The fact that these were willing to propose a bill that had all the things in it that the original version had says a lot about them. It also says a lot that these House Republicans voted to rubber-stamp the proposal without any changes:
Fayetteville, GA—At the GRA State Convention on Saturday, the GRA membership passed a series of strong resolutions addressing several hot-button controversies of the day. Among them was a resolution to “END INDOCTRINATION OF CHILDREN IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS.”
The text of the resolution was unique in that it called upon families and parents to take action to solve a societal problem, rather than calling upon anyone in civil government to act. The text of the resolution reads in full:
“WHEREAS, the civil government school system has been the primary promoter of socialistic, anti-Republican ideas in our communities; and
“WHEREAS, the government school has been responsible for countless children from Republican homes turning against the principles that were taught to them by their parents and has led to many graduates voting Democrat; and
“WHEREAS, government schools have proven themselves to be untrustworthy by forbidding prayer and the teaching of the Bible, and promoting Critical Race Theory, cultural Marxism, sexual deviancy, abortion, atheism, evolutionism, mandated vaccination and other false and harmful ideas; and
“WHEREAS, Critical Race Theory is a flagrant attempt to teach unveiled, hard-core Marxism and racism; and
“WHEREAS, the conservative exposure and intervention that prevented certain schools from teaching Critical Race Theory this year in no way guarantees government schools will not attempt this kind of indoctrination again in the future with greater success; and
“WHEREAS, this damaging indoctrination usually occurs before parents are made aware of it or have organized to oppose it; and
“WHEREAS, parental protest and interference at school board meetings has proven to be insufficient at checking the advance and of leftism and has only brought parents under investigation for being “domestic terrorists”; and
“WHEREAS, the sustainability of all conservative victories are at risk if the next generation does not understand and embrace Republican values, which are American values;
“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the GA Republican Assembly calls upon all Republican families to immediately remove their children from these harmful facilities and pursue alternative education options and furthermore suggests that local church leaders and Republicans without school-age children designate a portion of their volunteer time and personal resources to assist struggling families in their community in the pursuit of alternative education options.”
Northwest GA—On Tuesday, voters in Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe, and Catoosa County all overwhelmingly rejected a controversial Redevelopment Powers proposal on the ballot that would have given the local municipalities the authority to create “Tax Allocation Districts” (TADs) and provide Tax Increment Financing for redevelopment.
These redevelopment powers operate on the premise that “blight makes right”! That is, any part of the community which the local government agency deems to be “blighted” can become a “project area” and be artificially stimulated by tax dollars through corporate welfare to developers. A similar measure was defeated earlier this year in Whitfield County.
One of the concerns expressed by voters was the permanence of this proposal, if adopted. Like many additional or emergency powers, when once surrendered by the people and seized by the civil government, they have no expiration date and power thus surrendered is not easily restored.
Joanna Hildreth wears many hats as an activist in the area. In addition to serving on the GRA Executive Committee, Joanna was elected this year as the Catoosa County GOP Chair, and she serves as the Vice President of the Northwest GA Republican Assembly chapter. She was very pleased with the outcome of the vote on Tuesday: “I opposed the referendum because at the root it increases the government’s power. I believe in small government, and this was a step in the other direction. We can’t trust that every county board in the future will wield these additional powers wisely. If the referendum had passed, the people would never be able to vote to end it. Only the governor has that authority.”
The Catoosa GOP voted to publicly oppose the Redevelopment Powers—in opposition to their state legislator and fellow Republicans State Rep. Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold) [who has an “F” on his GRA Voting Scorecard, by the way] and Rep. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) who together co-authored HB 778, HB 764, and HB 766, the legislation that put the Redevelopment Powers question on the ballots in the first place. “The GOP precinct chairs were instrumental in calling voters, door-knocking, and sign-waving,” Hildreth explained. “Mitchell Horner, Ringgold precinct chairman of the Catoosa GOP and chair of our policy committee, started the Committee on Catoosa Taxation to raise money and purchase signs.”
The Catoosa GOP partnered with other groups like the Northwest GA Republican Assembly and also utilized social media, radio and television interviews.
Liberty activist Nick Ware attended the October 4th Town Hall meeting about Redevelopment Powers that was held at the Colonnade. “After I heard that presentation I knew I had to push forward,” he said. “I wan’t going to let the ‘powers that be’ have power forever and not stand up!” With that inspiration, Nick decided to put his liberty convictions in action and prepared a presentation about the potential danger of this measure and began spreading the word in the County. Ware and many Catoosa voters believed this measure was problematic for various reasons: it’s interference with the free market, the indebtedness it would create, the lack of accountability, and the special favors and deals it would allow to be given to the political elite and their friends.
“I utilized as many tools as I could to educate the voters,” said Ware.
Threat of Eminent Domain Prompts Emotional Response
Catoosa homeowners were also concerned about the threat of property seizure through eminent domain under this proposal.
“Supporters say if you keep your property looking tidy, you have nothing to worry about. But what about the elderly and disabled who can’t keep their house tidy?” said Nick Ware.
Nick expressed concern for people like the elderly couple who live and operate a small fruit stand on Boynton Road against whom a complaint had recently been filed or the woman overcome with worry and brought nigh to tears because her property borders an area intended to be developed. “I advised her to just hold out and see how the vote goes”, he said, “and she was very happy to hear about the outcome.”
Originally, eminent domain required proof that a property was being taken for “public use” such as the widening of a road, but in 2017 Georgia law was amended to allow local governments to use eminent domain to condemn blighted property and transfer it to a private developer for purposes of economic development. Of course, the original property owner is still entitled to receive what the civil government officials deem “just compensation,” but what is that to the owner of his childhood home or the property that has been passed down through family generations?
Not all Catoosa citizens share these concerns, however. John Pless, the Public Information Officer for Catoosa County told the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “What this would have done is essentially leverage the power of government to redevelop blighted areas. This was not a tax increase, and it was absolutely not a land grab.”
The referendum question was only narrowly defeated in the City of Fort Oglethorpe with only 51.05% voting “No” to Redevelopment Powers, and in the City of Ringgold 60.29% voted “No.” However, in Catoosa County voters rejected it by a staggering 82.55 percent! The fact that the measure failed in all three districts, to the local GRA and liberty activists, is a triumph worth celebrating. Voter turnout was remarkably low with only 4,927 ballots cast for the entire County, a mere fraction of the 32,099 votes cast in Catoosa in the 2020 Presidential election. Some voters have suspicions that controversial measures like these are intentionally put forward in election years where voter participation is expected to be low in order to increase their chances. But the vigilance and community organization of grass roots activists were able to win the day in spite of the low turnout.
George Bettersby protested the TAD in the public comments portion of the October 21 Catoosa Board of Commissioners Meeting. He said, “The county has a horrible reputation for conflicts of interest… The County has had so much problems trying to explain the TAD to taxpayers, they even brought in an expert from Atlanta to try and explain it to us old rednecks. Certainly the devil is in the details. However, one thing you can bank on: the local builders, developers will get richer on the aching backs of our taxpayers young and old.”
While some voters may not fully understand Redevelopment Powers, Tuesdays polling showed they were nonetheless skeptical and may have reasoned intuitively that, if government officials were not asking for more money and more power, they wouldn’t have to get voters permission with a new ballot referendum.
An Ideological Ballot Question
The proposal was very broad and generic in nature and did not specify a certain area or a private developer that would benefit from it. This means the underlying question put to the voters was ideological:
Should local government have the power to artificially stimulate or develop an area that the free market has rejected and is therefore not developing organically?
Should the government provide enhancements that were not merited in the free market?
Should local government have the power to seize private property, against the will of the property owners in order to accomplish the community enhancements that elected officials deem beneficial?
The triple rejection of this proposal by the Cities of Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County is likely an indication of voters core worldview and fundamental beliefs about the role of government in the lives of the citizenry. A belief that would appear to differ from their elected representatives Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold) and Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) who sponsored the legislation.
“Fulton County GOP corruption strikes again!” The Georgia Republican Assembly has joined with voices of other concerned Republican political activists in metro-Atlanta by expressing their shock and displeasure at yet another new antic of the Fulton GOP.
The Fulton County Republican Party posted on their official Fulton County GOP web site, which is paid for with donations to the Fulton GOP, a brochure advertising a fundraiser for Democrat Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. Moore is running for Mayor of Atlanta.
In addition, the Fulton GOP Chair Trey Kelly and his fellow Fulton GOP officer Ashford Schwall appear on this fundraiser event for the Democrat Atlanta City Council President! In addition to serving as officers of the Fulton GOP, Trey and Ashford are also on the Georgia 11th District Republican Party Commitee along with many members of the Cobb Republican Party, the Bartow Republican Party, and the Cherokee Republican Party. Michelle Carver from Fulton, the wife of 11th District GOP Chair Brad Carver (who was formerly found giving public donations to Democrat candidates) also included her name on the fundraiser event.
This is a clear-cut violation of the bylaws for the 11th District GOP and arguably a violation of GAGOP bylaws that prohibit any Republican officer from providing public support to a Democrat. For example, in the 11th District GOP bylaws, it states under Section 2.07 that officers of the 11th District Committee may be removed “for cause,” and it defines “cause” as, among other things:
“ii. Conduct detrimental to the party.”
“iii. Any public support, including financial support, of any candidate or nominee of an opposition party …”
The Rules of the Eleventh District Republican Committee, § 2.07 (b).
Holding a fundraiser for a candidate who is currently serving in office as a Democrat seems to be conduct “detrimental to the party.”
Members of the Fulton GOP who defended the actions of its officers argued that because Felicia Moore is running for Mayor of Atlanta, and the mayoral race is non-partisan, the rules of the party were not violated. We beg to differ. Both the letter and definitely the spirit of the rules are clearly violated.
Unlike some of the nitpickiness about rules that has been scattered lately in various GAGOP controversies on social media, this is a violation that strikes at the heart of why we have separate party organizations.
The response from those trying to justify the fundraiser also illustrates the disconnect within the group we call “the Establishment,” who care only about political power (rather than the Republican principles) in the Atlanta “swamp”:
Felicia Moore is currently holding office as a Democrat. Whether the particular office she is now running for is partisan or not, we know from the candidate’s political identification, current partisan office, track record, and worldview what the policies are she is going to promote if elected to new office! She is not going to be promoting policies that are consistent with Republican principles; she will be promoting Democrat policies. She will work to advance the Democrat Party in Fulton and squelch the Republican candidates in Fulton. No wonder then there was so many reports of election fraud coming from Fulton last year!
To put it another way: If you rename Atilla the Hun as “Joe Smiley,” it makes him no less dangerous. If you rename a bottle of arsenic as “sleeping potion,” it makes it no less dangerous. And if you rename a Democrat a “non-partisan,” it makes her no less dangerous!
“[E]lecting Democrats (even if they’re calling themselves non-partisan),” wrote GRA President Alex Johnson, “simply helps them [the Democrats] with fundraising and name ID. So then they can donate money to other Democrats (like Stacey Abrams) and their endorsement may sway others. It also gives them a perceived platform to advertise their brand (Democrat governance).”
“The GOP is a brand and a team,” Alex said. “As a brand, imagine it/your brand as Coca-Cola. Does Coca-Cola host events and then serve Pepsi at them, or suggest that people try out Pepsi products? No. What about having Pepsi and Coke both available, but just without labels on them? No again.”
“The Democrat Party,” GRA NFRA Director Nathaniel Darnell added, “stands for agendas that are immoral. Things like murdering the helpless and stealing from others. What Republican doesn’t acknowledge that murder and stealing are evil? Anyone who is a part of that becomes an accessory to that kind of evil activity. How can we in good conscience provide any kind of promotion to political candidates who are part of a party working to advance these kinds of evil statist activities?”
Furthermore, multiple Fulton activists have pointed out that there were one or two candidates who were Republicans also running for Mayor of Atlanta. Devonta “Sully” Sullivan was one candidate running who is reported to be a Republican, but the Fulton GOP and its officers are not throwing support behind any of them, nor are they seeking to recruit any better Republican candidate to run. With moments like this, we find ourselves wondering why the Fulton GOP thinks they exist. “With Republicans like you, who needs Democrats?”
The Cobb County chapter of the GRA initially posted on social media about this issue when the story first broke on Saturday, October 9th. The fundraiser was held on Friday, October 8th.
On October 22nd the Buckhead Young Republicans announced they are following the example of their elder peers and also hosting an event to promote an Atlanta Democrat running for Mayor. However, the Buckhead YRs would be giving attention to Felicia Moore’s opponent, the former incumbent Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. One significant difference between the events, however, is that the Fulton GOP event was specifically described as a fundraiser, while the Buckhead YR event appears listed as only a candidate speaking forum. Since the Fulton GOP has already made clear that they regard this race as an “anything goes” because the candidates are “non-partisan,” it appears they have no basis to complain against their youthful counterparts supporting this opponent to their preferred candidate.
What is the easiest way to kill a volunteer political organization?
Try to silence the voice of volunteers and refuse to take a stand for accountability of politicians/elected employees.
The Republican Party in Georgia is better equipped to fight than it has been for years. As discussed previously (link) many, many new people have joined the GOP in Georgia to demand accountability and principled candidates for office, and a loud, toxic minority in the GOP , mostly who think that the rest of us should blindly follow their “expertise” are doing whatever they can to stop it.
On Tuesday, Whitfield County voters once again rejected Redevelopment Powers that would have granted the Board of Commissioners the authority to create an additional Tax Allocation District within the County. GRA members in Whitfield County are overjoyed to see this kind of “Crony Capitalist” attempt get shot down by a majority vote with 1,986 people voting “No” and only 1,395 voting “Yes.”
Redevelopment Powers were approved by the voters for several Cities in 2014, but were rejected by the voters for the unincorporated areas of Whitfield County. The Dalton Daily Citizen reported that Chairman Jevin Jensen, prior to the vote, suggested that now that the County voters have seen TADs in use, they may be more receptive to the idea, but Tuesday’s election proved otherwise.
The March 16th special election was intended to fill the term of the late Commissioner Roger Crossen who passed away in office last year. This election, which was originally only going to be held in District 3 of the County was expected to have very low voter turnout, until Representative Kasey Carpenter seized the opportunity to include a question about controversial Redevelopment Powers.
The question was placed on the ballot due to the passage of HB61 in the 2021 legislative session which granted Whitfield County the authority to “…cary out community redevelopment, to create tax allocation districts, to issue tax allocation bonds,…” and required that this Act must be put before the voters for approval or rejection.
The author of the bill was GA State Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), who is himself a Dalton business owner whose private hotel enterprise has, in the past, come under criticism for being the recipient of this kind of corporate welfare. In 2018 he was the recipient of Tax Increment Financing which uses tax payer dollars to help fund private enterprise for business owners in attractive occupational fields, who have the right connections and who can persuasively convince the local government officials that their business venture will eventually increase tax revenue. Many Whitfield taxpayers have had cause to wonder if they too could make a similar argument for why they should be spared the tax burden other citizens and businesses bear?
Couldn’t most of us, if given a tax break and additional financing from the government, stimulate the economy and eventually create more tax revenue for the County too?
In less than a month, this cronyist bill was fast tracked through the legislative process and then signed by the Governor. The co-sponsors were Rep. Carpenter’s fellow Northwest Georgia officials Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) and Rep. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) all of whom would appear somewhat out of touch with their more conservative constituency which disapproves of this kind of corporate welfare scheme.
When the Redevelopment Powers (TAD) question was added to the March 16 ballot, the election became county-wide which then forced all the voting precincts to open, not just those in District 3. The opening of these additional precincts is estimated to have cost the taxpayers an additional $25,000 in administration, for which Rep. Carpenter drew some additional criticism from the Whitfield GOP who called it “special interests”. For most of the County, the entire ballot contained only one referendum question and the voters were so strongly against it, they were willing to take time away from their jobs and families to show up and let their voice be heard in a decisive “No”.
Crony Capitalism (which really isn’t capitalism at all) is defined as:
An economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.
The idea behind “Redevelopment Powers” stems from a belief that it is the role of local government to “plan”, “develop”, or “create growth” within the economy. TADs are believed to be a tool at the Commissioners’ disposal to aid them in that task.
By Georgia law, less than 10% of the County can be included in a Tax Allocation District, which means that a small portion of taxpayers get special tax treatment and have the potential for government funds to help finance their operations. This kind of compartmentalization for special treatment is by definition discriminatory, and forces the other 90% of the County to bear an unfair tax burden.
The City or in this case the County, designates a specific geographic area that has the potential for redevelopment but suffers from blight or underinvestment. A TAD incentivizes developers by “freezing” the current property values and then as the properties are improved, the taxable value increases. Other unelected boards tasked with this kind of economic planning are sometimes called a Joint Development Authority, and are appropriately named because they create a marriage between private business and local government for the purpose of development which they claim is mutually beneficial. The loser in this kind of deal is usually the oblivious taxpayer and the hard working small business owner who does not have the team of lawyers, accountants and political connections to be able to secure government subsidies.
This type of scheme is becoming more and more commonplace. It is estimated that over $500 million in TAD bonds have been issued in the state of Georgia alone.
Because this type of cronyism occurs at the local level, it represents a great opportunity for conservative activists to engage effectively and restore free market principles for their community.
Our Founding Fathers recognized that alliances between big business and big government had enormous potential for corruption, partiality, and inequality. These alliances often lead to unjust judgment on the part of Government leaders which is warned against in Leviticus 19:15:
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
The Founders did not assign government the role of engineering the perfect economy, creating jobs or making loans to entrepreneurs that they believe to be worthy. Rather, the jurisdiction of civil government envisioned by the Founding Fathers was extremely limited focused primarily on justice and defense, and was economically neutral thereby allowing the organic free market to pick the winners and losers.
“A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities. … such a government is not a pattern for the United States.
“If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.” – James Madison, National Gazette, 27 March 1792