The ARC and transit as playthings of the United Nations

The somewhat peculiar question on the table last night – and I’ll admit to being the one who placed it there – is whether the transportation sales tax and the Atlanta Regional Commission are an extension of United Nations-endorsed ideology.

The location was Marietta. The event was the last of three candidate forums hosted by the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club, and the featured attraction was the race for chairman of the Cobb County Commission. Yours truly served as moderator and inquisitor.

The challenge to GOP incumbent Tim Lee is closely tied to the fortunes of the transportation sales tax vote in that county. Running most strongly against Lee is Bill Byrne, the former commission chairman — a definite “no” vote on the tax. Financial consultant Michael Boyce and retired businessman Tim Savage are also in the contest.

On Sunday, the Marietta Daily Journal had quoted Byrne as saying that the ARC – the primary planning agency for metro Atlanta — was adhering to the U.N.’s Agenda 21 platform of economic development. The obvious question: Is “regionalism” a good thing or a bad thing?

I wasn’t taking notes, but Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal was:

Byrne and Lee were at fairly opposite ends in their answers.

“When you take an approach of regionalism or regional government, you lose the concept of local control,” Byrne said. “Agenda 21 is a concept of planning — land use planning, if you will — to define economic development corridors and to develop them in high-rise fashion for residential and/or commercial use served by public transportation, be it bus service or light rail. The open space remaining from that is designated for public use.”

Byrne said he’s never agreed with such a concept and never will.

“We have to focus on what’s best for Cobb first and the region second, and that would be my primary focus as chairman,” he said.

By contrast, Lee said the “issue of regionalism is very important for economic development for our county.”

“We need to cooperate with the other counties in the region as we fight for jobs across this country,” Lee said.

The incumbent referenced a recent project Cobb secured without naming it directly, saying it was won in a fight with California.

Lee portrayed the matter as being responsible for his home while at the same time ensuring his neighborhood thrives.

***
Speaking of the pain of regionalism, House Republican Whip Ed Lindsey of Atlanta told Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) that MARTA will have to accept a temporary suspension of spending restrictions, the transit agency will have to accept a reconstituted board that includes members appointed by north Fulton County mayors.

Lindsey said a deal struck this session – but not approved by the Legislature – is likely to quickly surface next year. Said the lawmaker:

”In order to get the three years that MARTA wanted, we had to also get agreement on changing the MARTA board.”

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at whether a “Plan B” exists – should a metro Atlanta referendum on a transportation sales tax fail.

***
This latest temperature reading from the Gallup organization is likely to figure into Georgia’s fall debate over charter schools:

Americans’ confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup’s 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.

***
Mike Klein of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation reports that a new report on higher education by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives a “meh” rating to Georgia:

The state was graded at the top for efficiency and cost effectiveness in the technical college system and also for overall online learning innovation. None of the nine other categories received higher than a “B” grade and Georgia was graded near the bottom for consumer information transparency and accountability in both the two-year technical college (F grade) and four-year university systems (D grade).

The Chamber said, “Georgia receives below average scores for its consumer information and public accountability resources. The state does not track student labor market outcomes.” The state was criticized for a policy that will not allow students to transfer general credits from a two-year school to a four-year school if they change majors. The Chamber also noted Georgia does not have outcomes-based funding.

***
Thrown into the same Atlanta district by Republicans last year, state Reps. Rashad Taylor and Pat Gardner, both Democrats, are now fighting like cats in a bag. According to the Georgia Voice, an anti-gay mailer targeting emerged in a southwest Atlanta over the weekend – targeting Taylor, the only gay man in the Legislature. Taylor insisted that Gardner deny and condemn the tactic, which she did:

***
My AJC colleague Kristi Swartz notes that the son of Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise works for Georgia Power’s law firm:

Adam Wise, 30, has worked for the past year as an associate at Troutman Sanders, the prominent Atlanta firm that argues Georgia Power’s case before the Public Service Commission on rates, power plant expansion plans and other matters.

Stan Wise, elected to the PSC to regulate utilities and look out for consumers, says he sees no reason to mention the family connection at public hearings or to recuse himself from any votes.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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58 comments Add your comment

Ga Values

June 20th, 2012
11:00 am

Vote NO for WASTE & CORRUPTION I understand that T-SPLOST is now poling only 32% favorable. Where will Reed & Deal go to steal more money?

Centrist

June 20th, 2012
11:02 am

No to T-SPLOST, no to Lee, and no to Wise.

Big Hat

June 20th, 2012
11:17 am

Secret government is the best government. Crony government is the best government. Reactionary, racist, fascist government is the best government. Government by the corrupt, of the corrupt, for the corrupt is the best government. GA: we’re number 1, we’re number 1, we’re number 1.

Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
11:18 am

Deal and Reed don’t get to put a hand on this money. It ALL stays in the region. It was written to ensure NOBODY else gets the tax money except the region where it was collected.

clyde

June 20th, 2012
11:24 am

Proud voter—-O.K,the region where it was collected gets the money.And they’ll use it wisely????Of course not.

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:26 am

Vote no for no congestion relief, better air quality and less safe roadways and more local jobs. Yup!

Please provide real data on the waste and corruption. Be specific!

Byrne’s biscuit isn’t buttered on both sides! Never has been!

Rod

June 20th, 2012
11:26 am

Can’t we all just get along?

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:27 am

So Clyde, there are no transportation needs?

Centrist

June 20th, 2012
11:28 am

It is now clear that Eric Holder should have resigned long ago over the Fast and Furious fiasco. His stonewalling, lying, and drawing Obama into the cover-up so close to the election has hurt the administration’s credibility. There is little doubt that it is a political decision to take the heat over the executive order Obama has so criticized in the past instead of exposing Holder’s culpability and continuance in office.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

June 20th, 2012
11:30 am

Let’s just vote no and continue to do nothing. Wait there is “Plan B,” the one that is going to be all roads and fail or the one that is going to be all transit and fail. Let just keep coming up with new plans ever 2 years while we continue to do nothing about roads and transit now.

I can’t wait until this passes and the no voters have to pay the tax. I’m sure they are going to complain until they see the improvements and the jobs the investment will bring. All the new options we are going to have and the addittional money the region will get because of us stepping up and making an investment in ourselves.

Ga Values

June 20th, 2012
11:31 am

Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
11:18 am
So you think Reed & his Cronies aren’t pocketing money at the airport.. By the way the Maynard family is worth millions yet they are considered disadvantaged. Only in a city as corrupt as Atlanta.

Ga Values

June 20th, 2012
11:33 am

Bryan — MARTA supporter

June 20th, 2012
11:30 am
Does MARTA pay you by the Hour or post?

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
11:36 am

Bryan: Therein lies the rub with a tax: Even if I don’t want it, YOU still force me to pay it at the penalty of having a gun shoved in my face and me being kidnapped and thrown into a cage.

That isn’t democracy. That is tyranny, straight up.

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:39 am

Jeff do you feel the same way about the present gas tax? Income tax? ad valorem tax? All taxes?

Poor baby! What BS!

clyde

June 20th, 2012
11:40 am

Yes.there are transportation needs.Just look at how well the big “they”have done so far.With a few more billion there will be roads built on roads.

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
11:44 am

RS: Bet your tail I do. Just because you have more guns and cages than I do doesn’t make your position right. Indeed, threatening violence over peaceful disagreement is the HALLMARK of a tyrant.

1 tyrant 3000 miles away or 1000 tyrants 3 miles away makes no difference <- one of the truest statements ever made.

The enemy within

June 20th, 2012
11:49 am

The gasoline tax at least is directly tied to road usage. There could be a better funding mechanism if the free market were allowed to operate, but this one isn’t the worst. The income tax is slavery. The government ultimately decides how much of my income (my labor) they will own. That is slavery. The ad valorem tax, like any other tax on property is little more than theft. You either own your property or the government does. If they can levy a tax (whether or not you use a service, etc.) and ultimately take that property from you if you do not pay, then you do not own it. All of these are criminal taxes and should be replaced/eliminated and handled in a fee for services manner run by a competitive free market in service delivery.

Just because the government CAN do it doesn’t make it moral or any less criminal.

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:51 am

Jeff: Guns and cages?Threatening Violence? What? Where?

Do you consider yourself to be a “tyrant”?

Not trying to channel Star Trek but, isn’t the needs of the many outweigh the desires of a few?

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:53 am

So, enemy within, paying monies to the government for defense, transportation, benefits to society, etc should be left up to the individual as to when and how much?

Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
11:55 am

The t-splost money will NEVER go into the general state funds at all. It stays in the local coffers. Every new idea isn’t bad. Because of previous flaws in spending, this decent fair tax is being unduly criticized. Look at what it offers without a jaded view from the past. Is it perfect? Well, no! Duh! Does it have a chance of helping our region for the better? Well, yes! Duh! Can we really afford to turn our backs on this money when our roads and bridges are in such critical need of updating and replacing? This is a matter of national security, public safety, and job creation. One of the first questions of any economic developer who wants to put a product creation business in an area is what kind of roads, rail, waterway, and airport access already exists. They don’t wait for an area to build tomorrow what they need yesterday. Let Georgia excel at this! Vote yes for t-splost!

The enemy within

June 20th, 2012
11:55 am

The fraud and waste in government-run transportation projects are legendary, likely have been well-documented in the AJC even. You do the research. Currently there is no tax. You are the ones who have to make the case that THIS TIME things will be different with government “efficiency.” Good luck with that.

DannyX

June 20th, 2012
11:57 am

“That isn’t democracy. That is tyranny, straight up.”

That is one of the strangest things I have read on this blog. Not democracy??? How in the hell is a public vote on T-SPLOST not democracy???

The enemy within

June 20th, 2012
11:59 am

The minute we get an iron clad money back guarantee from the beneficiaries of this massive tax scheme I might consider a YES vote.

“Will it improve things?” – YES. How can you be so sure? Where is the guarantee? The only thing that can be guaranteed is that the developers, builders, contractors, etc. that stand to benefit from this boondoggle will get their money up front before all the negative consequences are seen, before the unused rail lines sit idle, before the cost overruns require additional taxation, etc. That is the only thing you can GUARANTEE about this legislation.

The enemy within

June 20th, 2012
12:01 pm

Democracy = Tyranny. The founding fathers were very clear on this point, as have hundreds of other authors on the subject.

Anyone who robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the vote of Paul. That is exactly how we got here ($16Trillion in debt, $160Trillion+ in unfunded liabilities, etc.).

The enemy within

June 20th, 2012
12:04 pm

Every law is ultimately backed up by the force of government. That includes the guns of the police, the cages of the prison system, and ultimately death if one resists in a manner that “threatens” them in any way.

Every time you ask for government to do something you do not wish to allow the voluntary process of the marketplace to address, you are advocating violence against others. I know that upsets your worldview of benevolent government, but it is absolutely the case.

Ga Values

June 20th, 2012
12:06 pm

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
11:26 am

Here’s $600,000,000.00 of waste all in 1 spot from Jim’s yesterday column. Gift to the politically connected, I see Jackmont Development LLC as the main contractor.

“Former columnist Phil Kent was one of the panelists. He took aim at the $600 million allotted to the Beltline.

“It’s not a congestion relief project, it’s not a traffic project. God bless them, it’s a nice real estate development project and if the city of Atlanta wants to do that, then by god why doesn’t the city of Atlanta pay for it itself.”

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
12:12 pm

Road Scholar: The needs of the many ABSOLUTELY outweigh the needs of the few… in the eyes of a Marxist.

I’m much more Randian – and not in the mold of the traitor Rand Paul, but Ayn Rand. She wasn’t right about every particular detail, but she was far more right than wrong in the grand scheme of things.

For me, the individual ALWAYS reigns supreme, and *voluntary* action is the ONLY valid social action. If people wish to donate to private funds to help build these projects, they will have my blessing to do so and to encourage everyone they can to do so.

Where they run into my opposition is when they stick a gun in my face and threaten to kidnap me and throw me in a cage if I elect NOT to participate in helping fund these projects.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

June 20th, 2012
12:15 pm

@ Ga Values June 20th, 2012 11:33 am

Nothing right now but maybe when I finished with my masters they can pay me a nice salary. I’ll love to hear people like you come up and say how much Atlanta is this and MARTA is that but the entire state is only what it is because of Atlanta and MARTA moves the city around.

You just come with the same hill billie “keep Georgia how it was 50 years ago” mess. I sure don’t here anyone complain about Atlanta when the rest of Georgia uses its tax dollar for their 4 lane highways to nowhere.

Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
12:20 pm

Why must there continuall be two Georgias: Atlanta and then then the rest of the state, Bryan? Four-lane highways to Atlanta from all over the state should be attractive to you. Those folks would spend money while in Atlanta and that would mean more t-splost money for your area’s improvement in roads and bridges. And why is this bad?

Aquagirl

June 20th, 2012
12:34 pm

For me, the individual ALWAYS reigns supreme, and *voluntary* action is the ONLY valid social action.

The Founding Fathers flushed that idea when they scrapped the Articles of Confederation.

I have yet to meet an Ayn Rand worshiper who speaks like adolescence is in their rear view mirror. It’s like the publishers smear social retardant on the pages of her novels.

honested

June 20th, 2012
12:49 pm

Too bad the T-Splost was watered down so much to avoid allowing MARTA to become a real, regional mass transit hub and to divert money into the hands of the ever outreaching paving companies.

Luckily, with adequate pressure, the General Assembly can quickly double the motor fuel tax and require it stay within the area generated next session (if you don’t like the motor fuel tax, don’t drive).

Then, we can work on a REAL regional/state Transit program.

For those who believe their neighborhood should not do anything to support the State, I would remind you, GA is not Alabama.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

June 20th, 2012
12:57 pm

@ Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
12:20 pm

Everyone is going to come to Atlanta because everything is here. The problem is that most people look down on Atlanta. Just like the metro region. Cobb, Gwinnett, and the rest of the burbs like down on Atlanta. What they don’t get is without the city the burbs wouldn’t be what they are.

honested

June 20th, 2012
12:58 pm

jeff,

You should get out more. A religion built on a childish, poorly written novel is never a good bet.

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
1:03 pm

honested: I live in Aiken SC and work in Augusta Ga (actually right beside where Aimee Copeland is right now). I *ALREADY* do what I can to make sure I get my gas and other purchases in SC, because on average I spend about 10-20% less on taxes there.

Double the motor fuel tax, and you’re only driving my business even more assuredly OUT of the pockets of small business owners in *GEORGIA* – and you’ll more than likely have many Georgians in the area drive out of State to get their gas and other goods as well. Remember, of Ga’s regional cities not a single one is more than an hour or so from a State Line, and most of them – Augusta, Savannah, Valdosta, Columbus, Rome, and Dalton- are either directly ON a State Line or within 30 min of one.

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
1:03 pm

My, My!

When you start to quote Phil Kent,…..oh my!

For those who profess individual destiny only, go back in the hole you came out of! Stay off the roads and transit YOU didn’t fund, out of government buildings YOU didn’t contribute to build when they were built, etc. Or are you just a freeloader?

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
1:17 pm

RS: My stolen money did in fact pay for those things you mentioned. Quit stealing from me and I will gladly do as you ask.

jebbery

June 20th, 2012
1:28 pm

It amuses me that it is REPUBLICANS pushing this new tax, using scare tactics like “no new businesses will come to Georgia if T-SPLOST fails.” Politics aside, what the Chambers and the consultants making thousands off this don’t realize is that the average taxpayer is overburdened with taxes as is. Plus, we don’t have faith in our government to execute their “plan”. I vote “NO” on this and I’m encouraging everyone I know to do the same…go back to the drawing board, come up with something smarter, something more collaborative, something that will truly address our traffic problems. Or, how about fix the sewers, sunset that tax, then add the transportation tax??? I’m tired of hearing “well, this is the best we could do…”

honested

June 20th, 2012
1:34 pm

jeff,

You just helped improve the definition of a self-immolating buffoon, ‘One who drives an hour to cross the state line in order to avoid paying motor fuel tax’.
Luckily, the numbers of those so decidedly anti-social are probably in the mid double-digits.

Aquagirl

June 20th, 2012
2:04 pm

Plus, we don’t have faith in our government to execute their “plan”

Whose fault is that? It’s not like we live under a dictatorship that forcibly seized power.

Kris

June 20th, 2012
2:31 pm

IF the GA legislature the crooked double dealing deal in the capitol would stop passing assine laws. (TFTP, the attack on women and leave immigration to the smarter people in the White-house. In the end the will probably save 6 or 7 BILLION $$ in legal expenses ..That should be enough to line the pockets of DEAL …REED….RALSTON, and the king pin IDIOT SONNY dodo. Don’t forget the lowest asphalt bidders. Not sure where Newt fits in this big bole of scat …but I smell him.
VOTE NO to t-spLOST…

OBAMA 2012

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
3:01 pm

Kris: The sky is falling also.

Please concentrate on making whole sentences and accurate punctuation. You show us the poor quality of the state’s school system. Also, if you smell Newt, move downwind! So, you want to spend more on asphalt?

Jeff

June 20th, 2012
3:18 pm

Honested: One of the major empoyers in the Augusta area, even now? Savannah River Site. In South Carolina. Thousands work there, at least a few thousand of whom live in Georgia. And yet they drive right by at least one gas station in SC where gas is pretty well guaranteed to be about $0.20 cents per gallon cheaper.

Guess where these people routinely get their gas?

Double Ga’s gas tax, and you’ve just given these people reason to drive BOTH of their cars to work on the days those vehicles need gas, just to avoid paying exhorbitant extortion to “solve” problems hundreds of miles away that they never encounter.

catlady

June 20th, 2012
3:26 pm

I’m not voting for Tsplost. Absolutely nothing in in for my area at all. Tired of seeing money misspent. I will vote no on every splost, every change in the Constitution, from here on out. It’s just an attempt to line certain people’s pockets.

On the ratings: Georgia doesn’t have the traditional 2 year and vocational schools, except for two: Dalton and one in S. Ga. It has vocational schools under DTAE, and colleges and universities (2 year and 4 year) under the BOR. We don’t fit in the common mold of 2 year transfer/voc schools all under one roof, as in some states.

In the past, classes transfered from 2 year (transfer) colleges to 4 year institutions, but not from vo tech institutions to…well, anywhere. The vo techs had courses that were COE accredited by SACS, and the 2 and 4 year colleges offered classes that were COC accredited. Not sure how it is now.

Georgia Peach

June 20th, 2012
3:45 pm

What Georgia needs is for the DOT to remove its cranium from its backside and stop mismanaging and misspending their current acquired monies so they can provide Georgia’s necessary transportation services. Government needs to tighten its belt just like everyone else and stop begging for more money to mismanage.

NO to TSPLOST!

Shar

June 20th, 2012
4:31 pm

The Beltline is a grand scheme as a necklace of parks with pedestrian access, but laughable as transit. It is definitely $600 million wasted, with far, far too much of that destined for the enrichment of Kasim Reed’s cronies.

If these roadway projects are so important, why isn’t the DOT funding them? Adding more money to the overflowing DOT pot only allows them to continue to plan spending by pal instead of by practicality. Sonny Perdue got a big ‘ol road right past his property, which had already been protected by a too-convenient state buy right next door. The DOT allowed this political payoff to trump the “important” projects in the TSPLOST list, and now they want more money to cover the deficit.

The AJC said that all these projects together will, at best, affect our current level of traffic by 6%. That does not allow for increases in traffic and the wisp of improvement will only apply to a certain routes. The rest of us will see no change. Any improvements will be swallowed and overwhelmed by developers who will flock to build out in whatever area congestion is reduced.

Building more roads is pointless. It will just result in more cars. We already pay for roads through the gas tax, and if we need more roads the legislators can suck it up and increase that tax instead of stacking road money on top of grocery purchases. What we need is more effective public transit. I’ll pay happily for that investment, but not for the idiocy of this collection of backwards, payola-ridden projects.

Proud Voter

June 20th, 2012
4:50 pm

Anyone who refuses to hear that the t-splost money that is collected in your region will all STAY in the region still hasn’t really studied the wording that is included in the t-splost sales tax, and probably never will because of myopic tunnel vision.

hiram

June 20th, 2012
5:13 pm

Why not just reroute I-75, 85 and 20 around Atlanta – at least 50 to 75 miles out, and let the voters choose the contractors from a list. This will spread the prosperity to outlying communities, and take the good old boys out of the equation. We might even consider subcontracting another state’s governor and legislature to run our state.

sfb

June 20th, 2012
5:34 pm

Well, Agenda 21 gives the conspiracy theorists something to blame the problems on. Lack of personal responsibility on their part, shifting blame.

Road Scholar

June 20th, 2012
6:14 pm

Hiram: There was a project called the Outer Perimeter that was tabled when the first section across north Atlanta was under design. Why? Those who just moved there did not want it! Then they proposed another 3 miles further north…same outcome. Thank Sonny P.

Shar: “If these roadway projects are so important, why isn’t the DOT funding them? ”

If you’ve not been paying attention, GDOT gas tax revenue is down and trending down. It also costs more for projects construction and property to build them. Maintenance costs are up. Statewide spending is way down. We still weren’t spending what we needed to stay current with our needs. We have the largest state east of the Mississippi, but spend the least per capita. Large mileage of Interstates and state routes dilutes what you can do each year.

BrittanyUnderwood82

June 20th, 2012
7:30 pm

We have to do something about transportation in Atlanta. Considering that there is a project list that will be targeting major areas around Atlanta that include spaghetti junction and then each county gets their own set of items to target this referendum will improve major projects that everyone will be able to enjoy in some form or fashion.