Monday, August 3, 2015

There's A Grant For That

TOD has ranted often about grant-grubbing down at City Hall. When your new City is touted as "saving us all from DeKalb" these grants are the thirty pieces of silver politicians need to sell us down the mythological river of Local Control. It is the kind of sleazy politics as usual that puts an interstate lane thru a park and removes two lanes from a parkway.

If you've listened to all the hubbub around the Bicycle Lanes Matter movement, you might think that Dunwoody is some kind of bicycle nirvana but just like those poor misinformed souls who moved here for the parks and baseball diamonds you would be wrong. We aren't. And by and large what we do have are weekend Lance-alots who often drive here to then ride around here. That's right. They drive here to put their toes in their straps and their noses in the air. So keep in mind, this isn't about neighborhood kids flocking to school on their Schwinn coasters or the local Birkenstock Babe wheeling over to the now-defunct Green Market to score some Beets and Sweets.

As you've probably guessed the fuel behind this movement is grant money. Turns out there is quite a bit of Federal grant money available for this brand of social engineering. Your Local Control fanatics don't need to be in favour of bicycles, they just need to be in favour of taking these federal dollars and essentially stealing from our children and grandchildren who at some point will probably be picking up the tab. And there is no end of help to do just that.

Bike Walk Alliance and Advocacy Advance offer how-to guides on soaking the Feds for these pet projects. Others focus on how to tap the Feds for ongoing maintenance as this is a common complaint from Common Sense Citizens: "Fine, the Feds pay to put it in, but WE pay to maintain these white elephants." Still others provide talking points. There are even some organizations providing boiler plate ordinances and legislation so that your little piece of heaven can look and operate just like they want.

As a spoon full of sugar there are the ubiquitous Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond certifications to be had as your locally controlled community aligns with their not so local demands. This is where Dunwoody ran into a hurdle. Seems one of the Bicycle Lanes Matter evangelists suggested that to climb this bejeweled stairway to their heaven a Smart City would need to hire a Bicycle Czar. This was viewed by some as unneeded staff expansion and scope creep. Though unmentioned it would also have a negative impact on grant grubbing efforts as money spent on payroll is unavailable for seeding grants. Deciding which contractors get access to City dispensed grant money is a key component of political power in our fledgling little cities. We are not at a stage to suffer erosion of that power so it seems the spandex crowd may have bent a rim on a storm grate that they themselves installed incorrectly.