Image via Redlight the Gulch.
By Julian Bene
Many Atlanta residents oppose the Mayor’s scheme to let billionaire developers CIM siphon off $1.5 Billion of our taxes for the Gulch. CIM has a vague plan to put a Midtown’s worth of office towers and a retail mall in the Gulch that they would own entirely, even though the public would put in at least one-third of the investment, hobbling the City’s and Schools’ already-tight finances.
Our opposition should not be surprising. New York City just received widespread condemnation for giving away the same amount of subsidy to win Amazon’s HQ 2 ½ and its 25,000 high-paid jobs. Well, New York has 17 times as many residents to carry the load as our city does. And Atlanta is not getting a single new job in return for the Mayor’s largesse. The Gulch is the worst deal the City has ever done.
After about three months of deceptions and arm-twisting, the Mayor finally got the eight votes she needed on Council in early November. The all-powerful billionaire wheeler-dealers had won again and Atlanta residents’ interests were an afterthought, as usual. Cue Mayoral victory parade.
However, the Redlight the Gulch Coalition suspected that this scheme did not pass legal muster. We had warned Council and the City Attorney well before Council passed the deal of one serious constitutional impediment to the deal. They chose to ignore it and bulldozed forward.
We said we’d intervene in the bond validation, which is the legal process for crying foul over legal problems with deals like these, before a judge makes them unchallengeable. Over 100 residents generously contributed to our Gofundme campaign to pay initial legal fees and enable us to mount the legal challenge. We still need contributions – so please give here.
We duly filed 30 legal objections to the Gulch scheme with the Court last Monday. Judge McBurney set the hearing for next Wednesday. While these proceedings are dry as dust, the principles are vitally important. The state constitution and relevant laws are there to protect the public from misuse of tax money. Our legal advice says the Gulch scheme fails to follow the law in very many respects. We have simply asked the Court to uphold the law.
It’s a battle worth fighting. School, City, County and State taxes should be taking care of school kids, teachers, cops, firefighters, pothole repair and all the rest. Blocking this massive and unjustified billionaire giveaway would keep us from tax increases or service deterioration down the road. If, as we believe, the scheme is unlawful, let it be thrown out. And let the City finally get back to working on behalf of residents – not doing deals with big-money interests.