REMINDER: Register for a “Wireside Chat” To Learn About the Transportation Referendum

On July 31, you have the opportunity to vote on a referendum that will fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional one percent sales tax. The Atlanta Regional Commission will host a series of 12 Wireside Chats over six evenings in June to help you understand what projects are on the list and how the penny tax would impact your community. Local officials will be on the phone to answer questions during each chat. In order to participate, simply register your name and phone number at www.wiresidechats.com and be available at the designated time on the number you provide. With more than 150 projects on the list, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn the facts and make an educated decision on July 31.

1942: Seventy years ago, Franklin Roosevelt gave what has become known as the “Map Speech” at one of his fireside chats. In anticipation of his radio address he asked all Americans to buy world maps. The response was overwhelming and actually created a shortage of maps across the United States. More than 80% of citizens listened to the President’s address on February 23, 1942, in which he detailed the progress of the wars both in Europe and in the Pacific, while citizens used their maps to follow along at home.

Cut to 2012, and the Atlanta Regional Commission is taking a page out of history by organizing a series of Wireside Chats. It faces significant communication challenges in advance of several hundred thousand residents going to the polls this summer to consider an additional sales tax to support transportation investments. Whatever decision voters make, it is critical that an individual’s choice is based on the facts about how the tax works and the projects supported through this additional revenue. The regional project list is diverse, improving both the existing network and expanding options for the future. But with 157 projects (and many others on the local project list), it is difficult even for highly engaged voters to understand the impact on their lives.

2012: ARC will host 12 hour-long telephone conversations, featuring a brief overview of the transportation projects, and a Q&A forum. Advertised in advance, citizens will be asked to sign up for any of the 12 chats. Several days ahead of the chat, they will receive email reminders with a project map attached. The night of the scheduled chat, citizens will be called at the number they registered and have the opportunity to ask questions. Everyone who asks a question will receive an answer, even if it wasn’t answered live during the call.

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