Archive for November, 2012

Two views on averting the fiscal cliff

Moderated by Rick Badie

Can the “fiscal cliff” be averted? President Barack Obama and Congress must strike a deal to prevent nearly $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in Jan. 1. Republicans want spending cuts. The White House and Democrats favor higher taxes on the rich.  A Georgia congressman from each party writes about the need for bipartisan compromise.

Finding balance will avert fiscal cliff

By David Scott

On New Year’s Day, America will either wake up clear-headed and positive with better days on the horizon or start the New Year with a nauseating hangover called the “fiscal cliff.” Our nation is, indeed, facing a financial crisis of soaring magnitude.

Congress is gridlocked in addressing the national debt. Businesses face great uncertainty. Continued bickering and gridlock could ruin our fragile economic recovery and plunge it into a deepening and long-lasting recession. This would be devastating. We cannot let it happen.

There is a tremendous hunger …

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Red-light cameras: Cost-effective or not?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Roswell recently decided to ditch its red-light cameras because, officials said, they didn’t prevent crashes. Other towns have grappled with their cost-effectiveness, as expenses can run tens of thousands of dollars. Today, a traffic expert says the cameras’ worth outweighs operating costs. Alpharetta’s public safety director explains how their program costs are kept low.

Cameras didn’t help, mayor says

By Jere Wood

The Roswell City Council recently discontinued camera enforcement of red-light violations because traffic accident records did not show any reduction in the number of accidents after red-light cameras were installed.

When the state authorized red-light cameras, we were advised this technology had proven to be effective in reducing accidents and serious injuries in other jurisdictions. Relying on this advice, we installed red-light cameras at two intersections. After the red-light cameras were installed, the rate of red-light-running …

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Funding transportation’s future

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Connecting the Port of Savannah and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport by high-speed rail is just one of the major infrastructure projects Mayor Kasim Reed thinks Georgians should get behind. Inspired by the accomplishments of visionary presidents, he calls on the state to create public-private partnerships and an infrastructure bank to help speed us on our road to the future. In our other column, I write about MARTA’s nuisance program, the readers’ response to it, and my own problem with public transit.

Commenting is open below my column on MARTA.

By Kasim Reed

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln pushed forward with building the transcontinental railroad, which helped unite and rebuild America. In the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the interstate highway system. A few years later, President John F. Kennedy inspired a generation when he challenged us with the goal of landing a man on the moon and surpassing Russia in space …

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Common work lies ahead for the ATL

Atlantans share commonalities, whether we live in Stockbridge or Suwanee. We waste hours in traffic, and worry about neighborhood schools or the foreclosed home down the street. In the broadest sense, we share a common destiny.
That makes it worth pondering how we can better work together, neighbor with neighbor, to improve our lives, communities and region. That’s as American a concept as it comes, talking earnestly amongst ourselves to identify common challenges, then finding ways to resolve them to mutual benefit. Who of sound reason can oppose that?
As of August 1, that became a tougher task around here after voters sent down the T-SPLOST to landslide defeat.
That vote was seen by many as a stark repudiation of both regionalism and the unanimous approval by elected leaders of the transportation tax’s much-maligned project list.
Tad Leithead, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, doesn’t see that as an end to working together as a region. Neither do we. During the …

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Common issues require regional cooperation

By Tad Leithead

Recently, metro Atlanta voters have pushed for more local control. But we know from examples across the country that successful regions are founded on cooperation. So we find ourselves asking an important question:
Does regional cooperation require loss of local control?
The Atlanta region is comprised of 10 counties: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale. The political leadership of these counties, and their respective municipalities, are committed to local control. They are elected by the citizens of their jurisdictions, and they are dedicated to serving their constituents.
These officials also recognize that some of their challenges cannot be addressed on a county-by-county basis. Water supply, aging populations, transportation and workforce development must be addressed in a cooperative, multi-jurisdictional manner. Just as roads and water lines cross county lines, so must the dialogue on solutions cross …

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‘Home rule,’ collaboration can co-exist

By Bob Ross

The Atlanta metro area we cherish is competing intensively with other regions throughout the Southeast (and beyond) for businesses, jobs and a high quality of life. Staying ahead demands solutions to local, regional and state-level issues, but we don’t need a regional layer of governance to succeed.
Georgia has a proud tradition of “home rule” by its 159 counties — jurisdictions that are inherently more responsive to citizen taxpayers than higher levels of government.
Concurrently, we face an increasingly greater and more complex number of regional issues that no single county can tackle. What to do?
Former Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Chairman and current Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens asked last year if it was time to elect a metro leader. I’m opposed to another layer of government; I don’t believe we citizens need more officials directing our lives.
Between the status quo and our state government, we need to find the balanced center, a solution that …

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A real agenda, not a conspiracy theory

By Field Searcy

When I read on Page 185 of the March 2011 Cobb County Comprehensive Plan that the county supports the advancement of sustainable development policies as defined by the United Nations Division of Sustainable Development, I could no longer ignore that the U.N. Agenda 21 (A21) policies were real and thriving in America.
The U.N. policies are detailed in a 300-page document along with the Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide. Sold as protecting the environment, sustainable development policies are more far-reaching than our fields and streams. A21 outlines plans for the control of land use, housing, transportation, food production, consumption patterns, water, energy, education, the role of industry and health care. Sounding familiar? We have been bombarded with these global plans of change.
Warm and fuzzy words like “comprehensive planning,” “smart growth,” “public-private partnerships” and “outcome-based education” were chosen by central planners to camouflage a …

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A path to adulthood: DeKalb County Youth Achievement Program

Moderated by Rick Badie

Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government recently recognized DeKalb’s Youth Achievement Program, whose mission is to get at-risk juveniles – namely, those currently or perviously involved with the justice system – on better paths to adulthood. Today, DeKalb’s chief juvenile court judge explains the program and I observe proceedings in her courtroom.

Profanity, respect in juvenile courtroom

By Rick Badie

The 16-year-old entered the courtroom with his head down, wearing a county-issued orange jumpsuit. He’d already been adjudicated on two counts — carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm and weapons. A pending case carried charges of criminal intent and theft by taking.

His probation officer told Chief Judge Desiree Sutton Peagler that he’d show up at school, then simply leave during the course of the day. Since Sept. 15, he’d been truant 29 days.

“As far as school,” the probation officer said, “he’s all over the …

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Public funding for new sports stadium?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Why should some $300 million in hotel-motel taxes be put toward a $1 billion new stadium for the Atanta Falcons? Today, a state representative answers that question and spells out the economic benefits of a new nest for the Dirty Birds. And a state senator questions public subsidies for privately owned sports teams.

Move forward with new stadium

By Ron Stephens

Boasting an NFL-leading record, an MVP candidate and a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the Falcons aren’t just hot right now, they are on fire. I’m thrilled to see our team succeed on the field.

The Falcons are in negotiations with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to build a new stadium by 2017, when the Falcons’ lease at the Georgia Dome could expire. The new building would not only house the Falcons, but other events.

The stadium project is important to retaining Georgia’s position as one of the nation’s premier tourism destinations. Whether or not we replace the Georgia Dome isn’t a …

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Aquarium’s beluga hunt

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Ideally, wildlife conservation laws are crafted to benefit the country, the planet and various endangered inhabitants. But the Georgia Aquarium’s plan to acquire beluga whales from a Russian supplier, writes one scientist, endangers the whales and tarnishes our environmental reputation by opening the door to trading in protected wildlife. However, an aquarium official guarantees their safe transportation and says the facility’s research will help save the species.

Commenting is open following Naomi A. Rose’s column.

By William C. Hurley

In seven short years, Georgia Aquarium has become a global advocate for animals, and Atlantans are justifiably proud. A key aspect of Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to welcome the public to learn about animals they would never otherwise see, like beluga whales. An independent 2011 Harris interactive poll revealed that more than 90 percent of Americans support the work done by zoos and aquariums, particularly with regard …

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