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Bill Torpy at Large

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Something crazy in the water in Cumming
Cumming City Councilman Rupert Sexton’s request to get lifetime health insurance for his wife, Dana, set off a string of events that has the FBI sniffing around the lake town.

12:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23, 2015

There’s a series of brewing scandals and controversies in Cumming, a small town by Lake Lanier where the city grandfathers like it nice and quiet and cancel elections because opposition is scarce. Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, who was first sworn in during Nixon’s first term, is accused of misusing funds. ...
Georgia blowing smoke on pot laws

9:04 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015

An AJC poll recently found that more Georgians than not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. We’re not talking about decriminalization here or pot brownies for cancer patients; we’re talking full-on, Colorado-style marijuana dispensaries. Forty nine percent of those polled said they support legal weed for adults, while 48 percent ...
Happy MLK Day (no copyright infringement intended)
Days after the death of their mother in 2006, the King children, (from left) Dexter, Bernice, Martin III and Yolanda attended a musical tribute to her. Yolanda has since passed away. AJC FILE PHOTO

6:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 16, 2015

This just in: The Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. just withdrew a lawsuit against The Weinstein Company for distributing “The King’s Speech” after realizing the movie was about a different King. Before the King family’s very active legal team shifts into overdrive, I wish to stipulate that the ...
Vietnam horror explodes on lonely Georgia roadside
In Vietnam, Lt. Andrew Brannan’s squad went into the jungle at night to set up ambushes. Documents show that over eight months, he was in the field all but seven days.

9:26 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015

Shoot him. Shoot him, for God’s sake! That’s the first reaction almost anyone would have to the chilling dashcam video of a crazed, rifle-wielding man charging a terrified young cop.Something snapped in the brain of Andrew Brannan after a traffic stop, and the video shows him capering around wildly, then ...
Of God, sodomy and putting out fires
Inside the department, ousted Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was more controversial for discouraging risky firefighting tactics than for his conservative religious views. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

6:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 9, 2015

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran isn’t sure about his next move, whether he stays in the firefighting biz or shifts to a career winning souls. “God hasn’t spoken to me either way,” he said.But Mayor Kasim Reed has spoken. And his message to Cochran was as clear as a ...
Judge wants APS trial over – yesterday
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter has found his patience sorely tried by the seemingly interminable Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial — as his expression often shows.

6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015

Monday marked the second semester of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial, and Judge Jerry Baxter looked just as tired of it as he did before the two-week Christmas break. Not long into the first day back, the Fulton County judge was already frowning, rubbing his brow in frustration and ...
War officially ends, nation unofficially shrugs
Ruth Stonesifer with her son Kristofor, one of the first two soldiers killed in the War on Terror.

7:08 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015

You mightn’t have noticed because of the holiday festivities and college football hoopla but, after more than 13 years, America’s war in Afghanistan is officially over. The change isn’t seismic; the U.S. will still keep more than 10,000 troops there to back up Afghan forces for the foreseeable future. But, ...
Alone again, a survivor fights for life
David Jayne needs to raise $30,000 by Wednesday so he can get round-the-clock health care after his wife leaves. BILL TORPY / BTORPY@AJC.COM

6:00 a.m. Friday, Jan. 2, 2015

This is a life or death effort. And one to set someone free.David Jayne needs money to stay alive. He’s a hard-headed man who’s been trapped in a useless body going on three decades now, and he has decided to continue living under circumstances that would cause most folks to ...
If you thought 2014 was strange, just wait
If Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee could steal the Atlanta Braves without anyone noticing, can the Atlanta Streetcar be safe? BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

7:14 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014

The start of a new year brings a sense of renewal and a feeling that Big Things Are Coming. Prognostication is in the air. Everyone from news show pundits to tabloid psychics are stepping out on a limb to tell us what 2015 will bring. The New York Post weighed ...
 Shhh! We’re trying to shoot over here
Trying my hand at a silencer with a .45-caliber Glock. Still damn loud!

5:10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

When I bring my gun to the library do I need to bring my silencer? The Vent.I was driving home, listening to announcers bloviate on 680 The Fan about upcoming football games when a commercial for a gun store came on telling listeners they had “all your silencer needs.”Huh? I ...
Small bust solves a big crime
MARTA officers (from left) Sgt. Oliver Delgado, James Williams Jr. and Lashi Smith stand at the gate at the Georgia State station where accused serial killer Aeman Presley was caught trying avoid paying a fare. BILL TORPY / BTORPY@AJC.COM

3:50 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

As arrests go, this was about as small potatoes as you get.Aeman Lovel Presley was piggybacking behind a paying rider at the Georgia State MARTA station. He was gate jumping, ripping off taxpayers for a $2.50 fare.But the actions of a couple of alert MARTA cops and an eagle-eyed supervisor ...
Immigration critic, immigrant mentor
Retiree Joe Newton absorbs linear equations with Carlos Pineda (left) and Mark Collins. Newton supports the students by attending algebra class with them, learning the concepts as they do. BILL TORPY / BTORPY@AJC.COM

6:00 a.m. Monday, Dec. 15, 2014

Joe Newton looks taciturn in the back of the algebra class, his chin melting into his palm as the teacher explains linear equations. He plots out a graph he has scribbled and then leans sideways to hear what the boy with the earring next to him wants. “Yeah, three over ...
Amazing Atlanta Beltline properties! Murders a bonus!
Residents of the Pittsburgh neighborhood south of downtown Atlanta cling on, despite abandoned properties and rampant crime. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

6:00 a.m. Friday, Dec. 12, 2014

I worked my way down the 1000 block of McDaniel Street knocking on doors and peering in windows of seemingly empty houses to assess what I already knew — hardly anyone lives here anymore. I noticed I was being watched by a fellow standing on his porch across the street. ...
1029: The corner of Fear and Mayhem
JVC Grocery, aka the Pink Store, aka 1029, became infamous in 2012 when three thugs posted a selfie video of themselves stomping a kid they derided as gay. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

6:16 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014

Outside the beat-up convenience store in the woebegone neighborhood are competing memorials, two heaps of weather-beaten teddy bears and deflated balloons. The arrangement out front of JVC Grocery is for Obie Phillips, a 62-year-old neighbor gunned down in October by a passing car as he walked from the store one ...
War clouds gathering over I-285
Warring proponents of the cityhood movments in Tucker and LaVista Hills duked it out in front of a legislative panel Wednesday. Lawmakers were not amused.

6:00 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5, 2014

What a difference a few months make. Early this year, the effort to create the new city of Lakeside in north-central DeKalb County carried an arrogant sense of inevitability, the air of a juggernaut destined to steamroll opponents with the inside support of Republicans who control the levers of power ...
How to suck the air out of a civil rights rally
A woman enjoys the music prior to a community forum featuring U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday night. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM

6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014

Ebenezer Baptist Church had a revival electricity, applause line following applause line, until the Rev. Frank Cornelius Brown, president of the Concerned Black Clergy, dropped a kernel of unwelcome truth into the proceedings.“Not only should we be angry with what happened in Ferguson, we must be angry when we experience ...
Fear, and a spare revolver, make godly man a killer
Phillip Sailor paid a $500 fine for killing 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz after Diaz mistakenly turned into his driveway. Diaz paid with his life.

5:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Phillip Sailors is a retired Christian man, a sometime missionary who spent time serving the Lord in Latin America, and is well loved in his church.He’s also a killer, a man so worried that his Lilburn neighborhood was crime-ridden that when someone accidentally drove up to his home, his default ...
Tim Lee: Sorry you don’t appreciate my wonderfulness
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee celebrates with supporters after wriggling out of an ethics complaint with a quasi-apology. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

4:00 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

This hullabaloo about how Tim Lee handled the Atlanta Braves deal is over. The Big Guy said so himself. So, please, move along. The county ethics board punted on two of the complaints against the Cobb County Commission chairman. At that point, Tom Cheek, the citizen who had filed the ...
Why bother with a general election?
Competitive districts – in which either a Republican or a Democrat has a shot at winning – are an endangered species in Georgia. Here, Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien, unveils the proposed map of House districts in 2011. AJC FILE

6:00 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

A look at the recent election results for Georgia’s 236 legislative seats points to a stark conclusion: Democracy is largely kaput, a pleasant theory, but one no longer in practice. There are 180 seats in the state House, but just 32 had both a Democrat and a Republican on the ...
The political grudge Carl Sanders takes to his grave
In this 1960s photo, Atlanta Hawks player Lou Hudson poured celebratory champagne over team owner and gubernatorial candidate Carl Sanders. The photo was mysteriously distributed statewide to demonstrate Sanders ties to Atlanta and black people. AJC FILE PHOTO

12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014

Jimmy Carter had to step over Carl Sanders’ body to make it to the White House. Oh, physically, Sanders would live for another 44 years — until this week, in fact, when he died Sunday at age 89. But after their 1970 race for governor, Sanders was politically dead and ...
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