Tag Archives: public

How to implement trash, health, and safety?

Disposal of solid waste (trash/garbage) is a matter of community public health and safety and providing such service is the responsibilty of the local governing bodies. How should trash health and safety responsibly be implemented?

We cannot be left in a situation where residents are either “forced to buy” service from a provider, or have no option but to burn their trash. The government can levy a tax, but they cannot say that residents are forbidden to buy a service from an independent provider.

Such a ruling is

  • unfriendly to those who currently own, or want to start a waste collection business in our county,
  • unfriendly to the residents who are counting on the government to follow the state-legislated goals to
    “protect the health safety, and well-being of its citizens and to protect and enhance the quality of its environment” ,
  • unfriendly to the environment as trash ends up on the side of the road or polluting the air by being burned and leaves us to face a new problem on a different day.

Residents in the unincorporated areas of the county who want curb side collection, for the most part, already purchase it. Those of us using the collection centers do so because it is our preference.

The county should (in my opinion) create a special tax district for waste disposal (it already makes special lighting districts) and tax the residents for the maintenance of the collection centers.


Who implements trash, health, and safety?

As we’ve seen, solid waste is a matter of public health, safety, well-being, and the environment, according to Georgia state law. Whose responsibility is it to protect the environment and the public health, safety, and well-being from solid waste?

Many health and safety issues are handled through the health department, Diagram of the waste hierarchy including the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the South Health District (Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner Counties). Particularly, water quality (septic tanks, well water), food safety, cleanliness of hotels, motels, restaurants, swimming pools and so on are the responsibility of the local health department, such as the Lowndes County Health Department.

However, disposal of solid waste (trash/garbage) is handled by the local municipality or governmental body (county).

The EPA has a variety of documents available about solid waste.

So does the state EPD, as enabled through Georgia Legislation: Existing Rules and Corresponding Laws.

So, where does this leave us? See next post.


Trash, health, and safety

Solid waste is a health and safety issue, according to Georgia law.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources copy of the GEORGIA COMPREHENSIVE SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT OF 1990 AS AMENDED THROUGH 2004,

O.C.G.A. ยง 12-8-21. Declaration of policy; legislative intent

a) It is declared to be the policy of the State of Georgia, in furtherance of its responsibility to protect the public health, safety, and well-being of its citizens and to protect and enhance the quality of its environment, to institute and maintain a comprehensive state-wide program for solid waste management and to prevent and abate litter, so as to assure that solid waste does not adversely affect the health, safety, and well-being of the public and that solid waste facilities, whether publicly or privately owned, do not degrade the quality of the environment by reason of their location, design, method of operation, or other means and which, to the extent feasible and practical, makes maximum utilization of the resources contained in solid waste.

Emphasis added on the parts about health, safety, well-being, and the environment. Those are the goals of this legislation, stated twice in the first paragraph. Georgia being a home rule state, the implementation of these goals is now left to the local governing bodies. More on that next.


Tired of tax abatements: Occupy Buffalo and NY state reps @ ECIDA 2012-02-13

Lots of people, from Occupy Buffalo to at least one New York state representative, are tired of tax abatements doled out by ECIDA (the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, aka The Economic Development Corporation for Erie County). ECIDA thinks it knows better. Sound familiar?

Occupy Buffalo complained to ECIDA about tax abatements for luxury residential lofts that had already been completed, saying “this board is not a democratic process”. They noted the people’s representative on the ECIDA board had said it was a clear waste of taxpayer resources but was ignored, and couldn’t stop county resources being “fleeced by this board”. They added, “This experiment has gone on for long enough, and it’s time for immediate change” of “this crony corrupt process”. Occupy Buffalo demanded suspension of tax abatements by ECIDA until a public town hall meeting could be held.

Here’s the video:

Tired of tax abatements: Occupy Buffalo and NY state reps @ ECIDA 2012-02-13

Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, .
Video by for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).

Occupy Buffalo wrote 16 February 2012, Occupy Buffalo and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency,

Continue reading

Abandoning part of Bethany Road contentious and enlightening @ LCC

Quite a few people showed up at the Lowndes County Commission public hearing about abandoning part of Bethany Road, speaking pro and con. We learned many interesting reasons for abandoning that road, which would apply to many dirt and maybe paved roads in the county, many of which are on the county’s paving list. More about that and an interesting view of the press in later posts. First, here’s what we’re talking about.

12 December 2011 Work Session

Here are the minutes:
Abandonment of a Portion of Bethany Road, County Engineer, Mike Fletcher, presented a request by citizens for the abandonment of a portion of Bethany Road. Mr. Fletcher explained that the Commission was being asked to make an initial determination that either the section of the county road system has been ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial purpose is served by it, or that its removal from the county road system is otherwise in the best public interest. Mr. Fletcher added that once the initial determination was made, staff would move forward with the appropriate advertising of a public hearing at which time the Commission could make a final decision.
Here’s video in which County Engineer Mike Fletcher said the part of Bethany Road to be abandoned runs from Bethany Drive down through the Stith and Turner family properties towards Old US 41 North as far as the Rykard property, and that all residents would still have access out to other roads. County Manager Joe Pritchard noted that Continue reading

“We’ve been chosen” —Barbara Stratton

Received Saturday on Public hearing doesn’t mean the public gets to know anything. -jsq
I’ve made these same comments before. It’s just part of the attitude that is popular with some elected & appointed officials “We’ve been chosen. Now go away & don’t ask any questions about what we are doing until it’s time to vote again.” I don’t think all the individuals share the attitude, but some do & over time it has become standard procedure. Hopefully, as more citizens pay attention & ask for more insight procedure will adjust. There is a reason for open meetings & sunshine laws & it’s not so citizens can listen to or read about decisions based on information they are not allowed to hear or observe.

-Barbara Stratton

Public hearing doesn’t mean the public gets to know anything

Jane Osborn wrote:
Requesting such a hearing before January 24 would give the opportunity to have all this information presented and for questions to be asked and answered.
Except that’s not the way it works around here. Public hearing locally means the chairman or mayor or whoever says “Who wants to speak for?” and maybe somebody speaks. And then “Who wants to speak against?” and maybe somebody speaks. It doesn’t mean that the Commission or the Council or the Authority presents anything for the public to consider.

Witness the hearing the Lowndes County Commission held in December on the documents related to the Comprehensive Plan. The only reason the public knew anything about what was in those documents was that Gretchen got them from somewhere else after the Commission refused to supply them in response to an open records request. The Commission never distributed any of the relevant documents to the public. Only one citizen spoke, perhaps because nobody else knew what to speak about.

Almost none of the local municipalities or boards or authorities routinely present to the public the information that is in the packets they see before the discuss or vote. There are rare exceptions, such as the VLMPO and other organizations or projects administered by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC). SGRC is a state agency, not a local agency. Why does Lowndes County and all its municipalities and boards avoid transparency?

Why can’t you, the public, see what’s in a rezoning request before Continue reading

More County Commission Transparency: Chatham County, Georgia

The Chatham County, Georgia Board of Commissioners has its agendas and minutes online. The agenda for 2 December 2011 does not include the detailed packet materials for most of the items to be voted on. However, it does include a table of dollar amounts and other details for bids that were to be voted on, so the public doesn’t have to go to the work session and scribble down what staff read aloud.

There’s also this interesting boilerplate:

Proposed changes to ordinances must be read or presented in written form at two meetings held not less than one week apart. A vote on the following listed matters will occur at the next regularly scheduled meeting. On first reading, presentation by MPC staff and discussion only by Commissioners will be heard.

Comments, discussion and debate from members of the public will be received only at the meeting at which a vote is to be taken on one of the following listed items.

So in Chatham County the Commission can’t just decide one day to change an ordinance.

Also it appears that the public does get to discuss and debate ordinance changes.

The minutes for 2 December 2011 contain quite a bit of detail as to who said what. Plus for each agenda item that was approved it includes the agenda packet information, such as item IX-2 on the right here, which is about local participation in jail construction.

This isn’t as transparent as Travis County, Texas. Chatham County doesn’t put the agenda packet items in the agenda, and doesn’t do videos. But it’s still more transparent than Lowndes County, Georgia, which doesn’t provide agenda packet items unless you do an open records request for each item you want to see.


Crossovers from the CUEE/Valwood donor list. —Alex Rowell

Received today. -jsq
Here’s the crossovers from the CUEE/Valwood donor list.

It seems like being on the board or even publicly supporting a group dedicated to combining two public school systems while being a trustee or donor of the community’s biggest private school might present a conflict of interest.

CUEE Board Member David Durland is a Valwood parent and donor.

Of the listed supporters on CUEE’s website, there are three Valwood trustees, one of whom is a spouse of another trustee: Ed Crane, Dutton Miller, and John Peeples (whose wife Jane is also a trustee).

Source on Valwood donors:
2010-2011 Annual Fund Donors As of June 30, 2011

Source on CUEE supporters/board:
CUEE, Inc. Board of Directors
Referendum Supporters


Who wants to live in a prison colony?

Judy Green, a prison policy analyst says:
“The very first contract for the first private prison in America went to CCA, from INS.”
Hear her in this video Private Prisons-Commerce in Souls by Grassroots Leadership that explains the private prison trade of public safety for private profit:

A local leader once called private prisons “good clean industry”. Does locking up people for private profit sound like “good clean industry” to you? Remember, not only is the U.S. the worst in the world for locking people up (more prisoners per capita and total than any other country in the world), but Georgia is the worst in the country, with 1 in 13 adults in the prison system. And private prisons don’t save money and they don’t improve local employment. As someone says in the video, who wants to live in a prison colony?

We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend that tax money on rehabilitation and education.


PS: Owed to Jeana Brown.