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Redlight The Gulch Litigation

$17,920 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 185 people in 6 months
Created November 4, 2018
The City of Atlanta's Bucks for Billionaires Gulch Scheme that passed Council on Mon Nov 5 would short schools and public services of $1.44 Billion. Residents would end up holding the bag - yet would own no share of this huge private development.  

This really has been a fight over what sort of city Atlanta is going to be - one run for all residents or one run for a few powerful, wealthy insiders by their pawns. Six Council Members stood firm with their constituents and we should all support them.

The Gulch Scheme has several legal vulnerabilities. Now we're forced to fight it in court, we are ready to do so.  Our crack legal expert has already warned council that the sales tax exemption part of the scheme is unconstitutional. See his letter and an explainer on RedLightTheGulch.com.
Preventing this scheme from going through would save every family in the city $13,000.

Sadly, litigation is not cheap, even with attorneys working at steeply cut rates.  We'll need to raise $30,000 quickly to pay the legal team to prepare filings and object at the bond validation hearings and, if necessary, to appeal.  Since the Gulchies rushed their scheme past Invest Atlanta on Nov 8, the court date could be in the next few days.  

It's now or never. If bond validation is not challenged, the scheme is locked in.

Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of constituents have been outraged enough to protest to their council members and attend meetings to show opposition.   Many supportive people have now contributed. We're on our way! 

Please contribute what you can - and get like-minded friends to do the same - to head off a scheme that would cost every resident and every public employee of this city. Let's send another signal to today's leaders that the Atlanta game has to change.

 Any money left over will go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

This Gofundme Fundraiser is being run by Julian Bene of Atlanta, GA - the person interviewed by WSB's Richard Belcher in the video clip above. Julian Bene is a member of the Redlight the Gulch Coalition that has campaigned against the Gulch Scheme and its BillionDollar Plus public giveaway.  (A quick Google search on "Atlanta Gulch Julian Bene" will show several articles and op-eds in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and in other Atlanta media reports.) As stated above, the funds are being raised to pay the legal costs of objecting to Gulch bond validation. So Julian Bene has paid for a court copy of the ~1,700 page bond petitions and exhibits. And he will pay the rest of the money contributed to this Gofundme to the attorneys on the Redlight the Gulch Coalition's legal team. The Gofundme money may be supplemented by contributions to these legal fees and expenses from other allies of the Redlight the Gulch Coalition.
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Maria Saporta is out with a report* today that APS is displeased with the City for failing to send them $10mm as part of the Gulch deal.

The APS board on Jan 7 agreed to give $695mm of our school taxes to the Gulch developer and to other TADs. In return they were to receive $175mm in rebates. That left APS about $520mm worse off - a terrible deal for students, their families and taxpayers. APS appeared to trade an instant rebate of $10mm for an enormous net burden over the next 20-30 years.

Well, now the City is dragging its feet on that instant $10mm. The report suggests that legal challenges to the deal explain the City’s reluctance to keep its side of the bargain.

APS board had no excuse for the deal they rushed through on Jan 7. And they can hardly claim they didn’t know the City was an unreliable partner after the near-interminable wrangle over Beltline TAD rebates.

The public is tired of our interests coming last. District 3 voted last week to reject the School Board member who had pushed for the Mayor’s Gulch deal and elected newcomer Antonio Brown to represent them on Council instead.

Atlanta residents would be vastly better off if both the City and School Board would stop using our taxes for big-developer subsidies. Where there are legal problems with such deals, they deserve to be challenged. But challenges are not free. Right now we need a few more contributions to fund the cost of court transcripts. Thank you.

* https://saportareport.com/aps-city-of-atlanta-late-in-making-10-million-payment-on-tad-agreement/
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Today marks 5 months since the City filed the Gulch deal with the court. Still no rulings from the judge. Our intervention had an impact. The judge may be waiting until he’s settled the companion case that challenges the Jan 7 APS / City agreement on TADs. If so, this could take a while. But with so many potential twists and turns any prediction is speculation.

Meantime, we still have about $4,000 to find for court reporter fees. Some of you have already been more than generous in your contributions. Perhaps some other contributors are now in a position to dig deeper and help out.

Think of it as an investment. It would cost the most affluent 10,000 households in the city up to $87,500* each if the developer wins! A few hundred dollars to keep that from happening is money well spent. Thank you!

* The calculation of the Gulch deal’s cost per affluent household
• Property tax lost: up to $625mm
• Local sales tax lost: up to $250mm (the remaining billion in the deal is state sales tax, where city residents share the burden with all other Georgians)
• Total local tax loss = up to $875mm
• Shared by the 10,000 Atlanta households with the wherewithal: up to $87,500 each
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Antonio Brown, the anti-Gulch candidate in the Council District 3 race, won the runoff last night. Thank you to all who supported Antonio. Let's hope the result is seen by other elected officials as a signal that backing Bucks for Billionaire Boondoggles is bad politics. Stephen Deere has a good take on what was at stake in this race:
https://www.ajc.com/news/district-race-might-shift-atlanta-mayor-priorities/k2gqzIMItQBRnGjgMfCHXI/
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The Gulch deal is a hot issue in next Tuesday’s Atlanta Council District 3 runoff election. At yesterday’s debate on WABE, Rose Scott asked the candidates how they would have voted on the Gulch.

Antonio Brown answered, “I’d have voted No.” He mentioned our legal challenge; decried the lack of jobs brought by the development compared to the billions in tax abatement; and pointed out that schools need the money.

Byron Amos also claimed he would have voted No, but Brown asked why in that case Amos voted Yes on the Gulch deal when he was on the school board [last December & January].

Mr. Amos claimed that without the deal “the City could expand or increase any TAD without the written permission of the school board. In addition the deal added $20-30mm back into the school budget.”

Mr. Amos's excuse for supporting the Gulch deal makes no legal sense. The Georgia Constitution expressly requires school board agreement for extending TADs using school taxes. APS originally agreed to participate in the Westside TAD only until 2023, so they had no obligation to fund the Gulch.
Last December, Mr. Amos opposed the majority on the school board who then refused to participate in the Gulch deal.
Far from helping the schools budget, APS's January about-face cost the schools about $520mm net over the next 20-30 years.

The Redlight the Gulch Coalition is an informal group that does not endorse candidates. We do seek to inform the public on the Gulch deal.
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$17,920 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 185 people in 6 months
Created November 4, 2018
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