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30 January 2010

John Lewis On Transit Funding: I've Done My Part; It's Time For Georgia To Do Theirs

At the risk of being repetitious, this is yet another post about transportation.

Because of the constant in-fighting from Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Republican leaders in both the Georgia House and Senate, this state does not have a viable transportation plan. Our plan seems to be build more roads instead of finding solutions that will get more people out of their cars and onto some form of mass transit.

Where are Georgia's visionaries today?

These days, all we have are a bunch of pussies who (out of a fear of not getting re-elected) refuse to take some initiative; to show some guts; to have some balls.

Georgia needs visionaries. And we need them now.
This past week, Georgia missed the bus on transit funding from the federal government. That money went to Florida and North Carolina. And much like AJC Political Insider Jim Galloway wrote Friday, Georgia doesn't feel like Georgia right now [Galloway, Jim (2010-1-29).
Welcome to Georkansas: Suddenly, we have a rail gap
. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-1-30.].

Late Friday night, the office of Congressman John Lewis issued a statement addressing his role in moving Georgia into the 21st century with a solid transportation plan.

"Transportation should be at the top of every elected official’s agenda in Atlanta, and it has been a major focus for me throughout my entire tenure in Congress," the Atlanta Democrat said. "I have brought back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to help solve Georgia’s transportation problems over the years, only to have millions left unused by the state. I secured tens of millions for the Multi-Modal Terminal, the Georgia Commuter Rail, and the Lovejoy to Griffin line."

Below is the rest of Congresman Lewis' statement:

"For ten years, over $100 million of that money has been left waiting to be used. Even in the face of this poor management, I have used my influence to add language to a House bill which extends the deadline for this funding, so the people of Georgia will not lose this federal support. That bill has passed in the House and is waiting for action by the Senate.

“More recently, partly due to my influence and the power of the Democratic majority, the Georgia Department of Transportation was a top recipient of stimulus dollars. GDOT alone received nearly $572 million in stimulus funding, without any Republican support from our delegation and in spite of criticism by the governor. Yet the state only allocates $2 million in its upcoming budget to MARTA, a vital transportation resource which is $160 million in debt. Last year, I did my part. MARTA received more than $60 million in federal funds.

“I have said for years that Georgia needs a comprehensive, regional transportation plan to solve our problems. That is not the responsibility of any federal authority, but it rests squarely on the shoulders of the governor. While Georgia dawdles, other states like Florida and North Carolina are seizing opportunities to use transportation as a means to draw big business, opportunity, and jobs to their states. Georgia is not in the running because it does not have a plan.

“I have done my part and will continue to bring federal money home to the people of Atlanta. Now it is time for other responsible officials to do theirs.”

Once upon a time, Georgia had bold leaders and bold visionaries who were willing to take risks for the state that they loved. It took vision and it took guts to imagine Georgia hosting the Olympics; becoming the home of several major league sports franchises; luring several multi-national corporations to this state; and creating a lottery that would fund a college education for every Georgian with at least a "B" average.

We had the visionaries though.

We had folks like Joe Frank Harris, Tom Murphy, Andrew Young, Ted Turner, Ivan Allen, William B. Hartsfield, Maynard Jackson, and yes, Zell Miller too. All the folks I just listed had guts.

Where are Georgia's visionaries today?

These days, all we have are a bunch of pussies who (out of a fear of not getting re-elected) refuse to take some initiative; to show some guts; to have some balls.

Georgia needs visionaries. And we need them now.

It's time to step it up.