‘Untie Atlanta’ isn’t a slogan for the rest of Georgia

You may not know it, but there are two campaigns for the transportation sales tax in Georgia.

The Goliath is the $8 million effort in metro Atlanta, which is filling the airwaves with calls to untie the state’s Big City.

Then there are the efforts to pass the sales tax in the 11 other tax regions that fill out Georgia’s corners — all separate Davids, but drawing from a single, poor-cousin campaign budget of $2.5 million.

When political efforts are going well, such disparities don’t matter. But things are not going well for those who would like to see the state spend more on roads and transit. On Friday, a Channel 2 Action News poll, conducted by the GOP-oriented firm Rosetta Stone Communications, showed support for the sales tax slipping in metro Atlanta.

Fallout from the struggling campaign is showing up elsewhere.

In Cobb County, the harsh Republican reaction threatens to spoil the re-election bid of Tim Lee, the GOP commission chairman who had a hand in developing the list of projects the sales tax would finance. At minimum, Lee could be dragged into an August primary runoff.

On the other side of the dynamic, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, facing a sharp-tongued primary challenge from Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, continues to merge his re-election campaign with the wave of TSPLOST opposition. On Saturday morning, he represented the “no” side in a mini-debate on the sales tax conducted by 11Alive.

There is also growing concern that the “Untie Atlanta” message, which has generated so little enthusiasm in suburban bastions here, may also be compromising sales tax campaigns in other parts of the state. And soaking up all available campaign cash, to boot.

“We’re all in the metro Atlanta media market. So we’re seeing a lot of TV ads saying ‘Untie Atlanta — untie the knot,’ ” said Doc Eldridge, a former mayor of Athens and now president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

That “untie Atlanta” message is confusing to voters in northeast Georgia, who lack any inclination to bail out metro Atlanta, Eldridge said. But those same voters might be persuaded to support the tax if it would lure more companies to the area like Caterpillar, which recently broke ground on a $200 million facility expected to employ 800 within five years. In fact, that is the intent of the tax — revenue would be spent where it’s raised.

“I don’t know that there’s regional hostility,” Eldridge said. “But there’s such an organized machine in Atlanta. We just kind of feel like the little child outside of the party. Whatever local interest there is, we’re having to generate it on our own.

“I keep hearing that there’s going to be a grass-roots campaign — a lot of robo-calling and that type of activity these next two weeks. But we haven’t seen a whole lot,” the former mayor said.
Because the money’s not there.

A memo circulating among the financial and political backers of Connect Georgia, the umbrella organization for the transportation tax campaigns outside metro Atlanta, cited polling in June indicating that passage was possible in several regions in the state — most of them beyond the reach of Atlanta TV.

Voters in tax regions anchored by Albany, Augusta, Macon and Valdosta were persuadable, the memo said. Hit them with the right arguments, and polling shoots up beyond 50 percent. All are areas that have both significant African-American populations and crowd-drawing Democratic contests on July 31. Regions dominated by Athens and Savannah have potential, the memo said. But campaigns there would require heavy funding.

The memo included this sour note: “[I]t must be noted that we currently do not have the financial resources to execute a communication campaign that models our … polling. Further resources are necessary to get the positive messages in front of voters in the areas outside of metro Atlanta.”

Cindy Miller, a spokeswoman for Connect Georgia, hadn’t seen the polling memo, but she confirmed its message. “When you get outside of Atlanta, there are real opportunities to win. You’re not hearing the chatter that you’re hearing [in metro Atlanta],” Miller said. “But it is true that we have far more opportunities than resources available. It’s all about fundraising now.”

Connect Georgia is attempting to raise an extra $500,000 before the vote. Much of it will be spent countering the message of “Untie Atlanta.”

“The Atlanta media footprint is just an unavoidable reality in this campaign,” Miller said. “The way we have to address that is direct voter contact.”

But phone calls and robo-calls and mailers and door-knocking take money and time. And both are running out.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

50 comments Add your comment

oldfart

July 14th, 2012
9:36 am

“In fact, that is the intent of the tax — revenue would be spent where it’s raised.”

If only they would apply this logic to the motor fuel tax…

say what?

July 14th, 2012
10:01 am

There would not be a need for more streets to the North end of Atlanta, if job creators would invest in all areas of metro Atlanta. Suddenly, this campaign is interested in my life being wasted in traffic? Then take that kind of money and encourage businesses to open flexible work site facilities where their employees reside. Gas prices would go down if only if, the chambers and economic development agencies would work together.
My county commissioner told me that the closing of businesses in Morrow, GA was “their problem”. No it is all of our problems, especially since the transportation tax is based on sales. We no longer have anything in Clayton county on which to tax. Now Clayton leadership continues to push for public transportation, yet no businesses are here to adequately collect the taxes for the stated estimated traffic projects.

Out by the Pond

July 14th, 2012
10:15 am

I am confused. If TSPLOST is such a great deal, why are they spending $8+ million to gather a third of the vote?

enodavid

July 14th, 2012
10:17 am

How about showing the memo?

Hoo-ha fan

July 14th, 2012
10:23 am

I have no faith in the administocrats being able to substantively and efficiently deliver on projects to untie he knot….i suggest we untie them from office and vote in people who have experience, expertise and a bias for action.

SBinF

July 14th, 2012
10:40 am

Not that I’m for the TSPLOST, but without Atlanta Georgia is Alabama, or worse Mississippi.

The entire state should care about Atlanta’s transit because Atlanta is the economic engine of the state.

DannyX

July 14th, 2012
11:00 am

“That “untie Atlanta” message is confusing to voters in northeast Georgia, who lack any inclination to bail out metro Atlanta, Eldridge said.”

Bail out Atlanta??? Is that a joke? 35% of all metro-Atlanta gas tax revenue is going to other parts of the state, its a big reason Atlanta area is sitting in traffic. Who’s bailing out who?

Wonder if these people would consider giving up their entitlement to metro Atlanta tax dollars so Atlanta can fix its transportation problems. How about it? Ha, I didn’t think so.

Todd

July 14th, 2012
11:15 am

It is about GA and economic growth. Do nothing and we get lower than Alabama.

A B Normal

July 14th, 2012
11:16 am

@Hoo-ha fan . . . well said.

td

July 14th, 2012
11:18 am

Come back with a list of road improvements or a plan to put mass transit in a east/west direction from Cobb to Gwinn and then we can talk, until then NO, NO, NO.

Ol' Timer

July 14th, 2012
11:20 am

I’m retired and travel when it’s convenient, so it really doesn’t matter to me; however, it appears the gridlock is not severe enough for the commuters to ante up a one percent sales tax.

Time at home is just not that important to them, yet.

td

July 14th, 2012
11:21 am

Todd

July 14th, 2012
11:15 am

What has the past growth in Metro Atlanta done for us? More traffic? It has also brought a bunch of yankee’s that ruined their states with their lib ideology attempting to force us to adopt it down here. No thank you. Metro Atlanta is big enough. No more growth is needed.

Motocross Survivor

July 14th, 2012
11:26 am

Caterpillar makes dozers that they sell to Israel, that Israel buys with our money, used to mow down defenseless American girls trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian shacks. These things are monstrosities where the coward inside hides behind bullet proof glass while he rolls over women and kids. Only a backward state like GA would want Caterpillar.

alenworn

July 14th, 2012
11:34 am

Vote no people, this is nothing but a big money grab by politicians, you may get a new intersection or 2 but you will be paying 8% for the rest of your life, we already have an income tax, now they want 8% sales tax? Forget Deal and Reed,

honested

July 14th, 2012
11:34 am

td,

You have it backwards, it was the influx of wrong wing yankess that helped provide apologists and additional supplicants for the dixiecrats.

honested

July 14th, 2012
11:37 am

Vote no!

Then lean on your State Representatives to increase the motor fuel tax with provisions to keep the money where it is raised (about .25 a gallon should do the trick).

Then lean on the same Representatives to get serious about inter-city rail or the same snarled traffic will continue on the same freeways and streets as the same people crowd from the same home locations to the same work locations and back every day.

How is this so hard for the wrong wingers to comprehend?

honested

July 14th, 2012
11:38 am

td,

Why would any civilized individual in the metro area want to go to either Cobb or Gwinnett much less back and forth between the two?

Wilbur

July 14th, 2012
11:39 am

Untie Atlanta is an unfortunte slip as TSPLOST seems to do a great deal more for the city than to actually fix traffic problems. If Atlanta does not start working with it’s suburbs and exurbs instead of ridiculing and attacking them, this will get worse
Jobs are marching north. They have been for thirty years. TSPLSOST is an attempt to stop that trend, not an attempt to really solve our traffice woes. Big business might have an interest in big spending but TSPLOST is a terrible idea for the rest of us.

KB

July 14th, 2012
11:41 am

As long as there is a toll on GA 400, I will vote against any DOT project. The DOT has shown itself to be completely untrustworthy

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

July 14th, 2012
11:44 am

If the tspLOSTwas actually going to untie Atlanta I’d vote for it but it is simply another way that Deal & Reed’s corrupt cronies are going to steal from the taxpayer. I assume that the other districts don’t have a $600,000,000.00 ripoff like the waste/beltline we have in Atlanta. This is simply a bad plan for the taxpayer & since it is going down is a bad deal for Deal & Reed’s corrupt cronies.

VOTE NO EARLY & OFTEN.

Ol' Timer

July 14th, 2012
11:46 am

@td: There have been many dumb posts on these blogs, but I think yours of 11:21A is in the running for the dumbest.

Look before I leap...

July 14th, 2012
11:59 am

@td
Yankee libs – lol

Top 10 states in per capita income (2011) and 2008 Electoral result:

CT Blue
MA Blue
NJ Blue
MD Blue
NY Blue
WY Red
VA Blue
NH Blue
ND Red
AL Red

GA ranks 39th

Bottom 10 states in per capita Income (2011) and 2008 Electoral results:

MS Red
ID Red
WV Red
KY Red
SC Red
UT Red
AR Red
NM Blue
AL Red
IN Blue

yuzeyurbrane

July 14th, 2012
12:04 pm

The TSplost campaign is a little too slick for its own good. It is turning voters off. The problem, as I once heard from a very accomplished trial lawyer who lost a case, is: “The bottom line is no matter how skilled your presentation is you are always stuck with the facts.”

Corey

July 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

I voted Monday during lunch, the first day of early voting, and voted yes. However, the opposition is so vociferous I don’t think it will pass. If it does not pass the affect on my travel will not change. I live on Peachtree and work on Peachtree. I can walk to almost everything I need, gocery store, pharmacy, hospital. I live within five minutes of two MARTA stations, and during rush hour a MARTA bus runs every 10-15 minutes. During non peak hours the bus runs every 20-30 minutes. People in the burbs howling against the street cars planned for Atlanta are waisting their time. The street cars have already provided jobs in Alpharetta where components are being assembled for the electric motors. Downtown, work is already underway to reroute power lines etc, and streets are already being outlined with markings to accomodate the tracks the street cars will run on. Along the beltline, parks are opening and old rail tracks are being retrofitted. Can you imagine if building a fifth runway or building an international terminal, or the Moreland interchange and the Georgia World Congress Center were left up to the voters?

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
12:54 pm

The slogan “Untie the Knot” is as bogus as the hypocritical wording on the ballot. Much of the boondoggle sales tax funds would go to mass transit maintenance and more mass transit that few people use. There is little or no congestion relief in the plan – but there is more development help to pay back campaign contributors which will add to future congestion. This huge added slush fund is ripe for graft, and our current tax dollars will get diverted away even more from the the primary government responsibility of infrastructure.

Governor Deal and other elected leaders will need to quickly admit this sales tax increase attempt was a mistake, or heads will properly roll in future elections.

No way

July 14th, 2012
12:58 pm

Good points Corey. The legislature botched this whole effort. As honested at 11:34 points out. Fund these essential transit needs from available revenues and other sources. Reorganize Marta to metro wide. Bring the metro area all in. Eliminate Balkanization of plans and put together a comprehensive program that makes sense. Not a pastiche of what all these locals think they need. As you said you can’t put this big stuff up for a vote like this. Form a regional board, fund it, then build what is priority. And that means major projects to connect ATL and fund the future. The state boys need to do so much better.

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
1:00 pm

@ Look – if income was the sole factor on where to live – we’d all be in that Northeast squalor or California. Cost of living, taxes, climate, population density, and friendliness are looked at more closely than income. It is the net of many things for where people who can choose where to live do so. How many people do you know (like I do) who refused transfers to some of the states you list?

JDW

July 14th, 2012
1:08 pm

Motocross Survivor @ 11:26

You’ll find no sympathy for Rachel “The Pancake” Corrie over here.

td

July 14th, 2012
1:12 pm

Look before I leap…

July 14th, 2012
11:59 am

States With The Lowest Taxes

Alaska at 6.4% of income
Nevada at 6.6% of income
Wyoming at 7% of income
Florida at 7.4% of income
New Hampshire at 7.6% of income

States with the highest tax rates:

New Jersey at 11.8% of income
New York at 11.7% of income
Connecticut at 11.1% of income
Maryland at 10.8% of income
Hawaii at 10.6% of income

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
1:15 pm

For those who keep preaching about how bad things are in Georgia and other Southern States – keep it up so the Yankee invasion will stay on simmer. I’m a former Yankee (and will keep it that way), but don’t want the rest to find out they can escape, too. If you like living here – SHHHHush! For those who don’t like living here, please leave (ASAP).

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
1:25 pm

The best way to ask a New Yorker (and a few posters here) for directions is: “Can you tell me how to get to Columbus Circle, or should I just go f%#$ myself?”

H

July 14th, 2012
1:26 pm

Why am I going to vote yes for more roads???? How does that help anything? More room for more cars to sit in more traffic…

Unless they put a whole list of projects expanding the Marta rail I’m not voting yes. It needs to go up further on 400, follow 75 north and farther out 85. Maybe include it a few more miles out east/west 20.

I’m not paying for more people to waste time, gas and money sitting on ever expanded highways.

Look before I leap...

July 14th, 2012
1:26 pm

@Centrist

My quick and dirty list was not intended to address desirability of places/regions to live. I was simply taking a potshot at td’s provincialism.

As someone who has visited both urban and rural areas in many parts of the country, squalor is not limited to the Northeast. And there are a plethora of quite lovely and very desirable areas in the northeast.

My point is:
The Limbaugh view that all liberals are wusses who only subsist on government handouts is a pile of manure.
Liberalism is not confined to the North.
The liberalism that does exist in the South is not necessarily a product of North to South migration.
Having liberals in your back yard is not necessarily a bad thing.

td

July 14th, 2012
1:34 pm

Look before I leap…

July 14th, 2012
1:26 pm

“My point is:
The Limbaugh view that all liberals are wusses who only subsist on government handouts is a pile of manure.”

Now, now who is trying to be provocative? There is no where in Rush’s 20 plus years on the air that you can find any serious statement Rush made close to this and you know it.

Kind of like the statement that any white person in the south is a racist made by all African American politicians.

@Centrist- We tried our hardest to name every road Peachtree to confuse the outsiders so much that they would never want to settle here but it just did not work.

west cobb voter 4

July 14th, 2012
1:36 pm

@ honested @11:38 am
Many “civilized individuals” from Cobb would love to be able to travel west to east more easily to work, visit, and shop in Gwinnett. I’d be happy to go to concerts, Gwinnett Braves games, Lake Lanier, and shop at the Mall of Georgia for starters. The trip to Athens/UGA could be cut dramatically if there were better roads to travel west to east and back. Getting to the North Georgia mountains would be easier, too. Not everyone wants to go TO Atlanta…mostly just AROUND Atlanta.

Look before I leap...

July 14th, 2012
1:39 pm

@centrist

I think you are playing to stereotypes there.
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in NYC both for work and for play, I have never encountered anyone there who told me to self-fornicate.

The only generalization I would make regarding the difference between people from the north as opposed to those south of the Mason Dixon is that both will take the same amount of time to decide if you are a jackass or not. The difference is, you are going to know it much quicker from a northerner than from a southerner. Quite frankly, I prefer the quick sting of an upfront and direct opinion than the fake smile and hypocritical behind the back whispering that seems to pass as southern gentility.

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
1:49 pm

Look posted ” …decide if you are a jackass or not. Quite frankly, I prefer the quick sting of an upfront and direct opinion”.

Sorry that you have felt that sting. I have only felt it via posters on this blog, and considering the sources – no real sting to it.

Baron Dekalb

July 14th, 2012
2:00 pm

TD: I guess you haven’t been listening to Limbaugh for as long as I have. I can’t remember the exact working used by the other poster, but I do remember him saying that women become feminist because they are ugly, that Nelson Mandela was a dangerous communist (complete with tasteless imitation of Mr. Mandela’s accent), and countless other hateful and divisive comments. He’s a hypocrite and, along with his supporters, bears a large portion of responsibility for the ugly political climate we’ve enjoyed over the last decades.

By the way, some of us “Libs” aren’t Yankees, despite your attempts to delegitimize Southern progressives with your backwards, nativist argument. Why don’t you move to Arizona if it’s getting so bad here, spread some of your friendly Southern generosity somewhere else for a change?

Baron Dekalb

July 14th, 2012
2:05 pm

TD “like the statement that any white person in the south is a racist made by all African American politicians.” Oh, the irony… he asks for evidence and then throws out this canard. PLease TD, show me one example of a black politician who made this claim… you can go back as far as 1970 if you need to, which is about the time that white racists were finally forced to accept SOME of the civil rights of blacks.

MrLiberty

July 14th, 2012
2:07 pm

Untie Atlanta isn’t a guarantee with full refund for Atlanta either. The only guarantee that anyone has is that developers and government-connected friends will make a TON of money off this no matter how few people ride the train to nowhere, no matter how high the cost overruns get, etc.

Sorry, my vote still stands at NO and everyone else’s should to.

Nice move by putting the billboard with the YES argument on your front page. Way to be objective – NOT!

Centrist

July 14th, 2012
2:09 pm

Look posted “As someone who has visited both urban and rural areas in many parts of the country, .. there are a plethora of quite lovely and very desirable areas in the northeast.” Joking aside, I was fortunate enough to grow up in one of those areas. But it was a struggle for may parents with taxes, commuting and living on an “island” surrounded by congestion, crime, and working the “rat race” life. They moved to Florida when I went to college, and wondered why they waited so long.

Like you, I have seen the world. I have lived in 6 states, visited the rest for business and pleasure, and have lived in Europe and Asia. I very early retired because I could – again, very fortunate to have done well enough to do so. I have chosen to live in Georgia even though I had/have choices. There are lots of things that need improvement here, but from my fortunate circumstances – life is good here at my home base. I still travel extensively. My point is that how bad can it be here, if somebody like me who seen so much remains here?

td

July 14th, 2012
2:15 pm

Baron Dekalb

July 14th, 2012
2:00 pm

Nelson Mandela turned out to be a communist and now South Africa is run by communist. The standard of living is less today then under white only rule. I guess Rush was correct.

Most femi nazis are ugly (does not mean that men do not want them) all you have to do is watch CNN and look at the feminist and then turn over to Fox and look at the conservative women. Another true statement by Rush.

I am sorry that the truth hurt your feelings but hurt feeling makes ones character.stronger in the end. Here is a truth: I am not a handsome man but due to my southern upbringing and conservative work ethic philosophy I have been able to marry a woman (way out of my class), have two great children and a comfortable life.

DannyX

July 14th, 2012
2:20 pm

Georgia is going backwards. Only nine other states have slower growth than Georgia. Georgia is no longer at the top of the relocation list. Something is very wrong here but conservative Republicans like td and “Centrist” have their heads buried in the sand.

Johns creek

July 14th, 2012
2:27 pm

I voted early and voted No. Whoever is selling this tax increase has failed to explain how it will help and why it will not be more money wasted. Ths tax increase is a boondoggle for construction companies. For an effective path forward, DOT needs to be reformed, empowered, and cleaned up. DOT needs to have a transportation plan for the whole state. MARTA has to be reformed to be a regional transit organization. The one cent sales tax already paid by Fulton and Dekalb for MARTA should be a sufficient contribution from these counties. If Fulton and Dekalb are to pay a 2% sales tax for transportation, then so should Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, Henry, Paulding, and the other counties that make up the Atlanta region. We need a plan that makes sense, not this fiasco designed by political amateurs and lobbyists.

Look before I leap...

July 14th, 2012
2:32 pm

@Centrist

Do not mistake my defense of the north and some of its attitudes as an indication that I don’t like Atlanta and some of the beauty to be found in rural GA. Else I would not have chosen to live here for the past 13 years. That said, like you, I think there are ways it can be better. I think we may differ on our definitions of “better” but that is the fun in living in a heterogeneous society.

Be Of Service

July 14th, 2012
3:29 pm

Let me get this straight:

A) 35% of the fuel tax money generated in Atlanta gets siphoned off (by the legislature) for projects elsewhere. The legislature could fix this but they are too spineless.

B) We need more money for transportation, but our spineless politicians will not raise the gas tax, which happens to be exactly the vehicle best suited to funding transportation projects. Plus it would encourage people to buy smaller cars that pollute less and get better gas mileage

C) If the TSPLOST passes, the politicians will find a way to influence how the money is spent, make sure their donors get million dollar contracts, but still claim “they” didn’t raise taxes.

D) The claimed job creation numbers are totally fabricated. If that money wasn’t being siphoned off as a tax it would go straight back into the free market economy, the most efficient creator of jobs.

E) Dekalb and Fulton county residents are ALREADY paying an extra 1% sales tax to fund MARTA, but TSPLOST ignores that and just screws them over worse.

F) Many of the projects will take years and years to complete, by which time the price will have ballooned to triple what they are saying now.

G) With billions raised and spent, very few of us will see any actual relief. Unless you happen to still work at Emory or CDC 10 years from now.

H) This whole thing is brought to you by the criminals who came up with the Hot Lanes on I85 North!

I want to see traffic improved in Atlanta, but this TSPLOST thing has got to be the biggest cluster ever conceived.

Buckhead

July 14th, 2012
4:03 pm

All this DOT bashing is dumb.

GDOT is #1 in on-time project delivery and #2 in under budget project delivery, that is out of 50 state transportation state depts and DC.

GDOT has dropped from 6000 employees to 4500 in the past 10 years.

They do have 5-10-20-50 year statewide transportation plans.

zanderae

July 14th, 2012
6:05 pm

@ TD@2:15 re “feminazis.”

td says, “Most femi nazis are ugly (does not mean that men do not want them) all you have to do is watch CNN and look at the feminist and then turn over to Fox and look at the conservative women. Another true statement by Rush.”

Whoa, now. What a stupid statement. Way to overgeneralize. I’m female, almost 50 and look at least 10 years younger (without any kind of chemical/cosmetic help, thanks anyway) – not that ugliness or whether “men want them” is relevant to ANYTHING regarding personal worth. And I’ve been married – to a man, in case you’re about to make another hateful statement – in a happy marriage for almost 26 years. If you hate women who believe in equality, or if you resent women who ascribe to some belief system other than your troglodyte world view, then come straight out and say it rather than hiding behind some bushwah about perceived attractiveness equating to worth. I dare say your “out of my class” wife probably has many other qualities that you admire other than beauty. So you can just get the hayull over yourself. “Southern upbringing” has nothing to do with your hatefulness.

As a side issue, I am a liberal, but that means nothing in terms of work ethic. I take care of myself and mine and take nothin’ from nobody; I would gladly stack my work ethic up against yours any day of the week and would likely whip your (backside). If you actually have time to spend watching that propaganda on Fox News rather than working, then I’ve just proven my point.

Motocross Survivor

July 14th, 2012
9:28 pm

JDW wrote:
“You’ll find no sympathy for Rachel “The Pancake” Corrie over here.”

And most of the civilized world will have no sympathy for ZioNazi Israel when Iranian missiles rain down.

Edmund Ruffin

July 15th, 2012
7:23 am

Go to TrafficTruth.net to know what this mess is all about.