Looking at local claims

A walker in Piedmont Park enjoys the view of the Atlanta skyline in August. AJC photo by John Spink/JSpink@ajc.com
A walker in Piedmont Park enjoys the view of the Atlanta skyline in August. AJC photo by John Spink/JSpink@ajc.com

The presidential battle has eaten up plenty of PolitiFact’s time of late, but here in Georgia, we’ve also focused on plenty of regional and state issues, too.

From the health concerns at an Atlanta homeless shelter, to how much Atlanta’s pay from their income on rent, the claims landed all over the Truth-O-Meter.

If the GOP debates and Hillary updates have kept you busy, you can catch up on some local claims below.

"Peachtree and Pine is one of the leading sites for tuberculosis in the nation." --- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a speech to the Commerce Club on Aug. 11, 2015.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has made no secret of wanting to close the homeless shelter at Peachtree and Pine streets, and he is now citing health concerns as a reason it should be shuttered.

Reed says he'll push for the city to acquire the property through eminent domain and turn it into a police precinct and fire station.

"Peachtree and Pine is one of the leading sites for tuberculosis in the nation," he said recently at a Commerce Club speech.

Thirty cases of a medicine-resistant strain of tuberculosis in eight states have been traced back to the shelter at Peachtree and Pine. The shelter also had a large share of the cases in a recent TB outbreak in Fulton County and four TB deaths, according to state data.

CDC officials clearly believe it's a concern, but a leading tuberculosis expert says, there's a dearth of comparative data.

We rated Reed's statement Mostly True.

"Contrary to media reports, Georgia’s gas tax change led to no price increase at the pump."

E. Frank Stephenson, chairman of Berry College’s economics department, in a Georgia Public Policy Foundation blog post, Aug. 14, 2015

The chairman of Berry College’s economics department claimed the media, including PolitiFact Georgia, had it all wrong, when saying the gas tax changes in Georgia that took effect July 1 was a tax increase.

"Contrary to media reports, Georgia’s gas tax change led to no price increase at the pump," according to the piece in the Georgia Public Policy Foundation blog by economics professor E. Frank Stephenson and student Clay G. Collins. "There may well be some good reasons to criticize the transportation bill, but hiking gas taxes isn’t one of them."

Stephenson is correct that average gas prices dropped this summer in Georgia, where we plunged to an 11-year low during Labor Day weekend.

He used neighboring states to show that Georgia prices dropped the same as states that did not alter their gas taxes this summer.

That analysis, however, doesn’t indicate what sorts of market forces could depress pump prices, even as a growing share of that cost is taxes.

And, the math shows just what was predicted when Georgia switched to a higher statewide excise tax on July 1: motorists paying several cents more per gallon than they would have under the former system.

If not for the tax change, Georgia motorists would be paying even less at the pump now.

Stephenson uses accurate numbers but leaves out critical facts that provide that important context. Gas prices didn’t rise – yet. But the math shows they will.

We rated his claim Half True.

Tens of thousands of Atlanta households pay more than 30 percent of their income towards rent.

Matthew Charles Cardinale in a Sept. 13, 2015 opinion piece in the Saporta Report.

A left-leaning housing advocate championed a scorecard of new housing development in Atlanta by claiming that "tens of thousands" of households in the city paid more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

Matthew Charles Cardinale, the CEO of Atlanta Progressive News, cited a report that used 2012 Census estimates.

That data back up his claim, showing 50,509 of Atlanta households spent 30 percent or more of their income on housing. That’s 49 percent of all city households.

By 2014, the most recent numbers available, the numbers had grown to 52,787 households, or just tenths of a percentage under half.

And Cardinale would have been on target with an even more dramatic claim: More than a quarter of Atlanta households spent more than half of their incomes on housing.

We rated his claim True.