Transportation Cooperation: It Was Fun While It Lasted

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Last Tuesday’s vote on regional transportation will remain the political topic for state politics well into the next session of the General Assembly.  Not only does a long standing problem remain unsolved, but the raw politics exposed within the construct of the referendums, the provincial attitudes exerted by voters, and the base fears of various interest groups of others will take some time to analyze and overcome.

One of the first relationships that appears in trouble has its heart in Atlanta’s urban core but has ripple effects all the way across Georgia to our coast.  Since his election, Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have maintained a high profile relationship to bring federal dollars to Atlanta while working together to solve state problems well outside of the capitol city’s boundaries.

Reed has been Georgia’s point man with the Obama administration to secure funding for the Port of Savannah, and quite aggressively so.  He has positioned himself as a “regional mayor”, assisting economic development efforts to land new companies for the metro area, not confining himself to the city limits.

In exchange, Reed has had an active partner with many of Georgia’s leaders in attempting to secure funding for projects dear to him and his constituents.  Atlanta’s beltline has been at the top of this list, a project designed to mix transit with intown development around a series of abandoned railroad right of ways.

That beltline project became the whipping post for suburban Republicans who used the project as an example of “their” tax dollars being spent on something they would never use.  They generally were unable or unwilling to discuss how much money Atlanta – whose residents already are paying a 1% sales tax for transit – would be raising from their retail sales, they just generally presumed that an acceptable project list would only include roads that they themselves would drive on.  Any other projects were deemed wasteful – or in the words used to describe the expansion of additional MARTA lines, a bailout.

During the 2010 campaign for Governor, candidate John Oxendine proposed extending GA-400 through East Atlanta, paving over (or tunneling under) some of the inner city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.  It was a proposal launched early in the primary, and the politics of the proposal was clear.  It was designed to appeal to suburban Atlanta Republicans, at the expense of intown Atlanta Democrats.

The proposal was the antithesis of the relationship that has been forged between Deal and Reed.  It pitted suburbanites against urban Atlantans in a demonstration of where the power of a super-majority of Republicans could trump the interests of a relatively small pocket of Democrats who occupy land that could otherwise be used to allow Republicans to speed through the city without stopping.

While the failure of T-SPLOST does not bring us back to an expansion of GA-400 as any reasonable possibility, it does return us to the same reality, and the same fears.  Suburban Republicans will dictate transportation policy for the Atlanta region and to a lesser extent, the state.  In town projects will be avoided where possible.

If there was any doubt on this, Governor Deal’s words the day after the vote should remove any doubt. “…yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.”

MARTA, which receives no funding from the state but is restricted on how it spends its money by the state, quickly resumed its whipping boy status upon T-SPLOST’s colossal failure.  Republicans now understand it is toxic among their base to champion projects that benefit a region but are favored mostly by Democrats.

Which leaves us wondering what the role of Mayor Reed will be in this going forward. His words upon the defeat of T-SPLOST contained much more optimism, discussing the need to continue to press forward.

If there was bitterness, Reed did not show it.  But remaining positive in word and rolling up the sleeves to do someone else’s heavy lifting are not the same thing.  One has to wonder that the next time the Republicans need assistance with the Port Of Savannah, will Reed be available. Or, will he respond that he has some constituents back at home that need more of his attention.

106 comments

  1. CobbGOPer says:

    He may not be as responsive to Republicans as he has been lately, but he’ll continue to try and be out in front on the Port and other issues of importance to the state, for two reasons:

    1. If Obama wins, I very much think Kasim wants a cabinet position. Maintaining a high profile (for a mayor) helps in this pursuit, and Reed is arguably one of the better-known mayors in the country right now, not only because of his work down here but also his many national TV appearances as a surrogate for Obama. Were he to gain a position, that would set him up nicely to run statewide down the line (not that Mayor of Atlanta doesn’t already give him a good boost, but it helps)
    2. If Obama loses, I think Kasim may gear up to challenge Deal for Governor in 2014. So he’ll continue his broad-based economic development efforts with the goal of giving him plaudits to advertise during that campaign with Deal. Reed can counter any econdev achievements Deal touts by simply saying “Hey I was part of that too, they cut me out of the picture on TV but I helped get that done with Deal.”

    It’s either that or he is gearing up to run for Senate against Saxby in 2014. I imagine he has higher aspirations than running for Mayor again.

    • Three Jack says:

      No doubt Reed has to be looking for higher office in the future. I would bet on the John Lewis seat in congress being a more achievable target. But based on his performance to date, I would seriously consider voting for him over Deal or Saxby.

      • wicker says:

        Reed has higher aspirations than the dead-end job of representing a majority black district in Congress. He can’t use that seat as a springboard to higher office (governor or senator) and in the House he would have no more influence than the typical member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is zero even when Democrats control the White House and Congress. Even among the CBC he would have zero seniority. Reed would rather go back to the private sector. Also, there is no evidence that John Lewis is going to retire anytime soon. He is only 72 and in good health. And in any race between Reed and Lewis, Lewis would win. Reed was already seen as being too pro-business and too friendly with Republicans among his base, and his going against the Georgia CBC and the NAACP on T-SPLOST harmed him. Being on the side of Deal and the Chamber of Commerce is fine and dandy if you win, but if you lose, it is better to be able to claim that you helped defeat a measure that did a lot more for the suburbanites and for the affluent professionals and corporations ITP than it does for the base.

        • Some truth to this for sure, but if you look at the ’09 mayors results and the trend for Atlanta, he needed to improve his standing with the Buckhead and downtown crowd more than he did with the AA community, and I think he’s done this.

          • Three Jack says:

            Well wicker, looks like you’ve got it all figured out. Even so, I’ll stand by my bet, 5th district congressman when Lewis retires, probably before the end of Reed’s 2nd term.

            • bgsmallz says:

              Right…b/c it was such a dead end job for Wyche Fowler and Andy Young.

              wicker, I don’t disagree that Reed’s sights might be higher, but if you are going to try to use support for your argument that is based in reality, you might at least try doing a quick wikipedia search before running off on a tangent.

              • wicker says:

                bgsmallz:

                Already used Wikipedia to verify John Lewis’ age and saw that it was once Wyche Fowler’s district. But yeah, like it was a CBC district back then …

                As for Andy Young, when did he get elected to governor or senator again? I seem to remember his getting absolutely crushed by Zell Miller in the Democratic primary. Going from a majority black district to statewide office (and by that I do not mean mid-level executive) rarely happens, and not just in Georgia but nationwide.

                • bgsmallz says:

                  Wait…so was it a majority black district or wasn’t it? Because Young was prior to Fowler….oh…and he was a member of the CBC.

                  Anyway, Young didn’t run for governor until after he had served as UN ambassador and then served 2 terms as Atlanta’s mayor. And the fact that he made a run-off in 1990 against Miller was something of an accomplishment.

                  But really you’ve got no answer on Fowler. It happened in that district.

                  And I seem to be missing one other example…oh yeah, this guy named Barack Obama. He really got stuck in that dead end job of representing a majority black district, didn’t he?

                  • wicker says:

                    I said rarely, not ever. And Kasim Reed is no Barack Obama. And Georgia is no Chicago, who elected Carol Moseley Braun to one of the top 3 offices (governor, senator) before Obama.

                    UN ambassador? Not an elected office. And as far as the differences between Fowler and Reed go … well I will let you be the one to figure that out. For the vast, clear, overwhelming majority, getting elected to Congress from a majority-minority district is a dead end job. If Reed wants to be governor or senator, he would be better off running for a mid-level executive job like secretary of labor or secretary of state. If Arturo Hawkins, the most conservative member of the CBC at the time (now that honor belongs to Alan West) couldn’t springboard from a majority-minority district to statewide office, Reed won’t either.

                    • bgsmallz says:

                      So your point is that Wyche got elected b/c he is white and Reed can’t get elected in GA b/c we don’t elect black persons to big offices like Chicago does?

                      Nice.

                      My point remains…the last 3 people to represent the 5th went on to be Chief Justice of GA, UN Ambassador as appointed by the President/Two Term Mayor of Atlanta/Co-Chairman of the Successful Atlanta Olympic Committee, and US Senator. Congressman from the 5th hasn’t been a “dead-end job” for 40-50 years. That’s a fact. But please feel free to hold to your baseless opinions about what might be available after being a congressman from the 5th or what type of black persons can win elections in Georgia.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        It would be more achievable, but I don’t think it’s high-profile enough for Reed. Who goes from CEO of a major city to back-bencher in the US House? I think it’s only three choices for him: Obama cabinet, governor, or senator. If he can’t do any of that, I would assume he’ll either run for mayor as long as he can get elected or go private sector and make a million dollars lobbying.

        • Charlie says:

          Being a Mayor of a major city doesn’t exactly suck, and as a young politician, it’s not a bad place to bide time and actually accomplish a few things while the demographics of Georgia turn more to the Democrats liking.

          I don’t see blind ambition pushing him into another job as a cabinet appointee or tilting a windmill in a state wide primary in 2014, when he would have two full terms plus a year to campaign to look at likely open statewide seats in 2018.

          • CobbGOPer says:

            I can see him waiting until 2018, it just seems like he’s a little ancy to see what kind of opportunities he can make sooner rather than later. But I definitely think he’s only interested in governor, senator, or cabinet; US House would seem like a sideways move.

            • bgsmallz says:

              2018 might be too late for governor. I doubt Jason Carter will wait around until 2022 to run for a state wide office…and he is going to be a strong candidate. Carter could run in 2014 on immigration/labor issues, education, and transportation and probably do pretty well in Atlanta and south Georgia.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                But in 2014 Carter would still get trounced in the suburbs and exurbs of the Atlanta Region where the bulk of the state’s political power now lies just because he has a (D) behind his name and this would be especially so if Barack Obama, who if you haven’t noticed, is much-hated and absolutely-despised around these parts, wins a second term as President.

                It’s not ITP Atlanta and/or South Georgia that will necessarily be able to decide statewide elections if and when the Democrats become competitive again at the state level.

                What could work to decide statewide elections in the Democrats’ favor are the demographic changes taking place in political powerhouse suburban areas that are anchored by counties like fast-growing Henry County (still one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation despite the economic downturn), heavily-populated Cobb County (700,000 residents) and, especially, even more heavily-populated Gwinnett County (825,000 residents and still moving at a steady clip towards the one-million resident mark where non-Hispanic whites now make up only about 43% of the population of a county that not too long ago was close to 90% non-Hispanic white).
                http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13135.html

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    @LDIG

                    A recycled Roy Barnes wasn’t exactly the strongest candidate in the world and he only lost in 2010 by 250,000 votes.

                    The GOP will have what to campaign on? 2 terms of Perdue and 1 term of Deal? What were the biggest problems facing our state in 2002? Transportation? Education? Nothing has been done on those except charter schools (which were ruled unconstituional) and T-Splost (which was ruled idiotic) …add that to the fact that the ‘solution’ to immigration was to leave a ton of farmers in S. Georgia without enough labor to harvest crops…

                    Anyway, I don’t think it is that far fetched.

  2. Rationallogic says:

    Yes, Atlanta will be on it’s own now for expanding MARTA. Atlanta would be smart to go ahead with another city referendum for to focus on the Emory line expansion, the Beltline acceleration and a few other smaller projects. If it were up to me, I would add tolls ($0.50/$1.00) on the offramps of 400, 75 and 85 that went into the city as Dallas does on much of it’s tollway network. I’m sure the GDOT would stop that but it would create some payback for the infrastructure that the suburbanites that travel into for their work or entertainment. Tolls will be commonplace here before long anyway. This would provide plenty of funding to expand MARTA to make intown the walkable/transit friendly city that Generation Y/Millenials flock to and the companies would as well. Midtown and Buckhead and the resurgence of East Atlanta is not going to slow down anytime soon. Sandy Springs and Cumberland would be beneficiaries of any companies trying to locate just outside the toll-zone but as those areas densified they would be looking to create similar measures or TAD districts to fund transit to attract those same younger workers. Currently we have a older population that doesn’t understand how much the younger generation is driven by the cities/communities that offer better quality of life (read minimal car attachment) and how valuable those younger educated workers are to companies.

    • Harry says:

      Younger educated workers are valuable to companies? Read this:
      General Electric is planning to move its 115-year-old X-ray division from Waukesha , Wis. , to Beijing . In addition to moving the headquarters, the company will invest $2 billion in China and train more than 65 engineers and create six research centers.
      This is the same GE that made $5.1 billion in the United States last year, but paid no taxes – the same company that employs more people overseas than it does in the United States .
      So let me get this straight. President Obama appointed GE Chairman Jeff Immelt to head his commission on job creation (job czar). Immelt is supposed to help create jobs. I guess the President forgot to tell him in which country he was supposed to be creating those jobs. Thanks, Jeff, you’re a “real” American…give Barrack our Best! If this doesn’t show you the total lack of leadership of this President, I don’t know what does. Please pass this information to others and think about it before you buy a GE product.

      Also, I have been informed by a reliable internal IBM source, that in future IBM will be hiring technical people only outside the US. Do you think it has anything to do with the cost to employers of Obamacare mandates, or perhaps the dumbing-down of American youth to the point that they are unable to carry on a conversation about anything of value?

      Forward!

      • Well seeing as every other country has cheaper, mandated government insurance, I am going to go with a big no on that part.

        As for younger educated workers – pretty sure other countries have those in droves. A company like GE or IBM is looking at places like Atlanta now and saying those hicks aren’t interested in education or investing in infrastructure so we’ll go someplace (whether it’s Dallas or China) that is.

        I sure hope there’s another housing boom soon. That’s about the only thing that can turn this local economy around again.

      • wicker says:

        Outsourcing was going on long before Obamacare. And IBM hiring technical people outside the US only makes absolutely no sense as A) the U.S. still produces the best technical people, especially for R&D which IBM does on a massive level and B) US technical people are needed to deal with IBM’s gigantic domestic customer base.

      • Rationallogic says:

        No argument there. On a national level, the first priority is to get rid of Obama. On a state level, continue to work towards getting rid of the state income tax. But Atlanta is going to be on it’s own to create a city that vies to compete with Dallas, Denver or Phoenix or even Charlotte, Nashville or Tampa.

        • wicker says:

          Rationallogic:

          Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Charlotte, Nashville and Tampa all get support from the state. Atlanta is the only major city in the country (world?) that is asked to do it alone.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            And exurban counties can compete to be the the next Pelham, AL.

            Count me among those that would like to see a return of the edit feature.

    • Happy Face says:

      Why would the City of Atlanta fund a line to Emory? It isn’t even in the city limits. Should the city also fund the Northern Arc? While it surely would have some benefit for the city, expecting city residents to pay higher taxes so someone from Gwinnett can hop on the train at Doraville and get to their job at Emory doesn’t make sense to me. The Beltline, yes, I can see the city taking charge but the line to Emory if it is going to be built with local funds should be Dekalb’s job. Not that I think they could afford it but neither can the City of Atlanta.

  3. The other thing Atlanta as a city needs is better commuter options for people to come in to work who want or need to live in places like Cobb and Gwinnett. The downtown should have affordable places but also needs to be an attractive place for higher income people to live. You’re already seeing this in places like Inman Park. Places like Gwinnett need to have a relationship to Atlanta similar to a NJ or Connecticut or Westchester has to NYC or Northern VA has to DC – a true commuter culture.

    Not working together dooms this – Gwinnett can’t survive and grow on it’s own as an island without a major economic center – think of the moon and the earth – and Atlanta can’t thrive if upper income people don’t want to live in it because it isn’t desirable. Cobb is another issue – I think Gwinnett has an advantage because the MARTA lines already head in it’s direction and with demographics it will be easier to make the needed changes (Obama got 45% there and it’s getting more diverse every day).

    • wicker says:

      People need to live closer to where they work. Government cannot and should not subsidize lifestyle choices. If you choose to live in a different county from where you work, then you should make the best of it, and not burden the state or your employer.

      • Self_Made says:

        I see some people still like to believe that’s always a choice. There are plenty of people who live in South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Rockdale who’s JOBS moved away from THEM (and their mortgaged homes, their kids in school, churches, doctors, lives in general) and require them to make commutes that are often doubled in miles and costs, with God knows what impact on commute times. If this were not the world’s largest toll-free dialing area, perhaps then people would recognize just how HUGE a company moving from ITP to Milton or South Forsyth actually impacts its current employees if that suddenly meant increase LD charges.

        • bgsmallz says:

          Chris-

          Atlanta doesn’t need that….Gwinnett and Cobb and Cherokee need that. And guess what…I’m not sure anyone cares. I’m tired of trying to rope them into playing with others. If they want rail, they can pay for it. If not, build toll roads…

          But what you will find is that while those in the burbs are loathe to fund projects they don’t use, they are happy to accept general funds for their roads….a’int going to work anymore. I’m not a Dem by any stretch, but I can see a coalition of ITP/ATP folks busting Gov. Deal and others for not doing anything to ease in-town congestion while continuing to siphon general funds to pay for OTP projects. There are roughly 1.5 to 2 Million people that live ITP or along the Perimeter. Give me smart, ‘independent’ types that promise to expand rail ITP (like Beltline/Clifton Corridor/Etc.) to North Fulton cities up 400 and rail connection around the top end Perimeter which would connect Doraville to Indian Creek with a spur to Stonecrest with state funds while giving suburbs (counties AND/OR Cities like Smyrna, Norcross, etc.) the option to opt-in with their own penny sales tax and I’ll show you a brewing upset in 2014.

          http://saportareport.com/blog/2012/08/its-time-for-the-city-of-atlanta-fulton-and-dekalb-counties-to-retake-control-of-their-own-destiny/

          Just look at this map.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Dude, thinking that Deal, or any other Republican is going to be defeated in the general in 2014 because they haven’t done enough to ease congestion for Intown liberals who are pretty much despised with a passion by OTP conservatives is really bad political math at this point, political math that is almost as bad as the math that those who pushed the T-SPLOST used with disasterously-bad results.

            That’s not to say that a Democrat will never have a chance at getting elected to statewide office in Georgia as the ‘Crats should figure to become more competitive over time with continuing demographic changes and the ruling and dominating Republicans have not necessarily done themselves any favors with their continued ethics issues and their incompetent mismanagement and governance of this state as exemplified with their highly-flawed approached to so-called transportation management through the wildly-unpopular T-SPLOST.

            At this point, though, a Democrat likely couldn’t even get elected dog catcher statewide, not-to-mention to the governor’s office or any other statewide office and are still many years away from having a legit shot at doing so at this juncture.

            • bgsmallz says:

              Dude? Pfft.

              Barnes lost by 250,000 votes. He had name value, but he was recycled.

              If some of the voters in the 400 corridor were promised rail in 5 to 10 years, they would consider voting for that promise vs. voting for Deal. Offering a solution that gives a person 5 hours a week or more of their life back is a powerful thing. Rail along the 400 corridor would easily cut (at least) 30 minutes off commute times for those willing to use it. There are literally thousands of young professionals that would be willing to consider it.

              Anyway, maybe I’m naive…

  4. CobbGOPer says:

    “…perhaps the dumbing-down of American youth to the point that they are unable to carry on a conversation about anything of value?”

    This is a myth. They are hiring for these positions overseas simply because they can pay those people half to 1/3 what they would have to pay an American. It’s good business sense. Just not very patriotic.

    • Harry says:

      Bottom line, I need help but I’m not hiring any more of these kids. There’s little added value.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        Then hire some older workers that do add value. There are plenty of them on the unemployment roles currently being discriminated against because of their age, do something morally upstanding and help put some of them back to work.

        • wicker says:

          Harry probably won’t hire “kids” with engineering, computer science and finance degrees from Georgia Tech, Emory, Vanderbilt etc. but plenty of people will. Including IBM.

          • Harry says:

            All I’m saying is, it’s no news that we’re losing the jobs war to other countries that have more to offer. Perhaps degrees from Georgia Tech, Emory and Vanderbilt are still a cut above, but even those schools don’t have the competitive output as before. The German government is even advising their youth not to bother attending US universities if they can’t gain admission to Harvard, Yale, MIT or Cal Tech.

            • CobbGOPer says:

              “…we’re losing the jobs war to other countries that have more to offer.”

              But they don’t have more to offer is what I’m saying. What they offer is a similarly or slightly less educated alternative that is half to 1/3 cheaper than hiring an American, and the job gets done to a comparable level.

              And honestly, who cares what the German government thinks? Their businesses actually spend the time and money to partner with, apprentice and train workers in all fields of industry and business, regardless of the extent of their education. American companies would rather spend that money on executive bonuses than reinvesting it in their workers.

  5. Spacey G says:

    Even though the initial thrill of the Reed/Deal D/R relationship may have diminished with the TSPLOST vote I certainly hope they can divorce, if they must, amicably, cordially and respectfully – for the sake of their numerous Georgia children. We all benefit, and are much less stressed out, when partisanship is left out back behind the woodshed. Do it for the children.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Deal had better divorce Reed or at least significantly downplay his relationship with Reed to the point that it no longer exists in the mind of the conservative OTP voter that decides statewide elections by way of the GOP Primary.

      The anger from the conservative base of the GOP towards Deal is tangible over his backing of a huge tax increase in the T-SPLOST that would have given hundreds-of-millions of dollars in revenue to the City of Atlanta and MARTA.

      • Happy Face says:

        If he does that, Deal loses his access to the Obama administration. Even worse, state projects could be less likely to get federal money if Deal stabs Reed in the back. Then again, Sonny was a d0-nothing governor who accomplished pretty much nothing and he didn’t have any trouble getting reelected so you might be on to something.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          I’m not saying that Deal would have to necessarily cut all contact with Reed, but he would likely just have to not let his relationship with Reed be so public as he heads into what has the potential to be a very tough GOP Primary which will be decided by the conservative political base of OTP suburban and exurban voters for who Reed is not really one of their favorites after the T-SPLOST disaster which many suburbanites thought to be an attempt at a regional government that would be dominated by City of Atlanta interests personified by Reed with was thought to be the help and support of Deal.

          • Charlie says:

            Yes, I get that clearly. I’m saying you’re too close to this on two counts to have any objective perspective on Reed’s perception to the average voter.

            And if you think this is what generates Deal a legitimate primary opponent, then I would suggest walking away from the keyboard for a while.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              Hey, I didn’t say anything about the quality or electability of opponent Deal may face in the primary.

              If the strongest challenge that Governor Deal draws is from someone like a Ray McBerry, then one can say that would be almost like not having a challenge at all.

              Not that Ray McBerry couldn’t be a quality candidate, but I’m just saying…

              Remember who Sonny Perdue ran against in the general during his re-election campaign in 2006? My point exactly…That guy made Sonny Perdue look like a world beater by comparison.

  6. Spacey G says:

    Although I gotta assume that MARTA statement by Deal signals one of those “talk to me through my lawyer only” kinda divorces. Alas. So much for the kids’ well-being!

  7. Charlie says:

    From the Sierra Club. Surprising no one, they believe the political answer is more transit. And if the “region” was defined as Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton, they would be right. On a November ballot, including Cobb and Gwinnett would probably also work, though no elected OTP Republican alive would even think about putting that in motion at this point:

    Georgia Chapter Statement on Future of Transit, MARTA After T-SPLOST Failure

    Decatur, GA – After the failure of the Metro Atlanta T-SPLOST last week, local officials have begun to put forward ideas for Plan B. Governor Deal suggested last week that the overwhelming “no” vote was a rejection of additional investment in transit. However, analysis of the actual results finds the opposite. Areas of the region that were offered serious transit, bicycle and pedestrian improvements voted in favor of the tax. And the areas that were primarily offered roadway projects voted against the tax.

    In fact, according to the Mason-Dixon poll conducted by the AJC July 24-26th, the $600 million tagged for MARTA was the most popular project on the list, with 49 percent saying that this project made them more likely to vote for the referendum. Only forty-five percent said the GA-400/I-285 project, Deal’s top priority, made them more likely to vote yes.

    Sierra Club does not disagree that expansions in rail should wait until reasonable MARTA reforms take place and service that has been cut in recent years is restored. However, unless the state is prepared to being real money to table for MARTA, the legislature should stop playing politics through MARTOC and lift the 50/50 capital/operations requirement permanently. Sierra Club’s suggestions for reasonable MARTA reforms that will help build transparency and accountability and trust in the system include:

    1) MARTA leadership, both Board of Directors and Executive Management, should demonstrate their confidence in the system they manage by riding MARTA regularly.
    2) MARTA should embrace the national trend toward open data for use in mobile applications, websites like WalkScore, etc. While MARTA is the largest transit agency in the country to not receive ongoing operating funding, it is also the largest agency that locks down data that would make the system more accessible and convenient to users.
    3) MARTA should establish a riders’ advisory council to establish better communications with people who use the system regularly in order to be more responsive to their needs and concerns.

    ###
    Please visit http://www.georgia.sierraclub.org/TSPLOST for further information about our transportation campaign.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “1) MARTA leadership, both Board of Directors and Executive Management, should demonstrate their confidence in the system they manage by riding MARTA regularly.”

      That’s hilarious, because the refusal of MARTA leadership to ride the system they manage says all that one needs to know about what they REALLY think of the system they manage…

      • smvaughn says:

        “That’s hilarious, because the refusal of MARTA leadership to ride the system they manage says all that one needs to know about what they REALLY think of the system they manage…”

        That it doesn’t go where they live?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          No, that MARTA leadership likely would not ride MARTA even if it did go where they live.

          • gt7348b says:

            While I agree it would help if all Board members rode regularly, please don’t make statements based without fact. I happen to know at least one MARTA Board of Directors, Jim Durrett (and makes public statements frequently and whom I see riding MARTA), rides MARTA quite frequently and that many of MARTA management and staff use MARTA as their normal means of transportation. If you’re gonna make a statement, at least be honest enough to recognize those who don’t meet your stereotype.

  8. polpol says:

    As interesting as this post election debate is, the reality is that Deal has essentially said “the TRUCK stops here” and the daunting challenge is securing funding that has heretofore been unavailable. This is going to be a long and hard trek and there will be a brutal battle over where the money will be captured. Yes, captured. MARTA is the loser in this and recent comments already show that there are forces that are determined to control how MARTA does business, even though the state does not contribute any funds to their operations.

  9. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Suburban Republicans will dictate transportation policy for the Atlanta region and to a lesser extent, the state.”

    …What transportation policy? Doesn’t there first have to be a transportation policy before it can be dictated to or for anyone?

  10. wicker says:

    What is most likely to happen going forward is the legislature – I think Chip Rogers – is going to push legislation that will allow suburban counties to jointly fund their own projects. That is the approach that is backed by Debbie Dooley, and also the Marietta Daily Journal oped page. Governor Deal has already stated that he opposes that idea, but if it passes the legislature and lands on his desk, he will have to come up with a rationale for vetoing it. He could do it and still win re-election, but it would be highly problematic. So, at this point, that is what is most likely to happen. That will allow the GOP to claim that they are doing something about transportation – whether it actually accomplishes anything or not – while continuing to root for Atlanta’s decline (which despite what Kyle Wingfield of the AJC claims, is not going to happen).

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Allowing counties to band together to join their own projects might be the only option for those who want to see some kind of immediate movement on transportation.

      As for Governor Deal, he is in A LOT of trouble politically after the overwhelming defeat of a substantial tax increase he supported in the wildly-unpopular T-SPLOST, a tax increase proposal that has not gone over all that well in the conservative political circles that dominate the GOP Primary through which statewide elections are decided these days.

      If Deal faces a challenger that is even remotely electable in the 2014 Republican Primary, he is likely a goner.

      • bgsmallz says:

        It shouldn’t be counties. It should be local governments. That means cities like Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Decatur would be able to decide they want opt-in on transportation projects without having to get the approval of the NAACP or Chip Rogers’ TEA Party buddies in north Cobb.

        For example, a rail line from the Galleria to Doraville along the top end could seemingly be incredibly useful. Why should anyone that lives in Kennesaw or Lithonia be able to veto that if the residents and businesses of the cities that the rail would actually connect (because that line would run through zero unincorporated areas and would probably include Smyrna, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville) want to fund it? My guess is that Marta would want to help fund it, too…and maybe even the city of Atlanta would see the benefit in connecting the top end to downtown through 2 existing rail lines and possibly 1 future rail line in Smyrna. And maybe…just maybe…the state would change some of its funding formulas so that cities could receive state funding or grants for projects that have regional significance once those cities have mapped a plan and committed their own funding to the project.

        Just a thought…

        • bgsmallz says:

          It’s the idea that all of this money is going into the big pot and we still don’t get benefits that is killing our ability to create smart transporation solutions in our region. It is the same undercurrent that led to the creation of cities like Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, etc.

          Go to Alpharetta and Johns Creek and say “give us more money and we might connect you guys to rail in 15-20 years” and it will not fly. Go to Alpharetta and Johns Creek and say “for .25 to .50 more in sales tax, you guys can have rail that will have stops in places you help plan along the 400 corridor that would do the 16 miles from Old Milton to Buckhead in 20 minutes…every day…while you read your iPad…and it will be built in 5-10 years…” hmm….

        • wicker says:

          Hmmm … that wouldn’t be a bad idea IF these cities could raise the revenue. And it also doesn’t help unincorporated areas. But the reality is that even people who aren’t dog whistle Atlanta baiters don’t want to take on any share of MARTA’s projected losses. Remember: Clayton County could join MARTA at any time. Eldrin Bell and company don’t think that it is such a good idea. And Clayton County voted against T-SPLOST.

          Cooperating with cities that actually want to cooperate with Atlanta would be a good idea on roads, but the problem is that roads don’t really benefit Atlanta that much. Not as much as Atlanta would have to pay. I say that the best thing for Atlanta would be to institute a commuter tax and use it to fund the Beltline.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            But a commuter tax would put the City of Atlanta at even more of a competitive disadvantage with surrounding suburbs would may not charge as much tax in the competition for jobs and the employers who provide those jobs.

            • Daddy Got A Gun says:

              Why doesn’t Atlanta sell its land holdings outside the city that it had acquired for the reservoirs? Or sell the Airport to the state? Atlanta has non-core assets it can sell to pay for the Beltline, if its so critical to its future.

              I’d bet money that if faced with forced selling of these non-core assets, Reed and the City Council would decide the Beltline is not that important to Atlanta’s future. It’s only important when Cobb pays the bills.

              • Happy Face says:

                I don’t know about land for reserviors but land the City of Atlanta owns for a second airport is used for recreation by the locals in that area. Sounds like the City of Atlanta is the one subsidizing their way of life. Also the fact that the City of Atlanta owns land for a second airport and reserviors shows it has a regional view which is sorely lacking in the balkinized sprawl. Atlanta did the hard work of building the airport into the world’s busiest. That’s not the type of thing parasites do.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                Or the City of Atlanta was really serious about funding the Beltline and streetcars through tax referendum they could have held a citywide tax referendum that was only for the incorporated area of the City of Atlanta which was actually the only place in the entire Metro Atlanta 10-county region where more people voted for the T-SPLOST than against it, by a score of about 60%-40%.

                If the T-SPLOST had been a referendum only for the City of Atlanta, the City of Atlanta would have had the revenue stream that it needed to fund its critically-needed economic development projects like the Beltline and the Peachtree Streetcar if it really wanted it.

                Why leave the fate of such critical projects up to a region which understandably does not share the City of Atlanta’s exact economic, political, cultural and social interests?

                It was a royal waste of time and energy for Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta to try and push through freeways in the abandoned right-of-way of the politically-contentious Northern Arc in Gwinnett in a region where neither tax increases, the concept of regional government or roadbuilders, land developers, MARTA and GDOT are not necessarily all that popular concepts right now.

            • wicker says:

              Atlanta is not in competition with the suburbs for employers. Or to put it another way … the sort of companies that would consider downtown Atlanta as a location would not be deterred by a commuter tax, and a company that wants the benefits of the suburbs will do so anyway tax or no tax. Also, the company doesn’t pay the commuter tax. The employees do. So long as it doesn’t affect the corporate bottom line, the company isn’t going to care. Also, it would be an incentive to move downtown and closer to work, which the company wants anyway. A commuter tax would be no more of a deterrent than toll roads or gas taxes. Which is why lots of urban areas have them.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                Well if a commuter tax is no deterrent to many companies they should love when the Feds impose congestion pricing on all lanes of the freeway system in Metro Atlanta due to the State of Georgia’s outright refusal to either further expand the Interstate network and/or transit over much of the last two decades during a period of explosive and sometimes crushing population growth.

                • Happy Face says:

                  Couldn’t the Feds simply require that a certain number of lanes be barrier seperated as through lanes with very limited access to and from local exits? I’ve seen something similar in Detroit and it keeps people going to and coming from destinations in the core from slowing down the traffic passing through.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    I presume that you are talking about an local-express lane setup where the inside lanes are for express traffic between Downtown and the suburbs and the outside lanes are for local traffic.

                    I guess that in theory that anything is certainly possible, but the problem with that is that it would take money to do, something that the State of Georgia is not willing to raise, manage or spend properly.

                    Another problem is that most roads in the freeway system in Metro Atlanta are both physically and politically built-out horizontally within their right-of-ways, meaning that the only place to expand most freeways in Metro Atlanta is vertically and there is very little political support to do that at the moment as any attempt to expand the freeways vertically would be met with protests and questions of why isn’t the substantial amounts of money that’s being spent to massively expand the roadways being spent on much-needed transit upgrades (much-needed transit upgrades that the state does not want to invest in at this point), instead?

        • Daddy Got A Gun says:

          The funding mechanism exists in Cobb to pay for some of the costs. Cobb has the Cumberland Improvement District which assesses taxes for properties within the district (galleria/cumberland/powers ferry area). The money is used for improvements in the district like roads, sidewalks, etc. It could be expanded to support Cobb’s portion of the costs, provided it make economic sense and doesn’t become a MARTA bailout vehicle, which all of the past mass transit projects seem to lead too.

          • wicker says:

            @Daddy Got A Gun:

            The reason why it would become a MARTA bailout vehicle is that allowing Cobb to connect to MARTA without sharing the costs do not benefit Fulton-DeKalb. Continually telling yourself “Fulton-DeKalb-MARTA” will benefit from the increased ridership” doesn’t make it true, especially since the increased ridership will also mean higher operating costs, plus the significant expenses associated with hooking Cobb up into the system. Having Cobb riders on MARTA is no great privilege, and DeKalb-MARTA shouldn’t lift a finger to give Cobb or anyone else a sweetheart deal. If Cobb wants transit without MARTA, then let them build their own trains to Cherokee Bartow, Paulding and Gwinnett and see how many riders they get. MARTA needs increased ridership from within the area where people pay the MARTA tax, and the Beltline is (allegedly) a way to accomplish that.

            • bgsmallz says:

              “Continually telling yourself “Fulton-DeKalb-MARTA” will benefit from the increased ridership” doesn’t make it true, especially since the increased ridership will also mean higher operating costs”

              So building bigger and larger roads despite the increased operation costs and huge subsidies makes sense because we serve more people but expanding rail to increase ridership doesn’t make sense because of increased operation costs?

              Point remains…why prevent Smyrna from opting-in and joining Marta just because folks in Kennesaw don’t want to join? That’s why I loved the Marta reform package offered last year…it gave representation to cities in North Fulton. Until people feel they have a seat at the table, they will constantly fall into the camp of Marta needs reform mainly out of a reasonable distrust of sending money to people selected by the same commissioners in Fulton Co that you don’t trust with your property taxes.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        It’ll never happen, but I would love to see Karen Handel come back and whip his [expletive deleted] in the primary.

      • wicker says:

        Deal and company have 2 years to rig the game to prevent a viable primary challenger from ever occurring. All they have to do is cut off the purse strings. Also, you would need a compelling reason to take on Deal in a GOP primary instead of just waiting your turn in an open primary. You could wound Deal, Deal still win the nomination but lose the general. Or you could beat Deal, but emerge leading a divided GOP with a huge fundraising advantage and wind up losing yourself.

        Everybody knows that Deal just got behind the mess that Perdue left behind. He has 2 years to remind everybody that, and will do it as much as possible … just behind closed doors so as not to embarrass Perdue.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          A compelling reason to take on Deal in a GOP primary is that he supported a huge tax increase proposal in the T-SPLOST that would have given money to the City of Atlanta and MARTA and GDOT, a tax increase proposal that turned out to be wildly-unpopular.

          And don’t forget the hangover from the I-85 HOT Lane debacle that helped to sink the T-SPLOST that is directed at Deal in Gwinnett and the I-85 Northeast Corridor, a politically-crucial part of the state that almost single-handedly carried Deal to victory in the 2010 Primary which he won by only about 2500 votes and only carried Gwinnett and Henry counties in the 10-county Metro Atlanta region.

          And if Deal struggled in the GOP Primary but still got the nomination there’s likely no way that he or likely any Republican would lose the general at this point in time as Democrats just are not that competitive or even liked by enough of the voting public outside of I-285 right now to have a legit shot at winning a statewide election.

        • Daddy Got A Gun says:

          I doubt Deal will have a primary challenge. It ain’t good for bizness.

          Back on topic. I could see Cobb and Cherokee getting together to fund improvements on 75 and some interconnecting roads. Cobb and Douglas to fund improvements on 20. BUT, Cobb’s transportation SPLOST has 3 more years to run so the timing is going to be difficult.

          BTW – I’m hoping that Chambliss has a conservative/Tea Party challenger. Surely Georgia has a couple Ted Cruz/Rand Paul types that would be willing to try.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          I’m not at all certain of that—-incumbent Govs are raraly challenged in primaries. Consider too 2010 when the economy was just stabilizing after a near meltdown, and the GOP primary was all about gays and personhood.

          Deal will have the tranportation box checked on his 2014 GOP resume when the GA400 toll is eliminated. Despite claims to the contrary, much of the GOP is opposed to even road infrastructure if it requires additional taxation. Beyond that, it’s GOP philosphy that government should be run like a business, which means it’s unnecessary to pay anything you don’t personally use or chose to pay for.

  11. Dave Bearse says:

    Those that disparage the Atlanta core and transit, and think the periphery can continue to grow just fine while the core deteriorates, ought to consider the that there’s not much incentive for businesses requiring a pool of highly skilled-paid labor to expand or relocate on the periphery of a metro area of 5,000,000, when a peripheral location is accessible to only a fraction of the overall labor pool.

    And when it comes to individuals having to move to a job, it’s not much more hassle to move to Charlotte or Dallas than completely cross-town metro Atlanta. That can be cue to seek out and move to a metro area of 5,000,000 where you have better access to jobs metro-wide.

    • Happy Face says:

      It is weird home many people think “the suburbs” is a single point on the map. This also comes up with talking about moving the Falcons to Woodstock or Cumming. Sure, it’s easy for people from that little area to get there but for everyone else, it’s much worse than trying to get to Atlanta’s central business district. I’d pick a commute from Woodstock to Downtown Atlanta long before I’d pick one from Woodstock to Suwanee… or Stone Mountain… or Newnan…

  12. Dave Bearse says:

    “One has to wonder that the next time the Republicans need assistance with the Port Of Savannah, will Reed be available. Or, will he respond that he has some constituents back at home that need more of his attention.”

    I’m betting he’ll assist. Unlike the state’s so-called leadership of the past half-dozen years, Reed to date has actually demonstrated leadership on multiple fronts in his few years.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      The relationship that Reed had with Republicans before the T-SPLOST disaster will likely now only be through back channels as an open relationship with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who has pretty much moved into the ranks of Public Enemy #1 Outside-the-Perimeter, is a huge political liability for Republicans running for office in 2014.

      • Charlie says:

        Your view of Reed is overly clouded by your issues with both the airport and your viceral hatred for T-SPLOST. I don’t think the majority of Republicans that went jihad on T-SPLOST really cared much for Reed in the first place, as they don’t see themselves as part of a region and think everyone in the core of the city that provides the infrastructure for which they wish to free ride are parasites.

        The Chamber types, meanwhile, probably realize how badly they need to keep him on board, and are probably falling all overthemselves to keep him out front and engaged.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Keep-in-mind that I am not saying that there won’t be a relationship between Deal and the Republicans and Reed, I’m just saying that it’s probably not the best idea for Deal to play up that relationship in the name of regional cooperation in front of bright lights and cameras as Governor Deal heads into the 2014 GOP Primary which will be dominated by voters for whom the City of Atlanta, MARTA, Kasim Reed and regionalism are not necessarily all that popular of concepts.

          • Charlie says:

            I know exactly what you’re saying. We’ve been seeing it in great page links for quite some time now.

            What I’m saying is you’re wrong, no matter how fine a point you wish to continue to try and put on it.

        • gt7348b says:

          So – when are the Chamber staff going to beheld to account for their arrogance in ignoring that they need Mayor Reed? From what I know, Mayor Reed took it upon himself to be out and front and engaged without the Chambers encouragement or acknowledgement.

  13. wicker says:

    @Daddy Got A Gun:

    “Why doesn’t Atlanta sell its land holdings outside the city that it had acquired for the reservoirs?”

    Because A) it won’t raise nearly as much money as they need and B) they may actually need the reservoirs one day, especially if the population grows, which is the whole point of the Beltline to begin with.

    “Or sell the Airport to the state?”
    Because the airport is worth more than the Beltline. Giving away the city’s biggest asset – really the biggest asset in the entire southeast apart from maybe Florida’s shoreline (tourism AND oil) – helps the city how?

    “Atlanta has non-core assets it can sell to pay for the Beltline, if its so critical to its future.”
    Yes, but reservoirs needed for future population growth and the world’s busiest airport are not non-core assets.

    “I’d bet money that if faced with forced selling of these non-core assets, Reed and the City Council would decide the Beltline is not that important to Atlanta’s future. It’s only important when Cobb pays the bills.”

    Again, list some non-core assets and then we will talk about selling them. Second, the Beltline is already proceeding. T-SPLOST was only going to speed things up. One of the main things holding back the Beltline is that it is not very popular with a sizable portion of Atlanta’s population, including those who believe that it would be a major project to benefit the wealthy and affluent at the expense of the working class and poor. If the city got behind it, funding it would be easy. And yes, allowing Atlanta to keep its own gas tax revenue instead of redistributing it to the anti-Atlanta rural Georgia folks (some of whom voted against T-SPLOST and the badly needed pprojects that it would have funded – that now won’t be funded – because they believed rumors that their money would be given to Atlanta) would be more than enough to replace the T-SPLOST revenue.

    Finally, it isn’t about taking Cobb’s money. It is about Atlanta getting the same support from the state that every other major urban area gets. Atlanta is the only large city in the nation where its biggest enemy is its own state. Charlotte, Tampa, etc. have gained all this ground on Atlanta because they have states that HELP their major cities because they are smart enough to recognize THAT THE WHOLE STATE BENEFITS. Georgia is the only state where a significant percentage of its citizens WANT their capital city and largest city to be the next Detroit, East Saint Louis, Washington D.C. or Newark. And yes, the cities in these other states have Democratic mayors too, so don’t use that excuse. Texas is probably an even redder state than Georgia (because their Republicans are actually Republicans, not former Democrats who would still be Democrats if you could still get elected in Georgia as one) and that doesn’t stop them from giving Dallas, Houston and San Antonio all the help that they need. They certainly don’t inhibit their cities from using their own resources the way that Georgia does Atlanta. Other cities actually get to decide how to run their own rail system, how to spend their own transportation tax, how to spend their own hotel/motel tax without state “oversight” and permission. I mentioned the commuter tax before, but that is actually just a fantasy, because Atlanta doesn’t have the authority to impose it without the state’s permission, which it will never get.

    Georgia doesn’t help Atlanta like other states help their big cities, and does everything that it can to keep Atlanta from helping itself, like no state does to its big cities. And that fact is what the dog whistlers do their best to avoid.

    • Happy Face says:

      Wouldn’t it be easier for the City of Atlanta to implement a parking tax? I can’t say with absolutely certainty but I think they wouldn’t even have to get the State’s permission.

        • Happy Face says:

          That’s a matter of tactics. And let’s face it, if there is something ParkAtlanta lacks, it’s tact. 🙂

          I’m talking about a tax on private parking lots where the vast majority of commuters park not city owned street parking. Something like $1 or 10% per transaction, whichever is greater. Free parking would not be taxed since imposing a collection mechanism on those spaces would be a large burden. It’s common in most large cities but I suspect the business community has kept it from ever being implemented here.

  14. debbie0040 says:

    I was very disappointed to read Rep. Jacobs comments about removing the 50/50 split on the LOCAL tax paid by the residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties.

    I thought Republicans believed in local control. Local control is allowing officials duly elected by the voters in Fulton and Dekalb to determine where the local tax revenue goes. The State does not have skin in the game as far as the local tax. I live in Gwinnett County and would be outraged if the State of Georgia came in and told us what we could do with a local tax we paid.

    Republican elected officials should be consistent about local control. If they truly believe in local control, then it should apply to all counties-not just Republican counties.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Wait…you mean like how you are trying to tell Atlanta what to do with their Hotel/Motel tax and the Georgia Dome?

      Get real.

      • bgsmallz says:

        I’m excited. Debbie has officially agreed to shut up about the new stadium and Atlanta’s local hotel/motel taxes and will now only talk about Gwinnett county local taxes.

        • debbie0040 says:

          I said nothing of the kind. I repeat again what tax-payers in the Metro region have stated about the stadium. Elected officials have their priorities in the wrong place. If Mayor Reed is so gung ho about the Atlanta Beltline, he should use the tax payer money designated for the new stadium to help build the Beltline and other transportation projects before he asks tax-payers to pay additional taxes. I believe the polling data recently done about the new stadium does validate what I have stated and it is the beliefs of tax payers in the Atlanta area

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Arthur Blank could always pull a Jerry Jones and pay for his own damn stadium.

            …But why do that when you can get someone else to pay for it?…The taxpayer.

            …I guess that Blank’s cojones just aren’t as big as Jerry Jones, eh?

              • Harry says:

                The skids were supposedly laid, but to be sure a slow-motion train wreck is morbidly entertaining. I’ll provide free popcorn and Arthur Blank will provide the sour grapes.

                • bgsmallz says:

                  You are more than welcome to your opinions, but please, please, please understand the reality of the marketplace.

                  First, it isn’t new funding. The same taxes that are going to retire the debt on the Dome would switch to going to retire the debt on the new stadium. Can anyone really make an argument that the Dome wasn’t/isn’t a good investment? Can anyone really make an argument that our infrastructure, tourism, and downtown development would be better in the city if only we hadn’t decided to use that tax money on the Dome and instead used it on infrastructure?

                  Second, understand who is paying the bill. “Taxpayer” money is a local City of Atlanta hotel/motel tax paid by visitors to Atlanta. If the taxpayers in the City of Atlanta decide they want to revisit where they spend their hotel/motel tax, fine. But people in Cobb, Gwinnett, etc. aren’t spending a dime on the darn thing. You guys in the ‘burbs going to kick in to help cover the hole in the revenues if the Falcons leave town so that Atlanta can build its Beltline with the hotel/motel taxes? (We’ve seen how that will turn out already)

                  Third, understand the market. Go see what the price for stadiums is to taxpayers. Before you scream at Arthur Blank, check out what some other municipalities/states/taxpayers are paying for their new stadiums to see whether or not we are getting a good deal. If you don’t know what Arlington, Tx is contributing to Cowboys Stadium, how can you make an educated statement about how much Arthur Blank should be contributing?

                  • Charlie says:

                    You’re very loyal to your client, interest, or whomever, but when it comes to understanding “the marketplace”, it’s Arthur Blank that needs to learn the lessons of it.

                    This isn’t 2007. Saying “you’re not paying the tax” doesn’t change the fact that there is a burden to the tax when it is imposed. The burden falls on Atlanta’s hotel business. Atlanta exists in large part because of it.

                    If we’re going to burden our convention industry with a tax, then we need to get the largest bang for the buck out of it.

                    Put this one out to referendum instead of T-SPLOST, and let’s see if the answer is “give it to a billionaire to pad his ego and so that there can be better sky suites for VIPs”, or “let’s build that critical in town transportation infrastructure that the Mayor spent the week leading up to the T-SPLOST vote saying was so critical to our convention industry.

                    Again, THE MAYOR made that link, not me.

                    Arthur Blank is a nice guy, but he’s in no way more important than our convention industry. They face the burden of the tax, they should get more than 8 nights per year benefits of this tax.

                    • bgsmallz says:

                      Are you saying the hotel industry and the convention industry are facing the burden of the tax but don’t have any seat at the table?

                      Because that isn’t correct, is it?

                      Are hotel owners lobbying against the stadium somewhere and I missed it? Are they clamoring for the Beltline more than they are for hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown each year? Because let’s be straight about this…even if it is a burden, they at least receive some benefit from the stadium, right?

                      There isn’t anyone in the convention industry or the GWCCA that is complaining that we built the Dome. No one says “Yes, please leave me with a 30 year old stadium, no financing to keep it up to date and competitive for events, and a gaping hole in our budget of $2M to $4M per year in operation costs for the GWCC and Centennial Park that is filled by revenues we collect from having an NFL tenant in our facility.”

                      So if the folks that the burden is falling on supports the stadium and the elected leaders from whom the tax is provided by (city of Atlanta) support the stadium…what’s the argument again?

                      I would submit this…and maybe we can agree and maybe we can’t….but if someone is paid $25,000 for a widget in Atlanta in 1990, $40,000 for a similar widget in Dallas recently, $70,000 in Indy, $65,000 in New Orleans, etc. etc., it seems ridiculous to say I shouldn’t have to pay anything for the widget in Atlanta in 2015 because the person that owns the widget is a billionaire ….and it seems even more ridiculous to say that the billionaire is trying to pad his ego because he isn’t willing to give the widget away.

                    • Charlie says:

                      Nice that the Blank PR machine is changing the facts they choose to use now that it’s no longer a second open air stadium but for a more expensive stadium to replace the dome.

                      I don’t remember you worried about the expensive maintenance to keep up the dome when the Blank’s wanted to move to a single purpose facility next door.

                      And you again discount that many other groups and events use the dome via the GWCC.

                      As such, the economic impact that we’re discussing is exactly 8 football games per year. 8.

                      You can continue the circular logic and picking and choosing whichever facts you want, as long as you want. Each time you do, you’re just reminding all of us – now extending well beyond the readership here – that this deal has always been situational based on what benefits Arthur Blank at any moment in time.

                      This stadium isn’t about the GWCC, and it’s not about the convention business that will bear the burden of the tax. It’s about feckless leadership that doesn’t want to have to stand up to blank, but now without the T-SPLOST billions, many are realizing they will have to.

            • bgsmallz says:

              Jerry Jones didn’t build his own damn stadium…

              Arlington provided at least $350M in funding that is being paid for out of rental car taxes, hotel/motel taxes, and …gasp…sales taxes.

              Of course, most of the commentary and articles on this site would leave you to believe otherwise.

              • Happy Face says:

                While you are correct, Jerry Jones has been quite successful in making everyone believe that he paid for the entire stadium out of his pocket. Arthur Blank doesn’t have the personality for that.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Debbie-

            The taxes that currently go to pay for the bonds on the Dome and that are planned to go to pay for the bonds on the future stadium are city of Atlanta ‘local’ taxes.

            “Local control is allowing officials duly elected by the voters in (the City of Atlanta) to determine where the local tax revenue goes.”

            Either you truly believe in local control like you said above or you need to take your ‘Atlanta area’ talk and put it in the locker of denial that you keep in your home in Gwinnett along with the of your hypocritical views and comments.

            • Happy Face says:

              I don’t understand what you’re getting at. If we build a new stadium for Arthur Blank, the bonds for the Georgia Dome no longer have to be paid? What kind of deal is that for the bond holders? Pretty sure that can’t be true.

              If you’re talking about using the taxes to pay off bonds for Blank’s new stadium after the Georgia Dome is paid off, so what? Has the laws of nature been changed to make tax collected from hotel stays forever bound to funding stadiums? In ten thousand years from now, will we have a thousand stadiums all paid for by hotel stays? There’s no reason why the hotel tax can’t be used for other infrastructure purposes that have nothing to do with Arthur Blank’s football team once the bonds for the Georgia Dome are paid off.

              • bgsmallz says:

                I’m a little worn out on the ‘there is no reason we can’t..’ argument, but please accept this research as an attempt to provide some facts to throw in the conversation…

                My understanding is the bonds for the Dome were originally 30 year bonds scheduled to be paid off in 2020 but that the legislature passed a bill that would allow them to be paid off in 2050 so that the relatively small amount remaining could be basically wrapped into the new stadium financing. The bonds on the Dome (which was 100% publicly financed) are currently being paid for with hotel/motel tax that would go to pay the bonds on the new stadium.

                Found an article…at the bottom…
                http://www.examiner.com/article/political-football-the-georgia-dome-and-a-home-for-the-falcons
                http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsapp/BT/DOMES/GEORGIA/intro.html

                Also…
                http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/new-stadium-plan-retractable-1425916.html

                The roughly $950M would be paid for by $300M in bonds with the remaining $650M being paid for by Blank and the NFL.

                • Happy Face says:

                  You can trying shuffling the cards around anyway you want but the fact remains that the hotel tax raises X dollars and the Georgia Dome will require Y dollars to pay off the bonds, leaving Z dollars behind. You keep trying to find a way to make Z part of Y so your buddy Arthur Blank can get his new stadium with public money. Z is US dollars. It’s not in Stadium Dollars. Stop trying to somehow make money appear out of thin air. The money is real and it comes from real sources. And it can be used for other purposes. Whether or not some rules have to be change is inconsequential. If the people of Atlanta don’t want to spend the money on making Arthur Blank even richer but instead spend it on infrastructure that’ll benefit more than Mr. Blank’s bank account, that’s their call. Well, it should be their call but some citizens apparently are more equal than others.

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    @Happy

                    I’m tired, I don’t know Arthur Blank, and I don’t understand your desire to argue about facts. In my estimation, those that want to ignore facts usually don’t have much substance in their argument and have to rely on emotional appeal. I hope that isn’t the case in this issue…we should be debating solutions based upon facts.

                    How we use the money or what other possibilities there are for the money is open to debate. Feel free to continue to debate yourself on that issue.

                    Here are things that are facts. They help support an argument for or against…but they are not malleable.

                    1)The actual source of the dollars to pay off the bonds for the Dome and a future stadium is the City of Atlanta, Hotel/Motel Tax.
                    2) In Atlanta, it is 8%. It isn’t going up for a new stadium. It is remaining 8%.
                    3)The amount of bonds remaining for the Dome is not open to debate. It was roughly $110 M as of 2011. http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atl_tidbits/2011/11/gwcc-refinances-georgia-dome-bonds.html
                    6) The amount of new bonds being offered to build the stadium is not open to debate. It is $300M. It was $300M when they were talking about building another stadium for $700M (with Blank/NFL covering $400M) and it is $300M now that the cost to Blank/NFL will be closer to $650M to build a stadium with a retractable roof. http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/new-stadium-plan-retractable-1425916.html
                    7) Finally, the amount of public financing for other stadiums isn’t open to debate. (debate whether those cities are all idiots…feel free) https://law.marquette.edu/assets/sports-law/pdf/sports-facility-reports/sfr-v11-nfl.pdf
                    8)There are only 4 stadiums in the US that received less than the roughly 30% public financing being proposed for the new stadium, 4 stadiums that received 28% to 39% public financing, and the remaining 22 all received more than 50% public financing with many if not most receiving 100% public financing.

                    Again, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not saying “This is what we should do” in this post. All I’m trying to do is inject some facts into the discussion that started with the false statement that Jerry Jones built his stadium with private funds, when in fact, he received roughly 30% of the financing for Cowboys stadium through public funds.

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