly researches his subjects, which is particularly refreshing in an era of politicians who don’t even read measures they vote for.
Two past projects seem to have generated the most debate: the extension of TDK Boulevard from Peachtree City to Coweta County, and the Peachtree City Development Authority’s operation of the Tennis Center.
Time has proven Brown right on both of his very public crusades for citizens he represented. If you are an average homeowner wanting to preserve our great quality of life, Brown has been one of your greatest defenders.
TDK Boulevard — On Feb 7, 2003, then-Mayor Steve Brown signed the TDK Boulevard Extension Agreement with the Fayette County Commission, agreeing to extend that road “to promote adequate and safe means of transportation” and committing the city to a $200,000 contribution.
While the city could regulate growth along the road within its limits, it had no control over the Coweta County length of the road that abutted the city. Developers quickly saw opportunities to heavily build along the Coweta portion of the road, and Coweta offered no zoning assurances to protect Peachtree City from adjacent overdevelopment.
As a result of those plans, Steve said in a March 2004 letter to the editor, “The creation of the TDK Extension is purely for developmental purposes, not traffic relief,” and in November he called the developer special interest claims of the extension being “a bypass which would reduce traffic on Highway 54” the “relief valve myth.” The Citizen reported the following month that Brown was “vehemently opposed” to moving forward with the TDK Extension.
The Newnan Times-Herald editorial board, in a December 2004 issue, compared Brown to Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in the doorway blocking integration while saying he was the “lone holdout in the new road talks.”
Former mayors of Peachtree City and the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce all lambasted Brown for taking a stand against the TDK Extension. By October of 2005, Brown’s predecessor, a very frustrated Bob Lenox, said that everyone from Congressman Lynn Westmoreland down to every local councilperson knew Brown “personally stonewalled this [TDK] project.”
Lenox continued, “It is not often in government that you can clearly find the culprit when things go wrong, but in this case every one of us who has worked for years to make TDK Boulevard a reality knows that Steve Brown stopped it.”
Harold Logsdon campaigned in favor of the TDK Extension and displaced Brown as mayor in 2004. Soon, however, after massive development plans were filed in Coweta, groups like the Peachtree City Civic Association joined in the movement to kill the expansion, and by June of 2007, the road project was officially dead and Fayette County returned the $200,000 to the city.
In the January 2008 PTC Update newsletter, Mayor Harold Logsdon, an enthusiastic supporter of the extension said, “Two years ago I campaigned on the need for TDK.” He continued, “Well, the situation changed with the proposed massive development on our border, so I changed my position. Completing TDK is not in the best interest of PTC and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
Had Brown not had the courage to take a stand with everyone railing against him, we would have the TDK Extension, a massive development next to us, and traffic jams worse than any we can imagine. Steve Brown had taken a whole lot of heat, but it turns out that the lone holdout was right.
Tennis Center — The other issue that special interests target Brown for is the tennis center and development authority scandal. Like the TDK issue, Brown took a stand against what he thought was wrong and was not in the best interest of PTC: loose (and sometimes non-existent) accounting records, failure to record meeting minutes and borrowing funds without public votes.
Following Brown’s efforts, The Citizen editor Cal Beverly said in an in-depth November 2005 public blog that “Those community leaders ran the old DAPC out of their back pockets. They kept precious few records, despite being required to by state law. Several of them served on the board of directors of either a lending bank or a bidding contractor.”
Beverly condemned the DAPC’s performance saying, “If they had performed the same way on their day jobs, they would have been justifiably terminated.” He concluded, “There is no recorded vote on more than a million dollars in loans to the DAPC. There’s no paperwork financial trail to determine where that money went. How can any reasonable person praise this old board?”
Many of the people who defended the DAPC were mortified to learn that three of the DAPC members were on the board of directors of the bank issuing under-the-table high interest, short-term loans to the DAPC.
A September 2005 article appearing in The Citizen entitled, “Mayor slams DAPC board members’ bank ties,” DAPC member and bank board member Doug Warner admitted he should not have voted on the loans due to a conflict of interest. “If that’s evil, then I’m sorry. Take me to task for it,” Warner said.
The DAPC members resigned in shame. Steve Brown, the lone holdout, was proven right again.
I’d add one footnote. Being a senior leader on the people’s side of high profile issues distinguishes a public servant from a politician. That’s why I’m voting for Steve Brown for Fayette County commissioner, Post 4.
Peachtree City, Ga.