Apparently the members of the Cobb County Board of Education have more backbone than the members of the Cobb Commission. Both bodies were recently faced with similar threats. The commissioners tucked their tails and ran behind Chairman Tim Lee. The school board, led by then-Chair Randy Scamihorn and current Chair Kathy Angelucci, walked the walk and prevailed.
Lee threatened that if the commissioners did not approve the Braves “deal” to move to Cobb County, a move which will cost the county $300 hundred million dollars, with only two weeks, more or less, in which to vet it, we would stand to lose it and the Braves would go elsewhere.
Most people with reasoning power beyond that of a golf tee knew that was a false threat. It is obvious that Fulton County cared not a whit if the Braves moved out of Atlanta. Gwinnett County has already had enough Braves’ pipe dreams to last them a while. DeKalb County even if it had a suitable location, could hardly afford the expense. Cherokee County is too remote to even be considered. So, where were they going to go?
Nevertheless, our esteemed commissioners folded faster than a circus tent after closing night.
Then we learned of the ill-fated Riverwalk project and the Development Authority of Cobb County with a highly questionable “good ole boy” scheme to grant tax abatements for 10 years, with the promise of a big reward at the end of the ten years.
Developer John Williams, who we were told (though probably no more than a half dozen people in the county believed it) was only financing the project and was otherwise uninvolved, suddenly issued a threat that if approval of the abatement was not forthcoming, he might build the project elsewhere. Presto! He changed from the financier to the developer. Was anybody surprised?
That threat was issued after the school board voted to reject a token offer from the Development Authority. The offer was made in hopes of keeping the issue out of court, which could have proven disastrous to the Authority and erosive of its power.
Williams, at that school board meeting, came across as a foul-mouthed, heavy-handed, bullying boor. Not his finest moment.
Despite the threats, the school board members stood their ground, stood up for our schools and stood with their constituents. They rejected the offer and were fully prepared to argue the matter in court.
With much grumbling and whining by Williams, Lee and others, the application for the abatement was withdrawn. Thus, at least one body of our elected representatives showed courage and integrity in the face of a threat.
Some of the ones who caved to the establishment threats will be answering to the voters in November. Good luck with that!
Nettie Helen Stemm