TEA Party; Seirra Club Announce Areas Of Agreement For Post T-SPLOST Plan B

I moderated a discussion last night in Gwinnett hosted by the TEA Party to discuss the T-SPLOST.  Given that all but three of the audience indicated they were against the T-SPLOST, Michael Sullivan of CTM deserves absolution of at least three past sins for his attendance and demeanor.  We had a generally healthy discussion, with much of it centering around what should be done differently for “Plan B” should the T-SPLOST fail on Tuesday.  We then had a half hour of audience questions which I re-named the “attack Michael Sullivan” round.  Good times.

Senator Renee Unterman gave opening remarks, and then filled in for a bit of the Q&A.  Neil Herring of the Sierra Club rounded out our panel.  it was interesting to say the least watching the TEA Party teamed up with the Seirra Club and share many of the same views on T-SPLOST, despite their differences on the issue of transit.

The Atlanta TEA Party and the Sierra Club will be holding a press conference at 12:30pm today to announce the areas where they are in agreement of what the next plan should look like.  In reward for trying to drive from Roswell to Lawrenceville yesterday afternoon during rush hour, I was provided an advance copy:

1)  Discard the current three different taxes on motor fuel and enact a single motor fuel tax, based on the value of the commodity and allowed to rise and fall with price inflation, dedicated solely to funding transportation with a portion[a] of the motor fuel tax receipts available for “all transportation purposes,” including operating costs as well as capital and maintenance.

2)  Allow any two or more local governments to create, and fully fund, transportation projects to meet the needs of their citizens through referenda on local motor fuel or sales taxes, and other revenue sources.

a)  Allow referenda to levy local fractional sales taxes and motor fuel taxes of less than one percent for local transportation funding purposes.

b) Leave decisions over specific allowable allocations of local transportation taxes and fees in control of the local governments and their agencies that administer them, free from State interference.

c)  Allow combinations of local governments to form fiscal partnerships with GA DOT for sharing capital and/or operating costs of local transportation projects to meet the needs of their citizens.

3) Before elected officials are given more money they need to show they can be trusted with what they have. As a first step toward transparency and accountability, DOT Board members should be elected at annual public meetings of Congressional District Legislative Caucuses in each Congressional District for open public election (no secret ballots) to one-year terms of service and review of transportation activities in the District.

4) Before MARTA is expanded, it should be brought up to date on maintenance and be restored to a reasonable level of service.

a) The Legislature should end its interference in MARTA budgets and resume an oversight role. Voters and elected officials where the MARTA tax is collected (Fulton, Dekalb and Atlanta) should decide how MARTA revenue should be spent.

b) The hotel/motel tax the City of Atlanta collects yearly should in some part go to MARTA or transportation needs, not to be used to build a new stadium for the Falcons.

c) Other options that should be considered include distance based user fares, charge for parking at MARTA lots, use part of the hotel/motel tax to help fund MARTA – even consider raising the tax to fund transportation needs.

That’s frankly more common ground and movement than I would have expected from either group.  I’m not sure it’s still “a” solution, but may be part of one.  Discuss below.

114 comments

  1. Rambler1414 says:

    “1) Discard the current three different taxes on motor fuel and enact a single motor fuel tax, based on the value of the commodity and allowed to rise and fall with price inflation, dedicated solely to funding transportation with a portion[a] of the motor fuel tax receipts available for “all transportation purposes,” including operating costs as well as capital and maintenance.”

    Keep in mind that this would induce the loss of the 4th Penny currently being used towards the General Fund to supplement other Departments, which would result in further spending cuts (Education?) or need to made up elsewhere.

  2. Bob Loblaw says:

    1. Requires a Constitutional Amendment.
    2. Already allowable under GA law. Intergovernmental Agreements.
    a. Can be enacted with a simple majority & Gov’s signature.
    b. Will be in conflict with federal transportation law that requires USDOT approval for projects falling under a Metropolitan Planning Organization. Federal matching funds would in jeopardy and federal courts could issue injunctions against proceeding in some cases. “State interference” is generally GDOT working with counties and cities to address existing laws.
    c. Already allowable under GA law. Board could vote to approve a project such as this.
    3. Will require a separate, second Constitutional Amendment.
    4. What does this even mean? Who is going to pay for this vague term “brought up to date”? OMG this was serious and now its getting absurd.
    5. MARTA governance needs reform, but if I live in Fulton Co. I want someone other than Fulton and DeKalb watching those dollars.
    a. “Interference” in MARTA budgets? Do these folks really want to let MARTA have no oversight on budgetary decisions? My Lord I can hear heartbeats racing in North Fulton from here.
    b. Funny how everyone against T-SPLOST uses “local control” as a reason to be against it and then wants to tell a city in the region how it should write its own local legislation for hotel/motel taxes. The hypocrisy bus just keeps rolling along.
    c. Ok, we’ll stick it to MARTA riders that park their cars there. That’ll surely increase ridership! And, we’re back to hotel/motel again? While we’re here, how about a tax increase on them for transportation? Where will the tax be levied? Is every city and county in the ARC going to pass it and dedicate it to transportation? Not a bad idea, but feasible?

    To sum up, we’ve got:
    1. Two Constitutional ballot questions;
    2. Laws already on the books that allow for some of these proposals (Cliff’s notes, anyone?);
    3. A blank check to MARTA, paid for by who knows, to “get up to date” (whatever that means);
    4. Leave MARTA to itself for all financial operations controlled by Fulton and DeKalb governments with no budgetary influence at the State level (bend over again, Fulton Taxpayers);
    5. The rest of the ARC telling what its local legislation should look like; and
    6. A suggestion to have hotel/motel taxes pay for transportation. How many local elections will that take? There’s 10 counties. I’ll let someone else count the cities.

    Just vote for the T-SPLOST. It’s a lot better than this crap.

  3. GTKay says:

    Some good funding ideas, while not necessarily surprising points of agreement. I see a theme of local control (except for 4b):

    2b) Leave decisions over specific allowable allocations of local transportation taxes and fees in control of the local governments and their agencies that administer them, free from State interference.

    But from Peach Pundit:
    debbie0040 July 15, 2012 at 8:35 am
    And Dave, in some areas we don’t know where that 15% that goes back to counties will go. Some have not released their project list and the local project list are not binding. Counties can release project lists that list roads in order to get votes, but they can change it. They can have more studies in the local list so they can pay off political cronies like the studies in the regional list.

    From the Sierra Clubs Executive Summary of their TSPLOST position paper:

    “A Workable Institutional Framework that provides an equitable regional transit governance structure and de-politicizes transportation decisionmaking.”

    “Ultimately, the Chapter leadership concluded that the project list is too heavily focused on sprawl-inducing road expansion and will have a negative overall impact from an environmental perspective.”

    http://action.sierraclub.org/site/DocServer/Sierra_Club_TSPLOST_Executive_Summary.pdf?docID=10082

    However, no common ground on specific projects which is where they will be at odds. Also no commitment from local tea party groups that if these things happen they won’t protest their local government when they attempt to raise taxes, and no commitment from Sierra Club that they won’t hinder local construction projects with tedious and expensive impact studies and regulation.

    3)”they need to show that they can be trusted”

    This is completely subjective, and I believe this goal post will be continually moved further away. This Board election idea is an example. This suggestion simply will not happen, therefore they will conclude that legislators cannot be trusted.

  4. Three Jack says:

    As a 60 mile per day commuter, I really hope we can expect more qualified individuals than those in ATP or the Sierra Club to conjure up a workable plan. I appreciate that both organizations came out against TSPLOST, but it is not their responsibility to offer alternatives.

    While Charlie was doing his gig with ATP, WXIA had a little debate with Sam Williams – MACOC, Mayor Kasim Reed, Senator Chip Rogers and Senator Vincent Fort — http://www.11alive.com/news/article/249252/40/An-11Alive-News-special—The-TSPLOST-Debate — 3 parts, this links to Part 1.

    Many have wondered how Chip justifies his vote for the legislation, then vehement opposition to TSPLOST….he provides a direct answer during this debate — “I vote for all referendum legislation” to let the people decide.

    • Charlie says:

      The people are deciding between adding taxes on themselves that legislators such as Rogers are too chicken to pass, or to penalize themselves with less road funding from the state.

      Because of Rogers’ “leadership” they’re now deciding if they want to be hit upside the head with a tree limb or a lead pipe.

      Thank you for this brave choice that has been pushed upon us voters by the legislators that we actually elected to make these decisions.

      • Three Jack says:

        I’m with you on that point Charlie. We elect these folks to make the tough decisions…if they won’t do it, then might as well become a referendum driven mobocracy and save all that money funding the legislature.

        My earlier post was meant to provide video of Chip addressing the question, not to defend him or any other legislator who supported the bill that gave us TSPLOST. But he did mention in part 3 something about realizing a mistake and changing your mind before exacerbating the mistake to the tune of $8.5B. At least he flipped to the opposition and didn’t continue supporting an absolute disaster like many are doing.

        • Charlie says:

          I would respect that more if he wasn’t a member of the committee that developed the project list but attended zero meetings. He dropped the ball, and it’s now in our lap.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        +100

        …And I think that I’ll take that very attractive option of being hit over the head by the tree limb that the defeat of the T-SPLOST provides instead of the not-so-attractive option of being hit over the head with the lead pipe that passing the T-SPLOST provides (less castastrophic damage, best shot at survival).

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        You and your TEA party comrades would have a primary opponent against every Republican who voted for a tax increase for transportation. Having one vote out of the entire state and sharing with others how he would vote rendered our Governor as having violated a tax increase pledge. Are you really calling Georgia’s Republicans cowards for not raising your taxes?

        • Charlie says:

          You’re new to the game here Bob. I’m no fan of Grover or most pledges. Leaders have to lead. If they can’t prioritize what we need to spend out of current revenues, then they need to vote for the tax increases themselves. Blaming Grover or the voters is obfuscation of a total lack of leadership here.

          • Bob Loblaw says:

            Bob Loblaw isn’t new to this game. Let’s don’t talk about Grover, then. Would Charlie Harper vote yes for the Vance Smith plan in 2008 to have a statewide 1% tax increase to fund projects codified in law? Would Charlie Harper have voted yes for the Cagle plan in 2008 to create regions to do essentially what T-SPLOST has done? What obfuscation can you come up with that would address the myriad of plans that each body has passed? Leaders have to lead, Charlie. You lead GA’s most right-leaning blog. Besides the drivel that came out of Gwinnett last night, what should the G.A. have done instead?

            • Charlie says:

              You’re new enough to “this” game that you are making some stark assumptions of my past positions, that are clear and remain on this site. These include me arguing quite directly with Debbie among others about the need for a traffic plan, including additional funding and higher taxes. I’ve openly called for tax increases here, and I’m am frequently called RINO, Democrat, Socialist, and many other names not appropriate for a family blog for proposing solutions that don’t neatly fit partisan talking points.

              Bob Loblaw may be working overtime this weekend to try and save this crap sandwich on behalf of the status quo on which his retainer depends, but I’m not. You’ll hear more from me and a much more clear statement of why I’m against this T-SPLOST next week, however.

              • Calypso says:

                The silver lining may be that after we Tuesday we won’t have have to read Bob Loblaw’s continuous blah, blah, blah on this multi-billion dollar boondoggle.

                He will probably just slink away, tail tucked between his legs, heading to his next mercenary role.

                • Bob Loblaw says:

                  Nope. Like I told Debbie: No election result will ever make Bob Loblaw less of a Georgian and less involved. And talking about continuous Bob Loblaw? You’re drivel on this matter is nothing but doubletalk! This is no time for doubletalk!

              • joe says:

                “…I’m am frequently called RINO, Democrat, Socialist…”

                I still think of you as a character from Greek mythology.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  Icarus!…Isn’t that also the name of some secret plan to deploy all of the Earth’s nuclear missles against an incoming asteroid strike?

              • Bob Loblaw says:

                Bob Loblaw isn’t working overtime at all. I don’t do overtime. I overbill all my clients the same.

                There’s a 25-year traffic plan at DOT. It was required as part of SB 200 in 2009. Practically every project on every list in every referendum is part of it.

                Zero of my income hinges on this vote. Zero. I don’t know how on Earth you could get 10 counties worth of elected officials in a region as diverse as Atlanta to unanimously agree on something, but they did. I guess elections are pointless. Everyone elected that served on the roundtables just are worthless folks that are zeros in life. Their opinions are irrelevant. When they meet with State transportation leaders and pare down a list to match the revenue stream of projects that meet criteria set in state law, they’re just making “crap sandwiches”.

                I’m so glad I don’t think that all elected officials are as poor at carrying out decisions as you are. I sleep much better at night. And so do my clients!

        • Three Jack says:

          boblob wrote “You and your TEA party comrades would have a primary opponent against every Republican who voted for a tax increase for transportation.”

          You obviously have not paid attention to this ‘most right-leaning blog’ based on that unfounded criticism. As a ‘TEA party comrade’, I can state without hesitation that TSPLOST would receive significant support IF the project list actually accomplished the goal of traffic reduction…it does not. Hell even Debbie of ATP came out in favor of a tradeoff whereby fuel tax is increased to fund road projects under certain DOT reform critieria.

          • Bob Loblaw says:

            Oh, ok. So if Debbie Dooley is allowed to “reform” GDOT then you’ll pay more fuel taxes? Debbie Dooley doesn’t even understand how federal transportation matching funds are delivered to Georgia and why GDOT is involved in T-SPLOSTS. As usual, she rails against GDOT and says that the funds involving T-SPLOST will “go through” GDOT, and that’s another reason to vote against T-SPLOST.

            You’ll follow her down the road to more congestion, fewer companies choosing Georgia and more money for the consequences of idling on interstates where one is supposed to limit speeds to 55.

            You would be against ANY Republican Member of the General Assembly that increased your taxes for transportation and you know it. If you read the law, you would read that “congestion mitigation” was the first of criteria necessary for approval of a project to the list.

            Its a lot easier to just sit there and throw tomatoes, isn’t it?

            • Three Jack says:

              Let me see if I can be crystal clear…If the project list actually addressed traffic, I personally would vote in favor of the tax. This list is political, not practical thus it accomplishes nothing more than padding JWMatthews already large bank account. So NO is the correct vote.

              And I would never throw tomatoes, much better on a sandwich.

            • Daddy Got A Gun says:

              I got tons of tomatoes to throw, especially at self-proclaimed smaller government conservatives that enable the largest tax increase in Georgia history and doubling of the money provided to government agencies that have a proven record of corruption and incompetence. TSPLOST is no different than President Obama’s Stimulus Plan. The one and only difference is that Georgians will pay the bills upfront vs. future Americans paying the bill for Obama’s stimulus. Everyone of the Republicans that voted for this and still support it, should be voted out of office.

              Building designer landscaped sidewalks in downtown Atlanta, airport runway lights in Cobb, and paying for Marta’s escalators does NOTHING for “congestion mitigation”. I challenge you to detail which projects will reduce “congestion”. I went through the list and found very few will impact congestion more than a 1/4 mile away from the project. One needs to stretch the criteria very far to get any of these projects into the “congestion mitigation” category.

              According to Politfact, TSPLOST has the net impact of removing at MAXIMUM 37K cars from Atlanta’s roads during the day. Do you know how small that is? That’s not even a rounding error on the number of cars on the road in Atlanta. That’s per day by the way. Not during rush hour. The net impact during rush hour is going to be tiny. Heck, you could remove many more cars during rush hour by offering free beer at Taco Mac and it would be more effective and cheaper.

              The economic argument is the biggest lie. Pulling 1% of out of the private economy will induce a slowdown in business in Georgia. It happens every time taxes are raised. Companies will relocate to other states because our taxes are higher than elsewhere. Taxes and Cost of Living are important criteria. TSPLOST destroys both criteria so that we MAYBE rank a little higher on commute time.

              The biggest negative about TSPLOST is that it freezes what road work will be done in the next 10 years. There is no way a county could add on another 1% for a transportation SPLOST once this is imposed. State money is committed to this list. There is NO Flexibility to deal with new traffic issues 6 -10 years from now. We may end up building bridges to nowhere with TSPLOST. Seriously, we could end up re-building bridges that are no longer needed in Atlanta.

              I’m a licensed Professional Engineer with experience in traffic design. I also have an economics background and work in Pricing and Finance at a large telecom company here in Atlanta. Mark my words, the costs per mile to build anything here in Atlanta will SKYROCKET. There is a limited supply of qualified contractors and the demand from TSPLOST will exceed that supply. At the end of TSPLOST, you will find that we will have paid double or triple of the prices that we are paying today and what was budgeted.

              This will be Georgia’s Big Dig, except Boston’s Big Dig’s started with good intentions.

              TSPLOST is just a payback to the Chamber of Commerce for their politcal support of Republicans.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        “I” before “E,” except after “C”. Sierra Club. I know the whole “strange bedfellows” thing makes things awkward at first. But, that’s how your new friends’ name is spelled.

  5. gpollard79 says:

    I am assuming that this “Plan B” had no time to vetted! Plan B DOES NOT address as many issues as the original plan! Desperate times call for depserate measures! We are on the verge of one of the biggest votes in modern Georgia’s history and “Plan B” all of a sudden pops up! This plan is a complete farce! This vote gives you the opportunity to make a commitment to the future. The same commitment we asked our elected officials to make! They set aside partisanship, they forgot about political differences, racial differences and jurisdictional differences. They worked together to deliver a plan for our future. Republicans, democrats, rural leaders, small/big town mayors, county executives and commissioners had to COMPROMISE and WORK TOGETHER for the GREATER GOOD. The people we elected delivered a plan that makes a commitment to our region. The current plan is Not perfect, but it is acommitment that will last generations and will contribute to a better metropolitan area and the surrounding counties! The state of Georgia is 49th in transportation investment. We can’t wait for the state to invest in us nor can we send it it back to them ans expect to get something better! VOTE YES for the Transportation Referendum/TIA! I voted YES and I voted early!

    • Calypso says:

      I hereby nominate gpollard79 as “Troll of the Month”. Your fantastical meanderings are fun to laugh at.

    • joe says:

      The Atlanta Plan A was supposed to address ONE issue—traffic congestion—it failed. This Plan b at least has a chance to address that issue, but I would still prefer that the General Assembly and GDOT do their jobs.

  6. selrod says:

    As long as we’re making up lists of totally unrealistic stuff, can we make a law telling the Rolling Stones to give it up already?

  7. View from Brookhaven says:

    “2)  Allow any two or more local governments to create, and fully fund, transportation projects to meet the needs of their citizens through referenda on local motor fuel or sales taxes, and other revenue sources.”

    In other words…let’s see if we can get Fulton/Dekalb to pay for everything again!

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Now, now Brookhaven…you need Bob Loblaw!

      Fulton and DeKalb, yes, but Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett can go all-in with MARTA anytime they want.

      Intergovernmental agreements are current law. Way to go, TEA partiers and your inch away from being Communist buddies! You suggested a new law that’s been on the books for decades! Brilliant!

      • debbie0040 says:

        Bob, we will find out Tuesday who is brilliant, now won’t we? You going to be on Peach Pundit after we find out the results of T-SPLOST ?

        • debbie0040 says:

          Intergovernmental agreements are part of the current law, but not regional taxing authorities..

          • Bob Loblaw says:

            Agreed. But you said intergovernmental agreements where both governments would agree to use taxpayer dollars to fund projects. Let’s quit the doubletalk! If intergovernmental agreements are legal, what new policy do you propose?

            I gain or lose no brilliance as a result of any election. I will be here regardless. If I quit working for conservatives and conservative causes because of election results, I would have quit in the 80″s. That’s about 28 years before you woke up and realized we had a government.

  8. seekingtounderstand says:

    When billions are at stake for fleecing what do you get…….Bob Loblaw.
    Electronic voting……………..not problem we are into voting for people who never even showed up and you can never prove it.
    BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THE FLEECING.
    Bob wants his share.

  9. Dave Bearse says:

    I was opposed to T-SPLOST in part because a yes vote would empower incompetent GOP transportation leadership, and I thought we could do better. My opposition had been wavering for the past two weeks because of increasing concern that Tea Party political philosophy and/or the blatant ignorance of many no voters precludes any viable Plan B however.

    The first Plan B point out of the gate jointly offered up by two of the three principal opposition groups illustrates there won’t be any viable Plan B for many years. No other state in the nation taxes fuel solely on its price. Taxation based on price increases both retail price and tax revenue volatility. (About a dozen states have a somewhat similar relative split between fixed and variable components of their fuel taxes to that in Georgia, half have a fixed tax and a much lower low variable component taxes than Georgia, and a dozen have only a fixed tax per gallon.)

    http://www.api.org/oil-and-natural-gas-overview/industry-economics/~/media/Files/Statistics/State_Motor_Fuel_Excise_Tax_Update.ashx

    Incompetent leadership in safe seats, and opponents that haven’t a clue about a viable Plan B, means the current T-SPLOST is as good as it gets.

    I’m switching to YES.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      A contemplative voter. Dave, I wish more folks would put thought like that into deciding how to vote.

    • DeKalb Wonkette says:

      I lean Democratic but I am still in the “No” column on the T-SPLOST.

      The TIA itself forced bad choices: what we are voting on is a package of projects chosen on their respective “beauty contest” value to the local official proposing it and, of course, the interests of the corporate community.

      I would have much preferred to vote upon 2 or more regional plans that were independently evaluated against specific criteria such as:

      1) How well does it address congestion?
      2) What percentage of the region will have access to transit or other modes of transportation (e.g.; able to get around w/or a car) ?
      3) How well does it affect air quality?

      And a vote on a plan should have been separate from a vote on the tax. I am no fan of another penny on top of the one I already pay for MARTA but a compelling plan that meets overarching criteria that I can support might have convinced me otherwise.

      BTW: The Clifton corridor rail line will do nothing, nada, zip to ease local congestion in my neck of the woods. All it will do is connect downtown corporate interests to the Emory area.
      And the smugly dismissive manner in which T-SPLOST supporters characterize opponents as the “lunatic fringe” is another reason I will stay in the “No” column. I hear it directly from friends and colleagues who have incorrectly assumed I will be voting Yes. They are as narrow-minded and provincial as they come IMHO.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        @DeKalb Wonkette:

        The TIA’s requirements for a project’s consideration begin with “congestion mitigation”. Also included are increased lane capacity, public safety and economic development.

        As a general rule, your air quality concerns are always addressed with any project in the ARC because it is a “non-attainment area” according to federal law. Even if the state wanted to take a lead in air quality the feds “occupy the field,” legally.

        I disagree that the Clifton Cooridor will not allievate congestion. Getting cars off the road between downtown and the Emory corridor will alleviate congestion through Kirkwood, Little 5, Va-Hi, Poncey Hi.

        I don’t like the smugness either. The other side’s smug and unlike you, brings solutions to the table that reveal a complete lack of understanding about transportation and government, generally.

        • DeKalb Wonkette says:

          Bob: OK agreed that there is language in the TIA on “congestion mitigation” but the fact remains that the T-SPLOST we are voting on still isn’t a plan but rather a collection of projects.

          The TIA and resultant work to prepare a “list of projects” to voters represents a unique form of moral hazard. Once set in motion, roundtable members were more or less forced to select from eligible projects on the basis of how many votes each could cull – not whether it all added up to a framework for a true regional plan.

          I think that (most) voters of the region are grown-ups and could have understood the need for and supported a real plan.

          PS: My daily 8 mile commute (45 minutes- 1 hour one way) requires navigating around the traffic headed south and west to the Emory area. The rail line from Lindbergh won’t mitigate that traffic one bit. And people who can’t or won’t seem to understand others’ point of view need to read The Righteous Mind.

          • Bob Loblaw says:

            @DeKalb Wonkette:

            This is how bad Georgia’s already identified project needs are: you could take every recommended project in the State’s multi-decades’ plan and never, ever come close to funding the state match, let alone the total cost.

            If the projects met the criteria we mentioned earlier, then they were in contention for selection by the roundtable. In all candor, the actual list of projects that Georgia needs to build and that the feds would match funds for exceeds any realistic revenue assumptions. We could enact a 2% statewide sales tax for 10 years and raise about $50B, which would put a huge dent in the list, but still not come close. We’re talking about widening a port to take the largest container ships in the world but not talking about funding how to get these containers away from the port, ASAP. Right now, they drive out of a busy state highway to an Interstate, where they head for the ARC, with the longest commute times in the nation.

            You’re spot-on in describing the political dynamic at the roundtable. However, please know that the projects that, as you describe were made eligible on the basis of whether or not the votes were there, had already been approved. There just isn’t any money to build them.

            If you can get elected officials in 10 counties and numerous cities to unanimously agree with GDOT on what projects and programs should be built, step out a little bit in faith that the locals picked what was best for their neighborhoods from a list of projects that would be built anyway. If we just had the money.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            I agree it’s something of a collection of projects. Georgia has been underfunding transportation for 15 years. The only significant thing done since the ’96 Olympics has been improvements to traffic managment and the I-85/I-316 interchange. Policy-wise the only things the General Assembly have done is increase state transportation borrowing to build rural economic development highways, then punt actual transportation to local officials and the voters.

            General Assembly leadership is going nowhere. Remember tax reform? Plan A never got a hearing, and Plan B was special interest tax changes and breaks. The G.A. are all in safe seats, and in a large majority of the cases the only ones on the ballot. You have no General Assembly choices, and this IS the General Assembly plan——get used to it, it’s a good as it gets.

            • DeKalb Wonkette says:

              This is what happens when the G.A. punts on exercising leadership. Anyone watching when the TIA was passed knew it was for appearances only to satisfy the metro Atlanta Chamber.

              If there is a single good thing to come out of this it’s that more people will actually pay attention to what goes on under the Dome. And exercise leadership because this crowd clearly won’t.

              Oh for the days when Georgia actually had elected leadership that could and would lead!

      • Dave Bearse says:

        I was an early and ardent opponent. That some people smugly dismiss the lunatic fringe doesn’t mean they’re not lunatics nor that they’re doing damage. This is a good as it will get.

        • Calypso says:

          If TSPLOST, as currently proposed, is, in fact, as good as it gets then I prefer the status quo. At least we’ll bleed to death at a much slower rate.

          However, I do think that once this monstrosity is dealt a killing blow Tuesday, that another–better–solution will be forthcoming. I’m not willing to settle for the piece of crap as presented.

          Voting yes is caving in to the half-assed job the legislators did with this and condones their incompetent, inept behavior. Vote NO, kick a bunch of them in the balls both Tuesday and in November, and tell them to go back and do the damn job we hired them to do.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            I wholehearted agree with your sentiments.

            Unfortunately, I think that the State Legislature will only regard the defeat of the T-SPLOST as a sign to keep doing what they are best at doing, which is absolutely, positively nothing.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              Agree on policy direction prediction. Disagree that the GA does “positively nothing”. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if that were the case.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            How can a no vote be a kick in the cajones to politicians that are campaigning against T-SPLOST? Yes or no, nearly every metro Atlanta G.A. member will proceed to collect the same Chamber paychecks, er campaign contributions and gifts (after all, there are special interest tax exemptions, regulations and all sorts of other goodies besides transportation to be attended to) and return to the same offices and business as usual come January.

            The job they’re were hired to do, unless it’s local politicians selecting another bunch of projects that won’t be much different, ain’t gonna be done. Those representing the half or more of the state that passes their T-SPLOSTs won’t be stepping up to the plate. Their constituents were just been put on the hook for billions. Many have built their politician careers on being anti-Atlanta, and therefore can’t touch anything with an the air of special-Atlanta legislation, unless it’s to punish (such as exempting MARTA operations, or allowing 15% instead of 25% of funds be returned to local governments as T-SPLOST did).

            • Calypso says:

              “How can a no vote be a kick in the cajones to politicians that are campaigning against T-SPLOST?”

              Sorry, I was unclear in what I said. Vote No on Tuesday, as well as vote against those pols pushing TSPLOST, both in Tuesday’s primary and November’s general, is what I should have written.

              • Dave Bearse says:

                One of my points in my changing to support T-SPLOST is there is no one to vote for to do anything different.

                There are what, maybe a half dozen pols out of 70 metro Atlanta representatives, that are for T-SPLOST that have any meaningful opposition that is for T-SPLOST. A sweep injecting six freshmen into a group of 230 other veterans in safe seats can’t do squat.

                This is as good as it gets for a half-dozen years.

                • Calypso says:

                  “This is as good as it gets for a half-dozen years.”

                  If this is true, then I’ll wait. However, I think that as soon as TSPLOST is defeated, its successor will be in the works.

                  • Dave Bearse says:

                    If it’s defeated we can only hope that you’re right that a viable successor is in the works.

                    Is the successor a new project list, or a new system, or both? And if a new system, care to name even one state GOP leader that’s going to spearhead an increase in taxes that has any chance of accomplishing same?

                    Remember the “yes” and “no” votes aren’t accompanied by explanations, and you can’t take “yes” votes for granted on a Plan B list.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              A “no” vote will not serve as any kind of a kick under the Gold Dome. A 40-day session is not long. There’s a big “we did that last year” element to issues and with the 2-year wait if a vote fails, what’s the rush? “Let’s study that over the Summer” is another oft-heard phrase. Get used to that if you are looking to follow Debbie & the Snail Darter Preservation Society’s Plan B. The “B” stands for Bullsh!+: her level of knowledge of all things transportation.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          I disagree that the T-SPLOST is as good as it will get as after the defeat of the T-SPLOST, I think that it will get much, much, MUCH better than anyone on either side of this issue seems to be anywhere near capable of imagining at this point.

          Seemingly lost in this entire debate, or whatever one wants to call it, is that the major Interstate highways that run through (I-20, I-75, I-85) and around and inside Metro Atlanta (I-285) are intended to carry Interstate and through traffic much, much, much more than they are intended to carry Intrastate and local commuter traffic between local/regional residential areas and local/regional job centers.

          What I strongly suspect will likely happen is that if the State of Georgia does not come up with a way to either dramatically improve traffic flow or dramatically increase and expand the capacity of the I-285 Perimeter and the mainline Interstates (Interstates 20, 75 & 85) so that Interstate traffic flows much better, the Feds will come up with a way to do it for us in the absence of the ability or outright refusal of the state to do it.

          The way that the Feds will likely improve the traffic flow on the key segment of the Interstate system that runs through the Atlanta Region is to impose steep congestion pricing to substantially restrict heavy local traffic from the critical section of the Interstate network that runs through Metro Atlanta so that Interstate and through traffic will be able to flow through the metro area much more easily.

          That means that the Feds are likely going to significantly lighten up traffic and clear the Interstates for us since our state government refuses to do it as I just cannot see the Feds sitting around and waiting until the 12th of Never to come with a sane, competent and coherent transportation plan as the Atlanta Region transportation grid descends into total gridlock and restricts the movement of goods, people and freight between critical locations on different parts of the continent.

          Like the heavy freight truck traffic that uses I-85 through Metro Atlanta as a critical link between the heavily-industrial oil-producing Gulf Coast region and the fast-growing markets of the Piedmont and the Mid-Atlantic States.

          Or the very heavy freight truck and Interstate automobile traffic that uses I-75 through Metro Atlanta as a key and critical link between the fast-growing Port of Savannah and the very popular resort areas in Florida and the heavily-populated and heavily-industrial areas of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley to the North.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            Wake up and smell the coffee. The feds won’t touch federally-imposed congestion pricing with a ten foot pole. There’s no statutory basis, and Congress is incapable of doing anything except getting re-elected.

            The feds stepping in otherwise won’t include providing any additional funding, just taking greater control of the funds in directing the spending of funds allocated to Georgia. The principal issue is insufficient funding, despite T-SPLOST opponents campaiging that its principally a matter of poor administration of funds.

            As to traffic through Atlanta, the big picture is that the long distance road users that drive through Atlanta can bypass Atlanta. Traveling between Chicago and FL? Bypass I-75 in GA via I-65/US231/I-10. Mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast? Bypass I-85 via I-81/I-59 (not that I-81 doesn’t have its problems).

            Logistics centers will expand elsewhere. Alabama recently has and has plans to spend millions increasing the capacity of its Mobile port (which is served by four of the six major North American railroads BTW, instead of only NS and CSXT as at Savannah). Jacksonville is looking to vastly increase it’s port capacity. Charleston is as a close the the Piedmont megalopolis as Savannah is.

            • Daddy Got A Gun says:

              Dave … hopefully you haven’t pulled the lever yet.

              Why are you voting for TSPLOST which has no money in it for bypasses? I agree with you that bypasses for trucks has to be considered and is one of the many glaring examples of needed projects not being included on the lists. Instead we get airport runway lights in Cobb and designer landscaped sidewalks in Atlanta.

              I just returned from visiting my sister in Lexington KY. Her office is right by the first double diamond intersection in the US and my dad was the third car through the intersection. Its really cool and she has said that it reduced congestion in the area dramatically and made the intersection safer. I went through many times during my 4 day stay and its really fast to get through. It works!

              My point in stating that story is that there are CHEAPER ways to reduce congestion than what is on the list. TSPLOST is not going to reduce anyone’s commute time. It can’t. The project timelines are too long and the projects scopes are too localized. Over the next 10 years, we are going have huge construction delays if TSPLOST passes.

              Something not mentioned anywhere is the impact on the economy of this 19 billion dollar tax increase. This isn’t free money. Its money that is NOT spent in businesses. Instead its taken by the government to support government. This tax will harm our economy MORE than the traffic woes we have.

              So, I ask that you reconsider. Why vote for a plan that doesn’t include truly needed and effective solutions (bypasses – Double Diamond)? Why vote a plan that wastes money on runway lights in cobb and sucks $19 Billion dollars out of the economy?

              • Rambler1414 says:

                Georgia is already doing DDI’s.

                Ashford-Dunwoody/285 is already open. 2 more on the way shortly on 85 north of 285, and Cobb is talking about one at Wade Green/75.

                These are largely considered interim short-term solutions that provide a moderate level of congestion relief, but are cheaper than blowing up the entire interchange and starting over again.

                • Dave Bearse says:

                  At 10% or less of the cost, and completion in 20% or less time, there’s a much lower benefit threshold making DDI projects viable.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              I would hope that you are right and that we would see something substantial (and truly effective) done before it came to that point, but with the way that things are going at the moment, I’m somewhat doubtful that the Feds would sit idly by for an extended period of time while the roads in Metro Atlanta become completely impassable for freight and through traffic through most of the day.

              As for the big picture of through traffic bypassing Atlanta, much through traffic already does use the routes that you describe to bypass Atlanta, but not all of it clearly is necessarily capable of doing so, especially if one is using I-85 (& I-285) through Metro Atlanta as a link between the Gulf Coast and the North Carolina Piedmont (Charlotte, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham) or is using I-75 as a link between Detroit and Southeastern and Central Michigan, Western Ohio (Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati, etc) as seemingly lost in the conversation about the need for traffic improvement is the fact that many of these roads are Interstates first and commuter routes, second.

              • Dave Bearse says:

                “…many of these roads are Interstates first and commuter routes, second.”

                That’s not what a traffic tally would indicate. Outside of truck traffic, the local interstates are overwhlemingly used by commuters and local traffic as observation of license plates confirms.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  You are very correct that the local interstates are overwhelmingly used by commuters and local traffic, but in the eyes of the Feds, the interstates are intended first and foremost for interstate and through traffic.

                  If the interstates can’t perform their intended function of carrying out-of-state and through traffic because of too much local traffic then in their eyes it’s the local traffic that will have to come off and if the problem persists the Feds won’t necessarily care how that local traffic burden is reduced as long as it is reduced.

                  If the State of Georgia continues to refuse to attempt to reduce that burden of local traffic on the Interstate system either by expanding the capacity of the system or supplying a substantial alternative in the form of viable mass transit, then we can all be assured that the Feds will eventually do it for us and we won’t necessarily like how they do it when they decide do it.

                  After close to two decades of doing virtually nothing to even seriously attempt to lessen the burden of local traffic by either expanding the capacity of the interstates on providing a real and viable mass transit alternative, that day of reckoning of the eventuality of the Feds doing it for us has moved ever so closer.

    • Calypso says:

      If TSPLOST, as currently proposed, is, in fact, as good as it gets then I prefer the status quo. At least we’ll bleed to death at a much slower rate.

      However, I do think that once this monstrosity is dealt a killing blow Tuesday, that another–better–solution will be forthcoming. I’m not willing to settle for the piece of crap as presented.

      Voting yes is caving in to the half-assed job the legislators did with this and condones their incompetent, inept behavior. Vote NO, kick a bunch of them in the balls both Tuesday and in November, and tell them to go back and do the damn job we hired them to do.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        I don’t think that another better solution will be forthcoming from the Georgia Legislature anytime soon, if ever, as I agree with many both for against the T-SPLOST that the Georgia Legislature is just simply not capable of effectively improving and managing the transportation network of the increasingly ultra-diverse and extremely multifaceted Atlanta Region with a comprehensive transportation plan at this juncture as is demonstrated with this very poorly thought-out, extremely-convoluted and fatally-flawed T-SPLOST plan.

        I think that the solution that will be forthcoming will likely be from the Feds and I doubt that many Georgians will really like it all that much as the Feds apply steep congestion pricing to the Interstates to clear them of excess local traffic so that through traffic can continue to move through this critical section of the nation’s ground transportation grid.

  10. wicker says:

    Only the threat of the T-SPLOST making them pay billions for projects that they philosophically abhor made the TEA Party and Sierra Club strange bedfellows. But as soon as T-SPLOST is defeated, that odd couple will quickly serve each other with no-fault divorce papers and go back to being political enemies with opposing agendas. Coming together to defeat a project that they both dislike is easy. Coming together to create or support an alternative is the hard part. The most that they can do is agree on a few items that should make it into whatever new plan there is. But that is a long way from coming up with the new plan itself. And even if these common points of agreement make it into the new plan, one or both of these groups will still oppose it if it contains too many other things that they dislike.

  11. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    You wanna know what Plan B looks like?

    Just take one look at those HOT Lanes on I-85 through DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and think of that concept applied to ALL LANES of every Interstate highway in Metro Atlanta (I-20, I-75, I-85, I-285, I-575, I-675, I-985) and that’s what your so-called “Plan B” looks like.

    Steep congestion pricing was the so-called Plan B that was always likely to be enacted whether the T-SPLOST passed or failed as the T-SPLOST, while it contained proposals for reconstruction and modification on a few key busy freeway interchanges, never really got to the heart of problem on the Metro Atlanta portion of Interstate system, which is not enough road capacity to handle the combined long-term increasing volumes of regional commuter traffic, through Interstate automobile traffic (heavy vacation traffic to and from the resort areas of Florida and the Gulf Coast, etc) and through Interstate freight truck traffic (freight truck traffic to and from the Port of Savannah, Florida and the Atlantic Coast, etc).

    The passage of the smoke-and-mirrors bare-minimal T-SPLOST may have likely put off the dreaded REAL “Plan B” of steep congestion pricing for a few years (and ONLY a few years, if that), but congestion pricing was something that was always likely to result in the absence of our state’s oh-so-glorious political “leadership” to both continue to expand the capacity of the Interstate system as needed to accommodate the increasingly heavy through freight truck and automobile traffic and invest and implement comprehensive transit alternatives.

  12. seekingtounderstand says:

    Best reason to vote no that no one is talking about:
    Gov. Perdue borrowed so much bond debt that for the next 20 years a large amount of our gas tax goes to pay off the debt load. Its been a higher amount but currently its $317,000 million year in debt costs plus the lost money that the Feds would have matched. Check my facts but I believe that match 80% of what Ga would have put up for transportation. Is this why we are a donor state? To continue to say that the republicans did not have a transportation plan is just false. Their plans was to mortgage our future and cry we are undfunding transportaton. The public is clueless as the press never reports these facts.
    Not only did insiders get rich off of Gov. Perdues spending, Chairman of Dot did well as he has over 18 different real estate company names, the people that issued the bonds did well also…………………….and they want to do it all over again as it worked so well. So voting yes is rewarding behavior that did not help transportation as they claim we are in desperate need.
    Source- DOT amended budget 2010.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Georgia is not a donor state because of bond debt. Federal transportation funding to the states is determined by Moving Ahead for Progress Act (June 2012) formulae. The Act is basically a continuation of SAFETY-LU legislation that expired in 2009, and that had been temporarily extended since then. Georgia received the minimum 90.5% return of gas taxes under SAFETY-LU, and presumably that will be the case under Moving Ahead.

      BTW, the borrowing wasn’t all Perdue’s doing. The GOP did substantially escalate it with Perdue’s 2004’s Fast Forward however.

      From the GDOT website: “Fast Forward is a comprehensive 6-year, $15.5 billion transportation program that will relief congestion and spur economic growth through the acceleration of existing projects. The Fast Forward Program will allow Georgia to do in 6 years what would otherwise take 18 years to complete.”

      Let’s see….six years after the 2004 initiation was when? 2010. Ring a bell? It’s no coincidence TIA was enacted the year the borrowed money ran out. It’s simple to figure out that Fast Forward borrowed against revenues through 2022 (18 years after the beginning of Fast Forward).

      Transportation money that has been squandered by GOP leadership on rural economic development highways is water under the bridge. You’re mistaken if you think the electorate can hold a spendthrift conservative establishment accountable by voting them out of office. The GOP establishment is safely ensconced in office, and isn’t going anywhere. Two-thirds of the people have zero choice (only the incumbent or one person on the ballot). And where there is a choice, it’s usually only theoretical, because the incumbent or one party’s choice will coast to victory. As Don says, “We have been doing this for 20 years, and I still keep getting re-elected.”

      Your T-SPLOST choice thus is to increase transportation funding for the selected project list, or not. The project list won’t substantially change, and neither will the system.

      This is as good as it gets, unless you’re willing to wait a half-dozen years when even a Georgia electorate dumb as a bag of hair will have figured out the GOP’s handling of transportation has been incompetent. Fast Forward spending stopped less than two years ago, so it will take at least a few more years for voters to realize the state is spending even less than was being spent over the past 8 underfunded years.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Also, just so it’s clear the state’s Fast Forward money was indeed all borrowed (from the same GDOT webpage):

        “The Fast Forward Program will be funded using the following:
        Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds
        Guaranteed Revenue Bonds (GRB)
        General Obligation (GO) bonds
        Federal funds”

        • Daddy Got A Gun says:

          WOW. I didn’t know this. This explains alot.

          So in theory, CW Matthews and transportation infrastructure firms are looking at a significant drop in its business if this doesn’t pass. Which explains why the Chamber is supporting higher taxes as well.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            Construction has already dropped—I don’t think there will be much less going on than is going on now.

            What’s also grinding to a halt is the backgournd stuff, design, right of way acquistion etc. Once that’s ground down to nothing and the organziations that do that work are decimated, even throwing money at projects won’t produce quick results. Another reason now is the time to vote yes.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              I hope that you are aware that the public voting themselves a tax increase so that their favorite politically well-connected roadbuilding firms would have work to do was an argument that was likely never going to play well in a region with an increasing aversion to both tax increases and what they perceive to be excessive traffic-generating roadbuilding as a means to benefit a few politically well-connected road roadbuilders, land spectulators, real estate developers and consultants.

              One of the recurring reasons that I kept hearing people in both the city and the suburbs say that they were voting against the tax was that they believe more roads makes more congestion.

  13. seekingtounderstand says:

    Prediction- it passes. There is no way to verify votes with our current system. This is just too much money with a voting system with no safe guards.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I’m afraid you might be correct as many of the backers and pushers of this thing still seem to sound somewhat overly-confident in the face of multiple polls that show the T-SPLOST trailing by an average of around 20 points.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Uh…Yeah.

        Even if they don’t, I pretty sure that the thought may have crossed their minds over the course of the past three months as the polls have tanked and support for the T-SPLOST has waned then dwindled.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Other than dismissively arrogant statements of ridicule, what’s your reasoning for why they would not resort to rigging this thing out of extreme desperation with billions of dollars on the line and the lack of verification safeguards that seekingtounderstand clearly pointed out?

            • Daddy Got A Gun says:

              Since this is a regional vote not based on each county and the counties that benefit have a history of election fraud (Dekalb and Fulton), I think the odds are pretty good that that Chamber is stuffing the ballot box with the votes of dead people right now.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                As Walter Cronkite once famously quipped, I just wonder if they’ll be able to get the bodies back to the cemetery within a reasonable time frame?

                Pro-TSPLOSTers, remember to vote early.

                …And often.

            • Baker says:

              Other than a fear that your side might lose, what’s your evidence that they would rig this? That seems cowardly and un-American. This is not Daley’s Chicago.

              • Harry says:

                Dekalb is more corrupt than Chicago, so I say they give it a try if they thought they can pull it off.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                What’s your evidence that they would not rig this?

                Seekingtounderstand clearly pointed out that there are no safeguards to the current system of voting as voters don’t even receive a receipt of who and what they voted for.

                And there’s nothing more cowardly and un-American than voting fraud and rigging the electoral process because as this may not be Daley’s Chicago, this is most certainly Kasim Reed’s Atlanta as Reed seems to be certain that this thing is going to win despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary in the form of repeated multiple polls showing support for the T-SPLOST trailing by double-digits.

                • Baker says:

                  “What’s your evidence that they would not rig this?”

                  My evidence that they’re not just gonna steal the election?

                  I just got off the phone with a rep from the mayor’s office regarding our strategy for rigging the vote. It’s rigged. You lose.

                  We did it guys! Anti-people should just stay at home tomorrow.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    “I just got off the phone with a rep from the mayor’s office regarding our strategy for rigging the vote. It’s rigged. You lose….
                    ….We did it guys! Anti-people should just stay at home tomorrow.”

                    Well at the very least, your honesty is refreshing.

                    In Monday’s AJC the backers of the T-SPLOST seemed to be making tactical moves in the direction in which the kind of action that you are very dismissive of is possible by “revealing” the results of a new internal poll that show the referendum ahead by two points, which is odd considering that every other poll taken over the last three months shows this thing trailing by double digits:

                    “But backers of the referendum insist it’s a much tighter contest: Their poll recently showed 45 percent against and 47 percent in favor, a difference erased by the poll’s 3-point margin of error.”
                    http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/battle-over-t-splost-1487641.html

              • Daddy Got A Gun says:

                1.1 billion reasons for Dekalb and 1.9 Billion reasons for Fulton.

                Do you really think the “power players” are willing to play fair and not get their filthy hands on this money?

                Personally, I think it passes and we’ll be able to point to fraud out of Fulton and Dekalb. The courts will do nothing because they always side with the government.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                Nowhere near as dismissively arrogant as the supporters and the backers of the T-SPLOST who insist that anyone who dares speak out against and not support or vote for their warmed-over pile of crap is racist or ignorant or self-centered.

                It looks like the backers of this elaborate scam have just about cornered the market on the use of dismissive arrogance as a means to a selfish end.

                • Baker says:

                  Wait…so you just called it a “warmed-over pile of crap” but you’re complaining about the tone of the pro side?

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    Just calling a spade exactly what it is, which is a spade, or in this case, a warmed-over pile of crap.

                    Don’t get mad because the pro side spent $8 million to attempt to dress up and put lipstick on a pig by firebombing the airwaves and blogs and billboards and everything in-between and voters still see it for the ugly pig that it is.

                    It is the pro-side that has been setting the tone with advertising that falsely sells this thing as the be-all end-all to traffic congestion when it is overall just a drop in the bucket, much of which is spent on economic development projects and construction projects that only serve to prop-up the failing and declining status quo for a few more years, if that.

  14. GTKay says:

    Debbie Dooley and Steen Miles of MARTA debated Dave Williams of the Metro Chamber of Commerce and another person(didn’t catch her name) on 750 this evening. Debbie says the list has too much transit, Steen says the list has too much road building, and they’re on the same side. Debbie and Steen both express concern that the sales tax will harm single moms and the elderly. Yet Debbie has advocated for an increase in the gas tax, and Steen wants the state to chip in to fund MARTA. Debbie says that the TIA takes away local control of tax dollars, yet she calls the 15% that goes back to cities and counties for their transportation needs a slush fund. She doesn’t trust those local county governments to manage that money, yet she wants to give them the ability to partner with other counties to fund (through a sales tax), build and maintain projects together (picture Gwinnett, Dekalb and I85.)

    The opponents of the bill have only one thing in common. They all want to defeat the bill, but for different reasons. And none of those reasons coincide. Their political and economic worldviews intersect in one point in space-defeating the bill – and that will be the last substantive point of agreement they will have.

    MARTA wants more money for MARTA, Vincent Fort wants more money for south Dekalb MARTA, Sierra Club wants no more road building -they really do,- Chip Rogers wants to win an election, and the Tea Party says that they can come up with a plan that makes everybody happy. I do not believe it will happen.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      That’s what happens when the State Legislature punts the important issue of transportation funding, an issue for which they are responsible for per the Georgia Constitution, off to be decided by an ultradiverse constituency with multiple and sharply-differing political and social agendas.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      And to set the record straight, Senator Fort is not necessarily for MARTA rail service in South DeKalb as much as against transportation improvements being funded by way of a sales tax on food, medicine and clothing that may disproportionately affect the poor.

      DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May and the DeKalb County NAACP have been the leading opponents to the T-SPLOST because of the non-inclusion of a rail transit line through the I-20 East Corridor in South DeKalb.

  15. Baker says:

    As a glutton for punishment, allow me to continue the discussion on TSPLOST with LDIG:

    Can you honestly tell me that just about any plan for transportation improvements, which would require a new tax somewhere, would not be opposed by Ms. Dooley and other Tea Party types?

    Both pro sides and anti sides are throwing every excuse under the sun as to why this thing should pass/ fail.

    Fort is against it because Delta/ fuel is exempted which is stupid but it’s in there and “Plan B” won’t happen for years so I’m willing to gulp down the Delta exemption.

    And one thing that I haven’t seen elsewhere: As a Fulton County resident I have no problem being double-taxed for MARTA. We’re the ones that use it the most. I strongly believe Metro counties should kick in that penny but DeKalb and Fulton should pay more (and someday Cobb & Gwinnett will get some sweet sweet train action and they can pay more also).

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Can you honestly tell me that just about any plan for transportation improvements, which would require a new tax somewhere, would not be opposed by Ms. Dooley and other Tea Party types?”

      Though I disagree that a simple across-the-board gas tax increase is the best way to pay for road or transportation improvements at this point as neighboring North Carolina has a state gas tax that is nearly six times the amount of Georgia and they still needed to resort to tolls to fund the completion of a very ambitious highway construction plan, Debbie Dooley has come out in favor of raising the gas tax as a way to increase severely-lagging road maintenance revenues in the State of Georgia.

      Though, it should be noted that while Ms. Dooley represents what is arguably the most visible and highly-political active branch of the Tea Party in Georgia and herself is a National Coordinator within the Tea Party movement, the branch of the Tea Party that Ms. Dooley represents is but only one of dozens or more branches of the Tea Party in Georgia.

      It should also be noted that the branch of the Tea Party that Ms. Dooley represents is one of the most, if not arguably the most, mainstream Tea Party branches in the state as many other Tea Party branches in the region and the state are not necessarily anywhere near as willing to work with both the political establishment and groups to which they are diametrically politically opposed to come up with a funding solution to the overwhelming transportation problems of this region and this state.

      If it is not politically (or financially) feasible to fund transportation improvements (and economic development projects) with tax increases, then it is the State Legislature’s job to find a way to fund critically-needed upgrades to the state’s transportation network without the utilization of tax increases, which tax increases are somewhat limited in what they can fund at this juncture anyways.

      Any funding solution to transportation is going to have require the use of new creative and innovative out-of-the-box ways of financing like self-funded infrastructure through a combination of distance-based user fees, public-private financing and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenues from new development that pops up along transit lines), there’s just simply no way around that.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Both pro sides and anti sides are throwing every excuse under the sun as to why this thing should pass/ fail.”

      We have a small name for the throwing of those excuses that you describe called campaigning, which is something that commonly occurs by those on both sides of an issue in the months and days before an election or a referendum.

      So don’t be surprised or get your feelings hurt if those who are the opposite side of an issue that you may back don’t lay down and let your side have an easy and unopposed path to victory, which is something that the backers of the T-SPLOST seem to not have accounted for when authoring this monstrousity of a transportation/economic development bill.

      • Charlie says:

        This is the last warning for you on this. Your comments, frankly, are too long. More importantly, they are far too often followed by another too long follow up, with you having a stream of conscious conversation with yourself.

        If you want people to quit skipping over your comments, try to learn to be concise, make one point once, then move along.

        T-SPLOST is over tomorrow. If you choose to find a new ax to grind, please use one with a smaller handle.

      • Baker says:

        But my point is you were complaining about the tone and how the pro side was using arguments you did not feel were relevant. But then you turn around and do the exact same thing.

        One of the reasons, along with Christine O’Donnell, that I abandoned hope in the Tea Party, was that on something like this, that very clearly needs to be done, they’re going to oppose anything that gets proposed.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          If the anti-TSPLOST side happens to stoop down to the level of the pro side then it is purely unintentional and only as a means of countering the blatant and shameless propaganda and lies being put out by the pro side and the backers of the referendum on a constant basis in the desperate final days and minutes of what up until this point has largely been an ineffective and flailing T-SPLOST campaign.

          If the State Legislature, the City of Atlanta and the powers-that-be did not want improvements to transportation and economic development projects to be opposed by what from all appearances has been a very strong and strangely diverse coalition led by the Tea Party, then maybe they should found a way to fund those projects other than putting them in a referendum for a tax increase in a state and, in particular, an Atlanta Region with a noticeably strong and understandable aversion to tax increases.

          Putting all of those projects in a tax referendum, especially the major projects on the transportation side like the freeway interchange improvements (I-20/I-285 West, GA 400/I-285, I-85/I-285 NE, etc), the proposed transit upgrades and GRTA funding and then restricting local road funding with a rejection of the referendum by voters, has in effect made all of those projects completely optional.

      • Baker says:

        ….and for the record, I can understand the stream of conscious commenting.

        My only problem with any comments are the vote rigging allegations.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          You seem to have gotten mighty rattled by something that is only supposed to be an allegation, which makes many people think that there might be a morsel of truth to those vote-rigging allegations.

          • Baker says:

            No man. My point is when you accuse a side of vote-rigging, you should have proof, otherwise you’re just undermining what is, at this point, still the greatest country and system in the world. Undermining America ain’t what I’m about.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              Neither me nor anyone else on this board or on either side of the T-SPLOST issue is undermining American Democracy by pointing out something that has happened repeatedly throughout American and Georgia history and is very much capable of happening in the present.

              It is those who engage in such acts of voter fraud and election-rigging who intentionally serve to maliciously undermine our great nation and our way-of-life.

              • Baker says:

                “It is those who engage in such acts of voter fraud and election-rigging who intentionally serve to maliciously undermine our great nation and our way-of-life.”

                We agree! :)

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              As for proof, one may not necessarily be able to prove that an election or a vote might be rigged before the election actually happens as, unfortunately, vote-rigging is something that usually becomes evident after the vote has occurred.

              But something that was striking was the talk coming from the T-SPLOST campaign of a supposed substantial lead amongst new voters turning in absentee ballots, which is notable because recently strengthed voter ID statutes do not necessarily apply to absentee ballots in most cases, meaning that, hypothetically, for the sake of conversation, if one was going to attempt to tamper with the outcome of an election, absentee ballots might be a one possible way of doing so.

              From Jim Galloway’s blog/column in the AJC on Sunday, July 30, 2012-

              “Last week, Kevin Ross and Paul Benacke, Strategists for the Untie Atlanta campaign said that, while discouraging, recent polls don’t measure the new voters their campaign has driven to the polls. Wrote the pair:
              …..The campaign sampled 5,991 out of the 33,551 absentee voters and we are winning 57 percent to 43 percent; furthermore, the campaign sampled 5,681 out of the 71,298 early voters and we are winning 53 percent to 47 percent…..
              …..The Rosetta Stone findings would appear to contradict that…..“The math is simple, and the results are clear” said John Garst of Rosetta Stone. “The TSPLOST was badly defeated in the early voting period.””
              http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2012/07/30/your-morning-jolt-one-third-of-early-voters-supported-tsplost-says-poll/

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      You mean, we found out which polls were real and which ones fake.

      Two-point lead for the T-SPLOST, my foot…

      • Calypso says:

        Yeah, whatever group pro-TSPLOSTers used to cook-up their numbers needs to find another line of work.

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