My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin on Thursday attended a state Capitol press conference held by opponents of the transportation sales tax, and sends this report:
Tea Party groups from around the state blasted the upcoming transportation tax referendum as a “scam from the beginning” and said advocates had corrupted the ballot process.
Opponents of the July 31 regional referendums said supporters gamed the process to add a preamble to the ballot question that unfairly and inaccurately touts the proposed tax’s potential impact. The ballot question for the Metro Atlanta referendum is preceded by an introduction that says the tax “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”
Tea Party activists Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley, as well as Jack Staver of the Transportation Leadership Coalition and Kay Godwin of Georgia Conservatives in Action said that preamble does not appear in the legislation that created the referendums. They disagree that the tax would either create jobs or reduce traffic.
“Messing with our ballot is very wrong,” Staver said. “How dare you?”
We apologize for the interruption, but we need to note that loaded questions on Georgia ballots have a long and glorious history. Stay tuned for the wording of November question for the proposed constitutional amendment to restore the state’s power to create charter schools. But let’s continue:
The groups called on the governor, attorney general and secretary of state to remove the offending language, but stopped short of saying if they would sue to have it removed.
“Stay tuned,” Staver said. Debbie Dooley, co-organizer of the Atlanta Tea Party, said they are consulting with attorneys.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, however, said the legislation creating the tax instructed regional groups to create project lists for the proposed tax based on a set of criteria specifically outlined in state law. That law includes job creation and traffic relief.
“Ultimately, the language in the preamble is all referenced in the original legislation that was passed over three years ago,” Kemp said in a statement. “The preamble language exists for this reason and this reason only.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider