Torpy at Large

Torpy at Large: Snowballs and mischief my kind of wintry mix

Torpy at Large: Snowballs and mischief my kind of wintry mix

Every now and then you see a sliver of sunshine and know there’s hope for humanity. Last weekend on our local Google group, a lady warned the neighborhood that “three teenage boys are throwing snow balls at passing cars and people. Including older women.” A self-identified “older woman” chimed in, saying she’d retaliate if so attacked, which is what you want to...
Torpy at Large: Now, 1 mayor must somehow bridge Atlanta’s 2 sides

Torpy at Large: Now, 1 mayor must somehow bridge Atlanta’s 2 sides

A Keisha Lance Bottoms supporter was teasing (sort of) that the Great White Hope went down in flames during the mayoral election Tuesday. I responded that flags were at half-staff in mourning along West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, where three precincts went 92, 93 and 95 percent for Mary Norwood, who lost by 759 votes out of 92,000 cast. White folks overwhelmingly vote for white candidates...
Torpy at Large: City Council high jinks reflect roughshod Reed era

Torpy at Large: City Council high jinks reflect roughshod Reed era

The Atlanta City Council’s last regular meeting during the reign of Mayor Kasim Reed demonstrated what Atlanta has become — confident, successful, chaotic and a bit of a bully. When time is short, there’s a sense of urgency. Legislation must get rammed or even sneaked through. First, though, the council had to endure the public comments section of the meeting. Monday’s meeting...
Torpy at Large: It’s the end of ‘The Pine,’ but homelessness continues

Torpy at Large: It’s the end of ‘The Pine,’ but homelessness continues

Just before noon on Thursday, the last occupants of the homeless shelter at Peachtree and Pine streets in Atlanta carted their belongings to a van and then drove off to their new lives. Anthony Murphy, 68, a six-year resident and a volunteer leader there, carried a painting and a bag and glanced wistfully back at the massive brick fortress that has been at the vortex of a nasty political and...
Torpy at Large: Atlanta politics as usual? Not this mayoral runoff

Torpy at Large: Atlanta politics as usual? Not this mayoral runoff

Former Mayor Shirley Franklin broke ranks this week with Atlanta’s traditional black political alliance and endorsed Mary Norwood, a mayoral candidate who is noticeably white. I called civil rights icon — and former mayor — Andrew Young to see what this means. Is the old Maynard Jackson Machine now dented and in a ditch? “I haven’t figured it out yet; it’s...
Torpy at Large: Reefer Madness still lives in parts of Georgia

Torpy at Large: Reefer Madness still lives in parts of Georgia

Here’s a dispatch from the ongoing war on drugs that Georgia continues to wage. You keep hearing that nickel-and-dime marijuana cases no longer take place. That law enforcement has moved on to real crimes. Not so. This is one of those throwback cases that the state’s drug-industrial machine can’t seem to let go of, even though such prosecutions have been discredited for inherent...
Torpy at Large: Too bad Atlanta’s immigration hypocrisy isn’t illegal

Torpy at Large: Too bad Atlanta’s immigration hypocrisy isn’t illegal

Earlier this month, Mayor Kasim Reed boasted on his very active Twitter account that his town is immigrant friendly. “Atlanta is proud to be a welcoming city,” he wrote. “Pleased to be a part of the Safe Cities Network offering legal representation for those individuals facing deportation.” Fighting for the rights of immigrants is now an important battleground for Dems and...
Torpy at Large: Why Atlanta’s runoff race can’t simply run on race

Torpy at Large: Why Atlanta’s runoff race can’t simply run on race

In the 2009 Atlanta mayoral race, a group called the Black Leadership Forum circulated a position paper calling for African-American voters to unite around the most viable black candidate to stave off a challenge by a strong white contender, Mary Norwood. It should be noted that Kasim Reed, then a state senator running for mayor, strongly denounced the message as racially divisive. It also should...
Torpy at Large: Reed rhetoric hints at a racial runoff strategy

Torpy at Large: Reed rhetoric hints at a racial runoff strategy

As we head to a mayoral runoff next month between Atlanta councilwomen Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood, the question often asked is, “Will things get untidy?” The campaign’s homestretch is set up to reveal the division lines in The City Too Busy to Hate — north/south, white/black, although you’ll likely hear platitudes from many that race doesn’t matter, abilities...
Torpy at Large: The real reason Casey Cagle is on Decatur’s case

Torpy at Large: The real reason Casey Cagle is on Decatur’s case

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle this week again tore into Decatur, alleging that the liberal bastion is a hideaway — no, more like a sanctuary — for immigrants who have entered this country without legal permission. Cagle filed a complaint with something called the Immigration Enforcement Review Board, a kangaroo court created by the state to give anti-immigration activist D.A...
Torpy at Large: Status quo is the Bottoms line in Atlanta mayor’s race

Torpy at Large: Status quo is the Bottoms line in Atlanta mayor’s race

As Atlanta voters shuffle to the polls Tuesday to pick a new mayor, some might desire a candidate who wants to clean up City Hall. For two years, the feds have investigated bribery in the city’s contracting process. Two contractors have already ‘fessed up, as did city procurement director Adam Smith, which is a worrisome thing. You hate to see that the person tasked with ensuring the integrity...
Torpy at Large: Will religious liberty bill cast out Amazon?

Torpy at Large: Will religious liberty bill cast out Amazon?

The Great Amazon Sweepstakes is raging across North America. Some two dozen cities are waging intense campaigns to snag the White Whale of commercial development, the e-commerce giant’s second headquarters. But in this hunt (as opposed to Captain Ahab’s pursuit) one city will actually capture the beast, which is the company’s $5 billion investment and 50,000 high-end jobs. It...
Torpy at Large: Another lonely night on the Ghost Train, er, Streetcar

Torpy at Large: Another lonely night on the Ghost Train, er, Streetcar

Every now and again, I’ll jump on the Atlanta Streetcar and ride the 2.7-mile loop around downtown. Usually, I’m a lonely boy. Terms like “fiasco” and “boondoggle” follow Atlanta’s $100 million loopty loo, but I’ve always rooted for it to work. My gramps worked on streetcars a century ago and regaled me with stories about Chicago’s clickety-clack...
Torpy at Large: Mayor’s race heats up as bribery probe keeps cookin’

Torpy at Large: Mayor’s race heats up as bribery probe keeps cookin’

As the election comes to its final weeks, and as the corruption scandal dumps a new load of fertilizer at City Hall, Mayor Kasim Reed has moved to ensure he’ll have as close to a third term in office as possible. Hizzoner is term-limited, but he wants to keep his hand in his pet project — running Atlanta. So last week he made official what has been known for months: He wants...
Torpy at Large: Knock, knock! The HOA is here for an inside inspection

Torpy at Large: Knock, knock! The HOA is here for an inside inspection

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you live under the vigilant eye of a homeowners association. Estimates say one-fifth to a quarter of Americans live in situations where a gaggle of neighbors have the right — no, the duty — to make sure you keep up your part of the bargain and not let your home degenerate into a tumbledown dump. It’s all about keeping...
Torpy at Large: Of mice and men, and rats and stool pigeons

Torpy at Large: Of mice and men, and rats and stool pigeons

Years ago, when I was still working in Chicago, my lawyer friend, Gary, was bragging on a client who wouldn’t give up his cohorts in a drug case. The defendant was an Italian-American fellow, but he wasn’t necessarily a made guy. He was just a fan of Mafia movies and believed in the whole deal about omerta, which is Italian for not squealing. “He’s just gonna take his licks...
Torpy at Large: Revamped judicial watchdog must prove it’s no lapdog

Torpy at Large: Revamped judicial watchdog must prove it’s no lapdog

The new and improved Judicial Protection Commission has been up and running for three months, and the first inkling of action from the group seems to indicate it’s working precisely as designed. Judges can stop looking over their shoulders. Judge Brenda Weaver, who pushed to have a North Georgia newspaper publisher and a lawyer tossed in jail for snooping around her (public!) financial records...
Torpy: The wolf comes to the door when your kid gets cancer

Torpy: The wolf comes to the door when your kid gets cancer

It’s a daunting sight to see the surgeon who worked on your kid hustling down the hallway in full scrub gear to the ICU unit where your child is recuperating. Three days earlier, Dr. Megan Durham had spent nearly seven hours in my youngest son’s chest, digging nodule after nodule from his lungs.
Torpy at Large: Tom Price, fiscal hawk / highfalutin flyboy

Torpy at Large: Tom Price, fiscal hawk / highfalutin flyboy

Metro Atlanta’s own Tom Price, the surgeon-turned-congressman-turned-U.S. Health Secretary, is now getting pummeled for flying around in private jets. Last week, the news site Politico detailed a three-day sprint for which Price spent more than $60,000 on such flights. Later, Politico said it was more like $300,000 since May, with flights often costing $10,000-plus a pop, even when commercial...
Torpy at Large: The crazy foam board caper, only at ATL City Hall

Torpy at Large: The crazy foam board caper, only at ATL City Hall

On Wednesday, someone filed an ethics complaint against Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office for spending city time and using city resources to print up placards that could be seen as campaign materials. Later that afternoon, the Mayor had those same 28-by-18-inch foam boards posted in the atrium at City Hall outside his office. The placards beat up on City Council President Ceasar Mitchell...
Torpy at Large: When a judge’s attitude seems prissy, minus the ‘r’

Torpy at Large: When a judge’s attitude seems prissy, minus the ‘r’

I suppose adult diapers should be optional for lawyers practicing in the DeKalb County courtroom of Superior Court Chief Judge Courtney Johnson. Johnson was once described by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a “no-nonsense” judge, which I suppose is journalistic shorthand to identify judges who won’t let lawyers go take a pee. Now the state judicial watchdog agency is investigating...
Torpy at Large: Operation Irma — Chainsaw gangs and the yearning to help

Torpy at Large: Operation Irma — Chainsaw gangs and the yearning to help

Not long after Irma’s gales tore through the area, residents of the Medlock Park neighborhood took to Facebook to send out calls for the Chainsaw Gang. Now, the Chainsaw Gang isn’t necessarily a true gang, with initiation rites, matching jackets or hand signals. It’s simply some guys looking for an excuse to fire up their saws and chew into wood. Modern urban life on the outskirts...
Torpy at Large: Cleland’s fight to make peace with ‘The Vietnam War’

Torpy at Large: Cleland’s fight to make peace with ‘The Vietnam War’

Max Cleland said he tried to talk his friend Ken Burns out of making his opus on the Vietnam War, which will premiere Sunday night. “This series is going to kick up dust,” Cleland told the filmmaker. “How can you deal with Vietnam without getting people pissed off? It will split the country again.” Cleland’s torn body represents the absolute folly of that war —...
Torpy at Large: Politics so nasty, city should be called ‘Smell-vile’

Torpy at Large: Politics so nasty, city should be called ‘Smell-vile’

Danny Porter has been Gwinnett County’s district attorney for a quarter of a century. And during that time he has witnessed an odd, yet recurring, tradition. “During every election in Snellville,” Porter told me, “I have gotten a request from one side or another to do a criminal investigation.” One of those requests, from a now-deceased resident/activist named Randy Simpson...
Torpy at Large: In mayor’s race, Hizzoner goes out Bottoms up

Torpy at Large: In mayor’s race, Hizzoner goes out Bottoms up

First, let me say this to Mayor Kasim Reed: No, sir, I do not want to be the press guy for mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, as you suggested. Such a job would not be as bad as having to be a communications staffer for another mercurial politician. But writing press releases saying, “Isn’t Mary swell?” would just not be my bag. Besides, Norwood runs at 110 mph, which would wear me...
Torpy at Large: Et tu, Kasim? Then rise, Ceasar!

Torpy at Large: Et tu, Kasim? Then rise, Ceasar!

Eight years ago, civil rights icon and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young asked then-City Councilman Ceasar Mitchell not to run for mayor. “I told him I’d support him next time,” Young told me this week. “Ceasar was generous and wise enough not to compete.” Young, who carries the most prestigious endorsement in Atlanta’s black community, had known Ceasar and his...
Torpy at Large: Fat-cat state pensions distort rank and file’s reality

Torpy at Large: Fat-cat state pensions distort rank and file’s reality

In 2011, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a story that 1,100 state retirees receive more than $100,000 a year, including a former Teachers Retirement System bigwig who received $318,000 a year. That’s for life, perhaps 20 or 30 years. Just for waking up every day. Last week, the AJC’s state government maestro, James Salzer, returned to that statistical well and found that...
Torpy at Large: Democracy divided should not stand

Torpy at Large: Democracy divided should not stand

The electoral insanity that was the 6th Congressional District race this year was a wild aberration in Georgia, a man-bites-dog story, if you will. No, it wasn’t that the candidates spent more than some countries spend on defense budgets. It was that a congressional race in Georgia ended up this close. Republican warhorse Karen Handel beat Democratic boy wonder Jon Ossoff by 4 points. Any closer...
Torpy at Large: Confederate monuments whitewash the truth

Torpy at Large: Confederate monuments whitewash the truth

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams announced she wants to blast the Confederate carving off Stone Mountain. Removing Confederate monuments from public spaces has become a white-hot issue since the deadly violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. It’s the old hate-versus-heritage debate, only now the brass knuckles are out. So Abrams, who is staking out her place in a heated...
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...
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