Who will assume accountability of a boardroom deal that did not incorporate citizens' voices in decision-making?
The Berkeley Lake Annexation Bill, HB 956 raises two critical issues. These relate to the process of formulating the Bill, and the outcome, of where it is now. The process illustrates a fundamental discord on how HB 956 has progressed so far, as it affects local resources, authority and voices. It failed to include local consultation; furthermore influencing the Charter of Peachtree Corners.
Nonetheless, the Bill has reached the legislature for the final passing by the House. The process reflects the making of decisions regarding annexation of 17 tracts of land, and 131 businesses from the new city of Peachtree Corners to Berkeley Lake. In addition, the process shows that negotiations were undertaken and deals made, while Peachtree Corners was simultaneously formulating a living-breathing governing document, the Charter! The decision took place behind closed doors with important and big people: mayors and representatives. The outcome shows that the State’s rights supersede local and community rights.
The irony of it all, the process and outcome ̶ Peachtree Corners’ first municipal election is still underway. This new city, after April 3 run-off election, will have a full house of elected council, and a local government in action by July 2012. As a voter, I was impressed on how each candidate that campaigned for the municipal election promised to uphold and abide by the charter. Who holds accountability now? The State passes the legislation and expects the city to be accountable? There is a discord here.
If HB 956 passes through the legislature, it signifies that the passing of the Bill will alter the Charter of Peachtree Corners, without allowing citizens’ input to the governing document. Going too far, this also implies that UPCCA may have to hold a series of citizens’ forum, to ensure the voters that the elected officials agree to abide by the amended Charter. Does Peachtree Corners really require a second round of swearing in ceremony for the councilmen/women?
A stitch in time saves nine. The most sensible course of action would be to stop the House Bill 956. In upholding the sanctity of the Charter, let the full house of municipal electors re-initiate negotiation and begin the process on annexations. Let the municipal council and the city make the decisions regarding local resources and also assume accountability of tracts of land and businesses.