ERICKSON: Moving forward

May 3, 2013 

As we get closer to elections for our consolidated government, consider some of the projects that will greet the new government.

One is the situation with our airport. The Middle Georgia Regional Airport has a new airline, Silver, that I intend to fly, but it’s not very convenient on scheduling. I assume they surveyed the area. Flights to Atlanta leave in the evening and return in the mornings. Flights to Orlando are a plus, but not heavily advertised. They leave in the morning and return in the evening.

I assume this incentivizes people flying through Orlando instead of Atlanta. A different hub is what we have needed and finally gotten. But will people use it? Our airport is in the perfect position for expansion of the runway and more cargo. That, though, would require a united county effort to raise the money to extend the airport and create jobs.

We still live in a world where some in the community hold the entire community hostage unless they get their pet projects done. That shortsightedness, if it carries over to the consolidated government, will doom us.

In the past, if business and civic leaders had issues with the dysfunctional city, they always had the county to retreat to. Now, they will have no choice but deal with one government. We should hope for the best, but more than a few are bracing for the worst.

Education is going to be a subject the county will have to deal with. While the new county commission will have limited say in the school system, the dysfunction in the school system will drag us all down.

Bibb County’s school system is an economic drain on the community. We need stability and unity where there is none. Board members do not respect the board enough to keep confidential meetings confidential. They do not respect the parents enough to put the interests of the children in the schools ahead of their own. They do not respect the taxpayers enough to do with less.

At some point, our school system will realize that money is not the answer. More and more school systems are raising more and more dollars with little to show for it other than nice buildings thanks to education SPLOST dollars.

The county commission has a chance to start fresh. It has a chance to rebuild bridges previously burned. It has a chance to speak with a unified voice to benefit us all and attract new business to our community. But I have one grave concern: Despite the best intentions of our local delegation, it seems those who have decided to run are not breaths of fresh air, but remnants of that which we as a community voted to move beyond.

The bickering and squabbling we have sought to replace will just be extended and expanded if we choose poorly in the elections. It is a sad thing to realize how little fresh blood we might see in our new consolidated government.

Few new faces have stepped up. Part of that is people busy in their own lives not willing to commit to a new part-time job with a full-time workload. But part of that is a deep malaise and cynicism that hangs over our community still.

The only people who may be able to rid us of that malaise will be our new commissioners; many of whom, if the elections go poorly, helped bring on that malaise and the accompanying cynicism. We must do better.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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