Around Town: Mayor: Franklin bond will pass but not by much
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
October 26, 2013 12:00 AM | 3364 views | 0 0 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA Mayor Steve Tumlin, who has lashed his re-election campaign to the Nov. 5 referendum on whether the city should issue a $68 million bond for the redevelopment of the Franklin Road corridor, is predicting that it will pass.

No surprise there.

But Tumlin is predicting that the vote will be a close one, and cites the results of recent SPLOST and bond referendums as the basis for that opinion.

“I think we’ll basically have the same vote that we had in 2009,” when city voters approved a $25 million parks bond by a razor-thin 51-49 percent margin, the mayor told the MDJ editorial board on Friday.

The county and city also approved the county’s transportation SPLOST referendum in 2011, but not by much (more on that in a moment).

The third example he cited was the public’s support of a $7 million bond in March 2012 for the construction of a performing arts center at Marietta High School. That measure was approved but only by a narrow 53 percent of voters.

“That’s three times during the bad economic times we’ve had lately that people have approved a referendum,” he said.

Tumlin discounts the results of the 2012 TSPLOST referendum, which Marietta and metro-wide voters utterly rejected by margins of two-to-one.

“I think you have to throw those results out,” he said. “There was not enough (spending) in it for Marietta to gauge how the city voted. You’ve got to give folks something to vote for.”

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THE 2011 AND 2005 county transportation SPLOSTs both passed, and there were a pair of common threads in the results each time. Each squeaked by (the 2005 SPLOST by just 117 votes of almost 40,000 cast and the 2011 SPLOST by an even smaller spread, just 79 votes out of nearly 43,000 cast). And the winning margin in each case was provided by voters in the cities, not the unincorporated areas. That 79-vote winning margin in 2011, for example, was fueled by the fact that Marietta voters (mostly on the city’s west side) gave it a 334-vote edge.

That likely has something to do with Tumlin’s decision to spend part of the proceeds of the coming bond on sidewalks and other improvements in the Whitlock Avenue corridor on the west side.

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AS FOR THE NOV. 5 REFERENDUM, Tumlin says he’s hearing plenty from both sides, and from the usual people.

“It seems like the same ‘fers’ are for this one and the same ‘aginners’ are against it,” he said. “It will pass, but it will be tight.”

Local politicos, meanwhile, are speculating about whether many Mariettans will “split their vote” — that is, vote to re-elect Tumlin on Nov. 5 rather than for untested challenger Charles Levinson, yet also vote against his main issue, the redevelopment bond.

Tumlin told Around Town he’s heard the same speculation.

“Yeah, even the ones against the bond (at a public meeting) the other night told me they were going to vote for me,” he said.

“I’m going to get some fallout. I’m pretty well identified with this,” he said, laughing.

Tumlin won election in 2009 with 80 percent of the vote over two little-known challengers.

“I liked getting 80 percent of the vote last time, but this time I’ll be content with 51,” he concluded.

For more on our interview with Tumlin, see Jon Gillooly’s story in Sunday’s MDJ.

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POLITICS: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Northeast Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell and her husband Dave were spotted in the buffet line together at the recent Cobb County Library Foundation fundraiser.

When Commissioner Birrell realized she was standing next to the Senator she gave him a warm hug. Isakson then reached across the buffet table to shake hands with her husband — who instead of gripping the senator’s hand in return, put his own hand behind his back.

“Have I done something to offend you?” asked the mystified Isakson.

“Your voting offends me,” shot back Birrell, said to be a tea party sympathizer apparently upset that Isakson and fellow Georgia U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss had not been more supportive of the recent government shutdown masterminded by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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REPUBLICAN Fitz Johnson, who’s running for state School Superintendent, will kick off his campaign with a 5:30-7:30 p.m. fundraiser Nov. 13 at The Brickyard in Marietta (129 Church St.).

For info, contact Caitlyn Cooper at (404) 615-9442.

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MORE ON THE BOND: “There’s nothing that says ‘Welcome to Marietta!’ like a burned-out Holiday Inn,” a local bond-supporter quipped to Around Town. The empty hulk of the hotel in question has loomed for years at the Delk Road gateway to the city off I-75.

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EVENTS: Retired general and Hurricane Katrina hero Russel Honoré will speak at Kennesaw State University at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the Prillaman Hall Auditorium. Honoré’s talk is titled “Leadership and Preparedness in the New Normal – 21st Century” and will be hosted by Kennesaw State’s Department of First-Year and Transition Studies and the Emergency Preparedness Learning Community. For info contact Robert S. Godlewski at rgodlews@kennesaw.edu. ...

Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Attorney Gen. Sam Olens will be featured along with former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno at a program on expanding economic development opportunities in Latin America. The event is sponsored by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cobb Galleria Center.

Contact Slade Gulledge at (770) 859-2322 or sgulledge@cobbchamber.org.

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THIS YEAR’S Veterans Day Parade sponsored by the city of Marietta and the Marietta Kiwanis Club should be a good one. It steps off at the traditional 11 a.m. Nov. 11 and will conclude with a talk at noon on the Square from keynote speaker Marine Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter (Ret.).

Among the participants will be the 116th Army Band and the Marietta, South Cobb, Sprayberry, Walton and Wheeler high school bands. Also marching will be the JROTCs from Marietta, Allatoona, Campbell, Hillgrove, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter, Pope/Kell, Osborne, Pebblebrook and Sprayberry high schools, plus the unit from King’s Academy, reports parade spokesman Col. Karl Schwelm, USMC (Ret.). On hand will be veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, local Marines and others will be helping the Corps celebrate its 238th birthday at a ball from 6-11 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Marietta Hilton and Conference Center on Powder Springs Street. Special guest will be . Mutter, the first woman in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces to reach three-star rank.

The event is open to Marines and friends of Marines. For more, contact Schwelm at Karlschwelm@gmail.com or (770) 377-5618. Semper Fi!

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CONDOLENCES go out to former state Sen. John Wiles (R-Kennesaw). Wiles’ parents passed away of natural causes four days apart in the past week. Harold John Wiles, 93 and a World War II veteran, died Friday in Jacksonville, Fla. Wiles’ mother, Willa Dean Jamison Wiles, 86, passed Tuesday.

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GOOD NEWS: Retired Marietta homebuilder Hap McNeel is back home. McNeel, who is fighting pancreatic cancer, had been taken to WellStar’s Tranquility at Kennesaw Mountain hospice early this month. But he has improved enough head back home — not the kind of thing that you hear about every day. Keep fighting, Hap!

Also on the mend back home after lengthy stays at WellStar Kennestone and then Emory University Hospital is MDJ Associate Publisher and corporate gadfly Jay Whorton. Hang in there, Jay!

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