Commissioner not surprised by negative tone of questions at Braves town hall
by Jon Gillooly
November 26, 2013 12:06 AM | 5885 views | 26 26 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott arrives in the boardroom Monday evening to a standing-room-only crowd of citizens both for and against the proposed Atlanta Braves stadium. The board is scheduled to vote tonight. Ott gave an opening statement of the facts as he knew them, he said, and then answered questions from the crowd.
Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott arrives in the boardroom Monday evening to a standing-room-only crowd of citizens both for and against the proposed Atlanta Braves stadium. The board is scheduled to vote tonight. Ott gave an opening statement of the facts as he knew them, he said, and then answered questions from the crowd.
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MARIETTA — On the eve a historic vote deciding whether to finance a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves, Commissioner Bob Ott calmly faced a crowd of about 230 people who shared concerns ranging from property values to crime.

While there were a few supporters for the Braves deal who spoke, such as Cumberland Community Improvement District executive director Malaika Rivers, most of the 25 people who lined up to quiz Ott during the hour and a half long town hall sounded less than pleased.

A weary Ott said after the meeting he wasn’t surprised.

“I would say most of the questions were negative, but it’s really not too surprising because when I think of a public hearing that the county has or public comment for zonings, most of the time the people that are the most passionate about something are the people that are opposed to it because it’s changing something that they’ve been used to or something that they feel passionate about, so generally speaking, that’s what I would have expected anyway,” he said.

Ott said he’s received and read about 2,000 emails about the stadium proposal.

“The sentiment that was expressed tonight was similar to what was in the emails,” he said.

Without disclosing where he stands, Ott said he was ready to vote at tonight’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

“I think so,” he said. “You know, the request for a 60-day hold I just don’t think is practical. It’s just too long. They truly believe that if we held it for 60 days the deal would go somewhere else, any deal would go somewhere else.”

To postpone tonight’s vote, a commissioner would have to make that recommendation and receive votes from two colleagues on the board.

One of the speakers to address Ott identified himself as Dr. Hassan Dashtpeyma of east Cobb, who owns a taxi company along with several properties in the Cumberland area. Dashtpeyma said Ott wrongly focused on the financial benefit of the proposal disregarding what he believes will be the negative social implications.

During Braves’ games, his drivers tell him crime increases in Fulton County, he said.

“If you look at this history of several projects, as soon as the popular transportation connected to any event such as Lenox Mall, if you remember in Buckhead, this is a prime place to go out there and shop,” Dashtpeyma said. “As soon as the MARTA transportation connected to the Lenox Mall, I have to wear a bullet-proof vest just to go out there for shopping, and you never look at the negative social implication regarding the robberies, breaking in, violation, prostitution.”

Ott said he preferred to look at the positive implications of what a development will do for an area instead of the negative ones. He spoke of his work with Brumby Elementary School, which has gone from a transient rate of 86 percent to 45 percent as the surrounding community underwent redevelopment.

“That is a positive social reaction, OK?” Ott said. “Filling up shopping centers with viable businesses is a positive social result of doing something.”

Dashtpeyma wasn’t convinced.

“If you look at all the detail, social value in every aspect, not just a parking lot, the robbery, the crime, the prostitution and all the related crime which I observe during my drives in Fulton County, then you realize this is not even close to matching the dollar value you’re proposing,” he said.

Ott said he was in talks with the Braves about building a fire station or police precinct on the 60-acre site where the stadium would be built. Another resident to speak was Jim Daws of east Cobb, who asked if Ott was aware of the research on stadiums and development.

“What do you say to the taxpayers that say that the commission is turning a blind eye to 50 years’ worth of research, and to this issue whether or not taxpayer subsidies spur positive economic development that have almost all found that there is no appreciable economic development from sports stadiums, and that you’re doing this to benefit a very narrow group of well-heeled business owners in the area?” Daws asked, garnering applause from the audience.

Ott said he was well aware of the studies about stadiums and economic development, but what Daws should consider is that the Braves weren’t simply building a stadium. They were also building a $400 million mixed-use development to accompany it.

“Commissioner, did you know mixed-use developments were part of the promised development around Turner Field and the Georgia Dome as well?” Daws asked.

Ott replied that Turner Field, originally built for the Olympics, was an entirely different project, and that the Braves already had a request for proposals ready to be issued for the proposed development to be located down the road from Cumberland Mall pending tonight’s Board of Commissioners’ vote.

Comments
(26)
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anonymous
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November 27, 2013
Woo-woo-hoo! Let this be a lesson to Debbie Doodle and Lisa Amor that calling people's houses results in that they got what they asked for -- rejection.
Not A Sports Fan
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November 26, 2013
The money spent on this stadium should be given to the school system. Teachers are under paid, students have to buy their own supplies and all so an over privileged ball player can enjoy a new stadium. Can't call them the Atlanta Braves anymore, either. Cobb County Criminals.
anonymous
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November 27, 2013
Will you STTTOOOPPP with the school screeching? Teachers are not underpaid. Well, I did have to buy my own pencil and paper, what supplies are you screeching about? Oh, you mean instead of the Taj Mahal's the Board of Education CHOSE to build, they CHOSE Taj Mahal's instead of what you are complaining about? Enough breath wasted on you.
Say NO to stadium
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November 26, 2013
Can't we put that kind of money to homeless cats and dogs? Build a new shelter for the unwanted animals of Cobb County! Pack of losers you are that want more crime and crap up here!
C. Smith
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November 27, 2013
See, this kind of thinking is what is the cause of the problem for the things people scream about are "underfunded." So we should build a new shelter for more unwanted animals is your solution to the homeless pet situation? How many new shelters should we build every year? Pack of losers are those that allow their animals to breed, then take the litter to animal control. Pack of losers are those that acquire an animal, only later to deem it an inconvenience so they dump it off at the shelter. Pack of losers are you that want more shelters to be built so the pack of losers can dump off more animals, instead of education as to why we need shelters in the very first place. The need for shelters is easily prevented by educating the pack of losers whose animals populate the shelters.
Marietta Resident
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November 26, 2013
Loss of trees, water shed ruined, more traffic, more accidents and tons of crime headed our way if they do build this stadium.
just say no
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November 26, 2013
Ott preferring to look at positive implications does not mean that negative effects will not occur. Take off your rose-colored glasses, sir, and wake up to the fact that most residents of Cobb County do NOT want that stadium as a neighbor.

All I can say is that I'm very glad that my children are almost done with school……we'll be free to move out before the albatross opens.
anonymous
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November 27, 2013
Poof, be gone! We'll miss ya' (not).
Bud Kudzu
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November 26, 2013
$8 million per year is being diverted from "other projects" to the Braves. My tax dollars are helping paying Dan Uggla's salary.

Traffic is already a nightmare approaching that from either direction of I-75 and I-285 at rush hour. Think of another 10,000 cars at rush hour on game nights.

Let the citizens vote on this.
Two Proud
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November 26, 2013
And that my friends is the way it's done.
Born at Kennestone
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November 26, 2013
I get that the leadership of Cobb County wants this deal done as soon as possible, but to ram it through without allowing sufficient time for the public to understand the costs/benefits... that's just plain wrong.

If commissioners do not believe this deal can withstand a few weeks of public scrutiny, how can they expect it to meet expectations over a 30-year period of public investment?

PolWatcher
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November 26, 2013
In 1988, George H.W. Bush said, "Read my lips, no new taxes." But after then supporting new taxes he lost his next election as a result.

For about four years Barrack Obama said, "If you like your current healthcare plan, you can keep it. Period !" Now that folks know that was a deliberate lie, a lot of politicians who voted for Obamacare (another fast one that was pushed along so recklessly that hardly anyone had time to study it), will lose their next election.

It is disingenuous at best and a deliberate lie at worst for local politicians to commit over $300 million of public money to subsidize wealthy owners of a profitable ball club, and then keep a politician's straight face when they insist there will be no tax increases as a result. This is in spite of the fact that when the Parks and Recreation Bonds are paid off, they announce they will just keep that part of the overall millage rate (for 30 years) to pay corporate welfare to the Braves' owners.

I cannot wait for the opportunity to send a message at the ballot box the next time any of these conniving politicians run for office again.
What I Want To Know
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November 26, 2013
What have the Braves promised Lee, Ott, and the rest for their votes? This rush to approve absolutely stinks to high heaven.
For Liberty
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November 26, 2013
It is evident that Tim Lee and the other commissioners are voting tonight for the Braves deal. In doing so they are showing Cobb County and the state of Georgia that the Cobb County Board of Commissioners support the rule of tyranny. Like Obamacare this deal will be rammed thru and later the Cobb County taxpayer will find out they are paying a huge increase in taxes with little to no benefit to them. Also this is a tax increase without a vote of the people. Shame on Cobb County Commissioners who are acting like dictators representing the rich and power and not the average Cobb County citizen
TaxHike and Risk
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November 26, 2013
Let's recap:

* No financial feasibility study for a $1 billion dollar risk to property owners.

* Animals living around site to be clubbed to death or escape to surrounding areas

* Private company, after a $8.5 million "gift" from Lee and Board of Commissioners puts up $50 Million dollars and taxpayer on the hook without a referendum

* New site requires a Police Station for the onslaught of anticipated violent crime - perhaps they will sell bullet proof vests to shop by

* TWO Weeks to vote on a BILLION dollars of Cobb Taxpayer money - why does Lee and Board fear a careful consideration?

* All prior public-private stadium "deals" have a losing and nasty track record.

* Gasoline has gone up some 400% in ten years, in another ten years gas could go for $16 per gallon

* Traffic JAM planned for as Commissioners 3 VOTES beats 750,000 people's votes for their money and new taxes

* Roads not equipped to handle pumped up congestion - take a look around the Braves Stadium

* New transient jobs and transient people in large numbers as game attendance declines

* Are you funding Lee's retirement?

* Perhaps Cobb County can pay for your next real estate development

Cobb County Res
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November 26, 2013
Thank you for recognizing that the innocent animals will be displaced, ran off or even killed. Piece of crap this idea is!
rjsnh
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November 26, 2013
If Ott believes using my property taxes to support building a baseball stadium as a place to play baseball for players who have multimillion dollar contracts, he had better hope they move into his district and vote for him, because he's going to need their support if he plans to seek re-election.
Kevin Foley
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November 26, 2013
“You know, the request for a 60-day hold I just don’t think is practical. It’s just too long. They truly believe that if we held it for 60 days the deal would go somewhere else, any deal would go somewhere else.”

The Braves can't wait until the end of January so the due diligence can be thorough and transparent?

Bullfeathers.
no to braves
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November 26, 2013
And didn't Atlanta negotiate for 15 YEARS to try and keep them? 60 days is an eye blink. They just want it done NOW before the opposition becomes too strong to overcome (which it would do, given 2 months).
Made up mind
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November 26, 2013
They have all made their minds up. Ott may be smart and know that his vote won't matter because they have enough to pass. It sounds to me like the commissioners don't care. All those people supporting it will change their tune when the crime comes in and we are on the hook for years to come.
jbwilli
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November 26, 2013
If only a few hundred people showed up to make negative comments on this issue then you can bet the majority of Cobb is in favor of it. I was there, and for the most part, I saw the same old folks complaining on this issue that I see complaining on ANY/ALL Cobb issues at these citizen 'vent' meetings! Lead, follow or get out of the way I say!
annonomous
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November 26, 2013
As i was leaving work yesterday, the car radio was tuned to NPR. There was a reporter asking Commissioner Cupid about which way she would be voting on the Stadium.Her first response was she would vote "no", siting that to vote on such a large measure in only two weeks time,would be an unethical use of Government. When the reported wanted to know if her mind was absolutly made up, She said she was not sure what the next twenty-four hours would hold. Then in the same breath said, if money were to be appropriated to projects and causes in her district, then she could change her mind, and her vote. In Washington this is called "Pork". I guess we shold all realize politics are dirty, But don't just go on National Public Radio and say your vote is "FOR SALE".
COBB CSI
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November 26, 2013
They get the photo ops and skybox seats you to taxpayer get the bill and all the headaches that goes with that. You would think owning that much of a company you would be entitled to stocks and profit sharing in the Republican’s Fascist big business world you don’t receive any of those benefits they do you take all the risk. If you can afford your cable bill you get to watch the Braves you don’t even get a discount on the cable bill you would think and owner would get a discount.
DeputyDawg1980
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November 26, 2013
I truly believe building the Braves' stadium here in our county is absolutely awesome! The "taxi driver" quoted above wears a bullet proof vest to shop at Lenox? Hey, I have to get a loan to shop out there........... So do your shopping at Cumberland or Town Center malls......... No one has been quoted saying MARTA was a sure thing. Comparing this to the current Turner Field area, It's really a very, very accessible area with a number of interstate exits to choose from on both I-75 and 285. I don't see the crime wave or MARTA coming here. Ten years from now the naysayers will look back and, if at all, admit it was, after all, a great move! Congratulations to ALL the Commissioners of Cobb county.
It doesn't matter
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November 26, 2013
It doesn't matter to the Commissioners what the public thinks. For them, this is not about the public. It is about getting to be part of something big, even if that something big hurts their constituents. It is funny, though, how the reality of conservative philosophies (which I mostly distrust) change when the people in charge see something for themselves in their actions. When liberal and conservative groups come together to try to stop action and influence votes, you can probably tell that there is something wrong with the pending vote. That has happened in this case.
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