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Straight from the Mike… Ample Grist for the Mill


It is quite a refreshing thought to realize that we are about to experience a priority check from our local elected officials by seeing how serious and creative they can be with a bevy of resources.

I am excited and look forward to witnessing, in the near term, a real reprieve from the standard political rejoinder to citizen requests for programs, “We just can’t afford it”. 

Take a moment, if you can, to read Executive Order 13985, better known as The American Rescue Plan Act. It states in black and white, these funds are being released for the express purpose of re-calibrating the angle of the playing field of our society. 

It sure did not take me long to notice, after reading the order, the word, ‘equality’, was totally absent. It may cause some of you to ask the question, why? My rejoinder is just look at the current tilt of the playing field. Look, for instance, at the growing wealth gap and disparity in Georgia, and right here in Cobb County.

 However, it is comforting to know that the citizens will have a say in helping to determine how the funds, $147,000,000, are to be dispersed within the prescribed categories. 

Of course, one could be somewhat chagrined knowing that an outside consultant has been commissioned to assist our BOC. A competitive process took place.  Deloitte, well-respected corporate consultant, has been engaged. 

By the way, it is easy to forget sometimes, that our District Commissioners are part-time, compensated public officials. The Chair holds the only full time seat on the board. If you consider the current constituent load of your District Commissioner, it is clear, one cannot have a weak back because there is heavy lifting involved. A talented, multiple task specialist is a prerequisite in their assistant, without a doubt. 

I have long thought it would make sense to consider increasing the number of District Commissioners. I remind you that our School Board has seven members. Nevertheless, before I go too far afield, the key point is we now have an opportunity to make our voices heard with the BOC. Let them know our input before the window closes later this month, even offer to help with the lift.

Our failure to embrace this opportunity before us, with these significant funds, would be most unfortunate. A significant number of citizens are depending upon county leadership with vision, and ideas with solutions to keep Cobb County a five star county. “A rising tide lifts all boats”, and when a segment of the county gets lifted, the entire county catches the updraft. 

A profound example supporting that very point is affordable housing. The fact that affordable housing is economic development is as often overlooked, as are treasures in a field.

It’s rather obvious that President Biden may not yet have the political batting average of success as the late, great Ted Williams had in baseball, but I would submit he got a bases loaded hit with ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act).

I would highly suggest that you go to the county website or review your commissioner’s newsletter and fill out the survey before the expiration deadline.

 Interestingly enough, Gwinnett County has already put forth their priorities within the guidelines stipulated by the act. Several key tenets jumped out at me, not the least of which was $5Mil for nonprofits, $5Mil for small business recovery and restart programs, and several million dollars for public health mobile clinic expansion.

If one could just imagine that the inequity gap is like a giant cargo ship, plenty of which are now anchored idle in our port waters, moving but in need of a course change, it cannot be done quickly. 

This was the challenge that led R. Buckminster Fuller to invent the ‘tip blade’. His theory was that by simply installing one at the top of a ship’s rudder would serve to form a vacuum. This action would demonstratively begin to turn the ship quicker than relying strictly on the standard rudder. We need a tip blade type mechanism to be placed on this ship we are currently on and begin a turn in the direction of viable solutions to the challenges facing too many of our citizens today.

A key area that can be addressed with these funds would be a bridge back to society and assist with steps back to the road of productivity for returning citizens. Cobb County has the third largest number of returning citizens annually returning to the county upon their release from incarceration. It would behoove the BOC to take advantage of the entrance ramps available in the areas of employment and career training.

There is no silver bullet, no magic wand, and no genie in a bottle. However, if and when funds such as this windfall materialize, responsible, futuristic and beneficial decisions can and should be provided.

It is time. The past has not passed us. Let’s move the needle toward a level playing field of opportunity, no guarantees expected or necessary.

Let the process begin, pronto.

Until next time, 

Michael Murphy


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