Sonny Perdue, John Lewis tangle over transportation

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.

On Friday evening, Lori Geary of WSB-TV rolled tape in which Lewis was asked why Georgia deserved such pocket change.

“It’s the fault of the leadership in this state,” Lewis said. “We’re so far behind.”

Told of the congressman’s comments, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley replied with an e-mail that included this:

It’s so funny to me that Congressman Lewis and Congressman Scott are blaming Republicans, when it’s the Democrats that control the White House, the Congress and the agencies making these grants. Too bad they couldn’t use their influence to help our case.

The Governor has seen effective implementation of high speed rail first hand in both Europe and Asia. That’s one reason he’s been so enthusiastic about his support for high speed rail…

High-speed rail is obviously very expensive and we have extensive transportation needs and limited funding. The funding that we have now is essentially already tied up in currently planned projects and maintenance and operations. Governor Perdue has proposed additional transportation funding and high speed rail will be eligible to compete for those new funds as they are approved by the Legislature and the voters.

The jab was not appreciated by Lewis, who issued a rebuttal at 11 p.m. Friday:

“It is a shame and a disgrace that someone in Governor Sonny Perdue’s office would take a cheap partisan shot on an issue that means so much to the people of Georgia. Transportation should be at the top of every elected official’s agenda in Atlanta, and it has been a major focus for me throughout my entire tenure in Congress.

“I have brought back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to help solve Georgia’s transportation problems over the years, only to have millions left unused by the state…

“More recently, partly due to my influence and the power of the Democratic majority, the Georgia Department of Transportation was a top recipient of stimulus dollars. GDOT alone received nearly $572 million in stimulus funding, without any Republican support from our delegation and in spite of criticism by the governor. Yet the state only allocates $2 million in its upcoming budget to MARTA, a vital transportation resource which is $160 million in debt….

“I have said for years that Georgia needs a comprehensive, regional transportation plan to solve our problems. That is not the responsibility of any federal authority, but it rests squarely on the shoulders of the governor. While Georgia dawdles, other states like Florida and North Carolina are seizing opportunities to use transportation as a means to draw big business, opportunity, and jobs to their states. Georgia is not in the running because it does not have a plan.

“I have done my part and will continue to bring federal money home to the people of Atlanta. Now it is time for other responsible officials to do theirs.”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

107 comments Add your comment

Rob

February 1st, 2010
12:57 pm

Well, there’s a first time for everything…

I completely agree with John Lewis.

State Employee

February 1st, 2010
1:02 pm

John Lewis is correct and thanks for finally speaking. Maybe we can one day get leadership in GA that is willing to put forth a plan on transportation, besides their last term in office. Thanks Sonny for doing nothing in office except visit other countries that have great plans and transportation systems in place and coming home and spending $5M with Dick Anderon’s buddy ($2.5m twice on a study that we already knew the answers to). Once again Sonny screws us all and then blames someone else as he is holding the stick…..

Cutty

February 1st, 2010
1:08 pm

Right, blame the democrats for the last year. Even though there was a republican president and majority in Congress much of the last decade.

LF

February 1st, 2010
1:09 pm

Sorry Sonny needs to get with the program.
Sorry Sonny has been deleting money for commuter rail for several years.
I also agree with Rep. John Lewis.

Tricky

February 1st, 2010
1:17 pm

I completely agree with whoever wrote that for Congressman Lewis. Any Georgian that has a pulse knows that Perdue has been AWOL on transportation during his tenure. The State under his watch has completely tied MARTA’s hand to be able use more of their own revenue the way they see fit. And has given them almost zero in state funding. The only concern he has for traffic period is to enact that inane “SuperSpeeders” revenue plan that he dream t up.

LMartin

February 1st, 2010
1:21 pm

When you look up the word “moran” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Sonny Purdue who is king of the Georgia obstructionists. We need Georgia to move forward and not get left behind due to knuckle-draggers like Purdue, Isakson, and Chambliss.

professional skeptic

February 1st, 2010
1:22 pm

Thank you, Representative Lewis, for beginning to shine the harsh light of day on the roaches in charge of Georgia’s transportation mess. Let’s keep it up! Our state politicians have dropped the ball on rail transit and made absolutely NO progress in the last eight years.

Georgia received a pittance in federal funding for high speed rail last week, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Georgia’s sorry collection of elected yokels, chuckleheads, jokers and clowns, and their various appointed cronies. Rather than being forthright with Georgians– rather than owning up to their years of complacency and inaction– they try to shift the blame to others. How very typical of Georgia Conservatives.

harrison

February 1st, 2010
1:24 pm

Not only did Perdue do absolutely nothing about transportation in the past 7 years, he took the plans and ideas that Barnes has put forward and threw them out the door without even considering them. He did this with everything Barnes did. Perdue is a moron.

OTP

February 1st, 2010
1:28 pm

Only in Atlanta could an idiot not know that it is “moron” not “moran”. LMartin one must question who in fact is the knuckle dragging species. That is simply too funny when you expose yourself.

OTP

February 1st, 2010
1:31 pm

At least harrison knows it is not “moran”.

CrazyInGA

February 1st, 2010
1:31 pm

Sonny must be completely out of his mine. He’s been in office for a very long time and transportation has never been at the top of his priority list. He’s proven over and over again to be completely against helping MARTA. Instead of complaining, Sonny should have been in there trying to do something about it; but he wasn’t showing any interest at all.

CrazyInGA

February 1st, 2010
1:32 pm

OTP – just for you it is “MIND”.

John

February 1st, 2010
1:33 pm

What a lump.

criff

February 1st, 2010
1:35 pm

I’m a Republican and I agree with John Lewis on this one. Instead of riding high speed rail in Europe and Asia on a taxpayer-paid vacation, Sonny ought to be riding up or down I-75 at 5:00 p.m. and see what it’s like for us common folk.

Road Scholar

February 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

LMartin: Before you call someone a moron, please learn how to spell it!

OK Gov Perdue…what have you done to deserve any additional transportation funding for any mode, let alone transit or high speed rail? How many Maglev studies does it take to get the state to fund somthing resembling intercity, intracity, regional or high speed transit? Repeatedly you have pulled the plug on Atlanta to Macon/Griffin rail implementation.

We need people with vision in the Capitol, esp the governor. The new leadership is beginning to see the light, but it will take new investments…taxes… to secure that dream. Sonny can’t see past his wallet.

Base

February 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

The bottom line is Sonny and the slime bucket legislature have done nothing for transportation in metro Atlanta but say no. Build roads is the way of Georgia.

German accent

February 1st, 2010
1:40 pm

Like with most issues – except promoting fishing, and just-for-me tax breaks – Gov. Puredoo has done exactly zilch on transportation. While the zoned-referendum proposal has merit, it’s eight years tardy. Sonny Puredoo has been the biggest do-nothing in recent history. Bore Frank Harris shines in comparison.

Keith

February 1st, 2010
1:41 pm

Congressman Lewis, Georgians send more federal gasoline taxes to Washington than Georgia receives back. We are a donor state. If you were doing your job, you would be fighting to ensure that we receive our overall fair share instead of having our dollars spent to build roads in New York.

rodger

February 1st, 2010
1:41 pm

Sonny Perdue, once again shows how out of touch he is.

rodger

February 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

Enter your comments here

German accent

February 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

I hope we are not going to replace a do-nothing clown with Oxenstein. He will be active … he will actively destroy the state to a degree currently unimaginable.

Elmo C. Grogan

February 1st, 2010
1:44 pm

Look up “moran” in the dictionary? No irony there, huh?

Mr. Grumpy

February 1st, 2010
1:44 pm

Leave it up to Perdue to let his two-bit mouthpiece, Bert Brantley, make a fool of himself again with such a stupid response. They just don’t get it, do they? Bert, do you remember the little battle over DOT for the last 3 to 4 years and who was going to run it between your boss and Glenn “Romeo” Richardson, former and disgraced Republican Speaker of the House? What kind of plan does your boss have, Bert? What web site is it on so we can all go and look at it. None! Nada! Wake up, Bert and smell the coffee, you dolt, you. Congressman Lewis hit the nail squarely on the head. We didn’t get any money because the Governor and the Republicans who run the DOT and the rest of state government can’t develop or articulate a plan because they have no vision and don’t care what happens to transportation in this state. The Georgia Republican leadership can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Your boss has had 8 years to develop a comprehensive transportation plan for Georgia and he either can’t do it or doesn’t want to do it. Which one is it, Bert? And you get paid to defend him, Bert.

David

February 1st, 2010
1:44 pm

Perdue is a liar, Lewis is absolutely right. Perdue ran as an anti-transportation governor.

German accent

February 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

Not surprising that Mr. Brantley is no more astute than former spokesSatan McLagan.

Bob V

February 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

I certainly hope Georgia has not made a Birmingham-like choice about high-speed rail. Decades ago Birmingham let Atlanta take the lead in aviation. Are we the next… Birmingham?

Ryan

February 1st, 2010
1:52 pm

Purdue is pathetic and this statement is coming from a republican. I can’t wait until he is out of office.

Mr. Grumpy

February 1st, 2010
1:52 pm

Hey, Keith. You’re not paying attention. Congressman Lewis indicated that he has brought millions and millions of dollars back to his Atlanta district, but your Perdue administration has let the money lapse and hasn’t developed a plan to show the need for a need for any money. How much money for transportation have the vast majority of Republican congressman and Republican US Senators (Chambliss and Isakson) brought back to Georgia. You’re just having a problem trying to figure out who is at fault. Look in the dictionary for the word “Republican” and then ask how much money came back to Georgia when Republicans had the White House for the last 8 years before Obama took office.

Grant Park

February 1st, 2010
1:55 pm

Lewis is right…on this issue. Perdue gutted and undermined long term transporation plans in Georgia.

Base

February 1st, 2010
1:55 pm

The video shows how out of touch Vance Smith is with transportation.GDOT has a high speed plan no feasibility studies are needed except matching funds for the fed funds to begin implementation.

Civil Engineer in GA

February 1st, 2010
1:56 pm

Saying that Perdue hasn’t done anything for GA transportation isn’t exactly correct. In 2004 he started the Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP) which was supposed to do in 6 years what would have taken 18. As an engineer in the industry, I know for a fact that many of these projects still haven’t been constructed. A lot of them were in rural GA where there was no warrant for them. And the debt on this program has brought our DOT to a financial halt, where incoming funds barely pay for maintenance and debt service. Saying that Perdue hasn’t done anything good for GA transportation is more accurate.

I agree that the problem is with the state legislature and the lack of leadership in developing a new finance mechanism. This state is next to last in per capita spending on transportation. The funds generated from the gas tax have to be distributed evenly among the congressional districts. Part of the gas tax goes into the general fund. It is time to put that money towards transit. Or just abolish the gas tax and implement a statewide sales tax that can be used on transportation or transit and on projects that bring businesses to Atlanta.

http://www.georgia.gov/00/press/detail/0,2668,78006749_92321069_92359324,00.html

Road Scholar

February 1st, 2010
1:59 pm

Keith, we are all donor states since the max retun on each dollar sent to DC is 95 cents for any state. It used to be much worse, but Ga gets 92 cents on the dollar based on the last Transportation bill. Of course this does not include earmarks which some do not come out of the budgeted amount; tsome come off the top. The remaining money goes toward running the USDOT.

Mike

February 1st, 2010
2:03 pm

Repulicans are all a bunch of stuped morans.

Sally

February 1st, 2010
2:05 pm

I agree with John Lewis 100%. I would agree with him 1000% if that were possible. Perdue and the do nothing Republicans in state government have damaged this state on transportation issues (and many others). You don’t have to be Einstein to figure that out.

fsg

February 1st, 2010
2:08 pm

so are Democrats…

allen981

February 1st, 2010
2:08 pm

Why do we need high speed rail? It’s an exotic, vastly expensive technology that has more curb appeal than real value. Yes, you can go from London to Paris in 3 hours. Great. But it will cost you – check it – more than a plane ticket.

Atlanta does not have the population base to support these trains, plain and simple. We’ve got the world’s greatest airport; let’s use it.

d.

February 1st, 2010
2:11 pm

I love trains

d.

February 1st, 2010
2:16 pm

I love big trains and little trains. Trains that have cabooses-just liike Sonny Perdues big butt and mouth

Madison

February 1st, 2010
2:16 pm

Judging from the comments it look like all democrats are plane ill lead i rets. For the Republicans that translates to “plain illiterates”.

Moran

February 1st, 2010
2:17 pm

Moran is the ironic way to spell moron. It is what is known as an internet meme.
example” “Get a brain! Morans”

I imagine the posters spelled it that way on purpose, probably to see how many uppity folks corrected it.

Base

February 1st, 2010
2:18 pm

Fast Forward the Sonny plan was a flop from the get go.No metro improvement.So much for Sonny and transportation.

B. Bunny

February 1st, 2010
2:19 pm

Sonny Perdue is a maroon!

Cereal Killer

February 1st, 2010
2:27 pm

I for one am glad that Sonny Perdue is using his last year in office to address this very important issue. Don’t you people understand, it just wasn’t important in years past. We just have not had these traffic problems for the last seven years. For the record, I am being sarcastic.

S

February 1st, 2010
2:28 pm

Gawd help Georgia from the likes of another Clueless, self serving Gov as Perdue has been. What has he accomplished during his 8 years for the state. Zilch, Nada, nothing except take the whole state to the brink. His Republican clueless cronies are the same, like peas in a pod. Bunch of self serving hypocrite’s. All their butts should be voted out for taking all of us down the road to ruin. The clueless Insurance commissioner running for Governor is just another self serving Republican that will finish the Job of ruination, that Sonny didn’t have time to do. We have lost millions and millions of dollars for this state because of Georgia’s clueless Republican administration, thanks a bunch you clueless wonders…

Big Daddy

February 1st, 2010
2:32 pm

I know how to solve our transportation problems; MARTA should move its headquarters to 5 Points and all of it’s employees, including management, should be forced to ride MARTA during rush hour. I guarantee you that MARTA would change overnight. Secondly, state officials should be forced to give up their parking spacings near the capitol and be forced to ride MARTA… during rush hour.

BPJ

February 1st, 2010
2:33 pm

Well, allen981, what’s really expensive is a new runway or new airport, which is what we’ll need with a modern rail network. For middle-distance trips (e.g., Charlotte, Chattanooga, Birmingham), rail makes sense (it doesn’t have to be the European style superfast trains, just 100 mph or so). Take some of those mid-distance flight off the runways, and we increase our airport capacity.

Besides, the great, immediate need in metro Atlanta is commuter rail and MARTA expansion. This should be supported even by people who never ride transit, as it takes cars off the road and out of YOUR way!

BPJ

February 1st, 2010
2:37 pm

oops, sorry, that was supposed to read, “what we’ll need withOUT a modern rail network”. Too much caffeine.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 1st, 2010
2:38 pm

OUCH! That one really hurt! I agree with “Civil Engineer in GA” that Governor Sonny-Do-Nothing hasn’t exactly been stellar about building and maintaining the road network while hampering GDOT with lots more debt and nothing much to really show for it. With that being said, I don’t think that is enough support out in the rest of Georgia OTP for any new taxes, even for something as critical as transportation, especially in the current economic and political environment of tea parties, tax revolts and high unemployment.
I think that the wisest course of action in the current economic and political climate in red-state Georgia would be to propose funding any new transportation projects with bonds paid back through user-fees in the form of bus/train fares and tolls high enough to cover the cost of repayment in a relatively short period of time. Tax increases just aren’t going to happen anytime soon in the Georgia General Assembly especially with the Republican-dominated legislature feeling the heat over the expansion of government, high taxes, debt and bloated budget deficits. Republican legislators, especially OTP, are feeling more political pressure than ever from their base on the right to actually go the other way and cut taxes lower so if a tax increase for transportation hasn’t happened by now it probably ain’t gonna happen. User-fees aren’t very popular in their own right, but they’re not as wildly unpopular with the “silent majority” of statewide voters as is the concept of new or expanded taxes which would be perceived by most Georgian voters OTP as being to fund modes of transportation that are perceived by many statewide voters to be experimental luxuries for a bunch of ITP yankees, liberals and transplants. User-fee funding might help to give state legislators some much-needed political cover to act on transportation issues plaguing the metro area in a toxic anti-tax political climate in the gold dome.

DouglasCarroll

February 1st, 2010
2:39 pm

I guess Im lost in that Im not really a fan of Congressman Lewis nor Sonny Perdue – however Im difficult to think of ANYTHING substantial & lasting that Sonny Perdue has done as Governor. Okay, okay – the flag. Anything else? Its unfortunate that our political leaders lack a clear vision of what the future can be. They are so fearful of making an unpopular decision or vote – that they will cave into the the loudest group at the expense of the state. I hope our next Governor has a vision of what Georgia can achieve AND make the necessary tough decisions to do something our state has lacked for the past 8 years – LEADERSHIP!!!

Big Pappa

February 1st, 2010
2:40 pm

I agree. I had an opportunity to ride the rails in Europe and it was a great way to get around. It was convenient and inexpensive. It was better than M-A-R-T-A – Making All Riders Tired and Aggravated.