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In Haddix coup, Steele is kingpin

Quite a few of us who follow local government issues, actively involved in a revival of Fayette County ethics, land use standards and common sense conservatism, attended last Thursday’s City Council meeting in Peachtree City.

We were attending the council meeting in the hopes of brokering the peace between three council members (Eric Imker, Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch) and Mayor Don Haddix. It has been no secret that a rift exists and the ability to agree to disagree has fallen by the wayside.

We stood before the elected body saying, honestly, we support all five on the council and wished to see some efforts at creating harmony. This was especially important on that evening because the three council members had created a new agenda item requesting that Mayor Haddix be removed as one of our county’s representatives to the Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR).

We thought the request for Haddix’s removal was not an appropriate way to handle personality conflicts. However, much to our surprise, we found out the change on the agenda was only part of a wider scheme to remove Haddix and centralize power in the hands of Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele.

Council member Fleisch began reading off a list of similar actions being conducted simultaneously by other city councils in the county. What was occurring was a well-orchestrated plan to lock Mayor Steele into the powerbroker position over our future as both Atlanta Regional Commission representative and RTR representative should the coup be successful.

When asked from the audience who the three council members chose to replace Haddix, Council member Imker said it was Steele. In an awkward moment, Imker stated that he really did not know Steele well, but considered him a man of honesty and integrity, causing me to almost fall out of my chair.

This is the same Mayor Steele who said he opposes mass transit buses in Fayette County, but voted in favor of plans including them in our county at every regional government vote. After his votes were discovered, he said mass transit would never come to Fayette County anyway, later admitting at a recent Association of Fayette County Governments (AFCG) meeting that mass transit would most likely come in the future.

Steele also publicly supports the construction of the West Fayetteville Bypass, a developer welfare project that supports accelerated residential development from northern Fayette down to Starr’s Mill.

But what was Haddix’s crime that necessitated his removal from the RTR? Well, he dared to say Fayette County might fare better in another region to our south. When we face the possibility of losing $25 million per year, I think it is only prudent to consider all the options.

Even Steele admitted that the HB 277 regional funding referendum was “flawed.” In fact, 13 mayors from Fulton County publicly voiced their displeasure with the HB 277 according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Moreover, the Livable Communities Coalition (an organization Steele has been intimately involved with over the years) conducted a survey that “found suburbanites outside the five-county Atlanta area [Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb] oppose it [HB 277 referendum] 55 to 40 percent,” (AJC, Transit backers hope for change, Sept. 9, 2010).

So why does Haddix’s comment merit such harsh retribution? Actually, his comments do not merit any such treatment, but Steele is using the situation for a power grab.

Steele has supplanted the spirit of county cooperation with rumors that Haddix is getting negative comments from regional players. The City Council of Peachtree City got their information from Steele and cited the negativity towards Haddix as their primary excuse, but they could not name a single regional person expressing those views. Likewise, none of the three troubled council members attended any of the regional meetings, relying solely on Steele’s hearsay.

Here is something the reader needs to know as well: Steele voted for Haddix to serve as our RTR representative. Steele’s problem with Haddix is the Peachtree City mayor is willing to take a fiscally responsible approach and look at all the possible options in contrast to Steele’s method of voting along to get along with Clayton, Fulton, DeKalb Gwinnett and Cobb counties on mass transit plans and using our tax dollars to fund their roads and transit debacles.

And, yes, mass transit is a big issue. The HB 277 referendum guidelines were created by State Transportation Director Todd Long. “Under the tax guidelines drafted by Long, new mass transit projects might take up to 40 percent of the Atlanta region revenues. Transit operating expenses might take up to 20 percent, meaning over half the region’s tax could go to transit,” (AJC, Sales tax could aid mass transit, Aug. 19, 2010).

MARTA and Xpress buses operated by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA) are going broke and they want you to cover the bill. “Then in 2012, the Atlanta region likely will have a referendum [HB 277] on a regional transportation tax, and GRTA officials hope the system’s operations funding will be included in that” (AJC, Xpress service going broke, Aug. 13, 2010).

Those complaining 13 Fulton County mayors want you to pay for their mass transit too. That is why they were complaining.

Council Member Imker, at the council meeting, committed to looking at more information on the alternatives, needing the “pros and cons,” saying, “When I can get more information, I can change my vote.”

In the same spirit of collaboration, Tyrone Council Member Tracy Young committed to me after the meeting that he is receptive to an open, honest discussion of all the options.

Power grabs and closed discussions hurt our citizens, so let’s not go in that direction.

Steve Brown

Fayette Commissioner-elect, Post 4

Peachtree City, Ga.



Mike King's picture

Other than being a concerned citizen, what stake is it that you have meddling into Peachtree City's governance? Being elected County Commissioner, are you planning to become involved in the Councils of Woolsey, Tyrone, Brooks, and our county seat? It is my fervent hope that Mr Haddix is not relying on your experience as our mayor for advice and counsel, although his actions of late seem to indicate just that.

Hopefully, you will fare much better in your new endeavor than you did here in Peachtree City. To do so, I would suggest you concentrate your efforts to the responsibilities of your new office and leave the governance of Fayette County's munincipalities to their respective elected bodies.

They've done quite well without your interference.

I thought that you thought PTC was going to the dogs with Haddix! Maybe we need Brown to help?

I am glad you think they have done "quite well".

The County Commission is a big deal. We have to ask them for 1.8 million for our PTC roads, I noticed. Be careful how you criticize them, they may be vindictive rather than faithful servants of all of the people.

The next stop on the political ladder for Mr. Brown would be the State House, I suppose. He could possibly skip that though as "it isn't worth a bucket of spit" as one of our V-Presidents once said about being V-President. That was then, of course.
Cheney and Biden are very powerful and were and are needed.

By skipping that step, he could run for Lt. Governor of GA--pretty useless but some experience in trading knives, or even The US House.

I have noticed though that military personnel do not do well in elections.
An Admiral lost I noticed, and a few others. Even McCain lost his Presidential bid again. (I worked for him in his first try).
We don't seem to look upon them as "leaders" any more---but prejudiced in too many ways.

Anyway, I think Mr. Brown is Fayette's salvation for the future. He doesn't seem to be on either side very much and reasons out how to help the most people the most. He may be a Moderate to Liberal Republican, but no TEA or Libertarian, the fringe fruitcakes, who use it to make a living.
Limburger, Hannity, Coulter, Hucklebery, O'Reilly, Boortz, all of the FOX anchors and panel guests, etc., and of course the Ultra Liberals have their Jacksons, and some reverends.

Do you know what Brown thinks about cutting budgets in Fayette County? Isn't he an Office Manager by trade?

I remind you of LTC(R) Alan West in Florida!

I didn't remember who West was at first so I looked him up and immediately recognized him as the one who was discharged by the Army short of 20 years, but paid him anyway to resign.
He is the one who interrogated an Afghan, I think it was, wanting information they thought he had. Others had been unsuccessful getting him to talk so West was called in.
West Pulled out his weapon and shot right by the man's head surprisingly.
The man told them a story.

When the story was investigated, it turned out to be a lie to keep from getting shot in the head.

West was found guilty of several charges and discharged.

He also belongs to one of those Fundamentalist Independent Churches run by themselves and who do "energetic worship" and set their own rules. (man is the boss, etc.). They have 20-30 on staff as Pastors, etc., one for everybody. The Chief Pastor's job is to "energize" services. Modern music and dramatic presentations are performed.

Certainly not my kind of friends!

This dude is weird!

He uses the old "God and Country" type campaigns. Means nothing.

I can see why the TEAS, etc., would elect him.

It seems that military retirees have been questionable since Eisenhower.
Reagan made documentaries, Bush, Jr., defaulted to the Guard and didn't do that even. His Dad got him in.

Bush Sr., was made an officer at 19 or so without a degree due to who he was. He was the last one however to have risked his life in battle, except there are still those who say he didn't tell his crew he was bailing out. He said he did, but they didn't jump!

What is it about this---,any White House aids on both sides turn out to be dangerous: Bush's Admiral and Marine LTC, etc.

I do think however if the fellow was properly elected, he deserves to represent those who like him. His Biography however simply state that "when it was time" to get out, he retired.
What he did would have gotten him 10 years in Fayette County.

His kids go to "Christian" schools only

The voters of Florida clearly thought he was the best qualified and therefore elected him. The former Admiral (J. Sestak) who lost had been an elected Democratic Congressman from PA before he resigned to run for the Senate. Remember he did a "switchover" vote on the Health Insurance Reform deal that had to do with Aborion. Took much heat from constituents.

I see that you took no exceptions to the facts on LTC West!

I think this kind of personality is NOT needed in our government!
I'm sure there are also those who feel someone like, say, John Lewis of GA, also should not be in our government since he was arrested a few times with MLK, but that is our district voting system, I suppose.

People who take "causes" so serious that they feel obligated to "go beyond the pale" (Ollie North, etc.) only cause such organizations of radical small groups as we have in this country, and it takes generations for people to see their harm to our Constitution. (KKK;communist party;Davidians;fundamentalists;FOX;TalkAMRadio;Libertarians;TEAS;Birchers;NAACP;NAAWP;NAZIS;ZIONISTS;JoeSmiths;Televangelists;Congregationalists;and scores of others!)

I see these people as ones looking for personal recognition and parties to attend.

It matters not a whit what you or I think, it's what the voters in Florida thought and who they voted for--and that's pretty clear!

I said nearly that myself! I suppose the voters there knew about his troubles, but he didn't tell them in his BIO!

It seems that most anything is acceptable as a leader providing he says enough of what one wants to hear!

After all, Old George and Tom, and Davy Crockett, and Stonewall Jackson, and many, many others were all unbelieving scoundrels!

It seems to go with politics as a necessity.

I, however can not say that "it should have happened." I wish he weren't elected.

Mike King's picture

Please tell us what Brown thinks about cutting budgets in Fayette County, since he never did so in PTC.

By the way, I've not known Mr Brown to be employed.

He used to be employed like you.

He is a Househusband!

That's right. Haddix is a HOUSEHUSBAND also.

ginga1414's picture

Mike, our Regional Transportation Roundtable representative represents all of Fayette County. That means that whatever our representative decides is in our best interest is what we will have to live with from now on. It would serve each of us extremely well to educate ourselves as to the issues and make sure we can trust our representative.

Personally speaking, I can't trust someone who says one thing and does another.

Seriously, don't you support Steve Brown?

"The best way to become boring is to say everything" Voltaire

Anyway I think Brown is right on Haddix's point of view being the same as the other smaller counties.

<em>"This is the same Mayor Steele who said he opposes mass transit buses in Fayette County, but voted in favor of plans including them in our county at every regional government vote. After his votes were discovered, he said mass transit would never come to Fayette County anyway, later admitting at a recent Association of Fayette County Governments (AFCG) meeting that mass transit would most likely come in the future."</em>

That about says it all. Do we really want sleazy Ken Steele screwing us up in Atlanta???

Mike King's picture

....Glad to see that you have a firm grip on the obvious. Please tell me what good can come of a commissioner(elect) interjecting himself into city councils. Surely, ole Stevie can't help himself since he is only continuing what made him infamous as mayor.

Why not direct efforts at the root of the problem, that being the damn law passed with the support of our Governor and our own Sen Chance and Rep Ramsey? If anything, let's do what we can to have this measure voted down which will send a message to those RINOs who have yet to see a tax increase they couldn't support.

NUK_1's picture

You know this too, Steve. Nothing in the whole plan/tax allows for any funding whatsoever for MARTA's operational costs, it's specifically forbidden, a fact that makes the pro-MARTA side like fulton and Dekalb unhappy.

Who could have guessed...another LONG drawn out letter by our SB.

jpopeye's picture

Metro areas need mass transit - be not afraid. Steve Brown informed me in an earlier post that he believes PTC is inaccessable on purpose and he wants it to stay that way. This type of thinking is backward and certainly can't be applied to the whole county. Taking this type of position only makes sense if you are a political operative pandering to conservative voters. Don't allow ambition to thwart common sense. RTR participation and cooperation now will help to create a future transit plan that we can live with. Stonewalling and pretending it is not real will only make the situation worse in the future. From what I see Steele seems more in touch with the situation.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

When he's right, he's right. Talk to some of the original planners and you will learn that not having interstate access was deemed a reasonable trade off - security, low crime rate, fewer rentals, less high-impact retail vs. easy access for commuters. The other side of this equation is Henry County which has 7 interchanges on I-75. Take your choice. There's something for everyone.

The planners also saw the industrial park as providing thousands of jobs for PTC residents making commuting to Atlanta uneccessary. Of course they wanted a self-contained community and that just wasn't realistic because the no-access-to-the-interstate dictum works both ways. Trucks delivering materials do better if their destination is close to the interstate. And escalating house prices as we turned into a haven for pilots killed the "live, work, play" dream.

Naturally we are way past that. Keeping it inaccessible is impossible. Making all this a political issue, well that's already happened. I see nothing wrong with limited mass transit in the form of private companies doing vanpool services - as we have now OR public mass transit in Fairburn. It would be handy if you wanted it, but not close enough to do any damage to PTC. I do think our RTR reps need to be open-minded and cooperative rather than antagonistic.

Live free or die!

Mass transit is fine just as long as it's located somewhere else.

"public mass transit in Fairburn. It would be handy if you wanted it, but not close enough to do any damage to PTC."

Has it occurred to you that half of the time spent by commuters working in downtown Atlanta is spent just getting onto I-85 north?

Did you know that going thur Tyrone and getting on I-85 at exit #56 is 8 miles longer and can save the average commuter about 5-10 min.?

Yes, let's save PTC from all of the evils of this world.

When do you and the rest of the isolationists plan on building the 'wall' and guard towers? Maybe you can get the GADoT to pay for them.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Not so good in the PM since it backs up in Tyrone, but a good alternative. When all those townhomes at 74 and 85 get built and occupied that logjam will get worse. That's why mass transit right around there is a good idea.

You do know we are going to pay for somebody's mass transit anyway, don't you? Might as well have a seat or two at the table. Of course it depends who sits in those seats. I prefer grownups.

Live free or die!

Therefore we should pay for 'our' mass transit and not just 'someone else's'.

Like you mentioned earlier, we have this great big 'underutilized' industrial area hidden from view just off of Hwy. 74 that hasn't, can't and won't ever pay the average Joe enough to live in PTC.

The city might as well put in a 10+ acre fenced parking lot with police substation and cameras and charge all out of county vehicles $1.00/day. At least that way the busses will have a good pick-up and drop-off area until the commuter rail station gets built.

It's pretty much a "if you build it they will come" sort of thing.

Remember, the state/we are paying around $50,000,000 to widen some 12 miles of highway thru PTC only to make it easier for more vehicles to wait in line at the I84/Hwy.74 interchange.

I've yet to understand why people think that mass transit is a waste of money because it will never pay for itself but building more highways to nowhere is OK. Only toll roads make money everything else is just pouring money into the ground.

As for having two grownups sitting at the table, I doubt it.

And therein lies a large part of the problem. Steve Brown is right – the original plan for Peachtree City called for isolationism. Sounds like a bad word, but the attempt was to form a community that was well planned and thought out, and one that would not be readily accessible as a passthrough or as a place to visit for any other reason than to visit those who lived here. The original thought for Peachtree City was as a self-contained, safe, sleepy place that “you loved to call home.”

Many of those who have lived here for a long time came here for just that. I used to say that you never had to worry about anyone robbing a bank in town because there was no quick and easy way out. The biggest crime we had in the eighties and nineties was graffiti. I was once determined to do all of my Christmas shopping in Fayette County. At the time, Kmart was the town’s biggest store. I trekked around the county and visited a lot of small jewelry stores, hardware stores and even drugstores. I did manage to buy all of my gifts in the county. It wasn’t easy then, but it was an adventure. In those days, I never wanted to leave town and I made do with whatever was here. There were few places to eat, but whenever I went out to eat, I knew just about everybody in the place. I moved here for a peaceful and safe place to raise my children. In 1986, Peachtree City reminded me of the “isolated” Air Force Base island that I had grown up in. I could let my children roam on the golf cart paths or fish alone at the lakes and ponds and not worry about them much. I loved the Peachtree City that was just “home” and there was no other reason to come here. I worked in town, and my commute was about six and a half minutes. That same commute now would be almost twenty minutes due to increased traffic, traffic lights and bottleneck congestion.

I for one loved the isolation. I personally never wanted Peachtree City or Fayette County to become the center of the universe, the shopping mecca for a five county area, or so overbuilt that vacant houses and stores abound. Even back then, 40% of those who lived here commuted outside the area, but no one complained about that because they chose to do it, and there was always the sense of peace as you arrived back in town, driving down Riley Parkway toward the green, green grass of home. Yes, shopping was inconvenient. If you didn’t buy your Easter candy at least a week early, you had to go on a journey to find some.

Things have certainly changed, and maybe in some eyes for the better. Differences of opinion abound as always. But I have just realized why the changes in this town over the last few years have been a real negative for me. Guess I’m an isolationist, and even though I was once one of those who was a “pillar of the community,” a business leader, church leader, scout leader, civic leader and chamber leader, I currently feel like a stranger in a strange land. Maybe it’s just time to move on.

What a load of crap. We know what citizens like yourself and Haddix want and half the population of PTC. If you want to live in isolation you are right MOVE. You guys want to kick out mass transit, restrict building to where all that is around are EMPTY STRIPMALLS NO BODY CAN AFFORD. If this Mayor and city would allow a Belks or Pennys it would way be better that empty strips sitting vacant. You have plenty of liquor stores, more than enought golf courses (draining our water resources). Man up and move.

The problems that exist with the Peachtree City council have nothing to do with the ARC,the RTR and Mayor Steele in Fayetteville.

Don Haddix has brought the problems on himself, based upon how he has chosen to lead city government (or I should say "not lead" city government).

If Mr. Brown wants to see a change in how the PTC city council operates, he should be advising Haddix on how to be leader, not a manipulator of information and if he can not properly lead advise him to resign as mayor.

The problems started back when the new council members were elected...instead of taking time to meet with each new council member one by one and extend a hand to work together to build consensus, Haddix chose a more machovallian approach which was to ignore the new members and team up with Sturnbaum and try to ram all sorts of crap down everyone's mouth starting with the DAPTC.

Since being elected mayor, he has done nothing but fight with city council (once they figured out his game), fight with the city attorney and the city manager, running the city manager out of office because the city manager got fed up with Haddix's crap. Most who work in city hall feel the same way too.

It is embarrassing sitting at council meetings watching Haddix yell at council members and taking away their right to speak when he feels blindsided by information, the same game he plays with them.

The mayor continues to do what he wants, when he wants and dis-regards everyone. The city manager's review was done behind council's back, not the way it was outlined in the city charter the same way he held secret meetings with Sturbaum, DAPTC and LOW TEMP without informing city council...done to make DAPTC look good before the budget vote but it backfired on him....let's not forget that fiasco that Don Haddix is totally responsible for.

Mr. Haddix's nickname should be TEFLON DON 2...we all remember John took for ever to catch him...the NY press dubted him TEFLON DON.

Haddix continues to mis-manage the city, the council, the county and state are turning against him for all his crap and no one has stood up yet to say...PEACHTREE CITY NEEDS TO DUMP HADDIX! He is an ineffective, incompetent leader.

When will everyone wake up and see what's happening.

so well, this was like the way too succesful over here and there, and some <a href="">hypnosis</a> might be so much more in use over here and there as well

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