Williamson Letter - 08/26/09

What do the IRS and the Rockdale Board of Commissioners have in common?

Plenty, if the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners passes a proposed change to the ordinance regarding special event permits.

For years the Internal Revenue Service has put a stranglehold on churches, social groups, charities, clubs and so on. For every activity under the sun that the IRS could control, they have done it with statute after statute and were only kept at bay when they encroached on the citizens rights spelled out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are two of those most endearing rights that allow us to speak our mind, with a single voice or the multiple cries of the assembled masses.

The current ordinance was passed back on Nov. 11, 2008. While it defines some hoops a citizen or group must go through to receive a permit, it is nevertheless open to all citizens. What our current BOC has proposed changes the master definition of a special event by adding language into that definition that mandates any application must be sponsored by a non-profit organization. The addition of these few words means that unless you have a bona fide non-profit organization willing to sponsor you, John Q. Citizen no longer would be allowed to hold an event like a Tea Party, political campaign rally in a parking lot, or for that matter, a lemonade stand. This broad-brushed attempt of exercising control over the citizens paints the picture of our government controlling our lives, and they do this one ordinance at a time.

What is more disturbing about this new proposal is the underlying fact that at some point, our county taxpayer dollars will be used in the courts when someone challenges the ordinance. This certainly doesn't have the look and feel of fiscal responsibility being exercised by the BOC at a time when Rockdale County households are already paying for their fiscal misjudgments.

If anyone is interested, the commissioners will consider this matter this Thursday afternoon, the 27th at the Assembly Hall starting at 4 p.m. We still have the right to speak our minds at this meeting - that is unless the ordinance passes and they classify their meetings as a special event!

Don Williamson