APN 2011 Endorsements: Farmer for APS, Yes on Sunday Alcohol, No on E-SPLOST IV
(APN) ATLANTA — The Atlanta Progressive News Board of Directors has issued the following endorsements for the upcoming General Election on November 08, 2011.
ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT II (SPECIAL ELECTION): DWANDA FARMER
APN endorses Dwanda Farmer in the School Board race.
As APS faces the need for more funding, Farmer is the best equipped to help APS diversify its revenue streams because of her familiarity with applying for and implementing federal grants. Farmer has managed countless grants, consulted for others, and even helped the federal government make decisions on who they will award grants to.
Farmer is a progressive advocate who has been active in the Atlanta activist community for several years; she is one of the advocates who protested against the panhandling ban in 2005. She is one of the few advocates who has been willing to criticize the Beltline. She is a strong advocate for affordable housing, and has helped create units of truly affordable housing in her community.
Farmer has participated on several Boards, both governmental entities like Fulton County Workforce Development and neighborhood-based civic organizations.
As for the other candidates, only three participated in candidate interviews with APN: Byron Amos, Angela Brown, and Donald Walker.
Amos’s participation in several Youtube videos with rappers spewing profanity and homophobic remarks raise serious concern about whether Amos can serve as an appropriate role model for children.
Brown’s close association with the same group of political operatives–former Board Member Khaatim El, State Sen. Vincent Fort, and State Rep. Rashad Taylor–who helped orchestrate the Gang of Five’s controversial takeover of the BOE last year, also raises serious concerns.
Walker, on the other hand, is another good candidate, and the only candidate in the race who is actually a teacher. He also is the only candidate who also ran for same seat, challenging El, in 2009, showing that he is committed to the race. APN is endorsing Farmer in this five-person race, however, because of her strong history as a community activist, her grant-writing skills, and her independence from the political machine.
CITY OF ATLANTA SPECIAL ELECTION ON SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES — YES
APN supports alcohol sales on Sunday. APN’s Board of Directors would also like to note its support for marijuana sales on Sunday as well, although such a measure is not currently on the ballot.
FULTON AND DEKALB SPECIAL PURPOSE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES IV — NO
Fifteen years is enough. Sales tax is a regressive tax that disproportionately harms working families.
Currently, City of Atlanta charges an eight percent sales tax, including four pennies for the State of Georgia, three pennies for Fulton County, and one penny for the City for water treatment. This is way too high.
E-SPLOST IV is about the renewal of one of the current three Fulton County pennies.
City of Atlanta voters will participate in three sales tax votes over the next few months: E-SPLOST IV on November 08, 2011; the water treatment penny renewal during the March 2012 Presidential Primary; and T-SPLOST, a possible ninth penny, in July 2012.
Thus, voters have the opportunity to vote no, no, and no, bringing the City of Atlanta’s sales tax down to six cents per dollar, and should take the opportunity to do so.
APS is already planning for E-SPLOSTS V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX. They have come to count on working families to subsidize their budget shortfall. At some point, working families need to say, enough is enough, we don’t have the money.
If a working person spends about 800 dollars per month over a year, he or she will pay 100 dollars in sales tax over the course of that year (or, one percent of 10,000 dollars). It may be paid one penny at a time, but over time, it adds up.
To be sure, APS has produced several beautiful new school campuses through construction and renovations.
However, there is more to children having a comfortable learning environment than a brand new building, and APS should focus on those things too. In cities other than Atlanta, older buildings are embraced as a part of life; only in Atlanta do we consider a building decrepit after thirty years. We need to get more out of our investment.
Now, E-SPLOST IV includes funding for three new schools. One of these has already been paid for through the Certificates of Participation program (COPS), but the SPLOST funding would be used to pay back the loans.
Most of the funding, however, is for routine maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure. SPLOST is a special purpose tax. Routine maintenance and upkeep is not a special purpose. APS needs to figure out how to cover such costs through its general operating budget.
APS may have a budget shortfall, and as a result, they are seeking to push the burden onto working families. Working families should reject this burden so that E-SPLOST does not come to be relied upon as a permanent funding stream for APS.