Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s boostering of a controversial transportation tax drove him to unfamiliar territory on Wednesday, when the state’s most promising black pol rapped the leader of a local civil rights outfit as an irresponsible liar.

Reed was scheduled for a morning segment on Atlanta radio station V-103 to discuss the merits of the penny sales tax, but instead spoke at length about comments made by the guest who preceded him on air, Dekalb NAACP chief John Evans.

Evans, who just minutes earlier had feigned niceties with the mayor, blasted “certain blacks” as dupes for supporting the tax.

“They think we’re the weakest folk in the game, and so they think they can get away with it. And when can get certain blacks to fold into that thesis, they think they can influence all black folk, everywhere,” Evans said. “First of all, they’re talking about 200,000 jobs. That’s the biggest lie I ever heard.”

“We can’t afford to play this mealy mouth stuff, accepting everything that the system says,” he boomed.

Reed, who has invested considerably personal and political capital in the effort even as support among urban blacks has dipped in recent opinion surveys, was sent into a predictable rage.

“I was listening to that funny fellow you had before I was on. I think he ought to say that to me,” he said. “When I saw him in the hall, all he did was walk up and shake my hand, and ask me how I was doing. If he’s going to get on the radio and make those kinds of false statements, trash talk to the people of Atlanta, he ought do to that while we’re both sitting here on ‘V.’ That’s what a man would do.”

Reed extolled the virtues of the tax–$600 million for investments in the city’s rail system, he said–but not before shredding Evans as a coward.

“This man just got on the radio, said all these false things, used the name of the south DeKalb NAACP, talked about whether I was on the roundtable, talked about this being a rich man’s game,” the mayor said. “How many people has he ever employed? How many businesses has he brought to the city of Atlanta?”

The barnburner ended with an invitation for Evans to debate.

“He talks that because because he doesn’t have any any responsibility,” the visibly irritated Reed told host Ryan Cameron. “He doesn’t have to deliver for people every single day… He doesn’t have to look at them. He runs around, all day, God knows what he does, talking this talk. Come on the radio… Please come on ‘V’ with me.”

– James Richardson