Streetcar boom

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Today, we hear from a major Atlanta Streetcar sponsor, who’s feeling good about the capital investment the project is bringing downtown — even before the vehicle does its test runs. An executive from Siemens, the company building the streetcars, writes how rail is reinventing U.S. city centers. We also reprise comments from critics who have weighed in on what they say is the streetcars’ ineffective mobility and outlandish expense. Note: There are three columns today.

Commenting is open.

Downtown growth sparked by streetcar

By A.J. Robinson

As the last of the Atlanta Streetcar rail is laid, the project has already attracted significant interest and investment to the corridor. Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District have been leveraging the streetcar by encouraging redevelopment along its route. As a co-funder, the Downtown District expects the project to do much more than just improve transportation mobility and access; …

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Time to stop gun rights madness

By Vincent Fort

The madness of promoting the use of guns and allowing firearms everywhere at any time has reached a fever pitch at the state Capitol.

As the legislative session comes to a close this week, there are three versions of the “guns everywhere” bill circulating at the state Capitol. All versions will make Georgians less safe, not more safe.

HB 875, as amended in the Senate Judiciary (Non-Civil) committee, would allow guns in churches, bars, and schools. Then there is SB 60, onto which the House of Representatives grafted the original version of HB 875.

Rep. Sam Moore introduced HB 1046, which would allow Georgians the right to shoot police officers serving no-knock warrants. Moore backed off that proposal, but even its introduction reflects that the time has come for legislators and citizens to demand commonsense gun safety legislation.

If HB 875 is a political measure, the Republican Party is being held hostage by its extreme, fringe elements who …

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Gun rights and responsibilities

At this point, the broad Second Amendment right of Americans to bear arms is a pretty settled matter.
The same can’t be said at the state level. The issue of gun rights and concurrent responsibilities arouses powerful passions on all sides. Which is understandable, since words in a law can result in lives being spared or lost on our streets.
The latest chapter in how all that works in Georgia will be written later this week in the final, harried days of this legislative session. Lawmakers are picking over various writings of concealed weapons laws. Their work will, among other things, determine how firearms laws affect the mentally ill, or carry of weapons into government buildings, schools, or houses of worship.
Although the House and Senate should have worked out their sizable differences on this issue long before now, lawmakers’ dithering reflects a sound, underlying instinct. The value of human life demands no less than painstaking, sober, commonsense and clear-eyed …

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HB 875: Safeguarding 2nd Amendment rights

By Rick Jasperse
With the Second Amendment, in a mere 27 words, our Founding Fathers empowered the citizens of this nation — for as long as it should stand — to retain the right to keep and bear arms and that this right shall not be infringed.
The rights enumerated by the Second Amendment speak to the importance of the preservation of a limited government and cannot be overstated. In my capacity as a state legislator, I am often reminded by my constituents that their right to keep and bear arms is both sacred and immutable. It is not simply that they fear the encroachment of government into their lives — it is that they recognize that, unfortunately, we live in a dangerous world.
While I cannot begin to explain the reasons for which someone might seek to take the life of another, I believe wholeheartedly that, should Georgians wish to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their families, they should have that option.
Currently, our state allows Georgians 21 …

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Medical marijuana in what form?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Georgia legislators are currently considering a rapidly changing bill that would improve access to a form of “medical marijuana.” Today, a local House representative emphasizes the need for research before creating any law that could open the floodgates of a “pot mill” epidemic. In our lead column, a local teenager suffering from Crohn’s Disease writes about the need to allow the  afflicted to use marijuana to help alleviate pain. Stay tuned. Things could change in a hurry.

Commenting is open.

Let’s think of the suffering

By Eli Hogan

I am 17 years old and I suffer from severe Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. I have struggled with this disease for two years now, and spent my Christmas vacation at Scottish Rite in Atlanta full of IVs, being fed through a catheter run under my bicep into my chest cavity, in agonizing pain, losing blood, and on the verge of needing a total removal of my colon. I dropped from …

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States vs. Unions

Moderated by Rick Badie

Last month, workers at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant voted 712 to 626 to not join the United Auto Workers; the UAW has appealed the union election results. Today’s guest writers weigh the economic pros and cons of union representation in the South, particularly in right-to-work states like Georgia and Tennessee.

Workers reject union’s pitch

By Mark Mix

At Volkswagen’s Chattanooga auto plant, the United Auto Workers won’t take no for an answer. Despite losing a recent unionization election, union officials are challenging the results. More noteworthy still is their opposition to the efforts of several VW employees, represented by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, to intervene in the legal proceedings to defend their decision not to unionize.

The UAW’s legal challenge isn’t surprising. It’s just the latest example of Big Labor’s new approach to organizing. Union officials have increasingly turned to coercive and misleading …

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Clean Technology

Moderated by Rick Badie

Metro Atlanta strives to be a global industry leader in clean technology. A Metro Atlanta Chamber official writes about that organization’s push to recruit green companies here and spur job growth. Meanwhile, an adviser to a clean-tech entrepreneurial program heralds our region’s emerging start-up sector in the field. Also the executive director for All About Disabilities, writes about state funding support to help employ young people with disabilities.

Clean tech’s a growing sector

By Carol Jordan

Much has been written, and deservedly so, on Atlanta as an emerging hub for technology startups.

Most of the light on start-ups – from the news media, investors and economic developers – shines on entrepreneurs with perceived potential to scale large and fast with their mobile/digital/Internet apps.

Little attention, however, has so far been directed to the products, services and technologies emerging from the small but growing clean technology sector in …

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Taxis vs. Uber still a hot topic

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

House Bill 907 did not make it over to the Senate on Crossover Day last week, so legislation to regulate “rideshare” car services such as Uber is stalled. But the debate continues. Should Uber be regulated? Should taxis be de-regulated? Or both? Here are columns from an Uber user – and driver – and cab operator.

Comenting is open.

City allows theft of taxi market share

By Scott McCandliss

Because House Bill 907 is no longer active, Uber’s unregulated and irresponsible taxi service will continue to operate throughout Atlanta — thumbing its nose at the city’s longstanding public safety requirements for taxis.

There have been a number of articles in the media recently regarding the so-called “new ideas” in personal transportation. Unfortunately, most contain as much misinformation as information.

The word “taxicab” comes from “taximeter,” not the other way around as many think. Taxicabs diverged from livery cabs after they began using taximeters. Livery …

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If campaign against academic standards wins, kids lose.

In beseeching the Georgia House Education Committee to reject a bill that would undo the Common Core State Standards here, Lee County High School teacher Coni Grebel  pleaded, “I have now tasted rigor. Please do not send me back to mediocrity.”
If the General Assembly adopts Senate Bill 167, it will not only send Grebel, a former Lee County Teacher of the Year, back to mediocrity, it will tether Georgia children to a second-rate education, devalue their high school degrees in the eyes of top colleges and affirm perceptions of this state as an academic wasteland.
Not only does the sweeping bill essentially eviscerate Common Core, it mandates that Georgia stand alone in deciding what its students ought to learn and not borrow from other high-achieving states that banded together to create better standards. And we could not test our students in any way that would tell us how they compare to their peers elsewhere, even though they’ll compete against them for college slots and …

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National standards will benefit our kids

By Otha Thornton

As a resident, native Georgian and president of the National PTA, which represents more than 74 million children, I firmly believe it is critical that Georgia gets the Common Core decision right if we plan on being a state of excellence in the educational arena as the nation moves forward.
Several years ago, the National Governors Association looked at the lackluster performance of American schools compared to other nations. The governors, including former Gov. Sonny Perdue, determined that individual states must adopt higher standards in order to give children a level playing field in today’s fiercely competitive world.
The Common Core State Standards are internationally benchmarked to ensure that our children can compete with any child in the world. The standards raise the bar for Georgia’s children — so we can expect to see some struggles during the process.
One of my favorite quotes attributed to Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College and …

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