One thing that I have learned as mayor is that to be a leader, you need at least three hands. On the one hand, you must work with those who want everything to stay the way it is – no growth, no changes; keep Villa Rica the way they remember it. On the other hand, you must work with property owners who have the right to sell their land to developers, whether that’s for a discount grocer or an apartment complex. But on the other, other hand, you must deal with those who know the city must grow – only not too fast, and not where they live. Being a leader in any city, including Villa Rica, is a challenge, because obviously you can’t please everyone. I have lived here my whole life and I understand all three of these attitudes. I have a lot of nostalgic memories about Villa Rica, but as a property owner I don’t want anyone to tell me what I can do or cannot do with my property. Click Here to Finish Reading
I have been asked to respond to the latest email from Leslie McPherson. Facts are facts, those who are interested in facts will seek them out, those who are more focused on an agenda and ideology, over accomplishments and integrity will ignore the facts. How does that old saying go…Haters gonna hate.
- True I never voted against a final budget. We worked on it together, made changes, cuts, and compromises and all voted for it.
Leslie can twist and turn all she wants, but the facts will remain. She never voted against a single budget, that means she voted to spend the money based on the millage rate passed. If she opposed the millage rate, she should have opposed the associated spending. It’s that simple.
- It's impossible for them to claim I did or didn't vote with fellow councilmembers 90% of the time. We have taken who knows how many votes over the last 9 years (they don't know how many, they made up 90%) but it is true much of what we vote on is not controversial, and often are budgeted items as simple as a pickup truck or tractor. Most of our votes are unanimous because most are for non-controversial items. There is nothing wrong with that.
Of course, it is possible, its called math. I have calculated the number and its greater than 90% when used to reflect votes specifically for rezoning and new development. As an aside, no matter which little birdie you listen to, the city keeps written records and video recordings of its meetings.
3. I never voted for a truck stop on hwy 101. In case you don't know where that is- Hwy 101 starts at the 3 way stop where Rockmart Rd and Industrial Blvd meet and heads out toward Rockmart. It runs in front of the Reid Plantation subdivision.
So here either she lies or it’s another example of her not knowing what she is voting for. Indeed, in September 2020 for Parcel # V03 0100037, she voted to approve a Truckstop with Convenience store and accessory Truck and RV Parking. First she votes against a motion to deny, then makes a motion to approve, which is out of order, so she seconds a motion to approve, and then votes to approve. I’m not surprised she doesn’t know that State Route 101 begins at Interstate 20 and continues out in front of Reid Plantation. She could have just simply reverted to her trusty “I’ve seen the light” excuse, heck if you say it often enough maybe who knows what could happen.
3. Band- The city puts on a summer concert series every year along with a jazz festival. Some years ago former Mayor Jeff Reese found out that the Alabama Blues Brothers band was going to do a farewell tour of limited cites. They had been a favorite when they had come to VR. He wanted to see if we could do an additional concert and would I help. I agreed to help if we could defray the cost with private fundraising. We had short notice and limited time and it still had to be approved by the city council. It was approved. While we did not cover the entire cost I was able to raise $5,000 in private donations in the short period of time we had and the city had a popular fun event. Which brings us to the Elvis Tribute concert. I made a proposal to the governing body to partner with the city in the spring of 2023 for an October 6 concert for which I volunteered to raise the funds through private sponsorship and have an additional fun concert for the community. I had a lot more time to do the fundraising compared to the quick turnaround we had for the Alabama Blues Brothers. I never asked the city to pay for it (its all on video). In a 3/2 vote they said no and in the end, it turned out for the best. The 2 local Lions Clubs (I am a member) had lost their main annual fundraiser. The clubs voted and they took up the concert idea. We raised the money to cover the concert cost and enough above the cost for both clubs to do their charity work for the upcoming year. It was a great success, raised money for charity that helps people right here in our community, and was done for much less $$ than the city usually spends on concerts.
Blah Blah Blah, this is all a bunch of look over yonder, someone else did this before. Bottom line, she has spent most of her years (10) on the council harassing and frustrating the Main Street staff over these concerts and the amount of money they spend (all budgeted), AFTER having voted for the budget they were using. Filing frivolous open records requests just for the purpose of ridicule and to chill their work. It’s particularly rich that she would then come to the city council and ask for a blank check to put on an unbudgeted concert, that happened to coincide with her run for mayor. The entire episode is online for anyone to see. After much push back by the council for her to set a cap, she finally agreed to a $16,000 cap. The council rejected her attempt and voted no.
Actual Video available on this page
4. I never said I didn't vote to allow apartments or townhouses and I did not blame others for the growth. I have voted to allow apartments and townhouses although I have always been concerned that we not get too many apartment complexes. The mayor has supported all of it and expressed no concern about high density units. The difference between he and I is that I have also advocated to put caps on the number of rentals in a townhouse development. I have also seen the light on our explosive growth and am ready to correct the course. It's untrue that "I only voted no when it was near where I live". To the contrary, I voted yes on one that is about 200 yds from our home and right next door to our rental house where part of our family lives. I voted no on the rezoning of 45 acres of land from agricultural to commercial and high-density senior rental about a " ½ mile away" from my home. The area is off of Stockmar Rd, Dallas Hwy, and Punkintown Rd but was still in my ward 3 council area and effected people in three different wards. I had citizens living all around it and beyond that were against it. This development also created a defacto eastern bypass which hundreds of citizens had rallied against, to kill it years ago. The council meeting was packed standing room only with people against it. I was the lone no vote while the current mayor was a proponent of this rezoning and development and worked to make it happen.
Someone really should tell her these meetings are recorded. First, she 100% “only voted NO when it was near where she lives”. That is the ONLY NO vote. If there is another NO vote, let’s see the records.
As for caps on rentals, these were driven primarily by Councilman Momtahan and Mayor (me), Leslie hems and haws about being too hard on businesses and developers, big government, etc., but getting no traction, she votes to approve with caps. (its all on video)
The improvements to Punkintown Road must happen, the city attorney has repeatedly warned the council about the city’s liability here. The city has already been liable for over $1million dollars for an accident on this road, the plaintiffs cited McPherson’s comments from her council seat as the city’s admission of liability, our insurer agreed, and paid. We paid a deductible which is largely why this wasn't front page news, but without insurance, the city would have written the million dollar check. She is reckless and regularly makes comments that expose the city to unnecessary liability and legal costs.
The improvements are necessary for safety and to help move traffic out of downtown. This traffic is clogging our streets and hurting our businesses. Leslie opposes the development not only because she opposes the traffic on Punkintown Road, but this development also hurt a land deal of one of her supporters.
5. The millage rate (tax rate) is a big one. The claim is that it is the 2nd lowest in 30 years. Do you know when the lowest rate was? It was in 2019 before the current mayor, Gil McDougal advocated for raising it in the middle of the pandemic and kept the rate up there into 2023 despite the highly inflated property values. His name is on the budget letter for 2023-24 budget year making the argument for keeping last year's rate and not doing a roll back of the rate this year. Sometime in the last two weeks before the millage rate vote he switched his position in an election year. Two of us on council were in our fourth year of fighting for a lower tax rate and lost every year until this election year.
This does seem to be a big one for Leslie McPherson, and she simply is not going to tell the truth. Notice she doesn’t deny it’s the second lowest rate in over 30 years (surprisingly). She concocted this mythical story about the mayor changing positions by citing the budget transmittal letter. She is misleading the public, she knows full well that EVERY budget and transmittal letter is created using the prior year’s millage rate, this anticipates the rate will stay the same. However, the council will decide on the millage rate well after the budget is prepared but before the budget is passed. It would be irresponsible to set the millage rate before receiving the revenue numbers from the counties. Once the millage rate is set, then the final budget will be adjusted and passed.
As for “Gil McDougal advocated...”, I’d say this is a prime example why she cannot be expected to be successful as mayor. She simply fails to understand the mayor must build a consensus with council members, all of whom have their own ideas and votes. The mayor must be open to all views or risk gridlock which accomplishes nothing and helps no one. The fact remains, the council by majority vote sets the millage. This mayor (me) has not cast any votes on millage or budget.
A major difference between myself and Leslie is that I will take responsibility for my actions or inactions. I don't blame others. Everything that passed without my affirmative rejection is on me. The mayor does not have a vote, but the mayor does have a veto. If I opposed an action enough, I could have used that tool.
I have used that tool only 2 times in 4 years, one was to oppose the council reversing a ordinance they had passed in 2012, and one was to oppose an ordinance modifying speed limits. Neither veto was over ridden. I should point out that the speed limit ordinance was later determined to have been an unauthorized ordinance under state law, meaning without my veto, the law would still have been invalid.
Setting of Millage Rate 2023
"The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."
Sir Winston Churchill