The questions I am hearing asked by people on the street are these: Is Atlanta better off today after almost seven years of leadership by Mayor Shirley Franklin? Is she leaving the city in any better shape than her predecessor, Bill Campbell, did?
I find myself asking the same questions.
Certainly Franklin has not proved to be the crook Campbell was. At least no one is talking about prosecuting her or sending her to jail. But in what state of affairs will she leave the city at the end of her reign next year?
Franklin’s hand-picked former chief financial officer, Janice Davis, recently painted a rather bleak financial future for the city’s budgets and financial operations, at least for the next two or so years.
I think we all understand that the city’s budget right now is no better than what Campbell left for Franklin when she took office. Things looked better for a few years, but apparently that was a mirage — a fictional oasis in a barren desert.
The promised “pothole posse” has left the city’s streets besieged with ever-growing caverns to swallow cars. The “Sewer Mayor” reigns over a water and sewer upgrade that continues to escalate in costs and run behind schedule, with questionable results when it all is completed.
Franklin has been a master at coming up with “creative marketing projects” for the city, such as the Peachtree Folly — oh, pardon me, I meant Peachtree Trolley. But they all have a big price tag, and the funding answer always seems to involve mortgaging the city and burdening its taxpayers. And what about the BeltLine, which might not occur in any of our lifetimes?
She promises to streamline the process for obtaining building permits to cope with the amount of new development in the city. But at what cost?
One cost likely was the firing of the city’s senior arborist, who apparently was the only arborist actually enforcing the ordinance enacted to protect the city’s admired tree canopy.
Another seems to be a Building Department so inept, it discourages businesses rather than encouraging them — especially small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our city.
I would like to know your thoughts. Send me a letter to the editor via e-mail or snail mail.