ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
82°
Mostly Cloudy
H 88° L 67°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 67°
  • cloudy-day
    84°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 67°
  • cloudy-day
    68°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 86° L 66°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local Govt & Politics
New cost estimate for Gwinnett’s stand-alone MARTA vote: $769,000
Close

New cost estimate for Gwinnett’s stand-alone MARTA vote: $769,000

The Gwinnett Board of Voter Registrations and Elections on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

New cost estimate for Gwinnett’s stand-alone MARTA vote: $769,000

New projections put the cost of administering Gwinnett’s stand-alone MARTA election at about $769,000 — more than a quarter-million dollars higher than initial estimates.

The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners voted in August to call the referendum, during which voters will decide if the county should join MARTA and pay an extra 1 percent sales tax to cover the billions necessary for new transit projects. Transit advocates and Democrats rejoiced but also called foul — because the referendum was scheduled to be held all by itself on March 19, not during November’s general election.

IN-DEPTH: Gwinnett’s proposed 2019 budget: pay raises and more officers

When county officials initially estimated that the standalone March vote would cost around $500,000, the same folks criticized the government for wasting money, too.

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash revealed Tuesday her proposed county budget for 2019, it allotted even more money to run the county’s first MARTA vote since 1990.

The $768,937 budgeted for the referendum includes enough funding to offer six full days of advance voting at seven different satellite locations, plus one Sunday of early voting at the elections office, Gwinnett spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said. That’s in addition to typical offerings like Election Day voting at the county’s 156 precincts. 

Nash previously said that “having as much support from members of the Board of Commissioners for the ballot question[was] important enough to warrant the cost” of holding a special election rather than tacking the MARTA referendum onto ballots for elections that were already being held. 

District 4 Commissioner John Heard — who lost his re-election bid earlier this month — has admitted he traded his support for the referendum in exchange for having the election pushed back to March.

Voting in Gwinnett has also come under fire in recent weeks, with the county — a longtime Republican stronghold that’s quickly turning blue — becoming the target of multiple lawsuits and other accusations regarding transparency and the way it evaluates certain ballots.

All of that is likely to add an extra layer to the already contentious MARTA vote, which has the potential to pave the way for heavy rail in Gwinnett. 

The county’s plans include the possibility of extending rail from the existing Doraville MARTA station to the area near Jimmy Carter Boulevard and I-85 in Norcross — and perhaps all the way to the Gwinnett Place Mall area.

One recent poll raised questions about Gwinnett County’s appetite for transit, to which the suburb has been historically averse. But Nash helped create the legislation that allows Gwinnett to call a referendum, and she has been bullish on the odds of it passing. 

A survey released earlier this month by the Atlanta Regional Commission found that more than half of Gwinnett residents asked were willing to pay more taxes for transit expansion.

Read More

News

  • A Mississippi teen is fighting for her life after being shot in a drive-by shooting in Jonestown, Mississippi. >> Read more trending news  Family members said Lamonshae Williams was shot in the stomach during a graduation party overnight. She was rushed to Regional One in critical condition. Williams graduated from Coahoma Early College High School on Saturday. Relatives told FOX13 she graduated sixth in her class.  Another victim who was shot at the scene was treated at a local hospital and is expected to be OK. Lamonshae's mother Luetisha Gardner said she is heartbroken about the situation. She told FOX13 that Lamonsha's older sister was killed a few years ago. Jonestown has very limited police coverage, so Coahoma County deputies are currently handling the case. Officers have not identified any suspects at this time. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
  • A year ago, the world watched as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married at Windsor Castle’s historic St. George’s Chapel. Less than a year after their nuptials, they welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. On Sunday, the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary. >> Read more trending news  Harper’s Bazaar reported that the couple has shared behind-the-scenes moments from their big day in an Instagram post on Sussex Royal. Related: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline The video slideshow begins with a series of black-and-white photos that include images of Markle holding hands with her mother, Doria Ragland, and Prince Harry pretending to hitchhike to his wedding. Audio of “This Little Light of Mine,” which Sussex Royal said was selected by the couple for their recessional, can be heard as the images are displayed. The video slideshow ends in color images of the big day and wedding bells. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also shared a message to supporters, saying, “Thank you for all of the love and support from so many of you around the world. Each of you made this day even more meaningful.” Watch the video below.
  • Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College at institution’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school.  But during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the billionaire technology investor and philanthropist surprised some by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019.  >> Read more trending news  “This is my class, and I know my class will pay this forward,” he said. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony. The announcement elicited the biggest cheers of the morning. Tonga Releford, whose son, Charles Releford III, is a member of the class of 2019, estimates that her son’s student loans are around $70,000. “I feel like it’s Mother’s Day all over again,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith’s gift has been estimated at $40 million. Tonga Releford’s husband, Charles Hereford Jr., is also a Morehouse graduate. He said their younger son, Colin, is a junior at Morehouse, an all-male historically black college. The father said he doesn’t know who the keynote speaker will be at Colin’s graduation ceremony but is hoping for a return performance by Smith.  “Maybe he’ll come back next year,” he said.
  • The creepy, unsettling image of the “Momo challenge” will be coming to the big screen, according to one report. Deadline reported that “Getaway,” a horror film directed by Lilton Stewart III, will follow a group of teens on their last summer vacation before college who end up secluded in a cabin. >> Read more trending news  “In ghost story fashion, one tells the story of the urban legend, MOMO, a strange spirit of a bird-like woman that taunts its victims with specific personal details and violent commands via text message and phone calls,” Deadline reported. “What starts out as a harmless prank soon turns more sinister over the next 24 hours as the teens start disappearing without any motive or pattern.” The urban legend is inspired by the viral internet hoax that made the rounds last year. Related: What is the ‘Momo challenge’ and is it a hoax? Despite endless media coverage and local law enforcement warnings on social media of the supposed internet challenge, there were no verified cases of the “challenge” or people being harmed because of the game. “We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube,”  the video platform said on Twitter in February 2019. “Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”
  • DJ Khaled has released the music video for his single “Higher,” which stars John Legend and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. The song comes from the producer-DJ’s new album “Father of Asahd.” >> Read more trending news  Billboard reported that the video, directed by Eif Rivera, starts with a tribute to Hussle, who died after he was shot outside his now-shuttered The Marathon Clothing brick-and-mortar store March 31. The video, TMZ reported, is the last one Hussle shot. Behind-the-scenes video obtained by the tabloid site shows Legend, Hussle and Khaled standing on top of a parking structure with a piano and retro cars in shades of blue. Khaled said in a statement Wednesday that the video footage was shot days before Hussle died. Legend reflected on shooting the music video after news broke of Hussle’s death. “Recently, I embarked on a soul-searching journey down a road I never thought I would travel in a million years. It began when a tragedy robbed the world of an enlightened soul, a brother, a father, a partner and my friend, Nipsey Hussle,” the statement said. “Just days prior, he shared his energy and positivity with me on a video set for a song called, ‘Higher.’ After much prayer and reflection, and with the full blessing of the Asghedom family, I am sharing that moment with the world. “The very title of the song reminds us that vibrating on a ‘Higher; level was the essence of Nipsey’s soul. It is in this spirit, of moving forward, of preserving his mission that I, my co-workers, producers and label partners are donating 100% of all our proceeds from 'Higher' to Nipsey's children, Emani and Kross. “The Marathon Continues.” Watch the music video on YouTube and see a teaser below.
  • Alec Baldwin, Robert DeNiro and 'Saturday Night Live' cast members took one last jab at President Donald Trump's administration this week in the comedy show's final cold open of the season. In Saturday's sketch, Baldwin's Trump led first lady Melania Trump (Cecily Strong), Vice President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant) and other cast members in a musical number set to the tune of Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now.'  >> Click here to watch 'Tonight, I'm gonna have myself a real good time,' Baldwin's Trump crooned from behind his Oval Office desk before the others joined in, one by one, dancing and singing. 'He's a billionaire unless you take a look at his tax returns,' Strong's Melania Trump sang at one point. 'He's gonna hide, hide, hide, oh, there's no showing you.' 'I wanna make a super-straight man out of you,' Bennett's Pence chimed in later. >> Read more trending news  Several other 'SNL' regulars appeared in the sketch, including Kenan Thompson as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Chris Redd as Kanye West, Kate McKinnon as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. and Alex Moffat as Eric Trump. But DeNiro, appearing as special counsel Robert Mueller, nearly put a damper on the celebration. 'Wait a second,' DeNiro's Mueller bellowed. 'I have something very important to say to the American people – something they need to hear.' 'No collusion, no obstruction, so don't stop me now,' Baldwin's Trump interjected as the song resumed. Read more here.