Archive for the ‘Quality of Life’ Category

What neighborhoods need

Building strong communities

By Shirley Franklin

I remember when East Lake Meadows was one of Atlanta’s most violent neighborhoods. Today, high-quality, mixed-income housing has replaced decrepit apartments in East Lake. Crime is down and employment, income, school attendance and student achievement are up. It’s a flourishing community where people of all ages and different backgrounds choose to live.

The benefits of living in a safe neighborhood with good housing and outstanding schools come from a holistic approach to community revitalization. Why holistic? A community’s wellness results from the quality of education, recreational facilities, employment opportunities and health care of its residents.

That’s what happened in East Lake. Tom Cousins, an Atlanta-based developer and philanthropist, spearheaded an initiative to turn the neighborhood around, combining mixed-income housing, a cradle-to-college education pipeline and community services. Purpose Built Communities was …

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Medicaid expansion

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Top leaders in the Georgia Assembly are behind a bill to strip Gov. Nathan Deal of the power to expand Medicaid, as called for by the Affordable Care Act, and put that decision-making in the hands of the Legislature. Some Democrats are calling that political cover for the governor during this year’s election campaign. Today, we hear from Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, who is sponsoring House Bill 990, and Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Commenting is open.

Give legislators Medicaid say

By Jan Jones

Georgians can be proud of their generosity toward the vulnerable and needy of our state. Individuals, churches, non-profits and governments dig deep to give relief to the less fortunate.

In fact, state taxpayers provide $3 billion annually in health care services through Medicaid to one in six Georgians. From covering 60 percent of the births in Georgia, to serving as de facto long-term care insurance for many, to providing …

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Dangers of a hoodie

This ‘thug’ could save your life

By Anwar Osborne

Here is a guy walking down the street in Atlanta. He’s black and wearing what some might call a “thug” uniform: a zip-hooded sweatshirt, jeans, a baseball cap on backwards, and Michael Jordan basketball shoes.

But that man is me, and I’m on my way to work, a physician in an urban hospital emergency department. I’m a doctor, and I dress like a “thug.”

Michael Dunn, a white Floridian, said he hated “thug music” before shooting Jordan Davis, a black teenager. Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman had the word “thug” uttered about him many times before the Super Bowl, and Jonathan Ferrell got shot instead of getting help after a car crash.

These cases are striking to me because I live in a 6-foot 1-inch, 210-pound black body, but also because I spend the majority of my waking hours trying to keep people alive. Sometimes it’s by delivering patient care, signing charts in my office, attending a lecture or fleshing out research in a small …

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Privatizing foster care

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The General Assembly is considering legislation that will put foster care largely in the hands of private agencies, even with regard to case management. Today we hear from child-law experts who say our state’s outcomes for abused children are already better than Florida’s, which has the model Georgia is looking to replicate. A former Obama Administration official familiar with Florida’s law says privatization is the way to go.

Commenting is open.

Privatizing is not a proven reform plan

By Melissa Dorris Carter and Andrew Barclay

Is privatization of child welfare services good public policy for Georgia’s children and families?

That’s the question provoked by Senate Bill 350, and there is no simple answer. The rapid early progress of the proposal, which would require that the Division of Family and Children Services bid out child welfare services statewide through contracts with community agencies, should not be taken as an indication of support among …

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The value of mentoring

By Teresa L. White

Though myriad social science studies affirm the value of mentors, I don’t need to look any further than my own life experience to see the profoundly beneficial impact of good role models. My sister and I grew up in Dallas, in what was generously called “affordable housing.” We spent hours at home after school unsupervised. Friends were getting high and making bad decisions. We were, in the parlance of the times, “at-risk youth.”

How does that girl get to college and through grad school? How does that girl climb the ranks of one of the nation’s most admired companies to become a corporate officer?

Fact is, I had something going for me that many minority teens don’t. I had champions – adults who believed in me and would be disappointed if I stumbled. In addition to my determined mother, there was an aunt who served as a Peace Corp volunteer. Hours at her knee hearing stories of people from all over the world taught me that I shouldn’t fear societies beyond our …

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Fixing arts funding

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Fulton County has long been a leader in arts funding in Georgia, but that funding seems to be in jeopardy every budget cycle. Today, a veteran theater leader calls for a sustainable source of revenue for the arts, so they are not put on the chopping block each year. In response, the Fulton County chairman says officials do recognize their importance.

Commenting is open.

Time for sustainable arts funding

By Robert J. Farley

Recently, the Fulton County Commission made its annual foray into the non-profit arts community services and programs by proposing to slash the arts and culture budget yet again. And yet again there were hundreds of emails, telephone calls, testimonials and letters from vast numbers of arts supporters which got the commission to change its mind once again — for now.

In a mere eight months this cycle starts all over again as Fulton County Arts & Culture moves to a calendar year budget.

Respectfully, when are our elected officials …

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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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MLK and economic inequality

By Raphael Warnock

Finally, politicians on both sides of the aisle have decided that it makes sense to at least talk about wealth inequality. Those who are serious about this problem, and its complicated relationship to the thorny issue of race, would do well to remember that in the last three years of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was focused sharply on poverty.

Ironically, just five days after President Lyndon Johnson signed the voting rights bill into law, the Watts ghetto of Los Angeles exploded into an urban inferno fueled by hopelessness and despair. Dr. King shortened his vacation in San Juan, Puerto Rico to come to Los Angeles and stand with the jobless poor and with those who were poor because their jobs did not provide adequate benefits or a living wage. Brought face to face with the tragic limits of his movement’s influence, Dr. King confided to one of his trusted advisors, Bayard Rustin, “You know, Bayard, I worked to get these people the right to eat …

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Beltline and smart growth

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The Atlanta Beltline recently completed a strategic implementation plan that will guide the project’s build-out through 2030, focusing first on acquiring the real estate needed to complete the transit and trail loop around Atlanta. Today, the Beltline’s new CEO writes about how they hope to accomplish all that needs to be done. In our second column, a development sector leader writes about how infrastructure investments large and small can pay off and make a difference in communities around metro Atlanta.

Commenting is open.

Next up for Atlanta Beltline

By Paul F. Morris

Nothing on the scale of the Atlanta Beltline has ever been attempted or accomplished in the Atlanta region. It is wildly ambitious. New transit, parks, trails, housing, economic development, public art, brownfield remediation, sidewalks and streetscapes – these are the core components of the Atlanta Beltline, and together they are transforming our city and catalyzing a renewed region. …

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