Tolls a consequence of avoiding real issue

Last month, the State Road and Tollway Authority voted to break a long-standing public promise and extend tolls on Ga. 400.

Public reaction was overwhelmingly negative, but it didn’t really matter. SRTA has just one elected member on its board. And that person, Gov. Sonny Perdue, is leaving office in January and knows he will never have to face the voters again.

In other words, SRTA is basically unaccountable to the people, and is designed to be. It may control public assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, assets that generate many millions more in annual public revenue, but SRTA could — and did — take its vote without real regard to public input.

The Ga. 400 decision is hardly the first time that promises have been broken to the people of Georgia regarding tolls. Revenue generated by Ga. 400 was supposed to be used only within that corridor, but in 2002, when SRTA was under the control of then-Gov. Roy Barnes, the agency quietly rewrote its bylaws to drop that provision. It then arranged the diversion of $10 million in toll revenue to buy seven acres of land near Atlantic Station, ostensibly for a transit project that never materialized.

At the time, Barnes and SRTA were also eyeing toll revenue from Ga. 400 to help finance the ill-fated Northern Arc, a superhighway then proposed to link I-85 and I-75 across the northern exurbs. That too never materialized.

More recently, in 2009, the state Transportation Board — another public entity with no direct accountability to the public — voted to reverse a 2005 pledge to the people of Georgia never to convert existing highway lanes into toll lanes. As a result of that policy change, north and southbound HOV lanes on I-85 between Chamblee Tucker Road and Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County are now being converted into tolled lanes, and similar tolling projects are already in the planning stages.

The newly tolled lanes will be “managed lanes.” If they get crowded and traffic flow begins to slow, tolls will automatically rise to discourage drivers from using them. In effect, such a system represents a gesture of surrender by transportation planners. Unable to increase the supply of transportation options, they have turned to reducing demand as a way to keep traffic flowing.

If all of this sounds like a convoluted, contorted way of making public policy, it is. Step by step, over time, the public is being herded into grudging acceptance of policies that, given an open debate, it would probably reject out of hand. And along the way, difficult decisions that ought to be made by people accountable to voters are instead being handed off to quasi-public agencies that are insulated from public pressure.

But the truth is, we’ve given public officials very little choice but to behave in such a fashion. They are responding in a somewhat logical fashion to what is really an utterly illogical and, in the end, destructive situation.

According to a national transportation study released last week, the United States invests just 0.6 percent of its GDP on transportation annually. That’s half as much as China, Russia and central and eastern Europe and a third as much as Western Europe, which is investing 1.85 percent of GDP on transportation.

“The United States can’t compete successfully in the 21st century with a 20th century transportation infrastructure, especially when its chief trading partners … are making significant investments in cutting-edge transportation technologies,” the report states.

That’s not news to transportation planners at the federal, state and local levels. They know all too well that they’re starved for investment capital. For example, the prime source of federal transportation funding is the gasoline tax, which stands at 18.4 cents a gallon. It hasn’t been increased since 1993, when gasoline was selling for less than $1.10 a gallon.

So today, we’re paying close to triple that amount for gasoline to fuel our cars, but not a penny more in taxes for the roads and bridges on which to drive those vehicles. And our elected leaders at federal and state levels don’t dare try to increase that amount.

To some degree that’s a failure of leadership. Most people in elective office lack the courage and vision to make what ought to be a convincing case for more investment in our basic economic infrastructure. Instead, they plot inefficient, convoluted ways of squeezing money out of a distrustful American public, in the process making voters more distrustful still.

And in the long run, it’s not going to work. As the report concludes:
“The United States, which once invested prodigiously in transportation infrastructure, has for more than a generation now leaned ever more heavily on assets built in an earlier era.”

In other words, we’re out of fuel and content to coast.

108 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

October 8th, 2010
7:32 am

Atlantans wonder why the rest of the state look at them funny.

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
7:40 am

And coast we will. Just a guess here but I would estimate that we will not see any significant change from the status quo for at least another thirty to fifty years, give or take. Maybe longer.

stands for decibels

October 8th, 2010
7:47 am

Among the many things I Did Not Know:

According to a national transportation study released last week, the United States invests just 0.6 percent of its GDP on transportation annually. That’s half as much as China, Russia and central and eastern Europe and a third as much as Western Europe, which is investing 1.85 percent of GDP on transportation.

Meanwhile, on a related note, and since it needs to be said: Chris Christie is an idiot.

Jack

October 8th, 2010
7:56 am

Toll roads seem to make sense to me as long as the funds go toward maintaining existing roads and not to subsidize another welfare system.

stands for decibels

October 8th, 2010
7:56 am

@@

October 8th, 2010
7:56 am

It’s rare that I travel the toll roads, but I do hate tollhouse cookies.

Government breaking promises? Government dodging accountability? Government ignoring the will of the people?

Geez! That sounds all too familiar.

When all else fails…

it gets Gorey.

arnold

October 8th, 2010
8:01 am

I just stay away from Atlanta. Even when traveling south, I by-pass Atlanta.

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
8:09 am

“To some degree that’s a failure of leadership.”

to SOME degree???

the “leaders” of the state aren’t taking care of their responsibilities for schools and infrastructure, and that’s an abdication of only “some” of their responsibility???

criminey.

stands for decibels

October 8th, 2010
8:10 am

we’re paying close to triple that amount for gasoline to fuel our cars, but not a penny more in taxes for the roads and bridges on which to drive those vehicles.

And of course beyond those roads and bridges which we’re trying to maintain on the cheap, we can’t possibly afford to fund mass transit adequately as an alternative to getting-in-your-car-alone-and-driving-the-same-route-to-work-every-day (as God clearly intended, or something), like they do in every other civilized industrialized nation on Earth.

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
8:13 am

“we can’t possibly afford to fund mass transit adequately as an alternative to getting-in-your-car-alone-and-driving-the-same-route-to-work-every-day ”

… on our way to the airport on the VERY crowded I-75, I suggested we get into the HOV lane to speed our journey – the mister looked at the teeming mass of humanity on the freeway and asked “wait – are you telling me that all these cars only have ONE person in them???”

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
8:14 am

It’s all a clever plot by the Republicans to get us to drive less. Who would have ever thought that Republicans were in favor of that kind of conservatism. Works for me. Besides,we all know that things are not really bad here in Georgia until folks start complaining about their 4WDs getting stuck.

stands for decibels

October 8th, 2010
8:19 am

“wait – are you telling me that all these cars only have ONE person in them???”

Embarrassing, isn’t it?

bbl…

Normal

October 8th, 2010
8:20 am

Government is the ememy until you need a friend…

Bill Cowen (R)

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
8:24 am

Normal –
a great quote for so many situations:

Trial Lawyers are the enemy until you need a friend…

Cops are the enemy until you need a friend…

Teachers are the enemy until you need a friend…

… so many of the favorite bugaboos fit that particular bill …

El Jefe

October 8th, 2010
8:24 am

I wonder what would happen if everyone took the Cruse Card lane and refused to pay? Could they handle hundreds of thousands of citations a month?

What would the backup in processing be?

How would they then react to the civil disobedience?

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
8:30 am

“I wonder what would happen if everyone took the Cruse Card lane and refused to pay?”

:lol:

let’s see … $0.50 or $25 … hmmmmm … that’s a tough one …

the state would be laughing all the way to the bank if everyone tried this particular “civil disobedience”

Peadawg

October 8th, 2010
8:30 am

Good thing I live in Athens…

Gale

October 8th, 2010
8:32 am

I would be ok with raising the gas tax to fund transportation projects other than more roads. More roads is not the answer to Atlanta’s transportation problem. The problem with raising the gas tax is exactly what Jay reminded us of; politicians will find ways to play with the money without solving the problem.

El Jefe

October 8th, 2010
8:43 am

USinUK,

Like any bureaucracy, it runs slowly, clumsily and without any finesse. A massive wave of citations would bring it to its knees. Before it could process the first batch, the second and third would hit it.

This is the weakness of any government agency, remember the mess the Georgia IRS was in and that was only one deluge a year.

AmVet

October 8th, 2010
8:44 am

Though some of the faithful here will always “apologize” for these people and these horrendous decisions, by immediately chowing down on their red herring breakfast, it is widely known that the “new” but not improved, GOP-led government in Atlanta is for the most part, as incompetent and corrupt as ever and is as bad as their counter-parts in Washington.

Pray for Rain was an ineffective embarrassment, to the Republican Party, to the people of Georgia and to all Americans. And Nathan Deal is a tragic joke who could not get elected dog catcher in more moderate states. But, it is virtually guaranteed that his serial corruption will not hurt him at all here and that he will be elected as Flag-Boy’s replacement by a wide margin. (States Rights!!!)

The incidents cited above by JB are mere confirmation:

“…unaccountable to the people, and is designed to be.”

“…but SRTA could — and did — take its vote without real regard to public input.”

“…the state Transportation Board — another public entity with no direct accountability to the public — voted to reverse a 2005 pledge to the people…”

Imperious and unaccountable, just the way the cons like it.

“The United States can’t compete successfully in the 21st century with a 20th century transportation infrastructure…”

And Georgia can’t compete successfully in 21st century America with 19th century leadership.

But by all means, be a good conservative and vote for the Crooked Deal…

Bubba Bob

October 8th, 2010
8:44 am

I only lived in Atlanta 8 years but I think it needs better train covergae. I refuse to ride the bus everywhere.

Also, it would be great if there were some express type trains to bring people into the city from the rural/suburbs. Especially to the airport.

Normal

October 8th, 2010
8:44 am

Peadawg,
Glad you’re here. I saw, in a previous post, that you said you were eight years old in ‘93, is that right? If so, I thought you were much older than that. Anyway if it’s true, I can’t call you Peadawg any more…you’ll just have to answer to “Sproutpuppy”… ;)

Scout

October 8th, 2010
8:45 am

Two points:

1) I hope somone is taking this to court.

2) Reminds me of reading about the time that Congress almost voted to prohibit railway steam engines because it was costing wagon wheel makers their jobs.

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
8:45 am

El Jefe – “Like any bureaucracy, it runs slowly, clumsily and without any finesse.”

dude.

ever heard of a computer?

do you honestly think there is a PERSON (or persons) going through those tag-ID videos to ticket you???

Bubba Bob

October 8th, 2010
8:46 am

AmVet,

I give you that Deal is not all that great but….do you really think Barnes is that much better?

The real problem is that neither side has very many viable candidates.

El Jefe

October 8th, 2010
8:46 am

November 2010 Contracts for gasoline, is $2.10 a gallon. That means we add about 40-50 cents in Georgia for state and federal taxes.

I am sure the loonies would not mind paying more.

StJ

October 8th, 2010
8:47 am

Raise the gas tax to ensure a price floor of $4.00 a gallon and adjust for inflation thereafter. The money flows directly into the state treasury and is therefore controlled by elected officials answerable to the voters. Problem solved.

“…the public is being herded into grudging acceptance of policies that, given an open debate, it would probably reject out of hand.” You mean, like Obamacare? Say it ain’t so!

Southern Comfort

October 8th, 2010
8:52 am

G’morning all, afternoon UnU

If the gas tax was pegged to the price of gas vs a flat amount, things could get done. However, we would need elected officials that actually gave a damn about things like infrastructure first.

tommytwotone

October 8th, 2010
8:53 am

The 2nd amendment makes elected officials answerable to the voters. No need for four dollar gas.

Cut spending by 80% and start publicly tarring and feathering the government mouthbreathers (and their private citizen cheerleaders) and we’ll get some real change going.

Lewis

October 8th, 2010
8:53 am

You write: “If they get crowded and traffic flow begins to slow, tolls will automatically rise to discourage drivers from using them.” Actually what will happen is that only the wealthiest will be able to get where they are going on time, usually during rush hours. This is true although all people try to arrive on schedule, especially those in lower paid jobs where bosses often are far less understanding about late arrivals.

barking frog

October 8th, 2010
8:53 am

No one is forced to use a toll road. If it is not worth the
money, use another road. Here they are mainly considering
lanes on the same highway. Voluntary taxation. Good
concept.

Doggone/GA

October 8th, 2010
8:58 am

I’m not sure I see the relationship between the cost of gas and how much we pay in gas taxes. I would think the important stat is how many miles we drive, not how much it costs for the gas to drive those miles…but anyway, I’m finding this all a bit on the amusing side. I refuse to drive on the 400 toll section – and will refuse to drive in the toll lanes. So they can raise the tolls all they want, it won’t cost me a penny.

barking frog

October 8th, 2010
8:59 am

China has weeks long traffic jams yet they a higher % of GDP
than US on infrastructure. Must not be on roads.

Doggone/GA

October 8th, 2010
9:00 am

“You mean, like Obamacare? Say it ain’t so!”

Nope, nothing like the CongressCare. That bill was passed AND signed by duly elected representatives..not a largely unelected board.

AmVet

October 8th, 2010
9:00 am

“I give you that Deal is not all that great but…”

Let me help you rephrase that.

He is a colossal crook and far right wing nutjob.

He is so capricious he was first a Democrat, but then when the avalanche of defectors kicked in, courtesy of Newt the Nut, voila! He’s a Republican. (BTW, did anyone besides me find it absolutely hysterical when someone yesterday wrote, “So a few southern Democrats switched parties…?)

But much worse, he was at first a moderate but guess what happened when he defected? He veered HARD right.

The cad is such a sad sack that he wants to pollute the most sacred document ever written – the United States Constitution – by eliminating the 14th Amendment!

And regarding his serial crooked “deals” he is the very antithesis of ethics in government.

His record proves that he is fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt.

And out of the hundreds and hundreds of crooks in Washington, he is near the very top.

Does that help?

I’ll do some research on Barnes as well, but it really won’t matter much, as I’m almost certainly not voting for him either…

Doggone/GA

October 8th, 2010
9:02 am

“Here they are mainly considering lanes on the same highway”

That have already been bought and paid for with OUR tax money, but now they’re going to “tax” us AGAIN for them. Or, to put it more exactly, they’re going to ensure that only those who can afford to use them are ALLOWED to use them. Nevermind that we ALL have paid for them already.

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
9:03 am

People alter their behavior, in general, based on the applied stimuli. Always have, always will. I see we took another 95,000 people off the roads in September so that should help some more with congestion.

DifferentDrummer

October 8th, 2010
9:04 am

Bubba Bob–”…do you really think Barnes is that much better?”

Immensely better! At least Barnes can fully comply with financial disclosure requirements. Deal’s got some nerve ending his TV ads with “He’ll get it right…the first time.” Really, like his financial disclosure statements which he didn’t get right the first, second or third times he filed and re-filed them?

Barnes did more good as Governor than bad. Unlike Deal who will hide from important issues, Barnes changed our shameful state flag and took on the education establishmnet in this state which was quite willing to keep Georgia’s educational perfomance at the bottom of the list of states. (Remember Republican School Superintendent Linda Shrencko? She ran education in this state during Barnes’s term as Governor, before she was indicted, convicted and imprisoned for stealing federal grant money.)

Finally, he’s better than Deal because he has a vision of what this state is losing everyday by not taking on important issues that would make Georgia a leader in many areas of commerce. He had transportaion and water reservoir/conservation plans which Sonny refused to implement. And look what Sonny’s 8 years of so-called “governance’ gave us.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:13 am

AmVet – “But by all means, be a good conservative and vote for the Crooked Deal…”

(Yawn). So tiring….

DifferentDrummer

October 8th, 2010
9:15 am

Doggone/GA

October 8th, 2010
9:02 am

“Here they are mainly considering lanes on the same highway”

“That have already been bought and paid for with OUR tax money, but now they’re going to “tax” us AGAIN for them. Or, to put it more exactly, they’re going to ensure that only those who can afford to use them are ALLOWED to use them. Nevermind that we ALL have paid for them already.”

What are you complaining about, Doggone/GA? These are the guys y’all have repeatedly elected for the last 8 tyears — a Republican-controlled state government. They control the legislature and the Governor’;s Office and have appointed person to bioards and commissions who do THEIR, not YOUR bidding. Got complaints? Take it with them. You think they care what you think? they don’t because they know that voters in this state are too stupid to figure out who to hold responsible. Can’t hold the Democrats responsible for this one, though.

So, go ahead and elect Nathan Deal as this great state’s next Governor, and watch the corruption continue.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:16 am

Doggone – “Or, to put it more exactly, they’re going to ensure that only those who can afford to use them are ALLOWED to use them. Nevermind that we ALL have paid for them already.”

Or, to put it in more realistic terms, they are trying to deter tax payer (us) behavior (driving on roads) by placing a tax on the act of driving on the roads. Once again, it is clear what taxes do….they discourage behavior. Get it? Good. Don’t forget it.

Matti

October 8th, 2010
9:17 am

AmVet,

But Deal has an “R” by his name now! That means he loves little fetuses and church and hard work (except for his own kids, whose entitlement mentality he feeds with loans the family can’t afford so they won’t have to work hard to own a business), war, borrowing money from China to pay for tax cuts, and an unregulated free-market where good ol’ boys can pull each other’s bootstraps up behind closed doors. More importantly, Deal hates all the right things to hate, like Demoncraps, Roybama, allowing poor people access to medical care, and rules that apply equally across the population.

Therefore, the good voters of Georgia don’t need your stinkin’ FACTS, AmVet! He’s got an “R” and they know exactly what that means: Nathan Deal is not a witch. He’s THEM.

Doggone/GA

October 8th, 2010
9:19 am

“What are you complaining about, Doggone/GA? These are the guys y’all have repeatedly elected for the last 8 tyears”

You’re making an assumption about me that has no basis in reality. See if you can figure that out.

Paulo977

October 8th, 2010
9:21 am

USinUK

Off topic ..So how is ol’Dave working in the ‘people’s interest’ these days?!!!

Kamchak

October 8th, 2010
9:21 am

…a great quote for so many situations:

Man U is always the enemy.

Welcome back USinUK

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:24 am

“Welcome back USinUK”

And the butt patting continues. Geez…between yesterday and today, you’d think this guy was a ’sort-of-a-god.’ :)

Peter

October 8th, 2010
9:24 am

Them Republican’s always looking to do the “right Thing” and listen to the people !

AmVet

October 8th, 2010
9:25 am

It’s encouraging and funny that some of the more bored here no longer even feign engaging in adult, cogent discourse. Which is a wonderful thing.

Matti, occasionally some far right wing loon on these blogs posits the old Jim Crow mentality of barring certain otherwise eligible members of the citizenry from voting.

And ironically as blind and lockstep as the new GOP often requires its adherents to be – think Purity Tests – they might as well just modify that mentality to barring otherwise eligible members of the citizenry from voting for non-Republicans.

Gawd knows they won that propaganda war in the Deep South long ago…

Gale

October 8th, 2010
9:25 am

Gee Taxpayer. Now I have to wonder how bad traffic would be without a recession. With all the job losses, I have not seen any traffic improvement at all. What are the unemployeed doing? Driving to the mall every day?

Kamchak

October 8th, 2010
9:25 am

Geez…between yesterday and today, you’d think this guy was a ’sort-of-a-god.

There’s your sign.

barking frog

October 8th, 2010
9:28 am

Tollways tax the user. Freeways tax everyone. There is no
such thing as a ‘paid for’ road. Maintenance anyone?

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
9:29 am

Gale,

You should be thankful for all the job losses. You don’t wanna know how bad traffic is when there is near full employment. It’s a Nightmare on Peachtree Street. Horror. Pure horror, I tells ya.

Matti

October 8th, 2010
9:31 am

AmVet, Matti, occasionally some far right wing loon on these blogs posits the old Jim Crow mentality of barring certain otherwise eligible members of the citizenry from voting.

Yes, I believe yesterday (or Wednesday) it was “chuck” who said that liberals should not be allowed to vote.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:32 am

“It’s encouraging and funny that some of the more bored here no longer even feign engaging in adult, cogent discourse.”

What’s the point in debating someone who has a completley one sided view of things, always, no exceptions. All of your posts, whether off topic or not, come back to 1 of 2 things: Everything that is wrong with everything is the fault of either 1.) the evil, disgusting rich people or 2.) the Republicans.

No matter how many different ways you say it, it all comes back to the same place. I can only read the same book so many times before I have to put it down and move on to new ideas.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:32 am

“There’s your sign.”

Excellent!

Matti

October 8th, 2010
9:33 am

USinUK,

Welcome back! We missed you.

MoDo misquoting Kerry

October 8th, 2010
9:33 am

Who among us does not enjoy butt patting?

Matti

October 8th, 2010
9:34 am

Nice guy,

I know you want your butt patted too. Know how to achieve that status? “Hard work.”

Kamchak

October 8th, 2010
9:35 am

I can only read the same book so many times before I have to put it down and move on to new ideas.

Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
9:35 am

What’s the point in debating someone who has a completley one sided view of things, always, no exceptions

Then again, if everyone just says no, what’s there to debate.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:38 am

“Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.”

Oh, Kam, don’t get your panties in a wad about my little god-comment. I’m just having some fun. C’mon man, its Friday.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:39 am

Matti – ““Hard work.””

Yikes!

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:41 am

Tax payer – “Then again, if everyone just says no, what’s there to debate”

Notice I said one-sided. I love to debate, but if the person you debate comes with the same argument, but just says it a little differently each time, it gets old and tiring. Seen that movie before…can recite it word for word.

TaxPayer

October 8th, 2010
9:41 am

What do like-minded people debate?

It’s so hot. No it’s not. It’s only 95. It’s been hotter. Sure it has but not in the last decade. Yes, it has. It hit 96 just eight years ago. No it did not. Oh yes it did.

AmVet

October 8th, 2010
9:42 am

Kam, among many here, it is an fifth grade habit of using these words: everybody, everything, nobody, nothing, all, none, always, never, etc.

Worse, is the common and unbreakable trait to fall back on the fatal flaw of speaking for others/putting words in their mouths, or the more covert “gross misrepresentations” as Jay noted about one of the regulars here, who does so incessantly.

Hopeless…

Joey

October 8th, 2010
9:44 am

I like the 5th Paragraph where you write about the ill-fated Northern Arc that never materialized. You point our that Barnes supported it, but you cannot bring yourself to write that Purdue opposed it and that one of Purdue’s first actions was to put a stop to the Northern Arc. A real weakness that you have there Jay.

Barnes’ support of the Arc and his battle with Teachers Unions are the primary reasons I supported Barnes and voted for him 8 years ago. To bad he is now best buds with the Teachers Unions.

Kamchak

October 8th, 2010
9:44 am

…it gets old and tiring.

Again—don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

You don’t have to read what everyone posts—you don’t even have to be here.

barking frog

October 8th, 2010
9:45 am

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:32 am

I can only read the same book so many times before I have to put it down and move on to new ideas.

————————————————————-
Evidently not a Christian, Jew, Moslem or Mormon.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:45 am

Left wing management

October 8th, 2010
9:46 am

“That’s not news to transportation planners at the federal, state and local levels. They know all too well that they’re starved for investment capital.”

And this in the land that’s supposedly God’s own pet project to show the world the virtues of capitalism? Tsk tsk

Matti

October 8th, 2010
9:46 am

barking frog @ 9:45,

HAHAHAHAHA! Excellent!

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:48 am

“Again—don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.”

I got it the first time, Kam.

“You don’t have to read what everyone posts—you don’t even have to be here.”

That’s right. And people don’t ever have to open their minds to possible other explanations for a given event or act. But hey, that’s the world in which we live.

Left wing management

October 8th, 2010
9:49 am

Jefferson 7:32 “Atlantans wonder why the rest of the state look at them funny”

Don’t get on your high horse too high my friend, Atlanta’s hardly alone. New Jersey’s governor (Republican of course) has just yanked the plug on a commuter rail extension project that would ease congestion into Manhattan citing a busted state budget. So Atlanta is hardly alone here.

But what has happened perhaps is that the rest of the country has been ‘Southernized’ – naturally with ill results as always.

Nice Guy

October 8th, 2010
9:51 am

“Evidently not a Christian, Jew, Moslem or Mormon.”

Um,trust me, there Matti, no one on here comes close to speaking as the word of God…so let’s just keep him out of all this.

AmVet

October 8th, 2010
9:52 am

barking frog @9:45, LOL.

I love when that happens – even to me. Kinda makes you think even *more* about thinking before you write!

As for the most recent AmVet obsessed, he lost a long time ago when he made it personal.

And who here believes he is ever going to grow up in this regard?

Alas, more import duties call. Like keeping the wounded American economic engine humming along…

williebkind

October 8th, 2010
9:53 am

Wow, another government controlled budget. Well, even that ilk in Atlanta doesnt deserve that kind of leadership. Maybe it will get so bad the transplants will move back to jersey! We can only inspire.

Paulo977

October 8th, 2010
9:53 am

Great Luckovich cartoon today!!

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
10:08 am

Nice Guy – “Geez…between yesterday and today, you’d think this guy was a ’sort-of-a-god.’”

“sort of”????

(and if you saw how nice my butt is, you’d want to pat it, too … even whiner wants to give it a smooch)

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
10:09 am

paolo – as for the opinion of “just call me Dave” – as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of the cuts aren’t going to take place until next year, so we’ll see what happens when the mmm-hmm hits the fan.

me, I think he’s doing what he needs to do and a lot of the cuts are common sense.

USinUK

October 8th, 2010
10:11 am

matti – 9:33 – aw! thanks!! :-)

Taxation

October 8th, 2010
10:22 am

Lets you know just how hard it is to get rid of a tax. In Cobb county years back they added a 1% sales tax for 5 years to pay for the construction of a fixed number of schools. After the schools were built and paid for the tax remained in place. It was repealed only because one lawyer knew about it, remembered that it was supposed to end, and sued successfully to have the tax repealed. How many people even remember that though? Just like how many people remembered that the tax was supposed to end? One.

Laurie

October 8th, 2010
10:56 am

The underlying problem is the cost of these transportation projects. Taxpayors should not be asked to make some company rich off their backs. Bring all aspects of road construction in house, from the engineers to pavement workers. Offer these people decent salaries, and 401K plans. Here’s a thought, hire locally, and provide training/education where needed to fill the skill gap. It would also help if taxpayors could trust the agreements made, like ending a toll at the designated time rather than using some underhanded way of extending a revenue stream for other purposes. I, for one, will never vote for another toll or DOT project again because we can’t trust the government to keep their word.

David S

October 8th, 2010
10:57 am

All of this is a consequence of allowing government to take over responsibility for road constuction and maintenance from the private sector (you know, folks who actually know how to do things and are accountable to the marketplace and consumers – not to the political process).

There is way too much to cover as to how this could be achieved. An outstanding book on the subject is by the great economist Walter Block. “Privatization of Roads and Highways”. Check out his well thought out and well-defined arguments before you dismiss this alternative out of hand. Clearly the government is a failure at EVERYTHING they do, so we better get working on some sound alternatives.

jm

October 8th, 2010
11:00 am

I’m all for the toll roads. Gotta pay for the roads somehow.

I’d prefer to see toll roads combined with new capacity. But if podunk voters don’t want to vote for a gas tax to maintain their roads, well I guess we just have to turn this whole state into one big toll operation.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

October 8th, 2010
11:20 am

JayBama – I will ask you again…

In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency which YOU require of OTHERS, HOW MUCH MONEY – and FROM WHOM does your employer make from political campaign ads, whether online or in print?

Why so shy about accountability when it is applied to YOU, JayBama?

alot

October 8th, 2010
11:22 am

USinK

Another one…

Rich people are the enemy until you need a job.

Van Jones

October 8th, 2010
11:44 am

“…we’ve given public officials very little choice but to behave in such a fashion.”
You had a good column going until you spat out this little gem. Then it was just more typical muck about how we need to happily pay more taxes because of random tidbits of misleading info you found and managed to mangle. You may have a future in politics.

Left wing management

October 8th, 2010
11:49 am

alot 11:22:

Yep, which is why the jobs need to be wrenched away from their grubby hands

Ben The Independent

October 8th, 2010
11:57 am

The toll roads are good for business. Since Georgia’s bond rating is AAA, I would assume something is being done right. By the way, where did you get the comment about all the opposition to the toll lanes? If Georgia listened to your opinions, we would be a southern ‘Peoples Republic of Massachusetts’.

David S

October 8th, 2010
1:02 pm

jm – what do you think all of the taxes on gasoline and all the registration fees for your car and license fees and the like are SUPPOSED to be used for? The problem is that government is massively wasteful and despite being the sole monopoly provider of road construction and maintenance and despite having the power to tax and collect tolls, they have pissed away the money on either something else or gross mismanagement and waste.

Yes, roads need to be paid for, but to whom should the money go. I say get the government out of the business entirely. They have already shown their abject failure.

MARK

October 8th, 2010
1:29 pm

The federal government has denied the Georgia Department of Transportation’s request to borrow $375 million for a project to build toll lanes alongside I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, state DOT officials say. That loan would have been paid back using toll revenue….

from the AJC

seabeau

October 8th, 2010
2:15 pm

London England and other European cities are issuing special limited car tags for people who have to venture with their autos into the cities hearts. All others use mass transit. Alanta has grown well beyond its needed land mass and needs to stop growing out. water use is an issue and now mobility is also. Mass transit and multi-storied apartments are needed. The people of Atlanta need to solve their own problems, before the State and Federal gov. mandates the changes.

DawgDad

October 8th, 2010
2:56 pm

And to think you’re in favor of letting politicians control our health care.

Mystified

October 8th, 2010
4:41 pm

An unelected board should not have the power to levy a tax (toll). Let’s make congress lead. If you need money for infrastructure, pass a tax on it. If they stopped trying to expand to more and more areas of our lives, they probably would have enough money anyway. And if they didn’t, argument against it would be small. Some things have to be paid for but whenever politicians get a surplus, they spend it on there buddies in new programs…

We need a Toll party. If 100,000 cars blew off the toll booth every day, they’d get the idea.

roldawg70

October 8th, 2010
5:14 pm

i suspect its its already been said but i can;t be said enough
we spend more on the military than any country in the world by far
but we can’t afford rail service or buses or sewers, education
good social services, etc

Caesar's Dad

October 8th, 2010
9:50 pm

marko

October 9th, 2010
7:06 am

The gas tax should be doubled or better yet made a set percentage of a gallon of gas so that as the cost of a gallon of gas climbs the revenues would rise a well. The only reason I can see for the great herds of SUV’s, populating Atlantas highways, is the sad fact that we’ve become the fattest people on the planet. Many of us probably can’t squeeze our bloated butts into a compact. America is a country that can’t seem to live within it’s means. We’d be much better off if we quit spending money we don’t have, to buy crap we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like. Sorry about the tirade. I get off coarse rather easily. I was talking about gas taxes. Georgia has one of the lowest tax rates on gasoline in the country. Raise the gas tax and well be able to discourage vehicular obesity and provide for better roads and highways. In his wildest dreams, Ben Franklin never imagined a union so perfect no one would be required to pay taxes. The question becomes how should we raise them. I never cared much for income taxes. Working to support your family is a good thing that shouldn’t be penilized by taxation. Burning two times the gasoline needed to carry your fat butt to work is not good for you and should be discouaged. If you smoke or drink you pay for your sins with heavy tax rates Nobody even complains about it. Raise the gas tax. People will grumble for a week or so, and then they’ll forget all about it.

Already fooled once

October 9th, 2010
7:37 am

In the early 1970s I voted for MARTA when I lived in DeKalb County. I have lived in Fulton or DeKalb County since that time. I would not vote for MARTA today. Why? MARTA does not adequately serve all of Fulton and DeKalb Counties almost 40 years later – the rail line north stops at North Springs, not Windward, in north Fulton County. A few years ago, Gwinnett County voted on adding MARTA. If Gwinnett had voted for MARTA instead of against MARTA, would rail lines have been extended to Gwinnett before extending them to Windward? I have been paying the MARTA tax since it started. I live in North Fulton County. I look at it as being taxed without receiving adequate benefits for paying the tax.
We are going to be asked to vote (maybe in 2012) on paying an additional one cent sales tax to fund and implement a regional transportation plan in the Metro Atlanta area. Will I vote to increase a tax on myself for this purpose? Probably not, especially since I believe we need metro Atlanta area solutions. Why will I not vote for what could benefit all of us in Metro Atlanta? At least four reasons as follows:
1. Broken promises from politicians. Exhibit one is extension of the Georgia 400 toll and using the toll for purposes not related to Georgia 400 between i-285 and I-85.
2. My almost 40 year experience with MARTA. Some of this is discussed above.
3. Lack of vision by planners. The only way traffic problems above the Chattahoochee River can be solved is to build more bridges across the river to prevent the hour-glass effect. Traffic flow concentrates (packs in) through a few communities to access the current bridges and then fans out after crossing the current bridges. This causes traffic jams. More bridges across the river would help unclog the roadways during rush hours.
4. Lack of political will. More bridges across the river will anger certain neighborhoods, but the bridges are still necessary to solve problems. The building of the Georgia 400 toll road was an act of political will that has resulted in benefits to a huge number of north Metro Atlanta citizens and reduced cut through traffic in many of the nearby communities. Building the northern arc would also be a good idea. Statewide, building truck only lanes (perhaps charging a toll) from the expanding deep water port of Savannah would probably benefit all Georgians if done properly.
It all starts with politicians keeping promises. At the end of a project, or when it is paid for, let that funding source end. Then make the case for a new project with a new, possible similar, funding source. Most projects and funding sources should have a sunset provision.
As a citizen of north Fulton County, I commend the mayors of this area, and also mayors of other cities in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, for taking a stand for citizens in those two counties. Why should we pay a one percent MARTA and then an additional one percent Metro Atlanta region transportation tax? It seems that some accommodation to us.
Voters/taxpayers/Georgia citizens need reasons to trust our politicians. It seems that politicians give us too many reasons not to trust them.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Politicians – please do not play me for a fool. Give me good reasons to trust you and good reasons to vote for a one percent tax to help fund a Metro Atlanta area regional transportation plan that will be of benefit and be fair to all citizens of the Metro Atlanta area.

ken R

October 9th, 2010
8:59 am

STOP THE PRESS! Who cares about tolls, when 72,000 DEAD people got stinulus payments in 2009 and 17,000 people in prison got them.

Who want’s to trust the Govt. with anything.

Zeke

October 9th, 2010
10:02 am

Check this out, Jay. Is it not the law, or at least a ruling of the illegal fed’l dot, that no toll may be placed on interstate highways that had already been built with tax money?