Tonight’s Alpharetta City Council meeting was a study in funny math and words. Politicians have a way of spinning things to their advantage.
Let’s begin with the matter of the recent bond referendum.
There was a special election in Alpharetta on May 24th for residents to either approve or disapprove two bond offerings. The first is in the amount of $27,600,000 and is to go toward improvements to roads, streets and bridges, to be allocated as the city sees fit. The other bond is in the amount of $24,900,00 and is to be spent upon green-space – park acquisitions, improvements, etc.
Both measures were approved; the roads bond by 80.09% of voters voting “Yes”; and the second by 81.68% of voters voting “Yes”. Sounds like it was overwhelmingly approved, right? Said Councilman Owens, “There was overwhelming support of our bond referendum.” And so agreed Mayor Belle Isle, who stated, “80% and 82% is pretty strong in terms of votes to enact these bonds.”
What they are not mentioning is this: only about 5% of Alpharetta residents voted on these measures. That “overwhelming” vote to spend almost $28 million on road improvements was enacted by only 2,820 people. And that “overwhelming” vote to spend almost $25 million on green space was enacted by only 2881 people.
So, although there are over 65,000 residents of the city of Alpharetta, an average of 2850.5 people voted “Yes” to enable these bonds and subsequent spending. This is hardly an “overwhelming” vote to approve these bond referendums.
More funny math ensued. It seems that Mid-City Realtors, the proposed purchasers of the private out-parcels at City Center, would like the city of Alpharetta to approve a 3 hour time limit to a portion of the public parking garage. And they want that in writing, right now, thank you very much. Problem is, Mid-City Realtors is not the owner of the private out-parcels at City Center, and therefore, legally has no say-so in this matter. There has been no closing. As of the time of this writing, there is no closing even scheduled. Councilman Gilvin erupted with the call to be sane in this matter. Why give them this when they haven’t even closed the deal? Mayor Belle Isle jumped right in to hint and suggest that the deal could be closed a lot sooner with this matter signed, sealed and delivered. Gilvin called for the matter to at least be tabled and amazingly, enough Councilmen saw the sanity of it. Matter tabled. Why did this even take an argument?
Gilvin was not so fortunate on the matter of the $7,200,000 to be spent on the west side parking garage. On this matter he refused to authorize the city to pay more for this parking garage than was originally agreed upon by a “prior Council” (Merkel’s words, not mine. Merkel sees no need to respect or abide by the opinions of prior Councils, even though said prior Council’s represent the residents of Alpharetta). This matter, and the entire matter of the budget was approved 6-1, with Gilvin voting “No”.
And finally, there was the matter of Rock Mill Park, a fantastic display and educational park. This park recently won an award from the North Georgia Water Planning District. The NGWPD said that Rock Mill Park was worthy of their Watershed/Stormwater Project of Excellence. However, it should be noted that, unlike what several Councilmen seemed to suggest at tonight’s meeting, the award was not for stormwater/watershed quality and excellence within the city of Alpharetta but was rather for a water quality demonstration/education PROJECT. Big difference. Alpharetta continues to struggle with water quality issues – as is demonstrated by the $75,000+ the city will be spending on water quality issues at Wills Park.
You have to read between the lines with politicians, otherwise, they might have you believing that 2 + 2 = 5.
You are a slow learner, Winston.”
“How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
― George Orwell, 1984