Mayor Reed, Sen. Fort face off at V-103 on T-SPLOST

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and state Sen. Vincent Fort took to the airwaves Tuesday morning for a last-minute debate of the pros and cons of the proposed T-SPLOST.

Fort, who was has been an outspoken critic of the transportation referendum, said on V-103 radio that the tax “doesn’t pass the fairness test. A billionaire pays the same rate as Grandmama on a fixed income. That’s not fair.”

Fort claimed that if the measure passes, citizens of counties already paying a 1 percent MARTA tax “are going to be double-taxed.”

Reed pointed out that Fort voted for the bill in the state Senate. “He voted to put it on the ballot,” the mayor said.

The mayor was also quick to point out that civil rights icons Joseph Lowery, Andrew Young and John Lewis are all in favor of T-SPLOST.

“Surely, these people who stood on the front line for freedom to even allow you and I to sit in this studio, if they made a decision to support it, how in the world can folks be on the other side, saying that this is unfair?” Reed asked. “Do you believe Ambassador Young would be for a tax if he believed it was going to hurt Grandmama and her grandson?”

Fort had harsh words for Gov. Nathan Deal, who supports the T-SPLOST. The senator said “all the MARTA money is going to go through Nathan Deal and the state.”

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have confidence that Nathan Deal is going to do right by MARTA,” Fort said. “The fact of the matter is, I don’t trust Nathan Deal to do the right thing.”

Staff writer Mike Morris contributed this report

26 comments Add your comment

Kelly

July 31st, 2012
10:02 am

Mayor Reed is a poor excuse for the people of Atlanta and down right a bully. Stop name dropping and speak for yourself.

Rev Al

July 31st, 2012
10:03 am

Hey…..he didn’t mention me….

Supporter For Tax

July 31st, 2012
10:34 am

Fort talks about the tax passing a fairness test, think about it, if you are a billionaire and spends that billion you will be taxed the same but will be paying more because of what you spend. A Grandma who is on fixed income will pay the same rate but will not be spending money on things that they do not need. So in many ways a person with more money will in turn pay more, because they spend more.

How can someone vote in favor of something and then fight against the same thing you vote for. Isn’t that a hypocrite?

No the project list is not perfect and no it will not solve all the problems we have with transportation in this region, but it will help us get one step closer to the right direction. Do nothing and we will continue to lose jobs to other cities such as Charlotte, Tampa and Jacksonville. We have a great opportunity of letting the world know that we are moving in the right direction.

If the tax fails, then it will be another two years before we have an opportunity to fix the problem, two years that will be lost. If you think two years is not a long time, think about 2010 election and see what happened on the National level. The country is at a stand still. Do you want the Atlanta Metro to do the same?

Besides this is an opportunity to get construction workers back to work. One of the reason why our region grew at the rate it did back in the 90’s is because of construction. If we can put 34,000 construction people back to work who will in turn spend their income on restaurants, grocery, retail stores and also pay taxes; wouldn’t that benefit all of us.

Voting against this tax is voting against your own self interest, just to make the metro region more divided and make those who oppose this plan find ways to extort more money from us in the future. It will give them time to plan how to make more money off us. Think about.

Hell No!

July 31st, 2012
11:09 am

You’re right – it is two years before it CAN be brought back up again. Hopefully, though, that won’t happen either. This is a bad bill designed to pad the pockets of Friends of the GDOT, contractors, lawyers, engineers and the like. Perhaps if the dolts at GDOT hadn’t shoved HOT lanes down our throats, extended the 400 tolls, or designed all of the extra entrance/exit ramps on land owned (or optioned) by ex GDOT executives (or family members) on the (thankfully defunct) Northern Arc – this bill would have stood a chance of passing. Good riddance!

JB

July 31st, 2012
11:33 am

“So in many ways a person with more money will in turn pay more, because they spend more.”

The amount of taxes someone pays should not be thought of in as an absolute number, but rather in proportion to their income. Think about it – the lifestyle someone leads is also in relation and proportion to their income, why not taxes? But there is a bare minimum amount that someone must earn in order to live a bare-bones lifestyle of self-sufficiency and basic human dignity – any taxes on that only decrease their self-sufficiency and thus increase taxes on us to maintain their human diginity (if we are to be a civilized society). So this whole “but the rich pay higher amounts of taxes” is bunk, because we all know that the * proportion * of their income they pay has no damaging impact on their lifestyle, certainly not in terms of their human dignity and self-sufficiency like regressive taxes on grandma do. The rich should pay higher portions of their income in taxes than the poor. The end.

Please vote no

July 31st, 2012
12:18 pm

That’s right JB. This person just needs to learn the difference between a regressive and a progressive tax.
If you are in favor of transit as these guys claim they are, you’d vote against as the Sierra Club recommends.
I have a hard time believing that this project list will do anything to stop jobs going to Charlotte, Tampa, or Jacksonville, if you believe that is happening. It simply doesn’t do enough in the way of transit and does too much in the way of pork. Let’s get a better plan and vote no.

steve-o

July 31st, 2012
1:19 pm

Vote YES for Atlanta’s transportation future. Over half of the total revenues generated by the TSPLOST will be used for transit projects, such as the Beltline and MARTA extension to Emory. Additionally road projects, such as the reconstruction fof the GA400/I-285 interchange, will help to reduce travel delays by 24%!

Contrary to the views of some on here, this is it. There is no Plan B and elected officials won’t have the political capital to come back to the table in two years to negotiate a new list. Even if they did, I can guarantee you that there would be even less transit proposed.

Finally, the project selection process was transparent as the project list was formulated in plain view of the public at public meetings. Additionally there will be a citizens review panel to review the program’s progress with an independent audit performed by a third party on an annual basis.

This is it folks. This is as good as it gets in a region that is as politically polarized as Atlanta. Voting against this would be a vote for the status quo for years to come.

12-Year Resident

July 31st, 2012
1:28 pm

If I chose not to bring a company here, it wouldn’t be because of traffic. It would be because half the city is essentially a ghetto, complete with never ending bad behavior (loitering, littering, petty theft, assault, etc.), while the better neighborhoods are under pressure from petty crimes, high taxes, and a completely disengaged city government.

As far as traffic goes, the symbol of Atlanta isn’t really a traffic jam. It’s actually a line of cars waiting with no cross traffic at a dangling crooked red light controlled by a 1979 relay timer. Half the traffic issues in Atlanta could be improved with smart traffic controls (sensors, cams with blob detection, etc.). And, this does NOT require billions of dollars, nor a $700-million new light rail line that is not even fully integrated with existing tracks (you will have to change platforms in Lindbergh).

Currently, Atlanta’s infrastructure does not enjoy even the most basic maintenance. Roads are not striped, cracked curbs are not replaced, crooked power poles stand abandoned, wires droop comically close to the ground, electrical boxes sit crooked and open. T-SPLOST doesn’t address any of these chronic maintenance issues. At the end of 10 years, it is completely possible that we will have a bunch of big projects each 75% complete, and we will still have all the same poorly maintained infrastructure elements. The public will be held ransom to finish the projects, and then again for more money to “maintain” them. They of course will not be maintained properly. 30% of the maintenance funds will vanish into thin air and some of the rest will go to city employee benefits.

I would feel more positive about large transportation projects if there was any evidence at all that the projects would go as planned. There is no evidence.

Please vote no

July 31st, 2012
1:29 pm

Over half of the total revenues generated by the TSPLOST will be used for transit projects, such as the Beltline and MARTA extension to Emory.
Which is a great deal for Emory employees, otherwise, you are still sitting in traffic years from now.

Mark

July 31st, 2012
1:35 pm

The Belt Line is not transit. It is a Ph.d student’s thesis and a good idea to link neighborhoods and spur some economic development, but transit? No, it is not. If elected officials can’t put together a better way to fund general transportation infrastructure, we’ll elect ones who can. Remember, this is being sold as a SPLOST, a “special purpose” tax. Funding basic needs is a general purpose, not a special purpose and as such should not be funded with a sales tax. You use that for real one-time needs, like sewers or MARTA, or even the Beltline, but not for regular needs.

Lee

July 31st, 2012
1:46 pm

I think like most political battles we face this is a case of the lesser of two evils. While there are several things I disagree with the good will outweigh the bad. As a city with some of the worst (if not worst) traffic in America we can’t afford to wait an additional two years on what we think may be a better solution. The risk is too great.

twistedmuser

July 31st, 2012
2:16 pm

Mr Reed, with all due respect to the civil rights icons you mentioned, and they do deserve respect, their past deeds do not automatically make them right on everything. This is a bad bill that needs to be voted down. The world will not end tomorrow.

steve-o

July 31st, 2012
2:25 pm

@ Please vote no,

The Emory/CDC area is the largest employment center in the MARTA service area that is not served by rail transit. Thus the MARTA extension to the area deems it a REGIONAL project and not one of limited benefit.

@ Mark,

The Beltline sure is transit in that it connects urban neighborhoods on the east and west sides with the central business district. It is projected to move tens of thousands of people daily and will further connect people (especially those on the underserved south and west sides of town) with jobs.

Also, you’re right in that SPLOST stands for “special purpose local options sales tax.” However I will argue that investing in more transit is a special purpose. Contrary to popular opinion, there is simply not enough revenues from existing sources to cover the transportation needs we have in Metro Atlanta.

@ 12-Year Resident,

Delta is ready when you are…

Deb

July 31st, 2012
2:31 pm

Plenty of people go to Emory and that area who do NOT work there. Several of my doctors are there and I’d love to take MARTA to get there, as I do for my job. So say that line only benefits Emory employees is so wrong and narrow minded.

Please Vote no

July 31st, 2012
2:40 pm

Well, we could debate whether the couple of mile spur to Emory will “untie” Atlanta but I hope you see the larger point. That is, there isn’t enough rail transit in the project list.

steve-o

July 31st, 2012
2:56 pm

@Please vote no,

Are you aware of how expensive it is to build new rail alignment? Do you really think that elected officials will have the political capital to go back to the drawing board and produce a list with even more transit? If you do, then I have some swamp land to sell you in Florida.

I agree with you that Atlanta is horribly underserved by rail transit. However Rome wasn’t built in a day and the rail projects in the TSPLOST project list represent a huge first step in expanding our current rail transit network.

http://www.junctionatl.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/050512TSPLOST-new-map.pdf

Bernie Matt

July 31st, 2012
3:03 pm

I’m glad Reed “name dropped”, the people need to know all of the names that have been selling them out since our ONLY LEADER, Martin, was taken from us. In 40 years in Government in Georgia has Andy Young or John Lewis ever said to the GDOT, that their racist practices had to stop? No they haven’t! It took Ed Debose and people who have not sold out to do that and present it to the Attorney General’s office of this country.

Please Vote No

July 31st, 2012
3:18 pm

I can’t answer your political capital question. I can say that the elected officials seem to have acted the way they often do, in their own best interest. I would hope that a new plan wouldn’t require this kind of marketing because the benefits would be apparent.

Bob

July 31st, 2012
3:19 pm

The politicians were too scared to raise our gas tax to fund “needed” improvements, so they came up with a new plan [TSPLOST] for us idiots to increase our own taxes. We supposed to feel bad and shamed when it fails. Hell NO!

Look what don blewed up in their faces!

bob

July 31st, 2012
4:00 pm

When a black democrat and a white republican get on tv and practically beg for your money while sitting in each others lap you know the only looser is the taxpayers of Georgia!!

Glenda

July 31st, 2012
4:38 pm

Return in 2 years with a better transit system for the entire state. If I’m going to pay more taxes (and I will) let it be for a transit system that will benefit the entire state not GDOT executives, friends and families. Take a look at Maryland, DC, Virginia, etc., systems.

Proud Supporter

July 31st, 2012
4:56 pm

This process took about two years to come to fruition and included dozens of roundtable meetings to establish which projects were best for each region. These projects funded by the TIA would help spur growth throughout the state. It is about economic development and improving the prospects of a better future for every Metro Atlanta resident! I VOTED YES to the TSPLOST and I support the MAYOR 150%!

Vivelena

July 31st, 2012
4:59 pm

They need to extend public transportation into the outlying cities as close as Alpharetta!! My teenage kids cannot get to the jobs that are right outside of Sandy Springs because of where the public transportation ends! Does it make sense that 15 minutes north of Sandy Springs, people without cars cannot apply for job openings because — guess what?? – NO MARTA!! Im voting a big fat NO!!! And I didnt see this on the list!!

Vivelena

July 31st, 2012
5:09 pm

@STEVE-O: What are you talking about how expensive it is?? They need to take that money their getting and put most of it to extending the rail transit!! This is already decades behind!! They want to build a new stadium — Do we really need streetcars downtown?? People need to get to those job openings in outer suburbia!! People in the bubble need to get out and talk to real people with real struggles, and then maybe you’ll understand.

chris

July 31st, 2012
6:20 pm

A billionaire pays the same rate as Grandmama on a fixed income. That’s not fair.”

So a grandma will use mass transit less than a billionaire? Fort is an idiot. I am not rich but I don’t think that someone should be punished for having money. A consumption tax is fair. The billionaire probably buys more than the do nothing grandmas so he will pay more anyway. But what a dumb statement.

Just Me

August 1st, 2012
11:04 pm

Where and Why and How did this discussion of, it is only fair that the rich should pay more than the not so rich? If each person is paying their amount of taxes then that is final. I don’t understand where this discussion started? If you pay your fair share that’s it! I work at Walmart, how much do you think I make? Yet, I never will agree with this bellyaching “well the rich should pay more, NO! We each pay what is our fair share and that is the END! As far as the traffic here in Atlanta area, make clean and comfortable busing areas and buses available to all the subdivisions so that busing is accessible to those who would enjoy being chauffeured to w/in walking distance to their place of employment. Check out Kingwood, Texas.