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News - Justice -- or revenge?

Prosecutor's motives an issue

Bill Campbell vs. Sally Yates? According to many of the mayor's top advisors, the very public investigation into Campbell's affairs by federal investigators led by Yates — the head of the U.S. attorney's public corruption unit — is more a political vendetta than a probe into wrongdoing.

It all started more than a year ago, when the federal prosecutor's office indicted little-known strip club operator Michael Childs on charges of arson related to fires at two competing strip clubs. Wiretaps during the federal investigation revealed that Childs offered money to a man to injure Mayor Campbell. "Mess him up real bad, let it be a message for the next mayor," said Childs on tape. It seems Campbell had sought to revoke Childs' operating permits over numerous offenses involving prostitution and drug sales.

Despite a stream of sensational headlines, nothing has stuck to the mayor

Today Childs remains free, and is still operating Club Nikki on Metropolitan Parkway and the Gentleman's Club downtown. His case has not been brought for prosecution. Instead, Childs and his employee, former Campbell aide Dewey Clark, turned the tables and offered up the mayor to the feds in what has become one of the most exhaustive probes in recent times.

So where does Yates fit in? It happens that, in addition to her prosecutorial duties, Yates is also the wife of local attorney Comer Yates. In 1996, Comer ran for Congress against Rep. Cynthia McKinney. During the course of the campaign, Comer asked Campbell to support him; Campbell instead threw his support to McKinney. Had Campbell supported Yates, the outcome of that race might well have turned out differently.

Now, more than a year after the investigation into Campbell's mayoralty, my sources tell me the Campbell defense team has filed a complaint with the Justice Department against Sally Yates. The papers filed with the Justice Department Office of Professional Standards contend that Yates should be removed from the investigation because of the role she played in her husband's campaign. They further contend that Campbell's failure to support Yates is the basis for the ongoing probe.

Can years-old sour grapes really play a part in the airing of Campbell's dirty laundry? Certainly Yates is in a position to conjure dark clouds over Campbell's head. Blacks supported McKinney over her husband in droves; is this payback for Campbell's role? Is Yates out to get the mayor? So far, the prosector's office is staying mum.

But if, as some charge, politics is the reason Yates is relentlessly peeping into every nook and cranny of the mayor's campaigns, personal life and habits, it's one hellish price to pay. Over the past year, at least 150 people — nearly all African-Americans — have been called before the FBI or to testify before a federal grand jury. Phone records, travel schedules, personal phone logs, expense reports, campaign records, tax records — all have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

Despite leaks by the feds resulting in a stream of sensational headlines (usually indicating little more than minor misjudgments), nothing — nothing — has stuck to the mayor. Thus far, the only indictment that has led to a jail term involves an income tax-evasion charge against former Atlanta Civil Service Board Chairman Fred Prewitt, of which Campbell had no knowledge. Prewitt maintains that prosecutors vowed to send him to prison unless he gave them some dirt on the mayor. He didn't.

Some Campbell backers say Sally Yates is, at best, a bit overzealous; others portray her as Atlanta's own Ken Starr. Although not as autonomous as that obsessive special prosecutor, she still has the power to prosecute, subpoena witnesses and examine any avenue she pleases.

And there appears to be no end in sight. Witnesses are still being grilled by feds determined to find something — anything — that will stick to Campbell. Perhaps another investigation — this one into the reported Justice Department complaint — will help shed some light on just why Yates is so determined to bring Campbell down.

And so it goes. Is this an investigation or an inquisition? Will we ultimately see more indictments, or will we see the Justice Department itself uncover a scheme in which politics and a disgruntled strip club operator conspired to topple the mayor of Atlanta???



More By This Writer

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It's time the Georgia General Assembly changed the election laws and allowed  registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or whatever to have the right to choose who will represent them in the general election.

letters@creativeloafing.com??


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The recent brouhaha over the role cross-party voting played in the Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr defeats is not the reason I favor party-registration-only primaries. Clearly in the case of the victors -- Denise Majette and John Linder -- neither outcome was determined by crossover voting. Political parties, however, should have an ideology, an identifiable bonding that allows those who agree more than disagree to decide who will face the other party in the general election.

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It's time the Georgia General Assembly changed the election laws and allowed  registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or whatever to have the right to choose who will represent them in the general election.

[mailto:letters@creativeloafing.com|letters@creativeloafing.com]??


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  string(2900) "    Yes. Parties deserve loyalty from their members.   2002-10-23T04:04:00+00:00 News - Should cross-party voting be outlawed?   Tom Houck 1223536 2002-10-23T04:04:00+00:00  A majority of Americans choose their respective political party nominees for the general election in what is called a closed primary. Georgians do not. We're one of 21 states that allow any registered voter to pick up a Republican or Democratic ballot on primary day. It's called an open primary. But don't fool yourself. There is nothing "open" about a political primary in which Democrat or Republican affiliation isn't worth a hill of beans.

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It's time the Georgia General Assembly changed the election laws and allowed  registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or whatever to have the right to choose who will represent them in the general election.

letters@creativeloafing.com??


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Article

Wednesday October 23, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Yes. Parties deserve loyalty from their members. | more...
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The lines are still long at the McDonald's in Prague's Wencelas Square. A neon sign boldly proclaims Coca-Cola England's favorite soft drink atop London's Piccadilly Square. American music and films still dominate Dutch culture in Amsterdam. But all that is made in the U.S.A. is not  to the liking of a growing segment of Europeans — especially U.S. foreign policy.

Traveling Europe recently for the first time since Sept. 11, I was sure tighter security would be in place. But would there be the same gung-ho attitude about hunting down every terrorist Americans overwhelmingly denounce? How would Europeans who snickered at President Bush's election view him now as the leader in the battle against terrorism?

To my great surprise, the state of alert in which Americans now operate was virtually non-existent in the several countries I visited. At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a European hub, security was about the same as it has been on a half-dozen other visits: rather lackadaisical. Traveling in Europe from one airport to another, I witnessed no shoe searches, no extra security, no red alerts. Only at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports — and only when returning to the U.S. — did I find anything close to the post 9-11 airport security measures resembling ours.

Publicly, all of our allies in Western Europe are strong supporters of our war on terrorism. But there seems to be a major disconnect between the leaders and the people. Not only  is there no fear in the streets of Europe,  Bush's policies seem to be as much under attack as al-Qaeda.

In England, an intense battle wages within Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party over Bush's likely attack on Iraq. Closer to a Clintonian liberal, Blair has, since 9-11, become an unlikely partner with Bush, much to the chagrin of a growing segment of his own party. Blair could risk his political livelihood if he sides with Bush on an Iraq incursion.

All over Europe, doubts about Bush's  leadership come in sharp contrast to the strong support he's receiving here. Even in Italy, Spain and France, with conservative leadership at the helm, the direction of Bush's international policies is the subject of strong criticism. Europeans resent Bush's "my way  or no way" philosophy.

It's as if the U.S. has become the supreme power on the planet and all those Americans, no matter what their political leanings, are in for a debate in every European pub, social gathering or casual conversation. I found myself telling people: "Wait a minute, I'm not George Bush, didn't vote for him and actually thought his party stole the election."

No matter. Italians, French, British, Dutch, Czech, Germans, Scandinavians — all have rather negative opinions of the Bush presidency and tend to engage Americans with a barrage of probing questions.

It's not as if Europeans have no sympathy for those killed in the 9-11 attacks. I frequently was told how sorry folks were for the senseless death and destruction. But I was also reminded time and again that Europeans had witnessed more than their fair share of bombing, terrorism and war.

I also didn't come away from my three weeks in Europe feeling any groundswell of support for our unequivocal support of Israel.

"There has to be a broader discussion in the world community," said a Czech doctor, pointing his finger at me, puffing on a Marlboro and sipping a Coke as the music of Atlanta's own India Arie played in the background. "America can't treat the rest of us like brainless wimps."

To many Europeans, their voice on life-and-death matters is being ignored. They blame Bush — and to a greater extent, all that is powerful in the United States.

It's not that Americans heading abroad this summer won't find a warm reception. But unlike years past, all things U.S.A. won't be so gently overlooked.

Tom Houck has traveled extensively in Europe and, after a pint or two, is always up for a heated political discussion.??


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__The lines are still __long at the McDonald's in Prague's Wencelas Square. A neon sign boldly proclaims Coca-Cola England's favorite soft drink atop London's Piccadilly Square. American music and films still dominate Dutch culture in Amsterdam. But all that is made in the U.S.A. is not  to the liking of a growing segment of Europeans -- especially U.S. foreign policy.

Traveling Europe recently for the first time since Sept. 11, I was sure tighter security would be in place. But would there be the same gung-ho attitude about hunting down every terrorist Americans overwhelmingly denounce? How would Europeans who snickered at President Bush's election view him now as the leader in the battle against terrorism?

To my great surprise, the state of alert in which Americans now operate was virtually non-existent in the several countries I visited. At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a European hub, security was about the same as it has been on a half-dozen other visits: rather lackadaisical. Traveling in Europe from one airport to another, I witnessed no shoe searches, no extra security, no red alerts. Only at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports -- and only when returning to the U.S. -- did I find anything close to the post 9-11 airport security measures resembling ours.

Publicly, all of our allies in Western Europe are strong supporters of our war on terrorism. But there seems to be a major disconnect between the leaders and the people. Not only  is there no fear in the streets of Europe,  Bush's policies seem to be as much under attack as al-Qaeda.

In England, an intense battle wages within Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party over Bush's likely attack on Iraq. Closer to a Clintonian liberal, Blair has, since 9-11, become an unlikely partner with Bush, much to the chagrin of a growing segment of his own party. Blair could risk his political livelihood if he sides with Bush on an Iraq incursion.

All over Europe, doubts about Bush's  leadership come in sharp contrast to the strong support he's receiving here. Even in Italy, Spain and France, with conservative leadership at the helm, the direction of Bush's international policies is the subject of strong criticism. Europeans resent Bush's "my way  or no way" philosophy.

It's as if the U.S. has become the supreme power on the planet and all those Americans, no matter what their political leanings, are in for a debate in every European pub, social gathering or casual conversation. I found myself telling people: "Wait a minute, I'm not George Bush, didn't vote for him and actually thought his party stole the election."

No matter. Italians, French, British, Dutch, Czech, Germans, Scandinavians -- all have rather negative opinions of the Bush presidency and tend to engage Americans with a barrage of probing questions.

It's not as if Europeans have no sympathy for those killed in the 9-11 attacks. I frequently was told how sorry folks were for the senseless death and destruction. But I was also reminded time and again that Europeans had witnessed more than their fair share of bombing, terrorism and war.

I also didn't come away from my three weeks in Europe feeling any groundswell of support for our unequivocal support of Israel.

"There has to be a broader discussion in the world community," said a Czech doctor, pointing his finger at me, puffing on a Marlboro and sipping a Coke as the music of Atlanta's own India Arie played in the background. "America can't treat the rest of us like brainless wimps."

To many Europeans, their voice on life-and-death matters is being ignored. They blame Bush -- and to a greater extent, all that is powerful in the United States.

It's not that Americans heading abroad this summer won't find a warm reception. But unlike years past, ''all'' things U.S.A. won't be so gently overlooked.

''Tom Houck has traveled extensively in Europe and, after a pint or two, is always up for a heated political discussion.''??


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  string(4220) "    Bush-bashing with a European twist   2002-04-24T04:04:00+00:00 News - The perils of going it alone   Tom Houck 1223536 2002-04-24T04:04:00+00:00  

The lines are still long at the McDonald's in Prague's Wencelas Square. A neon sign boldly proclaims Coca-Cola England's favorite soft drink atop London's Piccadilly Square. American music and films still dominate Dutch culture in Amsterdam. But all that is made in the U.S.A. is not  to the liking of a growing segment of Europeans — especially U.S. foreign policy.

Traveling Europe recently for the first time since Sept. 11, I was sure tighter security would be in place. But would there be the same gung-ho attitude about hunting down every terrorist Americans overwhelmingly denounce? How would Europeans who snickered at President Bush's election view him now as the leader in the battle against terrorism?

To my great surprise, the state of alert in which Americans now operate was virtually non-existent in the several countries I visited. At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a European hub, security was about the same as it has been on a half-dozen other visits: rather lackadaisical. Traveling in Europe from one airport to another, I witnessed no shoe searches, no extra security, no red alerts. Only at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports — and only when returning to the U.S. — did I find anything close to the post 9-11 airport security measures resembling ours.

Publicly, all of our allies in Western Europe are strong supporters of our war on terrorism. But there seems to be a major disconnect between the leaders and the people. Not only  is there no fear in the streets of Europe,  Bush's policies seem to be as much under attack as al-Qaeda.

In England, an intense battle wages within Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party over Bush's likely attack on Iraq. Closer to a Clintonian liberal, Blair has, since 9-11, become an unlikely partner with Bush, much to the chagrin of a growing segment of his own party. Blair could risk his political livelihood if he sides with Bush on an Iraq incursion.

All over Europe, doubts about Bush's  leadership come in sharp contrast to the strong support he's receiving here. Even in Italy, Spain and France, with conservative leadership at the helm, the direction of Bush's international policies is the subject of strong criticism. Europeans resent Bush's "my way  or no way" philosophy.

It's as if the U.S. has become the supreme power on the planet and all those Americans, no matter what their political leanings, are in for a debate in every European pub, social gathering or casual conversation. I found myself telling people: "Wait a minute, I'm not George Bush, didn't vote for him and actually thought his party stole the election."

No matter. Italians, French, British, Dutch, Czech, Germans, Scandinavians — all have rather negative opinions of the Bush presidency and tend to engage Americans with a barrage of probing questions.

It's not as if Europeans have no sympathy for those killed in the 9-11 attacks. I frequently was told how sorry folks were for the senseless death and destruction. But I was also reminded time and again that Europeans had witnessed more than their fair share of bombing, terrorism and war.

I also didn't come away from my three weeks in Europe feeling any groundswell of support for our unequivocal support of Israel.

"There has to be a broader discussion in the world community," said a Czech doctor, pointing his finger at me, puffing on a Marlboro and sipping a Coke as the music of Atlanta's own India Arie played in the background. "America can't treat the rest of us like brainless wimps."

To many Europeans, their voice on life-and-death matters is being ignored. They blame Bush — and to a greater extent, all that is powerful in the United States.

It's not that Americans heading abroad this summer won't find a warm reception. But unlike years past, all things U.S.A. won't be so gently overlooked.

Tom Houck has traveled extensively in Europe and, after a pint or two, is always up for a heated political discussion.??


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Wednesday April 24, 2002 12:04 am EDT
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  string(2998) "Let's tie him up, muzzle him      and exile him. How about trying        him for treason, or just plain           shooting him? No, the remarkable genius of Ted Turner is a voice  that needs to be heard — especially  in these times of almost deafening silence.

Turner is a thinker, frighteningly so. His gaffes are legendary. But           it's his vision and his ability to place the most crucial issues of mankind       on the public's radar screen that makes him such a valuable player.       To Turner's friends and devotees,          he is a modern-day Paul Revere, sounding a clarion call to all who        will listen. The threat of nuclear       annihilation, the population explosion and environmental dangers are his passionate causes. He puts his       money — sizable sums — where           his mouth is.

Yes, at times he'll speak             before thinking, but Turner's heart         is clearly in the right place. It's as           if he subconsciously tries to gain    notoriety when he certainly doesn't need it. For those of us who know   Ted, we do not, for one second,   believe his recent comments,            made during a speech at Brown University, regarding the bravery          of the Sept. 11 hijackers was meant       to convey the impression that he        supported their evil ways. Turner       misspoke, and has acknowledged as much, apologizing for being taken       out of context and conceding to         associates that it was "nutty."

Turner clearly disagrees with President Bush's "axis of evil"              terminology in referring to North Korea, Iran and Iraq, saying in            the same Brown University             speech, "Calling other countries        dirty names is a great plan if you    want to start a war with some          body." Those remarks should come      as no surprise for a man of peace       like Turner.

No, Turner is not your garden   variety Democrat or Republican. Indeed, our homeboy is a radical.        He believes          that a world           of 6 billion         people can't       survive when poverty,              disease, hate       and war               permeate             several billion daily. And          unlike other billionaires, he        uses his wealth and fame to        alter the current course of the world. His philanthropy to        ward causes like AIDS           research and women's rights          in developing nations goes             almost unnoticed.

So it goes. Right-wingers              have yet another field day             over the 9-11 comments on their       lockstep radio yak shows at         Turner's expense. He'll be called            a clown, a cretin, a traitor,                scum or worse. But, he'll shrug            it off and keep working to make           the world a better and safer  place. For that, we should all give  a damn.

Tom Houck has chronicled Ted Turner for 25 years as a radio talk show host, TV commentator and  CL columnist.??


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  string(2995) "__Let's tie him up, __muzzle him      and exile him. How about trying        him for treason, or just plain           shooting him? No, the remarkable genius of Ted Turner is a voice  that needs to be heard -- especially  in these times of almost deafening silence.

Turner is a thinker, frighteningly so. His gaffes are legendary. But           it's his vision and his ability to place the most crucial issues of mankind       on the public's radar screen that makes him such a valuable player.       To Turner's friends and devotees,          he is a modern-day Paul Revere, sounding a clarion call to all who        will listen. The threat of nuclear       annihilation, the population explosion and environmental dangers are his passionate causes. He puts his       money -- sizable sums -- where           his mouth is.

Yes, at times he'll speak             before thinking, but Turner's heart         is clearly in the right place. It's as           if he subconsciously tries to gain    notoriety when he certainly doesn't need it. For those of us who know   Ted, we do not, for one second,   believe his recent comments,            made during a speech at Brown University, regarding the bravery          of the Sept. 11 hijackers was meant       to convey the impression that he        supported their evil ways. Turner       misspoke, and has acknowledged as much, apologizing for being taken       out of context and conceding to         associates that it was "nutty."

Turner clearly disagrees with President Bush's "axis of evil"              terminology in referring to North Korea, Iran and Iraq, saying in            the same Brown University             speech, "Calling other countries        dirty names is a great plan if you    want to start a war with some          body." Those remarks should come      as no surprise for a man of peace       like Turner.

No, Turner is not your garden   variety Democrat or Republican. Indeed, our homeboy is a radical.        He believes          that a world           of 6 billion         people can't       survive when poverty,              disease, hate       and war               permeate             several billion daily. And          unlike other billionaires, he        uses his wealth and fame to        alter the current course of the world. His philanthropy to        ward causes like AIDS           research and women's rights          in developing nations goes             almost unnoticed.

So it goes. Right-wingers              have yet another field day             over the 9-11 comments on their       lockstep radio yak shows at         Turner's expense. He'll be called            a clown, a cretin, a traitor,                scum or worse. But, he'll shrug            it off and keep working to make           the world a better and safer  place. For that, we should all give  a damn.

''Tom Houck has chronicled Ted Turner for 25 years as a radio talk show host, TV commentator and  ''CL ''columnist.''??


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  string(3407) "    Yes. Turner's vision and his ability to place the most crucial issues of mankind on the public's radar screen that makes him such a valuable player.   2002-02-20T05:04:00+00:00 News - Should we give a damn about what Ted Turner has to say?   Tom Houck 1223536 2002-02-20T05:04:00+00:00  Let's tie him up, muzzle him      and exile him. How about trying        him for treason, or just plain           shooting him? No, the remarkable genius of Ted Turner is a voice  that needs to be heard — especially  in these times of almost deafening silence.

Turner is a thinker, frighteningly so. His gaffes are legendary. But           it's his vision and his ability to place the most crucial issues of mankind       on the public's radar screen that makes him such a valuable player.       To Turner's friends and devotees,          he is a modern-day Paul Revere, sounding a clarion call to all who        will listen. The threat of nuclear       annihilation, the population explosion and environmental dangers are his passionate causes. He puts his       money — sizable sums — where           his mouth is.

Yes, at times he'll speak             before thinking, but Turner's heart         is clearly in the right place. It's as           if he subconsciously tries to gain    notoriety when he certainly doesn't need it. For those of us who know   Ted, we do not, for one second,   believe his recent comments,            made during a speech at Brown University, regarding the bravery          of the Sept. 11 hijackers was meant       to convey the impression that he        supported their evil ways. Turner       misspoke, and has acknowledged as much, apologizing for being taken       out of context and conceding to         associates that it was "nutty."

Turner clearly disagrees with President Bush's "axis of evil"              terminology in referring to North Korea, Iran and Iraq, saying in            the same Brown University             speech, "Calling other countries        dirty names is a great plan if you    want to start a war with some          body." Those remarks should come      as no surprise for a man of peace       like Turner.

No, Turner is not your garden   variety Democrat or Republican. Indeed, our homeboy is a radical.        He believes          that a world           of 6 billion         people can't       survive when poverty,              disease, hate       and war               permeate             several billion daily. And          unlike other billionaires, he        uses his wealth and fame to        alter the current course of the world. His philanthropy to        ward causes like AIDS           research and women's rights          in developing nations goes             almost unnoticed.

So it goes. Right-wingers              have yet another field day             over the 9-11 comments on their       lockstep radio yak shows at         Turner's expense. He'll be called            a clown, a cretin, a traitor,                scum or worse. But, he'll shrug            it off and keep working to make           the world a better and safer  place. For that, we should all give  a damn.

Tom Houck has chronicled Ted Turner for 25 years as a radio talk show host, TV commentator and  CL columnist.??


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Wednesday February 20, 2002 12:04 am EST
Yes. Turner's vision and his ability to place the most crucial issues of mankind on the public's radar screen that makes him such a valuable player. | more...
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  string(3678) "It makes me damn mad -- this  so-called world-class "international city"  playing ludicrous games with its people,  proprietors and visitors. While liquor laws in the Bible Belt have always been complex and loosely interpreted, the recent hardline policing that's putting the pinch on Sunday alcohol pouring in Atlanta bars makes  the mundane seem ridiculous.

Atlanta's hellhole finances beg for as much revenue as possible these days. Yet on Super Bowl Sunday, dozens of bars and clubs were closed. On a day when the city could've cashed in on the liquor-by-the-drink tax, nearby  Cobb and DeKalb counties were reaping the benefits. (Yes, ultra-conservative Cobb has more liberal booze laws than Atlanta.)

One can trace the Sunday booze crackdown to the upheaval in Buckhead after the Ray Lewis fiasco two years ago. A campaign to curtail bar closing times was waged in part by former Mayor Sam Massell and northside City Council members. Included in the new legislation was a provision putting a midnight limit on Sunday serving hours. What went almost unnoticed was the enforcement of a little-used clause that denies alcohol privileges to any establishment that does  less than 50 percent of its annual business  in food sales.

At first, Atlanta police ignored enforcement of the law, just as they have since 1978. Bars and clubs continued to pour, and many thought that, despite the keen eye of the Atlanta City Council lifestyle police, Sundays would be business as usual.

They were wrong. Beginning last fall, the city began an unprecedented crackdown.

One can rightly argue that Sabbath-related Blue laws are archaic. From my perspective, you ought to be able to purchase beer from a convenience store on Sunday, or buy a fine wine or bourbon from a liquor store without what amounts to church interference.

The city of Atlanta, with millions of tourists and conventioneers, needs to find a way out of the quagmire in which it now finds itself embroiled. Our city's bartenders and bar owners depend on Sunday sales — and they need to be freed of feeling like criminals for doing their jobs. And city dwellers should be able to visit the neighborhood pub to watch a sporting event or chat with friends. Night owls and hospitality workers who work late hours ought to be able to enjoy a drink on their day off after midnight on Sunday.

As such, Atlanta's legislative package before the General Assembly should include a waiver on the current Sunday pouring laws. To start with, the food sales stipulation must be abolished — and that has to be done at the state level. But under the leadership of Mayor Shirley Franklin and City Council President Cathy Woolard, enforcement of the law's current statutes can and should be waived until new legislation is passed. The mayor and council also should repeal the Sunday midnight closing regulation.

Bar and restaurant owners are not taking this matter lightly, and nor should their patrons. If the city doesn't act quickly, the matter may end up in a costly court battle, ultimately embarrassing the city. Every Sunday that bars and clubs are padlocked, the city loses tax revenue, jobs are in danger, and businesses lose profits. Needless to say, it makes Atlanta seem like Mayberry.

With spring and summer just ahead, the time for our elected officials to act is now. What at first seemed like harmless enforcement of an antiquated law is no joking  matter. People's livelihoods are at stake, and the sorry specter of losing convention business to cities like Orlando and New Orleans looms large in the near future.

Tom Houck is a veteran observer of local nightlife. His motto is: "one last taste."??


"
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  string(3676) "__It makes me damn mad __-- this  so-called world-class "international city"  playing ludicrous games with its people,  proprietors and visitors. While liquor laws in the Bible Belt have always been complex and loosely interpreted, the recent hardline policing that's putting the pinch on Sunday alcohol pouring in Atlanta bars makes  the mundane seem ridiculous.

Atlanta's hellhole finances beg for as much revenue as possible these days. Yet on Super Bowl Sunday, dozens of bars and clubs were closed. On a day when the city could've cashed in on the liquor-by-the-drink tax, nearby  Cobb and DeKalb counties were reaping the benefits. (Yes, ultra-conservative Cobb has more liberal booze laws than Atlanta.)

One can trace the Sunday booze crackdown to the upheaval in Buckhead after the Ray Lewis fiasco two years ago. A campaign to curtail bar closing times was waged in part by former Mayor Sam Massell and northside City Council members. Included in the new legislation was a provision putting a midnight limit on Sunday serving hours. What went almost unnoticed was the enforcement of a little-used clause that denies alcohol privileges to any establishment that does  less than 50 percent of its annual business  in food sales.

At first, Atlanta police ignored enforcement of the law, just as they have since 1978. Bars and clubs continued to pour, and many thought that, despite the keen eye of the Atlanta City Council lifestyle police, Sundays would be business as usual.

They were wrong. Beginning last fall, the city began an unprecedented crackdown.

One can rightly argue that Sabbath-related Blue laws are archaic. From my perspective, you ought to be able to purchase beer from a convenience store on Sunday, or buy a fine wine or bourbon from a liquor store without what amounts to church interference.

The city of Atlanta, with millions of tourists and conventioneers, needs to find a way out of the quagmire in which it now finds itself embroiled. Our city's bartenders and bar owners depend on Sunday sales -- and they need to be freed of feeling like criminals for doing their jobs. And city dwellers should be able to visit the neighborhood pub to watch a sporting event or chat with friends. Night owls and hospitality workers who work late hours ought to be able to enjoy a drink on their day off after midnight on Sunday.

As such, Atlanta's legislative package before the General Assembly should include a waiver on the current Sunday pouring laws. To start with, the food sales stipulation must be abolished -- and that has to be done at the state level. But under the leadership of Mayor Shirley Franklin and City Council President Cathy Woolard, enforcement of the law's current statutes can and should be waived until new legislation is passed. The mayor and council also should repeal the Sunday midnight closing regulation.

Bar and restaurant owners are not taking this matter lightly, and nor should their patrons. If the city doesn't act quickly, the matter may end up in a costly court battle, ultimately embarrassing the city. Every Sunday that bars and clubs are padlocked, the city loses tax revenue, jobs are in danger, and businesses lose profits. Needless to say, it makes Atlanta seem like Mayberry.

With spring and summer just ahead, the time for our elected officials to act is now. What at first seemed like harmless enforcement of an antiquated law is no joking  matter. People's livelihoods are at stake, and the sorry specter of losing convention business to cities like Orlando and New Orleans looms large in the near future.

''Tom Houck is a veteran observer of local nightlife. His motto is: "one last taste."''??


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  string(3930) "    Sunday liquor laws are as outmoded as the moonshine still   2002-02-06T05:04:00+00:00 News - Have a drink and relax   Tom Houck 1223536 2002-02-06T05:04:00+00:00  It makes me damn mad -- this  so-called world-class "international city"  playing ludicrous games with its people,  proprietors and visitors. While liquor laws in the Bible Belt have always been complex and loosely interpreted, the recent hardline policing that's putting the pinch on Sunday alcohol pouring in Atlanta bars makes  the mundane seem ridiculous.

Atlanta's hellhole finances beg for as much revenue as possible these days. Yet on Super Bowl Sunday, dozens of bars and clubs were closed. On a day when the city could've cashed in on the liquor-by-the-drink tax, nearby  Cobb and DeKalb counties were reaping the benefits. (Yes, ultra-conservative Cobb has more liberal booze laws than Atlanta.)

One can trace the Sunday booze crackdown to the upheaval in Buckhead after the Ray Lewis fiasco two years ago. A campaign to curtail bar closing times was waged in part by former Mayor Sam Massell and northside City Council members. Included in the new legislation was a provision putting a midnight limit on Sunday serving hours. What went almost unnoticed was the enforcement of a little-used clause that denies alcohol privileges to any establishment that does  less than 50 percent of its annual business  in food sales.

At first, Atlanta police ignored enforcement of the law, just as they have since 1978. Bars and clubs continued to pour, and many thought that, despite the keen eye of the Atlanta City Council lifestyle police, Sundays would be business as usual.

They were wrong. Beginning last fall, the city began an unprecedented crackdown.

One can rightly argue that Sabbath-related Blue laws are archaic. From my perspective, you ought to be able to purchase beer from a convenience store on Sunday, or buy a fine wine or bourbon from a liquor store without what amounts to church interference.

The city of Atlanta, with millions of tourists and conventioneers, needs to find a way out of the quagmire in which it now finds itself embroiled. Our city's bartenders and bar owners depend on Sunday sales — and they need to be freed of feeling like criminals for doing their jobs. And city dwellers should be able to visit the neighborhood pub to watch a sporting event or chat with friends. Night owls and hospitality workers who work late hours ought to be able to enjoy a drink on their day off after midnight on Sunday.

As such, Atlanta's legislative package before the General Assembly should include a waiver on the current Sunday pouring laws. To start with, the food sales stipulation must be abolished — and that has to be done at the state level. But under the leadership of Mayor Shirley Franklin and City Council President Cathy Woolard, enforcement of the law's current statutes can and should be waived until new legislation is passed. The mayor and council also should repeal the Sunday midnight closing regulation.

Bar and restaurant owners are not taking this matter lightly, and nor should their patrons. If the city doesn't act quickly, the matter may end up in a costly court battle, ultimately embarrassing the city. Every Sunday that bars and clubs are padlocked, the city loses tax revenue, jobs are in danger, and businesses lose profits. Needless to say, it makes Atlanta seem like Mayberry.

With spring and summer just ahead, the time for our elected officials to act is now. What at first seemed like harmless enforcement of an antiquated law is no joking  matter. People's livelihoods are at stake, and the sorry specter of losing convention business to cities like Orlando and New Orleans looms large in the near future.

Tom Houck is a veteran observer of local nightlife. His motto is: "one last taste."??


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Article

Wednesday February 6, 2002 12:04 am EST
Sunday liquor laws are as outmoded as the moonshine still | more...
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  string(92) "No. Unlike cameras in the courtroom, cameras in the death chamber can only degrade humanity."
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  string(2634) "Warning: Some viewers may find this program objectionable."

These days, a public execution might not even carry such a warning. Unfortunately, we're living in an era in which even the most basic standards of taste and decency are routinely ignored, and the phenomenon of "reality TV" allows us regular helpings of banality and humiliation in lieu of entertainment.

Next week, we will come grotesquely close to putting a condemned individual to death in the public arena, regardless of whether the actual death itself is actually broadcast. The May 16 execution of Timothy McVeigh will put Terra Haute, Ind., on the map. Media from around the world have booked every hotel room for miles around.

We have not had a public execution in the U.S. since 1936, when more than 20,000 people gathered in Owensboro, Ky., to witness the hanging of a 22-year-old black man accused of raping an elderly white woman. Eighteen months later Kentucky's governor signed a bill outlawing public executions. There has not been one since.

While McVeigh will die of a lethal injection and not a knotted rope, the hoopla leading up to his execution indicates we are no more civilized today than we were in 1936. The calls that he die on national TV simply point out that fact.

Many death penalty foes have argued that televised executions would so outrage the public that the punishment itself would be banned. I believe their reasoning is flawed.

Given the current entertainment trends, executions would likely become a favorite weekly TV show: Instead of an outraged public, we would have a bloodthirsty audience clamoring for more.

While Attorney General John Ashcroft is only permitting family members of the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing to view McVeigh's death by closed-circuit TV, you can count on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC to give us detailed play-by-play as a man's life is ended.

Unlike cameras in the courtroom, cameras in the death chamber can only degrade humanity. How can we, a supposedly civilized Western nation permit, such madness? The answer is, we can't.

Technology has provided, through the miracle of DNA testing, means to revisit hundreds of old crimes in search of new evidence, and dozens of wrongly convicted criminals have already been freed from death rows as a result. How could we possibly approve of public executions when we are not even sure if the right person is being killed?

No, live executions with a mass audience is not a rational alternative. Those who advocate such spectacles should be warned: We might end by making killing seem even more mundane than media now renders it.??


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These days, a public execution might not even carry such a warning. Unfortunately, we're living in an era in which even the most basic standards of taste and decency are routinely ignored, and the phenomenon of "reality TV" allows us regular helpings of banality and humiliation in lieu of entertainment.

Next week, we will come grotesquely close to putting a condemned individual to death in the public arena, regardless of whether the actual death itself is actually broadcast. The May 16 execution of Timothy McVeigh will put Terra Haute, Ind., on the map. Media from around the world have booked every hotel room for miles around.

We have not had a public execution in the U.S. since 1936, when more than 20,000 people gathered in Owensboro, Ky., to witness the hanging of a 22-year-old black man accused of raping an elderly white woman. Eighteen months later Kentucky's governor signed a bill outlawing public executions. There has not been one since.

While McVeigh will die of a lethal injection and not a knotted rope, the hoopla leading up to his execution indicates we are no more civilized today than we were in 1936. The calls that he die on national TV simply point out that fact.

Many death penalty foes have argued that televised executions would so outrage the public that the punishment itself would be banned. I believe their reasoning is flawed.

Given the current entertainment trends, executions would likely become a favorite weekly TV show: Instead of an outraged public, we would have a bloodthirsty audience clamoring for more.

While Attorney General John Ashcroft is only permitting family members of the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing to view McVeigh's death by closed-circuit TV, you can count on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC to give us detailed play-by-play as a man's life is ended.

Unlike cameras in the courtroom, cameras in the death chamber can only degrade humanity. How can we, a supposedly civilized Western nation permit, such madness? The answer is, we can't.

Technology has provided, through the miracle of DNA testing, means to revisit hundreds of old crimes in search of new evidence, and dozens of wrongly convicted criminals have already been freed from death rows as a result. How could we possibly approve of public executions when we are not even sure if the right person is being killed?

No, live executions with a mass audience is not a rational alternative. Those who advocate such spectacles should be warned: We might end by making killing seem even more mundane than media now renders it.??


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These days, a public execution might not even carry such a warning. Unfortunately, we're living in an era in which even the most basic standards of taste and decency are routinely ignored, and the phenomenon of "reality TV" allows us regular helpings of banality and humiliation in lieu of entertainment.

Next week, we will come grotesquely close to putting a condemned individual to death in the public arena, regardless of whether the actual death itself is actually broadcast. The May 16 execution of Timothy McVeigh will put Terra Haute, Ind., on the map. Media from around the world have booked every hotel room for miles around.

We have not had a public execution in the U.S. since 1936, when more than 20,000 people gathered in Owensboro, Ky., to witness the hanging of a 22-year-old black man accused of raping an elderly white woman. Eighteen months later Kentucky's governor signed a bill outlawing public executions. There has not been one since.

While McVeigh will die of a lethal injection and not a knotted rope, the hoopla leading up to his execution indicates we are no more civilized today than we were in 1936. The calls that he die on national TV simply point out that fact.

Many death penalty foes have argued that televised executions would so outrage the public that the punishment itself would be banned. I believe their reasoning is flawed.

Given the current entertainment trends, executions would likely become a favorite weekly TV show: Instead of an outraged public, we would have a bloodthirsty audience clamoring for more.

While Attorney General John Ashcroft is only permitting family members of the victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing to view McVeigh's death by closed-circuit TV, you can count on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC to give us detailed play-by-play as a man's life is ended.

Unlike cameras in the courtroom, cameras in the death chamber can only degrade humanity. How can we, a supposedly civilized Western nation permit, such madness? The answer is, we can't.

Technology has provided, through the miracle of DNA testing, means to revisit hundreds of old crimes in search of new evidence, and dozens of wrongly convicted criminals have already been freed from death rows as a result. How could we possibly approve of public executions when we are not even sure if the right person is being killed?

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Article

Wednesday May 9, 2001 12:04 am EDT
No. Unlike cameras in the courtroom, cameras in the death chamber can only degrade humanity. | more...
Search for more by Tom Houck

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