Are citizen activists just a nuisance?

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"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."

-- Comedienne Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the telephone operator

That's the problem with monopolies, of course.

The thing is, there aren't too many of them left. Competition has even come to the phone company!

The biggest monopoly left may be government. Federal government. State government. Local government. Like Ernestine the operator, they have no competition. There's nowhere else to go.

And often, they act like it.

We wonder if that's the case with City Hall, as it continues to be the model of aloofness in withholding public records. And now the Augusta Commission has twice given a fairly frosty shoulder to Harrisburg residents who merely want a nuisance property ordinance.

The residents have been picketing properties and landowners they consider to be code and law enforcement problems in the Harrisburg area. They asked the commission's Public Safety Committee last week, and the full commission on Tuesday, to form a task force to look into the problem, including a possible nuisance property ordinance.

The commission as a whole or the mayor could have, and should have, warmly embraced the all-too-rare activists. Such citizens are working to be a part of the solution. And when they come before the government, our mayor and commissioners and city staff should treat them like valued customers.

The elected officials were at least cordial Tuesday -- but didn't deign to discuss the citizens' very specific task force proposal. Commissioners Don Grantham, Joe Bowles and Corey Johnson at least commended the group, but otherwise the commission merely accepted their presentation as information, as one might accept junk mail.

At the very least, they should either form such a task force as the citizens requested or assure the citizens that a committee already exists -- such as, oh, the Public Safety Committee? -- and will work on not only the nuisance ordinance but will take a fresh look at the hapless enforcement of current codes. (Remember, Commissioner Betty Beard's own rental property, in plain view of the code officers, was allowed to be woefully deficient.)

Instead, the citizens were told for the second time in a week that the city's legal department will look at it.

That's better than nothing of course, and we're glad of it. But it's not just what the city is doing that's important -- it's also how . The Harrisburg activists came away feeling as if they were just blown off again. They hardly felt valued. Fact is, they've been made to feel like -- well, a nuisance.

Is that important? Depends -- on whether you value the people you work with and work for, or if you're a monopoly and don't have to care.

Comments (54) Add comment
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7928
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 10/08/09 - 01:52 am
0
0
What Legal Department? Don't

What Legal Department? Don't they mean the Atlanta lawyers that get paid to do everything?

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 10/08/09 - 02:27 am
0
0
Instead of 20 people at the

Instead of 20 people at the commission meeting, they should put 200 people in their next time and if that doesn't work then put 400 and so on - they will listen when they are forced to do so it will just take enough concerned citizens and press. We should all support these positive citizens who work, pay taxes and simply want to clean up their neighborhood from those who sit around drinking beer all day, using drugs, playing loud music, not taking care of their properties, etc. This may be your neighborhood one day. They are simply asking for laws to ensure landlords will follow the laws basically already on the books. A simple permit with a nice fee in order to rent properties, especially section 8 properties is all tha is needed. If you then fail to follow the laws and keep your properties in order or allow criminals to take over your properties just so you get your check, your permit to rent will be revoked just like a business license and you will be forced to stop renting. What is wrong with having a committe figure out how to acomplish this. Stop wasting time and get on with it commissoners....

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/08/09 - 02:32 am
0
0
asitisinaug... I would have

asitisinaug... I would have liked to have been able to attend the commission meeting and protest, but like so many others, I have to work at that time. Why are commission meetings scheduled at a time when most of us have to work? Who came up with 2pm on a Tuesday? I say they should be held in the evening.. and if need be hold them in the Bell Auditorium so that as many citizens as posssible can attend.

Brad Owens
4487
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Brad Owens 10/08/09 - 03:45 am
0
0
Emerydan, there is no call

Emerydan, there is no call for the Bell. They never fill up the tiny room they have unless it is a pension issue or zoning problem. These guys could have taken their concerns to the DAP but it is controlled by the DDA now that I left town. The fact is, the Commissioners just don't give s*** what YOU think or anyone else for that matter.

GnipGnop
12242
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GnipGnop 10/08/09 - 05:02 am
0
0
Disagree with the fee for

Disagree with the fee for landlords. They pay property taxes just like everyone else. This is a slippery slope you are asking for. I have no problem with getting drug dealers and lowlifes out of your neighborhoods but I do have a problem with charging home owners who already pay taxes on their properties. Pass the chronic nuisance ordinance and get rid of bad landlords but quit trying to make all landlords pay a penalty tax for owning property!

Junket831
0
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Junket831 10/08/09 - 06:00 am
0
0
GnipGnop; charging a landlord

GnipGnop; charging a landlord is not the same as charging a homeowner. A landlord is a business venture and should be subject to the same procedures as other businesses. The fee doesn't need to be high, but having a permit in place would allow immediate action because it could be revoked and then the business shuttered until corrections are made. This is an excellent editorial. The Commission needs to be attentive to all citizens concerns, particularly those groups that have organized for neighborhood cleanup or reform. All commission meetings and relevant committees should meet in the early evening or on Saturdays in order for everyone to participate. I doubt the turnout would be any greater, but the opportunity to turn out would be there for those that can't.

WhippingPost
1
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WhippingPost 10/08/09 - 06:32 am
0
0
Is the commission's reaction

Is the commission's reaction to the Harrisburg Concerned Citizens coming across as a deterrent to citizen activists? Is there a reason they want the citizens to just go away? "We'll look into it" is a terrible wall to run into. It's not likely the nuisance property problem will be looked into as long as commissioners will be directly and personally affected by any action taken. Will the concerned citizens be forced into vigilante action?

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/08/09 - 06:53 am
0
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Take heart ya'll. Lori Davis,

Take heart ya'll. Lori Davis, Butch et al aren't going to be stopped by this minor setback.

concernednative
28
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concernednative 10/08/09 - 07:04 am
0
0
The commission better be

The commission better be careful because when people feel the govt is ignoring them you run into vigalanty justice.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 10/08/09 - 07:17 am
0
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CONCERNED, for once we agree.
Unpublished

CONCERNED, for once we agree. The Obama Administration is telling anyone who disagrees with them, "We won, you lost. Get over it." They seem to forget that 2010 elections are just a year away, and the polls show that unless something changes soon, they're gonna lose support, big time!

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/08/09 - 07:24 am
0
0
Good God southernguy. leave

Good God southernguy. leave Obama out of it. Save that for the rants and raves. He's got nothing to do with this.

concernednative
28
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concernednative 10/08/09 - 07:34 am
0
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omnomnom, thanks. The

omnomnom, thanks. The situations aren't even comparable.

andywarhol
0
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andywarhol 10/08/09 - 07:41 am
0
0
It's like going against the

It's like going against the grain to try to do the right thing. It's too bad the activists all care about their own wellbeing. If they were like the thugs, they could just go through sweeping the streets with tons of weaponry. Do this like it's the wild west. Oh, then they would have the legal dept.'s attention.

MrAlwaysRight
0
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MrAlwaysRight 10/08/09 - 08:19 am
0
0
Not comparable? Wow. Just

Not comparable? Wow. Just wow. "A man hears what they want to hear and disregards the rest, la la la la " Paul Simon

justus4
101
Points
justus4 10/08/09 - 08:28 am
0
0
Why do some stories get
Unpublished

Why do some stories get covered and others don't? It is simple for those who paid attention in Social Studies 101 and went on to PA 320. The so-called "activist" are becoming a nuisance just in the number of times this story is being repeated. The city will not respond to a request thats is being done through the media! The activists, operating in concert with the AWM is trying to influence the city's operations, which is being manufactored to provide cover for another important story that that same media is actively working to bury. Who thinks up such operating schemes and to whom is it directed? The uneducated? The ignorant? Someone is banking on ignorance ruling the day while injustice creeps into the bribery attempt. Who knows, it may just work.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/08/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
You're welcome to join us and

You're welcome to join us and hold up a placard with Fry and Granthams faces on it, justus. Activists in Harrisburg are also interested in rooting out ANY government corruption.. black or white

InChristLove
22473
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InChristLove 10/08/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
Wow justus4, you are really

Wow justus4, you are really stuck on this "bribery attempt". Maybe you should go to work for the AWM because you sure like repeating yourself.

convertedsoutherner
2
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convertedsoutherner 10/08/09 - 09:08 am
0
0
just... If so concerned

just... If so concerned about what is happening, he should be as concerned about why more hasn't been done about Beard being a slumlord and her (surgery) bribery money. Where is his concern for those issues? Of course he would consider 'activist' are becoming a nuisance since they are bringing attention to issues that some want to ignore. ALL issues should be a concern of the commissioners. 'Activists' shouldn't have to keep bringing the same issues to the commissioners, with no resolve.

MrAlwaysRight
0
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MrAlwaysRight 10/08/09 - 09:30 am
0
0
Whether I support the cause

Whether I support the cause or not, citizen activism is as vital to a free country as air is to a human being.

Riverman1
84272
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Riverman1 10/08/09 - 09:42 am
0
0
Justus, come on, do what

Justus, come on, do what Omnomnon suggested. Join them. They are against ALL of this culture of corruption.,,white and black. I'm sure black citizens want safe neighborhoods, too. This is your chance. Seriously, why not? If we come together for this common goal, there's no stopping us. Protests in front of every slum lord's house, packed Commission meetings, and marches until the world knows something is wrong in Augusta. Justus, you can make a difference.

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 10/08/09 - 09:48 am
0
0
Even more disgraceful than

Even more disgraceful than the Mayor and Commission ignoring the activists was the deputy making them move from the street in front of the slum lord's house. The Harrisburg residents should form a neighborhood watch and call the Sheriff's Office EVERYTIME there is suspicious activity in the area. Afterall, that's what the Sheriff's Office recommends.

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 10/08/09 - 10:04 am
0
0
We should show movies

We should show movies outdoors on the Augusta Commons: Death Wish, Dirty Harry, Paparrizi, The Punisher, The Brave One.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 10/08/09 - 10:07 am
0
0
Riverman, you are right, and

Riverman, you are right, and we have formed a neighborhood watch that is impotent compared to what the drug dealers have going on. In other words,what we are doing does not work. I just had a call from an 81 year old woman who got no sleep last night because of neighbor's fighting all night long. She called the police three times,but they said they couldn't do anything about it. She says she called her landlord each time she called the police. The landlord owns multiple junk rental properties in Harrisburg. He is an insurance agent. He has told this lady if she didn't like it, she could move. A nuisance property law will put an end to landlords who do not care. The law will make them care,or they will have to discontinue renting. This landlord will be seeing the protesters soon. One of his offices is in the 1200 block of Broad St.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 10/08/09 - 10:08 am
0
0
influence the city's

influence the city's operation?!?!?!?!?, please tell how by as concerned citizens letting their opinion concerning their own neighborhood and the crime, drugs and prostitution that is running rampant that is considered "influencing the city's operation???? how are the activist nuisance when all they are tying to do is turn the city and commisioners attention to the on-going problems that are having a negative impact in the harrisburg area??? it is not the residents of the harrisburg area's fault that their plight is regularly found in the newspaper, maybe..just maybe if the concerned citizens in the bethleham/turpin hill and laney walker areas would follow suit it will go along way on cleaning up the downtown areas which based on sheer economics would make the aforementioned areas more attravitve to business and/or industries and in turn could instrumental in the revitalization of the downtown area. this is not a "white or black" thing it is a thing about decent citizens both black and white banding together to take back their neighborhood one house at a time

Riverman1
84272
Points
Riverman1 10/08/09 - 10:26 am
0
0
Listen, if New York City can

Listen, if New York City can impose the extensive laws they have controlling landlords, we can come up with a few here to stop the nonsense. Maybe they wlll sell out and owners who care about the property and want to live there will move in.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/08/09 - 10:51 am
0
0
Lets face facts folks. These

Lets face facts folks. These people are not on the rolodex as movers and shakers. They are nobodys and will be treated as such until we stop voting for good old boys who have taken care of us for soooo long.

flyfishnwmn
0
Points
flyfishnwmn 10/08/09 - 11:19 am
0
0
What I do not understand is

What I do not understand is why target landlords that are actually trying to keep/run clean places, And if section 8 renters are such a problem shouldnt Augusta Housing Authority be held accountable, after all there are rules and regulations to be on section 8 housing.

6Actual
0
Points
6Actual 10/08/09 - 11:26 am
0
0
CEIT @ 9:30 Well said!

CEIT @ 9:30 Well said!

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 10/08/09 - 11:30 am
0
0
JUSTUS, let me "ax" you a
Unpublished

JUSTUS, let me "ax" you a question. If our media is an "all white media" or "non-minority media" as you're constantly ranting about, where does BET or Black Entertainment Television come in? I wonder how you'd rant if there was a WET or White Entertainment Television. On second thought, I don't wonder at all. You'd be screaming racism at the top of your whining lungs.

OG Native
0
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OG Native 10/08/09 - 11:47 am
0
0
I'm black and I completely

I'm black and I completely agree with what these activists are doing. No one should have to deal with crime and crazies in the neighborhood. I look at it like this...the reason the commission DOES NOT want to help is...where else will they go? Look at the Gilbert Manor situation and people were FREAKED OUT when they thought people from the "projects" could be relocated to THEIR neighborhood. MAKE FLYERS WITH NAME AND ADDRESSES AND PAPER THE CITY!

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