Archive for July, 2013

Sandy Springs Gateway Project

Moderated by Rick Badie

The Sandy Springs City Council recently approved a mixed-used development that would demolish dilapidated apartments and replace them with more upscale units, along with office and retail space. Some welcome the project, while others view it as cautionary tale for the city. Here are two views.

Welcome JLB

By Tibby DeJulio

At a recent meeting, the Sandy Springs City Council approved two measures that will provide a great long-term benefit to the city and our residents.

The JLB Partners/Core Properties “Gateway” project is a $100 million mixed-use project that removes two of the city’s oldest apartment complexes along Roswell Road and replaces them with high-quality housing and commercial uses. Revitalization of our older apartment communities has been a council priority for some time.

The Gateway project was announced last summer. Over many months, the folks at JLB and Core met with city staff as well as residents of surrounding neighborhoods. They heard …

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When seniors stop driving

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Think it’s tough getting around metro Atlanta without a car? Try it when you’re elderly, when your physical abilities are not what they once were. That’s when getting to the grocery store or doctors’ appointments take on the challenge of a cross-country trip. Without a strong focus on complete transit, seniors get left behind as often as lower-income residents.

Commenting is open.

After 60 years, life without car is tough

By Evelyn R. Dane Kennedy

Since I first began driving at age 24, the automobile has been an integral part of my life. I used it every day to take my seven children to school, to doctors and dentists and to extra curricular activities. I was also on the road as a teacher for 40 years, as mayor of Chamblee for one term, as a community volunteer and in service with the USCG Auxiliary on Lake Lanier.

Then, when my mother was in her seventies, my daughter and I had to convince her to give up her car. At that time I made a resolution that …

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Metro Atlanta greenspace

A different kind of green

It’s a common refrain heard inside the Perimeter and out, a shared desire by city dweller and suburbanite alike: parks and public greenspace seem dear to residents’ hearts, and hopefully near to their homes.

In 2001, residents of Suwanee, about 32 miles north of Atlanta, voted to double their property taxes with a $17.7 million referendum that has increased the city’s open space from nine acres to approximately 300 acres. That includes what City Manager Marty Allen calls “the jewel of our system,” Town Center Park, an urban plaza and central meeting place for the community. Suwanee’s march to its outdoorsy goal — having 25 percent of the city devoted to open space — has helped land it on a number of “America’s Best Places to Live” lists.

More recently, the newly formed conservancy for Atlanta Memorial Park, which includes the Bobby Jones Golf Course off Northside Drive, got an idea how passionately neighbors felt about caring for the park’s 199 acres: …

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Put Atlanta vendors back to work

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Atlanta’s vendors need to get back to work, today’s columnists write. A former vending review board leader outlines the city’s vending history, saying the City Council should not let Mayor Kasim Reed dictate vendor rules. A city councilman remembers his own experiences while defending the council’s role and his temporary program that could return vendors to selling their wares outside Turner Field.

Commenting is open.

Council should lead on vending issue

By Christine Gallant

According to a July 16 AJC article, Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond has introduced legislation that at last will temporarily “put public street vendors back to work” by allowing them temporary permits to vend near Turner Field and to “sell goods out of city-owned kiosks.”

Well, not really. This July ordinance states that the only vendors able to sell from the kiosks will be those with previous permits to vend from them. Most vendors didn’t apply to vend at the expensive …

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Atlanta’s Asian-American communities

Moderated by Rick Badie

This region’s Asian-American community has grown substantially in recent years, remaking neighborhoods and driving the economy. With growth, naturally, comes challenges, something today’s guest writers address. Co-chairs of an advisory task force explain the need for a commission to address issues statewide. The other writer outlines key issues the community faces.

New commission to address Asian-American issues

By Farooq Mughal and Bonnie Youn

The Georgia Asian-American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Task Force was recently organized to lobby state government to create a new AAPI Commission. A new commission would provide our communities an opportunity to engage elected officials and address AAPI needs statewide.

The first Georgia AAPI Commission was created by Gov. Roy Barnes in 2001. In 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed the second one. The Barnes Commission met quarterly and produced recommendations to improve AAPI access to government. The Perdue …

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Patent Trolls

Moderated by Rick Badie

Ever heard of patent trolls? It’s a term used to describe individuals or investors who purchase patents with no intent to manufacture or market the product. Rather, they generally sue for patent infringement or try to settle with companies that use the innovations. It’s a growing trend that today’s guest writers say cripples creativity and exerts a financial toll on small businesses.

Patent trolls restrain innovation

By Tino Mantella

An elementary schoolgirl named Suzy set up a lemonade stand in her parents’ front yard.  Each glass was sold for 50 cents. At the end of her sales, she made $12.50.

But what if Suzy was forced to shut down because a law firm sent her a letter demanding 75 cents per glass of lemonade sold because the technology she used for payment, including emailing a copy of each receipt to her customers, was under a so-called “patent?” Outrageous as that may seem, this type of practice is happening everyday as “patent trolls” target …

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Cobb’s comprehensive transportation plan

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Cobb County government is listening, and preparing to listen some more. As part of their new comprehensive transportation plan, county officials are seeking resident feedback regarding the best options for their tax dollars. In our second column, one county leader speaks out in favor of express bus service, urging Cobb to build on a system that’s already in place and working well.

Commenting is open below.

Cobb residents need to weigh in on roads

By Tim Lee

If you want a first-hand perspective concerning a roadway, you don’t have to search. Just ask the person who drives on it every day.

Anyone with a commute — a businessperson, a technician on a service call, or simply a person taking an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment — can tell you which lights take longer than others. They can tell which roads have more traffic, and they know when to avoid bumper-to-bumper congestion. And if you asked them to pinpoint a problem or a solution, I’ll bet they …

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Metro Atlanta’s civic health

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Commenting is open.

Engaged communities are healthy ones

By Lesley Grady

Did you share a meal with family or friends last week? If your answer is yes, you helped make Metro Atlanta rank 36th among the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas.

Pick up your neighbor’s mail? Doing a favor for a neighbor places you among a tiny 13 percent of the region’s residents.

Extending outward from interaction at home with family, friends and neighbors to participation in groups, political action and volunteering, our region’s rankings range from mediocre to grim, with few exceptions.

We like to express political opinions on the Internet — ranking ninth — and we are in the middle of the pack for voter registration — ranking 22nd. Yet while we talk a good game, we don’t show up at the polls: Metro Atlanta ranks 34th for voting often in local elections, where just a few votes can make a big difference.

We also tend to avoid responsibility, ranking 35th for willingness to …

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Georgia’s juvenile rape problem

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia’s juvenile justice system is being criticized for a series of alleged sexual assaults in detention centers in metro Atlanta. As one criminal justice reform advocate writes, juvenile rape affects the community at large when young people return to society with disease and psychological scars. The juvenile justice department has responded with internal investigations, suspensions and renewed training efforts.

Commenting is open below.

Juvenile rape cruel legacy for our state

By Craig DeRoche

A federal Department of Justice report released in recent weeks reveals an enormous black eye on Georgia’s reputation. Researchers found that four of Georgia’s juvenile detention facilities rank among the worst U.S. facilities for the sexual victimization of incarcerated youth. This includes one facility in Paulding County that shamefully led the nation, with nearly one-third of its teens reporting sexual assault by staff or other juveniles.

Justice …

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Immigration Reform: Pathway to citizenship?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Immigration reform appears to have hit a roadblock in Congress. Some Democrat and Republican representatives are at odds over whether a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million illegal immigrants should be part of any comprehensive legislation. Today, two Georgia congressmen offer their views on the matter.

No back-door amnesty

By Phil Gingrey

Our country’s immigration system is in dire straits. It’s been described as “broken,” but in reality it has all but collapsed. Georgians see the disastrous effects of this firsthand. It has the seventh-highest illegal immigrant population in the country, an enormous strain on taxpayers and families.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration refuses to enforce existing law, has granted back-door amnesty to certain categories of illegal immigrants and has admitted it has no way to measure border security.

The Senate’s approach is a short-sighted mistake. Illegal immigration is one of the biggest crises facing our …

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