Lee: Voters hurt by indecision on maps
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
March 31, 2012 12:00 AM | 1916 views | 12 12 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee said the failure of the General Assembly to approve a new county commission map puts Cobb voters at a disadvantage.

Although the Georgia House passed a map weeks ago designed by Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), the state Senate decided to sit on it until the last day of the legislative session before taking action. As a result, rather than the Republican majority having the luxury of drawing the new boundary lines for the commission districts, the map will likely be drawn in a federal court to reflect new Census numbers.

“I’m obviously disappointed that they didn’t get it done because it’s going to create so much more havoc for the citizens of Cobb County as we approach the election of two important district seats,” Lee said.

The districts Lee referenced are held by Woody Thompson and Bob Ott, who are up for re-election on July 31.

Lee said he didn’t know what caused the General Assembly to fail in its task, “But it certainly puts us in a tighter prediction in getting ready for the elections … the voters of Cobb are a little bit put at a disadvantage that they won’t have a greater opportunity to consider candidates for the two districts, because it won’t be clear until the last minute,” Lee said.

“Right now we have an unconstitutional map based on the Census, so the courts and the legislators didn’t take it up appropriately, so I believe the next steps is to go to the courts.”

Several lawmakers believe Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) was responsible for the failure. Their reasoning is that Rogers needed a few Democrats to vote in favor of his charter school constitutional amendment, a proposal the Democrats opposed.

And Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta) broke ranks with his party and voted for the charter school amendment. The lawmakers allege that Rogers promised Thompson that were he to vote for the charter amendment, Rogers would see to it that the county commission district represented by Thompson’s brother, Woody Thompson, a Democrat, wasn’t carved up.

Rogers could not be reached for comment for this article.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) said the irony is that after this year Rogers will no longer represent any part of Cobb, “and won’t have to deal with the problem.”

“I believe apparently a change in the commissioner map was used to win Sen. Steve Thompson’s vote on the charter bill legislation and then the commissioner map became a political football over in the Senate,” Cooper said. “Somehow Sen. Rogers lost control of the ball and Reps. Ehrhart and Setzler couldn’t fix it in the House, so we ended up with no commissioner’s map, which means we have a massive mess on our hands.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-south Cobb) pointed out that while Cobb lawmakers were responsible for the map failure, it was the county commission which would have to foot the bill on any legal fees.

“When the county can’t open libraries on Sunday, this is another cost the county will have to occur,” Wilkerson said. “Maybe they can take up a collection from the delegation and see if they want to cover the legal costs.”

State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) said the fumble could have been avoided if the delegation had listened to the county commission and the map it had advised the delegation to adopt.

“The way I see it, it has been the leadership of the delegation in the House (Setzler) who has made it very clear that he had no interest in paying attention to what the final recommendation of what the board itself wanted,” Stoner said, adding, “You’d have to talk to Sen. Thompson and Sen. Rogers as to why the Senate took its time in coming back with an alternative map.”

While the delegation struck out in adopting a commission map, it did approve one for the Cobb School District.

Setzler said one of the factors in drawing a new school board map was the growth in northwest Cobb.

“So to maintain seven equal districts, the east Cobb districts had to grow geographically to take up the population needed to be balanced with the west Cobb districts so Post 5, currently David Banks’ post, had to move south into more Walton and some Wheeler (high school attendance zones) and Post 6 (held by Scott Sweeney) had to move west into more Campbell (high school attendance zone), and Post 7 (held by Alison Bartlett) had to move shift north into more Harrison,” Setzler said.
Comments
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Come Visit
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March 31, 2012
So.... Mrs. Bartlett.... now that Harrison will be one of your schools, I hope that you'll come visit soon and see of its needs...
Grow up...
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April 03, 2012
Harrison will get the renovations; the 9th grade-waste-of-money-academy will be at the end of SPLOST. Don't seem to care much about the rest of the SPLOST projects, do you?
The truth
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March 31, 2012
Mr. Chairman, did you really expect our Cobb delegation to actually make a decision? This is the same reason they voted to give the locally elected officials, like you and your peers, the decision making power to solve our traffic problems since they didn't have the guts to do it themselves. Tell me why we need them at all???
anonymous
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March 31, 2012
Mr. Lee could not wait to throw some rocks back at members of the state house or state senate. However, in the end - he is still going to lose.
school board map?
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March 31, 2012
If Allison Bartlett is taking over any of Harrison's current district I hope there is someone running against her. I will vote against her after her non-support of the West Cobb Ninth Grade Center at Harrison last week. Pfft!
Smyrna Oldie
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March 31, 2012
More corruption on the part of Cobb politicians.

Will it ever end?
anonymous
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March 31, 2012
Wow, Tim Lee, criticizing others.

This has been the most passive-aggressive commission chairman I can remember, staying mute upon being criticized himself, yet not hesitating to dish it out when he believes it will suit him. Arrogant.
anonymous
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March 31, 2012
The School maps are a joke. Rather than being so concerned about rather a board member has a D or R behind their name, there should have been more concern about keeping the school's feeder pattern together.

In other words, many parents will send their kids to schools that are not represented by their elected board member.

Here, here!!
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April 03, 2012
You hit the nail on the head!
So right...
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April 05, 2012
With the "new" map configuration - my children will attend elementary and high school in one district and middle school in another. But - they are already dealing with different assistant superintendents - so this will fit right into this ridiculous planning project...
Boot Tim Lee
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March 31, 2012
Tim Lee has hurt voters by promising NOT to raise taxes if the voters passed SPLOST. Then he voted to raise property taxes! Yes, Voters have been hurt, lied to, stomped on, ran over, infuriated and ignored. The map is small potatoes compared to the multi-billion dollar lie being pushed by Tim Lee! Please folks, wake up and VOTE TO BOOT TIM LEE out of office!
anonymous
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March 31, 2012
Setzler, I can't believe you lie so blatantly. You did not have to make those shifts, evidenced by the map the school board proposed and voted on. You moved Bartlett's district north to create 6 majority Republican seats. Just what we need; another flip flopper like Banks and Sweeney, and a see-no-evil like LCE.
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