The following statement arrived out of the blue on Monday from Atlanta developer Dan O’Leary, who wants to harness the Georgia Lottery as the engine to drive a vast entertainment and gaming complex in Gwinnett County:
“Recently, Republican officials decided to put a casino question on the July primary ballot. Our group did not advocate to have this placed on the ballot, nor do we support the question.
It is a flawed question and does not accurately ask voters about our project. To truly gauge public sentiment on the issue of gaming, the real question is: ‘Are voters in favor of the Georgia Lottery expanding with [video lottery terminal] games in a single controlled environment to save the HOPE scholarship?’ This question gets to the heart of the issue. It’s not about casinos; it’s about saving HOPE.
“Our proposal to build a mixed-used entertainment complex in Gwinnett County will bring new revenue to fully fund the HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs for many generations to come. This can be accomplished through a simple expansion of the existing gaming options operated by the Georgia Lottery by placing Video Lottery Terminals in a secure destination venue.
“Given that this ballot question does not accurately portray our project, we fully anticipate that the voters will vote against it.”
In a phone conversation, O’Leary said he’s been getting more and more calls from journalists as we creep toward the July 31 deadline. “We kept getting this question and it seemed that we were behind it,” he said. (And no, he’s made no contribution to the state GOP that might be interpreted as a quid pro quo.)
But there’s another reason that O’Leary is speaking out. If that question on the GOP ballot should fail, he doesn’t want his group’s project tied to it. The word “casino” implies roulette wheels, poker and craps tables, and blackjack dealers. “Our project is not casino gaming. Casino gaming is illegal in the state of Georgia,” O’Leary said.
Speaking of ballot questions. According to GeorgiaPundit.com, W. Pitts Carr, attorney for the Transportation Leadership Coalition – which opposes the sales tax on the July 31 ballot – has taken a step that might be considered a prelude to a lawsuit.
Carr has sent a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, demanding to know the origins of this preamble to the transportation sales tax question: “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”
We would very much appreciate the earliest possible explanation as to the following:
1. Who drafted the introductory language?
2. Under what authority is it claimed that the language may be placed on the ballot?
3. Were private concerns involved in the preparation and submission of this language?
4. The identity of such private entities.
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at tea party activist Debbie Dooley’s contention that “statistics show that more people at this time telecommute than they ride carpools, mass transit, bicycle or walk.”
The largest challenge to the transportation sales tax referendum in metro Atlanta is the fact that it’s taking place three years into an anti-tax, tea party movement. Here’s how one pro-tax group in Troy, Mich. , tackled the problem with reverse psychology:
In an interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, objected to a deal that’s on a table somewhere in the state Capitol, which would grant MARTA a three-year reprieve from a state-imposed restriction on how it spends its sales tax revenue – in exchange for more north Fulton County clout on the transit agency’s governance board. Said Abrams:
”If the deal on the table is a temporary freedom from restrictions for a permanent change in structure – absolutely, that’s a non-starter. That was the deal that was presented at the end of the legislative session, and in fairness, it was not only Democrats but Republicans who opposed that….
“A wholesale turnover of governance structure to communities that have traditionally shown some hostility to MARTA, turning over that structure, and then saying we’re doing that change for a temporary relief of artificial restrictions that we have put in place – it’s saying, if you will cut off your own arm, we will take off the handcuffs. That’s a very poor deal for anyone to be asked to make.”
As for promises that the creation of a state-operated, regional transit authority will make all concerns moot, Abrams said that Fulton and DeKalb counties have heard that talk for decades. So far, it’s been nothing to bank on.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider