Oglethorpe President: Brookhaven Has A Shared Fate

In a recent Huffington Post commentary. Dr. Lawrence Schall explains why he remains opposed to a city of Brookhaven.


Editor's Note: The following commentary by Dr. Lawrence Schall, president of , was first published on Huffington Post on July 11, 2012.

Monday evening I attended a forum on campus where the Yes Brookhaven and the No Brookhaven proponents gathered to .

For the most part, the conversation remained civil, although I left a few minutes before the official end and things were starting to disintegrate a bit. The audience was getting restless and that's rarely a good thing. I was feeling restless myself, but I decided to leave rather than pile on.

I am a no-new-city fellow, but I will acknowledge that there were reasonable points brought up by the yes gang. Not enough to convince me of changing my mind, but I was at least assured that there are some well-meaning people on the other side. The reality is that we have no idea whether any of the promises made by the new city proponents will materialize. I am generally suspicious of such claims, but if this comes to fruition, maybe I will be proved wrong.

There is, however, a larger issue underlying the city vote. A neighbor of mine who is a city yes person cannot fathom why the rest of us are not champing at the bit to leave the non-Brookhaven residents of the county behind. Our job, he suggested, is to take care of ourselves. That, in a nutshell, is why I care about this issue and why I care so much about the state of politics today across our country.

Take the tax rate issue. The president has once again proposed raising the taxes on Americans who make more than a half-million dollars back to where they were when Bill Clinton was in charge. The Republican leadership, not surprisingly, is outraged, or at least pretending outrage. Taking away a greater percent of the wealthy's hard-earned money will be the nail in the coffin of our economy, removing all incentive of the rich to work harder.

Wow. I don't know where to begin.

The data I have seen show that no such thing. Simple common sense would tell you that having to pay a few more thousand dollars in taxes for someone making hundreds of thousands won't change a damn thing about their behavior. Well, maybe one less large-screen TV or a smaller boat, but please, strip away the incentive to work? No one thinks that way. Sure, it is always nice to have more rather than less even if one already has plenty, but turning this natural human tendency into an economic policy argument is just disingenuous.

The real issue that divides the country right now is not the precise tax rate but whether we as a people share a common fate or not. If one doesn't believe that to be the case, then it is not unreasonable to build prisons to house and segregate the poor rather than improve schools, to remove environmental government regulation designed to protect us from the over zealousness of corporate America, or to allow the urban infrastructure to collapse from lack of investment.

If one does truly not believe that in the long run the fate of our children and "their children" are intertwined, then why spend our money to ensure a better future for all Americans? The very wealthy in America have gathered so much money these days that they can pretty much avoid the "real world." They can send their kids to private schools, they can live in gated neighborhoods, they can even own their own planes and fly out of their own private airports.

I certainly don't begrudge personal wealth if it has been gathered with integrity, but I do believe that with that good fortune comes responsibility. And more than that, I believe that in many ways, like it or not, we all do share a common fate. Eventually, the deterioration in the quality of life of other people will impact my life. If not mine, then certainly the lives of my children.

So that's one reason why on this small issue of cityhood that I will vote no. Dividing our community further for shaky promises of lower taxes and better services is just not worth it.

Eddie E. July 14, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Eric, So you are saying we agree that Perimeter Summit would be an ideal place for a workforce housing complex? Such a location would certainly help keep the employers and employees close enough to cut the employees commute costs.
"E Pluribus Unum" July 15, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Eddie E., I personally just ignore this tormented life form. I continue to enjoy your perspective... EPU
Pothole Pete July 15, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Does anyone else feel the momentum growing?
HamBurger July 15, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Mr. PP, respectfully, no. My information is not scientific, but this is a small market and precise data will be hard to come by until the final tally at the end of the month. Preliminary results show that the new city movement has always been below 50% and there is less enthusiasm as the days go by. Understandingly, you ask why, plus a personal observation: - The Vinson study has not been updated to reflect the most current data. - The BY crowd pins their support on other municipalities yet does not discuss said municipalities issues. - Voters are keenly aware that HB 636 and the Vinson study have no connection and as such great trust is being placed on newly elected officials not bound by the Vinson study. - The entire cityhood idea has not been open and transparent with 2/3 of the area considered for cityhood. As a result, the majority of these folks are not happy. - The extremely short timeframe for city presentation, consideration, and vote alarms many. - The Vinson study has not been updated to reflect the most current data, did I mention this already? - The BY folks have made the classic mistake of treating the voters as ignorant imbeciles. - My personal contacts with C$ND and Mr. Stan late last year were not open and transparent. Others experience this to date. Exceptionally bad sign for communications for new city development. It is late, and this is just a fast response to your post. Please pass the thin sliced onions and pickles!
Tom Reilly July 15, 2012 at 06:52 PM
"Pothole Pete??" Linley and Greg Jones' neighbor, right?? Filling up those local potholes in your neighborhood yourself was a great way to get the situation corrected. "Sunlight is a very good disinfectant" works!! As the momentum grows, I hope everyone remembers a few concepts: "Extra layer" does NOT mean "more" government, we need to solve these issues as opponents not as enemies, and the only real question in front of us at present is if we want a new city or the status quo.--Tom Reilly
Dr. Jeff July 16, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Thank you Dr. Schall for an incredible job conveying a truly academician's view of utopia. How you connect this drivel to the real issue of cityhood is amusing. Simply because a citizen votes YES to better a neglected community does NOT mean s/he is being divisive & less focused on others needs. You provide an argument that is short on substance, yet full of judgment. In the process you become divisive, which is the very issue you were so intent on guarding against. The President reverted back to his 2008 campaign strategy to define the rich as $250,000 & above. The threshold is a moving target & this past week it was $250,000, not $500,000. I'm VERY surprised you overlooked the power of charitable giving in building & uniting our communities, state, & nation. Its power has accomplished much helping those with needs. Charitable giving to reputable causes is more often than not a far better option for personkind than county govts. taking portions of our hard-earned $$$ to build extravagant recreational facilities (commission approval or not) & covering their mismanaged operations. How many wealthy charitable donors do you interact with at OU? Do you believe charitable individuals, at any giving level, are less capable than the intellectual aristocracy (govt) when deciding what amount & where they will give to help others? Let's remember that NOT all of the county tax $$ we pay will revert from the county to the city, only about 12%.
Dr. Jeff July 16, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Eric: approximately 50% of your 2:01p 7/12 post focused on the national issue!
Bill Richards July 16, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Drivel...Drivel, I dont think you are a doctor. Dr. Schall is a straight up rightous man.
Dr. Jeff July 16, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Oh Billy settle down... You can think whatever you like... even when you can't spell righteous correctly... Those of us who are can rest in that assurance. And for you I share my best drivel ever. BTW do you have definitive, reliable, tangible proof of my credentials? I certainly do.
Eric H July 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Sure Eddie, there are many jobs in the Perimeter Center that don't pay enough to live in the available housing. Though as you know in Georgia that's a free market decision. DeKalb certainly doesn't make any meaningful effort to promote work force housing near job centers, actually as seen with Town Sembler they do quite the opposite using our tax dollars to subsidize the unnecessary removal of workforce housing. Though at least to MARTA jobs in the Perimeter Center are more accessible, though I can't thank the current administration for that. As I've said I think the past 10 or 15 years Dekalb could have been a much better partner to MARTA with its planning, zoning and development work - such as protecting the right of way to the Clifton Corridor or adopting the Brookhaven LCI as official guidance.
Eric H July 16, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Sure Dr. Jeff, its more than 50% of that one post that was in response to the links and I walked away from all the other posts because as I said I don't think we don't need to get into national politics or who we want for President when discussing the Brookhaven issue. I apologize for making a comment about the two links 60 posted. And yes I agree while I see the Dr.'s point (and I guess this was a Huffington Post article? odd) I think he's wrong about the reasons and benefits of Brookhaven and I thus I think he's wrong to introduce national policy issues into the decision to be against the City of Brookhaven and I think its a no win for those who want the city to debate the national issues here.
Dr. Jeff July 16, 2012 at 09:30 PM
While I do not claim to have an unscientific study about the momentum, I do know that Mr. Pete did a great job of handling a challenging situation in his community. It's too bad our county does so little with so much largess and then uses the excuse "well, somebody would need to communicate that with us"... Yeah right, will the 1,000th time do to get our request noticed as at least a communication effort? The CVI does not need updating. DeKalb county did its own update and found a deficit! Their own biased effort really gave folks who enjoy NO to stand up and cheer for about a day. Then, updated HOST figures were released shortly thereafter clearly demonstrating that IF DeKalb's figures were on target the HOST surplus would eliminate that "deficit" and still allow the proposed city to experience at least a $1mm surplus. And this doesn't even take into account the CVI's generous figures for our expenditures, where additional $$$ may be saved depending on our citizenry's needs. Anyone who still needs a CVI update should drive to Athens and "make 'em" do it!
Dr. Jeff July 16, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Eddie... guess this means you'll more than step up to the plate to make a larger tax payment on your AGI of at least $ 250,000 or more. Thank YOU! Please let us know how we can assist you to drive your small business results to $500,000, $1,000,000 or more. Because the more you make the greater your tax liability, which of course is no concern to you because you'll remain so successful. By the way, we'd need to know information on your business to give you the business. Care to share?
Eric H July 16, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Well alright I'm again violating my desire to keep all this about Brookhaven, but I need to ask, don't most small businesses pass through most of their income so that they avoid incurring taxation of the businesses profits? By passing through I mean large payments to a SEP IRA, Lease Payments, Capital Investments in the business and salaries/bonuses? If what you mean is the extra 2% the small business owner has to pay on his personal income he pays himself above $250,000 then ok, Though I'd suggest the people hit hardest in that scenario aren't small business owners but the professionals and managers working for large businesses or partnerships who aren't able to shelter large portions of their compensation through their small business. Such as running a car lease through the business, cell phone costs, generous health insurance and larger retirement contribution deductions, or numerous other perfectly legal and recognized methods.
HamBurger July 16, 2012 at 11:03 PM
“BTW do you have definitive, reliable, tangible proof of my credentials? I certainly do.” LOL, I bet you do. Although I play the talented local charcutier, the beloved Mr. Hamburger of Brookhaven on the Patch, I am actually King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand looking after just a fraction of my stateside investment portfolio. BTW, do you have definitive, reliable, tangible proof of my credentials? I certainly do! LOL! Special hamburger and a Cheerwine? Sorry, all I can afford right now, I left my stash of gold back in Thailand!
not one of 60 July 16, 2012 at 11:16 PM
not one of 60 July 16, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Bill Richards July 17, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Immaturity can not be educated out of a person. Thanks for the spell check.
City Yes July 17, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Schall's article - and his article in the Brookhaven Reporter is just another liberal elitist academic trying to push his politics down on folks. Schall doesn't give one reason to stay in the county - beyond the typical liberal trump card of "division" and then throws out the race card. How pathetic. If I am an Oglethorpe student or alum, I am embarrased and I wish my President stick to school issues at hand vs. putting his neck into local politics. Schall isn't even correct in his other gripe in the Reporter where he wants his school to have an "Atlanta" address vs. a Brookhaven address. Guess what Larry? You still can put Atlanta on your mailing address - people in Dunwoody and Chamblee do and magically the mail gets there. If that is as good as you can do, then you have absolutely no argument. Maybe you should worry more about getting Oglethorpe out of the bottom 50% ranking of liberal arts colleges.
City Yes July 17, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Hamburger - So wrong about the polling - right now 60-40 in favor of city in scientfic polls that have been commissioned. 15 days until Hamburger gets charred!
Scott Phillips July 17, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I have noticed the momentum growing. Over the last few months many of my neighbors and I have been working to learn more about the situation. It seems most have decided (separately and not as a group) to vote yes on July 31st. While a couple are undecided, no one says they currently plan to vote no.
Dr. Jeff July 17, 2012 at 03:53 AM
EPU: however the election goes we'll still be part of DeKalb county's diversity and societal fabric. Only 12% of the total tax revenue paid by 30319 residents will revert from the county to the proposed city. Our schools will continue as they are as well as many other services. It appears your message, as you view the universe, is potentially 12% correct for those of us in 30319, who you claim are either ignorant or racist. I can hear Arsenio Hall, my most admired comic, "Things that make you stop and go hmmmmmm..."
HamBurger July 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Dr. Jeff, twelve per cent of our existing county tax revenue will fund the new city? So for twelve per cent of tax revenue we create an entirely new layer of government? I can hear Arsenio Hall, Dr. Jeff’s most admired comic say, "Things that make you stop and go hmmmmmm . . ." Those are some of the finest thin sliced onions and pickles I have ever seen!
JayMan July 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM
notice the author of the article says the wealthy "gathered" their money. Yeah..it was gathered...not earned.
not one of 60 July 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Hamburger really does not live in Brookhaven, ip address hijack not so hard these days, so he does not reallly want to see the area improved, rather the opposite. Sour grapes!
not one of 60 July 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
can't wait til aug 1, no more burgers, onions, lame-lays, kona$, cobbs- housewive to Rant lies, fear, lies, fear, lies, and more lies lies lies!
not one of 60 July 17, 2012 at 01:35 PM
The main opposition group is “No City Brookhaven” but its website does not list a board or any members. It’s leaders are believed to be Historic Brookhaven resident Chuck Konas, an executive of Post Properties, Mary Ellen Imlay, wife of John Imlay, one of Atlanta’s wealthiest citizens, and Jodi Cobb, a long time Democratic activist. A tabloid newspaper filled with opposition articles and ads recently hit driveways, published by Dolly Purvis, a Democratic activist and most recently campaign manager for Democratic candidate for the state house, Sandy Murray, also a city opponent. Many of the ads were from “Ashfordneighbor.org” an early opponent of the city, run by Laurenthia Mesh, owner of Mesh corners, and her daughter Eugenie Viener.
not one of 60 July 17, 2012 at 01:44 PM
not one of 60 July 17, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Dr. Jeff July 17, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Oh Hamburgular... Don't be so jealous that I was the first to name drop Arsenio Hall... The green mold on your delicacies does not become you. And just because you always consume an extra layer of cake at meal time does not mean Brookhaven will be an extra layer. Of course in your pea brain size mind it would because you say the same drivel over and over again. Next stop - Chin chin - where Hamburgular's are outlawed!


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