By Maria Saporta
It appears that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will be on the powerful five-member executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable.
Thanks to the involvement of House Speaker David Ralston, it is expected that Reed will become part of the Roundtable’s executive committee at its meeting next Thursday
The executive committee of the Roundtable is critically important because it will be responsible for the list of transportation projects that will be presented to voters in 2012 as part of the one-cent regional transportation sales tax referendum.
When the Roundtable selected its executive committee in mid-December, the only member in the three MARTA jurisdictions (Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb) was Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd. The other four members came from the suburbs. All five also were white.
That did not sit well with many people in the urban, transit-oriented areas of the region, an area that has nearly half of metro Atlanta’s population.
Word has it that earlier today, Speaker Ralston had a meeting in his office with the five Roundtable executive committee members, Mayor Reed, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead, ARC director Chick Krautler and state Rep. Donna Sheldon.
Ralston is said to have spoken about the important role that Reed had played in getting the regional transportation sales tax bill (HB 277) through the legislature last year. Ralston also recognized Reed’s willingness to work for the whole state by supporting funding to deepen Savannahs port.
Because of Reed’s leadership, Ralston said it was important to have the Atlanta mayor’s leadership and presence on the Roundtable’s executive committee.
Reed apparently told folks at the meeting that he was aware of the time commitment involved in serving on the executive committee, but he said he would be willing to serve if one of the existing five members would step down. The person who agreed to resign would be able to continue serving as the non-voting chair of the committee.
At that point, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who with Douglas Commission Chair Tom Wortham, had received the highest number of votes to serve on the Roundtable executive committee (16), volunteered to step down.
According to folks familiar with meeting, once Johnson agreed to step aside, there were “hearty good wishes and handshakes around the room.”
For the last couple of weeks, it had been rumored that certain Roundtable members were trying to figure out a way to get Reed on the executive committee. But the speculation had been that Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews, who had received the fewest number of votes on the executive committee (13), would be stepping down.
By the way, Reed only received eight votes during the Roundtable executive committee selection process, which some believed was unfair.
Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves, DeKalb County Commission Chair Burrell Ellis and Reed were said to have been upset with how there was an inherent bias on the Roundtable by having counties and cities with fewer people being given as much voting power as jurisdictions with many more people.