Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Who pays for the sunshine?

Adrian Sainz/AP

Adrian Sainz/AP

Moderated by Rick Badie

Two bills proposed during the 2014 legislative session aim to flip the switch “on” for solar energy, virtually an untapped resource in Georgia. Today’s guest writers discuss the expansion of renewable energy statewide and the impact on consumer rates and pricing.

Non-solar customers will pay twice

By Joel Foster

Georgia residents could see their energy rates go up as a result of a bill that will likely be revived in some form in the next legislative session: House Bill 657, the Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act.

HB 657 would create an arrangement that forces utility customers without solar panels on their property to subsidize those with them — a system referred to as “net metering.” While proponents of the bill presents it as “free market,” the effect it would have are anything but.

Net metering policies give solar energy customers a credit at the full retail electric rate for excess electricity they generate. That …

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Control carries a cost

Pedro Molina/NewsArt

Pedro Molina/NewsArt

By Andre Jackson

Two bills signed into law last month erect new roadblocks for Georgians or straying government officials who wish to participate in the national health care reform law.
The new restrictions are a predictable reaction to a sweeping federal program that remains unpopular with many Georgians, as shown by this newspaper’s latest poll . We get — and respect — that.
Yet, we also believe it’s worth saying that state government’s ongoing war with Obamacare is risky for Georgia and its citizens. That’s the case even given the shockingly flawed launch and systemic shortcomings of the ACA.
Put simply, Obamacare remains the law of the land. And Georgia’s leaders discount that  at potential peril to both our residents’ health and our future prosperity as a state.
Ongoing battles over the ACA unduly shift attention away from the sobering problem of how to offer basic health insurance coverage to an additional half a million poor Georgians. Leaving them …

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ANOTHER VIEWS

Georgia can’t afford feds’ bad Medicaid expansion

By Nathan Deal

Growing health care costs, whether through employer-provided health plans or the Medicaid and PeachCare programs, increasingly crowd out other state priorities in our budget.
Obamacare has exacerbated the problem. Like all private-sector businesses in Georgia, the state government is seeing its costs grow for employee health plans because Obamacare’s coverage mandates have driven up prices. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars.
As expensive as the mandates are, they are chump change compared to the costs of Medicaid expansion. After the Supreme Court ruling, states can choose to accept or reject the Medicaid expansion. I’ve stood strong against expansion because the state can’t afford it as it is currently configured, and there’s little reason to believe that our debt-soaked federal government will continue to pay 90 percent of the cost far into the future. Expansion will exacerbate the …

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Which political party for minorities?

Jim Meehan/NewsArt

Jim Meehan/NewsArt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Today, a Cherokee County Republican encourages black conservatives to become more active in local and state political issues, saying there’s a home for them in the GOP. A state lawmaker offers the opposing view and writes that the Georgia Democratic Party naturally appeals to diverse demographic groups.

Black conservatives must act politically

By Eric Johnson

Recently, the Cherokee County Black Republican Council and Cherokee County Republican Party held a roundtable discussion, “Race in American Politics: Will It Ever End?” The consensus of the panelists was that race will always be a part of our political environment and discussion.

I am not ashamed to admit that, even though I did not vote or support him, something wonderful did happen in 2008: The people of the United States of America elected its first black president. He was able to aspire and obtain the most powerful political position in our country and world.

My glee lasted …

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Think, then vote!

Read. Think. Vote. In that order.

That could be a worthwhile mantra for Georgia’s citizens as the May 20 primary draws nigh.

For it is eligible voters’ obligation — duty even — to journey to the polls in two weeks to make their choices known. This essential task of citizenship is profoundly important because a democracy is only as strong as its participants make it.

And, based on voter turnout, this part of civic participation has much room for improvement. Consider that, in 2012’s July primary election, roughly 1.65 million Georgia voters went to the polls. Then factor in the total pool of 5.22 million registered voters. That means just fewer than 1 in 3 eligible voters cast a ballot. During years without high-profile presidential elections, turnout can be even lower. National data from American University shows that 17.8 percent of voters performed that deed during the 2010 primary elections. That’s less than half the percentage seen during the 1930s.

Those who say voting …

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Growing local tech talent

Chris Van Es/NewsArt

Chris Van Es/NewsArt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Today we focus on workforce quality when it comes to the region’s technology sector. A statewide shortage of tech talent means major employers like Home Depot have to scramble to fill positions and often look to other states. A state lawmaker says the shortage shouldn’t come as a surprise, given cuts in support to technical colleges. An economic development official outlines efforts to address the skilled workforce shortage.

Close skills gap for higher wages

By Stacey Evans

A recent news report described the problem Home Depot, one of Georgia’s great businesses, faces trying to fill skilled job openings in our state. Home Depot, unfortunately, is not alone in needing more skilled workers than are available in Georgia. It’s a problem many industries have faced in recent years.

In Georgia, 185,000 skilled professionals are needed yearly for our workforce. One of our best tools for meeting that need has traditionally been the HOPE …

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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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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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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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