Welcome Aboard Sonny

Rep. Steve Davis (R-Sprawl) must be blowing a fuse as he pumps another $100 tank of gas into his gas guzzling SUV. You see, the leader of his party, Governor Sonny Perdue, just announced today that he supports commuter rail initiatives.

With gas at $4 a gallon, and likely $5 by the end of the summer, the people who live in the exurbs (like the places that Steve Davis represents) are the ones who are hurt the worst, because they usually are the ones who have to drive the most.

Sonny Perdue realizes this. He see the standing room only crowds on the commuter buses each morning heading in from suburban Atlanta counties, Republican country. He knows these people want more options other than a traffic clogged, 2 hour round trip, $20 a day commute. If his party does not propose some options other than more asphalt, eventually another party will.

But politicians like poor Steve Davis don’t get it yet though. They are too blinded by ideology, pining for days of cheap oil and the land use patterns that produced suburban sprawl that put them in power.

Guess what boys? Those days aren’t coming back. Gas might not always be $5 a gallon, but the days of cheap gas are over.

I think Sonny now gets it. Do you?

34 comments

  1. Flatpickpaul says:

    The real heroes here are state transportation board members Larry Walker, Bill Kuhlke, Emory McClinton, Dana Lemon and others. The governor has simply turned off his ‘tacit opposition’ in the face of $4 per gallon gas and let the leaders on the transportation board do their work.

    Service between Athens and Atlanta, starting with Gwinnett County as phase 1 will be next.

  2. Harry says:

    There’s a better way, but heavy rail ain’t it. Let the free market handle it. Lay light rail down the right lane of expressways. Allow citizen taxis and encourage more jitney carriers. Set up a CraigsList type application where people can make offers and bids on bespoke transportation services.

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    Harry, you’ve the misconception that highway transportation is “free market”.

    It isn’t. Highway infrastructure is directly subsidized by property and general sales taxes, and highway operation indirectly by costs borne elsewhere in the economy (air and water quality, medical services, etc).

    Flatpickpaul has a good point Perdue simply may habe turned off his opposition. I’d suggest he’s getting an earful from metro Atlanta GOP legislators ahead of the November election since the spike in gas prices has highlighted six years of the zero GOP accomplishment metro Atlanta transportation-wise, unless it can be spun that doing nothing is an accomplishment.

  4. Harry says:

    Where did I say that highway transportation is free market? Of course it’s subsidized, and yet it was a great solution as long as there was no global supply-demand problem partly due to the non-free-market OPEC that we have to deal with, and could have cut off at the knees in the Seventies but not now. Thank you Jimmy Carter, his plan was no plan. Also, let’s not forget Clinton vetoing Anwar in 1996.

    But, do you really think heavy rail is efficient or cost-effective in this market?

  5. Progressive Dem says:

    Harry, the point is the highways and single occupancy vehicles are not cost efficient either. They come with externalities like pollution, congestion (lost hours of productivity), high medical costs, insurance costs, personal debt and maintenance. Transit has fewer of those costs and disadvantages. Moreover in an era of volitle energy costs, transit provides provides a cushion for disposable income and the local economy. With less transit than the metropolitan cities withwhich we compete nationally and globaly, Atlanta is at a disadvantage not only in servicing exisitng businesses, but attracting new investment.

  6. Bill Simon says:

    Maybe we should look at bringing in the Jetsons’ style of transportation.

    We’re so 2-dimensional. We should all have jet-packs to get to and from everywhere.

  7. Harry says:

    ProgDem,

    Do you know all the “externalities” connected with heavy rail? What do you think would be the total cost per passenger mile? I’m not against new ideas (see above), I just don’t think we should unknowingly bite at a bill of goods being sold by special interests. And the folks behind heavy rail to Morrow are most definitely special interests with dollar signs in their eyes.

  8. Shakin the bush boss says:

    Lest everyone not forget that the “windfall” that government enjoys due to the increase in gas prices has not ended. Although Perdue did suspend collection (this has to be validated by legislature in January) of the scheduled increase (2.9 cents per gallon) regarding the state’s windfall, local government continue to profit from the pain at the pump. Starting July 1st, counties with a 3 percent local option tax will enjoy another 2.2 cents per gallon tax increase, putting their “take” at 10.4 cpg. Compare this to January 2007, when their “take” was only 5.7 cpg, a basic doubling of motor fuel tax revenue in 18 months. Has anyone (Hello Brock?) from local government accounted for the windfall or is standard operating procedure to only ask for more transportation money??

  9. Decaturguy says:

    Hey right wing radio talking points guy (above),

    Governments are also taking a hit because the price of gas is so high less gallons of gas are being sold and if you take a look at the percentage of the total cost of a gallon of gas, the % of tax government is getting is going way down.

  10. Ok I’ll bite. Your right Decturguy. We should be looking for better ways to social engineer the suburbs. We should be looking at ways to punish those evil nasty constituents for using their heavily taxed SUV’s and driving on the roads they paid for with motor fuel taxes. We should take our annual $2+ Billion in transportation dollars and spend ½ on transit and the other ½ on bike trails. We should be finding ways to eliminate all developments that are 1 house per acre. We should make ad valorem taxes $5000 a year for every car and truck (no exceptions), double the motor fuel tax, force everyone to live in government subsidized housing that is 20 units per acre and force them to pay for everyone else’s ride to work. We should be looking at ways to expand government more like providing everyone with free government healthcare. We should start a study committee to find bigger and better ways to enforce the will of government on the people of Georgia and ways to spend more and more money that isn’t ours.

    I guess since I am R-Sprawl and not D-Socialists that won’t happen. $4 gas! I should have known you would be happy about this. Do you support the Windfall Profit Tax? Would you support increasing the supply of domestic oil which would help lower fuel costs? Did you see the article in yesterday’s AJC about the cost of gas in Europe? What is worse, suburban sprawl or urban expansion?

  11. Decaturguy says:

    Steve,

    It is your Socialist idea of big government that provided government incentives over the past 50-60 years for cheap gas, a govenement subsidized auto industry, government money for highways so people could use that government subsidized cheap gas to drive thier government subsidized car to their home in your government subsidized outer ring suburb.

    If it weren’t for our government policy encouraging and subsidizing this type of development that leads to our addiction to cheap gas, then we wouldn’t face the problems that we have today.

    I think your consituents realize the mess that these government policies and subsidies have gotten us in and if they had to do it over again, many would trade in their 1 acre lot 50 miles from downtown and give up their gas guzzling SUV, if they could only find someone to buy either their house or car, because no one wants to live like that anymore.

    Even Governor Perdue (even Harry) agrees that there has to be a better way.

    You want to maintain the status quo, don’t you?

  12. Decaturguy says:

    Oh, and cut the crap about “bigger and better ways to enforce the will of government on the people of Georgia.”

    Your party, at almost every turn, tries to “enforce the will of government on the people of Georgia.”

  13. Harry says:

    Let’s just realize, unlike dense Northern cities that developed before the internal combustion engine, the needs of the people of the Atlanta region may not be best served by public sector heavy rail. There are other alternatives.

  14. Progressive Dem says:

    One of Rush Limbaugh’s favorite tactics is tell listeners what “liberals” think. As if he, the arch-conservative has a f***ing clue of what liberals thank. Rep. Davis is attempting the same diversion. He puts up a straw man argument of clichés. He couldn’t find an actual quote from a credible person that has ever proposed this junk if his life depended on it.

    And what was that throw away line about urban expansion? The truckers protest in Spain had nothing to do with “urban expansion”. Just what is urban expansion? Is that code for Negro expansion?

  15. Thats nice PD. Why is it that someone comes on this site to debate an issue and then people want to put words in their mouth or knowingly manipulate what was said?

    Urban expansion- destruction of home town or small town America, aesthetics, extreme density, transit, decreasing quality of life, small living quarters, loss of privacy, non rural, non suburb, etc…

    Back to the issue Decaturguy. I’m glad a guy from Decatur knows what the people of Henry County want. I put a non-binding referendum on the ballot in July 2006 to ask the voters if they should have the opportunity to vote whether or not to bring rail transit to Henry County. Here was the result: 84.15% said Yes, 15.85% said No.

    I guess I am to blame for the actions of federal government for the last 50-60 years. Status quo? Even you don’t believe that, as much we disagree I think you know I want things done differently. Just not the same thing you want.

    I want less government and less taxes. But when we pay taxes they go to the intended purpose for which they were collected with prioritized needs!

    I understand why the Governor is changing his mind and understand it is harder to fight this battle when gas is so high. That is why we need to change our energy policies (Federal), please see Senator Isakson’s column in today’s AJC. Furthermore, we need to change our taxation on fuel here in Georgia for which I personally have laid some ground work on.

    I am not simply standing up and saying no commuter rail. I have fought against regionalism (or centralization of government), TAD’s, IDD’s, government manipulation of the free market, as well as increased taxation for transit. While I support elimination or consolidation of the alphabet soup of transportation organizations, streamlining the process to be more efficient, privatization, using cost benefit analysis to ensure we only spend funds on projects that actually relieve congestion.

    The subsidies for rail transit are approx 250 times more per passenger mile than highways which are built primarily with motor fuel taxes. And you pointed to the GRTA buses earlier, the subsidy (per passenger mile) for these buses is 100 times less than what it will be for the commuter rail line. The buses also are flexible enough to target areas of congestion and change as needed unlike any fixed rail that has none of these benefits. Oh and the cost to ride the bus $5 RT from Hampton, the projected cost for the train is $13.20 RT! One last thing, you do realize that they are looking at buying 40 year old DIESEL engine locomotives and old rail cars that are being sold for scrap metal to start this line up, don’t you?

    Did you answer any of my previous questions?

  16. Decaturguy says:

    I’ll answer your questions Steve:

    Do you support the Windfall Profit Tax?

    No. I think that is a stupid idea.

    Would you support increasing the supply of domestic oil which would help lower fuel costs?

    While I wouldn’t oppose increasing the supply of domestic oil if it were available, I think our focus should be on developing alternative fuels so that we don’t have to rely so much on oil – foreign or domestic. If we keep adding to the supply of oil, there will be less incentive to develop alternative fuels, which needs to happen whether we pump all of the oil out of the US or not.

    Did you see the article in yesterday’s AJC about the cost of gas in Europe?

    No. I really don’t read the AJC much. I find that rag unreliable.

    What is worse, suburban sprawl or urban expansion?

    Suburban sprawl is worse because the government subsidies and policies that led to sprawl are the reasons that we became addicted to oil in the first place. Denser, mixed use, walkable communities that will encourage less oil consumption are the only way out of this mess. If anything has led to the “destruction of home town or small town America,” Steve, it is suburban sprawl which has destroyed small towns throughout this region.

  17. Progressive Dem says:

    — “We should be looking for better ways to social engineer the suburbs. We should be looking at ways to punish those evil nasty constituents for using their heavily taxed SUV’s and driving on the roads they paid for with motor fuel taxes. We should take our annual $2+ Billion in transportation dollars and spend ½ on transit and the other ½ on bike trails. We should be finding ways to eliminate all developments that are 1 house per acre. We should make ad valorem taxes $5000 a year for every car and truck (no exceptions), double the motor fuel tax, force everyone to live in government subsidized housing that is 20 units per acre and force them to pay for everyone else’s ride to work. We should be looking at ways to expand government more like providing everyone with free government healthcare. We should start a study committee to find bigger and better ways to enforce the will of government on the people of Georgia and ways to spend more and more money that isn’t ours.”

    “Why is it that someone comes on this site to debate an issue and then people want to put words in their mouth or knowingly manipulate what was said?”

    You might want to look in the mirror Rep. Davis.

    Just tell me who is accommodating “urban expansion” – the destruction of small town and American aesthetics? You’ve already lost Henry County to it. It looks like every other suburb in Atlanta (that is what regionalism is to me, and probably most people). You have no character in the developed parts of your county except for the downtowns. The rest is four lane highways with fast food fry pits, big-box retailers, tire stores and lube joints. I can find every one of them in every suburban county in America. Congratulations you have participated in the homogenization of America with your tasteless and non-distinguishing growth. And henry County has more national tract builders than every other county in metro Atlanta. So you subdivision are not very distinguishable either. You are more a part of the region than you care to imagine.

    The private developers who are redeveloping Atlanta and almost every other urban core in the country are responding to the private market buyers. Buyers who want to live near their work so they don’t waste two hours a day in mind-numbing traffic. Buyers who don’t want to mow grass and clean gutters. Buyers who want to walk down the street and say hello to their neighbors in the coffee shop or restaurant. Buyers who want to walk instead of ride. Buyers who enjoy the excitement and creativity of a place with lots of people. Buyers who have seen your suburban sprawl, and chosen something better for them. Is it right for everybody? No, but it is the right choice for some. Who the hell are you to determine whether this “urban expansion” is right or wrong? The private market, which you don’t want to manipulate, is making that decision.

    Don’t worry; the private market won’t bring “urban expansion” that to Henry County. You have been fitted out with suburban sprawl, which will not function in an era of $4-6 gasoline.

    I guess you fought against “regionalism – the centralization of government” when you stood up to the Speakers proposal of collecting taxes at the state level and redistributing them to local government?

  18. Decaturguy says:

    I would add that my hometown, Decatur, is a prototypical small town, probably much like McDonough used to be 100 years ago.

    It pretty much is the “smart growth” that developers try to create in new communities these days. High density, mixed use, walkable, strong sense of community.

    Only because it is located 7 miles from Downtown Atlanta is it well served by public transit, we have 3 MARTA stops, lots of bus routes to take us whereever we might want to go.

    Even during the current real estate crisis, our property values have held firm, if not increased.

    Now, compare that with the facts on the ground in Henry County.

    Compare this example with the outer ring suburbs

  19. heroV says:

    It’s a little hilarious that Rep. Davis is worried about a more efficient transportation system destroying the “small-town” or “aesthetics” of his beloved Henry County. It’s almost as if he’s never even been to 90% of Henry County. That ship has sailed, buddy. You are now part of the Atlanta metro area, like it or not. Consider yourself regionalized!

  20. government mule says:

    Transit is just another option, a choice, freedom to make a transportation decision. Rep. Davis is the social engineer: CAR ONLY. Why MANDATE one acre lots through zoning, isn’t that social engineering? What people want and every american deserves is options, and the liberty those options bring. That’s American.

  21. “The private developers who are redeveloping Atlanta and almost every other urban core in the country are responding to the private market buyers. Buyers who want to live near their work so they don’t waste two hours a day in mind-numbing traffic. Buyers who don’t want to mow grass and clean gutters. Buyers who want to walk down the street and say hello to their neighbors in the coffee shop or restaurant. Buyers who want to walk instead of ride. Buyers who enjoy the excitement and creativity of a place with lots of people. Is it right for everybody? No, but it is the right choice for some. Who the xxxx are you to determine whether this “urban expansion” is right or wrong? The private market, which you don’t want to manipulate, is making that decision.”

    If the private market drives that change then that is just the way it has to be regardless if I like it or not, but what we are talking about is the use of government funds to direct development as well as zoning laws to manilpulate the type of growth. This is not free market! And it surely is not utilizing our precious transportation resources to address the congestion. It will have a serious ripple effect regardless of what you believe. At the very least the public has a right to know what the impacts of this decision will be, what kind of benefits it will produce, what it will cost now, what the ongoing cost will be and have the ability to vote on the issue.

    It is my opinion that urban expansion is a bad thing. I believe this is America and I am still entitled to have an opinion. As an elected member of the Georgia House I have a responsibility to protect the interests of the community I represent, which I am doing.

    I did not say Henry County was not in the Metro Area what I said was I do not support Regionalism. Regionalism is not a project or description of an area but rather about governmental power. Regionalism will centralize power and create another level government which favors the urban core not the suburbs. Voting blocks will simple overwhelm their neighbors and take away their ability to control their own destiny.

    This was fun. Have a great weekend everyone.

  22. Progressive Dem says:

    Rep Davis is a confused fellow. First he throws out some cliché accusations, then he invents terms like urban expansion and defines regionalization as the centralization of power. Finally he worries about “voting blocks will overwhelm their neighbors and take away their ability to control their own destiny”. Let’s deconstruct.

    Rep Davis implies that communities should be able to control their own destiny. Sir, that is called comprehensive planning and it involves citizens deciding what things they value in their community. To implement those plans requires capital improvements budgets and zoning regulations. Let’s face it nobody wants a McDonalds next door to their home with a 300’ sign. I think we can assume that Rep Davis is in favor of some forms of limits on private property and government “manipulating” what private developers can do.

    Rep Davis, what “voting blocks are going to overwhelm” the suburbs? Please be specific. Out of the 4 million residents in the 10 county region, Fulton and DeKalb have 1.5 million.

    Rep Davis needs to face some facts. He lives in the Atlanta region. Our traffic, our economy and our air are all shared problems/opportunities. Most of the region gets its water from the Chattahoochee, and this is a regional issue. Wake up Rep Davis! We’re all facing the same problems whether we live in Henry or Cherokee. Stop blaming Atlanta for the problems. We have seen the enemy and he is us! We are all handcuffed together. We have to find solutions by working together. That might mean a “regional” solution!

  23. Just the Facts Please says:

    Decatur Guy:

    Georgia will soon have the highest gasoline/sale taxes on motor fuel of any state in the Southeast. Taxes on diesel fuel are already the highest in the South and above the national average. I agree with “Shakin” on that. Let’s face it, govt never has enough money. Its so much easier to take than to give back.

    Just the Facts…..

  24. Icarus says:

    JTFP,

    It’s also a fact that we have over $200 Billion in road projects that need to be funded, and the costs for these projects go up with the increasing cost of oil (and other commodities, as well).

    I’ve got no problem with the gas taxes where they are, and would even support higher ones as long as they are dedicated at real transportation improvements.

    But then again, I’m crazy enough to support trains, too.

  25. Steve Davis, take a better look at your community. 9,120 voters in the February 5th Democratic primary in HD 109. 8,776 in the Republican primary. Barack Obama got twice as many votes as McCain did there.

    By the way, as a representative of a completely suburban district, how do you square your opposition to “urban expansion” with your desire to represent in and live in a suburban/exurban area. Can’t have suburbs without the urban area driving the economic growth, or can you?

  26. As an aside, wouldn’t it make sense for a place like Stockbridge to have one central downtown area that people could drive to (or ride a bus, or walk, or bike) and then take a train there to other regional cities, like Jonesboro, Conyers, Atlanta, Decatur, Marietta, Lawrenceville etc? It seems that would revitalize the “small town” nature of a place like Stockbridge while still letting people work in Atlanta or wherever else when they need to.

  27. AubieTurtle says:

    This is exactly what I LOVE about Peach Pundit. Because Steve Davis feels he’s in a safe environment, he speaks much more candidly than he would on TV, the newspapers or any other wide spread media outlet. But because of the nature of the internet, everything he posts here can be brought back up in the future to hold him accountable. There are many other pols on here who have similarly been posting things that they are likely to later wish to disassociate themselves from.

    The tragicly beautiful thing is that the voting public hates to take responsibility for anything they do. They voted in people like Rep. Davis to help continue their government created social experiment called suburbia. They loved him for it. But here’s the rub… when they have a hard time being able to afford to get to work or the grocery store because driving is their one and only option, who are they going to blame? Not themselves! No way! The very politicians who they a few years earlier voted in and loved will get all of the blame. If they’re lucky, it’ll only result in them getting voted out of office. More likely, there will be investigations, some bordering on witch hunts, trying to find someone, anyone, to punish for the planning and development mistakes of our country.

    Worst case… well, the South has an ugly history of doing very shameful things when it needs a scapegoat. When things get ugly, perhaps the best thing will be to claim that anyone could have created a fake online account and posted here.

  28. Dave Bearse says:

    Harry, hope you revisit this thread. Between the day job and theatre this evening this is my first opportunity to respond. Upon re-reading your post I agree with and support your suggestions. In retrospect I should’ve taken exception that they were at best nominal free market improvements (and any cost effective improvement is welcome) on the periphery of a subsidized system at a time of what may be an impending paradigm shift.

    Do I think’s it’s efficient and cost effective in this market? Generally no, though not in the case of Lovejoy service where an inexpensive system can be implemented with relatively little additional funding (and Lovejoy service would be way, way less expensive than light rail on the right lane of expressway). The issue is that today’s market conditions may soon be history. Our transportation investments should consider future market conditions, or our economic prosperity will be history too.

    It’s open to debate, but I doubt cheap oil will ever return.

  29. Harry says:

    Thanks for the comments. Hopefully the re-configured, semi-autonomous DOT can study likelihood of a transportation “paradigm shift” quantitatively and objectively — the same way a large corporation looks at various contemplated strategic moves. They (DOT) should consider the most likely future scenario for fossil fuel and alternatives, the effect thereof on urban suburban and exurban Georgians, public and private roles in abetting modification, total cost of ownership of public/public-private initiatives, and the citizens’ ability and willingness to adopt proposed mode changes. The process of analysis should be done openly by way of a web interface where the public can blog comments. To the extent public money is involved, there should be consensus. We’re talking change here, Obama-style.

  30. Decaturguy says:

    I’ll let the senior Republican Senator from the State of Georgia speak the truth with the following quote from last week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle:

    “Mass transit is certainly one of the ways we can reduce congestion and protect the environment, and at teh same time we must continue to persue alternative sources of energy that reduces our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”

    When establishment conservatives like Governor Perdue and Senator Chambliss see reality and support mass transit measures it makes politicians like Steve Davis look like relics from the past. Or are they big government liberals too, Steve?

  31. Game Fan says:

    Steve Davis
    As someone who doesn’t actually mind being labeled a “tinfoil hat” type if your idea of “privatizing” our infrastructure or jumping on board with “public/private partnerships” then consider this a “heads up”. Because some of these seemingingly innocuous “neat ideas” are actually part of the NASCO corridor.

  32. A Typical White Person says:

    “When establishment conservatives like Governor Perdue and Senator Chambliss”

    Two of the finest examples of what happens when Dems convert to the GOP (Saxby and Sonny): They cannot change their inherent nature to go back to their Mother Ship of intellectual mush.

  33. heroV says:

    AubieTurtle, I disagree with many of Rep. Davis’ points here, but he is one of the few representatives we have with the balls to post his thoughts on this and other topics out in the open on Peachpundit and his own blog. There is nothing “safe” about that and I do believe he is fully aware of this but chooses to take the “unsafe” path. For this he should be commended, not mocked.

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