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Business leaders pledge late push for transportation tax

DULUTH -- Acknowledging their side is down in the polls, business leaders held a "pep rally" Thursday to try to drive up support for the upcoming transportation sales tax referendum.

"We're going to make it or break it in the next 12 days and it's all up to us," said Dave Stockert, the CEO of Post Properties who was among a group of business and transportation leaders to speak at a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce forum.

The morning session was packed with tales of the impact of transportation on business, as proponents try to get across the point that the proposed 1 percent sales tax for metro Atlanta could not only improve traffic but draw jobs to the community.

Reader poll

How will you vote on the TSPLOST issue?

  • Yes 25%
  • No 74%
  • Undecided 1%

1267 total votes.

From stories of Haverty's Furniture's days at the turn of the century deciding to retire its horses and use trucks to deliver its wares to the decision of Caterpillar Inc. to build an Athens facility, now under construction, that will bring 1,400 jobs, the leaders agreed that not only has transportation played a key role in Atlanta's past successes but in the future of business.

"This election is about transportation. It's about infrastructure. It's about quality of life. It's about opportunities for our children and grandchildren," Mesa Capital Partners chairman Tom Bell said, offering that the July 31 is about much more than a tax. To vote the measure down, he said, "It would be like putting up a big sign on the interstate that says 'closed for business.'"

Despite an $8 million campaign from proponents, Council for Quality Growth President Michael Paris admitted that the short-string, "viral" arguments of various tea party groups and others is winning out, with polls showing waning support for the idea, which could bring in $8.5 billion in the Atlanta region and more than $18 billion across all of Georgia's 12 regions.

But panelists said that could change if business leaders become more vocal, telling their employees, colleagues and others how important the tax would be to them.

"I'm going to continue to encourage my folks to the point of feeling somewhat uncomfortable about this," Stockert said, responding to complaints that some employers have been "heavy-handed" in the issue. "You have to earn the right to complain about traffic from here on out. ... If you believe this is in the best long-term interest of your business and the long-term interest of the region, then say so."

In the next two weeks before the July 31 vote, members of the business community said they have to step up their efforts -- even with ads on television and billboards along the highway -- to make sure people get to the polls.

"This is terribly important. Time is short," said Doug Callaway of the Georgia Transportation Alliance. "We've got to get our act together and pass this."

Comments

jack 1 year, 9 months ago

"I'm going to continue to encourage my folks to the point of feeling somewhat uncomfortable about this," Stockert said, responding to complaints that some employers have been "heavy-handed" in the issue.

Hmm. A "yes" vote as a condition of employment?

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NewsReader 1 year, 9 months ago

You call this clown, Dave Stockert, the CEO of Post Properties a business leader? LOL, who the heck cares what somebody from Post Properties thinks? I wouldn't exactly consider a CEO of some Apartment Dwellings a leader of anything accept a bunch of RENTERS! There is something in it for him which is why he is pushing it so badly. Strong arm tactics and bulling? That how it works over at your office?

"I'm going to continue to encourage my folks to the point of feeling somewhat STUPID if they endorse this foolishness." Speak loudly and speak often Dave. Then answer is still "NO"!

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jjbod1 1 year, 9 months ago

3 NO votes coming from this house : )

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Gundoctor1 1 year, 9 months ago

Here's a push for you leaders. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only an idiot would vote for more taxes in these times. Same as the ones that will vote to put a democrat back in office after this monumental 3+ year debacle.

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skygirl 1 year, 9 months ago

Stockert needs to get a grip! Everyone of his employees needs to vote no! He has not changed my vote...it is still NO! No more taxes!!!!!!

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BuzzG 1 year, 9 months ago

Just mailed in my absentee ballot. One more "NO" vote. If they want more money for roads, let the county sell the baseball stadium and the golf course. Let them return our garbage rights. Let them develop a respect for the people who voted them into office. Right now they think they have us eating from their hand. Just say "NO".

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BuzzG 1 year, 9 months ago

"bring in $8.5 billion in the Atlanta region and more than $18 billion across all of Georgia's 12 regions."

Absolutely false and people are sick and tired of this misleading garbage. It would not bring in more money. The money would be taken from the pockets of the citizens of the region and put into the pockets of the government and their contractor. If you have $50 and you spend it on stuff, it is just as economically stimulating as if you were to give it to the government and they spent it.

If Dave Stockert wants better roads, let him pay for them. Dave, keep your money grubbing hands out of our pockets.

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Mack711 1 year, 9 months ago

The Chamber can hold all the 'Pep Rallies' they want but it is up to us, the voter, to decide. In this household there will be 2 NO VOTES. Does the chamber recieve some tax dollars to operate? Think so. The only interest they are interested in is theirs.

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Karl 1 year, 9 months ago

No, no, 18 billion times NO

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elephanthead 1 year, 9 months ago

You can almost smell the desperation of these people. I have never seen so much coverage of and advertising for something like this. This thing is going down hard, and I can't recall seeing a single ad anywhere opposing it - that speaks volumes. Also, the latest from Deal about finally removing the tolls on 400 had me laughing this morning. Can you imagine a more panicky response? Of course the decision has nothing to do with the perception that the SPLOST campaign is faltering, right? If people are stupid enough to change their vote to support the SPLOST just because of this transparent ploy, we are all in trouble.

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Kent 1 year, 9 months ago

Does anyone know Mike Beaudreau's position on TSPLOST? I can not seem to nail him down on a yes or no position.

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nicholson 1 year, 9 months ago

At a debate last month in Dacula with the commission candidates, Mike said, due to his position as a commissioner, he could not formally endorse or reject the TPLOST. Not sure that I buy that excuse, but he added that there is "never enough" money for the road work that needs to be done. I wonder if the $400,000 of county money he spent to get the golf cart underpass built at a private country club he plays at was considered as road work?

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kevin 1 year, 9 months ago

Got 36 NO votes from my neighborhood (40 residents here)

Of course the politicians and business owners are for this tax. It doesn't cost them a cent, so they think. I agree, just like Harry Reid did in Nevada to get re-elected in 2010, the businesses all but told the employees what to vote for this tax by threatening them with layoffs. Money is what you vote with, not a machine. Money talks the loudest in this country, not people. If you don't like something than you quietly "boycott" that place by not buying its products. Pretty simple decision if you have common sense. (yes I know, in some cases you might not have a choice where to buy from.)

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Kent 1 year, 9 months ago

He did make a comment at a public forum that TSPLOST shifts the burden from those willing to pay for it to the ones who do not. Sounds to me like he is for it. I have been told by a county commissioner outside of Gwinnett that they can openly voice an opinion on the issue. He just does not want to do so. Just like the airport stance he neutrally took before he realized a yes stance was political suicide. I think he is for it. He is a classic politician. I hope the voters shows him the door out.

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JW 1 year, 9 months ago

You won't pin him down on anything prior to the election. Looked me in the eye and told me he had not planned to vote yes on airport. Need to give this guy more time to sell copiers.

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JimmyOrr 1 year, 9 months ago

Either via absentee voting, early voting, or voting at your precinct on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, declare TSPLOST NULL & VOID. Vote NO!

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