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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In March, a Fulton County judge released a young hoodlum named Jayden Myrick over repeated objections of prosecutors. In July, he allegedly shot to death a young father during a stickup outside the Capital City Club in Atlanta.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once again, it appears Sweet Auburn is getting shunted aside. The city of Atlanta has been quietly trying to pull the switcheroo on this historic area by killing off a tax scheme meant to help redevelopment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In March, a philanthropic organization, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, announced a $26 million mixed-use project featuring restaurants, shops, offices and light industrial businesses.
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.
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.
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.
At first blush, you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Brian Kemp. The candidate for governor is undergoing a classic case of SOS, known in doctors’ manuals as Severe Overcompensation Syndrome.
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.
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.
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.
The inauguration of Keisha Lance Bottoms as Atlanta’s mayor on Jan. 2 marked RIP to the Kasim Reed era. But here we are four months later and darned if we’re still waiting for the body to stop quivering.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.