Cobb yanks TIA ad after complaints
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
March 30, 2012 12:00 AM | 4001 views | 20 20 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb County has pulled a 30-minute infomercial about the Transportation Investment Act from its TV channel amid complaints of bias.

A program called “The Shape of Things to Come,” which is produced quarterly by the Atlanta Regional Commission, was taken off the county’s TV station, TV23 Government Access Channel, Tuesday following a complaint from some of Commissioner Bob Ott’s constituents.

“A couple of people in east Cobb contacted me, and they felt like it was biased,” Ott said. “They said that the show was not totally about TIA, but the way they described it to me, it presented a doom and gloom picture of what the TIA doesn’t have and that overall it had a significant gleam towards approval of the TIA.”

Ott, who said he hadn’t watched the program and declined to release the names of the people who made the complaints, said county government should not be advocating one way or the other.

“Once we had the complaint, we pulled it from air and asked the county attorneys office to take a look at it and see if they felt that it was advocating for the sales tax,” county spokesperson Robert Quigley said. “They had concerns and thought that it could be perceived as advocating.”

County attorney Joseph Atkins decided Wednesday afternoon to pull it from the channel’s lineup, he said.

The show included a 10-minute interview with ARC Chairman Tad Leithead and Jane Hayse, the chief of transportation for ARC, who both spoke about the ARC’s Plan 2040, the future transportation needs of the region and how voters will have a “chance to accelerate transportation improvements” by voting on the TIA referendum July 31.

The program also showed an array of comments from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Henry County Commissioner B.J. Mathis, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, all in favor of TSPLOST, and an interview with Johnson and Mathis, both members of the ARC Roundtable, talking about what’s at stake if voters don’t approve the referendum.

County Chairman Tim Lee said he was notified of the program being pulled shortly after it was taken off the air Tuesday.

“That’s unusual (for a program to be taken off air), so that’s why they let me know,” he said.

Lee hasn’t personally received any complaints about the program, nor did he ever see the interview, but supports the county’s decision to pull it.

Quigley said they began airing the show in mid-February five to seven days each week during different time slots.

“We also get programs from the Army, Navy, from the extension service, from the state, programs from Washington, D.C., with our local representatives,” he said. “It is one of many programs we run on the channel, and ordinarily there’s not an issue with the content on programs produced by other governments.”

The ARC production is distributed throughout metro Atlanta and something Cobb County has been running for years, but Quigley said that in the future, his department would take a closer look at ARC programming before it’s aired.

A seven-member panel dictates what is appropriate for TV23 viewers, the channel designation, management of the channel and programming types. Cobb Board of Commissioners can amend the policy.
Comments
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CobbCountyRedneck
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April 01, 2012
@ Carol in Smyrna

Whether you consider the ARC sponsored program one sided propaganda or educational really depends on your own personal perspective.

If you support the 16% tax increase that the TIA will impose, you are inclined to perceive it as educational, because it supports your position.

If you oppose the TIA tax increase, you are likely to view it as propaganda because it cuts against your position.

I would only ask one question.

Does the program give a fair hearing to both the pros and cons of the TIA or does it simply spell out the problems we face (which almost everybody agrees on) and then hold the TIA out as the only viable solution?
Carol in Smyrna
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March 31, 2012
So Commissioner Ott is trying to censor free speech and taking educational information of the air just because he disagrees with it? That's scary. Sounds like the old USSR.

I've seen the video and it's far from propaganda. Anyone can access it at ARC and judge for themselves.

Voters in Ott's district should also know he is actively fighting against $35 million of OUR taxes coming back TO US for much needed transportation improvements in Smyrna, East Cobb, etc.

Why isn't that story being told?
JR in Mableton
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March 30, 2012
I am not sure what is says about me that I was watching a TIA video on TV 23, but it is not a propaganda video. Let it run. I do agree that it would be nice to go into the details of the projects in Cobb. I have the list, and there are some good ones. It is about time that something be done about Windy Hill at I-75. There are nearly 700k people in Cobb, and we pull a 30 minute program because four people called to complain. It is odd to see the Tea Party trying to suppress this issue...might be time to put on those red coats.
Thomas Palmer
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March 31, 2012
@ JR in Mableton: If the program was information only, then I ask you, did the video mention the thousands of tax payer dollars that are being used to promote passage of the TIA legislation or the details involving the never ending costs associated with maintenance of the proposed projects. This transportation tax does not address solving transportation problems, there are no metrics that support the position taken by pro-TIA advocates. Less than 6% of commuters in Cobb County will possibly benefit from spending 6.1 billion dollars. Please become informed.
mk-fools gold
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March 31, 2012
JR, sir, please don't be blind.

They have given no clear plan for the Windy Hill/75 area. They have rejected a Windy Hill flyover bridge. The flyover is the real solution,... but they just aren't going to do it- it would eat up most of the money.

They should have tackled it 20 years ago, when the I-85 spaghetti junction was being built. W/out addressing the real gridlock ,.. the little patches will never accomplish much.

READ what's being said . They are going to widen exit ramps & entrance ramps. So, once they spend that 20 million, still gridlock!!

Traffic cannot move from 285 to 75 north! That should be the flyover!! Cars cannot get ONTO 75 south from Windy Hill south, due to gridlock on both 285 east & west!!!!

Nothing they have proposed will address these gridlocks!

And, a TUNNEL under Cobb Parkway accomplishes absolutely NOTHING!! Won't bring ONE job or business to Cobb County!

JR,... PLEASE comprehend what is NOT being said!!
Guide Offer
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March 30, 2012
Why can't information on ANY government proposed project be presented with just the FACTS? I can even give instructions on how to do that and I can do it for them.

Here is a quick guide:

1. List what the project will build and/or provide. Ex- Extra lane for Hwy 41 North and South from Windy Hill Rd. to I-285.

2. List when the projects will start & end.

3. List what the project cost.

3. List how the project will be funded. Ex-sales tax (give how long the sales tax will be collected), bond

Now how hard is that? The government should not give their slant- pro or con.

CobbCountyRedneck
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March 30, 2012
Yet another underhanded, sneaky attempt by Tim Lee, the Cobb Chamber and the Cumberland CID to sway the voters of Cobb County with misinformation and half truths about the TIA.

Using TV 23 to distribute biased propaganda is an example of how our Chairman is so easily manipulated and controlled by special interest groups.

It's no wonder that he supported the construction of a $1B light rail line for MARTA and the City of Atlanta.

Mike2013
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March 30, 2012
stop TV23 Government Access Channel....use the money that goes into it for something else. Nobody watches the channel.
Mike has spoken!
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March 30, 2012
Thanks Mike for thinking you can speak on behalf of 650,000 citizens. Yeah, lets have LESS open government and sunshine laws. Sound good?
mk - retro cobb
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March 31, 2012
I agree, Mike! This is 2012! The video should be streaming online & archived!!

It's also time to have 'open discussion' on these important local issues,..on the website!

No censoring- elected officials need to hear ALL sides!!

And answer publicly ONLINE for all to read. Like Dunwoody!

The local public channel looks like something out of the 'Shaft' era!!
THE TRUTH
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March 30, 2012
Information is power. Put it back on the air, let people watch it and get information about the Transportation Investment Act and the process that took place. It was all a matter of public record and an open process, is this 30 minute video not more evidence of transparency of the process? Why should we keep it from the public view?
URKiddingRight?
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March 30, 2012
@ THE TRUTH

Because it is not objective even handed information.

It is a propaganda piece that would make Joesph Goebbels proud.

Information is one thing. Misinformation, manipulate statistics, half truths, exaggerations and outright lies are another matter completely.

You are right.

Information is power and being able to manipulate, control and distribute that information for your own self interest and agenda is even more powerful.
Wow. Just...wow.
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March 30, 2012
So now you're comparing Cobb County Government to the Nazi regime? You people are absolutely gone. Just gone off the deep end.
URKiddingRight?
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March 30, 2012
You are over reacting as usual.

The reference was to the nature of the propaganda being distributed.

Lies, exaggerations, misinformation, half truths etc.

But you are right, I should have compared the Cobb County government and its' tactics to the Obama regime instead.

That would be a more accurate and less emotionally charged comparison.

My apologies.
THE TRUTH
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March 30, 2012
It is information about the TIA process from the people who were closest to the process. I have watched the video and in no way is propaganda. What you have said it is more closely resembles propaganda than the information provided in the ARC video. You can look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls.

URKiddingRight?
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March 30, 2012
@ THE TRUTH

Then why did TV23 take it off the air so quickly?

They certainly didn't do it because a couple of citizens called up and complained about it.

The bias in favor of the TIA must have been pretty obvious for that precipitous action to be taken.

And why in the world would we believe what the people "closest to the process" had to say.

They are the ones who hijacked and perverted the original intent of the TIA legislation in the first place!!!!

Good Grief!! You are obviously a mind numbed robot who can't use deductive reasonng to divine the real truth behind this scam.

Either that or you have a vested interest this whole ripoff.
THE TRUTH
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March 30, 2012
@URKiddingRight?

Probably because a district commissioner complained about it. I think it even mentions Commissioner Ott in the story.

Maybe not. Have you looked at the video? Easy to find on the ARC Website.

"hijacked and perverted" original intent of TIA, please explain. (That should be interesting)

I listen to Rush all the time so I know the phrase Mind numbed robot and that does not accurately describe me. As a conservative who will be voting YES, I would say that might acutally show my independence of thought on this issues.

No vested interest other than a concerned citizen who believes we have a transportation and congestion problem in our region. I believe to remain competitive as a region WE are going to have to do somethign about it. This was the prescribed method and I will be voting YES.

URKiddingRight?
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March 31, 2012
@ THE TRUTH

"hijacked and perverted"

To put it in simple terms that even a "mind numbed robot" like you might be able to understand.

The legislation was conceived with a certain degree of flexibility built in so that the Roundtable could be creative in formulating a regional solution to our regional transportation issues.

What they did instead was to irresponsibly use that flexibility, led by Kasim Reed and MARTA, to fund locally focused pet transportation projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with helping resolve our regional transportation problems.

The Atlanta Beltline Trolley is the prime example of this and the locally focused project that initiated the hijacking of the intent of the legislation.

After the Roundtable members realized what Mayor Reed was doing, they quickly reverted to their own parochial inclinations and "perverted" the intent of the legislation to their own selfish needs.

In other words they caved.

They did not, as they were tasked by the state legislature, formulate a list of projects that would actually have an impact on the regional transportation issues that face Metro Atlanta.

The TIA itself is not the problem. It is the project list.

and

If you think voting for the current TIA project list is going to be a step in the direction of a transportation solution for this Metro area you are sadly mistaken.
THE TRUTH
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April 02, 2012
The legislation was flexible but what was not flexible was that each project had to be part of the ARC Transportation Improvement Plan or TIP, which has to be consistent with the long range plans contained in the Regional Transportation Plan or RTP. Only projects in those plans could be considered and the Beltline was one of those projects. The State legislature created a bill that set forth a process our local elected leaders followed and developed a project list. Many of the most vocal Legislators in opposition to the project list, when the list was finalized, had every opportunity to participate in the process of developing the list but were nowhere to be found. Some even had seats at the table according to the legislation and did not bother to show up at a single meeting. Most of them cynically never thought a project list would ever be developed, they were wrong and they had an uh oh moment. The list is a good list and it represents a fraction of what our need is in this region but we have to start somewhere. There are plenty of projects of regional significance, in addition to multiple local projects, which will have positive impact on mobility, productivity and our economy.
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