Cobb County Commission: Abuse of Power?

It has been an interesting fortnight. Two weeks, or so, ago I learned along with the public at large of the Cobb Commissions’ plan to sign the county up for housing the new Brave’s Stadium. In the intervening days, I have attended three events where the popular opinion was evenly divided between those who want the stadium project to move ahead, and those who seek to delay the decision pending a citizens’ review of the proposed plan. Perhaps the most remarkable of the three was the one I (attempted) to attend  on Monday afternoon at the Mountain View Regional Library location on Sandy Plains Road in Marietta.

The Town Hall for District 3 was sponsored by Commissioner JoAnn Birrell. It was scheduled to commence at 4:30 p.m. and run through 6:00 p.m. I arrived shortly after 3:30 hoping to get a little book browsing in before the event. What I encountered on arriving surprised me.

The parking lot was overfull and there were no fewer than nine police cruisers in the parking area. I was  aware that a loose coalition of concerned organizations operating under the hastily formed Citizens for Governmental Transparency would be attending the event. I had not anticipated that the group, composed of local activists such as Debbie Dooley of the Tea Party Patriots, Michael Opitz of the Madison Forum, and Rich Pellegrino, one of the leaders of the Citizens for Governmental Transparency coalition, were considered a public threat. Each of these individuals has developed a local reputation for honesty and forthright speech. Were these attributes now turned dangerous?

When the press conference in front of the library ended and those attending tried to enter the meeting hall, it became more clear why the County Commission felt a need to have heavily armed mercenaries engaged. The activists, along with 50 or so other aspiring attendees, were turned away not just from the hall – but expelled into the parking lot. Commission Chair Tim Lee’s late arrival to the event, and his shirking efforts to enter the meeting through a back entrance to the hall, made me wonder if there was not method to the madness.

I might have dismissed my observations as mere overreaction. But as I moved to leave the parking area a library patron pulled his vehicle beside me, rolled his window down, and asked with clear alarm. “Has there been a shooting!?” I assured him that, at least up to now, there had not been. I explained the situation to him.

For myself, the overuse of police, particularly in the pursuit of political advantage, is an abuse of power. This abuse is leading to such amazing fascist events as the lockdown of Boston in the wake of the bombings there, militarized assaults in the middle of the night on homes (often misidentified in warrants), and a general drift towards a fascism we thought had passed from Western civilization with the passing of the Soviet era and the earlier demise of Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War. Let us hope that this is not the path the Cobb Commission chooses to follow.

Cobb Town Hall Police

James Strawn About James Strawn

James is an IT consultant and solutions architect with decades of experience working on various major projects with Fortune 500 companies. He is also an author and editor for DecidingTheVote.com, a blog forum for politically active citizens and professionals.

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