Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Leaders Modify Views toward Atlanta; They Know the Mayor's Help Was Key in Passing the Transportation Tax

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Leaders Modify Views toward Atlanta; They Know the Mayor's Help Was Key in Passing the Transportation Tax

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - The prevailing sentiment toward Atlanta may be changing.

Generations of politicians have won elections running against the state's capital city, its crime, traffic and high taxes. People who have chosen to live in other parts of the state feel their decision is validated every time someone badmouths the big city.

Atlantans have also enjoyed hearing reminders of why they opted to live in the metro area rather than their hometowns.

Last week, the icy relationship showed more signs of thawing. It was in the governor's office, held only once in this generation by an Atlanta native, the accidental governor, Lester Maddox. The current occupant, Sonny Perdue of rural Bonaire, House Speaker David Ralston of equally rural Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Gainesville took turns in front of television cameras and newspaper reporters praising Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, an act of political suicide for their predecessors.

The occasion was the ceremony for the signing into law of the transportation sales tax. Few present could recall any previous circumstance where the state's top three elective officials publicly thanked any Atlanta mayor.

Perdue, Cagle and Ralston each gushed about Reed's commitment, attitude and ultimate success in delivering key votes needed for passage of the long-awaited bill.

"I never knew when I named Sen. Kasim Reed to a conference committee on transportation three years ago that it would pay such dividends," Cagle quipped.

Granted, the circumstances represented a rare convergence of all their mutual interests. The state's top three leaders invested considerable political capital in the multiyear struggle to craft a funding plan, and Reed recognized it as the city's best hope for tackling problems with MARTA and traffic congestion.

Another novelty is Reed's background as a former legislator who not only knew his way around the Capitol but had developed a solid reputation as smart, honorable and willing to negotiate. The men heaping praise on him already had a rapport with him and felt a shared connection to their own political careers. …

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