Archive for May, 2013

Jekyll Island dispute

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

A dispute over the “land” that can be developed on Jekyll Island has reached the attorney general’s office. A task force recently said no marshland should be included in tallying the island’s land mass, a recommendation that could restrict future hotels and condos. Those who run the state park dispute that ruling, while an environmentalist fears that easing restrictions will put sensitive marshes in danger.

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Marsh or not, Jekyll’s future may ride on it

By David Kyler

Amid the ongoing update of the Jekyll Island master plan, debate has arisen over the intent of a 1971 law restricting development to no more than 35 percent of Jekyll Island’s land area above mean high tide (MHT). The controversy is not whether MHT should be used as the legal standard, but whether some 1,700 acres of Jekyll’s tidal marsh above MHT legally qualify as “land.”

A task force appointed by the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) said “no.” But the JIA now says …

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In-town job growth

By Rick Badie

News of employment activity in downtown Atlanta was topped off recently when we learned Coca-Cola expects to relocate at least 500 workers to the city core from the ‘burbs in Cobb County. Is Atlanta experiencing a sustainable in-town jobs migration? Today’s guest columnists weigh that possibility as well as its regional significance.

Back-to-the-city crowd wins

By Greg LeRoy

I have seen America’s future prosperity. It is downtown, and it gets to work by public transit.

That’s why companies like Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Athenahealth, ExactTarget and Asurion Insurance Services are moving jobs into Atlanta. Like smart companies in most U.S. cities, they are voting with their feet for a winning urban future.

There’s no stampede yet back to the city. The long-term thinning of jobs continues. However, a recent Brookings Institution study found that “job sprawl” slowed during the Great Recession, if only because job loss was greatest in outlying areas. That was more true …

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Affordable Care Act: Cost effective or too costly for Georgia?

By Rick Badie

Today, we debate the potential economic impact of the Affordable Care Act to Georgia. A proponent of the health care plan calls it a cost-effective way to broaden insurance coverage statewide if Gov. Nathan Deal expands Medicaid. A family physician, who says insurance premiums and deductibles are already on an uptick, worries about medical inflation.

It’s wise to expand Medicaid

By Kim Anderson

Seldom does a state get the opportunity to solve major problems so cost-effectively. Federal funds have been set aside for Georgia under the Affordable Care Act to broaden access to insurance coverage under Medicaid. We can cover 530,000 adults who are not now eligible with federal funds paying the entire cost for the first three years, phasing down over time to 90 percent.

The offer is on the table. All we have to do is say, “Yes.”

At Families First, the largest and leading Georgia nonprofit serving children and families, we see what happens when parents lack insurance …

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MARTA wait times

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Wait times and ridership are inversely proportional, a MARTA official told me recently: If wait times are increased, they lose passengers. So it’s no surprise that the deficit-troubled agency has been losing customers since it cut service on trains and buses in 2010. And with fewer riders, how do you justify improving the long wait times that frustrate commuters? It’s a tough fix, but something needs to be done, as I write today along with a local transportation advocate.

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Waiting on our rapid transit

By Tom Sabulis

When visiting family in upstate New York, I usually take the Metro-North rail line from Grand Central Station in Manhattan, which glides up the east bank of the Hudson River to my stop in Beacon, just south of Poughkeepsie. It leaves roughly every half-hour during peak travel times, and every hour otherwise.

Like many people, I consult a schedule before I go, lest I wind up with a lot of time to kill on the …

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Chattahoochee sewage

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Chattahoochee River is so important in so many ways to so many people. Today, a nonprofit caretaker group charges that the state has signed off on a harmful level of sewage discharge in Forsyth County. But the Georgia Environmental Protection Division says wastewater levels are different in rivers and lakes, and insists that Forsyth’s permit is just as stringent as others.

Commenting is open below.

New Forsyth sewage may hurt river

By Sally Bethea

Sewage gushes into the Chattahoochee River, raising the levels of bacteria and cancer-causing contaminants to such heights that swimming, drinking and fishing becomes dangerous. Fishermen, boaters and families are forced to stay away from the water. Kayakers wear nose plugs and wetsuits but still get sick after entering the Chattahoochee. Communities that rely on the river for water must pay more to treat it and make it safe to drink.

This scene is from 1989. Fast-forward 24 years, and great strides have …

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Refugees in Atlanta

Moderated by Rick Badie

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration — citing state and local taxpayer costs — has asked the feds to substantially cut the number of refugees sent here from war-torn regions. Today, the mayor of Clarkston says he understands such a request, noting the strain on resources the new arrivals have created in that DeKalb County city. A resettlement executive, though, says we should welcome all foreigners.

Slow influx helps us prepare

By Rick Badie

In 1997, Emanuel Ransom was interviewed by The New York Times about refugees that were being settled into the DeKalb County city of Clarkston. What Ransom, a decades-long resident of the town, told the reporter shames him today.

“A lot of Clarkston residents are being left out totally. Nobody wants to help,” he said of the refugees. “It’s just give me, give me, give me.”

Now Ransom is the Clarkston mayor, the first African-American to hold the post. Even though he has asked the federal government to curb the number of …

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