The coalition of groups, which calls itself Citizens for Governmental Transparency, held a press conference on the steps of the county government building prior to handing over the letter.
“We’re here today to respectfully request the Cobb County Commission to delay their vote for a minimum of 60 days in order to give Cobb County citizens a chance to properly vet and understand that proposal,” said member Rich Pellegrino, who also heads the Cobb Immigrant Alliance. “Although we have members who are both for and against the proposed Braves stadium deal, we are unified in our belief that Cobb citizens should be given time to review and publicly comment on any Braves stadium deal that will require the use of significant county tax dollars.”
Michael Opitz of the Madison Forum, also included in the coalition, compared the board’s scheduled Tuesday vote to the passage of Obamacare.
“It’s somewhat reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi that we must push this thing through quickly so we can find out what’s in it,” Opitz said. “Pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it.”
The MDJ asked County Chairman Tim Lee how he planned to answer the request for a delay.
“My response to their request is that we’re not going to do that,” Lee said. “We’re going to proceed tomorrow night with the vote. It’s important for the time table and for moving the project forward and providing some closure and decisiveness, so we believe there has been enough time for the information to get disseminated. I believe there’s been enough time to be disseminated, details to be revised, so we’re going to be moving forward with it tomorrow.”
The supporters While the half dozen critics handed the letter over to a county secretary, about two dozen supporters of Tuesday’s deal turned out on the Marietta Square wearing “Cobb Home of the Braves” T-shirts, among them Greg Morgan, chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce; Malaika Rivers, executive director of the Cumberland Community Improvement District; John Loud, president of Kennesaw-based Loud Security Systems; and Nelson Geter, a retired Georgia Power executive and current executive director of the Development Authority of Cobb County.
Morgan believes most Cobb Countians support the proposal to build a $672 million stadium for the Braves. As for the opposition, “I think it’s a very few loud voices because I know the people that I’ve interacted with in my day-to-day activities are very supportive of it.”
The Cumberland CID issued a press release on Monday announcing that 14 organizations representing 7,500 businesses were urging the Board of Commissioners to vote Tuesday. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Cumberland CID, and the Coalition of Cobb County Business Associations — which collectively represent more than 7,500 businesses and individuals in Cobb County and more than 50,000 employees — oppose any delay of the vote on the Braves stadium, according to the release.
Loud called the proposal “one of the most transparent economic development events to hit Cobb County in years.”
He said there was no reason to delay a vote.
“When you look back at what’s going on in the city of Atlanta, they’ve delayed and delayed in working with the Braves organization to come up with a viable solution and an agreement together, so if you look at what the cost of a delay can be, you need to talk to the folks in Atlanta,” Loud said. “We’re in Cobb County today because this opportunity is here for us to seize and now is the time for it.”
The proposed stadium and fan entertainment district would inject more than $1 billion into the Cobb and metro economies, generating more than 9,000 jobs, $235 million in construction payroll and $60 million in ongoing operational payrolls, according to the CID. It would also generate $6 million annually in property and school taxes.