By David Leister
In this first of what I hope will be many articles about the City of Nelson, I would like to thank the Pickens County Progress for the opportunity to communicate openly with the citizenry.
Recently I evoked a very strong response from a small group of citizens with the use of the word ‘out-sourcing.’ While it succeeded in pulling citizens into the city council meeting as I had hoped, I am not certain that they were of a mind to hear what the reasons were for discussing it. Too often we realize that the best of intentions may not have wide acceptance and are often blurred by the emotions of the moment. Such was my night on May 2, 2011.
[Resident Brian Cain of North Avenue said, “Efficiency is not as important as safety. People are willing to pay for security.” They demonstrate that when they buy security systems and firearms, he said. “You’re willing to pay for security. Don’t forget that.” Cain advised other residents in the audience, “When you want a policeman up there, it’s worth it.”] Pickens County Progress, Thursday, May 5, 2011.
The comments of Officer Cain while intended to refute my call for open discussions, were very supportive. The very week that he made those statements and other citizens agreed with him, insisting that I resign, our lone police officer finished his week ‘in-service’ by Thursday afternoon. Our city went unprotected from 4:30 Thursday afternoon until 11:30 Monday morning. Furthermore, our city has had no weekend coverage for the past three weeks. As an example, in the month of April only one traffic ticket and six tall grass citations were issued. The city court for May was canceled leaving the city attorney and criminal court clerk with significantly reduced work loads that taxpayers are still paying for.
The city council has, since August, allowed a decline in both coverage time and visibility stating that they wanted a police officer that would stop and sit on porches, as in the fictional town of Mayberry.
They, despite the phenomenal job of stopping crime in Nelson carried out by Officer Jim Van Alstine, refuse to acknowledge that Nelson has crime. In 2006 a meth lab across the street from a council member went unnoticed by the city officials.
They have continued to turn the same blind eye to the city’s decline over the past 50 years. For the past year I have asked the city council to be active in interviewing and fully staffing Nelson’s police department to insure the quality of life and security that the citizens of Nelson expect.
Instead, they have reduced in-service time and failed to maintain their responsibilities.
Why should concerned citizens buy security systems and firearms instead of having the benefit of the one full-time and two part-time officers they are taxed for? While under my direction the police covered peak times and were very visible.
I have suggested various scheduling strategies for the police and have had them all rejected. We need all of our elected officials to have our safety and the future of Nelson as their singular purpose rather than simply labeling of the mayor a trouble-maker for speaking out. I have been told to ‘stay in line and know my place.’ I do and it is not under anyone’s thumb, including that of the city council. Nelson needs its citizens involved now. Please make time to guide your elected officials to save our city and to breathe life back into your community.
I would like to hear from you regarding this or any other topic for discussion. You can call 678-820-9872, e-mail me at david.leister@nelsongeorgia. com or send a letter to David Leister, Mayor, 1985 Kennesaw Avenue, Nelson, Ga. 30151.