Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Latest group opposing transportation tax was born in a Cobb County gun shop

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Just one day after the Sierra Club announced it was urging members to reject the regional transportation tax, we learn of a new group that's itching to defeat the July 31 ballot measure.

Meet Transportation Leadership Coalition LLC, or Traffic Truth, an "all-volunteer organization" united "in the belief that the [state] can do a much better job of transportation planning than passing the largest tax hike in Georgia history and spending the money on politically favored rail projects, trapping us into a tax situation that will continue forever." That's a mouthful.

According to the group's press release issued yesterday (and which we've pasted after the jump), TLC was formed after 75 grassroots activists met at an "Adventure Outdoors in Marietta" to discuss the ballot measure. The group says it plans to "educate the public" with its website, email, and social media about the tax and the various claims of groups supporting the measure - some of which, TLC argues, are using taxpayer dollars to sell

The group says the rail projects that would be funded by the tax won't relieve traffic congestion,, that the more expensive projects would require "billions more" to complete than what was allocated, and that, contrary to talking points, "there is a 'Plan B.'"

Though some of the names listed on the press release have worked with metro Atlanta tea party groups in the past or describe themselves on Facebook as conservative, no other coalition members' names are listed.

A spokeswoman from Untie Atlanta, the business community's PR campaign to sway voters to pass the tax, told CL via email last night:

There was opposition to MARTA in the '60s; there was even opposition to building the biggest airport in the Southeast. We expected the opposition. But we'd be the size of Birmingham if metro Atlantans hadn't rejected the opposition's stance on MARTA and the airport. And we'll keep our competitive edge and create thousands more jobs if voters say "yes" and again reject the opposition's stance.

The "Transportation Leadership Coalition" is urging people to vote "no" to jobs, "no" to $19 billion in new income, "no" to making our region competitive with others, and an unbelievable "no" to more productivity and time spent with families instead of sitting snarled in traffic jams.

They're also voting "yes" for a tax - a congestion tax - now at $924 a year per commuter - that will only rise if our region fails to come together to address its biggest problem.

Every time we've faced big problems, we've risen to the occasion and met them with big solutions. This referendum is just the start of what the voters and our leaders are capable of accomplishing when we put our personal interests to the side and do what's best for the region.

TLC's full release after the jump.

On March 31, 2012, approximately 75 grassroots activists representing several organizations, along with elected officials who opposed the 1% sales tax, gathered at Adventure Outdoors in Marietta, Georgia, to educate themselves on the proposed 1% sales tax statewide referendum.

"We put out the invitation to various grassroots organizers to meet under one roof and learn more about this tax. We were very pleased with the response from across the state as far south as Valdosta," said Jack Staver, chairman of Transportation Leadership Coalition.

The result of this meeting was a coordinated effort to oppose the sales tax that is touted to alleviate traffic congestion in the metro Atlanta area. From this meeting and subsequent meetings and conversations, the Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC ("TLC") was formed.

The focus of TLC is to educate the public on the claims of MAVEN (Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network), a pro;sales tax advocacy group, and Untie Atlanta (Citizens for Transportation Mobility), David Stockert, chairman, who is also CEO of Post Properties. The primary education vehicle for TLC will be its website, TrafficTruth.net, as well as email and social media.

Some of the key points of TLC are:
* Proposed rail projects will not relieve traffic congestion.
* T-SPLOST is not a "temporary tax;" Ultra-expensive projects will require
billions more to complete than the allocated tax amount.
* There is a 'Plan B'.

"MAVEN is well funded to the tune of $2,000,000, some of which is through the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money from CID's. We are truly a grassroots, volunteer;driven organization that is self;funded through donations," said Staver. "We dispel the myths about traffic solutions claimed by ARC through our fact sheet, which can be downloaded from our website, TrafficTruth.net. The 2-page document provides voters with real facts and real numbers that rebut every falsehood from ARC, MAVEN, and Untie Atlanta."

Other organizations are also opposed to the tax plan including the NAACP, Sierra Club, 912 projects, Georgia Campaign for Liberty, and Tea Parties. While these groups all oppose the tax for different reasons, the T SPLOST is proving to TLC that there are clear issues with the plan and the tax across the board.

"One big question is why is it legal for an organization like ARC to use taxpayer dollars to tell lies and falsehoods to the voters? If the TSPLOST was such a great idea, why do they need $2 million plus an additional $6 million from Untie Atlanta for an advertising campaign to spin it and sell it to the people of Georgia? One would think they could deliver a winning message without resorting to lying to the voters. And finally, why would the people of Georgia want to give up local control, also known as 'home rule'?"

TLC is encouraging public debate on the topic to include both sides of the issue.

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