And you thought Fulton County needed to mend its relationship with Republicans on its northern end. The most powerful Democrat at the county’s center isn’t too happy, either.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday put himself in front of a WABE microphone and Denis O’Hayer, who asked whether Reed had lobbied Gov. Nathan Deal against signing that bill to freeze Fulton property taxes.
The mayor said he did not. And added this:
“I didn’t support the legislation. But I don’t believe it will impact the relationship between the county and the city. That relationship has not been very good anyway.”
O’Hayer asked Reed to elaborate:
“First of all, the county has not done its responsibility regarding housing and jailing of people who are arrested. I believe Fulton County should have taken the steps necessary to house people who are arrested. That’s a fundamental function of a county. It’s why you have a county jail.
“…Fulton County’s failure to deal with their jail overcrowding problem is one of the major reasons why the relationship between the county and the city has been so fractured. So while I have built the biggest police force in the history of the city of Atlanta, and we will hire 2,000 officers, spent more on public safety than any mayor in the history of this city – when we arrest individuals, they are frequently immediately released. Or released in a very short order.
“Despite the fact that they have been arrested multiple times. And despite the fact that it would be good for the public if those individuals were held in a fashion that’s consistent with their past criminal behavior.
“That’s one of the issues, but I don’t want to get on your air and lie to you about the nature of the relationship between the city and the county.”
O’Hayer asked whether the city of Atlanta’s to close its jail contributed to the overcrowding problem. Said Reed:
“Those changes weren’t radical changes. People who live in the city of Atlanta are also citizens of Fulton County and we pay a significant share of the taxes for Fulton County. We get almost nothing in return.”
So will the property tax freeze make it even harder for the county to provide services? O’Hayer asked. Responded Reed:
"The county doesn’t do anything anyway. So, what -- the freeze is going to prevent them from doing anything? They didn’t do anything when there wasn’t a freeze in place.”
But Reed emphasized he doesn’t agree with the GOP effort to pack the county’s legislative delegation, and then push through local legislation to give Republicans more control over a solidly Democratic county:
“I support Fulton County’s ability to govern itself. And I believe that the people that were elected in Fulton County should lead it. I have faith in the public. I think people are very smart….I am in favor of the voices of voters being respected….
“So I don’t believe that the Legislature should have inserted itself and treated Fulton County in a manner that is disparate and radically different than they do the other 158 counties in the state of Georgia. I think that is unhealthy.”
O’Hayer asked whether race and partisanship were factors in the Fulton legislation. Reed declined to go there:
“I don’t know. I’m not going to get into the minds of the authors of the legislation. I just will simply say that I didn’t agree with the legislation, and I believe it is inconsistent with local control, which is a fundamental conservative value. And it is going to be a negative indication of things to come.
“Folks can be delighted when someone else’s ox is being gored. It’s something different when that comes to your house…There’s a saying that conquering armies don’t go home. They go conquer something else.”
Click here to see the response from Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.
O’Hayer also asked Reed had a hand in the decision by the state Senate to hold legislation that would have forced changes on MARTA. Reed is a former state senator. He and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle are friends. Said the mayor of Atlanta:
“The Senate made a judgment that Keith Parker deserved an opportunity to be the general manager [of MARTA], and they imposed their will….He gets here and a bunch of folks that he’s never met, who’ve never run anything in their lives – they’ve never run anything, never had responsibility for running anything – make a bunch of judgments about how MARTA should be operating. What that does is causes you to lose talent.”
But did he have a hand in stopping the measure? Said Reed:
“I don’t discuss political conversations. What I will share is, I opposed the bill. I thought it was a bad bill. I thought it was rash, I thought it was naïve, I thought it was imprudent.”
The WABE session closed with a discussion of last year’s TSPLOST defeat:
Reed: “First of all, you almost never have success on the first ballot for a regional referendum. Generally, it takes two times.”
O’Hayer: “But you said you wouldn’t come back again on it.”
Reed: “I was probably upset that day. But I think you’ll end up with some sort of pairing that allows two or more counties – so you won’t have the larger shot that I preferred, which is 10 counties.”
O’Hayer: “Will you be involved in looking for dancing partners?”
Reed: “I imagine I would. I would have my energy back by then.”
O'Hayer will air a second segment of his conversation with the mayor of Atlanta this afternoon.
Next year’s race for the U.S. Senate in Georgia had a tumultuous 12 hours on Tuesday.
First, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, decided not to join the contest, depriving Democrats of their most experienced potential candidate. And Republicans hoping to guide their party toward a more centrist candidate lost their chief argument.
Then Mark Sanford, the former S.C. governor, easily overcame one of the worst backstories a candidate ever heaped upon himself and defeated Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election for Congress.
Colbert Busch led by 9 points in April, and lost by 9 points on Tuesday. Democrats poured nearly $1 million into the race.
Sanford won even as a vast portion of the state and national GOP infrastructure was withheld. Instead, in this post-Citizens United world, he relied on well-heeled tea party organizations and a group called Independent Women’s Voice, which dumped a late $250,000 into the contest.
Last night’s real winner? U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.
Roll Call reports that the latest entrant in the Republican race for Senate is now wholly committed:
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., reported today that he transferred $1,906,839 to his new Friends of Jack Kingston-Senate committee on May 1 and terminated his House committee.
Marco Rubio is pushing back against his former Senate mentor, Jim DeMint, and his Heritage Foundation’s report on the cost of uneducated immigrants in the U.S. From the New York Times:
“Their argument is based on a single premise, which I think is flawed,” he said. “That is, these people are disproportionately poor because they have no education and they will be poor for the rest of their lives in the U.S. Quite frankly, that’s not the immigration experience in the U.S. That’s certainly not my family’s experience in the U.S.”
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia examines the statement by former governor and sometime-historian Zell Miller, who says that in the 1960s, Gov. Carl Sanders put 56 percent of the state budget into education – a commitment that hasn’t been matched since.