Politics is not about having a fair fight. We might editorialize about wanting a fair and balanced discussion on an issue but we seldom find the ideal. What is usually the norm is the selective use of facts to argue a point and/or control the discourse to filter the information that gets out. The whole brouhaha about the TSPLOST is a case in point.
The first point is represented by still yet another mailing I received from advocates for the TSPLOST. (As a grassroots candidate, I can only dream about the kind of money they are spending.) The brochure paints an apocalyptic picture of the region if the TSPLOST is not approved.
Clearly both the Caterpillar and Baxter Corporations are either not buying into this gloom—and—doom scenario with their recent $1 billion stakes in the North Georgia and Atlanta metro area or they have not received the word about how "bad" the traffic is here.
Moreover, of the five projects listed in the brochure for Cobb County, one of them is not the $689 million Enhanced Premium Transit Service which the Cobb Chairman, as recently as , said was essentially a rapid bus system.
Despite his specificity, there remains significant doubt about the real nature of this project due to language in the project list providing for, if additional funding is available, a fixed guideway rail between Cumberland and the MARTA Arts Center. Consequently, until there is absolute clarity about the scope of the project, it would seem prudent to wait until we can make an informed opinion on the proposal.
The TSPLOST legislation allows for this option by revisiting the project list in 2 years if the measure is defeated—the famous Plan B. This delay would also permit the completion of the Alternative Analysis which, among other considerations, is examining the light rail option.
While acknowledging that traffic congestion will worsen in many areas, in the end some advocates of the TSPLOST may find it surprising that I would choose to spend one hour a day in my car (with my air conditioner and CD player listening to my audio book) as the price to pay for living in a county that has traditionally low taxes, low land use density, and low crime rates.
We are the beneficiaries of visionaries who saw the future and built the foundation for our great County by keeping in mind the principles of fiscal responsibility and lean government. All these new taxes will dilute that legacy if not reverse it.
With regard to the second point of controlling the microphone in this debate, the Chairman by his unfortunate comments this week about opponents of the TSPLOST, finally confirmed what many had suspected—that he in fact is an advocate of the legislation.
In all fairness to him, it would be hard to imagine his position otherwise since he was a member of the Atlanta Regional Roundtable that proposed and approved the project list.
What seems to be lost amidst the name calling in the Cobb contest is that both sides have valid arguments to buttress their views. The pro-TSPLOST forces rightfully point to the need to address the increasing traffic congestion, the badly needed jobs that will accompany the projects, and the potential business development associated with the regional approach.
The anti-TSPLOST folks have equally legitimate concerns about a large portion of the tax being used to service the transportation needs of a small segment of the population, the unanswered question about the source of funding to sustain the rapid bus roadway after the TSPLOST sunsets, and the impact that the tax will have on the County’s ability to ask the voters for additional funds to maintain existing traffic infrastructure.
Both sides have the responsibility of answering two essential questions. If you are for the TSPLOST, how do you plan to fund the operations and maintenance of projects in the Act after the 10 years? If you are opposed to the legislation, what are your solutions for traffic congestion—both known and predicted?
There are consequences for both views and they should be carefully considered in what is certainly a difficult choice because of the high stakes involved.