S&S Cafeteria Closes

89FBBEF4-E912-4346-B455-D68BE64FABE9

S&S Cafeteria workers and customers said their last good byes today. Most workers still cannot believe they were given such a short notice, from the new corporate owners in Tennessee, about the closing of their only Atlanta location closing.  Now they will start to search for new jobs.

Located on Campbellton Road at Central Villa, in southwest Atlanta, S&S Cafeteria has been serving up delicious collard greens, green beans, mac & cheese, pork chops, chicken, fish, peach cobbler and much more for almost 50 years and will be missed.

On this last day, business was much heavier than usual as people wanted to be sure to get one last scrumptious meal. Because the restaurant ran out of food, it had to close about an hour earlier than their scheduled time of 5:00pm today.  So, lots of customers driving up for their last S&S meal were extremely disappointed.

73E0E018-231C-4E4B-99CC-4EBA046C85F8

The Harvey & Idella Darden are emotional as they prepare to leave S&S Cafeteria for the last time. They were among the lucky customers served today.

Some of the lucky diners are pictured above and below.  The Dardens have been loyal customers for over 30 years.

D0832219-CD8C-480E-96E7-36616DF5A78C

Bunnie Jackson-Ransom (white shirt), family and friends leaving S&S after enjoying their last Sunday meal.

 

74EEA502-4D65-4575-8024-53A9C6C3C398.jpeg

Lots of customers took their last photos whether they were able to enjoy a meal or not.  Many were wondering where they will now go on Sundays for their after church meals.

Loyal customers and community members are hoping that a similar type of  soul food restaurant will open in the same location.

MARTA Releases New Funding Plan

AC372F29-A27D-44B6-BA2B-4C3A1BDF4E86

The MARTA Board of Directors will vote on Thursday, October 4 on how the Atlanta half-penny sales tax will be used over the next 40 years.  See the full plan overview in the 9/27/18 AJC.

Here are my thoughts on this updated thoughts on MARTA’s updated funding plan:

1)  The Campbellton Rd Light Rail Transit (LRT) & Greenbriar Transit Center can be a win for transit dependent riders and will draw “choice riders” from that corridor, City of South Fulton, Camp Creek and beyond. However, it needs to be the #1 project on that list for implementation and use an accelerated schedule (remember The I-85 bridge?). Since the #83 Campbellton Rd/Greenbriar bus Route is #1, it should be prioritized as #1 in project scheduling and completion. That
would be the start of unprecedented equity in this major project.
2)  Emory will always secure funding for what it wants. Bravo MARTA for realizing they could reallocate some of their originally designated funding. Perhaps this is a move toward equity.
3)  BeltLine. I agree with Councilmen Dickens and Hillis who said in Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting that the south end of the Beltline needs to be done before other BeltLine areas to insure it gets done. They discussed how south side projects are always done last and if funding run out, those areas suffer most. That would be a real equity move!  Besides, the folks who live on the BeltLine are mostly choice riders, they won’t suffer any loss other than pride. They will get other funding including from their own financial portfolios, if they choose.
4) I still believe the Fulton Industrial Blvd. (FIB) MARTA Station should be added. The extra funding that went to the BeltLine should go here. This is a key regional job corridor as well as the gateway to Cobb County. Cobb residents overwhelmingly used the H.E.Holmes MARTA station when originally opened (as the Hightower station). Today, on Falcons and other game days, Cobb residents fill that station to capacity.
5) The FIB station would be the gateway to the future Cobb County MARTA connection and take thousands of cars off the I-20 FIB corridor daily as well as help Six Flags employees and visitors; both UPS distribution centers and more. The #73 FIB bus route, out of the Holmes station, ranks #6 in MARTA ridership.  Another reason to add this station.  Cobb County’s Planning and Division Manager, Eric Meyer, said after a recent ARC meeting that he is all for the FIB station and would be happy to work with stakeholders to make it happen.
6) If we can’t get FIB right now, “At least give us the Holmes heavy rail extension to I-285 at MLKing. That way, drivers would exit there and take MARTA into the city” says Councilman Dickens. That extension was supposed to be done about eight years ago. According to MARTA, ‘There was a glitch in funding for that project.’ Yet another prime example of why south and west side projects need to be done first!

7) The state of Georgia needs to step up their game. They benefit from everything that happens in metro Atlanta.  They use all that Metro Atlanta has to offer to sell prospective companies on why they need to expand or relocate here.  Yet, other than $100 million for a transit funding along GA 400, on the north side, no other funding has been allocated.  Shame on you!  Metro Atlantans pay state taxes.  A portion of that should go to MARTA expansion to give is any chance of decreasing our ridiculous traffic woes.

And, perhaps in 2019, our legislators will introduce and pass legislation to allow for a portion of Georgia’s fuel tax to be used for MARTA… something other than expanding our roads by adding more lanes.  We are among very few states who do not fund public transit from the fuel tax because this state was controlled by the auto industry for so long (they wanted people to buy cars, not take public transit.).  With Ford and GM assembly plants long gone, Georgia is still operating as if those plants are still here.  What’s up with that??  Being 18 years into the new millennium, what are our legislators waiting for??

Here is an updated article with thoughts from a GSU researcher, Chris Wyczalkowski on MARTA’s current funding challenges (click on the MARTA article if it does not automatically load.):

https://epaper.ajc.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=Atlanta%20Journal-Constitution&pubid=8e0858ee-1443-484d-9e94-f8b8a1eaaaff

 

The Gulch – Who Do You Believe? Who Really Benefits?

D516EDB7-1981-4710-B75F-178A4F5B9FDD

Moderator Karen Greer, Mayor Bottoms, and CIM Advocate Team.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a community forum to hear from residents due to opposition to The Gulch $5 Billion redevelopment plan proposed by California developer CIM.  The Mayor came in, took her seat and left after the Forum.  While she read an opening statement and answered a couple of the audience questions (that were read by the moderator), she was never seen engaging with residents.  No pictures. No handshakes. Nothing.

The plan which the City Council refused to vote on, until they have more time to review the 600 page document recently delivered to their homes, has residents furious.

45B3C3F1-E9F5-4365-99B0-9CF9F39F95CA

Discussing 600 page Gulch Proposal with another opponent at Mayor’s forum.

Most residents were not allowed in the forum because City employees and a group of folks in green t-shirts, supporters  of the CIM proposed Gulch deal, took up most of the seats.  How is that really a forum for residents?  The overflow room was filled with residents upset they could not get in.

3426FE8C-2062-47ED-BF23-B2CF1E08935B

One of many ATL police officers after forum as GA Stand Up Exec. Dir., Deborah Scott, shares her opposing view with reporter.

In opening rules, outlined by moderator Karen Greer, attendees were told we would be removed by police officers, stationed around the room, if we got out of line (paraphrase).  I have attended many controversial forums/town halls, all across the country. Never have I heard those words.  Despite that, there were a few times when folks yelled in disagreement to what was being said.

Why are residents furious?  Well, after so many other “good deals” and promises that include:

– The original Braves Stadium & Turner Field

– Friendship Baptist Church & Mt. Vernon Baptist Church buyouts

– Falcons Stadium, Mercedes Benz (MB) Stadium & their $23 million bridge across Northside Drive

DEA1BFB0-FE49-4E1A-942A-EF41DF5589B5

Karl Barnes (white jacket) ATL native and GA Tech alum among few residents who got into the Mayor’s Gulch Forum.

Each of these deals were also “good deals”  for the community and now we are all on the hook for cost overruns (the original MB bridge cost was $10 million. Several months later, the cost rose to $23 million with $1million in lights.).

Each time, residents are on the hook despite their elected officials assuring them, ‘it is good for Atlanta because it will bring jobs’.  Well, from what most reports and articles reveal, the minimum wage, temporary stadium jobs are what residents can verify.  No one can verify any substantial contractor or management jobs for residents.  However, residents continue to be displaced and given empty promises.

With a severe shortage of affordable housing units in Atlanta, each “good deal” drives out current residents while paving the way for new residents in homes priced out of reach for most.  Being the number one U.S. city for income inequality, there are only two places for most ATL residents to move:

1) further from the city with no or limited access to public transportation

2)  under an I-20 bridge with other homeless people

If a portion of our tax dollars could be used, as many advocates have asked, for:

– programs to repair/update homes of current residents,

– a program to “grandfather” current residents’ from tax increases.

– more affordable housing units than Invest Atlanta and the BeltLine can currently deliver.

That would give thousands of residents access to reasonable and affordable housing units.

AEA7D695-8D98-45AE-BF01-194C1E391947

Alvin Kendall, local attorney, gives the project overview as the Mayor Bottoms looks on.

Alvin Kendal, City of Atlanta liaison for the CIM Project gives a complicated presentation without a power point.  More on Kendall and his conflict of interest on this project from the AJC at:  https://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt–politics/watchdogs-question-rec-authority-leader-hiring-for-gulch-legal-work/QOvTwH6RnByIyAzlXvfRfL/

Much of the information he gave failed to give the whole story of the 30 year tax consequences to residents, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Fulton County Commissioners.  Three entities, ATL City Council, APS and Fulton County have to approve the plan for it to materialize.

8078F4A7-2527-4DA6-A70E-CF87AB28098D

Joe Beasley at podium at last week’s four hour long City Council Work Session attended by only half of the Council.

You see, I also attended last week’s City Council Work Session with “CIM Armani suit-wearing lawyers”, as former Senator Vincent Fort describes them.  Above, Internationist human rights activist, Joe Beasley, speaks against The Gulch Project.

If programs and legislation can be passed to benefit big corporations and stadium owners, why not for residents so they will not be driven out of their homes?  Is that too much to ask for while these corporate folks get to use “our” hard earned tax dollars?  Residents can make a change when they VOTE  in EVERY ELECTION.

Why is it that planners and people, including most of our elected officials, usually go into neighborhoods and tell them “what is best for them” and “how” their communities should look?  Even when Town halls are held, case in point, as with planning for MLKing Jr. Blvd, the neighborhood clearly objected to putting in medians.  This both limited left lane turning for cars and fire trucks.  Hmmm.

As WAOK Radio Host Derrick Boazman shared, ‘this Mayor’s Forum was not genuine and she is not standing up for the best interest of residents who elected her’.  Despite having a hand full of questions, Greer only read about 10-12. Most of them were not answered.  Real audience members were frustrated and began to shout out in frustration causing commotion.  Meanwhile the mayor sat with an unchanged expression.  And, to top it all off, most of us were shocked when the forum seemed to abruptly end.  Most of the time was not used to answer questions, but to give Gulch proposal rhetoric about how good this deal is for Atlanta.  If it is that good, tell the truth, answer all questions, and stop rushing.

IMG_2682

Registering & educating voters at GA State MARTA Station. Back of t-shirt reads, “Register to Vote”.

So how do Atlanta residents and residents across the nation get control of their neighborhoods and protect them from predatory developers?

Glad you asked.  The short answer is to unite to vote out those who do not favor the residents who elected them.  And, to vet and fund candidates. Do not wait to see who runs.

On Tuesday, November 6, residents can take their power back by not just voting.  Everyone also needs to educate themselves on the 20 plus items on Georgia ballots (use Google, discuss with friends), BEFORE Election Day, so you can vote down the entire ballot with confidence while encouraging friends and family to do the same. Print a sample ballot from:  www.mvp.sos.ga.gov

In the meantime, those who are in office may be able to be recalled when they do not represent their voters. In the words of Sean King, contributor to the Tom Joyner Morning Show and Black America Web, “When we organize, we win!.”

 

6DFBED55-56A1-46D3-B556-762B36801992

Lots of people hanging around after Mayor’s Gulch Forum. Sign reads “Red Light The Gulch”.

So, it is obvious that Atlanta residents did not get their questions answered at the Mayor’s Forum.  So no transparency.

Who do you believe about The Gulch Plan?  The Armani suit-wearing attorneys who represent CIM, a firm with no Blacks on their executive team (according to their website http://www.cim.com)?  Who benefits?  You decide. You can make sure your voice is heard:

1) Organize a protest big or small.

2) Contact Mayor Bottoms at (404) 330-3100 or email from this link:

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government

3) Contact EVERY City Council Member, not just yours. Keep in mind, three are at-large or citywide :  Bond, Dickens, and Westmoreland.  If you do not know the name of your council member, ask when you call (404) 330-6030 or check this link for their individual contact info:

http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov

 

(1. Also see my earlier blog on The Gulch.

2. Please let me know if you see errors. Another sets of eyes is always good!)

 

 

 

2018 Voter Information

IMG_3031

Voter registration without voter education is voter frustration!

– Locally & nationwide, about 80% of voters only vote for the top 1,2, or 3 offices on the Ballot. Most don’t have a clue about how long or what’s on the ballot until the enter the polling booth.

-So, engage your circle of friends/family in discussions about everything on the ballot so you and everyone in your circle will vote down the ballot for every office, admendment, and referendum with confidence.

– Print a copy of your Ballot from:  http://www.myvoterpage.com and take it with you to vote. You can’t use your cell phone inside polling place. However, you can take any printed material. You cannot share it with another person inside the polling place. 

– So each voter has to have their own sample ballot or other printed materials.

– Tuesday, October 9 – Deadline to register to vote in Georgia.

– Tuesday, November 6 – Election day across the U.S. Each state has different things on their ballots and they are all important!!

– Now is the time to research the candidates for each office and find out what each office does. You will be amazed to find out things about the Insurance Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner, District Attorney, and/or Governor and how what they do effects your everyday life.  For example, the Onsurance Commissioner decides if your insurance company for auto, home owners, or renters insurance can increase your premiums and by how much.  They can even kick a company out of the state for unethical practices.  So choose candidates for each office well.

– Start and continue a conversation on all your social media, at lunch, dinner, etc. about the ballot and early voting dates in your area.

– Use your smart phone to research candidates the same way you use it to Google other things  you need to know. However, 90-95% of what you need to know about voting and candidates can be found at: http://www.myvoterpage.com

– I always find it amazing that people know more about TV stars, movie stars and athletes’ personal lives than they do about the elected officials for whom our tax dollars are paying their salaries. That means, they work for us.  When we do not  like their work, we get to fire and replace them in the next election.  That’s right. We control if they get to stay in office!  Let’s use our power to change things in our favor.  YES WE CAN!!

– Register (Also, check your status before Oct. 9 to make sure you have not been purged from the voter list.).

– Educate yourself (research candidates).

– Engage with your circle of influence.

– Advocate for candidates you like.

– Remind/make sure everyone in your family (even those who live in different states), your friends, church members, colleges students,  are registered to vote for every office on the ballot and how to determine who to vote for BEFORE Election Day!

– Check with local churches, the NAACP, Urban League, SCLC, Rainbow PUSH, Peoples Agenda, League of Women Voters, National Action Network, and other nonprofits about FREE rides to the polls if you or someone you know needs it.

– VOTE early or on Election Day, November 6.

WE CAN CONTROL WHO REPRESENTS US!!

 

 

 

 

Tiger Wins 80th!

1DCD17A3-E9EB-4B76-B71B-1AD981E15459

Tiger wins first major championship at East Lake Golf Club (outside Atlanta). His 80th PGA win was emotional for after back surgery, overcoming personal challenges and lots of hard work.

4BF615B0-A29C-471B-8479-EDDFCF707D57

This victory symbolizing why we should never give up!

E26C5CED-01A0-420D-AFC1-EA420811BCD4

History made at East Lake Golf course today with 42 year old Tiger.  Atlantans are hysterical!

73D1B042-6DC8-483B-B237-C7A3461408A7

Tearing up after an amazing win, Tiger thanked those who helped him make it back to the winners’ circle. It is one of the best come backs in golf history.

BeltLine Group, “The Haves” Are Claiming Victory

If the BeltLine Group, “the haves”, that is well-organized wins; that means south and southwest Atlanta loses. That includes transit dependent riders, who do not own or have access to a car, lose.  We are Atlanta!  We are the home of Civil Rights!  How can this be allowed to happen??

Please read the info below and contact MARTA Board members AND all Atlanta City Council members via email, phone, social media AND snail mail. Contact them ASAP, and definitely before September 28 since the MARTA Board is scheduled to vote on October 4.  “The have nots” need a modified plan of the first proposed project list that connects 126 neighborhoods and adds the Fulton Industrial MARTA Station.

Remember:  “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings!!  So we still have time to get what we want, need, and have paid for; yet we still being denied equity…equal distribution of the $2.5 Billion available through the Atlanta half penny sales tax.

 

BeltLine Rail lands front page in the AJC

We’re heartened to see that the public’s views are being heard. The AJC articletoday states the More MARTA project list is being revised in talks between Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the MARTA board. Some remaining funding may go to to the BeltLine as a result of these discussions. BeltLine Rail Now! is optimistic about this development. However, it’s not clear how much funding would remain, or how that funding would be applied. We look forward to learning those details.

We encourage you to keep making your voices heard! Sign our petition and contact your City Council representatives, Mayor Bottoms’ office and MARTA before the board votes on October 4th. Let them know you want transit that connects all 45 neighborhoods along the BeltLine to jobs, destinations and opportunity.

70 Atlanta Residents Say Bad Gulch Deal

0D3CC051-D9E3-4394-B1B7-728600525C21

Yesterday’s Atlants City Council meeting heard over three hours of public hearing from residents on a variety of topics. However, over 80% were appealing to the Council to either slow down or scrap the Gulch Project being proposed by the “Armani suit wearing” development team, CIM Group, from California.

After receiving the 600 page proposal document, myselfnand others have more questions than answers.  As I put on my banker hat to review this complex deal with Georgia Stand Up, the nonprofit for which I am the Public Policy Coordinator, a researcher from Georgia Tech and independent attorneys; I am shocked and embarrassed that this 30 year deal gives away prime Atlanta property with no ownership or financial gain for residents other than inflated projections of jobs and benefits. It reveals $1.7 Billion in tax payer funds being diverted from our schools and desperately needed neighborhood infrastructure projects that includes sidewalks so our kids do not have to walk in the street to get to the library in places like Campbellton Road on the southwest side.

AB0EE8D6-8211-4530-A23D-EA9AFD69F12C

Senator Vincent Fort warned, “Someone one is going to jail from decisions made three years ago involving the Airport contracts, the BeltLine and the Emory annexation deal so they could get a MARTA station.  And, someone will go to jail three years from now if you approve this deal…which one if you will it be?  Or do you have the guts to represent the people who elected you?

As the Work Session questions by Councilman Amir Farokhi revealed, there are 1,500 construction workers per year. The document as taken 1,500 and multiplied it by some factor of 20 (years) to derive the false number of 35,000 construction jobs. Questions by Council member Matt Westmoreland also sought to get to shed light on what is contained in these 600 pages.  I am both sadden and disappointed that our mayor is pushing a deal by a developer who has a history of bad deals.

You see, the Mayor needs eight votes to pass legislation.  Word on the street is she had six firm votes, possibly seven.  When it was confirmed that Councilman Ivory Young would not be able to attend or vote by phone in yesterday’s meeting due to his stem cell medical treatments, the vote was removed from the agenda.

The diverse group of speakers were clear in their call to not rush this deal through the legisltive process and be more transparent.  The call was so strong that yesterday’s scheduled vote on this deal was cancelled.  And, Mayor Bottoms has called a meeting on Wednesday, September 26, at City Hall at 6pm.

Georgia Stand Up Executive Director Deborah Scott reminded City Council when they ran for Office, none of them, not even the Mayor mentioned the Gulch as an area of importance at any of their debates or in their platform issues.  She went on to say all of them mentioned community development, transparency, and affordable housing and she has tapes of those forums to prove what they said.  “So why is it that this project is all of a sudden so important, …slow this process down!  Give everyone a chance to see what this is all about and be transparent.”

In the words of Sean King, “When we organize we win.”  So thanks the organizations that include Georgia Stand Up and the Housing Justice League.  Thanks also to community leaders who also came to speak against this plan that includes:  Former City Councilman & WAOK Radio Host, Derrick Boazman; Former GA State Senator Vincent Fort; Internation Human Rights Advocate, Joe Beasley; APAB Officer James “Jim” Martin, and NPU-R member Edith Ladipo.

356A2370-9DB6-4129-9F0B-50B81B89D369.jpeg

Joe Beasley warned that this is a volatile situation and residents are tired of their elected officials not representing their best interest.  He went on to warn that it is going to blow up if you do not change who you represent when you vote on issues harm residents.

226DC75E-9727-496B-B97F-F999AC1F79DC

Despite this challenging day, City Council President Felicia Moore did a great job to move the speakers along several hours of passionate public comments.

My comments included that as the Jewel of the south, Home of Civil Rights, we have to get the Gulch deal right . Atlanta has an opportunity to set the standard across the state, region, and nation on how to do an economic development deal that is in the best interest of the residents.  If we get this right, even more people will want to move, do business and visit Atlanta. We do not have to do business with the devil, the CIM Group because there are more ethical developers.  And, we definitely do not have to give away the bank!

As Atlanta residents come together to demand that their council members represent their interests and not the interest of the developers, we/they will get a different result than had we remained silent.  This is democracy at its’ finest!!  So, start and continue conversations on your social media and within your circle of friends about The Gulch Project, More MARTA, Fort McPherson, and recent eminent domain issues.  Today’s action or inaction today has massive consequences tomorrow, next year and decades from now, so “stay woke”, stay informed and show up to shape the future.

For more details on this “bad deal”, read today’s (9/18/18) page one story in the AJC:  “Mayor Delays Council Vote on Gulch Deal” by Stephen Deere (sdeere@ajc.com) and J. Scott Trubey (strubey@ajc.com).  In this article, Deere and Trubey outline each aspect of this complicated 600 page proposal in laymen’s terms.