PREFACE: This is a long read. I believe it’s worth it for you to read it in its entirety because this is my honest assesment of why Paulding County is Broken, and where I think we need to go from here. For those who are too busy or too impatient to read it in its entirety, I’ve provided this brief preface to sum it up in 3 quick sentences.
We’re destroying our future by making mountains out of molehills and refusing to listen to one another. There’s an easy way to move forward together, and I will do all I can to invest in a future where we move forward together. I will work with my colleagues on the BOC, whoever they are, to put the airport issue out in the open, in the public, with a clearly defined process for informing and educating everyone over a 12-24 month period, followed by a clear and final ballot referendum that puts this clearly behind us, once and for all.
~ Dan Boles
We’re Making Mountains Out of Molehills…
I get asked questions all day long on the campaign trail, but the single most common question is clear…
Where do you stand on the airport?
When I started this campaign, I wanted the airport to be a tertiary issue, not the focal point. Frankly, I could care less if the airport is commercial or general aviation. I have maintained from the beginning of this campaign that I do not oppose commercialization, and that I think it would be a great asset to Paulding County, but I’ve also maintained that a thriving general aviation airport would be a great asset as well. So here we are, in the final 30 days of the primary campaign and go figure, the airport is the focal point, no matter how much I don’t want it to be. I had hoped we could focus on ALL the issues facing Paulding County. I had hoped we could focus on THE FUTURE and not the past.
Why? Because Paulding County is Broken. We are failing. We have people without water, sewer, and access to high speed internet. We are barely keeping up with maintenance on the pump stations and pipes; this is why the folks in Post 2 were without clean water for over a week in December after it snowed. I heard through the infallible Paulding County grapevine that some people even got sick; very sick apparently. Our roads can barely handle the traffic. Congestion is getting worse. Schools are overcrowded. And the growth is expected to keep coming. Last year, our property taxes went up 14%. Yet sales tax revenue remained flat. Commercial and Industrial Property Values remained flat – which means we didn’t add any new businesses. Those property values aren’t even indicative of the real story either; many of those buildings sit empty and have been empty for YEARS!!! And jobs… where are the good paying jobs and the commercial tax digest to offset the cost of government so the homeowners aren’t taxed to death??? They don’t exist. 86% of Paulding County residents leave the county to go to work. That’s staggering, and is going to bankrupt us.
I had lunch at Los Magueys with one of our former BOC Chairmen yesterday, and as we left he pointed across the street where the Moes & Arbys are being built. You know what he told me? “That’s the first new retail building built in Paulding County since 2008.” Wow. We aren’t winning!!! We’re losing!! Paulding County is broken. We’re a joke to other counties in this state. We’re the punchline. It’s sad when I fly to Chicago for a business trip, and a client (who happens to be a pilot in his spare time) finds out I live in Paulding County, and he laughs and says “Aren’t y’all the idiots suing yourselves over a tiny little airport?” Why? Because instead of focusing on the issues and constructing solutions, instead of seeking common ground and working to move forward together, we’re making mountains out of molehills.
Look, don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things in Paulding County to celebrate. I’m not saying it’s the end of the world or that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. This isn’t a doomsday post. So don’t parse my words or make yet another mountain out of a molehill with this. I’m sure the “Republicans in Name Only” and the “Op Eds” will fly a plenty the next 25-26 days. And the keyboard warrior gang will be furiously typing away all day, sun-up to sun-down on facebook, youtube, and whatever else it is they do all day besides WORK at an actual job like the rest of us. I’m sure those who subscribe to this toxic attitude of you’re either 100% with me or your 100% against me – socialism by the way – will attack, attack, attack. It’s all they ever do. I’m just asking for you and for them to hear me out; I’m an open book. If you don’t want to take my word for it because it’s on my campaign website… I get it… so ask around and find people that know me well. I am more than confident they’ll say things like he is … direct, blunt, honest, genuine, passionate, and as transparent as they come.
There is a toxic cancer eating away at us one soul at a time in Paulding County. That cancer is from nowhere other than the enemy; and the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That enemy wants us to dig in our heals and pick a side. That enemy wants us to fight and slay one another. That enemy wants us to continue down the path of deafness and blindness to different opinions, points-of-views, etc. You know the enemy I’m referring to. And that enemy is putting brother against brother in this county. It’s tragic, and it’s breaking us. If we don’t change our focus soon, it will destroy us and break Paulding County for generations to come. Maybe forever.
I had hoped to focus my campaign on the future, and not the past.
Great leaders know: learn from your past & invest in your future.
Just about every day of the campaign has been long, and tiresome. The schedule is rough. I get up early and try to get some work done; I do still have a company to run after all. Squeeze in some campaigning. Meetings. Try to stay current on email and social media as best I can, a task I find to be increasingly difficult. Knock on some doors and do a little more campaigning. Return phone calls. And somehow manage to still be an okay Dad to my three kids; if I’m really lucky I might get to spend a few minutes on the couch with my wife before passing out around 11:30-12:00 at night. But the grueling schedule and busyness of it all is worth it because I know I’m investing in the future of Paulding County. This season will pass. It’s about the future.
But this Tuesday was a long, long, long day. A very long, very sad day. There were two pivotal moments on Tuesday that completely altered my perception of what is really going on in Paulding County. It became crystal clear to me by the time I laid my head to rest Tuesday evening that most of us are caught in the middle of a vicious, nasty, (un)civil war between two warring camps that are completely unwilling to hear or see one another. And we’re paying for it dearly.
Paulding County is Broken – Moment 1:
The Board of Commissioners Working Session meeting at 10:00 AM.
It was a long meeting. Typically, these meetings start at 10:00 AM and are wrapped up by 11:00 AM. But this meeting was one of those meetings that you walk out of immediately wanting a beer, or a margarita, or a shot of Fireball, to take the edge off.
My assessment of what happened:
An action was taken to add a motion to the agenda, after the speakers list for the meeting was closed. While that is certainly within the bounds of policy and procedure for the meeting, it wreaked of a scripted and tactical way to get a well-funded and well-crafted narrative out into the open. The topic? The most divisive and polarizing topic in Paulding County’s 200+ year history: the history of the airport, and the lawsuits. Why was this necessary? Why couldn’t it wait another two weeks? Why not try to resolve this another way? Why slug it out in a BOC meeting, in front of several invited guests from outside Paulding County, and live on YouTube and Facebook for the entire world to see? Why air out our dirty laundry all over the world? It wreaked of a stunt. It wreaked of grandstanding and using the pulpit of the Board to campaign. And it was done in such a way that nobody could speak except the 5 commissioners on the board, and the county attorney. It’s already awkward enough that I’m not allowed to speak at these meetings because I’m a candidate for office; its difficult to sit in those meetings and the sitting commissioners aren’t supposed to campaign from their seats, which I guess is supposed to make it fair, but you tell me… did it seem like they were campaigning from their seats to you? Sure felt that way to me.
Then there’s the county attorney… and I really don’t get this one. What do other people think of this? When the county attorney also contributes $6,000+ to the sitting commissioners’ re-election campaigns, does that seem bizarre to anyone else? While it is perfectly legal, it seems to me that it presents a conflict of interest. The county attorney is suppose to serve as legal counsel to the sitting board. Legal counsel should lack prejudice and bias. Right? How is it possible for that legal counsel to lack prejudice and bias if they’re contributing to the commissioners they’re supposed to counsel and advise? How is it possible for that legal counsel remain focused on balance and justly advising our Board of Commissioners on matters pertaining to county business if they’re funding one side of the narrative?
I do not agree whatsoever with how the meeting was conducted, and how this business transpired. It’s very short-sighted, one-sided, and seemed very much like slight-of-hand. The citizens of Paulding County deserve a chance to hear ALL sides of this issue, not just one.
The most interesting part of the whole debacle? Later on in the Stated Meeting of the BOC, at 7:00 pm Tuesday evening, the same four commissioners who were grandstanding on this issue and acting as if they want to drop the lawsuits, who put their side of this story out in the open Tuesday morning, moved to deny the motion to drop the lawsuits. Looks a lot like further evidence in the court of public opinion that this was a stunt. Walks like a duck? Quacks like a duck? Probably a duck right? Don’t take my word for it. Watch it yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Paulding County is Broken – Moment 2:
The “secret closed door rally” that wasn’t really a secret, or a closed door rally.
Last weekend, I was invited to attend an informational meeting by Mrs. Carol McCleod, a retired educator and Post 4 constituent who has helped with my campaign and is supporting my run for Post 4 Commissioner (she gave me permission to use her name). She knows my commitment to listening to all sides of this divisive issue. She knows I’ve been researching this and following it quietly for a long time. She knows I’m sick and tired of watching my taxes go up, while nothing changes in Paulding County, and I’m sick and tired of watching the war between the “Hatfields and McCoys” if you will. She knows I’m sick of the half-truths, the lies, the misleading rhetoric, and – forgive me for this one but the pile of dog crap – that surrounds this airport. It stinks. A lot.
This informational meeting that the “anti-everything mob” is vocally (and inaccurately) describing as a “secret political rally” was held by a newly established independent committee of concerned citizens, and the presentation was about the timeline of events surrounding the establishment of the airport, the events that lead to the Part 139 application to commercialize it, and what has transpired since. There was a brief review of several lawsuits, most of which involve Paulding resident Susan Wilkins – who runs the “Stop Paulding…” facebook page, website, youtube, etc., and some of the testimony from the depositions of those lawsuits – all of which are public record, and anyone can obtained copies of. That was it. It was hardly a political rally, and it was certainly not a secret. It was a simple, informational meeting. And it told a much different side of the story than the one I heard and witnessed earlier that day at the 10:00 AM BOC Working Session.
Here’s how I know it wasn’t a secret… first of all, there were at least 50-60 concerned residents present, along with a few local candidates for office. Secondly, around 7:35 PM (5 minutes after the BOC meeting adjourned by the way…) Commissioners Vernon Collette and Todd Pownall arrived at this meeting. Shortly after that, I saw Commissioner Tony Crowe arrive in his white pickup truck (which has his campaign magnets on the side), along with the usual faces among the “Stop Paulding….” crowd (Cathy Helms, Susan Wilkins, Greta Lethers, Christopher Collins, and several others). I saw them with my own eyes as I watched this unfold through the windows, albeit it was a limited view and I couldn’t see everything that occurred outside. There may have been others present that I did not see. Someone told me they saw Commissioner Davis there also, but I did not see him. Again, limited view from where I was sitting. You’ve probably seen some of these names all over facebook attacking anyone and everyone that doesn’t 100% agree with them, but I digress. So, if it’s such a secret meeting… how did these people know about it? How did I get invited? How did the sitting commissioners find out? Hardly a secret.
I was sitting in the very back of the room, on top of a 6′ table that was against the back wall, eating some chocolate chip cookies and drinking a bottle of water, when the chaos began to unfold. I sat there in disbelief at what I witnessed over the next few minutes; it seemed like an hour went by in 5-10 minutes. There were women and children at this meeting, and they were concerned. I heard banging on the door. I couldn’t see who it was because of where I was positioned in the room; there was a wall obstructing my view of the door. I heard a car alarm going off – which I later learned was my own vehicle. I didn’t believe that when someone told me it was mine, I remember thinking surely it’s not my truck, so I got up and positioned myself so that I could see out of one of the front windows of the building and it was indeed my truck. I turned off the alarm and returned to sitting at the table where I was previously.
Yes, the doors were locked. I’ve seen the video Matt Lowe posted of the door getting locked. Perhaps that could have been handled better, but at the same time… I don’t blame these folks for locking the doors. That video doesn’t show the whole story. I wish it did. I wish I’d known Matt was on site; I’ve gotten to know him these last few months, and I would have gladly advocated for him to be allowed entrance. Maybe they would have listened to me, maybe they would not. I don’t know. But I know that women and children inside that building were very nervous, and I wish Matt had been inside to see that for himself. It seemed very much like a hostile and unsafe situation. The doors were locked as a concern for the safety of the people inside the building. I would even go as far as saying, although it may or may not have crossed their minds, it also ensured the safety of those outside the building. Even I was uneasy inside that building and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be seen there. I’ve been pretty transparent about my presence, and never once have I denied being there, or what the presentation was about. The facts are simple. It very much seemed like I was about to get caught in the middle of a violent event that I just happened to attend as a guest. I had nothing to do with the locking of the doors, or the organizing of this meeting, and I can’t and will not speak on their behalf – that’s their duty and obligation, not mine. But I will tell you openly and honestly, I was concerned about what might happen at the conclusion of this meeting. Bear in mind that my car alarm mysteriously went off in this meeting. Christopher Collins (a vocal member of the anti-airport crowd) has accused me of setting off the alarm on purpose, which is laughable and false. I was easily 500 feet or greater away from where my truck was parked, and inside a building. What would you think? I wouldn’t put it past these people whatsoever to pull on the door handles to see if any of them were unlocked, and rummage through my contents. After all, they were taking photos of everyone’s cars and license plates. They were videotaping it all. If their claims are so true that they were peaceful and not there to disrupt the meeting, not there to pick a fight, not there to be combative or confrontational or whatever – where is their video evidence? Where are the photos they took? Put them out there, completely raw and unedited, and let us see it! There was no gotchya. There was no secret. There was no rally. The only “RALLY” that happened that night was the anti-airport mob showing up and aggressively attempting to intimidate people that were inside the building, then going online to cyber-bully the fool out of anyone that was present. These folks have sadly revealed themself to me as the equivalent of a ravenous pack of wolves claiming to be sheep.
This is sad, y’all. Sad. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.
The culture and atmosphere around this issue is suffocating us. It’s killing us. It’s ripping this county apart, and I’ve had enough of it. I cannot and will not sit idly on the sidelines as an innocent bystander anymore. But I’m also not going to hitch my wagon to either one of these groups. I have been, am, and will pledge to remain my own man, as a fiscal conservative, common sense leader, and independent Republican candidate and representative of the people of Post 4. Independent of any outside interests, influence, etc. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
The toxic, bullyish behavior I’ve witnessed from this group of people has opened my eyes to just how toxic and broken Paulding County really is. Paulding County is broken. We aren’t winning. We are losing. And tragically, the taxpayers are the innocent victims caught in the middle of this crusade.
I’ve reached out to both sides. I’ve embraced both factions. I’ve attempted to put my arm around them both. And I get spit on, attacked, and ridiculed for it. Darned if I do. Darned if I don’t. It’s our tax dollars their draining…
I’m committed to paving a path forward, not backward.
I have said it several times this week, and in this post. I had hoped to focus my campaign on the future, and not the past. I am going to hold on to that hope and that promise. Especially these next 25 days as we march closer and closer to the May 22nd Republican Primary. I’m committed to paving a path forward, not backward. It’s time. Join me.
Instead of continuing to rip us apart and further our reputation as “the county with an airport to nowehere” … instead of dividing us, conquering us, and destroying us and advancing the enemy’s attempt to pit brother against brother, sister against sister … lets focus on paving a path forward. Let’s put an end to the Civil War. President Lincoln and Gen. Robert E. Lee are both dead; isn’t it time for Paulding County to move forward finally?
My commitment to you, the taxpayers and business owners of Paulding County is simple: I will represent you, and only you. Nobody else. Former commissioners included. That has been, remains, and will continue to be my promise and commitment. That will not change. It’s not negotiable. For anyone. Not Donald Trump. Not Delta. Not Atlanta. Not Propellor. Not Carmichael. Not Austin. Not Shearin. Not Abraham Lincoln. Not Robert E. Lee. Not any of their descendants. I will represent the taxpayers and business owners of Post 4. I will work with the chairman and the Post 1, 2, and 3 commissioners to do what is best for Paulding County.
Further, I’ve said this publicly many times, but I am putting it here, in writing, and signing my name to it for the world to see. I will work my tail off, as a colleague and a team-player, regardless of who those colleagues are, as a common sense leader, to bring forth a motion that includes a constructive path forward from the Board of Commissioners, leads to the establishment of a process to properly, and fairly, educate and inform the citizens of Paulding County about the pros and cons of both general and commercial aviation at Silver Comet Field. It will be academic and focused on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the gold of both scenarios. It will be conducted by an independent, third-party if need be, but will be free of any outside interest, influence, or innuendo. It will be a 12-24 month process of educating, informing, listening, and allowing for public input from citizens of Paulding County only. And, working with both the Republican and Democratic parties of Paulding County, the final result will be a ballot measure that once and for all puts this issue behind us, and paves a path forward. THE TIME IS NOW.
We can fix this. We can move forward, together. Stand with me.
Respectfully, and hopeful for a positive, profitable future for our Paulding County,
~ Dan Boles