Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms abstained on a key ATL Board vote Thursday. Problem is, she couldn't under state law. (FILE PHOTO: Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com)
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Transit board: Sorry, Mayor Bottoms, you can't abstain

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday, a new metro Atlanta transit board has approved a method for selecting projects for funding as it prepares to adopt a regional transit plan later this year. 

The ATL Board process includes 14 criteria designed to bring a measure of objectivity to decisions about which projects are first in line for crucial federal and state funding. Those decisions could be politically sensitive as fast-growing suburbs compete for funding with areas inside the Perimeter that still don’t have transit services they were promised decades ago

The ATL Board approved the selection process without dissent. But Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms must have had reservations, because she abstained from voting. 

One problem: Under state law, she couldn’t. 

The General Assembly created the 16-member ATL Board last year as part of sweeping legislation that could pave the way for transit expansion across metro Atlanta. The board oversees transit planning and funding in 13 metro Atlanta counties. 

Many government bodies follow Robert’s Rules of Order, which permit members to abstain from voting. Abstentions are not uncommon on controversial matters. 

But the legislation creating the ATL Board prohibits its members from abstaining. 

The board’s staff realized later that Bottoms could not abstain from voting on the selection process. The staff contacted the mayor, who officially changed her vote to “yes” in writing, according to ATL Board spokeswoman Ericka Davis. 

You can read more about the selection process the board approved here. You can learn more about the ATL Board here.

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About the Author

David Wickert
David Wickert
David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois...
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