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Monday, June 3, 2013

Watchdog group now seeks to change city charter to thwart public funding for Falcons stadium

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  • Common Cause Georgia

Remember last week when Common Cause Georgia attempted to launch a petition calling for a referendum on whether hotel and motel taxes could be used to fund the proposed Atlanta Falcons stadium? And they were told by the city that a public vote was a no-go? Well, the government watchdog group apparently has a Plan B and will continue to fight the use of public financing to build the $1 billion athletic facility.

City Attorney Cathy Hampton said last Friday that a "loophole" which would've allowed the watchdog group to potentially force a referendum was actually closed 15 years ago. As a result, Executive Director William Perry says the organization will change their approach and file a new petition - this time to amend the city's charter to prohibit using the lucrative funding source to construct the stadium.

He writes in a press release this morning:

While CCGA adhere to the belief that the petition as first submitted was and is legally valid, CCGA has no interest in fighting unnecessary legal battles with the City, since the core principle here is the right of Atlanta's voters to use initiative and referendum, as recognized in the City's own Charter and ordinances, to put into legal effect those voters' widespread opposition to their public money being used to finance in part a new stadium.

"We are submitting a new petition which the City has in effect already recognized as legally and constitutionally permissible, i.e., a petition to change the Charter of the City of Atlanta to preclude the use of hotel/motel tax funds of the City of Atlanta to finance a new stadium or related infrastructure," said Wyc Orr, Board Member of Common Cause Georgia.

Common Cause Georgia has certainly become a thorn in Mayor Kasim Reed's side over the last week. But can they actually change the city charter and stymie what they're calling a "raw deal" for taxpayers? We'll see.

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