Category Archives: MDJ Article

The Marietta Daily Journal – The TSPLOST Passage will obstruct progress

There are always at least 2 sides to every issue.  Cobb County columnist Ron Sifen offers another perspective on the Transportation Sales Tax.

Ron Sifen

The TSPLOST was supposed to be about reducing traffic congestion.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has conceded that the TSPLOST projects list will do little to reduce regional commute times. The ARC says they are defining “alleviating traffic congestion” as meaning increasing the number of people who can reach a point in the region within 45 minutes. The ARC has conceded that this has nothing to do with improving the flow of traffic, and that it will have an insignificant impact on reducing commute times.

The reason that so many state legislators are now opposing the TSPLOST is that the projects list became a massive bait-and-switch. Most of the money, billions of dollars, is going to projects that will do little or nothing to improve the flow of traffic.

In public presentations on both July 12 and July 13, TSPLOST proponents said

* Light rail has NOTHING to do with reducing traffic congestion, and

* Light rail has NOTHING to do with moving people.

* Cities build light rail to promote economic development.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation recently concluded that the TSPLOST projects list has “massive boondoggles that will put this state at a disadvantage for decades,“ and that “it would commit the region to wasteful spending on questionable projects for long past the 10-year sales tax.”

 

T-SPLOST: Tax Proponents Resort to name calling: “Racists”

The Marietta Daily Journal reports supporters of the July 31 transportation sales tax referendum has resorted to calling tax foes “racists” as polls show 56% of likely voters say no to the tax.

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has also described opponents of a proposed rail line from Midtown to Cumberland Mall as racists, according to MDJ.

“And one of the major reasons is that you turned your back on MARTA,” Leinberger said. “You have so underinvested in MARTA, and of course we all know what MARTA really stands for. It’s not the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit. It is Moving African Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta. You’ve racialized it. The white suburban neighborhoods and places have completely ignored the economic development potential that MARTA could have been and will be in the future.”

 

 

Tax Foes Get Busy: TIA Tax Faces Opposition -T-SPLOST

MDJ Colunmnist Don McKee writes:

The opposition is getting organized against the proposed Transportation Investment Act or TSPLOST to be voted on July 31. And not a moment too soon: Already the chambers of commerce and other deep-pocket backers are spending big bucks supporting the added one-cent regional sales tax in the 10-county metro area.

Now the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance says it will “lead a grassroots campaign” to defeat the TSPLOST, estimated to cost metro taxpayers “more than $7 billion over 10 years.” James Bell, director of the alliance, announced the campaign Wednesday.

“We’re working with a coalition being formed,” Bell said in a telephone interview yesterday. The coalition is expected to include the tea party and other groups opposing the regional sales tax that would raise an estimated $6.14 billion over 10 years.

Bell, a Lithia Springs videographer, said he and his alliance co-founder, Ron Williams, a Gwinnett County barber, do not “do membership” but instead work in building coalitions. He said he is in the process of “identifying 10 activists in 10 counties” to work against the TSPLOST by going to town hall meetings to speak up and help in other ways to energize a grassroots movement. The plan is for the anti-TSPLOST activists to use social networks, write letters to editors and stage public demonstrations, among other activities.
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Don McKee Grassroots movement being launched to oppose TSPLOST plan

East Cobb residents tee off on TSPLOST

by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
March 29, 2012 12:00 AM

EAST COBB — An Atlanta Regional Commission staffer’s presentation on the July 31 regional transportation referendum didn’t make many believers out of an audience of about 30 on Wednesday evening at the East Cobb Library.

The event was held by the East Cobb Civic Association.

Jane Hayse, transportation planning division chief for the Atlanta Regional Commission, gave a presentation on the proposed 10-year tax for transportation projects that would raise the sales tax rate by 1 percent before opening up the floor to questions.

Bobbi Shams of east Cobb asked Hayse who she anticipates using a light rail line in Cobb County.

Hayse said the county is in the process of determining “who is the market, using transit, particularly along Highway 41 going all the way up Kennesaw State. There’s a lot of students between Kennesaw State and Southern Poly that are possible candidates, a lot of redevelopment going on in those areas.”

Shams also asked Hayse if she believed a Cobb-financed rail line was really meant to serve Fulton County residents.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal

Pete Borden: TSPLOST is alphabet soup

Cobb County’s Pete Borden does a great job on summarizing the outrage created by the Transportation Investment Act (TSPLOST).  Please take a few minutes and read it. If you agree with Pete you can post on the www.MDJonline.com . If you disagree, WE REALLY NEED TO HERE FROM YOU!

“Three separate pieces, a news story, an editorial and a letter to the editor, all within recent days, have shed new light on a local proposal under the Transportation Investment Act (TIA). Said proposal is popularly, but erroneously called “TSPLOST.”

I use the term “erroneously” because, even though it is called such, there is very little, if any, similarity between the TIA and SPLOST. Unlike SPLOST, the TIA does not require defined projects, rather seems to favor ambiguity. Further, the TIA is administered by political appointees, rather than officials elected for that purpose. Indeed, it seems to be written to invite, enable and protect malfeasance and cronyism.

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) admits what most of us have known for some months now. The TSPLOST proposal is a like a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing.

Further, he states that the proposal has been switched from a regional traffic relief plan to a plan for economic development and transit transformation for Atlanta. To most of us, that is yesterday’s news, a day too late. It is obvious to most taxpayers of Cobb County that this proposal was designed as a bailout for MARTA and the city of Atlanta, and that not a one of the perpetrators of the travesty ever had a thought of how, or if, it would benefit Cobb County.

Even more amazing, but still not news to the taxpayers, was County Commission Chairman Tim Lee’s admission that the proposal was purposely written in a convoluted manner. However, I admit to being a little astonished when he justified that by saying they thought that was how the TIA intended that it should be presented. If that is truly what the lawmakers intended, it is time to heat up the tar and collect the feathers. Continue reading

Mayor Bucky Johnson – All wrong about new tax

This was Mayor Johnson’s response to my letter and MDJ Around Town  – James Bell

‘Splish-Splash’ column wrong about new tax

October 16, 2011

DEAR EDITOR:

On Oct. 11, the “Around Town” column ran with the headline, “Splish Splash — Cobb about to take TSPLOST bath?” We would like to correct two pieces of misinformation that were presented.

The authors, as do many people, referred to the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) as the “TSPLOST,” and even claimed that a “TSPLOST” is different from “the county-level SPLOSTs to which people are accustomed.” This is false. The acronym “SPLOST” stands for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The Transportation Investment Act is not a SPLOST. It is a one-penny sales tax that would fund transportation investments around the 10-county Atlanta region. By combining revenues collected in multiple counties, the region can afford to tackle projects that no one jurisdiction could pay for — like the interchange of I-285 and Georgia 400, which is a large investment on the TIA project list.

In the same paragraph where the authors inaccurately contrast a SPLOST to a TSPLOST, they claim that, “TSPLOSTS are a different breed of cat. Once approved by voters, officials are under no requirement to spend the resulting revenues exactly as promised.” This is also false. Continue reading

T-SPLOST forum was ‘staged’ event?

MARIETTA — Tuesday’s standing-room-only TSPLOST forum hosted by the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable in Marietta was a calculated response to the recent town hall meetings held by Cobb lawmakers where residents have blasted the proposed 10 year tax, said state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).

“There’s a dramatically different set of people that turned out tonight,” Setzler said after the meeting, held in the Cobb Board of Commissioners room. “I mean, after the battering this light rail concept has taken in four consecutive town hall meetings around the county, I think there was a recognition among the supporters of this that if they don’t show up tonight in force, have prepared remarks and get recognized to be one of the seven speakers who got to speak, then their message was never going to get out.”

Pete Borden: TSPLOST a Trojan horse?

Mark Mathews, mayor of Kennesaw and a member of the regional roundtable, intimated that we either vote to pay $865 million of our money to run a light rail from Midtown to Cumberland or we else still have to pay the 1 percent TSPLOST for 10 years but lose the benefit of the $865 million.

First of all, that statement is not true. There is a possibility of that happening, but it is not a given fact, as Mathews would have us believe. This issue, as well as the list of projects is far from being “carved in stone” at this time, and will not be until Oct. 15. If it were, it would be time to tar and feather the people responsible for putting it together, including Mathews and Lee.

There was virtually no input from taxpayers prior to the list being formalized. More importantly, to the best of my knowledge, the regional roundtable is a group of politicians playing with my money and yours, few, if any of whom have more than a nodding acquaintance with light rail technology or urban transportation planning.

At present, a little more than $1 billion of TSPLOST is earmarked for Cobb County. They tell us that we are lucky to have about 97 percent of our taxes returned to Cobb County. First of all, if that were true, and it is not, that is not a very good deal. We are getting 100 percent on the local SPLOSTs we currently have going on.

Candidates Denounce TSPLOST

The five candidates running to fill the seat held by the late state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-east Cobb) denounced the TSPLOST and Cobb EMC leadership during a candidate forum Monday.

TSPLOST Conflict of Interest?

SMYRNA — State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) works in business development for Croy Engineering of Marietta, a company that has directly benefited from a proposal for mass transit in Cobb County, which critics say creates a conflict of interest.

Croy Engineering is the project manager for the county’s $1.8 million Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis Study, which will examine what kinds of mass transportation will work on the Interstate 75 and U.S. 41 corridors, how much it will cost and where it should be built.

Tom Maloy of the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party believes that “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

%d bloggers like this: