Shirley Franklin and her new blog: ‘Maynard Jackson would have Tweeted’

One of the open secrets of Shirley Franklin’s eight-year tenure as mayor of Atlanta was her night-owl addiction to local political blogs.

Sometimes under the sobriquet of “Millie Lou,” sometimes under her own name, Franklin would answer critics in detailed fashion — or weigh in with late-night, unfiltered observations on the issue of the day.

Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. Bob Andres,

Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. Bob Andres,

It was enough to give any press secretary heartburn.

One year after leaving the mayor’s office, Internet opinionating has a stronger grip on Franklin than ever before. Last week, she launched her own Democratic-oriented political website, Blogging While Blue.

“I come to my own conclusions. There are people who say, well, if you have positions that the governor or mayor or someone doesn’t like, it’s problematic. I just don’t see it that way. I think that public dialogue and discussion of the facts is valuable,” Franklin said over an iced coffee at her neighborhood Starbucks.

Her first self-assignment: Prepare metro Atlanta for the 2012 election. She has already commissioned her first poll — which says 53 percent of metro Atlanta voters would support a sales tax for education in metro Atlanta.

The question is, Franklin said, whether that sentiment could also apply to next year’s vote on a transportation sales tax for the region.

If you are reading this in the print version of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there’s a chance that you might find it difficult to fathom why an ex-mayor’s “delightful venture” into the World Wide Web is worth talking about.

But the Internet has become the incubator of political speech in America — not to mention northern Africa and places beyond. As a whole, Republicans in Georgia have been better than Democrats at adapting to the possibilities offered by Twitter and Facebook.

Then there’s the fact that Georgia Democrats took a historic drubbing in November — and are struggling to regain their voice. Several Georgia-based Democratic blogs already exist. But Franklin’s high profile, her connections and her often sharp tone could quickly make her website one of the key places Democrats go to sort themselves out.

Time is not a problem. Franklin said her endowed position at Spelman College requires her to teach one course a year — allowing for other pursuits.

One project has been the assembly of a videotaped oral history by members of the Maynard Jackson administration — of which she was a part. “That led me to think, ‘How do you use electronic media?’ “ Franklin said.

“I believe that Maynard Jackson, were he alive today, would be blogging and tweeting. The ability to shape, to research and to shade ideas — and then to put them out for public debate? He would love that,” she said.

(The image is startling. Atlanta’s first black mayor was a formal, imposing figure who never appeared in public in anything less than a three-piece suit. It would be difficult to imagine his lips forming around the word “Twitter.”)

Blogging While Blue is the product of Franklin, her former communications director, Beverly Isom, and the former mayor’s son, Cabral Franklin.

The ex-mayor vows that the website won’t be a vehicle for any return to public office. “I’m a happy 65-year-old. This is not a re-entry into politics,” she said.

But clearly, aggressive writing could occasionally put Franklin at odds with her successor, Kasim Reed — whom she backed in 2009.

Last week, in an interview with a TV reporter, Franklin expressed disappointment that Reed had decided not to fight a new state law permitting those with concealed weapons permits to carry their weapons into unsecured areas of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“Every person has to take his own stand. And he is a lawyer. I’m not,” Franklin said Friday. “He was very clear in his statement that he wished it were not so but that he would follow the state law. It’s just a different approach.”

Otherwise, Franklin expressed no complaints about Reed, a former state senator who has developed extraordinary ties with Republicans in the state Capitol.

“I think he’s done fine. It’s a hard job. I’ve always known he’s had good contacts with the state. That’s not news to me. It played out all during my term,” Franklin said. “He was the person to whom I went and said, ‘This is our agenda.’”

But should her blog catch on, Franklin and her website could become a focal point of debate on several hot-button issues.

For instance, a penny sales tax levied by the school systems of Atlanta, Decatur, Fulton and DeKalb Counties – which representing $1.5 billion in construction – is up for renewal next year.

The morning after our talk with Franklin, word broke that Reed might like to see it expire, to encourage voters to pass that regional transportation sales tax.

On Saturday, Franklin said the idea of abandoning the school construction sales tax had been broached before – though she had no position on the matter. “I do think we have to balance what the infrastructure needs are,” she said.

Then there is the transportation tax itself, to be voted on next summer. Does she support it?

“I don’t know. I’m already paying a tax for MARTA. I would like to see some recognition of that in the referendum,” Franklin said. “And the limits placed on MARTA funding are troubling. But a lot of it will depend on what the final referendum lists as projects. For me and a lot of other folks.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

42 comments Add your comment

V. Highlands

February 19th, 2011
3:32 pm

Mayor Reed has done more in a year than Franklin did in eight.


February 19th, 2011
3:34 pm

I think Reed has handled the MARTA situation very well. He had very few options from the beginning so like a true statesman, he made a couple options. People need to be realistic about our transportation situation.

Are you serious?

February 19th, 2011
3:35 pm

Why is she talking?

Silent Majority

February 19th, 2011
3:41 pm

I’m a conservative, but I have to get it to Reed, he’s reached out to the business community and shown that he truly understands what makes Atlanta’s economy go. I’ve warmed up to the guy quite a bit and don’t fear his decision making like I did when he first took office.

Mayor Reed looked like a true leader on Meet The Press.

Two Cents

February 19th, 2011
3:46 pm

Sounds like someone’s bored lol. This blog might be quite interesting. I’ll give it a chance and see how long it lasts. Blogging isn’t as easy as many beginners think.

Sally Fae

February 19th, 2011
3:49 pm

Kasim Reed saved MARTA! Let’s be serious, Shirley. Though sometimes I wish he would’ve just let that old dog die.


February 19th, 2011
3:51 pm

Sounds like someone’s bored lol. I’ll give Shirley a chance, but blogging isn’t as easy as it may appear to beginners. This could be interesting…


February 19th, 2011
4:04 pm

A new era in Atlanta politics is dawning. Some people might take longer to realize than others.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC , Jim Galloway and ECO LOGIC, TONI SMALLS. TONI SMALLS said: RT @ajc: RT @politicalinsidr: Shirley Franklin her new blog: ‘Maynard Jackson would have Tweeted’ [...]

General Sherman

February 19th, 2011
6:25 pm

The city needs torching again!

Dogs 'n Hoses

February 19th, 2011
6:55 pm

I was a Shirley Franklin fan until her infamous police dogs and fire hoses radio commercial a few years back. I was very surprised and disappointed, never understood why she would gratuitously do something like that. I think it was a defining moment and probably ended her political career.


February 19th, 2011
7:22 pm

Hey Shirley would Maynard have tweeted about his “No Bid Contracts that he Gave to his own Company while he was Mayor”. Talk about corrupt career politicians. Using his office for personal gain?????????? Ya think?


February 19th, 2011
9:28 pm

Shirley Franklin saw numerous scandals while she was in office. Numerous city departments were exposed for rampant fraudulent activity and then there was the P cards being used for personal purchases. Lets not forget Shirley’s daughter convicted for some type of financial fraud in the process of aiding her son in law who I believe was sentenced to life in prison for drug dealing. I’m sure glad she is out of office and hopefully Reed can accomplish fixing some of the damage he inherited before his term is up. Good riddance Franklin.

Burroughston Broch

February 19th, 2011
10:05 pm

Former Mayor Franklin is an out-of-office, older Democrat in a state where the Democratic Party is of rapidly diminishing relevance. Her State Party has put her out to pasture and her National Party has no interest in her. What else does she have to do except blog and keep her children out of jail?

Julie Brown

February 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

Every one has a right to verse their opinion about former Mayor Shirley Franklin, good or bad. To talk about Franklin’s children is wrong and hateful. Be an Adult….. and leave her family alone.


February 20th, 2011
6:38 am

Maynard, Shirley and now Reed have done what they thought was the best for Atlanta. You all are entitled to your opinion about each. However where is your commitment to this city other than typing some negative words about what others have done for Atlanta.


February 20th, 2011
7:21 am

Is the loon Franklin tweeting about all the racists up in North Fulton who were going to turn the hoses and dogs loose on the residents of ATL? The clown disguised as a former mayor needs to join to circus.

VOR #1

February 20th, 2011
9:12 am

Shirley, please go away. Like Evander, she doesn’t realize when it’s time to hang up the gloves.

I'm breaking up

February 20th, 2011
9:24 am

Shirley Franklin – just another in a long line of sorry Atlanta Mayors since the mid seventies who have managed to turn a once great city into a cesspool of corruption. Why in the world would she want to have such a high profile and have the whole world laughing at her?……she is as irrelevant as Jimmy Carter and that’s hard.

Port O'John

February 20th, 2011
10:05 am

Hey Shirley — If you gave a rats behind about Atlanta you would not have allowed ParkAtlanta to take over the City’s streets. Once you let a for-profit company take over parking meters and the enforcement of parking rules — with zero oversight by the city — you will get the disaster that has occurred. Talk to the business owners in Little 5 or VaHi. They’re slowing dying because of the ham-handed way the city has made parking a crapshoot. Even if you pay to park, ParkAtlanta will still write you a ticket knowing that you’d rather pay $25 then go to court and fight it. I’ve seen ParkAtlanta writing tickets at midnight, even though the parking meters are only enforced until 7:00 PM. Why? Because they can. And turning areas that were free parking into 24-hour, 7 days a week, one-hour parking only? Who are you kidding. That’s just stupid.

And Shirley, your absolute failure to improve the city’s business permitting and zoning permitting from the corrupt morass it was under Jackson and Campbell is a disgrace. My wife and I used to run a small business in Atlanta, but we closed it and moved to unincorporated DeKalb County just to get out from under the city of Atlanta and its inconsistent and incompetent bureaucrats.

Kasim needs to fix these messes before I will ever invest in the City of Atlanta again.


February 20th, 2011
10:35 am

Crime ridden family; Can’t wait until 2013 we need a mayor for Buckhead.


February 20th, 2011
11:23 am

@ jon- You can say a lot of things about Franklin, but the issue about p-cards never existed in the City, because the City had any p-cards. I think you should focus your angst at the Gold Dome.

@Port ‘O John- Maybe the service you received from those bureaucrats is a reflection of you and your small business.


February 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

Social media opens the doors to learn, organize and unify around their aspirations and values to millions around the globe. There are no age bariiers, political boundaries or ideological limits to the discussion. I welcome all comments about the issues and consider the personal attacks part of the likely equation in open democratic debate. As a child I learned to play the dozens. So it isn’t lack of mud slinging experience.that limits me. I nor others posting on Blogging While Blue will resort to personal attacks or even responding to them. The blog is about current issues that impact the lives of everyday people who want the best for themselves, their families and neighbors, and their country, end of story.


February 20th, 2011
4:11 pm

i am a conservative and a big fan of Reed. He is much more capable and impressive than Franklin. I liked franklin’s passion, but she had very little leadership capability. Plus, she was unable to reach out to the greater atlanta business community. Reed has contacted us several times and has asked us what we need to bring jobs to this area. no politics. no idealogies. just upfront and honest needs. What impressed me about Reed is that, when he disagrees with you or tells you that he cannot do something, he takes the time to explain his logic. Shirley rested on ideologies and democrat talking points. Reed uses logic. I would not be surprised if Reed doesnt run in the next governers election, and he will pick up some conservative votes if Deal doesnt perform.


February 20th, 2011
5:15 pm

Jim, what about the Big Ox granting himself exemptions from taking classes and passing tests so he could sell insurance? AND he got the waivers passed on a SUNDAY.

Another idiot Republican lining his own pockets, doing for himself.

Republicans say Democrats have a sense of entitlement–what about this guy? Yet another recent, Georgia-born example of power gone wild.

Burroughston Broch

February 20th, 2011
5:52 pm

@ shirley
You wrote, “I nor others posting on Blogging While Blue will resort to personal attacks or even responding to them.”
Does this mean that you will censor posts, ala the AJC? Will you consider posts that do not agree with you as personal attacks?


February 20th, 2011
6:11 pm

Following up on my earlier post:

“If 16 years doesn’t give you a little bit of insurance experience, I don’t know what does,” said Mr. Oxendine.

Well, sir, I have been (using the bathroom) for 58 1/2 years, but that doesn’t make me a plumber!


February 20th, 2011
6:38 pm

@Burroughston Broch. On Blogging While Blue your opinions about the issues whether I agree or not are welcome all day and all night.


February 20th, 2011
7:30 pm

Maynard Jackson was a crooked mayor who cost Atlanta millions of $$$

Shirley Franklin showed her racist side when she ran those race baiting commercials.

Atlanta could have done so much better without them.

who cares

February 20th, 2011
7:32 pm

who cares outside the city of atlanta? you think north ga and south ga are blue? rofl!


February 20th, 2011
8:39 pm

There is a reason all these conservatives like Reed, cause he bows before them at the state legislature. The new proposed transportation tax can’t legally be spent on transit folks. DeKalb and Fulton residents have been paying a transit sales tax for thirty and the proposal says they get to pay another one so they can pay for road in suburban counties. Reed pushed that bill through and Atlantans have him to thank for that built in inequity. Franklin on he other hand stood up for the city and fixed fundamentally broken parts of the city’s infrastructure.

Inside out/Outside In

February 20th, 2011
8:41 pm

The only thing sadder than a washed-up politician is one that thinks someone gives a —- about what they have to say. SF, Benita, Greg G, Dave E, LB, Liz C and Ben ran the City into the ground. They spent money like tax payers had it to burn, gave contracts to friends and then fired hard-working employees to pay for it all. Tax payers (mostly uninformed Pee Tarty types) thought ‘those lazy government workers’ deserved it but those same tax payers didn’t (and still don’t) realize that city hall only turned into ‘MCI’. Friends and family of department heads kept their jobs (well, they kept the paycheck and kept doing nothing for it) and employees who believed Shirley’s slogan that integrity matters? Well, they got laid off.

The jury is still out on KR’s intentions. Maybe he’s there to finish the job for Shirley; many think he’s there to hold it together just long enough to get his next job. Whatever. Be that as it may, Shirley can blog her way from here to eternity trying to rewrite history; some people know the truth.


February 20th, 2011
8:51 pm

Maynard Jackson would have Tweeted if someone would have paid him under the table.

Burroughston Broch

February 20th, 2011
9:02 pm

@ shirley

Thank you. I will give your site a look.


February 20th, 2011
9:31 pm

shirley needs to go back to Phili…..Spelman College will never get any more money from me as long as she is on staff,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


February 20th, 2011
11:11 pm

Bossman @ 11:23 am February 19th, 2011, regarding my comment on February 19th, 2011 9:28 pm, you can call the city credit cards illegally used by whatever name that suits you, there was a scandal where the thieving scum sucking city workers were using the city credit cards for their own personal uses including getting their nails done. I stand by my statement that Shirley saw numerous scandals during her tenure. Good riddance Franklin.


February 21st, 2011
8:12 am

Shirley go somewhere and SIT DOWN………………


February 21st, 2011
9:17 am

I seem to recall an issue where there were claims of nepotism during the time that talks were ongoing about privatizing the Atlanta airport which could have resulted in millions of $$$ to offset the property taxes we have to pay but Shirley was a vocal opponent. The nepotism charges came about because her ex husband had businesses at the airport that I think would have been impacted if the privatization went through. I wish my property taxes were offset by millions in airport rental fees. Thanks Shirley.

Age of Reason

February 21st, 2011
10:16 am

“Mayor Reed looked like a true leader on Meet The Press”

LOOKED is the key word. In the walkways of City Hall we all know that he is basically absent from City Hall and does not lead anything. It’s all slash and burn. Sack this commissioner. Demote that staffer. He rules by fear but provides no avenue for internal leadership and initiative. Hopefully, he will leave City Hall for higher office before the world figures it out and before he does more damage.

professional skeptic

February 21st, 2011
10:27 am

Looking forward to it, Mayor Franklin. More voices are better than fewer. Good luck!

professional skeptic

February 21st, 2011
10:29 am

@catlady: the ultra-rightists don’t care: As they said with Gov. Deal, “He may be a crook, but at least he’s OUR crook.”