I was disappointed to read your September 24 editorial calling on my office to “let it go” when it comes to enforcing Alabama’s gambling laws in Macon County. Sixty years ago, this newspaper earned a Pulitzer Prize for your coverage of the crime and corruption in Phenix City, Alabama. In particular, the Pulitzer Prize board highlighted your “early awareness of the evils of lax law enforcement.” That evil has not ceased.
The situation in Macon County is not about gambling; it’s about the rule of law. And on gambling, Alabama’s laws are clear. In March of this year, the Alabama Supreme Court issued the latest in a long line of opinions declaring unlawful “electronic bingo” in Macon County. “All that is left,” the Court wrote, “is for the law of the State to be enforced.”
That is my job — to enforce the law, not to choose which laws should be respected and when we should just “let it go.” Sixty years ago, this paper stood shoulder to shoulder with those who would see the rule of law returned to Phenix City. In the future, I hope we can count on you again.
Attorney General, State of Alabama
The current property tax system which freezes a homeowner’s assessed value at the time of purchase was created with good intentions. It was believed to be a way of controlling spending of local government. But over the last 35 years the loss of property tax revenue created an imbalance in homeowners not paying their fair share of property taxes. And it forced local government to fund vital services through increased sales and business taxes.
The unintended consequences include stifled-population growth versus almost all comparative communities in the Southeast U.S. The proposed referendum will retire the Freeze and create a new market-based system for all new home purchases beginning in 2017. And the referendum allows for a fair compromise — those who currently have their assessment frozen will keep it.
As a former county commission chairman in north Georgia, I knew this system was not good for the long-term vibrancy of our community. But it wasn’t until we analyzed the data from our Regional Prosperity Initiative that I fully realized just how drastically the freeze was strangling our growth and forcing families to live in adjacent communities. And the recently completed Fort Benning Economic Impact study by the Matrix Group further illustrated the harm it was doing to Muscogee County, calling it “disastrous.”
Columbus — we can do better. We can provide a market-based and fair property tax system for the future while allowing those who currently enjoy the freeze to keep it. At a per capita cost of just over $1,300 for city services (lower than all other large Georgia cities), most of us pay more for cable TV and Internet services than the cost of all city services combined.
Vote yes on Nov. 8 to “Thaw the Freeze.”
President & CEO, Columbus
Chamber of Commerce
I have run, walked, swam, biked since I was 19 years old. Since moving to Georgia and living on Mckee Road, I have continued my lifelong passion of vigorous, physical, aerobic exercise. I wear reflective clothing between dusk and dawn. I believed my neighborhood was safe. No more.
I have witnessed people on phones texting and talking, so absorbed that they do not even see me. I have had police stop a motorist going 90 — yes, 90 mph — in front of my house. I have had a puppy killed because she got out on McKee Road with me right behind her. The driver never even stopped.
Fire trucks and ambulances do not have enough room to operate safely during an emergency due to lack of shoulders on either side. At some places the sandy shoulder drops off 6 inches or more. Two large pickup trucks cannot pass without one of them running off the road. (Put a walker, runner or cyclist in this midst and you have a disaster.) I have been clipped while cycling due to a trailer that the driver did not consider. I have been literally run off the road (while walking), intentionally or not, in the morning while someone is trying to get to work.
The problem is not just distracted drivers, cell phones, driving too fast. That is a societal problem, endemic in this country.
The problem is McKee road is too narrow, the narrowest in Muscogee County according to a former fire chief, and there are no drivable shoulders. But our narrowest road leaves us no recourse to sloppy, distracted, reckless driving. Please help us fix part of the problem.
Ginny Potter, Upatoi