Decision on Brooks, Tyrone schools ‘tough’? Mostly, it was ‘stupid’
I once worked under the same roof as Lewis Grizzard, a fellow some of you will remember. I was not a close friend, but I knew him well enough to figure he would have enjoyed doing a column or two about the goofy Fayette County news I saw in The Citizen last week.
First was the lengthy guest editorial by Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown praising the Fayette County Board of Education in making the “tough decisions” to close four schools, including Tyrone where my granddaughter is a student.
Commissioner Brown, that was a very stupid decision, at least in shutting down the Tyrone and Brooks schools.
Before the board voted, I sent a letter to BOE Chairperson Marion Key citing the damage the closing of those schools would cause, not only for the children but the other social and economic fabric of the communities involved.
I’m new to Fayette, so I didn’t pay a penny of tax for the Tyrone school or the town’s excellent library, fire station and the tennis courts and lake in the nice park we use almost daily.
But I was certainly willing to cough up some additional property tax to help fund these schools, especially after paying taxes in Atlanta for 30 years. If I could kick in an extra $100 as my share, it would be fine with me.
I’ve paid Fayette County $75 over the past 12 months just for a “wildlife” tag, and last week they didn’t even have a new one for the car. Yep, times are tough just about everywhere, including the Fayette tag office.
And as I said to Ms. Key, I don’t need to know what the Tea Party people think about schools and taxes. I was a political appointee under the Ronald Reagan administration 27 years ago. And would President Reagan be in favor of closing the Tyrone and Brooks schools? Of course not!
I will give BOE member Mary Kay Bacallao, bless her heart, credit for voting not to close any of the schools. I saw her in a debate before she was elected and she said then she was not in favor of closing schools.
She kept her word, and the fact she is the most qualified of the BOE members tells me all I want to know. For the record, she has a Ph.D. degree in education and about 20 years of professional experience in the field.
I knew when I sent my letter, the BOE was hell-bent on closing those schools. The past school superintendent had voiced his support for keeping the schools open, and after he was pushed out the door, he was so bad the school system in Rome hired him in only a few weeks.
And there was The Citizen story about the “Pinewood project” that Matt Forshee is all excited about over at the Fayette County Development Authority. After some voting, the 288-acre “Pinewood Studios” proposal has been sent over to Commissioner Brown and the other commissioners for some type of final decision.
Mr. Forshee is talking about 2,000 full-time jobs, several more thousand jobs in related areas with an initial construction of five film/TV sound stages, more stuff to follow.
I’m going to read between the lines here, and I hate to rain on Forshee’s parade.
For starters, nothing was mentioned about where the money is coming from on this deal. If it’s coming from Pinewood Studios (based in England) would Forshee be putting their name out for every other industrial developer in the USA to see, and go for the same project? Just for the heck of it, I went on the Pinewood Studios website and searched around under “news” for any mention of plans to local something in Fayette County.
I saw nothing on Fayette, but I did see where the studio has started construction on a new $7.5 million state of the art production facility, but that is at its Buckinghamshire site.
Just a few facts of life for the Development Board: California, and its “Moonbeam” governor, whether we like it or not, has the redwoods; it has Silicon Valley, Google and all the rest; and it has the film/TV industry along with the red carpet they just rolled out a few days ago for those Oscars.
If Atlanta’s super successful Tyler Perry was part of this project, or Atlanta native Ryan Seacrest was connected, I would give it more than a second look. And if Mr. Forshee has some private investors dumb enough to put up the money for the buildings, more power to him. Maybe he can get them to buy Holyfield’s vacant mansion in another Fayette County pasture. At least they might turn it into a bed and breakfast.
In the meantime, don’t get a U-Haul, Mr. Forshee, to pull that “Hollywood” sign down in LA to be trucked over to a smaller hill in Fayette County. And don’t try to get any financial backing (bond issue kind of scheme) from the county commission, because they don’t have enough money to keep the sweet Tyrone school open for another year.
Please remember, Mr. Forshee, Peachtree City and the nearby Atlanta Airport are the main cards this county still holds. You have managed to put the Pinewood Studios brand on this pending deal. So please tell them to at least post it on their website, if the money is in fact coming out of their back pockets. And, oh, thanks for that 10-foot wide path for “public use” the “Pinewood” plan calls for. You have to keep the golf cart people happy.
My last statements deal with the commission’s U-turn, or call it back-sliding, on the West Fayetteville Bypass. Commissioner Brown, who was on record against the second phase, says he and the other reasonably honorable commissioners have no choice but to go ahead with the next phase (and how much taxpayer money?) because there might be lawsuits if they don’t.
Let me ask, did the commission get a lawyer from Sears on this road, not leaving the county no, zero, nada escape clauses in the paperwork?
If you are a county commission chairman these days, and you want to avoid lawsuits, you might want to look for another line of work. Or maybe the commission has been watching too many of those Ken Nugent “One Call That’s All” commercials out of Atlanta TV.
After living in this state for three decades, I know it’s easier to kill one of those “Walking Dead” zombies over in Senoia than stopping a road in Georgia after it is been put on the books.
Georgia politicians, especially those under the Gold Dome, start acting funny when they smell a little asphalt. The stuff gets up in their nostrils and before long they get a strange glaze over their eyes.
We will have to wait until the next commission meeting to see if this is the case with our elected group.