Archive for October, 2013

Why cut food stamps?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Saying the nearly $80 billion food-stamp program is out of control, House Republican leaders have narrowly passed a bill to cut funding in half over 10 years. It also adds job or work-training requirements for recipients ages 18 to 50 without minor children. Work continues on the bill. Passionate debate has ensued.

Commenting is open.

Shameful cuts to vital food program

By David Scott

CLARIFICATION: This guest column cites $40 billion in cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recently voted on by Republicans in the U.S. House. That amount is the total reduction over 10 years.

Republicans in the House of Representatives recently voted to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

These cuts target our most vulnerable citizens, like seniors, children, veterans and disabled persons. In fact, veterans are the fastest-growing group receiving food stamp benefits. Census data indicate that about 900,000 …

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Thomas E. Watson’s legacy

Moderated by David Ibata

As might be expected in a state with as freighted a history as ours, a plan to move the statue of Thomas E. Watson — lawmaker, populist, poor folks’ champion, white supremacist and religious demagogue — from the steps of the state Capitol has prompted wide-ranging reactions. An Anti-Defamation League official is glad to see the statue go. The CEO of the Atlanta History Center says we should not sanitize history, but learn from it.

Scan the QR code to go to the Thomas E. Watson entry in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Scan the QR code to go to the Thomas E. Watson entry in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Statue move distances Georgia from Watson controversy

By Shelley Rose

It’s about time.

The imposing — some would say forbidding — statue of Thomas E. Watson has stood at the front entrance of the Georgia State Capitol since its unveiling in December 1932 and has withstood numerous efforts to remove it over the decades. Now, at long last, Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered its relocation to a less visible park across the street from …

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Paulding County airport

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The plan for new commercial airline service at a small Paulding County airport has angered some residents who feel officials schemed behind their backs with a company that plans to expand the facility. The chief of Propeller Investments writes that the new Silver Comet Field will offer only limited airline service that will boost country revenues and provide an alternative to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for travelers in North Georgia.

Paulding officials broke public trust

By Bob Board

Over and over again, the people of Paulding County told political leaders at the ballot box that they did not want a new airport in the county.

The people reject bringing the congestion and noise of a big-city lifestyle into our natural sanctuary, an idyllic country setting. But past county leaders joined in a plan to force a commercial airport into being, without the knowledge of unsuspecting taxpayers. They schemed and plotted against the people of …

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Walkable urban places – in the suburbs, too

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

There are three columns today. Commenting is open.

Walking a way to the future

By Tom Sabulis

The talking point was meant to be a grabber: Metro Atlanta has reached peak sprawl. More development is going to urban development. The old way of fueling our economy by building subdvision after subdvision has been replaced by a new real estate metric — the proliferation of intown multi-purpose hot zones where folks can walk to their desired destinations.

Then came the kicker: Many of these new urban locales are actually in…the suburbs.

The “urbanization of the suburbs” is helping drive the real-estate market both in Atlanta and outside the perimeter, says Christopher B. Leinberger, a land-use strategist, professor at the George Washington University School of Business and author of a new report called “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Atlanta.” (

The study says land use in metropolitan areas can be defined two ways: “drivable …

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The Editorial Board’s Opinion: Walking into the future

The talking point’s a grabber: Metro Atlanta has reached “peak sprawl.” As in more development is becoming “urban” development. As in the old way of building subdivision after suburban subdivision has been supplanted by a new real estate mode — the proliferation of intown multi-purpose hot zones where folks can walk to their desired destinations.
Now comes the kicker: Many of these new urban locales are actually in … the suburbs.
That, perhaps, is a revelation for many in this vast metro area. For it turns on its head the classic, if too-simplistic ITP-versus-OTP public policy debate over what the future will look like here in terms of brick-and-mortar. It’s an interesting argument, too, because Atlanta is widely known as perhaps the least densely populated big city in the entire world.
So it’s instructive, in our view, that private-sector developers — not public-sector planning types — are making substantial investment bets that many of us here will live, shop and work in a …

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Good planning for growth trumps all

By Terry Russell

While the urban core offers great walkability, the suburbs are where all the action is taking place. So what’s fueling the growth, and how are homebuilders responding?
The suburbs north of Atlanta attract residents because of the great schools and access to growing employment centers and affordability. Cities in the Northern Arc have continued to prosper during the recent economic downturn. In fact, named Forsyth County the 13th-wealthiest county in the United States in terms of median household income for 2008.
New home inventory in the area has been tight, with few unsold homes in many of the key submarkets. Beyond the top-notch schools and access to jobs, excellent municipal foresight, solid planning and the endorsement of quality growth are spurring the housing boom.
We can read all day long about the increasing popularity of urban living. But the suburbs that have continued to prosper during the downturn share many attributes with the best …

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Effective economic strategy is crucial

By Yvonne Williams

When Perimeter business leaders developed the master plan in 2001 for a large office hub in the northern suburbs of Fulton County and unincorporated DeKalb County, they put Perimeter at the forefront of a fundamental change in the way we live, work and play in metro Atlanta.
Through the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs), these investors are developing a model community that demonstrates how to improve traffic and livability while strongly promoting economic development.
A Livable Centers Initiative grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to the PCIDs to develop Perimeter’s master plan was the starting point for change.
In the PCIDs’ conference room, a large “no walk” sign that once was used on Ashford Dunwoody Road reminds us of how far we have come in providing pedestrian access and connectivity throughout the area.
In fact, the PCIDs have attached walkability to every major transportation improvement they have implemented in Perimeter …

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Thinking of the children

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Curbing carbon pollution

By Laura Turner Seydel and Susan Berryman-Rodriguez

We all understand that cleaner, healthier air is better for us. No one knows that better than Starr Braswell, a young mother from Douglasville. Her 2-year-old son suffers from severe asthma, has visited the emergency room more than 60 times and has been hospitalized 13 times.

We have a moral imperative to protect our children from harm. Now that the World Health Organization recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic, our obligation to make sure our children breathe clean, healthy air is more important than ever.

A good starting point is to establish limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Power plants are the largest stationary source of greenhouse gases in the U.S, and production of electricity represents 38 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Science clearly shows that carbon pollution contributes to rising temperatures that …

Continue reading Thinking of the children » and restricting doctors

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Continuing the conversation on the Affordable Care Act, a healthcare expert writes that, despite the failures of the federal website, consumers can still enroll, but they need to do legwork to find the right plan. A statewide doctors’ group says new insurance networks are restricting patient access to their doctors.

Commenting is open.

Website failure aside, shop around for deals

By William S. Custer

“Keep calm and carry on” was the slogan on a widely distributed poster in Great Britain just before World War II; it has been gaining popularity again just in time for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While the issues we face are far less harrowing than those Britons faced, it would be difficult to tell that from the rhetoric surrounding the ACA.

In truth, most Georgians will experience either no change or only a small change (1 percent or less) in premiums and benefits in 2014 as a result of the ACA. That is because more than …

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The case for transit

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The building of the Atlanta Streetcar system is moving along, with tracks and poles going in along Auburn and Edgewood Avenues from the Martin Luther King center to downtown. A panel discussion this weekend offered a little insight into how the city will be moving from the construction to operation phase early next year. My second column looks at how Charlotte is fighting skeptics and transit critics with a new ad campaign, which includes a response from a local transportation analyst.

Commenting is open.

Streetcar, bike options coming

By Tom Sabulis

As part of Atlanta’s “Elevate” event Saturday, sponsored by the city’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs, I moderated a panel that focused on public art and transportation, and how the former can enrich the latter. With panelists representing MARTA, Atlanta Beltline, Atlanta Streetcar, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and Atlanta Regional Commission, the conversation ranged from the cultural to project updates on a …

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