ATLANTA — A deal for hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to draw the Atlanta Braves north of their downtown home is pitting conservative Tea Party activists against the elected and civic leaders in the staunch Republican county.
Opponents say the use of public money to help a private business is not what American capitalism should be about.
Tim Lee, Cobb County Commission chairman, and other supporters say the argument for the deal is simple. Almost $400 million in county bonds and immediate infrastructure improvements, with debt payments approaching $600 million over 30 years, will generate enough economic activity — and, thus, tax revenue — to justify the spending.
‘‘This is a home run for Cobb County,’’ Lee said at a public hearing on the eve of the commission’s 4-1 vote, ‘‘and I’m confident the people of Cobb will come to understand that.’’
Nonsense, said Atlanta Tea Party Leader Debbie Dooley, whose group has a Cobb chapter.
It’s all ‘‘appalling hypocrisy’’ and ‘‘arrogance,’’ Dooley explained, particularly from the four Republican commissioners who pitch their conservative credentials and champion the idea of a free market.
Dooley and other Tea Party members typically associate active, expensive government with Democrats, but it was the commission’s lone Democrat who cast the only dissenting vote.
Citizens’ groups have blasted both the financing arrangement and the secretive manner in which it came about.