Franklin bond: Redevelopment or social engineering?
by Kevin Foley
October 31, 2013 11:00 PM | 2070 views | 10 10 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When a bunch of Republicans extol the virtues of raising taxes on Marietta property owners so the city can gamble on a risky redevelopment bond, something is seriously out of whack.

I thought this crowd was all about free market capitalism. Why can’t rich developers spend their own money if Franklin Road is such sweet “investment,” as former State Sen. Chuck Clay repeatedly called the proposed deal in a recent MDJ op-ed?

“While there is always risk involved in great endeavors, I applaud Mayor Tumlin and the City Council for being willing to dare to dream ‘big,’” wrote Clay in the MDJ. “Yes it is our tax dollars, but the upside potential is enormous for Marietta.”

Franklin Road is home to 14,000 Marietta residents, many of them working families of color employed by Marietta businesses.

Mayor Steve Tumlin wants you to vote for his bond issue that would use the $68 million it raises to buy the property on which many of the apartment homes of Franklin Road residents sit. The city would then displace those aforementioned residents of color, raze the buildings, and sell the rezoned land to unspecified developers at some time in the future.

Is this a redevelopment project or a social engineering scheme?

“I was wondering if you can sell the (existing) properties and leave the $68 million off the heads of people?” Marietta resident Edwin Dyer asked Tumlin at a recent town hall meeting.

Charles Levinson, who is running against Tumlin in the Nov. 5 election, has made the proposed Franklin Road bond issue central to his campaign. Like Dyer, he wants to know why Tumlin is hot to raise taxes two mills on property owners to pay for a speculative bond issue with no guaranteed payoff for Mariettans.

“I want to make sure redevelopment efforts serve the people and businesses already invested in the area instead of lining the pockets of developers and politicians,” explained Levinson, noting that Marietta voters assume all the risk for the bond.

“When the bond issue was $35 million, Tumlin was talking about acquiring four of the 10 apartments on Franklin Road,” Levinson said. “Now that it’s $68 million, it’s still four apartment complexes. There’s no central plan.”

Tumlin and his allies have resorted to scare tactics, claiming Franklin Road is crime ridden while characterizing the approximately 1,400 Franklin Road children attending Marietta schools as “transients” who hurt the entire system.

“If you measure the number of crimes per thousand people, it is not worse than other areas,” Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn told the MDJ. “Of the serious crime that does occur, most of that is committed by people who do not live on Franklin Road.”

“One way to curb (school) transiency is to remove the slum apartment complexes that attract it to begin with,” argued Marietta School Board member Jill Mutimer in a letter to the MDJ supporting Tumlin’s borrow-tax-spend plan.

Mass expulsion of children from Marietta’s schools isn’t the answer, says Levinson.

“Reducing transiency could be accomplished with far less risk and cost by putting Sunday bus service on Franklin Road, increasing police patrols and stepping up code enforcement,” he counters. “Letting Franklin Road (residents) feel safer in their homes … will persuade many to put down roots rather than continue ‘apartment hopping.’”

Even if the bond measure is defeated Tuesday, it is sure to be back on the 2014 ballot if Tumlin is re-elected. Before they vote, Mariettans should be asking whose interests Tumlin is really serving.

“A Democratic candidate need not be wasteful, obtrusive or raise taxes,” Levinson added. “I want to look for efficiencies that don’t hurt working people” — or Marietta taxpayers, who have a chance Tuesday to elect a pragmatic mayor.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Samuel Adams
November 04, 2013
Wow, Foley finally writes a local column. Nice to see he can actually put together a cogent thought without the Democratic Socialist talking points available to him.

Doesn't make him right, just shows he follows his party's philosophy on the soft bigotry of low expectations. He'd rather see the residents of Franklin Road living in substandard, dangerous slums as opposed to helping them move forward towards perhaps a less crime ridden existence. Keep 'em on the plantation, right Kev? That's what your party prescribes.
Mike H
November 01, 2013
Mr. Foley asks, "Is this a redevelopment project or a social engineering scheme?"

Don't overlook the most obvious choice, small town corruption on a big scale. Elected Republican thieves are still thieves, no matter what excuse they use to justify their theft.
Guido Sarducci
November 03, 2013
And elected Democratic thieves are what?

Your prejudice is showing.

November 01, 2013
Holy cow! When a hard lefty like Foley agrees with tea party style conservatives that this bond is a turkey, then it just may mean that all of Lee and Heath Garrett's horses, and all of Lee and Heath Garrett's men won't be able to put this turkey back together again. At least, let's hope so.
Louie in Marietta
November 01, 2013
While I haven't read much of Mr. Foley's opinions and I don't think he and I would see eye to eye on much, I do agree here.

I have lived on Franklin Road for over 4 years with my young son. While I know it isn't the best place to live in Marietta, I have seen steady improvement in my time there.

Part of the reason I have remained is my reluctance to force my son to change schools along with strong connections to my neighbors (most of which are families that have lived on Franklin Road longer than I have.) If transient students really are a problem, then why not make an effort to make the families feel safe?
November 01, 2013
Mr. Foley loves to throw darts at the "deafness" of others on topics be so blindly supports.

Well Mr. Foley, your silence on the health care debacle and the lies now outed is severely deafening sir!
November 01, 2013
nonfoleyite, like you, I would've bet my ever dwindling life savings that Foley was too big a coward to step into the pile of crap that the anointed one has created. 6 people signed up on the first day. Our arrogant president lied to us and Foley keeps supporting the guy. Instead of having some guts and actually showing his readers that there may be an issue with this monumental mess, he decides to bloviate about a generic topic like Franklin Road. How embarrassing.
November 04, 2013
What an irony...suchacoward, who is too scared to reveal his or her identity calls Foley a coward. You should change your handle to imaputz.
November 05, 2013
Well there Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous,

Aren't you a fine example of hypocrisy!

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides