It’s been six months since we took to the streets in an attempt to force the City of Altanta to let its citizens vote on whether or not we wanted to publicly fund a massive portion of the new $1.2 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium. Although we came up short on the number of required signatures to put the issue on the ballot, folks haven’t stopped paying attention or wanting to do something about it.
Four residents of neighborhoods near the proposed site have filed a motion to intervene in the Fulton County Superior Court. The residents claim that the 2010 extension of the hotel-motel tax for the new stadium was in-and-of-itself unconstitutional, making it ultimately illegal to allocate the public dollars to the project. They contend that the process has been flawed all along. It also alleges that an agreement to transfer almost three acres of property from the City of Atlanta to the Georgia World Congress Center was legally inappropriate.
A piece in the AJC by Katie Leslie and Tim Tucker quotes one of the residents who filed the motion as saying:
“We just want things to be done correctly,” said Lewis, adding he hopes the lawsuit will reopen talks with city and Falcons officials. “We’ve tried everything and did everything we can do … We’re just hoping that the community will get what it deserves.”
CCGA Executive Director William Perry said:
Seventy-five percent of Georgians opposed public financing of this stadium, we did all we could to give them a voice and came up short, however, we applaud this group of citizens who are standing up to hold power accountable.
The bottom line is the General Assembly may have committed a procedural mistake when authorizing the hotel-motel tax revenue to be available to fund this project in 2010. If that’s the case, the legislature should have to go back and fix the mistake that was made before public funding can move forward. If this legal challenge causes that to happen, then its a whole new ball game – there has been a lot of change in the makeup of the legislature since 2010, the newer crowd of lawmakers may be more in touch with the will of the people. Either way, the public will have something we didn’t have in 2010 when the funding was quietly passed – advanced notice and the opportunity to weigh in with our legislators on the issue of providing almost a billion dollars of pubic funds to this stadium project.
We plan to attend the bond validation hearing Monday morning and continue to watchdog this issue.