Your morning jolt: Regional paranoia and the sales tax for transportation

Throughout the next year, regional paranoia is likely to be a large part of the debate over the transportation sales tax for metro Atlanta. East Atlanta Patch offers up one example:

State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, tells his East Atlanta constituents that they and other intown neighborhoods hold the power in a tax proposal that could raise $7 billion dollars for metro Atlanta road, rail and bridge builds.

He suspects they’ll demand more transit and fewer restrictions on Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

“I think that some changes with respect to MARTA and some changes with regard to other transit are going to have to be addressed in the next legislative session in order to set up the transportation referendum for success,” Carter said Tuesday night at the East Atlanta Community Association’s monthly meeting.

That sounded vaguely familiar. So I checked a recording of Monday night’s Republican debate of five candidates for the northeast Cobb County seat of the late state Rep. Bobby Franklin.

Robert Lamutt, a former state senator and congressional candidate, summed up what seemed to be a unanimous opinion about the transportation sales tax:

”I think it is unbelievably foolish for us to support raising taxes so that DeKalb and Fulton County can control our tax dollars.”

***
Next week, Gov. Nathan Deal will have a fundraiser in north Fulton County. Consider it a chance for former supporters of Karen Handel – state Reps. Edward Lindsey and Lynn Riley among them – to make amends. See the invite here.

***
Over at Peach Pundit, political/policy strategist Mark Rountree has compiled a list of the 10 most vulnerable state House Republicans. They include Doug McKillip of Athens (No. 4) and Rich Golick of Smyrna (No. 8).

***
Former U.S. congressman Erwin Mitchell died Tuesday at the age of 87. His career spanned decades, but this passage in his obituary leaped out as an example of how times and attitudes have changed:

In 1990, he helped found The Georgia Project, a nonprofit agency that helped Hispanic immigrants and teachers in Dalton bridge cultural and language barriers. Immigrants, spurred by Georgia’s carpet industry increased the number of Spanish speakers in the Dalton area, and the schools needed help with the transition, said Mrs. Zeller.

The Georgia Project developed a partnership with the University of Monterrey in Mexico, where Georgia teachers could attend seminars there to learn Spanish and learn about the Mexican culture.

In his later years he received numerous honors for his work on the project.

***
Richard Belcher of Channel 2 Action News continues to dog DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton over her love for luggage while on taxpayer-paid junkets:

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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33 comments Add your comment

Mr. KnowitAll

September 15th, 2011
11:00 am

If you think the voters of Fulton and DeKalb are going to vote for this duplicate tax just because John Eaves (police dogs and fire hoses) says so—you’ve got a big surprise coming.

red light redistrict

September 15th, 2011
11:42 am

Man that video is some funny stuff. Why do folks think they’ll get away with chicanery?

Double Zero Eight

September 15th, 2011
11:51 am

The alignment of counties is a joke. People outside
the 10 county area can reap the benefits and not contribute
one red cent (Forsyth County.

mike 'hussein' smith

September 15th, 2011
12:36 pm

You’re right, Mr. KIA, folks in DeKalb are unlikely to vote for a new tax because John Eaves says so. But that leaves about 203 other good reasons to vote for it.

Dacula 1995

September 15th, 2011
12:51 pm

Sharon Sutton….GET RID OF HER!

MrLiberty

September 15th, 2011
1:13 pm

Just vote no on the Transit tax. Government is already wasting enough money on transit programs that are failures. They certainly don’t need another $7 billion to line the pockets of their friends at the expense of the citizens.

findog

September 15th, 2011
1:47 pm

KIA, Mike,
Lamutt is trying to spin the vote as the two MARTA counties are going to steal money from the rest of the state
There is no reason to vote for it, transportation is a basic function of the state and should be supported from the general fund
DO NOT give politicians an easy out

Eric

September 15th, 2011
1:48 pm

Definitely do NOT vote for another transportation tax increase. Whatever gains might occur to alleviate congestion in the short run, does little good if another 2 million people move into the metro area. Same with our car emissions testing. We had tax after tax in the past, and look where are we now.

Shar

September 15th, 2011
1:48 pm

We already pay millions and millions of dollars in gasoline taxes, much of which is wasted in crony and home cookin’ road projects. Meanwhile, the region has starved the taxpayers of legitimate, efficient public transportation, which may be explained by the inclusion of the Beltline in the funding list – a tourist attraction and developers’ boondoggle, NOT a viable transit initiative.

I really wanted to vote in favor of this referendum, but the list is a blueprint for fraud, waste, payola and an utter failure for relieving traffic or giving Atlantans a real alternative to their cars. Unless there are substantial changes, I won’t be supporting it.

honested

September 15th, 2011
2:03 pm

The more I have inquire, the more I have come to change my mind and believe Fulton and Dekalb will actually approve this.
That leaves the ‘villes’ that would prefer to sit and idle in traffic for hours than to pay any evil ‘tax’.

Centrist

September 15th, 2011
2:04 pm

The “paranoia” is with the AJC and Democrats who see this additional tax in trouble. Check that – paranoia is a delusion, and the trouble is real.

And then there is the wishful thinking by Galloway for the “10 most vulnerable state House Republicans”. Unfortunately for the media, their vulnerability is more from fellow Republicans than with Democrats.

BobT

September 15th, 2011
2:06 pm

Take all the money, put it in a helicopter, and fly over the area so every one has a chance for a piece of the pie!

DannyX

September 15th, 2011
2:35 pm

“Check that – paranoia is a delusion, and the trouble is real.”

What trouble? That the cowardly REPUBLICAN transportation TAX won’t pass?

Slow down ...

September 15th, 2011
2:43 pm

Saying that we shouldn’t pass the T-SPLOST because we’re just going to get additional traffic in the future may be the worst argument against this tax I have ever heard. Traffic is bad, so let’s not fix it because we’re only going to continue growing? Really?

Vote YES!! I am a Republican – leaning toward Libertarian. I hate taxes and I certainly don’t like adding to them. However, we ARE going to continue to grow and we ARE going to need new transportation funding. Gas tax is DECREASING as cars become more fuel efficient, so that revenue stream is woefully inadequate.

Yes, DOT has waste and has had major leadership challenges. YES, state government could do more with less. However, NOT passing this tax is the absolute WORST decision we can make. “The general fund” as was referenced earlier doesn’t have a $1 billion extra per year to pave roads and replace old bridges. We HAVE to find a revenue stream to help ALL of Georgia. This is not an Atlanta tax – all of Georgia will be voting to tax themselves to upgrade their transportation needs.

As for the argument that Forsyth County folks don’t have to spend money (one red cent?) to pay for these roads yet get to use them … really? Maybe you don’t understand how sales taxes work. If those Forsyth County commuters come into town and buy gas, food, lodging, clothes, postcards, gum, batteries, cars, baseball bats, deoderant or anything else, THEY PAY TAX ON IT. They don’t pay sales tax based on where they live – they pay it based on where they buy stuff. So, yes – NON-RESIDENTS can help pay for YOUR road improvements. Let me say that again, and please understand this extremely important point. Atlanta has less than 1 million actual residents. Fair to say that Atlanta’s population mushrooms during the day as people come in for work and other activities (school, Braves games, medical needs, etc.) These people may not LIVE in the Atlanta region, but they SPEND MONEY HERE. People who DON’T EVEN LIVE HERE CAN PAY FOR THE ROADS. What is wrong with that??

Vote no at your own peril. The roads will become more and more congested. If you like gridlock, VOTE NO!

MARTA Rida

September 15th, 2011
2:44 pm

I believe the transportation tax will pass becuse the majority of voters in Fulton and DeKalb are tired of people from Cobb and Gwinett not paying their fare share for MARTA and then coming inside the perimeter causing even worse traffic. This is a chance to change the direction of development in Atlanta and force higher densities close to transit stations and more infill development, so much for the property values in the exurbs!

Larry

September 15th, 2011
2:45 pm

@ findog,
If transit is a function for the state, then why doesn’t the state help fund MARTA?

@Eric,
The transit program is not a short term fix. It is to address long term congestion issues. I assume that you are of the thinking that we should do nothing until the region is completely gridlocked. That makes sense.

Do any of you detractors have suggestions on raising funding to address congestion issues? Or do you just like to say no to anything that may seem progressive?

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

September 15th, 2011
2:54 pm

Jimmuh Carter’s kin is pushing a tax increase – why am I not surprised to hear that?

Bill

September 15th, 2011
3:19 pm

Larry,
“If transit is a function for the state, then why doesn’t the state help fund MARTA? ”

That is a very good question. Marta is the only major transportation system in the country that gets NO state funding.

Cobb county Tea Partier

September 15th, 2011
3:37 pm

Robert Lamutt is correct. He understands his constituents!

td

September 15th, 2011
3:51 pm

Larry

September 15th, 2011
2:45 pm

“Do any of you detractors have suggestions on raising funding to address congestion issues? Or do you just like to say no to anything that may seem progressive”

I have two ideas for you:

1: Do like they do in major metro areas up north: No 18 wheelers allowed with in 50 miles of Atlanta between 7am to 9am and from 4pm to 6pm.

2: Put up toll roads on 75, 85, 20 and 95 10 miles away from the boarders and charge all of these people that drive through the state to get to other parts of the SE.

One additional one: Stop putting houses on 1/4 acre lots and stop building apartments and condos. Slow growth.

duke

September 15th, 2011
4:04 pm

I’m not sure why you label this “paranoia”. The content of your own post, not to mention simple logic, supports the contention that it is a legitimate concern.

November 6, 2012

September 15th, 2011
4:22 pm

@Slow down …

September 15th, 2011
2:43 pm

Vote no at your own peril. The roads will become more and more congested. If you like gridlock, VOTE NO!

Dadgummit, you done talked me into it……I’m votin’ nonononononono.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

September 15th, 2011
4:33 pm

If we vote no get use to traffic and jobs moving elsewhere. We need more rail and buses to give commuters an option other than driving everywhere.

I don’t think anyone likes taxes but it’s a part of life and how things get paid for. I’d rather pay a tax and give some more options than say no and be stuck in traffic.

Expand MARTA heavy rail in the suburbs, use light rail in the city, and get more buses on routes that are more direct to where you want to go that run more frequent and later! I’d pay 3 cent tax if I know transit is going to improve!

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

September 15th, 2011
4:41 pm

For people like Robert Lamutt in Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, and other surrounding counties we are a region. That is the problem, everyone is worried about their own instead of the region as a whole. What these counties need to understand is that they will be nothing without Atlanta. There wouldn’t be 700 or 800 thousand people in your counties if they weren’t trying to be near ATL. They would be rural counties with nothing it it like the rest of Georgia. Don’t poke out your chest so much because Atlanta will come and punch it in for ya!

Lumpkin resident

September 15th, 2011
5:07 pm

Interesting. Carter is basically saying “we (Dekalb/Fulton/Atlanta) sit in the driver seat”. Lamutt is basically saying “they sit in the driver seat”.

This is two politicians on opposite ends of the political spectrum saying the same thing: Dekalb/Fulton/Atlanta/Clayton are going to win this vote and take the lion’s share of transportation dollars for Dekalb and Fulton transit and road projects. No mincing words there.

And to Double Zero Eight : People outside the 10 county area can reap the benefits and not contribute one red cent (Forsyth County).….

It is even worse than that. What Dekalb/Fulton/Clayton are going to do to the metro atlanta TSPLOST, Hall and Forsyth are going do to the N GA SPLOST for their own projects (they are the big dogs in that splost grouping.)

honested

September 15th, 2011
5:09 pm

Bryan,

If only so many posters understood that Metro Atlanta is the root of all wealth in this State, not the root of all evil.

Lumpkin resident

September 15th, 2011
5:26 pm

honestead,

If only so many Atlanta posters would look at the complete and totally f’ed up management of MARTA over the last 30 years, they would understand why Cobb and Gwinnett did not want into MARTA and still don’t. Lets see… I don’t ride MARTA because it can’t get where I am going in under 2 hours, it will not provide any way for me to commute, and now they want me to pay 1%… for that f’ed up mismanagement… in perpetuity.

Now, you can claim that any improvement for transit will be an improvement for all, but that is just a promise that cannot be substantiated with fact. If, for example, someone were able to PROVE that it would save someone commuting from Acworth-to-Marietta or Dacula-to-Norcross 5 mins each way per day, 50 minutes per week, 2500 minutes per year, then that would be significant enough for the outer counties to vote it in. That would be like giving those folks 4 extra weeks of vacation per year. But you can’t prove that they will get any return at all for their tax dollars, and that is the hard sell that this is going to have in the less populated counties that are subjected to the more populous transportation centers.

La'Taniana'Bo'Vanashrianiqualiquanice

September 15th, 2011
6:21 pm

There was a time when I would have voted for a transportation sales tax based on the critical need to upgrade our transportation infrastructure.

But after the way the State hosed us on the GA 400 toll extension I’ll never trust them again. So I will vote no.

atlin83

September 16th, 2011
12:43 am

Don’t live in Fulton or DeKalb, or where you can park-and-ride MARTA to your destination? Then I really couldn’t care less how inconvenient MARTA is for you. If you chose to live away from it, then you can’t count a strike against it for not coming to your town. Lumpkin? Seriously.

Also, for those complaining about duplicate taxes, I don’t care what John Eaves says either – and he’s my commissioner. You shouldn’t vote for this because he says so; you should vote for this because it’s the only chance we have to put more money to major transportation projects. MARTA, roads, or otherwise, this is it. If this thing doesn’t pass, expect gridlock and a lot more potholes to boot.

SAWB

September 16th, 2011
1:20 am

Vote No! These idiots (Atlanta School Board, DeKalb School Board, Gwinnett County Commission, Cobb EMC, Fulton County Jail, etc.) waste way too much money as it is fattening their pockets and the pockets of their cronies. It is time for tax payers to say no the feeding trough is empty and the pigs can go somewhere else. So what if growth slows in the metro Area I fail to see why that as a bad thing. I have lived here for years and the quality of life was better twenty years ago than it is now. The average citizen does not benefit from growth only the Politicians and the Developers do.

November 6, 2012

September 16th, 2011
9:59 am

@Bryan — MARTA supporter

September 15th, 2011
4:41 pm

For people like Robert Lamutt in Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, and other surrounding counties we are a region. That is the problem, everyone is worried about their own instead of the region as a whole. What these counties need to understand is that they will be nothing without Atlanta. There wouldn’t be 700 or 800 thousand people in your counties if they weren’t trying to be near ATL. They would be rural counties with nothing it it like the rest of Georgia. Don’t poke out your chest so much because Atlanta will come and punch it in for ya!

Bryan, does MARTA actually pay you as an employee to write this drivel? if so, maybe this is one of the reasons why MARTA can’t make it on the revenues they receive……they waste it on nonsense such as this.

Bryan -- MARTA Supporter

September 16th, 2011
2:37 pm

@ Novermber 6, 2012

First the post you referenced has nothing to do with MARTA. It has to do with working together as a region and for the surrounding area to understand they would be irrelivant without Atlanta

Second, why would MARTA pay me to blog. How stupid.

Third, if MARTA was supported the way it should be there wouldn’t be an argument of the system doesn’t go anywhere. It would already be where it needed to be.

Let’s keep Atlanta progressive and keep the educated folks in and get rid of these old timers that don’t even live in Fulton or Dekalb. Please stop using our city for it’s jobs and entertainment. We don’t want you!!

Lumpkin resident

September 19th, 2011
12:52 pm

atlin83 wrote Don’t live in Fulton or DeKalb, or where you can park-and-ride MARTA to your destination? Then I really couldn’t care less how inconvenient MARTA is for you. If you chose to live away from it, then you can’t count a strike against it for not coming to your town.

Let me paraphrase: Don’t live in Fulton or Dekalb and/or utilize MARTA? Then screw you for living somewhere where you will have to pay for it but not benefit from it!! This is EXACTLY why the outer portions of Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton,Cherokee, etc., should NOT vote for it. People like atlin83 are ready to take your money and say “screw you”.

p.s. atlin, I was NOT suggesting that MARTA should come to Lumpkin. I WAS suggesting that Forsysth and Hall, with their population pull, are going to do the same thing the the Na Ga TSPLOST district that Clayton/Dekalb/South Fulton are doing to the Metro Atlanta district. There is not one SINGLE road infrastucture project in Hall county (Gainesville) or Forsyth County that will make transportation in Dawson/Lumpkin/White any better. Yet, they will get the lions share of projects and we will pay them over the next 10 years.