About buffaloes, metro politics and transportation issues

Scott Bradshaw's picture

A couple in White County, Ga., found a roaming buffalo trapped in their back yard swimming pool last October. County rescue workers removed the buffalo and returned it to the owner who sadly had to euthanize the injured animal.

It occurred to me, after reading the newspaper story, that a section of House Bill 277 is the “buffalo” in Fayette County’s swimming pool and deserves the poor buffalo’s fate when the legislature convenes.

What is House Bill 277? It is the transportation bill passed by the General Assembly in 2010 dividing the state into 12 special districts which coincide geographically with existing regional planning commissions. Fayette, Cherokee Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties are in the same special district because they are a part of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

The legislation additionally creates “roundtables” of elected politicians within each special district required to compile a list of transportation projects to be paid for with a proposed 1 percent sales tax increase throughout the entire special district for a period of 10 years.

Fayette County representatives to our special district roundtable are Herb Frady, the new chairman of the County Commission, and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, who have little influence within the ARC power structure. Neither is on the roundtable’s powerful executive committee, which is meeting behind closed doors to compile the project list for consideration by the roundtable. They will have only two of the 20 votes on roundtable issues.

The tax increase and roundtable package of projects will be approved or rejected by voters in the special district in the 2012 primary election. If Fayette voters reject the package at the polls and it carries by a majority of voters in the 10-county special district, Fayette shoppers will still pay the additional sales tax for 10 years and the transportation projects we opposed will be crammed down our throat.

The odds of this scenario becoming a reality are near certain. Fayette County has only 70,517 of the 2,228,894 registered voters in the 10-county special district, reflecting 3.2 percent of eligible voters. These numbers guarantee that the transportation interests of counties such as Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb and Clayton will prevail when the votes are counted. Fayette County residents should not be placed in this untenable position without an opportunity to withdraw from the process.

A simple solution is available. The law can be changed to permit any county with less than 5 percent of the registered voters in the special district to “opt out” with no penalty by majority vote of the County Commission, provided the county is located on the geographical boundary of the special district.

The “opt-out” provision would only apply to Fayette and Douglas counties in our 10-county special district, and it will have no major effect on the overall plan for the more populous counties.

I call on Representatives Matt Ramsey and Virgil Fludd along with Senator Ronnie Chance to help get the buffalo out of our back yard pool by promoting this change in the law.

Our legislators will have stiff opposition from the Governor’s office but can get strong support from rural legislators who are generally unhappy with the entire process in their respective special districts.

It is noteworthy to mention that some members of the Atlanta Regional Commission and some elected officials in Fulton County want to use the proposed sales tax revenue to extend MARTA to Fairburn, modify the Highway 74/I-85 interchange and create a MARTA-connected commuter system to Tyrone or Peachtree City.

The politicians who consistently tell us not to worry because the proposed sales tax can’t be used for MARTA should read the entire 38-page bill. The bill created a Transit Governance Study Commission to study the feasibility of combining all of the regional public transportation entities into an integrated regional transit body.

It was also carefully crafted to exclude MARTA operation from the project list while permitting use of the new sales tax for MARTA capital expenditures. This spells MARTA construction and expansion to Gwinnett, Cobb and points south.

Under the present arrangement, the Peachtree City Development Authority may be able to adopt a new motto in 2012: “Support MARTA by shopping at The Avenue.”

Enough said!

[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at rand5474@bellsouth.net.]

roundabout
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The 5% "opt out"

OK, I'll go along with that proposal (small Counties don't have to participate, the Buses and trains can go around Fayette County) but only if we can also give small states of the United States the "opt out" privilege, and allow them only one Senator's vote in Washington!

We maybe could gather all of the "small" states together and form another country, leaving the "large" states as also a country!

Or, just combine states like North and South Dakota into one state (Dakota), or maybe Rhode Island and Montana, (TanaRode) etc... They could move into Massachusetts and Mass. into where Montana currently is located.

Didn't we fight a bad war over such crap as this?? Who was Mason-Dixon, anyway?

Democracy is hurtin, ain't it?

roundabout
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Regional government

It is the only way to develop progress in many communities. Such projects as major capital improvements like dams for water, roads, other transportation, environmental management, power, etc., can only be done in this manner or by the federal government.

Take your choice.

Not one mile of Interstate roads would yet be built in Georgia had they not been forced to participate.

Building fences at county lines won't work any better than building them at state lines! Also we tried states against states once upon a time at the cost of millions of lives.

Do you think that Atlanta will NEVER be connected to Fayette County for transportation purposes? That is silly and near-sighted.

Mike King
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Well Bonkers, aka roundabout

Mr Bradshaw used the analogy of a buffalo in a swimming pool. You, sir, are more of a turd in a punchbowl.

Do you believe Atlanta metro and Fayette are now disconnected?

Cyclist
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Mike King

OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL

roundabout
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cyclist

Mike is "Outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Out standing in the rain.

Mike King
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Well Said Mr Bradshaw

Yet another option, should our two voices in the State Legislature not support this proposal, we are stuck with voting it down. Odds are, I believe, that it would be easier to convince the region voters that this is a bad idea and vote it down.

Ramsey and Chance have an opportunity to get behind your proposal, but the coming weeks will determine if either has the fortitude to do right.

My bet is they remain silent.

PTC Observer
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Mr. King

Unfortunately for all of us, both Mr. Ramsey and Senator Chance supported the current legislation. So, don't count on them doing anything. If the governor is for it they will be for it, they are on their way up the Republican Party ladder.

roundabout
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observer, king, bradshaw

Shucks, I had about half a book written about Rambo and partner, called, "Profiles of others Courage," now I will have to can it!

I had great hopes.

It seems that something called MARTA is the problem!

Whatever happened to the outer, outer circle around Atlanta that went through south PTC or Senoia? Scary!

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