The city of Jacksonville, Fla., is trying to convince its
residents to vote for a half-cent tax referendum by showing
pictures of rush hour in Atlanta ---- complete with traffic stalls
and honking horns.
Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney stares into the camera and says,
"There's a word for a city that doesn't plan for its future:
Of course, Jacksonville's stabs are not the first. Politicians
from all over the South -- Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Charlotte
and Raleigh, N.C. -- love to hate the Big Peach.
"Part of it's envy, of course," said Bill McCoy, director of
the Urban Institute at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
"Envy of the development and growth. Envy, partially, of the job
creation. And it's the New South city that got the Olympics."
Some of the criticism aimed at Atlanta is justified. The traffic
is lousy, and the federal government cut off road-building money
for two years. The area loses 50 acres of trees every day, and
daily smog alerts are routine during the summer.
But that still doesn't explain some of the anti-Atlanta
diatribes, such as those hurled in a mayoral contest last year in
"When I talk about Atlanta, I talk about a place that people
work so that they can earn enough money so they can live somewhere
else," said candidate Murray Philip, who eventually lost the race.
Philip's Web site pledge was: "Committed to stopping the move to
become an Atlanta."
Nashville's mayor Bill Purcell, who won the election, shot back,
"I don't want to be Atlanta either. Anyone who wants to be
Atlanta, obviously, could leave right now and, assuming I-24 is
open, could be there tonight.
Atlanta supporters shrug off the criticism and say it's better
to be talked about than ignored.
"The reason we've got our problems is because so many people
are attracted to the region," said Bill Thornton, assistant
executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association. "We must
be doing something right."