Sometimes newspaper contributors have several things to say that are worthy of mention but don’t require the space for a full column. February is one of those months and I share a few random and unrelated thoughts with readers.
• Fayette County government employees, the staff of the school system and those working for municipalities within the county excelled in handling problems caused by Snow Jam 2014. Kudos for the performance of law enforcement and public works employees who braved the elements to keep city and county roads safe. They rose to the occasion and made us proud by keeping us safe.
In contrast, a failing grade goes to Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) leadership that caused thousands of motorists to be stranded for up to 30 hours in below freezing temperatures by failing to sound the alarm.
Charley English, the $122,000 per year genius who heads GEMA, took no action to notify citizens and government agencies of the emergency nor did he open the state’s emergency centralized command center until after motorists were trapped on the interstates with nowhere to go.
It appears the well-documented incompetence of the federal agency (FEMA) has trickled down to the state level. Governor Nathan Deal took undeserved ridicule from the national press because of the breakdown, and the governor should show Mr. English and his upper management the door sooner rather than later.
• Highway 54 traffic has been studied extensively over the past decade at considerable cost to the taxpayers of Peachtree City and real estate developers looking to do projects in the area.
The Peachtree City Council has done it again by throwing $70,000 at another traffic study without disseminating a request for proposal or taking competitive bids for the service.
Peachtree City ordinance, Section 34-116, clearly provides that the purchase of services be competitively bid. The only exception is that a contract may be awarded without competition if it is determined that there is only one source for the service (Sec 34-120).
The “insider” traffic consultant selected by the City Council is not the only qualified traffic consulting company available to conduct traffic studies. Competitive bids should have been taken and would have resulted in a better study at lower costs.
The traffic consulting company that received the no-bid contract was not named in the Jan. 16 meeting minutes and only referenced as the city’s current consultant when the agenda item passed.
Taxpayers should be given the name of the consulting firm and the location of the corporate headquarters so they can follow the money, whether it be locally or internationally.
Bystanders continue to be puzzled at why the City Council continues to commission expensive studies on a highway that is under the control of the Georgia Department of Transportation and not the city of Peachtree City.
Council members Eric Imker and Mike King were correct in casting votes against the contract and subsequent expenditure.
I hear that state Senator Ronnie Chance is in line for appointment to an important position that will throw his Senate seat up for grabs in the 2014 election. Can anybody confirm that rumor?
• It was predictable that results of the Fayette Vision citizen survey would underscore the need for an arts center in Fayette County. Recent publicity in this newspaper about the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts in Coweta County makes me green with envy. The centre is the results of coordinated efforts between the Coweta County school system, the business community and the arts community.
There are many excellent performing and visual arts programs in Fayette County that could benefit from a central coordinating agency. Fayette has the third highest per capita income among the 159 Georgia counties, and the lack of focus on the arts is troubling.
It is time for Fayette County commissioners to wake up and establish a local council or commission for the cultural arts to support dance, music, theatre, film and the visual arts.
• There are rumblings that Pinewood Studios will not create as many local jobs as advertised. Someone should nip that discussion in the bud by putting together and maintaining a verifiable list of permanent and temporary jobs created by the facility so citizens can compare the economic benefits of Pinewood to financial concessions given by local governments.
• Most feedback from my January prediction that Peachtree City will have an independent city school system within the next decade was supportive. Based on this feedback, I need to clarify something about potential funding:
(1) State funding for each student living in the city limits will follow the student to the proposed Peachtree City school system; and
(2) The Fayette County Board of Education will not levy school tax on property within the city limits under such an arrangement. The proposed Peachtree City Board of Education would levy the millage inside Peachtree City to support the proposed city schools.
The details of implementation would be established and clarified in local enabling legislation after passage of a statewide constitutional amendment. The final step would likely be an up or down vote by Peachtree City citizens.
[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. His family has owned property in what is now Peachtree City since 1820, before the formation of Fayette County. He may be contacted at email@example.com.]