Archive for October, 2012

Taking MARTA private

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

MARTA’s board of directors, writes the leader of the transit agency’s oversight committee, needs to implement recommendations of a new audit which finds that MARTA can realize immense savings by outsourcing several jobs, such as payroll, cleaning services and paratransit service. The opposition says privatization in Atlanta has a track record of failure and the transfer of public assets from government to the private sector hurts ordinary people for the benefit of select profit-seekers.

Commenting is open following Paul McLennan’s column below.

By Mike Jacobs

MARTA is the primary means of transportation for many poor and disadvantaged citizens in metro Atlanta.

MARTA also should be striving to become the transportation method of choice for citizens who are able to choose how to commute from here to there.

Against this backdrop, it is incredible that MARTA has raised fares twice in the past three years.

We now know that inefficient management is to …

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Yard sign bullies

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Presidential election season seems to bring out intense feelings even in the most placid neighborhoods. Here is one Atlantan’s story. Commenting is open below. Please keep the discourse civil. Thank you.

By Cynthia Gentry

Decades ago as a young student at Atlanta’s Morris Brandon Elementary School it was easy to come up with an answer for the teacher asking, “What is great about the United States of America?” I would wave my hand and respond, “Freedom of speech!” That was easy back then. But the years have shown me that our First Amendment is neither easy nor simple.

On a recent Sunday evening, my husband, two dear friends, and I sat unwinding in the beauty of the front yard of our Chastain Park home. Hours before, we had returned from a hellish week during which my beautiful and wickedly funny 16-year-old stepdaughter underwent her second brain surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Just the day before my husband had been rushed …

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Mayor Reed on panhandling

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The city of Atlanta adopted another new panhandling law this week. Pushed by Mayor Kasim Reed, it outlaws begging for money within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit. Reed vetoed a new ordinance last month that would have added jail time for aggressive panhandling. Today, Reed writes about the new law, while one of the pillars of Atlanta’s faith community urges officials not to forget their commitment to social services, which can help keep the less fortunate from soliciting on the streets.

Commenting is open below following Alvin Sugarman’s column. Please keep the discussion civilized. Thank you.

By Kasim Reed

The Atlanta City Council took an important step forward this week by unanimously passing legislation to curtail aggressive panhandling throughout our city.

For more than seven years, the city has not been able to effectively address this issue. A 2005 ordinance, though well-intended, made it nearly impossible for the city to enforce its …

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Atlanta police department’s improving numbers

Moderated by Rick Badie

The Atlanta Police Department has gained ground on its quest to have a force of 2,000 officers. That pleases the agency’s top cop, who writes that the magical number, when paired with contributing factors like “smarter policing,” ensures safer streets for all. Meanwhile, a 27-year veteran of the force suggests it’s not enough to simply fill the ranks. The city, he says, has to maintain the corps (now more than 1,900 strong) and nurture rookies who join the profession.

Commenting is open below following Ken Allen’s column.

By George Turner

AJC reporter Bill Torpy recently wrote that the quest by the Atlanta Police Department to reach 2,000 sworn officers is “like filling a bucket with holes in it.”

In keeping with that metaphor, it’s important to note that the bucket is larger, holds more water and quenches Atlantans’ thirst for public safety.

Simply put, it means that as the department grows, crime has continued to decrease to 40-year …

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Southerners much of the 47 percent

Moderated by Rick Badie

How valid is the statement that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax? Very true, writes one of today’s guest writers, who says the number of non-payers sits at an all-time high with Southern states on top. Georgia has the second-highest percentage of non-payers at 42.5 percent, next to Mississippi’s 44.5 percent. And a local fiscal analyst says numbers are often cherry-picked and misused to bolster the argument that too many people depend on government. He suggests that everybody has “skin in the game” when it comes to taxes.

Commenting is open below following Alan Essig’s column.

By Scott Hodge

It may have been “inelegant,” but Mitt Romney’s comments about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes has ignited an overdue conversation about who should pay income taxes and how much our lawmakers should use the IRS to deliver social benefits.

Georgia, like many Southern states, finds itself squarely in the middle of this …

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Synchronize those traffic signals

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The sales tax for transportation improvements was defeated and governments are parsing ways to slice their budgets, but agencies and municipalities across metro Atlanta are focusing on smaller fixes to keep traffic flowing. Traffic signal synchronization is one way. Today, I write about ways both the state and some cities are working to upgrade the technology that can ease our gridlock close to home, and a GDOT leader explains a new grant program designed to expedite money to locals for traffic relief.

Commenting is open below Todd Long’s column.

By Tom Sabulis

A frequent comment lobbed over the transom during this summer’s transportation tax debate went something like this: We don’t need more roads or rail to zap gridlock. Just synchronize the traffic lights!

Some made the suggestion sound like it was simply a matter of flipping a switch — a cost-free panacea to our traffic woes, a no-brainer so easy that managed to escape all those …

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