Archive for October, 2012

Eateries facing a plate of health care issues

Moderated by Rick Badie

Higher menu prices. Fewer work hours and jobs. Zero expansion and possible closings. This, writes a local franchiser, will be the potential impact in the restaurant industry of health mandates under the Affordable Care Act. But the co-founder of a workers’ advocacy group suggests that businesses can profit by taking care of personnel.

Repeal Obamacare

By Aziz Hashim

More than three years into our jobless “recovery,” 12.1 million Americans are still out of work. Nearly 23 million have stopped looking or can’t find full-time work.

The labor participation rate is 63.6 percent, the same level we saw in 1981. Employers are only adding slightly more jobs per month needed to keep pace with normal labor-force expansion.

So why did the unemployment rate go down below 8 percent last month? In large part, due to an increase in part-time work. While the drop in unemployment may seem completely positive, there is an underlying problem for small business …

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Why take MARTA private?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The MARTA privatization debate continues today. The president of the local union criticizes management and says that going private means sending public dollars overseas and contributing to sweatshop conditions. But a think-tank executive believes that competition will add jobs, fix absenteeism, cut losses and, ultimately, save metro Atlanta’s transit agency.

Commenting is open below Benita Dodd’s column.

By Curtis Howard

Some lucky billionaire is about to get an early Christmas present if the board of directors of MARTA follows through on proposed plans to privatize a public transit system that belongs to the taxpayers.

The billionaire might be from the French-based Veolia Transportation or the Scotland-based First Transit, so we know one thing for sure: The fares we pay will not be returned to help the economy of Atlanta. They will be shipped overseas while transit users get less service — especially night and weekend service — and see corners …

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Sunday issue: Political appointments

A hiring practice that needs work

By the AJC Editorial Board

Some key appointments by Gov. Nathan Deal indicate he values loyalty over specific expertise. Making hires this way lessens Georgia’s chances of consistently gaining world-class talent to lead key agencies. Our troubled times demand a better approach.

Just because someone can do a job doesn’t necessarily make them the best person for the post. Discerning that difference is what great leaders and managers do.

Making great hires influences whether results are mediocre, off-the-charts stellar — or somewhere between — at both public- and private-sector organizations.

Which leads us to Gov. Nathan Deal and a number of appointments he’s made to important leadership positions.

We believe Deal’s hiring pattern thus far shows an over-reliance on personal familiarity and loyalty and an under-reliance on job-specific expertise. That should change. Georgia has worked too hard to claw out a prominent place in the …

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Streetcar projects needs proper bike lanes

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Atlanta streetcar project is skimping on bike lanes in order to protect some metered parking spaces, writes a local bicycle activist. That makes riding bikes along a redeveloped Auburn Avenue a much more dangerous proposition, and a shortsighted one, too. The city says it’s a necessary compromise. It would like to nurture our growing cycling community — and plans to double the mileage of city bike lanes by 2016 — but it also recognizes that businesses will need at least some limited on-street parking.

Commenting is open below Tom Weyandt’s column.

By Rebecca Serna

Once completed, the Atlanta Streetcar project has the potential to transform downtown Atlanta and the Sweet Auburn neighborhoods. Projected to carry 2,500 riders a day, the streetcar project promises new life and new investment along Auburn and Edgewood avenues.

Just blocks away, the Beltline’s Eastside Trail is already booming. Even before the official opening last week, the …

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State leaders: Where’s the vision?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Vision matters when it comes to implementing the best policies and practices to serve the greater good. Today, a former Democratic state representative suggests current leaders lack the vision to return greatness to Georgia. The chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party offers a counterpoint: The state, she writes, rests in capable hands.

State needs vision, not just care-taking

By Wyc Orr

Charles A. Reich’s 1970 book, “The Greening of America,” a paean to 1960s liberalism, never much took root in conservative Georgia. Yet the converse of its title describes Georgia government today: “The Browning of Georgia.”

“Browning” in the sense of fading growth. For decades there was a “greening” of Georgia, beginning with those same 1960s, precipitated by the progressive policies of governors Ernest Vandiver and Carl Sanders, Atlanta mayors William Hartsfield, Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson, and continued under moderate, pro-growth …

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Good time to start a business?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Your business plan is gathering dust. You feel like you’re ready, but a question lingers: Is now a good time to start a business? Data show more businesses are started during and after recessions than in prosperous times. So go for it, writes a motivational speaker and owner of a web development firm. An economic expert says it’s unwise to fixate on start-up cycles.

Commenting is open below.

By Marianne Carlson

Starting a new business is not for the faint of heart. For those who possess the entrepreneurial spirit, though, now might be the perfect time to begin a venture.

In the midst of the worst recession in decades and the most dismal recovery since the Great Depression, it might seem prudent to postpone a business launch. But there are some compelling reasons why now is actually a really good time to start a new business.

Beginning a business venture in lean times will force the entrepreneur to pay very close attention to planning, market …

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Yard sign theft revisited

A few weeks ago, Atlantan Cynthia Gentry wrote on our Opinion pages about the theft of her political yard sign, without identifying the candidate of her choice. She sparked a spirited conversation on our Atlanta Forward blog when we posted the column.  This morning, she wrote to us again, reporting that her sign  was stolen again last night.  She replaced it with the sign pictured here. What do you think?yard sign

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MARTA crime

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

MARTA is adding cameras to its “rolling stock” — all its buses, trains and para-transit vehicles. The multi-million-dollar program is designed to enhance security, even though MARTA’s police chief says the transit system’s crime rate compares favorably with other large urban cities. For our second column, MARTA riders talk about how safe they feel on buses and trains.

Commenting is open below.

By Tom Sabulis

Although MARTA has seen an increase in certain types of crime recently, transit officials say the likelihood of becoming a victim while riding on a bus or train is relatively small. For example, MARTA’s latest crime statistics show that while there were no larcenies reported in June, that number jumped to six in July. During that same period, the number of reported robberies rose from only one to five.

In order To help make the system more secure, the agency last month announced a $17 million program to install cameras on its buses and, …

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Carbon tax, clean energy

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia Power’s plan to increase the amount of solar-generated electricity it distributes is commendable, writes a local environmental group. But the utility can do more, and should be willing to accept a carbon tax that could return revenue to the public and improve its clean-energy portfolio. An industry spokesman counters that the tax is unfair to lower-income customers and would cost jobs.

Carbon tax can aid clean energy

By Steve Valk

My hat is off to Georgia Power following its recent announcement to significantly boost the amount of solar-generated electricity it distributes to customers, 10 times the amount it currently buys and sells.

Given what we’ve seen this year with corn-killing drought and record-setting temperatures, any efforts to shift toward clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is extremely welcome. Georgia could benefit from reduced air pollution, since there are about 10,000 hospitalizations for asthma yearly at a …

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Raise awareness of sexual abuse

Moderated by Rick Badie

Atlanta ranks as one of the major human trafficking and child sex exploitation centers in the country. It’s been estimated that, on average, 100 adolescent girls are sexually exploited on any given night. Several groups battle sex trafficking in the city. Today, the founder of a nonprofit writes about efforts to rescue girls and young women. I interview a woman who recently broke free from a cycle of sex and drug abuse.

Woman finds help to flee sexual abuse

By Rick Badie

Tania was 15 when her parents divorced, leaving her mother to fend for two children. The north Fulton family had been accustomed to a particular lifestyle that required more money than came into the fold. Male friends and acquaintances of Tania’s mother would offer to repair the washing machine, fix an unhinged door.

Tania, coerced by her mother, occasionally became a source of payment.

“It was very sly,” said Tania, who asked that her last name not appear in this column. “She …

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