As Detroit – beset by violence, debt and social woes – prepares to undergo a historic takeover by the Michigan state government, the city of Atlanta could be sliding toward a similar fate.
Some are quietly wondering whether Atlanta is in danger of becoming “the Detroit of the South.”
The city has experienced an ongoing succession of government scandals, ranging from a massive cheating racket to corruption, bribery, school-board incompetence and now the potential loss of accreditation for the local DeKalb County school system.
For several years, problems of this sort have fueled political reforms, including the creation of new cities in northern Atlanta suburbs. Due to the intensification of corruption scandals in DeKalb, some state-level reform proposals could become national news very soon.
‘Super-white majority’ cities
As a result of the unsavory politics in urban Atlanta, northern suburban communities acted to distance themselves. Beginning in 2005, many communities began the process of incorporating into cities.
Thus far, Milton, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chattahoochee Hills and Johns Creek have done so.
These cities, after breaking away politically from urban Atlanta, have become so successful that a libertarian think tank, the Reason Foundation, has featured Sandy Springs as a model of effective government. The Economist has also applauded the northern Atlanta cities for solving the problem of unfunded government pension liability and avoiding the bankruptcy that looms over some urban areas. The new cities may soon be able to create their own school districts, which would free them even further from the issues besetting Atlanta.
While incorporation has been popular with residents of the new cities, not all of Atlanta is as satisfied. The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus filed a lawsuit in 2011 to dissolve the new cities, claiming they were a “super-white majority” and diluting the voting power of minorities.
A key leader in the black community and a driving force in support of the lawsuit, who wishes to remain anonymous, bemoaned the “disturbing tendency of black electorates to not elect the smartest and brightest, or even the cleverest.”