Friday, August 26, 2011

TSPLOST Is Lose/Lose For Fulton And Dekalb

It is rare that I note the writings of a commenter; especially a commenter on another site. But I've "known" Dave Bearse for a long time and know his musings usually have value.

His analysis of the effect of the upcoming TSPLOST on the residents of Fulton and Dekalb is spot on.

The Tea Party-GOP base position is pretty simple. Fulton and DeKalb paying twice as much as everyone else for regional transportation, three times as much as everyone else combined for transit, and ten times as much as Tea Party strongholds like Cherokee County, is a transportation handout to Fulton and DeKalb slackers.
The math is pretty easy, even for graduates of Georgia’s K-12 system.

Fulton and DeKalb’s 1% MARTA and 1% T-SPLOST equal 2%, every one else 1% for regional transportation.

T-SPLOST is 50-50% transit-roads. (Before anyone points out it’s 55-45, note that the 15% being returned to counties for use at their own discretion is likely to be tilted toward roads.) Fulton and DeKalb 1% MARTA and 0.5% T-SPLOST transit equal 1.5%, everyone else collectively 0.5% T-SPLOST transit.

Now examine the T-SPLOST as it concerns Cherokee County, an easy choice because Cherokee County has only a few large T-SPLOST road projects totaling $200,000,000. Then consider that the T-SPLOST will return about $60,000,000 to Cherokee County, and that will be very heavily tilted toward roads. (The $60M is a back of the napkin figure but a reasonable order of magnitude.) The first result is that the T-SPLOST will return about three-quarters of the Cherokee County T-SPLOST contribution wholly within the County.
(Not fair you say, Cherokee isn’t getting all they paid in? The $260,000,000 in Cherokee County road improvements won’t much benefit anyone but those that live in Cherokee County. How many people from metro Atlanta that don’t live in Cherokee County travel in Cherokee County on any given day? Almost no one. Meanwhile half of the people that reside in Cherokee County and are employed travel outside of Cherokee County to their employment.)

The second result is that one-half (50-50 transit-roads split) of the one-quarter of 1% Cherokee County T-SPLOST funds that aren’t returned to Cherokee County will go to regional transit, one-half or one-quarter is one-eighth of 1%. Fulton and DeKalb paying 1.5% for transit are paying more than 10 times more. Sure Fulton and DeKalb should pay much more, but the factor of 10 illustrates the ridiculousness of the Tea Pary and its control of the Georgia GOP.

Fulton and DeKalb voters will be voting no on the T-SPLOST too. A yes vote simply empowers the Tea Party panderers that control the Georgia GOP.
Bottom line: if TSPLOST passes, Fulton and Dekalb residents will be double taxed and  those who believe they will never use public transit or it will have no effect on our infrastructure ills will still say their tax money is being used for ITP boondoggles.

Fulton and Dekalb cannot win.

Convince me I'm wrong, transportation advocates.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Apparently On The Verge of Segregation

A quick quiz. Which of the following does not fit the definition of segregation.
  1. Due to your race, you can't use a certain rest room
  2. Due to your race, you can't eat at certain restaurants
  3. Due to your race, you can't attend a certain school
  4. You "only get" 49 out of 180 districts which favor your election
If you answered number 4, Democratic House Leader Stacy Abrams would beg to differ. In press releases now filling in-boxes, the Democrats are pleading with people to help "Stop the re-segregation of Georgia and protect the Voting Rights Act. Vote NO on the GOP's redistricting maps".

The Democratic caucus' size is at a historic ebb. To expect there would be no consequences when re-apportionment time rolled around is foolish. To complain about the unfairness of it all is just politics. To compare what has been a fairly transparent process where admittedly you lose power but still have seats at the table to being shut out of society based on nothing more than the color of your skin is ludicrous, factually inaccurate and frankly, an insult to history.

There are plenty of arguments to be made. Comparing a process where you were destined to lose to the era of police dogs and fire hoses is not one of them.

And do beware of unintended consequences. Keep up the inflamed racial rhetoric and that story which alleges a white Democrat demanded to be placed in a neighboring district so he would face a white opponent instead of the other neighboring majority minority district against an African American opponent just might grow legs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Overreach Begins

Remember yesterday when I talked about nose rubbing and overreach? Apparently it has begun.

AJC's Jim Galloway reports, via rules process, the Senate Republicans only gave the Senate Democrats nine minutes to file amendments:
Henson said Seabaugh informed him that because they were not submitted under the terms of the new rules – within 24 hours of consideration – they would not be allowed.
What is the point of being that harsh? It's not like the the Senate Democrats have enough votes to really do anything. It smacks of something that happens when a majority wants to stick it to the minority as hard as they can. Sort of like what happened 10 years ago when the Republicans were the ones on the pointy end of the pig sticker.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Four Things To Know About Redistricting

The boys and girls are back at the Gold Dome for their once a decade (if all goes well) redistricting party. Redistricting is so inside baseball, it should have its own clubhouse personnel. But it is the only thing that can radically change the political landscape for years if not decades, so it behooves us to pay some mind to what the yahoos have planned.

Here's four things to note in the coming weeks.

1. The Maps - You can find them here. I would advise using the Google Maps plug-in. Otherwise you may embarrass yourself as I did when I misread a squiggly line and thought I had been thrust into a Gwinnett County district.

2. The Democrats Will Whine - One person's whine is another person's positioning. Democratic caucus leader Stacy Abrams started the whining/positioning last week by pointing out 10 districts where Democrats are "paired" against each other. In other words, two incumbents will face each other in the primary.

The whining will ignore two salient facts: arguably the Democrats did much worse to the Republicans in 2002 and the recent electoral routs have left the Democratic caucus with such a striking low membership that it may not have been possible for the Republicans to do any worse.

3. The Republican Will Rub It In - Payback is hell and the Republicans have been waiting a long time for this one. In 2002, in a last ditch effort to stave off what everyone knew was going to be a series of wave elections, the Democrats drew up maps that were at times so absurd one district was called "a squashed daddy long legs". Elephants have long memories and their crowing at sticking it back to their opponents will be loud.

But they need to be careful of the over reach.The obvious goal of the majority party is to reach a super-majority that will have the votes to pass any Constitutional amendment. There are Republicans who privately say that may be too much power, even if it is in the "right hands". If they succeed and we see endless streams of "Bobby Franklin" style bills, the electorate will wake up and the reckoning may shut down the party early.

4. None of It Matters Because We're All Going To Court - Bottom line is Georgia is still under the aegis of the Voting Rights Act. This fact means our maps will be reviewed by the feds. One of two paths will be taken, either the Justice Department steps in to tinker or Secretary of State Brian Kemp takes the case directly to court. Either way, a panel of judges will ultimately decide the final lines on the map. And that's what Stacy Abrams statements are really about. And that's what GOP Chair Sue Everhart's press releases are really about. Positioning for the final act.

A prediction sure to be wrong: The judges will not alter the maps greatly for two reasons: The Republicans have been very clever is disguising their gerrymandering. Oh, it's there. It's just hard to see and what you do see looks mostly political, not illegal. Also, as I said before; with this few Democrats, there's just really not that many places you can put them.

So, let the curtain rise and the actors trod the stage. But remember, despite the cry and hew you hear from Capitol Avenue, we are only  in the first act.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marketing vs. Reporting, Continued

As I noted last week, an Atlanta Journal Constitution staff report on the weather contained a marketing tag line for partner radio station WSB.
Doug Turnbull in the AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB Traffic Center reported
Bold is theirs. Not mine. That's exactly how it appears on the AJC website.

I did a little follow up on this new curiosity.

According to the AJC's Public Editor, the tag line is the "descriptor" used to identify the partner station. I don't believe Shawn McIntosh understood my point that someone somewhere consciously made the decision to start including a marketing tool in every staff report. Also, playing it off as akin to following the AP style book is frankly a little weird.

I also contacted a former reporter for his opinion. His thoughts were that it probably did not cross an ethical line but it is "amateurish"  and "shilly". He also pointed out it has gone on far longer than I knew.

Here is a February 2011 report on a DUI suspect slamming a police officer head on,
"It appeared as though he was making a left-hand turn when in fact he was making a U-turn, going about 15 miles per hour, and collided head-on with one of our officers," Duncan told AM 750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.
My question for my journalist readers; am I making a big deal out of nothing or does this bother you?

If you still work up Perimeter way, feel free to comment anonymously.

My Morning Kyle

It has been a while since I've picked on the AJC's (usually) reasonable conservative voice, but some things cannot pass.
It is not much of a leap from the rhetoric of our president to the violence and looting that has beset Great Britain.
No, Kyle. Connecting a President, in a time of severe financial crisis where we may ask our grandparents to continue working until they are 70, asking the wealthiest in this country to return to the tax rate they "suffered" under for the entire decade of the 90s to people literally burning their cities to the ground is a huge leap.

Hyperbole is an effective tool in the hands of the political provocateur, but there is a difference between stretching a rhetorical point and living in another universe while proclaiming your feet are firmly planted on planet Earth.

We need more reality in our conversations. Kyle, you ain't helping.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Two Years Ago

What I said two years ago.
But what I am sure of is there is a wave of irrationality. As to how large that wave is, I do not think we know.
I don't think anyone ever imagined the wave would get this high.

And yes, I called out one side.
Even though we don't know how pervasive the irrational fear is, leaders (and there is little denying some of the people I am about to name have been embraced as leaders) on the right have trumpeted it as a "movement" and "patriotic" and as "mainstream". We've reached the existential moment where fear of the unknown or ignorance of the known is not only seen as rational political thought but a reason to proudly thump one's chest and declare patriotism.
And there is no mushy middle here. I was right and I'm not too shy to say it.

Those that ride the tiger do not fear the dismount. They no longer care. They only revel in the red of tooth and claw as it continues to ravage anyone in their path.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Tip Of The Spear 2011

Two years ago, I wrote the logical evolution of the new media world is blogs/social media/citizen journalists acting as the tip of the spear with traditional press acting as the haft.

City Journal's Conor Friedersdorf writes extensively about how the green shoots of this concept sprout in the far flung corners of the country:
In these instances, as in many others, the Los Angeles Times wasn’t needed to discover corruption: citizen journalists could sniff it out as capably as any watchdog. Once on the scent, however, the amateurs couldn’t dig as deep or growl as menacingly as newspaper reporters backed by a powerful regional publication....Going after the same records, the Times reporter made insistent phone calls to the city clerk every day, and having been denied, said (as she later recounted to NPR): “Listen, are we getting the documents? I really don’t want to sue you, but we will, and when we go to court and we win, because we will, we’ll ask the judge to make you pay our legal bills, because that’s what the public-records statute says.”
The conversation continues.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Follow The Money

Follow the money has been the mantra of investigative journalism since Deep Throat's words first echoed in a dark D.C. parking garage.

Atlanta Magazine's Doug Monroe assembles some of the trail markers of the corporate moves behind testing in our schools. Even if you believe No Child Left Behind's intent was noble, it would be difficult to dispute its creation led to an explosion of money in the testing industry.

Although I find Doug's initial pass at this beast interesting and I hope he teases it out, I'm really looking forward to his next piece on charter schools.

Most folks don't know that Doug an I frequently disagree. I'm too conservative for his taste. But those disagreements are usually in the nuances and even if we joust on the core, it's with the understanding that each side has a valid perspective.

I have a feeling on this one we're going to be at complete loggerheads. Maybe I'm wrong. Should be interesting.

Marketing Vs. Reporting

Can you spot the subtle marketing in this straight reporting piece about last night's storms?
Doug Turnbull in the AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB Traffic Center reported that all lanes of I-285 were blocked as chickens were running around on the highway. The wreck, which happened before 5 a.m. just north of I-20, was also affecting traffic on that interstate. All lanes of I-285 were reopened shortly before 7 a.m.
WSB Radio and the Atlanta Journal Constitution are owned by the same parent company.

And by the way, I did not add the bold to that particular word. That's how it actually appears on

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Good Morning Douglasville!

You write one thing in 2 years about Genarlow Wilson and you wake up an entire county's online community.

Welcome Douglasville readers! Since some of you are speculating about my political persuasions, personal pursuits and possible pickles, I thought I would clear a few things up.

I've never met D.A. McDade - inside or outside a courtroom.

I've been called a liberal so many times, I habitually check to see if the ghost of JFK is standing behind me. I don't mind and if it provides you comfort, so be it.

I would think that an elected official using evidence from a criminal trial in an attempt to steer favorable legislation would bother liberals, conservatives and everything in between. Maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to check out the entire back story as you make your own decision.

I do enjoy a drink. I do enjoy gambling. If you assume this makes my life miserable, I will assume you are Baptist who deeply desires to do the same. At least, openly.

Finally, I have no beef with Douglas County. I enjoy traveling your auto auction lined thoroughfares. And I always politely tip my cap to your radar totin' revenue collectors as they take their rest in the shade of the overpasses.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

George Will Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, George Will advocated a brand of conservatism combined with pragmatism which would no doubt in today's climate brand him a RINO or worse, a liberal.

U.S News Scott Gallupo compiles a collection of Will writings from a few decades ago, although given his recent tendencies, might as well have been written in cuneiform on sand tablets.

My personal favorite:
"[A]ll government takes place on a slippery slope. Anything can be imagined carried to unreasonable lengths. That is why the most important four words in politics are: up to a point... Sensible government is impossible when the citizenry succumbs to the corrosive suspicion that governors are incapable of reasonable distinctions. It is mindless to insist that any practice that conceivably could be carried to extremes is, for that reason, intolerable even when carefully circumscribed."
I still tend to look to George Will for sane conservatism, but his recent teenage-like infatuation with the saucy new girl in town, dressed in provocative swatches of the Declaration of Independence and topped with a tri-corn hat, drives me batty.

The Patronage Of David McDade

Patronage positions are the last train whistle of the favored sons, the political ankle sniffers and the general scoundrels who need a job.

I leave to you how to place Douglas County District Attorney David McDade.

His quiet appointment to the State Council of Criminal Justice Reform seemed a weird footnote to Georgia's most heinous lack of judicial restraint since the 60s. But weird footnotes live in the places of political patronage and are usually not noteworthy.

But if those in high places start raising up a simple appointment to elevated position of praise worthy, it may be time to refresh some minds about what rocks were stepped on upon the way.

For those who were not around three years ago, David McDade made national headlines for prosecuting Genarlow Wilson. For a couple of hours of teenage stupidity, Genarlow Wilson was handed 10 years in prison and when every reasonable voice in the state called for relenting, McDade dug in deeper and deeper.

We can argue the nuances of the discretion of a prosecutor all day long; there are many shades and many arguments that we will not revisit now.

What we can not argue is the one heinous decision McDade made. Once he realized the sway of public opinion turned against him, he released a lurid tape of teens engaged in sexual acts. He distributed it to the legislators who were considering how to act on the odd case.

It would be bad enough if he used a piece of evidence from a criminal trial in an effort to turn legislation in his favor, but that pales when you realize he wouldn't stop until the Feds stepped in to not so gently reminded him of the possible violations of child porn statutes.

You have to ask yourself, is that the guy you want on a council for "Criminal Justice Reform"?

Monday, August 01, 2011

One Night In Pakistan

We've dealt with the abstract far too much lately. The New Yorker's Nicholas Schmidle's riveting account of the events of the night we eliminated Bin Laden should snap us back to reality:
During the next four minutes, the interior of the Black Hawks rustled alive with the metallic cough of rounds being chambered. Mark, a master chief petty officer and the ranking noncommissioned officer on the operation, crouched on one knee beside the open door of the lead helicopter. He and the eleven other SEALs on “helo one,” who were wearing gloves and had on night-vision goggles, were preparing to fast-rope into bin Laden’s yard. They waited for the crew chief to give the signal to throw the rope. But, as the pilot passed over the compound, pulled into a high hover, and began lowering the aircraft, he felt the Black Hawk getting away from him. He sensed that they were going to crash.
Find half hour to quietly read the entire piece.