Sierra Club to oppose transportation sales tax

I ran into Debbie Dooley of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots this morning, who told me that a major change in the dynamic of the transportation sales tax campaign is coming next week.

The Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club is preparing to join the opposition.

A quick query to Mark Woodall, the chapter’s chairman, produced this response, but nothing else: “I wouldn’t dispute what she says.”

A Sierra Club entry into the debate could add organization, experience and a network currently missing from the opposition’s playbook. Yet there’s likely to be some dissonance.

Grounds for the Sierra Club opposition haven’t been disclosed, but let’s suppose that they fault the initiative for too little emphasis on mass transit. Tea party opponents are on the opposite side of that canyon, saying it has too much.

Updated: One source has called to report that Sierra Club fears of a new Northern Arc will be its primary reason for opposing the sales tax in metro Atlanta.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

43 comments Add your comment

John

April 27th, 2012
12:55 pm

Whatever happened to compromise? Two extremes siding because there is too much compromise in a political deal?

Normal person

April 27th, 2012
1:00 pm

Seriously, what kind of idiot redneck doesn’t believe there’s a need for public transportation???????

We have some of the dumbest people on the planet here in Georgia with their inbred, dropped out of community college, learned everything I know about the world from Fox News & Rush Limbaugh view of the world. These people scare away jobs and investment from outside industries and capital.

100 people out of 100 people who have ever been to Europe and used their mass transit system know it is a worthwhile investment.

Read a book.

Use a passport.

Centrist

April 27th, 2012
1:09 pm

The AJC still pretending there isn’t considerable opposition because of a lack of “experience and a network” is laughable. Corporations, potential bidding entities, and liberals inside and followers of the AJC would not be campaigning so hard for this new tax 3 months before the vote tax if they weren’t VERY concerned.

Debbie

April 27th, 2012
1:21 pm

Like a member of the tea party would ever even use mass transit. Go Sierra Club!

GaNative

April 27th, 2012
1:22 pm

This is the clearest sign that the TSPLOST is a balanced initiative. Of course, nothing is perfect, but this measure will finally get Atlanta’s economy going again and send a clear message to the rest of the country that we are investing in our infrastructure and fighting traffic and gridlock.

DannyX

April 27th, 2012
1:25 pm

“…and liberals inside and followers of the AJC”

Concerned about what exactly “Centrist”? That the massive tax hike initiative passed by conservative Georgia Republicans won’t win support of the people?

findog

April 27th, 2012
1:27 pm

Just vote NO!
Quick the gimmicks; if we need more asphalt tax fuel, not everything but fuel

Ga Values Ron Paul for Peace & prosparity

April 27th, 2012
1:29 pm

If you like the disaster with the airport concession you’ll love the beltline. Reed makes Bill Cambell look honest..

Just say no to waste & corruption.

findog

April 27th, 2012
1:32 pm

GA Native: really? You should change your handle to Georgia Naïve. This will not solve any transportation problems for at least six years, and then will be just funding the poor planning of the last forty years.

Shar

April 27th, 2012
1:35 pm

I got yet another T-SPLOST call last night, this time from an actual person who claimed to be a “volunteer” (yeah, right) calling to be sure I knew about the referendum and that I was “voting for Atlanta’s future.” He got an earful.

That makes either 4 or 5 calls, several radio spots and tw mailers I’ve gotten from the pro side thus far, and it’s only April. The amount of money being used to ram this down our throats is astonishing, now to mention the political sleight of hand in scheduling the vote and putting a political hack with no transportation background in a position to use the governor’s clout on this.

All that determined, expensive lipstick does not cover the porcine shape of this thing. We dump huge amounts of money into the GaDOT with results like the extension of the 400 toll, the toll lane on 85 and absolutely no traffic relief, and then the initiative that was supposed to bring new thinking to be supported with new revenue just resurrects old projects that the DOT wouldn’t fund and blisteringly stupid spending on things like the merrygoround masquerading as transit on the Beltline and the tourist streetcars downtown.

None of this will help, and the powers that be know it, hence their marketing bludgeoning. Vote no. Doing something is not the same as doing something right.

Centrist

April 27th, 2012
1:38 pm

Nice summation, Shar.

CobbGOPer

April 27th, 2012
1:50 pm

Just another example of GAGOP politics creating very strange bedfellows, which should be cause for alarm.

NO BAD TAXES

April 27th, 2012
1:52 pm

This tax is not good for the environment. Of course the Sierra club should be against it. This tax will not make your commute better it won’t let you spend more time with your family. How did we forget the lessons from our past? Everyone had agreed that we can’t pave our way out of congestion.

Bottom line until we learn to not grow and develop in such an unsustainable manner we should not give more tax dollars to our metro government leaders. It will be squandered and will only be a band aid for some of the symptoms but it won’t treat the cause and it will lead to greater costs in the future.

The TIA does more sprawl than good! Look at whose funding the pro campaign…its not commuters.

GaBlue

April 27th, 2012
1:57 pm

Shar breaks it down nicely!! More tax money to people who use it to feather their own nests while solving NONE of our actual problems? NO THANKS.

Crony Corruption: Thy name is Georgia.

trixie

April 27th, 2012
2:09 pm

You look like the guy who invented the “jump to conclusions” mat in the movie Office Space.

Jeff H.

April 27th, 2012
2:10 pm

Agree with Shar, and this splost might pass simply because the ‘tree huggers’ are opposing it. GDot is useless.

trixie

April 27th, 2012
2:10 pm

Jeff H.

April 27th, 2012
2:16 pm

BTW, Boston’s public transit infrastructure is close to 100 years old, and it is fifty times better than Atlanta. San Fran is maybe 250 times better. Why? Probably because a bunch of ignorant hillbillies are entrenched in cushy jobs here, and they don’t give a hoot.

GaNative

April 27th, 2012
2:43 pm

Fortunately, this thing will pass without y’all’s votes. The TSPLOST is going to generate massive jobs, mitigate some of the State’s failure to fund and plan adequate transit and roads and improve the quality of life for millions.

There are so many ignorant statements above, it is hard to know where to start, but calling the Beltline a merrygoround is a completely asinine. Have you walked this route? What do you know about the Beltline? Are you in the City of Atlanta? As I City resident I appreciate the tens of millions philanthropies have put into this and the commitment of visionary leaders.

Of course, y’all will benefit from it when it is complete, but the vitriol makes me question your true motivations, which certainly don’t seem to improving our cities and communities.

Dirty Dawg

April 27th, 2012
2:45 pm

There was a time when MARTA was the envy of every mass-transit system in the country, but years of strangulating budget/spending rules, surrounding county bigotry and a State Legislature that seems to see its role is to stifle the City of Atlanta. Whatayabet that Mass doesn’t feel that way about Boston or California, San Francisco?

Dirty Dawg

April 27th, 2012
2:52 pm

…and to finish the thought…the anti-MARTA/Atlanta attitude has taken its toll on the system and the city as well. Hell, I’ll bet North Carolina doesn’t do that to Charlotte or Alabama to Birmingham, but we seem quite comfortable doing it to the ‘money-making machine’ that is Atlanta.

GaNaYallGotAPrettyMouth

April 27th, 2012
3:40 pm

The fact that I keep talking bout the conomy instead of fixing traffic shows ya’ll how this is really just a give away for the good ole boys in the legislature and their favorite cousin’s companies.

If it wuz reaally about transport, it would permanently remove the restrictions on marta’s budget and expand marta to the hick counties. It does no such thing.

Fortunately, ya’ll in Georgia are dumb as a bag of hammers so ya’ll probably keep me and mine rich for while.

Billingeorgia

April 27th, 2012
4:16 pm

Normal Person – If public transportation is needed then let an entrepreneur step up and invest. Hey if you think its such a good idea why don’t you form a corporation and sell bonds to raise the money to implement your plan.

KillingGeorgia

April 27th, 2012
4:54 pm

Entrepreneurs are fantastic! They can solve everything! They believe in the market fairy! We don’t need government for ANYTHING!

Look at Somalia. No government there and its a paradise! YAY Somalia! I love Somalia! I want to go there to live.

Centrist

April 27th, 2012
6:01 pm

This blog got updated at the end a couple hours ago with this: “Sierra Club fears of a new Northern Arc will be its primary reason for opposing the sales tax in metro Atlanta.”

A northern arc probably makes the most sense, but is not part of the plan since it wouldn’t get enough overall votes below Cobb, North Fulton, and Gwinnett. This is upside down reasoning by BOTH T-SPLOST planners and the Sierra Club. But as the plan stands – it NEEDS to be voted down.

taint trump

April 27th, 2012
6:07 pm

Were thinking small, let’s go big…..moving sidewalks.

Former Tea Partier

April 27th, 2012
6:54 pm

Extreme from the right – Tea Party Patriotts
Extreme from the left – Sierra Club

That does it.

TSPLOST has my vote!

Road Scholar

April 27th, 2012
7:33 pm

Please provide specifics of graft inside of GDOT. Remember, no whining.

Oh, by the way, every city, county, region, and states in this country that have gone this route ( a Tsplost tax) has had an informational campaign to educate the voters about the terms, projects and costs.
And how do you market something by saying it sucks? Wasted money and effort from the gitgo eh? Boy, that would be really smart, huh?
Oh, I forgot we are in Georgia!

monkey pox

April 27th, 2012
7:35 pm

wahoowah

April 27th, 2012
7:51 pm

The real problem with the vote is that it ignores an obvious option–why can’t government use its existing revenues to address the supposed problem? Instead, the powers that be pretend that existing revenue is fully committed and we need additional revenue to address a critical problem. If this is necessary, why can’t existing revenues be prioritized to attack the problem?

This is a classic misdirection. The voters are presented with a false choice. If the legislature and executive were doing their job, they would address transportation issues with the resources they have. Instead, they pretend they are helpless without additional resources and try to convince the voters to devote a new special fund to the transportation problem. Why can’t the state take the funds they are currently using for less important matters (fishing promotion, private planes, pension abuses, etc) and attack transportation problems?

And, if the response is that we just don’t have enough money, we should simply increase the general tax rate and let the legislature budget and prioritize as they see fit. There’s no good reason to dedicate tax revenues unless you don’t trust your representatives to make the appropriate choices amongst spending alternatives. And if you don’t trust your representatives, why would you think the TSPOST they have proposed is a good idea?

A liberal that objects to falsely engineered initiatives

Centrist

April 27th, 2012
8:36 pm

@ wahoowah.

Exactly.

honested

April 27th, 2012
8:40 pm

former tea partier…

Your calculus is flawed.

Think for a moment, why on earth would the Sierra Club want to support an income redistribution from EVERYBODY to the paving interests?

Drop this dog and start over. Adjust the gas tax (use a formula with 1968 or so numbers adjusted for inflation and keep at least 60% of the funds in the Generating County). Yes it will push up the gas tax but apparently that is the only way to get those with extremely thick heads out of their gas guzzlers and bring them kicking and screaming into the late 20th Century.

Next, the General Assembly should grow a pair, drop the artificial ‘regions’ and put forth a plan for intra-city rapid rail improvements and inter-city passenger rail (a train ride might make it pleasant to go to Macon or even Augusta). Keep at least 60% of the revenue in the generating counties so the eventual budget can (for the first time) indicate where the real need and participation IS.

Build it and pay for it.

What is so difficult to comprehend.

And for the clown who suggested ‘private funding’ see ‘NEW STADIUM FOR 8 USES A YEAR FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS’ and then let’s talk.

honested

April 27th, 2012
8:43 pm

wahowwah,

Have you driven south of the gnat line in the last few years?

We have had adequate resources, but we have blown them on roads to connect points where nobody lives on either end in the hope of promoting ‘commerce’.

The tsplost is definitely a half-baked plan approved by the worst freshman class of legislators in my lifetime. Hardly a stupid idea sponsored by a ‘fellow republican’ did not get the appropriate rubber stamp this year.

ld

April 27th, 2012
8:45 pm

Tea Party energy and common sense has been smothered by GOP RNC.

ld

April 27th, 2012
8:49 pm

Any common sense and energy the Tea Party ever had has been smothered by the RNC–they’re now just GOP usual.

Jason

April 27th, 2012
10:17 pm

wahoowah, the problem is that GDOT already borrowed against expected revenues for the next thirty years to build Perdue’s Fast Forward system fo rural highways along with other earlier projects. GDOT can’t use existing revenue because it’s already spent. TSPLOST is a way to hide the mistakes of the past. Without it the ponzi scheme collapses. Transportation costs money. How much depends on how we develop our cities and counties. In Georgia we took the path of not planning. As a result, to give everyone the transportation they desire is going to cost many times more than it would in a state where development patterns weren’t left to the whims of well connected real estate developers.

Really though, TSPLOST is just a bandaid. It won’t solve the problem of Georgia’s inability to plan for the future. It’s just doing more of the same things that got us into the current situation. TSPLOST will be useful for a small number of people but for most of us things are only going to get worse because it only treats the symptoms (and superficially at that) rather than the cause.

BPJ

April 28th, 2012
12:01 am

I agree with GaNative about the Beltline – it’s one of the best ideas to come along in years, and it’s a shame some detractors have not bothered to understand it.

This 28-year member of the Sierra Club is going to resign, if they go through with this pigheaded opposition. Here is the question any pro-transit opponent of the TSPLOST needs to answer (and can’t): if this thing is voted down, what happens next to give us adequate transit funding? Remember, your answer must be based on a realistic, sound understanding of Georgia politics and specifically the general assembly. In order to get the transit part, there must also be a road component, or it can’t pass. Anyone who thinks that if the TSPLOST fails, the legislature will vote funding for transit, or even allow us in Atlanta to tax ourselves for transit, has NO CLUE about the realities of Georgia politics.

PM

April 28th, 2012
12:08 am

Projects like the Trolley to nowhere are why this tax has to die. They’re spending 100 million dollars (before upcharges, cost overruns, fees, increases, whoopsies and extras) to put in some trolleys without first even running a dedicated bus loop -and MARTA has tons of buses in mothballs- to see if anyone even actually WANTS to ride on the trolley route. When they eventually find out the answer is not really, not even tourists, too bad. 100 million plus will be gone, along with probably 20% a year to keep the thing running until it finally falls apart in five years. Which it will.

Then there’s HOT lanes that do nothing. The worst commute traffic is not even where those lanes go. Has anyone from the DOT tried to come in from the south after 8am, or go back south from midtown after 5pm? THAT is where the traffic is, because the stupid I-20 interchange was apparently designed to handle exactly one car at a time. Per week. And it’s that slow car with the left signal stuck on.

What smart city puts a freeway through the middle of downtown, anyway? If you want to go downtown, you can’t because of the traffic, and if you don’t want to go, you are stuck because that’s where the interchange happens to be. Must be fun to watch the mess from the DOT offices off Memorial. SPLOST? Not only no but bite my shiny metal bumper NO.

PM

April 28th, 2012
12:15 am

@wahoowah Nailed it! They say they want the TSPLOST because they have no money now to solve anything more complicated than chewing gum in the dark, but if they are given the TSPLOST, they will jump up and down and cheer -and come right back in two years and say they have no money to solve the problems. There is never enough money. The more they are given, the more then spend and the more the coffers look empty so the more they need so they can spend and empty the coffers again.

Roads are a particularly vicious example of this because they wear out naturally and need some maintenance. Everybody can see it. So when the DOT comes begging for more money, all they have to do is point at some potholes or a traffic jam and whoop! There is is! Here comes the DOT with sad doe eyes crying that they’d fix the road and make it all better -if only they had a little tax money to eat, kind sir, won’t you help?

And you voters will give it to them.

Build The Outer Perimeter

April 28th, 2012
8:14 am

@Centrist 6:01pm

Would the Outer Perimeter get support from those southern areas that wouldn’t support just a Northern Arc?

honested

April 28th, 2012
10:16 am

Both the ‘outer perimeter’ and ‘northern arc’ need to be buried permanently.

If you don’t want to live in a rural setting and don’t want to have a long drive on small roads to get back to civilization DON’T MOVE THERE.

What civilization is so foolish that they wreck their primary watershed by continued ‘development’?

View From Midtown

April 28th, 2012
10:55 am

If Jim’s source is correct, then the The Sierra Club leadership is so ignorant and uninformed they might as well be Tea Partiers. TIA funds will be spent on the region’s defined project list. The project list was based on individual country and city requests, vetted against the Transportation Improvement Plan projects by the professional planners at the ARC and then further vetted/culled by Todd Long/GDAT representing the state/Governor. The ARC involved over 200,000 citizens in community meetings about the plan and project list. There is no ‘Northern Arc’ on the project list.

The goobernator

April 28th, 2012
12:41 pm

I have to join the ranks of those highly skeptical voters that believe the money will NOT be spent on worthy sustainable projects tomreleive convestion or provide alternative transportion. I appreciate the comments. By ‘view from. midtown’ but i don’t buy ti based on past experience. They money will go elsewhere, which is why Sierra Club probabaly does not recommend it. I do NOT trust the state or the counties to use the money for the listed projects. That is a very sad position to,take, but,I don’t trust them, and I won’t vote for it until our governing institutions restore that trust.