Transportation, business and the 2010 elections

Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1 FM) has just posted audio from an interview with Sam Williams, president of the Metro Chamber of Commerce. For three years, Williams has haunted the state Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass a transportation funding bill.

The newest effort is now in a House-Senate conference committee, with fundamental differences still unresolved, and the Legislature headed to its final two days. Here’s the very last of that interview with Williams:

O’Hayer: Do you think a bill is going to make it this year? You’ve sat through two years when it hasn’t.

Williams: I’m going to be there ’til the last second of the last hour of the last night, walking those ropes, urging our legislators to pass something. There’s no question that there is unity on the part of statewide business leaders that this needs to be addressed. And I would hope that they would see that they would see that that unity from the major employers – that if we want to continue to grow jobs and prosperity, we have got to have this problem addressed. And it’s got to be done now.

O’Hayer: Last year you said, if it doesn’t make it, we’ll recruit candidates to run against people who voted against it. Do you still feel that way?

Williams: Absolutely. I think there are going to be a lot of business people who have been sitting on the sidelines, and I think it’s going to be a major consideration in terms of what candidates business leaders support in the upcoming election.

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36 comments Add your comment

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

April 21st, 2010
1:32 pm

Seeing is believing.

I will believe that the Georgia Chamber of Commerce will go against Republicans when I *SEE* it. Not a moment before.

GoOx

April 21st, 2010
1:35 pm

My Man Ox has the transportation solved. He is the only one in the race with a real solution for transportation.

Scott

April 21st, 2010
1:40 pm

Yeah GoOx a tunnel that will devastate in town neighborhoods like Morningside, Va Highlands, Inman Park, and East Atlanta…thats some good transportation planning…you betcha

No OX, Noo Deal, Nooo Linger Longer Johnson, Noooo King Roy

April 21st, 2010
1:47 pm

Where will the money come from and how can we be sure it isn’t stolen.. Just look at how poorly MARTA is run now.

Old Cobb Native

April 21st, 2010
1:49 pm

Jobs creation (~12,000 and their resulting tax revenues) and wide-reaching service for the metro area… add-in compatibility with a high-speed rail version (214mph) and you’ve got the hybrid HighRoad / Silver Bullet Rapid Transit System. Political leaders need to look into this option as a way to expand MARTA’s reach without expanding MARTA’s subsidy!

Credibility? Former Lockheed engineer along with the pre-existing manufacturers of the vehicle bodies for Disney and the pre-eminent pre-cast concrete structures mfr throughout the Southeast.

http://www.OTG-Inc.com

DannyX

April 21st, 2010
1:55 pm

What exactly do the business leaders want? They got millions of dollars worth of tax cuts from the state. Their lobbyists have wined and dined our politicians for a reason.

Business has their low taxes and metro Atlanta has a low budget infrastructure.

Whats the problem?

Road Scholar

April 21st, 2010
2:08 pm

GoOx: Yeah, your man’s real good. Georgia has the 8th highest auto insurance in the country. real good!

GoOx

April 21st, 2010
2:09 pm

Scott,
My Man Ox doesn’t want a tunnel, that would add to much expense. He wants it to be a surface road. Good fiscal conservative leadership.

Dump Jill Chambers

April 21st, 2010
2:14 pm

Stop Marta obstruction. Vote out Jill Chambers. Support Elena Parent, a new voice for Georgia.

http://www.elenaparent.com

DannyX

April 21st, 2010
2:16 pm

A surface road! Even better. To connect Gwinnett to the airport.

Why not try and talk DeKalb and Fulton Counties into funding this road with their share of the new one cent sales tax! Make sure they keep their own MARTA tax though. The good folks in Gwinnett would like the option to take the train to the airport once in a while.

Not A MARTA Fan

April 21st, 2010
2:23 pm

Me think a “Transportation Funding Bill” all revolves around MARTA. Somebody, please give me a good…..I SAID GOOD reason why someone in deep south Georgia would want to pay their hard earned money to fund MARTA…….it’s a Black Hole swallowing up everything in it’s path, it’s hunger is insatiable, always wanting more…..it’s like the Post Office, always getting increases but always creating a bigger and bigger deficit each year. I say….”No More”, survive off what you’re now receiving…..this is the only way to squeeze out the inefficiencies……come back in five years and we’ll talk again.

PoliticOracle

April 21st, 2010
2:27 pm

Why do you all even respond to this “NoOx” guy. He is about as smart as Oxendine and his trigger happy son. Oxendine would be an embarrassment to this state. He is all about fattening the his pockets and those of his relatives.

DannyX

April 21st, 2010
2:29 pm

“…someone in deep south Georgia would want to pay their hard earned money to fund MARTA”

Lol!

DannyX

April 21st, 2010
2:33 pm

His candidate may be a dunce but GoOx has been a very respectful contributor. I enjoy his/her posts.

Atlanta

April 21st, 2010
2:36 pm

“I SAID GOOD reason why someone in deep south Georgia would want to pay their hard earned money to fund MARTA”

Hi there!

I’m Atlanta. Biggest city in the state, by far. Biggest driver of economic development in the state, by far. It’s not even close.

Mass transit is one of the attractive things about me for businesses or workers looking to re-locate, tourists looking to vacation, associations looking to hold conferences, etc. It’s a big economic driver. No one likes to sit on the highway in gridlock.

You take away MARTA, and you take away a big part of my appeal. You take away a big part of my appeal, and you take away a big part of my economic vitality.

Now, seeing how I supply more to, say, South Georgians in terms of tax revenue than they do for me, well- I’m paying for your roads. The ones I’ll never need or use. You’re welcome. And that’s why someone in Deep South Georgia should want my mass transit to be strong. Because you aren’t paying for your toys by yourself.

MARTA

April 21st, 2010
2:37 pm

“this is the only way to squeeze out the inefficiencies”

I’m one of the most efficient mass transit operations in the United States. That I’m able to survive without ONE penny from state funding should tell you this.

Hayek

April 21st, 2010
2:41 pm

No more down the MARTA rathole until they get out the bloated employee union, pay, etc.

BW

April 21st, 2010
2:45 pm

Hayek…would you be happy if the state took it over and non-unionized it? Would you support the idea of mass transit if that were the case?

DannyX

April 21st, 2010
2:49 pm

“No more down the MARTA rathole until they get out the bloated employee union, pay, etc.”

Same with Delta Airlines Hayek?

Delta has a few powerful unions. They have had previous mismanagement. One of their flight crews missed a landing because they were playing video games. There have been employee cat fights. They have low customer satisfaction ratings. The are loosing gobs of money. They have paid their executives to the extreme. Their fares are too low.

Yet the state is showering Delta with tax breaks. In fact some much so you would have to think Delta’s assistance from the state now equals a bailout.

MARTA

April 21st, 2010
2:49 pm

“No more down the MARTA rathole until they get out the bloated employee union, pay, etc.”

My workers are not able to strike. The MARTA union is more of a club, really.

As for pay, cite something please.

BW

April 21st, 2010
3:10 pm

I wish people who dislike MARTA would give non-anecdotal stories about waste and fraud at MARTA…I think there are two camps…those that believe mass transit is a fundamental solution to traffic congestion but are annoyed at lack of transparency and other corporate mismanagement and those who, be it I don’t like “those people” to it requires subsidies that I don’t want to pay. I feel the majority of people on this blog and in the metro Atlanta in general fall in the second category. If that’s the case there’s no hope…however if the majority of people are in the first category then there is hope…if you saw the trains last summer when gas was $4 a gallon it showed that people will overcome cultural issues in favor of pocketbook issues.

BPJ

April 21st, 2010
3:11 pm

Let’s set the record straight, again:

(1) Atlanta (both the city and the metro area) are NET CONTRIBUTORS to the state budget. That means we here in Atlanta pay some of our hard-earned money to support roads in “deep south Georgia”.

(2) What we want is for some part of OUR taxes WE pay to the state to go to a transportation policy for metro Atlanta that WE support. We do not want OUR taxes being used in OUR area for a brain-dead policy that equals nothing but roads. We want some of OUR tax money supporting other options.

(3) We are asking for the right to VOTE to tax OURSELVES to support a balanced transportation policy for metro Atlanta (the state constitution requires us to ask the legislature’s permission). If you never come to Atlanta, you will never pay the tax. If you come to Atlanta and buy something, then a tiny shred of the sales tax might indeed go to support transit. But if you come to Atlanta, then you have an interest in it having a decent transportation system, so you can get around (I’m assuming you don’t LIKE gridlock). Whether you ever ride a train or bus yourself is irrelevant; the trains and buses get some cars out of YOUR way.

(4) Like governments across the country in the recession, MARTA has seen sales tax receipts go down. This is a particular problem for MARTA, because the state requires MARTA to spend its sales tax revenue 50/50 on operations and capital costs. That rule made sense when we were building a new system; it does not make sense right now. Therefore, there are pending proposals, which the chamber supports, to temporarily suspend that rule.

(5) Transit-friendly policies have been adopted in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, none of which are bastions of liberalism. Georgia is looking increasingly isolated.

Base

April 21st, 2010
3:15 pm

When gas prices are $4.00 everyone will demand change!

Good post

April 21st, 2010
3:17 pm

Atlanta

April 21st, 2010
2:36 pm

Hi there!

I’m Atlanta. Biggest city in the state, by far. Biggest driver of economic development in the state, by far. It’s not even close.

- – - – -

Good post sir!

Another good post

April 21st, 2010
3:20 pm

BPJ

April 21st, 2010
3:11 pm
Let’s set the record straight, again:

(1) Atlanta (both the city and the metro area) are NET CONTRIBUTORS to the state budget. That means we here in Atlanta pay some of our hard-earned money to support roads in “deep south Georgia”.

- – - – -

bravo!

You Asked

April 21st, 2010
3:27 pm

Nice post Atlanta- I’ve got one more reason to fund mass transit in Altanta + commuter rail to other cities.

The port of Savannah and all of its downstate revenue is more attractive to companies who know they can get their goods from the boat and distribute them around the South and Mid-Atlantic states.
But perhaps our rural friends would just prefer the business went to South Carolina instead?

The Real Oracle

April 21st, 2010
3:51 pm

I live in Buckhead and pay BIG TAXES, the last thing that we need to do is waste more money on MARTA. It is rare to see a MARTA bus full, it is just so poorly managed that a 1/3 cut in service will hardly be noticed.

The Real MARTA bus driver

April 21st, 2010
3:54 pm

I don’t care what happens to the MARTA riders as long as my $100,000.00 salary is not cut. Only a fool would strike when you are making the kind of money I make and I did not even graduate from high school.

professional skeptic

April 21st, 2010
4:06 pm

The Real MARTA bus driver
April 21st, 2010
3:54 pm

Don’t feel bad about your educational background. That kind of thing doesn’t matter much here in Georgia. Just ask Casey Cagle and Karen Handel… Neither one of them earned a degree past high school, and they seem to be doing fine.

Just Nasty & Mean

April 21st, 2010
4:16 pm

The only way to save MARTA is to let it fail. It need to shed its union obligations, nepotism, cronyism, and bloated admin staff of inefficient buffoons—and start all over.

This is a REGIONAL transportation system,yet Fulton/Dekalb get stuck with the bill. Fulton and Dekalb needs to pull out and let this albatross crash. If the state wants to pick it up, so be it. If not, let it rust and go away.

MARTA is just too much of a pig to even try to save.

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

April 21st, 2010
4:35 pm

Note the complete lack of citation for the supposed high salaries that MARTA people are getting.

You know, like the fact that ‘the average government worker earns $100,000.’

Really? several million government employees and they all earn $100,000.

That’s believable. Sure it is.

Bob Hobnobber

April 21st, 2010
5:02 pm

Why is it okay for state government to spend tax dollars for some kinds of transportation — airports, roads, heavy rail — but it’s not okay for a subway in the state’s capital city, the capital city that is the major economic engine for the state’s economy?

Aaron Burr V. Mexico

April 21st, 2010
5:55 pm

Because the majority of the people in the state of Georgia are illiterate barely functioning toddlers that give toddlers a bad name.

Road Warrior

April 21st, 2010
6:57 pm

because if anyone has had any sense you’ll understand there’s not one functioning Mass transit system in any metro area thats able to provide the service and sustain itself financially it just cant be done unless the fare rates are so high then it’sd not economicly feasible to use the system. Most folks are unaware the problem with Transportation in Georgia is the legislatture wants to control it & the Money the only funds the Gdot gets to work with is from the Motor Fuel Tax, which ga is one of the lowest in the nation & hasn’t been raised since 1959 which has allowed ga to fall behind its neighbors in the early ninties Ga was rated as the best Highway system in the nation 6 yrs in a row!!!! but thanks to penny pincjing legislature we have fallen to 15 currently you cant have a good system when you dont spend money to sustain the infrastructure (I.E. the Atlanta Sewer System comes to mind) falling apart . It’s like the man said pay me now or pay me Later. If you dont invest in maintaining what you have trying to build new roads is a waste of time effort & money

Jason

April 21st, 2010
7:54 pm

Old Cobb Native, I’ve long been a fan of the Owen group’s vision but since you’re obviously connected with them and have decided to sling mud, I’m not longer going to support monobeam from your company.

For the past four years I’ve posted constantly on dozens of message boards dedicated to transit issues positive remarks about your technology because I thought it was a good alternative. But seeing how you’re spreading lies about MARTA, I can not believe anything coming out of your company is factual. As such, I will now have to eat lots of crow from the supporters of other transit technologies but I can’t in good conscious support monobeam technology when it comes from a company that spreads lies in order to try to get business.

Of course one person posting on the internet probably won’t make or break a company but I’m quite certain that I’ve driven hundreds of people who are highly motivated in the transit community to your website. You know the old saying that if you give good service, your customer will tell someone but if you give bad service they’ll tell everyone? Well, you’ve decided to engage in deception and I am going to make sure that everyone in the transit community knows what dirty slime your company wallows around in while trying to make a sale.

Shame on you! You should know better and if you’re at all knowledgeable about the transit world, you would know your claims about MARTA are not factual. But now everyone will know the facts about you and your anti-any-transit-but-your-company’s agenda. I’ll cheer the day you go bankrupt!

Old Cobb Native

April 22nd, 2010
10:19 am

@Jason -

What are you talking about? Please cite the “lies about MARTA”, etc. I’m not saying MARTA’s evil or anything, just not the technology we should continue investing in.

I DID defend against some others who took shots at me and them (OTG), but I don’t recall “slinging mud”… please explain.