The people want their voices to be heard when it comes to the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium, and Common Cause Georgia intends to make it so.
But how successful will they be?
According to Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia William Perry, very. According to Atlanta’s mayor Kasim Reed, not at all.
The truth lies somewhere in between.
Originally, the Common Cause group was in favor of a new stadium. However, once the organization was met with resistance when asking for more transparency in the negotiations between the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, they changed their position and went public with that decision. Common Cause found an obscure city ordinance that would, in a sense, allow Atlanta voters to decide the fate of the new stadium.
Common Cause claims that if they are able to get 40,000 signatures on their petition, their movement to repeal the council approval of the city money going to the new stadium will go to public vote in November. Atlanta voters would then decide on whether they approve or disapprove the original measure. However, City Attorney Cathy Hampton has now cut off the Cause at the pass with a brief and to-the-point statement charging that state law prohibits cities from initiating any public referendum such as this one. Interesting, indeed…considering Perry’s claim that the city’s legal staff worked with him on the measure for over a week.
The immediate question that comes to mind is if this city ordinance violates state law, how did it come into being to begin with? Are the powers-that-be so unaware of the laws of their state land?
Also, is the timing of Hampton’s statement purely coincidental? Only maybe.
Suppose the legal red tape is made non-binding, Common Cause gets their 40,000 signatures and the Atlanta city voters are allowed to make this decision. What then?
In a word, nothing. Just because the public is allowed to vote on the funding doesn’t mean that the city has to abide by it, but the public will have had the opportunity to have their voice heard.
But will that be enough?