Where Is Steve Davis On This Subsidized Rail?

As Jay Bookman reports in today’s AJC, the State of Georgia already provides taxpayer subsidies for rail …. not commuter rail, but a 221 mile frieght line that moves goods for 27 private businesses in rural Georgia. 

A 221 mile line, benefiting only 27 private businesses who, without the line,  would “probably fail.”

Why does Georgia continue to subsidize this type of rail, which benefits very few and doesn’t even come close to paying its own way, while politicians like Rep. Steve Davis and Sen. John Douglas refuse to consider subsidizing rail for the hundreds of thousands of commuters in the Atlanta region stuck in traffic every day who demand transportation alternatives? 

 

 

63 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    Further, where are the cries for GDOT to pay for itself? Funny how that standard applies differently depending on who benefits (looking at you Rep. Davis).

  2. Chris says:

    I thought the GDOT’s budget came from the Gas tax. How much general revenue (Income/Sales Tax) is spent on road building?

    I’ll also point out that the state is paying a measly 6.4M on this south georgia rail boondoggle. According to Buzz The Brain Train would cost 36M annually to operate.

    Transportation is fubar in Atlanta – but building a rail that will cost $13/day and still not get people where they need to go isn’t the solution.

    Neither is laying miles of asphalt.

  3. Decaturguy says:

    Chris,

    While there is no doubt that the Brain Train would be more expensive to operate, I think you need to look at it in the proper context. $6.4 million keeps 27 failing businesses in business, while $36 million would move hundreds of thousands of commuters each year, while having e an huge economic development impact along the line.

    $36 million for the Brain Train sounds like a bargain compared to the $6.4 million south georgia rail boondoggle that benefits, what, maybe a few hundred people?

    I say if Georgia Republicans do not want to subsidize rail, then they should at least be consistent and shut down this freight rail line, or at least make it pay its own way.

  4. Jason Pye says:

    You claim that Davis is in opposition to the rail because it would benefit him.

    Davis is in the minority of developers and realtors here in Henry County. Most of them support it because it will drive up property values the western part of the county, benefiting them.

  5. Rick Day says:

    You really want an answer?

    Add up all the money raised by those 27 companies for lobbying. Compare that amount with how much wound up in said legislator’s campaign.

    Subtract the amount contributed to said campaigns by Atlantans (subtract those Atlantans who blindly write checks to their beloved ‘small government/pro god’ Republican candidates and would never use public transportation).

    Therein lies your answer.

  6. Rusty says:

    The types developments that go up along a rail line are not the types that Davis sells. He is using his office to push out the competition.

  7. Rick Day says:

    Also, how difficult is it to spread $6m between 27 businesses that are so large they ‘depend’ on rail to either bring in raw material, and/or ship out finished goods?

    Who has a calculator handy?

  8. Rusty says:

    Jason,
    Saying something isn’t true doesn’t magically make it not true. Take off the blinders, your boy is as corrupt and in it for himself as the rest of them.

  9. Rusty says:

    And you continue to fail to demonstrate that it is a lie. Closing your eyes, clicking your heels together and repeating “that’s a lie” does not a lie make.

    Is he not a realtor of suburban-style developments? Would more mixed use developments not be built along rail lines? Would killing off rail projects not prevent mixed-use developments (the type he doesn’t sell) from being built? Would more suburban-style developments (the type he sells) not take the place of those developments?

    Of those questions, can you answer “no” to a single one of them? Didn’t think so.

  10. Rusty says:

    I stand corrected on the part about it being residential sprawl-style developments. However, looking over his company’s web site, my basic criticism still stands: that rail is a danger to the types of developments he sells, which are sprawl-style commercial developments, and that he is using his office to push competition out.

  11. Jason Pye says:

    Rusty, you are passing a judgment on someone you don’t know. Steve is someone that I know very well and I know what you are saying is a desperate attempt to smear him.

    You are basing your entire argument on an assumption, which is completely irrational.

  12. Rusty says:

    What assumption is that? His line of work is sprawl-style real estate. If he kills rail projects, he stands to sell more of those developments.

    You are turning a blind eye to this because he’s your buddy.

  13. hankreardan says:

    Rusty
    I dont know Davis but I have ran into him a couple of time at political events. For A republican he seems like a top notch guy.I hope he goes after the 6.4 million next. The government should not give my money to people or business. Why dont we look at deregulating taxis and buses in Georgia. We should look at ALL options just not government answers.
    Also it seems people in the real estate or in the construction business cant win.If you are for it your corrupt or if you are against it your are corrupt. What it looks like to me Rusty because Rep. Davis does not drink from the same cup of Kool aid as you do he must be evil and corrupt. (btw I am no fan of the republicans I am a hard Core Libertarian)

  14. Rusty says:

    Hank,
    It’s primarily the hypocrisy that gets to me. I seriously doubt Davis or anyone else will go after the $6.4 million. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. But even if he and others were to, they hold roads funding to a much different standard than rail funding for various reasons. In Davis’ case, the motivation appears to be personal profit.

  15. Jason Pye says:

    No, Rusty, I am not. If I believed he was doing something wrong, I’d call him on it. I beat up on Douglas last year after a vote, and he is a friend of mine as well.

    Again, his company can easily invest in mixed use developments. They already know where the lines are going to be. Why not take advantage of that?

    Dream up another conspiracy theory for me, Rusty.

  16. Rusty says:

    The funny thing about all this is all I’ve accused him of is not having purely ideological motivations for his criticism of rail projects, not of anything actually illegal. I’m a little curious how that qualifies as a conspiracy theory or a smear campaign. Defensive much? Part-time legislators vote on measures that regulate and otherwise affect their own industries all the time. All I’m trying to do is to demonstrate where he’s coming from, and that any criticisms he puts forth (and that any other legislator puts forth) should be viewed through a prism of “who stands to gain?” He stands to gain from killing rail projects. That’s not illegal, but it is weasely.

  17. Jason Pye says:

    I’m bothered by it because I know that is not the motivation or intention.

    It is a smear campaign and a conspiracy theory because there is no evidence or fact to base your claims on. You haven’t even acknowledged or floated the idea that his profession and his position could be completely coincidental.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt unless there is some real evidence present.

  18. Rusty says:

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt unless there is some real evidence present.

    This coming from someone who throws around the word “socialist” very, very casually.

    There is at least as much evidence that Steve Davis will profit from killing rail projects as there is that Nancy Pelosi or Jay Bookman is a socialist. And his hypocrisy is even more laughable because he accused Emory Morsberger of the same kind of profiteering he is engaging in.

  19. Jason Pye says:

    Is being a socialist or having socialist ideals in a free society wrong? I don’t agree with it, but that is me. It’s not like I’m accusing them of profiting from their office. Also, looking through those posts, I didn’t write the vast majority of them.

    But Davis is a realtor, therefore he is guilty?

  20. Jason Pye says:

    Decaturguy,

    I don’t support the minimum wage and other anti-growth policies. I don’t support affirmative action because it prevents qualified people having a job because they aren’t a particular ethnicity. And I don’t particularly care for labor unions. Though I fully recognize their right to assemble.

    But I don’t care if two men or women get married or enter into a civil union.

    Hank Reardan likely agrees with me.

  21. Decaturguy says:

    Jason,

    Davis started this by accusing Emory Morsberger of wanting the Brain Train so that he might profit (oh, no what a dirty word for a Socialist-Christianist like Steve Davis) off of building mixed use, transit friendly development around the rail line.

  22. Rusty says:

    No, nothing wrong with being a socialist if that’s what someone wants to be. But saying someone supports an entire ideology just because they support X piece of legislation is a violation of Rule 5.

    Davis is advocating legislation that will affect his own industry, and where he will stand to profit from his position. Again, not accusing him of anything illegal, just saying there’s ample evidence his motivation isn’t purely ideological.

  23. Jason Pye says:

    As a capitalist, I have absolutely no problem with someone making a profit and keeping as much of it as possible…as long as they do it with out government interference or help.

    But Morsberger is using his influence at the expense of the taxpayers. That is not capitalism.

  24. Decaturguy says:

    But Morsberger is using his influence at the expense of the taxpayers. That is not capitalism.

    Oh, yeah, right Jason, providing a product that people want to buy is not capitalism.

    Why is Morsberger any different than developers who lobby to get a road built so that they can develop homes further and further out?

  25. Jason Pye says:

    I don’t care about your meter. I really could care less what you think about what I say or do.

    And it’s not any particular piece of legislation, it is an array of issues. All they ever do is look to government for the answer to everything.

  26. Rusty says:

    Your simultaneous defense of Davis and criticism of Morsberger for identical behavior marks the point where your position has descended into parody. Good work on that.

  27. Jason Pye says:

    There is evidence to present with Morsberger. His donations to members of the Gwinnett delegation and the property he owns along the proposed line.

    That’s a whole hell of a lot more than you have.

  28. Overincorporated Fulton says:

    Steve Davis may be corrupt. He may not be. However, I don’t really think that’s what matters here. He’s clearly biased against rail for reasons that surpass anything defensible. He wants rail to be self-sustaining while very few other transportation projects in the state are. That’s an unreasonable expectation and one that is poorly informed by logic.

    Moreover, until he puts a toll on major state highways and interstates headed into Henry County, he can get off my back about paying “my fair share” for “my trains.” I’m already paying more than my fair share for “his highways.” Meanwhile mine has a toll.

  29. hankreardan says:

    Over
    we pay a toll for the highway, its called the gas tax you pay for it every time you fill up., but if I had my way all roads would be toll or use another way to pay for it other than a tax on everyone.

  30. Here you go Decatur Guy! We can disagree like gentlemen, I would like to debate the issues and this is why I have participated on this site. If you do not want legislators to discuss things on this site, please let me know and I will happily save my time and efforts. Please do not pretend to know me or my motives. Enjoy.

    Bookman uncovering more GDOT rail waste!
    http://steve-davis.org/blog/?p=172

  31. RiverRat says:

    Rep. Davis – I am honestly interested in discussing the issue of transportation with you. While I am open that I support commuter rail, unlike Rusty (who I usually agree with), I do not think that your motivations are that highly based on your personal business. I suspect that even with a rail, there will continue to be a healthy appetite for sprawl type development in the south metro counties.

    Let me ask this – what are your answers for the metro traffic problem? Specifically, what do you think can be done to prevent the south metro counties from having the kind of traffic problems that exist in Gwinnett, North Fulton, and Cobb? I do not think that rail is the only answer, and I am very interested to know how you plan to lead the south metro counties toward something better – because I have the impression that clayton and henry county folks are not interested in becoming the same type of traffic monster that exists on the north side of town.

  32. Decaturguy says:

    Rep. Davis,

    I definately want you to participate on this site. Don’t take anything I’ve said as an indication that I do not. But I’m not going to stop calling you out for hypocrisy whenever I can.

    You say you are “scared to ride MARTA.” Have you ever been on MARTA, Rep. Davis? If so, what specifically makes you “scared” to ride it? Maybe if we can understand your experience, we can understand your knee jerk reactions against transit.

  33. Decaturguy says:

    And I think that RiverRat’s questions are worth getting an answer from you. What do you plan on doing to relieve traffic in your district? Do you have a plan, or do you just want your constituents to continue to be stuck in traffic every day they commute? If your answer is adding more road capacity, adding more capacity has not relieved traffic on the north side of town, some would argue that it has increased traffic even more because it has encouraged more development.

    Why would it be any different on the south side?

  34. TM2000 says:

    I don’t understand why people are scared to ride MARTA when you rarely hear about deaths on MARTA but hear about people dying on our roads every day.

  35. Decaturguy says:

    That is a good point TM2000. I wonder how many dozens of lives would be saved every year if the Brain Train were put into place. I guess Steve Davis doesn’t care.

  36. gatormathis says:

    DG sed,
    A 221 mile line, benefiting only 27 private businesses who, without the line, would “probably fail.”

    After reading the article mentioned, and knowing some of the businesses involved, I think that is a pretty far reaching statement. There are a lot of succesful businesses along that route that benefeit the railroads existance as much as themselves.

    Let’s blink back a few years to when the Democrat controlled government first began to conceptulize the revamping of this railroad.

    It is called the HOG (Heart of Georgia) Rail line, or SAM Shortline.

    It already existed as far as rails, railbed right-of-way, and other infrastructure. It was dilapidated as so, and the plan(which has been followed), was to ramp the rail line back into production.

    WHY? Surely Decatureguy knows this.

    The rail also conducts passenger “entertainment” excursion rides from different areas to Jimmy Carter’s “boyhood farm” in Archery, Georgia. It also stops in the former President’s hometown of Plains on part of its trip. (Bookman fails to mention this)

    The rail’s true length is supposed to one day even reach Montgomery, Alabama. Hence the name SAM Shortline. (Savannah-Archery-Montgomery)

    It is funny now that the Republicans are in power, this project is viewed as a “waste”.

    Everybody knows this outlay was first conceived to be a Dem “Mecca” type pilgrimage, to see the favorite son, Jimmy Carter. With Jimmy’s new book out, “Mecca” might even be the correct term for this excursion. In its first year of operation, I think something like 35,000 folks made that trip.

    For the guy at ConArt, it’s a no-brainer. He saves money on freight, removes a lot of heavy traffic off the highways, but also helps provide some revenue to a rail line that probably wouldn’t exist without CA and the other businesses. The SAM would’t make it on Jimmy Carter “Mecca” trips alone.

    And I surely doubt ConArt would “fail” without it. It might cost them a little more money, but they didn’t “fail” before it existed, and probably won’t “fail” if the rail line goes under.

    I doubt anyone “commutes” between these towns using the SAM passenger service, because most trips are just excursions from Cordele to Plains and Archery.

    See the website for more information at: http://samshortline.com/

    Somebody make Jay Bookman a souse meat sandwich.

  37. I would like to start by saying the South side already has the same problems as the North side. Many think because the numbers are higher that their problem is worse, which is not the case. The per lane volumes on I-75(south) are almost identical to the per lane volumes on I-85(north). This has been a point of contention with me all along as the ARC and GDOT continue to rate the south side projects at much lower tiers than the north side! There is no difference to sitting still in traffic on 3 lanes in Henry County then there is to sitting still in 8 lanes in Gwinnett!

    But to answer your question about what I would do:

    1. Simply add capacity!
    2. Implement Express Toll Network for the entire region! That is variable priced toll lanes on every major interstate North South East and West! The Reason Foundation put out in November a great transportation study that all of you should look at. Don’t get caught up on the tunnels, which would not be a bad idea either if it was done as a Private Concession toll project. Using private funding to implement a major project like this would be fantastic and would not require us to change our other transportation plans.
    3. Truck only Toll lanes, simply separating the trucks will have a huge impact on our congestion! But it could also be paid for by tolls and done as a PPI.
    4. New roads. Not just widening the one’s we have but adding toll roads could enhance the already suburb to suburb commutes. This could also be done with PPI money.
    5. We should encourage new major employment centers to be located outside the perimeter! If you are concerned about economic development for the region areas, this would be a huge plus. Can you imagine locating a new major headquarters in Cartersville or Loganville or Sharpsburg or Locust Grove!
    6. We should encourage tele-working and staggered work times. We could start with the government offices by either opening earlier or later than rush hour traffic times. But also encourage companies with non essential business hour personnel to do the same.
    7. We definitely need to reduce the bureaucracy in the alphabet soup of transportation. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. We are planning to plan, then re-planning the planning for the plan and by the time we finish planning the plan, the plan is out dated! Please visit this website: http://www.ti.org/antiplanner/ We need to find better ways to expedite the projects (such as more design build projects) and put the taxpayer’s money back to the roads faster. One way to do this is to eliminate some of the bureaucracy such as the GRPA.
    8. We need to stop “Urbanizing” the region. “Smart” growth simply does not fit in the suburbs and seems to me as a ploy to add density in suburban areas. They typically use catch words as “sprawl” in a negative light, however many move to suburban areas because they don’t want to live in urban areas! You will hear arguments like the people are coming and we need to have housing, however the current process is expediting the influx of people. Recently the ARC denied a DRI for the City of McDonough commercial project because it did not have “workforce” housing. They developer had to go in and add a 1000 unit high density housing project to get the DRI. Why? Because that is how they do it in Atlanta!

    I think I have said enough but I will finish with this on commuter rail. I have said this before, “Commuter rail will put more NEW cars on the road then it will take EXISTING cars off the road!” The rail line will change zoning and land use around it giving short term spikes in development that will further exasperate our infrastructure problems. Both Henry and Gwinnett have a substantial student population in trailers. As a matter of fact they are #1 and #2 in the state. Henry County has 25% of their student population in trailers! We have more kids in trailers than 150 of the remaining 179 school systems have total student population, and we are still only 30% built out! Is some of it the locals fault, sure, but not all of it. When their facing an ARC that treats you like Atlanta. Instead of trying to find ways to implement transit to carry our workforce to Atlanta, why don’t we focus on getting better jobs for them in our community!

    We have serious problems in my district and I for one am trying to find ways to make a difference! Here are the bills I have submitted just this year: HB 33 , HB 66 , HB 268 , HB 269 , HB 293 , HB 331.

  38. hankreardan says:

    TM 2000
    maybe because of case4s like last week. Where the woman was raped and marta throw all the paper work so it could not be used in court. If that was a private company people like you would want thier head on a platter but because it is government (soicialist company) they get a pass.

  39. TM2000 says:

    Hey man, doesn’t matter if it’s public or private, sometimes the judicial system makes mistakes, remember OJ and Michael Jackson?

  40. TM2000 says:

    The roads are also a government or as you would call it “Socialist company” and deaths happen there all the time, as do carjacks and other occurences.

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