Archive for April, 2013

How will stadium neighborhoods fare?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Neighborhoods in the shadow of the proposed new Falcons stadium have been promised social and economic benefits from the project. Will they see them? Today’s guest columnists offer their perspectives, while I interview the pastor of Lindsay Street Baptist Church, an anchor of the English Avenue community.

Stadium neighbors will see renaissance

By Brian McGowan

Many families living in the western portion of downtown and the historic neighborhoods of Vine City and English Avenue have faced difficult economic and social challenges. Struggling schools, high unemployment, persistent crime, poor housing and other challenges feed into and perpetuate one another.

On top of that, the Great Recession hit particularly hard communities that were already struggling. Despite previous investments and proximity to the Atlanta University Center, Georgia Tech and Centennial Olympic Park, these communities have continued to experience decline. We now have a historic …

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I-75 toll lanes

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Georgia Department of Transportation says the new “price-managed” lanes being built on I-75 in Henry County are an option for commuters that will provide welcome reliability and relief from traffic congestion. But a local highway engineer argues that new free lanes are the best way to go for taxpayers, even if it means raising the gas tax.

Commenting is open below.

New toll lanes can provide reliability

By Toby Carr

How long does it take for you to get home from work? If your answer is, “It depends,” then you are like most commuters in metro Atlanta. We determine the length, in miles, of our daily commutes by choosing where we live. But the length, in time, is too often out of our control because of other commuters, wrecks, stalls and other variables.

Time is a precious and non-renewable resource, and none of us wants to waste it by sitting in traffic. Georgia’s transportation agencies are working together to provide an option to car and …

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Set the record straight on APS, then let’s move on

The cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools is a tragedy.
Students were cheated out of an appropriate education. Parents were misled about progress their children were making. Taxpayers’ money was misused, and those same taxpayers are funding investigations and prosecutions.
Along the route this scandal took, some leaders, upon recognizing the situation, acted quickly to respond and change the course of the situation. For example, when Erroll Davis took over as APS superintendent, he immediately sought to rid the district of teachers alleged to have cheated, a process that included painful tribunals. He also set up remediation efforts for affected students.
The tragedy is compounded because this scandal has dragged on for years. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard sought indictments more than a year after state investigators, appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, issued their report. Now we likely face a long and arduous prosecution, as Howard seeks to prove a …

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Courts, not public opinion, should judge Hall

By Richard H. Deane
Beverly Hall has spent literally her entire career in education advocating tirelessly for the very basic proposition that all children, regardless of socioeconomic circumstance, have the ability to learn. She had almost 30 years of teaching and educational leadership experience before she began at APS. Throughout her career in several districts, her basic approach has been the same — she supported teachers and her staff with professional development and coaching but  always expected her students, regardless of circumstance, to learn. Her standards have always been high.
In the rush to judgment on Hall, we believe a number of fundamental truths essential to our democratic system and the rule of law have been overlooked. These truths include: Hall is presumed innocent.
Hall is a citizen who is entitled to certain basic rights. Whether you believe that she has engaged in wrongdoing or not, she is entitled to be tried in a court of law based on facts and …

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On the Record with the Metro Chamber

Following are answers submitted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber in response to questions posed by AJC reporter Bill Torpy to chamber President Sam Williams:

Q: What is your reaction to the allegations contained in the indictment against Dr. Hall and other APS officials? Was the scope of the allegations surprising, given past statements and beliefs that cheating was much more limited?
A: The Blue Ribbon Commission referred more than 100 individuals to APS for further investigation. Business leaders and members of the Chamber were shocked to learn of the depth of the crisis within APS.

Q: Do you accept any responsibility for leading Atlanta business leaders to a position about cheating at APS that has now been discredited?
A: Prior to the investigation, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Atlanta and praised APS, Dr. Hall had been named National Superintendent of the Year, and many APS graduates were achieving tremendous success. Ultimately, the business community was …

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Is regionalism the way forward?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Last summer’s transportation sales tax defeat and a series of divisive political feuds has set back the idea of effective regional solutions for metro Atlanta. Yet proponents say regionalism is an appropriate and necessary approach to solving big problems that local jurisdictions cannot. Opponents remain suspicious of appointed — that is, unelected — regional commission leaders making important decisions for so many.

There are three columns today. Commenting is open below.

Join together, tackle problems

By Mike Bodker

For me, regionalism is the recognition that problems do not respect jurisdictional boundaries.

A healthy and growing metro Atlanta is hinged on a reputation for excellent quality of life. That reputation will ultimately depend on our ability to work together to support the reality.

A great example here in Johns Creek is the Ga. 141 corridor. This road is the primary gateway between our residents and those north of our border to …

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Wilcox County High School’s first integrated prom

Moderated by Rick Badie

Wilcox County High School will hold its first integrated prom Saturday. A group of bold seniors decided the time was right to merge separate black and white dances. Today, a Wilcox County businessman clears up what he says are inaccuracies around the issue, while the senior pastor of a landmark black church challenges Gov. Nathan Deal’s comments on the matter. Deal’s spokesman declined to submit an essay on the topic.

Governor, follow students’ example

By The Rev. Raphael Warnock

As they plan their very first integrated prom in the history of their rural Georgia County, the students of Wilcox County High School exemplify broad moral vision, strong leadership and real courage. The highest elected official of our great state, Gov. Nathan Deal, should follow their lead and finally offer a clear statement of support in word and deed for their initiative. So far, he has not.

When asked several weeks ago whether he would join other elected officials in …

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Crackdown on street vendors

Moderated by Rick Badie

Atlanta has swept its sidewalks of street vendors, a removal not applauded by all. Today, a veteran street vendor calls the crackdown a hindrance to self-reliance and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, a business executive who supports the crackdown says that too often, vendors attract unsavory activity.

Respect street vendors

By Larry Miller

I have sold shirts, hats, jerseys and snacks to excited, loyal Braves fans for more than 20 years. Thanks to street vending, I own my own business, have created jobs, and have bought a home in which I’ve raised my children and grandchildren. The city must not want that. It has made operating my business a crime.

Last month, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered Atlanta police to shut down street vendors, threatening us with fines and even jail time for doing what we’ve done for years. Police even arrested a vendor over the Final Four weekend for selling hot dogs to hungry tourists. Rather than let vendors serve the thousands of …

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Xpress bus, missed opportunities

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A county official says the Georgia General Assembly showed lack of leadership this year in declining to move on proposed bills that would have allowed counties to fund transportation projects. One thing Gov. Nathan Deal and legislators did do, however, was extend $8.1 million in funding for the Xpress bus service, managed by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. GRTA’s board chairman explains why that’s a good move.

Commenting is open below.

Legislature ignores good funding ideas

By Steve Brown

When the Transportation Investment Act (also known as T-SPLOST) referendum failed last July, voters expressed their extreme disappointment and mistrust of the state Legislature. The latest attempt at ethics reform, complete with king-sized exemptions for lobbyists, will do little to restore public trust.

Sen. Josh McKoon deserves a pat on the back for attempting to tame a group of legislators who flourish on free expensive dinners, trips to resorts, …

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Close enough? Or too far apart?

By Tom Sabulis – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Regionalism. The word has almost taken on a pejorative meaning in metro Atlanta. A lot of people have come to dislike it, or at least, what it implies. It was all but tarred and feathered during the bitter fight last year over the proposed transportation sales tax, which aimed to fund regionalized solutions to our traffic mess.

Even the chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, says he’d like to move away from using the term because “it carries so much baggage.”

No doubt, he’d find some agreement among those behind the Georgia website www.repealregionalism.com, which criticizes regionalism as a “4th layer of government” and “an unconstitutional taxing authority,” among other things.

What’s next, then, for metro Atlanta and its problems if not regional solutions? Sub-regionalism? Additional cities? Or more of the go-it-alone approach that got us where we are in the first place?

At a recent Atlanta …

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