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Torpy at Large

Torpy at Large: If lobbyists win, Hidden Predator Act will stay hidden

Torpy at Large: If lobbyists win, Hidden Predator Act will stay hidden

It’s hard to come out — at least publicly — against measures meant to clamp down on child molesters. A bill in the state House called the Hidden Predator Act would expand the age (to 38) that past victims of child sexual assault could sue for damages. Moreso, it would hold accountable organizations, businesses and even churches that were derelict in their duties and allowed kids...
Torpy at Large: Propping up the boonies, Atlanta’s thankless burden

Torpy at Large: Propping up the boonies, Atlanta’s thankless burden

A bill proposed in the state House would require city dwellers like myself to pony up extra when watching movies on Netflix so they can run high-speed internet out to the boonies. It turns out that it’s not worth it for companies to deliver broadband out to these far-flung localities. The free market system, the cornerstone of conservative thought on business, is working against them. You...
Torpy at Large: A push to rebrand MARTA as ‘The ATL’ has me SMH

Torpy at Large: A push to rebrand MARTA as ‘The ATL’ has me SMH

Ever since it was envisioned half a century ago, MARTA has always felt hemmed in. Sure, the transit agency has tried to venture out to places such as Cobb and Gwinnett counties. But voters there have summarily smacked the agency back to its Atlanta home, including an ugly racially tinged referendum in 1990. Time has — somewhat — worn down anti-MARTA antipathy. Three years ago, a poll found...
Torpy at Large: Even arugula can’t offset the ills of gerrymandering

Torpy at Large: Even arugula can’t offset the ills of gerrymandering

I took one of those Facebook personality tests the other day to rank my political leanings: I’m a left-leaning centrist, 55 percent lib/45 percent right. The test, I figure, ranked me a bit left because I said I liked arugula. I bring this up because a couple of hours after taking this quiz, I attended a Georgia legislative committee meeting concerning an effort to remove partisanship from the...
Torpy at Large: Carving a city like a turkey to get Eagles Landing

Torpy at Large: Carving a city like a turkey to get Eagles Landing

Imagine if Buckhead residents decided they’d had enough of the city of Atlanta and wanted out. They were tired of the political clout residing elsewhere in the city. Or they wanted to leave behind the city’s poorer, less desirable portions to form their own government. Well, a bill now in the state Legislature would create an avenue for that kind of thing to happen. The bill would carve...
Torpy at Large: Is a Hawks arena in College Park nothing but net loss?

Torpy at Large: Is a Hawks arena in College Park nothing but net loss?

In late 2016, College Park officials announced a deal to bring the Atlanta Hawks’ minor league basketball team to an arena they planned to build near the airport. The 3,500-seat facility, which would be part of the Georgia International Convention Center, would cost somewhere between $10 million and $40 million, a city official ventured. That was a pretty wide range, even as guesstimates go...
Torpy at Large: It takes a big shovel — Amazon — to fill Atlanta’s Gulch

Torpy at Large: It takes a big shovel — Amazon — to fill Atlanta’s Gulch

Atlanta’s Gulch, that gaping hole downtown next to where Arthur Blank plopped his $1.5 billion football stadium, now needs something to fill it up. How about 11.5 million square feet of live-work-play? But mostly work, as in 50,000 Amazon workers. The quest to snag Amazon’s second headquarters, the Great White Whale of Commerce, is focused on the spot where Atlanta first started,...
Torpy at Large: Racial slurs in online posts? Try this n-word, ‘NO’

Torpy at Large: Racial slurs in online posts? Try this n-word, ‘NO’

Another week, another college student is toast after dropping a racial slur on social media. In the most recent case, Natalia Martinez, a freshman soccer player at Georgia State University, dropped out of school rather than face the brewing conflict started by her own foolishness. The team had suspended her and a petition circulated — online, of course — to have her expelled. Martinez...
Torpy at Large: Corruption at City Hall and MARTA: The daily double!

Torpy at Large: Corruption at City Hall and MARTA: The daily double!

Tuesday was seemingly Public Corruption Day in the Atlanta courtroom of federal Judge Steve Jones. In the morning, Adam Smith, the disgraced Atlanta procurement director, stood before Jones, dabbed his eyes and was sentenced to 27 months in prison  for taking more than 40 bribes — $1,000 a pop — over a two-year period. Then, after fortifying himself with some lunch, the same...
Torpy at Large: Feds send message in Atlanta bribery case: Own up. Or else.

Torpy at Large: Feds send message in Atlanta bribery case: Own up. Or else.

Adam L. Smith graduated from Morehouse, Yale and Georgetown Law, so we can stipulate that he’s no dummy.  Crooked, yes. But not stupid. Smith was the city of Atlanta’s corrupt procurement director, specializing in the procurement of bribes from people wanting to do business with the city. When he got a whiff of a federal investigation, Smith did what any graduate of the School of...
Torpy at Large: Yet again, GA war on drugs shoots itself in the foot

Torpy at Large: Yet again, GA war on drugs shoots itself in the foot

Every now and again, the war on drugs gives us a flash of good old-fashioned absurdity and even some ham-handed hostility. For the latest chapter in that saga, let’s go to Cartersville, where scores of people at a house party were arrested and charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. COLLECTIVELY, that is. A houseful of people were arrested — and it turns out there was...
Torpy at Large: What Reynoldstown’s 50-50 split says about ‘One Atlanta’

Torpy at Large: What Reynoldstown’s 50-50 split says about ‘One Atlanta’

During and after the mayoral election, one kept hearing references to “One Atlanta,” a sense that no matter how divided we are as a city and a society, we can all pull together with one common purpose. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms mentioned it in her inaugural address, a reference to a divisive, yet extremely close, campaign that had some precincts up north going 90-1o for Mary Norwood,...
Torpy at Large: DeKalb grabs Atlanta’s unwanted murder crown

Torpy at Large: DeKalb grabs Atlanta’s unwanted murder crown

For the first time in history, DeKalb County has taken the lead in something it sure as heck doesn’t want. It has registered more homicides than the city of Atlanta. In 2017, there were 98 killings compared to 79 in Atlanta, which indicates what we’ve all known for years — that DeKalb has become more urban. The county has come off a few bad years of political and school turmoil,...
Torpy at Large: New mayor, new council prez, new independence? Hope so

Torpy at Large: New mayor, new council prez, new independence? Hope so

Inauguration day is kind of like opening day in baseball — no matter how good, or bad, a team is, they all sit there at 0-0 with hope springing eternal. On a brisk Tuesday afternoon, Keisha Lance Bottoms was sworn in as Atlanta’s 60th mayor, a woman who evokes the power of Black Girl Magic as a victory theme, a force that uplifted an underdog candidate to heroic heights. That is an...
Torpy at Large: ATL ‘Transportation Mayor’ rolls off into the dark

Torpy at Large: ATL ‘Transportation Mayor’ rolls off into the dark

Last weekend was the Mayor’s Masked Ball, the gala fund-raising event and last one hosted by outgoing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. It was an occasion for Hizzoner to bask in his own glowingness and pass the baton to his mentee, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who will become Atlanta’s 60th mayor. But such a joyous celebration couldn’t end there. For a proper after-hours after-party, Reed...
Torpy at Large: Assembling ATL’s long-delayed south downtown dream

Torpy at Large: Assembling ATL’s long-delayed south downtown dream

The future of downtown Atlanta is at the intersection of Mitchell and Broad streets. Or it will be if German money has any say. It doesn’t look like much right now. Currently, the corner consists of a barber supply store, an incense shop and a vacant lot next to a candle distributor. In July 2016, a baby-faced development exec walked a couple of investors from Hamburg to the corner and let it...
Torpy at Large: ‘Druid Hill’ is a state of mind — and fighting words

Torpy at Large: ‘Druid Hill’ is a state of mind — and fighting words

Clark Ashton’s eyes get big with theatrical and maniacal glee. “I’ve seized the high ground,” he says with a cackle concerning his ongoing fight for federal recognition. Ashton has raised a flag. He’s even erected an official-looking historical marker: “The Battle for Druid Hill.” He wants the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to designate his property as Druid...
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...
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