As we close out a restful Labor Day Weekend, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to something. Notwithstanding the fact that Councilman X told me earlier that he wants me to write more positive things about the city of Alpharetta, this is really getting in the way of my positivity.
My research for an upcoming article had me watching hours and hours of City Council video and one such video, dated February 27th, 2015, dealt with the Convention Center. In the video, around 3:00:44, Councilman Gilvin let it be known that he wanted the idea of a Convention Center to be put to a vote by the residents of Alpharetta. Mayor Belle Isle, not being in favor of putting the Convention Center to a vote by the residents, responded in this way:
“Should the Council make the wrong decision (on the idea of a Convention Center) well, I’ll be on the ballot the 1st Tuesday of November….As far as the public (and putting this to a public vote) we’re elected to represent the public. This is not a direct democracy, it is a representative republic. If you don’t like the decisions we make, again, 1st Tuesday November, I’ll be there.”
The problem with this statement, apart from what one might judge as hubris, and apart from the Law of Unintended Consequences with something like a Convention Center, and apart from the fact that if politicians everywhere said things like this they could do a lot of damage while in office, is that in reality what Mr. Belle Isle seems to be saying is, “I don’t want to hear anything you say. All that matters is what I say.”
In the end, Mr. Belle Isle got his way on the Convention Center. Although Councilman Aiken and Councilman Gilven voted against the Convention Center, citing concerns with not putting it to a public referendum and signing a $24.9 million check on behalf of the residents of Alpharetta, the measure was approved 5-2 in August.
Mr. Belle Isle’s assessment of municipal government is factually correct. The city of Alpharetta is a representative government, as is the state of Georgia, as is the United States of America. But the role of these representatives is to represent the people. And that includes the people who agree with them as well as the people who disagree with them.
In the absence of fair representation of the people, we have 3 choices when it comes to elected officials who do as they please: 1) un-elect them (given that they have an opponent) at election time; 2) impeach or remove them from office; 3) Give them a carte blanche to do as they please. And they will do as they please.