Morning Reads For Tuesday July 17

Local Reads
– AJC: Transportation vote: Game-changer or economic boondoggle?
– See the full project list.
– Jay Bookman says the low tax crowd (Republicans and Chamber types) have nobody to blame but themselves for the public’s reluctance to support TSPLOST.
– Newt Gingrich did a robocall yesterday for PSC Commissioner Stan Wise.
– Speaker Ralston was in Athens and talked about healthcare.
– Torres and Sheinin look at four interesting Legislative races.
Anonymous robocalls in Gwinnett’s Commission District 3 race.
Mysterious mailers in Douglas county.

Narional/International Reads
– Stephen Covey passed away at age 79.
-Is President Obama losing independents?
– Obama still leads the RCP average by 2.1 points. In other words it close right now.
– Apparently Brides didn’t want to add the President’s campaign to their wedding registry. Shocker.
– Secretary of State Clinton was treated rudely in Egypt over the weekend.
– It appears the LOST treaty is dead.

Other Stuff
– Police say things are getting out of hand at Lake Lanier.
– Nails and tacks in the road caused problems at the Tour de France.
– The Paterno family rejects the conclusions of the report showing Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials covered up Sandusky’s abuse.

75 comments

  1. Max Power says:

    LOST another victim of politics over policy

    – Police say things are getting out of hand at Lake Lanier.

    We’re now at what 5.5 million in the metro-area and we have basically two bodies of water for recreational boating, Lanier and Allatoona which barely qualifies. So yeah more people on the lake is going to lead to more trouble, especially when 90% of the people out there have no concept of courtesy not to mention the rules of the road.

    – Nails and tacks in the road caused problems at the Tour de France.

    Are we sure they weren’t syringes?

  2. Baker says:

    Like one of the Whos from Horton Hears a Who, allow me to continue to scream about the Falcons unneeded stadium. Someday, a Horton connected to purse strings will hear me.

    So now they’re ranked 39 out of 50 on a worldwide 50 most valuable sports team list.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2012/07/16/falcons-no-39-on-50-most-valuable.html

    It really is a shame we hadn’t already built their new stadium so they could be ranked higher.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Falcons-Habitat-Keep-the-Dome/147025202029129

    • wicker says:

      You left out a couple of minor details.

      1. All 32 NFL clubs ranked in the top 50.

      2. The gap between Atlanta at #39 and Dallas at #3 is over $1 billion dollars. To put it another way, the gap between Atlanta and Dallas is 20% more than the worth of the Falcons, which is $814 million.

      I guess folks don’t want the Falcons after all. It is better to not have the Falcons than to have them not be competitive and everyone whine and moan about how bad they are. Sports franchises are businesses just like anything else, and they need to be able to remain competitive. And Blank isn’t going self-finance when few other owners do so. Blank is going to keep the Falcons competitive according to the business practices common in the NFL, not according to the libertarian notions of suburbanites. Blank isn’t the Smith family. If Blank doesn’t get his stadium, he will simply sell the Falcons.

      • Charlie says:

        Explain to me why any of what you just wrote is worth taking tax dollars from anyone to give to anyone else.

        More bluntly, why is it the taxpayers responsibility to either make sure Arthur Blank has a team worth as much as Jerry Jones’ team? Why do we give a damn that if Arthur Blank doesn’t get tax dollars, he’ll sell to someone else?

        • bgsmallz says:

          Charlie-

          I have no idea what wicker is talking about….however, I think the analysis is pretty simple…

          Do we want a football team or not?

          If we don’t provide some public money for a new stadium, the Falcons shouldn’t stay. They should go to a market that will. (and based upon the past 10 years….there are plenty of markets that will do that (see Indy, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Seattle, Minnesota, Baltimore, Nashville, Detroit, etc. etc. all built with some combination of public and private funds).

          Let’s assume that we listen to folks like you and Baker and take the hard line on this. We lose the team.

          Now what do we have…?

          A 30 year old stadium without an NFL tenant and millions in dollars in subsidies to the GWCCA in order to cover the costs that were paid for by the Falcons revenues.

          The GWCCA serves a very important public function. Those facilities are the major driver in hotel/motel tax revenues in the city. The Falcons playing in the Dome(or other stadium) are the difference between those facilities running in the red and running in the black. So…you either funnel those hotel/motel taxes back into the construction of a new stadium so that you can lock in your major revenue producing tenant for another 30 years or you can wait and try to use those taxes to close the gap produced by losing your major tenant.

          By the way, considering the Falcons would be on the hook for $650 M of the price tag, can we please stop with the ‘we are building their stadium’ when the remaining $300M is coming out of future hotel/motel taxes over the life of the bonds? “We” are building jack….the Falcons, the NFL, and tourists/conventioneers are paying for it.

          • wicker says:

            @bgsmallz:

            “I have no idea what wicker is talking about”

            Ummm … that IS what I was talking about. You nailed what I was talking about perfectly. The only difference is that I don’t necessarily agree that the Falcons new owner – which they would have – will move the team. It would be relatively easy to find a new owner willing to commit to keeping the team in Atlanta, because the franchise would make money regardless by virtue of its location and NFL revenue sharing.

            My point is that Atlanta wouldn’t be competitive. They would be able to attract an owner willing to keep the team where it is, but not one that has the resources or know-how to build a winning football team. In other words, another Rankin Smith. The Falcons would join the ranks of Cincinnati, Buffalo, Arizona and the other chronically uncompetitive franchises. So they’d still be in the city, but most folks will WISH that they were someplace else.

            The reality is that public-private funding arrangements for stadiums are common in pro sports. Blank isn’t going to do anything to compete in Atlanta that other owners don’t have to do in order to compete in their cities. He will sell the team first. That is the reality that goes with having a pro sports team. If you don’t want one, fine, but no deluding yourself with things like “let Blank build it himself” (which he won’t do) and “there is nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome”, which isn’t true, and incidentally if that is your opinion, then be consistent and say that there was nothing wrong with the old Falcons stadium either, so the Georgia Dome never should have been built – with heavy contributions from taxpayers mind you – in the first place. Go ahead, and talk about how much better things would have been had taxpayer money not been “stolen”, and the SEC championship game, those Final Fours, etc. had gone to Birmingham or Charlotte instead.

            • Baker says:

              Explain to me what is wrong with the Georgia Dome? (other than not enough luxury suites)

              The old stadium wasn’t good because it wasn’t a football stadium, it was a baseball stadium that they did a conversion job on.

            • David C says:

              I’m sorry, but in the 21st Century NFL, a Jerry Jones style Super-Stadium isn’t needed to put out a competitive project. In a salary capped, revenue sharing NFL, team gameday revenue isn’t relevant to competitive standing. This is not international soccer, where competing national leagues ensure that no one can have a salary cap, and players can jump to whatever oil soaked oligarch splashes the most cash on his vanity project. It’s not even baseball, where a luxury tax barely mitigates the vast salary disparities between teams like the Yankees and A’s.

              The only difference between the Dome and a new stadium is on Blank’s bottom line, not the Falcons’ competitiveness. In the 3 seasons Jerry World’s been open, the Cowboys are 26-23. The Falcons, Georgia Dome and all, are 32-18. The bottom line that matters to the fans is in the Falcons favor. They don’t give out trophies or hold championship parades for the Forbes list.

              • bgsmallz says:

                Answer to your questions: what is wrong with the old stadium/Jerry Jones style stadium isn’t needed/new owner wouldn’t move the team….

                It’s called competition. The price isn’t based upon your perceptions. It is based upon what the market will bear.

                Considering Indianapolis just built the Colts a $720 M stadium with only $100M coming from the team…and most of those funds came out of food and beverage taxes, not hotel/motel taxes….I’d say it’s a sellers market.

                There is a counter-argument there…California has strict regulations on the use of public funds (which is why they can’t get a stadium funded in LA and the Chargers might leave) and if LA isn’t a possible landing space, that reduces the market tremendously. However, that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t finance the stadium privately to move the team to the #2 market in the US (3x the size of Atlanta) or that a city like Toronto, Portland, San Antonio, Orlando, or Columbus (all of which are larger than Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Buffalo) wouldn’t step up with a 100% publicly financed stadium.

                You just can’t based your decision making process on false assumptions.

          • Baker says:

            Simply put, this isn’t an appropriate use of tax dollars, not for us or any city. Someone needs to start pushing back against the bully that is the NFL. I’m more than happy to be one of those people, however small my voice may be. Very few in the broader media in Atlanta seem willing to do so.

            If our economy was running hot and Atlanta didn’t have a slew of other issues to deal with, it would be a discussion worth having. For now though, someone in power should’ve gone to Arthur Blank and said, look man, we just can’t afford this right now, can we revisit it in 5+ years?

          • Charlie says:

            “Do we want a football team or not?”

            If we were twelve year olds, this would be a fair question. Being an adult means making choices. Scarcity is the driving force of budgets in a world where resources aren’t unlimited.

            Sure, I want a football team. I also want traffic improvements. I want a trauma system that works. I’d like a world class university system. Hell, I’m one of the few people on here that even wants a fully developed beltline.

            At the end of the day, we have limited resources to get us all the things we want. Priorities have to be set.

            Arthur Blank put himself and his desire for a new stadium ahead of all those other things on the list. “Leaders” decided to quietly capitulate to him while then going to taxpayers and warning of economic calamity if we then don’t raise taxes because things didn’t get prioritized.

            I want a football team. We need traffic infrastructure.

            Being an adult means being able to distinguish between the two, and acting appropriately.

              • griftdrift says:

                And here’s the political grit in the gears of your very logical statement, Charlie.

                No mayor in any city in the country is going to have the first line of his obituary read, “Lost the city’s NFL franchise….”

                • Charlie says:

                  Nope.

                  Instead, and quite unfortunately, he’s quite probably going to be the Mayor that lost the “we can’t afford to wait” T-SPLOST campaign.

                  Priorities, like elections, have consequences.

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    But Charlie…what is the motor here that drives hotel/motel taxes? Do people visit Atlanta b/c they want to support our transportation system or our health system? No…they come and stay here because of the Georgia World Congress Center and (often) because of events like Falcons games and Final Fours and Super Bowls.

                    It’s a false choice to say ‘well, we don’t need football because we need to use the money for those other things.’ That’s like saying we don’t need to use any money from the golden eggs to feed the goose.

                    • bgsmallz says:

                      Just a recap on what Atlanta’s Hotel/Motel tax currently goes towards…(again…this is the city of Atlanta’s tax, y’all…they are just going to spend it on the beltline anyway, so I don’t know why you guys are getting so upset…beltline or football….? 🙂 )

                      -28.56% goes to the City. (presumably for things like public works, improvements, etc. in the City of Atlanta…GASP!)
                      -39.3% currently goes to pay for the bonds on the GA Dome (GASP! Those jerks!!! I can’t believe they decided to build a GA Dome. What a terrible investment! What has that thing ever done for this state/city! They saddled us with that tax burden instead of … well, never-mind…)
                      -the ACVB gets 22.5 %
                      -the GWCAA gets 9.64%

                      (source: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2011/03/04/acvb-wants-to-increase-hotelmotel-tax.html?page=all)

                      So that’s roughly $16.5 Million a year that goes to service the bonds on the GA Dome. I think that’s roughly the same amount that would go to pay for the bonds on the new stadium. The bonds wouldn’t overlap.

                      So that’s your big beef? That we need to risk losing our NFL franchise, risk losing events and conventions because of outdated facilities, and risk having to put more money from the hotel/motel tax into the GWCC and ACVB to cover the gap in events so that we can maybe end up with $8M(?) a year [after covering the direct revenue loss to the GWCC (who knows how much in bonds we will have to float to keep the Dome and the GWCC operational in the future)] to put towards fixing all of the state’s ills?

                      And, just for the record, that isn’t the state’s tax at all….it is the city’s hotel/motel tax…so before you turn this into a ‘this should go to pay for “X”‘….you better step up with what you have done for the city lately.

                      Come on. This is such a tempest in a teapot. It’s tabloid journalism…let’s make a headline that the state is choosing football and billionaires over building a hospital in Valdosta or clothing kids in an orphanage….

                    • griftdrift says:

                      “this is the city of Atlanta’s tax, y’all…they are just going to spend it on the beltline anyway, so I don’t know why you guys are getting so upset…beltline or football”

                      That’s a really good point (although to be fair, it could also go to MARTA….you know…. since for 40 years no one else has paid for MARTA…and now that a few dollars might trickle from elsewhere, everyone is pearl clutching)

                    • Baker says:

                      I want it to go to the Beltline. That’s infrastructure. Not a billionaire’s pet project.

                      Your argument that we may lose out on events and conventions? We’re hosting the Final Four next year! Nothing is wrong with it. It’s 20 years old for goodness sakes.

          • debbie0040 says:

            “So…you either funnel those hotel/motel taxes back into the construction of a new stadium ”

            So you think building a new stadium for the Falcons is more important than transportation improvements? Do not really get it? Attitudes
            like that from elected officials is why T-SPLOST is sinking faster than the Titanic?

            Hers is a novel suggestion take the hotel/motel tax Atlanta takes in each year and allow part of the revenue to be used to bring MARTA solvent and other transportation improvements. You guys want the voters to raise tax on themselves so you will have money to spend on a new Falcons stadium…

            Whatever legislation was passed this past session to allow tax revenue to be used to build a stadium needs to be un-done when the Legislature convenes again or legislators will have a lot of explaining to do to voters and tax-payers.

            • bgsmallz says:

              Debbie-

              I don’t think building a new stadium is more important that transportation improvements.

              That is why I am voting Yes on T-Splost.

              I know that in your TEA party utopia we will be able to pay for all the things that we need by taxing visitors from out of town rather than by taxing ourselves, but this is reality calling…don’t lecture me on where my priorities are when your best answer on transportation is telecommuting and carpools.

              • debbie0040 says:

                bgsmallz, those are not the only solutions we advocate for.

                Before elected officials ask us to raises taxes onourselves, they need to demonstrate they are responsible with what they have now. That includes taking tax-payer that was directed at building a new stadium and use it for transportation needs.

                The chamber guys need to understand that althought they have champaign tastes when it comes to transportation needs, Georgia has a beer pocketbook and can’t afford it..

                • bgsmallz says:

                  Debbie-

                  How much have you paid in city of Atlanta hotel/motel taxes and how much are you proposing go toward fixing transportation problems outside of the city of Atlanta?

                  • debbie0040 says:

                    I am being asked to pay higher taxes for development projects in Atlanta like the Belt-Line and other projects that don’t effect me or most commuters.

                    • bgsmallz says:

                      You oppose T-Splost because you don’t want to pay for other people’s projects.

                      However, you think that the city of Atlanta’s hotel/motel tax should go to pay for your projects, not their own projects.

                      Your viewpoint is myopic, selfish, and hypocritical.

                    • Baker says:

                      The Beltline is more than a development project. Someday I’m gonna be riding that streetcar down that little booger and think man that TSPLOST was great.

      • Baker says:

        Also, can I just add real quick that you are advocating subsidizing for a league that has every team in the top 50 most valuable in the world? Frankly, that’s ridiculous.

        • Baker says:

          I put it that way because you included that as a defense of why we need to assist Mssr. Blank, I see the same stat and think the opposite.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Baker-

            The market is the market. I’ve got a list of cities/states that have all spent significantly more to build new stadiums than we are being asked to spend.

            I’ve also got evidence that shows how reliant the GA World Congress Center, and therefore the hotel/motel tax, is on the revenues generated by the Falcons.

            If you have evidence that I’ve got the market wrong, then feel free to provide.

            If you have evidence that shows there wouldn’t be a gaping hole to fill in the GWCC budget if they lost the Falcons, feel free to provide.

            • Baker says:

              I’m not disputing those facts. I see the richest sports league in the history of the world though and think it’s about time someone said to them that they just can’t come to the taxpayers whenever they want and demand a new stadium. Tell Kasim Reed to go on Meet the Press and talk about it for at least a half a second. Not one public official involved has pushed back in the slightest, and that is wrong. Just a little hesitancy by a public official is going to cause Mssr. Blank to move the team? I don’t buy it.

              I might take issue with how much hotel/ motel tax is driven by Falcons’ games though. Certainly hotel/ motel monies come from the GWCC, Final Four (which we’re hosting this year because the Dome is fine), and Monster Jam, but I don’t think that many people are spending the night in a hotel and then going to 8 Falcons games.

  3. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    I finally created a working/cleaned up Excel file of the Atlanta Regional Project List.

    Along with not providing information in a useful format, The Atlanta Regional Roundtable made sure converting their PDF’s was nearly impossible. CHEATERS!

    So far this is what I’ve learned.

    Federal Dollars only amount to 12% of the total project costs.

    Comparing TSPLOST to a county specific transportation SPLOST, only Dekalb brings in more money under TSPLOST (9% extra). All other counties other than fulton and dekalb will receive 34% LESS than they could get with their own county specific TSPLOST.

    Looking at the share of projects and taxes paid, the BIG winners are Fulton and Dekalb which get a higher percentage of the project $ than the percentage of the taxes paid. The Suckers are Clayton, Douglas, and Gwinnett who get less of the project pie than they paid in taxes.

    In the next couple of days, I’m going to breakdown the spend numbers further.

    I

    • Lack of Federal dollars is something that appeals to me. I know I’m not supposed to find anything good in this evil, evil, plan but if we’re spending our own money then we control the projects. No Federal strings attached, jerking us around.

    • GTKay says:

      This is a little misleading. There are projects outside of your “sucker” counties that are very important to those counties. The most important project to Douglas County is the I20/I285 interchange on the west side which is in Fulton County. The project at Spaghetti Junction, which is in Dekalb, is a huge benefit to Gwinnett County. An important project for Fayette County is the SR74 at I85 interchange which is also in Fulton. How many counties will benefit from the I285/400 interchange? There are many others like this. It’s what results from a regional approach which is what the roundtable was charged with.

      If you would do the same analysis with the gas tax you would see that many counties (those with multiple interstate exits that sell lots more gas) never get back the amount of gas tax collected in their counties while some get far more than they collect.

      • Daddy Got A Gun says:

        I was looking at these numbers from an 10,000 foot view. Who is paying the bills and where are the projects being built.

        I’m presently slogging through the project list so I can provide more color on the nature of the projects on the list.

        One of my breakdowns is to decide what is a regional impact vs local impact. 285 -400 is obviously a regional improvement (TIA-AR-030 – $112M). Examples of local impact are the sidewalks that Atlanta put on the list (looks to be $39M) Some, are right in the middle so I have to use my Traffic Engineering judgement on its regional worth.

        Just looking at the local carp on the list, it seems like the Roundtable expanded the list to meet the tax revenues instead of starting with the list of true regional projects and having tax revenues cover those costs. Plan B may be a 0.1% sales tax to fund ONLY regionally impacting projects that will reduce congestion.

        Looking at where the money is being spent, I’m not surprised that the Chamber loves this boon-dooggle. The big members of the Chamber are located in the epicenter of the benefits paid for the suckers in Douglasville (my nephews and Brother In Law).

        After I’m done with my breakdown work, I’d like to post this spreadsheet on PP or the inter-tubes so that you can do your own review of TSPLOST. If anyone has an idea of how to do that, I’m all ears.

        • GTKay says:

          If you’re at 10,000 feet, is it fair to call a county a sucker or declare this a boondoggle?

          • Daddy Got A Gun says:

            A county could decide on its own transportation SPLOST and get 100% of the proceeds for projects. Or they could elect for participating in this regional TSPLOST and only get 66%.

            I’m pretty sure most people would consider someone who takes 66% instead of 100% either a sucker or stuck on stupid.

            Have you looked at the project list? How is an Air Traffic Control tower going to Untie Atlanta or reduce commute times? Boondoogle may be too kind.

            • GTKay says:

              This is a regional tax. We don’t live in little fiefdoms. We’re connected together by Atlanta. Are you saying Dekalb only should be responsible for all improvements to Spaghetti Junction? Should Gwinnett alone have funded the I85/316 interchange? Of course I’ve looked at the projects list. You pick out the projects that have no benefit to you and declare the entire thing a boondoggle. I will use more routes affected by the TIA outside my county than the ones inside my county. Again, your gas tax money gets sent all over the state and used on things you’ll never see or use. And many counties get far less money in projects than they generate. Yet, increasing the gas tax is one of the solutions that Debbie Dooley and many anti- TIA people give as an alternative to TIA. Are they stuck on stupid, too?

              • Daddy Got A Gun says:

                The “regional” adjective means everyone in the region pays the tax, not that the projects have a regional impact.

                There are some “regional” impacting projects, for example 285 / 400 interchange and some interstate interchange improvements which will improve traffic flow throughout the region. These type of projects only amount to 11% of the total project list.

                Here is the interesting thing about those projects. They only total $700M over ten years. If the Legislature would stop redirected approximately $175M/year of gas taxes to the general fund, we could pay for those regional projects in 4 to 5 years WITHOUT INCREASING TAXES.

                I’m sure you are skeptical since the pro-SPLOST folks have been talking about regional solutions. Let me give you 2 examples that you can check yourself …..

                TIA – CO -018 – New Air Traffic Control Tower – Cobb – Does that fit in your definition of a project that reduces traffic congestion and commute times IN THE REGION? I’m sure a good airport in N. Cobb will eliminate some cars off the road but seriously how many could it be a day (10 or 20)?

                TIA – DK – 018 – sidewalks, landscaping, pedestrian lighting, and streetscapes. How is a fancy sidewalk a Regional issue? How many car trips is that $12M project going to eliminate?

                These projects are typically funded by County Specific Transportation SPLOST’s. Cobb has had a Transportation SPLOST for many years and it has helped. The Cobb SPLOST pays for sidewalks, new intersections, traffic lights, etc. All of the stuff we are getting out of TSPLOST EXCEPT we are only getting 2/3rds of every dollar we pay.

  4. Something being discussed in the comments of the Newt Gingrich / Stan Wise piece from Galloway’s blog, that perhaps some of you here can help me with… should robocalling be considered as protected political free speech? Or should people have a right to opt out of all types of solicitation altogether? I understand that some campaigns feel there’s really not many better ways to get out the vote… but does someone also not have a right to not be badgered by campaigns if they actively put their name on a do not call list? Are there not enough other people to call that politicians and their campaigns need to be exempted from the do not call list?

  5. SourGwinnett says:

    The Gwinnett County Project – add another interchange at SR 234 – to help mall traffic
    This is crap planning and a failure to see what the actual problem is: access between 985 and 85, southbound on one to north bound on the other, plus the traffic from Gwinnett side of 20 TO the 985 is all being done on that one road. Yes, it is also traffic for the mall, but I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be more prudent to have something that would connect the two interstates for direct traffic that didn’t have to drive through 10+ lights of mall traffic to get there.

    Heading south on 985 wanting to head north on 85, your last chance to do that is Exit 4 (hwy. 20) or you must travel down to Pleasant Hill after the 85/985 merge to turn around adding 10+ miles just to turn around. Or navigate the neighborhoods further north on either interstate to get across: not an easy option.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      It is interesting that you bring up the problem with access between I-985 and I-85 as there is actually a project partially-funded in the T-SPLOST to at least somewhat address that problem in the form of the proposal to extend Sugarloaf Parkway from GA 316 in Dacula to GA 20 just above the Mall of Georgia in Buford.
      http://documents.atlantaregional.com/tia/pdf/TIA-GW-060.pdf

      The project was originally slated to be fully-funded and constructed as a toll road by Gwinnett County (from GA 316 to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard so that there is a complete freeway connection between I-985 & I-85), but that plan was quickly abandoned by Gwinnett officials who rushed to put the project on the TIA/TSPLOST list after the fierce public backlash against the I-85 HOT Lanes debacle.

      The inclusion of this roadbuilding project on the regional list of projects to be funded by the T-SPLOST has also spurred much opposition to the referendum in anti-roadbuilding, pro-transit social and political circles inside of I-285 where many Intowners are extremely upset that they are being asked to vote to raise their taxes to fund a list that includes a project to build a new freeway in the abandoned right-of-way of one of the most despised road expansion projects in state history in the cancelled Northern Arc that they fought so hard to defeat a decade ago.

      Speculation has been running rampant both inside of I-285 and throughout the Northern suburbs and exurbs that the Sugarloaf Parkway Extension project is part of a resurrection of the extremely-unpopular Northern Arc, speculation which in turn has sparked even more opposition to the TIA project list both in the city and the ‘burbs as there is a very-large contingent of the population that that is very reluctant to vote to raise their taxes to fund a project that they were so happy to have defeated.

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    From the AJC story listed re: GOP contested primaries:

    As of June 30, Rogers reported having more than $290,000 in cash in his campaign account, 13 times more than Beach. Rogers also reported spending almost $389,000, although he said more than $300,000 of that went to expenses in the context of his role as state senator and were not related to the primary.

    So Rogers spent $300k to maintain office but none of it was even “related” to the primary?

    Where is that $300k going?

  7. bgsmallz says:

    The Bookman article is actually a decent read…although he runs off the rails when discussing the lines at the DMV [providing proof of lower # of employees without showing correlation to increased wait times (or really any data about wait times) is sloppy].

    Here is the point that I think the folks in leadership need to really look at…

    “Let’s also remember that the only reason the public is being forced to vote in the first place on this convoluted fundraising scheme is because elected state leaders were themselves too chicken to challenge the anti-tax mentality that they have helped to create. Rather than take the rational, direct method of funding transportation by raising one of the lowest gasoline taxes in the nation, they shoved that responsibility onto somebody else.”

    Get used to hearing that for the next few years. At some point, if our leadership doesn’t get it fixed, Jason Carter is going to be governor and there is going to be a large block of Dems/independent leaning GOP representing much of the 1.5M people that live at or inside the perimeter that will have far reaching consequences on state and local policy.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Bookman can stand on the sidelines and lob bombs like that, but he knows that a vote to increase taxes would not have made it to the floor of either chamber. “Too chicken,” here, truly reflects the will of the electorate. Most folks don’t want a tax increase to increase funds to the current means of funding transportation. However, folks know SPLOSTS–there’s a list, there’s a vote. Look at the list, make up your mind, vote.

      Any R who would have sponsored or voted for a bill to increase taxes in any manner would have sent Grover to Reagan National to hop the first plane to Atlanta to call them out. Primary challengers would have come out of the woodwork and in this climate, would have had a darn good chance at winning.

      • bgsmallz says:

        Bob-

        We agree on one point…it is a representative government. However, we disagree on the way that is supposed to work. In my version, our state government is a representative democracy 100% of the time…not a representative democracy when it is voting on issues that so happen to benefit those who lobby (sometimes at the expense of those who don’t) yet a direct democracy when it is trying to fix serious problems like transportation and trauma care.

        And you might be right about primary challengers, but that is the whole crux of the matter. Is my representative’s duty to get re-elected or is it to be a selfless representative of the people?

        Regardless…my point remains…while the climate might be cow-tow to Grover’s beard or else get kicked out, it will be but a season. Our leaders need to choose what is the best course of action…challenge Grover’s beard at the expense of their jobs or continue to punt leadership on the great issues facing our state at the expense of returning political power to independents and Democrats b/c…and you can mark this down… maintaining the status quo isn’t a long term solution.

        • griftdrift says:

          This

          “At some point, if our leadership doesn’t get it fixed, Jason Carter is going to be governor and there is going to be a large block of Dems/independent leaning GOP representing much of the 1.5M people that live at or inside the perimeter that will have far reaching consequences on state and local policy.”

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          And T-SPLOST will definitely change the status quo and while its not a long term solution, its a longer look-ahead, 10 years, than Georgia’s ever really shown on transportation.

          The Governor, Speaker, Lt. Governor, all House and Senate leaders and most rank and file were not going to vote on a tax increase. If my legislator has served for years and had success and I like them and I want to keep sending them back, then they need to (gasp) take politics into their calculation of how to vote. I don’t fault a Republican Member of either chamber one bit for not voting to impose a 1% sales tax on the people for 10 years. I mean, look at political stories nowadays–you thought the Republicans were anti-tax and for local control? They don’t even interview party officials anymore. They go further into Grover’s beard and interview the 159 + TEA party folks instead–skewing these political decisions even further away from sound policy and towards soundbites.

          The SPLOST model has been used in cities and counties for years and folks understand it. I despise Grover’s beard, by the way. But, the incumbents that signed the pledge? Some want to keep their word over raising taxes even where they think the policy would be sound. Their word means something to them. They’re stuck. They signed the pledge as a candidate before they ever really got a look at a budget book or what section the tax code is in.

      • debbie0040 says:

        Grover called out elected officials that are supporting T-SPLOST and he did it without hoping on a plane.

  8. Spacey G says:

    Lake Lanier off the chain, eh? I suggest a program (state-funded of course) to subsidize gas purchases for white people so they can travel once again to Panama City Beach.

  9. wicker says:

    Bookman is a pain, but he has a point. Republicans have generally sold the idea that you can maintain or cut taxes while basically keeping the same level of services. That “works” on the national level because of deficit (debt) spending. But on the state and local level: no dice. If you want it, you have to pay for it. In a state like Georgia, where taxes and social welfare spending are relatively low, the idea that you can always pay for what you need by reducing spending elsewhere. And the “no spending” attitude doesn’t work either. States and cities need infrastructure (utilities and transportation), schools and universities, etc. The idea that the private sector can meet those needs is a fantasy, because in most cases there isn’t any profit to be made.

    Republicans and conservatives have to learn the difference between fiscal conservatism on a national level – where taxes and social welfare spending is high, the need to invest in things like education and infrastructure are low, and borrowing to cover deficits is a real option – and in a state like Georgia, where taxes and social welfare spending is low, you can’t run deficits, and there is a real need for infrastructure and education projects to make one state more competitive with other states – and overseas – for companies and skilled workers. They also need to stop listening to these think tanks based in New York City. Their problems are different from ours. Georgia doesn’t have a gigantic social welfare system like New York. And also, New York has no trouble attracting the best – indeed the best of the best – jobs and workers from all over the world, and they do so despite their huge tax burden and social welfare state. So, the battles that the folks at the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, Townhall.com etc. are totally different from the battles that we have to fight in Georgia. I still remember the 2008 presidential race, where the Club For Growth opposed Mike Huckabee because Huckabee refused to implement their “attract jobs by cutting taxes and spending” agenda. Right … name me the high tech firm or investment bank that is going to move from NYC or Silicon Valley to Fayetteville because the taxes are lower.

    The New York think tank and oped writers have the luxury of writing policy for everybody else because they don’t have to live with the results. They’ll still live in New York, where the best graduates of Harvard and Stanford (and Emory and Georgia Tech and similar universities in Singapore, India, Europe etc.) will flock to regardless while the rest of us will still have to deal with our infrastructure and education issues.

    If it were raising taxes in order to pay for a Georgia version of Romneycare, or for universal preschool, or for some other social welfare spending, fine, be a fiscal conservative and oppose it. But raising taxes so that we can better compete with Dallas, Charlotte, and Orlando/Tampa/Saint Petersburg (and increasingly even South Carolina) for jobs? That is being pro-business. And if the suburban/exurban Neal Boortz listeners (who by the way just quit his Atlanta gig and is moving to the same central Florida area that we are competing with for jobs … gee wonder why?) and MARTA haters don’t figure out the difference, Georgia voters will replace them with pro-business Democrats.

    • debbie0040 says:

      So you are saying it is ok to raise taxes if Republicans like the tax increase? Stop being a hypocrite!!

      • taylor says:

        Republicans should never ask if a tax increase is necessary for the public good?

        I understand the ideology: taxes=bad, lower taxes=good. But I think Bookman has a point. A one dimensional view of government and taxes overlooks the more complex reality that sometimes taxes are necessary, sometimes the private sector can’t address an issue adequately. I would like leaders that bring not only an ideology to the Capitol but also the ability and willingness to truly study an issue before forming an opinion.

    • Self_Made says:

      Hey wicker…looks like your common sense got lost in the melee around here. At least you were able to get an obtuse comment from debbie and a thumbs-up from a nobody like me.

      These nimwits don’t pay attention to what’s really going on in the state, they get their mantras and talking points from guys like Norquist, who as you said, don’t even have to live with the consequences of their ridiculous prescriptions for policy (isn’t that tax pledge a “one size fits all” policy that conservatives are supposed to be against?). They rail on about all the “unnecessary taxing and spending” while the quality infrastructure, schools, public safety, and essential government services crumbles. Look at the uproar over the long lines at DDS…WTH did you expect when you cut the budget by millions every year??

  10. debbie0040 says:

    Bob Barr issued a statement on T-SPLOST today:

    “I encourage all taxpayers to join me on July 31 to vote NO on TSPLOST.

    Citizens already pay enough taxes, especially for transportation/highways; we do not need another massive tax increase, especially in the middle of a stubborn recession. Government needs to re-prioritize spending and cut back non-essential services before coming to the citizens and asking for more. The list of projects is being driven not by needs and desires of voters, but by bureaucrats and the liberal agenda in Washington and Atlanta – heavily weighted toward mass transit and light rail, which does not and never will be used sufficiently to justify massive start up and continued, never-ending up keep costs. The process – binding all even if a county votes no – is deceptive and unfair, if not unconstitutional.”

    • Rambler1414 says:

      LOL!
      “The list of projects is being driven not by needs and desires of voters, but by bureaucrats and the liberal agenda in Washington and Atlanta.”

      The list of projects was created by 21 elected officials representing local governments. Not the Vast Liberal Agenda. Not the United Nations and Agenda 21. Not the Georgia DOT Board. LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTED OFFICIALS!

        • There are political consequences to being on the Roundtable and helping put the list together. For example, Tim Lee in Cobb put some unpopular items on the list and finds himself in electoral peril. Charlotte Nash put together a pretty good list in Gwinnett and is unopposed.

          The idea floated out that if TSPLOST fails an unelected group of people from across the political spectrum should create Plan B might sound good to some but unelected people cannot be held accountible by the public. Also, I though we lived in representative republic?

          You may not trust your local elected officials but at least you can do something about them every couple of years.

          • Harry says:

            Charlotte Nash may prove an honest local government elected official, although she’s too status quo in the sense of being a retired county employee and thus invested in maintaining current staffing levels and benefits. If she’s honest – and I hope it’s true – then she’s the exception in Gwinnett. Anyway, all you politicians need to face opposition each and every cycle. It’s too bad nobody stepped up to oppose Nash.

        • Rambler1414 says:

          Trust should have very little to do with your decision to vote Yes or No. Hate GDOT and some of the decisions they’ve made? Guess what, their un-elected State Transportation Board had little to no input on this. This list is a product of a bipartisan effort representing officials from all 10 counties in the Metro area.

          Look at the Project List. Educate yourself. Don’t lessen to Debbie Dooley and Bob Barr rant about DC Liberal conspiracies and Agenda 21.

          Here is a map of the Project List. This is EXACTLY what you are voting for or against on July 31.
          http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/map/TIA.html

          This Regional Referendum system, as screwed up as it is, is the ONLY solution our State Legislature has come up with over the past 5-6 years to address Georgia being 49th in per capita infrastructure spending. If the Referendum fails in Atlanta, do you trust THEM to find another solution? (other than HOT lanes, which is what the State Transportation Board is advocating and already moving forward with)

    • bgsmallz says:

      +1

      At some point, someone will inevitably release one that says “citizens are already paying enough taxes , especially for ‘farts'”

      Somewhere, my 11 year old self just giggled.

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