Archive for March, 2012

3/20: Transportation debate continues

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Transportation tax advocates have launched their ad campaign, and debate over the controversial July 31 referendum continues.

Today, a conservative leader writes about why transportation improvements are traditionally a good idea.

On the other side, an engineer calls for deeper analysis before we approve new taxes and unending costs for ineffective solutions.

What do you think?

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3/19: Cycling improvements needed?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Are you a bicyclist who rides two abreast with friends or family for safety on Georgia roads?

Are you a motorist who struggles to safely pass herds of bikers on city streets?

We would like to hear from you – your hopes, frustrations and experiences – for a package on cycling improvements needed in metro Atlanta.

We plan to print a selection of comments on an upcoming Atlanta Forward page in the AJC. Tell us what you think below.

Continue reading 3/19: Cycling improvements needed? »

3/19: Rancor in ranks; pop culture in classrooms

Moderated by Maureen Downey

The crowning of valedictorians is growing more complex as students take different routes and courses to diplomas. Last year, Cherokee’s Etowah High learned how complex the process can be. As I discuss today, Gainesville High is learning it this year.

In a guest column, a UGA professor recommends that teachers incorporate pop culture phenomenons such as  “The Hunger Games” into their classrooms.

Read what we have to say and comment below.

Continue reading 3/19: Rancor in ranks; pop culture in classrooms »

3/18: Criminal justice reform

By the AJC Editorial Board

Based on historical data, nearly 100 new “lower-risk” inmates may be processed into Georgia’s prison system this week. They’re the petty criminals who are a costly nuisance to society, not raging threats to public safety.

Yet Georgia taxpayers will spend about $18,000 a year to warehouse each of them. Common sense and experts agree this costly practice does nothing to reduce crime. Conservatives and liberals find common ground on this point, and polling by this newspaper and other groups shows solid support for reform .

Georgia can’t afford to keep paying $1 billion a year for such a counterproductive strategy. Not when we can likely get better results for the same, or even less, money.

Which brings us to Georgia House Bill 1176, a first-cut blueprint for criminal justice reform. It’s expected to arrive on the House floor this week after some tweaks. The General Assembly should pass this bill this session. Public safety is too important …

Continue reading 3/18: Criminal justice reform »

3/16: Bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The General Assembly is considering a bill, already passed in the House (HB 954), that would ban abortion in the state after 20 weeks.

Pro-choice advocates say the legislation panders to personal passions rather than scientific evidence, and that it ignores women’s health and especially harms low-income women. Pro-life supporters counter that it is well-documented that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, and the bill includes an exception for the life of the mother.

Continue reading 3/16: Bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks »

3/15: Redevelopment vs. preservation

Moderated by Rick Badie

Sweet Auburn Avenue, once dubbed the “richest Negro street in the world,” is home to landmark structures such as the original home of the Atlanta Daily World at 145 Auburn Ave.

Reports that the tornado-damaged old newspaper building might be partially demolished raised concerns about the economics of redevelopment versus historic preservation, our theme for today. Read one commentary coauthored by Valerie Edwards, executive vice president of Integral Group, and Alexis Scott, president and CEO of the Atlanta Daily World; and another by Mtamanika Youngblood, executive with the Historic Development District Corp. Then tell us what you think.

Continue reading 3/15: Redevelopment vs. preservation »

3/14: When home value is underwater

Moderated by Rick Badie

Say that you owe more than your home’s value. Underwater, it’s called. Perhaps you could afford to pay the monthly mortgage until you lost your job, experienced a divorce or had some other financial setback. Do you, the borrower, honor the debt as obligated by the contract? Or should you walk away and leave the lender hanging?

Today, writers Phil Baldwin and Michael R. Bang offer their views on what financial strategies to consider. And Edward “Ed” L. Jennings Jr., regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), warns against the dangers of  mortgage scams.

Continue reading 3/14: When home value is underwater »

3/13: MARTA bill would alter appointment method

By Tom Sabulis

Another week, another political fight involving MARTA. Last week, a bill proposed by a state representative from DeKalb County, altering the way appointments are made to the transit agency’s board, passed the House.

It was immediately condemned by Fulton County commissioners, who would lose some power to mayors of north Fulton cities.

Read what John Eaves, chairman of the Fulton County Commission, has to say, along with the views of Rep. Mike Jacobs, a Republican from north DeKalb County.

What do you think of the bill?

Continue reading 3/13: MARTA bill would alter appointment method »

3/12: Lost opportunities in education

By Maureen Downey

A new, sweeping survey by the U.S. Department of Education on discipline, college readiness, teacher equity and retention according to race and disability status has spurred many debates, and today we join the conversation.

I write about the survey findings, while a Duke University economist says there may be valid and positive reasons for the racial disparities in school discipline.

Please comment on these topics on my Get Schooled blog, linked above.

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3/11: Sunshine law and transparency

By the AJC Editorial Board

It is a central tenet of our government that, to the greatest extent practicable, the people’s business should be conducted within plain view of the governed. Routine, overreaching secrecy conflicts with the public interest and has no place in America, its statehouses and town halls. Any exemptions from the robust pursuit of open governance should be well-grounded in common-sense sentiment and drafted as narrowly as possible.

Georgia will move closer to that ideal if a bill passed by the House  is likewise approved in the Senate and becomes law. That should happen this session. The legislation is not perfect, but it’s rarely been more appropriate than here to cite the old saying that we cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board has to say and read another view by Sam Olens, Georgia’s attorney general,  and Rep. Jay Powell, who introduced HB 397 in the Georgia House.  Then tell us what you think.

Continue reading 3/11: Sunshine law and transparency »