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Columns & editorials
for Thursday, Feb. 11, 1999
Snub of MATS advisory panel was unwise
I f a government body
has a citizens' advisory committee, it should hear out that panel before
rejecting its ideas. And the decision not to discuss shouldn't be determined
by someone who is not even supposed to have a role in making it.
Apparently it seems otherwise to Bibb County Commission Chairman Larry Justice.
As chairman of the Macon Area Transportation Study's policy committee, he
let a nonvoting member cast the key vote rejecting an immediate meeting with
the advisory group. It had recommended a moratorium on 12 controversial Bibb
County Road Improvement Program projects.
Justice is also chairman of the road program's executive committee. Lately
he's been giving short shrift to pleas by groups such as CAUTION-Macon that
certain projects be delayed pending further public input.
The advisory committee memo came out of a meeting with that advocacy group.
"All y'all are trying to do is delay the road program," Justice said in rejecting
it. So their concerns went unvented.
We can understand the impatience that the chairman and his colleagues must
feel as they push to complete the roads program.
It has already absorbed years of major political, design and construction
effort. Sometimes stridently expressed citizen concerns must seem willful
attempts to bog down the wheels late in the day. Changes in one project could
be expensive and affect others. Some state or federal funding could be
But tying down a safety valve is unwise. MATS controls federally funded parts
of the road improvement program, which grew out of its long-range plans.
But any perceived deafness to citizen concerns, given Justice's dual role,
further decreases public trust in the whole road improvement program.
Ed Corson/For the editorial board