Around Town: The Braves are bringing together some strange bedfellows
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
November 18, 2013 11:59 PM | 3784 views | 2 2 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE CLICHÉ that “politics makes for strange bedfellows” has gotten quite a workout as fallout continues from last week’s announcement that the Atlanta Braves plan to move to Cobb County.

Tea partiers, “regionalists,” rail-transit advocates and hard-core liberals — the type who see any support at all from conservatives for spending on infrastructure improvements, like those needed to alleviate traffic around the new stadium, as evidence of rank Republican hypocrisy — have been growing louder by the day in a none-too-subtle effort to derail the move.

For example, Cobb tea partiers and allies spent the weekend forwarding to each other and the MDJ a pair of email letters critical of the move on financial grounds. The similar letters, one by Joe O’Connor of east Cobb and another by his son Chris of Smyrna, picked up the endorsements and favorable comments of libertarian-minded state Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta), Cobb Taxpayers Association head Lance Lamberton, “Georgia Gang” TV co-host Phil Kent of Atlanta, tea party board member Jim Jess and even non-tea partier Rich Pellegrino, director of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance. (Noted a wag, “This is probably the first — and last — time that Kent and Pellegrino have ever agreed on anything.”)

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MEANWHILE, the city of Atlanta might want to consider a new nickname, one along the lines of “The City of Sour Grapes.” An Atlanta Magazine blogger had this to say about the move: “Effing Cobb. Those highway-worshipin’, Applebee’s-eating suburbanites spit in the face of progress time and again, then steal our baseball team.”

And the editor of one of Atlanta’s best-read newsletters, who usually hews to a pro-regionalist slant, accused Atlanta Regional Commission chairman Tad Leithead, in so many words, of duplicity for quietly supporting the move in his role as chairman of the Cumberland Improvement District.

Then there was the Sunday editorial in the Atlanta newspaper lamenting that the rest of the region would have to clean up the mess Cobb has made and saying there was little evidence that Cobb leaders had considered “area-wide impacts” on things like traffic, water and worker access to the stadium.

Many of our big city friends to the south have made it more than clear that they have their own definition of “regionalism”: anything that benefits Inside-the-Perimeter business and cultural interests.

Cobb County? We’re apparently just a bunch of hicks in their eyes.

But guess what? We’re about to have our own Major League Baseball team. Their baseball team.

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REP. Gregory told AT “If building a new stadium in Cobb makes financial sense in a free market, it will happen without being subsidized on the backs of taxpayers.”

His announced opponent, Marietta attorney Bert Reeves, told AT he sees the move as a plus that will have “a tremendous impact on creating jobs and improving property values. … Ideally, the investment will increase revenues to offset any spending, thus leading to a net positive for the county.”

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A PHONE SURVEY released late Monday of 3,674 Cobb Republican households taken over the weekend shows overwhelming support for the move. The poll by 20/20 Insight LLC found that 98 percent had heard about of the move, 61 percent of respondents supported it (with 24 percent opposed and 14 percent not sure), and 73 percent would be more willing to attend a Braves game in Cobb than in Atlanta.

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ARE THE BRAVES following the money? Yes — although it would be more accurate to say they’re following their fans and their fans’ money.

Many have noted that the best argument the Braves have made to support their move was their release of a map last week showing where those who bought tickets to Braves games live. The map shows that the team’s fan base arcs from Cobb through Woodstock and North Fulton/Sandy Springs over to Gwinnett County.

Another way of looking at the economic justification for the Braves’ decision is by studying the median household incomes of the counties involved. The median household income for Fulton County for 2007-11 was $57,582, according to the U.S. Census, and that figure includes incomes both for tony neighborhoods in Roswell and Sandy Springs as well as for shabby neighborhoods near Turner Field and for south Fulton.

Cobb’s median household income for the years in question was significantly higher at $65,423, with Cherokee even higher at $66,717 and Gwinnett at $63,076.

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PEOPLE: Cobb State Court Chief Judge David Darden is the recipient of this year’s Ogden Doremus/Kent Lawrence Award from the Council of State Court Judges for contributions to the judiciary and the community. Darden served on the Statewide Title 40 Study Committee looking at proposals to rewrite Georgia’s traffic code and was instrumental in promoting the concept of multi-county state courts. He’s served on the Cobb bench since 2002 and formerly was named a Judge of the Year by the Cobb County Trial Lawyers Association.

Cobb State Court Judge Melodie Clayton, who presented the award, is a former Ogden Doremus Award recipient herself.

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COBB Superior Court Judge Rob Leonard will kick off his re-election campaign with a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at The Marlow House, 192 Church St. in downtown Marietta. Music will be provided by Bert Reeves and his band, The Goodbye Machine. Honorary hosts are state Attorney General Sam Olens and Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren.

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A SALUTE to the South Cobb Rotary Club, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala dinner. The club was chartered in 1938 with 16 members and was originally known as the Austell-Clarkdale Rotary, reports President Nancy Arnold. Among the club’s more memorable fundraisers through the years were a pair of concerts by cornpone comedian Jerry Clower, which raised $30,000 to pay off the debt on the South Cobb High School football stadium.

And a happy anniversary as well to the Smyrna Rotary Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary at The Georgian Club, reports Rotarian Narayan Sengupta. A highlight of the evening was the induction of the sole surviving charter member, Samuel Whitfield — who can boast of 50 years of perfect attendance — into the Arch Klumph Society of Rotary International.

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THE GEORGIA BALLET has chosen four professional non-dancers to take part onstage in its 2013 Celebrity Nutcracker charity performance: Cobb Fire Chief Sam Heaton; Greg Morgan, partner-in-charge of the Atlanta office of Mauldin & Jenkins and the 2013 Cobb Chamber of Commerce chairman; Atlanta Beat owner and state school superintendent candidate Fitz Johnson; and MDJ editorial page editor and Around Town contributor Joe Kirby.

The performance will take place at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre at the Cobb Civic Center, with part of the ticket proceeds shared with the WellStar Foundation’s anti-cancer initiative, “A Campaign Today for More Tomorrows,” reports spokeswoman Katy Ruth Camp.

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RATHER THAN spending time dickering with the Braves about the terms of the pending deal, one wag told Around Town that Lee should just copy Marietta Councilman and downtown landlord Philip Goldstein’s well-known approach.

“(Commission Chair) Tim Lee should just tell the Braves they have to sign a triple-net lease — take it or leave it!” said the politico.



Comments
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Frank Miele
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November 24, 2013
It has gotten to the point that one cannot turn on the TV or even consult an online dictionary without running into a “Support the Chop in COBB” ad. Well, bringing the Braves to Cobb County is the worst idea since lobotomies. In fact, one would have to be brain-dead to think it was a good idea. First, with the overdevelopment of Cobb and Cherokee counties and the resulting magnification of commuters along the I-75/I-285 corridor, morning and especially afternoon “rush-hour” traffic is already an apocalyptic experience, and if you add game day traffic into the mix, you are talking about absolute and total gridlock. The extension of the MARTA subway system into Cobb would do much to ease the congestion, but news reports indicate that option is off the table. Second, the area where the Braves stadium is supposed to be built has been developed in a thoughtful, environmentally sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing manner. The injection of a fifteen-acre stadium, along with satellite infrastructure and businesses, would have a dramatically negative and character-altering impact on the area. Finally, there is the matter of the four hundred and fifty million dollars that Cobb County will have to cough up in order to seal the deal. That is the proverbial elephant in the room. No matter how you spin it (viz., the prospect of jobs and other alleged economic benefits), overburdened taxpayers are going to wind up footing the bill. And this does not include the additional millions of taxpayer dollars that will have to be spent on the infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate the stadium project. Hence, in the final analysis, while the idea of bringing the Braves to Cobb may be, if you will, a developers wet dream, it will, in the long run, be a nightmare for the citizens of Cobb County.
Hilarious/So True!
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November 20, 2013
Thank you MDJ for stating the truth always and this time in a very funny way! Regionalism is a two-way street and downtown needs to know that all the metro counties are an important part of metro Atlanta. It's not just about downtown.
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