Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Milton County

Milton County was created on December 18, 1857 from parts of northeastern Cobb, southeastern Cherokee and southwestern Forsyth counties. Alpharetta was the county seat until the end of 1931, when Milton was merged with Fulton County to save it from bankruptcy during the Great Depression. At that time,
Campbell County, which had already gone bankrupt, was also ceded to Fulton, giving it its long irregular shape along the Chattahoochee River.

Georgia already has the constitutional maximum of 159 counties, the 2nd highest total number of counties in the nation after Texas. Yet, with the Republicans in control of the state government, Milton County may be ressurected. All in the name of making damn sure that rich white folks' money won't be spent on anything that might benefit a person of color! Jim Crow racism, 21st century style....alive and well here in Georgia.

This whole movement started with Sandy Springs begging for cityhood status starting in the late 1960s, early 1970s. At that time, white flight from Atlanta was in full force, and Sandy Springs was terrified that Atlanta might come incorporate them into the city. Democrats in the city of Atlanta blocked cityhood attempts until the GOP took over the legislature following the 2004 elections. At that time, the long tradition of honoring a local delegation's wishes regarding local legislation was abandoned. What the GOP representatives wanted for Sandy Springs was to seal it off from the majority black Fulton County, despite what a majority of the Fulton delegation wanted.

Personally, while I know that Sandy Springs cityhood push was steeped in racism, I cannot deny that a 90+% vote in favor of cityhood does clearly indicate where the citizens wanted to go. They'd been pushing for a city for 30 something years, so while it did hurt Fulton for Sandy Springs to incorporate, the movement didn't bother me too much.

What has happened since Sandy Springs became a city has bothered me a great deal because the obvious racial hatred driving it is blatantly obvious. The drives to incorporate Johns Creek and Milton in North Fulton were not based in history, but on a childish fit by people who are consistently outvoted by their fellow citizens to the south. Admittedly, Fulton County government is a mess, but until this year, it's been run by Republicans since 1994! The County chair has been a member of the GOP all that time, although the commission was usually 4-3 in favor of Democrats. The chairs have also been white, so I don't know where the spoiled rich people in North Fulton got the idea that if they could just seal themselves off from the "darker" South Fulton and Atlanta, they'd be fine.

Milton and Johns Creek were about destroying Fulton County's government by making sure all local taxes went to the cities. However, Fulton still runs schools, libraries, health centers, etc. The entire former Milton County is now incorporated into different cities, but that still allows some taxes from wealthy North Fulton to potentially be spent in poorer South Fulton. For the rich bitches in Alpharetta, that's UNacceptable!

It has been reported that North Fulton has 42% of the property wealth in the entire county, although it's land mass is much smaller. People have written into the paper furious that while they provide 42% of the tax base, 42% of the taxes are not spent on them. That kind of logic is ridiculous, and it would mean that only the wealthiest citizens deserve any government services at all. I realize we're talking about Republicans here, but haven't they heard of the social contract? To those whom much is given, much is expected. Rich people who have gained tremendous benefits from the entire society have an obligation and responsibility to give back to that society. They deserve good schools, police protection, etc....but so do the poor. To achieve the American dream of upward mobility, we must have a tax structure that gives the poor a chance to get a good education and to better their circumstances. We do a piss poor job of it now, but if we follow the "I provide 42% of the tax base, so you must spend 42% of the taxes on me" philosophy, we will re-create a medieval society where the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, and the middle class disintegrates.

Luckily, there are many obstacles in the way of giving rebirth to Milton County. First, the Constitution of Georgia forbids it. Unless you want to go South Georgia and dissolve, say, Jeff Davis County in order to make room for a reborn Milton County, you must amend the constitution to allow more than 159 counties. That requires 2/3 of the both houses of the General Assembly plus a vote by the people. Thankfully, the GOP does not control 2/3 of the legislature, so if Democrats just stick together on this question, the proposal can be defeated.

Let's say the GOP does peel off enough Democrats to get their 2/3 majority to send the question to the people of Georgia. It's likely Georgia will yawn and vote "yes" to Milton. But there are unanswered questions as to how to affect a divorce. Fulton has contracts with Grady Health System, MARTA and others. Milton cannot just shirk those contracts, although you can bet they will look for the first chance to break them. After all, Grady provides services to the poor (and probably too many black folks for Alpharetta's tastes), and we all know they don't care for MARTA. Then there is the matter of the school system. How do you split that?

The GOP sponsors of the drive to recreate Milton County have no answers for these questions. It's because this drive is not rooted in anything that makes good governmental sense. It is steeped in racism, pure and simple. Exposing this basis for separation is the new proposed map of Milton. Milton County reborn would not stop at the Chattahoochee River at the thin neck of Fulton County, as would be historically accurate. Milton would absorb Sandy Springs too, and some would like for it to also include Buckhead. Gee, I wonder why that map exists. The demographics carefully cherry pick the wealthy, mostly white areas of the county and cleave them into a lilly white, conservative, GOP bastion.

This drive to re-create Milton County must fail. It's intent is to financially destroy the city of Atlanta, and to cause the fiscal collapse of the southern portion of Fulton county simply because the citizens there are mostly of the wrong color and have too low of a bank balance. Democrats in the legislature must make a united stand against this foolishness, because only they can put a stop to it.


Chad said...

As a true blue, gay democrat who begs your forgiveness for living in Sandy Springs, I have to disagree with you to some extent. I really believe that there is more to the movement to restore Milton County than just mere racism and red vs. blue.

Sandy Springs fought for cityhood because of the unresponsiveness of Fulton County officials and it is the same with Milton County. Fulton itself treats the north part of the county differently and routinely rebuffs or ignors requests or desires from the north. In Sandy Springs, Fulton refused to regulate zoning despite the pleas of the area residents and in the north part of the county, very little infastructure has been built in the past decade. Yet the county is more than happy to collect taxes from there.

I really feel like Fulton County itself has caused the divide with unequal taxation, unequal treatment and unequal services. The residents of the Milton part would not be so agressive in trying to break off if Fulton County was more responsive to the needs and desires of the residents there. It is an issue more complex than simply racism.

Jason said...

It wasn't just the unresponsiveness of the Fulton County Commission, which has been highly dysfunctional for many years. Sandy Springs also didn't want to be annexed into Atlanta, which was becoming increasingly black starting in the late 60s/early 70s with white flight.

Last I checked, north Fulton has much better infrastructure, schools, and services than south Fulton could hope to have, so I don't buy the argument that poor north Fulton is abused and neglected.

You're probably right on the neglect of adequate zoning protections to better control the explosive growth in the north part of Fulton.

I am still convinced that at the heart of everything, even the arguments you've laid out, lies the ugly heart of racism. If the white folks were able to outvote the black ones, there wouldn't be a "problem", now would there? It's the same reason that Dunwoody is trying to leave DeKalb now.

Jarnaies said...

Wow, easy to tell what color the author of this article is. Someone is also extremely bias and been too easily influenced by democratic lobbyists. The reason for the resurrection of Milton County is simple. We are sick and tired of paying for services that we do not use, and propping up businesses that are ultimately doomed to fail (like MARTA.)
I don't buy your racism bit at all. Have you seen the demographics of Sandy Springs? Mostly black and Hispanic, with just a few pockets of 'rich white bitches.' The construction of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater has also brought in a wave of black residents into Alpharetta and Johns Creek, which can only increase at this point.
How can the school systems be run separately WHEN the counties part ways? EASILY!!! The schools in North Fulton are run by intelligent people and managed by the principals, where the schools in South Fulton are run by politicians and rulebooks. Police, Fire, Hospitals? We already have our own infrastructure for these as well, and they do a pretty good job. Unlike mis-managed Grady. Contracts with MARTA? The unfortunate construction of the North Springs terminal has had the negative effect of bus services in North Fulton as well, which is good for increasing traffic and taking up valuable real estate. MOST OF THE RESIDENTS OF NORTH FULTON HATE MARTA AND WISH IT TO BE OUT! ITS NOT PRACTICAL!
One more thing, about the 'white flight' from Atlanta. Residents were not fleeing from Atlanta because of black people. They were fleeing from their beloved home town because of the crime that happened to follow the blacks. My in-laws were forced to sell their multi-acreage home that they lived in for over 2 decades because the crime kept increasing, and it was transformed into low cost apartments which has been seen in the news multiple times because of various murders, car-jackings, burglaries, and rapes.
What you need to do is to band together and to stop the hoodlums that are the source of crime and trouble instead of getting your 'brothers' together and condemning the 'white devil.'

Jason said...

Lord, someone needs to look at my picture. I'm as white as the day is long.