Tuesday May 28th, 2024 9:44AM

Again...The Buck Stops And I'm Glad

By Bill Crane

There already is a small city, called Buckhead, Georgia, about an hour east of Atlanta just off I-20.  The bucolic burg has a population of just under 200.  But the Morgan County municipality, even smaller than the neighboring 'gentleman farmer' community of Rutledge, Georgia, has been incorporated since 1908 and has a crime rate of nearly zero. 

The residents and business owners in the community of Buckhead and Buckhead Village in Atlanta also deserve to be and feel safe.  Within Buckhead, specifically, Mayor Andre Dickens has opened a new police precinct and added several hundred new public safety cameras, eyes in the sky, and drones to the Atlanta Police Department arsenal for public safety and crime prevention.

One homicide is too many, and during 2022 across Atlanta, there were 170 known homicides.  Of that number 19 were children and teens.  Though far from the per capita murder rates per 1000 residents of the city of Chicago, these numbers are high and close enough to home to cause fear on the streets, maps showing where these and other violent crimes occur do not paint a picture of violent or even property crimes levels shared across the city.

https://crimegrade.org/violent-crime-atlanta-ga-metro/

According to CrimeGrade.org, which maps crime reports of all kinds across the country, there are significant differences in safety and the volume of crimes committed, ranging from High Crime areas (mapped in Red), to the safest areas, marked in DARK Green, and graded A (safest) to F (stay inside at night).  The only pocket of Buckhead qualifying for that F-category is the famed Buckhead triangle, bar, and retail district, bound by Pharr Road and Peachtree Road.  The nearby Atlanta History Center, and mansions of Paces Ferry and West Andrews Drive range from a golden amber C, to that dark green A-safety rating.  Look much south of North Avenue and west of the downtown connector, and Atlanta crime rates become a near sea of red.

There is no single or silver bullet to eliminating crime.  The D.A. and Solicitor's office need to do a better job of identifying and holding repeat violent offenders, awaiting trial, without bail or bonding.  The Georgia General Assembly is again reviewing the restoration of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for judges and prosecutors, after a significant shift during the Deal Administrations to diversion and multiple addiction/recovery/re-admittance programs versus more hard beds in Georgia prisons.

Policing is the single most expensive aspect of local government.  Creating a police department on average takes about two years.  In addition to a Mayoral salary higher than Georgia's Governor and Atlanta's Mayor, the proposed City of Buckhead City Charter could not answer questions about shared bonded debt with the City of Atlanta. One prime example is $3 billion of bonded water system expansions and improvements since the administration of Mayor Shirley Franklin, which the proposed charter would sell to the City of Buckhead City for $100,000.  Atlanta park jewels like Bobby Jones Golf Course and Chastain Park were to be transferred to Buckhead for roughly $100 an acre, for property now selling for millions an acre.

Thankfully, the legal counsel for Governor Brian Kemp pointed out more than a dozen aspects of the bill unlikely to stand state constitutional challenge.  Buck backers said their children would continue to attend Atlanta Public Schools.  But APS said once they reside outside the city, but still, within Fulton County, their next stop would be the Fulton County School District, with the nearest of those neighborhood schools in Sandy Springs.

Two bills to put the wheels of a City of Buckhead City (SB 113 & 114) closer to motion, were passed out of the State and Local Government Operations Committee with a due pass recommendation and sent on to the Senate Floor for a full vote.  Thankfully the illogical bill failed, by a vote of 33-23.  All Democrats in the body and 10 GOP Senators bucked the chamber’s leadership and stopped the Buck, including State Senator Frank Ginn (R-District 47), who chaired the committee holding hearings on the bills and voted NAY.  So aGinn, The Buck stops here, with bi-partisan meaning bucking chamber leadership and party for the greater good of the state, as well as our Capitol City.  And with apologies to Casey at the Bat…

 

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is still shining bright;

A Buckhead band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

Yet there is much joy outside of Buckville—as the Mighty and Race-Baiting have struck out!

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