There has been a great deal of conversation in the wake of Monday’s front page AJC article. Allegations were made, Council Members were named, and judgments have now been formed.
As elected representatives, we know there is a price to be paid. We know that our actions and our associations will be viewed critically, and that is as it should be. After all, we volunteered. It’s the price you pay for seeking to make a difference.
I do, however, take issue when the reputation of our City is so casually targeted and blemished for the sake of sport and spectacle. The AJC appears to have a template with respect to Alpharetta. We have seen it before, and we see it now: “Because Alpharetta is prosperous, because we are well run, because our students outperform the rest of the State, because we are safe, because we are a strong place for families, there must be something nefarious at work.”
You can see this template played out in the AJC’s coverage and placement of Alpharetta’s achievements and their coverage and placement of what they deem as salacious. When the AJC covered the kickoff of our new Downtown initiative, the most important project in a generation, it was placed near the back of the paper. Yet, when the Chamber, a City vendor, spent $75 to hold a meeting for its members, expressing their position on an upcoming application, it was cast as a misuse of “City” funds and prominently displayed on the front page.
My point is this: beware of the template; beware of the sellers of spectacle; beware of those who would use that spectacle to support or oppose a political position. This is not the first article aimed at our City’s reputation. It will not be the last.
With that in mind, here are a few of the facts that when properly ignored create the AJC’s most recent spectacle under their Alpharetta template:
- Late last year, the City contracted in writing with the Chamber to perform specific economic development services. By doing this, the City bridged the gap on our economic development obligations, saving our taxpayers the cost of additional personnel.
- Last month, the Chamber spent approximately $75 on coffee, muffins and bagels (the room and water were donated by a private business) for a meeting of its members expressing its support of the Avalon project.
- As a city, we have over 1,200 vendors, one of which is now the Chamber. We pay them all. We are not, nor have we ever been, unduly influenced by that fact.
- Myself, Councilman Owens and Councilman Cross do presently sit on a 60 member non-voting honorary Chamber board. This board, however, does not make decisions or policy for the Chamber, and it does not vote. Those are all matters for the Executive Board, a board on which we do not sit.
As a culture, we love to see the train derail; occasionally, even in slow motion. But, know what you are being sold. A paper in the business of selling spectacle must either find spectacle or create spectacle where none exists. After all, it costs nothing to muddy another’s reputation, and there are always willing accomplices. The good news is this: only good reputations can be harmed. And, our reputation remains better than good. Alpharetta shines.