Does Atlanta airport need fixing?

State Rep. Bob Smith, a Republican whose home district is based just south of Athens in Oconee County, is convinced that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in need of state attention.

Specifically, he’s introduced legislation that would take authority for running the airport from the City of Atlanta and transfer it to an oversight board that consists of seven people.  The seven would be the mayor of Atlanta, the presiding officer of Atlanta City Council, the Fulton and Clayton County commission chairmen and three members appointed by the governor. 

 State Sen. Kasim Reed, an Atlanta Democrat who would like to be Mayor Shirley Franklin’s successor, joined airport chief Ben DeCosta at a public hearing Tuesday in opposing the bill.  The airport’s not broke so there’s no need to fix it, said DeCosta.

Smith cited long lines and other inconveniences and construction delays and cost overrruns on an international terminal as reasons to consider the change.  His bill was introduced too late to be considered this session and is intended, he told members of a House subcommittee, to start a discussion.  The discussion for DeCosta is that landing fees at the airport here are $1.25 per passenger compared to $6 in New York and are well below fees at major airports elsewhere.  Too, he said, in a just-reported survey of passenger satisfaction, 71 percent of Atlanta passengers thought their experience here “outstanding.”

Smith’s a solid, hard-working legislator who’s conscientious in representing what he believes to be the taxpayers’ best interests.   His bill won’t pass this year.  So here’s the discussion-starter Smith wants.  Should the state assume any greater role in the operation of Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport? 

As a general rule,  I don’t want the state taking anything from a local government whether that’s an airport, a poorly-run hospital, a non-performing public school, the responsibilities of a dysfunctional school board, city council, water authority, or anything else.  The state has greater access to money but rarely has greater expertise in running any of those functions normally carried out by local governments and authorities.

60 comments Add your comment


March 19th, 2009
8:50 am

If it ain’t broke–don’t fix it. While I wouldn’t classify my airport experiences of late to be outstanding, my problems were not caused by the airport. They were the sole responsibility of the airlines (Delta and Continental).

I’m in and out of roughly 15 airports a year both foreign and domestic. Hartsfield is definitely in the upper percentile of those in regards to efficiency. Main gripe would be the cost of food, etc. Can’t beat Pittsburgh for that. Name brand restaurants at normal, i.e. non-airport, prices.


March 19th, 2009
9:00 am

Abolish the payroll (a.k.a. FICA) tax. Let’s let Hendrik Hertzberg of that notoriously right-wing magazine, The New Yorker, explain it: “The payroll tax…skims around fifteen percent from the payroll of every business and the paycheck of every worker, from minimum wage burger flippers on up, with no deductions. No exemptions either – except that everything above a hundred grand or so a year is untouched, which means that as salaries climb into the stratosphere the tax, as a percentage, shrinks to a speck far below. This is one reason Warren Buffet’s secretary (as her boss has unproudly noted) pays Uncle Sam a higher share of her income than he does. In fact, three-quarters of American households pay more in payroll tax than in income tax”. Read all about it in the March 23 issue – the one with the hilarious depiction of the Rushinator on the cover. Annoyance alert – I will post this suggestion every day until we get some traction.

Redneck Convert

March 19th, 2009
9:04 am

Well, I don’t see why the people that use the airport, the ones that live on the north side, have to drive 50 miles to get to it. The only people that like where the airport is now are the workers.

You can look it up, every time they put in a new runway or terminal the Atlanta guvmint talks about the new jobs it makes. And guess who gets those jobs. Those People, that’s who. You will look a long time before you see a white face in the worker crowd.

I say the state should take over the airport. There’s more of us White people that use it than Those People. Why should Atlanta run it when the people in that city don’t hardly use it to fly at all?

The first thing that a state board should do is vote to move the airport. There’s lots of land up here in Forsyth and Dawson Counties and it would be alot closer to the people that fly. We could keep the Atlanta mayor or maybe one or two other Atlanta people on the board just to watch them squirm when we out-vote them the way we do in elections. Maybe we could make them show photo ID to vote. And maybe we could set out a big plate of peanut butter crackers at meetings. Maybe when it’s moved a person could afford a cup of coffee at the airport. The sweetheart contracts that they make now allow store owners to charge prices that are out of sight. And Atlanta just pockets our money.

So Wooten’s wrong again. It’s about time for this old coot to retire. There’s exceptions to the rule about keeping the state out of a business.

Have a good day everybody.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:15 am

Asked at Wednesday’s hearing about the government’s exit strategy for
A.I.G., a representative from the Government Accountability Office
conceded it wasn’t clear yet.

The Late Maynard Jackson

March 19th, 2009
9:17 am

The air port as certainly been good for all my family and girl friends, it has made us all VERY rich.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:18 am

The private equity firm Platinum Equity has bought The San Diego
Union-Tribune, the two sides said Wednesday, ending eight decades of
Copley family dominance of that city’s news media.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:19 am

Boutique investment firms and top hedge funds are slowly lapping up the
cream of global banking talent as the financial crisis forces banks to
cut staff and limit the pay of their top risk-takers,

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:20 am

JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon received about $19.7 million in total
compensation for 2008, down from about $34 million in 2007, Reuters
said, citing materials filed with U.S. regulators ahead of its annual
shareholder meeting.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:21 am

The Royal Bank of Scotland and Citigroup have canceled orders for
private jets for top executives in the wake of the financial crash and
a public backlash over corporate perks, French planemaker Dassault
Aviation said on Thursday.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:22 am

UniCredit, one of the biggest Italian banks, said Wednesday that it
would seek new government funds, and analysts at JPMorgan Chase
predicted that Deutsche Bank would need billions more in capital, the
latest signs that European financial institutions were continuing to

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:24 am

More than 200 hedge funds or funds of funds shut down last year, and
funds burned by Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme accounted for three of
the top 10, according to HedgeFund Intelligence.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:25 am

UBS and Ernst & Young were sued over “serious faults” in the
supervision of a fund that invested about 95 percent of its assets with
Mr. Madoff, Bloomberg News reported.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
9:29 am

Morris Communications, owner of the Athens Banner-Herald and, told its employees late Wednesday that it will reduce their wages 5 to 10 percent, effective April 1. The reductions will affect both hourly and salaried employees.

“This is very painful for us, for the Morris family,” said William S. Morris III, chairman of the company. “We’ve done everything we can to put it off.”

Morris Publishing Group was formed in 2001 and owns four major newspapers in the Southeast: The Florida Times-Union, The Augusta Chronicle, the Savannah Morning News and the Athens Banner-Herald

Just Nasty & Magsean

March 19th, 2009
9:30 am

I think all those with crony connections to mayor Franklin (like her ex, son, daughter) and DeCosta should be prohibited from doing business w/ the airport for conflict of interest.
After all, a freakin’ hot dog at the airport costs $6! Put a Varsity in there and it will go for a $1.50!
Who is clearing all that profit–and why?

Anybody at the AJC have the guts to ask? Anybody at the AJC have the manpower to find out?
Anybody at the State Attorney’s office consider investigating? Why—HELL NO! Why???

‘Cause there is a pack of crony, nepotism, inefficient, connected scumbags running the place. Like ALL entities run by Atlanta or Fulton–it is run like CRAP–but they are able to cover it up because there is a TON on money to be made and handed out to cover it up.

If the average passenger knew how much of their ticket price went to fund these bloodsucking leeches, there’d be another Tea Party on the steps of Atlanta City Hall.

Churchill's MOM

March 19th, 2009
9:32 am

Enter your comments here

Chris Broe

March 19th, 2009
9:36 am

I quit going to the airport when they stopped letting us take loaded guns within a accidental discharge of all that jet fuel. Is this anyway to run an airport?

Mr. KnowItAll

March 19th, 2009
9:39 am

TO Big Bucks GOP

You know, nobody really cares about your cut/paste events of the day.

People read Jim Wooten’s column to learn and comment on the SPECIFIC SUBJECTS and TOPICS HE picks for the day. Feel free to comment on those subjects Jim proposes.

If you want to blog the odds-and-ends blather helter-skelter you seem to come up with every day–create your OWN blog and see if anybody gives a rats a$$.

Otherwise–keep it to yourself–how ’bout it?


March 19th, 2009
9:46 am

I think we should let RedNeck Convert investigate the airport. Absolutely! Let him stand in the middle of a runway while a big plane is taking off. Not only will he get first hand knowledge, he won’t have to pay for a cup of coffee there anymore.

Or..he could claim a close relationship with Mayor Franklin and get a nice PBR concession at the airport. He’d be rich enough to add a nice plywood wing to his trailer. How about that, you ol’ coot??

Redneck Convert

March 19th, 2009
10:01 am

Well, I thank Sister Dusty for her suggestion but I think I’ll take a pass on standing in a runway in front of a big plane. I’ve seen them up close and them things is real big. A guy could get hurt if he was run over by one.

Anyhow, I got a better idea than adding a plywood wing to the trailer. I got it from a guy up in White County. You can see it if you drive up GA 400 to the end, turn right, and look to your left after about a mile.Instead of adding a wing he just built a big frame around his trailer. Every time he needs more room he just builds one inside that frame. I bet a yankee would never have brains like that.


March 19th, 2009
10:30 am





March 19th, 2009
10:47 am

Hmmm. I travel through a lot of airports every year on business. I hate Hartsfield, but mainly for reason that I doubt would be affected by a change in oversight, such as the giant security queue. Rarely do I have any problems at Hartsfield that aren’t functions of its design.

As for the food costs, have you guys ever heard the phrase “what the market will bear?” The market in a closed system like Hartsfield bears $6 hot dogs.

Chris Broe

March 19th, 2009
11:05 am

Are you saying that $6 hot dogs have no business being so close to all that jet fuel?


March 19th, 2009
11:06 am

Let see — the Georgia Republican Party — which cannot handle issues like transportation, water resources or health care –now want to take over the airport from the City of Atlanta?

Lets face it — the things that made Atlanta grow — building the airport, funding MARTA across political jurisdictions, etc., were ideas that came from metro Atlanta leaders — not from State politicians and certainly not from politicians from areas like Athens, South Georgia, North Georgia or anywhere else. A lot of these non-metro politicians owe their political careers to bashing Atlanta. A recent study showed that metro Atlantans subsidize non-metro taxpayers to the tune of $500 or so per person, per year.

Sonny Perdue’s new transportation scheme is just a thinly veiled attempt to take more tax money from metro Atlanta to feed to his cronies.

Take the airport away from Atlanta and give it to who? The State DOT? That’s a great idea. That agency is model of how not to run a govt bureaucracy. I think what Senator Smith wants is a piece of the income from landing fees for his sorry ass district.

How about another proposal — how about the GOP legislature leave Atlanta alone for a while (sure, we’ll keep subsidizing the “conservatives” in rural Georgia who refuse to pay for their own government services) but let us run our airport and let the local governments and citizens that pay the 1 cent MARTA sales tax decide how that money should be spent.

The State GOP should spend it efforts trying to fix the state’s dismal education program and dysfunctional state agencies (see GDOT) before taking over the Atlanta airport or any other local government system.

Y’all just aren’t capable of running it, so leave it alone.


March 19th, 2009
11:13 am

Begging the table’s pardon, I’m going to bypass this issue and turn instead to national affairs. If there is mismanagement at Hartsfield, I’m unaware of it.

I see that the Administration has abandoned its plan to stiff wounded veterans with the tab for their medical services. So far this Administration is looking like the gang that can’t shoot straight. I’m eager for President Obama to start performing, but so far he’s looking pretty Keystone.

Keystone Cops

March 19th, 2009
11:26 am

Don’t insult us, please. Our chaos is intentional, well-choreographed schtick.

Keystone Cops

March 19th, 2009
11:27 am

Kind of like the Harlem Globetrotters. We thought about going that route, but none of us can jump.


March 19th, 2009
11:28 am

Don’t light me near Chris Broe after he’s just eaten a sackful of Krystals.


March 19th, 2009
12:19 pm


WHAT? OH! It’s my turn? OK.

Kinda sad, no make that real sad, when the highlights of this uncommonly senseless blog for non-conservative conservatives, aka the Wooten snoozefest, is limited to a new machine gun style, serial topic blogger and a bit of humor regarding old school comedy and bassetball…

My oh my, how the mighty have fallen. (Ronnie would NOT be happy.)


March 19th, 2009
12:34 pm

Dear Glenn,

Keystone Cops for sure! Right now though I believe Obama is busy making a list as each Democratic Congressman perkily confesses that “I did it!. I added the last loop hole!” Such bravery to save the President’s pretty face while Pelosi parades her pervarications behind him!

Obama’s other list is of those who DID NOT PAY THEIR TAXES. It gets very lengthy as he tries to fill positions. Geithner is getting to be the one he should have scratched.

The debts mount up. The President prompts his prompter. AIG is spghetti. AND…Lake Lanier rises several inches. What’s this world coming to??

Bucket Lip Liberal

March 19th, 2009
12:52 pm

So, now it is known that the Fed, specifically Geitner the tax cheat, didn’t tell The Teleprompter Administration about AIG bonuses, and therefore they weren’t known about. If that’s the case, then how did Chris Dodd (D) add it unknown to that RUSHED STIMULUS BILL last month? Did ANYONE read the freaking bill? I tell ya, this administration and the Demogoons in Congress are becoming more and more of a farce with each passing week, and all the lizard brain libs – including those in the DNC media – out there are eating out of their hands. They are actually making the Bush administration look competent. Pathetic.

Big Bucks GOP

March 19th, 2009
12:52 pm

Dusty 12:34 pm

get on topic

Bucket Lip Liberal

March 19th, 2009
12:55 pm

All these problems and Obama is going to be on Leno. Oh yaaaaay! Did anyone catch The Prompter speaking to a pre-staged “Town Hall” group of Gen X-ers? Nothing like using the mindless to further an agenda and hide incompetence. So much for easy media acccess to this administration, huh? Laughably pathetic.

Ga Values

March 19th, 2009
1:04 pm

If the state of Georgia takes over the Atlanta Airport, Georgia power will take over management and Glen Richardson’s mistress will get all the food operations, guess Redneck is correct we’ll have white crooks rather than b;ack crooks. We have hit bottom in Georgia.


March 19th, 2009
1:16 pm

Should the state assume any greater role in the operation of Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport?

Personally, I think not, Jim!

My Chairman Bell don’t hold kindly to coups in his neck of the woods. Thus far, he’s been very successful at heading ‘em off. Ah ’spect he’ll be riding his charger in to confront this one too.


March 19th, 2009
1:27 pm

I hope the state will take it over if only to get someone to fix the Air Conditioning in the Airport. It is a real drag to sweat thru the transportation mall and at many gates during the summer months while carrying luggage. Just a few years ago the airport completely redid the ductwork in the terminals, but the heat is as bad as ever.


March 19th, 2009
1:31 pm

This is just another case of useless Republicans and Atlanta bashers who want to cherry pick the good stuff away from Atlanta and leave the bad stuff behind. I have a deal for them: You can have the airport if you take Grady and MARTA too! As the old saying goes, you have to take the bad along with the good. If you consider the airport big enough to be a state issue, then take everything that this is big enough to be a state issue, whether it is good or bad. If you don’t want Grady and MARTA, then shut your sorry, worthless mouth about the airport and go back to the woods from which you came!


March 19th, 2009
1:40 pm

Aw shucks Big Bucks,

YOU wanna tell me to stay on target? Puhleeze…you’re a wandering minstrel even worse than AmVet who roars like a toothless lion on several blogs. But ‘cuse me..I’ll go talk with @@.


Don’t knock Chairman Bell. He shows up on TV in the best uniforms I have ever seen. The huge epaulets of gold are really dashing. The medals, buttons and ribbons can hardly be matched. I bet his charger is the black stallion, no less.

You have so much fun down in your county. Mine is so quiet, only two police chiefs at one time while one settles his legal matters in another state. We do miss our Romeo leader of the past who always believed that two are better than one. The new CEO doesn’t even have a glint in his eye.


March 19th, 2009
2:14 pm

Oohhhh, I’m not knocking Eldrin, Dusty. I like the guy.

He went toe to toe with our PREVIOUS D.A. and her husband. He went toe to toe with our PREVIOUS Sheriff. He just recently went toe to toe, in court, with Wole Ralph (my district’s commissioner) and the majority of the board members on their attempt to illegally create an administrative position to undermine his authority and WON.

I like a fighter as long as he’s fighting for ALL the people.

Nosiree! I’ve got no problems with Eldrin. He’s my kinda politician. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was a Republican but he’s not. No Republican could ever be elected down my way.

The position that they ATTEMPTED to create was one previously held by one Crandle Bray — by far, the worst thing that ever happened to this county. Crandle’s still circling like the vulture that he is and Eldrin’s all to aware of his pattern.


March 19th, 2009
2:30 pm

Dear @@,

I thought Eldrin looked pretty good when he was in charge of the Red Dogs or something like that in the Police Department. I don’t even mind his “dash”. I hope he continues keeping things straight over your way.

Not A Chance

March 19th, 2009
2:37 pm

Atlanta airport is one of the best run airports in the country and for State Rep. Bob Smith to try and say that the State of Georgia should take over the airport seems to sound kind of comical. The State of Georgia’s main goal is to see that Atlanta fail so why would it be better to put the Atlanta airport in the hands of a bunch of people that don’t care for the well being of their capital city which is the powerhouse of the state. The only thing that Georgia legislatures are interested in when it comes to Atlanta is the tax revenue that metro Atlanta tax payers pay. The goal of the Georgia legislature is to funnel all monies for transportation and infrastructure away for metro Atlanta at every opportunity chance. Atlanta’s airport is perfectly fine without the State of Georgia’s involvement. Thank You.


March 19th, 2009
2:39 pm

Smith just trying to grab some power for Sinny or the next gov. so they might give him some back. Georgia should stay out of ATL Airport business.


March 19th, 2009
2:50 pm

Speaking of flying, has anyone ever taken Ativan for anxiety? I hate flying and I usually take Valium but my new doc prescribed Ativan. Just curious.


March 19th, 2009
2:50 pm

Everyone that pays attention knows Atlanta-Hartsfield airport is one of the WORLD’S BEST transportation facilities and is the economic engine of ALL of GA.

Given the fact the Repubs have done such a wonderful management job and can only criticize using sublime racial innuendos. If your facility is generally first or second in the world in the number of passengers per year, do you believe there will be no lines?

The cost of a hot dog is what it is, the cost of a hot dog!!!!!!!

Does one ever wonder why the Repubs will not address the problems of unemployment, health care, metro transportation, water, so one and so forth?

Michael Johnson

March 19th, 2009
3:58 pm

The State can’t even handle the problems it has to deal with currently. How on earth would they make Hartsfield better? Hartsfield and the Atlanta region came about from past and current visionaries, men, women, black, white, who had the tenacity to change, and not just run their mouth all day, and never do nothing. I long for the days when the State as a whole starts to accomplish true projects again. However without Atlanta and Hartsfield, Georgia would be just another Alabama or South Carolina type economy.

Sen. Larry Craig

March 19th, 2009
4:23 pm

The restrooms at Hartsfield-Jackson should be remodeled to provide smaller partitions between stalls and height adjustable peep/other holes on each side.


March 19th, 2009
4:35 pm

I didnt know there were that many liberal idiots in georgia. Haha yall are funny.

Michael Johnson – Umm Im pretty sure that due to the mass amounts of good business moving to Atlanta and Atlanta created business, that pretty much put georgia on the map and then came hartsfield. The reason why hartsfield is what it is today is for the demand, and thats it.

Jackie – “The cost of a hot dog is what it is, the cost of a hot dog!!!!!!!” Really? You dont say.

Redneck Covert – Do you even know what you are talking about, because according to facts, Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world. And your going to say that Atlantans or Georgians do not use it? Im pretty sure that no matter where the majority of us are in Georgia we will fly out of Atlanta Hartsfield Airport.

The Late Maynard Jackson – congrats you conceited ***** share the wealth, and pay more taxes. And just because you got handed freebies because you know somebody, what a shame people are coming to.

Chris Broe

March 19th, 2009
4:40 pm

How about Glenn Beck’s “Leave Lady Liberty Alone” crying imitation of that old Youtube video of the crying Brittany Spear’s groupie. (Yes, we are that simple minded). ……Rush Limbaugh said that if the terrorists use the Atlanta Airport to do another 911, that he hopes that the Atlanta Airports fail! That’s what he meant the whole time about hoping Obama failed! Glenn Beck announced he’s giving away little liberty dolls to the children of the new half-billionaires. He’s put Tammy Faye Bakker in his act. That HAS to be the bottom. We’re rallying off a twittered bottom, with acceptable momentum decay. Expect Kudlow to call this a bull market as of five minutes ago, well, actually five billion years ago when the earth was formed, but that’s just Kudlow.


March 19th, 2009
4:42 pm

Hold on Dusty! I just reread your 1:40 post.

The huge epaulets of gold are really dashing. The medals, buttons and ribbons can hardly be matched. I bet his charger is the black stallion, no less.

Are you sure you don’t have Eldrin confused with our PREVIOUS (I love to use that word) Sheriff Victor Hill?

That ^^^ photo was taken on a casual Friday. I don’t know how his little 5′4″ frame could carry all the ornamental hardware he sported

I can remember appearing before the BOC in my stilettos on a zoning matter. Little Victor stepped up behind me. Chairman Bell excused the interruption and then addressed Victor. I turned around to look totally missing him…..had to look down. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. The guy is SHORT and has this little nasal tone to his speech.

The surprise must have shown on my face ’cause when I turned back around to face the board members, Eldrin grinned and asked if I wanted to take a seat while Sheriff Hill spoke with the board. My answer was “No thank you……I’m sure Sheriff Hill will, for my benefit, keep it short.”

Hill wasn’t known for following protocol at Commission meetings. Normally Eldrin is a stickler for rules of order but I think he was enjoying the high and low of the moment. I was more than happy to assist.


March 19th, 2009
5:05 pm

Dear @@

I think you are having a good time with two bit political (short) police chiefs. Good one!!

As to Eldrin, I do remember when he had some really really fine uniforms. Maybe it was when he was a big wheel in the Atlanta Police Department (I think that was it.)

But I haven’t forgotten how he looked. A credit to the corps and the haberdashary!


March 19th, 2009
5:10 pm

I’ll bet you do a lot for a pair of stilettos @@.