Arguing in favor of renewing the SPLOST will be retired Cobb assistant district attorney Rose Wing, chairwoman of Citizens for Cobb's Future. Arguing against the renewal will be Lance Lamberton, president of the Cobb County Taxpayers Association.
The SPLOST would bring in an estimated $492 million over its four-year life, according to proponents. They point to the vital infrastructure paid for with past SPLOSTs - such as the Cobb jail expansion, roads, bridges and the new courthouse - as reminders of why SPLOST remains a good financing tool. They also say SPLOSTs help keep property taxes low here. Opponents say the list of SPLOST projects has too much fluff and complain elected officials have come to see SPLOSTs as an entitlement, not revenue for "special purposes." They also complain that the special SPLOST election will cost taxpayers $400,000 and that SPLOSTs should be held in conjunction with regular elections.
Local voters will have final say on the matter in a special referendum March 15. Early voting for the SPLOST started on Monday at the County Board of Elections, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta.
Wednesday's debate is being sponsored by the League of Women Voters and will be aired live on Cobb TV, Channel 23.
Much of the public's attention the past few weeks was focused on whether or not the school board this past Thursday would vote to return to a traditional school calendar (it did). With that question settled at least for now, expect public attention to shift back to the SPLOST.
THE PRO-SPLOST Citizens for Cobb's Future announced Monday that its membership had grown to 240 people. New supporters include Bobby Tharpe, Clif Poston, Don Johnson, Rob Schnatmeier, Skip Harper, Seth Millican, Sue Wallace, Stephanie Steele, Barbara Woodhouse, Barbara Savage, Cheryl Mayerick and Johnell Woody.
APPLICATIONS are being taken for the Alexis Grubbs Memorial Scholarship, which has awarded over $85,000 to deserving students through the years. Any senior planning to study any area of law, whether law its self or forensics, law enforcement or corrections is eligible to apply. The scholarship pays up to $4,000 per student.
Applications can be found at mariettaschoolsfoundation.com or by contacting Ron Brookins at Marietta High School.
The golf tournament that supports the program will be on Sept. 13.
FORMER state Rep. Fred Aiken of Smyrna has been named assistant commissioner of business and government relations for the Georgia Department of Labor.
For the past eight years, Aiken served as the department's liaison to the Georgia General Assembly.
Aiken was elected in 1980 to represent Cobb and Paulding counties in the Georgia General Assembly and thereby became the first Republican since Reconstruction to serve Paulding in the General Assembly.
He later worked as district representative for then-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and was district director for then-U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna.
IN THE REAL WORLD, if a private business is leasing a property, it typically makes every effort to ensure that property is being used to its fullest potential on the business’s behalf. But in the world of government, things move at a more leisurely pace.
Take the medical clinic planned for Marietta City Hall employees and dependants.
The City has had a lease since Jan. 1 on the old J.F. Shaw Insurance Building at 78 Atlanta St., which it plans to renovate to use as the clinic. But progress toward that goal seems to be proceeding at a snail’s pace. The building remains locked and empty, though Shannon Barrett, deputy to City Manager Bill Bruton, says renovation is under way and that it is about to be painted. Original plans last December were for the clinic to be open by the end of February, though that goal now seems in doubt.
The city is paying $1,700 a month to lease the building (although the payments don’t kick in until March) and was planning to spend $3,000 for the renovations.
All that’s not to say that some progress has not been made. The city has hired two nurse practitioners and has interviewed four doctors and likely will hire two by month’s end. Those hirings will not require council approval.
Bruton has said the city should see health-insurance savings of $300,000 during the first year the clinic is open.
UP OR DOWN? The Madison Forum’s breakfast discussion topic on Saturday will be “Is America in Decline”? The Forum’s breakfast will be at the Rib Ranch on Canton Road in east Cobb at 8 a.m.
SICK BAY: MDJ columnist Pete Borden has spent the past week in WellStar Kennestone Hospital after undergoing intestinal surgery.
A PAIR OF RECENT MDJ STORIES — one of them about the Cobb school calendar and the other about controversial state Rep. Bobby Franklin — have proven to be two of the newspaper’s most-read online articles in quite some time.
Thursday’s school board vote to return to a traditional-style school calendar, rather than continue with the so-called “balanced” calendar preferred by many local teachers, which starts school in early August, was the latest episode in what has been a years-long struggle between advocates of the two calendars. Those advocates have fought that battle in person at board meetings, e-mails and letters to the editor. They continued duking it out over the weekend on the MDJ’s website, via the “reader comments” at the bottom of Friday’s story about Thursday’s meeting.
As of 5 p.m. on Monday reporter Kathryn Malone’s story “Board votes 4-3 to restore traditional school calendar” had been viewed by 10,505 readers, and had attracted 66 recommendations and sparked 270 comments. That’s believed to be the most comments on any story since the MDJonline website was overhauled several years ago to allow such input.
Most of those commenting on the story were angered by the board’s vote. Wrote one, “Education-minded,” “As a well-educated, long-time educator from another country living here in Cobb County, I think it’s time for our teachers to unionize. How ridiculous that a school board, who has little contact with what goes on in the classroom and how hard teachers in Cobb County work, would overrule the student-minded teachers and their parents’ wishes about the calendar. Craziness!”
Griped another, “Common Sense 33,” “How many CCSD classrooms did you sit in this February to assess the fatigue of faculty, staff, and students before voting to get rid of winter break?”
Retorted “Cobb Dad of 3,” about the board’s failure to ignore the pro-balanced calendar results of the on-line Survey Monkey poll, “First, this poll was NOT done at the request of the four board members who voted for the new calendar. It was requested by Lynnda Eagle. … Now why do you think she asked for it? It was a shrewd political move to incite anger in the teachers and parents who wanted the balanced calendar because she knew she was going to lose this vote. … The four board members who voted for the traditional calendar knew how they were going to vote and saw no reason to have the Survey Monkey poll done. They ran for office on the platform that they were going to revert back to the traditional calendar and they upheld their campaign promise.
… It was a cheap political trick by Eagle. If you do not like the results of the board’s vote, then do something about it in the next election.”
Answered “WCobb Dad,” “It is truly sad that the newly elected school board chose to vote against the balanced calendar when only a small group was in favor of it, mostly for their own convenience. Strongly reminds me of having an unconstitutional health care bill shoved down my throat by the federal government because they decided they know what is best for me and mine.”
MEANWHILE, reporter Jon Gillooly’s Feb. 7 Cobb & State front-pager, “East Cobb Rep. Franklin’s take on gays, gold, goats and God” is the most-viewed story in the MDJonline vault, with 14,682 views, 64 comments and 34 recommendations. It also caused national notoriety when it was picked up by the Huffington Post and other national media outlets.
As for the school calendar story, the school board may have put the issue to rest for a while with its vote on Thursday. But the debate is alive and well at MDJonline.com.