The legislative session is underway in neighboring Alabama and the mostly white legislature is already looking to impose itself upon the majority Black city of Montgomery.
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, whose term began this year, is accusing state politicians of legislative overreach as they work to pass a bill that would undermine the city’s attempt to finance first-responders, support public schools, service debt and pave roads, among other things. Legislators are working to pass House Bill 147 which prevent cities such as Montgomery from passing new occupational taxes without permission from the Legislature.
“That is legislative overreach in its purest form,” Reed said. “It’s a power grab in its worst form.”
Montgomery, like many major cities, suffers the resource drain of suburban parasites who work inside the city and use municipal resources but take their pay, retail tax and property taxes to wealthy white suburbs and bedroom communities. Citing a drop in city revenue in recent years, partly from all the commuters, the mayor and council submitted a proposal to deduct 1% from the paychecks of all people who work in Montgomery beginning in 2021. This, naturally, stings white legislators and their constituents who bunk in suburbs but care nothing for the plight of a majority Black metropolis.
Bill author Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville, lives in the mostly white District 90, which snuggles up to the Montgomery metro area and houses many of its commuters. Sells says he introduced his bill specifically to protect his commuters.
Reed told reporters at a recent press conference that he was furious this bill was the first thing considered by the legislature, without any consultation with Montgomery’s Black mayor—almost as if he weren’t an issue.
“This is how cities operate,” Reed told reporters. “This is how you get your trash picked up. This is how we pay police and firefighters. This is how we build community centers … This is how we encourage revitalization through revenue, through funds. That doesn’t just happen because we pray about it.”
Senate Minority leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, agreed with Reed during debate last month, saying that the legislature was trying to “impose ourselves on a municipal government that has total separation from who we are.”
Meanwhile, in nearby Georgia, Rep. Renitta Shannon—long a Lighthouse fav—is taking majority-party hubris head on and calling upon Georgia House Majority Whip Trey Kelly to resign after he let a stricken bicyclist die on a Georgia highway.
Georgia motorist Ralph Dover III hit Cedartown bicyclist Eric Keais a few weeks ago and knocked him into a ditch. Instead of calling 911, however, Dover left the scene and called his Representative buddy, Trey Kelly, who also failed to alert emergency services. Instead, Kelly called the local police chief. Authorities took a good hour to finally arrive on the scene, giving Keais plenty of time to die. He did.
Shannon, like many Georgia residents, says she was horrified by all the political connectedness, privilege and buddy-system abuse and demanded Kelly take his butt home.
“If you don’t have the good sense to call 911 after you see evidence of a possible hit and run, you can’t possibly represent 50,000 Georgians,” Shannon said.