October 25, 2006
Development, and Eminent Domain should be on Voters’ Minds
County Water & Sewer Authority Is Getting Into Eminent
has come to the attention of TWG that the Jasper
County Water and Sewer Authority is starting to flex its
“eminent domain” muscle and has already had a sit down meeting
with at least one property owner. Sources
tell us there weren’t negotiations; it was more on the order
of we can take it so you’d better cooperate.
The location of the property being considered
is questionable. It is “interesting” as to who owns land
right up the road and wants to develop it. It would make
it much more profitable to develop land with a source of
“City/County” water. TWG is preparing a report on several
land deals that have taken place. It appears as if JCWSA
is revealing their plans to certain people and developers
(more residential development) while keeping the general
public in the dark. We seriously doubt that all the Commissioners
know just what is going on. When water lines are run to
accommodate developers and land dealers, selected people
make lots of money. We hope to have a report completed soon
on land being developed that can benefit from JCWSA water
Eminent Domain has been brought to the forefront with last
year’s Supreme Court case, and several bills caused much
controversy in the General Assembly this year, there is
a Constitutional Amendment
addressing Eminent Domain on this year’s ballot. There
will be similar amendments on ballots in 12 states. The
summary of the Georgia amendment is as follows:
To restrict the use of eminent domain.
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to prohibit
the use of eminent domain by certain non-elected authorities
and to prohibit the contested use of eminent domain except
for public use as defined by general law?"
proposal provides several limitations with respect to the
exercise of the power of eminent domain and the taking of
private property for public purposes. The proposal provides
that any taking of private property for redevelopment purposes
must be approved by vote of the appropriate elected city
or county governing authority. The proposal
provides that any taking of private property for redevelopment
purposes must be for a public use as defined by general
state law. The proposal provides that the exercise of eminent
domain by cities and counties can be restricted by general
state law and that any exercise of eminent domain by a non-elected
housing or development authority must be approved by vote
of the appropriate elected city or county governing authority.
copy of this entire proposed amendment is on file in the
office of the judge of the probate court and is available
for public inspection.
218, the Georgia bill that would have cloaked state and
local economic development negotiations in secrecy, will
most likely be brought up again in next year’s General Assembly.
Governor Perdue and many of the Republican legislators have
pushed for this bill. The public at large (a/k/a the taxpayers
who pay for it all) doesn’t like it. Not all Republicans
support this bill. Casey Cagle (State Senator running for
Lt. Governor) says he opposes the measure, and Perry McGuire
(candidate for Attorney General) says Open Meeting and Open
Records laws should not be weakened. (TWG agrees! In fact
the laws need to be strengthened and have some enforcement
procedures and fines.) Thurbert Baker, current Attorney
General, fought to open negotiations for the NASCAR facility
and let the public know what was going on.
the saying goes, “If voters don’t like what elected officials
do or don’t agree with issues they support, they can vote
them out in the next election.” The next election
is November 7th. Your vote is important! Please
take time to read all the Constitutional Amendments and
to find out where each candidate stands on issues. Campaign
talk and actual votes and accomplishments are two different
things! Be informed and vote wisely!
is an article by Bob Tribble of Trib Publications, Inc.
House Bill 218 Allows Too Much Secrecy
Most observers feel that House Bill 218, that was defeated
in the 2005 session of the General Assembly, will raise
its ugly head again when the House meets in January. Some
say that Governor Sonny Perdue is in favor of the legislation
and is committed to its passage.
me tell you what House Bill 218 is all about. Very
simply put it will allow local and state industrial development
authority officials to make deals behind closed doors with
industries and businesses expressing interest in locating
in the state. Under the bill they would not be required
to give any information to you the taxpayer until the deal
was done, even though public lands and funds could be involved.
most industrial development authorities across the state
favor the legislation and say it is something needed to
make our state competitive when courting new industries
and jobs. This is not true, because there is a law already
on the books that allows a certain amount of secrecy, but
not total secrecy as HB 218 would allow until the deal is
done. Over the past several
years Georgia has attracted far more industry than most
states in the southeast under present laws. Our
state has much to offer industrial prospects in addition
to economic incentives. We have an interstate system of
roads second to none, two deepwater ports, fine colleges
and universities, a good climate, good workers, outstanding
tourism and much more.
do not have to make deals with industrial prospects in total
secrecy from the public to continue to grow from the industrial
standpoint. As already stated, House Bill
218 would allow state and local development planners to
keep secret almost every detail concerning any offers to
industrial prospects until the contract is signed and the
ink dry. Information concerning the kind of industry, the
location involved, the tax breaks, or the inducements made
would not become public. In other words, it will be too
late for the public to protest should they wish to, and
this would not be good. Those
in favor of the secrecy that HB 218 offers have been unable
to present credible evidence that any premature disclosure
of information has ever hindered the state's efforts to
attract new industry.
backed off in 2005 after an outcry from the public and newspapers
across the state. He should have learned from the past and
back away now from his present stance on HB 218. Without
a doubt the public has the right to see what tax concessions
for roads, infrastructure, traffic, waste disposal, locations
or other tax funded benefits are being offered to the industrial
prospect before the deal is signed and sealed.
After all, in most cases it is their money that will fund
As already stated
the state's present Open Records Act provides exemptions
so developers can negotiate with the prospect in private.
But the law also gives the public the right to know the
details of the deal before it is finalized by local and
state governments. Under the present law, if developers
wish to keep the identity of an industrial prospect secret,
which sometimes is understandable, all they need to do is
not identify the prospect by name until the parties feel
the proper time to name the prospect has come. All special
concessions from local and state governments can be made
public to the taxpayer without naming the prospect until
the proper time.
Over the years
Republicans have traditionally seemed to favor open government
more than the average Democrat. Hopefully our Republican
governor will change his position on HB 218. It would be
better to lose an industry or two rather than give away
hard earned taxpayers' dollars under the cover of darkness.
We in the media
certainly want our local and state industrial developers
to be successful. When good industries and businesses are
brought into our communities everyone wins. House
Bill 218 provides too much secrecy that is not good for
the taxpayers, and is a bill that is not
necessary since ample laws concerning economic development
are already in place. Hopefully HB 218 will not raise its
ugly head again in January.
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and
laws being discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.