(The Center Square) — An Atlanta city council member says she supports a referendum on the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center during this November’s election.
In June, the Atlanta City Council voted to allocate $30 million in uncommitted funds for the training center, derisively called “Cop City,” which has sparked violent protests.
“The actual taxpayer cost of the proposed facility will be closer to $67 million, which many constituents consider irresponsible and disrespectful. With the recent closure of WellStar, the City of Atlanta has only ‘one’ level one trauma center,” Post 3 At-Large Council member Keisha Sean Waites said in a statement. Waites said she might introduce legislation next week calling for the referendum.
“We can spend the $67 million of taxpayer’s money on affordable housing, resources for the unsheltered, infrastructure improvements, mental health services, health care for the uninsured, rental and mortgage assistance, including providing accommodation and salary increases for our first responders, and law enforcement officers,” Waites added. “These resources directly impact the root causes of crime and poverty.”
Opponents of the training center have sued the city, and a federal judge extended the deadline for opponents to submit signatures. However, an appellate court paused the order, making the deadline unclear.
On Monday, opponents turned in more than 100,000 signatures from those who ostensibly want a referendum on the training center.
Atlanta Clerk Emeritus Foris Webb III said the city received the petitions after the initial 60-day deadline and won’t count them. However, it will hold them “in a secure location” until the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issues a ruling with additional guidance.
“The original petition was issued on June 21, making August 21 the original 60-day deadline for petition submission,” Webb said in a statement. “The petitioners could have turned their petition in, on, or before, August 21, and indeed several times said they were going to do so but opted instead to take an additional three weeks to circulate their petition for signature.
Opponents turned in their petitions “81 days after the date the sponsor of the petition first obtained copies of the petition from the municipal clerk, so the City is prohibited by state law from accepting the petition for verification, absent further guidance from the 11th Circuit,” Webb added. “However, the City is willing to receive the signed petition pages into its custody, subject to the express understanding that such receipt does not constitute acceptance for verification, pending further rulings and guidance from the 11th Circuit.
“If and when the City receives guidance from the 11th Circuit to proceed with verifying the petitions, the Office of the Municipal Clerk will begin the process that was previously outlined.”
Last week, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced a Fulton County grand jury had indicted 61 people on charges that they violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act during violent protests against the training center.