An older couple was having lunch at the Big Chicken and flipping through a handful of maps. A young couple, Elizabeth and Chad, sat next to them and said that they lived in Cobb County and did they need any help?
The older couple, Jim and Wanda, said that they were from Tupelo and had come to the Olympics in Atlanta and had a wonderful time. They went to most of the events, took MARTA all over, ate at Planet Hollywood, and the Varsity. Their daughter, her partner, and their grandkids had recently moved to East Cobb, so now they had a chance to come back and visit.
Wanda said that Cobb County was the only county in the metro area that they hadn’t visited during the Olympics. They had planned on seeing the new Olympic Volleyball facility but couldn’t get tickets. Now that they were retired and visiting family, they were trying to find the one location that they didn’t visit before.
Chad smiled at Elizabeth and said, “Around here we call it the Bill Byrne Olympic Volleyball and Recreational Center.” Elizabeth gave Chad a stern look and told Jim and Wanda that Chad was kidding.
Yes, back in the 90’s Cobb was scheduled to have an Olympic event, volleyball, played at the Cobb Galleria Centre. The Olympic Torch was also scheduled to come through Cobb County.
He kept MARTA out of Cobb by appealing to the fear and prejudice of locals by saying that “those” people would ride the train up from Atlanta and rob and create a crime wave. It has resulted in ever-increasing traffic jams in Cobb County but it got him re-elected. It got a lot of bad people elected over the years.
Then Bill Byrne rode the homophobic wave and joined hands with some powerful political and religious leaders and passed a “Family Values” anti-gay resolution in August of 1993. It was un-Christian and despicable but it energized his base and cost Cobb the Olympics (It also caused a rift between Byrne and his gay daughter.).
Wanda looked kind of sad and said, “You still don’t have MARTA in Cobb County? I was going to take the grandkids to the Varsity and the High Museum.” Elizabeth shook her head no and said that if Wanda planned on going on a major road on Cobb County that she shouldn’t drive between 6:00-9:00AM, 4:00-7:00PM, and lunch time isn’t too good either.
Jim said, “At least time and progress have moved forward. What is happening in Cobb County Now?” Chad said, “Bill Byrne is running for County Chairman, and still saying that commuter rail will bring in 'those' people but I don’t think that he has gone homophobic lately. On the other hand, he hasn’t apologized for what he did before."