- Created on 30 May 2013
Common Cause Georgia, a government watchdog group, has again revived the debate over public funding for a $1 billion retractable roof stadium in downtown Atlanta. The group is launching a petition drive to force the city to hold a voter referendum on the public financing portion of the new Falcons stadium.
The organization will seek to gain the 35,000 signatures the city's 1998 initiative and referendum ordinance requires to schedule a public vote. William Perry, the organization's executive director, said Thursday during a news conference on the steps of Atlanta City Hall, that he's prepared for a fight.
"It's a monumental task," said Perry. "But the public has not been given the chance to weigh in on this. ... When you're talking about so much public money, the public ought to have a seat at the table."
The board of Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development agency, last month approved issuing more than $200 million in bonds to finance the public contribution toward the retractable-roof stadium. The bonds will be repaid from the revenue generated by the city's hotel/motel tax.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a longtime backer of the stadium project and a key ally in its passage through Invest Atlanta and the City Council, fired back today with a statement of his own.
"William Perry is sacrificing the reputation of a once venerable and well-respected organization for the sake of furthering his own personal ambition," Reed said in a statement. "His attempt to derail the stadium development is a losing proposition. The state-of-the-art facility is going to help strengthen the city's $10 billion tourism and convention industry and the 220,000 jobs it supports, spur economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods, and keep the Atlanta Falcons in the heart of downtown for the next 30 years."
The mayor was not finished.
"We have already had tangible wins because of the approved stadium development deal," he continued. "The construction of the new stadium will create much needed-construction jobs and include opportunities for women and small business-owners. As a result of the stadium deal, Atlanta recently was named a host city for the College Football Playoff series, expected to immediately become a mega-event in the nation. The city's Chick-Fil-A bowl will become a national semifinal once every three years, with the first Atlanta game scheduled for Dec. 31, 2016 in the Georgia Dome. The next three are planned for the new retractable-roof Falcons stadium in the 2019, 2022 and 2025 seasons. In addition, the city of Atlanta is now able to robustly compete to host a Super Bowl, perhaps as soon as 2019.
"These types of events help create and sustain jobs in our city, have a significant economic impact and help us maintain Atlanta's position as the dominant city in the Southeastern United States. Common Cause Georgia should focus on moving our city forward, not taking us backwards."
The stadium funding was approved by the Atlanta City Council, Georgia World Congress Center Authority and Invest Atlanta.
in spite of those three votes, public financing of the stadium is not a done deal, Perry said.
“The bonds haven’t happened. Ground is not broken,” he said. “This is not over.”
- Created on 30 May 2013
MARTA will hold public hearings on proposed service modifications to the "Q Bus Routes" at the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Conference Center, 495 North Indian Creek Road in Clarkston, at 7 p.m. on June 4, 2013, to gather input from customers and stakeholders.
The changes, proposed for implementation on August 24, 2013, include the restructuring of the Route 520 "Q-Limited" and the elimination of the Route 521 "Q-Express."
MARTA has proposed these changes to respond to service evaluations which show a greater demand for more frequent stops which are currently provided by the Route 121. To offer more effective and efficient service to customers traveling in this corridor, MARTA will increase the frequency of the Route 121 from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes.
The 521 "Q-Limited" route will be rebranded the Route 121-Stone Mountain/Memorial Drive "Limited" and will continue offering 10-minute headways during peak service. The Route 121 "Limited" will travel to all the stops previously served by the "Q-Express" including the Goldsmith Park & Ride. Details regarding the proposed changes are listed below.
Prior to the start of the official public hearing, MARTA staff will be available for a Community Exchange from 6 to 7 p.m. to provide information regarding the proposed changes and answer questions.
MARTA regularly reviews bus route performance including scheduling, on-time performance, ridership and safety. Final changes will be recommended based on feedback received from customers as well as the Authority's service analysis.
Copies of the proposed bus service modifications are available for review at MARTA's Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30324 during regular business hours, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on the MARTA website www.itsmarta.com. A summary of the proposed bus modifications can be requested by leaving a message on MARTA's comment line, 404.848.5299. The proposed modifications will also be available for public inspection before each hearing.
Patrons may request information in an accessible format (free of charge) in accordance with the ADA and Limited English Proficiency regulations by calling MARTA's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 404.848.4037.
For patrons requiring further accommodations, information can be obtained by calling the Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 404.848.5665. In addition, a sign language interpreter will be available at all hearings.
People unable to attend the hearings can provide comments regarding the proposed bus service modifications to MARTA's Office of External Affairs through June 9, 2013 by leaving a message at 404.848.5299, writing to 2424 Piedmont Road, NE Atlanta, Georgia 30324-3330, completing an online comment card at www.itsmarta.com, or faxing comments to 404.848.4179.
The Public Hearing will be held at the following location:
Georgia Piedmont Technical College Conference Center
495 North Indian Creek Road, Clarkston, GA 30021
Community Exchange from 6 – 7 PM
Riding MARTA: Take Bus Route 121 from Kensington Station or Bus Route 125 from Avondale Station to Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Special bus shuttle service will also be provided from Kensington Station.
Proposed Service Changes for August 24, 2013
Route 121: The service frequency will be increased from a 15-minute headway to a 12-minute headway.
Route 521 "Q-Express": Proposed for elimination.
Route 520 "Q-Limited": Maintain current 10-minute service frequency and restructure to provide service to the Goldsmith Park & Ride Lot. The new alignment will operate along Central Drive outbound from Kensington Station only and along Memorial Drive inbound to Kensington Station.
The segment along N. Hairston Road between Central Drive and E. Ponce De Leon Avenue, Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Lewis Road, McCurdy Drive and E. Ponce De Leon Avenue between McCurdy Drive and N. Hairston Road will be discontinued. Additionally, Route 520 "Q-Limited" will be renamed as Route 121-Stone Mountain/Memorial Drive "Limited".
- Created on 30 May 2013
Since May 17, there have been three robberies, two homicides and one shooting in the East Atlanta area. No arrests have been made in the homicides that occurred separately on Metropolitan Avenue and May Avenue, but investigators continue to examine evidence to determine if the crimes are linked.
In response, Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Police Department announced Wednesday that additional public safety resources will be deployed in the East Atlanta and Grant Park neighborhoods as well as several nearby areas following the recent crime. Specifically, the Atlanta Police Department has increased patrols and canvas efforts in Zones 5 and 6.
"My administration's top priority is public safety," said Mayor Kasim Reed. "It troubles me deeply to hear of violent crime against people in our city's neighborhoods. I especially wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Patrick Cotrona and the other victims. One murder in our city is one too many, and I plan to use all the resources available to me and the Atlanta Police Department to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice."
The police department said that it also is actively pursuing leads in the recent shooting at Grant Street and Georgia Avenue, in which the victim was shot in the face.
APD has deployed the following additional resources:
• Increasing police foot patrol presence. APD will partner with law enforcement agencies including the Dekalb County Police Department to conduct joint details with safety checkpoints on the borders of Fulton and Dekalb Counties.
• Standing up mobile precincts with the department's Community Oriented Policing Section (COPS) for enhanced police presence in neighborhoods.
• Deploying the newly created Tactical Traffic Unit to bring an additional eight officers and a police sergeant into the area.
• Implementing the new Atlanta Proactive Enforcement Interdiction (A.P.E.X.) in Zone 6 to identify violent crime patterns utilizing analytical data.
• Increasing the presence of the Special Operations Section in Zone 6 to include Motors and Mounted Patrol.
• Working with community leaders and organizations to disseminate accurate information and solicit assistance in seeking additional information.
"The Atlanta Police Department takes these incidents seriously and will continue to work aggressively to solve them," said Atlanta Police Chief George Turner. "The additional resources we are deploying are part of our efforts to reduce violent crime in East Atlanta and throughout the city. We stand with the families of those whose lives have been needlessly cut short, and will work with the community to solve these crimes."
Anyone with information about these or other crimes in the City of Atlanta is urged to call the police department's anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line at 404-577-8477. Tips leading to arrests and indictments in the recent East Atlanta homicides could result in a cash reward of up to $25,000 to the person who provides the information.
Mayor Reed's office notes that after a recent 50-year analysis of crime statistics, overall crime is down to the lowest levels since 1972.
- Created on 30 May 2013
As renowned Georgia civil rights activist State Representative Tyrone Brooks, 67, prepares to fight a fierce battle for his reputation and his legacy, he spoke poignantly to the Atlanta Daily World about his life's work.
Under recent federal indictment for allegedly siphoning off money from contributions to two charities for his own use, Brooks talked about the pain these accusations have brought him.
"In 1966 in Newton County during a civil rights protest, Sheriff Junior Odom cocked a shotgun and pointed it at my head," said Brooks. "He wanted me to leave town and said so in foul language. I told him that if he didn't pull that trigger I'd be back again tomorrow."
"But no bullet could hurt me as much as the words that woman (United States Attorney Sally Yates) uttered," Brooks continued. "She said that Tyrone Brooks is a thief."
He paused then added quietly. "Everyone knows that civil rights activists don't take. We give. I've given everything but my life to make this a better world."
Friends who have rallied to his support agree.
Religious, NAACP and SCLC leaders speak of his lifelong commitment to civil rights and the impact he has had in the more than 50 years he has given to the cause. He is considered one of the most popular and hardest working legislators in state government.
Former Governor Roy Barnes who is representing Brooks for free against the federal indictment said at a recent press conference, "His life is about service, not amassing great wealth. If his life had been about wealth, he could afford to pay me."
Brooks began his work at age 15 when he walked into the offices of the SCLC and under the guidance of two mentors, Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Hosea Williams, joined the cause.
"Tyrone has been called 'Mr. Rural Georgia' because of the fight he has waged in the small towns across this state," said Rev. Anthony Motley of the Lindsey Street Baptist Church. "Registering people to vote, encouraging Blacks to stand for office and assert their civil rights. His life has been phenomenal."
"He's called the 'Energizer Bunny' because he doesn't stop moving," said lifelong friend Bill Cannon. "He made a commitment to serve God by serving the underserved."
Asked what three things he'd most like to be remembered for, Brooks made a quick list.
In the days before he died, Martin Luther King was just beginning to investigate the 1946 lynching of two young African American couples -- George and May Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Malcolm at Moore's Ford Bridge in Walton County. Dorothy, who was 7 months pregnant, had her baby cut from her womb and killed. Brooks has continued year after year to advocate for follow up on the investigation and to remind people of the heinous crime with a reenactment at the Bridge.
"I'd like to be remembered for my commitment to not letting this crime go unpunished and forgotten," he said. "It was the something that Martin wanted to do."
He also would like people to remember that he led the successful effort, with then Governor Roy Barnes, to redesign the state's flag which had carried the Confederate emblem since 1956.
And third, his work to reform the judicial branch of government to allow more opportunities for Blacks to become judges and prosecutors throughout the state is important to him. "This effort eventually led to Georgia having more African Americans involved in leadership roles in the judiciary than any other state. It just blossomed," he recalls.
"I've never done anything alone," he insists. "I've been part of a revolution led by strong, proud men and women that is still evolving. When I get past this (indictment), I think I've got a couple of books in me."
- Created on 30 May 2013
The driver of the 18-wheeler that smashed into the Lawrenceville Strip Mall Wednesday died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Donald Samples, of Snellville, was traveling northbound around 10:15 a.m. when he suddenly turned left, crossing the median, and drove into the parking lot of the Essex plaza, said police.
Samples, 66, crashed his black 2012 Kenworth T660 into the O Wings restaurant and a hair salon located at 1195 Scenic Highway.
“It’s a miracle that no one else was hurt,” said Gwinnett County police Cpl. Edwin Ritter. The truck crashed into two businesses that were closed at the time.
Investigators have not uncovered what caused Samples to lose control but have said it does not look as if drugs or alcohol were the reason.