Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lester Maddox lives on, in MARTA woes

(The late Lester Maddox, above)

The ghost of Lester Maddox -- the ax-handle-toting, proudly segregationist Georgia politician -- is with us still, in the form of a provision that's hamstringing MARTA's efforts to deal with the downturn in sales tax receipts due to the recession. (The photo above is Maddox in 2001.)
It seems that way back when MARTA was being formed, then-Lt. Gov. Maddox ensured that a provision in state law would prevent the subway-transit system from using more than 50 percent of its revenues for operations. MARTA wants the legislature to remove those restrictions.
Charlotte's transit system is in no way perfect, but we in the Queen City should thank our lucky stars the city didn't have to try to placate politicians who were quite as antediluvian as Lester Maddox. (Though to be fair to Georgia I could, of course, name some Charlotte names of folks who lacked only for ax handles ...)


Anonymous said...

One of the best quotes on MARTA from the link:

"MARTA is the 9th largest Transit system in the country, 6th in daily ridership and yet it is the only one in the county not to receive state level funding. Don't get a two county 1% sales tax confused with a state wide sales tax, because that's not the case. The MARTA situation is just another example of how my home state has one foot in the 21st century and the other stuck one stuck in the 20th century"

barkomomma said...

And here we're so much smarter: we just keep throwing money at everything. Inaccurate schedule? More money. Bogus congestion and environmental impact? More money. Estimated operational funding based on the falicy of ever-increasing tax revenue? More money.

Um, yeah. We're right and they're wrong.

And funny: the word verification came up as "spention." I can see GovCo adding that one to their lexicon.

Cato said...

According to the article, the reason Maddox finagled that provision into the law was to ensure that the system would always have to charge fares. This was intended to keep the "winos" from hanging out on the subway all day. The funding restriction may have been a ham-fisted way to accomplish it, but it's not an unreasonable objective. This remains true even if the person proposing it was as loathsome as Maddox.

From reading you over the years, I think you frequently fail to understand the extent to which the tolerance of bad behavior - even a little - drives out good from public spaces.