Archive for September, 2013

Obamacare open for business

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Starting Tuesday, millions of Americans can sign up for new healthcare options through the insurance exchanges established by the controversial Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As our lead writer points out, things remain murky. There are bound to be snafus and delays. So be ready to be patient. As one market analyst told the Wall Street Journal, this is still “a soft opening.” Nevertheless, as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes, it’s a landmark day for citizens in search of health coverage.

Commenting is open.

Confusion is the operative word

By Ron Bachman

Insurance exchanges start operating today. Some states built their own exchange (14), some states partnered with the federal government (17), and some decided to let the feds build the exchange (19).

We are entering a confusing world of insurance exchanges, also called insurance marketplaces. There are state, federal, and private insurance exchanges. There are single and multiple …

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Taxing our food banks

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Commenting is open.

Give food banks a break

By Bill Bolling

A recent AJC news story addressed Gov. Nathan Deal’s surprising decision to veto a bill in May, which would have reinstated sales tax exemptions for food banks and health centers, because it hadn’t been vetted by his competitiveness panel.

Many have asked me how food bank exemptions ended up in front of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council with film, technology, energy and other industries. I’m surprised myself.

On behalf of the state’s seven food banks and the nearly 2,300 community-based organizations we serve, I recently made our case alongside those industries for sales and use exemptions that are critical to hunger relief efforts in Georgia. At the Atlanta Community Food Bank alone, we can leverage one dollar into $8.47 worth of groceries for struggling families in the communities we serve.

The nonprofit sector has long partnered with the public sector in delivering critical services to …

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Cutting trees for billboards

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Start your chain saws. The recent lifting of a statewide injunction has opened the door for advertisers to clear trees on state-owned land that blocks their billboard messages. Environmental groups say that’s a mistake that will add to the commercial roadside littering of Georgia. A billboard lobbyist says it will help businesses create jobs, and the advertising industry will fund future beautification projects.

Commenting is open.

Billboards a blight

By Mary Lovings

Roadside trees have intrinsic, ecological, monetary and visual value that shouldn’t be wasted or controlled as a favor for one industry. Roadside trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, sequestering carbon from vehicle emissions. Their roots hold soil and inhibit runoff of noxious chemicals into Georgia waterways. They provide visual and sound buffers as well as habitat. They offer relief from blaring, distracting, sometimes distasteful visual noise.

Cutting and sending beneficial trees …

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Fuel for Georgia’s space industry

Moderated by Rick Badie

Welcome to the great space race. Georgia, Florida and Texas each hope to land SpaceX, a rocketship company that delivers cargo to the International Space Station. That company would be the first tenant of a proposed “spaceport” in coastal Georgia. For now, though, SpaceX founder Elon Musk calls Texas his top choice. Today, an advocate for space industry development in Georgia says we should be more competitive, while a Texan considers his state an ideal fit for the industry.

Commenting is open.

Expand Georgia’s space business

By Bob Scaringe

Private-sector space companies like SpaceX are launching commercial satellites and resupplying the International Space Station. SpaceX, a space transport company, is evaluating Georgia, Florida and Texas as the location for a $90 million launch site.

The Federal Aviation Administration has licensed 17 spaceports in seven different states, and they all would welcome the SpaceX investment. Yet Georgia state …

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Black boxes in cars

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The government wants all new cars to have black boxes to record driving data by next September. Today’s columns look at the privacy concerns dogging that requirement; what the current rules address and omit; the potential negatives of sharing information; and some of the obvious benefits. We hear from two lawyers versed in the pros and cons of Event Data Recorders and an elected official who owns car dealerships.

Please note: There are three columns today. Commenting is open.

Black boxes require more transparency

By Nate Cardozo

If your car was manufactured within the last few years, you might be surprised to learn that it likely contains a device that records your driving behavior and your car’s performance. That device is the so-called “black box” or Event Data Recorder (EDR).

What does your EDR record say about you and your driving habits? How long does it store that data? The manufacturer is not required to tell you. Who has access to your data and …

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We are one region, really

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

And now for a word from one of Atlanta’s respected nonprofit leaders….

Commenting is open.

Understanding our diverse cultures will strengthen region

By Alicia Philipp

In the 40 years I have lived in the Atlanta region, so much has changed. In 1973, finding a good Chinese restaurant was an exercise in futility, race relations meant only black and white, and outside the perimeter was quite rural.

Fast forward to 2013. There are 50 languages spoken in the first grade at The International Community School in Decatur. The term diversity now includes culture, ethnicity, religion and immigrant status.

Most people accept that it can be hard to know and fully embrace people who are different from themselves. However, we must be deliberate in our efforts to learn about one another and to build relationships that value each member of our community – regardless of our similarities or our differences. We are a stronger, more interesting and richer place because of …

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Fight over Jekyll hotel

Moderated By Tom Sabulis

Jekyll Island is a favorite getaway for Atlantans — and home to a dispute over development on the state-owned barrier island. Today, a coastal environmentalist criticizes approval of a 200-room hotel whose height, he says, will harm Jekyll’s natural beauty. A spokesman for the governing Jekyll Island Authority declined an invitation to write an op-ed in response but said the project adheres to building guidelines approved long ago. We include some previously published comments from the authority on the hotel’s positive impact.

Commenting is open.

Speeding island’s urbanization

By David Kyler

Among continuing disputes over the “revitalization” of Jekyll Island State Park is a mega-hotel that will degrade the island’s treasured ambiance and likely encourage further urban development.

Reaching some 67 feet in height, Jekyll’s beachfront Westin hotel will be the tallest structure on Georgia’s barrier islands, nearly double the height of anything allowed on …

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DeKalb Government: CEO, county manager or full-time commissioners?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Some DeKalb County commissioners say having paid full-time commissioners might help root out the potential for corruption in the state’s third-largest county. Today, a former DeKalb school board member calls for a county manager type of government. A current DeKalb commissioner opines about government reform.

Hire a county manager

By Paul Womack

Since leaving the DeKalb County School Board in January — with some help from voters — I have made a concerted effort to withhold comment on public policy, especially in my home county. Recent discussion is causing me to break that silence.

Our public servants and leaders in county government, elected and appointed, come from a broad cross section of our community. They include business people, activists, lawyers, educators and others. Each can bring a different perspective to governing. We would hope they share one character trait: integrity.

We nominate and elect members of our community who we hope can make a …

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Digital Dollars

Moderated by Rick Badie
A half-day forum, “Georgia’s Digital Economy,” was hosted Monday by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Google. A state education official and an Atlanta technology innovator participated in panel discussions. Today, they share their insights on the growing role of digital technology in our region’s economy and with virtual learning.

Atlanta is nation’s IT capital

By David Cummings

The digital economy is changing the world, and we’re just getting started. Companies are launched every day with just an idea and an Internet connection. Technology has affected nearly every area of business, and Georgia’s growth trajectory within the digital economy is very promising.

Georgia’s strong information security cluster has stood out for years. Our state continues to be among the top three in the U.S. for information security technology and is home to hundreds of such companies. More than 25 percent of the worldwide security revenue market share is generated …

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Build streets, link transit

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Metro Atlanta needs more super streets, says a local transportation policy advocate. These arterial roads, aided by Bus Rapid Transit and managed toll lanes, would provide much-need alternatives to interstate highways and Ga. 400. Also today, a state senator looks at the difficulty of getting around on our disconnected transit systems. He tried it and documented his trip on YouTube.

Commenting is closed.

Network of streets to connect us all

Atlanta’s mobility and congestion problems are well known. It has the seventh-worst congestion in the country. The area’s residents waste 51 hours a year sitting in traffic, and those delays cost the region $3.1 billion a year.

Metro Atlanta agencies plan to spend $84 billion over the next 30 years on transportation. Unfortunately, the transportation plans treat far too many projects as stand-alone ventures intended to address single-problem spots.

Atlanta needs a connected transportation network to fix today’s …

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