Let’s Call It: T-SPLOST In Trouble

It’s been an uphill climb the entire way, but a new Rosetta Stone poll, as reported by the Cox juggernaut of Lori Geary for WSB and Jim Galloway for the AJC, have what may be the Achilles heel being ripped at by new opposition. The measure losing favor among Democrats.

Seventy-one percent of Republicans in metro Atlanta now oppose the referendum, but only 50 percent of Democrats support the July 31 vote. Broken down by race, 47 percent of African-American supporters favor the referendum. Sixty-seven percent of white voters oppose it.

The calculus for passing this measure has always been that a large number of intown Democrats would have to outweigh suburban Republican “no” votes.  Instead, while in-town electeds mostly stand behind the measure, the NAACP and rogue elected like Senator Vincent Fort are actively campaigning against the measure.

We’ll dig deeper into this later, but the fatal construct of T-SPLOST to double tax in-town residents for transit while continuing to hamstring MARTA to appease suburbanites who already oppose the measure now looks like a recipe for doom.


  1. NorthGAGOP says:

    The Pro TSPLOST folks still have millions to spend, and over 2 weeks to continue to pound people with their message. So don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Are the pro-TSPLOST folks intentionally actively campaigning for the other side? Because at this point the more that the public hears and sees of their message, the more seemingly turned-off by it they are.

      In addition to this funding concept being poorly thought-out and fatally-flawed as Charlie describes, the pro-TSPLOSTers have run what could probably be described as the worst public relations campaign ever for a regional referendum.

      Part of the messaging seems to be really obviously extremely poor attempts of brainwashing the public into voting for with comments that look like they came from a really bad manufactured script or computer while the other part of the messaging are commercials that look like they already expected everyone to agree with their viewpoint.

      I don’t know who put together this horrendous PR campaign, but whomever it was needs to be fired and forced to refund all of the money that has seemingly been used to do nothing more but effectively further the case of those who are against the tax on the other side.

      The more they seemingly spend to pound people with their terrible messaging, the more that people seemingly make up their minds to vote against the tax.

      • Bridget says:

        Harsh, LDIG.

        I don’t think the base campaign is horrendous. “Untie Atlanta/Cobb” with the knotted highways graphic shown on digital billboards around 7:30am and 5:30pm is well placed and clever.

        I think the local chambers sending emails to their members saying “post these four attachments prominently around your office” is horrendous and borders the line of workplace rights.

        There’s no need to bring up specifics, but when the Governor et al tries to cram something or someone down the throats of the people, it stings. While I don’t support the TSPLOST project list regardless, it’s almost a pleasure to rise up against arrogance and bullying.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Um, if your support levels are at 33% with two weeks left till election day, you’re toast. No matter how many commercials you run.

      I’m perfectly willing to count chickens RIGHT now.

  2. debbie0040 says:

    They can spend all the money they want to but people will view it as rich developers and road builders spending money so they can make hundreds of millions to help line their pockets and the pockets of powerful politicians….

    You can put lipstick on a pig and dress it in fine clothes, but it is still a pig …

    What has been really interesting is that it seems the Democrats don’t trust their elected officials either and are also tired of being taxed… Politicians can only dupe people for so long and sooner or later people find they have had enough….

    • Three Jack says:

      “Politicians can only dupe people for so long and sooner or later people find they have had enough….”

      Don Balfour begs to differ, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and still get re-elected”.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Seems like Don always get’s a good laugh out of the ‘we’re gonna hold them accountable’ crowd.

      • James Touchton says:

        Thank you GriftDrift. I am really enjoying the number of new experts that have all of a sudden appeared. All of a sudden, some folks have become experts in a field I had no idea they worked in.

        • Charlie says:

          And here’s the problem James. All of the sudden our state government is filled with “experts” making these decisions for us, none of whom have worked in this field either.

          “Trust us. We’re the government.” has never been a workable Republican slogan anywhere except Georgia post-2002.

    • Yes, we Democrats don’t trust the Republicans that represent us at the state level. Why is that so hard for you to believe?

      Here is the ultimate story of the TSPLOST. Barack Obama got almost 60% in the ten county region, hence it is a Democratic district. If you want to do a tax increase, which voters make the most sense to try to pass it? I’m guessing Democrats, again. Now, seeing that it’s a 60% Democratic district, they should have put Democrats in charge of the proposal, the project list, and CRUCIALLY – the campaign. They should have let Democratic campaign consultants sell a tax increase to their voters. It might have passed.

      Instead, they picked an election date in a primary when many of the Democrats have no reason to show up (not many races on either side to be frank). So immediately it’s less of a Democratic district. Then they decided that they would spend millions of dollars trying to get the Debbie’s of the world to vote for this, when she pretty much had made up her mind before the whole thing had started. Then they hired Republican consultants to waste time on the Debbie’s and frantically try to pivot back to get Democratic votes even though most Democrats (Even a lot I know who are voting Yes) think they’ve been used and abused this entire process.

      That’s the story of TSPLOST in metro Atlanta.

      • USA1 says:

        Once again Chris fails to make a distinction between what he wants to have happen and what will actually happen. It’s one thing for Chris to say he wants world peace and unicorns for everyone and it’s another thing to believe that will actually occur. The T-SPLOST was never going pass simply because of the regional set-up. Yet, even though two months ago Chris was fairly confident the tax would pass, he now says the process was flawed and he knows how it “might” have passed. Wishful thinking.

        Chris’ first mistake is basing any projections on Obama’s share of the vote in 2008. That was a very unique election due to the large increase in black voters for Obama, and independents, moderates, and even some Republicans who were sick of Bush and horrified of Palin. Treating the 10-county area as solidly 60% Democratic is therefore a wrong assumption. And not just because Obama only won 57% and Barnes only managed 52%.

        So now that Chris over counts his base of support, he wants — surprise, surprise — Democrats to be in control of the project list. As if completely writing off white, conservative, suburban Republicans was the key to victory. Yeah, that’s the ticket! We’ll just thrown a hell of a lot more transit on the list and coast to victory on the votes of south Atlanta, south DeKalb, south Fulton and Clayton counties.

        It’s also amazing Chris does not mention the GA400 tolls and I-85 HOT lanes. As if two big transportation fiascoes would not influence voters. And any decently informed citizen would know how f’ed up the DOT has been. Nope, Chris just expects people would never imagine that the projects would take longer than expected, cost more than planned, and that the pols would be begging for more money (like in Denver) in 10 years.

        The actual story of T-SPLOST in metro Atlanta is that there was too much money directed towards transit, not enough money to make any meaningful reduction in commute times for drivers, and a project list with a bunch of “corridor improvements” that won’t do jack squat.

    • GTKay says:

      Debbie, you know good and well that if Fulton, Atlanta, and Dekalb democrats vote no, it’s because they don’t think the list has enough transit. You’re buddies at the Sierra Club and the DeKalb NAACP don’t like it for the exact opposite reason that you don’t like it. And Vincent Fort doesn’t like it because gasoline and jet fuel are not included in the tax. He’s mad bacause we are not being double-taxed on gas. Don’t be surprised if your new BFF’s dump you after the vote, regardless of the outcome.

      I know a lot of those evil road builders. They don’t have a lot of money to spend in order to line the pockets of powerful politicians. They would just like some steady work.

      From your research, which powerful politicians will be the recipienst of all this money, and which rich road builders and developers are spending all this money in order to make all this money in order to give all this money away? You need to google some new cliches. Yours are getting old.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “From your research, which powerful politicians will be the recipienst of all this money, and which rich road builders and developers are spending all this money in order to make all this money in order to give all this money away?”

        Very good question. And a very good answer to your question about which roadbuilders are spending all this money to make all this money in order to give all this money away could be C.W. Matthews Contracting Company, the largest roadbuilding company in the State of Georgia.

        From the AJC:

        “The 14th Street Bridge is among C.W. Matthews’ many state projects. In the fiscal year ended June 30, such work earned $522 million for the Marietta company.”

        “C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. of Marietta, the state’s largest road builder, contributed $265,675 to Georgia politicians from January 2006 through December 2008. Donations came from the company, its subsidiaries, executives and their spouses. Among the largest recipients during that period:
        • $55,000: Georgia Republican Party
        • $41,400: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R)*
        • $15,000: Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D)
        • $11,000: Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Mullis (R)
        • $7,500: Sen. Steve Thompson (D)
        • $4,300: House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R)^
        • $5,000: Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams (R)
        • $4,000: House Transportation Chairman Vance Smith (R)
        • $2,000: Gov. Sonny Perdue (R)#
        * — Includes $10,000 to a transition committee that Cagle established after the 2006 election and $20,000 to Cagle’s aborted entry in the 2010 governor’s race. Cagle has refunded donations to that campaign.

        ^ — Matthews also donated $10,000 to a PAC that Richardson controls.

        # — This number reflects one contribution during 2006; in all, the firm gave Perdue’s re-election campaign $14,488. After the 2002 election — during which it gave Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes’ campaign $176,000 — Matthews donated $10,000 to help pay Perdue’s campaign debt and $10,000 for his inauguration

        • GTKay says:

          And Ed Setzler and Chip Rogers…and at least 41 others in 2012. Thanks for the cut and paste, but I was looking for current politicians who would benefit from the projects on the TIA list since that’s why we hate it. And, OK, CW Mathews is big and rich- so much so that they can underbid a lot of smaller guys since that’s how projects are awarded by GDOT.

          And how awful that they made 522 million (in 2009 dollars- I’m sure every bit of it profit) by building that itty-bitty 14th Street bridge. Bridges are expensive.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “And how awful that they made 522 million (in 2009 dollars- I’m sure every bit of it profit) by building that itty-bitty 14th Street bridge. Bridges are expensive.”

            Kay, are you having problems reading?

            ““The 14th Street Bridge is among C.W. Matthews’ MANY state projects.”

            Plural, meaning more than one.

            And the last I looked, this legislation was put together in the period between 2008-2010 and passed by the State Legislature in 2010 when all of those guys on that list were in charge under Sonny Perdue’s watch.

            • GTKay says:

              I stand corrected. The bridge was only 88 million. So you’re suggesting a payoff and Debbie is suggesting a profit/payoff. I’m suggesting that road builders are the ones who build roads, and to criticize the bill because it will lead to road builders making money is silly.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                I wasn’t necessarily suggesting a payoff as much as I was just answering the question you posed about which powerful politicians were getting contributions and which major roadbuilding companies were making those contributions to help themselves make more money through a direct influence on public policy at the state level.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    But I wasn’t necessarily discounting the possibility of payoffs, either as the game of politics is what it is.

                    C.W. Matthews has money and they want to make lots more money, so they give lots of money to the guys who have control over roadbuilding policy who return the favor by making sure that C.W. Matthews continues to make lots of money.

                    Nothing new there, most certainly not around these parts or anyplace else in the country.

  3. Rambler1414 says:

    Question for the NO voters:

    Why do you think the CEO’s and Executives at the companies listed below are such supporters of the tax?

    Post Properties
    Cousins Properties
    Atlanta Business Chronicle
    Brock Clay
    TPA Realty
    Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association
    North American Properties
    Atlanta Board of Realtors
    The Clean Air Campaign
    McKenna Long & Aldridge

    • CobbGOPer says:

      We’ve said all along this is simply a slick way to funnel public money to private developers close to the GOP leadership in Georgia.

      • James Touchton says:

        That must be it. Probably why Clark Howard supports it too. They are going to line his pockets too!

        • CobbGOPer says:

          No. But his employer, Cox Communications, is one of the largest financial backers of the pro-T-SPLOST PR campaign, for what it’s worth.

    • Three Jack says:


      ‘CEOs and Executives’ endorsing TSPLOST….kind of like political endorsements…who gives a crap?

      • Charlie says:

        How to blog, 101:

        Today is your first day here. Saying you have 100% certainty that something is inaccurate is not helpful in any way. You have not established credibility for your pseudonym, nor did you offer any evidence to refute your claim.

        As time generally is required to generate credibility, the other way you have to bolster whatever point you’re trying to make is to land with some facts. After all, “innaccurate” can mean a lot of things. Thus, we have no idea what you’re 100% certain about.

        • GT Bob says:

          I am 100% certain that at least one of the CEOs of the list of CEOs is anti-T SPLOST. My comment was not intended to upset you but just to state the facts. I’m not 100% certain what you tried to accomplish with your post but I AM 100% sure the list is inaccurate as I am one of those CEOs.

          Any questions?

          • bowersville says:

            Thank you for bringing your previous statement into perspective. Speaking for myself. I’m reading along without commenting and your follow up has allowed me to put your previous statement into context.

  4. chefdavid says:

    Ahh I guess we are just misinformed up here in Northwest Georgia on the T-Splost.






    • Charlie says:

      I’m sorry, but just damn.

      Did the Democrats put this on the ballot? No, it was a product of Republican “leadership” that felt they needed to -say it with me – “do something” running up to the 2010 election. No incumbent wanted to own up to the fact that we took Sonny Perdue’s entire administration off from traffic planning (and funding).

      This was a stop gap measure by Republicans that everyone assumed would be fixed by the next governor and new general assembly. But no one touched it. Thus, no MARTA fix, no balance of equity for Fulton & DeKalb who already pay 1%, and by sheer stupidity, counties like Fayette and Cherokee are still involved to bring their 80% no votes to the table.

      This is the product of Republicans, even the ones (we’re looking at you Cherokee County delegation) who are now campaigning against it.

      It’s a crap sandwich, and it’s a Republican crap sandwich.

      • debbie0040 says:

        James, I have as much transportation experience as the Project Director at GADOT – Toby Carr.. Don’t see you criticizing that appointment…

        IF CTM disclosed their donor list, we could determine for ourselves who are the main backers..For some reason, they are keeping it hidden as long as possible…

        Agree. The whole region set up was flawed. It was Un-Consitutional and the counties that were grouped together in the Metro Region did not have the same transportation issues.

        The same elected officials that appoint the GA 400 Toll Authority get to appoint the Citzens over sight committee in T-SPLOST. Yes we should really trust Nathan Deal and company..

        I don’t blame the voters in Fulton and DeKalb from rebelling about the double tax they would be paying…

        This whole plan was not thought out well at all. The planners took the voters for Fulton and DeKalb for granted thinking they could easily manipulate them voting for T-SPLOST, if they threw in a lot of mass transit projects. They just happen to throw in 609 million for the Atlanta Belt-line project. The mass transit projects were not completed and the lack of maintenance funding after ten years sent up red flags. They courted the voters in other counties and basically told the voters in DeKalb to drop dead. They decided to put a rail line in Cobb, where it most likely would be under-utilized, instead of South DeKalb. Also, if they wanted rail, why not use the existing rail lines of the rail companies? Would be much more cost effective..

        Its like taking a girl to the prom then going off and dancing with other girls and expecting your date just to sent around waiting on you. You are amazed when your date goes off with someone else and tells you to drop dead…

        There are other reasons the other groups are opposing T-SPLOST besides not enough mass transit. They don’t want politicians having control of all that money to dole out to their cronies. Yes, there are bid process but someone has to set the criteria for the bid and can tailor it to certain companies…There is also lack of maintenance funding now . There are other issues.

        Why is Delta still not paying tax on jet fuel? I have an issue with that. They were only supposed to be exempt until they were solvent . They are solvent and have been for some time. Notice they keep greasing the palms of some elected officials with Skymiles to keep their exemption. Tax-payers should be furious over that. Jet fuel should not be exempt.

        • griftdrift says:

          “I don’t blame the voters in Fulton and DeKalb from rebelling about the double tax they would be paying…”

          Ya know Debbie, if you’d made this argument from the beginning instead of screaming about the very people being double taxed were taken money from Gwinnett to prop up their MARTA, you might have a few more friends in this fight.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Ms. Dooley is doing camera appearances at the State Capitol with Vincent Fort, the NAACP, South DeKalb officials and the Sierra Club as part of a coalition that pro-TSPLOST forces wish they had and support for the T-SPLOST is tanking in the polls both in the city and the ‘burbs, so it doesn’t look like she and the Georgia Tea Party are having even the slightest problem gaining allies in this political fight.

            • griftdrift says:

              In politics friends are fleeting.

              But I’m sure someone with the wisdom to brand their product as “Atlanta” while simultaneously saying its the pit of all wrongs already knows that.

        • Blake says:

          No idea who you’re replying to, no idea why this is addressed to “James” when you’re replying to Charlie.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            I think that she was replying to a much earlier post by James Touchton on July 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm.

  5. Baker says:

    In addition to being a pro-TSPLOSTy conservative, I hope this thing passes just to see people FREAK out. It would be so great.

    Maybe then we can actually get rid of Balfour and other high on the hog Gold Domers. How bout we focus on getting rid of them, stopping that stupid new stadium, and actually simplifying the tax code rather than trying to kill our best effort at transportation improvements?

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I and probably a good 90% or more of all Georgians agree with the pressing need to get rid of Balfour and the other high on the hog Gold Domers with ethics and morals issues, the need for tax reform and the highly-questionable need for a new stadium when the Georgia Dome is only 20 years old and is still more than serviceable.

      But if this is our best effort at transportation improvements than I would truly hate to our WORST, which many Georgians, especially Metro Atlantans, would probably be much more prone to actually quantify this regional T-SPLOST referendum as.

      And you say that you hope that this thing passes just to see people freak out?

      By the looks of everything people are already freaking out, big time, as in addition to conservative OTP suburbanites and exurbanites would were most likely going to strongly oppose the tax anyway, there are an increasing number of black churches in Fulton and DeKalb and areas close to and south of the I-20 telling their parishioners to encourage as many people as they can to vote against the tax and there are members of the definitively left-leaning factions like the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP, black local officials in DeKalb and Counties and the Sierra Club joining with definitively right-leaning factions like our very own Debbie Dooley and the Georgia Tea Party on camera to talk about just how much of a really bad idea they think the tax is.

      You’ve also got Republican legislators who supported the tax early-on now desperately running away from it in droves for political cover and you’ve got frequent polls coming out documenting the continuing plunge in public support for the tax on a daily basis.

      Looks like the freak out is going to be so big in advance so as to keep it from having any shot at passing.

  6. Big Tuna says:

    Why are the debbie’s of the world constantly bagging “rich road builders?” Let me throw out a hypothetical:

    You are being rushed to the hospital for chest pains. Upon arrival, it is discovered you have a major blockage in your heart and the hospital says you need emergency heart surgery. So of course the hospital sends for a….plumber….to conduct life saving heart surgery. Well of course you die and your family is upset because a plumber conducted surgery on your heart. It is ok though because really too many rich heart surgeons have already personally benefitted from your obese and unhealthy lifestyle and those like you who cannot put down the Doritos.

    Sound ridiculous? Well it should because it is. If I was in that situation I would want a heart surgeon too. And if you are anything like me, I don’t want someone who is performing their first heart surgery. I would like someone who has done it a lot. Regardless of cost.

    Do you want to drive over a bridge who concrete was placed by an accountant? Perhaps you are comfortable parking in a parking deck built by electrician?

    The reality is road building requires a lot of money, equipment and expertise. It is not a combination found readily available at your local QT. When the Tea Party and Sierra Club come back in two years with their perfect project list plan B, it will be the same road builders then who are around now who will build the projects. Except at that point, more may be out of business and of course the price will go up with less competition.

    Please move along from the rich and greedy road builders. It is just an embarrassing argument that smacks of obama and his class warfare.

    • Baker says:

      I understand the reaction/ worry of just doling out tax money to developers and such…that is one area of general govt behaviour that the Tea Party and the Occupiers could’ve agreed on and really gotten some traction on, but instead the Occupiers turned out to be children (and that’s a real slur on children).

      The TSPLOST however is a necessary project and not a Bridge to Nowhere. And with the increased citizen activism these days by all of us, the bidding for these projects would have unbelievable scrutiny keeping it in check.

      To me, road-building/ transit is one of the core functions of govt.

      We didn’t have the Tea Party when Go Fish was put in place, we didn’t have the best state aggregator in the country when Go Fish was put in. The sunlight on these programs is better/ more than ever and that would help control some of the worries that people are having about TSPLOST.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        To me, road building/transit is one of the core functions of government.
        Well, how have they been doing for us? So an uniformed public can do better right?
        Most folks do not trust the county commissioners or chamber reps that pick the projects, then they do not trust the boards our elected officals put their buddies on.
        And Gov. Deal has not really cut the state government back like he said or cracked down on illegal immigration as its booming again, or closed the Ga 400 toll lanes, etc.

        • Baker says:

          Well if we don’t trust them that much, we should vote them all out right? The county commissioners and chamber reps are very close to the local level so we should have a better grasp on them than an entrenched Senator (that being said, as a Fulton Co resident, every time Queen Emma speaks as a County Commish my brain explodes).

          Am I wrong?

          Is illegal immigration booming again? Deal does seem to have blatantly lied about the 400 toll lanes.

          What did you mean by the uniformed public? Uninformed? Or uniformed as in an elected officer? Or informed?

  7. Harry says:

    My problem is not so much with road builders, but rather with the political class who attempted to pass off onto the voters their responsibility to appropriate or not. I’m also irked with Atlanta area traffic engineers and planners. Why should we trust them with projects worth $20 Billion or more when they can’t properly handle traffic signal synchronization on major thoroughfares?

  8. CobbGOPer says:

    Why is this site telling me “You’re posting too fast. Slow down.” and proceeds to block my comments?

  9. Bob Loblaw says:

    Those rich roadbuilders have tons of heavy equipment just sitting and rusting that they’re still making payments on. The whole wanna-be populist approach is simply baseless. You look at a project that costs $522 million and act like they’re making $522 million. The state take the low bid, people. Competition for these projects is fierce.

    There’s a lot of people that are starting to sound a lot like a certain President running for re-election with all this class warfare rabble rousing.

  10. benevolus says:

    OK, so let’s say it fails. What does Plan B look like? Who is going to step forward with a real plan? The legislature? What kind of plan would have the potential for a strong coalition and get some possibility of funding? How long would it take to put this together?
    I think anything would look flawed to somebody, but it has to look less flawed to more people.

    • Charlie says:

      1) Cut the Atlanta region down to the five core counties. Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton.

      2) Establish a transit authority for those 5 only. Equity must be established for the investment Fulton & DeKalb have invested over the past 40 years for rail. Outlying counties have to make a concerted effort to buy in as well. Most likely some form of sales taxes from the new counties, but not sure a full penny is needed if only raid/no bus service.

      3) Increase motor fuels taxes within the greater metro atlanta counties (15ish – whatever the SMSA is) and contain that money within those counties for roads.

      4) Re-direct Atlanta’s hotel-motel sales tax from a “Blank Check” for a new stadium to pay for the Beltline.

      Edited/Added: 5) Transition (quickly) the 1% of the motor fuels taxes that go to the general fund so there’s less money for general slush fund pork, and more for dedicated road building.

      Start there, work out the rough edges among the interested groups.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          You can’t leave Gwinnett (or Cobb) out of it because Gwinnett with its 824,000-plus people that straddles an I-85 Northeast Corridor that carries over 300,000 vehicles per-day (along with Cobb and its nearly 700,000 people that straddles a I-75 Northwest Corridor that also carries 300,000-plus vehicles daily ) is now a key and indispensible part of the urban core of the metro area.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              Unfortunately, the blatantly unethical dealings of all the players involved (inside and outside of Gwinnett) are well documented at this point.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Sounds like a heck of a lot better start than the plate of crap that’s in front of us right now.

      • gt7348b says:

        I’m going get in trouble and point out a fact – the vehicle for 1 and 2 already exists and was created in the mid-1960s. Its called MARTA and is a specifically designed to be a five county system of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. The process for joining is already laid out in Georgia Law.
        1. New County Commission negotiates and amendment to the Rapid Transit Contract Assistance Agreement with MARTA usually specifying what will be built
        2. New Amendment is approved by new County, MARTA BoD and 2 out of existing three jurisdictions
        3. Vote is added to general election year ballot for voters of new county to approve the entry into RTCAA

        Now, this won’t work for other counties, because the MARTA act specifically lists those five counties. This concludes this segment of geeky legal info on MARTA.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Thanks for pointing that out as the vehicle for establishing expanded transit options both throughout the five-county urban core and beyond it should also exist under the GRTA legislation that was passed into law by the state in 1999 as what was meant to set the stage for a regional commuter rail system, if I’m correct.

      • ryanhawk says:

        I’m with you on dedicating the 1% to transportation — but it will create a hole in the state budget. The state has been taking user fees from commuters for a long time and I’m sure educators, and other beneficiaries of the general fund, will not want to see their funds reduced.

      • saltycracker says:

        And what group of legislators would propose/back something that sensible ?

        The Republicans have long held that an increase in the fuel tax, despite being low, is a tax increase they will not support. And to leave it in the originating county and difficult for them to mess with it ! …..not going to happen…..

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Fulton and DeKalb’s MARTA investment is sunk cost. A fair shake going forward would satisfy me.

        Statewide convert the 3% (or 4% per you item 5) gas sales tax on to a fixed amount and add it to the existing $0.075 per gallon excise tax. This would reduce the voltiility of retail fuel prices as well as steady the revenue stream. Then index the new larger excise tax to inflation.

        A increase in excise tax over and above inflation will likey be necessary at some point in the future as vehicle fuel efficiency increases. The I-86 HOT lane “demonstration” project is demonstrating more than a toll lane. It’s demonstrating and developing the technology to tax/toll by where and when you drive. (Manufacturer won’t be paying taxes on electricity, and they’ll evade their supporting transportation infrastrucutre if they go to electric fleets!)

        As info, I think the MSA is 28 counties. Substituting a the gas tax for a 1% (or even a fraction of a cent) general sales tax would result in a significant tax differential at the periphery (and with 28 counties, it’s a big periphery!) The trucking industry would transfer fueling outside the region to the extent feasible. Eventually word would filter to the casual interstate traveler. “Last chance” gas billboards anyone?

        People associate county transportation local option sales taxes with transporation, but local governments spend considerable property taxes on transportation. Raise the gas tax a hefty amount statewide, and remit a significant chunk to local governments. Local government could in turn reduce property taxes or drop county transportation LOSTs accordingly.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        Only problem there, Charlie, is that the ARC is a Metropolitan Planning Organization as recognized by the U.S. DOT. It is federal law that an MPO must have plans that reach through the entire area or the MPO won’t be able to draw down the crucial federal funds to match with the T-SPLOST funds to build the projects.

        State laws were changed to mandate where the “fourth penny” would be spent in 2008. The monies must go to capital projects like you speak of, but GA has to maintain its roads by federal law, so GA puts some of those funds towards maintenance. 10% goes to counties in block grants. Its not a lot of money when you consider that the Roswell Rd./I-285 interchange is a $1.2 billion project.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I fear that the Legislature will not step forward with a plan after this, but instead will only view the defeat of the T-SPLOST as a mandate to continue to do nothing on transportation even moreso than before.

  11. Bull Moose says:

    I wonder how TSPLOST will fare in other parts of the state?

    If it fails state wide what’s the plan?

    I say vote them all out – period. Every last Republican and Democrat needs to go and be replaced with new leaders who might have the intestinal fortitude to actually try and solve some of Georgia’s problems once and for all.

    • Charlie says:

      No one cares if it fails statewide outside of Atlanta, except the people that want to build those projects.

      This was a construct to keep Atlanta money in Atlanta. If more 4-lanes are paved in rural Georgia as a result, that’s swell. If not, no one in Atlanta will lose sleep over it.

      As Kyle Wingfield wrote a month or so ago, no one considered what would happen if the rest of the state passes theirs and Atlanta doesn’t. Now you’re penalizing the Atlanta counties with local matches, effectively sending even more money to areas that don’t need it as badly, while further strangling an area that this was supposed to help.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “no one considered what would happen if…”

        Unfortunately, that lack of consideration for unintended consequences seems to be a common theme throughout the building debacle that is this T-SPLOST.

  12. Carlyle says:

    This whole stream is amusing,I’m sure their are others on here like myself that actually live in Atl and deal with the Traffic issues everyday and complain every day.It looks as if it will fail and we will have to deal with more issues and wait longer for a solution,which is something you will not hear(solution that is)coming out of the talking head tea potters.They whine and complain and offer zero in solutions,and in the coming years will be whining and complaining because the traffic is horrendous ……. Crickets……

    • Charlie says:

      I have a 45 mile one way commute accross Atlanta.

      One thing I’m sure that won’t fix the traffic I drive in is more smugness from the ruling class that designs such a stupid “solution” and then chides those in their own party for not buying in to your awesomeness while you simultaneously call them names.

      • Baker says:

        I don’t see it as a “stupid” solution. It’s not great, but there were so many people that were elected by we the people that put this thing together. Some people like some stuff, some people don’t like other stuff. Whats that phrase about compromise? It’s not a compromise unless no one is happy? (or something like that)

        • Charlie says:

          It was stupid to build this as a 10 county solution, with the outlying counties filled with anti-tax Republicans, put it on a July primary ballot, and then somehow expect Democrats to pass this thing over the objection of Republicans when Republican leaders are now predictably running away from this monster they created.

          I guess, in total, it’s not really that stupid. It’s just an amazingly sad lack of leadership coupled with various acts of political cowardess thrown in for good measure.

          • Baker says:

            “expect Democrats to pass this thing over the objection of Republicans when Republican leaders are now predictably running away from this monster they created.”

            Ha, when you put it that way I’ll go along with “stupid”.

            Takeaways for me:
            1) I don’t think the list is stupid, the process was.
            2) A lack of leadership in Georgia? Peshaw.
            3) This isn’t just a Georgia problem, this is an institutional problem with the way politics nationwide work now. There are those of us on both sides who are trying to scrape and claw to try to set things right but with so many who don’t pay attention, the system can just steamroll right over us.
            4) Hooray for all of us who care, regardless of stance on any issue.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              This process was incredibly stupid, lazy and sad.

              Did anyone REALLY expect transit-hungry roadbuilding-averse liberal Intowners to vote to raise their own taxes to fund a list that included a new freeway proposed to be built in the right-of-way of the much-hated abandoned Northern Arc in the form of the Sugarloaf Parkway Extension between GA 316 in Dacula and GA 20 in Buford near the Mall of Georgia?

              Did anyone REALLY expect highly-big government and tax-averse conservatives in the suburbs and exurbs OTP to vote to raise their own taxes to fund a project list that includes MARTA maintenance projects or MARTA anything?

              The politically and socially-polarized ultraconservative suburbs and exurbs and the uber-liberal urban core each have vastly-differing transportation and logistical needs.

              The process of mashing everything together on one list to be voted on by an extremely and sharply polarized metropolitan region in the name of an imagined non-existent regional unity on the issue of transportation is fatally-flawed at best and catastrophically foolhardy at worst as the only thing that this process is seeming to accomplish is to make Atlanta openly look to the business world like a region that refuses to invest in its transportation infrastructure.

              This process wasn’t designed to setup this region for success, it was designed to setup this region for utter failure as now our economic competitors in the Sunbelt will be able to say without a doubt that Atlanta does not and cannot invest in its transportation infrastructure.

    • debbie0040 says:

      We have proposed solutions time and time again but the pro T-SPLOST just ignores our proposals because it is not what they want. We have researched this with different think tanks to see what would work in Atlanta. Want more detail, then give us government resources like the pro T-SPLOST crowd has and watch what we come up with. It will be a solution bringing everyone to the table that we can all agree on..

      I have posted the links repeatedly to reports from Reason Foundation and Georgia Public Policy Foundation that suggest alternatives..

  13. GTKay says:

    If it does fail and we have to go back to square one, then there will still need to be some kind of tax increase. We are underfunded, and even if we get our 1% gas tax to go back (I don’t know if it ever went there in the first place) to GDOT, there will still need to be an increase in the gas tax, or a vehicle miles traveled tax (ugh!) or something else. And the legislators will have to grow backbones and stand up to Debbie and Grover as they’re called pro-tax republicans and featured on Hall of Shame pages, blast emails, and bull’s eye lists. Otherwise we’ll just stagnate.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Every elected offical and everyone running for office that I have heard speak has been pro-tsplost so adding more gas tax in the next session should not be to hard for them.
      The item that needs fixing is the law that requires congressional balancing of funds is the one that needs to be fixed. We have wasted way, way too many dollars on roads that are not needed.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Except that if it fails there’s going to be the no vote to new taxes for transportation to overcome. The no votes aren’t going to be tabbed into hell no, hate Atlanta, wrong project list, wrong transit mix, poor tax policy, lack of of MARTA reform, etc. Georgia’s leadership is leading the state into the ground.

        Sure the 2012 General Assembly districts are new. But these guys just finished choosing their constituents, crafting safe seats for their supporters safe seats, and decimating the opposition. Knocking out a Balfour or a Rogers isn’t going to do squat. Yeah, they’ll be changes, but it’ll still be the same ol’ same ol’.

        I fear it’ll be a half dozen years before there’s any Plan B. It’ll take that long for the general electrorate to realize it’s not bad air, but Charlotte and Texas dust they’re choking on.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Exactly…While I don’t think that a T-SPLOST referendum in a highly-polarized and tax-adverse region is at all the smartest way to about attempting to fund critically-needed transportation upgrades, the coming defeat of the T-SPLOST will do nothing but provide ammunition to our competitors in Texas (Dallas) and North Carolina (Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham) to eat our lunch economically.

    • ryanhawk says:

      GTKay — You are competing with educators and medicaid recipients for funds. I agree that the 1% that is being diverted to the general fund should go towards transportation. But I don’t see you winning that fight with the teachers and hospitals.

  14. benevolus says:

    Even Croatia has modern people transit, and they were in a war 20 years ago. If I am reading the numbers right, Croatia has a GDP of $63 billion. The state of Georgia has a GDP of $400 billion.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Yeah GA we are last in things that matter like education and transporation and first in things that are bad like bank failures and foreclosures and ID theft etc.
      Our suffering points to a one party run state.

    • Daddy Got A Gun says:

      “Modern people transit’ is limiting Croatia’s growth. Seriously. Mass Transit forces business and people into limited geographic corridors. You won’t see someone living in Marietta taking a better job in Snellville because with mass transit that travel path is not available and won’t be. He’ll stay in his dead-end job and wait for an opportunity that may or may not come in Marietta.

      Much of America’s economic success is our mobility to move around and go where the best opportunities are, not where the nearest bus stop is.

      My background is civil engineering (I’m a PE with traffic and environmental engineering experience) and capital project economics (mostly telecom data networks). I did traffic studies and designs earlier in my career in NJ (about 20 years ago).

      Anyone who says these projects will improve commute times by any measurable amount is either ignorant or lying to you. Ask the TSPLOST supporters for proof of their claims that this will solve Atlanta’s traffic issues. They have no proof or engineering studies. Just big hand waves about the effectiveness of Portland’s Mass Transit …. blah blah blah (hint for Clark Howard – Georgia isn’t Portland and never will be)

      4 things will happen when this passes (I think it will – sadly)

      1) By the time these projects are complete, they will be 4 times as expensive as proposed and 1/4th as effective as promised. Look at Boston’s Big Dig. Over Budget With Minimal Impact. That is what we will experience here in Georgia.

      This will be Georgia’s Big Dig … Maybe we can call it …… Cagle’s Folly – named for the guy who pushed this scam behind the scenes.

      2) Many of these projects will in fact make traffic congestion WORSE! Traffic Engineering is complicated and project impact needs to be studied not just to the project’s edge but well beyond. Solving a flow issue here means more cars are going to get to another point of constriction. Where do you want those cars stacked up? Ideally on the on-ramps (hence the traffic lights on the interstate on ramps). Secondarily on the interstate. If the cars stack up on local roads then you will have gridlock which rapidly spreads and impacts all of the roads.

      3) TSPLOST will suck up every available road building resource in the Southeast. This is a BIG capital budget. There are only so many road building crews and equipment. Road repair will suffer because of the cost and lack of road builders. If a project is not on the list, it ain’t going to be built. TSPLOST will increase the cost of road maintenance and construction. Construction times will be even worse than now.

      4) This will be a permanent tax which will eventually harm Georgia’s economy …. which will drive higher taxes. In addition, many of the projects are require maintenance and operations subsidaries. By building mass transit today, we are committing future generations to pay for it. What we are building will be a giant big financial liability on our children.

      5) In 10 years, we will find out that what was built today was built in the wrong place. Americans are a mobile people. We go where opportunity is. Only liars, fools, and government parasites would claim they can predict the future needs of Georgians.

  15. benevolus says:

    If I was looking to open a new retail business, locating near a new transit stop seems like it would be an excellent choice!

  16. Matt Stout says:

    Were there any Republicans in the house caucus voting against this measure in 2010?

    Wait a second, there’s my little brother! Daniel Stout voted against T-SPLOST as a Republican State Rep, and so his majority leader Jerry Keen gave $ to Daniel’s primary opposition….

    It seems in politics that only the good die young.

  17. GT Bob says:

    I don’t oppose the concept of a tax to alleviate our transportation deadlock. I oppose the way the taxpayers have been raped by the corruptive practices of those in positions of public trust in nearly every facet of local government spending.

    Let’s refer first to the new International Terminal at Hartsfield/Jackson. $1.4 billion plus a hefty penalty paid to the first architect in order to bring in the minority-owned architect (for unknown reasons) that completed the work. The project started in 2006 with a $688 million budget and by the time it was done the tab to the taxpayers was nearly $1.5 billion and Atlanta taxpayers became the benefactors of 12 new gates.

    Consider the use of a recent $40 million federal transportation grant to the City of Atlanta. It will pay for Streetcar service from Centennial Park to Auburn Avenue and the King Center.

    The list of misused funds go on and on forever with no real benefit to either the vast majority of those who pay them or to the concept of creating commerce in order to have a more sustainable tax base (specifically to avoid future similar special purpose tax referendums). Please be assured that the pockets of the same contractor cronies were sufficiently lined in both cases above.

    While most of us agree with the concept of using tax dollars to address transportation issues, the structure of a method to create effect stewardship of our tax dollars is far from in place. Until some tough questions are addressed, whistleblower programs are established and major changes in how we operate are put in place I am solidly against T SPLOST and I highly suggest you do the same.

  18. wicker says:

    Hello Debbie:

    I read the Reason Foundation report and found it to be unserious. You can’t eliminate accidents, work zones and bad weather any more than you can eliminate poverty or crime. Further, other regions have those and do a much better job with congestion. So even mentioning that is just a distraction from really trying.

    “But for the other half of congestion—the kind that occurs every day during rush hours because demand greatly exceeds roadway capacity—there is no alternative to increasing the capacity of the roadway system.”

    The T-SPLOST people agree. That is why it included a lot of road projects, projects that have long been needed but have rarely or never been formally politically proposed before, and after T-SPLOST fails likely won’t be again. The original T-SPLOST opponents (i.e. the ones that you were representing before you started hanging out with the Sierra Club and NAACP) opposed it because it was not almost entirely highways, but instead was a bail-out for failing MARTA to use your own words.

    Ultimately, the Reason list only has 4 projects whose reach is (ironically) tilted primarily towards Atlanta-Fulton-DeKalb (I-675N, downtown connector, I-20, 400 S, Lakewood Freeway) plus toll roads as far as the eye can see. The Reason list A) totally ignores the suburbs – and not just the outer suburbs but even the inner suburbs like Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett – where the vast majority of both the current traffic problem and projected economic and population growth will occur and B) uses the ability to pay for itself with toll revenue as the controlling factor. The Reason list won’t come anywhere close to addressing the real needs of the 10 county area because it does nothing for the hundreds of thousands of daily automobile trips who do not go anywhere near the Downtown connector.

    And I am not buying the “give us the resources that the T-SPLOST people have and we’ll come up with a better list.” The resources to do transportation project studies have long existed, and it doesn’t take much money anyway. The problem is that the T-SPLOST opponents don’t prioritize transportation. They didn’t before T-SPLOST, and even now they are motivated more by opposing a tax than coming up with a better list. Once the tax – and funding MARTA – threats are gone, you won’t hear anything about a “Plan B” from any of them. That is why the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (think the Georgia version of the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation) in their report trashing the T-SPLOST stated that the next list 2 years from now will be no better than this one. The people who are opposing this are motivated by opposition to taxes, not improving transportation, so they won’t contribute a thing to the process to create Plan B.

  19. dirL says:

    As someone with Asthma, who lives up north 85, Duluth, and works in Decatur let me chime in with my futurist solutions. First, if you have never seen a map of pollution generated by 285 from 20 to 400 go find one and look at it. 2nd, as opposed to the insanity of HOV and the illegal Hot Lanes, stipulate this; cars stuck in Rush hour traffic, idle or near it, generate more pollution than those cars moving and getting off the highway, don’t believe it, look back at aforementioned map. 3rd follow this plan to the letter;

    1. Build an outer outer perimeter.
    2. Tear down all Toll booths on 400 and remove HOV and HOT Lanes to generate trust
    3. Tell the FEDS to stuff it. Start several studies to eventually show how asinine their solutions are to this.
    4. Find a private company to design and build Air Purification Centers designed to reduce smog caused by automobiles to be placed alongside 285 and the brand new…
    5. Double Decker highway you will build over 285 from 85 to 75.
    6. When someone brings up high speed rail, mass transit, marta or anything like that laugh in their face, call them a hopeless Democrat stooge, ban them from any future meetings and post their pictures around town with the word FRAUD on it.
    7. On the federal level mandate that every state provide their own electric power and mandate that all power plants built to meet this goal are nuclear.

    the dirL has spoken

  20. Self_Made says:

    “They courted the voters in other counties and basically told the voters in DeKalb to drop dead. They decided to put a rail line in Cobb, where it most likely would be under-utilized, instead of South DeKalb.”

    I’m so glad I didn’t just stop reading her posts. Eventually she wrote something intuitively true and nailed down the BIGGEST reason the DeKalb NAACP found common ground with the Tea Party.

    • benevolus says:

      Except she might be incorrect:

      Project ID: TIA-M-023
      Project Type: Transit
      County / Sub-region: DeKalb / East Sub-region
      Schedule: 2013 – 2015, 2016 – 2019, 2020 – 2022
      Funding Commitments: $225,000,000.00
      Job Creation Potential: Content Under Development
      Project Fact Sheet: View Project Fact Sheet

      This project uses TIA funds to start a phased implementation of investments in the I-20 East Corridor by constructing future stations of a fixed guideway system as identified through the long-term vision for the corridor of providing fixed guideway service between the Mall at Stonecrest and Central Atlanta. Funding is provided for park & ride / transit center infrastructure investments and bus transit operations operating at least 18 hours a day with a 15 minute peak and 30 minute off peak initially. Contingent upon additional funding, this project may also provide a fixed guideway rail service along a route generally parallel to I-20 and connecting with the existing MARTA system either in downtown Atlanta or at the Indian Creek station. The total cost of the project is $225,000,000, which will be entirely funded under TIA.

      • Self_Made says:

        As we have continuously stated, this is not a complete project. Despite the obscene price tag, THIS is a fluff piece that does not deliver a heavy or light rail system outside the Perimeter in South DeKalb. This “project” is for just more Park&Ride and a “look into the development of” a “fixed guideway system”. This is not the commuter rail that has been promised for decades to residents of South DeKalb who face a 30-45 minute commute the the nearest MARTA station, but still pay the 1 cent tax.

        Let alone that there are no major highways or improvements to facilitate faster commute times into and out of South DeKalb since many of us have to travel to the opposite side of the “region” for jobs at companies that relocate from ITP to North Fulton and S. Forsyth.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Why does there just seemingly absolutely have to be rail transit service in the I-20 right-of-way?

          I don’t disagree that there is a pressing need for a comprehensive rail transit option to serve and provide relief to the severe traffic congestion that plagues the I-20 East Corridor.

          But I don’t necessarily agree that an I-20 right-of-way that is dominated purely by automobile-oriented development built to car scale is necessarily the correct placement for a high-frequency rail transit line.

          There just does not seem to be anywhere near a high-enough density of immediately-adjacent development or anywhere near a high-enough population density within the immediate area (two things that most often make for a successful and sustainable rail transit line) for a potential rail transit line to be able to reasonably sustain itself over the long-term in or near an I-20 East right-of-way which is dominated with sprawling automobile-oriented low-density development, which is a problem that the MARTA North Line, which is the least-utilized of MARTA’s five heavy rail lines, is having as the line operates mostly in the median of an expressway down the middle of GA 400 between Buckhead and the Perimeter an area of automobile-oriented development.

          Getting extensive park & ride bus service that can take a lot of the single-occupant vehicle (SOV) traffic that is the cause of the severe traffic congestion that plagues I-20 East Corridor and the rest of the freeway system in the Atlanta Region, is nowhere nearly the bad deal that it seems for the I-20 East right-of-way between Downtown and Stonecrest Mall.

          The best right-of-way for rail transit to serve South DeKalb and the I-20 East Corridor is not the I-20 East right-of-way itself, but the right-of-way of the CSX/Georgia Railroad Line that goes through what is overall a much more densely-developed and densely-populated corridor in running through the Near-Eastside of Atlanta, the Inman Park/Reynoldstown/Little Five Points/Edgewood/Candler Park area, the East Lake area, Decatur, Avondale Estates, Clarkston, the Stone Mountain Park area by way of historic Stone Mountain Village, and Downtown Lithonia just above Stonecrest Mall before heading east to Downtown Conyers and Covington.

          Rail transit in the CSX/Georgia RR right-of-way can sustain itself over the long-term by driving walkable transit-friendly development built to human scale immediately-adjacent next to the stations and the foot traffic that is generated by it in addition to providing a very-strong park & ride transit option, unlike the I-20 East right-of-way in which of all of the adjacent development is only built to car scale where a rail transit line would be incapable of attracting the type of human scale development capable of generating the foot traffic and potential property tax revenues that help a rail transit line sustain itself over time.

  21. GT Bob says:

    Our priorities are backwards. First we need to make some difficult decisions on how to fix our unacceptable and corrupt education system within the region or traffic will become less of an issue by default.

    • benevolus says:

      I know it’s hard to imagine, but I would like to hope that we could do two, or maybe even three things at the same time.

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