Steele: ‘Noxious CAVE people’ oppose T-SPLOST


We have many critical issues and votes facing our community, state and nation in the coming months. Some of our citizens have very strong opinions, while others seem to be detached or turned off by the continuous sophomoric personal attacks of some members and candidates of the Fayette Issues Tea Party.

It is, indeed, hard to believe that an organization that supposedly espouses small government, low taxes and a free enterprise economy can be promulgating attacks on our very own business community. These are the very people we need to encourage as they provide the goods and services we need and employ our citizens.

One of the issues we must decide on July 31 is the fate of the transportation SPLOST. Numerous people have asked me why we need a new tax and that is a very valid question in these economic times.

The state of Georgia, along with most other states in the U.S., relies on the motor vehicle fuel tax to fund transportation. For over a decade this revenue source has leveled off and even declined for a variety of reasons.

When we trade in our 14 mpg car for one that gets 25 mpg we buy less gas. With the extended recession many people have altered their driving habits by combining trips, etc. The bottom line is that transportation needs have continued to grow and revenue has not kept pace.

The state legislature spent three years trying to reach consensus on new revenue sources and the “Transportation Investment Act” of 2010 is the result and it places the burden on 12 regions located throughout the state.

What we are being asked to vote on July 31 are 10 ROAD projects that will address the congestion and future transportation needs of Fayette County for the next several decades.

Most of us realize that many of our sister counties to the north have serious congestion problems. It does not really matter why, but failure to provide the infrastructure prior to growth surely is a factor and now they have limited options that are all extremely expensive to build.

We have the option, should we so choose, to have a long-term positive impact on the sustainability, livability and economic success of Fayette County. The choice is ours, as it should be.

I would be remiss if I did not address the “red herring” of public transportation and transit. We have a very small noxious group of folks that must stay awake at night to protect us from the invasion of the transit monster.

We have all heard of the acronym “NIMBY,” not in my backyard. Many of us fall into this group as we tend not to pay much attention to public issues until they impact “our backyard.”

We now have a subset of this group here in Fayette I call the CAVE people. These are “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.” They tend to congregate at County Commission meetings with a periodic foray over to the Board of Education.

They do not seek to learn and contribute anything positive to Fayette County but rather to demean and attack their fellow citizens, public employees and representatives.

Much has been written, locally, about MARTA and public transportation and it would make for a very interesting academic debate. However, it is not germane to Fayette County.

We are projected to receive dollar for dollar return on our investment for only road projects within our county. All transit projects approved in those counties desiring them will be funded by proceeds from their revenues, not by Fayette County. We are not a donor county.

One opponent of the plan recently reported the I-85/Ga. Highway 74 improvements would only save folks four minutes. There was no mention that you could multiply that by 15,000 plus cars a day.

More importantly the opponents never mentioned that traffic projections take into account the projected 2,500,000 more people that will be living in Metro Atlanta in 2040.

Thus, we can choose to ignore the transportation challenges facing us and kick the can down the road or we can move forward. If the CAVE people had their way Christopher Columbus would still be seeking funding for his exploration of the new world.

Looking at current discussions and the political climate locally, one must ask that old trite question: does life emulate theater/art or does theater/art reflect life? We now have our own character wanting to reprise the role of “Boss Hogg” from the old Dukes of Hazard series, costume and make-up not needed.

Then we have Commissioner Brown who, for an individual who does not seem to have a job would have us believe, as a result of his prolific editorials and public pronouncements, he is an expert on most everything.

I find it particularly humorous when he shares how he tells the professional graduate engineers of the Department of Transportation how to build roads, design interchanges and cost the projects.

I have never talked to Mr. Brown one on one. However, I have always given him the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that, I think, he is in the throes of a long-term torrid romance — with his own opinion.

Somehow I think William Shakespeare had several local would-be leaders in mind when he wrote his famed soliloquy from Macbeth, “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Thus, if someone talks to you and tries to connect transit and the T-SPLOST as it relates to Fayette County, you know you are talking to someone who is uninformed, naive or just not being truthful. They are certainly not being credibly transparent; however, that is a story for another day.

Ken Steele

Fayetteville, Ga.

[Steele is the former mayor of Fayetteville.]