Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

Your daily jolt: Max Cleland on putting two Vietnam vets in charge of U.S. foreign policy

Over the weekend, the liberal website Talking Points Memo caught up with former U.S. senator Max Cleland, who declared himself thrilled with prospect of two Vietnam veterans in charge of formulating and implementing American foreign policy.

Former U.S. senator Max Cleland of Georgia/AJC file

Former U.S. senator Max Cleland of Georgia/AJC file

President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense today. He’s already nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as a replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Said Cleland:

“Look at John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, two wounded combat veterans of the Vietnam War. They’ve got five purple hearts between them. That’s the kind of people we want withdrawing from Afghanistan and ending this insane war and occupation and focusing the country on using the American military to stay out war, but if we get in war to win war and win it quickly,” he said.

Cleland said the pair will bring harmony to the civilian and military sides of …

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Your morning jolt: Grover Norquist, hospitals battle over bed tax extension

Three months out from the January session of the Legislature, some very specific lines in the sand are already being drawn.

Last week, to little fanfare, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, president of the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to Republican state lawmakers requiring them to oppose any extension of a hospital bed tax that was passed in 2010 and is set to expire next June.

The tax was used to plug a multi-million dollar hole in the state’s Medicaid budget.

Read Norquist’s letter in its entirety here.

Voting to extend the bed tax, Norquist declared, would violate the anti-tax pledge that many of those state lawmakers have signed. Norquist tied the bed tax to this summer’s transportation sales tax vote:

Voters made known their opposition to tax increases just six weeks ago when they soundly defeated the T-SPLOST at the polls. This is an affirmation of the public’s general distaste for higher taxes, and rightly so: Georgia’s tax code is …

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A letter from ‘Republicans for Doug Stoner’

The most important state Senate race in Georgia is the November contest between Democratic incumbent Doug Stoner of Smyrna and Republican challenger Hunter Hill of Atlanta.

A GOP win could give Republicans a super-majority in the chamber, allowing them to pass proposed changes to the state Constitution without Democratic interference.

But this weekend, residents of the newly configured District 6 (GOP-heavy Buckhead was inserted into the territory, which had been dominated by Cobb County), received a letter of endorsement from nine prominent, business-oriented Republicans:

Rob Garcia, president and COO of the Bank of North Georgia; Bob Prillaman, retired senior vice president of Caraustar Industries and former CEO of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce; Jim Rhoden, chairman and principal of the Futren Corp.; Barry Teague , managing partner of Walton Communities; Bob Voyles, principal and CEO of Seven Oaks Co.; Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce; …

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Nathan Deal aide named key transportation figure

My AJC colleague Ariel Hart sends this report of the most important thing that happened at the state Capitol today:

The Senate Transportation Committee on Monday voted swiftly and unanimously to confirm Toby Carr as the state’s transportation planning director, the semi-final step in his appointment.

Gov. Nathan Deal nominated Carr, a political aide, to replace Todd Long, a career transportation planner and engineer.

The planning director has perhaps the strongest single hand in picking which projects get funded from large parts of the state’s $2 billion gas tax budget.

Carr is former director of the Georgia Republican Party, led Deal’s gubernatorial transition committee, and recently has been Deal’s transportation policy advisor. He’s been acting as planning director pending his confirmation.

But his background raised no questions for the committee members. After Carr delivered his opening remarks to them Monday and braced for questions, the senators, both …

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Your morning jolt: Developer says casino question, but not his project, doomed to failure

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 …

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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 …

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Trust and the transportation sales tax

If the referendum for a transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta fails this month, the cause is likely to be a lack of trust.

The most obvious trust gap is the one that separates most tea partyists from government spending. No surprise there. But the trust deficit that matters most in the July 31 vote, and the one that runs the deepest, separates white and black in metro Atlanta.

Or, if you prefer to keep things on a more civilized plane, it creates a divide between Democrats in Fulton and DeKalb counties on one hand, and Republicans in the other eight counties on the other.

All along, the strategy for passage of the transportation sales tax has been based on keeping the vote close in GOP strongholds such as Cobb and Gwinnett counties, then running up the score with strong African-American support in Atlanta and areas south of I-20.

This week, Channel 2 Action News released a poll, conducted by Rosetta Stone Communications, which showed only 38 percent of voters in the …

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Channel 2 poll: Transportation sales tax support slips

On the eve of a resumption of the TV campaign for the transportation sales tax, a new poll just posted by Channel 2 Action News shows support for the effort slipping.

From the website:

A Rosetta Stone Communications poll conducted for Channel 2 Action News found only 38 percent of voters in 10 metro counties support the proposed tax, while 49 percent oppose the plan.

Those numbers show a drop in support of the tax from late May when a Rosetta Stone poll showed 42 percent supported the referendum and 45 percent opposed the measure.

The margin of support in Fulton and DeKalb counties isn’t anywhere near what’s needed to offset opposition in largely Republican counties. Check out the crosstabs:


Just for the record, Rosetta Stone Communications is a political service firm that caters primarily to Republican clients.

In response, Sam Williams, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, sent an email to supporters that included this:

“WSB released a poll this afternoon. …

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Metro Atlanta firms as voter turnout machines

You may not know it yet, but if you work for a large company in metro Atlanta, you’re about to become part of one of the most unusual political campaigns this state has ever seen.

Most battles for votes are conducted through flyers that arrive in your mailbox, robocalls to your phone, or TV ads that wheedle or bully their way into your living room. And supporters of a new sales tax for transportation intend to use each of these standard-issue weapons.

But over the next few weeks, backers of the July 31 tax referendum will add a campaign instrument never before seen in Georgia, at least not on this scale: A boss who puts an arm around your shoulder and urges you to do the “right” thing.

More than 400 businesses, including most of metro Atlanta’s largest, have committed to turning out an extra 50,000 voters well-versed in the financial impact of traffic congestion. Their employees, in other words.

“There’s never been a campaign like it in Georgia,” said Paul …

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Transportation sales tax opponents object to wording of ballot question

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 …

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