Atlanta Suburbs Want to Secede from Fulton County
YahooNews is running an AP story under the provocative headline “White Atlanta suburbs push for secession.”
A potentially explosive dispute in the City Too Busy to Hate is taking shape over a proposal to break Fulton County in two and split off Atlanta’s predominantly white, affluent suburbs to the north from some of the metropolitan area’s poorest, black neighborhoods.
Legislation that would allow the suburbs to form their own county, to be called Milton County, was introduced by members of the Georgia Legislature’s Republican majority earlier this month.
Supporters say it is a quest for more responsive government in a county with a population greater than that of six states. Opponents say the measure is racially motivated and will pit white against black, rich against poor.
It’s inevitable that race will come into these discussions, as it’s inextricably linked to urban-suburban fissures. Still, the headline takes a side, implying that race is the central motivating factor when that almost certainly is not the case.
Surely, one can explain the desire of wealthy suburbanites to keep their money within their local community independent of the racial make-up of said communities. Pouring that money into a larger pool means that they have to share. That means that their kids will go to inferior schools, their local police and fire departments will be underfunded, and that social services that go to the poor will be overfunded relative to the desires of the suburban constituency.
There are terrific arguments to be made by the downtown community as to why the suburbanites, most of whom derive their affluence owing to the city, should be compelled to pay into a common tax pool. That’s a legitimate public policy debate. Prejudging them as racist, however, poisons the well.