Cobb County and the Art of Obfuscation

By Lance Lamberton

When it comes to obfuscation, lack of transparency and avoiding the issues which it wishes to put before the voters, the Cobb County government has developed these practices into a fine art. I refer specifically to the 30-year, $11 billion transit tax that they wish to foist on us.

Case in point. Concerned citizens have repeatedly asked the county how much the new tax will cost the average taxpayer and household, what will cost per ride be to the taxpayer asked to pay for this tax and what will the ridership be if the tax is passed? To all these questions and many more, we have been stonewalled, and I believe the reason for that is that if the truth be known, support would evaporate like rain on asphalt on a hot summer day in Georgia.

Lance Lamberton, Chairman, Cobb Taxpayers Association

As to the last question on ridership, the county had no intention of even finding out what that answer would be. Imagine that: They are asking us to approve a 30-year tax when they don’t know and don’t even want to know what the answer will be. Imagine if you owned a private business and were thinking about opening up a new store in Cobb County. Wouldn’t you conduct marketing studies to determine if the risk is worth the cost? I guarantee you that the Braves did just that before moving here; albeit on the backs of Cobb taxpayers. But alas! I digress.

There are two reasons the county doesn’t want to know the answer: 1.) The answer, in the face of dramatically declining ridership under the current transit system, is a number and cost per rider, that the overwhelming majority of voters would not accept; and 2.) they really don’t care. What they do care most about is the revenues the tax will generate. Revenue that they can use to reward consultants and engineering and construction firms in return for their support for the current regime on the Board of Commissioners (BOC).

Fortunately, more level heads have prevailed, and the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority (the ATL) is now requiring, as per the lead article in the May 15 edition of the Marietta Daily Journal, that Cobb County study ridership projections ahead of the vote. While that is good news, the bad news is that the engineering firm with which the BOC approved a $23,000 contract to provide ridership projections, Kimley-Horn, is also the same firm that is being paid $287,000 to “educate” us on why the $11 billion expansion of mass transit in Cobb is in the best interests of the taxpayers. Under the circumstances, the objectivity of any findings coming out of any study by Kimley-Horn is highly suspect. In essence, what the BOC has done is pay yet another consultant a bunch of money to come up with a preconceived result that will support the political agenda of the majority on the BOC.

This kind of obfuscation and gamesmanship on the part of our elected leaders on the BOC displays an arrogant contempt for the people they are supposed to serve. While Marie Antoinette allegedly was quoted as saying “let them eat cake” in contempt for the poor of France, there is another queen in our midst who says let them eat $11 billion in wasteful spending over 30 years for something that the people of Cobb neither need nor want. However, we have an option that wasn’t readily available in revolutionary France. We can vote the rascals out, and we can vote down the transit tax in November.

Please join with me in voting it down, and saying NO to more taxes. We are taxed enough already.

 Lance Lamberton is the founder and chairman of the Cobb Taxpayers Association, a group that was formed in 2005 to represent the interests of Cobb taxpayers and is now part of a coalition of groups working to defeat the transit tax. For more information, go to: