As many of our dedicated readers already know, the ACC Mayor and Commission is getting together for its regular monthly hootenanny tomorrow. Among the items on the agenda is one that you haven’t heard too much about lately – La Puerta del Sol. (It’s issue number 12, if you’re keeping score at home.)
Back in the old days, LPDS was the story, but the vitriol and anger has died down on both sides lately. Our sources who are all up in the Commission’s shizzle tell us that the volume of phone calls, emails, and for all we know, carrier pigeon deliveries to the individual commissioners is significantly lower than it was back in September and October. One source estimates the volume as being about 10% of what it was back when LPDS was being discussed daily on this blog and others. Heck, the ABH hasn’t even done anything on it lately, with the exception of Don Nelson’s column Sunday. (He supports it.)
Why the dampening of the LPDS parade? Well, there are a number of factors at play here. First of all, there’s probably an element of confidence on the part of the LPDS opponents. They figure (rightly, in our opinion) that their side has the votes. If they’re right, then making a big ol’ stink would probably have negative repercussions, like stirring up the hornet’s nest of LPDS supporters around town. The result: even if it doesn’t change a single vote (and it probably wouldn’t), it would still stir up the same kind of mudslinging and acrimony that we were seeing back in October, and that kind of acrimony should really be reserved for other political battles – for instance, when Ralph Hudgens decides to introduce legislation to make himself Defender of the Faith and Lord Protector of Oglethorpe County.
You’ve also got the fact that people are just plain tired of the issue. Heaven knows, we trumpeted the gospel of LPDS from the highest rooftops, but as you may have noticed, we’re kind of tired of the issue too.
And, unlike this time a few months ago, there are (gasp!) actually other things to talk about. You’ve got wacky Republican hijinks under the Gold Dome, and wacky Chamber of Commerce hijinks here at home. And, if that’s not enough, more people are starting to pay attention to the Mayor’s race.
The real question is this: has the relative silence on LPDS given any of the Commissioners enough political cover to vote for it?
Honestly, probably not. The problem with LPDS - the problem that existed from the very beginning – is that the people who oppose it wield much more political power in ACC than the people who support it. The opponents of the zoning reversal control the neighborhood associations. Many of them have the time and interest to be regular communicants with their elected officials. Some of them go even farther in the political process and write checks or volunteer their time. Agree with them or not, you can’t fault them for taking part in the process.
None of that is to say proponents of LPDS are apolitical or uninvolved. Many are. For instance, your crack editorial staff often emails their Commissioners (everyone has two, just like boobies) about the pressing issues of the day. It should be noted in the interests of snarkiness that your humble author’s representatives have yet to bother to write back. (We’re talking to you, Mr. Bow Tie.)
But a neighborhood association is a powerful and many-splendored thing. Sure they don’t control the votes of everyone in the barrio, but they do control a bigger bloc than you might think, just because neighborhoods tend to attract a fairly homogenous group of folks. And in any reasonably homogenous group of folks, there are going to be people who are political, and people who aren’t. And they talk, and the apolitical types tend to be influenced by the political types. (“Hey, Gary has a minivan and 2.3 kids. So do I. Well, Gary thinks Tom Chasteen is a pretty stand up guy, so I guess I’ll vote for him too.)
More importantly, the neighborhood associations offer a candidate a means of reaching a large number of voters in a more efficient fashion, as well as the credibility of having neighbor Gary driving you door-to-door in the minivan with his 2.3 kids. If the neighborhood association likes you, that is. Without their imprimatur, that entry is exceedingly more difficult. Ask Bruno Rubio and Matt Casey.
So it isn’t in any politician’s best interests to hack off the neighborhood associations. And, it’s out speculation that the neighborhood associations are perhaps the only interested parties still paying very close attention to this matter. And pay attention they will. And woe betide the commissioner who votes against them.
If you want a prediction, heck we don’t know from predicting. Ah, what the hell? We’ll say it fails 6-4. For what it’s worth, we think that there are actually enough votes to pass it, but those commissioners, while they support it, will yield to the probably unanimous opposition among the two commissioners directly concerned. (At this point, we feel it’s safe to speculate on “no” votes from both States McCarter and Elton Dodson.)