Transportation, sewer, safety, and police cameras: all at last month’s Lowndes County Democratic Party meeting, in these videos. Plus a report on the Cash Mob at Stan’s Grocery: new customers brought in, 300 pounds of food donated to the food bank, and coverage by both TV stations.
See the special crime report: the real situation is not what you would think from TV.
Here’s the invitation to last month’s April meeting:
Our monthly potluck meeting in April is called “City Matters,” and our guest speakers will be City Council members Sandra Tooley and Tim Carroll. Topics to be discussed include (but are not limited to) transportation, infrastructure, water issues, sewage issues, and internet access. If you have any questions or concerns about the city of Valdosta, you do not want to miss this meeting.
LCDP City Matters (part 2: speakers and discussion) –
Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll discussed the funded solutions in progress, such as the new force main and the new relocated and larger capacity Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, paid for mostly by SPLOST VII funds. They are also inspecting and fixing where necessary all 6,000 manholes. That includes the ones on the south and east side of town, paid for out of the general fund. He also noted the recent wastewater meeting with Suwannee River Water Management District, Save Our Suwannee, and Greenlaw, organized by WWALS Watershed Coalition. I pointed out LAKE videos and the city’s slides from that meeting are all online.
Council Sandra Tooley said she has discovered transportation involves working with GDOT, railroads, and many other parties. All roads in Valdosta are paved, but often they need potholes fixed or resurfacing or sidewalks. Carroll commended her for coming like a pit bull and learning quickly what was involved.
Rev. Floyd Rose wanted to know who decides which roads to do. Recommendations first come from the city.
Elections Supervisor Deb Cox noted problems on nearby streets, including “a huge dip; almost a swimming pool”. Carroll said that was in his district and he just wrote a note. There were many more questions and answers, including about pedestrians and bicycles.
Public transportation had some news from Sandra Tooley about SGRC studies, education, and jobs. Tim Carroll said the county’s MIDS service was “about to go away” because the state would no longer permit federal funding to go to using MIDS in an urbanized area. (It turns out that was slightly overstated: MIDS is not going away, but it will have to be modified.)
Carroll said he had some ideas about funding and a new feasibility study. He remarked “I cannot support anything that relies solely on property taxes” to fund public transportation. He said as a business owner he wouldn’t mind an addition to business license fee for this purpose. Deb Cox suggested another penny sales tax. Somebody else suggested adding to the hotel tax. Others suggested getting businesses to contribute in other ways, since they would benefit because their employees could more readily get to work. Suddenly after the previous meeting’s suggestion of adding a mil of property tax, a range of new solutions are being discussed. And the discussion extended beyond Valdosta and beyond the urbanized area to all of Lowndes County and beyond.
Dexter Sharper said “we’ve let 20-30 years go by” without doing anything on transportation at the state level, which is why there’s now a rush to raise money. He noted Atlanta is thriving because it has transporation: MARTA, roads, busses. He said local elected officials need to work together to get funded.
Crime (real crime: murder, rape, aggravated assault, etc.) has gone down while population has gone up, with 100% murder case solved rate, said Tim Carroll in crime in the city and police cameras. an unscheduled report
At Chief Childress’ suggestion, all Valdosta police now wear body cameras, which Carroll categorized as a win-win for VPD, council, and citizens. Many other cities are resisting this move, or haven’t gotten to it, while Valdosta has already done it.
Finally, Nerma Dave mentioned that Gov. Deal recently signed HB 50, which allows guns almost everywhere. She said she’s a private gun owner, but she thinks it’s dangerous to have people walking around with undercover firearms. There was no resolution to that discussion, because local government doesn’t control state law. Dexter Sharper said follow the money for why laws get passed, and this law is no different. As he mentioned in a previous meeting, he’s for thorough background checks and training for anybody who carries. Yet lack of understanding by those who don’t carry and haven’t been through all of that could still lead to confrontations. While most people opposed the recent law, the Republican Party passed it anyway against the will of many communities.
LCDP City Matters (part 1: LCDP business meeting) –
In the first part of the meeting, about LCDP business, Membership Vice Chair Glenn Ritchie talked about the then-upcoming 20 April 2015 Hahira and North Lowndes meeting.
Elections Vice Chair Dennis Marks thanked Elections Supervisor Deb Cox and the Board of Elections for letting LCDP use the BoE office (any other political party can also use it). He noted Valdosta City Council and Mayor elections are this year. Mayoral candidate J.D. Rice was present at the meeting, as was GA State Rep. Dexter Sharper (District 177 Valdosta). Plus both Valdosta and the Lowndes County Commission have openings on appointed boards, for which you or someone you know could volunteer.
Treasurer Jim Parker reminded everyone the monthly rent is always due for our headquarters on Slater Street in Valdosta. Membership VC Glenn Ritchie noted LCDP could use a new computer, so if you have one to donate, that would be great. Please consider making a donation, or paying membership fees for yourself or someone else. Dues are $25 for an individual, $40 for a family, and $15 for students, military, and seniors. These dues are used solely to get Democrats elected to office, and are vital to the efforts of the LCDP. You may donate or pay your dues online at: http://www.lowndesdems.org/?s=membership
Here’s a video playlist:
Videos: City Matters @ LCDP 2015-04-06
Tom Hochschild, Chair. Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes County Democratic Party (LCDP),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.