Archive for September, 2011

9/21: The face of poverty in Georgia

Moderated by Rick Badie

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released figures showing that Georgia has the third-highest poverty rate in the country. Today, we present a face behind the numbers — a Gwinnett County couple who suddenly found themselves destitute.

Also, a college professor writes about the new face of poverty and what’s necessary to curb its tide.

Read what they have to say and then comment below.

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9/20: Are HOT lanes a good idea for Georgia?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Tolls are coming to I-85 on Oct. 1. They’re also planned for I-75. But these will be different from Ga. 400’s one fee for every vehicle. These are the so-called HOT lanes — high-occupancy toll lanes.

The cost will vary according to demand for any car or truck carrying fewer than three people. The more congestion, the more you pay. And solo riders can participate, for a price.

Benita M. Dodd, vice president at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, writes that moving toward tolling more roads in state is inevitable and logical.

Brian Gist, an attorney in the Atlanta office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, does not think they are a good idea and writes that the goal should be better transportation for all, not just for select few.

Read what they have to say and give us your take on the HOT lanes.

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9/19: School applications; why excuse cheating?

In time for all those fall college visits, the author of a classic college guide talks to me about changes to the application process.

And a college professor wonders why educators are willing to excuse cheating.

Read the entries and g\have your say on this blog or on Downey’s Get Schooled blog.

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9/18: We can’t coordinate transit by winging it

By the AJC Editorial Board

As the Atlanta region chugs toward the 2012 T-SPLOST vote, it’s clear that many voters are pretty skeptical about how well tax proceeds allocated for transit would be spent.

These days, distrust of and even distaste for government spending from Washington on down to town halls is to be expected. And when that discussion turns to the transportation special purpose local option sales tax, it hasn’t helped matters any that taxpayers don’t yet know what government oversight for Atlanta’s multiple transit operators would look like.

That’s because the Georgia General Assembly did not pass a transit governance bill this year, despite having model legislation before them offered by the Atlanta Regional Commission. At the time, Rep. Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula), chair of the Joint Transit Governance Study Commission, issued a statement commending the ARC’s work, but added that “the creation of a single, unified, regional transit governance authority …

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9/16: New visions for an old fort

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Will one of the biggest redeveloped spaces in Atlanta favor business over community? Or will it integrate with the neighborhood? Anchored by a bioscience research center, the plan for Fort McPherson, which closed Thursday, has been approved by the federal government, but it has met with early resistance. Below are views from leaders on both sides of the issue.

Michael Dobbins, a professor and a former commissioner of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Conservation for Atlanta, believes the plan falls short.

Jack C. Sprott, executive director of the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority, writes that the old fort requires a new plan.

Read their views and tell us what you think.

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9/15: Should Troy Davis be executed?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Troy Davis, convicted of killing a Savannah cop, faces execution in six days. His death sentence has been halted three times. Prominent leaders — from Nobel Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter to Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson — have rallied to his defense. Some say justice in this case has been denied; others say it’s being served. Today, we present two views.

William S. Sessions, former director of the FBI, a former federal judge and federal prosecutor, argues that he should not because questions about his guilt continue to plague his conviction.

But Spencer Lawton, former district attorney for Georgia’s Eastern Judicial Circuit, prosecuted the Davis case in 1991, has written that Davis advocates’ claims on evidence, recanted testimony are not true.

Commenting has been closed on this entry.

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9/14: Can U.S. government grow sustainable jobs?

Moderated by Rick Badie

We need jobs. Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate is 10.3 percent; Georgia’s is 10.1 percent. A widely debated question is whether the federal government can create or foster sustainable employment. Some say yes, government initiatives can jump-start growth. Others consider the notion pure fallacy. Here are local experts’ views.

Jeffrey Rosensweig, an associate professor of international business and finance at Emory University, believes teachers, firefighters and police officers should not be cut.

Dorsey D. Farr, a partner at French Wolf & Farr, an Atlanta-based investment advisory firm, argues that increased spending isn’t an elixir for economic troubles.

What do you think?

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9/13: Should federal gas tax be extended?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The federal gas tax — 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 — expires Sept. 30. It generates roughly $32 billion, most of it distributed to states for road construction and repairs. President Barack Obama wants Congress to pass an extension of the tax. Some conservatives want to abolish it and allow states to raise and spend their own money. Two Georgia congressmen debate the issue.

Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who represents the 4th district, believes that yes, Funding infrastructure is critical to grow our economy, create jobs.

But Congressman Tom Graves. R-Ga., who represents the 9th District, argues that no, the Feds have mishandled gas-tax revenues, mistreated Georgia.

What do you think?

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9/12: Different schools of thought

By Maureen Downey

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation into rising salaries at Georgia’s public universities inspired a lot of debate. In a guest column, a professor defends the high salaries as supply and demand. And I write about a celebratory first day of school unlike any other in the metro area. Share your opinions and ideas about professor salaries and the Ron Clark Academy below or on my Get Schooled blog.

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9/11: We are so much more than our enemies knew

By the AJC Editorial Board

Related: Column 1 from 9/11/01 | Column 2 from 9/11/01

A decade has passed since a murderous band of zealots commandeered four jetliners and launched an icy-hearted strike against this nation. Innocents died by the thousands as a result.

We’re a different nation since Sept. 11, 2001.

But our attackers did not win. Not on that day, and not in the days since.

They could not win. And they will never win.

For they did not know us.

They failed to understand that the America of internationally beamed pop culture with its overabundance of self-centered fluff, buffoonery and avarice is but a distracting cloak, and not America’s bedrock core.

Our enemies did not grasp the real America — the one of everyday people who have never hesitated to make any sacrifices necessary to maintain our way of life.

Those who hated us couldn’t comprehend that our society and democracy is most always a messy, imperfect affair, even on its best days. Americans disagree; …

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