Cheers, boos, heckles heard during Birrell, Cupid meetings
by Nikki Wiley
November 26, 2013 12:03 AM | 4694 views | 9 9 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A line of Cobb residents forms behind Smyrna resident Terry Taylor at the microphone during Commissioner Lisa Cupid’s town hall meeting in Mableton.
A line of Cobb residents forms behind Smyrna resident Terry Taylor at the microphone during Commissioner Lisa Cupid’s town hall meeting in Mableton.
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MARIETTA — Cheerleaders and naysayers were pulling out all the stops to influence Cobb’s elected officials on Monday, the eve of a controversial vote that could solidify the $672 million deal to bring the Atlanta Braves outside the perimeter.

The crowd gathered on opposing sides of the proposed stadium deal was more like one at the team’s current home of Turner Field in Atlanta. Supporters handed out T-shirts sporting “Cobb Home of the Braves” while those opposed loudly voiced their criticism.

The sides cheered, booed and heckled one another during town hall meetings.

Commissioners will vote at 7 p.m. today at 100 Cherokee St. on a memorandum of understanding between the county and the franchise that promises $300 million in public money from Cobb for the stadium.

Citizens for Governmental Transparency, a coalition of more than a dozen citizens groups, publicly urged the Cobb Board of Commissioners to delay a vote for at least 60 days before a town hall hosted by Commissioner JoAnn Birrell of northeast Cobb.

“If (Atlanta Mayor) Kasim Reed can do it, why can’t the commissioners of Cobb County do it?” asked Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party, one of the diverse groups in the coalition. “It’s because they have something to hide.”

But Birrell says she supports the proposed move and a delayed vote could jeopardize the deal for Cobb by letting other cities or counties try to wine and dine the team executives. There’s a strict timeline that has to be adhered to, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee said, in order for the team to have a new stadium ready for opening day in 2017.

“If it doesn’t occur (tonight), we put that whole timeline in jeopardy,” Lee said.

East Cobb speaks out

Residents packed a small meeting room at Mountain View Library on Sandy Plains Road during Birrell’s afternoon town hall.

A large crowd remained in the lobby of the library waiting for a chance to enter the room filled to capacity and slowly trickled in as police officers filled seats.

Mary Karras, who lives in Roswell and works in Cobb, says the stadium will bring visitors to the county’s hotels, restaurants and retailers.

“We don’t have a calculator that big,” Karras said told Birrell. “It’s untold what that’s going to do to Cobb.”

About half of the speakers at the meeting were for the deal with the other half criticizing the proposal.

Melanie Smith, a Cobb resident, questioned why public money will subsidize a private stadium for a wealthy Major League Baseball team while Cobb schools have an $80 million budget deficit. A mix of applause and boos followed Smith’s statements prompting Chairman Lee to chastise the crowd and urge them to “be respectful.”

“I am sorry the school system is having an $80 million deficit, but that is on the state and on the school system,” Lee said, adding the school system and county have separate budgets and tax residents separately.

South Cobb wants a piece of the pie

A similarly well-attended, though less contentious, town hall meeting was held just an hour later by southwest Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid at the South Cobb Community Center in Mableton. She’s undecided on how she’ll vote tonight and said she understands concerns over the rush to enter into a deal.

“I know timing is an issue. I know that,” Cupid said. “I know that we have had five days to flush out an MOU. I know that Thanksgiving is in three days. I know that.”

Cupid said she was “hurt to see the level of creativity to make this deal happen” because that same creativity has not been brought to the table when attempting to address problems in south Cobb.

“A concern of mine is that, if this comes, should we depend on trickle-down economics and hope it comes or will we see direct benefits to District Four?” Cupid said.

Jennifer DeVault of Austell questioned the county’s commitment of $300 million when budgetary restrictions cause some projects, particularly in south Cobb, to be put on the back burner.

“There are a lot of people in here with tomahawks and Braves signs, but not all of them live in this district,” she said.

But Mary Anderson Hill, a resident of Mableton, thinks the stadium could bring needed revenue to south Cobb’s schools.

“We have top-rated schools in many parts of Cobb and Title I schools in this part of Cobb,” said Hill, a former principal at Riverside Intermediate School in Mableton.

Comments
(9)
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Dist. 3 Constituent
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November 26, 2013
Commissioner Birrell, Why in the world did you have a Town Hall when you have already made up your mind on how you are going to vote? The public only matters when the Birrells & Gorhams of the world need their vote to get into office. There is nothing that infuriates the public more than charades such as the one Commissioner Birrell & Commissioner Gorham have perpetrated on the public in the last week. We certainly do not need to be politically abused by you two for one moment longer than necessary. Commissioner Birrell, THINK ONE-TERMER, Commissioner Gorham start penning that concession speech.
Studies ignored
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November 26, 2013
Read any study on sports stadiums and they show crime increased in the area. You will have more homeless and more crime. Good luck with that!
anonymous
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November 26, 2013
Thanks JoAnn for having the room packed with pro Braves people early and having the meeting in such a small room I voted for but not next looking forward to helping someone new take your seat!! Lisa is the only one taking the time to listen everybody else is just wanting the fame and the pictures.
??
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November 26, 2013
A mix of applause and boos followed Smith’s statements prompting Chairman Lee to chastise the crowd and urge them to “be respectful.”

Since when has Timmy Lee been respectful like you said need to vote you out Timmy needs a tomahawk chop at the voting booth.

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.
Dist. 3 Constituent
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November 26, 2013
Commissioner Birrell, Why in the world did you have a Town Hall when you have already made up your mind on how you are going to vote? The public only matters when the Birrells & Gorhams of the world need their vote to get into office. There is nothing that infuriates the public more than charades such as the one Commissioner Birrell & Commissioner Gorham have perpetrated on the public this week. We certainly do not need to be politically abused by you two for one moment longer than necessary. Commissioner Birrell, THINK ONE-TERMER, Commissioner Gorham start penning that concession speech.
anonymous
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November 26, 2013
When will people EVER get it through their thick heads that thinking the Board of Commissioners is tied to the Board of Education is like this: If your power company overruns their budget, can they then take funds from your water company that stayed under its budget? The answer is NO. It is two separate buckets. Two separate budgets. Different accountability. Whatever. Go, Tim, Go, and Keep On Going. We need to post a Common Core course out here. "Elementary Introduction into Cobb County Finance." The ed-u-ca-tors would flunk.
straightscoop
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November 26, 2013
Funny that Anonymous uses the water company as an example. The way Cobb does it under Lee is to have the non-elected board of the water authority raise water rates much more than needed and then make a "grant" to the county, which means the county commissioners can spend more without raising taxes due to this back door scheme whereby a non-elected water authority board does the dirty work of gifting the county commissioners, shafting the customers of the water authority, and all the time remaining out of sight because they are not elected.

Instead of any transparency, it's deals done in the shadows, for the benefit of the select, and the public be damned.
anonymous
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November 27, 2013
@straightscoop: You missed the point entirely. I will make it more elementary. Okay, how 'bout this one?

Your own house payment is far more than you can afford, say you have BUDGETED $1,000 per month, yet YOU BUILT a house that costs $2,000 per month.

That was YOUR CHOICE(i.e., budget of Board of Education in Cobb on spending for grand facilities they could not afford to build and that have absolutely nothing to do with learning and education in some spots of the county).

Now, let's say your Visa bill costs $500 per month and you only bring in $1,500 per month. That is $2,500 a month YOU SPENT for YOUR HOUSE and YOUR VISA bill.

Will Visa accept that you cannot pay them because you need to pay all of your $1,500 per month to your house payment and still be minus?

What does anybody have to do to get it through your noggin' that the Board of Education spends more than it takes in and that the Board of Commissioners are powerless over that?

I guess next time I will talk to you about one plus one equals two.

Jack's piggy bank has two cents in it and Jack wants to spend four cents at the store. Jill's piggy bank has six cents in it that Jill wants to save. Should Jill give Jack two cents?
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