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We Can't Trust Elected Officials to Do the Right Thing

As the campaign for TSPLOST heats up, our elected officials are not representing us very well.

During last fall’s campaigns for both Roswell and Alpharetta City Council and mayor offices, every single candidate expressed opposition to the TSPLOST. Now that the vote nears and the governor and speaker are in full campaign mode to support it, these same candidates, now officeholders, are refusing to take a public position. 

One candidate, after representing her opposition as a candidate and her neutrality as an officeholder, was overheard at a private function urging everyone to vote for the TSPLOST.

It seems the lure of the honey pot of new tax money is incredibly strong.

It also seems that Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State, has joined the pro-TSPLOST campaign. Legally, the SOS has authority over ballot language and even though the specific language for the TSPLOST issue is specified in HB277 as:

( ) YES

 

( ) NO

 

 

Shall _______ County's transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years?'

SOS Kemp felt the need to insert the following preamble above the HB277-specified ballot language: 

“Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

I certainly wouldn’t question his right to do that under the law, but I can sure question his ethics in doing so. The claim that it creates jobs is very questionable and has been knocked down by Politifact. The claim that it reduces traffic congestion is ludicrous on its face. As for citizen oversight, a quick reading of HB277 leads one to understand that the Citizen Review Panel is a politically appointed body with no enforcement power and cannot review projects until they are completed. “Oversight” is nowhere in sight. 

Fellow citizens, I believe it’s time to send our elected officials at all levels a clear message that we expect them to work in our best interest, and to "do the right thing" once elected.

I hope you will join me in voting this monstrosity down.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

No Name June 22, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Hmmm, if you aren't getting back the money you pay in, and neither are we, then where is it all going? Two guesses. First one doesn't count.
Phil McCall June 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Dear Bryan - My skylines are the foothills of the Appalachians. As far as 'using' your services...fine, we don't; nothing in Atlanta that we need or desire. It may shock you, but we don't need Atlanta. So help yourself to all the taxation you desire for yourself; just leave us alone. Life is full of choices and responsibility; we made our choice. Good luck; write from time to time to let us know how that city thing is working out for you as it reminds us what a good choice we made.
No Name June 22, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Ditto. Had to go downtown for something today and husband was musing that we need to move northward and be done with Fulton County. We don't need or use anything down that way, in fact, avoid it. There is a place for people who enjoy the urban life. Good for them. Now if they could leave those of us alone who prefer to live a different way.
ACC-SEC Booster June 22, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Mike Lowry 1:14 pm on Friday, June 22, 2012 "Yes, but we are paying $12.50 for each trip, or $25 per day for these riders. This is not a cost-effective solution, and couldn't survive without the rest of both counties and the federal government (that's the rest of the country) artificially propping it up." That's the thing, that $12.50 per trip that it costs to fund the operation of transit systems like MARTA should be paid for by the users of that transportation infrastructure (the riders/passengers) and public-private partnerships. If a transit infrastructure cannot be self-sufficient then it does not need to be operational in this understandably anti-tax, anti-government political climate. Like transit, roads can also be and should be made to be self-sufficient and self-funding by abolishing the state gas tax on all Georgian citizens (while keeping the gas tax in place and raising it on all out-of-state road users) and levying distance-based user fees on all Georgian vehicles (the more one uses the road network, the more one pays; the less one uses the road network, the less one pays).
ACC-SEC Booster June 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Mike Lowry 1:14 pm on Friday, June 22, 2012 Making each major individual piece of transportation infrastructure self-sufficient and self-funding guarantees a virtually endless source of funding for our transportation infrastructure as the costs of initial construction and continued operation and maintenance of each particular major road or individual transit line is paid for with each individual use by each individual motorist or transit user, unlike the very-limited revenues from the gas tax for roads and the sales tax for transit. This T-SPLOST is basically designed to run short on the added transportation infrastructure that the tax is proposed to build, especially on the transit infrastructure that the tax is proposed to very-partially fund the building of.
Dean Sheridan June 23, 2012 at 01:29 PM
It's DeJa vu (i.e. the Federal Stimulus) in many ways but in a right to work State these Unions will go "unnamed." Hey , I'm just talking straight. As a society if we keep doing things this way we all deserve what we get. Maybe it's the best they can do based on an imperfect World in the current political system; in their defense during an election year - we can only guess. The facts are clear : Only 47% of the project list is for roads & bridges. It does open the door to Unfunded mandates. it is very expensive.MARTA is involved and they currently have a 489 million budget short fall. It is being sold on false false premises. We are not getting the value we should. We can do better; much better.
Brian Davis June 24, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Chip was for the TSPLOST when the project list included a redo of the intersection at Red Bud Road and I-75, adjacent to his meth hotel. He also led the effort to penalize local communities that did not pass the referendum, that was a Senate creation. In reference to the District 21 Senate Race there is only one candidate who has voted for the TIA and its Chip Rogers who voted for it twice. You might disagree with Brandon but he lets you know where he stands and will listen to you. Unlike Chip he has a job and can substanitate his income. He didn't write the TIA bill, in fact he and the DOT Board pushed the legislature to adopt a project list and put it in the bill that was designed by engineers, but the weak politicians punted.
Rob Johnson June 24, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Very well said Phil. Mr. Farley - There's a lot in Cherokee - There's also a lot in Atlanta and we would like it to stay that way thank you.
Bryan Farley June 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
@David Fige 1:02pm on June 22 "That's 250,000 in a service zone of 2 million; that is still about 12 to 13 percent!" Please do your math and stop including people out of Fulton/Dekalb counties. MARTA by law is only able to serve 2 counties so why do you and everyone else try to include the entire region in your figures? That's like saying that MTA in New York serves the entire state of NY and you use the entire population to get your figures when it only serves the NYC area. If MARTA was allow to serve the 6 million in the region and only had 240,000 one way riders then I would completely agree. But it only serves 2 million so the other 4ish million don't count.
Bryan Farley June 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Dear Phil - My skylines are downtown, midtown, Buckhead, Atlantic Station, the Perimeter, and up and down Peachtree. Just make sure you stay out there. Make sure your county residents stop coming intown and taking our big paying jobs and then going back out to the country. Make sure the GRTA buses and your cars don't ruin our streets that we have to pay for while the residents of the TRUE metro area generate millions for the state to fix yours. Thanks for the luck as well. I'll let you know as our skylines grow, our city becomes bigger, our star power rises, more companies come with better jobs, and more people will choose the city life versus the "white flight" that got us in this mess in the first place.
David Fige June 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM
@Bryan Farley, Commuters pay into Atlanta's tax base, as commercial property is taxes at a higher rate then residential. So you should Thank the commuters who come into Atlanta then leaves and don't use your schools, hospitals, city parks.. and on and on... The last I seen was Commercial paid about 25-30 % more per $ of property Values, than residential Tax Payers....
Bryan Farley June 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
@ David Fige You are right commuter definitely pay into the tax base but here's the problem. The metro area still generate far more than half of the taxes for the entire state yet receives well less than 40% of that money back. So what good is it to have a commuter come in and destroy the city streets and overall infrastructure then go back to the burbs where their money and the people that pay for the city get more of it in areas that are not going to need the improvements that ATL needs? It's still the same concept: commuters come in mess up the city then go back and wait for the money for their 4 lane with a grassy median perfectly paved roads while ATL struggles and suffers at the hands of them. Then you hear how "wasteful the city is" because it handles the entire metro area. While the burbs don't see no where near as much traffie as the city does, other than on the main interstates bringing you into the city.
Declaring Independence June 29, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Georgia and the Atlanta Metro area are in danger of becoming a high tax state and area. Our employment base is already suffering and adding more taxes on the citizens will not help the situation. Our overall sales tax rates are approaching those of other states that have no or very little income and other taxes. Of course Fulton County also wants to raise the millage rate to make up for lost revenue due to lower property valuations. Georgia is going to get its clock cleaned by other states that actually encourage business growth. People have choices now and will move out of the state, along with their salaries, to states with lower taxes and a more robust economy. We need to vote against and oppose all tax increases in Georgia. I just wish we could revisit eSPLOST.
Paula June 29, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I like this from Warren Buffet: Congressional Reform Act of 2012 1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office. 2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose. 3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. 4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. 5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. 6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
David Fige July 01, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Larry, like how some think the 14th amendment that dealt with citizenship for Slaves, also covers Illegals Aliens whom invaded, broke our immigration laws, but are rewarded with citizenship for there offspring born here. Also though a presidential order that is bought here illegally get the same reward. Our founding father must be rolling over in there graves. The Constitution was to Limit Government , not it the rights of it's Citizens.....
Truthseeker July 01, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Quote from Larry "Seems odd that the people most dissatisfied with the Constitution are those who profess to love it the very mostest and who often get dressed up as 'Patriots' to emphasize their support of its original intent." Wow, one sentence, really? The very "mostest"? Your elementary school English teacher must have had union tenure. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln Any further commenting by you has now been delegated to fool status. Thanks for the laugh.
David Fige July 01, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Treat them the same as Diplomats whom has children born in the US, they get certificate of Birth, but not a Citizenship... You can not Reward illegal behavioral..
Phil McCall July 02, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Dear Bryan - Our skyline in CC was again beautiful at sunup and at sundown. The robberies, shootings, and general crime of Atlanta contributes greatly to assisting you keeping us off your streets and out of your businesses. Your streets should do you just fine without us, or our T-SPLOST vote. Again, write from time to time and let us know how that city thing is working out for you.
Bryan Farley July 02, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Phil, our tall, steel structures of success also looked beautiful lit in the Atlanta night sky. And like all major cities, there is unfortunately crime within. But it's funny because most of the crime in the metro region actually happens outside city limits (i.e. Gwinnett, Clayton, and Cobb), without MARTA may I add. But it's ok, glad you enjoy your 'burb life. I'm sure the 200,000 or so residents won't make that much of a big deal when voting for the T-SPLOST in an area of about 4.5 million.
David Fige July 02, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Bryan, We must be living in a different world. The News I hear is another shooting in SW Atlanta. or SE Atlanta nightly..... Crime, Corruption, and high tax rates. Your Welcome to keep them all. As new building is starting to come back to Cherokee Country from people exiting Atlanta...
Bryan Farley July 02, 2012 at 03:09 PM
David, we must be. To say there isn't any crime in the city and that shootings don't happen would be a complete lie. But to say that all the crime in the metro area happens in ATL, completely untrue. As far as construction please inform me as I don't go to Cherokee. Nothing out there to go to. And you may want to get your facts correct because more people are moving back to the city, for many reasons. One being traffic and spending more time with family versus in your car surrounded by thousands of other people in cars you don't know. http://atlanta.curbed.com/archives/2012/06/28/httponlinewsjcomarticlesb10001424052702304830704577493032619987956html.php And they got their information from the Wall Street Journal, here is the link for that as well http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304830704577493032619987956.html Oh how I enjoy progress!!
Rico July 02, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Good points but. I and many others feel that Cherokee Citizens are looked upon as less important. Case in point, 400 has a gazillion lanes that for the most part were paid for by tax dollar$, not toll dollar$. For over twenty years we have begged for at least one more lane on 575 from Sixes down. Now the only way we can get it is a TOLL ROAD? You say there is nothing to go to here. As compared to what other similar community in the USA? A ride down Riverstone, Townlake or Hwy 92 would be a good day trip.
Bryan Farley July 02, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@ Rico Here's the deal with the "less important" thing. Services and money are going to go where the population is. Lets be real, if we have 1 million bucks to split between Cherokee (pop. about 200,000) and Fulton (pop. about 1,000,000) why would anyone divide the money up 50/50 when there is such a big difference in the amount of services each area needs? The Ga 400 toll money was actually used to pay off the bonds that were used to construct the road itself. As far as toll roads I'm not a big fan either but what they do is produce money for maintaining roads. Understand we are in a major metropolitan area. What kills me about the burbs (mainly Cobb and Gwinnett) is that they try to be so separate from ATL but the reason that they have the population and the imenities they do is because of how close they are to ATL. Some people just aren't going to live in the city. But they want the things that come with being near a big city. But if you don't take care of the core (which is ATL) how do you expect the ends to survive? If ATL goes down in a blaze like most in the burbs want what do they think are going to happen to the economies there? You think companies are going to keep moving here and build downtowns all around the burbs? No! This goes for Cherokee too, when ATL fails the entire region fails and for that matter the entire state.
ACC-SEC Booster July 02, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Rico 12:28 pm on Monday, July 2, 2012 In a way you are correct that Cherokee County and the I-575 Corridor, individually, is looked upon as less important than the GA 400 Corridor. State politicians see the conservative Republican-dominated GA 400 Corridor (which includes Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Milton, Forsyth County and the westside of Lake Lanier) as having more voting strength and political power than Cherokee County individually, which is seen as part of a package deal with Cobb and Paulding counties in the GOP primaries that decide statewide elections in Georgia.
ACC-SEC Booster July 02, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Rico 12:28 pm on Monday, July 2, 2012 I-575 should have been widened to 6-8 through lanes years ago from the I-75 split up to the Riverstone Parkway interchange in Canton and likely would have been under a competent and coherent governing structure at the state level, which hasn't been seen in this state since the days when Zell Miller was Governor. And, Rico, you are wrong about I-575 getting a toll road as it is only ONE reversible TOLL LANE that is tentatively proposed to be added to I-575 between I-75 and Sixes Road. The reason(s) why one reversible toll lane is the only expansion that the I-575 Corridor is likely to get is because our inept state government, by way of the highly-dysfunctional Georgia Department of Transportation, has stated in no uncertain terms that they are not going to add anymore untolled lanes to Interstates and freeways in the Atlanta Region due to intensifying political and social pressure from an increasingly-powerful anti-road establishment and an already politically-powerful real estate development establishment to expand the region's ridiculously-meager rail transit offerings to compete with competing cities like Charlotte and, especially, Dallas as land spectulators and real estate developers view rail transit as being infinitely more of a driving force of real estate investment than roads in the 21st Century.
ACC-SEC Booster July 02, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The plan by the political and business establishment in North Georgia is to expand the road network in the region as little as possible so as to eventually motivate Metro Atlantans and North Georgians stuck in gridlock to get out of their cars and ride proposed network of future rail transit lines that are planned to crisscross North Georgia mainly by way of the region's network of existing freight rail lines (like the CSX-W&A freight rail corridor that runs parallel to I-75 into Northwest Georgia through Cobb County and the existing Georgia Northeastern Railroad line that runs parallel to I-575 into the North Georgia Mountains through Cherokee County) and a few selected busy surface streets (like Peachtree St; Roswell Rd in Buckhead, Sandy Springs & North Fulton; Buford Hwy in DeKalb and, of course, Cobb Parkway which might work much better as a super-arterial with untolled local lanes and tolled express lanes between the I-75 interchange in Northwest Atlanta and the Red Top Mountain area just south of Cartersville in Bartow County). Here are a couple of links that might give some insight into the type of comprehensive rail transit plan that the political and business powers-that-be are pushing this area towards eventually: http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/nga_passenger.pdf
ACC-SEC Booster July 02, 2012 at 06:55 PM
The irony is that the rejection of this increasingly-unpopular T-SPLOST referendum by politically and socially-polarized Metro Atlanta voters (conservative OTP suburbanites and exurbanites vs. liberal ITP urbanites) will likely push the region even closer to being a rail transit-heavy region along the lines of a Northeastern/Northern city like a Washington DC, Chicago, Toronto (all three of which, by way have infinitely-better road networks than severely road infrastructure-challenged Atlanta) New York or Boston as, even though the proposed Atlanta Region T-SPLOST is severely-flawed, its rejection will cause already-scarce roadbuilding funds to be even more severely-scarce because the legislature built a poison pill into the T-SPLOST legislature that will penalize any region who votes rejects the T-SPLOST by requiring local governments within that region to pay 30% of the cost of state-funded roadbuilding projects instead of only the 10% that is paid now, meaning that all state-funded roadbuilding projects will triple in cost for local governments.
David Fige July 02, 2012 at 11:16 PM
That is one of the Biggest problem that like the health care law, either you play and go along with this majorly flawed mega Billion Dollar plan or your going to get "Taxed" The SCOUS already said the States can't be penalized( cutting medicaid funding), so don't you thing now the president has been set, that wouldn't be challenged too ? When you put a penalty in a tax law you just opened a can of worms that doesn't cut it any longer...
JC Resident July 03, 2012 at 01:39 PM
It's hard to argue with it because it makes assumptions, is fraught with misspellings, and is generally nonsensical. -- "majorly flawed" - just how? It can only be assumed that you are not on VA, medicare, or medicaid, and love HCA, Humana, BCBS, State Farm, or your company plan that gives your company far more tax breaks than you receive in benefits. -- "go along ... or your going to get taxed" It's "you're" or "you are" and either you left off the period after "Taxed" or you wrote a run-on sentence where the meaninglessness is only outweighed by your cluelessness. -- "SCOUS" - if you are referring to the supreme court, it is SCOTUS. -- "already said the States can't be penalized( cutting medicaid funding)" Cite case, and please explain if "cutting medicaid funding" is or is not penalizing the states, and if so, how. -- I do not "thing" the "president" has been set. I THINK you might mean "precedent," but it's hard to tell. -- "When you put a penalty in a tax law... can of worms ... doesn't cut it" --- congratulations! you have possibly written the silliest statement about taxation that I have ever read! It appears David Fige has lost a lot of brain cells from inhaling carbon monoxide while sitting in metro Atlanta gridlock. Help protect Mr. Fige's brain from further CO damage! Vote YES for HB277.
Truthseeker July 03, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Larry Welsh, Or should I call you Mr. Mostest ? For people to post you should've actually passed 4th grade spelling and grammar. Perhaps people will be embarrassed at their ignorance. Notice I did not say stupidity. You can fix ignorance with knowledge. You can't fix stupid. It's kind of like believing in a corrupt and incompetent GDOT and voting yourself a tax increase. A tax increase that will do nothing to improve traffic. Like people who have amnesia when it comes to promises made to taxpayers about the GA400 tolls coming down. Or the fact that Fulton County/DeKalb County will be paying for MARTA maintenance through 2 different taxes. A yes vote would be just plain stuck on stupid.

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