Clayton’s Nov. 4 MARTA vote could shift metro growth to the south side

The first in a two-part series about the  economic opportunity on the southside of metro Atlanta. Next week: unlocking the secret treasure of Fort McPherson.

By Maria Saporta

For decades, metro Atlanta’s center of gravity has grown to the north – creating a lopsided region.

But one vote on Nov. 4 could do more to reverse that trend than any development since the expansion of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

That vote? Clayton County’s likely approval to join MARTA by passing a one-cent sales tax.

It would be the first time since the MARTA Act was passed in 1971 that a new county would have joined the “regional” transit system – partnering with Fulton and DeKalb counties and the City of Atlanta.

For too long, Clayton County has been the mistreated stepchild in metro Atlanta. It has seen economic growth and people with means leave the county while poverty has become a bigger problem.

The county had to discontinue its limited bus service back in 2010 because county commissioners said they couldn’t afford it. So the region’s fifth largest county has not had its own transit service for the past four years – making it even harder for people in Clayton to live without a car.

But all that could change in a matter of months.

Flier for Clayton County bus tour to highlight economic opportunities once MARTA is approved

Flier for Clayton County bus tour to highlight economic opportunities once MARTA is approved

If Clayton voters approve the MARTA penny on Nov. 4, initial bus service will be introduced in March of 2015. Half of the penny will be dedicated to implementing an extensive bus system that would link into the existing MARTA network.

The other half penny would be put into an escrow account that would be invested into a high-speed transit system – either commuter rail or bus rapid transit within the next five to seven years.

Communities that invest in transit and alternative modes of transportation will be better positioned for growth in decades to come than communities that continue to invest in roads and bridges for cars and trucks.

Nathaniel Smith, founder and CEO of Partnership for Southern Equity, is part of a coalition of organizations that is helping Clayton see the “Power of the Penny.”

On Saturday, Oct. 18, the coalition helped put on a four-hour bus tour to explore the “Economic Expansion” of Clayton County if the MARTA penny passes by asking: “Who will be on the Bus?” It included the “Clayton County Clergy Transportation Coalition” and the “Clayton Power of the Penny Campaign Coalition.”

For Smith, it’s about “how we help the region grow in a balanced fashion.” The tour showed how the new MARTA bus routes “could help facilitate new economic development opportunities in Clayton.”

Nathaniel Smith

Nathaniel Smith

It will take an adjustment in regional thinking to get people to start looking south for economic opportunities. Habits of concentrating development dollars north of I-20 and even north of I-285 in Cobb, North Fulton and Gwinnett will be hard to shift.

But already there are some signs of change.

Porsche is leading the charge with its North American headquarters development next to the airport – with its promotion of Aerotropolis. The redevelopment of Fort Gillem also is providing new opportunities for companies interested in logistics and distribution facilities.

And the Atlanta BeltLine is continuing to invest in southern portions of its 22-mile ring around the central city.

Creating a transit system to serve the south metro area is a necessary piece in creating a network for economic growth, and having Clayton become a full member of MARTA will help pull the center of gravity back to the center of the region.

Smith said it’s possible that Clayton will pass MARTA and Cobb will not pass its Special Local Option Sales Tax,, which will create even more of a traffic problem for the new Braves baseball stadium near I-75 and I-285.

“I do feel Clayton has not received the level of respect and support needed for their vision from regional leaders,” Smith said, adding that it’s time to embrace the substantive change that’s underway in Clayton. “If not now, when? If we are going to succeed as a region, we have to be willing to accept and welcome every one and every place as an asset in the region.”

If Clayton voters do embrace MARTA, Smith is convinced that “economic development will follow infrastructure” investments, especially investments in transit.

“I think the market will definitely rediscover Clayton,” said Smith, who added that the region also has to be careful that existing residents do not get priced out of the market.

That said, the Clayton coalition that is behind the “Power of the Penny” for MARTA is symbolic in several ways. It is a grassroots and inclusive movement that is multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-generational.

In many ways, that coalition represents the diverse complexion of metro Atlanta’s future. Clayton and MARTA are showing both the rest of the region and the state how we can address not only our transportation problems but our disparities in growth and opportunity.

Who knew Clayton County’s MARTA vote on Nov. 4 would mean so much to our region and to metro Atlanta’s center of gravity and how we grow for decades to come.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

31 replies
  1. ScottNAtlanta says:

    What it also means is that turnout in Clayton Co will be abnomally high.  Thats important if the election is as close as they say it will be.Report

    Reply
  2. ScottNAtlanta says:

    What it also means is that turnout in Clayton Co will be abnomally high.  Thats important if the election is as close as they say it will be.Report

    Reply
  3. atlman says:

    It will take more than transit and the Beltline to help Clayton. Either some real industry has to be attracted down there – high paying jobs – or Clayton needs to step up and do something out of the box on the public education front. The latter is far more likely in the short term, and even that is relative … you saw the blatant attempts by the local politicos in Clayton to keep a charter school from opening. Clayton could have long leveraged Clayton State University to create dual enrollment programs for their high schools. That is a logical, easy, step that would transform both CCPS and Clayton State University … yet no one even proposes it. Meanwhile, north of the perimeter, you see magnet-style charter schools, dual enrollment programs with local colleges and trade schools etc. all the time. And no, they don’t have MARTA.
    Basically, there is a reason why some areas grow and some do not. It is leadership. Some areas innovate and try to compete, others look for handouts. Sorry, I hate to use the code word language but it is true. The folks that run Clayton have the mentality that someone else, whether the government or corporate America, should come in and give them investment, development etc. when they could do things to make the area more desirable for people and businesses like make the county a charter district with a bunch of magnet and IB programs to attract parents who care about their kids’ educations but can’t afford to live in Gwinnett or Forsyth. Or they can invest in broadband like Chattanooga, Tennessee and try to incubate and attract some local IT companies that can’t afford the Alpharetta rent, plus facilitate more distance learning opportunities for their high school students. But instead of doing stuff like that, they are building a civic center for what will be lightly attended public events. Whoopee. 
    It takes leadership and ideas, but this is what you get when you elect people whose only background is civil rights agitation for social welfare programs.Report

    Reply
  4. atlman says:

    It will take more than transit and the Beltline to help Clayton. Either some real industry has to be attracted down there – high paying jobs – or Clayton needs to step up and do something out of the box on the public education front. The latter is far more likely in the short term, and even that is relative … you saw the blatant attempts by the local politicos in Clayton to keep a charter school from opening. Clayton could have long leveraged Clayton State University to create dual enrollment programs for their high schools. That is a logical, easy, step that would transform both CCPS and Clayton State University … yet no one even proposes it. Meanwhile, north of the perimeter, you see magnet-style charter schools, dual enrollment programs with local colleges and trade schools etc. all the time. And no, they don’t have MARTA.
    Basically, there is a reason why some areas grow and some do not. It is leadership. Some areas innovate and try to compete, others look for handouts. Sorry, I hate to use the code word language but it is true. The folks that run Clayton have the mentality that someone else, whether the government or corporate America, should come in and give them investment, development etc. when they could do things to make the area more desirable for people and businesses like make the county a charter district with a bunch of magnet and IB programs to attract parents who care about their kids’ educations but can’t afford to live in Gwinnett or Forsyth. Or they can invest in broadband like Chattanooga, Tennessee and try to incubate and attract some local IT companies that can’t afford the Alpharetta rent, plus facilitate more distance learning opportunities for their high school students. But instead of doing stuff like that, they are building a civic center for what will be lightly attended public events. Whoopee. 
    It takes leadership and ideas, but this is what you get when you elect people whose only background is civil rights agitation for social welfare programs.Report

    Reply
  5. Burroughston Broch says:

    Atlman, you are on target. Clayton County with MARTA will be nothing more than a smaller South DeKalb County. The growth in DeKalb has not been in South DeKalb.
    QED.Report

    Reply
  6. Burroughston Broch says:

    Atlman, you are on target. Clayton County with MARTA will be nothing more than a smaller South DeKalb County. The growth in DeKalb has not been in South DeKalb.
    QED.Report

    Reply
  7. Bob Andrews says:

    Ms. Saporta is approaching the November 4th, Clayton County / MARTA vote with a very liberal, “feel good” attitude. There is not much reality in that vision.
    “altman” and “Broch” are precisely on target!Report

    Reply
  8. Bob Andrews says:

    Ms. Saporta is approaching the November 4th, Clayton County / MARTA vote with a very liberal, “feel good” attitude. There is not much reality in that vision.
    “altman” and “Broch” are precisely on target!Report

    Reply
  9. Wormser Hats says:

    Burroughston Broch 
    Perhaps growth in DeKalb doesn’t seem to be in the southern part of the county, but one could certainly assert that the hub of political power in DeKalb has resolutely shifted to the south since at least the reign of Vernon Jones as CEO. Maybe it’s just appearances, but DeKalb seems to have invested in more infrastructure improvements in the region south of Memorial Drive, than in the older, more established communities in the northern half of the county.Report

    Reply
  10. Wormser Hats says:

    Burroughston Broch 
    Perhaps growth in DeKalb doesn’t seem to be in the southern part of the county, but one could certainly assert that the hub of political power in DeKalb has resolutely shifted to the south since at least the reign of Vernon Jones as CEO. Maybe it’s just appearances, but DeKalb seems to have invested in more infrastructure improvements in the region south of Memorial Drive, than in the older, more established communities in the northern half of the county.Report

    Reply
  11. Lee Biola says:

    Clayton is not looking for a handout any more than the Perimeter
    area is looking for a handout when it seeks $1 billion from the state
    to redo the Ga 400 and I-285 interchange. Clayton voters would
    actually bring their own money to the table in the form of a sales
    tax increase on themselves.
    Clayton is doing what works in North Fulton and North DeKalb.
    MARTA stations there provide access to the airport, downtown events,
    and low cost labor for station area businesses. Three stations north
    of the Perimeter, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, North Springs are
    surrounded by prosperous areas. Brookhaven MARTA station lies in one
    of the hottest development markets in the region.
    Clayton voters know a good thing when they see it. The more places the MARTA system goes, the better it is for all parts of the system. If Clayton voters expand
    the system, they’ll be doing themselves – and all of us – a favor.Report

    Reply
  12. Lee Biola says:

    Clayton is not looking for a handout any more than the Perimeter
    area is looking for a handout when it seeks $1 billion from the state
    to redo the Ga 400 and I-285 interchange. Clayton voters would
    actually bring their own money to the table in the form of a sales
    tax increase on themselves.
    Clayton is doing what works in North Fulton and North DeKalb.
    MARTA stations there provide access to the airport, downtown events,
    and low cost labor for station area businesses. Three stations north
    of the Perimeter, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, North Springs are
    surrounded by prosperous areas. Brookhaven MARTA station lies in one
    of the hottest development markets in the region.
    Clayton voters know a good thing when they see it. The more places the MARTA system goes, the better it is for all parts of the system. If Clayton voters expand
    the system, they’ll be doing themselves – and all of us – a favor.Report

    Reply
  13. Wormser Hats says:

    Bob Andrews 
    Ms. Saporta is not “approaching the November 4th, Clayton County / MARTA vote with a very liberal, feel good attitude.”  She’s a approaching the issue as a veteran observer and chronicler of the trends and leadership that have shaped this region and continue to distinguish the transit-accessible reaches of the metro area from the congestion-snarled, cookie-cutter, “home from nowhere” suburbs. 
    You may not believe in the merits of transit oriented development, but the precedence of the planners, developers, and financial institutions who are staking claims in areas anchored by mass transit don’t agree with your pessimism. 
    Look at the headlines. The best transportation improvements our “don’t tread on me”-skewed suburban counties can expect over the next decade are interstate widening with tolled lanes.  However, the smart money is investing-in, moving to, and expanding in areas with only the promise of new transportation infrastructure and investment.  A promise that resonates with precedence. 
    Investment in the post-World War II era of Levittown expansion has become tempered by the increasingly expensive public and private risk in sustaining infrastructure for populations spread out across vast stretches of suburban sprawl. The smart money is opening its wallet to build where the next generation wants to live, work, play, thrive, and can move-about without the limitations of blowing 2-3 hours each day idling in traffic.Report

    Reply
  14. Wormser Hats says:

    Bob Andrews 
    Ms. Saporta is not “approaching the November 4th, Clayton County / MARTA vote with a very liberal, feel good attitude.”  She’s a approaching the issue as a veteran observer and chronicler of the trends and leadership that have shaped this region and continue to distinguish the transit-accessible reaches of the metro area from the congestion-snarled, cookie-cutter, “home from nowhere” suburbs. 
    You may not believe in the merits of transit oriented development, but the precedence of the planners, developers, and financial institutions who are staking claims in areas anchored by mass transit don’t agree with your pessimism. 
    Look at the headlines. The best transportation improvements our “don’t tread on me”-skewed suburban counties can expect over the next decade are interstate widening with tolled lanes.  However, the smart money is investing-in, moving to, and expanding in areas with only the promise of new transportation infrastructure and investment.  A promise that resonates with precedence. 
    Investment in the post-World War II era of Levittown expansion has become tempered by the increasingly expensive public and private risk in sustaining infrastructure for populations spread out across vast stretches of suburban sprawl. The smart money is opening its wallet to build where the next generation wants to live, work, play, thrive, and can move-about without the limitations of blowing 2-3 hours each day idling in traffic.Report

    Reply
  15. dee says:

    atlman – The whole City of Riverdale only has four dine-in restaurants that aren’t fast food. Of those four only two serve alcohol. The problems in Clayton go far beyond transportation and mass transit.  The poor business policies of the region have severely limited options for the people who live and work there.Report

    Reply
  16. dee says:

    atlman – The whole City of Riverdale only has four dine-in restaurants that aren’t fast food. Of those four only two serve alcohol. The problems in Clayton go far beyond transportation and mass transit.  The poor business policies of the region have severely limited options for the people who live and work there.Report

    Reply
  17. ScottNAtlanta says:

    atlman 
    I’ll give you that Clayton Co has been very poorly run and the politics of race has been manipulated more than a couple of times and elected leaders have shown more interest in benefiting themselves than the people who elected them, but I will argue having public transportation is a vital first step if they want to change course and attract business.  Whats the use of relocating to Clayton if workers have no way to get there?  Also, flippantly stating they should just have broadband is really an unresearched remark on your part.  Transit costs are minimal in regards to the county budget.  A one cent sales tax (the majority of which will come from airport traffic) will start the ball rolling.  You want broadband…you are first going to have to fight Comcast/AT&T spending millions in court just to get to a point where you have the privilege.  Then you have to fight with the state legislature because in our free market utopia we are supposed to wait for the private sector to do it. Then, when you get past all of that, you have to either run fiber underground, or on poles to homes, establish infrastructure, etc….probably with the sale of bonds…both seem like a stretch to me (FYI Chattanooga was able to get its project off the ground because they received 10s of millions from the stimulus passed in the wake of the financial crisis…snowballs chance in hellfire for that to happen again).  Its easy to say they should do this or do that, but how about a little credit for making a positive step towards doing the right thing.  Anyone who follows my posting knows I am the first to criticize the folly of Clayton government…but this isn’t one of themReport

    Reply
  18. ScottNAtlanta says:

    atlman 
    I’ll give you that Clayton Co has been very poorly run and the politics of race has been manipulated more than a couple of times and elected leaders have shown more interest in benefiting themselves than the people who elected them, but I will argue having public transportation is a vital first step if they want to change course and attract business.  Whats the use of relocating to Clayton if workers have no way to get there?  Also, flippantly stating they should just have broadband is really an unresearched remark on your part.  Transit costs are minimal in regards to the county budget.  A one cent sales tax (the majority of which will come from airport traffic) will start the ball rolling.  You want broadband…you are first going to have to fight Comcast/AT&T spending millions in court just to get to a point where you have the privilege.  Then you have to fight with the state legislature because in our free market utopia we are supposed to wait for the private sector to do it. Then, when you get past all of that, you have to either run fiber underground, or on poles to homes, establish infrastructure, etc….probably with the sale of bonds…both seem like a stretch to me (FYI Chattanooga was able to get its project off the ground because they received 10s of millions from the stimulus passed in the wake of the financial crisis…snowballs chance in hellfire for that to happen again).  Its easy to say they should do this or do that, but how about a little credit for making a positive step towards doing the right thing.  Anyone who follows my posting knows I am the first to criticize the folly of Clayton government…but this isn’t one of themReport

    Reply
  19. ScottNAtlanta says:

    atlman I’ll
    give you that Clayton Co has been very poorly run and the politics of
    race has been manipulated more than a couple of times and elected
    leaders have shown more interest in benefiting themselves than the
    people who elected them, but I will argue having public transportation
    is a vital first step if they want to change course and attract
    business.  Whats the use of relocating to Clayton if workers have no way
    to get there?  Also, flippantly stating they should just have broadband
    is really an unresearched remark on your part.  Transit costs are
    minimal in regards to the county budget.  A one cent sales tax (the
    majority of which will come from airport traffic) will start the ball
    rolling.  You want broadband…you are first going to have to fight
    Comcast/AT&T spending millions in court just to get to a point where
    you have the privilege.  Then you have to fight with the state
    legislature because in our free market utopia we are supposed to wait
    for the private sector to do it. Then, when you get past all of that,
    you have to either run fiber underground, or on poles to homes,
    establish infrastructure, etc….probably with the sale of bonds…both
    seem like a stretch to me (FYI Chattanooga was able to get its project
    off the ground because they received 10s of millions from the stimulus
    passed in the wake of the financial crisis…snowballs chance in hades for that to happen again).  Its easy to say they should do this
    or do that, but how about a little credit for making a positive step
    towards doing the right thing.  Anyone who follows my posting knows I am
    the first to criticize the folly of Clayton government…but this isn’t
    one of themReport

    Reply
  20. ScottNAtlanta says:

    atlman I’ll
    give you that Clayton Co has been very poorly run and the politics of
    race has been manipulated more than a couple of times and elected
    leaders have shown more interest in benefiting themselves than the
    people who elected them, but I will argue having public transportation
    is a vital first step if they want to change course and attract
    business.  Whats the use of relocating to Clayton if workers have no way
    to get there?  Also, flippantly stating they should just have broadband
    is really an unresearched remark on your part.  Transit costs are
    minimal in regards to the county budget.  A one cent sales tax (the
    majority of which will come from airport traffic) will start the ball
    rolling.  You want broadband…you are first going to have to fight
    Comcast/AT&T spending millions in court just to get to a point where
    you have the privilege.  Then you have to fight with the state
    legislature because in our free market utopia we are supposed to wait
    for the private sector to do it. Then, when you get past all of that,
    you have to either run fiber underground, or on poles to homes,
    establish infrastructure, etc….probably with the sale of bonds…both
    seem like a stretch to me (FYI Chattanooga was able to get its project
    off the ground because they received 10s of millions from the stimulus
    passed in the wake of the financial crisis…snowballs chance in hades for that to happen again).  Its easy to say they should do this
    or do that, but how about a little credit for making a positive step
    towards doing the right thing.  Anyone who follows my posting knows I am
    the first to criticize the folly of Clayton government…but this isn’t
    one of themReport

    Reply
  21. Burroughston Broch says:

    Wormser Hats Vernon Jones vowed “to put a darker face on DeKalb County” and delivered, as have his successors. DeKalb is the next Clayton County.Report

    Reply
  22. Burroughston Broch says:

    Wormser Hats Vernon Jones vowed “to put a darker face on DeKalb County” and delivered, as have his successors. DeKalb is the next Clayton County.Report

    Reply
  23. Burroughston Broch says:

    Lee Biola MARTA’s Dunwoody and Medical Center stations opened in 1996 and the Sandy Springs and North Springs stations opened in 2000. North Fulton and North DeKalb were booming long before MARTA arrived there. 
    MARTA’s Brookhaven station opened in 1984 but the area is just now prospering, in part because it incorporated to remove part of the DeKalb County noose around its neck. MARTA brought no prosperity to Brookhaven.
    MARTA follows the prosperity but doesn’t create it.Report

    Reply
  24. Burroughston Broch says:

    Lee Biola MARTA’s Dunwoody and Medical Center stations opened in 1996 and the Sandy Springs and North Springs stations opened in 2000. North Fulton and North DeKalb were booming long before MARTA arrived there. 
    MARTA’s Brookhaven station opened in 1984 but the area is just now prospering, in part because it incorporated to remove part of the DeKalb County noose around its neck. MARTA brought no prosperity to Brookhaven.
    MARTA follows the prosperity but doesn’t create it.Report

    Reply
  25. atlman says:

    ScottNAtlanta atlman
    With all due respect sir, my education and background is in engineering and IT. Allow me to state that public transportation (which for me includes highways built and maintained by tax dollars) do not in and of themselves spur economic development. It is magical thinking, no different from the Tea Party with their tax cut/spending cut supply side fairy stuff. Adding new infrastructure in places where the underlying economic, political (and yes cultural) conditions are terrible is literally building bridges to nowhere. This was tried during the Great Society programs by LBJ (and the lesser publicized Great Cities programs by Nixon … remember Nixon was the one who created enterprise zones and most modern affirmative action programs via the work of Arthur Fletcher) and in many cases was not only a massive waste of resources but made problems worse.
    Second, your claims that Clayton County would have to fight the state legislature and corporate America for a municipal broadband initiative, and that the costs of such an initiative are unwieldly are utterly false. How do I know this? Because neighboring Henry County has their own broadband initiative! The state politicians did not block them, and “corporate America” bid to get involved, with Southern Telecom ultimately being chosen. The broadband project is part of a technology park that they are building. This despite Henry County not even having a STATE UNIVERSITY with a COMPUTER SCIENCE and IT DEPARTMENT to train workers to put in the broadband network and staff the technology park. Instead, most of that work is being done on contract by people from outside the county. 

    And that is just Henry County. The city of Stockbridge has their own broadband initiative going too. A Savannah IT company is going to partner with them, AND IT WILL BE AT NO COST TO THE CITY. Community Broadband is going to pay the entire $15 million initial outlay. So what of this “snowball’s chance in Hades” you were speaking of? And whose remarks were “flippant” and “unresearched”? So where are your claims of evil conservative corporate America and Georgia state legislators rising up to squash this? Or how cash-strapped Clayton cannot POSSIBLY afford it? Honestly, it could be done for a fraction of the money that Clayton is planning to spend on the civic center and some of the other “we have all this revenue so we have to spend it on something” projects that they have planned. 
    And incidentally, I am not anti-transit. I am not anti-MARTA. I support MARTA going into Clayton. I am THRILLED that the MARTA issue was what FINALLY ended Eldrin Bell’s political career, as Bell blocked MARTA from coming into Clayton even after HIS OWN MARTA REFERENDUM OVERWHELMINGLY PASSED (he thought it would fail, or at worst would be 50/50 and would be able to use it as an excuse not to join). The hilarious thing: ELDRIN BELL ENDORSED T-SPLOST, WHICH WOULD HAVE BROUGHT NO RAIL OR REAL BUS SERVICE TO CLAYTON IN RETURN FOR THE 1 PENNY TAX, WHILE OPPOSING MARTA! 
    So do not mistake me. I support MARTA going into Clayton. I also support the Beltline. I take my kids to the Beltline parks as often as I can and am glad that I no longer need to go to Buckhead or Cobb for parks. I also support the streetcar. When it opens, me and my family are going to ride it all over Atlanta to parks, restaurants, museums, you name it. So do not mistake me as some suburban right winger or something. Instead, I wish that MARTA’s Keith Jacobs would run for mayor.
    But my only point was that it was going to take more than big transit projects to turn Clayton around because Clayton’s leadership has the mentality that someone else should come in and invest in that area instead of doing whatever they can to make their area more attractive to businesses and capable of starting their own. (For instance, I notice that you ignored everything that I said about education innovation, choosing instead to talk about broadband and be utterly wrong in the process.) Look, I know about poverty. I know about lack of resources. I grew up in an area of this state that had nowhere near the resources and potential that Clayton County is squandering. There are PLENTY of places in Georgia that would LOVE to have a state university, proximity to the world’s largest airport and interstate highway system, the recreation facility that was built for the Olympics (that is now decrepit and run-down), an actual tax base, decent schools (yes there are plenty of places in Georgia where the schools are funded much less and are far worse) to play around with. But instead of working to develop the resources and potential that they do have, they just choose to be upset at not being north Fulton, Cobb or Gwinnett. “We’re not rich and powerful like Gwinnett. They never gave us the resources that they gave the rich white fight people north of the perimeter. So we’re going to elect professional civil rights agitators to run our government to let people know how angry we are instead of bankers, economists, urban planners and corporate managers who are smart enough to realize that we could have thousands more college graduates in our county practically overnight merely by inviting Clayton State University to start dual enrollment programs with our high schools AND USING THE MONEY THAT RIGHT WING CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR DEAL AND HIS RIGHT WING LEGISLATURE SPECIFICALLY SET ASIDE FOR INCREASING SUCH PROGRAMS AS PART OF HIS EDUCATION REFORM AGENDA.” 
    Yes, you know. That is what I am talking about. Unless the leadership changes, a lot of those Clayton County MARTA buses and trains are going to be empty. It is funny … do the dual enrollment thing and you would actually potentially have Fulton and DeKalb etc. kids riding MARTA into Clayton so they could shave several years and thousands of dollars off their college burden (if Clayton were so savvy to work out some sort of arrangement to allow it). But absent that or something like it, why would any high schooler ride MARTA from downtown Atlanta to  Clayton? You don’t have an answer for that do you? Just like no Tea Partier can explain how an area can attract jobs when you cut taxes and spending so much that you cannot maintain good schools or infrastructure. That is all that I was talking about, my progressive friend, and more of your ilk needs to be willing to talk about stuff like this if your side is ever going actually make things better when you get your people in power.Report

    Reply
  26. atlman says:

    ScottNAtlanta atlman
    With all due respect sir, my education and background is in engineering and IT. Allow me to state that public transportation (which for me includes highways built and maintained by tax dollars) do not in and of themselves spur economic development. It is magical thinking, no different from the Tea Party with their tax cut/spending cut supply side fairy stuff. Adding new infrastructure in places where the underlying economic, political (and yes cultural) conditions are terrible is literally building bridges to nowhere. This was tried during the Great Society programs by LBJ (and the lesser publicized Great Cities programs by Nixon … remember Nixon was the one who created enterprise zones and most modern affirmative action programs via the work of Arthur Fletcher) and in many cases was not only a massive waste of resources but made problems worse.
    Second, your claims that Clayton County would have to fight the state legislature and corporate America for a municipal broadband initiative, and that the costs of such an initiative are unwieldly are utterly false. How do I know this? Because neighboring Henry County has their own broadband initiative! The state politicians did not block them, and “corporate America” bid to get involved, with Southern Telecom ultimately being chosen. The broadband project is part of a technology park that they are building. This despite Henry County not even having a STATE UNIVERSITY with a COMPUTER SCIENCE and IT DEPARTMENT to train workers to put in the broadband network and staff the technology park. Instead, most of that work is being done on contract by people from outside the county. 

    And that is just Henry County. The city of Stockbridge has their own broadband initiative going too. A Savannah IT company is going to partner with them, AND IT WILL BE AT NO COST TO THE CITY. Community Broadband is going to pay the entire $15 million initial outlay. So what of this “snowball’s chance in Hades” you were speaking of? And whose remarks were “flippant” and “unresearched”? So where are your claims of evil conservative corporate America and Georgia state legislators rising up to squash this? Or how cash-strapped Clayton cannot POSSIBLY afford it? Honestly, it could be done for a fraction of the money that Clayton is planning to spend on the civic center and some of the other “we have all this revenue so we have to spend it on something” projects that they have planned. 
    And incidentally, I am not anti-transit. I am not anti-MARTA. I support MARTA going into Clayton. I am THRILLED that the MARTA issue was what FINALLY ended Eldrin Bell’s political career, as Bell blocked MARTA from coming into Clayton even after HIS OWN MARTA REFERENDUM OVERWHELMINGLY PASSED (he thought it would fail, or at worst would be 50/50 and would be able to use it as an excuse not to join). The hilarious thing: ELDRIN BELL ENDORSED T-SPLOST, WHICH WOULD HAVE BROUGHT NO RAIL OR REAL BUS SERVICE TO CLAYTON IN RETURN FOR THE 1 PENNY TAX, WHILE OPPOSING MARTA! 
    So do not mistake me. I support MARTA going into Clayton. I also support the Beltline. I take my kids to the Beltline parks as often as I can and am glad that I no longer need to go to Buckhead or Cobb for parks. I also support the streetcar. When it opens, me and my family are going to ride it all over Atlanta to parks, restaurants, museums, you name it. So do not mistake me as some suburban right winger or something. Instead, I wish that MARTA’s Keith Jacobs would run for mayor.
    But my only point was that it was going to take more than big transit projects to turn Clayton around because Clayton’s leadership has the mentality that someone else should come in and invest in that area instead of doing whatever they can to make their area more attractive to businesses and capable of starting their own. (For instance, I notice that you ignored everything that I said about education innovation, choosing instead to talk about broadband and be utterly wrong in the process.) Look, I know about poverty. I know about lack of resources. I grew up in an area of this state that had nowhere near the resources and potential that Clayton County is squandering. There are PLENTY of places in Georgia that would LOVE to have a state university, proximity to the world’s largest airport and interstate highway system, the recreation facility that was built for the Olympics (that is now decrepit and run-down), an actual tax base, decent schools (yes there are plenty of places in Georgia where the schools are funded much less and are far worse) to play around with. But instead of working to develop the resources and potential that they do have, they just choose to be upset at not being north Fulton, Cobb or Gwinnett. “We’re not rich and powerful like Gwinnett. They never gave us the resources that they gave the rich white fight people north of the perimeter. So we’re going to elect professional civil rights agitators to run our government to let people know how angry we are instead of bankers, economists, urban planners and corporate managers who are smart enough to realize that we could have thousands more college graduates in our county practically overnight merely by inviting Clayton State University to start dual enrollment programs with our high schools AND USING THE MONEY THAT RIGHT WING CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR DEAL AND HIS RIGHT WING LEGISLATURE SPECIFICALLY SET ASIDE FOR INCREASING SUCH PROGRAMS AS PART OF HIS EDUCATION REFORM AGENDA.” 
    Yes, you know. That is what I am talking about. Unless the leadership changes, a lot of those Clayton County MARTA buses and trains are going to be empty. It is funny … do the dual enrollment thing and you would actually potentially have Fulton and DeKalb etc. kids riding MARTA into Clayton so they could shave several years and thousands of dollars off their college burden (if Clayton were so savvy to work out some sort of arrangement to allow it). But absent that or something like it, why would any high schooler ride MARTA from downtown Atlanta to  Clayton? You don’t have an answer for that do you? Just like no Tea Partier can explain how an area can attract jobs when you cut taxes and spending so much that you cannot maintain good schools or infrastructure. That is all that I was talking about, my progressive friend, and more of your ilk needs to be willing to talk about stuff like this if your side is ever going actually make things better when you get your people in power.Report

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  27. rllayman says:

    atlman ScottNAtlanta investments in transportation infrastructure shape location choice which spurs economic development.  This is true of highways, this is true of transit infrastructure.  It’s just that to work best (see Belmont’s _Cities in Full_), you need a transit network, rather than just a line or two, and density/monocentricity, to fully realize the benefits of transit, and it takes a long time.  Rather than with highways, which integrated into a wide ranging existing network, tend to show development a bit faster.
    However, the intensity of development around transit tends to be greater and have greater economic return, although this isn’t always the case.Report

    Reply
  28. rllayman says:

    atlman ScottNAtlanta investments in transportation infrastructure shape location choice which spurs economic development.  This is true of highways, this is true of transit infrastructure.  It’s just that to work best (see Belmont’s _Cities in Full_), you need a transit network, rather than just a line or two, and density/monocentricity, to fully realize the benefits of transit, and it takes a long time.  Rather than with highways, which integrated into a wide ranging existing network, tend to show development a bit faster.
    However, the intensity of development around transit tends to be greater and have greater economic return, although this isn’t always the case.Report

    Reply
  29. InfraredGuy says:

    Good, the growth could take some of the corrupt politicians and car jackers from Atlanta and DeKalb with it, they are always looking for new victimsReport

    Reply
  30. InfraredGuy says:

    Good, the growth could take some of the corrupt politicians and car jackers from Atlanta and DeKalb with it, they are always looking for new victimsReport

    Reply

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