I’ve written about this once before, but the campaign is heating up. “Yes” and “No” signs have started to appear on the front lawns of neighbors. So far, I don’t sense any ugliness in the campaign, not nearly as much heat as when the idea of speed bumps on our street became a political issue. On the issue of whether a new city of Brookhaven ought to be formed, I fall squarely into the “no” camp. The vote is unfortunately scheduled for July 31 when maybe one in ten voters will make it to the polls. Timing aside, I still have not found a compelling reason for such a dramatic change. For my university, which would all of a sudden find its home to be the City of Brookhaven instead of Atlanta, I don’t believe this is a good thing.
The two primary arguments for this new city are: 1). There will be local control of our new governmental entity. Frankly, I don’t even know what this means. Georgia has more counties (more local control?) than any state I know of. If more local control means our government will look anything like our state government , then I vote no. This is one of those slogans that feels good, but in reality, has little meaning. We elect representatives now, some of whom serve me well and some don’t. I can’t foresee this changing. In this case, the folks who dreamed up this idea never asked me or my institution what we thought of the plan to become a new city. Given that, why would I think I would be better represented under new leadership?
Argument number 2): Everyone’s taxes will go down. If you believe this, I have a bridge to sell you. I have never seen an efficient governmental entity and I don’t care if Republicans or Democrats are running the thing. But governments are necessary and they serve an important role in our lives and the life of our country. If Brookhaven becomes a new city, though, we will still have to support DeKalb County government, DeKalb County schools, but now we will have another mouth to feed. If our taxes go down in any meaningful way (and they will not), our services will have to diminish. That much I can promise you. It doesn’t work any other way – ask the good folks in California. I just don’t have a lot of faith in people who are trying to sell me a really good deal at a bargain price. I have seen too many of these promises vanish too quickly.
It’s also my belief that the inclination to divide our communities is not a healthy one. DeKalb County is a diverse community in every sense of the word. The City of Brookhaven will not be. I don’t support that direction. On July 31, I will vote no.