Lisa Borders and DuBose Porter on the same issue, at the same event

We may be about to witness a melding of the Atlanta race for mayor and the Democratic contest for governor, over the stodgy issue of tax collection.

A promise is to a political campaign what yeast is to bread _ essential, but largely puffery. The problem is that most campaign promises cost money.

And in this monster of a downturn, no government has any cash to spare. Suggesting more taxes, pulling more dollar bills from the thinning wallets of working stiffs, is a highly distasteful option.

Over the last several weeks, mayoral candidate Lisa Borders has called Atlanta “broke and broken.” Fixing the city, and boosting the current level of policing, will require increased spending, she admits.

How to get there? Borders has focused on the state’s antiquated and inefficent collection of sales taxes. Right now, penny taxes of all sorts flow straight from the cash registers of businesses to the state Department of Revenue, which redistributes to Georgia’s counties, cities and school boards their share of the wealth.

Local governments across the state, including the city of Atlanta, think they’re shortchanged millions of dollars each year _ by businesses that dodge the tax, and by the sticky fingers of the state. The Department of Revenue hangs onto the cash it collects just a little too long, they contend, in order to reap the interest.

Let Atlanta and other entities collect their own taxes _ or hire it done, Borders contends, and many of them could close their budget gaps.

State sales tax policy may sound like an odd topic for a mayoral candidate. But Borders’ campaign manager is Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta. And Abrams was one of six Democrats to sponsor H.B. 356 during the winter session of the Legislature, which would do exactly what Borders proposes.

Another sponsor of the bill was House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter, the Dublin newspaper publisher and candidate for governor. Porter has made sales tax reform a centerpiece of his campaign, in an attempt to position himself as a champion of school systems hurt by budget cuts imposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and a Republican-controlled Legislature.

Borders and Porter will appear together at an event in Atlanta this week, to highlight the sales-tax issue. When asked what he thought of Borders laying claim to it, the Democratic candidate for governor e-mailed the following response:

“This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we need to see from our future leaders. I wholeheartedly endorse her backing of  ‘point of sales’ [legislation] and think her endorsement will help us push this much needed bill through the House.”

That, my friends, is very close to an endorsement of Borders herself. The statement nearly presumes the city council president’s election as mayor.

We’ve already had one candidate for governor attempt to insert himself into the Atlanta mayoral race. Republican John Oxendine first clashed with former state senator Kasim Reed after the insurance commissioner proposed a new interstate through east Atlanta. Then he invited Councilwoman Mary Norwood to debate the road’s construction.

But Porter’s wooing of Borders is more serious, and a true gamble _ on his part, not hers. Expect Borders to do little more than smile and nod at any public overtures from the gubernatorial candidate.

But a Borders victory in November would at least place the Dublin newspaperman in the new mayor’s good graces come next July’s primary. And Atlanta remains a Democratic town. On the other hand, if the new mayor is named Reed _ well, that’s why you roll the dice.

Now, as for puffery.

Lamar Norton, chief lobbyist for the Georgia Municipal Association, says that state officials recently estimated that about $1.6 billion in sales tax remains uncollected each year. A new tax collection system that captures two-thirds of that _ local governments would likely privatize the process _ would generate $1 billion.

Perhaps half of that, $500 million, would belong to metro Atlanta, to be divided among dozens of cities, counties and school boards.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) acknowleges that sales tax collection is a problem that needs to be addressed _ but doesn’t want to subject every retailer in the state to a storm of audits from local governments. A study committee he headed finished last year. He expects to offer a negotiated measure when the General Assembly convenes.

But if Rogers thinks Democrats are dreaming if they think any found money will be enough to cure the budget woes of Atlanta or any other government budget.

“We are losing some, and we need to find it. We want everybody to pay what they owe, but there’s no way it’s $1 billion,” he said. “This will not be a solution for anyone’s financial problems.”

28 comments Add your comment


September 20th, 2009
3:45 pm

Lisa Borders needs to focus on staying within ethical bounds:

Hopefully, the ajc won’t shy away from questioning Borders on all her ethical issues.

Buckhead Corner

September 20th, 2009
3:51 pm

DuBose is a clown. Apparently, he doesn’t know how big of a chance he just took. This is a cute way to get Borders and Porter a little media time, but neither candidate has a true answer to this serious issue. They will both face the same fate.


September 20th, 2009
3:58 pm


September 20th, 2009
4:06 pm

Corruption at its finest. See for yourself:

Kasim Paid Me To Blog

September 20th, 2009
4:39 pm

Enough from the Kasim campaign bloggers. We all know that Stephanie “fake journalist” Ramage has already endorsed Kasim. If you read the article it states that there was insufficent evidence found and it was a bogus claim. You people need to figure out why Kasim would be good for Atlanta……oooops THAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO DO.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

September 20th, 2009
4:45 pm

It is each responsible citizen’s duty to bring to the Public’s attention any moral, ethical, or legal failing of any in, or running for, elected office.

As each should strive for the same, we all want candidates for public office and elected officials to be persons of proven integrity.

There is no way “Lisa” and “Carol” didn’t know the charges they’ve here tried to enflame against Lisa Borders were dismissed

They have shot their credibility. Please keep the same names for continuity’s sake.

As “Birds of Feather flock together,” we all know who it is you’re trying to falsely smear, why not identify yourselves completely and let us know which candidate for Mayor of Atlanta you do support? TIA

Cut The Check

September 20th, 2009
4:47 pm

It’s a great idea, I think. Skip the middleman and let the city collect its own money. It doesn’t mean new taxes but better collection. I hope it passes.

Its Funny

September 20th, 2009
4:50 pm

It is funny that Lisa came up with this brilliant strategy and her opponent who has been in the state Legislature for the last 11 years couldn’t hasn’t even mentioned it. Lisa, stay strong Atlanta is behind you!

Donny Fairplay

September 20th, 2009
4:51 pm

I thought that Borders’ plans for public safety were too good to be true until I saw that this was a plan to pay for them. If anyone knows what the other 2 are proposing let me know.

Not So Fast

September 20th, 2009
4:51 pm

As someone who knows DuBose, I hardly think this constitutes and endorsement. Even before I had heard of Lisa Borders (who I do support, as a sidebar), I have heard DuBose speaking of this issue (i.e. his sponsorship of the bill). Of course he will “endorse” this idea; he was one of the pioneers of it.

DuBose did not make the statement, in my opinion, for airtime, or anything else. He believes in the idea that he “endorsed,” and therefore he will express his agreement at the idea. I’d hardly say DuBose is a “clown” for speaking in favor of an issue that he supports.

From a HBCU Grad

September 20th, 2009
4:54 pm

I was a supporter of Kasim until I read this:

Fellow Brothers, do not think for a moment that Kasim is about you. He is looking out to get his and only his. Trust me.


September 20th, 2009
5:00 pm

Anyone that knows anything about the APD will admit that they are racist dogs. Borders and the APD = birds of a feather. If Kasim was Mayor he’d shut they down and keep them from killing Black people in the street. The answer is Centers of Hope and less pigs.


September 20th, 2009
5:05 pm

@Donny Fairplay,

Kasim will use the 3 mil tax increase to pay for Centers of Hope. That’s how you put real use to the money, not more pigs on the street.

For You Carol

September 20th, 2009
5:05 pm


September 20th, 2009
5:19 pm

Unbelievable! We saw it here in writing a Kasim supporter (@ KasimReedForMayor) calling the entire APD racist. I hope you don’t ever need them because they are out there protecting you each and everyday. Typical of a gun slanging, hoodlum from Kasim’s camp to get on here and start spewing hateful words about Atlanta’s finest.


September 20th, 2009
5:19 pm

ATL by Way of TX

September 20th, 2009
5:35 pm

I thought this article was about collecting tax dollars that local municipalities desperately need? So why are people taking the opportunity to sling mud? I decided a while back to stop reading this madness but a friend sent a text and here I am. I hope the people who are actually registered to vote in the city of Atlanta do a better job of sticking to the issues than some of the people who post on this site! Whether it’s $1B or $50M, local governments need the money relieving the burden from the state is a great idea!

Non Biased

September 20th, 2009
6:11 pm

It seems to me like L. Borders and J. Spikes are the best candidates. K. Reed and M. Norwood are both clowns…and further embarrassing themselves by the week…

Peach Girl

September 20th, 2009
8:46 pm

Stay focused, people. Lost in the political banter of this blog is the real fight — a much needed revenue source for the state, counties and municipalities. We could liken the Point of Sales tax collection to the Little League philosophy of everybody plays, everybody wins. At a time when the state faces another multi-billion dollar shortfall, and contemplates a special session, and our cities are struggling not to furlough workers,why in the world would Chip Rogers poo poo money from whatever legal source he could get it from? And it’s money citizens have already paid, for crying out loud. The Retailers Assoc should be ashamed of themselves for throwing a wrench into the works withsome strange attempt to help merchants not lawfully paying what they’ve already collected.


September 20th, 2009
9:30 pm

The AJC needs to be ashamed of not printing one bit of this since April!!! This sucks to be in Atlanta when even the paper you are suppose to trust for the facts in any situation that would affect the general public even in the least bit. And it’s not for you to decide on what’s best for us to read dammit!!! Instead of journalist placing their opinions on every darn thing- give us the facts. I don’t want to hear about any news paper endorsements when you can’t even be non-partisian and unbiased in what the heck you report.


September 21st, 2009
12:01 am

I agree that Dubose is making a costly mistake bc Borders likely won’t make it. I read on Creative Loafing a few days ago that some students are rallying (or something) to remove Borders from Clark Univ’s board. Can anyone share more about this???

Where the AJC falls short?

September 21st, 2009
12:30 am

Mr. Galloway,

I hear The Sunday Paper has some openings for interns. Maybe you’ve become such the “insider” that you’re gun shy about breaking stories that an informed public needs to know about. Maybe The Sunday Paper could remind you of the role you could play as a journalist.

Lord knows the public is trying to remind the AJC, as they are leaving the AJC each and every day.

Ramage is Horrible

September 21st, 2009
10:57 am

Ramage, I made it a point years ago never to visit your again. Please do not bring your no-talented, rambling, inarticulate, and bought words over here. The best thing you can do is leave town because me along with the majority of Atlanta think your work is vile!


September 21st, 2009
12:39 pm

Check out The Georgia Department of Revenue’s website and take a look at ALL of the businesses that OWE a tremendous amount of back property taxes. It is a HUGE amount! Why do we allow them to keep getting a business license?

Your All RACIST!!

September 21st, 2009
2:39 pm

kinda funny Porter and Borders are getting along because most of DuBose’s supporters were for Reed, I thought. That could be a HUGE mistake for Porter


September 22nd, 2009
2:31 pm

newA, stop playing dumb.


September 22nd, 2009
4:15 pm

This makes me even more determined to support Norwood for mayor of the ATL.

[...] column focused on the contention by House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter and Atlanta mayoral candidate Lisa Borders that the state was leaving sales tax money on the table – at the expense of counties, cities and [...]