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AJC Investigates

Your tax dollars

Divine mission gives way to blighted streets

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Church leaders saw real estate as the path to a divine mission. The battered streets that surrounded them needed redemption.

Vine City and English Avenue — once havens for the city’s black middle class — by the mid-1980s were succumbing to poverty and drugs. So powerful churches there created nonprofits, bought property and drew up plans to make the two square-mile area just west of downtown as safe and prosperous as it was a generation before.

ON THE WATCHDOG BLOG

Residents: Atlanta Falcons stadium money oversight body gets no respect

A meeting of an Atlanta citizens oversight panel began quietly Wednesday evening, but not for lack of fractious debate. Someone at City Hall forgot to set up a sound system. Members literally couldn’t hear each other.

“Hello!” Vice Chair Yvonne Jones shouted. “There’s no mic, so I gotta scream.”

Thus began the latest session of what may be one of the loneliest bodies in city government: The Community Benefits Plan Committee.

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Georgia water quality

slot3_021915 Chicken Pollution CC11
Curtis Compton

Few penalties, lax oversight for chicken plants that pollute

State favors self-regulation over fines for chicken processors. EPA finds multiple Clean Water Act violations at one plant.

One of Georgia’s largest chicken processors has for years exceeded pollution standards for storm water runoff feeding into Lake Lanier — a major source of drinking water for metro Atlanta — with few consequences from state regulators, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found.

» VIDEO: Where's the oversight?

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A family tragedy

What went wrong for Kisha Holmes?

A vet’s search for love, family ends in murder-suicide

A month after she killed her three children and then herself, a mystery still hangs over Kisha Holmes final act? In part because police have offered few details to shed light on the deaths. Holmes is described as a loving mother by those who knew her and the last person they'd expect to carry out such a deed. But interviews with one of the fathers of her children along with some friends reveal Holmes struggling in her final months was also adept at concealing her troubles.

State government

Once rejected, rate increase for nursing homes back in Georgia budget

Gov. Nathan Deal is giving select nursing homes another shot at a $27 million rate increase only a few months after the same boost was stalled by the agency that regulates the industry.

Deal included the extra money in his budget recommendations for the upcoming year and the House approved it, despite the fact that the nursing homes’ top lobbyist told lawmakers they didn’t need the full amount.

Government ethics

DeKalb brushed off concerns about politically-connected developer

When Vaughn Irons got clearance to double as a DeKalb County official and a county contractor, some employees tried to put a stop to it.

The objections they raised about conflicts of interest, though, got brushed aside by the county’s higher-ups.

Baffled members of a bid evaluation committee demanded an explanation, but they were instructed by contracting officials to put Irons’ company in the mix of firms vying for federal stimulus funds.


APS cheating scandal

Beverly Hall dies; criminal case — and her legacy — unresolved

Beverly L. Hall, the former Atlanta schools superintendent whose renown as an education reformer dissolved amid the ignominy of the nation’s largest test-cheating scandal, died Monday of breast cancer. She was 68.

Hall still faced criminal charges alleging she orchestrated a scheme to inflate achievement-test scores for thousands of Atlanta students, many of them the poor, minority children she professed to champion.

Healthcare

Despite county bailout, Clayton hospital struggles to survive
KENT D. JOHNSON/ KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Despite bailout, Clayton hospital struggles to survive

A $50 million county bailout last year may have saved Southern Regional Medical Center from immediate shutdown. But its future remains in peril, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution examination found.

Unless the Clayton County medical facility can continue slashing costs, attract more paying patients and persuade the county to provide ongoing financial help, some fear Southern Regional won't survive until the end of the decade.

Traffic tickets

Sweeping changes prescribed for Georgia probation system
Carrie Teegardin

Small crimes, big penalties

For 17 years, Rick Eaton has earned a living as an enforcer for people convicted of Georgia’s least serious crimes.

Courts have hired Eaton’s company, Alternative Probation Services, to supervise those on misdemeanor probation. In essence, his company makes money by pushing people to follow a judge’s rules, whether it’s paying off a fine, working community service or going to DUI school.


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