2014
09.19

LU’s Sole Commissioner Vote Petition continues making waves online and off, and has been tentatively endorsed by at least one of the four decisionmakers it targets.

Door to Door Petition Gathering

Volunteers have seen success gathering signatures door to door, hitting a few neighborhoods in LaFayette with plans to expand through the next week. A fixed location for signing the petition was set up downtown Thursday and also saw moderate success.

Anyone wishing to sign the paper petition will have another opportunity to do so today, from 10:30 to 12:30 and again from 6 to 7 tonight, in front of Campbell Surveying on the West side of LaFayette square.

The petition has gotten attention from GA House District 1 candidate Tom McMahan, who says he supports the petition and the inherent right for people to address government leaders. McMahan doesn’t take a side on the form of government Walker County should have, but says he wants the people to have a say in it one way or the other.

He promises here to set up the resolution asked for in the petition if it reaches 1,600 signatures – a little over 300 more than it has now. That’s IF he’s elected, of course.

    “If, before the November 4th election day, 1600 valid, verified registered voting citizens of Walker County sign a petition, either on the blog or at my website, or through other valid means, as your next state representative, I will bring the local referendum question to the state House for the citizens of Walker County to vote on. I do this, not to take a side on the issue itself, but because I am committed to ALWAYS allowing the voice of the people to be heard.”

That’s all petition organizers are asking for, from Senator Mullis, Rep. Tarvin, and McMahan or his opponent John Deffenbaugh.. A chance to vote on this issue. Let the people decide, for the first time in decades. Unfortunately McMahan is the only one willing to pay attention, so far anyway. More signatures are needed.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

The city’s Caboose Park on Patton St. in West LaFayette opened last summer to great applause, but in the time since has deteriorated into a campground for homeless drunks.

Caboose Park Bridge Living Room Caboose Park Picnic Table Bed

LU reported earlier this year on a family trying to use the sandbox out there and finding it full of glass.

Caboose Park Bum Arrest

Here’s a photo from last Friday of LPD finally arresting one of the bums living around the bridge in that area. MAYBE increased attention from the police department will make the site family friendly again, but don’t hold your breath.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
09.16

The Underground’s Sole Commissioner petition – now signed by nearly 1,100 people – has become talk of the town. An article in Sunday’s Times Free Press about the petition brought more attention to it and the cause of ending sole commissioner government in Walker County.

Jeff Mullis & Bebe Heiskell

The reporter spoke with Senator Jeff Mullis, one of the four decision-makers targeted by the petition. Mullis apparently dismissed the hundreds of his constituents who signed the petition, saying the petition lacks “real clout.”

If our elected State Senator isn’t going to take the petition seriously, maybe the voters should also start calling him? His listed home number is (706) 375-1776. If you’ve signed the petition or plan to do so, consider also giving him a ring so he knows you exist and have a voice in this.

Walker County’s current (hopefully last) sole commissioner, Bebe Heiskell, didn’t provide a statement for the newspaper but DID comment on her* Facebook page, essentially calling everyone who signed the petition a moron:

Bebe Petition Response from Facebook

(*Heiskell has stated she knows nothing about computers. Her Facebook represents her but is likely run by one or two county employees.)

In 1940 we threw out commission government because a commission ran the county into debt and couldn’t be voted out of office. That sounds like the situation we’re in now, and a good reason to change back: the county is in debt and the sole commissioner, who acts like she hates us all, can’t be voted out of office.

    “They believed that it would be easier to vote one person out..”

Well looks like they were wrong on that. Since sole commissioner started in 1940 Walker County has had only seven commissioners. Two of the last three have served at least four terms, and one of those was in office for 24 years.

In 1940 many counties were run by sole commissioners or judges. It was doable then because you had fewer people to represent. In 1940 the county was also recovering from the Great Depression and heading into a World War. Walker County had about 31,000 people in the 1940 census – now we have over 70,000.

The time for sole commissioner has long since passed. It’s as outdated as segregation, living in tar-paper shacks, chopping cotton, and a lot of other things from the same era we don’t need a return to.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Investigation into probable arson fire at drug smuggler Mac Waters’ former home stalls because nobody will give state inspectors permission to enter the Culberson Ave. structure.

Mac Waters Home Arson

Family members insist they did give permission and blame LPD for not moving the investigation further.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
09.13

Approximately 50 people attended Thursday morning’s tax meeting. Commissioner Heiskell signed the tax increase into law at 11:30, ignoring the wishes of every single person who attended any of the three public hearings.

No video has emerged from the most recent meeting, but this clip from the previous gathering shows the attitude Heiskell had towards her constituents, and some of the better questions they asked of her:

Here’s a good recap of the attitude and atmosphere during the first week’s tax increase meetings: The people wanted to talk, the Commissioner wanted to leave – and did.

During all three county tax meetings, anyone wishing to speak was required to put down their name. That’s nothing new for public meetings in the county, but this time deputies were making people sign up and handling the list.

The meetings also had extra deputies on hand, supposedly for security, but it’s all about intimidation. Make people afraid to speak up or ask questions while the elected leader who supposedly works for us does whatever the hell she wants.

But those tactics didn’t work. Bravo to those, like Evelyn in the video above, who stood up and spoke their mind even with Steve Wilson staring at them and taking notes. Bravo to those who let Bebe glare at them and glared right back while they asked her questions she couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.

The tax increase passed anyway, there was no way it wouldn’t with a single person in charge, but this was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. The people are ready to do whatever it takes to remove “leaders” from their unearned positions and end the broken system that allows them to steamroll citizens, ethics, and laws. Bebe gets her money but her actions will end her career and take the broken system down with it.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Citizen satisfaction with county government has reached a new low. Heiskell’s tax increase, leadership dismissing citizen concerns, and continual waste of public funds reveal how broken the local system is.

Walker County has been under sole commissioner government since 1940. While that may have been a workable solution 74 years ago, the time for one person running a county has long since passed.

The only way to be done with sole commissioner government is for the local delegation to Atlanta (Jeff Mullis, Steve Tarvin, and either John Deffenbaugh or John McMahan depending) to pass a resolution to change the county charter OR pass one allowing us to vote on changing it.

Heiskell Speaking / Times Free Press

People have been suggesting impeachment of the current commissioner, or a “recall” of some kind. Both of those have high legal hurdles; state law is intentionally structured to make a recall or impeachment almost impossible.

Even if someone were to successfully recall or impeach the current commissioner, she would be replaced by another sole commissioner (likely one of her current employees) who wouldn’t be much better.

The biggest problem is the system, the structure, that allows one person – any one person – to run a government the size of Walker County. Sign this petition and let your local legislators know they can help us make this change, or we’ll vote them out in 2016 along with Heiskell.

Walker County Courthouse

If you’re tired of being treated like a mushroom, tired of the way things have been done here in recent years, sign this petition to let those legislators know you want them to act and let US have a say in how county government is run.

The petition launched Thursday evening and has already been signed by over 700 people, citizens of Walker County seeking to fix six decades of dysfunction and abuse. Please consider joining them.

Some great comments on the petition. Even if you aren’t going to sign it, check out what’s being said.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
09.10

A deal has been reached between GE and Electrolux. Swedish company will buy GE’s appliance division (owner of Roper in LaFayette) for $3.3 billion.

The deal will not be complete until 2015 (leaders hint at June 2015), so there won’t be any changes through at least the rest of this year; Electrolux will license the GE name and continue applying it to current product lines after sale is finished.

GE Sale Letter to Roper Employees

Roper employees on Monday were handed out this letter, written by the CEO of GE’s Appliances and Lighting division. The letter’s second page tells employees their jobs will be preserved for a year once the deal is done. After that all cards are off the table.

Read More on LU: Roper (Re)sale

An additional article in USA Today adds little new information but does mention Roper in LaFayette as part of the deal and a place where GE has invested money in recent years.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

During 2013, Commissioner Heiskell moved $1.4 million out of the county’s general fund to the “special recreation” fund that runs Mountain Cove Farms. She’s long insisted the money wasn’t from taxes but rather from water lines the county sold to itself.

Commissioner Heiskell Water Lines Statement

During last week’s tax meeting, Heiskell admitted under pressure that the water lines were built with tax dollars, meaning the $1.4 million indirectly came out of YOUR pocket for HER special project. (An additional $.9 million was moved into the same fund a year earlier, taking the Farm up to at least $2.3 million since 2012 just from the general fund.)

The next and final tax meeting will be tomorrow at 10 AM.   Tiny Facebook

The Commissioner says we have financial problems and need a tax increase, but wild inappropriate spending at Mountain Cove Farms hasn’t stopped. Not hardly.

Mountain Cove Farms New Lights

Walker County spent at least $10,000 in the last month installing this new lighting at Mountain Cove Farms in preparation for the upcoming fair. This photo was taken over the weekend; fresh hay shows where electrical lines were run across the property.

More photos of this project and other expensive purchases from the farm, like commercial kitchen equipment, flatscreen TVs, a pool table, and leather furniture inside rental “cabins,” are in the slideshow below.   Tiny Facebook

(Click to advance gallery – mouseover for captions.)

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2014
09.06

Thursday Commissioner Heiskell hosted the first two of three meetings required by law before she can raise property taxes.

The 10 AM meeting was attended by roughly 60 people, most uninterested in more lies and excuses from the county queen. She fielded some questions but responded to many with incoherent answers or refused to answer at all, and on more than one occasion gave different answers when asked the same thing multiple times.

Here’s a typical exchange between Heiskell and 2012 election opponent Ales Campbell: Campbell reminded Heiskell of state law requiring a budget be set before taxes are raised, which Walker County hasn’t done. Heiskell says she’s always done it that way, and “..we’re not talking about that.”

During both meetings Heiskell played the following slides to make excuses why the county has less money coming in and requires a tax increase.

Tax Meeting PowerPoint Slide Tax Revenue Decrease

Apparently the 2011 tornado blew 47 properties off the map. They aren’t owned or taxed anymore. Funny how that works. Plus the darn old people and their not paying taxes. Apparently Bebe’s the only person in Walker County over sixty years old NOT responsible for this tax increase.

(Doesn’t inflation typically make things cost more? How does inflation make property worth less money and bring in less taxes?)

The REAL reason we have less money coming in is all the land she’s bought and taken off the tax list with SPLOST money. Where’s THAT on this slide?

That’s just a small sample. Video and audio recordings are still trickling in; more will be shared over the next week on LU Facebook and here on the blog leading up to the final tax meeting on Thursday 9/11 at 10 AM.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Last night the Ramblers entered week two of the 2014 football season with a short trip to Chickamauga, facing Gordon Lee in a regular season game for the first time since 2003.

LHS Football vs Gordon Lee

The Ramblers were initially on the ropes, down 0-14, but lept ahead to 22-14 by the end of the 3rd quarter. The final score was Ramblers 43, Trojans 22. That takes LaFayette to 2-0 for the season and leaves Gordon Lee with a 1-2 record.

Next week LaFayette will play here at home vs. Trion, also 2-0.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Insiders say Electrolux and GE will announce a deal next week to transfer GE Appliances (parent of Roper) to the Swedish conglomerate in a $2.5 billion deal.

A sale isn’t likely to have an immediate impact on Roper but could be disastrous for Walker County in the long term.   Tiny Facebook

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