Milton County Resolution Anticipated To Get Vote On Cross-Over Day

This one perplexes me, but folks on both sides of this issue are telling me that there will likely be a vote on a resolution which will authorize a referendum amending GA’s Constitution to re-create Milton County tomorrow. While most have been told there will not be a vote unless there are enough votes to pass, those in favor either think they have or can get the needed votes.

I don’t see it. The issue pits two members of house leadership against each other. Jan Jones, newly promoted to Speaker Pro-Tem, is heavily in favor and pushing hard for passage. But newly elected Majority Whip Ed Lindsey is relatively quietly, though staunchly, against. One would have to assume that in-town Republican Mike Jacobs may not want to see a weaker Fulton County, as a partner in MARTA and Grady Hospital on which his county depends. Jill Chambers also has a record of bucking the majority on creating new government entities.

Given that this is a constitutional amendment, a 2/3 majority is required to pass. Thus, it’s further hard to see what will be offered to a sufficient number of Democrats to make them turn their backs on Atlanta and Fulton County. The numbers become more difficult when you factor in a few rural uber-conservatives who can’t seem to justify creating an additional county government which the state must then provide services too. As reported here earlier, regional heavyweight Sam Massell claims an added expense to the state of $6 Million the first year, and $3 Million per year thereafter.

Further complicating the issue is that the resolution doesn’t specify the boundaries of the newly created Milton County. Some believe Sandy Springs will be included, though most of it was never in the old Milton. Others go so far as to claim that Dunwoody and parts of East Cobb will be included.

Supporters of this plan suggest that those left behind in Fulton should recoup their financial position by consolidating with the City Of Atlanta. This seems to be chapping the opponents most of all. They seem to think it’s bad enough that Milton wants to break off from the county that once bailed them out, but suggests the remedy to make this financially palatable is to give up their county, too.

I can’t imagine the Senate spending time on this this year, so it really boils down to whether Jones needs to fire up her base enough to justify the House’s time and her political capital on an issue that is likely dead for this year. Assuming there is still a Republican Governor and Republican House and Senate next year, I could see it passing then. Then again, that may be why there is the sudden urge to try and push this through now, even though the details have yet to be worked out.

50 comments

  1. macho says:

    I think it’s more about firing up the base. The problem is the 2/3’s vote. You’ve got to convince too many Democrats to cross their caucus brethren.

    • AubieTurtle says:

      Not to mention that dangling Milton County in front of the voters of north Fulton is a great way of retaining votes year after year. If they truly wanted it to happen, I suspect they’d find a way of sweetening the pot to get those votes. Afterall, why would Democrats from south Georgia care if Milton County comes back into being or not?

      Keep bringing it up and have it fail norrowly over and over again. Make it look like you’re fighting without really doing anything. Pretty smart politics.

      • Rambler1414 says:

        “Not to mention that dangling Milton County in front of the voters of north Fulton is a great way of retaining votes year after year.”

        Sounds like the FairTax

  2. AubieTurtle says:

    If the boundaries didn’t include Sandy Springs and a merger was forced between the remaining bits of Fulton County and the City of Atlanta, the Republicans could write off the voters of the short lived City of Sandy Spring for a couple of decades. Doubt they’ll make that mistake. Then again, stupider things have happened.

  3. South Fulton Guy says:

    This is what Ed Lindsey said in his newsletter:

    “The Future of Fulton County

    HR 21, a proposed constitutional amendment to create Milton County out of North Fulton, passed out of the House State Planning and Community Development Committee last week. I am concerned about this proposal in its present form for three reasons.

    First, HR 21 is likely to lead to higher taxes and for those of us living in Buckhead. A carved out Milton County north of Atlanta will leave us behind with the same county political leaders in charge who have created this governmental quagmire through their bloated fiscal policies and blind opposition to needed reforms. In short, Buckhead should not be stuck with the bill in this dispute.

    Second, HR 21 strips away from Buckhead and the rest of Atlanta and South Fulton County the important constitutional right to vote on this issue. Under Article IX, Section I, Paragraph II of Georgia’s existing constitution, if a county wants to divide, everyone in the county gets to vote on the division. HR 21 will remove that right by only permitting those in North Fulton to vote on dividing our county and creating Milton County. This is unacceptable.

    Third, HR 21 is probably unattainable and provides a distraction from more realistic solutions to reform our county government. For HR 21 to pass, it will take a two thirds majority in the General Assembly, 120 votes in the House and 38 votes in the Senate. Its proponents are working diligently at the present time but do not have anywhere near the necessary votes in either chamber.

    Moreover, by focusing on this long shot dream, the proponents are alienating citizens in the rest of the county who are equally fed up with how the Fulton County government is operating and allowing the forces of the status quo to ignore calls for reform.

    Make no mistake, these reactionary forces against reform are entrenched and formidable. Five years ago, a Blue Ribbon Commission in Fulton County suggested sweeping reforms in our county government. Those suggestions went ignored. Three years ago a bi partisan House-Senate Study Committee on Fulton County once again recommended a wide range of reforms. The Fulton County Commission condemned the recommendations, aggressively lobbied against them, and killed them. Therefore, only from a united effort by reformers throughout the county can we successfully change things in Fulton….. “

  4. Magaroni says:

    I don’t know y’all … they might have a chance
    1) debate Friday is limited to 1hr per bill. This weakens the opponents b/c they had planned to all line up and use their 20 mins each to talk it into the ground.
    2) Jones and Ralston both are hammering for it. Worthwhile to work with them if you’re from out in the country & don’t care about Milton.
    3) The Miltonites do not care what Sam Massell thinks
    4) The Miltonites do not care that it is hard enough to make regional decisions without having another county

    Yet …
    There’s more GOP than you’ve named who aren’t voting for it … on, of all things, principle!!

    • Magaroni says:

      And, any Dem who crosses the aisle on this won’t have any more friends in the Fulton (D) camp.

  5. Dickson says:

    I live in what would be said county — and have lived all my life in GA — GA does not need 160 freakin’ counties — granted, the arrogance of Fulton County leadership has inspired this movement, e.g., among many items, the ugly election commercial (in the recent cycle that that brought in the current chairman) by Shirley, John Lewis and others to frighten voters by suggesting going back to fire hoses was outrageous and criminal; the issues of withholding funds to N. Fulton needs such as roads, etc. and the recent revelation of outrageous irresponsible County spending. I do not want to live in Milton County — I do not want to cut off the proverbial nose from the face. Jan Jones has built her career on this issue. As much as it would feel good to many, we shouldn’t do it. Clearly in the long run it would cost too much.

    • macho says:

      No question that John Eaves, Shirley, Young, and Lewis are responsible for inciting the Milton anger because of that despicable commercial they cut. Seems as whenever they get up against the wall, John Lewis gets carted out to scream racism. A little like whats going on during the current Obamacare debate.

      I still don’t think GA needs more counties. I wish the “Conservatives” would try to think of ways to reduce government.

  6. gopgal says:

    “In 1945, Georgia voters ratified a new constitution — one which provided an absolute limit of 159 counties, with an additional provision that no new country could be created except through consolidation of existing counties.”

    What county will be eliminated to create room for Milton?

    • macho says:

      That’s why both Houses have to be a 2/3’s vote. They are trying to sneak a Constitutional amendment into the vote. Confusing language is the only way it will pass.

    • TangoMikeMike says:

      There are presently seven counties in GA with a population of 5,000 or less, with six of them being contiguous.

      I understand that two of these counties will be consolidating this year.

      Nope, I don’t have their names.

      • B Balz says:

        Terrrel, Dougherty are a couple. The 159 rule does not allow for the living breathing nature of demographics.

      • macho says:

        Maybe, but I doubt it. You get in these counties of 5,000 or less and threaten to destroy the fiefdom, and all the jobs and power that go with it, and see how well it goes over.

        • B Balz says:

          So the power of the politicos trumps what is the greater good.

          You may be right, and it stinks.

      • MSBassSinger says:

        Combine Mitchell and Baker (Camilla and Newton, respectively), as one example. Their school systems have long been combined. That leaves room for Milton and still have 159 counties. Put Grady county (Cairo) back into Decatur (Bainbridge) and Thomas (Thomasville) from whence it came. I’ll bet there are more, and that such things will not come to pass.

        159 counties made sense when travel was by horse and buggy, and traveling distance to the county seat was an issue, so work on combining some small-population rural counties. Of course, if the Obamacrats keep trying to send us back to 1800s technology (except for the elites, of course) in pursuit of their green mythology, we may be back to horse and buggy. 🙂

        But Milton and Fulton would be high population counties, so it makes sense.

        • Gerald says:

          It makes sense only to people who want to form Milton County. Which incidentally is the only ones that it would benefit. If the Milton County advocates were to sit down and come up with a plan to restructure regional and state government in a way that benefits everyone, then it would get through easily, because everyone knows that north Georgia needs more counties and south Georgia needs fewer. But the Milton County people could care less about regional and state benefit. Truthfully, they could care less about their own benefit. This is all about trying to weaken the Atlanta-Fulton-DeKalb power base. It is 70s white flight politics reborn as modern partisan politics.

          Now of course the statewide GOP and rural Dems are also anti-Fulton and especially anti-Atlanta, but not to the point where they are going to harm their own interests. Also, the statewide GOP and rural Dems know what the suburban contingent have been fooling themselves about for decades and will never accept: that no matter what they do, Atlanta-Fulton-DeKalb will remain a black and Democratic power base, and it will still be more politically influential than any other single city and county in the state, because A) the state capital is still there and B) when people outside the state say “Georgia” they think “Atlanta”, not Cobb, Gwinnett or Sandy Springs. So no, folks in Grady, Decatur and Thomas Counties are not going to merge police forces, school systems and other parochial interests just so the suburbanites can make yet another failed shot across the bow of Atlanta.

          It would be fair easier to come up with a way to get the legislature to force reforms on Fulton County. You could do that without altering the state constitution and plunging the region into chaos. But instead of finding a way to do that and fighting for it – which takes actual work and leadership – folks are still trying to win old dead battles from the 60s and 70s.

          Really, the north Fulton folks who find their county so insufferable should just move elsewhere. That’s what a ton of south Fulton and south DeKalb residents did: high tail it to Cobb, Gwinnett, and Henry counties. And get this: most of those were black middle class and professional types looking for better schools and less crime. They did it, the Jan Jones contingent would be wise to stop tilting at windmills and do the same.

  7. Magaroni says:

    @Dickon, I think there’s a lot more people like you in n Fulton. However, none sit on any city council/mayor’s office/legislative delegation. If you don’t support Milton, you’re not in the club.

    It is a shame that Fulton gov has so many problems, but I like yr nose/face comparison.

  8. B Balz says:

    Comes now before this House a Bill to resurrect any County that ‘used to was.’ That is how the Bill gets past the 159 absolute limit. Still a long road ahead, but make no mistake–This is the end game of the local representation, pro-city folks.

    And with good reason, FULCO (Big) County government provides services (County Clerk in FULCO 8 Clerks @ $1MM) that are costly and do not service the needs of those that must pay dearly for them. Added fuel to the fire: class, racial, economic, and philosophical differences (A group of people believe they are not represented well by their government.) A true Tea Party.

    Prior to the North Atlanta incorporation of Dunwoody, I also had deep and vocal philosophical reservations about my GOP Reps voting for a city. My reservations are largely gone now. Make no mistake about it, the idea of Milton County is the end-game since day one.

    Now that Dunwoody is a city, future development is affected by local government. People have spoken loudly – No more multi-family housing. I imagine our new Comp Plan will reflect that.

    Our Police presence has become formidable; criminals have less incentive to work in North DeKalb. Although impossible to measure, there is a sense of place here now. That is critical, folks, you cannot quantify pride in knowing you helped build a better place for future generations.

    When Rep. Jones was tapped as Speaker Pro Tem, after the ‘most recent, recent unpleasantness’, my initial comments predicted this event, along with about two thousand others… So this is timing is a function of political expedience as much as anything else.

    It is a complicated issue – MARTA, Grady, bonds, VRA, etc., but at its’ very core is the simple concept of self determination and the right to local representation. Both concepts should be non-arguments for our Reps on either side of the aisle.

    In America, we have no choice in paying for government services, but we CAN choose who we want to represent us. I look forward to the discussion today, and urge my neighbors who are not ‘frum aroun’ heah’ to be patient, and please support SUPPORT HR21 .

    • macho says:

      “Comes now before this House a Bill to resurrect any County that ‘used to was.’” Problem is the language is far more confusing than that, because the Milton they are trying to create is not the original Milton. They are trying to cherry pick, rich areas of original Fulton as well. So you get into all of this intentionally confusing, “substantially all” language. Even if they somehow mange to get it on the ballot, and even if they somehow mange to get past Obama’s Justice Department on Section 5, they’ve still opened themselves up to a great lawsuit, because none of the voters will actually know what they are voting on.

      If they are going to have a Constitutional vote, then fine, but clear up the language, so everyone knows they are creating a brand new county, which happens to have the name of a bankrupt county, which is taking parts from the original Fulton county and other counties.

      • B Balz says:

        @macho You said:

        “they are creating a brand new county”

        I read:

        “They are branding a new county creation”

        Gonna be an interesting vote!

    • Gerald says:

      The concept sounds great. The truth is that the implementation details, the actual facts of the matter, harms a lot of people while providing no benefit at all to anyone except the residents of the future county. Why should I suffer harm so that you can advance your own interests at my expense? It really is no different than my expecting you to pay higher taxes to pay for health insurance for people who can’t afford it.

      • B Balz says:

        If you use Dunwoody and DeKalb in your example, the predicted adverse affects of incorporation to DeKalb resident’s never materialized.

        And I was initially against incorporation, for the very reasons you state!

  9. South Fulton Guy says:

    State Rep Ed Lindsey said it right “HR 21 strips away from Buckhead and the rest of Atlanta and South Fulton County the important constitutional right to vote on this issue.

    Under Article IX, Section I, Paragraph II of Georgia’s existing constitution, if a county wants to divide, everyone in the county gets to vote on the division. HR 21 will remove that right by only permitting those in North Fulton to vote on dividing our county and creating Milton County.”

    This is unacceptable and unconstitutional action will not be approved by the Civil Rights Division of an Obama Justice Department anyway.

    • AubieTurtle says:

      Which would be the best outcome for the north Fulton pols.

      “We tried to give you a county without all those icky people but Obama took it away. Be sure to punish him and the Democrats at the ballot box.”

  10. macho says:

    I just spoke to Dem Rep friend of mine, and it’s not going to happen. They are a good 15 votes short on this one.

    • macho says:

      It puts Ralston in a bad position. The last thing he wants to do on Crossover Day, is have a lengthy debate on a bill that isn’t going anywhere, but it would be too big of a slight to Jones to not allow it. At this point, were basically stopping the business of the House, on one of the most important days of the year, so Jan can cut a campaign commerical.

  11. ByteMe says:

    And transportation still sucks.
    And the schools still suck.
    And water is still an issue.
    … but, hey, let’s create another county!

  12. BuckheadConservative says:

    Go ahead and file me under indifferent. Not going to happen. This is a state equivalent of the FMA from 2004. Election year wedge issue.

    Yes, Jan Jones…we see you there. We’re think you’re just fine. You can knock it off now.

  13. macho says:

    From the AJC

    http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/milton-county-proposal-dead-408884.html

    “House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton) decided just before midnight not to bring House Resolution 21 to a floor vote. Jones, the proposal’s key supporter in the House, said proponents were within three or four votes of the 120 they needed in the 180-member chamber.”

    That’s not what I heard. I was told they were way short of the votes. I guess, since there wasn’t a vote, we’ll never know if they were actually 3 votes short, or if the vote was pulled to avoid a crushing, and embarrassing, defeat.

    • Gerald says:

      More likely the latter. Really, who supports this other than the white flight activists and the GOP hyperpartisans? IT ONLY HELPS PEOPLE WHO WILL LIVE IN THE NEW COUNTY. EVERYONE ELSE EITHER SUFFERS HARM OR RECEIVES NO BENEFIT.

      Jan Jones and the rest of your ilk … do some actual work which requires real leadership. Either A) work to reform the Fulton County Commission or B) work to totally restructure Georgia’s county governments. Quit thinking that the rest of the state is as out to harm and cripple Atlanta, to turn it into Detroit, Memphis or East Saint Louis, as you are. Like the rest of the metro area and state would actually benefit from creating a county where no one will be able to live in unless they make $300,000 a year. Go try to sell the folks in rural Georgia whose economies have been in a recession (or depression) for decades because the factory and agricultural jobs how that benefits them. Good luck with that!

      • B Balz says:

        Gerald, I am not going to argue your point, because essentially you are correct. Resolve the problem, don’t wall off Milton.

        Here is the condor in the ointment:

        The other side will not change. The issues may not be untenable, but the will of the pols in charge is not about change for the greater good. It is about getting all that can be gotten.

        You are literally repeating EVERYTHING I said about Dunwoody, prior to incorporation. I wish your/our way was possible, and so too, may Rep. Jones. Unfortunately, it is not political reality.

        My last comment on this, BTW.

        • Icarus says:

          The problem with this argument is that this is not the same as incorporating a city within an existing and remaining county. When Sandy Springs and Dunwoody incorporated, they didn’t leave Fulton & Dekalb counties.

          The effect of incorporation was to allow a group of county residents to decide that they would provide some services for themselves that they were otherwise getting from the county. They remained part of the county, still under general county obligations (bonds, MARTA, jails, etc.)

          Creating Milton is a totally different scenario. The folks who want to leave also want to do it on their terms. And they also want the constitution changed so that those left behind don’t get a say.

          There are many political imbalances within the Fulton Gvt structure, and I don’t blame the Milton folks for wanting changes in Fulton’s structure of Governance. The arrogance of wanting to change the GA Constitution not only once but twice without explaining who will be affected or where the new county’s borders would be was a large part of the failure that was baked into this cake.

          Privately, there are a lot of non-Fulton GOPers laughing their butt off at the arrogance of the North Fulton Republicans on this one. Think every synonym for spoiled brats, and I’ve heard it.

          • macho says:

            You are dead-on in your assessment. The Milton folks wrote the language in such a deceptive manner, that very few people would have understood what they were voting on. There were so many levels of “wrong” on the way this was handled, but the lack of transparency in language was the worst. Their attitude was basically, “Let the people vote on something extremely ambiguous, and we’ll decide what it actually means.”

            I think Jones and Co., would have had a better chance of it passing, if they had written the language in a clear and forthright manner.

        • Gerald says:

          I had no problem with the Sandy Spring, Dunwoody or other incorporations. However, they DO prove my point, which is that they only benefited the residents of the newly created cities and their mostly affluent populations. They didn’t do a thing for anybody else. Granted, they didn’t hurt anybody grievously, except perhaps for low income workers who wanted to stay in “multifamily homes” so they could live near where they worked and send their children to Dunwoody’s very good public schools. (I suppose those low income working folks’ now having to spend an hour on MARTA and send their kids to far worse schools represents social or economic conservatism in some way, maybe you can explain it to me.)

          But creating Milton County would have had severe negative effects. Everyone knows it, and the people who support it either A) don’t care or B) actually are out to harm Atlanta-Fulton because they don’t like the people who govern it, and they also don’t like the people who live there.

          At some point, conservatives have to recognize that living in any political entity means a shared responsibility in order for you to reap the benefits of the political entity. It means at times paying taxes for services that you don’t need and being governed by people you don’t like. Do the Milton folks really believe, for instance, that the people in downtown Atlanta LIKE being governed by Sonny Perdue, a GOP legislature, and a mostly GOP Congressional delegation? Or that they LIKE their taxes going to subsidies to big businesses, many of whom pulled their jobs out of inner cities? To people like that, what do you say? “It’s Georgia” or “it’s America, love it or leave it.” I say the same to the Jan Jones crowd. Work to fix things or move to Cobb or Gwinnett. Or if you do leave, only take the ORIGINAL Milton County.

  14. macho says:

    I’m sure most who believe in the County of Milton, also think Ray McBerry is a kook for wanting GA to secede from the Union; for lack of representation.

    Jan Jones has more in common with McBerry than any of us ever realized.

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