With a little help from our friends -- Say it ain't so Mark. This is OneGeorgia money, not just asphalt in Atlanta we're talking about like last time.
The subject of the post was the OneGeorgia Authority, something that heretofore we in the other Georgia have been much more familiar than those of you in Georgia, since this program was designed to benefit the other Georgia.
As explained in an appreciated 9-12-04Macon Telegraph editorial entitled "Despite change in rules, priority should be rural":
"If you go back to its genesis, one-third of the money paid Georgia from a settlement with the tobacco companies was meant to help generate new jobs in those counties most affected by losses of their tobacco farming base. That mission was later expanded to include EDGE - Economic Development Growth and Expansion - and Equity Fund projects. The EDGE money is awarded in cases where Georgia counties are competing with other states for projects and the Equity Fund grants aid counties, mostly by adding infrastructure, in competing with other Georgia counties for economic development projects - i.e., jobs for their residents."
"So it's easy to see why those 71 rural and economically depressed counties in the southern half of the state - on the qualifying list since its inception - are less than enthusiastic about sharing any of the projected $1.6 billion settlement with other, more urban and less economically disadvantaged counties."
"That's what will happen now that the OneGeorgia Authority has changed the rules again to allow all but two North Georgia and 10 metro Atlanta counties to apply for the grants."
My earlier 9-10-04 post also noted:
"Most of us down here fell off a turnip truck, and when someone from the government says I'm here to help you, shucks, we believe 'em."
"So we feel confident that you guys made these changes for our benefit; that this change was designed to help the other Georgia. Since we trust you; spare us from the explanation."
Well, here's one "we're from the government and we're here to help you explanations," this being from Gov. Sonny Perdue's office by spokesman
Shane Hix about last week's changes in eligibility for OneGeorgia loans and grants:
"We're simplifying the system so it's easier for companies to create jobs in rural Georgia and our most needy communities throughout the state. The fundamental purpose of OneGeorgia is not changing."
Simplifying the sytem by changing eligibility from 71 counties to 147? Spare us please. If simplification was the goal, why didn't you make all 159 counties, but say on those counties for whom the program was created by Gov. Barnes need apply.
You think I am making this up, and if you only could appreciate how I wish I were. This might seem like I am getting it out of Ripley's Believe It or Not, but it is a case where truth and fact are stranger than fiction.
The Macon Telegraph editorial goes on to note that officials in rural areas aren't buying Gov. Perdue's party line that "the changes will streamline the process and make it easier for companies to locate and expand in Georgia" and that it will be business as usual for rural Georgia.
The editorial says "[p]oliticians representing rural turf are skeptical. More affluent counties already have a more professional staff available to recruit industries."
You'd think things can't get any worse for us in the other Georgia. So did we. But how about you add in a little dose of insult to whole lot of injury.
As when the "policiticians representing rural turf" appears to include someone who is from the other Georgia and is the only Democrat on the OneGeorgia Authority Board of Directors (but alas, someone who also knows the voters are in Georgia, or at least knows that more voters reside in 147 counties than 71).
We report, you decide. The Macon Telegraph editorial says:
"But [unlike other politicians who are skeptical,] Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, D-Albany . . . say[s he is] willing - for the present - to trust that the authority will continue to award grants with rural counties in mind."
"We hope that trust is well placed. A more inclusive awarding of the grants should be as apolitical as possible and should show a far greater specific benefit to the region than earlier required."