2010
10.31

During this year’s Georgia General Assembly session, state legislators passed a little-known bill approving yet another 1% sales tax. The new law, HB 277 – Transportation Investment Act of 2010, divides Georgia into twelve zones (based on existing State Transportation Board districts), which will each have control over their own state-funded road projects. The bill also allows residents of those zones to vote for an additional sales tax, the Special District Transportation Sales and Use Tax – which we’ve dubbed SPIDITSLUT because it’s easier to type and sounds dirty. If approved by voters, SPIDITSLUT would be in place for ten years but only apply to businesses within zones whose voters approve it, with generated revenue going back to road maintenance budgets for the cities and counties located within each zone.

This sounds good in theory, but there are several issues with the bill that we have concerns about, the first being a new layer of bureaucracy being added to the existing pile of overlapping state agencies that directly oversee road work. We already have the Senate Transportation Committee, 12-member State Transportation Board, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (which oversees metro Atlanta projects), the GDOT Commissioner, Governor’s Development Council, and GDOT Division of Planning.

With that many layers of state bureaucracy, plus oversight from state and federal agencies like the federal DOT, EPA, NHTSA, and Georgia EPD, it’s little wonder most of Georgia’s state-funded road construction projects take a quarter-century of planning and debating before the first speck of dirt gets moved. But that will worsen when this new plan adds in a centralized “Georgia Coordinating Committee for Rural and Human Services Transportation,” a “State Advisory Subcommittee for Rural and Human Services Transportation,” and those 12 regional “roundtable” committees made up of local leaders and people appointed by the governor.

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2010
10.26

During the next few weeks there are dozens of activities and events being held in and around LaFayette. Halloween festivities, sporting events, political meetings, election day, a library book sale, and a handful of November concerts – plenty to choose for young, old, and families. Check out the calendar below for the most complete local events listing.

{CALENDAR}

This calendar is permanently available on the LU site at cityoflafayettega.com/calendar. You can add events to the calendar by e-mailing The LU or contacting us on Facebook.

2010
10.24

October 24th marks one year since The Underground site was relaunched in its current format. In the last 12 months the site has been read by thousands, attracted more than 800 Facebook followers, and on more than one occasion impacted local news headlines.

In honor of that one-year milestone LU readers were recently asked to name their favorite articles. Suggestions on the site and on Facebook were somewhat underwhelming, but these two received the most votes:

    Plane Crazy, a piece revealing the city’s future plans for its money-losing airport.

Readers who didn’t vote directly still voted with their feet, making these the most-read Undrground articles for the last year:

    Protecting Their Own, about the Sheriff’s Department hiding the identity of a retired officer involved in a dangerous incident.
    Chief Concerns, about the city’s growing arson problem and the police department’s inability (or unwillingness) to do anything about it.

Beyond just readership, some pieces have made a greater impact on the community than others. The two below have especially made a difference far beyond just the people who read The LaFayette Underground:

    Infrastructure Insanity, an often-referenced report about local leaders’ indifference towards collapsing county and city infrastructure.

Some of our favorite articles are included in the lists above, but several others stand out as personal highlights:

    The Man in Black, a tribute to Johnny Cash on the 40th anniversary of his famous LaFayette concert.

If you haven’t read these we hope you will, or just go back to the beginning and read everything. Thanks for reading and participating in The LaFayette Underground during the last year and in the years to come.

2010
10.11

In a year filled with pay cuts, job losses, plant closures, and otherwise dimming economic prospects, the last thing most LaFayette residents need is an increase in monthly expenses. But that’s what they’ll soon be getting courtesy of the City of LaFayette.

According to the city council meeting agenda for October 11th, which was posted late last week, tonight the LaFayette Council will vote on a “Water Rate Increase” followed by an identical vote for “Electric Rate Increase.” If the vote goes as planned (and it almost always does), your bill for City of LaFayette water and electricity will soon go up higher than it already is.

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2010
10.06

October 24th marks one year since The LaFayette Underground site was relaunched with a new serious approach to covering and discussing news in LaFayette and Walker County. In the time since we’ve touched on everything from Brent Marsh to Johnny Cash, city garbage pickup to county voting precincts. During that time we’ve also gained quite a few readers: many fans and quite a few detractors.

But the point wasn’t to make friends, it was to start discussion and get people thinking about the news instead of just reading it. As we said when the site first began, the LU is about “saying what needs to be said, flipping over some rocks, in hopes of bringing a little light back into this community before it completely dies.”

Few can argue we’ve not been successful in flipping over some rocks (rocks many people would prefer to see left alone), but so far the light – while bright – is still quite small. This site has inspired or shocked many who’ve read it, but a majority of people in the community still haven’t heard of The LaFayette Underground, much less read it.

To help spread the word the LU has added a set of share tools at the bottom of each article. Those tools allow for sharing over popular social network sites like Facebook or through direct e-mail. (The LU Facebook set up last February has over 700 followers and is a great way to get additional information not posted here on the main site.) A new printer-friendly link has also been added to the bottom of each post, so you can print articles to share with less technologically inclined friends and neighbors.

Some newer readers aren’t up to speed on articles from late last year and early 2010. To make reading older stuff easier, forward and backwards navigation links have been added to the bottom of each post. Readers can follow those links backwards in time or pick a random starting place and move forward to the present. We recommend you begin at the beginning or start reading the Reboot post from last October.

In recent months we’ve gotten complaints from many locals who don’t know about local events like political meetings and votes, sporting events, and entertainment until they’ve already happened. To (hopefully) correct that, we’ve also added a local calendar to the site. Upcoming events appear in the right-hand column, with the full calendar available through a link from the top navigation bar. To add something to the calendar, e-mail lu@cityoflafayettega.com.

Finally, in honor of the site’s anniversary, a reader challenge: In comments, what’s your favorite LU article from the last year, and why? Has anything surprised, shocked, or inspired you? Anything you’d like to see more of? A selection of favorites from comments and Facebook will be listed here later this month.

Thanks for reading The LaFayette Underground.