An open letter to Athens For Everyone


Dear A4E:

Let me answer publicly to a piece of propaganda that you put out stating that “A local group of conservatives have been organizing and showing up to recent M&C meetings speaking against anything designed to aid indigent people, help those struggling in this ongoing health and economic crisis, or balance power in our community.”

For starters, did you know this group of local citizens are not just conservatives. They are the unrepresented community of Athens. They are liberals, moderates, independents etc. They are individuals of all types that are concerned in the direction that the Athens-Clarke County government is taking. They also include citizens who are tired of being asked to do surveys, assist meetings, and protests for organizations like yours who use and manipulate people's efforts in order to obtain government programs that are not the best solutions for those who you and other organizations claim they are helping. Does this make you more compassionate than a larger group of people who want to see better solutions? What balance of power are you talking about? Yours?

Did you know this local group has been against the tent encampment not because it will help people but because it’s a huge liability not only to the city but to local homeless and those who are being brought out of town who will be gathered like cattle into one place regardless of their background. This is a safety concern. They hear that only one group has stepped up (with no significant history of helping the homeless) to run it. Mayor Girtz told a group of people that if they could show that the community opposed it, he would vote against it. He lied. They witnessed that a petition with more than 500 signatures who expressed concern for such a project, was thrown away and he deliberated on his decision in less than a minute. Additionally, a room full of people at city hall went to express their opposition and requested a better solution. To spend $60,000 per homeless person and add a cost of two full time police officers just showed the lack of regard our Mayor and some commissioners have in exercising good stewardship of taxpayer money and the insensitivity toward a disadvantaged group in our community.

Additionally, did you know this local group has also been against the construction of a single public toilet to be placed downtown for the price of $314,000.00 with additional high yearly maintenance costs. This could be the price of an expensive home that not many people could afford. Is this a smart choice? Who is the government catering to?

The Mayor's and some Commissioner's actions have made it clear that they are compromised as leaders of our community and that a “few” organizations have control over them….including A4E.

The Mayor and some Commissioners no longer listen to the whole community, who by the way are not made up of either conservatives or progressives. A silent majority of moderates are watching and patiently analyzing the facts at hand.

The other item on the agenda which this local group of Athenians is against is the Police Oversight Board. A survey prepared by the ACC government clearly shows that 68% strongly disagree, 15.38% disagree, 3.07% somewhat disagree, and 3.07% were neutral to the first survey question- “Do you believe these recommendations will improve community and police relations?”. The second survey question was- “Do you support the proposed recommendations?” and 91.04% responded “No”. So on what planet do you think that in a democratic, blue Athens, 91% are only conservatives?

The Mayor and some Commissioners are listening only to a small group of people.

When A4E implies that the majority of diverse individuals who sign petitions, participate in surveys and come to city hall to speak out are against “anything designed to aid those struggling ….or balance power” are uncaring… I would say, you are part of the problem. You have some public officials in your control. So then, who is the real power here? The majority without a voice or the very few who control the local government?

The Mayor and some commissioners should be held accountable. And we will be there on Nov 2.

With stronger determination and honest hope,

Mara Zuniga

Athens

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