I don’t think this is what John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the other authors of the Declaration of Independence had in mind 226 years ago when they published the document.
Yes, I know, the city has apologized to the proprietors, but the incident should never have happened in the first place. I found the citation offensive, insensitive and just plain wretched. A lot of Americans have fought and died to ensure the freedom that our Founding Fathers imagined for us and instead of thanking them for their sacrifices, the city cites the restaurant for displaying flags to honor them. Absolutely shameful.
Blessed be those good people at Williamson Bros. who posted the incident on their Twitter and Facebook pages and got the attention of customers and others like me who abhor government bureaucratic meddling. Thus, the apology from Brian Binzer, Marietta’s director of development services — whatever that is — to Williamson Bros. management.
Binzer’s explanation of what happened is — well — bizarre. He told the MDJ’s John Roach that the code inspector couldn’t read the flags because, he said, the wind wasn’t blowing and “had to assume” the flags were advertisements for the business.
Let me see if I have this straight: A legitimate business in Marietta is cited for a code violation by the city because the inspector couldn’t differentiate between MIA flags and ads because the wind wasn’t blowing? That’s dumber than a rock.
This ham-handed episode has to be a great embarrassment to Mayor Steve Tumlin and to members of the City Council who are trying to make the city more attractive to its citizens and to visitors, through a proposed citizens’ committee that would look at recommended solutions to some of the issues around the Marietta Square.
The group would be called the 20/20 Vision Committee, which sounds like they are going to give eye tests. Maybe they could start with the code enforcer who couldn’t distinguish a flag from an ad. (Sometimes, I have to think of everything.)
What the committee is called is less important that what they accomplish and the mayor has a challenging agenda for them, including getting “quiet railroad crossings.” This was accomplished in Vinings after a number of years of negotiations between local citizens and CSX railroad and it is a welcomed change.
The committee, if approved by City Council on July 9, would also look at trash management, traffic control, parking and even tree planting. If potential citizens’ committee members will permit me to make a recommendation, be aware that Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) is not a big fan of trees. As she opined last year, trees just “clog up the property owners’ gutters.” I don’t know if she has changed her mind or not about trees but you need to know with whom you will be dealing if you decide to plant one on the Square. Ms. Manning can churn a quote like my grandmother could churn butter.
As for traffic issues, I would say Marietta should be grateful to have the problem of a lot of people wanting to come to the Square to dine, visit the local shops or just enjoy an afternoon under one of those infernal trees clogging up gutters.
You could always be living in East Point, my boyhood home. I was there recently and, trust me, traffic is not a problem there. Everything else is — a blighted downtown, a dysfunctional government that is deeply in debt and with fewer and fewer residents. There is no equivalent to the Strand Theatre. No art galleries. No Friday night Art Walk. Few restaurants. No downtown park and no leadership — political or civic.
East Point was a great place to live. No more.
I will watch with interest to see what recommendations the 20/20 Vision Committee comes up with regarding solutions for improving things around Marietta Square. Whatever they do, I hope the mayor and council and the various department heads don’t booger things up by letting overzealous bureaucrats run amok and embarrass the city as happened with Williamson Bros. this week.
As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, remember that we are supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That was not evident in Marietta this week.
May it never happen again.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.