Archive for April, 2013

Bird flu risks

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun researching the new strain of bird flu recently discovered in China, where people get the virus from infected poultry, and where it’s spreading to other cities. More than a dozen people have died. Today, CDC Director Tom Frieden talks about how this flu is different and how the CDC is working on it. In our second column, an expert from the Georgia Department of Public Health addresses says disease-fighting on a local level.

Commenting is open below.

CDC fights China’s bird flu

By Tom Sabulis

CDC Director Thomas Frieden talked recently about the latest Avian flu health scare to hit China. The big fear with bird flu virus is that it develops the ability to go from person-to-person and trigger a pandemic.

The scarier aspects of this virus (H7N9): “The first is the severity of illness. A significant proportion of the people who have been diagnosed had severe illness or have died. We …

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Georgia-Tennessee water dispute

Moderated by Rick Badie

Georgia and Tennessee are in a standoff as it relates to water and state boundary lines. Georgia, in search of a long-term solution to quench its thirst, wants to tap the Tennessee River. Volunteer State officials refuse to grant access. Today, we present both sides of the ongoing dispute.

Good-faith effort avoids litigation

By Brad Carver

For nearly 200 years, Georgia and Tennessee have been disputing the location of their border.

Georgia House Resolution 4 is the Peach State’s effort to be a good neighbor to our Volunteer neighbors, encouraging them to put the proverbial fence in the correct place.

Flowing through the Tennessee River are more than 1.6 billion gallons of Georgia water, arriving from rills, creeks and rivers in Georgia’s Blue Ridge, among the rainiest parts of the continental U.S. The Tennessee Valley Authority estimates the river has at least 1 billion gallons of excess capacity each day. Just half of that daily excess would meet …

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Profit in space?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Space, the profitable frontier? Some say it could be for a state’s economy, especially down South. Georgia recently made a bid to land Space X, a rocket ship company, as the inaugural tenant of a proposed “spaceport” in Camden County. Today, a guest columnist says creation of a commercial space industry bodes well for Georgia, while the other writer encourages state officials to embrace a golden opportunity.

South Georgia needs space

By Michael Mealling

I grew up in Tifton and Brunswick and have family in Waycross, Moultrie, and Savannah. I drive through that part of the state and see small towns dying. The proposed spaceport in Camden County is the best opportunity to help South Georgia’s economy. We should do whatever it takes to make it a reality.

When NASA was looking for a location to launch rockets in the early 1960s, a group of Georgia businessmen promoted southeast Georgia as a potential site. Their proposal ran a close second to sites …

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Flex transportation enough of a start?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Flexibility and collaboration on small strategic projects will be key as the region seeks to upgrade transit and transportation with minimal funding. Today, we hear from a Cobb County official who welcomes a new flex bus route and urges residents to give input. A GDOT leader looks at the bigger picture, saying it’s time to deliver real solutions working with what we’ve got.

Commenting is open below.

Flex bus service a small step forward

By Lisa Cupid

Movement is a hallmark of life. So when two of Cobb County’s transit routes were cut in 2011, it was little surprise that families were upended.

One gentleman now walks for an hour to get to the nearest bus stop, so the bus can take him another 90 minutes to work. One way.

Another woman with acute asthma walks at least four miles to get medical treatment.

A young mother must now walk at least one mile, with children in tow, to buy groceries at the nearest mini-mart.

What’s disturbing is that some …

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State animal laws: No teeth?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia ranks 32nd in the nation for the breadth of its animal laws, according to the Humane Society. That standing was aided last year when the state Legislature passed a law that helped define vicious dogs and held owners responsible for them. But there’s a long way to go. Today, animal-law experts talk about a dog-related bill introduced in this year’s session, and we hear from a Dallas, Ga., reader who wonders why so many irresponsible people own pit bulls.

Commenting is open below.

Georgia animal laws lacking

By Tom Sabulis

In 2012, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Responsible Dog Owner Act, which revamped existing legislation pertaining to dangerous dogs. A few bills dealing with animals were discussed during this year’s legislative session but did not get far. I asked Claudine Wilkins, an animal law expert, and Cindy Wiemann, an animal control officer and secretary-treasurer of the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA), about …

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Marriage Act unfair or necessary?

Moderated by Rick Badie

The U.S. Supreme Court stands poised to decide the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Today, a gay civil rights advocate calls the law discriminatory, outdated and unfair, particularly for same-sex married couples during tax season. A supporter of the federal law deems it necessary to preserve an “ageless institution.”

Commenting is open below.

DOMA: Unfair and outdated

By Jeff Graham

While the core value of the fight for marriage equality is about the right to marry the person you love, the legal commitments that come with this right are very real to the hundreds of thousands of loving couples who are currently being discriminated against under federal law. According to the General Accounting Office, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) restricts same-sex couples from accessing the benefits, rights and privileges housed in 1,138 federal statutory provisions.

To marry, a same-sex couple must travel to a state where it is legal …

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Other solutions for transportation

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Despite last year’s failed transportation sales tax referendum and, more recently, a Georgia General Assembly session short on new ideas for congestion relief, there is some never-say-die optimism percolating in the private sector. Innovators and self-taxing business organizations are plowing ahead to find ways around our gridlocked geography. Two pieces today highlight, respectively, some concrete action in north metro Atlanta and a blueprint that shows the region how to break the mold and move forward.

Commenting is open below.

Perimeter business and its own Plan B

By Yvonne Williams

As part of comprehensive transportation solutions for metro Atlanta, the Perimeter business community has zeroed in on a “Plan B” to accelerate improvements to the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange. This project of regional significance will help ensure the continued success of one of Georgia’s economic generators: the Central Perimeter business district.

The current …

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Video gambling picking up?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The passage of House Bill 487 moves the regulation of coin-operated gaming machines from the Department of Revenue to the Georgia Lottery, with revenue going to help fund the HOPE scholarship. The legislation will eliminate illegal, untaxed underground machines at convenience stores, writes the chief of a statewide trade group. But putting an official imprimatur on gambling of any sort places the state on a slippery slope, says a Christian group that cites the lottery’s expanding array of games and their impression on children.

Commenting is open.

Video poker bill will help enforce the law

By Jim Tudor

“Convenience-store casino” was a catchy phrase coined by the media, usually in the context of a story regarding the seizure of coin-operated machines that were being used illegally.

There are more than 6,500 convenience stores in Georgia that provide employment for more than 70,000 of our citizens. The vast majority are operated lawfully. …

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Atlanta: The Silicon Valley of biotechnology?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Is Atlanta poised to become the Silicon Valley of biotechnology? Executives of Galectin Therapeutics, a bio tech firm that recently located here, think the city possesses the infrastructure and business climate to make it happen. Meanwhile, a hospital executive writes about the local growth of urgent care centers, medical facilities that offer patients convenient hours and free up emergency rooms.

The world needs a biotech Silicon Valley

By Gilbert F. Amelio and Rod Martin

America’s Founders sought to unleash the creative energies of every citizen, not just the privileged few. They created a system designed to encourage and protect commerce and innovation.

Alexis de Tocqueville described the new nation essentially as a classless society wherein all were treated equally, and individuals rose by merit. Though imperfectly applied to some, the difference between Tocqueville’s America and the rest of the world, in his time or ours, was and remains as …

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Opportunity Zones

By Rick Badie

Today, we explore Georgia’s opportunity zone system, an economic development tool that’s supposed to spur revitalization in designated areas. An Atlanta city councilman writes about the latest zone — the Sweet Auburn area, which includes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home. Meanwhile, a California union official questions the value of such tax incentives in his state.

Opportunity zones create jobs

By Kwanza Hall

Georgia’s Opportunity Zone program was created in 2008. It is one tool, among others, to help local governments bring jobs back to neglected commercial and industrial areas. The program offers a $3,500 tax break per hire, for up to five years, to businesses that hire two or more full-time employees.

Two years ago, the city of Atlanta received approvals for its first opportunity zones. Since then, under the leadership of Mayor Kasim Reed, the city has received state approvals for 11.

Governments wishing to designate an area for this …

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