The staff of the Atlanta Regional Commission came to the defense of embattled county chairman Danny Yearwood this week, who has taken it on the chin politically for his vote last week to divert $25 million in federal stimulus dollars to the regional transit system instead of preserving the money for local communities, including Barrow.
In an April 13 letter read at Tuesday’s meeting of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners, the chief of the agency’s transportation planning division clarified that Yearwood’s vote did not affect the $1 million in funding designated since 2004 for a county project. The letter further clarified that the project expected to receive that designated funding is a new railroad crossing at Ed Hogan Road.
The funds “remain committed and the ARC is currently coordinating with county staff to program the funds on (the) project in the near future,” the letter said.
Yearwood said that his April 9 vote as a member of the ARC did not give away any funds earmarked for Barrow County and that none of the initial $119 million in federal stimulus funds for transportation in Georgia had been headed this way.
The dispute erupted after Yearwood attended a meeting of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation and Air Quality Committee, which is comprised of representatives of local governments from around the region.
He voiced his concerns about being put in the awkward position of having to give up potential federal funding for Barrow in order to salvage MARTA’s operating budget, but he went along with the committee’s unanimous vote, saying he understood the importance of the transit system to the region’s economy.
An Atlanta television station then interviewed Yearwood and, in addition to airing his comments, also published a story on its Web site.
The story quoted him as saying to give up potential stimulus funds was a sacrifice for the county and added, “Because, you know, a million dollars to me (for Barrow County’s transportation improvements) is like $25 million to MARTA.”
That comment led some in Barrow County to believe that Yearwood was talking about the $1 million the county was to receive after agreeing in 2004 to participate in the ARC.
But Yearwood said in an interview that he was speaking in general terms, not about that specific $1 million in funds. He also noted that the MARTA issue had not been placed on the agenda for that committee meeting, so there was no time to research the issue prior to the vote.
He said Tuesday night that Barrow “cannot cut our nose off to spite our face,” because the ARC controls transportation planning in the metro region that includes the county.
“If we are going to get anything, we have got to be a part of that process and a member of that (committee),” the chairman said. “It would suit me if we could come out of it. But we can’t.”
Still a little confusing to me. So there was never any stimulus money coming to Barrow? So what was the vote about? Where did the $1m figure come from? Of all the ARC members ..How did Danny get to be the one on the news?
I listened to that lengthy letter and it sounded more like a red herring to me. Let's just confuse the matter so people will stop bashing me in the blogs. Bad job of trying to cover your backside!!!
I find it interesting that Yearwood didn't feel the need to inform the commissioners of his plans to give away $1M to Marta. It just goes to show, he thinks Barrow County is his little fiefdom and he's a dictator gone wild.
Doesn't add up......
04/16/09 at 10:15 AM
This is very confusing! Danny told a news channel that we would be giving up a 1MIL dollars. It would be nice to see the agenda and documentation from the ARC and see what is really going on.
Danny is WAY OVER HIS HEAD. He needs to stay in Barrow County and try to learn to be a county chairman before he cost this county more $$$$
Nice Job Danny - Stay out of Atlanta
04/16/09 at 02:35 PM
"I mean, we've got traffic problems here. If you don't live here you don't really realize what we have to suffer through," Yearwood said.
"We're willing to make this sacrifice. And it is a sacrifice. Because, you know, a million dollars to me [for Barrow County's transportation improvements] is like $25 million to MARTA. So I really need the money. But if it benefits the people of Georgia, yes, I'll stand behind my decision."