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State Rep. Mike Jacobs acts inappropriately during MARTA’s search for new general manager

By Maria Saporta

State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-DeKalb) has been quick to critique MARTA in just about any way he can.

He has been using his position as chairman of the legislative MARTA Oversight Committee (MARTOC) as a political platform for a host of unrelated agendas such as the creation of a City of Brookhaven.

But now it’s time to turn the table on Jacobs. During the search for a new general manager for MARTA, Jacobs acted in a most inappropriate manner by inserting himself into the process.

With no apparent hesitation, Jacobs told the press who he thought MARTA should pick as its new leader. He even went on to threaten that if MARTA did not choose his pick — Dwight Ferrell, MARTA’s deputy general manager — then there would be consequences in the transit agency’s relations with the state.

Consider these comments that he gave to the Atlanta Journal Constitution in early September.

“It’s my understanding that MARTA has a very good internal candidate,” Jacobs told the AJC, referring to Ferrell. “The decision the MARTA board makes … may well determine in the very near term the direction of its relationship with the General Assembly. An internal candidate who is committed to doing the work that needs to be done to get MARTA’s fiscal ship righted could go a long way to shoring up and bolstering the relationship with the General Assembly.”

Just to make sure he was making his point, Jacobs went on to say:

“This discussion about MARTA’s fiscal situation, from this point forward, will be established by its choice of a general manager,” Jacobs said. “There are legislators who view the MARTA board’s choice of a general manager as a very serious matter. MARTA has a very serious fiscal situation that it needs to address very quickly. But if it doesn’t, the General Assembly may have to step in to require MARTA to do what needs to be done.”

Now consider this.

Jacobs was not part of the search committee process so he had no idea what choices MARTA had in selecting a new general manager. He is not a member of the MARTA board, and he does not know what would be best for the transit agency going forward.

So why would Jacobs insert himself into MARTA’s search process when he had no appropriate role to do so?

The possible answers are disturbing. Did Jacobs and Ferrell have some kind of deal to help the state gain control over MARTA? Would Ferrell have viewed Jacobs as his true boss rather than the MARTA board? In other words, was Jacobs hoping to insert Ferrell as his puppet at MARTA?

Remember, the State of Georgia provides virtually no financial support for MARTA, and as such, it has no right to try to call the shots.

Fortunately, MARTA’s board members did not cave in to Jacobs’ demands.

They knew that Ferrell, who had alienated many people both inside and outside of MARTA, was the wrong person to lead the transit agency during its next chapter.

More importantly, MARTA’s board members saw great leadership potential in at least two external candidates — Keith Parker of San Antonio and Stephen Bland from Pittsburgh — and the committee selected them as the finalists.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, nine MARTA board members voted in favor of Parker. One member was absent, and one member — Wendy Butler — abstained.

Not only did that show strong support for Parker as MARTA’s new general manager. It also raised all sorts of questions about Butler’s role on the MARTA board and her relationship with Jacobs.

Butler served as campaign manager of Jacob’s re-election campaign from August 2010 to November 2010, helping him win that race. (Unfortunately, he is running unopposed this year).

So has Butler been the pipeline of information to Jacobs about MARTA’s internal operations and search process? If so, that brings into question her own loyalties. Is she using her role on MARTA’s board to support Jacobs’ political agenda rather than serving as a responsible board member?

So when Jacobs didn’t get his way on picking Ferrell as a new general manager, he started complaining about the legitimacy of the process, claiming to Attorney General Sam Olens that MARTA violated open meetings rules.

Since then, the attorney general’s office has told MARTA that its vote for Parker stands. So once again, Jacobs’ efforts to undercut the agency from his MARTOC post have failed.

Now MARTA has an opportunity to start fresh. It has just completed a thorough audit of the organization to seek possible productivity improvements and cost savings. It has a new strategic plan to help set its course for the future.

And in Parker, it will have a new general manager, who can try (as so many other general managers have tried before) to build a constructive relationship with the state.

Now the question will be whether the state will act responsibly to work with MARTA to make it as strong as it can be. Or will Jacobs become even more vindictive and work at cross purposes against the interests of his own district and against MARTA?

What a big disappointment Jacobs has been in his role as MARTOC chairman. He had the opportunity to become a real statesman — helping resolve several structural issues in the MARTA Act and improving relations between Georgia’s largest public transit agency and the state.

And by playing politics with his important role as MARTOC’s chair, Jacobs has missed an excellent opportunity to emerge as a respected leader in our region and our state.

Maria Saporta

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.



  1. www October 8, 2012 9:14 am

    i think u mean butler when you wrote parker in the 10th to last and 9th to last paragraphs.Report

  2. elizflorio October 8, 2012 9:15 am

    I think there is a typo: “It also raised all sorts of questions about Parker’s role on the MARTA board and her relationship with Jacobs. …. Parker served as campaign manager of Jacob’s re-election campaign from August 2010 to November 2010, helping him win that race. (Unfortunately, he is running unopposed this year).”
    Aren’t you talking about Butler?Report

  3. whoDean October 8, 2012 11:29 am

    MARTA needs to be folded into a State or at least Regional umbrella transit agency, I think that is what Rep. Jacobs is angling toward.Report

    1. Harold October 9, 2012 11:08 am

      @whoDean MARTA already is a state authority; always has been.Report

    2. inatl October 11, 2012 11:02 am

      @whoDean Will DeKalb and Fulton residents be fairly compensated for the 40 plus years we’ve dedicated 1% of our sales tax revenues to MARTA?Report

  4. YellowJacketsFan October 8, 2012 11:56 am

    What a hack job! As I was reading this column, I kept thinking that someone on MARTA’s board paid Maria Saporta to publish this awful piece. What is the basis of accusing Dwight Ferrell of not being good for MARTA? While Rep. Jacob’s attempt to influence MARTA board’s decision was ham-handed and not very diplomatic, it does not negate the fact that current MARTA management, including the departing GM, had terrible relationship with Georgia legislature. The board, in the last few days, has shown to be inept and probably in violation of GA open records act. AG’s statements support this, and Maria’s attempts to whitewash it look silly at best.
    The article, just like board’s recent selection of a new GM, shows that both MARTA board and Mrs. Saporta just don’t learn. 3 years of failed attempts to influence the Legislature by MARTA management have failed. The departing GM has been a complete failure, whom MARTA seriously overpaid for her services as folks in Boston has just shown (50% less in salary to run a bigger system). MARTA jumped the gun in  2007 to hire Dr. Scott who had no experience running heavy rail system (Sacramento had only bus service). It cost them around $1M to get rid of previous GM. Now they made the same mistake with Parker, who hails from San Antonio which – guess what? – also does not have heavy rail.
    There is no trust in MARTA or its management as recent event (referendum, etc.) shown. Rep. Jacob’s attempts to help MARTA are being rebuffed by MARTA and Maria is useful tool. Shame on you, Maria!Report

  5. atlurbanist October 8, 2012 1:51 pm

    RE: YJF’s “Now they made the same mistake with Parker, who hails from San Antonio which – guess what? – also does not have heavy rail.”
    I’m confused by this criticism. Only 11 cities in the US have heavy rail. If you limit yourself to candidates from one of those systems — that’s an impossibly small pool and an unrealistic expectation. I think you’re much better off finding a candidate with good leadership skills in transit in general rather than primarily looking for someone with leadership in heavy rail specifically.Report

    1. YellowJacketsFan October 8, 2012 4:04 pm

      @atlurbanist That’s correct, the number of cities with heavy rail is small…but one does not only look at CEO’s of those systems, there are 2nd and 3rd in command who are well versed in the business. Case in point is MARTA Deputy General Manager, Dwight Ferrell. He’s been in his position for 5 yrs and I am sure is at least as well qualified as Parker.Report

  6. hgrad October 8, 2012 2:27 pm

    Just so I get this right…the chair of the “MARTA Oversight Committee” shouldn’t exercise any oversight into Marta’s search for a new general manager?  
    You can’t talk out of both ends of your mouth…either you want state funding and state involvement or you want neither, but complaining on the one hand that the Martoc committee chairperson would be involved while also bemoaning the lack of state funds seems to draw the divide sharper and also seems to be hypocritical.  If you want State funds, which I do, you have to also accept state oversight…
    And oh the irony of claiming that the MARTOC chairperson should keep quiet while the press, including this very report, is allowed to criticize the process from the peanut gallery.
    “Jacobs was not part of the search committee process so he had no idea what choices MARTA had in selecting a new general manager. He is not a member of the MARTA board, and he does not know what would be best for the transit agency going forward.
    So why would Jacobs insert himself into MARTA’s search process when he had no appropriate role to do so?”
    So running a guest blog report criticizing the process is OK, but the chairperson of the MARTOC committee commenting on the process is not ok b/c he doesn’t have standing?  Puh-leeze.  This is such a hack-kneed, hit job…
    Also, please give us a hyperlink for the AG decision saying MARTA didn’t violate the state’s sunshine laws?  I’d love to see it.Report

    1. Burroughston Broch October 8, 2012 5:26 pm

      It is interesting to note that the MARTA Board was going to vote in private session for the new General Manager until Rep. Jacobs and the AG weighed in.  My guess is that the AG still intends to investigate the MARTA Board’s ignorance of sunshine laws.Report

    2. ScottNAtlanta October 8, 2012 5:55 pm

      There should be no MARTOC until the state wants to contribute.  As a citizen of Dekalb I find this oversight committee to be an attempt to micromanage something they dont even pay for…in fact, I’d say they been a net negative for MARTA.  Its not talking out of both side s of your mouth.
      FACT…currently no money from the state
      FACT…Jacobs commented in a way that was divisive and far from constructive.
      FACT…those that PAY for MARTA have little say on MARTOC (you ever heard of local control)
      FACT…Gov Deal has stated his ambivalence towards transit.
      Abolish MARTOC so the state cant use MARTA as a pawn a la Jan Jones/Milton Co…surely you remember that.
      This is about here now…and I’m more concerned about Butler/Jacobs than any supposed violation of sunshine lawsReport

      1. hgrad October 8, 2012 6:28 pm


        1. hgrad October 8, 2012 6:43 pm

          @ScottNAtlanta  You do realize that MARTA was initially funded with about $65M in federal money (which would be roughly $350M in today’s dollars) and received other state and federal grants as start-ups?   You also realize that much if not a majority of the sales tax collected in Fulton and DeKalb is generated by people who don’t necessarily live here, right?
          Do you also realize that it was created through the authority of the state government and that the ability to pass the local taxes were also authorized by state legislation?
          Civics 101…cities and counties don’t have reserved powers.  Abolishing MARTOC or trying to act like the state shouldn’t be involved in MARTA oversight is as silly as the state not funding any operations of the system; attacking the chairperson of the committee for having an interest in the process; or filing complaints when ethics laws are violated.   It’s all disfunctional balderdash…and for someone like Maria who paints herself as an advocate of change in how we think about transit to play the ‘houlier than thou’ card b/c Rep Jacobs took a position against hers is exactly why we can’t have nice things in Atlanta.Report

        2. hgrad October 8, 2012 6:45 pm

          @ScottNAtlanta *edit…that should read “attacking those who file complaints when ethics laws are violated”Report

        3. ScottNAtlanta October 8, 2012 9:40 pm

          I dont think the state should have authority over local taxes or their rates.  Thats my opinion.  Also, since state oversight is so important, where is the oversight committee for Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus.  There aren’t any.  Mike Jacobs sent a clear msg that if he didn’t get his way he was going to make the game harder to play…sounds like Jill Chambers…how’d that work out for her?  He is acting in a way that is inconsistent with his district’s needs.  Maria is to be commended for calling him out as the bully he is trying to be.  He might be unopposed now…but 2 years isn’t long for a moderate district’s memoryReport

        4. ScottNAtlanta October 8, 2012 9:50 pm

          We cant have nice things in ATL because our legislature is bought and sold by the ones with the most cash, and has gone so far to the right to be laughable.  Example you say…take a look at the rant by Rep Broun (not state…but so extreme needs mentioning) all over youtube…and people vote for him, and there is Chip Rogers R-Woodstock who thinks broadband should be classified at 200kbps (thats bits not bytes) because…wait for it…AT&T gave his campaign several thousand dollars, and the bill was pushed by ALEC were he serves on the board (AT&T is a huge supporter of ALEC)…Know this got off topic, but its hard to defend anyone in the state legislature IMOReport

        5. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 9:46 am

          Not sure where your figure comes from, but MARTA was formed by taking over Atlanta Transit Company a FAILED private sector transit company that had been providing bus service to Atlanta. Purchase price 13 million.
          “Through the 1970s, MARTA received grants of more than $800 million from the federal government for planning, design, land acquisition and construction of a rapid rail system. The effort bore its first fruit on June 30, 1979 when MARTA’s first train, the East Line, began operating between Avondale and Georgia State Station. It also marked the start of MARTA’s combined bus and rail service.”
          If you are going to throw $$ amounts around…you need to be able to back it up.  Your numbers are wildly wrong and if you notice…there is very little in funding from the state even at conception…only a failed private sector solutionReport

        6. hgrad October 9, 2012 10:12 am

          @ScottNAtlanta http://web.archive.org/web/20050204222807/http://itsmarta.com/about/history02.htm
          Feel free to take a look…of course, it still goes to my point, Fulton and DeKalb fund Marta but it took a lot of federal and state money to get off the ground.
          Regardless, its clear that you and Maria would rather choose to attack our current legislature that actually push for transit reform.  If your point is that the state provides no current funding to MARTA and therefore Rep. Jacobs and MARTOC should butt-out of the process and not bring charges of ethics violations when there is clear evidence that sunshine laws have been violated, I disagree and would counter that that is a short-sighted position that might satisfy your political persuasion but will not get us closer to real transit solutions in the region.
          The sad part is that this is so predictable if we look at the history of transit in Atlanta…from your same Wikipedia article…here are reasons that the 1968 referendum failed…
          -The continuing controversy over the use of rail transport over busway transit
          -The decision of local transit unions to campaign against the referendum because it did not contain collective bargaining provisions
          -Conservatives claimed that the plan was financially irresponsible since Federal government financial support was not guaranteed
          -Low income and suburban homeowners objected to the use of property tax to fund MARTA
          -Voters on the edge of the system objected because they felt that residents of the city of Atlanta would receive more benefits
          -Atlanta’s black community complained it had not been involved in the planning and would not receive adequate service
          -Local officials in the region were not involved in planning
          -Publicity of the plan by MARTA was poor
          Geez….where have I seen that kind of fighting before?  Oh, right…T-Splost and every other transit issue that has ever been raised in this town.  And the folks who are entrenched on either side of the issue politically keep pointing fingers while those in the middle and in the business community shake their heads and wonder if either side will ever realize how stupid they are being.Report

        7. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 10:29 am

          Fyi…thats a dead link.  Also, the 800 million (450 million over your original remark) was ALL federal…no state.  Lets make that point clear without the change of subject and red herrings about the dreaded unionsReport

        8. Harold October 9, 2012 10:53 am

          @ScottNAtlanta At least you claim it to be an opinion; no matter how ignorant.  Cities and counties are political subdivisions of the state.  Only states have rights in the constitution.  And cities and counties receive all their taxing authorities (and other rights) from the state.  It’s not the other way around.  MARTA is a state agency; not a local agency.  It was created by the state and receives it’s authority from the state.  The state has a responsibility to oversee it.  Your issue should be with how it is being overseen; not who is overseeing it.Report

        9. Harold October 9, 2012 11:04 am

          @ScottNAtlanta There is no red herring bringing up unions.  It’s all the same subject.  The organization is poorly ran and the list of examples that mentions a union is merely one of many examples.     … “ALL federal and no state” … so where do you think that money came from?  Last I checked most federal citizens were also state citizens.  Look, we get it, you love Maria … well get a room and stick to the facts here. You are clearly out of hgrad’s league.Report

        10. hgrad October 9, 2012 11:08 am

          @ScottNAtlanta Scott-This very blog has a post right now attacking the audit by E&Y because it would suggest privatization of some services and moving to a defined contribution play.  It’s not a red herring…and frankly, I didn’t single that point out…
          Here is a little tip from my friends that run the internet…copy and paste the link into your browser.  It isn’t dead. You’ll note the first like of the history is a $400,000 grant from the DOT. My assumption is that this grant was from the state DOT…I might be wrong.
          Regardless, my point is and remains that your original statement that the state needs to butt out b/c this is a local entity is wrong even if you take your positions as facts.  It is a state created entity built on federal money and funded by a local sales tax, paid by residents and non-residents, that is a creation of state law.  
          Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.  If you want Marta to be a fiefdom of Atlanta and DeKalb, it isn’t ever going to be successful. That’s been part of the lesson since the 60s.  Getting the state and Cobb/Gwinnett and the N. Fulton cities a seat at the table is the only way to make transit work…that is going to mean rejecting old ideologies on both sides…starting with the fact that (a) you have to admit MARTA has been poorly managed and is bloated per the audit and (b) that transit needs state funds and better regional support. There can not be anymore sacred cows.
          Attack jobs like this aren’t the way to get that done and show more concern for the authors political opinions than actually solving our transit issues.Report

        11. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 5:39 pm

          Then by your process, MARTA should be in Gwinnette and Cobb…its a state agency, so why cant it go to the places it needs to go to be prosperous.  I’d watch the ignorant label…hyperbole is a sign of a losing argument.  I’ve already called out a couple of loose facts on your part.  If you cant have a respectful discussion perhaps you should refrainReport

        12. hgrad October 9, 2012 6:26 pm

          @ScottNAtlanta I’m not sure I ever called you ignorant. I assume you were replying to the other comment above.  What I’m frustrated about is that I’m sure there are people on both sides of the political aisle that understand that transit in our region is severely lacking….but too many people want political wins over that goal. I’ve never heard Rep. Jacobs come out as anti-transit…in fact, when you read his blog posts on the subject http://repjacobs.com/category/marta/ it’s different than many of the other GOP legislators inhabiting the dome today.  That’s why I’m dismayed…there is a group of Marta folks out there that blames the state for its problems and there is a group that blames Marta for its problems, but between those groups and the rest of the population at large is a large swath of people who just want transit to work. I think Rep. Jacobs is one of those people. I used to think Maria was…now I’m not so sure.Report

        13. inatl October 11, 2012 10:57 am

          @ScottNAtlanta hgrad said “You also realize that much if not a majority of the sales tax collected in Fulton and DeKalb is generated by people who don’t necessarily live here, right?”  
          Yea but that’s a sales tax we can’t use for something else.  Most County’s have a 7% sales tax in Metro Atlanta like DeKalb and Fulton.   We used our 1% to fund MARTA, that’s Fulton and DeKalb’s revenue stream.  It doesn’t matter who actually pays it. 
          And the federal government does do oversight on MARTA as a condition to giving its federal dollars
          And Maria didn’t say the state should have no oversight ability.  She correctly pointed out that the way the state inserted itself into the selection of a new leader was overstepping.    
          The new person should be picked by the board.   If the legislature wants to lobby board members outside the press that’s ok, though I don’t think they should use threats.   And the fact the lobbying was so public it does then call into question the complaints filed with the Attorney General.
          Look, Rep Jacobs is a good person, and one of the better State Reps.   however I do think he does sometimes use MARTA as a political punching bag.     MARTOC should do oversight but they also need to do support, morally, legislatively and financially.   I think they’ve failed on all that.    And much of that minimal state capital contribution is related to the need to meet federal air standards by buying cleaner buses and often its a trade off for services MARTA lends to GRTA or the GDOT.Report

        14. inatl October 11, 2012 10:59 am

          @ScottNAtlanta So it was just federal funding NOT state fundingReport

        15. hgrad October 11, 2012 2:10 pm

          @inatl  Cobb, Gwinnett, Fayette, and Cherokee only charge 2% on top of the state’s 4% sales tax…just an FYI.  I get your point, but I disagree with it.  If Maria and her columnist have standing to comment on the selection process, then I would assume Mike does, as well. And on the flip side, if you are saying that the MARTOC committee chair shouldn’t be publicly commenting, then shouldn’t you be complaining that the MARTA board didn’t seek his counsel privately vs. trumpeting the fact that they shut him out of the process?
          It’s an untenable argument because it is rife with too many inconsistencies. 
          You and I both live in Mike’s district and I agree that he is a good rep…frankly, I think he is one of the better folks there. However, I disagree that he uses Marta as a punching bag. The state has to get a stake in the game, but Marta/pro-transit folks have to know that the state isn’t going to just hand out a bunch of money with promises to get better…the state is rightfully asking for changes in the board, the way Marta operates, and in the way the board conducts business and instead of asking ‘what would that get me?’ people like Maria and Marta are choosing to rip the wound right back open by telling the state to butt out.Report

        16. inatl October 11, 2012 5:43 pm

          My mistake on Gwinnett, guess I need to shop there more.
          Yes I think Mike’s a decent legislator and a good guy, but I also think he does engage in more punching bag than support in terms of his relationship with MARTA – I hate to use the term punching bag since i guess that’s a bit of a loaded term but its the best shorthand I can come up with.
          Yes Mike as MARTOC chair should express opinions on who the board should pick as the next GM, but I think he went beyond that.    And no I don’t think the board get approval from Mike or any of the legislators relative to who they should pick.   They clearly knew who Mike wanted.    Relative to outside input, keep in mind the the State has two representatives via their GDOT and GRTA appointments and Mike has Ms. Butler.    So i think there was plenty of input, the statements to the press were I think were heavy handed. 
          MARTOC is oversight, not the manager.  MARTOC should watch for waste and corruption.  But MARTOC is also supposed to be an ally.  That should be the board pushing for state funding.  Pushing for transit friendly legislation relative to transportation and funding  bills  AND relative to bills effecting development and land use, that’s where I think MARTOC has failed though I don’t blame them because of the legislature and Governor.  
          But there are other things that can be done.   Has MARTOC ever conducted a training session for legislators on how to ride MARTA? or promoted the use of MARTA by legislators while in session, including a ride to MARTA day?    When was the last resolution or proclamation done in support of MARTA?  When was the last time a MARTOC got a quote in the AJC or on WSB about the many benefits MARTA provides?   Like Kasim Reed did yesterday? http://midtown.patch.com/articles/mayor-reed-everyday-marta-workers-do-better-job-than-given-credit-for
          The 50/50 split is antiquated yet the legislature defends it.  Even that south GA legislator admitted a couple years ago that his constituents were not MARTA riders [or taxpayers], and he had no problem using MARTA as a political football.
          Though Bus lanes were put on GA 400 for the buses, did anyone in the legislature speak up when the Governor yanked them away thus negatively effecting the commute of hundreds of bus riders?
          As to picking the next GM, so little of the MARTA GM position involves the State Legislature, in large part because they provide no significant aid.  The MARTA GM bigger relationships are with the GDOT/Gov’s office, The county and city governments, (especially regarding land use and zoning, sidewalks and bus routes) and with the Federal Government, should the MARTA board be getting their approval also?
          I know several of the MARTA board members, they are professionals and they are good people http://www.itsmarta.com/board-of-directors.aspx.  Their letter was not some half backed shot. http://www.itsmarta.com/marta-board-statement-to-media.aspx   The characterization   of the candidate selection together with the story about the $144,000 contract to try to salvage the contract they had with the previous GM are just the latest in a series of examples.  
          Us transit advocates and riders are not crazy people, we pretty much recognize that MARTA at best is a political football for many legislators.  Its an opinion shared by many who follow these things.   True they are opinions.   I don’t expect the legislators and Mike to agree but rather than wave off this story as merely a byproduct of a $10,000 contract I’d suggest taking a second to consider if Maria may be partially correct or have a point or two. http://brookhaven.patch.com/articles/rep-jacobs-responds-to-accusations-of-inappropriate-behavior-as-marta-oversight-chairman    Maria  speaks for many and has a deep knowledge  and understanding of these issues.
          Oh I’m also not sure what the point of getting all the emails between MARTA and the Saporta Report is.  The article surely is not that bad.   I mean come on, you’ve been reading Maria for awhile.   Do you really think she wrote this stuff because of a $10,000 media contract?  
          Clearly it makes sense for MARTA to start publishing more columns explaining the value of transit.  There’s clearly a valid benefit to MARTA to get a column that will be read by the choice readers (people who live and breath these transportation/development/city stuff) .Report

  7. Marta25 October 8, 2012 5:58 pm

    As a MARTA employee the past 25 years,I have always had a hard time understanding how people outside the authority know so much about our inner workings.From an employees point of view,Dr Scott was the worst GM we ever had and that includes most of the upper management she brought with her.She may be a good politician,but good manager-not so much.The previous board hired her on her resume just like Boston.The new board is correcting that mistake.Dwight Ferrell and Dr.Scott had the authority divided into warring factions.There was little to no professionalism in official meetings,just a lot of yelling and cussing.To appoint Mr.Ferrell would have continued this culture.
    The Board wiped the slate clean and moved forward.They have our support.Report

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 9:28 am

      @Marta25 Well, todays AJC seems to back up what you are saying.  Seems all was not so great in the upper management/employee relationshipReport

  8. Chris Koch October 8, 2012 10:58 pm

    Good lord! I never  thought I would agree with tea party logic but here we go. Taxation without representation is wrong (a la Boston).  Representation without contribution must also be wrong. If the cold dome wants to call the shots, let it man up with the bucks.Report

  9. Chris Koch October 8, 2012 10:58 pm

    Good lord! I never  thought I would agree with tea party logic but here we go. Taxation without representation is wrong (a la Boston).  Representation without contribution must also be wrong. If the cold dome wants to call the shots, let it man up with the bucks.Report

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 9:27 am

      @Chris Koch 
      Your first statement might be TP, but the modern version doesn’t subscribe to the second part.  They dont want to contribute…just the opposite.  They call that socialism.  I call it selfishReport

  10. writes_of_weigh October 9, 2012 2:44 am

    Rep. Jacobs should be forgiven(helping form new cities can be so taxing), as he is apparently no better at helping oversee Marta as a member of the House Transportation Committee than that committee’s chair(Hon. Jay Roberts R-Ocilla) is at  viably leasing your railroad(as a Georgia citizen)(not only do you own the Western and Atlantic line from downtown Atlanta to the state line near Chattanooga, but too, a line of railroad from Midville, Ga to Vidalia thence westward to the state line near Omaha, Ga)and protecting the motoring public from the dangers of fast moving intermodal trains linking thr Port of Savannah to the new Inland Port at Cordele,,which traverse a portion of the later line in the heart of  Georgia). The dangers (in Chairman Roberts District(H-154) are all too real, and are extant at various rail-highway grade crossings between Alamo, Ga (State route 126) and Higgston, GA(State route 29)  including, but not limited to U.S. 221/GA 56 in Mount Vernon, Ga., where as the line only in the last 10 months having been returned to “service” as an operational rail route(the occasional Sam Shortline train visiting Vidalia’s Annual Onion Festival or River Street jaunts to Savannah on your passenger train aside)save for those non functional crossing protection systems.(Don’t worry – all concerned governmental officials have been made aware, from the Governor’s office, to D.O.T. Board Member Shaw’, to D.O.T.Commissioner Golden, to administrator Comer, to program manager Ware.)Ms. Comer advised that her office had learned that the project to protect the motoring public from this on-going DANGER would be complete NEXT JULY. It seems that while the former Governor and his associates were doing a bum’s rush to sell  the T-SPLOST plan to unsuspecting Georgians, it was far more important from an intermodality standpoint to link the Port of Savannah to the new inland Port in Cordele. Even with relative’s on the State Ports Authority board, it for some strange reason(money and influence, perchance), was highly critical to link these Ports with this rail route, as so much of your tax dollars had been spent repeatedly rebuilding portions of it (bridges included, but not public grade crossing protection)that to even the most disconnected observer, something would have to seem amiss. Unfortunately, even Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a federally/(rail)industry funded entity with a mission of educating the public(quite often by hauling law enforcement officers/officials around on “special” passenger trains(though they can’t seem to figure out how to run them to serve average Joe Public who might want to travel around the state aboard such a mode)about the DANGERS of transgressing upon rail right s-of-way without first stopping.looking/listening, and only at marked(if non-functioning?)crossings, dropped the ball. Their state representative just could not believe that an intractable problem ,at rail-highway crossings , of this magnitude, could exist in Georgia. Meanwhile…..about that Ga 400 toll money and the HOT lanes and ICE on Atlanta’s PORT connected highway network…..well  the “herd of turtles” at your state highway department are all over it. Unfortunately for them, the feds who carry the little Gold and Silver badges are too. Just remember to prove who you are, register and vote. Then celebrate. Remember…..it’s just bidness.Report

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 9:49 am

      @writes_of_weigh which brings up the most glaring point.  A person with no transportation planning experience is trying to bully those with that experience to do something they know is wrong…hows that good for the region???Report

  11. maplover2 October 9, 2012 10:05 am

    From colleagues in San Antonio: Parker is a good guy, works well with bipartisan leaders, and is a catalyst for light rail in San Antonio which is in the works. I like the clean slate approach combined with an experienced transit leader. Sunlight is the best disinfectant Butler and Jacobs. Get ready for a squeaky clean house, we could all use it.Report

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 10:41 am

      @maplover2 He is gonna need those skillsReport

  12. Harold October 9, 2012 10:27 am

    For the ignorant aboard this hack job of an editorial, MARTA is a state agency and always has been since created almost 50 years ago.  So tell me why they the General Assembly of GEORGIA not oversee a GEORGIA agency?  And if paying into a system is the justification for participating in the system, are we not to stop allowing the “47%” opportunities to vote in federal elections merely because they are no longer paying federal income taxes?  My retired grandfather would probably not like having his right to vote taken away merely because he’s no longer liable for federal taxes after his 30 years of air force service defending our constitution.  

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 10:40 am

      oh please…spare us the red herring of being denied the right to vote.  MARTA gets no funding from the state, is micromanaged and threatened by MARTOC, which has been ambivalent at best.  Yes, I think the interests of the people funding the system should be taken into account…they are not.  Yes those outside the MARTA counties pay part of the tax, but they did not vote to include themselves.  The state also makes it increasingly harder for those counties to be part of the solution (TSPLOST…designed to fail).  Then there is Jan Jones who held MARTA hostage in the last session to twist the arms of the Fulton delegation to bring Milton county to a vote (thats why there was no solution to the 50/50 rule).  How does that promote the interests of the region.  It doesn’t.  So spare me the ignorant rant about your grandfather voting…it has nothing to do with anything other than you not having a better argument.  The only ignorance is of the factsReport

      1. Harold October 9, 2012 10:48 am

        @ScottNAtlanta Can’t deny facts are missing from the article.  You’re right on that one (and only) point.  But your devotion to this hack is abundantly clear.Report

    2. inatl October 11, 2012 10:44 am

      Federal Income taxes are a just a portion of the taxes people pay.   Sales taxes, property taxes (directly or through rent), excise taxes, social security (which is over 12% when you include the employer match), franchise fees paid on your phone and utility bills,  the list goes on and on.
      Fulton and DeKalb pays the 1% sales tax, we could use that money for other things, but instead the citizens responsibly provide almost all of the local aid for MARTA.    So yes the State Legislature, the vast majority of whom are not accountable to the voters in Fulton and DeKalb should act accordingly.Report

  13. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 10:44 am

    Maria…have you noticed that whenever you write about transportation, those pieces get the most comments?  Must mean people care about that issue.Report

  14. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 3:16 pm

    To ScottNAtlanta and everyone else who obviously misreads, or does not read, MARTA’s statements closely: MARTA gets no “significant, dedicated” money from the state. Which means they DO get money from the state every year, but it’s not “significant”. Of course, what they call “insignificant” is in the eye of the beholder. It’s $2M or $5M on any given year. And it’s not dedicated, meaning it’s not guaranteed from year to year, like sales taxes. Also, MARTA reports to GA-DOT, a state agency. So, again – why can’t MARTOC, created by the state and chaired by an elected representative, not get involved in the affairs of the grossly mismanaged, money-losing transit system? Do you think they may need help?Report

  15. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 3:22 pm

    MARTA Chairman of the Board: “…MARTA has never received any significant, dedicated funding from the state of Georgia.”
    AJC’s PolitiFAct graded the statement “Mostly False” (or “Barely True”)

    1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 5:32 pm

      @YellowJacketsFan from politifact:
      “But the data didn’t back up MARTA’s claim. Instead, the federal data it sent show that MARTA is a very large agency that receives no operating funds from the state. That, however, is not the same thing as being the only major transit system that receives no dedicated state funding, as Tyler said.”
      I dont know about you, but thats simply politifact playing on exact words of the statement which is not what you are claiming. They say right there that MARTA gets no operating funds from the stateReport

      1. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 5:37 pm

        @ScottNAtlanta  No, you are. You added “operating funds” now. The statement you made was very clear: poor MARTA gets NO money from the state. Period. Then come all kinds of qualifiers, “dedicated”, “operational”, etc. Please answer the following question as asked: Did MARTA get any state money in the past?Report

        1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 5:45 pm

          @YellowJacketsFan those qualifiers are important though.  Since MARTA has been restricted by the 50/50 rule, those qualifiers are even more pertinent.Report

        2. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 5:54 pm

          @ScottNAtlanta I am sure the $2M MARTA does get from the state, for whatever purpose, like buying new vehicles, is very much needed. Otherwise, MARTA can just decline the $$$ and then have a very good case for denying MARTOC and Rep. Jacobs any interference.Report

      2. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 5:38 pm

        @ScottNAtlanta Your actual quote was: “MARTA gets no funding from the state”.Report

        1. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 5:43 pm

          @YellowJacketsFan I checked and I stand corrected.  They have received capitol funds over the years…not any for operations.  I need to say dedicated funding.  That would be correct.  The amount they have received is less than .5% of their annual budget.  Of course what we haven’t mentioned is that if the 50/50 rule was abolished a lot of this mess would be nonexistentReport

        2. YellowJacketsFan October 9, 2012 5:52 pm

          @ScottNAtlanta That’s a completely different discussion. And I do think that 50/50 split requirement for the system which has not added a station in 12 yrs and is not planning to add one any time soon is stupid. If MARTA and its CEO were more adept politically, and worked better with GA Legislature, they would have it removed a long time ago. Instead, Scott failed to get it in her first year, was surprised she failed, got $160K PR consultants, and still failed (well, succeeded partially, for 3 yrs)Report

        3. ScottNAtlanta October 9, 2012 5:57 pm

          @YellowJacketsFan but then you were dealing with Jill Chambers who most can agree had it out for MARTA and made things much worse than they needed to be…fyi, here is the link to MARTA’s financials should anyone care to read it:

    2. inatl October 11, 2012 10:37 am

      @YellowJacketsFan 2 million is less than 1% of the capital budget so million so I think its fair to say its not significant and its not dedicated funding.    The State gives GRTA more money than that for less riders.Report

      1. YellowJacketsFan October 11, 2012 6:00 pm

        @inatl You’re right, it’s a relatively small amount. But as I said before, if you want to see how much they need and use it, try taking it away…I am sure you’ll hear a lot hollering and protests…Report

        1. inatl October 11, 2012 6:28 pm

          @YellowJacketsFan true.Report

  16. inatl October 11, 2012 11:14 am

    Keep in mind the state also has 2 board members on the MARTA board – the GDOT chair and the GRTA chair.Report

  17. inatl October 11, 2012 11:15 am

    Keep in mind the state also has 2 board members on the MARTA board – the GDOT chair and the GRTA chair.

  18. inatl October 11, 2012 11:16 am

    Keep in mind the state has representation through the 2 board members on the MARTA board  from GDOT and GRTA.

    1. YellowJacketsFan October 11, 2012 5:57 pm

      @inatl I don’t think it’s the latest board listing…in any case, GaDOT rep and GRTA rep are non-voting members….Report

      1. inatl October 11, 2012 6:26 pm

        @YellowJacketsFan you are probably right.   there are some missing.  
        I forgot about the last change to the board that was passed by the legislature.  Mike’s bill apears to have made the GDOT member a non voting member but the GRTA member a voting member.   Though I’m getting that from an article, not from the final bill.
        The executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority would serve as a voting member and the planning director for the Georgia Department of Transportation would be a nonvoting member as long as they held their state positions.  Read more: CrossRoadsNews – More changes afoot for MARTA’s board of directorsReport


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