Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Politics of Sprawl

Have short-sighted policies that blindly fuel suburban growth helped created both the water crisis and Republican majorities in Georgia? Programs intended to spur rural growth have instead provided jet fuel for massive suburban growth, and, coincidentally, in these "fringe city communities like...the outer reaches of the Atlanta region," Republicans have a nearly 2 to 1 advantage. Consequently, in BLUEPRINT, May 2004, Mark Gersh notes that in Georgia's 2002 vote, suburban growth was "the single biggest factor in the Republican victory." No doubt, the same is a factor in the current drought as Atlanta is increasingly viewed as the city that just can't take "no" for an answer when it comes to growth.

In April of this year, The Washington Post article Rural Aid Goes to Urban Areas, showed that the USDA's Rural Development program has pumped more than three times as much money into metropolitan areas as to poor rural counties. In Georgia, this Rural development money has helped to fuel "massive suburban growth."

According to the Post, since 2001, more than $400 million in Rural Development money has supported three utility companies (Jackson Electric Membership Corp., GreyStone Power and Sawnee Electric Membership Corp.) serving the fast-growing Atlanta suburbs. GreyStone serves eight metro counties including Cobb and Fulton, while Sawnee's service area includes Forsyth County, the fastest growing county in the nation.

How can this happen? Under the USDA's "once a borrower, always a borrower" policy, utility companies like GreyStone are allowed to keep coming back to the USDA for the low-cost capitol meant to support rural growth, even if the once-rural area they serve is now a booming suburb.
That makes zero sense.

I would never suggest that Republicans intentionally ignored the risks of unbridled sprawl for political gain, but they might've been distracted by the glint of gold and the Dome. I would suggest that while our current leadership ignored a looming water crisis, the Republican-rich Atlanta suburbs grew, and grew, and grew. The sprawl that contributed to the water crisis also contributed to Republican victories in Georgia. Of course, when those suburbanites realize that Perdue shelved a Barnes plan to address a potential drought, their loyalty to the GOP may diminish along with their tap water.


Button Gwinnett said...

Sprawl and the overdevelopment of north Georgia definitely has something to do with the water crisis. We have local politicians that say that they're for "slow growth" yet act as rubber stamps for just about any project that comes along. Same thing as with our traffic problems in metro Atlanta. We don't plan anything.

As a native of southwest GA, I can assure those that are up in arms about the mussell farmers in north FL needing water, that it's not just for them. It's also water that south and western Georgians and Alabamians need to use too.

Open+Transparent said...

Republicans know they get voters in sprawl areas, which is one of the main reasons why there are so anti-rail. It's not about being fiscally prudent with taxpayer money. Look at the BILLIONS GDOT wants to spend on grandise highway projects for their road building buddies.

They absolutely do not want rail and mass transit in urban centers, because they know people in such urban centers, and rail riders especially, tend to vote Dem.

The AJC's Jim Wooten is the resident flack for the conservative party line. For years he has gone after rail & mass transit with hysterical fervor. But it's not about money, people; it's about votes.

And DuBose Porter and Calvin Smyre don't give a damn about rail and mass transit, even though rail lines from ATL to Macon and Savannah, ATL to Athens, and ATL to Chattanooga would be economic boons to those parts of the state.

Republicans love sprawl and overdevelopment and hate rail and mass transit. And elected Georgia Dem's aren't willing to fight 'em on it. Not sure what in the hell elected Georgia Dem's are willing to fight for.

Amy Morton said...

Track: I did get some encouraging news today about work on platform.

Ya Bosi said...


I took that photograph of the wet Elephant in Botswana in 2006. Where did you find it?

Amy Morton said...

Hi, Jeremy. I haven't the slightest idea where I found the picture, but probably through google images. Is it possible that you uploaded it at some point? It's a great picture. I'm glad to remove it or attribute it to you, whichever you want. Just let me know.