Survey citizens about PTC’s future


If you put a frog in boiling water, it will try to escape. If you put a frog in lukewarm water and slowly heat the water to boiling, the frog, a “cold-blooded” creature, will remain happily in the water until it dies.

Please do not try this at home. It is apocryphal — it is not true. It is an anecdote, a parable, a story made up to teach a lesson.

The lesson is that if change is small and gradual we are more likely to accept it than if it is large and abrupt. Slow and gradual change is often the way the “new normal” is created.

I’ve lived in Peachtree City for 10 years. I’ve seen a slow, gradual change for the worse in traffic. I see a lack of concern from my fellow citizens and residents, concern that the utter mess we have created and the utter mess that we are bent upon creating (e.g., the MacDuff Extension) have and will become the new normal.

The extra hours spent commuting and driving from place to place, the extra cost of fuel to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the added load of carbon dioxide, the frustration and likely expressions of road rage, the delays to emergency vehicles — police, fire, ambulance — these will become the new normal.

There’s been talk, recently (spurred by The Great Waterpark Debate) about what we want this city to be and to become. But so far, that’s all it is — talk, and usually the same few people doing the talking.

An attempt was made to look at part of the question when former Mayor Haddix chartered a committee to examine the budget and learn what services citizens wanted and were willing to pay for. For perhaps the first time in the city’s history, a true directed survey was used. Unfortunately, the budget was too small to conduct a sufficiently large survey. More unfortunate, the vast majority of residents polled didn’t bother to respond to the survey. The “error bars” were usually larger than the data bars. In other words, the survey revealed little or nothing.

I once attempted to get library patrons to participate in a survey of library services. I passed out 200 cards with the survey web address to people in the library. They all said they would respond. Only 27 people — 13.5 percent — did so.

People deserve whatever government they get. As long as only 20 percent or fewer of registered voters vote, we will also deserve whatever city — and traffic — we get.

With today’s communication technology and networking sites there is no longer an excuse to not know what’s going on; there is no longer an excuse to not become involved.

It is time to create a new-new-normal, and I call upon the City Council to make this a broad and compelling effort, and to avoid the mistakes of the past, specifically self-directed surveys and participation.

Paul Lentz
Peachtree City, Ga.