Controversy Lingers Over Transportation Referendum

By Portia A. Scott (
A number of speakers on the new transportation proposal on the ballot, July 31, gathered at the recent Town Hall meeting at the I.B.E.W. Auditorium on Pulliam Street S.W., where they gave reasons to support or not support the plan.

One of the speakers in favor of the plan was former political guru, Attorney Kelvin Ross, who argued that the plan would create jobs and untie the congestion in Georgia, especially in Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties. He also said the plan would collectively save the Atlanta region some billions in fuel and personal time.

The opposition to the plan included state Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta, and community activists Drewnell Thomas and Dwanda Farmer, who agreed that “In two years they (officials in support of the referendum) can get it right and achieve more long-term results.”

Fort said he was against the T-Splost tax referendum because Fulton and DeKalb shouldn’t have to pay 2 cents, when other metro counties will pay only 1 cent. He said MARTA can’t use any of the revenue for operations, and “MARTA and Black small business were cut out of the deal.” Fort also said he was convinced that monies will go to the governor and the state, and not to the people who need it the most. He concurred that the referendum can come back in two years and officials “can do it right.”

Stephanie Rice said she too was opposed to the July 31 referendum because it doesn’t include “new rails, so it is short term.” She said jobs and MARTA and the Beltline were good for the region, but concurred, “We need a plan that guarantees long-term results.”

Thomas said there are no buses on her street in northwest Atlanta and no trains. “I don’t see where the transportation plan changes anything.”

Activist Eric Richardson said he was voting against the plan because there was no guarantee jobs were coming to the Black community, while Farmer wanted “to see more economic development.”

A number of NPUs were also opposed to the plan and are holding upcoming meetings to address the transportation referendum. On Monday, July 16, NPU-F meets at the Hillside Facility on Monroe Drive, N.E. at 7 p.m., and NPU-Y will meet at the John Birdine Facility on Lakewood Way in southwest Atlanta. On Tuesday, July 17, NPU-K meets at 7 p.m. at the C.A. Scott Recreation Center, and there will be a Southeast Atlanta Beltline meeting at 6 p.m. Also, Wednesday, July 18, NPU-I will meet at the Adamsville Natatorium on M.L. King Dr. at 7 p.m. and on Thursday, July 19, the NAACP Voter Education Forum meets at 6 p.m. at Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church. NPS-G meets at English Park Recreation Center on Bolton Road at 7 p.m., and NPU-S will meet at The Vicars on Cascade at 7 p.m.  NPU-M will meet on Monday, July 23, at the Helene S. Mills Sr. Facility at 6:30 p.m., and NPU-Z will meet at 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, July 24, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners will meet in the Maloof Auditorium on Commerce Drive at 9 a.m., with several NPU meetings O-J and D that evening. On Wednesday, July 25, the Northside Atlanta Beltline will meet on Buckhead Avenue N.E. at 6:30 p.m., and NPU-W will meet on Metropolitan Avenue at 7:30 p.m.

The next Town Hall meeting of Stand Up will be Friday, July 27, at noon on Pulliam Street.

A forum to discuss the upcoming transportation referendum and how it would support construction jobs and technical schools in Fulton and DeKalb heard speakers Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery; Congressman Hank Johnson, Fulton County Chair John Evans and DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.  The meeting was held on June 30, 10 a.m., at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Decatur.

Lowery said he didn’t know just how he would vote on July 31 for the referendum, but commended the audience for “their civic responsibility to come out on a Saturday morning.”  Lowery said, “Ask questions and study the referendum to see if it really will work.”

Young, Johnson and Ellis, all in support of the referendum, concurred that workers can prepare for the more than 34,000 construction-related jobs that will be created or supported, if the referendum passes. Gwinnett Tech and Atlanta Tech had displays outside the meeting.

The meeting was sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Atlanta Business League, Clayton Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, Metro Atlanta Chamber, National Black MBA Association, Partnership for Southern Equity, Regional Business Coalition, Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, with the support of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

The Sierra Club, the Georgia Tea Party, and the Georgia NAACP oppose the referendum.


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