Letters to the Editor - Us vs. them February 05 2004

I am writing to comment on Michael Wall's recent article, "Fulton to Atlanta: Your sewer plan stinks" (News & Views, Jan. 22). The article misrepresented Fulton County's position on the matter.

The Fulton Sewer/Water Task Force asked that the county's Public Works Department collaborate with the city in providing input and insights. The "leaked" memo referenced in the article was a work product that had not been reviewed or discussed with the chairman, the county manager or the members of the task force. Rather, it was a working draft that noted questions for discussion and follow-up.

Further, Mr. Wall inaccurately reported the contents of this document. The memo states that the objective was to identify possible alternatives to the city's plan that could lessen the financial burden on the ratepayers. This objective is shared by both the city and the county. Mr. Wall also did not note that the document went on to commend the city and its efforts.

Additionally, Mr. Wall failed to check his facts related to the memo itself. He refers to a $39,639 project for replacement of a 26-year-old water pipe. The chart referenced numbers in "thousands of dollars," making the actual project cost for replacement of the water line at $39,639,000.

Mr. Wall irresponsibly chose to make this an "us against them" situation. Fortunately, our elected leaders are proceeding otherwise. Mayor Franklin is being proactive in dealing with this serious challenge. [Fulton County Commission] Chairwoman Karen Handel, Commissioner Emma Darnell and other elected officials have come to the table in an effort to help bring both sides of the political aisle together. And, just recently, Gov. Sonny Perdue and state Sen. Pro-Tem Eric Johnson have stepped up to the plate. The stated purpose of the task force — to bring all of our political leadership together to help our capital city move forward in the best interests of our citizens, the city and the state — is being met.

Tim Equels, assistant director,

Fulton County Public Works Department

Editor's note: Tim Equels' letter is a fine example of bureaucratic backpedaling. He's now calling the "Interoffice Memorandum" he wrote to County Manager Thomas Andrews a "working draft." But he didn't describe the memo as a "working draft" on the copy obtained by Creative Loafing. In fact, copies of the same document that were distributed to Atlanta City Council members were slugged as the "final version."

Michael Wall was entirely accurate in stating that the memo "concluded that the cost could be reduced" by "$1.8 billion." Equels' actual words from the memo: "We believe a case can be made to reduce the city's $3.73 billion [project list] to around $1.94 billion."

It's true that Equels' letter ends with faint praise for the city. But a polite throwaway line shouldn't be mistaken for substantive support in a document that otherwise raises pointed questions about the city's plans.

Finally, we thank Equels for pointing out an error. The pipe-replacement project to which he refers was estimated to cost $39.6 million. The error, which we regret, was rooted in a misread chart. But that corrected number actually underscores the county's original criticism. The Tim Equels who wrote the original memo (apparently not the same guy who's now backing away from it) was arguing that the city could save millions
not just thousands — of dollars by deferring that particular project.

You're right, Tim. We mischaracterized your memo. At least in the case of the pipe-replacement project, you were raising bigger questions than even we suggested.

-- Ken Edelstein

br>?Sharing your words
Jane Catoe: Many years ago, 25 or so, when I was about your age (probably; it's hard to tell from your photo), I spent Saturday mornings proofreading Creative Loafing as a second job, and was a consistent reader of the newspaper. I have been less so in the years since, but have begun picking it up again after reading one of your columns awhile back. You're a fine, talented writer, and you make me laugh out loud. Another sign at our home that I've read something special: I pull out the page and set it aside for my wife to read. I've done so today with "My parental posse" (Jane Says, Jan. 29), which I enjoyed greatly. I look forward to reading more of your words. Consider, someday, a book of your columns; I'll buy it.

-- Randy Evans, Atlanta

br>?See and do
I have lived in various parts of Atlanta over the past 20 years, and I've driven past Open Door Community many times without really knowing much about it — except that there were always homeless men standing in front of it ("Down and out on Ponce," Jan. 29). Your extensive and well-written article gave me an inside look at the history of the organization, and its uncertain future. Open Door and other such places are much needed in the community. Your article has inspired me to volunteer, and I hope it does the same for other readers.

-- Kalin Thomas, Lilburn

br>?Remember when?
Bob Barr may not be aware of it, but parties achieve office because of dislike, not like (Flanking Action, "Right-wing rift," Jan. 29). Democrats are voted out because of their socialist agendas and Republicans for their fascist agendas. The futility of it all eludes the memory-challenged.

-- Arland Miller, Lawrenceville

br>?Foolish notions
To have sent Kevin Griffis to ask Southerners why they ran screaming from the Democratic Party was like sending the answer to ask the question ("Dead in Dixie," Jan. 22). Flawlessly condescending and dishonest, the article left one wondering how many platitudes, half-truths and stereotypes he could cram into such a small space, not to mention how on earth the people of Blairsville have made it for so long without him. Perhaps to enlighten the good folks of the cultural backwaters of the South, you would consider shipping them a box of [your papers] to better sort out all their foolish notions. That they'll be better equipped to locate an array of strip clubs, piercing parlors and male-witch psychic readings here in Eden will just be an extra.

-- Hunter Yeary, St. Petersburg, Fla.

br>?Gamblers anonymous, anyone?
Heather Kuldell's review of poker on TV failed to mention the billions of dollars and ruined lives these shows will cost us in the future, as gambling accelerated in America (The Watcher, "Gotta know Texas hold 'em," Jan. 22). I'm thrilled that we have decided to make gamblers into heroes. It is bad enough that more than half of teen boys think they can make a living in professional sports. Now we'll have more thinking they can gamble for a living. Is this a great culture or what?

-- Dr. Robert Soloway, Decatur