Around Town: Bonanza or Boondoggle? Mayor, challenger duel on Franklin Road plans
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
June 24, 2013 11:52 PM | 4726 views | 1 1 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BONANZA? OR BOONDOGGLE?

The former, says Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin of his proposal to spend $35 million to kick-start redevelopment along Franklin Road.

The latter, says his foe in this fall’s city election, Charles Levinson.

Tumlin’s plans got a huge shot in the arm with the realization late last week that due to initial miscalculations at City Hall, the 2-mill bond issue that city voters were expected to vote on in November actually would bring in twice the revenue earlier anticipated.

Tumlin told Around Town on Monday that he would like to see the council up the amount earmarked for the bond to $55 million or $60 million, which he says is the equivalent of 1.8 mills.

“I’m delighted that (the bond) came back more,” he said. “The main complaint I was getting from citizens and developers was that they wished there was more money in (the bond). If I was king, I would prefer that $55 million to $60 million total, with $20 million or $25 million on top of the original $35 million.”

The mayor predicted the council will vote on Wednesday to enlarge the bond, but said the vote will not be unanimous like it was when that body voted earlier this month to authorize the referendum.

“This will be major long-term investment,” he said. “(Redevelopment) won’t happen overnight. But you’d see an initial contribution to the improvement of our way of life pretty quickly.”

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THAT’S NOT how Levinson sees things.

“Less than one month after its submission to the voters, the Franklin Road bond scheme’s true nature has been revealed,” he told Around Town. “It is a boondoggle rife with error, confusion, changing figures and shifting promises. The Tumlin administration cannot be trusted to build one single park on Franklin Road; how can the people trust that a vast project list, costing $35 million, $68 million, or some figure yet to be determined, can be handled competently?”

“In the end, what is right for Franklin Road is right for the city as a whole — keep property taxes low, increase wages, fulfill all provisions of the 2009 parks bond, and use targeted, cost-effective programs to lift our neediest from poverty to opportunity.”

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TUMLIN REBUTTS that the proposal has not been submitted to voters (or to the county Board of Elections or to the U.S. Department of Justice), merely to the council. And he says the city council never committed to build a park along Franklin with money from the 2009 parks bond.

“He has said that many times at council meetings, but that doesn’t make it true,” Tumlin said.

The city did buy the dilapidated Preston Chase Apartments on Franklin Road and leveled them. That property is now a green space, not a park, and is not open to the public.

“It is on our wish list to have a park over there. … But we bought (Preston Chase) to bank it,” he said.

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LEVINSON also has said the council is targeting Franklin Road because most who live there are low on the economic scale and vote the wrong way, i.e., for Democrats.

Not so, said Tumlin, adding that based on how the city has dealt with those who lived in the numerous housing projects the Marietta Housing Authority demolished in the past decade, “Most of those people will wind up in better places to live. We’re not driving them out — we’re driving them up.”

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AS FOR LEVINSON’S ACCUSATION that the Franklin plan is “a boondoggle” and a “scheme,” Tumlin answered, “This is a legitimate G.O. bond for the purpose of redevelopment. It’s not a scheme, but a plan to turn this area around. Does us double-checking mean we’re incompetent? I don’t think so.

“Did we find an acorn that stops the machinery or find one that’s going to make this grow?”

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POLITICS: Incoming State Court Clerk Angie Davis and her pick for chief deputy, Robin Bishop, will be sworn in by Chief Judge Toby Prodgers on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in room 4C of the State Court. The Court will be called to order by Sheriff Neil Warren, and state Attorney General Sam Olens will make remarks. The last day for current Clerk Diane Webb will be Friday. She has been the chief deputy clerk since 2000. …

Speaking of AG Olens, he has been elected chair for the Southern Region of the National Association of Attorneys General. His election by fellow Southern attorneys general came during the organization’s national meeting in Boston ...

Former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden (D-Marietta) will headline a fundraiser on Thursday for southwest Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid. Other hosts are homebuilder John Wieland, Ford Thigpen, Keith Wilson, Sheila Trappier Edwards and W.L. Gallop. The event will be from 6-8 p.m. at Maggiano’s at Cumberland Mall. Host committee member contributions are $1,000 each. ... State Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta) has a town hall planned for 6:30 p.m. July 10 at Dogfather’s Hot Dogs in Kennesaw.

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LOCKHEED MARTIN will deliver Israel’s first C-130J Super Hercules on Wednesday to the Israeli Air Force at the plant in Marietta.

The plant is slated to deliver two additional Js to the IAF next year. The plant has now built 337 copies of the J model, the upgraded version of the plane that has been the Marietta plant’s “bread-and-butter” product since 1955.

Thirteen countries now fly the J (including the U.S. and Israel), with Kuwait and South Korea soon to join the list.

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WHAT’S IN THE WATER at Georgia’s hospitals and clinics that causes doctors to look in the mirror and see a senator or congressman looking back at them?

The latest MD to take the plunge is Vinings psychiatrist Dr. Branko Radulovacki, who announced this month he will run as a Democrat to succeed the retiring Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in the U.S. Senate.

Cobb County already is represented by a pair of physicians in Congress — Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell), an orthopedist; and Dr. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), an OB/GYN who delivered more than 5,000 babies prior to making politics his day job.

Also in the Georgia Congressional delegation is another physician, Dr. Paul Broun of Athens. Both Broun and Gingrey are running for the Republican nomination for Chambliss’s seat, meaning that if Dr. Radulovacki were to somehow win the Democratic Primary, the stage would be set for an all-M.D. race for Senate.

Georgians’ fondness for sending doctors to Capitol Hill is nothing new, as it turns out. Dentist Charles Norwood represented the Augusta area from 1995 until his death in office in 2007.

And closer to home, Dr. Larry McDonald, a urologist, represented Cobb County (and the Seventh District) after being elected to Congress in 1975. McDonald, an outspoken anti-communist and John Birch Society member, was widely considered the most conservative Democrat in Congress — so conservative, in fact, that the Seventh District Democratic Committee voted to censure him. Probably not a surprise, considering that he had described the national Democratic Party as “a bunch of kooks.”

McDonald reportedly was considering a run for president at the time of his death in 1983. The congressman was a passenger on a Korean Air Lines jet shot down by a Soviet fighter after it accidentally strayed into Soviet airspace.

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Comments
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Free Market guy
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July 03, 2013
Let the market decide decide what should happen on Franklin Rd. Yes, there is a shortage of undeveloped property in Cobb County. It is not the job of government to buy land for campaign contributing developers. If it is wortth doing, they should do it themselves.
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