Nothing to see here… move along… move along

A curious thing popped up on the city of Alpharetta’s website the other day.

It comes as no surprise that Brandon Beach wants the Alpharetta City Council to accept his billion dollar vision for taxpayer subsidized public mass transit. Mr. Beach simultaneously acts as the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, the North Fulton Community Improvement District’s Executive Director as well as the 6th District representative on the Georgia Department of Transportation and I have personally heard him pitch his vision to the Windward Rotary Club as covered here at the Alpharetta Patch. I have also noticed that local Chamber of Commerce officials along with representatives of area Community Improvement Districts are currently conducting an extensive public relations campaign to promote taxpayer subsidized trains on the northern perimeter of Atlanta. You can see what I mean here and here.

So Mr. Beach’s proposal is not a surprise and there is nothing wrong with businessmen and their employees lobbying Metro Atlanta taxpayers to pay an additional 8 Billion dollars in sales tax which will be spent on transportation projects. When the projects could make them billions of dollars it just makes good business sense. Kind of like when the Cobb County CIDs spent $150,000 to make sure the local SPLOST tax passed.

The only surprise is that once again the Alpharetta City Council is making crucial decisions about the future of our city without actively soliciting the consent of their constituents. I pay a great deal of attention to what is going on in the City of Alpharetta and take care to read every public notice and press release I find. Yet the appearance of the transit item on Monday night’s Council agenda was a complete surprise to me.

I think it is fair to say that 99% of Alpharettans won’t even know the transit issue came up unless the local print media bothers to publish a story after the fact. The decision of approving Mr. Beach’s transit vision of the future is a crucial one. It is a decision that could affect every person in this city for generations to come and may decide how billions of dollars in taxes are spent. Yet there are only a handful of people that even notice what is going on.

Nothing to see here… move along… move along.

Forget plastics… buy Bag Balm!

Bag balm is the medicated salve that dairy farmers apply to soothe the overworked teats of dairy cows. But Bag Balm isn’t just for cows any more and after yesterday’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax vote in Cobb County the stuff will soon be flying off the shelves as taxpayers seek to soothe the pain of being milked for another 500 million dollars.

The special election decided whether Cobb voters would approve an extension of the local 1% sales tax. The referendum could have been held in November thus saving taxpayers $340,000 in special election expenses but tax advocates knew that higher voter participation would hurt their chances of passage so the special election was held yesterday. In addition to that example of political gamesmanship the Cobb County business community funneled $150,000 to tax advocates through the local Community Improvement Districts.

Yet despite all the machinations of Cobb County’s business and political community the issue was a dead heat right down to the wire. The tax extension won by  a whopping 79 votes out of the roughly 43,000 votes cast.

That works out to 50.09% in favor and 49.91% against so proportionally about 241 Million Dollars will be taken from taxpayers to pay for projects that they either didn’t want or didn’t want to pay for. That’s gonna hurt.

But every challenge presents an opportunity and the sore teats of Cobb County’s cash cow taxpayers present a huge opportunity for the local distributors of Bag Balm. And since political observers viewed the Cobb SPLOST referendum as an indicator of how Georgia’s proposed transportation tax increase will fare next year we can all get in on the action.

Forget plastics… buy Bag Balm!