AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

After feud with the mayor, arts festival leaves College Park

The College Park Arts Festival is leaving College Park following a feud with Mayor Jack Longino which led to its cancellation this year.

Longino cast the deciding vote against permitting the festival on its traditional September date and followed it with a torrent of comments blasting festival supporters for saying "mean" things during his re-election last November.

“When you can come to this community and you can say those kinds of things and you want to kick me around and expect me to support you? You got another thought coming. I’m tired of forgiving people who treat people bad,” Longino said during a City Council meeting in June.

Longino later threatened a reporter with The South Metro Neighbor that if he wrote a story about the dispute the city could pull its legally required advertisements from the paper.

Following the meeting, organizers announced the cancellation of this year's festival, saying the delays with the city forced their hand. Now, organizers say they are joining forces with arts supporters in East Point and Hapeville to hold a new festival next June in Hapeville, according to an announcement on the festival's Facebook page.

Organizer Wayne Whitesides said the new festival, re-branded as the Tri-Cities Arts Festival, is a "blessing in disguise." Hapeville, he said, has "taken us in with open arms."

"The tri-cities (have) a history of not working well together, but making this festival about all three cities, maybe we can start to mend these differences and use it as a successful measuring stick to do the same for some of our other southside events," he said.

Read more about the festival's dispute with Longino in the AJC Watchdog column here.

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Joyner’s column, AJC Watchdog, investigates topics in your community and Georgia.