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Cobb Commissioners and Cumberland CID’s shameful attempt to obtain federal funds reserved for underserved communities


Some of you may recall seeing the blaring headlines about NFL legion Brett Favre being caught up in a scandal involving the misuse of Mississippi state welfare funds. His potential involvement is part of an ongoing investigation into the largest corruption case in Mississippi state history that centers on the misappropriation of roughly $77 million in state funds that was part of a federal program to provide grant funds to states and territories to help families in need.

The situation involving Favre and the misuse of Mississippi state welfare funds is indeed disappointing, especially for those who admire him as an NFL legend, but the misappropriation of such a significant amount of state funds intended to support needy families is a serious matter and shameful matter that cannot be ignored.

Fast forward to the headline last week and the story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Cumberland officials, in partnership with Chair Lisa Cupid and the Cobb County Commission, have for three years sought federal grants, money that is geared toward helping underserved or disadvantaged communities, for projects in the affluent Cumberland area.

It is not uncommon for communities and organizations to seek federal grants to fund various projects or initiatives. In this case, it appears that officials in Cumberland and Cobb government have been seeking federal grants for a project and an area to which they are ineligible to receive. The Cumberland area does not meet the criteria for these funds, so why direct funds there instead of the actual disadvantaged and underserved areas of Cobb that can really use these funds such as parts of South Cobb?

The AJC article says that Cobb officials applied unsuccessfully for two grants on three occasions that are typically reserved for low-income areas: the federal Reconnecting Communities grant and the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.

When awarding funds for these programs, the U.S. Department of Transportation considers “impacts to historically underserved or overburdened communities” that face persistent poverty — which Cumberland does not.

Fortunately for us, the federal government is doing their jobs and rejected each application that Cupid, the Commissioners, and the Cumberland CID submitted for grant funding as they could clearly see that the Cumberland area was not a depressed area.

Surprisingly, Kim Menefee, the CID’s executive director, acknowledged that the Cumberland area is not underserved. Turning herself into a human pretzel, she suggested that the CID was indeed eligible for the funding because people from depressed areas will benefit from being able to access jobs in Cumberland.

Menefee’s comment did not sit well with many in South Cobb who said it sounded elitist at best, insensitive at worst. They suggested that all involved should be ashamed and investigated, similar to what is occurring in Mississippi. The major problem is that the Cumberland area is not considered underserved or disadvantaged by federal standards, yet Cupid, Cobb officials, and others were attempting to obtain funds reserved for such communities.

While the CID project may have positive aspects, federal grant programs often target areas with particular needs to ensure that limited resources are directed where they can have the most significant impact. Spending money in the Cumberland area will not trickle down to the underserved communities of South Cobb. 

Fortunately, Cobb CID did not get the funds, but their applications should be reviewed to determine if there was an intent to mislead the federal government. Someone who is not talking about this is Chair Cupid who has suddenly lost her voice on this topic.

When it comes to the South Cobb area of the county, funding for communities in need in this area would be appropriate, but there is no effort by Cupid or the District 4 Commissioner, Monique Sheffield, to direct funds to this part of the county.

Upon reading the AJC article, one South Cobb resident said Cupid and company should be tried for mutiny on dry land. Others ask how Cupid can be so callous as to ignore the needs of this community (South Cobb) in order to continue to pump up other areas of the county, especially the Cumberland area. One of my readers asked, “where is South Cobb’s application for funding from these grants?”

Not lost on anyone is the continued rejection of the grant applications by the federal government, but Cobb leaders keep going back for more rejection. The feds have assessed the situation and determined that the Cumberland area did not meet the eligibility criteria for the grants being sought.

This decision by the feds and the current spotlight on this issue underscores the importance of having strong transparent leadership at the head of Cobb County that can lead, adhere to grant guidelines, and ensure that funds are allocated appropriately to the right communities that meet the criteria, like South Cobb.

Now that the City of Mableton has been established, many hope that the new government will work with state and congressional offices to pursue funding sources to address the needs of parts of the community.

Mableton would easily meet the criteria for the funding the Cobb government attempted to obtain for the Cumberland area. That city government can easily identify and align their projects with grant requirements to maximize their chances of securing funding, while also ensuring that federal funds are used effectively and for their intended purposes.

Next, citizens of South Cobb have to wake up and hold these elected officials accountable at the ballot box. Vote these politicians out of office who continue to make decisions that are harmful to our community.

2024 elections will be here before you know it and you can decide with your vote.


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