Sunday issue: T-SPLOST referendum

Hirers have the right idea

By the AJC Editorial Board

Metro Atlanta business leaders have drawn flak for urging employees and the general public to back the transportation sales tax. But if they don’t know the high cost of gridlock, who does? Read the three essays and comment below.

It’s impossible not to know by now that metro Atlanta faces a momentous choice. The marketing machine for the transportation sales tax is winding up as election day nears.

High-powered messaging on everything from yard signs to billboards has rankled some who complain that the business community is unfairly marshaling clout and dollars to overwhelm grass-roots opposition to the transportation special purpose local option sales tax, or T-SPLOST.

Business leaders have been criticized for using their bully pulpit to inform workers or, worse yet in the minds of opponents, urge employees to vote “yes.” Critics argue that amounts to coercion.

We’ll acknowledge the sincerity of these concerns. We also believe they are misplaced.

On July 31, voters will be free to do what they’ve always done — vote their conscience as they stand alone before balloting machines. Our cherished right to vote yea or nay in private without fear of repercussion remains unchallenged. Which, in effect, means that all of the marketing tactics, employee information meetings and letters from the big bosses amount to just another information source that voters can use. In that sense, the T-SPLOST campaign is akin to the letters from political candidates that are starting to fill mailboxes.

In our view, the more facts out there, the better.

It’s also worth analyzing more deeply the role of metro Atlanta’s business leaders in the campaign. While their actions have opened them up for criticism, it is noteworthy and, we’d argue, commendable that they’ve stepped up.

Their work is in keeping with the legendary Atlanta businesspeople of old who played a large part in guiding, if not outright pushing, our great metro toward the leading region that we’ve become.

Which isn’t to say that the counsel from our captains of commerce has always been sterling. Yet they’ve remained courageous enough to step up on big civic issues.

When warranted, this newspaper has been critical of some of their actions, and we plan to keep doing just that when the situation calls for it.

Yet, Atlanta’s commercial leaders live here too. Traffic snarls no doubt make them late for meetings or otherwise frustrate their lives in multiple ways, just like the rest of us. So it makes sense that they’ve gotten involved in the only potential solution now on the table.

That’s a stunning insight into just how severe our problems really are, given that the private sector is usually among the loudest cheerleaders for ever-lower taxes. Consider then how dire our transportation plight must be to drive leaders of companies large and small to, in effect, proclaim, “Please tax us!”

Businesspeople know how to hunt down and calculate costs, whether they lurk in spreadsheets or ride aboard trucks wasting fuel on a locked-down I-285. If analysts’ calculus indicates that the positives of tax-powered infrastructure improvements outweigh the red-ink cost to them and their customers, then who can legitimately claim that the T-SPLOST’s cost would hobble job-creating businesses or their workers?

To argue otherwise is to invoke visceral reactions, not sound quantitative vetting, in our view.

All of the above is worth consideration as voters prepare to make their choices.

As citizens slog through all the T-SPLOST data and information out there, they should not forget the advocacy of Atlanta’s business community and the dire factors that led them to this point. Our job creators deserve at least that much.

Andre Jackson, 
for the Editorial Board

Big claims, huge costs, little proof

By Billy Wise

This month, citizens can vote on a new 1 percent sales tax created by the Transportation Investment Act of 2010. The TIA is supported primarily by state and local politicians, and by companies that stand to benefit directly by building the projects.

Gov. Nathan Deal has offered to campaign for local officials who will support the TIA tax. Local politicians are promised a share of $1.08 billion for local projects. Could this be the reason for their strong support of the TIA?

MAVEN and Untie Atlanta, coalitions of chambers of commerce and engineering, design, construction and transportation equipment supply companies, have reportedly amassed a war chest of $8 million to support passage.

The manner in which the TIA is to be implemented mitigates against any substantial impact on traffic congestion. Taxpayers are assured by politicians that proceeds will be spent only on a pre-approved list of transportation projects prepared by the regional roundtable. Here is where the implementation problems begin.

The roundtable first prepared an initial project list that was a wish list of every project anybody could think of. After validation by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the roundtable executive committee trimmed the initial project list to an affordable size.

The projects on the initial list were never subjected to a comparative cost-benefit analysis to determine which ones offered the most congestion reduction for the tax dollars spent. Thus, the final list is still little more than a wish list.

Fifteen percent of the tax proceeds are to be distributed to local counties and municipalities, with no requirement for any kind of project list. There is no way of knowing what impact, if any, those projects will have on reducing traffic.

Of the remaining $6.1 billion, 55 percent is to be spent on transit projects and 45 percent on road projects. This seems odd given that only 5 percent of total annual miles traveled by the average metro Atlantan are provided by transit.

MARTA offers a prime example of the problems with rail transit systems nationwide — declining ridership, huge operating losses, and staggering construction cost. Between 2000 and 2010, while the metro population increased 20 percent, ridership on MARTA decreased 10.9 percent.

Another rail line is proposed from Lindbergh Station to Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This 4.5-mile section will cost $700 million to build, a cost of $155.6 million per mile. A bus transit system on existing roads can be created for $2 million to $3 million a mile. Why are taxpayers being asked to pay 60 times the cost of a bus system and then be forced by yet another sales tax to subsidize its operation forever?

The business community and politicians tout the TIA tax as the answer to traffic congestion. Taxpayers are underrepresented in this issue and are being bombarded with specious claims and promises.

The TIA process leaves much doubt whether the expenditure of taxpayers’ money will have any measurable effect on reducing traffic congestion and commute times.

Billy Wise is a taxpayer advocate who lives in Duluth.

Atlanta’s future requires bold step

By Billy Payne

In a few short weeks, London will host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Sixteen summers ago, Atlanta stood tall and proud to welcome the world as we hosted the Games of the XXVI Olympiad.

The Centennial Olympic Games produced many stirring moments. Who can forget the emotional and dramatic image of Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies? Or witnessing the historic double win of Michael Johnson flashing his gold-colored shoes as he became the first Olympian to win the 200- and 400-meter races? Or cheering Kerri Strug’s gutsy vault that captured the gold medal for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team?

Those 17 days in 1996 also left a permanent imprint that accelerated Atlanta’s growth from the capital of the New South to a global capital. Many legacies of the Atlanta Summer Games remain today: the Olympic Village Dormitories and Aquatic Center at Georgia Tech; the athletic facilities at Morehouse College; Turner Field was our Olympic Stadium. And, more importantly, the amazing spirit of our 53,540 volunteers.

Our city and state benefited for over a decade from the “Olympic dividend,” with 64 foreign consulates, international exposure and several hundred thousand jobs created from new and homegrown businesses. We were known as “Hotlanta.”

During the last several years, our shining city has lost some of its luster. Since 2000, we gained 300,000 jobs but lost 250,000 jobs in the last six years. That decline is unacceptable.

I believe in our city and its ability to reinvent itself. I have great respect and confidence in our leadership. We all stand on the shoulders of giants who faced obstacles and made big decisions that were not without conflict. Leaders like Mayor William B. Hartsfield building the airport and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. moving Atlanta through the civil rights movement.

Today, many people don’t remember the years of public debate, political conflict and funding required to win the Olympic bid. It wasn’t easy, but because we are Atlanta, we persevered.

We need another major economic dividend like the Olympics. The Centennial Olympic Games invested almost $3 billion in our region, and we saw solid results for everyone. The regional transportation referendum is an Olympic-sized investment that will build more than $8 billion in badly needed transportation projects.

Over 200,000 citizens gave input to the 21 mayors and county commissioners who picked the 157 projects that are legally tied to this historic vote. We will get home earlier to our families, thousands of jobs will be created and our quality of life will be greatly improved.

Atlanta needs bold leadership to restore our momentum and to reclaim our place as one of the world’s great cities. We need to unify our metro area to jump-start our economy by voting “Yes” on the July 31 regional transportation referendum.

Billy Payne was president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

52 comments Add your comment

SAWB

July 13th, 2012
7:35 pm

The TSPLOST project is obviously is too large to be managed efficiently. Also, anyone that believes any project can be completed in Metro-Atlanta without some politicians and their cronies getting rich is kidding themselves. This does not even account for the outright illegal activity that will inevitably be associated with this project.

Then we have that rouges gallery of Vincent Fort, Derrick Boazman and Debbie Dooley telling us to vote no. Well, that right there is enough to make you want to vote yes.

I wish we could have some objective review of this program so we could make an educated decision. However, all the studies are by the same folks that said the Braves would draw in Gwinnet, Peachtree Corners would have low taxes and the GA 400 Tolls would end.

It’s basically one of those darned if you do and darned if you don’t scenarios.

Bernie

July 13th, 2012
8:10 pm

Andre, Your words are heartfelt and truly insincere in its delivery, Atlanta’s traffic problems did not just happen 6months ago, this is a process in the years of making and no one cared not even the politicians. SO why NOW? and why this plan instead of giving us optional plans to vote on? Surely you can understand the apprehensiveness of citizens supporting such a decision.

The Crooks and Thieves are pulling out all of the stops to get this thing passed. Never have we had such a HARD push for a VOTE “YES” on a Tax vote.
There must be LOAD of CASH to be MADE or STOLEN with this one.

Not since ” THE GOOD SHIP JESUS” has so much help been brought in…….

Pretty soon we should be hearing from the usual TOOLS like:

Andy Young ( at new released book signing)
ALL of the KING CHILDREN ( Marty,Bernice and the other one)
Lester Maddox ( taped message)
JB Stoner (a cross burning will be his sign)
Eddie Long ( with a cell phone pic)
Evander Holyfield ( on the street holding a sign “need child support”)
TI ( waving guns)
The House Wives of Atlanta ( walking on Ponce de LEON)
Kid Rock ( after next fight in a Cobb County Waffle house)
Herman Cain (with the biggest GRIN you have ever seen! )

If I overlooked anyone, you can bet they will show up too!

WeNeedAlternatives

July 13th, 2012
8:53 pm

…..and as some people want to vote ‘no’…. I guess they figure we’ll kick this can down the road for …. well … what? anything?
As you keep putting off solutions, the problem becomes more intractable, and expensive to remedy.

Case in point: Atlanta’s sewers (and the sewers in many large U.S. cities!)

If the problem had been dealt with much earlier, the cost would have been significantly less. Unfortunately, when you start losing business due to a constricted economy due to poor transportation, it might even take longer for things to get better…. but there they go … saying let’s see if there is something better…. and what if nobody comes up with something better? It took many, many years for this to happen. I guess it’ll take many, many more for ‘Plan B’.

It’s a risk that apparently quite a few are willing to take. (and other cities are hoping we do!) Small risk the TSPLOST projects will go sour, but big reward vs. big risk if you reject the projects and huge economic downturn.

your choice….

WeNeedAlternatives

July 13th, 2012
9:07 pm

As for Billy’s comment on 5% of people use transit…. that is a very misleading statistic.
Since transit is not available to most of the population in this area, and it doesn’t go where many people would like (because of the limited scope), how can this even be a valid comparison for anything?
An what does the 5% mean? Only 5% of commuters use transit? Or only 5% of folks attending Braves games? Or only 5% of the folks living in the area have ever stepped on a transit vehicle?

If transit was more available, would more people use it?

Could someone PLEASE say where that number came from. It appears to be a seriously bogus statistic that needs to have some validation. Sort of like ‘all the folks that ate pickles from the year 1890 to 1900 have subsequently died’.

John Galt

July 13th, 2012
10:59 pm

No to TSPLOST. If politicians want to line their pockets (see the new Hartsfield international terminal), run for national office. Don’t come to us taxpayers with your pockets turned inside out and flashing that “aw shucks” grin as you say, “This time we’re serious. We’re spending your money to make things better and we’ll be good stewards of the public trust.”

Right.

Mike

July 13th, 2012
11:11 pm

The Businesses fails to mention they will get an Energy exemption from the tax which at minimum amounts to over $1 billion over ten years and if the exemption on automobiles over $5,000 is included that would be another $1 billion.
Then there’s the gasoline exemption which amount to another $ 1 billion over ten years.

At minimum the tax will bring in $3 billion less than predicted.

So who gets these exemptions? The Trucking Industry, the automobile sales Industry, The Manufacturing Industry.

Sure Big Business is for this tax, they save millions upon millions and pass that tax onto the backs of the fixed income and the poor.

Guess how I’m going to vote on this boondoggle.

Pizza

July 14th, 2012
5:23 am

Thanks ‘Alternatives. T-SPLOST simply kicks the can down the ROAD. Decades have been wasted on continuing the automobile mentality. What prospects do we have as congestion and energy costs continue to rise?

If there were a public transit system that went where commuters wanted to go, more people would use it.

J W C

July 14th, 2012
8:02 am

Vote NO. Tax paid entities end up paying out for pensions, fees, licensing, and all kinds of non associated trumped-up costs. Meanwhile we who are taxed do without. No sewers. No repairs. No mass transit access. No parking. No left turn. Meanwhile industry pumps out more cars, more people, more congestion because their life blood is consumption and cash flow. YOUR cash flowing to THEM. It might be different if there was a hard plan presented with a guaranteed outcome. But as usual, it’s all gray, exclusive, and mostly non accounted. Vote NO. America is changing. Atlanta has to follow since it refuses to lead.

PATSy

July 14th, 2012
8:53 am

Projected ridership of all three trains is 40,000 “boardings” (20,000 commuters both ways). This is less than 1/2 of 1% of the tax payers. Two BILLION dollars means $100,000 per commuter to build with a never ending subsidy of $ MILLIONS. One BILLION will be “exported” to buy trains ,rails, heavy equipment,etc.( removed from the local economy.)

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
9:41 am

I guess if this fails, Andre is going to have to rename his piece to ‘Atlanta Backward’.

But then again, since folks are moving intown, houses sell quickly, and people generally travel around without too much difficulty, I shouldn’t really have to worry about how the folks that live wayout travel.

We are building the Beltline (even without the TSPLOST) – I fill my car every 3 weeks, and can walk to what I need.

This will be one of those ‘you make your bed – so sleep in it’ items….

There is no ‘Plan B’….It does NOT exist…. that is undeniable.

Although I would have much preferred more transit in Plan A (I agree with you Pizza), it is a compromise that had huge amounts of public input. Apparently the TEA folks that are making such clamor chose not to participate in the process – just to make stuff up, throw a lot of stones, and create lots of noise at the end.

Not Fooled Again

July 14th, 2012
10:25 am

Seriously, does anyone think this tossing of money at an impossible to correct problem is really about improving our commute? Does anyone not realize this is about politicians, developers, DOT and local governing boards paying back campaign contriibutors, lining their pockets and enjoying the high that spending other peoples money bring to useless bueraucrats?

Atlanta’s commuter problems stem from too rapid growth bringing on sprawl created by these same lackeys, or their same predecessors who rezoned property for profit for their developer buddies. People compare rapid transit from cities like Washington DC, Portland, Seattle, etc which are compact, tightly congested areas, while we meander over hundreds and hundreds of square miles.

Bottom line, if you can answer yes to the following, you should vote for this, if you can’t you should vote no- do you trust the politicians, DOT, developers to do the right thing and devote the resources from this tax effeciently, honestly and without corruption and with the taxpayers best interests at heart? I thought so. Hence, I vote no.

Zakiyyah

July 14th, 2012
11:19 am

I was on the fence regarding how I would vote in the T-SPLOST referendum until a few days ago, then I saw in the news that employers are strong arming their workers to support it. That did it for me, probably other people too if the polls are to be believed. No one likes to be bullied.

yuzeyurbrane

July 14th, 2012
11:42 am

Despite the rousing words from Professor Harold Hill, excuse me, Billy Payne, this dog don’t hunt. And the AJC’s wonderment at businesses willing to advocate for more taxes on themselves flies right in the face of the AJC’s own reporting about TSplost tax exemptions for Delta, trucking companies, etc. who stand to benefit directly from TSplost projects. Not to even mention Emory, which never saw a project effecting its campus which it did not support taxpayers paying for! And then to have the gall of pressuring their employees! It may not be illegal but it is certainly hypocritical. The whole thing smells of potential corruption. Some of the projects are good but the pork, corruption, and big businesses not really having any skin in the game are just too great a negative. Go back to the drawing boards, eliminate the pork and the special interest tax breaks, tax those entities more that will benefit the most and have the legislature vote up or down on it.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
12:12 pm

That sounds like a good idea – tax those that benefit.
Do I hear commuter tax???/

…. I didn’t think so….

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
12:21 pm

Metro Atlanta business leaders have drawn flak for urging employees and the general public to back the transportation sales tax. But if they don’t know the high cost of gridlock, who does?

But aren’t those same businesses exempt from the tax?

Angus

July 14th, 2012
1:56 pm

If only we dedicated more time and distrust in electing our officials.

We’re all guilty, but I’m going to pick on you, Gwinnett. You’re going to vote down the TSPLOST because you don’t trust the government, but yet you are going to re-elect Balfour (Rep.- GA Power).

There is no good ending to this story.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
2:57 pm

Angus,
I was tempted to say very much the same thing. Folks that don’t like this, complain about the politicians that THEY vote into office… and re-elect again and again!
I believe the ‘distrust’ argument is just an excuse to justify voting against this to themselves. It makes them feel better.

Sadly, this negative reaction portends bad economic times, with more congestion, and a serious potential for job losses. It is impossible to get most of the naysayers to think beyond their next paycheck, so they keep complaining. We, as a region, must think out 20+ years. No problem of this magnitude is solved in 5-10 years. It takes decades to fix the problem that has taken many other decades to create.

And for those that complain this doesn’t solve congestion – guess what? It doesn’t!!! It is a start, and it will take much more than this to fix this mess. If you don’t get started fixing the problem, you will never, ever solve it. It won’t fix itself.

Chris Sanchez

July 14th, 2012
3:44 pm

@Angus & WeNeedAlternatives: I am disgusted that Gov. Deal supports this proposal and will eagerly be seeking his replacement when he stands for re-election. My state Senator, however, has called this proposal what it is: a plan that will not help solve traffic congestion. Rogers also rightly points out that many of the projects will require funding beyond the ten years the TSPLOST is to be collected. Translation: this tax will not go away in ten years. It will be renewed or renamed but this is a permanent tax increase.

You may not like the fact that many in the metro ATL do not trust politicians but the fact remains. TSPLOST will likely be defeated in spite of it being placed on a primary ballot using language much similar to an advertisement. It will be defeated because the people were lied to about the tolls on Ga 400. It will be defeated because over half of the money is slated to be spent on transit. It will be defeated because it is a deeply flawed proposal.

Once the voters clearly let the politicians know exactly how we feel about this proposal, perhaps they will listen, get in a room, and work on a proposal has has a possibility of passing on the merits (e.g. actually addressing congestion). They will know they have it right for several reasons: it will not need a million dollar ad campaign to try and convince voters to support it; they will have no fear of placing it on a general election ballot; experts will widely agree that the proposed project list will actually relieve congestion.

DontTreadOnMe

July 14th, 2012
4:11 pm

In Gwinnett alone, this next tax would increase sales tax from 6% to 7%, a 17% increase, hitting low and fixed income families hardest.

Fifteen percent of the revenue taken from our pockets would fund TWO transit projects – a $40M check to the county transit system and a $95M gift to “study” an I-85 light rail system for which construction would NOT START before 2040!

Another 15% of our tax money would provide an open traffic project slush fund for local politicians and bureaucrats.

NONE of these 22 projects have been evaluated for a cost-benefit; there is no proof that they will reduce traffic or add jobs. But it’s proponents WILL benefit mightily.

Gwinnett is representative of the rest of the state.

THERE ARE MANY, MANY ALTERNATIVES TO REDUCE TRAFFIC AND BRING IN JOBS. BUT NONE OF THEM WILL LINE CERTAIN PEOPLE’S POCKET LIKE A NEW TAX THEY CAN BLAME US FOR CREATING.

Georgia, you are being lied to – sold a bill of goods. That USED to be called fraud.

Visit TrafficTruth.net and learn why this tax MUST BE DEFEATED.

Then REMEMBER its supporters at their next election. And TAKE OUT THE TRASH.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
4:22 pm

Chris, I’m just a bit confused… please enlighten me…

Transit requires maintenance in the future…. and roads don’t? Huh? Not so says transportation experts. ALL transportation is subsidized and ALL transportation requires future maintenance, repair and upkeep. What you don’t pay for in transit that you do in automobile rides is insurance, emergency room subsidies, auto maintenance, police services, EMS etc. That’s not even mentioning the pollution contribution to the atmosphere, and the time lost sitting in traffic.

Road congestion won’t go away ever, no matter how many roads you build – another factoid that is never discussed. Traffic always increases to fill (or overfill) the capacity of roads. The only way to get around congestion is alternative transportation.

The GA400 toll debacle has absolutely nothing to do with this. That was a verbal promise (unfortunately), and the TSPLOST is a law, and that gets embedded in the verbiage of bond issues – it can’t be changed (unlike what most of the great unwashed think…. ). It becomes a legal, binding contract. Did anyone vote on GA400? No… it was created by (ugh) the DOT… and yes, that organization could improve – but also it is/was supported by the … here we go again … those pesky politicians.

I’m so glad you are willing to vote out the politicians – there are few that actually do what they say on that.

Oh, yes – congestion was only one of the criteria that were used in selecting the projects – but somehow that fact has gotten lost in the shuffle.

Angus

July 14th, 2012
4:23 pm

Chris – this is what bugs me: you say you support your senator, but he’s to blame for the TIA as much as anyone else – and now he opposes it? WTF? If he and the rest of the legislators would do their jobs – and be prepared to take the heat for tough decisions – we wouldn’t have to vote on this stupid list.

No list will ever pass here. You believe less should go to transit, I think more should go to transit. You’re not going to change my mind, and I’m not going to change yours. We’ll be having the same discussion in two years. And, likewise, metro Atlanta will vote ‘no’ again to the TIA, but ‘yes’ again to their local reps.

I don’t see how we can get out of this rut.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
4:29 pm

Hey, Don’tTread…
you don’t have to shout … simmer down …
You might burst a artery.

BTW – I don’ t like those one sided web sites you are pushing – it takes work, but reading the law, following the process, participating in the project selection discussions, and studying the project list are the only effective ways of making up your mind

… but it sure is easier to parrot what some others say on a one sided web page!

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
4:31 pm

Angus … you hit it on the head! (sadly)

Clark

July 14th, 2012
4:32 pm

A 17% increase in sales tax? On a $100 grocery bill, that’s 6 to 7 dollars, or to put it another way, one dollar extra. Or on a $10 purchase, that’s 10 cents extra. I fail to see how anyone who already spends a large amount, will be so heavily negatively affected by this vs. the potential benefits. All of you like to claim that we should just stop corruption or use the money that’s there. Well what’s your plan for that? There will ALWAYS be corruption, or at least the accusation of it by people who don’t have their sugar hand delivered to them by the people they’re accusing, and they will always be the most vocal.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
5:09 pm

Clark,
It’s unfortunate that people misuse statistics (and most folks’ total lack of understanding of math and percentages) to argue a point. A 16% increase…. which is a percentage of a percentage… is very hard for most folks to grasp, so they just look at the face of it and go “Wow! 16% That’s horrible!” That does make it easier for groups to throw up smoke screens on the real facts, as opposed to telling people how things really are.

That kind of behavior and misuse of numbers is usually a result of drawing a conclusion, and then hunting for collaborating evidence. Not exactly the scientific method….

If we have to wait for corruption to go away to do anything about traffic, I guess all will be well after the second coming…..

Debbie Dooley

July 14th, 2012
7:30 pm

The AJC is extremely biased when it comes to T-SPLOST. It is like they are on the payroll of CTM. Not suprised to find out that COX Enterprises gave $250,000 to the effort to pass T-SPLOST. Yet this newspaper claims to be un-biased. You guys need to put the fact yoiu donated $250,000 to the T-SPLOST effort as a disclaimer of every article written about T-SPLOST.

Just look at this segment. Two pro T-SPLOST articles and one negative. You are going to lose a lot of subscriptions over your biased coverage.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
9:17 pm

Ahhh the Debster……

Please stop wasting bits….especially on accusations that really aren’t important.

Just remember – corporations are people too. Now just who came up with that? …. I wonder….

Carole

July 14th, 2012
9:44 pm

Atlanta and the region won’t thrive in the next decades unless public transit is updated and expanded. The up and coming next generation is already here and according to the Wall Street Journal, 88% of them want to live in a walkable urban environment with access to public transit.**

Employers know that the best and the brightest go to the cities that can offer the lifestyle they are looking for. An unwired, car dependent city is already on the losing end and cannot afford to wait any longer to build the appropriate infrastructure that supports smaller homes, walkable destinations and public transportation.

T-Splost isn’t the perfect answer, but it will have to do since that bastion of great thinkers in the legislature (/snark) is unable to actually sit down and write legislation that is more workable.

(Trying again without the link.)

** S. Mitra Kalita and Robbie Whelan, “No McMansions for Millennials”, Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2011

Alenworn

July 14th, 2012
10:00 pm

No, NO, NO!!! vote no people this is a big money grab by politicians. Dont trust anything they say, just take a look at the .gov gone wild expenses by the Beltline overseers. We already have an income tax we dont need a TN style sales tax.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 14th, 2012
10:00 pm

But Carole,
How does that take care of me and right now? That’s all I’m interested in….
Others don’t count, and the future – well, that’s the future, so who cares? We should think only of ourselves… and for now.
(OK… satire switch off.. sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

It is a pity our politicians can’t sit down and really come up with something good, but as my granny always said, a bird in the hand….

TrishaDishaWarEagle

July 14th, 2012
10:09 pm

vote NO on T-splost..it is little more than a regional slush fund..honestly, are you ever going to ride the trolly between auburn ave and the kang center? me either,,

Clark

July 14th, 2012
11:29 pm

So Trisha, the only time you’ll ever support a project is if you will directly use it rather than supporting something that helps improve the region?

TomD

July 15th, 2012
12:35 am

Billy Payne,
We remember the embarrassment you Bill Campbell brought upon our city. The Olympics in Atlanta were not declared the best ever, because they weren’t. You and your staff endlessly fought open records requests, and were tarnished with the tactics you used for influencing, or trying to buy the vote, with “gifts” to get the Olympics. You shamefully shared your tactics with Utah, and they got burned, too. Even Izzy, the cheesy mascot, was a joke.

If you are voting yes, I am certainly voting no.

TomD

July 15th, 2012
12:49 am

Billy Payne,
We remember the embarrassment you and Bill Campbell brought upon our city. The Olympics in Atlanta were not declared the best ever, because they weren’t. You and your staff endlessly fought open records requests, and were tarnished with the tactics you used for influencing, or trying to buy the vote, with “gifts” to get the Olympics. You shamefully shared your tactics with Utah, and they got burned, too. Even Izzy, the cheesy mascot, was a joke.

If you are voting yes, I am certainly voting no.

Road Scholar

July 15th, 2012
9:36 am

SAWB:”The TSPLOST project is obviously is too large to be managed efficiently. ”

That’s funny…since Denver and other cities have done it before…Denver has passed the Project list/deadline type of plan 3 TIMES! They managed…are you saying Georgians are incompetent? Are you involved in making it a success?

Bernie:”The Crooks and Thieves are pulling out all of the stops to get this thing passed.”

So we stop doing anything? Who are these thieves and what proof do you have? Why haven’t you filed charges? Did you vote for them?

Don’t Tread On Me:”THERE ARE MANY, MANY ALTERNATIVES TO REDUCE TRAFFIC AND BRING IN JOBS. BUT NONE OF THEM WILL LINE CERTAIN PEOPLE’S POCKET LIKE A NEW TAX THEY CAN BLAME US FOR CREATING.”

You want to reduce traffic? How about another recession or, even better, a depression! Traffic volumes are down now because of our economic times. So is gas tax revenue. People complain about the contractors getting rich! They are private companies that are in operation to make a profit. If you don’t make a profit, what happens….the company disappears. Let the road builders go out of business…that will supply even more lost jobs for your cause and position.

Alenword: So why should we trust you?

Trisha: I don’t ride the Interstate to Auburn, so why don’t we tear that out?

Road Scholar

July 15th, 2012
9:48 am

Oh, I forgot. Many of these projects have safety and air quality implications. So by being against the TSPLOST, you are for unsafe roads, and dirty air! Have you seen, yes seen, the air this summer? Have you “tasted” the pollution? Has you or your child had more problems with their asthma or other health issues? The region will grow; more people will be here (unless you are against having kids or relocating to a better area/jobs), which will add to our dilemma. More congestion, dirtier air, more time lost?

Someone above had issue with the local governments getting 15% of the money for local projects; in their words…a boondoggle! Has that person or you checked with their local government for their project list? Most have one! These project are locally defined. Did you attempt to influence the list? Oh, you don’t want or need anything?

Steve

July 15th, 2012
10:42 am

Sorry, but I have already voted no. The politicians have proven time and time again they cannot be trusted. There are no guarantees any of this will work. Marta is a joke yet 55% of this is going to mass transit??? If all the metro counties paid into MARTA and it was run by a competent group of people things would look all together different. The Georgia DOT is also incompetent. My confiscating a lane on I-85 to make a toll road says to me this is more about revenue for the state. They don’t care about traffic or congestion. Even the toll authority admits the I-85 toll road will never be profitable..
Sorry but as citizens we need to see some progress for what we have already paid and not all this corrupt good ol boy crap that seems to pervade all of Georgia.

middle of the road

July 15th, 2012
11:08 am

“The only way to get around congestion is alternative transportation.”

NO, the best way to relieve congestion in Atlanta is for the businesses to move out to the suburbs where people want to live – where the air is purer, the schools are better , and the crime is a LOT less.

“The GA400 toll debacle has absolutely nothing to do with this.”

Do you REALLY believe that after paying the 1% extra tax for 10 years, that the politicians won’t say “the people have been paying this tax for 10 years now, they are used to it, let’s just keep it (maybe TSPLOST II)”.

If you are that dumb, I have a bridge in New York that is for sale, it has been in my family for generations…

middle of the road

July 15th, 2012
11:12 am

“Since 2000, we gained 300,000 jobs but lost 250,000 jobs in the last six years. That decline is unacceptable.”

I presume you are talking about ATLANTA and not the surrounding areas. ATLANTA deserves to lose jobs and businesses. It is a cesspool of crime and poor quality of life (schools, pollution, etc). The businesses and jobs need to get the heck out of Atlanta and move to where people want to live: the suburbs. Then that hour commute is only 15 minutes.

Sprawl? Sprawl is good! Many small cities is better than one big city.

middle of the road

July 15th, 2012
11:16 am

“Transit requires maintenance in the future…. and roads don’t?”

Sure, roads require maintenance and we have a tax already to build and maintain our roads – it is called the gasoline tax. So why do we need ANOTHER tax to do the same thing. In case you have not traveled much, our roads are quite good compared with other states (except for in downtown Atlanta with their endless metal plates).

bigbill

July 15th, 2012
11:49 am

It is amazing to me that most of the big business types and government officials pushing hard for (and spending millions to promote) this T-Splost tax for Atlanta citizens are Republicans who have vigorously opposed any new taxes or tax increases of any kind starting with Governor Deal and the staff of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Never, never, increase taxes on corporation, they say, because they are the “job creators.” Utter nonsense. Unemployment in Atlanta remains at a punishingly high level. Never increase taxes on the wealthiest in this country because they too are “job creators.” More utter nonsense. And now we have Andre Jackson advocating as the official editorial position of the AJC that we should now support this tax increase because the business leaders of atlanta want it. We should do what they say, says the AJC. “Our job creators deserve at least that much.” Utter, utter nonsense. Here’s why. The business leaders want this T-SPLOST because they cannot get taxpayer funds from the General Assembly for their never-ending billion dollar road and construction projects and so they want you, the citizens of Atlanta, to pay. God forbid that they should have to suffer losses and deprivation like the rest of us in this big bank-created recession. Oh, no. We have to cough up the tax revenue to keep Billy Payne and his billionaire friends rolling in dough and paying their dues Augusta National. Vote NO on T-SPLOST. Send them the message that for once you agree with them: NO NEW TAXES! Right? Right.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 15th, 2012
12:18 pm

Middle?
Are you serious?
If the exurbs is where ‘everybody wants to live’… then why are the intown neighborhoods holding their own in real estate value (and in many cases increasing)? Houses sell quickly. But I guess that’s just imagination…. (check the latest zip code statistics on home value, check with a real estate agent, you might be seriously surprised.)

Businesses want to locate near other businesses in order to reduce inter-business transportation costs. If they want to move a long distance, they can always move to Shoulderbone (sorry… just had to pick a random town – it does have an interesting history….) But they choose NOT to – they want to be near airports, services, other businesses and most of all, a pool of talent.

Moving a business ‘way out’ to one side of town, restricts its access to businesses way out on the other side of town. It also reduces access to a mobile community of talent. People don’t want to drive 80 miles across town to another job, and for that matter – on what roads? Who is going to build the transportation system necessary to handle all that far cross town traffic? The roads aren’t free, and require ongoing maintenance.

Moving everything out of town is an unworkable solution. But you can always move way out of town… way, way out of town….

WeNeedAlternatives

July 15th, 2012
12:25 pm

And another thing Middle,
You might want to check the amounts of gas tax that goes to maintenance vs. construction.
I believe this is about 2:1 …

We are barely holding our own in maintenance, and don’t have enough money for any significant construction (this is one huge state!). And, for that matter, we are getting seriously behind in maintenance. Hopefully our bridges don’t get any worse (they will.)

There is a disadvantage in having the lowest gas tax in the nation.

Tyronda

July 15th, 2012
1:21 pm

The news story this weekend about the guy who took it upon himself to fix long neglected potholes speaks volumes about how government works, or rather doesn’t work.

Soon as DeKalb County heard what he was doing…the same day in fact…they got their lazy butts in gear and repaired the road. It didn’t require any additional sales taxes, just one individual’s initiative and some media attention.

Carole

July 15th, 2012
1:35 pm

If we wait until there’s zero corruption and 100% competence, then we watch other cities, counties and countries benefit from and enjoy the fruits of progress.

Not-yet-senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan quoted the Wall Street Journal in 1960 on the Interstate Highway Program calling it “…a vast program thrown together, imperfectly conceived and grossly mismanaged, and in due course becoming a veritable playground for extravagance, waste, and corruption.”

Rick

July 15th, 2012
2:45 pm

Road Scholar,

I missed it, how does paying Cobb’s portion of a federal matching grant for airport improvements at McCollum Field help improve air pollution? And, Beltline streetcars?

I think folks are saying get the pork and political gaming out of this, and come up with real plan for improving traffic and transit.

Chris Sanchez

July 15th, 2012
4:45 pm

One thing about it: voter turn out will be higher than normal for a primary!

Road Scholar

July 15th, 2012
5:46 pm

WeNeed Alt: Yeah, the goods in our stores and the people who work on our homes don’t need an efficient way to get to their markets! That food and clothes and services are to appear out of thin air.

Tyronda: I have a county pipe on my property in an easement. It was 95% clogged. It took Dekalb Co 1.5 years to finally come out and unclog it! City of Brookhaven, here we come! Oh and there is a school zone/speed limit sign on Asford Dunwoody Road at Windsor Parkway which is covered by growth on the side of the road. It’s been like that for 2 years…waiting for the county crew to prune it back…they just last month cut the grass on the shoulder. Finally (I wish that was true) go over and look at the shoulder of Briarwood Road west of Buford Hwy; the shoulder resembles a highly eroded moonscape in a highly pedestrian area. Sidewalk you ask? Not even gravel put down. And the runoff from the road goes down a hill into an apartment complex. Incompetence!

Rick, the last time I checked, air travel is a form of transportation. What goods and services does that airport provide? Can it be expanded to reduce the load at other local airports in the region, thus reducing travel times and increase commerce?
The beltline is a form of transportation also. As with transit are you proposing No transit in the COA? Just dump all those trips on the surface streets? They’ll operate just fine, by your standards. Also many people have stated that MARTA does not go anywhere. So, when the transit network is proposed to be expanded, people complain? Whine on!

Have you been to San Diego, Baltimore, and Portland (light rail) or Washington DC (heavy rail)? Every major city in the world has transit. To increase the capacity of those system you don’t have to widen, buy more land or repave (asphalt uses oil); just add another rail car!

middleground

July 15th, 2012
7:08 pm

Government belongs to those that show up. Don’t let the crooked Chamber of Commerce vote this scam in. Call and get your friends and family to vote no.

Rick

July 15th, 2012
8:31 pm

Road Scholar,

Except for Peachtree Dekalb Airport, all GA airports are woefully under-capacity to justify their overall cost (loss of property taxes, unreimbursed administrative cost to general funds, federal subsidies, ….) Any business that regularly uses GA airports to transport its goods, will not stay in business too long. A good try on your part; are you going to directly benefit from these projects? You arguments are losing credibility, the more you argue for the projects.

I thought you were arguing all these T-SPLOST projects were designed to reduce pollution. I have travelled to the cities you mention, and they are much better designed that Atlanta and much more interesting. Streetcars are touristy, and often hang-up traffic in major cities, causing back-up, hence more pollution. While the project may seem to be worthwhile if it pulls in more tourist, it seems a City of Atlanta Development Authority should be seeking funding for the project.

Vote NO. The case has not been made for this all this waste of our money.

WeNeedAlternatives

July 15th, 2012
9:26 pm

Middle,
Don’t you understand… those metal plates are designed to keep you off the local streets (paid for by scarce local city funds).

The gas tax is barely covering maintenance – and just wait ’til some bridges need replacing. Then the excrement will hit the rotary device when a toll has to be instituted to cover the cost.

But then again, I don’t commute…. so my YES vote will only be for this round. If the ethereal ‘Plan B’ is hatched – it will likely have many more roads – and that would get a big ‘NO’. But, for that matter, by then, I will probably be way too old to drive anyway and won’t care… but would still vote!

WeNeedAlternatives

July 15th, 2012
9:29 pm

Oops, my apologies. I just thought of a reason to vote ‘NO’!
If we have less traffic, fewer people will die on their commute, and the local news media will need fewer reporters to report the carnage!
There are deaths every day – and we’ve got to keep those reporters busy!