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Left-lane laggards & voting wrongs

Cal Beverly's picture

Once upon a time in Atlanta, a newspaper columnist cried in print, “Lock up your silver and your women and children — the Georgia legislature is in town.”

I generally hold with those who give thanks that our lawmaking politicians are limited to 40 days of official mischief each year — but they are high-performing mischief-makers.

Does anyone ever wonder, do we need a law for just about every imaginable problem under the sun? Between the local councils and commissions, the state legislature and the federal government, every year we citizens are the recipients (or more accurately, victims) of thousands of new laws, not to mention the uncountable new and expanded regulations to administer those laws.

If all lawmaking was suspended for one year from sea to shining sea, don’t we have enough laws and regulations and rules to cover all of us for that 12-month sabbatical?

With that preamble, I rise to applaud the honorable ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly for at least one good potential law to come out of that yearly gathering.

That would be House Bill 459, known to many as the “Slow Poke Law.” It has passed the House and currently resides in the Senate, whose members may yet discard the one good thing they might accomplish this year.

House Bill 459 says, “Upon roads, streets, or highways with two or more lanes allowing for movement in the same direction, no person shall continue to operate a motor vehicle in the passing lane once such person knows or should reasonably know that he or she is being overtaken in such lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed.”

I say, amen, brothers and sisters.

Penalties are about the same as for other moving traffic violations, though no points against one’s driver’s license are involved.

Some law officers are squirming, complaining how difficult it will be to catch the left-lane laggards. My response is that the laggards are easy to spot: Just post a patrol unit along Ga. Highway 54 and watch for the “clots,” the “rolling road blocks,” the multi-car parade led by two vehicles driving abreast, mile after mile.

Tag the front car in the left lane, and traffic fine revenue will be increased without the use of radar guns or stop sign surveillance.

The bill provides for local governments to install signage setting minimum speed limits for four-lane roads.

Such signage and consistent enforcement would increase highway safety, decrease incidents of road rage and aggressive driving, and solve some of the traffic problems in Fayette County and its cities.

That’s what I would like to see local traffic law enforcement concentrate on.


Now we move from the Gold Dome in Atlanta to local politics.

Congratulations to all the candidates who have qualified to run for two posts on the Fayette County Commission and two posts on the Board of Education.

Congratulations is all you’re going to get from me for three of those four posts, since the new district voting scheme disenfranchises my ability to vote on either of the school board posts and one of the county commission seats.

I have the markedly diminished pleasure of being able to vote on only one of those posts, the one with three ex-mayors renewing their rivalries.

So four of those folks eventually will get to spend my money, but I will get to vote on only one of them.

Justice for some ain’t justice for all. Or at all.

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen and]


My feelings exactly. House bill 459 assumes people who ride in the left lane too slow will look in their rear view mirror and see the approaching car behind them. I have been behind people who never look in their rear view mirror. Guess we need a computer in the car to tell some people to move over to the slow lane. Car approaching, Car approaching, move to your right


WakeUp's picture

My problem with this legislation is a driver can be penalized for not breaking the law so someone else can. Lets say the speed limit is 55; now I agree there should be a minimum, but 55 is the LIMIT. A speed limit is the "Do not Exceed" speed. I can see it now, "Your honor, I plead guilty to hampering a person committing a crime. And your honor, I want to praise your officer for stopping me for obeying the law while the speeder was not stopped." Stupid law.... It only serves as a means to raise money....

It currently reads slower traffic keep right. Common courtesy, it helps traffic to flow. Move are not the traffic monitor.

brewster's picture

Jack Ass going 90 in a 70, juking and jiving through traffic, tailgating because you are only going 70 and trying to pass slower traffic?

What are you talking about?

Fact is, left lane hogs clog up traffic.

brewster's picture

I didn't say it was the only law. I said the law you mentioned is not the only law to learn.
The wrecks caused by hot heads clog up more traffic than a left lane hokey pokey.

Try and keep up, and stay right unless passing, especially on Interstates...traffic will flow better.

Have a good one.

brewster's picture

Don't drive with blinders Mr. Glass - gotta stay focused on all lanes you know. I guess I should have put my blinker on for you.

Bless your heart.

brewster's picture

We are trying to get over as fast as the speed limit provides.

Of the new law.....

Not a tailgater, nor a light flasher...and I am usually in the right lane...

brewster's picture

Didn't mean to imply your were such a driver, nor that I am OK with left lane hogs. Just your admonition to "not be a traffic monitor" kinda stirred up the aggravation of such traffic monitors I deal with ever day.

WakeUp's picture

How about the law that sets the speed limit?

I know in Missouri the rule is that you must stay in the right lane UNLESS you are passing. This cuts down on the weaving, and people who hog the passing lanes no matter what speed you are travelling.

on the way to Fayetteville from PTC. First one just outside PTC, the 2nd one went for miles till Veterans Parkway. The 2nd one had the front driver in the left lane who could hardly see over the steering wheel. The front driver in the right lane had a cell phone glued to his right ear. Both moving at the speed of lightening, I'd say 40-45 mph each, timed to stay abreast of each other, no doubt. I was 4th in line in the right lane for most of the way.

I also experienced the orange cones down the length of Hwy. 54 thru PTC in the eastbound lane to accommodate the GDOT truck, the one guy behind it with the black gooey muck sprayer and the 2 other guys who walked behind him and chatted away to each other. Now we have the pleasure of driving over this mosaic of black sealant for the next 2 years, which, of course, is a match for the mosaic of black sealant on my subdivision streets. Would be nice if this stuff came in colors other than black, like gray and light gray, maybe a silvery gray to match the worn asphalt it is gluing together. Better than driving over those 2 inch deep ruts, I guess. Gotta take what you can get nowadays.

all the way to the library. Stopped, going toward Coweta. No accidents, just two lanes of creep ahead a few feet at a time. About an hour an a half ago. On a cloudy, oh wait, PAYDAY, PAYDAY Saturday afternoon. Anyone who wasn't there was in downtown Senoia. Not a parking spot anywhere. It's too early for the walkers. It's Senoia Day today.

Mr. Beverly announces his disdain for new laws and then devotes 298 words to applaud new legislation. (By the way, his defense of the new law is compelling.) However, I assume that every proposed law has its proponents who see its passage as an important government function rather than an intrusion. Legislative necessity is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Mr. Beverly might wish to rethink his argument that he should be allowed to vote for every county officer since all will “get to spend my money.” Using this reasoning, citizens of Massachusetts and California should have a voice in Georgia’s congressional delegation elections since our representatives get to spend their money. Fayette County doesn’t like this change, but I suspect that the wisdom of Madison and Hamilton to elect leaders by districts is proper.

Cal - Thanks for giving us this forum to post our ideas.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I would be fine electing leaders from my district to represent me at the county, state or national level if we had some candidates that resemble a leader. I point to the Brown/Haddix/Logsdon race as Exhibit A. There's some choice. I can't even vote in that because I have been assigned a different "leader" some guy I have never met named Barlow.

I really think I was better off when I could vote for all 5 of my county commissioners.

The Massachusetts and California thing is a bogus argument because those districts (meaning the House Of Representatives) were established by the Constitution not some racist lawsuit and a goofball judge in a bow tie. Some people may even pay attention to who the Congressman is before relocating to a new house. They should at least pay attention to the demographics and the majority political party affiliation before moving - I know i did.

So I went from having Newt Gingrich as a congressman to Lynn Westmoreland - that took some adjustment on my part. Then once again without even moving I'm in Barlow's district and there's nothing I can do to prevent Brown/Haddix/Logsdon from getting elected.

Live free or die!

G35 Dude's picture

But...But...But the NAACP said you're better off!?!?!?!!? They call this a win-win. Remember??? And DM agreed. How can you question that???? LOL

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Is it just me or are we losing all of our power and freedom piece by piece?

And if we are losing power and freedom, where is it going? To people like Brown/Haddix/Logsdon? Or Barlow?

Live free or die!

PTC Observer's picture

You seem to refer many times in your posts to Madison and Hamilton and it goes without saying that both these Founders along with John Jay had a profound influence on the ratification of the Constitution through their publication of the Federalist Papers. Hamilton was the architect of the Federalist Papers having written most of them. Clearly he was for a strong central government at the expense of the States, in fact some believed he wanted to establish a kind of Monarchy by having the Executive much more powerful than the other branches. He worked to that end throughout his short life.

Madison also believed that a stronger central government, compared to the one that existed under the Articles of Confederation, was necessary to hold the Republic together. This authority juxtaposed against the natural propensity of man toward factions. However, to suggest that Madison did not support small elective districts is quite wrong. In fact, he believed that the smaller the legislative district, the better. He points this out in the Federalist No. 57 and gives examples of Pennsylvania districts being geographically small, but big enough to elect a House member. His point is that elected representatives would have to face their neighbors and friends when voting on legislation. Looking at electoral maps today suggests that this aim has been lost to factions and not reason.

And it was not Madison that first observed this need for small direct electors; his mentor Dr. Witherspoon had a profound influence on Madison’s philosophy as did Milton, Sidney, Locke and the authors of Cato’s Letters, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon.

Madison understood democracy in the Aristotelian sense, that is the mob of the majority and the will of demagogues and not the law that would be supreme in a democracy, “democracy” to Madison was a word of disdain.

Madison’s most quoted philosopher Montequieu warned of the dangers of government forced egalitarianism (democracy). That too much equality encroaches on the liberty of the people. The outcome he writes, “The misfortune of a republic is when intrigues are at an end; which happens when the people are gained by bribery and corruption; in this case they grow indifferent to public affairs, and avarice becomes their predominant passion.” Can we say that our country is not at this point?

As for laws Montequieu said it best, “Useless laws weaken necessary laws”.

PTCO – I appreciate the historical perspective that you bring to this forum.

You are exactly accurate. Madison feared mob rule, and thus he wrote the Constitution to create a republican government rather than a straight democracy. As you noted, the smaller the elected districts, the better because this forces the elected officials to answer to a recognizable electorate. Cal (and most on this forum) complain that the NAACP’s forced districting of Fayette County for BOE and county commission seats robs them of the right to vote for ALL officials. This is the straight democracy that Madison feared because it silences the minority. No one would ever advocate this “vote for all officials” strategy for the entire country. Why is it so hard for these same people to recognize the dangers of the same philosophy at the county level?

Makes no sense. At least not to me.

Spyglass - The comparison of the county to the country is merely a logical extension of the myopic desires of those who oppose district voting. If the majority of the whole country, county, state, etc. make all decisions for that entity, the minority has no voice. Look at the French Revolution to see what folly this presents. A republican government allows representation for political minorities in the county just as it does in the country as a whole. Thus the comparison.

I chose to live in Fayette like many others, fully aware of how the County was governed. I do not see the Change making Fayette better. It will pit one area against another.

PTC Observer's picture

I don't know, perhaps it's the map?

The idea is to have friends and neighbors face the elected official following their votes representing them on council or boards. The problem of factions that Madison so eloquently outlined in the Federalist #10, is very apparent in electoral maps drawn by racial faction. District voting is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. Drawing districts based on color, is a bad thing because.....well it's factious.

One day, I hope in the not too distant future, we will judge each other based on our actions, not color. Drawing maps based on color separates us as Americans, it is not a unifying thing. We're bigger than that...aren't we?

Gerrymandering is the real problem. Voting districts should be drawn using natural geographical criteria. This should be adopted for every district from the county up to the state level. Obviously, this system would eliminate political or racial considerations in the creation of all districts. Both major political parties and the NAACP will oppose this because each want an advantaged map instead of a fair one.

PTC Observer's picture

We totally agree on this point and it is consistent with the idea of a representative Republic. The purpose of the census, which is embodied in the Constitution, was to make certain that population densities were distributed in such a way to allocate the seats of Congress. It has been corrupted since the very beginning of our Republic to serve party interests and now racial interests. These were the very types of factions that Madison warned us about. If we are to preserve our envisioned government we must attempt to eliminate these factious divides.

We also must repeal the 17th Amendment and allow our legislatures to elect our Senators. This gives the widest possible voice to the election of the Senators of each state. The idea being that, for example, you could actually go talk to Ronnie Chance and Matt Ramsey about who you support for Senator and why. You individually could impact their vote because they would answer to you and your neighbors when it's time for them to run again for office.

This is the same rationale for the Electoral College, it is the legislature that elects the electors of the College, now based on the winning Party.

Pushing down elective decisions to the lowest common denominator, the individual, was one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution and our Republican form of government.

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