Torpy at Large

Torpy at Large: Fire sale of Georgia town a sign of desperate times

Torpy at Large: Fire sale of Georgia town a sign of desperate times

It’s after 1 p.m. and I’ve been sitting for 45 minutes on the raised sidewalk outside the old brick bank building at Main and Railroad streets, the historic heart of Toomsboro, Ga. It is quiet. Eerie quiet. The only humans to pass by are the occasional motorist or the drivers of the kaolin trucks that rumble past every couple of minutes like clockwork.
Torpy at Large: Gulch Giveaway a wonder of equal-opportunity outrage

Torpy at Large: Gulch Giveaway a wonder of equal-opportunity outrage

A familiar but amplified voice boomed through Atlanta’s City Hall atrium as I walked toward City Council chambers on Monday. “Don’t sell the city down the drain!” it bellowed. Entering the chambers, I could see Derrick Boazman, a former councilman/rabble rouser at the podium. Boazman, first up for citizen comment, was setting the stage for a three-hour public harangue.
Torpy at Large: Atlanta’s Gulch giveaway a real gulper

Torpy at Large: Atlanta’s Gulch giveaway a real gulper

Recently, I wrote about the Georgia Aquarium getting a $7.5 million tax break from the city to build a large addition to house sharks. I called it the Affordable Housing Program for Big, Scary Fish.
Torpy at Large: Daggers drawn in fight for bigger slice of MARTA pie

Torpy at Large: Daggers drawn in fight for bigger slice of MARTA pie

Gwinnett County just negotiated a great deal from MARTA to come on board. This caused DeKalb County residents, who have paid into the system for decades, to scream bloody murder. Atlanta has a new pile of money for transit because of a new sales tax. This, of course, brings its own problems. In May, MARTA announced a plan to fund a bunch of new projects.
Torpy at Large: Law enforcement dithered as crazed cop sought his prey

Torpy at Large: Law enforcement dithered as crazed cop sought his prey

An intense GBI investigation found no evidence that a murderous Glynn County cop got help from colleagues in tracking down his estranged wife and her boyfriend. But the voluminous investigative file indicates the justice system there totally failed the doomed woman who had repeatedly — and desperately — warned officials that her husband, Lt.
Torpy at Large: Welfare for sharks. Aquarium the latest on tax train

Torpy at Large: Welfare for sharks. Aquarium the latest on tax train

The term “affordable housing” gets tossed around a lot these days as the cost of keeping a roof over one’s head increases faster than most people’s bosses are willing to pay them. So, it’s encouraging to see Invest Atlanta step up to do something about it. The city’s development authority has started its Affordable Housing Program for Big, Scary Fish. On Aug.
Torpy at Large: The world of street art in Atlanta ain’t for the faint

Torpy at Large: The world of street art in Atlanta ain’t for the faint

Artist Linda Mitchell got a hint she was stepping into a very unfamiliar world when an aging skater dude with tons of ‘tude approached her as she worked on the largest canvas in her career. Mitchell had been commissioned to paint the back of the concrete skateboard ramp at the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark along the Beltline.
ONLY ON AJC: Empty nesting. Or what to do when the hellions leave

ONLY ON AJC: Empty nesting. Or what to do when the hellions leave

A couple of decades ago, my mother and father were leaving our Atlanta home after dropping off my youngest sister, who had graduated from college and was moving here from Chicago. As they drove away, their mission completed, my dad, who was a taciturn fellow, muffled some sobs.
Torpy at Large: When old crimes kill a new man’s career dreams

Torpy at Large: When old crimes kill a new man’s career dreams

Benjamin Paul was thrilled by the opportunity Atlanta afforded. The single father was a career adviser at Miami Dade College and, in June, was offered a similar gig at Georgia Tech. It was a ticket to the big time in an ascendant city. The $50,000 job was not only career advancement, it was a poignant tale of redemption.
ONLY ON AJC: Is DeKalb church’s plan something devilish in disguise?

ONLY ON AJC: Is DeKalb church’s plan something devilish in disguise?

Naturally, there were soccer fields involved in the development dispute in Clarkston, the old Southern town that has become the civic embodiment of immigration in America. A decade ago, the city was made (in)famous by a New York Times article — and a best-selling book — recounting the story of the Fugees, the plucky soccer team consisting of young refugees.
Torpy at Large: Who’ll get burned next as City Hall scandal steams up?

Torpy at Large: Who’ll get burned next as City Hall scandal steams up?

Another one bites the dust at Atlanta City Hall. This time, it’s former Mayor Kasim Reed’s deputy chief of staff, a highly educated City Hall veteran who pocketed bribes but insists she didn’t know what they were at the time. Oh well, I suppose the concept of corruption takes a minute to sink in on some people.
Torpy at Large: Will DFCS leader continue to be disposable?

Torpy at Large: Will DFCS leader continue to be disposable?

Gov. Nathan Deal just appointed longtime child advocate Tom Rawlings as interim director of the Division of Family and Children Services, a job also known as Human Cannon Fodder. Heading the agency charged with protecting vulnerable kids in awful homes is arguably the toughest and most frustrating job the state has to offer.
Torpy at Large: Georgia Tech’s long, hard road to finding ethics

Torpy at Large: Georgia Tech’s long, hard road to finding ethics

What a long, strange ethical trip it’s been for the Ramblin’ Wreck. Ten years ago this month, I sat in a federal courtroom and watched a Georgia Tech employee get sentenced for stealing $316,000 with her university P-card.
Torpy at Large: Man grows pot. Admits it. Jury sends him home

Torpy at Large: Man grows pot. Admits it. Jury sends him home

Javonnie McCoy was growing marijuana when the cops came to his Middle Georgia home. He was caught red-handed with it. Almost a pound of it, in fact. He admitted it to police, and later he looked jurors in the eye and said, yep, it was mine. I used it as medicine. The jurors let him go. He was minding his own business and wasn’t hurting anybody, they reasoned.
Torpy at Large: Butt of jokes and Rep. of political darkness

Torpy at Large: Butt of jokes and Rep. of political darkness

Rep. Jason Spencer’s foray into the underside of popular culture is one of the most cringe-worthy moments in recent memory, an occasion where you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. I thought he was the type of pol who’d say or do anything and not step back from it. I figured he was absolutely unembarrassable. I was wrong.
Torpy at Large: What’s really at fault in the assault on Atlanta trees

Torpy at Large: What’s really at fault in the assault on Atlanta trees

Once again, Atlanta, which likes to call itself the “City in a Forest,” is going to see a bit more city and a little less forest. The latest flash point in that ongoing drive toward deforestation is a block-long stretch along DeKalb Avenue where a small private school once operated. It’s a 3-acre property shaded by perhaps 250 trees.
Torpy at Large: Trump wannabes Cagle and Kemp head to Crazytown

Torpy at Large: Trump wannabes Cagle and Kemp head to Crazytown

Gov. Lite Casey Cagle has gotten himself into a pickle in his race for governor. He did it by not patting down the losing candidate who came to talk with him … and by telling the truth. In a secretly recorded tape, Cagle told voters that politics has become professional wrestling.
Torpy at Large: 2 metro Atlanta ZIPs in America’s widening wealth gap

Torpy at Large: 2 metro Atlanta ZIPs in America’s widening wealth gap

Times are swell, right? Unemployment’s down. Stocks are up. Construction cranes are swinging. Head to Suwanee in Gwinnett County and you’ll see that: Stately homes, manicured lawns and a sense that business is booming. Storefronts are occupied, fine cars queue up at traffic lights, and everything is just so brand spanking new.
Torpy at Large: Something stinks in Brunswick, and it ain’t paper mills

Torpy at Large: Something stinks in Brunswick, and it ain’t paper mills

I must admit, I got snowed by District Attorney Jackie Johnson in Brunswick. And it was a masterful obfuscation by an office that seems to master the art. Johnson is the prosecutor who helped a couple of trigger-happy Glynn County cops avoid prosecution in the sickening 2010 shooting death of Caroline Small, an unarmed mother trapped in her car after a slow-speed chase.
Torpy at Large: Any excuse given for littering is garbage

Torpy at Large: Any excuse given for littering is garbage

The other day, I watched a driver in front of me toss a fast-food cup out the window. I started to try to catch up to and scold this fool. But I remembered half of Georgia is packing, so I bit my tongue and eased off the accelerator. That some lazy, inconsiderate boob is using our public space as a garbage can is not necessarily unusual.
Torpy at Large: When a murderous cop has law-and-order enablers

Torpy at Large: When a murderous cop has law-and-order enablers

I tried for a couple of days this week to get a hold of District Attorney Jackie Johnson in Brunswick to ask her some questions. The most pressing: How can you look at yourself in the mirror? The bodies are piling up in Glynn County in southeast Georgia. And a good part of that blame falls in Johnson’s office.
Torpy at Large: Georgia political turbulence? Grab Atlanta’s airport

Torpy at Large: Georgia political turbulence? Grab Atlanta’s airport

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has had his fun beating up on the People’s Republic of Decatur for political sport, calling the liberal bastion a sanctuary city for unauthorized immigrants and MS-13 desperadoes. But that was just the appetizer. Now for the main course: Atlanta. Earlier this year, state Sen.
Torpy at Large: Why Clay ‘The Mole’ Tippins went commando against Cagle

Torpy at Large: Why Clay ‘The Mole’ Tippins went commando against Cagle

Clay Tippins, the vanquished gubernatorial candidate, smiled awkwardly during an interview last week and brought up the question everyone is asking. “Is Clay a sneaky SOB or a Boy Scout?” he asked. Tippins — a businessman, Stanford University swimming star and former Navy Seal — looks like the latter.
Torpy at Large: ‘Homes from the $500s!’ So, where do regular folks go?

Torpy at Large: ‘Homes from the $500s!’ So, where do regular folks go?

Robert Kee knew his intown Atlanta neighborhood had inordinately changed when he saw a jogger dragging some weights on wheels. “You could see the turn right there because no one would try that crap five years ago,” said the computer programmer who lives in Reynoldstown, a gentrifying neighborhood 3 miles east of downtown.
ONLY ON AJC: The Tin Man meets The Spirit in the Sky

ONLY ON AJC: The Tin Man meets The Spirit in the Sky

I spent a couple of decades around boxing gyms, but David Jayne is probably the toughest guy I ever met. But after 30 years of fighting ALS, David decided last week to pull the plug.
Torpy at Large: Riding the rails in search of what ails MARTA

Torpy at Large: Riding the rails in search of what ails MARTA

MARTA’s ridership has been falling for a decade, down 22 percent since 2008. It dipped again last year, 2.6 percent, despite the I-85 bridge collapse crisis (which brought a host of new riders) and the fact that Atlanta’s population is growing as the city gentrifies. This is occurring as the city goes on a $2.5 billion transit building spree, one that includes a $1.
Torpy at Large: Cagle campaign continues to condemn 'illegals'

Torpy at Large: Cagle campaign continues to condemn 'illegals'

The GOP gubernatorial primary runoff is underway and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle can return to the important work of beating up on illegals. I can almost see the ad where he borrows from the catchy TV commercial of his opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Torpy at Large: When activists eye a prize they once despised

Torpy at Large: When activists eye a prize they once despised

Government has increasingly been held in low regard in recent years. Often with good reason. And public officials are left shooing away like gnats the constant stream of self-appointed do-gooders, watchdogs and gadflies who sit in the front rows at public meetings and point out the failings, doublespeak and inconsistencies of those in power.
Torpy at Large: Is ‘progress’ worth a Toco Hill of beans … or bagels?

Torpy at Large: Is ‘progress’ worth a Toco Hill of beans … or bagels?

As metro Atlanta continues its headlong drive toward progress, up-scaling and gentrification, there’s sure to be roadkill. The latest body found on the side of the street is the Bagel Palace, an old-fashioned deli and bakery that served up Reuben sandwiches, egg salad and, of course, its circular namesake.
Torpy at Large: Seeing through Reed’s ‘spirit of complete transparency’

Torpy at Large: Seeing through Reed’s ‘spirit of complete transparency’

Perhaps Hizzoner crossed his fingers when he stood amid 1.5 million pages of documents at City Hall last year and spoke about “a spirit of complete transparency.” Former Mayor Kasim Reed was trying to diminish the effects of an unfolding bribery scandal in February 2017 when he called a press conference. Reed is a lawyer, and good attorneys are adept at side-stepping the truth.
Torpy at Large: GOP cleanup man brings his mop to Atlanta City Hall

Torpy at Large: GOP cleanup man brings his mop to Atlanta City Hall

Attorney Robert Highsmith has long been the guy Republicans call when they’re in a pickle. A few years ago, I told him he reminded me of a character in the movie “Pulp Fiction,” the one who directed an emergency cleanup of a car after John Travolta’s hit man accidentally blew the head off a guy sitting in the back seat.
Torpy at Large: All in all, you’re just another brick in the GeoFence

Torpy at Large: All in all, you’re just another brick in the GeoFence

More than 100,000 times a day, Brookhaven’s electronic Eyes in the Sky shoot license plates on vehicles rolling through the city. Images from the 44 cameras are instantly examined and police are told of any hits, anything from serious crimes such as stolen cars or wanted criminals to low-level stuff such as lapsed insurance or expired tags.
Torpy at Large: ‘Smoke eater’ death revives the horror of Winecoff fire

Torpy at Large: ‘Smoke eater’ death revives the horror of Winecoff fire

The Winecoff Hotel fire was the nightmare on Peachtree Street, a hellish inferno that claimed 119 lives and remains the deadliest hotel blaze in U.S. history. Now, the last surviving fireman who fought those flames is history, too. R.B. Sprayberry, who later became Atlanta’s fire chief, died last weekend. He was 95. The fire in the crowded 15-story hotel on the morning of Dec.
Torpy at Large: There was just no way to bulletproof contemptible Tex

Torpy at Large: There was just no way to bulletproof contemptible Tex

For a while Monday afternoon, Tex McIver’s legal team harbored good feelings. After four days of deliberating, jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked on most charges against him. A hung jury after six weeks of trial would have been a victory of sorts for the defense.
Torpy at Large: Feds target Kasim Reed, but is that all there is?

Torpy at Large: Feds target Kasim Reed, but is that all there is?

One must remember that the DeKalb County corruption scandal a few years ago started with a grease trap. In 2011, a fats, oil and grease inspector fessed up to taking kickbacks from restaurant owners. Prosecutors suspected there was more to it and investigated.
Torpy at Large: Hey, Gov. Deal, don’t allow cities to cannibalize

Torpy at Large: Hey, Gov. Deal, don’t allow cities to cannibalize

Gov. Nathan Deal has not been afraid to use his veto when the Legislature, in all its wisdom, passes a bill that needs to be strangled and quickly buried. Two years ago, he shot down a “religious liberty” bill to avoid a business-sapping controversy. He also stopped the campus carry gun law (although a year later he allowed a watered-down version to become law).
Torpy at Large: Tex McIver is unlikable and dangerous. But a murderer?

Torpy at Large: Tex McIver is unlikable and dangerous. But a murderer?

Tex McIver is one flawed, hot mess of a human being. Of that there’s little doubt. The 2016 killing of Tex’s wife shined a light on the life of a man — and on a thought process — that was odious to at least half of Atlanta. Probably even a much bigger fraction. Insular, entitled, suspicious, connected, rich, careless and clueless. Tex is all of those.
Torpy at Large: Rat-infested corruption and Atlanta’s reputation reboot

Torpy at Large: Rat-infested corruption and Atlanta’s reputation reboot

On Monday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms asked more than two dozen top officials at City Hall to hand in their resignations. Bottoms kept in place the existing brain trust when she came to office in January, saying she’d keep the crew she inherited for three months, which would give her time to figure out what was what.
Torpy at Large: Seeing red over Buckhead Pink Palace plan? That’s rich

Torpy at Large: Seeing red over Buckhead Pink Palace plan? That’s rich

For months, a battle has loomed over the fate of Atlanta’s Pink Palace. No, it’s not a raucous nudie bar on Cheshire Bridge Road. It’s a sedate 12,000-square-foot Italian Baroque-style villa on West Paces Ferry Road, a grandiose classic with a long-approach driveway and an expansive front lawn.
Torpy at Large: Mayor Big Spender vs small-minded response to scrutiny

Torpy at Large: Mayor Big Spender vs small-minded response to scrutiny

In June of 2015, former Mayor Kasim Reed was in New York for an event with Hillary Clinton, who was announcing her presidential run. Hizzoner rented a limo (or at least a fancy chauffeured vehicle) from Carey Executive Transportation. The rental was $1,087 and he put it on his city-issued credit card. He repaid it later with money he had lying around from his old campaign fund (which is legal).
Torpy at Large: Timber! Tree canopy disappears one huge home at a time

Torpy at Large: Timber! Tree canopy disappears one huge home at a time

Last June, I wrote about Atlanta’s ongoing Chainsaw Massacre, when builders in a residential Buckhead neighborhood whacked more than 800 trees to plop a couple of developments across from each other. Weeks later, the city announced a six-month moratorium on removal of more than 10 trees on parcels zoned residential and bigger than 5 acres.
Torpy at Large: Murder trials and Facebook don’t mix in Cobb County

Torpy at Large: Murder trials and Facebook don’t mix in Cobb County

These days, the public is souring on Facebook because of the company’s oily manner when it comes to processing our information. Now, Cobb County prosecutors are jumping on the anti-Facebook wave to blame the online giant — and a couple of defense lawyers — for short-circuiting an old double-murder case that recently came up for trial.
Torpy at Large: APD turns its back on shoplifting in Buckhead 

Torpy at Large: APD turns its back on shoplifting in Buckhead 

The Atlanta Police Department’s announcement last week that cops would largely stop responding to shoplifting cases in Buckhead was a head-turner. It’s like the fire department saying it will no longer respond to smoldering garbage cans or fetch cats from trees.
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