Chamber to Lee: If you want BRT, you’ll be riding solo
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
June 28, 2014 04:00 AM | 5500 views | 3 3 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM has had it that the Cobb Chamber of Commerce is pushing hard behind the scenes for Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee to put a $100 million down payment for a Bus Rapid Transit line down the Cobb Parkway corridor on the SPLOST ballot for this November’s referendum vote.

But Chamber higher-ups are telling Around Town behind the scenes that conventional wisdom is flat wrong.

The Chamber has not taken a public position on the BRT. But Chamber brass are telling us that if Lee is determined to put the BRT on the SPLOST, he’ll wind up riding solo on that bus.

While strongly supportive of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax extension, as expected, they tell AT they don’t feel the timing is right for the BRT and that its presence on the ballot would negatively impact “the project mix.”

Translated into plain English, they think voters will reject the SPLOST if it contains any money for the BRT.

The SPLOST will be tough enough to pass without it, if recent SPLOST votes are any indication.

Not surprisingly, the BRT has become a campaign issue in the race for the District 1 Northwest Cobb seat on the county commission, with Bill Byrne strongly opposed and Bob Weatherford undecided. Both men support the SPLOST itself, however.

It’s also known that top Chamber leaders are hoping Weatherford wins the runoff. Could their apparent desire to take the BRT off the table as an issue be part of an effort to help boost his chances against Byrne?


LOOK FOR runoff races that already have been feisty since the primary to get even more so once the July Fourth holiday is past.

“After the Fourth of July it will be a street fight,” District 1 Commission candidate Bill Byrne recently told Around Town. “And I’m going to bring that same confrontational attitude to representing the district when I get elected. It’s not gonna be a church social.”

Byrne will meet former Acworth Councilman Bob Weatherford in a Republican runoff July 22.

Also that day, former Congressman Bob Barr of Smyrna will meet Cartersville’s Barry Loudermilk in a Republican runoff for the 11th District Congressional nomination. Loudermilk was the leading vote-getter in the primary and even beat Barr on his home ground in Cobb. But Barr told AT Thursday that was then and this is now.

“When you have a primary with six candidates in it, including two from Cobb, it is difficult to marshal sufficient votes. But the primary and the runoff are two entirely different things, this year more than any other year due to having nine weeks between the primary and runoff instead of three,” he said. “We intend to work much harder … and we intend to define (Loudermilk) and introduce him to the voters. That didn’t happen in the primary due to the number of candidates. He’s not going to get a free ride in the runoff.”

“We will define him accurately and truthfully as someone with very little experience on the issues that are important to our district and let the voters know that his record at the statehouse was not one that had a great deal of any substance in it. We intend to let voters have a much more complete picture of Barry than they did in the primary.”

Loudermilk has spent the past several days fending off charges that he has exaggerated his military service record.


BARR, THOUGH, has been under fire late this week as well. Cobb immigration activist D.A. King is claiming the candidate and former Libertarian presidential nominee has flip-flopped on his support for the E-Verify system used to check the legal status of newly hired workers.

Barr in recent years has described E-Verify as “Big Brotherism” and a step toward a “stealth national ID,” King says. Yet Barr said he supports E-Verify in his response to a questionnaire sent by King to Barr and Loudermilk that was the basis for a King guest column in the MDJ on Wednesday. King, though, says Barr’s campaign website that day still stated he opposes E-Verify.

King says the website was not changed until Thursday, after he Tweeted and posted on Facebook about the discrepancy.

A Barr spokesman said Friday that his reluctance to endorse mandatory E-Verify use in the past was based on the unreliability of the system, but that it has been much improved “and now lends itself to such a requirement.”


DEBATES: The Barr-Loudermilk and Byrne-Weatherford races will be highlighted via a pair of televised debates sponsored by The Atlanta Press Club next month just before the runoff.

The debates will be taped in front of a live audience on the same days they are aired. The 11th Congressional District debate will be aired by Georgia Public Broadcasting from 4 to 4:30 p.m. July 13. The District 1 Cobb Commission debate will be aired on PBA30 from 11 to 11:30 a.m. July 20.

Among the other APC debates likely to be of interest to local viewers will be that for the GOP runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination between Jack Kingston and David Perdue. That debate will be aired by GPB from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday the 13th.


KINGSTON will visit today’s 8 a.m. Madison Forum breakfast at The Rib Ranch in east Marietta. He’ll later head to Adventure Outdoors to host a Second Amendment rally and be officially endorsed by the NRA at 2:30 p.m. And he’ll headline a fundraiser Sunday evening at the west Cobb home of Gary and Melissa Bottoms.


MEANWHILE, the Acworth Business Association will host a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. July 8 at NorthStar Church’s True North Building, 3413 Blue Springs Road NW in Kennesaw. Invitees include Barr and Loudermilk, Byrne and Weatherford, Cobb Superior Court judicial candidates Ann Harris and Juanita Stedman and Acworth Council candidates Brett North and Kevin Wigington, with WSB’s Pete Combs as emcee.


SHERIFF Neil Warren will host a barbecue at 6 p.m. Monday for Barr at Adventure Outdoors, 2500 South Cobb Drive in Smyrna. The public is invited to the $25-a-head event.


BARR was endorsed Friday by former Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart of east Cobb, who said he is “the grassroots candidate” and the one best able to fight to protect Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and by extension, the Lockheed Martin plant, from closure.

“One of the single largest employers in our district is Lockheed, and only Bob Barr has a proven track record of not only protecting but expanding Lockheed jobs,” she said. “More than this, there are hundreds of businesses that exist only because of the presence of Lockheed and Dobbins. Marietta and Cobb County need Bob Barr protecting our jobs at Lockheed and to keep Dobbins open.”


HOMETOWN SALUTE: Mayor Steve Tumlin tells AT he hopes to present a proclamation and “key to the city” to Vanderbilt University baseball star Dansby Swanson of Marietta at the council’s July 9 meeting.

Swanson, who plays second base for the Commodores, was named Most Valuable Player of the Collegiate World Series after Vandy beat Virginia 3-2 on Wednesday to win its first National Championship.

“I must have had 15 calls and emails from people this morning from people about him,” the mayor said the day after the victory.

MHS grad Swanson is the son of Cobb EMC Board member Cooter Swanson and wife Nancy.

Atlanta Braves VP Mike Plant has promised to donate some Braves items to be presented to Swanson at the council meeting, Tumlin added.

“I told Mike that if they wanted to send me a contract I’d be sure to let (Swanson) look at it,” Tumlin quipped. “He’s done us proud.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 29, 2014
No more taxes for these crooked politicians to steal!!! Vote no!!!
The Hidden BRT
June 28, 2014
The BRT now has another name in the splost project list, a name so general it could bring back the Light Rail boondoggle of TSPLOST days.

And watch for a BRT slush fund hidden in the "tier 2" projects of the new splost. "Tier 2" or the "B List" projects are those projects that get funded if the main projects are completed under budget.

John Galt
June 28, 2014
I will NO on the SPLOST. NO new taxes.
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