The Metro Atlanta Chamber, a mainstay in Atlanta civic life for generations, aspires to have sweeping influence far beyond rubber chicken lunches and ground breakings with hard-hatted boosters.
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BIG ISSUES, MIXED RECORD
The Metro Atlanta Chamber has been in the middle of some of the region’s most controversial, big-ticket issues during Sam Williams’ tenure, including:
Georgia flag: The state’s old flag contained a Confederate battle emblem that the Chamber and others considered bad for business. The Chamber lobbied legislators who voted to replace the flag in 2001.
Grady Hospital: Atlanta’s main hospital was deeply in debt when the chamber created a task force in 2007 to rally support, change management and find non-profit benefactors to save the hospital.
Water wars: The chamber joined then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010 to fight a judge’s ruling restricting Atlanta’s water withdrawals from Lake Lanier. The U.S. Supreme Court essentially sided with the chamber’s position last year.
Atlanta Public Schools: The chamber helped recruit former superintendent Beverly Hall who was recently indicted for conspiring to cheat on standardized test scores. The chamber earlier commissioned a “blue ribbon” report that downplayed the cheating scandal.
T-SPLOST: The chamber lobbied legislators to approve a referendum for road and rail projects. It also raised $8 million to advocate for the sales tax only to see it roundly defeated.