Archive for August, 2010

Power Breakfast: Transit on the ropes, economy hurts high school football, Delta, JetBlue attendant, GM

First MARTA. Now GRTA.

This is not what we needed to hear — another transit system without enough money to operate at full steam, even with all the traffic congestion.

Without new funding, the Xpress commuter bus program will go broke and shut down in the next fiscal year, AJC staffer Ariel Hart is reporting.

In the meantime, the regional commuter bus service is cutting its budget, raising all pass prices and hiking the fare for the longest routes, according to Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Jannine Miller.

GRTA Xpress’s current budget crisis was built into its DNA, Hart writes. It was established with short-term funds that were bound to run out.

State officials hoped that the Legislature might eventually fill the shortfall. But the poor economy has produced an unexpected gap of two to four years until a 1 percent sales tax for transportation goes before the region’s voters in 2012, Hart reports.

Even then, Miller said, there is no …

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Is air travel getting split between the haves and have-nots?

Delta Air Lines is going after passengers who can afford traveling by private jet, AJC writer Christine Negroni reports.

Over the past decade, the number of people choosing to travel by private jet has grown, with people either buying a fraction of a share of an airplane, or a jet card that guarantees a set number of flight hours, Negroni writes.

Delta AirElite’s new push into this area came after the airline acquired Seagrave Aviation, effectively doubling the size of its business jet fleet.

Increasing dissatisfaction with commercial travel by those with the means to do something about it is driving the market, Negroni reports.

But that begs the question — Is there gong to be an increasing divide between the haves and have-nots in air travel? Some treated little cattle and others like kings?

As a business strategy, do you think this is just a natural extension for Delta? A smart move to go after the high fliers? Or will it be a distraction from their core business?

For …

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How are you making it through this economy?

Double-digit unemployment. Record foreclosures. Lower incomes.

This economy has been real tough to negotiate.

Lawrenceville mortgage broker Stuart Landman is clipping coupons, AJC reporters Katie Leslie and Craig Schneider write.

Rick Hawkins, a Riverdale cabinet maker, laid off most of his workers — and sold off nearly all of his vintage cars.

And when John Veal, an IT manager from Cherokee County, lost his job, he cashed out his 401(k) plan to pay bills, the reporters write. Some financial planners might frown, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

What have you been doing to survive?

Got a good idea for others?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Surviving the Great Recession, drought, Sea Island, Chick-fil-A, Delta, immigration

As the region’s per capita income last year dropped more than the national average, many Atlantans are cutting back to survive, AJC staffers Katie Leslie and Craig Schneider report.

Mortgage broker Stuart Landman is clipping coupons now.

Rick Hawkins, a Riverdale cabinet maker, laid off most of his workers — and sold off nearly all of his vintage cars, the reporters write.

And when John Veal, an IT manager from Cherokee County, lost his job, he cashed out his 401(k) plan to pay bills.

For them and others, living is no longer about success. It’s about trying to make it through this Great Recession, Leslie and Schneider report.

Across metro Atlanta, per capita income shrunk 4.8 percent — down from $38,336 in 2008 to $36,482 to 2009. Per capita income nationally dropped 2.8 percent to $40,757, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Also in the AJC:

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What’s your Sea Island experience?

Sea Island has been a magnet for metro Atlantans for decades.

But the business that owns the resort expanded at the wrong time and has filed for bankruptcy protection.

This recession has not been kind to big dreams built on large loans.

Have you stayed on the island? What was your experience?

Own a home there?

Concerned or relieved about the new owners — investment firms Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles and Avenue Capital Group of New York?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Sea Island to file bankruptcy, governor’s race, jobs bill, Delta, Hartsfield, Fed, BP, H-P

Today’s major business story in Georgia concerns the bankruptcy of a famous resort — the site of the G-8 Summit of world leaders in 2004.

Sea Island Co., operator of the Georgia coastal resort since the 1920s, will file for bankruptcy protection today and announce a deal to sell most of its assets, AJC staffers Scott Trubey and Dan Chapman report.

The buyers are investment firms Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles and Avenue Capital Group of New York, Sea Island Chairman Bill Jones III said in an e-mail late Tuesday to residents of the resort’s gated community.

A partnership formed by funds run by Oaktree and Avenue will pay a bargain-basement price of $197.5 million if the deal is approved in the bankruptcy process, a person familiar with the deal told the reporters.

Sea Island Co. includes The Cloister at Sea Island and the Lodge at St. Simons, along with residential and golf properties.

For most of its history the resort near Brunswick has been a favored …

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Ever lose it at work?

The workplace can be overwhelming.

A JetBlue flight attendant accused of cursing out a passenger on an airplane passenger-address system, grabbing some beer from the galley and exiting on an emergency slide was suspended Tuesday, Associated Press reports.

The attendant’s lawyer said a rule-breaking passenger provoked him.

Have you or a colleague ever been provoked to the point of losing it? Did you quit? Did your colleague?

What happened and how did you deal with it?

Tell us your most memorable story.

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Combating identify theft on college campuses

As college begins, the Better Business Bureau recommends that students take some simple steps to protect themselves against identity theft on campus.

Young adults are particularly vulnerable, the BBB says.

According to the 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 11 million people became victims of identity theft in 2009. And young adults aged 18-24 took the longest time to detect identity theft—132 days on average, the BBB says.

As a result, the average cost for young adults ($1,156) was roughly five times more than the amount lost by other age groups, according to the BBB.

BBB tips to fight identify theft on campus:

– School mailboxes are not always secure. To combat sticky fingers in the mailroom, have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address, such as the parents’ home or a PO Box.

– Important documents should be stored under lock and key—such as in a filing cabinet. This includes a Social Security card, passport and …

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Power Breakfast: Atlanta incomes take big hit, governor’s race, Publix, Cousins, BP, Fed

There’s another distressing number about our local economy: Per capita income in metro Atlanta last year fell nearly three times as much as the U.S. average, AJC staffer Michael Kanell reports.

Government data released Monday shows income falling in most American metro areas in 2009, with Atlanta down 4.8 percent, Kanell writes.

Nationally, personal income slid 1.8 percent in 2009, according to the report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Personal income includes earnings of various kinds, including paychecks, rental income, dividends and interest, as well as payments from the government. So the loss of jobs alone often does not push an area’s income down.

But in 2009, Atlanta was losing on a range of fronts, from jobs to stock holdings to home values, Kanell reports.

The area lost 133,808 jobs during 2009, while the unemployment rate surged from 7.6 percent to 10.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Also in the AJC:

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Affordable senior housing fills big need

When you look around, there are few bright spots in the construction business. But the graying of metro Atlanta has created one for a for-profit/nonprofit team.

Brantley Barrow

Brantley Barrow

More seniors are calling this area home, exacerbating the shortage of affordable apartments for those on the lower end of the income scale. What’s more, special government tax credits can make the financing of senior projects a lot easier than it is to approach a bank in this era of tight credit.

Enter Hardin Construction and the Paces Foundation, two Atlanta-based organizations that have teamed up in the senior housing arena for the past 15 years. Given the shortage of work in the over-supplied commercial arena, senior housing is becoming more important for Hardin’s for-profit business.

“It’s all about diversification in our business,” said Brantley Barrow, chairman of Hardin. “You have to be in different markets. You got to look where the money is coming from.”

Senior housing, which used …

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