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