Utterly appalling commission incumbents and former incumbents
I attended the June 12th County Commission candidate debate to hear what each candidate would bring to the Board of Commissioners. Unfortunately, Mr. Hearn, Mr. Horgan and Mr. Smith included statements about the fine job they had done protecting the taxpayers’ money. Each presented detailed information about what a splendid job they had done watching over our money. But please consider the following.
Those three commissioners, along with [former Commissioner Eric] Maxwell and [current Chairman Herb] Frady, came to major decisions regarding the West Fayetteville Bypass as well as the East Fayetteville Bypass. These roads are among the largest expenditures in recent history and decisions for both projects were reached without any knowledge concerning the ability of either road to accomplish the expressed intention of bypassing traffic.
The concept for building bypass roads around Fayetteville have been on the books for many long years. But what is not well-known is that there never was an evaluation of any bypass or alternatives within those plans to determine how effectively they would relief traffic congestion.
I expended a lot of time and energy looking for studies that supported these projects. I also had intense discussions with county staff and later, on repeated occasions, challenged these same commissioners to show how either bypass would take vehicles off the streets of Fayetteville. Not once was any such information made available, yet these three decided to expend millions of our tax dollars anyway.
The 2004 Fayette County Transportation Plan does include traffic counts at intersections throughout the county. However, showing the number of vehicles passing a particular point does not equal an in-depth evaluation of where that traffic is going nor does it tell you how much relief would result from a new road. If a commissioner tells you he knows the bypasses will work, please ask him to produce the proof. There simply is no such evidence.
So I ask you, why would anyone vote for people who come to a meeting to tell us they took care of our money yet they made massive mistakes with millions of our tax dollars?
They congratulated themselves for balancing the county budget hoping you would ignore the fact that they wasted more tax money in their time in office than every set of commissioners before them.
Then when pressed to explain themselves, they blame us because we voted for it. The vote for building a bypass was for a basic concept to relieve traffic in Fayetteville. A large amount of money was made available for them to accomplish this, but they failed the public trust — and then blamed us. How utterly appalling.
When they were elected, assuming they cared enough to check and learn that the bypass viability was questionable, they should have demanded that staff come up with a plan that works. In reality, all of this should have taken place before the proposal was included on the ballot so voting for a bypass would have better results.
There is a book, written in 1954, which applies to what we are hearing from these three commissioners: “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Holt. You will find a version online these days or where to order a copy. It shows how numbers can be used, or misused, and you will recognize just how much it sounds like the trash we heard from them on June 12th.
When Mr. Hearn, Mr. Horgan and Mr. Smith tell us how good they are when it comes to taking care of our money, keep in mind that they say so hoping to get your vote. That is almost as big a joke, maybe bigger, than when Horgan claimed, on June 12th, that during his time in office he protected our greenspace. Total nonsense, all of it.
In the process of making their massive mistakes which cost so much money, they destroyed, or will soon destroy, some of the best environments in Fayette County. They also caused painful and expensive upheaval to numerous families. And not once have they provided any explanation of why they were making such poor decisions.
I can’t think of a reason, none whatsoever, for a single vote to be cast for any of them. Fayette County has a slate of outstanding candidates for Fayette County Commission — these three men should not receive your consideration because they, in my opinion, do not measure up to the others.
[Dennis Chase, now retired, was a fish and wildlife biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 26 years. Since retiring, he has worked as a consultant for Fayette County on environmental concerns, is a volunteer with the Line Creek Association of Fayette County, and has published numerous newspaper columns.]