I'll try to make this opening paragraph relatively short. I was perusing the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website not
five minutes ago when I happened upon a guest editorial, submitted by one Representative Jan Jones of Alpharetta, arguing
favor of separating north Fulton County from the rest of it.
For anybody either reading this from a distant location or not caught up in local 20th-century history, present-day
Fulton County, Georgia was formed during the Great Depression from three smaller counties due to dire economic
straits; the one in the center hosued the city of Atlanta and was the original holder of the name Fulton, and Campbell County
was to the immediate south and Milton to the immediate north. Somewhere between then and 2006, quite a number of rich people
settled in what used to be Milton County, and a great portion of them have been clamoring for a couple of decades to
recreate the dead county, for varying reasons, which I just really don't feel like analyzing for fear that they're really
stupid and born of self-absorption of some north Fulton residents, as in this excerpt early on in the editorial regarding
the state cap of 159 counties:
"House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Alpharetta) has kept the dream alive since throwing down the gauntlet 14
years ago. That's when he first introduced a constitutional amendment raising the 159-county limitation by one."
Notice how Mr. Burkhalter believes that north Fulton County deserves special treatement, to the point of actually adding
to the state constitution. He is hardly alone. Another interesting snippet, directly adjacent to that shown above, reveals
what might be construed as the author's leeriness toward the city responsible for his district's prosperity:
"Atlanta's once-ironclad influence at the state Legislature snuffed the dream while bottling up Sandy Springs cityhood
for 30 years."
Sandy Springs, by the way, is that municipality immediately north of the city of Atlanta which won incorporation last
December. They were still having problems with finding fire-engine service not so long ago. Speaking of effective government:
"Re-creating Milton County would force Fulton to reinvent itself and offer more efficient, responsive governing."
Indeed it would, if for no other reason than a large fraction of its tax income being lost. I could foresee the county
having to cut some important stuff because Miltonites wanted to have their own swim and tennis county. Man, I sound almost a
quarter as bitter right now as Maddox...too much?
"Cityhood gave unincorporated north Fulton residents the gift of self-governance on quality of life issues —
parks, roads, zoning, fire, police and 911 services. The three new cities represent 60 percent of north Fulton's population."
I'll be fair and say that I've heard a fair bit of complaints about Fulton County's zoning and tax collection, but never
about emergency services, which, as mentioned earlier, some of newly-incorporated north Fulton seems to be having issues with.
Search for 'Sandy Springs' in Wikipedia and read more about that, if curiosity compels you.
The rest of the editorial is the usual stuff: Fulton County is unresponsive, inefficient, etcetera. I'm willing to believe
that there are grave inefficiencies in the county, I suppose (I'm not a resident, if you can't tell) but I do think the
Miltonite-wannabes may be overblowing it. My family's own county of Gwinnett is horribly inefficient at pretty much everything, and
I don't remember any movement to break off a chunk of it. Heck, my parents are pretty content, but they brush things
like this off a lot more easily than some of Representative Burkhalter's constituency.
One other snippet enlightening me of Jan's view of the county (worldview, maybe?) is posted forthwith:
"Speaking of MARTA, consider that Fulton spends 20 times more on MARTA than it does on roads. Another way to put
it is Fulton chooses to spend $200 yearly per resident for buses and trains compared to $9 per resident for road improvements.
Residents can chew on that while they sit idling in traffic."
I can infer from this that Jan does not ride MARTA, and indeed might actively object to doing so. My answer to him
(her? Jan's kind of an androgynous handle) is that the state of Georgia pretty much pays nothing for MARTA, and so Fulton
County, along with DeKalb to the east, bears the brunt of its financing. Hence the extravagant figures. I might even suggest
that, if the state funded MARTA, Fulton would be more free to widen roads so that north Fultonites in Beemers and Infinitis
might have a quicker commute for a couple months before suburban sprawl fills the gaps in the lanes.
Obviously, I'm not completely unbiased, but neither is Jan, and I don't think my own biases are totally meritless. Discern
from this weird debate what you will; my stance, very simply put, is that north Fultonites are not more deserving of any special
government attention than any other American, and the more whiny ones would do well to consider that.