Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I heard the term “sneaky-Pete” for the first time recently while talking to a former County Chairman circa early 1990’s. He was referring to the current Commission’s practice of voting on issues without any public notice. He said the commission was “pulling a sneaky-Pete.” What a great phrase!

Your County Commission is pulling one sneaky-Pete after another. Unfortunately, aside from 2 or 3 faithful citizens, a couple of reporters and the county staff who’re required to be at the meetings, tain’t nobody at the meetings to see what’s going on. Also unfortunately, it seems not very many people pay attention to the local newspapers when they report on the votes. However, even if the articles are being read, the newspapers only give passing notice (if any at all) to the fact that the issue wasn’t on the agenda.

I’m not going to rehash all the votes that appear to have been decided in private before the meeting, then brought up in a seemingly orchestrated manner during “Board Reports” at the end of the meetings. (I’ll add one of my old opinion columns from the beginning of the year titled “Forget the Agenda” later for anyone who wants a tiny bit of background.)

Today’s blog is focusing on one thing that a certain few on the Commission tried to sneak through that seems to be getting ready to blow up in their proverbial face (another idiom… I’m just full of ‘em today!).

The issue of the day is redistricting.

At the Commission’s recent retreat (the rather expensive retreat held so far away during working hours making it virtually impossible for any citizen attendance) Commissioner Herb Frady presented everyone with his version of a map moving voting lines in the county around. Let me back up just a tiny bit and say that at the beginning of the day’s meeting the facilitator made it clear to all that this was not an official meeting.

The Commissioner’s discussed it. It was fairly obvious who’d been in the loop on Frady’s travels and who was left out. It was presented pretty much as a done deal, just needed everyone’s rubber stamp support and it was off to the Legislature and the Department of Justice.

Commissioner Peter Pfeifer suggested they might want to look at other ways to re-draw the map drawing the ire and sarcasm of a few of the Commissioners. Chairman Jack Smith tepidly tried to smooth things over as he often does, but as always these days, he sided with the crew. No vote, not that kind of meeting. But four of them agreed to pursue it as drawn by Frady with one minor modification done by the state.

Remember, no public, no public input requested.

Moving forward, we’re at the next official Thursday night Commission meeting. The redistricting map isn’t on the agenda. No word of it until… ta da… Board Reports. It’s brought up for a vote. Yep, a vote. No public input. No public notification at all. Commissioner Pfeifer calls attention to the fact and forces the crew to put it on an agenda for public discussion and involvement.

Soooo, how does the group handle this monkey wrench that Pfeifer tossed into their smoothly running operation? They put it on the agenda for a special called meeting on a Monday morning during the regular working day for the vast majority of Fayette citizens. No separate notice to anyone that they’re going to discuss an issue of this magnitude.

The agenda for the business day special called meeting is published three business days before the actual meeting. No way it’s getting in any newspapers.

A few years back the County Commission considered redistricting. There were public meetings across the county asking for citizen input. There was also a lot of controversy, which I’ll save for another blog ‘cause it’s not germane to the focus of this column.

This one is in the process of becoming public despite the best efforts of the Board. Commissioner Pfeifer is speaking out and taking heat as his words are ignored and / or attacked by his fellow board members. What is really going to bring this issue to the forefront of voters across the county is the move by a rather large group of citizens who are organizing to push for district voting.

My biggest beef (another colloquialism) with the redistricting map is the secrecy involved in pushing it through.

I don’t understand the rush, either. When redistricting, the numbers used by law, are those from the last census. They are using numbers from the 2000 census for Frady's map.

The 2010 census is already in preparation. We’re less than 3 years from getting new numbers. Chances are that the new numbers will throw the current Frady proposal out of kilter completely and we’ll be looking at yet another redistricting. According to official census estimates the county population increased by close to 17% from 2000 to 2006. Where did these 15,000 plus folks move? To the north end of the county? Peachtree City? Brooks? Is the current map already obsolete?

Isn’t it logical to get on a cycle of reviewing districting maps in conjunction with new census data every ten years?

Here’s another thought… We’re coming up on a difficult Presidential election cycle. There’s an early Presidential primary being held separately from our normal primary, which means the election office is already going to have extra things on their plates (just full of those oft-used phrases today, aren’t I?). Why add to their burden now? Why not wait a year, two years?

Which begs another question, why wasn’t the county election’s office involved in drawing the map? Why wasn’t the election board involved in the process? I was told they were asked what the number and contact information was for the state reapportionment office… that’s it. Not, “can I get your input on re-drawing a map?”

This is Commissioner Herb Frady’s project and whatever may come, it’s on his doorstep.

Jack Smith, Chairman
40 Argyll Drive Peachtree City, GA 30269
Home Phone: 770.487.4644
Office: 770.460.5730
Ext. 5101E-Mail:

Herb Frady, Vice Chairman
100 Old Magnolia Lane Fayetteville, GA 30214
Home Phone: 770.487.9203
Office: 770.460.5730 Ext. 5101

Robert Horgan
210 Wesley Forest Drive Fayetteville, GA 30214
Home Phone: 770.461.0250
Office: 770.460.5730 Ext. 5101

Eric Maxwell
225 South Glynn Street Fayetteville, GA 30214
Office: 770.460.5730 Ext. 5101

Peter Pfeifer
220 Copperplate Lane Peachtree City, GA 30269
Home Phone: 770.487.2654
Office: 770.460.5730 Ext. 5101

County Commission Mailing Address:
140 Stonewall Avenue West
Suite 100
Fayetteville, Georgia 30214
Phone: 770.460.5730 extension 5400
Fax: 770.460.9412

Georgia Reapportionment Services Office
18 Capitol Square, Room 407
Atlanta GA 30334
phone: 404-656-5063
FAX: 404-463-4103

I’ll add the info for your local legislators and the Department of Justice later.

(Side note: I didn’t point out all the descriptive phrases I used above that have, through time, become part of our everyday language. I once read a book on the history of English (a companion to a PBS series. The background of our ever-changing language is fascinating! And yes, I know I regularly drop a fair amount of well-worn phrases into my writing.)

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