Archive for December, 2013

MARTA bus drivers talk jobs

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

MARTA bus operators can be as different as their routes. Jeffrey Watkins is retired from the U.S. Air Force, a former police office,r and now pastor of a small church in Douglasville. He began his driving career in the service and then took charters to casinos. Michael Majette, who referees high school football and basketball in his spare time, started driving furniture trucks in his native North Carolina. Watkins likes driving the longer MARTA routes, while Majette has been on same neighborhood-oriented route for 12 years.

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Q&A: Life of a MARTA bus operator

By Tom Sabulis

Two veteran MARTA bus operators, Michael Majette and Jeffrey Watkins, 54, offer opinions on their job, their customers, their routes and the transit agency. Majette drives the #13 route, from Five Points to Westlake MARTA rail station. Watkins usually drives the #3 route, from H.E. Holmes rail station to Candler Park station.

What’s the most challenging part …

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Underage drinking

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A new year’s talk for teens

By John Stephens

Underage drinking is running rampant across the nation.

From high school parties to college campuses, youth under 21 are drinking alcohol. Whether it is easier access, the feeling it is a rite of passage, or peer pressure, the problem is taking its toll on our youth.

In 2012, over the New Year holiday (from 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 to 6 a.m. on Jan. 3), an especially a high risk period, 140 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes.

Please do not delay in having that conversation with your child. Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year.

Our son was killed in an underage drunk-driving crash on Mother’s Day 2009; Adam was only 18. I had the conversation with Adam and his friends about not drinking and driving, and I assumed that not getting into a car with a drunk driver was understood.

I should have been more direct.

To this day, I replay how that conversation would go.

What pains me so deeply is that …

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Mistreated dogs?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia Regents University in Augusta has come under fire from the Humane Society of the United States for performing painful dental implant experiments on dogs obtained from a questionable dealer. GRU’s vice president of research says the humane society is presenting incomplete facts and inaccuracies in its video, made by an undercover lab worker; proper research protocols were followed; the research was necessary to improve human lives, and proper pain medication was used on the dogs.

Commenting is open.

Saving animals from labs

By Wayne Pacelle

Picture a different life for the dog who loyally sits by your feet every night or who dances with excitement when she sees you — a dog like my beagle mix, Lily, who quickly became a member of my family when we adopted her some months ago.

Imagine, instead, that dog in a laboratory, confined to a cage and taken out of the cage primarily for invasive procedures that result in extended suffering and pain. …

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GOP and African-Americans

The Republican focus on African-Americans is evident in Georgia, where a GOP party chapter was recently re-chartered at Morehouse College. Today, the state GOP official charged with minority outreach emphasizes what that party can offer to various ethnic groups, while two Democrats do likewise for their party. To comment, go to: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/

Republicans focus on minorities

By Leo Smith

The conservative movement is sweeping through historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the United States.
Fiscal restraint, individual responsibility and free-market principles are resonating with young African-American students, and the world is starting to take notice.
Last month, Morehouse College joined the growing list of College Republican organizations popping up at HBCUs, adding to the public discourse and providing ideological choices for college students.
The recently re-chartered Morehouse Republicans are a new voice on campus that tells the …

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Savannah harbor deepening

The U.S. House of Representatives cleared an obstacle to deepening the Savannah harbor with passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. It removes a spending cap on the dredging project. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah praises the “pro-job, pro-America” legislation, while a coastal environmentalist deems it a “major setback.” To comment, go to: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/

Project squanders millions

By David Kyler

In the interest of taxpayers and full disclosure, some important considerations need to be brought to light regarding the recent approval of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Contrary to Rep. Jack Kingston’s praise for cutting “bureaucratic red tape” and expediting projects, the bill will result in billions in tax dollars squandered on projects of dubious benefit. Moreover, by eliminating important environmental evaluation requirements and spending controls, still …

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Christmas Eve messages

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

What are some of our religious leaders thinking this Christmas Eve? We invited a Christian and a Muslim to offer their views on how the holiday is celebrated and observed from a distance, respectively. Our deeds, spirit and pursuit of material goods (i.e. presents) all come into question. In our third column, we present reader comments from our blog regarding recent transportation columns.

Keeping God in our outside world

By Patricia Templeton

Like many families, we spend Christmas Eve doing last minute errands: the trip to the store, the stop by the church to make sure everything is ready for the evening’s services, wrapping those last packages.

My racing around is always accompanied by a special soundtrack: the live radio broadcast of Christmas Lessons and Carols from King’s College in Cambridge, England. Hearing Christianity’s sacred stories — from the Garden of Eden through the birth of Christ, and listening to the beautiful Christmas hymns …

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Connecting our faith with deeds

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Here’s a seasonal column from an Atlanta pastor who also writes for the Higher Ground blog at www.highergroundgroup.org.

By Joseph L. Roberts Jr.

Today, we desperately need to connect the values taught by all our religious institutions — Christian, Jewish and Muslim — with our daily practice as citizens.

A few Sundays ago, after worship at Ebenezer Baptist Church, we stopped at a gas station. My wife and I remained in the car while our son filled the tank. A middle-aged man walked by. He wore three pairs of worn-out pants, each pair slipping on his thin frame, showing soiled undergarments. He seemed depressed and desolate, but he didn’t approach us to ask for assistance. He probably wrote us off as people coming from church, who had already forgotten the challenge heard at worship.

He searched two large trash bins nearby, looking for any discarded food. He quickly wolfed down anything that was edible. He searched again, for something to drink. …

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Fight for jury trials

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Two weeks ago, we published a column by an Atlanta attorney whose firm’s nonprofit wing found that an alarming number of employment discrimination cases never reach a jury here. Today, we continue the conversation. An Atlanta lawyer explains that federal judges are only doing their jobs by tossing cases that don’t meet minimum standards, while another echoes the words of Founding Fathers, who saw the jury trial as a pillar of justice for all Americans.

Commenting is open.

Judges are only following the law

By Randy C. Gepp

A recent Opinion article published in the AJC entitled “Preserve Right to Jury Trial” represents that the process used by Atlanta federal judges in employment cases is denying the right to a jury trial. This representation is untrue. An employee whose claims meet the minimum statutory requirements will receive a jury trial.

Our laws do not require that every claim, no matter how frivolous, will proceed to a trial before a …

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Should Georgia legalize medicinal marijuana?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Pro-cannabis activists wants the 2014 General Assembly to consider marijuana reform legislation that would make possession laws less criminal and allow medicinal use of the herb. Today, an advocate presents that position, while an opponent champions current drug laws.

Treat weed like wine

By James Bell

National polls show 58 percent now support legalizing medicinal marijuana, and 80 percent indicate support for doing so. This shift in attitudes toward cannabis comes after 20 states and the District of Columbia enacted medical marijuana laws, and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize its use.

Will Georgia follow suit and reform its laws? Georgia activists say yes, but it will take considerable work to educate the Legislature and motivate the public to get more involved. One thing is certain: The movement to reform these laws in Georgia is growing. The Legislature will address this issue at some point.

The General Assembly has addressed the medical …

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Delta’s AJC column makes the WSJ

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Wall Street Journal published a story today about why Delta Air Lines is so nervous over the development of a tiny second airport for metro Atlanta in Paulding County. The Journal reporters quoted statements penned by a Delta executive in a Nov. 26 Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion column. Here is that column in full:

Second airport saps power of primary

By Holden Shannon

For more than seven decades, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been metro Atlanta’s most powerful economic engine. Since its beginnings in 1925 as a small airfield constructed on an abandoned racetrack, it has evolved into the world’s busiest airport. It has more flights and destinations than any other major U.S. airport, bringing an estimated $58 billion annually in total economic benefits to the region and supporting tens of thousands of jobs statewide.

The airport is home to Delta Air Lines’ largest international hub, where we connect passengers from around …

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