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UPDATE: Rep. Jacobs Responds to Accusations of 'Inappropriate' Behavior as MARTA Oversight Chairman

Rep. Mike Jacobs is speaking out about accusations that he is out of line and overstepping his role as MARTA Oversight Committee Chairman.

Well-known Atlanta journalist and creator of The Saporta Report, Maria Saporta, is calling out State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-DeKalb) for being “inappropriate” in his role as chairman of the state MARTA Oversight Committee, accusing him of being vindictive and working at “cross purposes against his district and against MARTA.”

Responding to Saporta’s accusation that Jacobs is overstepping his role as MARTOC chairman, Jacobs said, “If MARTA is not in agreement with work of their legislative oversight committee, we must be doing something right.”

The transit authority faces a $33 million deficit and has made recent headlines for spending $144,000 for a consultant to improve and study executive leadership, along with nearly $800 for the consultant to present his findings orally in a rented room five miles from its six-story facility, during a December 2011 retreat.

Jacobs is addressing the transit authority's spending in a special legislative hearing.

Saporta in a Monday column criticized Jacobs’ public support for MARTA Chief Operating Officer Dwight Ferrell to be named as MARTA’s new general manager, a position left vacant now that former General Manager Beverly Scott has accepted a position in Boston.

Saporta also accused Jacobs of using his position on MARTOC as a political platform for the creation of the City of Brookhaven.

On Oct. 4, MARTA board members voted San Antonio's chief of VIA Metropolitan Transit Keith Parker as General Manager, instead of Ferrell. Board member Wendy Butler, Jacobs’ former campaign manager, abstained from the vote.

“I am perfectly willing to work with Keith Parker. However, it’s important for everyone to recognize bold action is needed to stem the tide of red ink at MARTA,” Jacobs told Brookhaven Patch.

Also last week, Jacobs filed a complaint last week that the MARTA GM selection process did not follow Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, zeroing in on an email from MARTA Board Director Barbara Babbitt Kaufman asking other board members for their vote on the GM.

A lawyer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the email did not violate any law.

Jacobs amended his complaint this week to also include falsification of documents, stating that Kaufman furnished a false affidavit to show compliance with the open meetings law.

Saporta wrote in a recent column in her popular SaportaReport, “What a big disappointment Jacobs has been in his role as MARTOC chairman. He had the opportunity to become a real statesman — helping resolve several structural issues in the MARTA Act and improving relations between Georgia’s largest public transit agency and the state.”

Jacobs also told Brookhaven Patch, “Maria Saporta has been paid $10,000 by MARTA to write articles like that.”

Saporta said she has not yet received $10,000 from MARTA, but is set to receive that amount as payment for an ad on her digital publication’s “Thought Leadership” section, which features columns from other local advertisers.

Saporta said the agency is an advertiser, but advertisers do not influence editorial content, similar to the design of traditional newspapers.

“They purchase a space where they can write what they want,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the digital publication released a column about the Thought Leadership contract with MARTA, saying that MARTA did, in fact, purchase a Thought Leadership website from SaportaReport in June.

However, no MARTA-sponsored columns on Thought Leadership page have run since then.

In the Wednesday column, Saporta Report publisher Chris Schroder stated, "Those columns should start soon."

Do you think Jacobs is overstepping in his role as MARTOC Chairman? Was it appropriate for his former campaign manager to abstain from MARTA's GM vote? Are Saporta's accusations unfounded?Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Eric H October 16, 2012 at 04:03 AM
I also don't understand what's so "astonishing" about my defense of MARTA. I don't believe I ever claimed it was perfect. But as a daily rider I find it valuable, safe and more hassle free than driving on the interstates. I know others from the neighborhood use it daily for work as do several of my co-workers, and they aren't all tough men like me ;-).
Eric H October 16, 2012 at 04:12 AM
By the way if by chance you ever did want to go to Lenox Mall or Town Sembler you the 25 also goes the other way down Johnson Ferry to Peachtree and then on to the Lenox Marta Rail station next to Lenox Mall. Granted the 25 bus only runs approximately every 1 hour and 15 minutes so know the schedule. One criticism many have about MARTA is that they were slow to release the code for their bus tracking software that will allow developers to make Apps that will allow you to track the buses on your Smart Phone. MARTA has that function on a website though I've heard its not easily SmartPhone accessible. There is an app for the Atlantic Station shuttle that's great because it shows real time where the shuttle is. This should be what the Bus App ultimately will be, which is important since the buses due to traffic issues do not always run on schedule like the trains.
Eric H October 16, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Mr. Hamburger are you speaking of the somewhat or more recent discussions of rail to South DeKalb? Yes there was a route off the North Line that would go by Turner Field. Though the route recently adopted was swinging the rail down from Indian Creek along 285 and out I-20 a bit. Though part of the reason for that is its less track to lay. I suppose one good question to also ask is why did they extend it from Avondale to Indian Creek? Had they taken a more Southeasterly route perhaps it would be easier to get a station at Wesley Chapel and I20.
HamBurger October 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Mr. Eric, the routes I am speaking of were talked about back in the late ‘60’s or early 70’s. Please pass the yellow mustard!
Eric H October 16, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Oh sorry I read your post incorrectly. Here is an early map of ideas is that spur for future rail going off the North/South line in a Southeasterly direction what you are speaking of? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marta_plan.png

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