Rep. Jill Chambers will be giving up her job as MARTA’s top watchdog after losing in Tuesday’s election by about 275 votes. As chair of the MARTA Oversight Committee, Chambers had questioned the transit agency’s spending on lobbyists, pay raises, consultants, fitness equipment for employees, intricate bond deals and much more. And that was all before lunchtime.
New lobbyists soon will help MARTA look for the state’s help in closing a projected $130 million budget deficit. The transit agency’s chief legislative overseer refuses to meet with them, but MARTA officials seem OK with that. They’re after bigger game. The lobbyists’ pitch to MARTA, led by Ellen Williams Reynolds, offers a plan to connect with key House and Senate Republicans. And the lobbying team includes a former executive of the Georgia GOP and the husband of state Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Reynolds.
MARTA hired a lobbyist Tuesday, moments after a union official accused state Rep. Jill Chambers of trying to force a state takeover of the agency. MARTA’s board fears a projected $80 million deficit will result in disastrous service cuts without state relief. “If we don’t get something done, a year from now we’re not going to be providing anything you could reasonably call transit service,” Chairman Michael Walls said. UPDATE: New lobbyist Bernard Reynolds will have to earn his keep, judging from Chambers’ latest e-mail today.
MARTA board members who vote to hire a $160,000-a-year lobbying firm could lose their seats come 2010. So says state Rep. Jill Chambers, the transit agency’s chief nemesis in the Georgia Legislature. As chairman of the MARTA Oversight Committee, she fired off an e-mail over the weekend threatening to eliminate the seat of any board member who supports the contract when the board meets Tuesday. Board chairman Michael Walls terms Chambers’ saber-rattling “outrageous.”
MARTA’s general manager and its chief legislative overseer locked horns today over the transit agency’s plan to spend up to $400,000 on outside lobbyists. Then, state Rep. Jill Chambers butted heads with a member of her MARTA Oversight Committee. Chambers grilled MARTA officials this morning about several million dollars in spending that she regarded as unnecessary. When Sen. Doug Stoner objected to her tone, Chambers cut off his microphone. “I’m very disappointed in us as a committee,” Stoner said. “We’re playing games.”
Aug. 13, 2009 — Several Georgia lawmakers have gotten deeper into tax trouble this year, even as legislative ethics panels investigate some members’ failure to pay income taxes, property records show. The biggest unpaid bill belongs to Rep. Willie Talton of Warner Robins, who owes $39,197 for local property taxes.