Kasim Reed and a ‘culture of customer service’

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is sworn in by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, using a Bible held by his parents, June and Sylvia Reed. Bob Andres/AJC

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is sworn in by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, using a Bible held by his parents, June and Sylvia Reed.

Some may balk at the suggestion, but at least a bit of the content within today’s inauguration of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed may owe something to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

If nothing else, similar themes resonate. You’ll recall that after he was elected in 2002, Perdue put great emphasis on state government as a “customer service” provider.

The following was one of Reed’s more effective phrasings from his first brief speech as mayor — perhaps a nod of the head to run-off rival Mary Norwood:

“I want to acknowledge that the city government has a responsibility to its citizens to perform the business of government in an open, ethical and professional manner. We must also create a culture of customer service that competes with the service quality of those companies that call Atlanta home…

“Whether it’s taking care of that pothole on your street or answering your questions when you call, every encounter with an employee or official of the city of Atlanta must be one that inspires confidence.”

After the inauguration ceremonies, Reed scheduled a “citizen’s reception” at City Hall. Not unlike the “Saturdays with Sonny” that the new governor implemented after his election — which, in turn, were patterned after sessions held by Gov. Lester Maddox.

It should be noted that Reed, a former state senator, went out of his way to welcome members of the General Assembly in the audience, along with officials from DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Other notes:

– If you needed evidence that the office of mayor of Atlanta has a symbolic value to African-Americans that expands well past the city limits, the packed house at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center was proof enough. A crowd of several thousand — Reed’s office put the count at nearly 4,000 — filled the lower seats, and bled into the balcony sections.

– Out-of-towners included several big-city mayors, the Howard University Choir, and Reed’s very extended family.

– Prayers from a host of clergy dominated much of the program, a sign of the city’s dire circumstances. All the bases were covered — Baptist, Jewish, Muslim and Presbyterian. The Rev. Jasper Williams of Salem Baptist asked God to consider solutions other than property tax increases:

“The government and Obama can’t do it all. Perdue and the state of Georgia can’t do it all. We’re taxed to the max, but we pray that somehow that thou will give [Reed] what he needs to move us forward.”

– Past mayors at the swearing-in included Sam Massell, Andrew Young, and Shirley Franklin, who remained off-stage during much of the ceremony, so as not to distract from the new mayor. During the two-hour affair, Bill Campbell’s name was mentioned only once, by newly sworn-in Council President Ceasar Mitchell.

Young won the prize for the sharpest line, quoting from Martin Luther King Jr. “Hell is god giving you what you thought you wanted,” the former U.N. ambassador said, staring directly at the new mayor. But it was not a curse — Young was one of Reed’s strongest supporters during the campaign.

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14 comments Add your comment


January 4th, 2010
4:00 pm

The employees at City Hall are shaking in their boots over the possibility Reed will make good on his promise to cut back the pensions. He should cut back the taxes, instead of raising them, lest he encourage another massive urban flight.


January 4th, 2010
4:01 pm

The dog raced along the street day in and out trying to run down any car that wasn’t moving fast enough. Finally, the dog caught up with a car. The look of bewilderment hit him as he wondered – now what?

Maybe the good reverend Jasper Williams is praying for casino gambling. praise be.


January 4th, 2010
5:15 pm

Diane- Current employees pensions can’t be touched. Anything would only apply to new hires. Binding obligations.

[...] will be pushing a culture of Customer Service. This seems to follow an initiative put forth by Sonny Perdue. I think this will be good for the [...]

Native Atlantan

January 4th, 2010
9:33 pm

After I get up off the floor from crying, I’ll again contnue to ignore the political regime that rules Atlanta. NOTHING will change.

The Late Maynord Jackson

January 5th, 2010
8:36 am

Things are great at the Jackson Machine.. 4 more years.. Vote Barnes early and often, it worked for Reed.


January 5th, 2010
9:56 am

I think he really means it. Let’s pray together and give the New Mayor a real chance.


January 5th, 2010
11:05 am

I wonder where Mary Norwood is getting the money to pay “The Late Maynord Jackson”. Dude, give it a rest. YOU LOST!!!


January 5th, 2010
3:53 pm

Pass the Pork!

Happy (corrupt) days at City Hall are Here Again.

Sadly though, they never left.


January 6th, 2010
10:42 am

I am confident that each of you who responded with distain and distrust, will be an active volunteer citizen at City Hall and in your community doing your part to improve our community and historic neighborhoods and holding legislators and the adminstration accountable for delivering the highest level of service, in the most ethical way. Right?

Rick Fontaine, 30311

January 10th, 2010
9:55 pm

Let’s hold reed accountable & make sure he hires the 750 cops in his first term.

All of Ya'll should be sick of the dirt

January 21st, 2010
11:16 pm

Same ole song…..How’s he gonna pay for the 750 police?

Lay off more employees….think that will help “customer service”? Better go to City Hall and volunteer to help.



January 22nd, 2010
10:53 am

This man did not win with a mandate. He barely won his run off with Marry Norwood. Moeover, the political turnout in Atlanta for black voters, was horrible. This shows that this mayor does not inspiiy the most citizens of Atlanta. His campaigns inabilty, as a black official who had money, to turn out the black vote is least to be desired and shows incompetency in his campaign strategies. Moreover, the averageAtlanta citizens did not like his message. Therefore, there is no need for this administration to be walking around like they did something big and they got the people of Atlanta’s backing. They will be held “ACCOUNTABLE”. I voted for him because I had no better choices and I vote in every election. We needed better candidates in this last mayoral election. I am still not satisfied with what we have. I will be watching and voicing my concerns on all matters relating to our great city. HE NEED NOT PUMP HIS CHEST TOO HARD AS IF HE WON A MANDATE IN THIS CITY. HE BARELY WON WITH A LOW VOTER TURNOUT AGAINST A WEAK CANDIDATE. OUR CHOICES WERE LIMITED.

Maria Anne

February 11th, 2010
11:32 am

Hey guys, check out Kasim Reed discussing hit priorities for the City of Atlanta free on PBS’s the FORUM NETWORK