Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lisa Borders reverses on tax rollback comment

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 5:53 PM

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Last night in north Atlanta, during what must now be the 83rd mayoral forum held so far, Council President Lisa Borders said a rather interesting thing: "Yes."

This single-word statement came in response to a question of whether, as mayor, she'd roll back the 3-mill tax increase adopted by the city only a couple of months back. To those who've repeatedly heard Borders take credit for coordinating the passage of the tax hike by the City Council, it sounded like a remarkable — and unexplained — about-face.

Well, it's unexplained no longer. Liz Flowers, Borders' campaign spokeswoman, told me this morning that the candidate thought she was being asked if she'd favor a rollback after the city's public-safety needs had been adequately funded.

"We're not backing away from her original position" supporting the tax increase, Flowers said. "She misunderstood the way the question was framed."

So concerned is the Borders campaign over her apparent reversal that it's now issued a press release explaining the gaffe more fully:

When asked about her response at the debate, Borders explained that she understood the question to ask whether she would rollback taxes after public safety was adequately funded. The question came during a series of inquiries in which the moderators had condensed a number of individual prepared questions.

For the record, Councilwoman Mary Norwood also answered in the affirmative, which is consistent with her opposition to the tax hike. State Sen. Kasim Reed said no, he wouldn't roll back the increase — at least not until the city had gotten crime under control. Jesse Spikes said something similar.

Last night's forum, held in a large church sanctuary, attracted about 400 people — the largest audience so far — and was certainly the smoothest one I've seen, thanks largely to co-moderators Bill Nigut and Dick Williams, both old hands at this game.

Borders also served up the biggest laugh line of the night when she described Mayor Franklin coming into office following "an ethically challenged administration." She'd barely gotten the words out before the crowd erupted into guffaws at her extreme understatement. Particularly funny to me was the fact that Steve Labovitz, Bill Campbell's former best pal, chief of staff and alleged unindicted co-conspirator in Campbell's massive campaign fraud, was sitting with his family in one of the back pews. Bet he got a laugh out of that.

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