Archive for April, 2014

Mayor Kasim Reed: Global engagement vital to the city

Paul Lachine/NewsArt

Paul Lachine/NewsArt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Atlanta may not be a super city, but it has been ranked as a desirable “second-tier” city by a real estate services firm that monitors international global real estate investment. Today, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touts the importance of global economic engagement, while a financial executive says the region is being “rediscovered” by international investors.

Global engagement boost city’s standing

By Kasim Reed

Former Mayor Andrew Young, who arguably did more than any mayor to place Atlanta on a global stage, recently wrote the city had moved beyond being the “next great international city” to a “global powerhouse.”

I couldn’t agree more. Atlanta has a unique opportunity to solidify its position as the business and cultural center of the South via global engagement.

We have the tools to achieve this objective. We are home to the nation’s third-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, the world’s busiest airport, and …

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Clayton MARTA, Northern Arc fixes

C-Tran riders line up at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to board one of the last Clayton County buses to Riverdale in March 2010. Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com

C-Tran riders line up at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to board one of the last Clayton County buses to Riverdale in March 2010. Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Enough time has passed: A Clayton County transit advocate today says county commissioners need to listen to voters and schedule a binding referendum in November that will allow citizens to cast ballots on a sales tax increase to fund transit and bring in MARTA. (Commission Chairman Jeff Turner declined an invitation to write on this topic for this page.) In our second column, a Dunwoody resident puts forth his ideas for solving the gridlock on the northside Perimeter, from Gwinnett to Cobb counties.

Commenting is open.

If not now, Clayton, when?

By Roberta Abdul-Salaam

If the citizens of Clayton County are not given the opportunity to vote on a binding referendum to restore public transportation in this November’s general election, when will we have another opportunity?

You may …

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Getting moving again on transportation fixes

By Benita Dodd

Georgia’s economy is picking up, and with it the daily traffic congestion as growing numbers of commuters travel to jobs. Inertia followed the failure of the 2012 transportation sales tax (T-SPLOST) in nine of 12 regions, but it’s time to move forward on transportation.
Georgia still needs funding. Congress’ stalemate and growing national infrastructure demands are shrinking the federal pot. At home, even if Georgia legislators possessed the political will to increase it, the state fuel tax remains a source of diminishing funds. It’s tougher to fund infrastructure maintenance and repairs, let alone enhancements, amid erosion by greater fuel efficiency, more alternative-fuel vehicles and money going to programs that do little to ease congestion.
Clearly, Georgia must wean itself off the feds and work to implement state-based transportation priorities for its growing transportation needs. Funding projects such as fixed guideways, road diets, streetcars and …

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Paving the road ahead

Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Nearly two years after an unlikely bipartisan coalition and other factors sank the Grand Bargain known as the T-SPLOST, there are hopeful signs that metro Atlanta may be edging toward a renewed drive for transportation improvements.
That’s encouraging, given the magnitude of our region’s mobility problems. The points we’ll outline below represent as good a starting point as any on the long walk toward solutions. These early efforts deserve to be played out fully to see where they lead. To do anything less is to risk continuing, or even exacerbating, the congestion problems that adversely impact our quality of life and economic competitiveness.
It’s with that mindset that we take note of positive legislation that emerged from the Georgia General Assembly this year. As we noted repeatedly on this page during the recent Gold Dome session, election-year politics too often triumphed over legislation that could have made a difference on some of …

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Vaccines crucial

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Babies need their vaccines

By Brenda Fitzgerald

I don’t know if there’s a more disturbing and terrifying sight for a new mother: a baby coughing so violently and rapidly with such repetition that all of the air is gone from the child’s lungs. And then comes the sound — a deep “whooping” gasp as baby struggles to replace the missing air and breathe.

Vomiting often comes next, and with it, a 50-percent chance the child, if an infant, will be hospitalized. For other babies, the symptoms can be less noticeable yet more dangerous, including apnea, or long pauses with no breathing.

None of this has to happen.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is extremely dangerous for infants and yet is entirely preventable, along with more than a dozen other life-threatening diseases. Safeguarding baby requires the simplest of actions by the mother: straightforward, proven vaccination.

And while we cannot immediately vaccinate a baby against the devastating effects of whooping …

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Corporate buying of judges

Chris Van Es/NewsArt

Chris Van Es/NewsArt

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

An Emory University law professor writes that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down aggregate limits on some political donations imperils the independent judiciary in Georgia. A Mercer University professor counters that, while the danger exists, corruption has not tainted our state judiciary. The opportunity for big money to influence judges may arise in the future through trickle-down campaign funding, they say, but voters will always hold the power to oust offending judges, if it comes to that.

Commenting is open.

Flood of money threatens judiciary

By Joanna Shepherd Bailey

Americans prize “due process of law” in resolving our legal disputes. We expect that when our disputes must be resolved by trial, that our case will be heard, fully and fairly, by an impartial judge.

But a recent United States Supreme Court decision threatens this expected impartiality by opening our courts to unlimited campaign contributions.

As …

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Should we create pathways of opportunity for at-risk boys and young men of color?

Dean Rohrer/NewsArt

Dean Rohrer/NewsArt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Today, we revisit President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, his proposal to build pathways of opportunity for at-risk boys and young men of color. I interview the founder of an Atlanta nonprofit that, among other programs, offers a free 12-week session called the Male Priority Initiative. Moreover, a freelance writer and father challenges individuals and society to negate the need for the president’s initiative. Finally, a Georgia State University doctoral student writes about becoming a father while a teen.

Initiative grooms young men

We talk with Norma Joy Barnes, chief executive officer and president of the Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc.

Q: What was the impetus for the Priority Male Initiative?

A: Throughout my career, I saw what young black males face. I was a caseworker with a United Way agency; a volunteer coordinator for an agency to service at-risk young males returning from the U.S. Job …

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Africa Atlanta 2014: Commerce, culture and heritage

Chris Van Es

Illustration by Chris Van Es

Moderated by Rick Badie

Atlanta and the state look to strengthen social and economic relationships with Africa. Because of that, various leaders collaborated to organize Africa Atlanta 2014, a year-long, citywide observance of cross-cultural ties between the two regions. Today, a Georgia Tech dean who founded the initiative explains its purpose, while a trade executive sheds light on potential business opportunities with the continent. Elsewhere, an Emory University official touts the benefits of that campus’ efforts to “go green.”

Africa offers opportunities for Georgia firms

By Donald Nay

Over the past decade, U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa has nearly doubled. Last year, U.S. exports to the region topped $24 billion. According to the International Monetary Fund, the region is home to seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies.

As the second-fastest growing region in the world, the sub-Sahara is outpacing global average growth largely …

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Worth sticking with one airline?

VINO WONG / VWONG@AJC.COM

VINO WONG / VWONG@AJC.COM

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Recently, Delta Air Lines shook up it SkyMiles frequent-flier program, saying it will begin awarding free flights based on dollars spent, rather than miles flown. The move rewards higher-spending customers, while hurting bargain-hunting travelers who earn thousands of miles by flying long distances across the country on cheap fares. Delta vows the changes will make it easier to redeem miles for flights. Today, two air-travel consumer experts weigh in on Delta’s changes.

Commenting is open.

Frequent flier programs scam travelers

By Christopher Elliott

Loyalty programs may be the single greatest scam pulled on the traveling public. Want to segment customers into castes of “haves” and “have-nots”? Create legions of blindly brand-loyal passengers? Lift your profits to avaricious new heights? Nothing does it like a clever frequent-flier program.

Yet as a consumer advocate, not a day goes by that I don’t receive a despondent email …

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Beverly Hall: Journey toward truth

Hyosub Shin/hyosub.shin@ajc.com

Hyosub Shin/hyosub.shin@ajc.com

Remember our children. They were, and remain, the innocent victims of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

Keeping them in the forefront of civic consciousness will provide the most-fitting vantage point from which to assess, analyze and see through to conclusion the remaining portion of this sad affair. It will also outline the best path forward toward truth, reconciliation and, yes, justice.

All of which is important to remember as the remaining criminal trials of the APS cheating defendants lumber along. Chief among the defendants is former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall, who by all accounts is now gravely ill.

Given that leaders, at least in theory, are responsible for what happened during their watch, it’s natural that much attention has focused on Hall, her health and the prospect of whether the charges against her will ever be tried in a court of law. Hall’s cancer is said to be terminal. That sobering point may well be …

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