Category Archives: Opinion

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.”

 

New TSPLOST Poll – 55% say “NO” – Please vote!

A new Channel 2 Action News/Rosetta Stone Communications poll shows voters are not yet convinced.

Thirty-five percent of the registered voters polled said they’ll vote for the measure. Fifty-five percent said they oppose the tax.

T-SPLOST: Response To The ARC ’10 Facts’ E-mail

From PATCH.com Tax Activist Mike Lowry offers this rebuttal to ARC twist on T-SPLOST:

Monday morning, July 23, the ARC sent out an email titled “10 Facts about the Regional Transportation Referendum”.  I would like to respond.

1. Low spending and high congestion: Georgia ranks 48th in the nation in transportation spending per capita, and ranks 4th in total hours the average commuter spends in on the road each day.

Yes, we need to find more money for transportation. But first, we need to manage what we are spending more intelligently. GDOT has failed its last 4 audits and can’t seem to find about $1 billion. Also, according to ARC’s own analyst after we spend $8 billion on these projects the reduction in commute times will be “not much”.

2. Little room for expansion: Without additional funding, about 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s scheduled transportation dollars for the next 30 years will be spent on maintaining our current transportation network, leaving little room for expansion.

Again, we need to fix GDOT first. Maintaining the roads can only be efficient if they can prudently maintain their accounts. Continue reading

Political Insider Channel 2 poll: Transportation sales tax support slips

AJC Political Insider Jim Galloway reports support for the July 31 transportation 1% sales tax referendum is slipping. 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.

Sales tax ballot wording to mislead Georgia voters?

A controversy is spinning around the ballot language of the July 31 transportation sales tax referendum. If passed, the ten county Atlanta region sales tax would cost taxpayer nearly $9 billion over 10 years .

The controversy is over the “preamble” of  the  “SPECIAL ELECTION Referendum 1” on the July 31 primary ballot.  The preamble reads “Provides local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

James Bell, Director of Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, said the wording was cleverly crafted in an attempt to influence voters opinion of the tax and to mislead the public.

According to Bell, this is a desperate attempt by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to influence the out come of the tax vote. In an email exchange with a member of the Transportation Leadership Coalition , Kemp took credit (or blame) for the preamble to the ballot question.

More on this issues later.

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Is transportation tax referendum ballot language legal?

TrafficTruth.net - Another tax won't help your traffic jam.

Transportation Leadership Coalition
880 Marietta Highway, Suite 630-359
Roswell, GA 30075-6755

MEDIA CONTACT
Claire Bartlett
404‐384‐3256

Transportation Leadership Coalition Uncovers Unethical Ballot Language
Marketing language taints ballot question in an effort to sway votes in favor of the largest tax increase in Georgia history.

June 21, 2012, Roswell, GA – Today, citizens from across Georgia call on the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State to remove language that was wrongly placed on state ballots.  The language improperly promotes a ballot question on the largest tax increase in Georgia history.  Marketing language, not authorized by law, was added to Referendum 1, the TSPLOST issue, offering misleading and untrue statements about the referendum.

“We are disappointed that our elected officials would act in such a corrupt manner,” said Jack Staver, chairman of Transportation Leadership Coalition.  “Our leaders know this proposed tax can’t stand on its own merits.  So they have resorted to back room trickery, deceit, and misleading the people of Atlanta and Georgia.” Continue reading

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

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

Editorial: A tax by another name… (TSPLOST) (SPLOST) (TIA)

Bucky Johnson, the Mayor of Norcross and Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Roundtable, made a big deal in a recent editor letter (MDJ – ‘Splish-Splash’ column wrong about new tax’ October 16, 2011) about the difference between a SPLOST, a TSPLOST and the Transportation Investment Act (TIA), which comes up for a vote in July 2012. The TIA is estimated to raise more than $16 billion through a one-percent statewide sales tax over 10 years. An estimated $6.1 billion would be raised in the 10-county metro Atlanta region, which includes Cobb.

Regardless of what the Transportation Investment Act is called, it is the biggest single tax in the history of the state of Georgia. A tax this big demands absolute clarity and strict enforcement provisions for every word, every paragraph and every jot and dash to ensure that all promised projects are delivered. Mayor Johnson’s letter confirms to me there are no real enforcement provisions in the TIA.

As the Transportation Investment Act is written, enforcement does not exist. 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

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