Monday, November 10, 2008

Misleading arguments

I've got to say there are obvious and glaring problems with the arguments put forward in this editorial.

For starters, let's address the factual error that is habitually harped on ...

The initiative becomes more problematic in future years, when other area counties - Madison and Oglethorpe, most prominently - could become involved. Then, each county would have equal representation, but would fund the effort on a per-capita basis. That means Athens-Clarke, as the most populous county in the region, would foot most of the bill, but would not have a proportionally larger voice.

This is just incorrect, and it's a disservice to readers to present it as fact.

The per capita payment suggestion is put forward as one possible option, but is hardly submitted as the final answer. Instead, it is suggested that per capita funding is one possible way to finance the regional economic development initiative based on studies of other joint ventures. It is not the official recommendation from the committee which made the presentation.

By repeating the notion that it is the only way to account for future growth through addition of counties (something, which again according to the report, is not something that is mandated), misleading information is being presented as fact.

The committee recommended combining the economic development efforts of Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County with equal financing and equal representation. Any future growth and subsequent changing of the financing formula would be determined by the participating counties at a later date.

This is why I think all of this outcry against financing or representation is completely misplaced and, to be frank, largely a result of complete misunderstanding of what the report is. Which is why the editorial's argument that Athens-Clarke County not partner with its neighbor to bolster economic development efforts because of the economic crisis is baffling to me.

Athens-Clarke County, as acknowledged by many of its leaders, has struggled in some areas with regard to recruiting and developing diverse businesses. Oconee County has longed to find an able partner with the resources and workforce to assist in attracting said business. Given the dire economic forecasts, I find it hard to process how working together can make things worse.


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