The Agitator #101: Snow and politicians
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
January 31, 2014 11:25 AM | 1787 views | 3 3 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

One of my good friends recently said that Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal looked like two Soviet bureaucrats while making their comments to the press about the snowstorm. As I spent 20 hours in my car (Peachtree Dunwoody Rd. and Hammond Drive to lower east Cobb), I felt better listening to Deal as he took full responsibility for the lack of preparedness while blaming the weather forecasters. Then Mayor Reed added to my level of comfort as he assured us that they learned from the January 2011 ice storm and all would be okay.

I thought it amusing to read comments and listen to interviews from people affected by the storm. Invariably they discussed how their elected officials and appointed bureaucrats failed, how they were unprepared, made bad decisions, and otherwise let the people down. Certainly there is some merit to the criticism. I just find it ironic that so many voters in Georgia who believe that government is the problem, that we need less government and fewer government workers, are the same ones that expect their government to work miracles in a time of crisis. I am sure many of the same people also think that the private sector could do a better job in these circumstances, yet I wonder how they would coordinate their efforts with all of the municipalities involved, and what the companies would do to stay profitable in between crises.

This storm, while bad, was nowhere near as bad as so many I have lived through. But it produced the single greatest mess impacting so many people, and you have to ask yourself why? As I see it the biggest problem is that we live in a state where the car is king. People generally don’t like public transportation and prefer the freedom that their cars bring even if they are stuck in traffic all the time and have to plan their lives around traffic. Now some of the opponents to the TSPLOST are proposing to allow individual counties to work with a neighboring county to come up with transportation alternatives. TSPLOST would have focused on the region, and being that the latest storm hit a wide region, I’m not sure how more localized fixes would alleviate our traffic problems. Consider that there is strong opposition to bringing MARTA rail service just to the new Cobb stadium, while at the same time the biggest concern with the new home of the Braves is the additional traffic it will bring.

The whole world saw on CNN what a small snowstorm can do to Atlanta. If anyone thinks that it won’t influence companies in whether to relocate to the Atlanta area, open a branch, or to start a business here, they are clueless. The world also watched how the governor handled it, and that too will factor into their thinking. Among the questions that will be asked are whether the Atlanta metropolitan area has a good, reliable transportation system, and whether Georgia produces the kinds of political leaders that makes things happen and solves problems. If this governor or any other candidate for public office thinks that just lowering taxes is going to draw businesses from all over the map, they are either drinking Kool-Aid or returning from a vacation in Colorado.

If anyone thinks that help may be on the way with alternatives to Governor Deal in the upcoming Republican primary, consider this. One opponent, David Pennington was quoted saying that Deal “failed miserably”, but never offered a syllable about how he would deal with weather crises in the region. His only mantra is about taxes. The other candidate, John Barge, said that he would have “taken the heat” for closing the schools early, “especially when it involves safety. Yet Barge, the state school superintendant, said that he did not urge the schools to let students out early out of fear of “overreaching.”

Nothing will change or improve until we solve our transportation problems. There isn’t enough asphalt to hold all the cars in the Atlanta metropolitan area. So all we can do is sleep well knowing that the governor has arranged for more salt bins to be strategically placed around the state. I wish that had consoled me the other night, but it didn’t. At least some consolation came from knowing that our underpaid uniformed public servants were out in full force doing the real work. To them I say, thank you!

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Craig Kootsillas
February 05, 2014
Nice piece.

There is a lot of support for transportation - and transit funding across the political spectrum.

There is no appetite for the creation of revenue streams without strict controls, some view these as slush funds.

Consider PolicyBEST's initiative.

Nothing stops governments from cooperating now. A number of methods exist such with a Inter-Government Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding.

From a funding standpoint,this is what the SPLOST law was designed for - large, well-defined projects that cannot be paid for by general revenue.

Instead, SPLOST has evolved into something much different.

PolicyBEST's goal, in my view, is to get that extra one percent of the gas tax.

Lib in Cobb
February 02, 2014
Atlanta and Cobb are not located in a tropical part of the world, although many in this area think it is due their choice of flip flops and shorts being worn during winter months.

If the pols are so interested in keeping us from harm, hire someone from the northern US who knows how to prepare all municipalities for winter events. There is obviously no one in the state or local government who has never seen the business end of a snow shovel.

Were the keys to the lone salt/sand truck lost on Monday?

If we as a state or county are going to prepare, money will need to be spent. County government has found the money for the new stadium, but not for our safety, including the safety of school children.

Congratulations on making us the topic of many late night comedic monologues.
EM Buckner
January 31, 2014
I'd like to second Oliver Halle's thanks to the many, many Cobb Countians in uniform who served the citizens throughout this snow-related problems.They show why government and mutual cooperation is necessary and how honorable service of the sort they provide can be. I also agree with the rest of what Halle has once again expressed so well.
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