The front offices of Atlanta’s sports teams rally for transportation tax

It was an event made for the TV cameras more than print reporters, but the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s offices in downtown Atlanta served as a venue for the city’s biggest sports executives declare themselves in favor of the transportation sales tax.

Among the heavy-hitters:

Ed Clark, president and CEO of Atlanta Motor Speedway; Kelly Loeffler, co-owner and co-chairman of the Atlanta Dream basketball team; Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons; and Mike Plant, executive vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Braves.

No representative of the Atlanta Hawks attended – except for the team’s mascot, Harry the Hawk. Who was joined by other felt and foam creatures.

For the sports executives, it was all business. Said Plant of the Braves:

”I hope you’ve been to a lot of our games. It’s a little bit of a sad display of where our psyche is – 7th or 8th inning, the game’s close, even the post-season, people’s mindset is to get out of the stadium ‘cause I’ve got to beat the traffic. You don’t see that in too many other places in the country.”

Plant says he’s eying an item on the project list for the T-SPLOST that would help fans get to northbound I-85/75, just past the state Capitol, a little quicker after the game.

Homer, the mascot with a giant baseball for a head, nodded sagely at his boss’ observations, much like Mark Block used to do when Herman Cain made a stirring point.

Loeffler of the Atlanta Dream said she is more concerned with late arrivals to Philips Arena:

”We would love to see fans get there for the national anthem. We think that’s an important part of the game. We think player introductions are important. We think fans like other fans to be there. When they arrive, we don’t want them to feel that the bad traffic was part of the fan experience.”

Loeffler said a third or better of Dream fans don’t arrive until two minutes into the second quarter.

Before the session broke, I asked McKay of the Falcons whether he thought it fair that opponents of the penny sales tax for transportation were also wrapping current negotiations over a new home for the football team into their criticisms. Said McKay:

”These are two completely separate issues. One is a hotel motel tax and is a continuation of a tax that’s been in place and used to build the Georgia Dome. This is a referendum tied to a sales tax. Totally different. One is a regional solution that’s trying to deal with a long-term issue of traffic, and the other is trying to deal with the long-term home of an NFL franchise.

“So I can’t see where the two issues could be lumped together, or should be lumped together.”

Our man embedded with the Falcons, D. Orlando Ledbetter, did a far more thorough job with the topic. Including a photo. Outdone by the Sports Department again.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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51 comments Add your comment

Hockeyfan

July 2nd, 2012
6:27 pm

What a shocker that the Atlanta Spirit, the spoiled incompetent owners of the Hawks, arent going to do anything to help out the city or region.

Centrist

July 2nd, 2012
6:37 pm

High profile publicity stunts by Chamber of Commerce members – there’s a shock. Maybe C.W. Mathews should line up their yellow equipment along our interstates with “please feed me your tax dollars” signs,

Meanwhile, our politicians who are getting their campaign contributions from corporations are also hard at work:

July 2, 2012, Roswell, GA – Today, the Transportation Leadership Coalition (TLC) took the first formal step towards litigation challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for adding promotional language to the official state ballot in order to promote passage of T-SPLOST. On behalf of TLC a formal inquiry from attorney, Atlanta attorney Pitts Carr directs Secretary of State Brian Kemp to cite the legal authority for adding the language “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

“Secretary of State Kemp concluded that the preamble “is referenced in the original legislation”. Nowhere does that language appear in O.C.G.A. 48-8-240 et seq. To the contrary, the ballot language was specifically directed by the legislature as noted above. “Mr. Russo [general counsel for Secretary of State Kemp] at least appeared to be of the opinion that this was a constitutional amendment which, of course, it is not. He concluded without citation “all other questions placed on the ballot include a preamble”.

“Whether you are for or against the proposed tax increase, we can all agree the ballot is sacred and neither the Secretary of State nor anyone else should be able to turn our ballot into political propaganda.” The chaotic and contradictory statements made by Kemp and his office are characteristic of someone getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar, or in this case in the taxpayers’ pocket. I understand why Kemp is running around like a chicken with his head cut off. There is a real possibility that the secretary of state could be held personally liable for the cost of reprinting the ballot.”said Jack Staver, TLC chairman.

Laurie

July 2nd, 2012
6:57 pm

One more reason to vote NO.

hiram

July 2nd, 2012
7:21 pm

@centrist
If you go to what is left of ethics.ga.gov , and can navigate through the purposely unaccommodating maize of a website, you can review the recepients of campaign contributions and lobbyists’ gifts from Matthews, et al. It should be required reading for anyone planning to vote.

GC

July 2nd, 2012
7:23 pm

I don’t leave games early to avoid traffic on 85 or 75. I leave games early so I can get ouf the parking lot before midnight!!!

Kris (saving my penny)

July 2nd, 2012
7:42 pm

Now this great asphalt and sports (if that’s what they call it) Hummm…
Wonder if 3 crooks asphalt (Natie Deal , Sonny perdodo and Kaiser Reed), and the Team owners are quietly meeting behind closed and locked door discussing the new stadium.
If it looks like a scam it probably is.
For Example.
In Minnesota, where GOP lawmakers approved a $1 billion stadium financing deal and a $500 million public works bill, conservative state Sen. Crooked repuib was left shaking his head. “We ended the session this year with two products not that different than what Democrats would have come up with.

Vote not NO but HELL NO on LOST TAX

mike123

July 2nd, 2012
7:43 pm

If this is so important, why aren’t the businesses in Georgia pushing for a Corporate Tax increase? Instead they are pushing to raise my taxes. There is a word for the actions of the Chamber members.

BrittanyUnderwood82

July 2nd, 2012
7:55 pm

Not only is the passage of the Regional Transportation Referendum important for residents to get around but it is important for incoming businesses to the area as well. Moving through traffic in Atlanta is a nightmare but it doesn’t have to be. The only reason why it is so is because we have yet to make the needed improvements to our infrastructure. The transportation infrastructure that we currently have in place was not built to suit the needs of our ever growing city. The transportation referendum are a list of needed improvements to the city so that transportation can move as efficiently as possible.

Attack Dog

July 2nd, 2012
8:03 pm

Dixiecrats love asphalt. Let them drive. Dixiecrat expressways particularly north of the perimeter are 6-hour nightmares. Meanwhile Downtown Atlanta traffic is just a bad dream that lasts less than 30 minutes. Vote No Dixiecrats, real Atlantans don’t want to pay for your stupidity, even if Mayor Reed is trying to help you out.

GaBlue

July 2nd, 2012
9:01 pm

mike123 @ 7:43: “why aren’t the businesses in Georgia pushing for a Corporate Tax increase?”

Same as always. Socialize risks/costs; privatize profits. Brought to you by your Georgia GOP and the Chamber execs who own them.

Just Nasty & Mean

July 2nd, 2012
9:02 pm

These hometown sports teams have perfected the art of scamming taxpayers into paying for their infrastructure–like stadiums, parking lots, skyboxes–that they reap the profits from in the millions.

Supporting TSPLOST comes naturally from those sports teams that already gorge at the public trough.

Mr. KnowitAll

July 2nd, 2012
9:07 pm

What these sports teams and the general public do not seem to comprehend is the project list for the TSPLOST is loaded with development projects (can you say “Beltline”) that does absolutely NOTHING for congestion.

These punch-drunk sports management dummies cannot figure out the TSPLOST will take $8 BILLION out of the economy, not improve traffic, and likely hurt their teams front office.
If people are paying taxes they don’t have the cash to go to the games. HELLO???

Centrist

July 2nd, 2012
9:23 pm

Wouldn’t it be ironic if in 2 years a Democrat runs against Nathan Deal with Tea party support?

There is an opportunity for Blue Dog Democrats in Georgia – IF the (zombie) party will reverse it’s suicide leftist movement.

[...] how Jim Galloway, author of The Political Insider blog, saw [...]

Kris

July 2nd, 2012
9:58 pm

If this transportation TAX is so important to bring big business to GA. Then will some pocket lined GOP idiot at the gold DRONE “As Ricky Says :Lucy, you got some ’splainin’ to do! Why in the hell did GA not get this!!:

“” European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced plans Monday to build a new facility in Alabama to produce commercial airliners.”"

Thanks to the GOP we have lots of unused manufacturing plants laying around.

Vote NO on the t-spOST TAX .

Centrist

July 2nd, 2012
10:00 pm

Don’t laugh about Tea party Democrats -

California State Senators DeSaulnier, Lowenthal, and Simitian are all Democrats, but at times they sound like members of the Tea Party – convinced that the High Speed Rail (HSR) project is not going to generate riders, that it isn’t needed, that it will be a waste of money. These Tea Party Democrats have been spending all of 2012 (and in the case of Simitian and Lowenthal, a lot longer) trying to defund this high speed rail project.

They want to put $3.3 billion in immediate federal stimulus in jeopardy. Like Tea Party Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, or Tea Party Republicans in Congress, these Tea Party Democrats believe that stimulus and jobs aren’t needed, that spending money on bullet trains is too much of a risk to state budgets to be worth taking.
(This tax and spend bankrupt California, so of course it is going to pass)

The liberal USA Today reluctantly has this for tomorrow’s paper:

WASHINGTON – The overwhelming majority of the 87 Republican lawmakers who swept into Congress in 2010 and took control of the U.S. House are likely to be re-elected this year, according to strategists and an analysis of redistricting changes. That wave — fueled in large part by Tea Party momentum and campaign pledges of fiscal conservatism — is unlikely to recede in 2012 (Most of the article goes on with a Democrat viewpoint).

honested

July 2nd, 2012
10:09 pm

centrist,
Well, at least for the purposes of the article you quote, we can see you will probably be wrong again.
Who (other than teaclowns) cares what the teaclowns think anyway?

AS for the subject, was any overpaid sports figure quoted as saying ‘If y’all don’t pass this tax, then our boss will have to come off the hip for his new stadium and he won’t like that. He believes that the little people should pay for whatever the massas want!”

Eric

July 2nd, 2012
10:09 pm

Of course they’re for the tax–as usual, the public incurs the cost while the wealthy reap the profits. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Eric

July 2nd, 2012
10:10 pm

I forgot to add . . . Vote NO.

honested

July 2nd, 2012
10:11 pm

centrist,

So you think the Democratic Party should move fully to the wrong wing and abandon the ‘center’?

There hasn’t been any ‘leftist motion’ in the GA Democratic Party since about 1990.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 2nd, 2012
10:14 pm

Thanks for you kind words Jim!

Church of the painful Truth

July 2nd, 2012
10:23 pm

VOTE NO!!!! Never vote to tax yourself.If passed,it will never go away. I Agree with GC, the parking lots at the Braves games takes forever to get out. 75/85 are no problem after a game.

Kris

July 2nd, 2012
10:52 pm

And we need this t-spLOST TAX for this…HA!

Braves lose 4-1 to Cubs
“The Braves don’t like Mondays. They don’t win on Mondays. They barely even score on Mondays. “ What do they do on Tuesdays
or W. T. F.”
I do not think 8 Billion Dollars worth of sub standard asphalt and Political pocket lining will help the braves or the falcons.

Vote not NO but HELL NO on LOST TAX

yuzeyurbrane

July 2nd, 2012
11:12 pm

Dumb press conference. How many people whose votes they seek can even afford to attend a pro sports game at their taxpayer subsidized pleasure palace/money machines? Let’s put Artie Blank’s proposed new stadium to a referendum. It would lose by even more than T-Splost.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

July 2nd, 2012
11:26 pm

Will these people ever get a clue? Could anyone possibly ever be this dumb?

This fatally-flawed T-SPLOST was destined to fail from the moment that the Chamber of Commerce hustlers in the business community and the brainless clowns in the legislature dreamed this pending political castastrophe up.

WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE BUY THESE FLAMING IDIOTS A CLUE?

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

July 2nd, 2012
11:37 pm

BrittanyUnderwood82

July 2nd, 2012
7:55 pm

How much are they paying you to read from that script?

Kris

July 3rd, 2012
12:04 am

OK what else is this TAX called tsp-lost going to be used for other than substandard asphalt and water downed concrete?

From https://wsbtv.com

“”Even when Atlanta’s traffic-control center is working, it has limited capabilities. Atlanta has no closed-circuit cameras to monitor intersections. Atlanta has 946 traffic signals but it can only monitor 15 percent of them from the TCC and estimates it will take about $40 million to get Atlanta’s system fully up to speed.

He is hopeful that the city will commit some new money to traffic management if the regional transportation sales tax passes later this month.

Yet another reason to vote Hell no.

Jason

July 3rd, 2012
12:09 am

The only choice I see for TSPLOST is which slogan should I say while voting… “Just Say No” or “No means no!” If you need the state to spend tens of billions of dollars to make your commute a few minutes shorter, you’ve made some really bad life choices. If you business depends on the state to spend tens of billions of dollars to deliver customers to you, it’s time for you to get in another business.

td

July 3rd, 2012
12:19 am

Can not wait to go send a loud and clear message to our legislature about how I feel about raising my taxes.

Banker Bob

July 3rd, 2012
12:23 am

Actions like the failure to remove the tolls on GA400 will cause future transportation levies like this one to fail. It probably is a worthy tax. But no one trusts that the money will be used properly, or that it will end when the project is completed. So, a NO vote it is. Burn me once, shame on you – burn me twice…… nope not gonna happen.

John

July 3rd, 2012
6:22 am

The problem is that for the VAST bulk of commuters, these projects will not give them a single SECOND of traffic relief. Reason 1 to vote no.

Further, these projects will INCREASE traffic while being constructed. Reason 2.

For the strike out, as it relates to every sports team in Atlanta: As others have said, 75/85 is NOT the problem – getting out of the parking lots is! Yet NOT A SINGLE ONE of these projects addresses that issue, as those parking lots are private property and are rightfully the responsibility of the owners who are begging for this tax!

Smoltz needs to come out against this and get one last save under his belt.

johnny creek

July 3rd, 2012
6:53 am

I thought this was about transportation and big government, not feeding more tax dollars to our so so professional sports teams.

Edmund Ruffin

July 3rd, 2012
7:06 am

I don’t care if the pope showed up, I’m not voting myself a tax increase. And I especially won’t do it if the professional sports teams are encouraging support for this tax.

James

July 3rd, 2012
7:13 am

Now there is a good idea. Let’s spend SEVEN BILLION dollars (more like twenty five) to help our sports teams. Of course sports teams and apartment developers ( Post Properties) are for TSPLOST. They are still part of the old model of central city and packed in rental bedroom communities.
I will vote NO on TSPLOST and on the politicians who developed it.

Obama

July 3rd, 2012
8:07 am

All I wanted to do is raise taxes on just the rich and use the money to create jobs by building bridges and roads. Then your good ol’ boy GA GOP guys want to raise taxes on EVERYONE and use my same logic of building bridges and roads and suddenly it is good. I guess as long as you have an R behind your name you can get away with being a sneaky big government, tax hiking type.

Ga Values .................. VOTE NO FOR WASTE, GRAFT & CORRUPTION

July 3rd, 2012
8:16 am

the name says it all

tim

July 3rd, 2012
8:20 am

Not one of those “reps’ of the sports teams could name 3 projects that would directly benefit fans attending games.

Dumb and dumber

Auntie Christ

July 3rd, 2012
8:33 am

Memo to: Metro Taxpayer

Up here in upper Podunk, my fellow developers and I have finished our massive office/residential/retail development that generates 100,000 vehicle trips per day on the two lane highway feeding it. Our residents and tenants are very unhappy about their commute times and gridlock. Please send us $8 Billion so we can fix this. Cash check or money order will be accepted. Please include a 25% gratuity for our friends on the county commission, state legislature, and gov’s office. Without their help none of this would be possible.

Sincerely,
Daddy Bigbucks, CEO

Bob Loblaw

July 3rd, 2012
8:38 am

@John:

Seriously? Construction of the projects that will make traffic better will make traffic worse for a little while? That’s a reason to vote no? When your doctor tells you that you have a tumor, are you going to tell him its ok where it is because it will hurt to cut the tumor out?

findog

July 3rd, 2012
8:59 am

IF: local governments had made the developers build the infrastructure that their own traffic studies predicted would be required the arterial roads would not be the daily twin nightmares they have begun
IF: state DOT officials did not cut out set asides of funding for rural improvements we would not have wasted what little tax that is collected on pet projects like Perdue’sGA-3
IF: you vote YES you are voting to decrease the already lacking maintenance cycles as there will be more to maintain with the same funds which do not meet current needs
IF: you vote YES you are helping Georgia get to where it should be right now in 10-15 years
IF: you vote YES you are giving the elected officials a pass to actually deal with transportation
IF: you vote YES you are allowing our elected officials to keep their no new taxes pledge to Grover at the expense you their constituents
IF: you vote NO; you have to be willing to elect state level officials that will actually solve our problems and whenever necessary raise taxes

Shar

July 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

@Centrist and Auntie, especially good posts above.

@Brittany, if you want anyone to believe that you are not a schill for the Metro Chamber, you really need to change their wording a bit.

Every single one of the people at the Chamber’s press conference had lobbyists at the Dome this session, like every session, with their hands held out for extra access to the people’s money. Delta is still not paying their own fuel tax, while ours goes to the transportation they are whimpering is underfunded. The Chamber and its buddies pushed hard for, and got, exemption from sales tax for items used in manufacturing, but wants to load us up with additional sales taxes. They have had their mouthpieces work for years to whittle down the percentage they have to pay into workers’ compensation and unemployment funds, and guess what? Those funds have been wiped out by this recession and are now being underwritten by us, the taxpayers. But are the taxes for these being increased again to compensate? Oh heck no – that would be a “job killer”!

These disgusting hypocrites need to slither back into the well-appointed holes they came from and stop exposing themselves as they greedy liars they are.

And @Bob, if you look at the TIA nearly all of the projects are expected to begin in 2014 or beyond, with POSSIBLE completion dates by 2021. If this tax passes, the state will begin collecting the money but nothing will happen except that “studies” will begin, which will all be done by well-connected “consultants” who bill us at $400 per hour. Those are the people who have links to the Chamber and they are at the head of the line of those folks who are only too willing to show their appreciation to “our representatives” when the millions and millions and millions of our tax dollars start to cascade into their pockets.

Meanwhile, this tax still will not make any difference to traffic flow in Atlanta.

Auntie Christ

July 3rd, 2012
9:17 am

Shar: likewise yours!

Proud Voter

July 3rd, 2012
10:15 am

It’s difficult to believe that so many are so selfish and cynical that they cannot see a progressive program such as t-splost to help all of Georgia’s regions. It is flawed, but not nearly as flawed as the DOT plans for Georgia. At least this way, the money would stay in the region and NOT go through the general fund or DOT. Why are so many of you afraid of progress?

DeKalb Wonkette

July 3rd, 2012
10:32 am

Is Will-the-Winner handicapping this? Guess that is why he doesn’t need to list a legitimate and stable line of employment or business on his candidate filing forms!

The Georgia Chamber has owned and operated the Georgia General Assembly for years. Interesting, now that the GOP has bought their pig-in-poke: Do lawmakers side with constituents or the PAC money? Let’s ask Will!

John

July 3rd, 2012
10:33 am

@Bob Loblaw: Your comment presumes that traffic flow will improve once these projects are completed. Logic shows that traffic flow will NOT improve once these projects are completed, as they are not of a nature nor in an area where they will genuinely improve traffic flow!

Example: One project in Evans is to widen a particular road for about 4 miles…. to where said road dead ends into the Savannah River. PLEASE tell me how many cars come out of the Savannah River that need these additional lanes?????

RCB

July 3rd, 2012
11:06 am

I don’t trust the state DOT or the locals to spend ANY money appropriately or as the taxpayers originally voted. I will be voting NO. I’ve met very few people who are voting for this thing. I just can’t fathom 9% sales tax with the very poor results we get for our money here in Atlanta. Where I’ve lived with sales tax this high, there have been no state income taxes. Here we have both and get poorer results. The last 4 decades have ruined this city.

Shar

July 3rd, 2012
11:46 am

Proud Voter, a sales tax is regressive, not progressive. This TIA is regressive, not progressive, in that it directs 50% of funds to road construction – a pointless investment as the ARC’s own studies have shown that there will be no discernable difference in traffic flow even at today’s rates, much less those of ten years from now – while sending 15% in undirected funds to local authorities which may be earmarked for “transportation” but which are completely fungible and will instantly become a slush fund.

Your posts have degenerated into nothing but name-calling and clear lies. There is nothing “progressive” about this tax, nothing “progressive” or even worthwhile about the planned spending and nothing “selfish” about taxpayers who refuse to be duped and instead demand something effective in return for additional taxation.

Proud Voter

July 3rd, 2012
12:32 pm

Shar, what is it that you have against a fair tax? What is it that you have against keeping money in your region for your region’s improvement? It’s not perfect but it’s much better than putting any money into the general fund and through the DOT for my region’s transportation needs. Remember the lottery? It was going to be for education? BUT it went through the general funds and the GADOE and boom! The state cut and cut and cut education from the state’s funding and look what a mess that is.

If you cannot see anything progressive about the possibility of improving your region’s transportation needs, then I indeed urge you not to vote . . . ever. Nothing is gained by refusal to move forward. Traffic flow in Atlanta won’t be eased immediately because it takes time, but it will improve if Atlanta is allowed or improve the road designs. If nothing is done, then eventually the transportation problem will implode and those who use the roads will relocate which include industry and jobs. Is that really what you want?

There is no provision for a slush fund in T-splost. Period.

I do not lie.

Shar

July 3rd, 2012
12:57 pm

@Proud, you are quite right about the HOPE funds. Although they were supposed to be for education only, that kind of cash moves freely from line to line in a budget. So, the legislators cut funding for education because A) tuition increases necessitated by the cuts would be covered by HOPE and B) their corporate owners wanted money put somewhere more accessible to graft. Fast forward, HOPE has been drained and the legislators are pointing fingers everywhere but at themselves.

Precisely the same budgetary sleight of hand is planned for the 15% of the TSPLOST money slated to go into the hands of the counties. It immediately becomes a slush fund, just a local one instead of a statewide one.

The bigger question is your insistence on ignoring the fact that the project list will not, cannot make any discernible difference to traffic flow. A few North/South commuters will see at most a 6% reduction in commute time in ten years unless you factor in increases in traffic loads over that time, in which case they’ll see nothing. Nothing is what the rest of us will see.

Ironically, you are correct in saying that this plan succeeds in “improving your region’s transportation needs” since it will do nothing but add to the problems and, as you say, create more needs. It will do nothing to solve them.

The tax, by the way, is anything but fair. Sales taxes are among the most regressive, falling heaviest on those who must spend the largest percentage of their income on basic necessities. The rich folk at the Chamber – the ones who spend lots of tax deductible money on lobbyists to make sure their businesses pay a pittance in taxes compared to us regular Joes – want to get this thing passed because they will pay relatively little in taxes personally while reaping all of the benefits. There certainly aren’t any benefits or a shred of fairness for a person who earns too little to buy a car or live in Alpharetta.

This does not “move forward”, it takes us backward to Eisenhower-era road planning and an increasingly unfair tax burden while keeping the flow of cash intact to tied-in businesses and county commissioners. I agree that if nothing is done we will have a transportation crisis, but that crisis will only be worse if the wrong thing is done.

This is absolutely, positively the wrong thing. And yes, you are lying by misrepresenting the nature of the tax, the fact that it will create slush funds and by continuing to mouth the Chamber’s party line that this will do anything at all to reduce commute time.

Proud Voter

July 3rd, 2012
1:41 pm

The 15% must be spent be spent on transportation. A CPAwill be in charge of categorizing that. There will be no slush fund.

Shar, since you have not a clue to what the T-splost really represents and you have resorted to calling me a liar, I’m going to do to your blogs the same thing that I do to tele-marketers on the phone when I look at the caller ID: ignore you.

You can discuss ignorant, but you can’t discuss stupid.

Bless your heart.