For several years now the interests of the Johns Creek residents have been growing in their desire to both understand and participate in how their closest level of government-their city government- functions.
And, what many of have seen has not been exactly what we had hoped for. Voter apathy has been mentioned often in City Council Meetings. Lack of citizens showing up at City Hall for Council Meetings was evident. City Council members tired of the same citizens making public comments.
Yet over the last three years there have been several events that have awakened the public, and coupled with more ways to have conversations (such as the Johns Creek Post and NextDoor) the genie is out of the bottle. Public scrutiny is going to only grow.
From the Billboard settlement to 400 foot tower to the decision to leave two Council Seats empty for nearly a year to the idea for a Central Business District to ever higher density housing, we have questions. Lots of questions.
The COJC, on the other hand, seems to feel that once a decision is made, there is not a need for the Public to understand what went into that decision or how those decisions were are decided. They are wrong.
The residents of Johns Creek do need to understand exactly why and how those that are representing us are making those decisions. First, we deserve to know. All seven elected officials are representatives of each of us. We are and have been politely asking questions. We deserve to have those questions answered.
Second, we need to understand how these elected representatives function because there will be more issues that come before this Council in the future, and many of them will be negotiated and settled behind closed doors.
Therefore it is crucial that the residents understand as best as possible what principles these elected officials are using when deciding issues on our behalf behind closed doors. And, if we find that we do not like the principles being used, we can make changes during the next election.
Many of us in Johns Creek feel that we are being driven to have our City look and feel like other cities in Georgia, which is not and has never been our desire or intention. We are led to believe that we must do this out of necessity, or that there is no choice. That is wrong.
Many of us believe that we are more interested in reshaping Johns Creek for future generations rather than the generations that live here today and pay the taxes here today. We are puzzled as to who we are doing all of this for and why.
If a local community cannot control its own local government, then it is likely that most of what we believe is a farce. If a local community cannot control the local government, then we would have even less impact on the state government or federal government.
So is local government, once created, its own life force with its own objectives outside of the residents? Or do we actually have the ability to control our local government and what it does?
We will keep demanding answers. We need a local government working for us just as much as we are working for them and paying taxes to fund their operations.
The City of Johns Creek has some tough choices to make over the next year. Will the City of Johns Creek be willing to answer our questions, for better or worse, and let us see exactly how they are functioning? For example, who is behind the push for ever higher densities? Why? And because “everyone else is doing it” is not an acceptable answer.
Will the residents be satisfied to have these decisions made by the COJC hidden from public view?
Are these decisions best for the COJC government or for the residents of Johns Creek?
Most importantly, is Johns Creek on a path that the residents seek? And if not, what are we willing to do about it.
I encourage you not to be silent. Speak up. Talk with neighbors online or in person. Some changes, once done, can never be undone. Other changes, with hard work, can be.
If we can get the elected officials to really take our desires, concerns, and interests to heart before negotiating a deal rather than after, half of our battle will be won. We need seven Council Members acting on our behalf first and foremost on each and every decision they make. We need them asking the questions behind closed doors that they know they will be subjected to once we learn of the decision.
It’s up to us to make sure that they understand this message and to hold them accountable if they do not. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do.
The Billboard issue is an excellent opportunity for the Public to learn exactly how these things are decided. Multiple cities, also subject to the same Georgia State Supreme Court ruling, all negotiated, accepted, and submitted to the Fulton Court their settlement to end the lawsuit.
We want to know why our City negotiators were unable to negotiate for some of the very same things that other cities were able to negotiate for.
We have a right to know. We have a right to understand. And most importantly we have a right to evaluate and judge the job our City Officials did on our behalf.
If you are an elected official and you believe that the Public does not have a right to know, tell us why.
It’s really that simple.
We are listening.