Just a reminder that your elected officials, at least some of them, are holding a town hall tonight to discuss the proposed redistricting. Go give Jane Kidd and Keith Heard an earful tonight at 7:00 pm, at the Athens-Clarke County Public Library.
Speaking of redistricting, we managed to get our hot little hands on the pro-redistricting talking points that the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce is passing around amongst their membership. We’re not going to post the whole email here, because the Chamber rivals us in their tendency to ramble and bloviate. According to the email, the Chamber supports the redistricting for four reasons.
“1.Two of the five largest employers in Athens-Clarke County (UGA & CCSD) get a large source of their funding from state government. These 2 entities alone employ over 11,000 working individuals. If wages for the majority of these employees are to increase, it will come as a result of increased funding from state government. This reason alone is enough to support increasing ACC’s representation in the legislature.
2. Clarke is the only county over 100,000 in population that has only one state senator representing it. A number of much smaller counties listed below have more representation than Clarke. [Editor’s note: in the email, the Chamber includes a list of counties with smaller populations than ACC with more than one representative. We omitted it for reasons of space.]
3. Athens Technical College is in desperate need of increased funding to simply meet the existing demand for highly skilled individuals, especially in the area of healthcare. More representation in Atlanta gives our community a better chance of helping our young people get the skills they need to make a living wage.
4. Our community’s largest employer and the state’s flagship university needs full funding in order to reach its potential, especially in area of the biosciences.”
First of all, to think for even one moment that the Chamber has any interest in a wage hike for UGA and the CCSD is just fallacious. We know that you already know that, but let’s work through the logic, just for grins. UGA and the CCSD are among the five biggest employers in Athens, as the Chamber acknowledges. The Chamber of Commerce is composed of the owners of employers number six through whatever. What happens to them if UGA and the CCSD raise their wages? It pushes the market value of labor in ACC up, meaning that the wage they pay will also rise, if they expect to remain competitive in the resource market for labor. In fact, the membership of the Chamber has a vested economic interest in keeping wages low.
Not that that really matters, because if there’s one thing more fallacious than thinking the Chamber is suddenly the standard-bearer for higher wages, it’s thinking that increased funding for UGA will be used to increase wages. Sure, some folks at UGA may get more money out of a funding increase, but we’re betting that it’s going to be more like professors and administrators, rather than the folks who mop the floors and cook the food. More likely though, most of any increase in funding will go to projects that we can’t complain about, more research, perhaps better facilities. Of course, there’s no reason to suspect that having more Senators will necessarily lead to increased funding.
Under the current system, UGA is the big ugly couch in Brian Kemp’s political living room, and he has to arrange all of his other furniture around it. With two Senators, the proportion of UGA to other constituents is much smaller, and the big ugly couch becomes kind of like that ashtray your nephew made you at summer camp last year. You still have to have it on display, but you can hide it behind your DVDs most of the time.
In fact other than the sudden and hilarious dedication to raising wages at UGA and the CCSD, the Chamber’s entire set of talking points is predicated on the assumption that having two Senators will increase, rather than decrease UGA’s representation in Atlanta, an assumption that is, at the very least, arguable.
Finally, please note that the Chamber is trying to rally its forces for the town hall meeting tonight. According to the email: “We urge your attendance to show unaninimity in our desire to see increased representation for the people of Clarke County.”
Rallying the troops, on either side, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s our impression that this thing is a done deal. Don’t expect the feds to make a big deal about this one, either.
[Edited to add: Here's a good analysis from PeachPundit. Eds.]