Torpy at Large

Torpy at Large: A tale of 2 Staceys, or how Dems destroy their own

Torpy at Large: A tale of 2 Staceys, or how Dems destroy their own

When I first saw the video of activists shouting down Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans at the Netroots Nation convention last weekend, I had one thought: Hello, Governor Cagle. The event was just the latest example of why the Democratic Party seems ready to relegate itself to permanent bridesmaid status, not only here in Georgia but from sea to shining sea. And the Republican front-runner...
Torpy at Large: Bike lanes a gentrifying tool?

Torpy at Large: Bike lanes a gentrifying tool?

Bike lanes are being created all over the city Atlanta, whether residents want them or not. The lanes are supposed to help unclog traffic by facilitating a commuting mode that doesn’t belch carbon. It’s Smart Growth. Or New Urbanism. And when talking to the bike crowd, the cause carries a sense of moral superiority. But on the west side of Atlanta, not far from Morehouse College, a 1,000-foot...
Torpy at Large: What did APD learn from the Eagle gay bar fiasco?

Torpy at Large: What did APD learn from the Eagle gay bar fiasco?

Everyone in the working world must undergo training to stay current on their jobs. Sometimes, that continuing education is evocative and interesting and improves your skills. But often, that process is a joyless, mind-numbing exercise in tedium that turns minutes into hours. Atlanta police officers are currently undergoing the latter, trying to meet a training deadline that ends next week. The cops...
Torpy at Large: DeKalb has annexation anxiety over Emory, CDC

Torpy at Large: DeKalb has annexation anxiety over Emory, CDC

Atlanta is a gentrifying city on the upswing and like the young hipsters flocking to all those overpriced urban apartments, Emory University wants in. The university and its buddies, the CDC and Children’s Healthcare, want their Atlanta mailing addresses to become official and have filed to be annexed by the city, leaving behind their unincorporated DeKalb County status. The move feels like...
Torpy at Large: Time for statewide cop pay hike? Send bill to Atlanta

Torpy at Large: Time for statewide cop pay hike? Send bill to Atlanta

Soon after moving to Georgia, I learned the disillusionment of police work. In 1992, Budweiser was opening a brewery in Cartersville and I interviewed job hopefuls queuing up outside — textile workers, truck drivers, cashiers and a fellow in a police uniform. The man was tired of small-town policing. “I’m only making $8 an hour — and I’m the chief!” he said, requesting...
Torpy at Large: You’re not in good hands with Hudgens

Torpy at Large: You’re not in good hands with Hudgens

Generations ago, firemen were vital to the operation of locomotives. Firemen were the guys who shoveled coal into the furnace to create steam and power engines. Then came diesel engines, which were cheaper, more efficient and didn’t need a coal shoveler. But the railroad unions didn’t see it that way. And so for decades trains continued to carry firemen, although they were no longer soiled...
Torpy at Large: A new kind of lust at the Cheetah: It’s a hot property

Torpy at Large: A new kind of lust at the Cheetah: It’s a hot property

The Cheetah, Atlanta’s iconic — or perhaps infamous — nude dancing club, sits on 2 acres of the most sought-after dirt in the Southeast. When you hear the real estate term “highest and best use,” this Spring Street property has 35 stories of live/work/play written all over it, not a reconfigured Chrysler dealership, which is exactly what the nudie club is. This week...
Torpy at Large: Cruising the comfy skies of Hizzoner

Torpy at Large: Cruising the comfy skies of Hizzoner

As we embark on this journey, let’s start with the stipulation that Atlanta is an International City. We know that because our leaders keep saying so. Construction cranes have been busy erecting new offices, and our Hometown Airline keeps its planes packed as business people stream in and out of our city. So when the spiritual leader of this Very Important City wants to go somewhere way far...
Torpy at Large: Ann Coulter makes us feel sympathy … for Delta

Torpy at Large: Ann Coulter makes us feel sympathy … for Delta

In the ongoing feud between Our Hometown Airline and The Blustering Blonde, one must remember that corporations are people, too. Both Mitt Romney and the U.S. Supreme Court have afforded corporations human virtues, and now Delta Air Lines has shown that it can get its feelings hurt. Ann Coulter, who has made a comfortable living as a catty sourpuss, started tweeting her annoyance with Delta and...
Torpy at Large: Poor Man’s Trump scratches for a path in governor’s race

Torpy at Large: Poor Man’s Trump scratches for a path in governor’s race

It seems state Sen. Michael Williams, Republican candidate for governor, is waging a gorilla campaign. No, that’s not a misprint. I didn’t mean guerrilla. I mean that any day now Williams might show up at the state Capitol wearing one of those gorilla suits in an effort to get himself noticed. Last month, Williams, a tea party fave and the first elected official in Georgia to publicly...
Torpy at Large: Nuanced views on immigration? Nah. Get 'em outta here!

Torpy at Large: Nuanced views on immigration? Nah. Get 'em outta here!

Sometimes reading the online comments section at the bottom of a news story can make a guy lose his faith in his fellow man. You keep hearing from some quarters that this is a Christian nation. But a lot of that religiosity is situational. Last week I wrote about a couple from El Salvador who were being deported. Julio Moran and his wife, Anna Escobar, have been in the country for two decades...
Torpy at Large: Shattered families, broken hearts — America on ICE

Torpy at Large: Shattered families, broken hearts — America on ICE

Candidate Trump vowed to sweep up the “bad hombres” here in America, the illegal aliens peddling drugs or waging mayhem on our native population. It makes sense. Who wants to import pistoleros, criminales and “hombres mals”? We have enough of our own. Julio Moran and his wife, Anna Escobar, fit none of those descriptions. Moran, a native of El Salvador, is a church deacon;...
Torpy at Large: DeKalb corruption, or when what’s old is new

Torpy at Large: DeKalb corruption, or when what’s old is new

For years, former DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson was widely seen as Commissioner Walking Indictment. The question wasn’t if it would happen but when. The two-term commissioner and former legislator always seemed more than a bit hinky when it came to handling public money. As a commissioner, he voted to award $1.5 million in contracts to a local developer. But there was a problem...
Torpy at Large: A big check for Atlanta’s Homeless Maven to go away

Torpy at Large: A big check for Atlanta’s Homeless Maven to go away

Anita Beaty feels cheated. The fiery maven of Atlanta’s underbelly, innkeeper for the unwanted, believes the city’s unfeeling Powers That Be were let off the hook. Beaty’s old organization, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, which she headed since the Reagan Administration and left this year, last week settled a lawsuit, one that accused those who pull the strings in...
Torpy at Large: A Tale of Two Troublesome Tommys 

Torpy at Large: A Tale of Two Troublesome Tommys 

It has been a bad run of late for The Tommys, a couple of foot-in-the mouth Georgia pols who are being abandoned and spanked by their Republican compatriots. The Tommys — Hunter and Benton — are a public example that words do matter, even in this environment of toxic public discourse where every numbskull has an opinion and is damned sure to let you hear it. Tommy Hunter, of course, is...
Torpy at Large: Georgia officials excel at suppressing public info 

Torpy at Large: Georgia officials excel at suppressing public info 

It’s a proud moment to see the state of Georgia finally get the recognition it so richly deserves. From the rural hills up north to the gritty urban streets of Atlanta, there’s one thing politicians have in common — they don’t like your nose in their business. And so the national organization Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) last week nominated two Georgians for its...
Torpy at Large: Flying with Fido for ‘emotional support’ 

Torpy at Large: Flying with Fido for ‘emotional support’ 

The airlines are going to the dogs. I’m not talking about cramped seating or the never-ending list of add-on fees. No, I mean we are increasingly traveling with animals. In recent years, passengers are increasingly flying with emotional support animals (usually dogs). The humans holding the leash insist their furry friends are needed to ease anxiety or soothe stress. But a good proportion of...
Bill Torpy on drug deaths: No, they didn’t ask for it

Bill Torpy on drug deaths: No, they didn’t ask for it

It appears more than 59,000 — perhaps as many as 65,000 — Americans died last year from drug overdoses, with opioid deaths fueling a good majority of that number. And the New York Times, which compiled those numbers, estimates that toll will rise again this year. When you figure 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, that puts the scope of drug deaths in stark perspective. Last week, central...
Torpy at Large: Local park latest front in Atlanta Chainsaw Massacre

Torpy at Large: Local park latest front in Atlanta Chainsaw Massacre

Whenever a developer’s name sounds vaguely rustic, one word immediately comes to mind: “Timber!” Case in point is Ashton Woods, which is looking to clear-cut and then squeeze 44 high-end townhomes onto a 4-acre lot in a tree-lined, bungalowed Buckhead neighborhood. Ashton Woods also seems to be setting an Atlanta precedent by becoming the first private developer to use public park...
Torpy at Large: Assault a reporter, make a sheriff smile

Torpy at Large: Assault a reporter, make a sheriff smile

Preamble: I agree people are too easily outraged. Folks are just looking to take quick offense, ready to stand up full of righteous indignation, screaming about some affront. And, yes, I admit to an occasional daydream about going all World Wrestling Federation on some elected official, lawyer or fellow motorist. So now, at the risk of sounding like a snowflake, let me say I was dismayed when the...
Torpy at Large: Rebel flag furled again! The Civil War that never ends

Torpy at Large: Rebel flag furled again! The Civil War that never ends

The Confederate flag belongs in a museum. President Barack Obama said that. That is, unless it’s in Henry County. Last week, yet another Rebel flag fracas unfurled as a hole-in-the-wall history center — the Nash Farm Battlefield Museum — called it quits after a new county commissioner told the facility to take down its Confederate flags, museum people say. It’s another...
Bill Torpy on road rage: The Dirt Devil made me do it

Bill Torpy on road rage: The Dirt Devil made me do it

My brother-in-law recently visited from California and realized something fairly quickly — Atlanta drivers won’t give an inch. “You signal to change a lane and they fill in the space to not let you in,” he said. “They take it personally.” It’s the stock car mentality, I told him. Folks just hate an extra car slipping in ahead of them. It adds .027 seconds...
Torpy at Large: Vernon Jones and his bid to ‘fix’ DeKalb’s ethics board

Torpy at Large: Vernon Jones and his bid to ‘fix’ DeKalb’s ethics board

For the next year, DeKalb County might be left without a functioning ethics board. The reason for this, on first glance, is Dwight Thomas, the shrewd lawyer hired by Sharon Barnes Sutton, the race-baiting, hot mess of a county commissioner who was booted by voters last year. Sutton faced a host of ethics complaints, so her hired gun got a judge to invalidate the ethics board, arguing its formation...
Torpy at Large: The Sessions plan to stack ‘em up like cordwood

Torpy at Large: The Sessions plan to stack ‘em up like cordwood

At first glance, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions strikes one as a pinched-faced fellow who lacks empathy or any experience with those who are unlike him. That he has urged prosecutors to bring back the hammer — and the accompanying Draconian sentences — for nonviolent drug offenses seems to bear out his countenance. By all indications, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III aims to bring...
Torpy at Large: Markel Hutchins’ bid for the middle in brutality debate

Torpy at Large: Markel Hutchins’ bid for the middle in brutality debate

A month ago, on the day two white Gwinnett County cops beat up a young black motorist, the Rev. Markel Hutchins was setting up a meeting with county police leaders. The videotapes of the beating had not yet gone public. Actually, the beating had not yet even happened. But Hutchins was in Gwinnett to set up an initiative to build relationships between police and minority residents, an age-old...
Torpy at Large: This is no walk in the park for DeKalb sheriff

Torpy at Large: This is no walk in the park for DeKalb sheriff

When the cop’s flashlight illuminated the hapless form of DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann lingering in the gloom of Piedmont Park, the good sheriff undoubtedly saw his political career flash before his eyes. For generations, Atlanta’s premier park has been the after-dark grounds for anonymous male hookups. And the thought of an elected official — especially one heading a...
Torpy at Large: Atlanta’s pot laws discriminate, so change them

Torpy at Large: Atlanta’s pot laws discriminate, so change them

The Atlanta City Council is considering making the penalty for getting caught with pot similar to finding a parking ticket flapping on your windshield. The effort is based on the idea that black residents are overwhelmingly the target of marijuana enforcement in the city, staining them with jail time, fines and arrest records that follow them in life. The effort was put forward by Councilman Kwanza...
Torpy at Large: Even the N-word Lite can be transgressive and toxic

Torpy at Large: Even the N-word Lite can be transgressive and toxic

Pity Valerie Hoff, the local TV reporter who went down in flames for having the temerity to use the N-word in pursuit of a story. Or don’t pity her. Folks have lined up in both camps. Granted, the former WXIA employee was parroting the term back to a young black man who had used it. But she made one big mistake. She’s white. Hoff wasn’t using the term in an ugly fashion from what...
Torpy at Large: State may have left $$$ on table in Pullman site bids

Torpy at Large: State may have left $$$ on table in Pullman site bids

When the Georgia Building Authority put the old Pratt-Pullman train yards up for sale a few months ago, it was criticized for refusing to designate the century-old railroad buildings on the site as historic. In fact, the state fought off an attempt by the city of Atlanta to allow that designation. The common wisdom was the state wanted to sell the land in Atlanta’s hot Kirkwood neighborhood...
Torpy at Large: Decatur bike plan a way to stick it to nonresidents

Torpy at Large: Decatur bike plan a way to stick it to nonresidents

Sometime this fall, construction crews will start tearing up a perfectly good commuter route in Decatur, cutting car capacity in half for the purpose of installing protected bike lanes. Commerce Drive, which was built decades ago as sort of a mini-I-285 around downtown Decatur, will change from two lanes in each direction to one with turn lanes. The city is putting Commerce Drive on a “road...
Torpy at Large: They live/work/play but can’t sleep because of club

Torpy at Large: They live/work/play but can’t sleep because of club

For the past year, residents in the 109 units of the Peachtree Battle Condominiums have endured the “THUMP! THUMP! THUMPING!” exuberance of the dance club downstairs. DS17, the club bearing the initials and number of one of its owners, Atlanta Hawks star Dennis Schroder, is one of the newer late-night party places in Buckhead. It also continues another Buckhead tradition — a...
Torpy at Large: 67 use-of-force cases were OK, until video surfaced

Torpy at Large: 67 use-of-force cases were OK, until video surfaced

When Gwinnett County officer Robert McDonald ran onto the scene and immediately stomped on a handcuffed motorist’s head to get him under control, it probably seemed natural to him. The relatively new cop — in a widely viewed video — had been learning from the master, Sgt. Michael F. Bongiovanni, a burly veteran officer who was a cop’s cop, a one-man wrecking crew adept at meting...
Torpy at Large: More airline weasel words for us to ‘re-accommodate’

Torpy at Large: More airline weasel words for us to ‘re-accommodate’

Last week, a round of thunderstorms in Atlanta kicked off a cascading effect that caused more than 3,300 flight cancellations at Delta Air Lines and untold woe to tens of thousands of travelers. At 1,000 cancellations and counting, Delta chief operating officer Gil West said in a written statement, “While we can’t control the weather, we understand the resulting recovery has...
Torpy at Large: Longer green lights, fewer jerks key to post-I-85 life

Torpy at Large: Longer green lights, fewer jerks key to post-I-85 life

A quarter of a million vehicles will be dispersed over Atlanta’s streets and highways with the collapse of I-85. That means we’ll be getting up-close-and-personal with other drivers, even more than we already are. Motorists will be traversing along more slowly on unfamiliar routes all tied up in a grinding commuting dance. Commuters are creatures of habit, and now that their I-85...
Torpy at Large: I-85 collapse might not be as bad as feared. We hope

Torpy at Large: I-85 collapse might not be as bad as feared. We hope

Minutes after I-85’s spectacular collapse Thursday evening, a fellow named Carlos summed it up for us on Twitter: “So a big chunk of 85 just collapsed. God help us all.” It seems likely we’ll need divine intervention, given that 250,000 cars traverse that key section of road each day. So where do a quarter-million cars and their seething drivers go when I-85 shuts...
Torpy at Large: Braves backtrack after biting the fans who feed them

Torpy at Large: Braves backtrack after biting the fans who feed them

What were the Braves thinking?!? At first, when the team announced it was prohibiting fans from bringing food into the new SunTrust Park, I thought that for a supposedly clever billion-dollar organization, it sure has thick-headed management. And those execs don’t have a sense of history, seeing how badly this same business strategy backfired 20 years ago during the move to Turner Field...
Bill Torpy at Large: Will historic Pullman site get railroaded?

Bill Torpy at Large: Will historic Pullman site get railroaded?

Early next month, the state will close bidding on the sale of the Pratt-Pullman train yards in Kirkwood, and the next phase for the historic site will begin. Now, everybody knows the site is historic — except the state of Georgia, which owns the 27 acres of wooded industrial ruins that have become a backdrop for dystopian movie sets. State officials have refused to call it “historic&rdquo...
Torpy at Large: Braves hitting it out of the park in the $$$ column

Torpy at Large: Braves hitting it out of the park in the $$$ column

The Cobb County Braves have had a terrible pre-season, but that’s not important. The team is in the process of rebuilding and the players are merely the backdrop for the real star of 2017: The team’s brand-spanking new ballpark and adjoining live-work-play complex. Sure, the Braves hoped they’d be competitive in their inaugural season at SunTrust Park and not be 72-90 and 19 games...
Bill Torpy at Large: This guy’s spending his Ossoff in the 6th District

Bill Torpy at Large: This guy’s spending his Ossoff in the 6th District

Jon Ossoff is waging a not-so-subtle stealth campaign. The new Boy Wonder of the Democratic Party hopes to break out of a crowded field in the right-leaning 6th Congressional District in north metro Atlanta and steal an election right out from under the noses of the GOP. He has gained national recognition because the special election to replace Tom Price is one of the first post-Trump races....
Gwinnett a minority county. Its government? Not so much | Bill Torpy

Gwinnett a minority county. Its government? Not so much | Bill Torpy

Since January, Gwinnett County Commission meetings have become the movie “Groundhog Day:” Angry spectators line up each week to lecture and admonish the board concerning statements by bone-headed Commissioner Tommy Hunter. Hunter is the pol who went to Facebook to call Atlanta’s U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the old Democratic warhorse and legendary civil rights leader, a “racist...
From statehouse to nude club: An ex-legislator’s 2nd act | Bill Torpy

From statehouse to nude club: An ex-legislator’s 2nd act | Bill Torpy

The Oasis Goodtime Emporium, the nude-dancing nightclub in Doraville fighting for its life, has hitched its survival to a legal argument before the Georgia Supreme Court: It should remain open because it qualifies as a “serious” art venue. This artistic endeavour includes contortionists, burlesque dancers, body painters, and soon a former Republican state legislator — and...
Tip for Atlanta regarding background checks: Use Google | Bill Torpy

Tip for Atlanta regarding background checks: Use Google | Bill Torpy

On May 11, the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press newspaper carried a headline stating: “Kishia Powell: ‘I Don’t Steer’ Contracts.” Powell was responding to reports in Jackson’s other newspaper that alleged a bid evaluation committee changed scoring sheets to award a sludge hauling contract to a buddy of the town’s mayor. “Those altered score sheets, obtained...
Bill Torpy at Large: Atlanta neighborhoods stumped by Treemageddon

Bill Torpy at Large: Atlanta neighborhoods stumped by Treemageddon

A drive down Peachtree Road in Buckhead has caused many passersby to do a double-take in disbelief as they notice the recently denuded Piedmont Hospital. The friendly canopy of mature trees that greeted visitors to the venerable medical center was cut down last month as the facility gets ready to build an 850,000-square-foot addition out front. The expansion is just the latest in the City Too Busy...
Bill Torpy: Message delivered against Confederate-flag-waving thugs

Bill Torpy: Message delivered against Confederate-flag-waving thugs

Last fall, as the election loomed, then-Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan whispered what many other white folks were thinking would happen if black Democratic opponents prevailed. “Probably going to have to pack up and get out of here, you know?” the Republican incumbent said to a fellow who, unbeknownst to him, was recording it. “Do you know of another government...
A reflective Hizzoner: I’d whup ‘em all | Bill Torpy

A reflective Hizzoner: I’d whup ‘em all | Bill Torpy

You’d figure Mayor Kasim Reed would rather be elsewhere than here at the Atlanta Press Club luncheon. He’d prefer to be facing a Senate confirmation committee as Hillary’s pick to become transportation secretary or HUD chief or something else as grandiose, befitting a fellow of his stature. Instead, The Donald won last fall, so Hizzoner is left in his hometown facing a roomful of...
Hoochie Koo! How an armed rocker often rolled through TSA | Bill Torpy

Hoochie Koo! How an armed rocker often rolled through TSA | Bill Torpy

Rock ’n’ roller Rick Derringer is 40-some years past his 1970s’ All American Boy phase. His flowing golden locks and shiny silver jacket is replaced by a short-cropped cut and a conservative business suit. Derringer was dressed like that last week because he was appearing at the federal courthouse in Atlanta to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trying to bring a loaded gun...
Atlanta’s Club Fed: ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ meets Roman orgy | Bill Torpy

Atlanta’s Club Fed: ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ meets Roman orgy | Bill Torpy

I’ve been debating with a fellow AJC reporter how to describe the atmosphere at the federal prison camp here in Atlanta, the place where inmates have lived a bacchanal of drugs, booze and heaps of rich, delicious food. I have likened the atmosphere to the prison scene in “Goodfellas,” where Paulie and his crew of well-connected mobsters gorge themselves on a feast of epic proportions...
Smartphones, stupid drivers and the carnage that results | Bill Torpy

Smartphones, stupid drivers and the carnage that results | Bill Torpy

Phones have gotten smart. Drivers? Not so much. Our yearning to stay connected with the world at all times has made Georgia’s roads an increasingly dangerous place to be. You already sensed it just driving around. People drive like birdbrains: A car blows blithely through a red light (a doctor on her phone once T-boned my family van), the driver ahead of you who just can’t stay in a lane...
More Stories