How the Relationship Between Mayor Reed and Governor Deal Might Benefit Atlanta

February 14, 2014 9:00 am

by Jon Richards

Creative Loafing published an unsigned editorial Thursday highlighting the good relationship between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal. After talking about how the mayor has worked with the governor on everything from being the face of the TSPLOST, to lobbying Washington to get federal funding for the deepening of the Port of Savannah, to being the spokesman for metro Atlanta’s problems during last month’s snowstorm, the editors wonder how all this cooperation will benefit the city.

That Deal and Reed are willing to collaborate on regional and state initiatives is a positive thing, but it makes us wonder: How is Atlanta benefitting? What have we, the people who elected Reed twice, received?

If we aren’t going to be rewarded with transit funding or pro-Atlanta initiatives, we at least deserve a full-throated endorsement of the city and an end to the demonization that has existed so long. This isn’t a savvy political move and there’s little incentive for the governor — or suburban elected officials — to do so. But it would be a start.

The editorial goes on to cite the R word–regionalism–and concludes by asking for some payback from the governor and suburban leaders.

What are we to make of this? The editorial cites two items that could be on a wishlist from Mayor Reed: State funding for MARTA and a state initiative to help the city tackle its homeless issues.

Governor Deal recently reaffirmed his support for the regional approach for transportation funding used in the failed TSPLOST. While it is too late to present a modified TSPLOST to the voters in the 2014 election, the governor might be willing to spend some of his political capital on another try in 2016, assuming he is re-elected.

Homelessness is not just a concern in the city. It exists in the other counties in the region, and indeed in other regions of the state. As such, a bill to provide funding to assist Atlanta in dealing with the issue could easily see resistance from legislators who see the same problem in their own districts. And unlike commuters from outside the city who use MARTA, there is less of a case to be made that the state should help pick up the tab.

The editorial asks for an end to the demonization of Atlanta by the state and others in the region. In the past, that demonization may have been well deserved. There are times when city leaders acted as if they were the only things in Georgia that mattered. Mayor Reed’s willingness to go to bat on regional and statewide issues may be the catalyst that brings about an endorsement of the city from the region and the state.

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