Had enough, yet? Our recent celebration of the birth of our country started me thinking. Our forefathers declared independence from England and King George III, enumerating their reasons for terminating all legal ties from the kingdom and establishing a new free and democratic nation. Maybe it’s time to declare independence from the government of North Augusta based on the following injuries and usurpations (with apologies to Thomas Jefferson, et. al.):
• They have incurred indebtedness of more than $69 million without our consent to build a frivolous sub-A minor league stadium and associated structures.
• They mortgaged city hall for the $69 million bonded indebtedness – debt that exceeds the general obligation bond limit by 700%, claiming “that’s why we were elected.”
• When the stadium issue was on the ballot, they conspired with other politicians to remove the issue from the ballot and deny the citizens a vote.
• They have refused, in spite of numerous requests, to account for the money, the project or cash flows intended to pay the indebtedness.
• They have despoiled the beautiful shores of the Savannah River with high rise apartments, one large stadium, a hotel and parking decks creating concrete canyons wedged in a small area causing traffic congestion, the posting of ugly parking signs and frivolous uses of police resources.
• They granted a “friend” 67% profit – $180,000 more than he paid for his land which he had just fortuitously purchased less than 18 months earlier in order to build new public safety facilities.
• They have placed those facilities in a historic neighborhood against the strong protestations of local property owners.
• They ran roughshod over zoning laws to insert a nonconforming public safety building in an old historic neighborhood.
• They refuse to hear citizen grievances at city meetings – limiting everyone to 5 minutes regardless of the complexity of the issue, exalting form over substance.
• One of their members was fined for ethical violations.
• One member alleged criminal violations by candidates of another party, charges which were patently false, at least to those who can read English.
• They seek to criminalize the act of voting in a primary, where their party does not even qualify to run an election, as it was never recognized by the State Election Commission, the State Party or the County party.
• The city illegally met in nonpublic meetings no fewer than 17 times in a nine-month period to conspire with a developer to build a stadium, for which they were found liable by the S.C. Supreme Court costing them more than $14,000.
• The city lied in its resolutions when it claimed property along the river had declined in value and would never be developed when in fact it had increased 500% in value and there was a development plan approved and in place.
• The city lied when it produced a list of properties that had declined in value when in fact houses worth $400,000 and more had been recently built on those properties.
• The city lied to the School Board when it claimed that unless they approved the stadium plan and supported it with school tax money, nothing would ever happen there, when in fact there was a plan in place to develop it.
• The city continues to prop up a political party in its primary elections, a party never recognized by the State or County party, one that never has meetings, never selects precinct representatives or functions like real parties do – one that was “deemed” a party because they had a picture in a local paper claiming to be a party.
For these and other insults and injuries perpetrated in our name, we demand the bonds between the citizens of this town and the city government be dissolved, and to this end we pledge our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor.
So far, the city government hasn’t threatened us with treason and hanging, but never underestimate their willingness to use the criminal justice system to intimidate its opponents.