Archive for June, 2013

Should Georgia improve rail?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Freight rail companies say there’s no room on their tracks for commuter rail within Atlanta’s Perimeter. Today, a rail advocate writes about the shortsightedness of not improving passenger service as an expanded Port of Savannah increases truck traffic and adds to highway maintenance bills. In our second column, a transportation analyst criticizes high-speed rail as unnecessary and too expensive.

Commenting is open below.

More rail needed for Georgia’s future

By Gordon Kenna

Atlanta was settled along the creeks, ridges and hills mostly in the Chattahoochee River basin. First came the crooked winding paths that became roads, followed by railroads from every direction. During the Civil War, Georgia’s rail infrastructure made Atlanta the most strategic location in the South. Our continued investments in highways, airports and ports leveraged rail’s early success.

But now our legacy rail infrastructure is the weak link to modern Georgia’s transportation …

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Let’s hear it for marriage

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Support families – all of them

By Joanna Adams

How about a shout-out for the month of June?

Named for the Roman goddess of marriage, June has been the go-to month for weddings since ancient times. For centuries, the reasons for the popularity of June nuptials were more practical than romantic. For example, babies conceived after a June wedding would be born in the spring and thus would have a better chance for survival.

Traditionally, the groom has stood to the right of the bride during the wedding ceremony. In the olden days, if someone were to swoop in to kidnap the bride (and steal her dowry), the groom would have quick access to his sword to defend her.

These days, marriage itself could use a defender or two. Troubling trends are afoot.

While marriage statistics remain relatively stable for college graduates, the marriage rate is sharply plummeting for those with a high school education or less. The divorce rate hovers around 50 percent. Forty-one …

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Fulton County diversity

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Workforce diversity is an issue in Fulton County, where the population is 48 percent white and 45 percent black, but where 83 percent of the county government’s 5,500 employees are black. The Fulton County chairman addresses the imbalance, and a lawyer with experience in employment cases outlines what county — and state legislators — can do to remedy it.

Commenting is open below.

How to fix Fulton, balance work force

By A. Lee Parks

Fulton is our state’s keystone county. It has been a pivotal player in achieving many of the milestones that put metro Atlanta on the map — the Olympics, the stadium that made the Braves and Falcons a reality, MARTA, and the essential work done at Grady Memorial Hospital. So why have so many of its citizens abandoned it to start new cities that hold the promise of delivering more efficient governance? And why does Fulton face extinction at the hands of its own state legislative delegation?

The answer is complicated, but …

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Moderated by David Ibata

Today we explore the South in the second decade of the 21st century. A cultural historian discusses “Dixie”; the word stirs emotions from nostalgia and pride to anger and bitterness, yet few agree what it really means. A geographer tells why the South’s economic prospects are brighter than in other areas of the country. And a social observer lists trends in race, ethnicity and attitudes that are dramatically reshaping the region.

Dixie: What’s in a name?

By Coleman Hutchison

In the recent dust-up over country singer Brad Paisley’s song “Accidental Racist,” most of the attention has fallen on the song’s description of a Confederate flag on a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt. The song’s reference to “Dixieland” has drawn far less comment and ire.

Why? After all, Paisley’s protagonist — “just a white man comin’ to you from the Southland/Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be” — seems to think that the flag and the nickname are simple signs of Southern pride …

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Wage hikes and teen employment

Moderated by Rick Badie

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, roughly $15,000 for a full-time year-round worker. Today’s guest writers offer opposing views on whether raising the minimum wage to an hourly rate of $10.10 an hour — as proposed by President Barack Obama — would help or hinder the rebounding economy.

Wage hikes kill teen jobs

By Michael Saltsman

Georgia parents, prepare yourselves: With a 30.6 percent teen unemployment rate heading into the summer, your jobless kids might be making withdrawals from the Bank of Mom & Dad for their cash.

There are a number of factors at work: More competition from older job seekers, for instance, has put young and inexperienced applicants at a disadvantage. But also at fault are a series of ill-conceived minimum wage mandates at the state and federal level, which raised the cost to hire and train teens who fill those jobs.

Those teens can only hope that President Barack Obama and Congress won’t make it worse with …

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Biking’s new appeal

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Metro Atlanta is slowly getting up to bike speed. The Georgia Department of Transportation has adopted a “Complete Streets” policy that integrates cycling and pedestrian usage into new construction. Paved trails in Cobb County and the Beltline in Atlanta are new attractions. Today’s columns look at the bike boom among minorities and women and how citizens need to share city streets.

Commenting is open below.

Growth, equity in bicycling access

By Hamzat Sani and Carolyn Szczepanski

When the city of Atlanta first outlined its ambitious streetcar project for Auburn Avenue, there was a glaring blind spot.

Despite being one of the most historic African-American business districts in the country, Auburn was slated for a mere three blocks of bike lanes in the multi-modal proposal.

In response, local organizations — Red, Bike & Green, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the SOPO Bicycle Cooperative — worked with supportive City Council members to pressure …

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