Atlanta Forward readers responded to our recent columns on regionalism in metro Atlanta featuring Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, Georgia Tech professor Catherine Ross and Field Searcy, an opponent of the regionalism movement. Here are some selected comments:
Tancred: Theoretically, regional approaches to urban planning make complete sense. But Atlanta has certain attributes that throw a spanner into the works, namely, political/racial division. This division manifests itself in the dramatic geographic and cultural division between the core city and the surrounding suburbs. Although more complex than just OTP and ITP, the history of racial segregation, both institutionalized and de facto, has created a (metropolitan area) that resists substantial change. The glaring dysfunction of governance and the obvious abuse of city and county tax revenues in Atlanta, DeKalb and Fulton has created a permanent, anti-regional dynamic. Just look at the APS and these absurd county CEOs and entitled government workers. Look at the horrible culture of welfare abuse, crime, immediate gratification. Then contrast that with the obvious cut-and-run white population that creates the most tacky, consumerist landscape of McMansions and chain retail outlets. It’s the worst of both the black and Southern white worlds.
atlin83: Searcy got one thing right: “Regional cooperation is necessary, and flexible solutions need to be developed to allow counties to work together to solve problems of mutual interest.” Everything else is bunk — scare tactics from someone who clearly doesn’t understand how their own county, state, region and counties work. Atlanta doesn’t have a regional government of any kind. The Atlanta Regional Commission works to coordinate all of our little fiefdoms. It’s not some opaque monster. Want to know what it does? Go to its website. Didn’t know what was in the TIA last year? Guess you didn’t go to its website. In the age of the Internet, when there’s a pretty astonishing amount of transparency in government for anyone with the patience to navigate more than two mouse clicks, people can be pretty uninformed and uneducated. And they’re given a shocking amount of clout by the press.
Emil: Clearly we need a regional approach to meet expanding infrastructure needs as Georgia grows into this century. Similarly, our government for making essential changes on a regional scale needs to evolve while still being accountable to the public it serves. Instead of creating new commissions on top of commissions, some consolidation of current governmental systems and bureaucracies could result in more acceptable, effective and citizen-accountable decision-making.
TiredoftheBull: I guess that if forward-thinking folks like Searcy always had their way, Johnson Ferry Road would still be two lanes in Fulton County. If one county wants to be a “bedroom” community, that’s fine. However, in that case, the bedroom residents must also understand that their vehicle commutes have an impact on other areas, for which they should be partially responsible. Once you leave your community in your vehicle, you are “regional” traffic — and have an impact on other areas. Failing to own up to your responsibility to help mediate your impact on others is most impolite.