Your morning jolt: An inside-the-Perimeter revolt over transportation?

An internal revolt may be brewing in Atlanta against the 2012 vote for a transportation sales tax.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

On Thursday, at the end of the day’s session of the state Senate, Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, went to the well for a point of personal privilege – a five-minute period allotted any senator to speak his mind.

The thing that had ticked Fort off was a decision – apparently by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – not to re-appoint him to the House-Senate committee in charge of the oversight of MARTA.

“I’ve been on the MARTA oversight committee for most of the last 10 to 12 years. I was not reappointed. ….I sent an e-mail to both the Committee on Assignments as well as the lieutenant governor, asking to remain on the committees that I was on. And I don’t know why I was not reappointed,” Fort explained afterwards.

But what was interesting about Fort’s speech was the way he connected the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s involvement in Atlanta school board elections – “They tried to unelect some people last year. They weren’t too successful,” he said in his speech – to the 2012 election for a regional transportation sales tax.

The Legislature approved the vote last year.

“I voted for it. But at the time, at this very hour, there are a lot of people like me who say, we passed it, but it was imperfect – deeply imperfect,” Fort said.

There’s the double-penny issue – the sales tax would be in addition to the sales tax already paid by Fulton and DeKalb counties for MARTA. And the financial restrictions that the Legislature has put on MARTA.

Said Fort:

”Every mayor in Fulton County, except for the mayor of the city of Atlanta, does not support this referendum as it is worded now. I mean, two or three years ago, I was bringing up this point when it was first being debated and discussed. And now a lot of people have come around to my point of view. ….I’m not going to ask my constituents to pay an extra penny.

“The Chamber, even as we speak, is bankrolling an effort to pass the referendum in 2012. And their attitude is, ‘To hell with it. We don’t care whether it hurts MARTA. We just want a referendum.’

“Well, they messed up APS. Now they’re going to inject themselves into this stuff. It’s a problematic situation.”

This coincides with today’s article by the AJC’s Johnny Edwards on dissatisfaction with the T-SPLOST vote inside the Perimeter:

With a regional referendum and billions in transportation dollars at stake, House Speaker David Ralston was trying to quell an urban backlash.

But adding Atlanta’s mayor to the panel taking first crack at a metrowide project list hasn’t placated some key Fulton and DeKalb leaders, who still say they’re being marginalized under the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, or House Bill 277.

“Kasim Reed is the mayor of Atlanta,” Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said. “He’s not the mayor of Fulton County.”

Similarly unimpressed south Fulton Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said he’ll “absolutely” campaign against the sales tax going on an August 2012 ballot, unless the Legislature alters the structure of the 21-member, suburb-weighted “roundtable.” He also wants lawmakers to rethink having Fulton and DeKalb residents, already paying a penny tax for MARTA, pay 2 cents for transportation while other core counties pay 1 cent.

If approved, the new tax would generate an estimated $7 billion to $8 billion over 10 years for transit, roads, pedestrian systems and technology. Planners view it as the best hope for making major improvements in the area.
Under HB 277, each of 10 metro counties gets two members on the Atlanta Regional Roundtable — its commission chair and one mayor. The Atlanta mayor makes 21.

That gave just five votes to Fulton and DeKalb counties, which together make up 41 percent of the 10-county population. Suburban and exurban counties got 16 votes.

***
Now, many of you know that state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, has been named to replace Jill Chambers as chairman of the MARTA oversight committee. Chambers was defeated in her November race against Democrat Elena Parent of Atlanta.

So what is Chambers doing now? She’s joined Hawk Private Investigations – on the marketing side, until she can become a certified fraud examiner. Yup — a private eye.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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53 comments Add your comment

bo

February 18th, 2011
7:13 am

“And they’re attitude is, ‘To hell with it. We don’t care whether it hurts MART.”

did he really mispell ‘their’ and ‘MARTA’ in his speech?

Lum

February 18th, 2011
7:40 am

Sounds to me like the former superintendent and the board of the APS messed up the Atlanta schools, not the Chamber. That beinbg said, this is no time for additional taxes. None of us is making any more money right now, but gasoline is up, food is up. Taxes need to go DOWN.

Double Zero Eight

February 18th, 2011
8:15 am

Jim,
What are the names of the 10 core counties?
What are the names of the exurban and suburban counties?

The Sheenit

February 18th, 2011
8:36 am

Lum,

If you had a regional transit system, you probably won’t be soooo concerned about gas going up b/c you could hope a train in your county and travel to work the way millions of city dwellers do all over the world. Such a jack rabbit…

Port O'John

February 18th, 2011
8:36 am

I can tell you in my intown neighborhood that the proposed additional penny sales tax bill is simply viewed as a way to take more money from intown to build suburban roads and fund suburban bus systems.

I no longer care about democractic/republican issues in Georgia anymore, but I will volunteer to campaign against this turkey. If the suburbanites don’t want to pay for transit or more roads, fine. Let them sit in traffic. I’m not willing to pay for the Gwinnett County bus system or more 4 lane suburban roads to spur developement.

DagnyT

February 18th, 2011
8:40 am

Two words: Georgia 400.
Vote NO on the transportation SPLOST. I’m in Cobb, but I stand with Fulton and Dekalb residents.

Intown business owner

February 18th, 2011
8:43 am

As a small business owner with the majority of my employees living inside the Perimeter if not actually the Beltline, I am so opposed to this transportation tax structure I just cannot stand it. (and I even send my child to APS, but I will not digress into that snakepit of heartburn).

Talk about Taxation without Representation.

If it is happening in the outlying counties, oh the Republicans are all over it, screeching away….
If it is happening to the intown counties/municipalities at the benefit of the outlying counties – oh now that’s OK, and it’s just a bunch of whining blacks/liberals/elites/democrats/anti-business/whatever the label du jour.

If the Georgia Tea Party members are true to their beliefs, they should come out against this on principle – taxation without representation (or horrendously under-represented, as here) is not acceptable to anyone nor any business, and gross inequalities never lead to good things for the whole of the society.

Douglas

February 18th, 2011
8:44 am

Really, Senator, you have no idea why you weren’t reapointed? None?

Hmmm… you don’t suppose it could be that you’re a jerk and a pain and a crank and that your politics are pretty much in line with Tolstoy? No?

Well then, sorry, but that’s all I can think of.

Wait! I’ve got it! Switch parties! That’ll show ‘em!

outsider

February 18th, 2011
8:47 am

I don’t live in the metro area, although I drive through the area regularly and on occasion use MARTA. I can certainly understand the frustration in Fulton and DeKalb. They pay a sales tax to fund a transit system, which counties outside the perimeter refused, but can still use. Now the suburban counties want Fulton and DeKalb to pay for their road expansion. Fulton and DeKalb are already paying their penny, it is time for the other counties ante up.

Just Nasty & Mean

February 18th, 2011
8:51 am

I cannot believe I am on the same side of an issue as Vincent Fort. In this case, he happens to be on the RIGHT side.

There is simply NO WAY ANYONE can explain how there can be a metro-regional Atlanta transportation plan or system that doesn’t include MARTA. And there is NO WAY ANYONE can explain why only Fulton and DeKalb should continue to carry the disproportionate load for paying for MARTA.

Like Fort, I will actively oppose the additional sales tax on Fulton/DeKalb taxpayers.

ENOUGH of being taken advantage of and abused by freeloaders and bloodsuckers from other counties.

Angus

February 18th, 2011
8:52 am

I have yet to hear a good reason why ITP folks should vote for the tax. And, as an ITP’er, I vehemently oppose the legislation now – nor, do I know a single, fellow ITP’er that supports it.

I’m curious as to what the sentiment is OTP. I’d have to think that the anti-tax fervor would have OTP voting no as well.

Who out there besides the chamber(s) of commerce and the SOG/GDOT (who, by this legislation, officially rid themselves of responsibility of metro Atlanta transportation) support it?

Brain

February 18th, 2011
8:55 am

DagnyT: That’s actually 1 word and 1 number the way you have written it. Alternately, it’s three words if you were to write the actual words, instead of the number.

SPLOST should tax exurban residents 2 cents additional and add 1 penny to Fulton and DeKalb sales tax rates.

Charlotte is looking at us in their rear-view mirror. Nashville, Tampa and Miami aren’t far behind.

GA Policy Wonkette

February 18th, 2011
8:55 am

I am a middle class middle aged white woman living in DeKalb and I too will vote “no” on any initiative to add a penny sales tax on top of the penny now paid for MARTA. I also voted “no” on the trauma care ballot question since my property taxes already offset trauma care at Grady. Seems like the legislature is always ready to throw Fulton & DeKalb taxpayers under the bus.

Mr. KnowitAll

February 18th, 2011
9:00 am

Intown Business Owner—Most of the Tea Parties I know are opposing this initiative including North Fulton & Friends, Fayette, AFP and others–and have publicly announced their positions.

Now–take back your snide and underhanded implication of inconsistency with the Tea Partys.

DannyX

February 18th, 2011
9:00 am

$1000.00 REWARD

For information leading to any reason a person from DeKalb County would ever consider voting yes on this disaster.

findog

February 18th, 2011
9:01 am

Georgia increasingly is going to the model followed by other state like Florida where higher sales taxes fund government functions. It is plainly evident when driving from Lake Park to Lake City as the price of gas jumps 10 cents a gallon. Too bad we do not have political leaders who will plainly state, and then follow up, on converting Georgia to the coveted Fair Tax model.

Jimbo Murray

February 18th, 2011
9:03 am

The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is due for some major embarrassment when Mike Bowers and Bob Wilson and Richard Hyde announce indictments in the Atlanta school cheating case. The Chamber goons desperately wanted to keep test scores from plummeting, and judging from the comments about the interrogations that are being privately discussed by teachers and school administrators who have been questioned so far, the Chamber of Commerce may itself become an investigative target.

Fulton Taxpayer

February 18th, 2011
9:05 am

…seems to me the only government leaders backing this new tax is Fulton Commissioner John Eaves and Mayor Reed.

Sticking to their genetic heritage, DNA bias, and primal instincts, democRat leaders are ALWAYS for new taxes and redistribution of wealth.

Only this time their own constituents are saying….NO!!!

Southside Shawty

February 18th, 2011
9:07 am

If the Cobbs, Gwinnetts, and Cherokees of the world don’t pay their $.02, then best believe City folks will vote no on this discriminatory referendum. OTPers always yapping about how bad MARTA is, but who do you see on buses going to the Braves game and taking up all the parking in MARTA lots during Falcon’s home games. Either they pay the same, or fuggetaboutit!

findog

February 18th, 2011
9:08 am

Danny X @ 9, because they work for a road design firm like Moreland-Altobelli or an construction company like C W Matthews

Double Zero Eight

February 18th, 2011
9:12 am

I will vote no. If it doesn’t pass, the politicians will blame
the voters for gridlock. They want us to do their jobs.
Remember the “Freeing the Freeways” project in the
90’s? This was suppose to be the answer to our transportation
problems. Pouring more concrete has not been the answer!
Our politicians were elected to use common sense, and come
up with ways to solve our problems, other than taxing us more.
Rapid transit and rails are the way to go.

They lied about Georgia 400. You cannot believe anything that
they say or promise.

I find it ironic that they took it upon themselves to decide that
there should be no Sunday liquor sales at stores, but were too
lazy and afraid to come up with a solution for the transportation
funding that is needed. They got it backwards!

JoeInAtlanta

February 18th, 2011
9:28 am

Douglas: Seriously? I don’t know where to begin with your comparison of Vincent Fort to Tolstoy. Did you just pick the first Russian name you could think of? Tolstoy was a novelist who died almost a decade before the Russian Revolution. He influenced political movements far and wide through his writings (notably Mahatma Ghandi and the Indian independence movement) — but was not overtly political himself. As a devout Christian, however, he believed in personal charity and gave large sums to the poor. It cannot be known how he would have fared if he had lived to see the rise of communism in Russia, but it is likely they would have considered him an enemy of the revolution because of his wealth and devout faith.

In short, he’s not even a bad example for the juxtaposition that you’re trying to make; rather, he’s an entirely irrelevant comparison.

And, just to tie it all up with a neat little bow: This is why we liberals think we’re smarter than you.

Techmom

February 18th, 2011
9:34 am

I live OTP and agree with Fulton & Dekalb tax-payers. If we’re going to have a regional transportation system, we should all pay for it. I live in Henry Co and the interstate is absolutely jam-packed at rush hour (and many other hours of the day) with people coming and going to/through downtown. We will all benefit from a better transportation system but it shouldn’t be paid for on the backs of people who live in town and are already paying for it. People made this mass migration out of the city and now are b**ching and complaining about how awful it is and yet they’re not willing to pay for improvements. Makes me ashamed to have some of these morons for neighbors.

Justin

February 18th, 2011
9:51 am

I don’t know how I will vote because there is no list of projects yet.

I see that 41% of the pop. for the 10 county region is in Fulton and Dekalb. Does anyone know what percentage of the estimated $7 bil. will be generated from these counties?

not smarta

February 18th, 2011
9:53 am

marta—corrupt to the core and poorly run. Big changes are needed.

Michael

February 18th, 2011
9:58 am

He meant Trotsky.

Lenny

February 18th, 2011
10:09 am

This transportation tax is just robbing Peter to pay Paul. The legislature shirks its responsibilities and tries to fund haphazzard regional planning with no statewide transportation goal with their catch-all solution for everything…more sales tax. No. I won’t vote for it and I’m OTP. Besides, I’m so angry that the Sunday sales has stalled that I wouldn’t vote for anything the legislature wants the voters to pass.

Douglas

February 18th, 2011
10:10 am

JoeinAtlanta – actually, that’s what I did do, and while you are correct, I suspect most everyone got my point, while you had to go get all snooty, which is why no one wants to listen to you “liberals.” (Except other liberals, of course, as that helps y’all to confirm your superiority and ‘eliteness’ over us lesser beings.)

But thank you nonetheless. I have been trying for years to shed that label of “liberal” that I’ve been saddled with without much success, and now you have done it for me and it’s quite liberating.

But please understand: Not being a “liberal” does not make me a “conservative” or a “libertarian.” I’m in the middle somewhere, hoping against hope that we as a nation can realize that every side has some good ideas that can contribute to solid solutions. Even smug, conceited, precious, pretentious liberals can come up with good ideas from time-to-time, though if I were you I’d be careful that I didn’t loose my balance and fall off of my high horse.

And as for Sen. Fort: The Tolstoy reference was, as the Rev. Jackson has been known to say, “Moot.” However, I know the man and he’s about as far out on the tip of the Left Wing as anyone in Georgia — or southern — or national for that matter — electoral politics. And I don’t think he’d deny that description. But it does put him on the outs with a huge majority of his fellow Georgians, which until now he has not minded in the least. Bless his heart.

Douglas

February 18th, 2011
10:13 am

Oh, and I am going to vote FOR the referendum, because we need to improve our transportation in Atlanta and this state, and if we do not you can kiss Georgia’s future Goodbye.

Douglas

February 18th, 2011
10:16 am

And if it’s not approved, you’ll probably end up having to pay lots more at the pump, because the government is going to get it’s money one way or the other, because there are things we have GOT to do and to do them we have GOT to have the money. So go ahead and cut your nose off to spite you face if you want to, but don’t go whining when the state tax on motor fuel double or even triples.

atlin83

February 18th, 2011
10:20 am

Cart before the horse. Before the vote, a defined project list of what will be funded and built with the sales tax money will be compiled – that’s what the roundtable that Mayor Reed was appointed to is for. All of you who have already made up your minds don’t yet know what you’re voting against.

If the funds are for things like expanding suburban roads, and there’s a definite skew against the city and its transit, then sure, vote it down – it’s not in your interest. But it’s shortsighted if you decide to vote it down now, whip yourselves into a fervor and don’t read the project list, and end up voting against expansions or new MARTA service, or any road, bike, or pedestrian improvements intown.

My point is just this: be skeptical all you want – and if you’re ITP or intown (like me), it’s certainly justified. But follow up on it throughout the year! It’s too early and the crucial information about whether or not this is worth our money hasn’t even be released yet. This could still be an okay thing.

Opinion Site

February 18th, 2011
10:21 am

just do more of georgia ” transportation planning” — build more lanes on 285, 75 and 85—-that’s all they know how to do. it’s a bunch of crooks and morons running this laughingstock of a transportation “system.” Like the education system in georgia, transportation is also near the bottom.

atlmom

February 18th, 2011
10:24 am

@findog: but Florida doesn’t have an income tax. MUCH different…
Why don’t they take 10% of the DOT funding and use it for MARTA? seriously…
Oh, and also make cobb and gwinnett and clayton and whoever pay the extra penny. Or ticket those cars in the MARTA parking lots that are not from dekalb and fulton…

MJ

February 18th, 2011
10:37 am

This 2012 plan must include helping MARTA and other transit authorities. MARTA and other transit systems are vital economic engines for the Atlanta region. To leave them out would hurt many and could derail metro Atlanta’s growth.

Southside Shawty

February 18th, 2011
10:50 am

atlin83- Thats just the problem. HB 277 specifically excludes MARTA from receiving any transportation funds which may come if this referendum is approved. But somehow CCT, GRTA, and Gwinnett transit systems WILL receive funding. This ain’t fair, won’t change, and I wonder why MARTA was left out.

mottlicher

February 18th, 2011
10:50 am

This big issue here is the timing. It will be another year or two before MARTA vs Regional transit issues are worked out and the funding equalized. That is still being studied to determine the optimum (and yes, politically doable) solution. There are even studies for MARTA rail expansions to areas outstide Fulton and Dekalb. Unfortunately, HB 277 got passed first and will move forward first.

The screaming and shouting by the ITP folks is understandable. However, HB277 is the best option we have at this present time to address transportation issues. Don’t cut your nose off because of a short term issue that most of the pols recognize and are trying to address (in their typical slow plodding way)

At least now we have folks looking at combining the various Metro transit systems, a Multimodal station is being designed, HB277 will be a step towards moving forward on transportation projects. Is all this perfect? no…just a lot better than what we had going 2 years ago. Wise up folks.

Mike

February 18th, 2011
11:00 am

A big thank you to all of you who voted Republican for every position in this state all the way down to dog catcher; your votes, in my opinion, are seen as being against President Obama as opposed to being for any Republican. With that being said, thank all of you for electing such a bunch of weak, spineless ‘leaders’ who don’t seem capable of making a hard decision but bend according to which way the wind is blowing. Since they folded up like card tables over pressure from Christian conservatives over Sunday alcohol sales, I will be voting NO for any and everything they are proposing. I’m going to vote NO for the penny sales tax; if these backwoods Bible-thumping yahoos who live outside the Perimeter don’t want MARTA providing ‘undesireables’ with access to their neighborhoods then they can continue to sit in mind numbing traffic. I’m sick and tired of these people and especially the voters in Georgia.

Aquagirl

February 18th, 2011
11:15 am

Please excuse me if I don’t trust the Legislature. They just proved by the Sunday sales non-vote that they’re more subservient to cow patties over the economic engine of our State. They’ll build 12 lane highways to Sonny’s Go Fish ramps and cut off MARTA because it’s “wasteful.”

And Douglas, way to be snooty and condescending because *you* screwed up. BTW, I won’t whine nearly as much when the gas tax doubles or triples, since I live ITP and don’t drive a Suburban Assault Vehicle.

Pavel Chekov (not to be confused with Anton Checkov)

February 18th, 2011
11:16 am

One thing we can all agree on: Liberals do indeed know and embrace Soviet-style literature, culture, collectivism, central planning, and the like.

So a poster wrote Tolstoy instead of Trotsky. I thought the statist libs claimed to be charitable and forgiving. I guess not.

That condescending fella may know Tolstoy, but I’ll bet he knows little about the pressing issues of the day such as solving the unemployment problem, restoring the economy, or upholding America’s stature in the world. In that way he’s identical to our president.

Conceit is a weird disease–it makes everyone sick but the one who has it.

JoeInAtlanta

February 18th, 2011
11:20 am

Douglas: The thing about being a liberal is that you strive to make connections to understand broader issues. So when you grab the name “Tolstoy” (again, inaccurately) as a metaphor for communism, I see someone who is willing to make broad and false generalizations about people and their cultures. If every Russian name means communism to you, then does every Latino name mean illegal immigration? Does every Arabic name mean terrorism? You’re on a slippery slope, dude, when you make mistakes like that. It’s not just a simple factual error; it’s a mindset that brings evil into the world.

RGB

February 18th, 2011
11:26 am

When you mock Christians with the wide, contempt-filled brush that you use, you mock Christ Himself. There are consequences to your actions which, though not immediate, will not be well received on your part. And these consequences last a long time.

As a means to sustain your alcohol requirements, why not stock up on one of the other 6 days of the week? Surely you can direct some of your energy previously aimed at bashing Christians to making a run to the liquor store to purchase that which your body now sees as a requirement.

And while that would solve the alcohol (shortage) problem you apparently have, it would also remove the need to condemn Christians–unless the “no Sunday sales” issue is a mere subterfuge for something you like even better than alcohol–bashing people who worship their Creator.

Raquel Morris

February 18th, 2011
11:37 am

The only person who’s happy with this bill is Kasim Reed. He cut his deal with Speaker Ralston and us voters are expected to agree to pay for it. The Mayor of Atlanta is NOT the Mayor of Georgia. He does not speak for the majority of Fulton and DeKalb residents who are sick and tired of paying for someone else’s roads while MARTA dies.

Mayor Reed needs to quit buddying up to his Republican friends in the Capitol and get on the job of fighting for Atlanta. Seems like Kasim is more of a Republican than Mary Norwood EVER was.

Kasim is Cool

February 18th, 2011
12:21 pm

Is kasim still up in DC pimping for port money? If so, when will he come back?

Oh Well

February 18th, 2011
12:34 pm

I simply REFUSE to pay for people who CHOOSE to move to practically SC & TN to come in and out of the city.

I say this…for those riding CCT/GRTA/Gwinnett – those buses need to STOP at the nearest MARTA station – and make them ride transit. You ever try to drive in the city with these unwieldy busses?

And besides, since they are all against helping to foot the bill – make them pay one way or another!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, James DuBois. James DuBois said: Your morning jolt: An inside-the-Perimeter revolt over …: Too bad we do not have political leaders who will … http://bit.ly/gy3578 + [...]

No Dog in this Hunt

February 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

You all haven’t figured this out. The point is that a bunch of country politicians figured out how to cause the metro area to divide and bicker while the DOT builds roads to no where Perry and elsewhere. As long as we continue to elect statewide officials from the backwoods, and let them set the state’s agenda, Atlanta and its metro relatives will be allowed to strangle and fail.

The only Governor who gave a damn about Atlanta was Roy, but he had other issues. Let’s be sure to pick our next one from the Ag community and see another horse ring or fishing hole get built while the state slips into oblivion. Do you really believe Ralson, Casey and Deal care?

Also, when these companies relocate to Georgia, how many of them are setting up shop ITP?

SpaceyG on Twitter

February 18th, 2011
3:12 pm

COA needs Reed far more than GA Repugs do. I wish he’d come home.

JRev

February 18th, 2011
3:52 pm

Reasons why we need better transportation funding:
1. Gas tax revenue is unpredictable, at best. When gas prices skyrocket and people drive less, revenue goes down.
2. As gas mileage gets higher in cars, our transportation funding goes down. This trend is only continuing, in a downward direction. Good for the environment; bad for the way we currently fund transportation.

We should remove the gas tax completely (the portion that is used for transportation at least) and instate a sales tax to cover all transportation funding. And, this is not something we should vote on; rather, this is something the government should decide for us. Most of us are not educated enough on this stuff to know how to vote in the best interests of the state. This silly referendum is absurd. And no, Fulton and Dekalb should not have an extra penny to have to pay.

I find it astounding that 1/3 of congress can decide for an entire state on moral issues like alcohol on Sundays, but then leave it up to voters to decide how to fund transportation. WTF?

[...] consistent as the sun rising in the morning, state Senator Vincent Fort being perpetually outraged on a day ending in ‘y’, or Georgia Senate Republicans making themselves look foolish, [...]