U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of the 9th District has explained his rationale for transferring Camp Merrill to the Army. But he does not explain why he thinks that this issue does not deserve proper public notice and review. He is violating the basic democratic principles he was elected to uphold.
He did not inform the public of what he was doing until his amendment had passed en bloc by voice vote in the House. He never conducted a public meeting to gather input on the issue from all interested parties. He never informed the Forest Service of his intentions. He claims that Forest Service management of what is a sensitive conservation area costs too much but provides no evidence for this. He charges the Agriculture Department of negotiating in bad faith but provides no details. He does not follow the well-established precedent of using the Interchange Act in such situations.
There may be good reasons to transfer Camp Merrill to the Army but there is no good reason to not inform and consult with all interested parties. Rep. Collins is new in the House and he needs to learn how to follow the rules. It is always dangerous when elected public officials think that they only need to talk and listen to some of their constituents and can just ignore everyone else. If he won’t follow basic democratic principles, then maybe the voters should think twice before they elect him to a second term.