Crime and Atlanta’s race for mayor

Updated at 8 p.m. Sunday:

After a long sabbatical, crime has reclaimed its traditional role in Atlanta mayoral politics.

We forget how unusual the last eight years have been. Shirley Franklin won her first term on the issue of integrity — and the fact that she was not Bill Campbell, whom federal investigators were already chasing.

That 2001 contest was waged in the weeks after 9/11. Murder was a concern, but it was the imported variety that had us by the lapels.

Four years later, as a popular incumbent, Franklin was able to dictate the terms of debate: jobs, sewers and schools. Her two under-funded and underwhelming opponents on the ballot — a utility rate consultant and a food stand vendor — were hardly in a position to object.

But events and an open seat have conspired to bring back both cops and robbers as issues in the current contest for mayor.

Seven-year Councilwoman Mary Norwood has declared that her election would mark the end of Richard Pennington’s tenure as police chief. Council President Lisa Borders, who was in her downtown Atlanta condo when burglars crashed through the door last month, has declared herself “a poster child for crime.”

Of three front-running candidates, state Sen. Kasim Reed may be pushing hardest on the issue. He’s to present a petition this morning to the City Council, demanding an end to furloughs in the police and fire departments.

Reed places responsibility for the force reductions on the council — and by extension, Norwood and Borders — for its rejection last year of a property tax hike proposed by Franklin to avoid the cuts.

As with big-city politics anywhere, crime is a double-edged sword. Race and class are a subtext of the discussion, because every crime has its own neighborhood constituency. Ask students at Georgia Tech.

The voters most outraged by the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston of Vine City, gunned down in an illegal police raid three years ago, aren’t necessarily the same voters angered by the murder of John Henderson, the bartender shot this spring during a pub robbery in gentrifying Grant Park.

That said, the building concern over crime means that, for the first time in several election cycles, the union that represents 1,600 or so Atlanta police officers could carry significant weight this November.

Next month, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 623, will host a mayoral debate.

Last month, at a council budget hearing, the union went public with charges that the city’s worker compensation system had subjected five former Atlanta cops, disabled in the line of duty, to callous delays when asked to approve routine treatment.

Most of us were distracted by Sgt. Scott Kreher, a union leader who declared himself so frustrated by City Hall bureaucracy that he wanted to take a baseball bat to Mayor Franklin’s head. You know the rest — Franklin declared the remark to be reprehensible. The sergeant apologized and was suspended.

But what does the episode say about City Hall’s relationship with its police force?

“I think that it’s very bad. I think that it’s going to require an enormous amount of work from the next mayor to heal,” Reed said. “And that there’s going to have to be a great deal of personal involvement to break the barriers that I think have grown between our City Hall and the police force.”

The statement is significant, coming from the man who twice acted as Franklin’s campaign manager.

Borders took exception, and described her ties to police officers and firefighters as “excellent.”

“I have worked for five years to build a very solid relationship with public safety,” the council president said. “That’s an established relationship and an earned respect over time. You can’t move into the city and in two minutes offer an opinion that is valid.”

That last jab by Borders was a reference to Reed’s purchase of a house inside the Atlanta city limits in December 2007. The six-term lawmaker and lawyer had been living in his childhood home, which he bought from his parents. It lies just outside the boundaries of Atlanta.

On Sunday evening, the Reed campaign e-mailed the following statement from the state senator for emphasis:

“For the last 11 years in the state legislature, I have consistently represented the city of Atlanta on issues including public safety, transportation, education, and infrastructure like water and sewers. The notion that I have not been directly involved in improving the quality of life for all Atlantans is laughable.”

Norwood declined to characterize the relationship between City Hall and Atlanta cops. “When I am out with the men and women of the police force, I’m getting very good feedback,” she said.

But Norwood, like Borders, acknowledged the city’s treatment of injured officers as something that needs to be addressed.

“I think we have to fix it,” Norwood said. “We have to take care of men and women who are harmed while protecting us. That is our moral obligation.”

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23 comments Add your comment

Base

June 28th, 2009
4:39 pm

Talk is cheap during elections.Action is hard during the term.The COA has been mismanaged for years.Everyone is a crook,

Yawn

June 28th, 2009
7:00 pm

Too bad you can’t vote NOTA (**N**one **O**f **T**he **A**bove). Some, however, are worse than others. How can people tell?

First, the City needs to get out of the land development business. (You can thank Shirley, her campaign contributors and her lieutenants for that fiasco in the middle of the worst real estate down turn since the Great Depression.)

Second, there needs to be a THOROUGH audit of City spending. The politicians can **say** anything they **want**; how they **spend** the money is the real picture of their budget priorities.

Third, the voters need to start asking who these candidates would keep from the previous administration; stupid is as stupid does. And it would be truly idiotic to keep ANY of the commissioners or ANY of Shirley’s Executive Office Management.

Good luck,taxpayers. You’re going to need it.

david

June 28th, 2009
7:36 pm

Atlanta^s problem is TMAAIC!

david

June 28th, 2009
7:38 pm

Enter your comments here

TOBY

June 28th, 2009
7:54 pm

The politcal folks will do/say what ever it takes to elected. Once that happens everything will go back to normal for the APD. Normal as in no pay raises,officers leaving as soon as they can, officers hurt on duty not getting workers comp, etc. What kind of police force doesnt get raises or have overtime?????????????????????Just APD. Those police officers work hard on the street, and they cant even get a raise. Who ever becomes the next mayor should address the issue,the current mayor wont. Public safety should be the 1st priority. Thats my ten cents.

Journalist?

June 28th, 2009
8:48 pm

Galloway: are you serious, adding rebuttals to blog posts? Did you at least give Mary and Lisa another chance to add a comment? I guess you’ve spent more time covering kasim, so you’re predisposed to listening to him? Political Insider indeed.

p

June 28th, 2009
9:42 pm

I have lived here all my life. I could not be more disappointed by the leadership of this city the last 40 years. Corruption, special interests, flat out stupidity.

P

June 28th, 2009
10:10 pm

Make that 36 years. Sam Massell did a good job in 69-73

JG

June 28th, 2009
11:01 pm

David your comment “TMAAIC!”. I think this means “Too Many African Americans in Control”? I am a Conservative Black Male. I think the next Mayor needs to be a Republican White Person, sorry all. Pennington is a disgrace and needs to be replaced.

Will Jones - Atlanta

June 28th, 2009
11:21 pm

Civilization pivots on urban culture.

Atlanta, with the help of every other major American city in pursuit of “Jeffersonian utopianism,” the heart and soul of America’s “Dream,” has effected a radical improvement in the development of U.S. culture by making elect a sincere, genuinely gracious, constitutional law professor who might address the trans-generational “Hamiltonian”/”New York bank” evil made ultimately manifest, after its finance of Hitler, in the yet unpunished treason of George W. Bush’s committing 9/11 to send us to false war to restart the Afghan heroin trade and steal Iraqi oil on behalf of the Rockefeller/CFR Roman Catholic/Organized Crime/Big Oil combine his family is known to have served for at least five generations.

Georgia’s own Jimmy Carter was a cooperative agent who only marginally attacked this treasonous faction when he fired 70,000 in the Knight of Malta-led Roman Catholic CIA, which had then only recently assassinated John Kennedy to keep us in papal Vietnam.

Its response was the punishing interest rate spiral on Wall Street/NY Fed, which drove him from office along with the “October Surprise” treason run by Knight of Malta William Casey and Knight of Malta-son George H.W. Bush, who was instrumental on November 22,1963’s “reversal” of JFK’s Vietnam withdrawal order, NSAM263.

Recall how later George H.W. Bush’s requests for interest rate lowering was favorably answered by the Fed four or five times in a row as he approached his failed contest with Clinton and Perot, and compare it to the rejection and up-ticks which followed similar requests from Jimmy Carter in the waning months of his administration.

The Fed, like the Roman Catholic majority on the Supreme Court which appointed Hitler’s banker’s draft-dodging closet-queen grandson to our presidency, is controlled by a corrupt, unconstitutional fascist faction in service to false elite: what Thomas Jefferson identified as “the real Anti-Christ,” fascist plutocracy.

Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Bill Campbell and Shirley Franklin were all local agents, witting or otherwise, of the same corruption, netting us a police force, most recently headed by a New Orleans “alum,” and possible first cousin of our mayor, overseeing “The Wal-Mart for heroin for the Southeast,” where Ms. Johnston was, most likely, inadvertently gunned down by “Training Day” cops who merely wanted to “beat her back” from her incessantly calling 911 to break-up the heroin sales on the street in front of her house, when she had the “temerity” to open fire on them as they violated her home and constitutional rights.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Cities and neighborhoods, to be strong and good on behalf of the sovereign citizenry who dwell in them for social and industrial advantage: profitable and prophetable; must act as the “ward republics” envisioned by Our Founder, serving the People by pursuing only Justice in Truth.

This is how Righteousness is established in the Land, that “Annuit Coeptis” may pertain universally. One Creed, One Law, One People, One G-d: America.

As evil is tolerated nationally, crime is pursued locally. The criminals who murdered John Henderson were “inspired” and “justified” by the criminals who committed 9/11 to send us to die shedding innocent blood in Iraq: Bush and Cheney…and Atlanta’s mayor never raised a peep to this Atlantan’s knowledge, and, in fact, had a daughter married to a major drug trafficker and a husband in the Federal Penitentiary.

“The curse comes not without cause.”

Atlanta’s electorate must find a candidate for mayor who can “steer” our city’s “ship” with a hand equal to the grace shown by President Obama.

Good jobs, smart business, and good schools are necessary to our prosperous future, but righteousness in law enforcement equal to the justice already available in decent courts is as important as breathable air to a free people.

Shall we again be slaves and permit evil to rule over us? We have come too far to be turned back.

Candidates for mayor who turn blind-eyes to the truth of the evil besetting our city and nation are agents of that same evil.

We must come together as one city. Obama is our president but we must make a conscious choice to help restore the American Dream on our own streets by attacking directly the local corruption which has historically festered with the national corruption we all know has left “two dead martyrs lying unburied in the street:” our own Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Kennedy.

Babylon shall fall in a day.

Let’s we in Atlanta make that day come by recognizing Babylon’s treason in America and rejecting any candidate for hallowed office in the Mayor’s Seat who fails to speak the truth to us. If he or she can’t, let them find honest work elsewhere.

Pennington must go for he is not righteous. At best he tolerates lies and crimes by his help.

Atlanta deserves better, by G-d, and if we fail to ensure the improvement let it be on our heads.

This is the best city in the world. Let’s act like it and reject the smarmy losers who would presume to be our mayor. America has done better with Obama, a brilliant departure from the “status quo.”

Why should we who made Obama elect, here in the American Prophet, Dr. King’s hometown, fail to do the same for our own city?

G-d is not mocked. If we, together, pursue Divine guidance, It shall be delivered. Turn not from the evil an open eye can see. Let us, together, conquer it and be that “Shining City on a Hill,” for all America to follow.

david

June 28th, 2009
11:35 pm

JG…You are right in your assumptiom. The president,govenor and mayor are writng checks that our children and grand-children cannot cash.The USA is going to hell in a hand basket and we keep electing the same people over and over.It started with maynard and it continues.The city and police chief are corrupt and the city is dangerous.Have a great day.

NickNick

June 29th, 2009
12:34 am

I don’t care what COLOR the new mayor is. I want them to be qualified and take this city in the right direction. PERIOD. As for public safety, what has Borders or Norwood actually done on City Council? Borders used her time to cut ribbons and give speeches. Couldn’t vote, couldn’t propose legislation, hasn’t done and couldn’t do a single things to solve the problems we’ve got. Conveniently, she has no paper trail. Norwood hasn’t offered a single proposal on how to fix the problem. If Reed will deliver, fine. But he’s got a lot to prove before he gets my vote. Let’s not make this election about race.

Will Jones - Atlanta

June 29th, 2009
1:27 am

Reed is Franklin, is no good.

herbK

June 29th, 2009
6:24 am

For the uninitiated here, you’ve now witnessed an example of will jones OFF his meds, and back on the rock! Mark the date and expect more of the same.
The politicians in atlanta from franklin on down should be indicted, jailed until trial for dereliction of duties and fraud. I’ve yet to see an independent audit of how atlanta’s government wasted, er, spent the TAXPAYERS money. And yes, pennington needs to be driven out on a rail.

party pooper

June 29th, 2009
6:31 am

will jones is off his meds again

Keisha

June 29th, 2009
7:46 am

If not now when will we get serious about addressing crime, finding real Regional mass transportation solutions, attracting global industry to Atlanta to bring new opportunities, and utilizing taxpayer dollars responsibly. Every election cycle there is an outcry by Atlanta residents for new leadership and change. Yet the same issues continue and the concerns of working families fall on deaf ears. If not now when?

kindergarden math

June 29th, 2009
3:51 pm

Well,well. Senator Reed correctly places the blame for fuloughed police and fireman at the feet of Atlanta’s legislative body, the City Council. Using his own reasoning, he should hold himself and his legislative cohorts for the State of Georgia’s failure to adequately fund public safety at the state level. Due to their going along with across the board budget cuts, rather than prioritizing the safety of the citizenry as required by our state constitution, the Senator presides over a loss of GBI field agents and State troopers, obscene crimelab backlogs and furloughed prosecutors. His voting record on many crime issues in the Senate is pitiful. Why is he so critical of the Council and it’s failure to adequately fund law enforcement, while he and his buddies have done the same to state law enforcement agencies? I realize that it is probably asking too much for our elected officials to walk the walk, instead of just talking the talk, but maybe he should look at the man in the mirror while criticizing the Council. ( You know: living in glass houses, don’t do as I do – do as I say, and other appropriate descriptions of this conduct as may be appropriate.) Wow, maybe since now it is a campaign issue, we will see you leading the charge in the next legislative session to adequately fund public safety, even if it is at the expense of some worthwhile, feel-good social programs and fish ponds.

herbK

June 29th, 2009
4:01 pm

Surf’s up, dudes. Reed is a dork. We already know that, another useless politician.

JohnD

June 29th, 2009
5:09 pm

When we raised the issue of rising crime to our local city councilwoman Anne Fauver she repeated Chief Pennington’s and the Mayor’s talking points:

‘Crime is not on the rise, its only the perception of crime that is increasing’

I guess the perp who robbed that Tech student last night and broke in to my neighbors house wasn’t a criminal at all — it was just my inability to see that it was just the “Perception of Crime” …..

Anyone who votes for Borders, Reed, Muller or any of the city council members running for Mayor should not be surprised when nothing changes.

herbK

June 29th, 2009
5:36 pm

JohnD, this is why EVERYONE HATES atlanta government.
“Anne Fauver she repeated Chief Pennington’s and the Mayor’s talking points:

‘Crime is not on the rise, its only the perception of crime that is increasing”

What if fauver had a gun to her head during a robbery – is that truly a crime or merely her
perception of one. She’s a douchebag, just like franklin & the rest of them. All trash, all the time
They shouldn’t be receiving a paycheck. They SHOULD be in jail.

Bat boy

June 29th, 2009
9:06 pm

Atlanta will never have a crime problem as long as the chief and the mayor are controlling the reporting.

Billy Bob from cobb

June 30th, 2009
6:15 pm

The elected reps for Atl are criminals too. Have been for at least the last 30 years. All one has to do is look at the airport and their dealings there. Its like the black mob. How many of their family members end up in jail? not to mention the last mayor. hell we even changed the airports name for one of the biggest crooks.We are the chicago of the south. Soo much black corruption

Billy Bob from cobb

June 30th, 2009
6:32 pm

Will- you should have just kicked your dog, it would have taken less time than writting your manifesto