Archive for September, 2011

9/11: Awaken a sleeping giant … at your peril

The following opinion piece appeared in The Atlanta Journal on Sept. 11, 2001.
By Richard Matthews

In the heady days after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, colleagues rushed to congratulate Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the man who had planned and executed the stunning operation. He was far less enthusiastic about his success; Japan, he feared, had only “awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

He was right, of course. America, roused to anger and outrage, mobilized itself with astonishing speed, carried the war all the way to the dragon’s lair, laid waste to its cities, crushed its dreams of perverted “glory” and forced it to accept total and humiliating surrender.

Today we are faced with an important question: Is the America of today as capable of “terrible resolve” as it was in 1941?

The terror attacks in New York, Washington and elsewhere are horrible calamities on a human scale, with thousands killed or injured. They are …

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9/11: ‘Moment of Truth’ arrives for us again

The following opinion piece appeared in The Atlanta Journal on Sept. 11, 2001.

By Thomas Oliver

Monday night on the History Channel, I watched “Moment of Truth” with historian and author Stephen Ambrose. It centered on World War II and the ordinary men and women who answered in various heroic ways the call to arms after our country was attacked.

Each spoke of that particular moment — in a foxhole or parachuting behind enemy lines or scaling a cliff with the enemy shooting at them like fish in a barrel — that was his or her moment of truth.

This morning, again on television, I watched history in the making, as our country was again attacked. The stories of the ordinary men and women who will answer this call are just beginning. But we will answer this call.

For make no mistake about it, the United States of America is under attack.

We have seen it coming in bits and pieces. In kidnappings. In embassy bombings. In the same World Trade Center being bombed. In our ships …

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9/9: DeKalb no-smoking law benefits everyone

By Arlene Parker Goldson

Amending the DeKalb County Clean Indoor Air Ordinance is good for all who live, work and play in DeKalb.

Making the current ordinance protect all workers and visitors drives this recommended amendment. There is no justifiable reason for laws to protect workers and patrons of some public places and not others. This double standard should be eliminated.

The proposed amendment to the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance would prohibit smoking at free-standing bars, the eight existing adult-entertainment establishments and outdoor venues — including parks and playgrounds; entrances and exits to buildings; outdoor entertainment venues; and outdoor service lines, such as the line at the ATM.

The proposal also decreases the number of rooms a hotel can designate for smoking from 25 percent to 10 percent.

The economic health of DeKalb’s business community is important, but it should not supersede the physical health of residents and visitors to DeKalb. Numerous …

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9/9: Revenue falls short at Coolray Field

By J.C. Bradbury

When former county administrator Jock Connell announced the building of a new stadium to host the Gwinnett Braves, he made a bold statement: “We anticipate it paying for itself from Day 1. The decision we made before going into this was it had to be financially feasible.”

Connell would soon renege on his now-infamous promise by admitting that car rental taxes would be necessary to fund the stadium. Last week, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David Wickert revealed that not only was the stadium failing to generate sufficient revenue to cover its debt obligations — which don’t include the $31 million in tax revenues the county already devoted the project — but that the car rental tax would not be enough to cover the deficit.

Now, revenue from the existing hotel-motel taxes is needed to cover the county’s debt obligation.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote in this paper, “Using even the most optimistic estimates from the …

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9/8 redistricting: Integrate, don’t resegregate

Moderated by Rick Badie

Let’s be frank. We’re accustomed to Georgia Democrats and Republicans manipulating voters to expand their political ambitions. Did we really expect the new state redistricting maps — the result of a special redistricting session that ended Aug. 31 — to be less partisan and more attuned to the people’s will? Today, two legislators share their views.

By Stacey Abrams

Related commentary: Maps legal, reflect realities

Georgia is the battleground to find a place for race in our politics.

The state has an exploding minority population that traditionally votes Democratic, and a newly cemented Republican majority that controls state-level governments. In the middle are white Democrats. Indeed, they were 49.4 percent of the 2008 Democratic primary. Yet, the clear goal is to eliminate their survival in the South through redistricting.

At first blush, this may seem to be a purely partisan complaint. But Democrats have conceded that Republicans may draw …

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9/8: Redistricting maps legal, reflect realities

By Edward Lindsey

Related commentary: Integrate, don’t resegregate

The exhaustive efforts of the House and Senate Reapportionment Committees, their Chairmen Roger Lane and Mitch Seabaugh, and the Joint Reapportionment Office laid the groundwork for the Georgia General Assembly last week to conclude its redistricting special session in the shortest time in recent memory.

Our work constitutionally required that newly drawn state legislative and congressional districts be equal in population, which by necessity will have both geographic and partisan impacts.

According to the 2010 census, North Georgia and the outer metro suburbs of Atlanta grew dramatically over the past decade while the state’s urban cores and rural South and east Georgia fell behind.

Generally, this meant traditional Democratic strongholds lost population and Republican areas gained.

For instance, of the 20 lowest-populated state House districts in Georgia, 19 were held by Democrats. By contrast, 19 of the …

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9/7: A model to employ?

Today’s Topic: Regional economy:

A version of Georgia Works, our state’s voluntary job-training program, might be part of the economic stimulus package President Barack Obama unveils Thursday. But in its eight-year history, only 24.2 percent of the participants were hired by employers who took part. In a guest column, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler applauds the concept, if not the execution.

By Rick Badie

Related commentary: Georgia Works isn’t the only answer

Georgia Works, the state’s voluntary job-training program, has been called a number of things. Some comments are flattering. Others ring foul.

The program’s detractors deem it slave labor, a violation of federal wage and hour laws with a tepid measure of success. Proponents say it reduces an employer’s hiring risk, provides training for the jobless and, it is hoped, leads to a paycheck.

One observer’s opinion, though, may hold more sway than most. He’s responsible for trying to stimulate the nation’s …

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9/7: Georgia Works isn’t the only answer

By Mark Butler

Related commentary: A model to employ?

There is no doubt that Georgia is facing genuine economic difficulty. This year, the unemployment rate reached a record high of 10.3 percent. During this economic uncertainty, businesses are hesitant to risk expanding and hiring new employees.

Many initiatives are being proposed to boost job growth. A program native to our state, Georgia Works, recently has gained national headlines. In its original format, Georgia Works was designed to assist job seekers in finding employment by offering individuals the opportunity to train with an employer, to gain relevant experience, while simultaneously allowing employers to witness their potential.

Over the span of eight years, 24.2 percent of those who participated in Georgia Works were hired by employers who provided on-the-job training. Although this number is not significant, it does show that the program can be one possible tool to get people back to work.

I applaud the concept …

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Gwinnett Braves struggle to fill Coolray Field

This coming Friday, the AJC’s Opinion pages will spotlight an economic sports issue, discussed in a Sept. 2 AJC story: “The Gwinnett Braves struggling to fill Coolray Field.”

According to writer David Wickert,  on average, less than half of Coolray’s 10,427 seats are filled when the Gwinnett Braves  play at home in Lawrenceville.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. A consultant’s study used by county officials to justify spending $64 million on the stadium said Gwinnett’s demographics and economy made it “one of the strongest markets in the country to support a minor league baseball team.” Instead, the Gwinnett Braves rank 24th out of 30 AAA teams in average attendance this year.

The team’s poor showing has implications for Gwinnett taxpayers. The county gets $1 for every ticket sold and half the net parking proceeds – money it uses to help repay $33 million borrowed to build the stadium.

We’d like to know what you think about this economic state of …

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Transportation: Is the sales tax a good route for the future?

Moderated by the AJC’s Tom Sabulis

Imagine Spaghetti Junction twisted with geographical realities, snarled by political choices and paved with billions of taxpayer dollars. What you get is metro Atlanta’s T-SPLOST referendum. Controversial? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely, say many experts and officials. Will it pass? We’ll know next year. Below, we offer the latest thoughts from leaders on both sides of this issue.

Yes.

It’s an investment in region’s future for jobs, preserving quality of life.

By Chuck Warbington

At a recent event, Chris Leinberger, a real estate and planning expert at the Brookings Institution, said something that caught many by surprise: “Atlanta,” he declared, “is a city that really shouldn’t exist.”

He continued to explain that it was the foresight and leadership of the city and the region to invest in transportation that put Atlanta on the map. In the 19th century, it was investment in rail and freight. In the 20th century, it was the …

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