I work inside Athens. Along with like-minded colleagues, I have vowed to thwart parts of the agenda (if any) and the administration’s worst inclinations.
Last week’s cacophony of comments surrounding the anonymous high-level official at the White House has emboldened me to speak out concerning our efforts to control the government in Athens.
When our present mayor was first elected almost eight years ago, my colleagues and I, all highly placed within our political party, were concerned because she was a Democrat, and we were afraid that she would follow in the footsteps of her Democratic predecessors. We made it our purpose to “guide” her, and we had some early successes. There was that foolish Blue Heron scheme that would have the government borrow money to encourage high-tech and mixed-use development from downtown to the river. We walked that one back and found the right time, behind closed doors, to smother the Blue Heron. You can thank us for the amazing proliferation of those beautiful high-rise luxury student apartments that are helping our downtown become celebrated as “Little Marietta.”
To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made Athens safer and more prosperous.
You can imagine that it has not been easy for us to mold this administration. We could not tell you how many times we have had to intervene to prevent this administration from veering to the left. Those bicycle people, for instance, had drummed up support for their so-called “complete streets” scheme to “improve” Prince Avenue. There was actually the draft of an ordinance to make Prince Avenue safe for cyclists and pedestrians, but somehow it “disappeared” from the mayor’s desk. By the time she had attended her third ribbon-cutting, she had forgotten about the ordinance. That’s how we work.
But that may not work anymore. The new crowd that will be coming in will be hard to control.
It will take all our skill and finesse to make your new mayor look like a Republican, especially because all those new commissioners will be pushing him to the left. Those guys are going to test our resolve to the breaking point. While we’re trying to deflect their thrust for free and frequent bus service, they’ll be hatching plans for doing away with cash bail and doing something real about affordable housing and government transparency and economic justice and all those other ideas that make it difficult for us to maintain government as usual.
These next eight years will be tougher than anything we have done so far to insulate your government from the will of the people. We will very likely, for instance, have to deal with an agenda with actual items on it. As you can surmise, this is a whole new ballgame. This new crowd will want to vote on things and do stuff, which has not been a problem in the past. I can tell you: A do-something government will be a lot harder to control than a do-nothing government.
These are perilous times. We have done everything we could to slice and dice Athens-Clarke County to thwart this community’s political will. We even redrew commission district lines in the attempt to elect more non-partisan Republicans. Nothing doing.
Now, the future of sensible government in Athens depends on my colleagues and me. And, as usual, we have the advantage. One of our own will be elected governor, a man who started out as a community-minded Athens businessman. Once he became a Republican politician, we turned him into a developer of shoddy housing (Remember those fake windows?) and a safe vote in the state Senate for disenfranchising Athenians. Once we had him on the statewide stage, we quickly taught him how to shut down minority voter registration and support easily hackable voting machines with no paper trail. When he was found out, we showed him how easy it was just to destroy the complete computer record of what he had done. We even showed him how to shrug off a half-million dollars in personal debt.
We have created him, and he will be your next governor. Come January, he will know what to do about your new, “progressive” government. We will show him the way. We are the adults in the room. We are his lodestar.