Category: Environment

Cobb Transportation Plan Up for Public Review

Cobb County Government Announcement

An ongoing series of public meetings offers residents something they can’t always get while sitting in daily traffic — the chance to do something about it. Chairman Mike Boyce said feedback received during the Comprehensive Transportation Plan meetings will help form a project list that could show up in a future Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or a referendum on transit and transportation programs.

“The residents of Cobb County are the key to the solution,” Boyce said.  “We want to give them a chance to be a part of the solution. Five people (members of the Board of Commissioners) can formulate a product, but I’d be happier if 5,000 people or more have a voice in it.”

A CTP is a county-wide, long-range multimodal transportation plan that will assess Cobb County’s existing and future transportation needs including roadways, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, transit services, and freight considerations.  Cobb last updated its CTP in 2015, this year’s meetings have been dubbed “CobbForward.”

Previous CTPs resulted in such projects as the East-West Connector and easier access to Interstate 75 through diverging diamond interchanges.

“CobbForward will give residents many opportunities to provide their ideas about how we should spend their transportation tax dollars to improve their commutes,” Eric Meyer, planning division manager for the Cobb Department Of Transportation, said.

“They can interact with our staff directly on the topics of transit, pedestrian safety, technology—we want the people of Cobb to give us their insights to further focus our planning on the needs of our communities.”

Some projects may be elevated for consideration in the Regional Transportation Plan and compete for federal and state funds. Cobb Forward will also include county transit recommendations that can be incorporated into the region’s transit vision, which will be developed and managed by the newly-formed Atlanta Transit Link Authority.

Meeting Dates

  • 7-9 p.m., Monday, April 29
    Cobb Senior Wellness Center, 1150 Powder Springs St, Marietta
  •  7-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 30
    Threadmill Complex, 5000 Austell Powder Springs Road SW, Suite 101, Austell
  •  6-8 p.m., Monday, May 6 (NEW DATE, TIME)
    Acworth Community Center, 4361 Cherokee St, Acworth
  • 7-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 7
    East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta
  • 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, May 8
    Ben Robertson Community Center, 2753 Watts Drive, Kennesaw
  • 7-9 p.m., Thursday, May 9
    South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, MabletonFor more information, go to CobbForward.org.


    Cobb Citizen Experts Weigh In

    Two Cobb citizens who follow transportation issues have addressed the issue. IndieDems considers their assessments worthy of consideration.

    Cobb Comprehensive Transportation Plan—Your Input Needed
    By Ron Sifen
    rsifen@aol.com

    Hi everybody.  Every 5 years, Cobb County is required to update its Comprehensive Transportation Plan.  Cobb is beginning the process of a new update now.

    The County is starting out by establishing goals and objectives.

    Currently, the main categories are:

  • Enhance Mobility.
  • Improve Safety
  • Be Cost Effective
  • Use Innovative Technology (invest in 21st century technology)
  • Equity
  • Land Use

The County is asking that you rank the top 4 in order of highest priority. #1 is highest priority, then 2, then 3, then 4.

Obviously, we have traffic/mobility problems countywide.  There are a variety of different types of investments that could improve “mobility”.  Clearly, we need some investments that improve mobility throughout the county.

 Safety speaks for itself.  One of the specifics included in the safety category is to invest in reducing the number of accidents.

One specific that the County is including under Cost-Effective is to keep our transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair.  Over the last few years, Cobb has been under-investing in road repair and resurfacing.  That is why we see so many roads in bad condition.  So as we plan for the future, it may need to be a priority to be sure that we invest sufficiently in keeping all of our transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair.

21st century technology is going to revolutionize transportation.  It may be the most cost-effective investment we can make, and it will accomplish the most to improve both mobility and safety in the future.

Equity means that everyone needs to be treated fairly, or “equitably” by this plan.

What are your priorities?  Don’t let the special interests control the input.  Cobb needs to hear from regular citizens.  What are YOUR priorities? You can provide your input by emailing to cobbforward@cobbcounty.org

Put  CTP recommendations  in the subject line. (CTP is Comprehensive Transportation Plan.)

I will send you more information soon, but now is the time for your input on this part of the process. Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,
Ron Sifen


Old Solutions Are not Applicable for the Emerging Future
By Michael Opitz

It takes years to build or make a major change in transportation infrastructure as well as spending millions on construction just to move people from point A to point B and other destinations along the way; however, the primary reason for transportation and commerce to get people to work and back home, and the streets are congested during those peak hours. Government keeps trying to create transportation solutions to address those dynamics of people and getting to the workplace.

Some people think 21st century technology solving transportation involves driver-less cars and other types of people movers. We need to begin shifting and expanding our thinking into another direction as new technology emerges. Typically technology emerges and change begins to happen without having planned or anticipated the impact. We have seen the functional evolution of electric typewriters into word processors to desktop computers that have many times the computing power of multi-million dollar computers sold during the 1980s. And then of course there is the IPhone and other hand held wireless devices. No one predicted these innovations and the impact they would have on society. Those technologies just seem to merge into our lives and businesses all unplanned.

But now the technology infrastructure is in place, if we open our eyes, we can see the next stages of advancement; although we may not yet see the impact on humanity and our society. Most people do not know that we are in the middle of a 5G rollout and implementation. Rather than explain 5G technology here, the more curious can goggle it. The infrastructure of 5G technology is currently being rolled out to some Cobb neighborhoods, but the core technology and antennas will be rolled out initially in metro Atlanta. What does that mean to us?

Knowledge workers will work in a virtual environment in their home. People in manufacturing build will need to go to work to construct the widgets. But most of the other workers will integrate into a virtual reality world.  Before you begin thinking that I have been reading too many sci-fi novels, let me explain that the technology and the future implementations have been in the planning since the 1980s.  While working at AT&T, one of my assignments was to take Bell Lab’s technology and introduce it to the commercial market place. The development of application software, fiber optics, computer chips, Ethernet, 802.3 communications standards leading to the development and implementation of the internet, and so on.

In the mid 1990s Bell Labs developed the first virtual reality device that integrated with hard ware moved objects with a force complying with laws of physics. I experienced this system, and was quite excited about introducing to the commercial markets. One application was to allow a virtual reality engineering team to design a complex device with and another group of consulting engineers across the country. The problem was that the then 2G bandwidth of our long distance communication wasn’t sufficient to transmit solid graphical information and the local computers were not powerful enough to process that information.

5G now makes that transmission feasible and our desktop top computers are now powerful enough to process complex graphical data integrated with voice and video. It will no longer be necessary physically to go to an office to handle administrative and managerial tasks. No need to walk down the hall to meet face to face with another person or group of people. They are all available on a virtual reality headset which is now available now. There will be lots of innovations that will provide more expansive capabilities.

With this kind incredible transformation of information sharing and communications from your home or anywhere, the spending of millions on transportation systems to include cars, rail and highways is in need of drastic reevaluation and a reduced role for government planning. The marketplace has always been the driver for new technology. My advice is government should not embark on massive spending programs until they understand the dynamics of this fast emerging technology.  Consider that technology has reduced the need to build new shopping centers, as we order our products over the internet.

This is just a quick summary of what we will begin experiencing in our daily lives. And I have not begun to discuss the impact home robots and artificial intelligence that is emerging not in the future, but is being implemented now.

Michael Opitz
President
Madison Forum
www.madisonforum.org
“Knowledge is power… Ignorance is slavery.” M. Opitz

Cobb EMC May Support Innovative Financing of Home Energy Efficiency Upgrade

Environmentalists nationwide are teaming with electric utility companies to implement an innovative program to foster energy efficiency upgrades in homes and businesses. The essence of the initiative is an innovative financing mechanism in which a utility uses its borrowing power to finance the upgrades, at no upfront cost to its customers. The result is a win-win situation, in which customers lower their electricity consumption and ultimately their bills, and the utility lowers its costs for the power acquisition.

(NOTE: The new program is not to be confused with the CEMC existing loan program for energy upgrades, as outlined on the CEMC web page.)

Georgia environmental groups are working to implement the new program in Georgia. Cobb EMC Forum, a volunteer watchdog group formed by CEMC members, reports that the CEMC Board of Directors is considering offering such an “Inclusive Financing” alternative to members. For further information contact Patrick Thompson, Advocate for Electric Co-op Members, 770-329-2746.

Here is a report on one of the pioneering programs in this endeavor being conducted by the Roanoke Electric Cooperative in rural North Carolina:

With no upfront costs, this innovative financing tool makes energy efficiency affordable to all

Report provided by ensiaensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet

Cobb Sierra Club Meets 11/1 to Examine New Initiatives, Including for Cobb EMC

Event: Monthly meeting of the Centennial Group, the Cobb/Fulton chapter of the Sierra Club
Date: Thursday, November 1
Time: 6:30pm, doors open. 7:00, Refreshments & Social. 7:30, Program
Place: Life University, 1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta 30060
Gymnasium Building: Room 311
Download Directions
Subject: Clean Energy for All – A closer look at a revamped Georgia Chapter priority campaign for counties that will involve the Centennial Group, Cobb County, and Cobb EMC in a big way in 2019.  The Sierra Club Clean Energy For All Committee (CEFA) works to stop the development of proposed dirty, dangerous energy sources like coal and nuclear plants, and scale up investment in clean, safe energy, like solar and wind.

Go to Centennial Group for details and more information on its activities.

Update on Cobb EMC Elections, Now Underway

Please see our earlier post, Critical Cobb EMC Elections Begin This Weekfor more details and recommendations for challenger candidates to vote for.

Members (i.e., all customers) of Cobb EMC are eligible to vote this month for three seats on CEMC’s Board of Directors. All members by now should have received a paper ballot in the mail. On-line voting is also available now. Members who are signed up to receive CEMC emails have received an email with instructions for on-line voting.

The deadline for submitting your online vote and for receipt of paper ballots is 5 p.m. (EDT) September 12, 2018.  If you use a paper ballot, you should mail it in time to be received by September 12.

You may also vote in person at the Annual Meeting on September 15, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Please note that once a vote is cast by paper ballot or on-line voting, it cannot be changed at the Annual meeting.

If you require assistance, please call Election Services Co (ESC) toll-free (866) 720-4357 during business hours Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (ET) or send an e-mail to: cemchelp@electionservicescorp.com.

Please see our earlier post, Critical Cobb EMC Elections Begin This Week, for more details and recommendations for challenger candidates to vote for.

Comment:  CEMC Moving Back to Days of Dwight Brown

IndieDems received the following from Patrick Thompson, an activist in the successful campaign a few years ago  to end the malfeasance under chairman Dwight Brown and to replace the Directors who served under him.

The recent history of ex-CEO Dwight Brown at Cobb Electric Member Cooperative demonstrates what happens when you run a member association as a personal bank with no accountability. This month, the Director election cycle has started again.

(Some Issues members should address are:)
  • Meetings on critical issues have moved to committees where there’s no visibility or input from members.
  • Filming Board meetings so all members can at least see Board proceedings has been struck down along with a member Bill of Rights.

Also, the Board recently chose a new CEO to replace Dwight Brown’s CFO, who remained at the company to help with the financial forensics of a broken organization. The new CEO was chosen after a supposedly exhaustive process but did not involve membership input. The resulting hire, Peter :

  • Is an executive with no real CEO or electrical utility experience who started his career at Enron running risky derivative models.
  • His main experience is with oil and gas at the CFO level and has resulted in bankruptcy after bankruptcy.
  • His last company was one where the main shareholder was a now-jailed Russian oligarch.

In accepting the position, Heintzelman stated he looks forward to growing the organization. Cobb EMC is not shareholder-owned nor is it a growth company. Who would choose this person to run a member-owned organization? And the new CFO’s experience is essentially in gas.

(CEMC’s relation with Gas South needs examining)

Gas South is a competitive shareholder business, so Cobb EMC members aren’t privy to any information on that subsidiary. (One result:) A community solar third-party arrangement, where the stated goal is not to help lower energy costs for members, was chosen without member input and with the personal investment interests of a Board member.

The energy mix of the company is still dependent on dirty energy.  These energy choices strap many retirees, renters, low-income members, and all members on a path to high energy bills. Members can pay an equal amount each month, but the cost is set at the highest billing rate, not a billing average. There is no Upgrade to Save program like other EMCs.

CEMC relies on traditional loan programs for those interested in purchasing more energy efficient equipment and upgrades – restricting improvement to those that can best afford it, not those who could most use it.

180,000 members own this company and they should vote for Directors that will actually work for openness and accountability. Vote the incumbent Directors out – they’ve proven unworthy of managing your utility budget for the long run.