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.

Mayor Bottoms At ATL Belt Line Quarterly Update

IMG_3198

This evening Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addressed a standing room only crowd as she and other local leaders gave the Quarterly Update on the ATL Belt Line.

Some estimates put the number of attendees at the Friendship Baptist Church at well over 500.

IMG_3199

IMG_3177

Members of the audience were allowed to ask questions.  Many of which were tough, passionate and respectful. Questions included increasing number of affordable housing units, increasing access for seniors, actually using input from community engagement sessions, as well as equity issues and quality of the westside trails as compared to the east side trails.

IMG_3203

IMG_3195

The panel facilitator was excellent!! He also asked tough questions of the panel that included City Department heads and Odetta from the Transformation Alliance, a local non profit.

 

April 4 – Anniversary of MLKJr Assassination

Numerous events were held today in Atlanta to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assasination 50 years ago.  The events included:

1) A short service was held at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Churchbon Auburn Avenue.

2) Two of MLKJr.’s children, Rev. Bernice King and Martin L. King, III; his sister, Christine King Ferris, and other family members gathered at the King Center.  Together they rang a bell 39 times.  Once for each year he lived.

3) WAOK Radio Station 1380 AM broadcast the Derrick Boazman live from The King Center.

4) The IBEW Union Hall at 501 Pullman Street showed the film, “I Am Man” free to the public.

I heard one of Rose Scott’s series on NPR station, WABE 90.1FM, on MLK,Jr. It looks at April 4, the anniversary of King’s assignation, as more than the bullet that took his life.  She said, ‘We need to know more about the man and the work he did.  King positively impacted lots people of today who never met him.’  Use this link to hear this incredible story packed with incredible interviews from today’s “Closer Look”:

https://www.wabe.org/episode/closer-look-50th-anniversary-assassination-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/

Use this link to see some of today’s MLK50 events. It includes a panel in Memphis with Marian Wright Edelman, Bernard LaFayette and Rev. Jesse Jackson:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.commercialappeal.com/amp/488063002

 

Film Screening of A.D. King – Legacy & Mysterious Death

IMG_2710

Alveda King, daughter of A.D. King, introduces her grandson.

Unsolved History, Life of a King is the title of this documentary screened tonight.  It is about the work of seldom talked about, A.D. King, brother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  While listing his accomplishments as a skillful negotiator who was responsible for housing legislation signed by President Lyndon Johnson, we are also  presented with the mystery about how A.D. died.  Did he really drown in his own swimming pool? Or, was he silenced because he was getting too close to the truth about his famous brother’s death?

Shown at the theater of the MLKing, Jr. National Park Service Visitor Center, it was packed with King family members that included Alveda King, the oldest of the five children of A.D. King and Naomi King; Christine King Farris, the only sister of M.L and A.D. King; Elder Bernice King, daughter of M.L.King, Jr.  Other attendees included Rev. Gerald Durley, Willie Watkins,  and City Council President Felicia Moore.

IMG_2711

After the movie screening, (l-r) Sherry, Elder Bernice King, Alveda King, Rev. Gerald Durley, and the movie executive producer Josetta Shropshire.

IMG_2726

Mary, Yancey, and Sherry.

This film is very thorough. It includes interviews with Rev. James Orange, Lonnie King, Herman Russell, Alveda King, Lonnie King, C.T. Vivian, and the King family attorney.

On April 5, 2018, you can see this powerful documentary in Atlanta, GA on WATL TV. It will also be shown in Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR; and Huntsville, AL. More cities and dates are coming soon. This is a “must see” film!

South of I-20, Ft. McPherson Redevelopment is Finally Taking Shape

After more than a decade of back and forth between the U.S. Army Ft. McPherson (Ft. Mac) representative, GA Gov. Sonny Perdue’s input in 2005, community debate, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed bringing Tyler Perry to the table; the redevelopment of his 445 acre site is finally a reality.  Since officially closing in 2011, southwest Atlanta and East Point neighbors along with the Ft. Mac Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) are finally able to see their efforts materialize.  Though there were numerous disagreements and lawsuits along the way, project is moving forward.

Borrowed from the Ft. Mac LRA newsletter during the MLKing, Jr. week of activities, this is a short “must read”:

Celebrating Martin Luther King’s Vision of a “Beloved Community” at Fort Mac
There’s an old adage in Atlanta shared by the local real estate community – “don’t develop south of I-20.” This conventional wisdom, inculcated by race issues and still buttressed today by economic issues, has created a tale of two cities in Atlanta, one prosperous, and one left behind. This dichotomy is especially frustrating given Atlanta’s status as the birthplace of the American civil rights movement and the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, investment has begun to return to the area, but not yet at large scale. However, the time is now here for a bold, catalytic project in South Atlanta that will shape and define the City for the next 100 years by transforming underserved communities into the “Beloved Community” envisioned by Dr. King.

Here is information about the next public meeting:

Fort Mac LRA Community Engagement Subcommittee Meeting:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
5:30 PM-7:30 PM
Fort Mac LRA Office
1794 Walker Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30310, United States

(Must have state ID or driver license to enter.)

 

For more on what is going on st Ft. Mac, how you stay abreast of the progress, or when you can attend their public meetings, visit:

https://app.robly.com/archive?id=bfd6fbf6358680109a6ef1badc08f839&v=true

Email:  info@fortmaclra.com

Call:  (404) 487-6767

Website:  www.fortmaclra.com

 

University of GA, Not Just Football

As the University of Georgia (UGA) begins to cope with its’ last minute loss to the University of Alabama (UA), we should all note that today we should remember another important historical event.  On this day in 1961:

“Mobs of white students riot and school officials suspend Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes after they became the first Black students to integrate the University of Georgia.”

Charlayne is now, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an award winning journalist who has worked for several media outlets including: The New Yorker magazine, The New York Times newspaper, National Public Radio (NPR), and CNN.  She is the author of “To The Mountaintop”.  She currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and periodically visits the U.S.

About a year ago, Charlayne and her husband visited UGA to announce a donation to the school to fund scholarships for journalism majors. What a way to give back!!

Hamilton Holmes, M.D. became a podiatrist and died in Atlanta in his early fifties.

While many spent time talking about how important the UGA-UA game was to metro Atlanta.  Let us know that UGA is known for more than just football.  Yes. They made it to the National College Football game.  Many will remember the names of the players on both teams.  UGA also has an important place in history for the state of Georgia and the nation in the integration of the school on January 9, 1961.

Many will remember the names of the players on both teams. How many know about Hunter-Gault and Holmes??  Let’s talk about and remember them for making history and making a way for Black students and made it possible for Black student athletes to attend UGA, UA and universities across the nation.

 

Quoted Source:  Equal Justice Initiative 2018 calendar. To get yours, visit:  www.eji.org

Atlanta Mayoral Inauguration Events On Jan. 2, 2018

Here are the details for the inauguration of Atlanta’s 60th Mayor. The events are free and open to the public.  Arrive an hour early to park (parking deck is not free) and get one of the 2,500 seats at the M.L.King Jr. Chapel. Or, take MARTA to avoid traffic congestion.

This would be a great opportunity for you to take a student or young adult.  Students can learn:
1) who are these elected officials
2) what they do
3) which one(s) represents their area
4) how to talk about it on social media
4) how policies made by elected officials  affect them now and in years to come
5) to memorialize the occasion by taking pictures at the event with these elected officials at the end of the Inauguration and all during the reception.

Inauguration Day Schedule Of Events
Tuesday January 2, 2018

Interfaith Worship Service – 8am
Impact Church
2323 Sylvan Road, Atlanta, GA 30344

Inaugural Ceremonies – 1pm
MLK Jr. International Chapel
Morehouse College
830 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30314
(doors open 11:30am)

One Atlanta – Citizen’s Reception – 5:30pm – 8:30am
Atlanta City Hall Atrium
55 Trinity Street, Atlanta, GA 30303
(Including Inaugural Community Service Project-
Please bring school supplies for APS students)

* * *