Atlanta’s Transportation Investment Act really needs St. Francis of Assisi (smile)

By Michael Mumper

My mind is grappling with the magnitude of different approaches and reactions to the Transportation Investment Act, particularly for the Atlanta region, with two of these views presented by Steve Brown, Fayette County Commissioner, and Bruce Gunter, president of Progressive Redevelopment Inc(For more information on the TIA, click here).

Yes, we’ll be voting on it on the TIA July 31.

Well, maybe.

There are serious questions related to its constitutionality, to its governance , to a pro-TIA advertising campaign being funded , to its actually passing the vote , and to its ability to “stick” if it does pass (think about the past year’s attempts to gut Obamacare even after it passed into law).

I’ve heard many “sides” champion their views on TIA: pro-transit people in South DeKalb, the traffic congestion folks in Cobb, job-creation from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, fiscal conservatives in Fayette County, the business climate from the Chambers of Commerce, what-about-walkability from PEDS, and countless more.

Every one of these groups has great points.  Really.  Each group brings facts to the table, historical context, passion, comparable stories from other cities, and testimonials from Atlantans who this really matters to.  Each advocates for their constituents, and for the region, in a way they think – they know – is best.

And there are a several groups who tried to hear varying viewpoints – Atlanta Regional Commission, Civic League for Regional Atlanta, and the Partnership for Southern Equity come to mind, and every county and many elected officials had their own listening sessions.

   I’m not sure that we, collectively, really listen  

But I’m not sure that we, collectively, really listened.  I’m not sure we listened to truly understand, to ask questions, to dignify, and to acknowledge others’ viewpoints as valid and right, in their own context.

It was St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Lord, let me really try to understand others first, rather than working so hard to get my own point across.”  Ok, St. Francis said it quite a bit more eloquently, in an old Latin kinda way.

But you can be certain that anyone who came across St. Francis felt heard.  And if they got their time to bend his ear, and things didn’t turn out their way in the end, they probably were not going to continue to challenge Assisi’s constitutionality, question his authority, delay his judgment, vote him down, or gut him from the inside out.

This is not to imply that any one side here is playing the role of Assisi.

Really, we all are.

It is not in my mind to alienate any of the above groups – who are all doing a fantastic job advocating for their constituents, and for the region.  But I do truly believe the Transportation Investment Act, and Lords knows virtually any other kind of controversial
legislation, could use a little Assisi.

See Michael Mumper’s bio in the About Us section above.