Monday, April 24, 2017

Sandy Springs, Inc.

Some of you may know that the fascist Tom Price's old U.S. House seat in Georgia is being seriously contested in a June runoff - and it may even be a likely Democratic pick-up. But there's no doubt that progress in this area north of Atlanta has been gunked up by the politics that gave it one of the strangest municipalities in America of any significant size.

In terms of administration, Sandy Springs, Georgia, has one of the most unusual features of any city: privatization of almost all public services. The now-defunct nearby city of Chattahoochee Plantation though was just as weird.

Usually, right-wingers try to block people from banding together for a positive purpose. For instance, they're militantly opposed to labor unions. Incorporating a city is sort of like the people's union. But right-wingers support incorporating cities as long as it's for unliberal purposes. Texas, for example, even specifically encourages cities to incorporate for such reasons. Georgia allowed Chattahoochee Plantation to incorporate back in 1961. The only reason was to block Atlanta from expanding into Cobb County.

Why were some people so fearful of being annexed by Atlanta? Let's be honest here. The Incorporation of Chattahoochee Plantation was motivated by racism. It's not the only city to incorporate to block annexation by another city because of racism - I believe a small suburb in my area incorporated for the same reason - but what's unusual in this case was the town's layout. The so-called city was 30 miles long - but only 10 feet wide. Hardly anyone actually lived within the city's limits, since it was too narrow for a house. The city wasn't formed by its own residents - since there were hardly any - but by other folks in Cobb County who just wanted to box Atlanta in.

Chattahoochee Plantation never actually formed a government. It was just a line on a map - though it was so narrow that I can't find it on USGS maps of that era.

This brings us to the story of Sandy Springs. By the 1980s, Sandy Springs - an unincorporated suburban area in Fulton County - was home to tens of thousands of people. This area was also hostile to annexation by Atlanta. So people there tried to be annexed by Chattahoochee Plantation instead.

That effort fell apart, and Chattahoochee Plantation was later forced to give up its incorporation. But lo! Sandy Springs was finally able to incorporate in 2005, when it had 90,000 people and its own skyscrapers. One of the reasons for this incorporation was so the rich could have their own city - for the county had been rightly using revenues from this area to fund poorer areas. Although incorporation would adversely affect the rest of the county, voters in those areas were not allowed to vote on the incorporation referendum.

What makes Sandy Springs so unusual is its failed model of privatizing pretty much everything. Some cities farm out certain services like garbage collection, but in Sandy Springs, practically the whole city government is privately run. In other words, it's not even a city. It's a corporation.

The City Hall is in an industrial park, and very few of its employees are on the public payroll. If you apply for a business license, you have to talk to people from a foreign company - not City Hall. The 911 dispatch center is run out of a private firm in New Jersey. Even the city's court is mostly privatized. Local officials call it "the model." Kind of like "the leader." It's not just a corporation, but a mind control program.

Sandy Springs has exported this greed-driven system to a few other places - such as Dana Plato's hometown of Maywood, California, which fired all municipal workers. One Maywood city official says this actually drove up the cost of running the city - and ruined the quality of public services.

But a lot of public officials just won't learn, I guess.

Meanwhile, Fulton County's poorest areas are being robbed to pad the coffers of businesses hired by Sandy Springs.

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