Klein-Disaster Capitalism-Harpers 2007

The only difficulty was that sandy springs had no

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Unformatted text preview: y were tired of watching their property taxes subsidize schools and police in the county's low-income African-American neighborhoods. They voted to incorporate as their own city, Sandy Springs, which could spend most of its taxes on services for its 100,000 citizens and minimize the revenue that would be redistributed throughout Fulton County. The only difficulty was that Sandy Springs had no government structures and needed to build them from scratch-everything from tax collection to zoning to parks and recreation. In September 2005, the same month that New Orleans flooded, the residents of Sandy Springs were approached by the construction and consulting giant CH2M Hill with a unique pitch: Let us do it for you. For the starting price of $27 million a year, the contractor pledged to build a complete city from the ground up. A few months later, Sandy Springs became the first "contract city." Only four people worked directly for the new municipality--everyone else was a contractor. Rick Hirsekorn, heading up the project for CHZM Hill, described Sandy Springs as "a clean sheet of paper with no governmental processes in place." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that "when Sandy Springs hired corporate workers to run the new city, it was considered a bold experiment." Within a year, however, contract-city mania was tearing through Atlanta's wealthy suburbs, and it had become "standard procedure in north Fulton [County]." Neighboring communities took their cue from Sandy Springs and also voted to become stand-alone cities and contract out their government. One new city, Milton, immediately hired CH2M Hill for the job-after all, it had the experience. Soon, a campaign began for the new corporate cities to join together to form their own county. The plan has encountered fierce opposition outside the proposed enclave, where politicians say that without those tax dollars, they will no longer be able to afford their OUTSIDE THE WEALTHY SUBURBS, THE NEW ORLEANS VERSION OF THE RED ZONE RESEMBLED A POSTAPOCALYPTIC NO-MAN'S-LAND A ESSAY 55 IT WAS FORMERLY BELIEVED THAT GENERALIZED MAYHEM WAS A DRAIN ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. THAT TRUISM IS NO LONGER TRUE large public hospital and public transit system; that partitioning the county would create a failed state on the one hand and a hyperserviced one on the other. What they were describing sounded a lot like New Orleans and a little like Baghdad. In these wealthy Atlanta suburbs, the long crusade to strip-mine the state is nearing completion, and it is particularly fitting that the new ground was broken by CH2M Hill. The corporation was a multimillion-dollar contractor in Iraq, paid to perform the core government function of overseeing other contractors. In Sri Lanka after the tsunami, it not only had built ports and bridges but was, according to the U.S. State Department, "responsible for the overall management of the infrastructure program." In postKatrina New Orleans, CH2M Hill was awarded $500 million to build FEMA-villes and was p...
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