Letters to the Editor - Unequal May 20 2004

It doesn’t make a black child any smarter just sitting next to a white child, said Narvie Harris in the article “Still separate — finally equal?” (May 13).

Throughout the entire article was the theme of physical integration of black and white students and faculty. It expressed the tactics of DeKalb County to adhere to the Supreme Court’s decision, Brown v. Board of Education.

As it is an issue throughout America, DeKalb County continues to lack in equal facilities and material. No matter how you wrap it or cook it, the question must be asked, “Are the schools in south and north DeKalb equal?” Let’s ask another: “Do the south schools receive new materials as frequently as north DeKalb?

The purpose of the drive to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson was to integrate the schools because white students had quality facilities, materials and resources. However, if those qualities didn’t filter into all the schools, physical integration had minimum purpose.

Therefore, the sole purpose wasn’t to place a black child next to a white child to make him or her smarter. It was to obtain equality as a people and as human beings. The fight was the desire that each child receive education parallel to another.

To answer your title, no, blacks are not finally equal. It’s self-evident. The media has expressed the despair when it comes to standardized tests of black students. It also has communicated the closing of schools.

We don’t live in an equal society. If each school’s facility and resources were equal, there wouldn’t be a need for a No Child Left Behind Act.

-- C.F. Jackson, Atlanta

?Minor bumps in the road
The Beltline is not dead. I was disappointed with the tone of your article “The Beltline is dead” (News & Views, May 13). If Atlanta wants to become the world-class city it strives to be, we must learn to not be put down by some naysayers and a few technical constraints.

Your article failed to mention the many reasons there are to build the Beltline. On the south and west sides of town in particular, but all along the route, these intown neighborhoods have long suffered the negative impacts of the underutilized industrial properties that follow the old beltlines. Many of these sites have environmental contamination, industrial waste and heavy truck traffic, which contributes to blight and poor air quality, and the abandoned buildings and vacant land attract illegal dumping and crime like drugs and prostitution. These communities would benefit from the Beltline transit greenway, not only by cleaning up this blight, but by attracting reinvestment, which would produce jobs and access to the goods and services most people take for granted. Shouldn’t these considerations impact decisions on where we as a region invest our taxpayer dollars on transportation projects? Let’s not let a few bumps in the road derail the bigger vision.

-- Ryan Gravel,

president, Friends of the Belt Line Inc.

?Give it a chance
As co-chairs for the newly created Beltline Steering Committee, we were dismayed that you proclaimed the Beltline’s death before it even has had a chance to be born (News & Views, “The Beltline is dead,” May 13). Of course, any proposal that would add greenspace and transit in the city’s urban core faces numerous challenges. We hope that you and all Atlantans will keep your minds open while the Steering Committee assesses the financial feasibility of funding options for the acquisition and development of parks, trails and transit service along the underutilized Beltline corridor. The potential benefits to Atlanta’s neighborhoods from the Beltline are so significant, it would be a shame to dismiss them without thorough study and public discussion.

At this time, MARTA is in the middle of a feasibility study of the Beltline, the C-Loop and other potential “Inner Core” transit routes. As Michael Wall mentioned, MARTA is investigating and considering a number of transit routes and several alternative modes of transit to improve connectivity in and around the city. The focus is to identify improvements to MARTA’s system that would accommodate future growth and reduce congestion.

While it is premature to predict the results of MARTA’s study at this time, the outcome may not be as simple and straightforward a recommendation as we would prefer — that of a light-rail system that exactly follows the Beltline route. It is extremely important to keep in mind our bigger picture for the Beltline that also includes parks and greenways, and walking and biking trails that would positively impact more than 50 neighborhoods and create prime opportunities for future economic development. Whatever the results of the MARTA study, it does not mean Atlantans should not take advantage of opportunities the Beltline offers. At this point, it does not make sense to view the Beltline (which is more than a transit concept) and new MARTA transit routes as an “either/or” choice. Given the current and expected growth in Atlanta, we may very well need both.

Meanwhile, (former City Council President) Cathy Woolard has not left the Beltline behind, as you suggested. Woolard is serving as a member of the Beltline Steering Committee and will continue to seek support and funding for the Beltline.

-- Carl Patton and Barney Simms,

co-chairs, Beltline Steering Committee

Regarding the recent news brief “Power companies and EPA foiled by Sierra Club” (News & Views, May 13), I found Oglethorpe Power’s reaction to the court decision that sent their permit back to the Environmental Protection Agency for review rather interesting. The permit shouldn’t have been issued because not all of Oglethorpe’s facilities (namely, Plant Scherer) are in compliance with the Clean Air Act. The Oglethorpe Power spokesperson said he was “confident the permit [for Plant Wansley] will be upheld by the EPA. The reality is, it doesn’t make any sense to shut down this unit on an issue that is really between the Sierra Club and Georgia Power.”

Actually, the issue is between the EPA and Georgia Power. The EPA sued Georgia Power in 1999 because it doubled the size of Plant Scherer without getting the proper permits and without installing modern pollution controls, leaving Middle Georgians sucking excess soot and smog since the late 1980s. The Sierra Club is not trying to shut down Oglethorpe’s new natural gas power plant (which is cleaner than any coal plant), rather, we are using all means available to try to get the EPA to finally roll up their sleeves and require Georgia Power to clean up Plant Scherer. The plant has the distinction of being the largest coal-fired power plant under one roof in the country, and also one of the newest coal plants that has never met modern emissions standards.

Once again, the Bush administration tried to give its friends at the Southern Company the hookup by not enforcing the law, and luckily they were foiled — this time.

-- Colleen Kiernan,

conservation organizer, Sierra Club

br>?Had enough
(In response to News & Views, “The F-22’s hidden cost,” May 6.) These sorts of things — obvious to all and yet maturely spoken of by few — need to be addressed openly if change is to occur. I am, on a personal note, no less than outraged by the misguided and shortsighted spending of our federal government. It’s exasperating.

-- Charles Choc Jr., Marietta

?Department of Corrections
A May 13 Sound Menu listing for a May 14 show at Neutron Bomb contained incorrect information. The listing should have read: “Gotham Road feat. Michale Graves of the Misfits, Carbon Sickness, Convix of Society.” The Misfits themselves weren’t scheduled to perform.