Author Archives: triciaclements

 
 

Cobb Elected Officials Want a Pay Raise, but Residents Only See an INCREASE in TAXES

While Cobb County residents just saw a pay cut thanks to the payroll tax increase, Chairman Lee is considering asking the state legislature for a pay raise for Cobb elected officials. This pay raise would not apply to the state legislators, but would apply to County officials including, but not limited to, the Chairman, Commissioners, Tax Commissioner, Judges and Clerks. Many of these officials just took office this month or were just recently reelected to office.

Call and email the Cobb Delegation today (contact info here) and let them know the Cobb Elected Officials have not significantly cut spending, have not rolled back the millage rate increase of 2011 and should not get a pay raise.

The Marietta Daily Journal quoted Chairman Lee in a recent article:

“I have not talked to anyone individually about what their feelings are for the 3 percent,” Lee said Friday.

Lee said he hasn’t heard any opposition to the raises from local residents.

I am certain the reason that Chairman Lee hasn’t heard any negative feedback is because this was the first we have heard of this nonsense. However, it appears that Chairman Lee found a way to slide it into a Commission vote in November 2012, without anyone noticing.

The article went on to say that the decision may be made by the end of the month:

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-East Cobb), who was elected chairman of the legislative delegation on Thursday, said he hoped to have a decision on raises by the end of the month.

Yes, The Cobb Board of Commissioners DID Vote For This Raise

Some of you may remember the November 27, 2012 Commission vote to raise the pay for County Employees by 3%. That vote was 4-1, with District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott being the lone dissenting vote. What many don’t realize is that hidden in that vote, Chairman Lee included a statement that allows him to ask for a pay raise for himself. I attended that Commission meeting and spoke in favor of a one time bonus with the possibility of a pay raise in the future for County employees because of the uncertainty and possibility of the raise being unsustainable.

During the entire public hearing, it was not made clear that they were also discussing a pay raise for the themselves. It was slipped in when Chairman Lee quickly read his recommendation to the Board at the beginning of the discussion:

“The Board of Commissioners approve a 3% pay increase for Cobb County employees with a service period one year or greater and a prorated 3% pay increase for employees hired within past 12 months to become effective with pay period beginning December 9, 2012, authorize the corresponding budget transactions, and further authorize the Chairman to proceed with actions necessary to include 3% pay increases for any positions whose salary must be set by the legislature.” [emphasis added]

This item can be found on page 157 of the Agenda here and the video of the Commission meeting can be found online here, just click on Tab 7.

The portion regarding salaries set by the legislature was never brought up again by the board during this entire discussion or prior to the vote and the focus remained on the employee raise. I for one did not realize they were in effect voting to ask the legislature for a raise for themselves as well.  Although it was never mentioned again by any of the Commissioners, this language is included on page 16 of the Agenda as a part of the motion.

Taxes, Taxes and More Taxes

On July 26, 2011, just months after the March SPLOST vote that narrowly passed, the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to raise the millage rate by 1.51 mills. District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott and District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell voted against the increase to 11.11 mills. The raise was due to a budget deficit that supposedly came out of nowhere, since it wasn’t there during the SPLOST discussion. Remember how the proponents said the SPLOST would save Cobb County from Economic Disaster? I remember the “Vote Yes for Low Taxes” Signs. What a joke they were.

Again on July 24, 2012, the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to keep the millage increase that was implemented in 2011. Once again, Commissioners Ott and Birrell dissented.

On March 19, 2013, Cobb voters will go to the polls again for yet another ESPLOST.  This one appears to be heavily weighted towards sports and recreation and less towards actual education.

With all of this money flying around, when do the taxpayers get a break?

Shades of Washington?

Taxes going up, out of control spending and elected officials looking for a pay raise. Does any of this sound like Washington to you? This is just politics as usual: Fat Cat Cronies looking out for themselves and forgetting about the Poor Lil’ Cobb County Taxpayer. I urge all of the “Poor Lil’ Cobb County Taxpayers” out there to email your state legislators and tell them not to approve this pay raise! We are tired of getting stuck with the bill for the excessive spending in Cobb County.

Below is a list of the Cobb Delegation contact information. Call or email your legislators, better yet, call AND email ALL of the Cobb Delegation. If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find out here.  I have complied a list of the current Cobb Delegation and their contact information as of January 2013:

Cobb State Senators:
Senator Hunter Hill (R-6) (404) 463-2518 hunter.hill@senate.ga.gov
Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-14) (404) 656-0034 barry.loudermilk@senate.ga.gov
Senator Judson Hill (R-32) (404) 656-0150 judson@judsonhill.com judson.hill@senate.ga.gov
Senator Steve Thompson (D-33) (404) 656-0083 steve.thompson@senate.ga.gov
Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-37) (404) 657-0406 lindsey.tippins@senate.ga.gov
Senator Horacena Tate (D-38) (404) 463-8053 horacena.tate@senate.ga.gov

Cobb State Representatives:
Representative Charles Gregory (R-34) (404)656-0220 charles.gregory@house.ga.gov
Representative Ed Setzler (R-35) (404) 656-0178 ed.setzler@house.ga.gov
Representative Earl Ehrhart (R-36) (404) 463-2247 earl@ehrhart.4emm.com
Representative Sam Teasley (R-37) (404) 656-0177 sam.teasley@house.ga.gov
Representative David Wilkerson (D-38) (404)656-0116 david.wilkerson@house.ga.gov
Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-39) (404)656-0109 alisha@alishamorgan.com
Representative Rich Golick (R-40) (404) 656-5943 rich.golick@house.ga.gov
Representative Michael Smith (D-41) (404)656-0265 michael.smith@house.ga.gov
Representative Stacey Evans (D-42) (404)656-6372 stacey@staceyevans.org
Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) (404) 656-5069 sharon.cooper@house.ga.gov
Representative Don Parsons (R-44) (404) 656-9198 repdon@donparsons.org
Representative Matt Dollar (R-45) (404) 656-0254 matt.dollar@house.ga.gov
Representative John Carson (R-46) (404) 656-0287 john.carson@house.ga.gov
Representative Sheila Jones (D-53) (404)656-0314 sheila.jones@house.ga.gov
Representative Roger Bruce (D-61) (404)656-0314 rbruce5347@aol.com

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Cobb Delegation

Below is a list of the Cobb Delegation and their contact information as of January 2013:

Cobb State Senators:
Senator Hunter Hill (R-6) (404) 463-2518 hunter.hill@senate.ga.gov

Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-14) (404) 656-0034 barry.loudermilk@senate.ga.gov

Senator Judson Hill (R-32) (404) 656-0150 judson@judsonhill.com judson.hill@senate.ga.gov

Senator Steve Thompson (D-33) (404) 656-0083 steve.thompson@senate.ga.gov

Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-37) (404) 657-0406 lindsey.tippins@senate.ga.gov

Senator Horacena Tate (D-38) (404) 463-8053 horacena.tate@senate.ga.gov

Cobb State Representatives:

Representative Charles Gregory (R-34) (404)656-0220 charles.gregory@house.ga.gov

Representative Ed Setzler (R-35) (404) 656-0178 ed.setzler@house.ga.gov

Representative Earl Ehrhart (R-36) (404) 463-2247 earl@ehrhart.4emm.com

Representative Sam Teasley (R-37) (404) 656-0177 sam.teasley@house.ga.gov

Representative David Wilkerson (D-38) (404)656-0116 david.wilkerson@house.ga.gov

Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-39) (404)656-0109 alisha@alishamorgan.com

Representative Rich Golick (R-40) (404) 656-5943 rich.golick@house.ga.gov

Representative Michael Smith (D-41) (404)656-0265 michael.smith@house.ga.gov

Representative Stacey Evans (D-42) (404)656-6372 stacey@staceyevans.org

Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) (404) 656-5069 sharon.cooper@house.ga.gov

Representative Don Parsons (R-44) (404) 656-9198 repdon@donparsons.org

Representative Matt Dollar (R-45) (404) 656-0254 matt.dollar@house.ga.gov

Representative John Carson (R-46) (404) 656-0287 john.carson@house.ga.gov

Representative Sheila Jones (D-53) (404)656-0314 sheila.jones@house.ga.gov

Representative Roger Bruce (D-61) (404)656-0314     rbruce5347@aol.com

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With TSPLOST in rearview mirror, it’s time for ‘Plan B’

By Ron Sifen

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has produced an outstanding “Plan B” transportation plan. It was developed by transportation professionals to cost-effectively address our real transportation needs.

One of the major reasons why the TSPLOST failed is because many voters understood that the projects list squandered most of the money on projects that would not improve the flow of traffic in the region, and did not address the region’s real transportation needs. If implemented, Plan B would actually improve mobility throughout the region. Continue reading

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Surprise: Penalty is ZERO for TSPLOST failure

By Ron Sifen

Most people agree that one of the reasons that the TSPLOST failed was because government lost the trust of voters.

TSPLOST supporters want to believe that all of the distrust is only because of the Ga. 400 toll debacle. They refuse to admit that voters figured out that most of the money was going to projects that would not help to reduce traffic congestion on our roads. The projects list also contributed to the increased distrust of government. Continue reading

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Cobb plan for $3 million study in wake of TSPLOST loss is just plain wrong

By Ron Sifen

Voters in Cobb County and the entire Atlanta region have spoken and delivered the following clear message.  It is not the job of government to invent boondoggles on which to spend our money, and then increase our taxes to pay for boondoggles.

Many groups did a great job of putting together factual information and getting the information out to the public without much money.  The Traffic Truth group, Tea Party groups, along with the Sierra Club and NAACP, plus the phenomenal analysis performed by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Reason Foundation, and numerous state legislators who were outraged over the projects list, all worked together to inform the public about many things that were wrong with the TSPLOST.  Several columnists also helped. Continue reading

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Cobb County Civic Coalition requests Cobb BOC rescind July 24th Vote

The Cobb County Civic Coalition released this statement on their website today:

The Cobb County Civic Coalition (CCCC) respectfully requests the Cobb Board of Commissioners rescind their July 24th vote on the $3 million Environmental Impact Study (EIS).

On July 24th, one week prior to the TSPLOST vote and also prior to the conclusion of the Northwest Corridor Transit Alternatives Analysis (AA), the Cobb Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a new $3 million contract for a new EIS to move forward with whatever transit is recommended by the AA. Commissioner Bob Ott strenuously opposed this action, and correctly pointed out that it was premature to initiate an EIS, when the AA had not yet identified what would be studied.

On July 31st, Cobb voted 69% – 31% to oppose spending $689 million to enhance transit service on Cobb Parkway.

Cobb County should respect the vote of its citizens and rescind the decision to spend $3 million tax dollars to move forward on a project that Cobb taxpayers oppose.

via CCCC requests Cobb BOC rescind July 24th Vote | Cobb County Civic Coalition.

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Kennesaw Skate Park Controversy

Before the TSPLOST issue, I was speaking out about Cobb’s SPLOST “renewal” in 2011.  While we were successful in defeating TSPLOST, we were narrowly defeated on the Cobb 2011 SPLOST.  Many of us opposing that SPLOST argued that many of the projects were merely “wants” and not needs.  One of the projects I specifically pointed out was the $750,000 going to a Skate Park in Kennesaw.  I didn’t think it was appropriate to include this project in a SPLOST, especially at at time when the economy is in such bad shape.  This is a lot of money going to something that is not necessary and certainly not needed.

Our friends at “The Kennesaw Watch” have uncovered that the company chosen during the bid process, California Skateparks, has been named in recent lawsuits:

“Kennesaw Skatepark named in allegations of multiple felonies against Pro Skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and his business associate Joe Caglia, president of a construction company, California Skateparks:

1. Attempting to collude and bid-rig the Hansen Dam skate park project.

2. Perjury & fraud arising against the City of Los Angeles pursuant to the Skatepark Agreement.

3. Perjury, fraud, and violations of the California False Claims Act on the following specific bids and projects: Hansen Dam Skate Plaza, Stoner Skate Park, the Jackie Tatum Harvard Recreation Center and the Southeast Valley Roller and Skateboard Rink.

4. Fraud in securing a design-build project in Kennesaw, Georgia– including misrepresenting California as Los Angeles’ “Preferred Skatepark Vendor” in the Kennesaw proposal.”

via The Kennesaw Watch.

How will this affect the skatepark and more importantly, our tax dollars?

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Voters Revolt, TSPLOST Defeated!!

TSPLOST was trounced in the Atlanta Region on Tuesday evening.  The No vote won with 63% of the vote to the 37% Yes vote.  The pro-TSPLOST campaign was stunned by the fact that that throwing $8-10 Million into advertising didn’t work out too well for them.  The grassroots “pennies” campaign on the other hand proved that voters are tired of the Chamber, CIDs, lobbyists and political cronies that think they can buy an election with lies.  We don’t trust the politicians and over and over again they prove why we shouldn’t.

A huge thanks go out to everyone in the grassroots effort that made this happen.  The Transportation Leadership Coalition at TrafficTruth.net did an excellent job spreading the TRUTH!

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The T-SPLOST – Passage will obstruct progress

By Ron Sifen

The TSPLOST was supposed to be about reducing traffic congestion.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has conceded that the TSPLOST projects list will do little to reduce regional commute times. The ARC says they are defining “alleviating traffic congestion” as meaning increasing the number of people who can reach a point in the region within 45 minutes. The ARC has conceded that this has nothing to do with improving the flow of traffic, and that it will have an insignificant impact on reducing commute times. Continue reading

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TSPLOST hurt, not helped, by consultant’s ‘race’ talk

By Ron Sifen

TSPLOST supporters have brought in a Washington, D.C. developer, Chris Leinberger, who is also a consultant on urbanism and smart growth, to race-bait the TSPLOST.

Leinberger told the Cumberland Area Community Improvement District board last week that “MARTA really stands for ‘Moving African Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta.’ You’ve racialized it. The white suburban neighborhoods and places have completely ignored the economic development potential that MARTA could have been and will be in the future.” Continue reading

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TrafficTruth.net Yard Signs, Bumper Stickers and Push Cards Available

Here is an excerpt from the email that went out today.  If you don’t have your yard signs, bumper stickers or push cards, visit TrafficTruth.com now!

“Only 25 days remain before the big July 31st referendum for the Regional Transportation Tax.  The proponents are unleashing an $8,000,000+ war chest of propaganda to sell you on this tax.  We don’t have that kind of money but what we do have is the TRUTH and PASSION.  It’s time for us to do all we can to get the word out.  We’ve got new resources that will help us do just that: yard signs, bumper stickers and push cards. We’ve packaged these up in convenient bundles that can be shipped to you directly.”

Categories: TSPLOST | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

TLC Press Release: Legal Inquiry Action Against Secretary of State Brian Kemp

The Transportation Leadership Coalition issued a Press Release today about the TSPLOST Ballot Language:

Media Contact: Claire Bartlett, 404-384-3256

Transportation Leadership Coalition Initiates Legal Inquiry Against Secretary of State Brian Kemp

Kemp has no legal authority to add promotional language to Georgia ballot.

 July 2, 2012, Roswell, GA – Today, the Transportation Leadership Coalition (TLC) took the first formal step towards litigation challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for adding promotional language to the official state ballot in order to promote passage of Referendum 1.   Referendum 1, commonly called T-SPLOST, is an $18B transportation program funded by a sales and use increase that is subject to voter approval in the July 31, 2012 primary election.

On behalf of TLC, Atlanta attorney Pitts Carr has taken the necessary initial action to protect the Georgia state ballot from political interference.  Carr is a founding partner of the nationally recognized firm Pitts & Carr and served Georgia as a special assistant attorney general in the challenge to the constitutionality of individual mandate within the Patient Protection and Affordability Act. Continue reading

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No TSPLOST Yard Signs are in!!

I got my yard sign this weekend and they look great.  Visit TrafficTruth.net today to get one for your yard.

 

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Referendum for Another 1% Sales Tax! Vote NO

Thanks to Bob Jackson of Cobb for sending me this Flyer “Referendum for Another 1% Sales Tax!”.  I especially like the “Feed the Pig” pic.  Take a look and feel free to print it and distribute it around.  It is meant to be printed double sided and then cut so that it is 1/2 sheet.

Categories: TSPLOST | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Express buses cheaper, more effective than rail or BRT, but DOT study only gives them lip service

By Ron Sifen

Last week, Cobb DOT presented its interim report on the Connect Cobb – Northwest Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis.

I have been talking about huge cost differentials for different kinds of transit for a long time. This report confirms how extreme these differentials are. (Please note that Cobb presented national averages, and not Cobb-specific cost projections for this corridor.)

Costs to build:

* Light rail: $40 million to $120 million per mile

* Bus Rapid Transit (or BRT): $4 million to $50 million per mile

* Express Bus: $1 million to $2 million per mile.

Annual costs to operate and maintain:

* Light rail: $13 million to $33 million

* Bus Rapid Transit: $4 million to $29 million

* Express Bus: $4 million to $10 million Continue reading

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TSPLOST-related transit study seems aimed at avoiding inconvenient results

By Ron Sifen

If the TSPLOST is approved, and after the projects are built, will you have a shorter commute time? The ARC recently admitted that the answer is NO.

Instead, the ARC says that “alleviating traffic congestion” is defined as increasing the number of people who can hypothetically reach a given point within 45 minutes. Paying $6.14 billion of your tax dollars for this projects list equals no reduction of commute times. Continue reading

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