Feb. 26, 2014 — As Cobb County proceeds with plans to subsidize a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves, questions continue to surface about the transparency of county leaders’ deliberations and the accuracy of the projected public benefit and cost to taxpayers. Here’s what I’ve written on the subject recently for Atlanta Magazine’s Daily Agenda:
- Neither snow, nor sleet, nor taxpayer objection keep Cobb from fast-tracking stadium plans
- Proposed law could cloud spending details on Braves, Falcons stadiums
- What Cobb businesses might be taxed to help cover Braves stadium costs?
- Did Cobb commissioners’ briefings on Braves violate Open Meetings Act?
- Braves may seek even more millions in public assistance
- Who knew about Tim Lee’s ties to turf company before Braves deal?
As Cobb County proceeds with plans to subsidize a $672 million stadium for the Atlanta Braves, questions continue to surface about the transparency of county leaders’ deliberations and the accuracy of the projected public benefit and cost to taxpayers. Here’s what I’ve written on the subject recently in for Atlanta Magazine’s Daily Agenda:
DOT says it’s not withholding road building money Critic: Sen. Stoner’s support of light rail a conflict Cobb County’s fiscal management questioned Herman Cain campaign concealed gay aide’s role in Iowa, ex-staffer says
Cobb County legislative candidate battles tax debt King & Spalding settles $200M malpractice suit
Cobb Electric Membership Corp. violated a 2008 settlement with unhappy members who accused some co-op leaders of enriching themselves at members’ expense, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. Dissident members hoped to unseat board members in a scheduled 2009 election that was never held after the EMC’s leadership voted in secret to allow proxy voting by mail. The high court ruled the board may not unilaterally change the method by which its members are chosen.
Rep. Earl Ehrhart knows how to take care of his own. Ehrhart — CEO of a non-profit group that helps donors get state tax credits for gifts to religious schools — sponsored a new law in 2011 that raises the limit on those credits and eases restrictions on how contributions may be spent. The Cobb County lawmaker has never disclosed his role with the non-profit on disclosure forms mandated by state law.
Georgia’s charter school law unconstitutionally breached local school boards’ exclusive control over public education in their districts, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled today. In a 4-3 decision, the court said the state Constitution did not allow the Legislature to create a state agency creating public charter schools. Read a thorough summary of the issues and the full decision.
The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee has rejected a complaint about a possible conflict between a lawmaker’s public duties and private work. A spokesman said the panel will not consider complaints based solely on news articles, in this case my recent piece on a $40,000 contract between Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s consulting business and an advocacy group seeking public funding for the arts. That standard makes it next to impossible for citizens to get the committee to investigate a lawmaker’s conduct.
A powerful Cobb County legislator collected $40,000 last year to do research to help an advocacy group decide the best way to ask the Legislature for money. Rep. Earl Ehrhart and his client, Friends of Arts & Culture, say he did not help to write a bill that would have allowed local votes on arts funding, nor did he help move it through the Legislature. “I never consult on any type of legislation that’s going on here,” he said. Ehrhart did not disclose his client or his fee, which state law does not require. Nor did he disclose the name of his consulting business, which the law does require. This is what passes for transparency in the Georgia Legislature. UPDATE: An ethics complaint regarding this transaction was filed this week with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.
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Barnes’ wealth built over the years Undersold ad space undercuts ATL airport Mules cost Cobb County $78K 22 Georgia hospitals rated ‘weak’ Security firm sues over $3.5M airport contract Augusta charities may lose $300K
Lynn Turner, facing life without parole for killing both her husband and her boyfriend, took her own life in prison last month, the GBI said today. State Medical Examiner Kris Sperry said Turner took “a lethal level” of a prescribed blood-pressure medication. Her body was found in her prison cell Aug. 30.