A metropolitan area needs better than trash government –John S. Quarterman

My LTE in the VDT Thursday. I’ve added links to some of my inspirations. -jsq

Local leaders worked hard to get the Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area declared. Why now are they acting like a Ludowici speed trap for local businesses?

The Lowndes County Commission shouldn’t act like a private business trying to exclude anybody it doesn’t like. State law says local governments are supposed to have open bids and public hearings. A promise (in the VDT) in March 2013 of a non-exclusive contract for trash collection turned into exclusive in October; at least two of the five bidders are now the same company; and the county is suing Applause a local business to the profit of a company owned by investors in New York City. Meanwhile, no public accounting has ever been seen of the former waste collection sites and no public hearing was held before they closed, despite state law.

Business exists to make a profit. Government exists to provide public services like law enforcement, water, sewers, roads, and yes, trash collection. Sure, balanced books are good. But money isn’t the main point of government: providing what the people need is, and the people didn’t ask the county to exchange the waste collection centers for lower prices that won’t last.

Businesses (except monopolies) have to make some effort to please customers, so they continue getting paid. Local citizens don’t even get to see what our local governments are voting on before they vote to spend our money on it, and the Lowndes County Commission won’t even listen to citizens for more than fifteen minutes.

County Attorney Walter Elliott, County Manager Joe Pritchard, County Chairman Bill Slaughter

As the VDT reminded us (19 December 2010),

Standing ovation “…citizens are tired of being told what’s best for them, having no say so in how their tax dollars are spent, and having their concerns ignored.”

If local officials and other local leaders want this to be a metropolitan area, we need to get on with things metropolitan areas care about, like more jobs, clean air and water, solar power, and fast Internet access. Not business speed traps.

Crawford Powell, District 3 Richard Raines, District 2 Not even Lester Maddox tolerated Ludowici. Why should we tolerate trash government at the next election?

John S. Quarterman is a Lowndes County resident who remembers Lester Maddox going to Ludowici