United We Stand

11/07/2015 // 1 Comment

On November 3, 2015, the citizens of Snellville voted overwhelmingly for a mayor, and city council members who campaigned on a platform of unity. Specifically, Mayor elect Tom Witts and council members elect Cristy Lenski, Roger Marmol and myself (an incumbent) are committed to eliminating divisiveness, both real and imagined, uniting our citizens, and serving their best interests. As our campaign material stated, we are “United for Snellville”, and are joined in that commitment by current Council members Barbara Bender and Bobby Howard. Phrases incorporating reference to unity have been spoken in response to a wide range of issues ever since 1768, when John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, wrote, “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”. Although the [Continue Reading]

The Truth Lies Beyond the Smears

10/27/2015 // 0 Comments

The latest smear campaigns have caused me to reflect on events of the past six years. The memories that first come to the surface are dominated by the people I have met, one of whom is the undeserving target of the latest round of false accusations and mudslinging. I met Tom Witts in 2009. At the time I was a member of the Snellville Planning Commission and at the end of one of our meetings, he introduced himself and said he was running for a City Council position. At the time, I didn’t think much about it, however, I was impressed that he took the initiative to introduce himself and simply say he was running for office. It was especially impressive considering that the members [Continue Reading]

The Strangest of Election Seasons

10/19/2015 // 0 Comments

Campaigning for a city council position should be a fairly straightforward matter. Candidates present their opinions, visions, qualifications and experience so voters can decide who will best represent their interests. While each candidate may have a solution for world peace, the price of gas, the national debt or other national and world issues, such matters are well outside an elected city official’s sphere of influence. So the task at hand for any candidate is to present his or her position on matters that can be influenced by a member of the city council. Those typically include property taxes, city services (public safety/police, preparation for emergencies, trash collection, street maintenance and repair) and future plans and visions. Of course, campaigns and elections in Snellville rarely resemble [Continue Reading]

“All About Gwinnett”- Show Dates and Links

10/07/2015 // 1 Comment

  Each week, “All About Gwinnett” features an interview with a guest of interest to residents of Gwinnett County, GA. The show airs at 6:30PM Sunday evenings. Past show dates, guests and topics are listed below. Click the date in the left column below to listen to each show. Date                                                                   Guest/Topic 5/24/15     Snellville Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts- Snellville Veterans Memorial, May 23rd Memorial Day celebration 5/31/15    Allison Wilkerson, mayor of Grayson, GA- Municipal government, Grayson activities 6/7/15      Melvin Everson, former state representative and currently director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity- personal background [Continue Reading]

The Supreme Court- Overstepping its Bounds

07/09/2015 // 0 Comments

For over two centuries, The Constitution of the United States has provided the ultimate definition of the rights and freedoms of the nation’s citizens. Concurrently, the Supreme Court has served as the ultimate interpreter of The Constitution. The task of the Supreme Court is not to rule on guilt or innocence, rather it is to determine whether the decisions of lower courts are consistent with, or in violation of the rights and guarantees defined by the Constitution. That no longer appears to be the case. Although the Constitution continues to provide the aforementioned ultimate definition, that has become a moot point; the nine justices charged with interpreting the Constitution now apparently see themselves as legislators. Certainly not all the justices have forsaken their roles as [Continue Reading]

Zoning, Apartments & Lawsuits

01/30/2015 // 1 Comment

Snellville needs housing types other than single family homes. Snellville also needs stores, gas stations, restaurants and office suites. To accommodate those needs in a sensible manner, while protecting property owner rights and values, the city has developed a long term land use plan and established districts for specific types of development. Consequently, commercial establishments aren’t allowed in residential districts, and houses aren’t permitted in commercial districts. Those are black-and-white requirements, that don’t always apply in a world that is continually moving from one shade of gray to another. Consequently, the City has the means to address changing conditions and the developments proposed to meet them; a land owner or developer may apply to have a parcel of land (or several parcels) rezoned if a [Continue Reading]

Veterans’ Day Transformation

11/13/2014 // 0 Comments

Tuesday, November 11, 2014, will forever be remembered as the day that completely transformed the way Veterans’ Day is celebrated in Snellville, Georgia. At 7:00 pm more than 400 people gathered in front of the recently completed Snellville Veterans’ Memorial to honor our nation’s military veterans, and witness the 1st annual Veterans’ Day Balloon Launch. Approximately 200 balloons, illuminated by flashing, multicolored LEDs ascended into the night sky creating an unforgettable sight. As the balloons rose, they were carried eastward by a light breeze and within a few minutes, they transformed the night sky into a light show reminiscent of the Milky Way. In addition to Council Members Barbara Bender, Bobby Howard, Diane Krause, Tom Witts and myself, newly elected State Senator PK Martin and [Continue Reading]

Zonings, Variances and The Process

11/11/2014 // 0 Comments

The process through which rezoning applications are submitted, reviewed and acted upon takes into account a number of factors. Primary among these are property owner rights, zoning, impact on the community and the type of development.  A developer typically initiates the process after locating a particular parcel of land and determining what he or she believes can be constructed and profitably sold. The subsequent steps involve submitting an application and going through a review process, after which the application is either approved or denied. That review process is only required if the intended development doe not comply with existing zoning requirements. If a development project complies with existing zoning requirements, and no variances are needed,  there is obviously no need for the developer to apply [Continue Reading]

Fail to Vote and You Fail Yourself

11/03/2014 // 0 Comments

I haven’t heard them all, but I’ve heard most of them—excuses for not voting: “What difference does it make, they’re all crooks?” “I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.” “I’m gonna show ‘em. I’m not gonna vote for either candidate.” “My guy lost in the primary and I don’t like the guy who won the nomination so I’m not gonna vote.” And my favorite, “I’m not the voting kind. Politics is too controversial and I don’t want to get involved.” Someone actually told me that a few years ago when I was campaigning for a very good candidate. I was about to respond in an attempt to persuade him to reconsider when I thought, “How can I possibly argue with the logic [Continue Reading]

DeKalb County Commission- A Candidate’s Perspective

10/31/2014 // 0 Comments

Nancy Jester first found a public spotlight focused on her when, as a “mom with a blog and calculator”, she exposed a host of financial irregularities within the DeKalb County School Board. Ultimately, six of nine board members were removed by the governor. Currently, Jester is running for the District 1 County Commission position, and once again she is taking a hard look at the financial irregularities that seem to plague the county. She is running for a position that was vacated by Elaine Boyer who plead guilty in federal court to charges of bilking county taxpayers out of $93,000 through mail fraud conspiracy and wire fraud. DE- Given Boyer’s activities, the answer to this is obvious- what do you see as the biggest problems [Continue Reading]

4-to-1 Tells the Story

10/24/2014 // 0 Comments

The divisive, adversarial relationship between Kelly Kautz, the current occupant of the Snellville mayor’s office, and the five members of the City Council, has been well documented in the media, videos of council meetings and in the two lawsuits filed by the Kautz against the Council. The unfortunate strife caused by Kautz’s unilateral actions has repeatedly brought to the city notoriety of the type that is best avoided, causing residents and non-residents alike to ask, “Why can’t you all just get along?” The complex tapestry of issues and allegiances that is at the core of the divisiveness denies a simple explanation. But there is perhaps no more exemplary an answer to the question than the 4-1 vote to approve the separation agreement between the City [Continue Reading]

Senate Candidate Meets Apartment Controversy

09/29/2014 // 0 Comments

A proposal to build apartments in Snellville has created a level of controversy that is rarely encountered, yet not unprecedented when such proposals involve a substantial change a city’s land use plan. As the controversy rolls along, it seems to gather almost everyone in its path, so it wasn’t surprising that State Senate candidate P.K. Martin was drawn into the fray. Mr. Martin’s opinion was publicly solicited through a number of posts on social media, most notably on Facebook. Public requests for comment, especially those which rise to the level of demands, create a platform from which a candidate could easily grandstand, pontificate and otherwise draw attention to himself. Predictably, Mr. Martin did nothing of the sort. He simply stated his opinion and noted he [Continue Reading]

The Apartment Debate

09/08/2014 // 0 Comments

It is with more than a little disappointment that I have watched much of the debate about rezoning applications for apartments wander off the rails and into the realm of insults, name-calling and false information. The true topic of debate should be focused on the proposed developments defined in the applications for rezoning. Instead, much of the conversation has devolved into verbal assaults on “those types of people” who choose to live in apartments. Ironically, many of the comments about “those types of people” come from individuals who once were “those types of people”. Much of the off-the-rails commentary seems to have arisen out of a lack of information concerning the process that must be followed in reviewing any application for a rezoning. That process [Continue Reading]

The 9/11 Cross, The Establishment Clause, Religion & Non-Religion

08/04/2014 // 0 Comments

The atheist group that filed a lawsuit demanding that the operators of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum (9/11 Museum) remove a steel cross from the museum’s grounds based its complaint on the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. That clause states simply, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Yet either by virtue of case law, scholarly opinion or misinterpretation, the Establishment Clause is deemed to prohibit any government entity (city, county or state) from making a law that establishes an official religion, favors one religion over another, favors religion over non-religion or vice versa. In its complaint, the group American Atheists maintained that display of the cross at the museum was unconstitutional because it is [Continue Reading]

Interview with PK Martin

07/23/2014 // 0 Comments

The following interview originally appeared on examiner.com. Examiner- Don Balfour has been the state senator for District 9 for over 20 years. In a previous primary, he overwhelmingly defeated two challengers. Perspectives have obviously changed as a result of last May’s primary, but in 2013, when you announced your decision to challenge Balfour, it seemed a bit arrogant. Martin- I don’t think it was arrogant at all. I think there are a lot of voters who want an alternative and I wanted to offer myself as that alternative. EXAMINER- By alternative, you mean someone who didn’t have a lot of legal issues? MARTIN- No, not at all. Legal issues are one thing, properly representing the people who elect you is another. As a state senator, [Continue Reading]

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