OPINION: From the beaches of Buckhead, the fight slogs on

February 16, 2022 Atlanta - Bill White, chairman and CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, holds a book as he begins speaking to members of the press during a news conference to discuss an important series of next steps outside the Buckhead City Committee headquarters on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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February 16, 2022 Atlanta - Bill White, chairman and CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, holds a book as he begins speaking to members of the press during a news conference to discuss an important series of next steps outside the Buckhead City Committee headquarters on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

The Buckhead cityhood movement kicked off its press conference Wednesday with an important announcement: Its board had taken a “vote of confidence” for Bill White, Huckster In Chief of the effort to secede from Atlanta. And the confidence remains.

Of course they kept him. On first blush, this might seem tone deaf. This is the same fellow who recently — and publicly — hinted that the suicide death of MARTA’S CEO may have been connected to some “missing” $200 million in funds. The money was never missing. But White’s brain is apt to send any aberrant thought that meanders through his noodle straight to his twitchy Twitter finger. It’s all part of his relentless assault on the city of Atlanta and all who stand in his way.

White was roundly criticized for wading into a family’s trauma to allege something so awful. But, his compadres figured, that’s just Billy Boy. He’s simply too valuable to their divisive cause to cleave away this tax-rich, majority-white area from Atlanta to start a new fiefdom. The garrulous New Yorker is adept at generating passion and, more importantly, getting the enthused to whip out their checkbooks and scribble numbers with zeros and commas. He claims to have raised $2 million for the secession effort so far and, by God, he promises to generate lots more.

White, a Buckhead resident of just three years, has latched onto a long-festering resentment that Atlanta City Hall is just using this property-tax-heavy part of town to fund all sorts of free spending that never comes north. An increase in violent crime last year and mayhem like street racing helped energize the effort. But Atlanta police statistics show crime is down this year in almost all categories in Buckhead. You’d never know that listening to “We Live in a Warzone” White.

At the press conference, White, a friend of and a big-time fundraiser for a former New York real estate developer-turned POTUS, went all Trumpian in promising to “bring Buckhead back to her original luster in very straight order!” It doesn’t have the ring of MAGA. But he’s trying.

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The Buckhead City Committee headquarters and sign on Friday, Jan. 21. (J.D. Capelouto/jdcapelouto@ajc.com)

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/AJC

The Buckhead City Committee headquarters and sign on Friday, Jan. 21. (J.D. Capelouto/jdcapelouto@ajc.com)

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/AJC

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The Buckhead City Committee headquarters and sign on Friday, Jan. 21. (J.D. Capelouto/jdcapelouto@ajc.com)

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/AJC

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/AJC

White held aloft a book entitled “Never Give Up” and then went all Churchillian: “This movement, Buckhead City, will never end. We will never give up. We will never give up to the city of Atlanta and their coordinated effort to deny us the right to vote.”

We will fight from the cramped but pricey homes of Lindbergh Drive. We will fight from the bar at Bistro Niko ― or from Bones if we can get reservations. We will fight from the manicured lawns of Tuxedo Road, from the boutiques of Buckhead Village and from under the gaudy sign that marks our Peachtree Road headquarters!!!

All this chatter about fighting on came about because the drive to get legislation for a referendum to carve up Atlanta seemed to die this month. Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, both Republicans, have agreed to pause the secession legislation to give new Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens some time to get a handle on violent crime and maybe even figure out how to get the yard waste picked up in a timely fashion.

White & Co. insist the matter is not dead and are urging the GOP to shove the issue through the legislature.

The city of Atlanta, especially in the last two or three years, has let services languish. I’ve written about it often. But, I have also said carving up existing cities is a mean, selfish and alienating effort that promises to become this era’s resegregation movement. This would set a shameful precedent that would allow affluent sections of any Georgia city to cut loose the less-monied, and darker, parts of town and leave them behind.

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012422 Buckhead: Bill White, leader of the Buckhead cityhood movement introduces senators Butch Miller (from left), Randy Robertson, Carden Summers, Lee Anderson, and Jeff Mullis who are helping carry the cityhood torch during a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Buckhead. The Buckhead cityhood organization is starting a political action committee with $1 million in the bank, Buckhead City Committee chief executive Bill White told several hundred donors at Bistro Niko. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

012422 Buckhead: Bill White, leader of the Buckhead cityhood movement introduces senators Butch Miller (from left), Randy Robertson, Carden Summers, Lee Anderson, and Jeff Mullis who are helping carry the cityhood torch during a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Buckhead. The Buckhead cityhood organization is starting a political action committee with $1 million in the bank, Buckhead City Committee chief executive Bill White told several hundred donors at Bistro Niko.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
012422 Buckhead: Bill White, leader of the Buckhead cityhood movement introduces senators Butch Miller (from left), Randy Robertson, Carden Summers, Lee Anderson, and Jeff Mullis who are helping carry the cityhood torch during a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Buckhead. The Buckhead cityhood organization is starting a political action committee with $1 million in the bank, Buckhead City Committee chief executive Bill White told several hundred donors at Bistro Niko. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

To pump up the fighting spirit, the secessionists trotted out a fellow who, at first blush, I first thought was Col. Sanders. However, I was told it was state Sen. Randy Robertson, who hails from Cataula, which is near Columbus. The movement can’t get any pol living near Buckhead to peddle this hustle, so Robertson was about as good as they could muster up Wednesday.

Robertson mentioned Atlanta is the birthplace of the civil rights movement and urged the crowd of about 50 almost entirely white secessionists to “not surrender your right to vote.” Thankfully, he did not start in on “We Shall Overcome.”

Beth Beskin, a former Republican state rep who got beat in 2018 as Buckhead kept turning blue, was on hand to ponder aloud: “What good is a Republican majority in the General Assembly if they refuse to take on the best known and most supported issue by Republicans statewide in this legislature?”

That’s right, Republicans across the state — whether they reside in Johns Creek, Jesup or Hahira — want the residents of Buckhead to vote. White later tweeted out an election poll that says 75% of the 1,072 Republican voters surveyed across the state want Buckhead to vote.

However, beating up on the city of Atlanta has long been a tradition for Republicans and those living far outside the city limits.

I suppose if some pollster asked the question, 75% of Republicans in Georgia would support giving Atlanta’s mayor a wedgie or TP’ing the trees surrounding City Hall.

If so, Bill White would surely be out there, lurking on Mitchell Street with some Northern three-ply.

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