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Randy's Corner

About North Georgia's publisher Randy Golden contributes a look into life in north Georgia, the Web, or anything that's on his mind.

Editors note:On June 21, 2005, the citizens of Sandy Springs voted to become a city.

Back in the early 1960's, while it was presenting itself as "The city too busy to hate," Atlanta, Georgia built "the Atlanta wall" designed to keep African-American Atlantans out of white neighborhoods. Later, banks punished black areas with "red-lining", the practice of refusing to serve particular geographical areas because of the race (or income) of the area's residents. Both of these actions represented the prevailing racist attitudes of an overwhelmingly white power structure towards blacks.

Fast forward to today. Sandy Springs has taken the first steps towards becoming city, something that is long overdue. With more than 85,000 people (2000 Census), the city represents what may be the 5th largest city in the state of Georgia. It will be able to more effectively manage the area than Fulton County ever has, and give the people what they want and what they are paying taxes for: decent roads, a better school system and protection by city police. Infrastructure in unincorporated Sandy Springs (and North Fulton County, for that matter), has always lagged behind the surrounding cities. Try navigating rush hour traffic at Fulton County's Abernathy Road and GA 400 one day and Roswell's Holcomb Bridge Road and GA 400 the next and you will understand what I am talking about.

Fulton County has begun threatening the not yet city of Sandy Springs, saying that services the county now renders may come to an end before the city is ready to take them on. And, of course, somebody went and played the race card, charging that the concept of a separate Sandy Springs, in and of itself, is racist. Why? Well I'm not sure. Sandy Springs has a white population of 77%, which is higher than the state average of 62%, but the act of creating a city can not be considered overtly racist.

A second issue, at least to the county commission, is protection of the voting rights of minorities. Georgia is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to protecting the voting rights of its people. Look what has happened in the past to state-proposed redistricting plans. The 1995 gerrymanders were declared unconstitutional, and the 2000 redistricting is still under the gun. At least the county commissioners demurred to the feds on this one.

The problem, it seems, is money and power. Sandy Springs residents contribute massive amounts of money to Fulton County's bottom line, and get little to show for it. In fact, based on the proposed boundaries of the city, Sandy Springs contributes nearly $50 million more dollars than it receives. Traffic, which is getting worse everywhere in the Atlanta metropolitan area, can be at a standstill for hours in Sandy Springs. The same is true for North Fulton, where even a minor accident can snarl rush hour traffic for hours.

When Fulton County's problem is one of (losing) money and power and a politician plays the race card, that brings ethics into the issue. It is not ethical to say something is racist just because you don't like it. Of course, ethics and Fulton County politics have little to do with each other.

The Fulton County Commission can ignore this problem (after all, it will go away after June 21), or they can learn from it. How about improving the roads in North Fulton, or adding another high school? Of course, they could go on ignoring it also. I am beginning to like the name Birmingham.

Randy Golden, Publisher

County: Fulton County

Randy's Corner
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