December 26, 2012

Pub Notes

Happy New Year!

What will it bring? We can only guess, though some things we already know: more student apartments downtown, the Selig development bringing more (probably chain) shops, stores and restaurants adjacent to downtown, the new, improved Classic Center and the beginning of its next-door new hotel, further cuts to the University of Georgia and to our public schools.

Will we get a new privately owned charter school pulling our scant tax money away from our public schools, or will the private schools we already have turn themselves into charter schools in order to get the support of our tax dollars?

We can assume that we’ll get a new master plan for downtown, but will it be implemented? Will it make any difference to downtown, where the massive developments are already dictating the shape of downtown for decades to come?

Will Caterpillar create living-wage job-growth with spinoff industries, or will growth be through more low-wage jobs such as the custodial and graduate assistant positions at the university that hold down local wages rather than raising them?

Will Congressman Paul Broun run for the U.S. Senate? Who will take his place as our 10th District congressman? Will our new representative be even further to the right than Dr. “Straight from the Pit of Hell” Broun? Will we talk about the good old days when Congressman Broun represented us? Will State Senator Bill Cowsert, thwarted in his reach for power in Atlanta, turn his eyes toward the 10th Congressional District?

Will the Republican Georgia legislature find new ways to redraw district lines here so as to split up our Democratic vote even further, or will their fiasco in trying to draw a safe district for Rep. McKillip convince them that they have sliced and diced us to the point where it’s counterproductive? Will local Democrats fight back and use their strength in District 119  to go after Rep. Chuck Williams’ seat, or will new Rep. Regina Quick succeed in returning Rep. Williams’ district to the safety of Oconee County?

Will the Republican legislature finally back off on trying to get guns “carried” into every public place, including schools?

Will the Athens-Clarke County government figure out anything to enhance the Atlanta Highway corridor’s ability to do business, or will what’s left there be sucked into the vortex of the constantly expanding Epps Bridge nexus in Oconee County?

Will Five Points get the kind of parking relief that downtown merchants demanded? A parking lot? A parking deck? Where would you put it?

Will anybody park and ride at the park and ride lot at the intersection of Lexington Road and Loop 10, or will that expanse of concrete become a monument to then-Congressman Max Burns’ unwanted largesse? Will Burns’ successor, John Barrow, get redistricted yet again by the Wile E. Coyote Republicans in the Georgia legislature, who just cannot tolerate the fact that this Road Runner is the last white Democratic congressman from the Old South?

Will construction finally begin on the start of what is now the Firefly rail-trail path that could traverse the level ground between here and Winterville and on to Union Point? Is there any hope in hell that the trail will include the famous old railroad trestle in Dudley Park, or will walkers and skaters and bikers have to climb that steep hill to get around the trestle?

Will anything be done about raising wages for the working poor here in Athens? Can the Athens-Clarke County government, the Chamber, the University of Georgia, federal and state government offices and area manufacturers and businesses get together and agree that the solution to Athens’ poverty lies in higher wages, and that better wages, in reducing poverty, will lift us all? Is that so crazy? (Okay, I know that state law prohibits local government from doing anything about a “living wage,” and I know that doing something about poverty here might necessitate a tax hike, but can’t we see how much that would help us all?)

Well, I’ve stopped preaching and gone to meddling. Suffice it to say, as the Bible puts it, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” I guess you can say the same for a year.