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Transit advocates call for MARTA referendum

Photo by Curt Yeomans
State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (center) asks the Clayton County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to call for a binding referendum to join MARTA. Abdul-Salaam has been a leading proponent of Clayton County joining the regional transportation system since the county lost local bus service two years ago.

Photo by Curt Yeomans State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (center) asks the Clayton County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to call for a binding referendum to join MARTA. Abdul-Salaam has been a leading proponent of Clayton County joining the regional transportation system since the county lost local bus service two years ago.

JONESBORO — Mass transit advocates want the Clayton County Board of Commissioners to stop putting off a call for a binding referendum for the county to join MARTA.

State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale) and Georgia Sierra Club President Colleen Kiernan asked commissioners to put the issue of a binding referendum to join the regional transportation system on a meeting agenda.

The county has been without mass transit since the commission voted to shut down the C-Tran bus service in 2010. At least 30 transit supporters attended the commission meeting, Tuesday.

Clayton County is one of the five counties allowed to join MARTA under a 1965 state law. However, state law also stipulates only the county commission can call for a binding vote to join MARTA. County voters approved a nonbinding referendum by 67.35 percent in 2010.

If voters approved a binding referendum, they would pay a one penny sales tax on every dollar they spend in the county to cover operational expenses for the service. Abdul-Salaam said as much as $49 million could be generated each year through the sales tax.

“Can we afford to continue to hurt the citizens that we represent?” said Abdul-Salaam. “Since the closure of C-Tran, this entire county has been affected negatively. We’ve lost jobs and as a result we have higher foreclosures. We have students that get to schools and can’t get into educational programs.”

Commissioners gave no public indication as to whether they would call for a binding MARTA referendum. A reporter approached commission Chairman Eldrin Bell after the meeting to ask him about the matter, but he quickly passed the reporter onto someone else before he could be asked any questions.

Bell and other commissioners supported the return of local bus service to Clayton County under a regional transportation sales tax. The tax would have required residents across 10 metro Atlanta counties to pay for the service — which would have only operated in Clayton County. The tax was rejected by voters across the region on July 31.

“We have an opportunity to do something that no other county in this state does,” said Abdul-Salaam. “We have a ‘Plan B’ in place.”

Funding was the main issue why commissioners argued C-Tran had to be shut down two years ago. They claimed at the time that it was operating with an $8 million deficit, but Abdul-Salaam argued that is normal for any public transportation system. She said no publicly-funded mass transit system in America makes money.

“You do it to provide a service, not to make a profit,” she said.

At least one Clayton County resident who attended the commission meeting was opposed to the idea of bringing MARTA to the county. Clayton County Republican Party President Carl Swensson said it should not be the taxpayers’ responsibility to “subsidize” mass transit for other people. He said the county’s population is not big enough to support a mass transit system.

Swensson and Abdul-Salaam argued over the funding issue after the commission meeting ended.

“We end up having to subsidize somebody else’s transportation — that is we, the taxpayers,” said Swensson.

Abdul-Salaam argued the riders would also be paying for the service.

“The people who ride the transit are taxpayers too, so who are we subsidizing?” she said.

Kiernan said there are several “Plan Bs” available in the aftermath of the voters rejection of the transportation sales tax. However, she added, “it’s not going to be another region-wide referendum.” Instead, she said, “there are lots of opportunities to begin to take smaller, incremental steps towards moving forward with a regional transit system.”

Kiernan said bringing MARTA to Clayton County could actually cover two transit formats desired in the county — local bus service and commuter rail. A commuter rail going to at least Lovejoy has been bandied about for several years but momentum has been stop-and-go to even getting the rail line started.

“If Clayton County were to join MARTA, then MARTA could actually begin building the stations and get the commuter rail line up and running because the operating money would finally be there,” said Kiernan. “It [joining MARTA] could be any form of public transportation.”

Comments

OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

...NO, NO, NO To MARTA !!!!!!

......If you want MARTA, Return to The City of Atlanta !!!!!

........This is Clayton County, Ga., and you knew that we didn't have public transit when you moved here. The Tax Payers in this county cannot, and will not, foot the bill on this !!!!!

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arctk2011tj 2 years, 1 month ago

How ignorant and uninformed your comments have been.

MARTA (METROPOLITAN Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) is supposed to serve the METROPOLITAN area of Atlanta - which by definition from the US Census Bureau includes Clayton County. Your economy is just as dependent on Atlanta and the services that it provides as Gwinnett and Cobb counties.

This idea that Clayton Co. can operate successfully on its own has been proven to fail multipleks times- including the calamity of ending the county's public transportation services. But your idea that Clayton County would be footing the bill on this speaks poorly of your knowledge on how public transportation works. If Clayton County does successfully join MARTA then every time a tourist, businessman, or resident steps onto MARTA (even in Fulton or Dekalb Counties) they would be also subsidizing Clayton County's share of MARTA. If the surrounding counties refuse to support public transportation then I don't have any empathy for people who complain about traffic problems around Atlanta.

Also- I'd also like to add that if you've ever utilized Hartsfield-Jackson airport then I think you should also realize that my tax money- as a Fulton County and City of Atlanta resident- helps to subsidize the airport as it is owned by the City of Atlanta.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

.....ARCASS; The residents in Clayton County never needed the infestation of Atlanta's Lopsided Corruption, until the franchise of stupidity washed up on the shores in our county. Show me how this Rail system will show a return on our investment, without speculating, using a one sided coin, or using your crystal ball ?

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

(("Also- I'd also like to add that if you've ever utilized Hartsfield-Jackson airport then I think you should also realize that my tax money"))

..Arcass; Airport has been using Clayton County as a landing zone since the '60's; I know because, they took three of our home during that decade. The last home that we had, the Airport covered an entire community and left us sitting across the street from a Airport runway for 5 years, This was my High School : The Original North Clayton High School :

http://www.news-daily.com/users/photos/2012/nov/24/58946/

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

Arcass; How ignorant and uninformed you are......I have no sympathy for those that deploys foolish assumptions on strangers.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

...This is the only comment posted by arctk2011tj, on the Clayton New Daily. Just to post a comment about my post and slandering me. That's Okay with me.....Thanks for the Response, arctk2011tj

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

.....The Biggest Mistake that The NEW County Government did, was to start a Bus service ( C-Tran ). C-Tran cost more to operate than it made for the tax payers or the county !!!!

......C-Train was one BIG MISTAKE !!!!!!

.......If you give them a inch, later on, they will demand a mile !!!!!

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

QUOTE : "Abdul-Salaam. “We have a ‘Plan B’ in place.”

.........The Tax Payers in this county also has a Plan B in place, and I guarantee that you won't like it.

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

...."Plan B" : Buses and Commuter Rail coming to Clayton County , against the wishes of the Voters or The Tax Payers of this county ?

....Approve this, and see what happens next.

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OscarKnight 2 years, 1 month ago

....The T-SPLOST was defeated, but now, The BOC can do whatever they choose, without asking us.

.....If they do this, I will demand that Federal Warrants be taken out for those that approves this, under The Rico Act.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

....Our chances to disenfranchise the stupidity in this county is slim to none..What's more Sad; We are also out numbered

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

{{ "“Can we afford to continue to hurt the citizens that we represent?” said Abdul-Salaam"))

......Riddle me with this :

......When did "State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale) " begin caring about the citizens being "hurt" ?

......Turn back the pages with Roberta :

......Those Elected Officials and Legislators , Who Supported Our Rights To Protect Ourselves in Clayton County, Ga.

Not A Single One in Clayton County !!!

....Stand Your Ground Law: SB 396 – Crimes; person who is attacked has no duty to retreat; provide immunity from prosecution ....A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 2 of Chapter 3 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to justification and excuse as a defense to certain crimes, so as to provide that a person who is attacked has no duty to retreat; to provide that such person has a right to meet force with force, including deadly force; to provide for an immunity from prosecution; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Please Answer Me This; How many of our legislators, from Clayton County, Lent their support for such a Lawful Right to Defend Your Life and the Lives of your family, in your own home or in Public ?

Representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam - District 74 -Voted No (nay )

Representative DODSON - District 75- Not Voting (-)

Representative Gail BUCKNER - 76th district- Voted No (nay)

Representative Darryl Jordan - District 77-Voted No

Representative BARNES- HD 78 (D - Jonesboro)-Not Voting (-)

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005_06/votes/hv0989.htm

Senator STARR 44TH - Excused (E)

Senator SEAY, 34TH - Voted No

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005_06/votes/sv0731.htm

By the way; This Law has nothing to do with your Rights to Bear Arms. The "Stand Your Ground Law" allows us the right to exercise our lawful rights to self protection without suffering the aftermaths of legal consequences.

.........CARING ABOUT THE CITIZENS ?

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OscarKnight 1 year, 9 months ago

.....Giving the fact Roberta that is no longer committed to serve time as a State Representative in this county, and "Cares" so much about the citizens and their Bus Rides.........Maybe we can negotiate with Train her to be a Bus Driver, Give her an old school Bus, and we can save the county some money. Scratch by Our Backs and We will Scratch Her Back..Done Deal !!!

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