Archive for September, 2010

Wrong-way Reed wants police chief to double-dip (Updated)

Update at 5:50 p.m.: City officials say Chief Turner is withdrawing his request to collect a pension while remaining on the job. The original post is as follows:

If you want this:

Officials in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration said Friday [April 23] they are preparing legislation to dramatically reduce pension benefits for city employees to the level of benefits a decade ago. The move would save millions for the city but is expected to set off an alarm among city workers and their unions.

then it seems to me that the exactly wrong thing to do is this:

Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman is floating a proposal to the City Council that would allow [police chief George] Turner, 51, to “retire” on paper, but immediately be rehired as chief in order to start collecting his $100,000 pension.

Aman said that because Turner would have retired, he would collect his pension and the $200,000 salary that goes with being police chief. Although he commands perhaps the most …

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Bobby Cox: A tip of the cap to the face of a city

A rare moment in a city’s history will happen Sunday, but not at the Capitol or City Hall.

The Braves will say goodbye to a manager. Atlantans will say goodbye to something more than that: A constant face during a remarkable chapter in our history.

Sunday is the final regular-season game for the Braves’ skipper, Bobby Cox. It’s unclear today whether the team will extend his career into one last postseason. But in case this weekend does mark the end, it’s worth noting what that means for metro Atlanta beyond the old ballgame.

It’s easy to overdo sports metaphors. But, simply put, the story of the Braves under No. 6 is the story of us.

Cox took the Braves’ reins (for the second time) in summer 1990. Maynard Jackson was (also for the second time) Atlanta’s mayor; Joe Frank Harris was wrapping up his tenure as governor. Like many of us, Cox was a transplant who came here for an opportunity and stayed awhile.

The constancy of his presence stands in contrast to the comings and …

Continue reading Bobby Cox: A tip of the cap to the face of a city »

Obama, Dems spread the condescension around

How enraging it must be to the liberal left for their hero talk about them like a bunch of bitter clingers. From MSNBC.com:

President Barack Obama’s lecture to his supporters to snap out of their lethargy is getting a frosty reception from some on the left side of the Democratic coalition.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Obama made a point to argue — “with intensity and passion, repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger” according to the magazine — that his followers in 2008 must not stay home this year.

“It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election,” Obama said.

Whatever complaints they might have about climate change or other issues, Obama said, it is “just irresponsible” that some Democrats and progressives were lacking enthusiasm for the election.

“If people now want to take their ball and go home that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place,” he said. “If you’re serious, now’s …

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Raise taxes on foreign income, ship more jobs overseas

President Obama says he wants to stop giving “tax breaks” that encourage American companies to “ship jobs overseas.” Like a lot of protectionist rhetoric, it has a nice ring to it but doesn’t stand up to even basic scrutiny.

Obama refers to a tax-code provision that allows U.S. companies to defer the payment of some corporate income tax until their overseas profits are repatriated here. Most other industrialized countries don’t tax their firms’ overseas profits at all — perhaps because they’re too busy cutting tax rates to improve their competitiveness, or perhaps because they realize it’s actually counter-productive.

But rather than talk about why the president’s approach is wrong in theory, consider this example from today’s Wall Street Journal of a similar move Washington has already tried, and watched backfire:

Mr. Obama believes that by increasing the U.S. tax on overseas profits, some companies may be less likely to invest abroad in the first place. In some cases that …

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Dear APS board: Go get Michelle Rhee

Whatever you think of the cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools, the system will probably need a new superintendent when Beverly Hall’s contract expires next summer. All indications are that Hall will leave then on her own, if she isn’t pushed out before.

For once, there’s a good solution waiting in Washington.

Her name is Michelle Rhee, and she’s been chancellor of the District of Columbia’s public schools for three years. Now, her tenure may be coming to an abrupt end after her sponsor, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his re-election bid earlier this month.

Let APS board members waste no time before trying to recruit her here.

Rhee is just 40 years old, but already she has built an impressive record of tackling the stasis that cripples too many public schools.

Most famously, last spring she fired 241 ineffective teachers, or about 5 percent of the district’s total, and put hundreds more on notice. She evaluated these teachers not just on whether students passed standardized …

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PSA: Ga. 400 toll column is updated below

Click here to see what I added at the top of the original post. Thanks.

Continue reading PSA: Ga. 400 toll column is updated below »

Guess what? Yours truly has a ‘green job’

Let’s see: I was hired by the AJC a few months after the stimulus was signed into law, and I’m a journalist. According to the Obama administration, that means I have a “green job”!

Back in June, I linked to a story on a senator’s skepticism about stimulus money and “green job” creation. Here’s an update, courtesy of the Washington Examiner’s Byron York:

Are you a financial adviser? You may not know it, but you’ve got a green job. Are you a wholesale buyer? You’ve got a green job, too. Or maybe you’re a newspaper reporter. You, too, have a green job — at least according to the Obama administration.

For months, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has been pushing the administration to substantiate its claims of having created nearly 200,000 green jobs. More fundamentally, Grassley has asked Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to state clearly what a green job is. So far, he hasn’t gotten an answer.

Now, Grassley has learned that, in lieu of a settling on a straightforward definition of a …

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Quiet plan to extend Ga. 400 tolls sends loud message (Updated)

Update on Friday: The toll plan passed, as expected. The AJC’s news story is available here. And here are a few comments of my own about what went down today:

1. From the news story: “In order to satisfy the original promise that the tolls would come down in 2011, [Gov. Sonny] Perdue said, SRTA will see if it can suspend the tolls briefly in 2011. When they went back online, he said, they would be a ‘new’ toll. That was suggested by one former Atlanta city councilman, he said, Robb Pitts.”

My comment: That’s just insulting. It may make even more of a mockery of the original promise to take down the toll, and it seems legally questionable since that’s not what the SRTA board voted on. But it also makes a mockery of SRTA’s alleged concern, voiced by a lawyer for the authority at this morning’s DOT board meeting, that it would be unsafe to have “cars trying to speed through there at full speed” if the toll-plaza structure were still in place but the toll was not being …

Continue reading Quiet plan to extend Ga. 400 tolls sends loud message (Updated) »

Friendly fire across the GOP’s bow

Tomorrow, GOP congressional leaders are expected to unveil their long-awaited Contract With America II. Or maybe they’ll decide to be hip and call it Contract With America 2.0!

Personally, I would have avoided the whole “Contract” language, given the obvious comparisons it will draw to a) the original Contract, which Republicans hardly fulfilled, and b) the Contract From America that tea party groups have put together, a name that does a much better job of conveying that the people mad at government right now are looking for politicians who are ready to take the public’s orders — and not to tell them which orders they’d be OK with carrying out and which ones they’ll ignore.

And the man with one of the biggest megaphones on the right, Georgia’s own Erick Erickson, is already warning about one of the public’s orders the GOP is already poised to disregard:

There will be good points we will all love [in the new Contract]. But what will be missing will make it a wasted exercise by …

Continue reading Friendly fire across the GOP’s bow »

Tax the rich, pay for 1 percent of budget

The tax debate rages on, with the more liberal Democrats in Washington insisting on raising taxes for the rich (less liberal Democrats say they’re open to at least a temporary extension of the current tax rates for all). After four years of jacking up federal spending, congressional Democrats and President Obama now want you to believe that they’ve become fiscal hawks because they want to raise tax rates on 2 percent of Americans.

To which The Economist magazine says, hooey:

The irony in this drama is that the money at stake is, in the larger scheme, trivial. Raising taxes on the top 2% of households, as Mr Obama proposes, would bring in $34 billion next year: enough to cover nine days’ worth of the deficit. Indeed, the problem with the tax debate is not that Democrats and Republicans disagree, but that they mostly agree. Democrats think 98% of Americans should not pay higher taxes; the Republicans say 100% should not.

In a budget of $3.5 trillion, $34 billion comes out to a …

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