Group doesn’t plan to show TIA much TLC
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
May 02, 2012 12:28 AM | 5329 views | 27 27 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Atlanta Regional Chairman Tad Leithead says the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network has raised more than $2 million for its education campaign.<br>Staff/File
Atlanta Regional Chairman Tad Leithead says the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network has raised more than $2 million for its education campaign.
Staff/File
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MARIETTA — A new grassroots coalition formed to oppose the July 31 transportation referendum has launched itself under the name Transportation Leadership Coalition.

The group says it formed after 75 activists representing various organizations, along with elected officials opposed to the transportation tax, met to brainstorm on March 31 at Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, with some coming as far away as Valdosta.

Chairing the group, which is rolling out a website at TrafficTruth.net, is Jack Staver of Woodstock, regional safety manager with DPR Construction of Atlanta.

Staver said his group’s goal is to target the information being put out by the pro-tax lobby.

The campaign to pass the Transportation Investment Act referendum is structured into two groups.

One is the education arm, the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network, which is chaired by developer Bob Voyles and vice chaired by lobbyist Michael Paris.

MAVEN has raised more than $2 million for its education campaign, largely funded by the various community improvement districts in metro Atlanta, according to Atlanta Regional Chairman Tad Leithead.

The second arm is the advocacy branch called Citizens for Transportation Mobility, a group chaired by Post Properties CEO David Stockert, which is running the “Untie Atlanta” campaign to encourage voters to pass the referendum.

That group has raised about $5 million but aims to reach $6.8 million, Leithead said.

Key points Staver said his group wants to make are that proposed rail projects will not relieve traffic congestion; that the TIA is not a temporary tax since expensive transportation projects will require billions more to complete than the allocated tax amount; and that contrary to MAVEN’s and CTM’s claims, there is a Plan B if voters reject the tax: simply redo the project list, as state Reps. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) have advised.

“MAVEN is well funded to the tune of $2 million, some of which is through the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money from CIDs, Staver said. “We are truly a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization that is self-funded through donations.”

Bert Brantley, the former spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, is now serving as the spokesman for MAVEN.

Brantley said MAVEN is simply serving as a source of information to educate the public.

“We’re trying to let people know there’s a vote coming, because from our polls we still see there’s a lot of undecided folks out there or just don’t know about the referendum at all, and then B, let them know there’s a project list that they can get information about and the web site and where to go to get that and all this data that has been put together by the Atlanta Regional Commission and others that have tried to quantify what the impact on traffic will be,” Brantley said.

MAVEN’s website is www.transform metroatlanta.com.

Jeff Dickerson, spokesman for the Citizens for Transportation Mobility, said his group expected and welcomes the opposition.

“There was opposition to MARTA in the ’60s; there was even opposition to building the biggest airport in the Southeast,” Dickerson said. “We expected the opposition. But we’d be the size of Birmingham if metro Atlantans hadn’t rejected the opposition’s stance on MARTA and the airport. And we’ll keep our competitive edge and create thousands more jobs if voters say ‘yes’ and again reject the opposition’s stance.”

Dickerson said the Transportation Leadership Coalition is urging people to vote no to 200,000 jobs, $19 billion in new income, making the region competitive with others, “and an unbelievable ‘no’ to more productivity and time spent with families instead of sitting snarled in traffic jams.”

“They’re also voting ‘yes’ for a tax — a congestion tax, now at $924 a year per commuter — that will only rise if our region fails to come together to address its biggest problem,” he said.

Staver’s Transportation Leadership Coalition is the latest group in a parade of organizations opposing the referendum.

The Georgia Sierra Club and NAACP DeKalb County Branch oppose the tax just as the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party along with other local tea parties oppose it.

Other opponents include James Bell of Lilburn, director of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, who worked to oppose the 2011 county SPLOST. Brett Bittner of Marietta, executive director of the Atlanta-based Libertarian Party of Georgia and vice president of the Austell-based Cobb Taxpayers Association, said both groups he’s a member of are working to defeat the referendum.

“I want voters to vote no in July to tell the Regional Roundtable that we don’t appreciate the list of special favors that they’ve created, and we would like to see them do something that would benefit the region as a whole and make sure that those that are utilizing the resources are the ones that are paying for those resources rather than spreading the cost,” Bittner said.

Bittner said while about half the projects in the referendum are transit-related, in metro Atlanta transit use has gone down steadily for the last 20 years and averages about 5 percent.

“When you take a look at what MARTA costs to operate, the taxpayers are subsidizing about 80 percent of it for each trip that’s taken, so there are a lot of opportunities there with the money that’s being proposed especially in the transit perspective,” he said.

The arguments Bittner is using are similar to the ones he used in opposing the Cobb 2011 SPLOST.

“We’re increasing taxes at a time when people don’t have the money necessarily and governments are not tightening their belts,” he said. “In fact, they’re spending more as we see taxes go up throughout the state and in our region.”
Comments
(27)
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owasne request
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May 02, 2012
This TIA does not serve Cobb at all. I will not vote for it.
JA Bolton
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May 02, 2012
I didn't understand the tax issue but someone called wanting me to vote for it. Then the Cobb EMC magazine came with a front page spread on the TSPLOST with a map showing who gets what and we are NOT the ones getting the bulk of the money. South east GA will get it to build roads from the ports to I-20 so the shippers can move the junk we get from China around faster. That slick ad with all the tangled highways making it appear that the tax will relieve traffic congestion in the Metro is a pack of lies.
Still Confused
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May 03, 2012
I'm sorry but you still don't understand the TSPOLST then... because each region in Georgia has their own lists of projects that they will vote on and the revenue generated in each region will be kept/spent in that region. This region's money will be used on project sin this region. I am glad you want to become an informed voter but you have gotten some bad information. Dig a little deeper.
URKiddingRight?
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May 03, 2012
Still Confused is correct except for one minor misconception.

I am not familiar with the other TSPLOST efforts around the state, but in the Atlanta Metro Region it is a somewhat misleading to say that the money is being spent here.

It is being WASTED.

I am sure once you look into the issue more closely, as Still Confused suggests, you will make the decision to vote against this 16% sales tax hike.

Still Confused
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May 03, 2012
To URKiddingRight?

One man's waste is another commuter's important project, so we will have to agree to disagree on that point. Some (actually most) of Cobb County commuters travel on roads daily that are in other other counties. We are regional commuters. The problem has not been fixed in 20 years of individual county DOT's fixing local hot spots - this program is rooted in a more regional look at the problem.

We may not agree with all the projects in the list but we would probably agree something needs to be done. GDOT, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton can't afford projects like widening GA 400, improving I-285 at GA 400, or improving I-20 at I-285 without another funding source but 100s of thousands of commuters and local businesses would consider those projects important. Locally, Atlanta Road from the River to SR 120 is a project Cobb and GDOT may not be able to afford without an outside funding source...unless we don't want them maintaining what we already have.

I may never use some of the roads/projects on the list but that doesn't mean it is waste. I am not going to look away from a funding source that spreads the cost across the region when it is the region that will benefit.

Some have also said that the list was prepared without input from the public and that simply is not true. There were a number of chances for the public to provide input over the last year - they chose to wait and complain (or worse, accuse public servants of corruption...because they are all corrupt - right?).

I am sure it was a typo but the tax will be one penny on the dollar - not 16.
Got it now
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May 03, 2012
Thanks JA, I just got the ah ha moment. I knew this was about lining someone's pocket but couldn't figure out whose, except CW Matthews since they get most of the state DOT projects. Now I get who is really going to make the money.

What Cobb citizens don't understand is, they don't need us to vote yes. TIP powers that be, just load up the votes they need - by load up to votes - I mean give some county's, other county's money. The getting county will vote FOR. And its over.

Cobb county schools do it to get the votes for SPLOST. It is a formula they have perfected. Give the voters who might vote for it the most and then they will vote for it. Get the employees of the benefactors to vote and they get their families to vote for it.

Think of the employees of the companies who will make money, they will vote for it, Each county's DOT will vote for it - all their families will vote for it. Who else do they really need? It is a numbers game.

Bottom line: you just need to find out why and JA just nailed it.
URKiddingRight?
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May 04, 2012
@ Still Confused

You are right!!

The increase in the sales tax is closer to 17%.

Try to stay with me on this.

Put on your thinking cap.

This is a basic reading comprehension and a simple arithmetic test at the same time.

I know it's difficult, but try to concentrate.

Cobb County has a 6% sales tax. In other words it's an additional 6 cents on every dollar spent.

.01/.06 equals a .16666666666667 % increase in the SALES TAX in Cobb County.

Are you still confused?

Now I see why you think the TSPLOST is actually a good idea.

You can't read and you can't do simple math.
Last GA Democrat
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May 02, 2012
Vote NO to HOT Lanes on I-75 and I-575!!!

Vote [HECK] NO to T-SPLOST!!!!!
Educate yourself
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May 02, 2012
Please educate yourself. There is really good information out there about what the reversable-managed lanes on I-75/I-85 will be. One thing they most certainly are not is the same as the "hot" lanes on the I-85 corridor in Gwinnett. Also, you don't have a chance to vote on that project as it is not one of the projects to be considered in the Regional Transportation Referencum on July 31st.

You just sound like you don't know what you are talking about and it is apparent that you do plan to vote. You can at least make an educated choice.
Last GA Democrat
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May 02, 2012
@ Mis-educate yourself:

LIES, LIES, LIES...All LIES!!!!

Stop spreading the lies, misinformation and half-truths.

The article appeared right here in the Marietta Daily Journal on how the two-faced backstabbing Tim Lee and Mark Mathews and the entire Cobb legislative delegation were once again trying to sell-out the people of this county when they publicly lobbied the state to change the TIA list so that the $689 million that is now designated for the vaguely-worded "Enhanced Premium Transit Service" would be switched to pay for HOT lanes on I-75.

The Governor was even angry at Lee and Mathews for stating so publicly what they were already planning to do privately in the event that they can get enough dummies to agree to give these crooks more of their hard-earned money by voting for this massive tax increase.
Lets Just Vote No?
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May 02, 2012
Yea lets all just vote no and get NOTHING done. Lets just vote no and tell the state and politicians to build better transit which they didn't want to do in the first place. So if this doesn't pass then what will everybody say?

I'm sure, that the proposed new transit lines in the TIA will not ease the traffic on their car trips from their subdivisions to the strip mall. Or the drive from their subdivisions to their office park on Barrett Parkway. Or the one from their office park to the lunch spot on Chastain Road three miles away. Or the one to drop the kids off at soccer practice four miles away.
JustVote
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May 02, 2012
I wish everyone could be pleased, but that is not going to happen. I am somewhat confused though by those that seem to be against TIA...Where were they hanging out when the law was passed overwhelmingly at the Gold Dome? Where was the alternate plan at that time? Where were those opposed as the lists were being developed by elected officials who we chose to elect, by majority, to represent us. There are even a couple of GA Legislators that voted for TIA and now are against...too much peer pressure? Only for a few. So, the good news is we all get to vote on July 31. I plan to vote yes! None of those who are opposed now were offering a better plan that the majority would embrace then or now. So where's the credibility? Outline a plan that creates jobs in GA, allows GA to remain ahead of other states, many of which operate a successful toll road system, keeps businesses,yes, in GA,and brings businesses to GA. I work in the construction in GA and my folks need jobs in GA. Are any of those that oppose TIA hiring? I'll send you some well qualified individuals to consider. If you are concerned about Government waste, move to DC and go make a difference there. Heck, I'll even do my best to support those efforts from GA. See you at the polls.
Vorant1
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May 02, 2012
Cobb taxpayers net almost nothing from this poorly conceived bit of fraud and passage will doom any future SPLOST here in Cobb County for roads or schools... VOTE NO!!!!!!
SG68
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May 02, 2012
I guess there are more people out there than I realized who recognize that the current TIA project list is a poorly conceived attempt to address our transportation issues in Metro Atlanta.

Thank Goodness!!

It was pretty obvious once the project list was published that it was a taxpayer scam to fill the pockets of unethical politicians, well connected special interests and greedy developers in the Atlanta Region

The real "tell" (to use a poker term) was when the very people and organizations who were going to derive the most benefit from the proposed projects started pouring millions of dollars into a misinformation campaign aimed at misleading potential voters.

Follow the money.

Just look at who is behind these groups. Bob Voyles of Seven Oaks Development, a major developer and property owner, David Stockert of Post Properties a major apartment developer, Michael Paris who heads up The Council for Quality Growth, the primary lobbyist for the development community in Atlanta, etc. etc. etc.

MAVEN and Citizens for Transportation Mobility are developer funded and controlled propaganda machines.

They unabashedly spout half truths, lies and speculative projections about what great things (i.e. 200,000 new jobs and $19 Billion in new income) will magically happen if the voters will only approve the TIA ballot referendum.

The sole intent of this disingenuous PR effort was to create an $8 Billion pot of money that would fund the projects they wanted and needed to see undertaken.

Not for the benefit of the Atlanta Region as they claim, but for their own selfish profit.

Instead of using the TIA legislation as it was intended, they have intentionally hijacked it for their own purposes.

Again, Thank Goodness there is some effort being mounted to counteract this travesty that is being perpetrated on the taxpaying citizens Atlanta region.

Kennesaw Resident
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May 02, 2012
Please vote "NO" for TSPLOST!
Republican Rob
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May 02, 2012
Undeniable facts:

Traffic is bad in Atlanta and will only get worse.

$ for transportation projects is flat, at best.

These projects were developed by us, not the feds; the money is ours, not the feds; we can impact the future of Atlanta - WE CAN'T RELY ON THE FEDS.

My opinion

If we don't improve AND change our transportation network, my kids won't want to live here when they grow up. They're going to have different ideals than me, and they'll likely include riding transit and not a big house in the 'burbs. I want to invest in an Atlanta that my kids will appreciate, that's why I'm voting yes.
URKiddingRight?
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May 02, 2012
@ Republican Rob

"These projects were developed by us"

WRONG

Sorry, the self serving TIA project list was developed, let's just go ahead and say manipulated, by a group of ethically and intellectually challenged elected officials, unscroupulous developers and self interested special interests.

Once they got their slimy paws on the TIA legislation they worked long and hard to make sure it was to make sure that they were the primary beneficiaries.
Jack Staver
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May 02, 2012
Just a point of clarification to Mr. Dickerson, TLC is in favor of 200,000 or for that matter 400,000 new jobs created. We have never said NO to jobs, your staement is incorrect. The approach taken by the ARC needs to revisited as Rep. Setzler had attempted to do in the last legislative session and was shut down.

This not the time to burden the taxpayers of Georgia with a 10 yr tax to start with. What are your plans if Federal funding does not come through as Congressman Price and Transportation Sec. LaHood have been talking about? Load it on the taxpayers? How does this all fit in plan 2040 and 2050? Too many unanswered questions.
Kennesaw Voter
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May 02, 2012
The project list is a big zero for Cobb County...Tim Lee and Mark Mathews dropped the ball and failed us Cobb citizens...Vote NO to this boondoogle and vote Tim Lee out....BIG waste of Cobb Tax money....Thanks for Nothing Tim Lee.
Not Again
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May 02, 2012
Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network is "new speak" for just another special interest lobby. Voters don't need to be "educated" by a group which is dedicated to raising our taxes. And we don't need a group of self-important local people working with outsiders who want to use our county for political gain.
'SWEET HOME-------'
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May 02, 2012
Jeff Dickerson, We'd be the size of---

"Ain't no ham like Birmingham"

These folks like Dickerson are simply addicted to power. They know the more of our money they have available to spend--The more "power" they'll have. New taxes, and tax increases are seldom about anything else but more power for spendthrift politicians
Decided Voter
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May 02, 2012
Just because a lot of people have managed to bring a project list this far doesn't mean it's the best or only project list or the best or only way to improve the Atlanta area. Way too many projects were included that are unwanted by taxpayers but that provide great monetary benefit to those who have had their hands in writing this referendum. The goals of the few are to bring economic development to their specific area at your expense. There is no reason to feel that good development or improved traffic flow is now or never...that just simply isn't true.
Thank you TLC
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May 02, 2012
Where can I join, not usually a joiner, but so against this horribly conceived TIA!
Thank you2
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May 02, 2012
Yes thank you! I'm joining too ENOUGH!
Thomas J. Palmer
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May 02, 2012
For anyone interested in learning facts about T-SPLOST and the upcoming Transportation Tax Referendum, you may read about several proposed projects at www.TrafficTruth.net. Thanks.
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