Archive for January, 2014

Spirit shone through

A dose of southern hospitality

By Patrick Darcey

Growing up in New England we referred to one or two inches of snow as a “dusting.” One or two inches of snow in metropolitan Atlanta, I quickly learned, was a “disaster.”

Leaving my office in Kennesaw for my normal twenty-minute reverse commute into the city, after the storm already began, proved to be too late.

Minutes of stalled and soul-crushing traffic turned into hours. And then the sun went down.

People ran out of gas. Cars became stuck; literally freezing in place. I listened to the AM radio broadcasts of dire situations just one or two miles ahead on the interstate. I needed to act.

My own vehicle was down to less than a quarter tank and my one bottle of water was ready for a refill. I pulled off the highway and crept down Cobb Parkway, looking for a motel, or a lodge, or just somewhere warm to pass the night.

It was a sheet of ice. Spinning tires, horn blasts and frustration filled the cold air.

By the time I arrived at …

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Storm fallout: Transit, planning needed

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

In the wake of this week’s storm and historic gridlock come renewed arguments for bolstering our regional transit system, building and reinforcing our network of roads and highways, and reminding drivers (and officials) that truckers are not to blame for the congestion that hampered storm recovery. The theme? A stronger focus on preparedness and infrastructure is the best way to prevent this mess from happening again.

Note: There are three columns today. Commenting is open.

Real regional transit would have helped

By David Emory

The winter storm that wreaked havoc across metro Atlanta on Tuesday highlighted both the best and worst our city has to offer. Throughout the region, stories of good Samaritans coming to the aid of stranded fellow citizens were an inspiration to us all. That goodwill, however, played out against the backdrop of a regional transportation system that had broken down on an unprecedented scale.

Going forward, there will be no …

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Empower Girls/Fractional SPLOST

Moderated by Rick Badie

It’s Girl Scouts cookie time, but there’s more to selling Thin Mints than meets the eye. The CEO of the greater Atlanta organization explains how the organization nurtures female leaders. And a state legislator writes about a bipartisan bill proposed in the General Assembly that would allow counties to collect a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax of less than one cent.

Empower Girls

By Amy Dosik

When you see a Girl Scout selling Thin Mints in your neighborhood, know that there are more than just cookies in the box. Girls who participate in the cookie program are a part of the largest girl-led financial literacy program in the United States.

Girls who run their own cookie business learn goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. These skills will benefit them throughout their lives. By supporting Girl Scouts, you make an investment in our community and the next generation of female leaders.

Today’s Girl …

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Georgia2Georgia

Moderated by Rick Badie

What if Georgia companies did more business with each other? That’s the purpose of the state chamber’s Georgia2Georgia initiative. A chamber executive writes that its 2014 campaign goal is to get participants to do 2 percent more business with other area companies. Meanwhile, the head of a local company that specializes in agricultural machinery notes the global importance of modernizing Africa’s farm economy.

Think “Georgia first”

By Ernest Greer

Imagine the impact if Georgia companies did more business with each other — if we all thought “Georgia first” when purchasing goods or services. That’s the goal of Georgia2Georgia, an initiative recently announced by the Georgia Chamber.

Its purpose is as simple as its name: To encourage the idea of doing more business with the companies that create jobs, contribute to our tax base and support communities statewide.

Why is this so important? Because stronger companies lead to stronger communities. Stronger …

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Atlanta Streetcar and mobility

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

This spring, streetcars are expected to roll through Atlanta once again, offering residents and visitors another transportation option for getting around downtown. Today, the Atlanta Streetcar’s executive director writes about how these electric vehicles will add connectivity for many folks along the line from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center. Our second columnist says the streetcar will be impractical — too restricted, too slow, too inconvenient.

Commenting is open.

Streetcar will ease city’s mobility

By Tim Borchers

Streetcars are an integral part of the story of Atlanta. The first streetcar line, which connected Peachtree Street with what is now Spelman College, opened in 1871. During the early 20th century, Atlanta’s population tripled as streetcars helped expand the city limits to nearby suburbs, creating a vibrant and easily accessible metropolis.

Today, Atlanta is the center of the fastest-growing region in the United States and home …

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Treating autism in Georgia

Health plans should cover autism

By John Albers

Before the 2013 Legislative Session, I spent considerable time listening to the needs and concerns of my constituents. I was particularly struck by the number of families whose children have autism and the rising cost of their health care. I have a heart for those with specials needs and proudly sit on the board of directors for EnAble of Georgia. For these reasons, I decided to sponsor Senate Bill 191, known as Ava’s Law.

Ava Bullard was diagnosed with autism at age two and denied coverage under the state employee health plan. Her parents spent $5,000 a month for Ava to receive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics as the treatment of choice for autism. Today, Ava is a fourth-grader in a general education classroom and no longer requires intensive treatment.

Autism treatment isn’t a mandated coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and only 26 …

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Guns on campus, in church

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Georgia General Assembly is discussing a bill that would allow guns to be carried on school campuses and in churches. Today, a local theologian criticizes such a a law that would harm the sanctity of churches, synagogues and mosques. In our second column, a gun-rights advocate argues that no law will be able to stop deranged criminals from slaughtering innocents, but legalized campus and church carry can help individuals protect themselves.

Commenting is open.

Guns in churches violate worship itself

By David Bartlett

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline read, “Voters: jobs yes, guns no.”

The accompanying article reported on a statewide poll that found that 72 percent of Georgians oppose changing current law to allow people to carry guns into churches, synagogues and mosques; and 78 percent oppose allowing students to carry guns on college campuses in our state.

The issue of gun safety requires the attention of all of us. But for people of …

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The War on Poverty

Moderated by Rick Badie

Nelson Mandela said that poverty, like slavery and apartheid, was man-made and unnatural. Meanwhile, President Lyndon B. Johnson pledged a war 50 years ago to fight this nation’s poverty. Today, we offer three perspectives — two regional, and one national — on an issue that continues to endure.

War on Poverty still with us despite gains

By Bill Bolling

Anniversaries can be inspiring. They often give us reason to celebrate, look back or even look forward with new insight and wisdom. As the country looks back at the War on Poverty, we still are not of one mind.

President Ronald Reagan was the first to coin the phase, “We had a war with poverty, and poverty won.” It’s been repeated through the years, recently by a number of conservative politicians.

From some perspectives, this is true. We’ve spent trillions of dollars, yet poverty still exists. But gains have been made. We have succeeded in preventing the poverty rate from climbing far higher. We have …

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Georgia: The health IT capital of the nation?

Moderated by Rick Badie

In a recent newsletter, Tino Mantella — president of the Technology Association of Georgia — called our state “the health IT capital of the nation.” Today, he writes about the region being a leading health care IT cluster. Meanwhile, a real estate executive predicts the metro Atlanta housing industry will return to  “normal” in 2014. To comment, go to: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/

A vibrant health IT cluster

By Tino Mantella

As attention is paid to the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to make note of the key role technology will have in meeting fundamental challenges in health care delivery.

Health information technology is a unique sector of the health care industry that involves the design, development, creation, use and maintenance of information systems for medical- and insurance-related enterprises as well as their consumers.

Health IT jobs pay an average salary of $81,000 a year. Investments in the industry have …

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MARTA’s line to Cobb

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

I live about 50 yards from a MARTA bus stop, enabling me to conveniently catch a ride on the #12 bus when I need to. As it turns out, the route also serves Cobb County; the northbound leg ends not far from where the new Braves stadium will be built. My column today focuses on the origins of this minor MARTA move into Cobb and what it might mean for the future. Our second column disputes figures used to bolster the popular cars-to-transit trend in major cities.

Commenting is open.

The seed of future collaboration?

By Tom Sabulis

I took MARTA to the new Braves stadium in Cobb County the other day.

I got on the #12 bus in Midtown and rode up Northside Drive to Cobb Parkway and Cumberland Mall. True, the stadium is still on the drawing board. It doesn’t exist yet. But when Cobb’s field of taxpayer dreams is finished in time for the 2017 baseball season, assuming things remains the same, the northbound terminus of MARTA’s #12 bus, at the Cumberland Transfer …

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