LaHood rips Georgia on high-speed rail

Why didn’t Georgia get more money for high-speed rail?

“Georgia doesn’t have its act together. The state legislature doesn’t want to put money in for high-speed rail,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this morning, after I asked him why Georgia only received $750,000.

“Any region that got money had their act together,” LaHood said, at a breakfast briefing for journalists. He also pointed out that he visited Atlanta last year and had an informal “town hall meeting” with several officials. (The visit was in Sept.)

“Some fellow stood up and asked me how Georgia could get money for high-speed rail. I said, ‘Get your act together.” Unless a state has its act together, with money and a plan that connects things, you’re not going to get money.” (See excerpts from a Sept. news story on LaHood’s visit below.)

A journalist from Texas —  a state which also fared poorly — asked whether “indigenous political support” had anything to do with whether a state received funding. LaHood assured him that it didn’t. “We’ve given money to states where the Congressional delegation voted against the stimulus package,” he said.

My colleague Jim Galloway has noted that Sonny Perdue and John Lewis have pointed fingers at each other for the state’s poor showing:

Gov. Sonny Perdue and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Georgia’s longest-serving member of Congress are having words over who’s at fault for the state’s transportation dilemma.

Last week, the Obama administration awarded Florida $1.25 billion for a high-speed rail project. North Carolina was handed $525 million.

And Georgia received $750,000.

Sounds like Lewis may have been right.
From an AJC news story on Sept. 22. 2009:

The nation’s top transportation official said Monday that high-speed rail will indeed come to Atlanta — “if Georgia gets its act together.”
The statement by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood drew fervent applause from the audience in downtown Atlanta, which included many mass transit advocates who believe Georgia has long neglected passenger rail projects in favor of building more roads.
“He did not lie, ” said Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, who supports the proposed commuter rail line south through Lovejoy.
LaHood met with several organizations, including the Atlanta Regional Commission and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Obama administration’s priorities for transportation contrast with the Bush administration’s. Bush’s transportation secretary, Mary Peters, last visited Atlanta to give Georgia $110 million to put variable tolls on the HOV lane of I-85 in Gwinnett County. In the Bush administration’s six-point strategy to relieve congestion, the word “rail” was not mentioned.
The Obama administration is putting $8 billion toward high-speed rail. LaHood’s donation event took place at MARTA’s Five Points station, where he gave MARTA $10.8 million in federal stimulus funds for solar-panel bus shelters.
LaHood said he didn’t know about the I-85 project. And while he supported tolling as a way to pay for new roads, he told the AJC, he didn’t much care for putting tolls on lanes that the taxpayers had already built.
Gov. Sonny Perdue attended the MARTA event. Asked what he thought of LaHood’s remark about high-speed rail, Perdue replied, “I agree with him.” The state Department of Transportation has recently appointed a new director of intermodal programs who is working to win some of the high-speed rail money.

80 comments Add your comment

demwit

February 3rd, 2010
10:47 am

A high speed rail to where!? Tybee island??

Davo

February 3rd, 2010
10:48 am

“… $10.8 million in federal stimulus funds for solar-panel bus shelters.”

Ha hahaha. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Peadawg

February 3rd, 2010
10:52 am

Atlanta’s already crowded enough…they don’t a “high speed rail”.

Shawny

February 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

Florida and North Carolina should have gotten nothing, like GA should have gotten nothing.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 3rd, 2010
11:07 am

I like the explanation – “Georgia doesn’t have its act together.”

Sounds like new-speak – but what does it mean, how does one get ones act together.

Is this high speed rail between major cities or to some small town no one heard of.

Shawny

February 3rd, 2010
11:09 am

All we need is HOV lanes added and extended into and around the city, and traffic will flow much more smoothly.
And no, not those stupid proposed HOT toll lanes. Huge chunks of money for high speed rail lines are boondoggle pet projects that are a waste of money.

So What, Who Cares?

February 3rd, 2010
11:29 am

High speed rail is a boondoggle that will end in massive cost over runs and poor rail service. America is much larger than Europe or Japan, running high speed trains for thousands of miles just will not work. For one thing, protecting the rail lines will be impossible, not just against terrorists, but against animals, people on the tracks, objects on the tracks. Can you imagine a collision between a cow and a train at 200 miles per hour? Remember, the energy in the collision increases with the SQUARE of the velocity. The train would derail at 200 mph, and all aboard would die, just like in a plane landing at 130 mph hitting an object. Europe is much more compact, and such high speed lines can be protected. Why the need for speed anyway? Sixty to ninety mph is fast enough for me.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
11:29 am

High-speed rail connects major cities, say, Atlanta to Savannah. Or Atlanta to Charlotte

Turd Ferguson

February 3rd, 2010
11:45 am

What about a high speed rail from my place of employment to my residence? Now thats change I can live with!

Turd Ferguson

February 3rd, 2010
11:51 am

Wonder how many trillions of dollars it would cost for a high speed rail line, cost overruns etc from say Atlanta to Macon and the amount of time it would take for said rail line to break even or turn a profit?

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
12:12 pm

Do the interstate highways “turn a profit?”

Csquared

February 3rd, 2010
12:17 pm

point was, why did GA not get any money for High Speed rail, not the feasibility of it. The reasons we didn’t share in that pot and why the Gov shouldn’t be castigating anyone are clear. We DON’T have our act together. Meaning setting up some reasonable plan for the system rather than spending consulting money on studies. without knowing the particulars of who got the study money, i’d give even money they’re contributors to someone’s campaign or more buddies of Sonny…

Whacks Eloquent

February 3rd, 2010
12:21 pm

“What about a high speed rail from my place of employment to my residence? Now thats change I can live with!”

Agreed, Ferguson. Why would it matter to most people if they can get to DC a couple of hours faster by train? It still won’t be faster than air travel, and the costs are already about the same. On the other hand, rapid rail for commuters makes a lot more sense, especially for Atlanta. I can see high speed rail for Florida, they rely almost entirely on tourism, and the faster they can get em in and move em around, the better!

Sadly, I don’t think we have our act together on commuter rail, either, but we have a chance to make that an issue with the gubernatorial race this year.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
12:35 pm

Rapid rail for commuters is an excellent idea. But anyone thinking about what the future will look like will also support high-speed rail. Right now, it won’t be faster than air travel and the costs are about the same. But before the recession, big airports were becoming increasingly crowded, with more and more delays on runways. No community wants to host a new major airport. So high-speed rail could pick up a lot of increased transport needs in the next 30 to 40 years.

professional skeptic

February 3rd, 2010
12:36 pm

Rail travel lowers America’s dependency on oil produced by countries who hate us. Freeing America from dependency on countries who hate is a good thing.

Kevin

February 3rd, 2010
12:38 pm

If you’ve never traveled, for example, within Europe or Japan via high speed rail, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s the only way to go. I honestly how someone could experience these trains, and not want them in the US. They’re that good.

I fully support high-speed rail for inter-city train service.

BeBeKID

February 3rd, 2010
12:40 pm

The first link of the Florida high speed rail linking Orlando to Tampa is under extreme criticism because many feel that it will not have the number of passengers to be profitable. According to some so called experts many people will prefer to use their cars to make the 90 minute I-4 drive between Orlando and Tampa instead of using a train that decreases the commute to 36 minutes and reduces gridlock. As bad as the economy is down here the jobs the rail will bring is needed more than a hog needs slop!

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
12:42 pm

Yep. And Georgia could have used those jobs, too.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
12:43 pm

Lots of people haven’t experienced them, Kevin. Until he became governor, that included Sonny Perdue. He became a fan of high-speed rail after a trade visit to Europe.

NYorker

February 3rd, 2010
12:45 pm

NO HIGH SPEED RAIL MAKE SENSE IN THE SOUTH, 1st do it from Chitown-NYC. If that works then maybe just maybe it would make sense to do elsewhere.

Now if the gov’t/unions run it, forget it. no sense since the labor cost would be way high and they would suck all the money out.

fred smith

February 3rd, 2010
12:46 pm

Sounds like the reason GA was left out in the cold is adequately represented above. Variation on an old story – “When the wagon trains were headed south, there came a fork in the road. The sign with an arrow to the right said ‘North Carolina’ and the one straight ahead said ‘Georgia.’ Those who could read went to North Carolina.” We don’t have a school problem here, we have an intelligence problem: most of the populace is simply too stupid to learn. There are many models of how rail solves people transit both in the country and around the world. As someone noted not long ago, someone in Georgia was smart enough to make the airport happen (note, like rail, it’s not state supported here), and voila, Georgia became the major economic hub of the south. However, Atlanta is destined to become the Detroit of the south, not because it’s a one business town but because businesses in general are smart enough to see that the Georgia electorate is simply too inept to elect responsible, foresighted (or honest) public servants who can plan beyond keeping seat belts out of pickup trucks and keep the engine going. No water (no planning much less action) and gridlock (no planning much less action). It is way, way, way, way too late for Georgia to fix itself in time to compete with the other states; there’s no point in trying to get backwoods governors and legislators to act as if they were actually serving their public. Might as well move on out, folks. If you can read.

resno2

February 3rd, 2010
12:47 pm

“Georgia doesn’t have its act together”
I guess they took a look at MARTA.

Whacks Eloquent

February 3rd, 2010
12:58 pm

fred
Seems to me like not long ago Charlotte was behind the 8-ball. I mean, they just recently finished their perimeter (485, it’s nice) and added a light rail (no subway there). Yet they managed to do just fine without those seeming necessities. Why is a high-speed rail link to DC necessary for survival? Answer – it isn’t. It would be nice, sure, and Atlanta will be part of it as they link more cities in the South – New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, etc.

Keep in mind that the money Sec’y Lahood is talking about is STUDY money, and it is going to groups that will plan stuff. Fine, whatever. That money will be spent but nothing will be built from it. A recent MARTA study showed the cost of heavy rail (subway) at $235 million per mile, light rail (commuter rail) at $75 million per mile. I don’t know specifically about high-speed rail, but it will be somewhere in between I’d guess. You have to upgrade tracks, add in double tracks where they don’t exist, and find some sort of power delivery (Acela is electric). We don’t have any of that (ex some double tracking) outside of the Northeast.

Much bigger bucks will be needed for building this stuff. Hey I am for it…but where to come up with the money? Stimulus plans won’t cut it, it has to be a whole new layer. Cut some from Pentagon? Sounds good, but good luck…Cynthia, did Sec’y Lahood give any idea as to where they expected the actual building funds to come from? I hope they have a plan, but I kinda doubt it at this point.

By the time it does happen, it won’t matter that Georgia did not receive more study money. It would look and be stupid for that Florida-Washington line to try to bypass our state…

Davo

February 3rd, 2010
1:09 pm

The aptly named ‘Field of Dreams’ philosphy…if you build it they will come. What a waste.

BTW; when is white history month?

jm

February 3rd, 2010
1:12 pm

For you twits who haven’t figured out Charlotte has become the banking capital of the South, there is a real need to travel to Charlotte now by business people in Atlanta. Rail would be a better and faster alternative. Although rail to Savannah, Macon, Brunswick, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Nashville, etc. would be nice, if we can’t build a line to Charlotte to begin with, we’re sunk. Remember, the reason Charlotte is now the banking capital of the south – and second largest in the nation – is because they were more progressive with their banking laws while the rednecks running the show watched change pass them by.

onlinesavant

February 3rd, 2010
1:16 pm

“He (Sonny Perdue.) became a fan of high speed rail after experiencing them in Europe.” Typical of a regressive. Being against something that make total sense, until they are in the position that obviate their use for it. Abortion? Against it until they or their child needs one. Benefits form stem cell research? Ditto. Government in general (The police, fire services, social security, medicare, roads, FDA, etc.) Cythia, you know the deal. No one does hypocrisy better than the regressives. So anyway, on to the actual subject matter. Lack of American investment in high-speed rail,(After all, we DID invent maglev technology.) is just another example of arrogance, and willful ignorance prevailing over rationality, (Single payer health care, Public financing of campaign, RAISING TAXES to pay for needed investments.) to the detriment of America’s place in the world. Quite honestly, I think it has more to do with racism than any other element. The majority’s desire to not see any other group gain (From in their belief, THEIR tax dollars. As if no one pays taxes BUT them.) is why Atlanta is highway-saturated, and public transportation deficient. High-speed rails falls under the same category. When will we, “get our act together?” Unfortunately, I fear it won’t be until there is some kind of cataclysm (Real or imagined.) that then will force the citizenry to act upon a sane course of action, that should have been undertaken all along.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
1:18 pm

Davo, You’re about to be banished to the muttonheads’ blog if you keep up the “white history month”?

Davo

February 3rd, 2010
1:21 pm

“Davo, You’re about to be banished to the muttonheads’ blog if you keep up the “white history month”?”

Couldn’t have asked for a better reply! Thanks, CT.

scrappy

February 3rd, 2010
1:28 pm

GA doesn’t have its act together because the politicians and the southerners they represent keep hoping that the northerners will eventually move back home and they won’t need rail or roads or any more growth.

So What, Who Cares?

February 3rd, 2010
1:31 pm

Well, a National high speed rail system starting in 2010 could do for the country what the start of the Interstate highway system did starting in the 1950’s, but I doubt it. In the 1950’s the country lacked a good highway system, yet automobile travel was growing rapidly. So the interstate system met a real need, and opened the country up for development. With high speed rail, we will not be opening up new area’s for development, and people already have all the cars they will ever need. I just do not see high speed rail meeting a real need, it is just pie in the sky fluff, very expensive fluff, but fluff nevertheless. At a time of near National bankruptcy, we need to be much more judicious in how we speed the BORROWED money needed for this project. Right now, Washington can print all the dollars needed, but in a few years that will no longer be possible. The world will no longer accept endless streams of freshly printed green paper for its collective wealth. What will YOU and Washington do then? Remember, your Social Security retirement and Medicare Health Insurance hangs in the balance. By spending these borrowed billions today, we will be precluding paying Social Security to millions tomorrow.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 3rd, 2010
1:31 pm

Cynthia: I disagree with you on one point that you made earlier when you asked if interstate highways turn a profit. Actually, interstate highways annually turn a huge profit in the way that interstates make it even more possible to transport goods and raw materials through each part of the production process from agricultural harvest to manufacture to market. The Interstate System has made the ground transport and shipping of goods by truck much easier, much quicker and much more convenient helping more goods to be bought and sold which has helped governments at all levels (federal, state, local) be able to collect increased income, sales and property taxes which in turn has enabled government(s) to provide an increased level of service since the Interstate System’s inception over 50-plus years ago.

Some places where rail transit advocates seem to sometimes go wrong in trying sell the public on the advantages of investing in and funding rail transportation is not telling how it can turn a profit to the public at large (by atrracting more businesses, the majority of which these days want to be located to areas that are highly accessible by both roads and rail). Rail advocates also seem to leave out the fact that high-speed rail can carry both people and freight over intermediate to long distances to complement both road and air transportation. One place where high-speed rail would increase movement of freight is from Atlanta to the Port of Savannah, which over the last decade has become one of the busiest deep seaports in the world. Helping to better connect Atlanta with the critical seaport at Savannah could do nothing but enhance Atlanta’s stature as an up-and-coming international industrial capital while giving it the ground connection to do so.

Bubba

February 3rd, 2010
1:40 pm

Perhaps a journalist from Georgia could have asked him what he meant by “getting its act together.” Sounds like something a football coach would say to Erin Andrews on the way off the field at halftime. “We need to get our act together!”

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
1:42 pm

We know all that about the interstate system now — in hindsight. Dwight Eisenhower built the interstates to aid the movement of men and materiel in case the U.S. was invaded by the Soviets. Yes, he thought there would be other benefits. But I doubt if any of the original planners knew what interstates would mean to us today. I suspect the same would be true of high speed rail.

Thoreau

February 3rd, 2010
1:55 pm

Next to Social Security (perhaps even bigger in terms of lifecycle costs), highways; specifically public funding of highways (also local roads, bridges, sidewalks, street lighting) has got to be the nation’s largest social welfare program. Yet nobody dares ask where the profitability comes from in our public subsidy of the auto industry. Let’s face it, neither Detroit nor Tokyo could sell one dollar’s-worth of vehicles without the public investing at least as much in the roads they drive on. Why then do we continually expect roads to be in the public domain, rails to be in the private domain, and condemn public transit to be self-sufficient, when we continue to over-invest (over-spend to the so called Conservatives) in building and barely maintaining roads that have reached their effective capacity and usefulness? One way or the other we can either subsidize our commutes with the time wasted sitting in traffic or we can do it sitting in trains we’ve paid-for, while we read, text, talk, or do any number of productive things we can’t do while sitting in gridlock. Wake-up Georgia and get the %$#@! out of my way!

Joey

February 3rd, 2010
1:57 pm

The proposed Macon-Lovejoy-Atlanta Rail service (partially funded) is not a high-speed project.
The proposed Athens-Atlanta Rail service is not a high-speed project,
The conceptual Chattanooga-Atlanta MAG-LEV line is high speed, but it is a concept and barely that, not a proposed line.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
1:57 pm

The state legislature needed to put in some serious money. And the state needed to have a plan that made sense: where the rail would go; how many passengers might use it, etc.

Whacks Eloquent

February 3rd, 2010
1:59 pm

Joey,

When the commuter rails are referred to as “rapid transit” I don’t think anyone is implying they will incorporate high-speed train type speeds. That would be pretty dangerous in an urban setting, only makes sense for longer distance trains – like Chattanooga-Atlanta. I think our transportation money – at least here in Atlanta – would be better served by funding commuter rail rather than intracity links. Those would be nice, but ultimately the area is best served first by being more internally efficient. I don’t know where we’ll come up with the money for either option though.

joan

February 3rd, 2010
2:02 pm

Maybe we ought to get someone to replace Lewis. Maybe that someone would cause the staties to get their act together, rather than simply place-sitting until they die.

onlinesavant

February 3rd, 2010
2:07 pm

tubularrail.com

lovelyliz

February 3rd, 2010
2:07 pm

It’s about priorities. Loads of $$$$$$ to try and attract a NASCAR museum and nothing for high speed rail.

Scout

February 3rd, 2010
2:07 pm

Yawn ………………..

Whacks Eloquent

February 3rd, 2010
2:10 pm

Now that’s a new one! Would need some serious PR to get people to ride it, but it sounds cool to me!

Chris Broe

February 3rd, 2010
2:14 pm

The problem is that Metro-Atlanta’s business growth plan depends on one car per commuter. Carpooling is too hard. What if one clown has a slow morning? It ruins the commute for everyone else. Being late can get you fired fast. It just doesn’t work. Atlantans are forced to drive by their lonesomes to work. It’s the law of industrial parks.

A high speed rail would not change that fact. So what if you can catch a rail from Dallas to Underground Atlanta. Then what? You’d have to walk to the hotel you wash dishes at (or the McDonalds you make fries at anyway).

No, we need to widen roads. Wide roads are the answer. Or make cars narrower. Like those mini-cars from India. They only cost $2k. And they’re teeny tiny.

Cars from India come with unique benefits, too. Their accelerators don’t stick, so there’s less chance of you ending up in a caste. (sorry). The brakes engage automatically at cow crossings. If you miss a car payment, the car duns you itself. Best of all, if you are killed in an auto-accident, you get reincarnated as a convenience store clerk.

The point is that if we finally admit that we only drive to work alone, then we can plan the future road projects more efficiently.

ctucker

February 3rd, 2010
2:18 pm

To clear up some confusion: High-speed rail isn’t about local commutes. It’s designed to connect distant cities, much like air travel. For commuter traffic, you need an expanded MARTA and commuter rail. (Metro DC and Metro NY have both)

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 3rd, 2010
2:27 pm

Cynthia: I suspect that many rail (high-speed, commuter rail, light rail, freight, etc) planners have kind of seen ahead into the future to see the increased role that rail transport may very well play in America’s future development. As we’ve started to see over the last decade or so, in particular, the auto-overdependent lifestyle that permeates American culture has started to look less and less sustainable in a myriad of ways some of which include $4 and $5/gallon-plus gas, overconsumption of available land (irresponsible and wasteful land use through sprawling overdevelopment), negative effects on physical and mental health (need use of automobiles to go almost everywhere while being relatively isolated from next-door neighbors and community), not to mention not being able to avoid urban roads maxed-out with traffic because of lack of other commuting options and the slowing of the shipping of freight because of the same mammoth traffic jams, etc…
The now still-prevalent development patterns of spread out automobile-dependent sprawl have only been popular since the end of World War II and took off with the advent of the Interstate System and the business and political lobbying (and conspiring) of the then-Big Three automakers desire to drive many of the urban cable-car and trolley companies out of business so that most working Americans would have no choice but to buy one their vehicles to get around to work, home, church, shopping, etc. In Atlanta alone over the last decade we’ve seen that trend start to reverse a little as the traffic just became too unbearable at peak times, especially while the economy was enjoying near-full employment.

jt

February 3rd, 2010
2:28 pm

One has to consider the source.

Since when does the Fed have IT’S act together?

Keep your ill-gotten funds La Hood.

Joey

February 3rd, 2010
2:34 pm

Whacks and Cynthia;
I am not the least confused about what is high-speed rail.

The term Rapid Transit is no longer in vogue because public transit is anything but rapid. Almost every public transit option requires a longer commute time, when measured from home-to-work and work-to-home, than using one’s personal vehicle. That is why commuters choose the convenience of driving.

If we really want to get people out of their cars and onto public transit we should follow the NYC model, which is eliminate parking spaces. That is not going to happen in Atlanta. For a good example of providing parking look to the AJC Offices or even better look to the MARTA joint-venture development at Lindberg Station.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 3rd, 2010
2:55 pm

Joey: I don’t think that you would even have to go so far as to eliminate parking spaces to motivate people in the Atlanta area, and for that matter, North and even Middle Georgia. I think that all that you would have to do is provide “rapid-transit” and not merely just minimal “public-transportation”. By this I mean just providing a high-quality alternative to automobile commuting which doesn’t really exist now especially with the poorly-perceived bare-bones MARTA and the few minimal local bus services in nearby core metro counties (Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton).

The Atlanta-Lovejoy-Macon line (which should be extended south to at least Warner Robins), the Atlanta-Athens line and the Atlanta-Chattanooga line (which consist of both a high-speed long-distance rail line and a commuter-rail line with local stops in Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, etc) would be good places to start providing those alternatives.

This is what I think

February 3rd, 2010
3:11 pm

“A journalist from Texas — a state which also fared poorly — asked whether “indigenous political support” had anything to do with whether a state received funding. LaHood assured him that it didn’t. “We’ve given money to states where the Congressional delegation voted against the stimulus package,” he said.” Anyone who believes this is crazy. It is all about politics . . . even if the Congressional delegations in those states voted against the stimulus bill maybe, just maybe it is the voters the LaHood and his party is going after!

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 3rd, 2010
3:20 pm

Cynthia: You stated earlier that the state legislature needed to have a serious plan with some serious money. Wouldn’t that require having seriously competent leadership under the Gold Dome, which Georgia just hasn’t really had in the last few years?

The last three years have been increasingly embarrassing for Georgians who have actually expected something productive of state government. From the lack of interest and leadership from Governor Sonny-Do-Nothing Perdue (Go Fish Georgia, “austerity” cuts to education, his timely disappearance during the gas shortage in ‘08 and lack of action on transportation) and the erratic, insane and corrupt behavior of former House Speaker Glenn “Romeo” Richardson and his overreactions to constant goading and baiting by fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (these are all Republicans fighting each other like their on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum) to sessions of the General Assembly that seemingly at times embarrassingly and shamefully descended into complete and total lunacy while the world burned.

Unfortunately, the Georgia General Assembly wasn’t the only local governmental entity that has been responsible for the current sorry state of the state on many matters including transportation. I can name off several local city and county governments that at times seem to be closer to a demented and rudderless comedy routine than an actual governing body to be taken seriously by its constitutents. Just take a look at the Atlanta City Council, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, the Marietta City Council, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, the City of Snellville, etc as just a few perennial examples of local governments that at times seem to be lost in the woods of incompetence.