Archive for March, 2013

Mayor Kasim Reed: Expand Atlanta’s global business identity

Moderated by Rick Badie

Mayor Kasim Reed writes about a “metropolitan export initiative” designed to strengthen the global business identity of the Atlanta region and expand business opportunities with overseas markets. Reed’s plan creates city-to-city partnerships to bolster the area’s global competitiveness. Two state Department of Transportation officials outline that agency’s plans to make Georgia a “Golden Gateway of Choice.”

By Kasim Reed

Over the past three years, Atlanta has become a safer, financially healthier and stronger metropolis for business, science and technology. However, to meet the post-recession jobs challenge and become a leading world-class city in a 21st century economy, we must work harder.

At Wednesday’s Global Cities Initiative forum, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase, I will highlight the region’s assets: the nation’s third-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies; the world’s busiest passenger airport; globally …

Continue reading Mayor Kasim Reed: Expand Atlanta’s global business identity »

Electric cars in Atlanta

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are multiplying in metro Atlanta thanks, in part, to a push from the city and federal subsidies. Today, an EV enthusiast writes about his experience driving around town and finding a charge when needed. The city’s sustainability director cheers their environmental impact. But a conservative transportation policy expert says the numbers just don’t add up.

Commenting is open below.

Economical and “a blast to drive”

By Chris Campbell

I am an electric vehicle (EV) owner and enthusiast, one of thousands in the metro Atlanta area, and in recent months I’ve been overjoyed to see EV charging stations popping up all over town.

Electric vehicles are incredibly efficient, producing less total emissions than gas cars even if you include the power plant emissions. They are blissfully cheap to operate — the electricity costs only about $20 per month. And these cars are an absolute blast to drive, with full torque at zero RPM, …

Continue reading Electric cars in Atlanta »

Winning final leg of ethics race

With three-quarters of Georgia’s 2013 legislating days now done, the General Assembly should resolve to do whatever’s necessary to ensure comprehensive ethics reform becomes law his year. This important topic for Georgians and for our state’s system of government cannot fall by the wayside.
That means no “Oops” moments, legislative missteps of various sort or last-minute sleight-of-hand maneuvers should derail the cause of strengthening laws around how lobbyists interact with elected officials. Our state deserves better — the people have made that abundantly clear. An ethics law with teeth should be headed toward Gov. Nathan Deal for signing into law by the time the final gavel falls — this year.
We’re at least halfway there already, and lawmakers seem to have taken to heart the advisory questions from the July ballot that showed a tsunami of support for substantive change.
The Georgia Senate is expected as soon as this week to take up the cause of ethics by considering House …

Continue reading Winning final leg of ethics race »

Perfecting a sizable start on ethics reform

By Bob Irvin

Last month, the Georgia House of Representatives passed the most significant ethics reform bill in 20 years. It prohibits gifts to legislators from lobbyists (a “zero cap”), but with some significant exceptions — such as travel “in connection with official business.” Unfortunately, that could be interpreted to be almost anything. Now the whole state waits to see what the Senate does.
In the House, my old friend Rep. Rich Golick wondered aloud why Common Cause Georgia is supporting a $100 cap on lobbyist gifts, “which would lead to more lobbyist spending,” instead of the House bill’s zero cap. It’s a question that deserves a serious answer. Here it is.
First, we are simply trying to get the will of the voters implemented. Last summer, more than 1.2 million Georgians (83 percent of all those voting in both the Democratic and Republican primaries) voted for imposing a limit on lobbyist gifts, with Republicans voting specifically for a $100 cap. At the time, most of …

Continue reading Perfecting a sizable start on ethics reform »

Put good of whole before self

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A local pastor writes about keeping the spirit of compassion alive in our public policies and laws.

Commenting is open below.

By Joanna Adams

One of the familiar Bible stories of the Christian tradition has to do with a man who was beaten within an inch of his life.

The poor fellow had been traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho when, according to Luke, he “fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him for dead.”

After being ignored by two passersby, a man from Samaria came along and had pity on the man in the ditch. He bandaged his wounds, carried him to an inn and paid for his lodging in advance.

Even then he was not through.

He said to the innkeeper, “Listen, if I haven’t given you enough money, I’ll come back and give you whatever more you spend.”

We are not told where the Good Samaritan went after he left.

Perhaps, he went on about his business, having done one very good deed and being done with …

Continue reading Put good of whole before self »

Local airports hit by sequester plans

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Under sequester guidelines, the Federal Aviation Administration plans to eliminate contracted payments for control tower workers at smaller airports — those with under 150,000 operations (takeoffs and landings) per year. That could jeopardize efficiency and safety and reduce business at local facilities. Leaders at Cobb and Fulton county airports talk about the impact on their facilities and on Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Commenting is open below.

Wholesale cuts risk safety, efficiency

By Carter Chapman

The FAA has chosen to close control towers with less than 150,000 total operations and 10,000 commercial (airline) operations to meet its required sequestration budget cuts. The Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton county airport control towers are scheduled to close April 7. The duration is unknown at this time. These are contract towers manned by unionized contractors rather than FAA employees, providing air traffic control services at a lower cost …

Continue reading Local airports hit by sequester plans »

Georgia Legal Food Frenzy

Moderated by Rick Badie

One in four Georgia children live in “food-insecure” households. Translation: They often have no clue where their next meal will come from. Georgia’s legal community plans to address that grim statistic. Today, the president of the State Bar of Georgia writes about its campaign to help stock food banks across the state. And a food bank executive outlines the region’s growing need for food assistance.

Children can’t learn without food

By Robin Frazer Clark

If I told you about a place where 17.4 percent of the total population and 28.3 percent of its children are struggling with hunger, you would most likely think I was referring to an impoverished country on the other side of the globe.

Those statistics apply to the state of Georgia, where 640,000 children live in food-insecure households, meaning they have been hungry and without access to food. Nearly 40 percent of those children live in households above 185 percent of the poverty level. Therefore, for …

Continue reading Georgia Legal Food Frenzy »

Tax havens and tax refund fraud

Moderated by Rick Badie

States with budget shortfalls are struggling to account for the revenue gaps. One way to boost their economic health would be for states and the federal government to close corporate tax loopholes, writes an official for a nonprofit consumer group. A certified public accountant suggests changes in the U.S. tax code would raise revenue but might also cause substantial job losses. A third writer talks about stopping tax refund fraud.

Close tax loopholes used by companies

By Laura Murray

The budget fights in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta are looking predictably ugly this year, and shape up along familiar lines: Do we raise taxes? Do we sink deeper in debt? Which programs do we cut? How deep?

Fueling these debates are the automatic across-the-board federal spending cuts taking place around the country. These cuts make no distinction between public priorities and wasteful spending, cutting both with equal abandon. Cuts to military spending and Medicare are …

Continue reading Tax havens and tax refund fraud »

GRTA funding a good thing?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed that the state spend about $8 million this year to fund the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s Xpress bus service, which serves long-haul commuters in metro Atlanta. That’s an encouraging sign, writes a Georgia Department of Transportation official. A transit advocate agrees, but says the state should do more than fund one system over all others.

Commenting is open below.

State funding GRTA bus is a good move

By Johnny Floyd

This year, Governor Deal proposed utilizing part of the state’s budget to fund the operations of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) in running its Xpress Service in metro Atlanta. The State Transportation Board strongly supports this initiative.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has worked with GRTA since its inception helping remove thousands of vehicles from the roads during peak hours. Savings in lost fuel and productivity now total more than $140 million annually …

Continue reading GRTA funding a good thing? »

Make children the focus

It is a tragedy and a disservice to children that the public drama and self-serving maneuvering in, on and around the DeKalb County School  District board is focused on the antics of adults and not the district’s nearly 100,000 students.
The emphasis in DeKalb needs to be on the schoolhouse, not the courthouse.
The priority in the state’s third-largest school district needs to immediately return to the tall challenges of offering a better education to the children who fill its classrooms.
That can’t happen with a lame-duck school board that’s flailing about in a legal quicksand entirely of its own making. The remaining hanger-on members should go, voluntarily or otherwise.
Yes, constitutional issues around voting are important and will ultimately be decided by attorneys arguing about imperfect laws. But we cannot continue to fail the innocent children who have the most to lose by continued delays in rectifying the DeKalb district’s problems.
The foremost issue in need of …

Continue reading Make children the focus »