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