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  string(68) "Martin-Cagle race looks more competitive than the fight for governor"
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  string(68) "Martin-Cagle race looks more competitive than the fight for governor"
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  string(4387) "It's hard to tell Gov. Sonny Perdue and his Democratic challenger apart.

Perdue makes a show of getting tough on illegal immigrants. So does Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

Taylor promises crackdowns on "sexual predators"; Perdue offers his own version.

While the top-of-the-ticket candidates channel Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their play for conservative votes, however, one spot down the ballot Georgians will find a clearer choice in the Nov. 7 election.

And unlike the governor's race, in which Taylor trails by double digits, the lieutenant governor's race appears to be closely contested. Independent polls are showing Jim Martin, the Democrat, only 6 to 10 points behind Republican Casey Cagle. That's less than half the margin that separated Perdue from Taylor.

"It's an open seat, so it doesn't have the power of incumbency," University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock says of the lieutenant governor's post. "No one looks at Martin or Cagle in the context of how they have performed in the office they are seeking. Not many people could tell you who they are, although Martin may be benefiting from the fact that his brother Joe ran two statewide races."

Cagle and Martin both are experienced, well-liked legislators, and both say job creation would be their top priority as lieutenant governor. But the way they'd create those jobs underscores their philosophical differences.

Cagle, a Gainesville banker who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and gained national fame by defeating Ralph Reed in the GOP primary, proposes to eliminate the corporate income tax. "If we were a state that had no corporate income tax, it would create a huge incentive for businesses to locate here in Georgia, and help existing businesses to continue to grow and expand," he says. (He admits the $500-million revenue hit would have to be phased in.)

Martin, an Atlanta attorney who served in the state House for 18 years and for three years as Georgia human resources commissioner, says he'd generate jobs by creating a state-run health-care plan for the 1.7 million Georgians who lack insurance.

"Basically the idea is that the state would provide the structure," Martin says. "It would be paid for mostly by employers and employees, who would have the benefit of a large pool of money to cover health-care costs. I think it would address health-care needs and create a renaissance of small business in Georgia."

A leading advocate for child-and-family services in the House, where he rose to Judiciary Committee chairman, Martin refuses to be characterized as a big-government "Atlanta liberal." Instead, he calls himself a "social progressive and fiscal conservative."

He points out that, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was forced to cut the Human Resources Department budget by $150 million. Despite their partisan differences, Perdue took the unusual step of keeping Martin on as commissioner a year into his term as governor.

Equally proud of his 12-year record in the Senate — where he says he never voted for a tax increase — Cagle likewise has an image to buck. His outspoken positions in favor of polluters earned him a place at the top of the Sierra Club's 2006 "Dirty Dozen" list of lawmakers. One of Cagle's bills that still galls Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring was legislation to allow developers to buy rights to build on natural stream buffers.

"The rights of downstream property owners would have been sacrificed to enhance the property value of upstream landowners — hardly a 'pro-property rights' position," Herring says. Although tempered from Cagle's original plan, the bill eventually passed.

While the environment hasn't been Martin's main focus, his record contrasts strongly with Cagle's. He's been endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the Georgia Conservation Voters.

Cagle's record — particularly his cozy ties to developers — might leave an opening for Martin to go on the attack. But Martin isn't known as a bare-knuckled campaigner, and it's unclear whether he'll have the money to hit Cagle hard in a TV ad campaign.

What Cagle and Martin do as candidates, however, may affect their fate less than how Perdue and Taylor do at the top of the ticket. "The reality of that race," former GOP state Sen. Chuck Clay says of Cagle-Martin, "is that it's hooked by a very short leash to the governor's race.""
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  string(4368) "It's hard to tell Gov. Sonny Perdue and his Democratic challenger apart.

Perdue makes a show of getting tough on illegal immigrants. So does Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

Taylor promises crackdowns on "sexual predators"; Perdue offers his own version.

While the top-of-the-ticket candidates channel Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their play for conservative votes, however, one spot down the ballot Georgians will find a clearer choice in the Nov. 7 election.

And unlike the governor's race, in which Taylor trails by double digits, the lieutenant governor's race appears to be closely contested. Independent polls are showing Jim Martin, the Democrat, only 6 to 10 points behind Republican Casey Cagle. That's less than half the margin that separated Perdue from Taylor.

"It's an open seat, so it doesn't have the power of incumbency," University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock says of the lieutenant governor's post. "No one looks at Martin or Cagle in the context of how they have performed in the office they are seeking. Not many people could tell you who they are, although Martin may be benefiting from the fact that his brother Joe ran two statewide races."

Cagle and Martin both are experienced, well-liked legislators, and both say job creation would be their top priority as lieutenant governor. But the way they'd create those jobs underscores their philosophical differences.

Cagle, a Gainesville banker who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and gained national fame by defeating Ralph Reed in the GOP primary, proposes to eliminate the corporate income tax. "If we [[were] a state that had no corporate income tax, it would create a huge incentive for businesses to locate here in Georgia, and help existing businesses to continue to grow and expand," he says. (He admits the $500-million revenue hit would have to be phased in.)

Martin, an Atlanta attorney who served in the state House for 18 years and for three years as Georgia human resources commissioner, says he'd generate jobs by creating a state-run health-care plan for the 1.7 million Georgians who lack insurance.

"Basically the idea is that the state would provide the structure," Martin says. "It would be paid for mostly by employers and employees, who would have the benefit of a large pool of money to cover health-care costs. I think it would address health-care needs and create a renaissance of small business in Georgia."

A leading advocate for child-and-family services in the House, where he rose to Judiciary Committee chairman, Martin refuses to be characterized as a big-government "Atlanta liberal." Instead, he calls himself a "social progressive and fiscal conservative."

He points out that, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was forced to cut the Human Resources Department budget by $150 million. Despite their partisan differences, Perdue took the unusual step of keeping Martin on as commissioner a year into his term as governor.

Equally proud of his 12-year record in the Senate -- where he says he never voted for a tax increase -- Cagle likewise has an image to buck. His outspoken positions in favor of polluters earned him a place at the top of the Sierra Club's 2006 "Dirty Dozen" list of lawmakers. One of Cagle's bills that still galls Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring was legislation to allow developers to buy rights to build on natural stream buffers.

"The rights of downstream property owners [[would have been] sacrificed to enhance the property value of upstream landowners -- hardly a 'pro-property rights' position," Herring says. Although tempered from Cagle's original plan, the bill eventually passed.

While the environment hasn't been Martin's main focus, his record contrasts strongly with Cagle's. He's been endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the Georgia Conservation Voters.

Cagle's record -- particularly his cozy ties to developers -- might leave an opening for Martin to go on the attack. But Martin isn't known as a bare-knuckled campaigner, and it's unclear whether he'll have the money to hit Cagle hard in a TV ad campaign.

What Cagle and Martin do as candidates, however, may affect their fate less than how Perdue and Taylor do at the top of the ticket. "The reality of that race," former GOP state Sen. Chuck Clay says of Cagle-Martin, "is that it's hooked by a very short leash to the governor's race.""
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  string(4626) "    Martin-Cagle race looks more competitive than the fight for governor   2006-10-04T04:04:00+00:00 Lieutenants' war   Max Pizarro 1224173 2006-10-04T04:04:00+00:00  It's hard to tell Gov. Sonny Perdue and his Democratic challenger apart.

Perdue makes a show of getting tough on illegal immigrants. So does Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

Taylor promises crackdowns on "sexual predators"; Perdue offers his own version.

While the top-of-the-ticket candidates channel Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their play for conservative votes, however, one spot down the ballot Georgians will find a clearer choice in the Nov. 7 election.

And unlike the governor's race, in which Taylor trails by double digits, the lieutenant governor's race appears to be closely contested. Independent polls are showing Jim Martin, the Democrat, only 6 to 10 points behind Republican Casey Cagle. That's less than half the margin that separated Perdue from Taylor.

"It's an open seat, so it doesn't have the power of incumbency," University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock says of the lieutenant governor's post. "No one looks at Martin or Cagle in the context of how they have performed in the office they are seeking. Not many people could tell you who they are, although Martin may be benefiting from the fact that his brother Joe ran two statewide races."

Cagle and Martin both are experienced, well-liked legislators, and both say job creation would be their top priority as lieutenant governor. But the way they'd create those jobs underscores their philosophical differences.

Cagle, a Gainesville banker who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and gained national fame by defeating Ralph Reed in the GOP primary, proposes to eliminate the corporate income tax. "If we were a state that had no corporate income tax, it would create a huge incentive for businesses to locate here in Georgia, and help existing businesses to continue to grow and expand," he says. (He admits the $500-million revenue hit would have to be phased in.)

Martin, an Atlanta attorney who served in the state House for 18 years and for three years as Georgia human resources commissioner, says he'd generate jobs by creating a state-run health-care plan for the 1.7 million Georgians who lack insurance.

"Basically the idea is that the state would provide the structure," Martin says. "It would be paid for mostly by employers and employees, who would have the benefit of a large pool of money to cover health-care costs. I think it would address health-care needs and create a renaissance of small business in Georgia."

A leading advocate for child-and-family services in the House, where he rose to Judiciary Committee chairman, Martin refuses to be characterized as a big-government "Atlanta liberal." Instead, he calls himself a "social progressive and fiscal conservative."

He points out that, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he was forced to cut the Human Resources Department budget by $150 million. Despite their partisan differences, Perdue took the unusual step of keeping Martin on as commissioner a year into his term as governor.

Equally proud of his 12-year record in the Senate — where he says he never voted for a tax increase — Cagle likewise has an image to buck. His outspoken positions in favor of polluters earned him a place at the top of the Sierra Club's 2006 "Dirty Dozen" list of lawmakers. One of Cagle's bills that still galls Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring was legislation to allow developers to buy rights to build on natural stream buffers.

"The rights of downstream property owners would have been sacrificed to enhance the property value of upstream landowners — hardly a 'pro-property rights' position," Herring says. Although tempered from Cagle's original plan, the bill eventually passed.

While the environment hasn't been Martin's main focus, his record contrasts strongly with Cagle's. He's been endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the Georgia Conservation Voters.

Cagle's record — particularly his cozy ties to developers — might leave an opening for Martin to go on the attack. But Martin isn't known as a bare-knuckled campaigner, and it's unclear whether he'll have the money to hit Cagle hard in a TV ad campaign.

What Cagle and Martin do as candidates, however, may affect their fate less than how Perdue and Taylor do at the top of the ticket. "The reality of that race," former GOP state Sen. Chuck Clay says of Cagle-Martin, "is that it's hooked by a very short leash to the governor's race."             13022729 1263144                          Lieutenants' war "
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News Briefs

Wednesday October 4, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Martin-Cagle race looks more competitive than the fight for governor | more...
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  string(42) "Council Holds Tight on Mayor's Money Reins"
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  string(42) "Council Holds Tight on Mayor's Money Reins"
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  string(11) "Scott Henry"
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  string(76) "Officials concerned about lack of oversight on expenditures up to $1 million"
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  string(2575) "A proposal by Shirley Franklin that would allow the mayor's office to bypass City Council approval for expenditures up to $1 million is expected to face stern Council opposition.

??
Even Council members who agree that expanding the mayor's spending authority could help streamline city operations have concerns that the proposed figure — a tenfold increase — is far too large a jump. Some also worry that ceding so much financial oversight might raise eyebrows in a city that recently packed its last mayor off to federal prison.

??
"This isn't about not trusting Shirley Franklin or her administration, but they'll be gone in three years," says Councilman Howard Shook. "What if the next crew to come into the mayor's office is like the one that came before?" Former Mayor Bill Campbell's high-profile corruption trial this spring ended in his conviction for tax-evasion; earlier, three of his top aides and six city contractors were either convicted or pled guilty to corruption-related charges.

??
Shook, who chairs the finance committee now considering the proposal, says his biggest problem with the measure isn't the temptation for graft or cronyism that it might afford; rather, it's the resulting shift in the balance of City Hall power.

??
In fact, he says, most Council members he's spoken with agree that some increase in the mayor's spending authority is long overdue — the current level was set nearly 30 years ago — but that no one, himself included, seems willing to ratchet it all the way up to a cool million.

??
Councilwoman Felicia Moore, on the other hand, says she'll fight hard to keep the limit right where it is.

??
"I've personally drawn a line in the sand," she says. "The citizens expect the Council to have oversight over how their tax dollars are spent and I'm not willing to give up that authority."

??
David Edwards, the city's program management officer, says the change is needed to keep pace with inflation and could arguably result in more effective oversight because the vast majority of city spending is wrapped up in multimillion-dollar contracts for such big-ticket items as sewers and runways.

??
The mayor's proposal, which would require a change in the city charter, was first floated in February, but languished in committee because of low Council support. The move to push it back onto the front burner may signal the administration's willingness to compromise on the $1 million threshold, Shook says.

??
"If they got half that figure, I think their socks would roll up and down with joy," he says."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(2555) "A proposal by Shirley Franklin that would allow the mayor's office to bypass City Council approval for expenditures up to $1 million is expected to face stern Council opposition.

??
Even Council members who agree that expanding the mayor's spending authority could help streamline city operations have concerns that the proposed figure -- a tenfold increase -- is far too large a jump. Some also worry that ceding so much financial oversight might raise eyebrows in a city that recently packed its last mayor off to federal prison.

??
"This isn't about not trusting Shirley Franklin or her administration, but they'll be gone in three years," says Councilman Howard Shook. "What if the next crew to come into the mayor's office is like the one that came before?" Former Mayor Bill Campbell's high-profile corruption trial this spring ended in his conviction for tax-evasion; earlier, three of his top aides and six city contractors were either convicted or pled guilty to corruption-related charges.

??
Shook, who chairs the finance committee now considering the proposal, says his biggest problem with the measure isn't the temptation for graft or cronyism that it might afford; rather, it's the resulting shift in the balance of City Hall power.

??
In fact, he says, most Council members he's spoken with agree that some increase in the mayor's spending authority is long overdue -- the current level was set nearly 30 years ago -- but that no one, himself included, seems willing to ratchet it all the way up to a cool million.

??
Councilwoman Felicia Moore, on the other hand, says she'll fight hard to keep the limit right where it is.

??
"I've personally drawn a line in the sand," she says. "The citizens expect the Council to have oversight over how their tax dollars are spent and I'm not willing to give up that authority."

??
David Edwards, the city's program management officer, says the change is needed to keep pace with inflation and could arguably result in more effective oversight because the vast majority of city spending is wrapped up in multimillion-dollar contracts for such big-ticket items as sewers and runways.

??
The mayor's proposal, which would require a change in the city charter, was first floated in February, but languished in committee because of low Council support. The move to push it back onto the front burner may signal the administration's willingness to compromise on the $1 million threshold, Shook says.

??
"If they got half that figure, I think their socks would roll up and down with joy," he says."
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  string(2874) "    Officials concerned about lack of oversight on expenditures up to $1 million   2006-10-04T04:04:00+00:00 Council Holds Tight on Mayor's Money Reins   Scott Henry 1223597 2006-10-04T04:04:00+00:00  A proposal by Shirley Franklin that would allow the mayor's office to bypass City Council approval for expenditures up to $1 million is expected to face stern Council opposition.

??
Even Council members who agree that expanding the mayor's spending authority could help streamline city operations have concerns that the proposed figure — a tenfold increase — is far too large a jump. Some also worry that ceding so much financial oversight might raise eyebrows in a city that recently packed its last mayor off to federal prison.

??
"This isn't about not trusting Shirley Franklin or her administration, but they'll be gone in three years," says Councilman Howard Shook. "What if the next crew to come into the mayor's office is like the one that came before?" Former Mayor Bill Campbell's high-profile corruption trial this spring ended in his conviction for tax-evasion; earlier, three of his top aides and six city contractors were either convicted or pled guilty to corruption-related charges.

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Shook, who chairs the finance committee now considering the proposal, says his biggest problem with the measure isn't the temptation for graft or cronyism that it might afford; rather, it's the resulting shift in the balance of City Hall power.

??
In fact, he says, most Council members he's spoken with agree that some increase in the mayor's spending authority is long overdue — the current level was set nearly 30 years ago — but that no one, himself included, seems willing to ratchet it all the way up to a cool million.

??
Councilwoman Felicia Moore, on the other hand, says she'll fight hard to keep the limit right where it is.

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"I've personally drawn a line in the sand," she says. "The citizens expect the Council to have oversight over how their tax dollars are spent and I'm not willing to give up that authority."

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David Edwards, the city's program management officer, says the change is needed to keep pace with inflation and could arguably result in more effective oversight because the vast majority of city spending is wrapped up in multimillion-dollar contracts for such big-ticket items as sewers and runways.

??
The mayor's proposal, which would require a change in the city charter, was first floated in February, but languished in committee because of low Council support. The move to push it back onto the front burner may signal the administration's willingness to compromise on the $1 million threshold, Shook says.

??
"If they got half that figure, I think their socks would roll up and down with joy," he says.             13022728 1263142                          Council Holds Tight on Mayor's Money Reins "
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Wednesday October 4, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Officials concerned about lack of oversight on expenditures up to $1 million | more...
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For the first time since 1994, Democrats can sniff the tantalizing scent of a U.S. House of Representatives majority.

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Except in Georgia.

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Democrats nationwide need 15 more seats to gain control of the House. And prognosticators across the country say somewhere around 25 current Republican seats are in play.

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But a national wave for Democrats could encounter a strong Republican undertow in Georgia. Consider this: All of Georgia's seven Republican congressmen are considered safe bets for re-election, while Rep. John Barrow of Savannah and Rep. Jim Marshall of Macon are among only four Democratic nominees nationally whose re-elections are in jeopardy, according to the Washington-based Rothenberg Report.

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The two downstate Democrats remain favored to win re-election. But it may not help them that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor is lagging up to 20 points behind Republican incumbent Sonny Perdue in opinion polls."
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For the first time since 1994, Democrats can sniff the tantalizing scent of a U.S. House of Representatives majority.

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Except in Georgia.

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For the first time since 1994, Democrats can sniff the tantalizing scent of a U.S. House of Representatives majority.

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??
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??
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??
And in Middle Georgia's 3rd District, Mac Collins, another former GOP congressman, is depicting Marshall as a Spanish-language freak. He points to Marshall's vote in June to allow Spanish-language ballots in areas with large Spanish-speaking populations. In a campaign ad, Collins highlights the vote, then salutes Marshall with a tagline: "Muchas gracías, Señor Jim Marshall."

??
The two downstate Democrats remain favored to win re-election. But it may not help them that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor is lagging up to 20 points behind Republican incumbent Sonny Perdue in opinion polls.             13022730 1263147                          Will Georgia play the spoiler for Democrats? "
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Wednesday October 4, 2006 12:04 am EDT
State unlikely to aid in U.S. House majority swap | more...

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  string(37) "Modest aims for new state energy plan"
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  string(2609) "Once again, Georgia is trying to figure out how to catch up. This time, the challenge centers on something other states did years ago — a plan on how to renew energy and use it efficiently. It's a lofty task in a state that's notorious for gutting environmental efforts.

The recently completed 160-page draft of the State Energy Strategy, spearheaded by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, outlines dozens of ways to help cut energy costs. An advisory council will finalize the plan and submit it to the governor in December. The report could include suggestions for proposed legislation.

"We want the plan to be a road map characterized by affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy," says Elizabeth Robertson, director of energy resources at GEFA.

However, the plan skirts around the issue of global warming, and that could be because it's difficult to get anything aggressive adopted in the home state of electricity giant Southern Co., the country's second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide (a top contributor to global warming).

"Georgia hasn't dealt with global warming," says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "They need to take a serious look at what they can do to combat it."

Another concern lies in the makeup of the 18-member advisory council, which is headed by a retired Georgia Pacific president and includes vice presidents from Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light.

"Are the governor and these politicians committed to making the state an energy leader?" Smith asks. "Or are they largely beholden to the special-interest groups that have large financial stakes?"

The plan's proposals include:

• Increase the in-state production of biofuel produced from Georgia pine and require state agencies to purchase a certain amount each year.

• Tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and hybrid cars.

• Incentives for developers who build energy-saving "green" buildings, such as the College of Management building on Georgia Tech's campus and the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

Dennis Creech, executive director of sustainability advocacy group Southface, calls the effort a good start. "It's going to be up to the public to keep the pressure on elected officials to make this succeed," he says.

Through Oct. 3, people can propose suggestions to GEFA online and at public hearings. So far, more than 1,000 comments have been submitted.

GET INVOLVED

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The recently completed 160-page draft of the State Energy Strategy, spearheaded by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, outlines dozens of ways to help cut energy costs. An advisory council will finalize the plan and submit it to the governor in December. The report could include suggestions for proposed legislation.

"We want [[the plan] to be a road map characterized by affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy," says Elizabeth Robertson, director of energy resources at GEFA.

However, the plan skirts around the issue of global warming, and that could be because it's difficult to get anything aggressive adopted in the home state of electricity giant Southern Co., the country's second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide (a top contributor to global warming).

"Georgia hasn't dealt with global warming," says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "They need to take a serious look at what they can do to combat it."

Another concern lies in the makeup of the 18-member advisory council, which is headed by a retired Georgia Pacific president and includes vice presidents from Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light.

"Are the governor and these politicians committed to making the state an energy leader?" Smith asks. "Or are they largely beholden to the special-interest groups that have large financial stakes?"

The plan's proposals include:

• Increase the in-state production of biofuel produced from Georgia pine and require state agencies to purchase a certain amount each year.

• Tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and hybrid cars.

• Incentives for developers who build energy-saving "green" buildings, such as the College of Management building on Georgia Tech's campus and the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

Dennis Creech, executive director of sustainability advocacy group Southface, calls the effort a good start. "It's going to be up to the public to keep the pressure on elected officials to make this succeed," he says.

Through Oct. 3, people can propose suggestions to GEFA online and at public hearings. So far, more than 1,000 comments have been submitted.

__GET INVOLVED__

· For more information, or to submit comments online, visit [http://www.georgiaenergyplan.org/|www.georgiaenergyplan.org]. Comments will be accepted through 8 p.m. Tues., Oct. 3."
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The recently completed 160-page draft of the State Energy Strategy, spearheaded by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, outlines dozens of ways to help cut energy costs. An advisory council will finalize the plan and submit it to the governor in December. The report could include suggestions for proposed legislation.

"We want the plan to be a road map characterized by affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy," says Elizabeth Robertson, director of energy resources at GEFA.

However, the plan skirts around the issue of global warming, and that could be because it's difficult to get anything aggressive adopted in the home state of electricity giant Southern Co., the country's second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide (a top contributor to global warming).

"Georgia hasn't dealt with global warming," says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "They need to take a serious look at what they can do to combat it."

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"Are the governor and these politicians committed to making the state an energy leader?" Smith asks. "Or are they largely beholden to the special-interest groups that have large financial stakes?"

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• Increase the in-state production of biofuel produced from Georgia pine and require state agencies to purchase a certain amount each year.

• Tax incentives for energy-efficient homes and hybrid cars.

• Incentives for developers who build energy-saving "green" buildings, such as the College of Management building on Georgia Tech's campus and the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

Dennis Creech, executive director of sustainability advocacy group Southface, calls the effort a good start. "It's going to be up to the public to keep the pressure on elected officials to make this succeed," he says.

Through Oct. 3, people can propose suggestions to GEFA online and at public hearings. So far, more than 1,000 comments have been submitted.

GET INVOLVED

· For more information, or to submit comments online, visit www.georgiaenergyplan.org. Comments will be accepted through 8 p.m. Tues., Oct. 3.             13022667 1263024                          Modest aims for new state energy plan "
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Wednesday September 27, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Report outlines ways to renew resources | more...
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  string(5122) "Now that negotiations have disintegrated between the city of Atlanta and the mega-developer who owns nearly a quarter of the Beltline, a proposed 22-mile loop of transit and greenspace circling intown Atlanta, the question is: What next?

Developer Wayne Mason and his son Keith have taken their parting shots at the city — an indication to some that the differences between the Masons, who advocated dense development flanking the Beltline, and Atlanta's Planning Department, which indicated it wants nearly all of the Masons' land for greenspace, are now irreconcilable.

The Masons had hoped to build a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the property for the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres for transit and greenspace for the Beltline.

In a statement released last week, the Masons called the city's handling of the Beltline project, considered one of the most innovative transit and development plans in city history, "parochial." They described the city's offer to trade the Masons' land for transferable development rights on other parts of the Beltline as "highly speculative and untested." And they promised that as long as they own their five-mile stretch of the Beltline, a transit line there would be "unlikely."

Aside from a four-sentence statement from the mayor, city officials have been mostly mum.

"As far as I can tell, it's a pretty hostile relationship right now," says Mike Dobbins, former Atlanta Planning Commissioner and a professor at Georgia Tech's school of architecture. "I think Mr. Mason is somebody who is pretty much accustomed to doing things the way he had in mind to do them. He's not like developers who've functioned in Atlanta by finding creative paths interacting with neighborhoods. And it's been very effective for him. He takes the sort of straight-ahead path."

A source familiar with the failed negotiations, who requested anonymity in case the talks resume, says Mason could incur a more personal cost if he continues to play hardball: "Do you really want to be known as the guy who stopped the Beltline?"

Even if the city were to patch things up with the Masons to the point where it could make an offer on their quadrant of the Beltline, it's unclear whether the two parties could agree on a price. Though the Masons paid $25 million for their 72-acre, five-mile-long plot in 2004, the Masons' zoning attorney, Hakim Hilliard, now says the land is worth $2 million per acre — or $144 million. However, the city's July 2006 plan for the Beltline project allocates only $78 million for acquiring eight miles of the Beltline over the next five years — meaning the city's budget likely will fall far short of the Masons' asking price.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons have retained as an attorney, says that if the city attempts to take the Masons' land by eminent domain, "I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury."

Dobbins says eminent domain proceedings are "absolutely the last thing to do." And he says the city hasn't exactly exhausted its alternatives.

According to Dobbins, even if the city and the Masons can't negotiate a price right now, the city could put the Mason deal on hold and do what could have prevented this mess in the first place: adopt clear zoning standards for the entire Beltline. That way, developers would know exactly what can be built on a particular parcel before they buy it. And perhaps by then, the Masons will have cooled off.

"I think there are options, and it's a time for creativity," Dobbins says. "It would be really nice to get public policy leading the charge instead of private speculation."

The Masons' deal with the city dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' property. When it became apparent last week that the towers were not going to be green-lighted — despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories — father and son bailed. The Masons balked at the city's offer to instead give them the right to build units elsewhere on the Beltline, on land that neither the city nor the Masons own.

"Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing," Barnes says. "If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal."

For some, news of the dissipating deal was cause for celebration. "The Beltline is a public project, and the public is very clear and the city is clear on what the Beltline should be," says Liz Coyle, who as vice chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-F led a well-organized fight to preserve the city's vision of the Beltline as a loop of linear parks. "Wayne Mason wanted to do his own plan. Is that a way to do a public project?

"I hope that he will finally decide to work with the city to resolve this so that we can get on with doing the Beltline as planned.""
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  string(5100) "Now that negotiations have disintegrated between the city of Atlanta and the mega-developer who owns nearly a quarter of the Beltline, a proposed 22-mile loop of transit and greenspace circling intown Atlanta, the question is: What next?

Developer Wayne Mason and his son Keith have taken their parting shots at the city -- an indication to some that the differences between the Masons, who advocated dense development flanking the Beltline, and Atlanta's Planning Department, which indicated it wants nearly all of the Masons' land for greenspace, are now irreconcilable.

The Masons had hoped to build a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the property for the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres for transit and greenspace for the Beltline.

In a statement released last week, the Masons called the city's handling of the Beltline project, considered one of the most innovative transit and development plans in city history, "parochial." They described the city's offer to trade the Masons' land for transferable development rights on other parts of the Beltline as "highly speculative and untested." And they promised that as long as they own their five-mile stretch of the Beltline, a transit line there would be "unlikely."

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"As far as I can tell, it's a pretty hostile relationship right now," says Mike Dobbins, former Atlanta Planning Commissioner and a professor at Georgia Tech's school of architecture. "I think Mr. Mason is somebody who is pretty much accustomed to doing things the way he had in mind to do them. He's not like developers who've functioned in Atlanta by finding creative paths interacting with neighborhoods. And it's been very effective for him. He takes the sort of straight-ahead path."

A source familiar with the failed negotiations, who requested anonymity in case the talks resume, says Mason could incur a more personal cost if he continues to play hardball: "Do you really want to be known as the guy who stopped the Beltline?"

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Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons have retained as an attorney, says that if the city attempts to take the Masons' land by eminent domain, "I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury."

Dobbins says eminent domain proceedings are "absolutely the last thing to do." And he says the city hasn't exactly exhausted its alternatives.

According to Dobbins, even if the city and the Masons can't negotiate a price right now, the city could put the Mason deal on hold and do what could have prevented this mess in the first place: adopt clear zoning standards for the entire Beltline. That way, developers would know exactly what can be built on a particular parcel before they buy it. And perhaps by then, the Masons will have cooled off.

"I think there are options, and it's a time for creativity," Dobbins says. "It would be really nice to get public policy leading the charge instead of private speculation."

The Masons' deal with the city dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' property. When it became apparent last week that the towers were not going to be green-lighted -- despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories -- father and son bailed. The Masons balked at the city's offer to instead give them the right to build units elsewhere on the Beltline, on land that neither the city nor the Masons own.

"Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing," Barnes says. "If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal."

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  string(5400) "    Deal with influential developer dissolved   2006-09-27T04:04:00+00:00 How can the city get the Beltline back on track?   Mara Shalhoup 1223634 2006-09-27T04:04:00+00:00  Now that negotiations have disintegrated between the city of Atlanta and the mega-developer who owns nearly a quarter of the Beltline, a proposed 22-mile loop of transit and greenspace circling intown Atlanta, the question is: What next?

Developer Wayne Mason and his son Keith have taken their parting shots at the city — an indication to some that the differences between the Masons, who advocated dense development flanking the Beltline, and Atlanta's Planning Department, which indicated it wants nearly all of the Masons' land for greenspace, are now irreconcilable.

The Masons had hoped to build a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the property for the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres for transit and greenspace for the Beltline.

In a statement released last week, the Masons called the city's handling of the Beltline project, considered one of the most innovative transit and development plans in city history, "parochial." They described the city's offer to trade the Masons' land for transferable development rights on other parts of the Beltline as "highly speculative and untested." And they promised that as long as they own their five-mile stretch of the Beltline, a transit line there would be "unlikely."

Aside from a four-sentence statement from the mayor, city officials have been mostly mum.

"As far as I can tell, it's a pretty hostile relationship right now," says Mike Dobbins, former Atlanta Planning Commissioner and a professor at Georgia Tech's school of architecture. "I think Mr. Mason is somebody who is pretty much accustomed to doing things the way he had in mind to do them. He's not like developers who've functioned in Atlanta by finding creative paths interacting with neighborhoods. And it's been very effective for him. He takes the sort of straight-ahead path."

A source familiar with the failed negotiations, who requested anonymity in case the talks resume, says Mason could incur a more personal cost if he continues to play hardball: "Do you really want to be known as the guy who stopped the Beltline?"

Even if the city were to patch things up with the Masons to the point where it could make an offer on their quadrant of the Beltline, it's unclear whether the two parties could agree on a price. Though the Masons paid $25 million for their 72-acre, five-mile-long plot in 2004, the Masons' zoning attorney, Hakim Hilliard, now says the land is worth $2 million per acre — or $144 million. However, the city's July 2006 plan for the Beltline project allocates only $78 million for acquiring eight miles of the Beltline over the next five years — meaning the city's budget likely will fall far short of the Masons' asking price.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons have retained as an attorney, says that if the city attempts to take the Masons' land by eminent domain, "I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury."

Dobbins says eminent domain proceedings are "absolutely the last thing to do." And he says the city hasn't exactly exhausted its alternatives.

According to Dobbins, even if the city and the Masons can't negotiate a price right now, the city could put the Mason deal on hold and do what could have prevented this mess in the first place: adopt clear zoning standards for the entire Beltline. That way, developers would know exactly what can be built on a particular parcel before they buy it. And perhaps by then, the Masons will have cooled off.

"I think there are options, and it's a time for creativity," Dobbins says. "It would be really nice to get public policy leading the charge instead of private speculation."

The Masons' deal with the city dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' property. When it became apparent last week that the towers were not going to be green-lighted — despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories — father and son bailed. The Masons balked at the city's offer to instead give them the right to build units elsewhere on the Beltline, on land that neither the city nor the Masons own.

"Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing," Barnes says. "If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal."

For some, news of the dissipating deal was cause for celebration. "The Beltline is a public project, and the public is very clear and the city is clear on what the Beltline should be," says Liz Coyle, who as vice chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-F led a well-organized fight to preserve the city's vision of the Beltline as a loop of linear parks. "Wayne Mason wanted to do his own plan. Is that a way to do a public project?

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News Briefs

Wednesday September 27, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Deal with influential developer dissolved | more...
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If allowed to stand, the ruling means about 65,000 acres of Georgia forests would remain virtually untouched, immune from U.S. Forest Service plans to clear areas for wildlife habitats, conduct controlled burns or build new roads.

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Wayne Jenkins, executive director of Georgia Forestwatch, a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Ellijay, considers the court ruling an unqualified victory.

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In recent years, the Forest Service in Georgia has shifted its focus from logging to "forest management," a euphemism that wary environmentalists such as Jenkins claim allows tree-clearing and road-building in remote sections of the forest.

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Wayne Jenkins, executive director of Georgia Forestwatch, a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Ellijay, considers the court ruling an unqualified victory.

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  string(2377) "    Plan would save 65,000 acres in Georgia   2006-09-27T04:04:00+00:00 Road-building ban restored for national forests   Scott Henry 1223597 2006-09-27T04:04:00+00:00  Trees in the Chattahoochee National Forest are a little safer from chain saws this week after a federal judge in California reinstated a Clinton-era initiative to place 49 million acres of national forests off-limits to logging and road-building.

??
If allowed to stand, the ruling means about 65,000 acres of Georgia forests would remain virtually untouched, immune from U.S. Forest Service plans to clear areas for wildlife habitats, conduct controlled burns or build new roads.

??
Wayne Jenkins, executive director of Georgia Forestwatch, a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Ellijay, considers the court ruling an unqualified victory.

??
"The Chattahoochee has become a largely recreational forest and this ruling preserves that," he says.

??
Known as the "roadless rule," the federal protections were adopted by Bill Clinton in 2001 following three years of public hearings. But, in one of his first official actions as president, George W. Bush ordered the rule thrown out.

??
Last week, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth LaPorte in San Francisco reversed Bush's order, saying the administration had not done the necessary environmental analysis to justify scrapping the roadless rule.

??
Although the designated roadless sections of the Chattahoochee have been in legal limbo for the past five years, they weren't in immediate peril, Jenkins says. Commercial logging in the national forest was effectively halted in 1996 by a Sierra Club lawsuit that successfully argued that the Forest Service hadn't followed its own rules for estimating the impact logging would have on wildlife.

??
In recent years, the Forest Service in Georgia has shifted its focus from logging to "forest management," a euphemism that wary environmentalists such as Jenkins claim allows tree-clearing and road-building in remote sections of the forest.

??
"Once you chop up these areas with roads, they can no longer qualify to be designated as wilderness, which leaves them open to logging, burning and more roads," he says. "This is our last opportunity to have large tracts with a wilderness character."             13022668 1263026                          Road-building ban restored for national forests "
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 27, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Plan would save 65,000 acres in Georgia | more...
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  string(1922) "East Atlanta business and civic leaders are trying to defuse a messy local controversy before it threatens to tarnish their neighborhood's image as Atlanta's latest nexus of cool.

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At this past weekend's East Atlanta Strut street festival, the emerging rift was put on full display by Michael Knight and Shawn Ergle, owners of the Traders housewares and furniture store. The two spent much of the day handing out fliers, gathering signatures on petitions and selling "Slumlord" stickers as part of a frontal attack on one of the area's chief landowners. Their position is that the former John B. Gordon school and other vacant buildings owned by Inman Park Properties, a real estate and development firm run by entrepreneur Jeff Notrica, are dragging down East Atlanta's retail district.

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News Briefs

Wednesday September 20, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Business owners take strong claims to the Strut | more...
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  string(3863) "Georgia Democrats were overdue for an upbeat moment. And state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond provided it Saturday with a speech designed to unite and energize the beleaguered party's state convention.

??
Thurmond evoked the state song, the Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell classic "Georgia On My Mind," when he thundered, "The melody of our state song is being drowned out by the cries of senior citizens. The melody ... is being drowned out by the cries of mothers and fathers who don't have jobs and who don't have insurance. The melody of our state is being drowned out by the cries of families going without housing.

??
"Hope is disappearing," Thurmond continued, "but a new day is beginning to dawn in our state. Don't give out. Don't give in. Don't give up. If we work together, pray together and most importantly, if we vote together, we can change this state. We can't allow ourselves to be separated. ... We are one. We are one. We are one!"

??
The crowd was pumped — as crowds often get when Thurmond speaks. But the charismatic labor commissioner is far from the standard bearer this year for Georgia Democrats. Although Thurmond, a former state rep from Athens, last December considered a run for lieutenant governor, he opted instead to keep his slot as the eighth candidate down the Democratic ticket.

??
At the top of the ticket sits a very different type of candidate. Mark Taylor sent a clear message in his own speech Saturday that his campaign for governor will follow a playbook familiar to Democrats back when they controlled state government: Try to out-tough and out-conservative the Republicans.

??
While Taylor touted his "PeachKids" plan to provide health insurance for every child in Georgia, he also thundered against taxes. "The Big Guy," he said of himself, "likes big tax cuts." He hyped his role in passing Georgia's "two-strikes-and-you're-out" law, which targets violent offenders.

??
And he went after illegal immigrants, who have become a favorite punching bag for the state's politicians. After signing a bill to crack down on illegal immigrants last spring, Gov. Sonny Perdue two weeks ago unveiled a new program to crack down on them further. Not to be outdone, Taylor took another swing Saturday: "Who made Georgia the No. 1 state for illegal immigrants?"

??
"Sonny did!" the crowd screamed, to which Taylor flashed a Big Guy grin.

??
Particularly by trouncing Cathy Cox in the July primary, Taylor proved that when it comes to campaigning, he'll show up to fight. So far, however, he remains well behind Perdue by any measure. Perdue stretched his lead last week to 13 points in one independent poll and 17 points in another. And he's expected to lag even further in fund-raising when campaign contributions are reported again Sept. 30. Meanwhile, Democratic unity continues to be hampered by icy relations between Cox's people and Taylor's: She didn't even show up for the convention.

??
That leaves the No. 2 guy on the ticket with a difficult challenge. Jim Martin, the nominee for lieutenant governor, is a former legislator and state human resources commissioner from Atlanta. He's a Presbyterian church elder and Vietnam veteran with a formidable legislative record — that rare progressive whom even Republicans have a hard time saying bad things about. On Saturday, he kept his focus on "faith, family and patriotism" and tossed a compelling cheer line to the partisan crowd: "No Republican is going to take these values away from me!"

??
It was a solid speech. But Martin must run in the shadow of a gubernatorial contest that seems week-by-week to be falling further from Taylor's grasp. While down-ticket Democrats may benefit from national voter dissatisfaction with Republicans, the Big Guy isn't likely to help them much unless he finds some way to shake up the race's dynamics."
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  string(3853) "Georgia Democrats were overdue for an upbeat moment. And state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond provided it Saturday with a speech designed to unite and energize the beleaguered party's state convention.

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Thurmond evoked the state song, the Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell classic "Georgia On My Mind," when he thundered, "The melody of our state song is being drowned out by the cries of senior citizens. The melody ... is being drowned out by the cries of mothers and fathers who don't have jobs and who don't have insurance. The melody of our state is being drowned out by the cries of families going without housing.

??
"Hope is disappearing," Thurmond continued, "but a new day is beginning to dawn in our state. Don't give out. Don't give in. Don't give up. If we work together, pray together and most importantly, if we vote together, we can change this state. We can't allow ourselves to be separated. ... We are one. We are one. We are one!"

??
The crowd was pumped -- as crowds often get when Thurmond speaks. But the charismatic labor commissioner is far from the standard bearer this year for Georgia Democrats. Although Thurmond, a former state rep from Athens, last December considered a run for lieutenant governor, he opted instead to keep his slot as the eighth candidate down the Democratic ticket.

??
At the top of the ticket sits a very different type of candidate. Mark Taylor sent a clear message in his own speech Saturday that his campaign for governor will follow a playbook familiar to Democrats back when they controlled state government: Try to out-tough and out-conservative the Republicans.

??
While Taylor touted his "PeachKids" plan to provide health insurance for every child in Georgia, he also thundered against taxes. "The Big Guy," he said of himself, "likes big tax cuts." He hyped his role in passing Georgia's "two-strikes-and-you're-out" law, which targets violent offenders.

??
And he went after illegal immigrants, who have become a favorite punching bag for the state's politicians. After signing a bill to crack down on illegal immigrants last spring, Gov. Sonny Perdue two weeks ago unveiled a new program to crack down on them further. Not to be outdone, Taylor took another swing Saturday: "Who made Georgia the No. 1 state for illegal immigrants?"

??
"Sonny did!" the crowd screamed, to which Taylor flashed a Big Guy grin.

??
Particularly by trouncing Cathy Cox in the July primary, Taylor proved that when it comes to campaigning, he'll show up to fight. So far, however, he remains well behind Perdue by any measure. Perdue stretched his lead last week to 13 points in one independent poll and 17 points in another. And he's expected to lag even further in fund-raising when campaign contributions are reported again Sept. 30. Meanwhile, Democratic unity continues to be hampered by icy relations between Cox's people and Taylor's: She didn't even show up for the convention.

??
That leaves the No. 2 guy on the ticket with a difficult challenge. Jim Martin, the nominee for lieutenant governor, is a former legislator and state human resources commissioner from Atlanta. He's a Presbyterian church elder and Vietnam veteran with a formidable legislative record -- that rare progressive whom even Republicans have a hard time saying bad things about. On Saturday, he kept his focus on "faith, family and patriotism" and tossed a compelling cheer line to the partisan crowd: "No Republican is going to take these values away from me!"

??
It was a solid speech. But Martin must run in the shadow of a gubernatorial contest that seems week-by-week to be falling further from Taylor's grasp. While down-ticket Democrats may benefit from national voter dissatisfaction with Republicans, the Big Guy isn't likely to help them much unless he finds some way to shake up the race's dynamics."
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  string(4092) "    Democrats need more than a pep rally to salvage the November elections   2006-09-20T04:04:00+00:00 Party down   Max Pizarro 1224173 2006-09-20T04:04:00+00:00  Georgia Democrats were overdue for an upbeat moment. And state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond provided it Saturday with a speech designed to unite and energize the beleaguered party's state convention.

??
Thurmond evoked the state song, the Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell classic "Georgia On My Mind," when he thundered, "The melody of our state song is being drowned out by the cries of senior citizens. The melody ... is being drowned out by the cries of mothers and fathers who don't have jobs and who don't have insurance. The melody of our state is being drowned out by the cries of families going without housing.

??
"Hope is disappearing," Thurmond continued, "but a new day is beginning to dawn in our state. Don't give out. Don't give in. Don't give up. If we work together, pray together and most importantly, if we vote together, we can change this state. We can't allow ourselves to be separated. ... We are one. We are one. We are one!"

??
The crowd was pumped — as crowds often get when Thurmond speaks. But the charismatic labor commissioner is far from the standard bearer this year for Georgia Democrats. Although Thurmond, a former state rep from Athens, last December considered a run for lieutenant governor, he opted instead to keep his slot as the eighth candidate down the Democratic ticket.

??
At the top of the ticket sits a very different type of candidate. Mark Taylor sent a clear message in his own speech Saturday that his campaign for governor will follow a playbook familiar to Democrats back when they controlled state government: Try to out-tough and out-conservative the Republicans.

??
While Taylor touted his "PeachKids" plan to provide health insurance for every child in Georgia, he also thundered against taxes. "The Big Guy," he said of himself, "likes big tax cuts." He hyped his role in passing Georgia's "two-strikes-and-you're-out" law, which targets violent offenders.

??
And he went after illegal immigrants, who have become a favorite punching bag for the state's politicians. After signing a bill to crack down on illegal immigrants last spring, Gov. Sonny Perdue two weeks ago unveiled a new program to crack down on them further. Not to be outdone, Taylor took another swing Saturday: "Who made Georgia the No. 1 state for illegal immigrants?"

??
"Sonny did!" the crowd screamed, to which Taylor flashed a Big Guy grin.

??
Particularly by trouncing Cathy Cox in the July primary, Taylor proved that when it comes to campaigning, he'll show up to fight. So far, however, he remains well behind Perdue by any measure. Perdue stretched his lead last week to 13 points in one independent poll and 17 points in another. And he's expected to lag even further in fund-raising when campaign contributions are reported again Sept. 30. Meanwhile, Democratic unity continues to be hampered by icy relations between Cox's people and Taylor's: She didn't even show up for the convention.

??
That leaves the No. 2 guy on the ticket with a difficult challenge. Jim Martin, the nominee for lieutenant governor, is a former legislator and state human resources commissioner from Atlanta. He's a Presbyterian church elder and Vietnam veteran with a formidable legislative record — that rare progressive whom even Republicans have a hard time saying bad things about. On Saturday, he kept his focus on "faith, family and patriotism" and tossed a compelling cheer line to the partisan crowd: "No Republican is going to take these values away from me!"

??
It was a solid speech. But Martin must run in the shadow of a gubernatorial contest that seems week-by-week to be falling further from Taylor's grasp. While down-ticket Democrats may benefit from national voter dissatisfaction with Republicans, the Big Guy isn't likely to help them much unless he finds some way to shake up the race's dynamics.             13022647 1262982                          Party down "
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 20, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Democrats need more than a pep rally to salvage the November elections | more...
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  string(4429) "Negotiations have broken down between the city of Atlanta and mega-developer Wayne Mason, who with his son Keith owns five miles of the Beltline, a proposed 22-mile loop of transit and greenspace circling Atlanta.
Without the cooperation of the Masons, it is now unclear how the Beltline will take shape. 

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons retained as an attorney, says the deal dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the city's Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' 72-acre property. (City Council was expected to vote as early as next month.) The new zoning would have allowed a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres of land for transit and greenspace for the Beltline. 

But when it became apparent that the towers were not going to be green-lighted — despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories — father and son bailed. 

“Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing,” Barnes says. “If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal.” 

According to Barnes, the city made its own offer to the Masons on Sept. 19. City officials asked that the Masons turn over almost all of their 72 acres for greenspace. In exchange, the city would give the Masons transferable development rights for a string of properties that flank the Beltline. Barnes says the city estimated that the Masons could make $40 million to $100 million either by cashing in on the rights or selling them. 

Barnes says the deal was too speculative. Why, he asks, would the Masons give up valuable land for rights to property — some of which the city does not yet own? Although the Masons bought the 72 acres for $25 million in late 2004, their zoning attorney, Hakim Hilliard, estimates that the property is now worth as much as $140 million. 

Instead of entertaining the city's offer, the Masons decided to withdraw their rezoning application — meaning that for now, the deal is dead. 

Atlanta Planning Commissioner Steven Cover would not comment on the breakdown in negotiations, according to his spokeswoman, Keisha Davis. A statement released Sept. 21 by Mayor Shirley Franklin said, “The long-term project has been met over the past two years with obstacles along the way. But make no mistake, it will happen.” 

Barnes says the Masons might be willing to sell the land but that “no other developer has come up here and bellied up to the bar and said, ‘I believe I'll lay my money down here and do this.' So our idea is, let's see if somebody else comes.” 

As for working something out with the city, “our phones are always open,” Barnes says. 

“But even if someone calls and says, ‘Listen, let's work this out,' it's got to be done where there's a consistent desire to work something out and not just to be hostile to the whole project.” 

There's also the possibility that the city will attempt to take the land for the transit portion of the Beltline by eminent domain. “That'll be a dogfight,” Hilliard, the Mason's zoning attorney, says. 

Barnes adds that eminent domain proceedings would be time-consuming and costly. “But if they want to take it, I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury.” 

For some, news of the dissipating deal was cause for celebration. Neighbors of the proposed towers had expressed concern that the buildings, on the corner of 10 th Street and Monroe Drive, would bring too much traffic to the area and would cast an unpleasant shadow on the park. Neighborhood Planning Unit-F, which includes some of the area near the towers, voted against the zoning applications. And NPU-F Vice Chair Liz Coyle led a well-organized fight to preserve the city's vision of the Beltline as a loop of linear parks. 

“The Beltline is a public project, and the public is very clear and the city is clear on what the Beltline should be,” Coyle says. “Wayne Mason wanted to do his own plan. Is that a way to do a public project? 

“I hope that he will finally decide to work with the city to resolve this so that we can get on with doing the Beltline as planned.” "
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  string(4432) "Negotiations have broken down between the city of Atlanta and mega-developer Wayne Mason, who with his son Keith owns five miles of the Beltline, a proposed 22-mile loop of transit and greenspace circling Atlanta.
Without the cooperation of the Masons, it is now unclear how the Beltline will take shape. 

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons retained as an attorney, says the deal dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the city's Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' 72-acre property. (City Council was expected to vote as early as next month.) The new zoning would have allowed a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres of land for transit and greenspace for the Beltline. 

But when it became apparent that the towers were not going to be green-lighted — despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories — father and son bailed. 

“Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing,” Barnes says. “If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal.” 

According to Barnes, the city made its own offer to the Masons on Sept. 19. City officials asked that the Masons turn over almost all of their 72 acres for greenspace. In exchange, the city would give the Masons transferable development rights for a string of properties that flank the Beltline. Barnes says the city estimated that the Masons could make $40 million to $100 million either by cashing in on the rights or selling them. 

Barnes says the deal was too speculative. Why, he asks, would the Masons give up valuable land for rights to property — some of which the city does not yet own? Although the Masons bought the 72 acres for $25 million in late 2004, their zoning attorney, Hakim Hilliard, estimates that the property is now worth as much as $140 million. 

Instead of entertaining the city's offer, the Masons decided to withdraw their rezoning application — meaning that for now, the deal is dead. 

Atlanta Planning Commissioner Steven Cover would not comment on the breakdown in negotiations, according to his spokeswoman, Keisha Davis. A statement released Sept. 21 by Mayor Shirley Franklin said, “The long-term project has been met over the past two years with obstacles along the way. But make no mistake, it will happen.” 

Barnes says the Masons might be willing to sell the land but that “no other developer has come up here and bellied up to the bar and said, ‘I believe I'll lay my money down here and do this.' So our idea is, let's see if somebody else comes.” 

As for working something out with the city, “our phones are always open,” Barnes says. 

“But even if someone calls and says, ‘Listen, let's work this out,' it's got to be done where there's a consistent desire to work something out and not just to be hostile to the whole project.” 

There's also the possibility that the city will attempt to take the land for the transit portion of the Beltline by eminent domain. “That'll be a dogfight,” Hilliard, the Mason's zoning attorney, says. 

Barnes adds that eminent domain proceedings would be time-consuming and costly. “But if they want to take it, I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury.” 

For some, news of the dissipating deal was cause for celebration. Neighbors of the proposed towers had expressed concern that the buildings, on the corner of 10 th Street and Monroe Drive, would bring too much traffic to the area and would cast an unpleasant shadow on the park. Neighborhood Planning Unit-F, which includes some of the area near the towers, voted against the zoning applications. And NPU-F Vice Chair Liz Coyle led a well-organized fight to preserve the city's vision of the Beltline as a loop of linear parks. 

“The Beltline is a public project, and the public is very clear and the city is clear on what the Beltline should be,” Coyle says. “Wayne [[Mason] wanted to do his own plan. Is that a way to do a public project? 

“I hope that he will finally decide to work with the city to resolve this so that we can get on with doing the Beltline as planned.” "
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Without the cooperation of the Masons, it is now unclear how the Beltline will take shape. 

Former Gov. Roy Barnes, whom the Masons retained as an attorney, says the deal dissolved Sept. 21, five days before the city's Zoning Review Board was supposed to vote on an application to rezone much of the Masons' 72-acre property. (City Council was expected to vote as early as next month.) The new zoning would have allowed a pair of 38- and 39-story towers overlooking Piedmont Park. In exchange for rezoning the towers and four other pockets of development stretching from Ansley Park to Old Fourth Ward, the Masons were going to give the city 43 acres of land for transit and greenspace for the Beltline. 

But when it became apparent that the towers were not going to be green-lighted — despite the Masons' willingness to shrink them to 26 stories — father and son bailed. 

“Wayne Mason could have come in with no greenspace, no transit, nothing,” Barnes says. “If this deal had been offered to a mature city, one that is used to more intense development, they would have jumped at this deal.” 

According to Barnes, the city made its own offer to the Masons on Sept. 19. City officials asked that the Masons turn over almost all of their 72 acres for greenspace. In exchange, the city would give the Masons transferable development rights for a string of properties that flank the Beltline. Barnes says the city estimated that the Masons could make $40 million to $100 million either by cashing in on the rights or selling them. 

Barnes says the deal was too speculative. Why, he asks, would the Masons give up valuable land for rights to property — some of which the city does not yet own? Although the Masons bought the 72 acres for $25 million in late 2004, their zoning attorney, Hakim Hilliard, estimates that the property is now worth as much as $140 million. 

Instead of entertaining the city's offer, the Masons decided to withdraw their rezoning application — meaning that for now, the deal is dead. 

Atlanta Planning Commissioner Steven Cover would not comment on the breakdown in negotiations, according to his spokeswoman, Keisha Davis. A statement released Sept. 21 by Mayor Shirley Franklin said, “The long-term project has been met over the past two years with obstacles along the way. But make no mistake, it will happen.” 

Barnes says the Masons might be willing to sell the land but that “no other developer has come up here and bellied up to the bar and said, ‘I believe I'll lay my money down here and do this.' So our idea is, let's see if somebody else comes.” 

As for working something out with the city, “our phones are always open,” Barnes says. 

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There's also the possibility that the city will attempt to take the land for the transit portion of the Beltline by eminent domain. “That'll be a dogfight,” Hilliard, the Mason's zoning attorney, says. 

Barnes adds that eminent domain proceedings would be time-consuming and costly. “But if they want to take it, I'll acknowledge service and we can go strike a jury. I still remember how to strike a jury.” 

For some, news of the dissipating deal was cause for celebration. Neighbors of the proposed towers had expressed concern that the buildings, on the corner of 10 th Street and Monroe Drive, would bring too much traffic to the area and would cast an unpleasant shadow on the park. Neighborhood Planning Unit-F, which includes some of the area near the towers, voted against the zoning applications. And NPU-F Vice Chair Liz Coyle led a well-organized fight to preserve the city's vision of the Beltline as a loop of linear parks. 

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News Briefs

Wednesday September 20, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Mason pulls out of project | more...
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  string(1959) "Three employees who helped oversee the city of Atlanta's scandal-plagued home-repair program retired Sept. 7 on the heels of an administrative investigation that cited them for serious mismanagement that resulted in shoddy work to homes owned by low-income elderly and disabled residents.

??
Two separate investigations — one by the city's law department and the other by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development — uncovered significant problems with the program. A HUD report concluded there were "systemic deficiencies" that "did not conform to acceptable industry practices."

??
The city's investigation was forwarded to HUD, which funds the program and could pursue a criminal investigation. HUD spokeswoman Linda Allen says the recent retirements won't affect its review of the investigation.

??
The three employees in the Bureau of Housing — Alexander Brown, Cheryl Williams and Julius Milton — had been on paid administrative leave prior to their retirement. Two other employees cited in the report — Glenn Gordon and Wilbert Allen — have also retired.

??
Clair Muller, a 17-year City Council veteran who held office under both Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell, says the public announcement of the investigation was a sharp, and refreshing, break with a long City Hall tradition of quietly sweeping such scandals under the rug.

??
She says she finds the report troubling. "If it was more than a case of mismanagement of funds," Muller says, "then the employees involved should be prosecuted."

??
In late August, the three employees met with Department of Planning and Community Development commissioner Steven Cover. Several days later, all three retired. They signed papers stating they wouldn't sue the city or talk about the arrangement in exchange for their retirement benefits.

??
"All I can say is that it was against my will," said one, who asked not to be identified. "I wasn't ready.""
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  string(2224) "    Officials had been cited for mismanagement   2006-09-13T04:04:00+00:00 City workers in home-repair probe retire   Alyssa Abkowitz 1224003 2006-09-13T04:04:00+00:00  Three employees who helped oversee the city of Atlanta's scandal-plagued home-repair program retired Sept. 7 on the heels of an administrative investigation that cited them for serious mismanagement that resulted in shoddy work to homes owned by low-income elderly and disabled residents.

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News Briefs

Wednesday September 13, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Officials had been cited for mismanagement | more...
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  string(2384) "When politicians start talking about cracking down on a given population, it's probably an election year.

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Surrounded by officious-looking men clad in blue suits and standing shoulder-to-shoulder — crowded into the driver's license office near Turner Field — Gov. Sonny Perdue laid down the smack on immigration at a Sept. 6 press conference. He used the word "criminal" several times in sentences short enough and declarative enough to leave no doubt that when it comes to protecting Georgia from terrorists and illegal immigrants, he means business.

??
"It is simply unacceptable for people to sneak into this country illegally on Thursday, obtain a government-issued ID on Friday, head for the welfare office on Monday and cast a vote on Tuesday," Perdue said with a hyperbolic flourish that ignored the fact one must register to vote 30 days prior to an election.

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Citing the national security threat and saying that seven of the hijackers on 9/11 used identification obtained by illegal means, Perdue said he would request $900,000 to $1 million from the Legislature to station 10 investigators in the 10 "highest-need" driver's license facilities in the state.

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Pundits call Perdue's plan a predictable follow-up to Senate Bill 529, which passed earlier this year to become the Georgia Security and Compliance Act.

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State Sen. Sam Zamarripa, D-Atlanta, calls Perdue's approach an oversimplification that doesn't focus attention on the accountability of American business and government on the issue of immigration. "Why don't you ask the governor about Senate Bill 529's exemption for road-builders, who are the governor's biggest supporters," Zamrippa says. "If Gov. Perdue were serious about illegal immigration, why doesn't he raid the (Georgia Department of Transportation) and put them in jail?"

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But the overall perception is that Perdue risks little by continuing to chew away at the illegal immigrant population.

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"The average voter in America feels that Congress has done nothing," says political pundit Matt Towery. "There is the public sense that they're playing politics with immigration. Now Perdue stands up and points this out. He says that Congress hasn't given the public anything tangible on immigration, but he, on the other hand, is. Is this positive for him? Yes. Is it something that's going to win the election for him? No.""
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Surrounded by officious-looking men clad in blue suits and standing shoulder-to-shoulder -- crowded into the driver's license office near Turner Field -- Gov. Sonny Perdue laid down the smack on immigration at a Sept. 6 press conference. He used the word "criminal" several times in sentences short enough and declarative enough to leave no doubt that when it comes to protecting Georgia from terrorists and illegal immigrants, he means business.

??
"It is simply unacceptable for people to sneak into this country illegally on Thursday, obtain a government-issued ID on Friday, head for the welfare office on Monday and cast a vote on Tuesday," Perdue said with a hyperbolic flourish that ignored the fact one must register to vote 30 days prior to an election.

??
Citing the national security threat and saying that seven of the hijackers on 9/11 used identification obtained by illegal means, Perdue said he would request $900,000 to $1 million from the Legislature to station 10 investigators in the 10 "highest-need" driver's license facilities in the state.

??
Pundits call Perdue's plan a predictable follow-up to Senate Bill 529, which passed earlier this year to become the Georgia Security and Compliance Act.

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State Sen. Sam Zamarripa, D-Atlanta, calls Perdue's approach an oversimplification that doesn't focus attention on the accountability of American business and government on the issue of immigration. "Why don't you ask the governor about Senate Bill 529's exemption for road-builders, who are the governor's biggest supporters," Zamrippa says. "If Gov. Perdue were serious about illegal immigration, why doesn't he raid the (Georgia Department of Transportation) and put them in jail?"

??
But the overall perception is that Perdue risks little by continuing to chew away at the illegal immigrant population.

??
"The average voter in America feels that Congress has done nothing," says political pundit Matt Towery. "There is the public sense that they're playing politics with immigration. Now Perdue stands up and points this out. He says that Congress hasn't given the public anything tangible on immigration, but he, on the other hand, is. Is this positive for him? Yes. Is it something that's going to win the election for him? No.""
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??
Surrounded by officious-looking men clad in blue suits and standing shoulder-to-shoulder — crowded into the driver's license office near Turner Field — Gov. Sonny Perdue laid down the smack on immigration at a Sept. 6 press conference. He used the word "criminal" several times in sentences short enough and declarative enough to leave no doubt that when it comes to protecting Georgia from terrorists and illegal immigrants, he means business.

??
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??
Citing the national security threat and saying that seven of the hijackers on 9/11 used identification obtained by illegal means, Perdue said he would request $900,000 to $1 million from the Legislature to station 10 investigators in the 10 "highest-need" driver's license facilities in the state.

??
Pundits call Perdue's plan a predictable follow-up to Senate Bill 529, which passed earlier this year to become the Georgia Security and Compliance Act.

??
State Sen. Sam Zamarripa, D-Atlanta, calls Perdue's approach an oversimplification that doesn't focus attention on the accountability of American business and government on the issue of immigration. "Why don't you ask the governor about Senate Bill 529's exemption for road-builders, who are the governor's biggest supporters," Zamrippa says. "If Gov. Perdue were serious about illegal immigration, why doesn't he raid the (Georgia Department of Transportation) and put them in jail?"

??
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??
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 13, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Governor takes strong stance on 'criminal' behavior | more...
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  string(43) "Coke unrest hasn't spread to Atlanta -- yet"
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  string(5519) "Atlanta's best-known corporation seemed to suffer another public relations hit last week with the news that Chicago's DePaul University has become the latest major college to kick Coke off campus.

??
DePaul — the nation's largest Catholic university, with an enrollment of more than 23,000 — joined the University of Michigan and New York University in giving the boot to the world's most popular soft drink. Within days, liberal blogs and media websites attributed the decision to lingering concerns over the company's alleged role in the murders of South American union workers at bottling plants in Colombia.

??
So far, the student anti-Coke movement doesn't seem to have taken root in the cola's hometown. Joan Collier, Georgia State University's new student government association president, says that apart from a few fliers handed out last semester by a Socialist student group, she hasn't heard a public denouncement of Coca-Cola or calls for the removal of its vending machines.

??
Across town at Emory University — sometimes referred to as "Coca-Cola U" because about 16 percent of its total endowment is in the form of Coke stock — an article published earlier this year in the Emory Wheel noted that while student activists at other colleges are pushing for Coke boycotts, "there are no signs of an outcry at Emory against its most famous corporate benefactor."

??
Considering the current PR crisis in India, where Coke stands accused of hijacking water resources and selling pesticide-tainted drinks, it might appear that Coca-Cola is emerging as this decade's Nike, a corporate behemoth whose questionable business practices abroad have ignited a firestorm of protest among the socially conscious.

??
Mark Pendergrast, a native Atlantan who authored For God, Country and Coca-Cola, an unauthorized history of the world's best-selling drink, believes the company could at least partly be the victim of a well-orchestrated smear campaign. "They are the perfect target for people who want to hate multinational corporations because the company's image is everything to them," he says.

??
For starters, although some DePaul students had been calling for the school not to renew its exclusive beverage contract with Coke, the decision to go with another company (not yet named) was ultimately based on finances rather than social politics, says university spokesperson Denise Mattson.

??
"The students brought (the Colombia allegations) to our attention — and it is an issue," she says. "But we picked the beverage package that had the best value for the university."

??
Mattson says there was so much misinformation circulating about the reasons behind its decision that the school issued a clarifying press release.

??
And while it was widely reported last December when the University of Michigan decided to suspend renewal of its long-standing contract with Coke, little fanfare accompanied the school's quiet reversal of the policy a few months later. The only large U.S. college with a Coke boycott still in effect is New York University, where the ban was ordered by the student government, not school administrators.

??
Pendergrast says Coke's first brush with allegations of violence came some 25 years ago in Guatemala; a Texas-based bottling magnate was accused of hiring local thugs to murder union organizers at his plant. When Roberto Goizueta took over as Coke chairman, he moved to buy out the bottling plant and the killings stopped.

??
The current controversy began a decade ago with the brutal murder of a union organizer at a Coke bottling plant in Colombia, but Pendergrast says he doesn't believe the soft-drink manufacturer was responsible for slayings in a country notorious for violence against union workers. A lawsuit filed against Coke in 2001 was thrown out two years later and a report last year by a social-justice consulting firm said the company was not to blame, although the study was widely discounted because it was commissioned by Coke.

??
"I don't think they're so stupid and inhumane as to have their employees murdered," Pendergrast says.

??
The debate likely will not go away until later this year with the anticipated release of an independent investigation by the respected International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency dedicated to establishing humane labor practices.

??
But it might not go away even then. For the past few years, the anti-Coke banner has been carried domestically by the colorfully named Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.killercoke.org). What sounds like an indignant grassroots effort is actually the work of Ray Rogers, a hired-gun activist whose for-profit, New York-based company, Corporate Campaign, Inc., specializes in pro-union campaigns.

??
Pablo Largacha, a native of Colombia who recently took over as director of public affairs and communications at Coke's corporate headquarters in Atlanta, says he believes Rogers' firm was hired by the Colombian bottling union to spread allegations against the company on college campuses.

??
"There's little we can say or do to satisfy the 'Killer Coke' campaign," he says. "People in Colombia don't believe these allegations; this is a campaign being waged outside the country."

??
For all its famous marketing savvy, however, Coke often fumbles when it comes to public relations — and not just in India. When a CL photographer showed up to snap pictures of the Coke headquarters from across the street, the company called the cops on him."
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  string(5526) "Atlanta's best-known corporation seemed to suffer another public relations hit last week with the news that Chicago's DePaul University has become the latest major college to kick Coke off campus.

??
DePaul -- the nation's largest Catholic university, with an enrollment of more than 23,000 -- joined the University of Michigan and New York University in giving the boot to the world's most popular soft drink. Within days, liberal blogs and media websites attributed the decision to lingering concerns over the company's alleged role in the murders of South American union workers at bottling plants in Colombia.

??
So far, the student anti-Coke movement doesn't seem to have taken root in the cola's hometown. Joan Collier, Georgia State University's new student government association president, says that apart from a few fliers handed out last semester by a Socialist student group, she hasn't heard a public denouncement of Coca-Cola or calls for the removal of its vending machines.

??
Across town at Emory University -- sometimes referred to as "Coca-Cola U" because about 16 percent of its total endowment is in the form of Coke stock -- an article published earlier this year in the Emory Wheel noted that while student activists at other colleges are pushing for Coke boycotts, "there are no signs of an outcry at Emory against its most famous corporate benefactor."

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Considering the current PR crisis in India, where Coke stands accused of hijacking water resources and selling pesticide-tainted drinks, it might appear that Coca-Cola is emerging as this decade's Nike, a corporate behemoth whose questionable business practices abroad have ignited a firestorm of protest among the socially conscious.

??
Mark Pendergrast, a native Atlantan who authored ''For God, Country and Coca-Cola'', an unauthorized history of the world's best-selling drink, believes the company could at least partly be the victim of a well-orchestrated smear campaign. "They are the perfect target for people who want to hate multinational corporations because the company's image is everything to them," he says.

??
For starters, although some DePaul students had been calling for the school not to renew its exclusive beverage contract with Coke, the decision to go with another company (not yet named) was ultimately based on finances rather than social politics, says university spokesperson Denise Mattson.

??
"The students brought (the Colombia allegations) to our attention -- and it is an issue," she says. "But we picked the beverage package that had the best value for the university."

??
Mattson says there was so much misinformation circulating about the reasons behind its decision that the school issued a clarifying press release.

??
And while it was widely reported last December when the University of Michigan decided to suspend renewal of its long-standing contract with Coke, little fanfare accompanied the school's quiet reversal of the policy a few months later. The only large U.S. college with a Coke boycott still in effect is New York University, where the ban was ordered by the student government, not school administrators.

??
Pendergrast says Coke's first brush with allegations of violence came some 25 years ago in Guatemala; a Texas-based bottling magnate was accused of hiring local thugs to murder union organizers at his plant. When Roberto Goizueta took over as Coke chairman, he moved to buy out the bottling plant and the killings stopped.

??
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??
"I don't think they're so stupid and inhumane as to have their employees murdered," Pendergrast says.

??
The debate likely will not go away until later this year with the anticipated release of an independent investigation by the respected International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency dedicated to establishing humane labor practices.

??
But it might not go away even then. For the past few years, the anti-Coke banner has been carried domestically by the colorfully named Campaign to Stop Killer Coke ([http://www.killercoke.org/|www.killercoke.org]). What sounds like an indignant grassroots effort is actually the work of Ray Rogers, a hired-gun activist whose for-profit, New York-based company, Corporate Campaign, Inc., specializes in pro-union campaigns.

??
Pablo Largacha, a native of Colombia who recently took over as director of public affairs and communications at Coke's corporate headquarters in Atlanta, says he believes Rogers' firm was hired by the Colombian bottling union to spread allegations against the company on college campuses.

??
"There's little we can say or do to satisfy the 'Killer Coke' campaign," he says. "People in Colombia don't believe these allegations; this is a campaign being waged outside the country."

??
For all its famous marketing savvy, however, Coke often fumbles when it comes to public relations -- and not just in India. When a ''CL'' photographer showed up to snap pictures of the Coke headquarters from across the street, the company called the cops on him."
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  string(5815) "    Colleges have taken action amid allegations of fatal anti-union efforts   2006-09-13T04:04:00+00:00 Coke unrest hasn't spread to Atlanta -- yet   Scott Henry 1223597 2006-09-13T04:04:00+00:00  Atlanta's best-known corporation seemed to suffer another public relations hit last week with the news that Chicago's DePaul University has become the latest major college to kick Coke off campus.

??
DePaul — the nation's largest Catholic university, with an enrollment of more than 23,000 — joined the University of Michigan and New York University in giving the boot to the world's most popular soft drink. Within days, liberal blogs and media websites attributed the decision to lingering concerns over the company's alleged role in the murders of South American union workers at bottling plants in Colombia.

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So far, the student anti-Coke movement doesn't seem to have taken root in the cola's hometown. Joan Collier, Georgia State University's new student government association president, says that apart from a few fliers handed out last semester by a Socialist student group, she hasn't heard a public denouncement of Coca-Cola or calls for the removal of its vending machines.

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??
Considering the current PR crisis in India, where Coke stands accused of hijacking water resources and selling pesticide-tainted drinks, it might appear that Coca-Cola is emerging as this decade's Nike, a corporate behemoth whose questionable business practices abroad have ignited a firestorm of protest among the socially conscious.

??
Mark Pendergrast, a native Atlantan who authored For God, Country and Coca-Cola, an unauthorized history of the world's best-selling drink, believes the company could at least partly be the victim of a well-orchestrated smear campaign. "They are the perfect target for people who want to hate multinational corporations because the company's image is everything to them," he says.

??
For starters, although some DePaul students had been calling for the school not to renew its exclusive beverage contract with Coke, the decision to go with another company (not yet named) was ultimately based on finances rather than social politics, says university spokesperson Denise Mattson.

??
"The students brought (the Colombia allegations) to our attention — and it is an issue," she says. "But we picked the beverage package that had the best value for the university."

??
Mattson says there was so much misinformation circulating about the reasons behind its decision that the school issued a clarifying press release.

??
And while it was widely reported last December when the University of Michigan decided to suspend renewal of its long-standing contract with Coke, little fanfare accompanied the school's quiet reversal of the policy a few months later. The only large U.S. college with a Coke boycott still in effect is New York University, where the ban was ordered by the student government, not school administrators.

??
Pendergrast says Coke's first brush with allegations of violence came some 25 years ago in Guatemala; a Texas-based bottling magnate was accused of hiring local thugs to murder union organizers at his plant. When Roberto Goizueta took over as Coke chairman, he moved to buy out the bottling plant and the killings stopped.

??
The current controversy began a decade ago with the brutal murder of a union organizer at a Coke bottling plant in Colombia, but Pendergrast says he doesn't believe the soft-drink manufacturer was responsible for slayings in a country notorious for violence against union workers. A lawsuit filed against Coke in 2001 was thrown out two years later and a report last year by a social-justice consulting firm said the company was not to blame, although the study was widely discounted because it was commissioned by Coke.

??
"I don't think they're so stupid and inhumane as to have their employees murdered," Pendergrast says.

??
The debate likely will not go away until later this year with the anticipated release of an independent investigation by the respected International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency dedicated to establishing humane labor practices.

??
But it might not go away even then. For the past few years, the anti-Coke banner has been carried domestically by the colorfully named Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.killercoke.org). What sounds like an indignant grassroots effort is actually the work of Ray Rogers, a hired-gun activist whose for-profit, New York-based company, Corporate Campaign, Inc., specializes in pro-union campaigns.

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Pablo Largacha, a native of Colombia who recently took over as director of public affairs and communications at Coke's corporate headquarters in Atlanta, says he believes Rogers' firm was hired by the Colombian bottling union to spread allegations against the company on college campuses.

??
"There's little we can say or do to satisfy the 'Killer Coke' campaign," he says. "People in Colombia don't believe these allegations; this is a campaign being waged outside the country."

??
For all its famous marketing savvy, however, Coke often fumbles when it comes to public relations — and not just in India. When a CL photographer showed up to snap pictures of the Coke headquarters from across the street, the company called the cops on him.             13022581 1262825                          Coke unrest hasn't spread to Atlanta -- yet "
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 13, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Colleges have taken action amid allegations of fatal anti-union efforts | more...

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  string(53) "Authorities approved pay for work that never happened"
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  string(4427) "An internal investigation has revealed the latest twist in the woes of the city's troubled home-repair program: The officials who oversaw the program authorized payments to contractors for work that was never performed on houses owned by disabled and elderly homeowners.

According to the investigation conducted by the city's legal department, officials who ran the home-rehabilitation program didn't follow the requirement of accepting the lowest bid from contractors. Some contractors were paid before they even received a building permit; others were paid in full even though the repairs were "often never completed."

Three city employees who oversaw the program have been placed on paid administrative leave and two others have retired.

Each year, the city receives approximately $1.5 million in federal funds to repair about 50 low-income elderly or disabled homeowners' houses that violate the housing code. According to federal guidelines, the city decides what repairs need to be made, accepts bids from contractors in a designated pool, then chooses the lowest bidder to perform the work. After the repairs are made, a city inspector approves the work and the contractor is paid.

But that's not how it's been done.

"The city selected specific contractors at an inflated cost," says Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Karen Miniex. "I think there's some kind of kickbacks. Why else would contractors be paid for work that doesn't get completed?"

Legal Aid filed a lawsuit against the city in April on behalf of six homeowners who alleged shoddy or incomplete work on their homes. As the internal investigation was wrapping up in July, the city reached a settlement with Legal Aid that paid the homeowners a total of $90,000.

According to the report, management problems stymied the program. Rehab officials routinely approved substandard work. In one case, a homeowner needed new tile in her bathroom because of a leak; the tile was replaced before the leak was repaired and had to be replaced a second time after a rain.

Similar mismanagement problems cropped up in the program in the late 1980s. It led to the dismissal of a city inspector after a contractor admitted to paying kickbacks to get away with performing shoddy work on the homes of the elderly.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a scathing report to the city that found, among other things, "systemic deficiencies" with the rehab program that "did not conform to acceptable industry practices." The city responded two months later and promised to fix the program. But Linda Allen, a HUD spokeswoman, says that never happened. "Usually, we don't have a city like this," Allen says.

The city has forwarded its internal investigation to HUD, the agency that funds the rehab program. Allen says the agency hasn't decided what actions to pursue, which could include a criminal investigation. Allen would not comment when asked if the contractors will be required to pay back money they received for work that wasn't done.

The mayor's office has remained mum on the issue and deferred all questions to the Bureau of Housing. "Due to numerous concerns by both the city and HUD, the program is on hold to conduct internal reviews of the programmatic procedures and processes," says Keisha Davis, the department's public information manager.

The only substantial comment from the city came at an Aug. 17 press conference that announced the findings. "There is sufficient evidence to conclude that certain employees of the Bureau of Housing, both past and present, mismanaged the owner-occupied housing-rehabilitation program," said the city's chief operating officer Lynnette Young. "Either they knew the work had not been performed or they were grossly negligent." She also vowed that Atlanta would get the program back on track within the next 90 days. The program was halted in November because of the HUD findings.

City councilman C.T. Martin said he is still studying the city's report. "I'm very disturbed," Martin says. "So many seniors have roofing problems and gutter problems and want to stay in their homes."

Meanwhile, the real victims are the homeowners who qualify for the program and either have suffered from poor workmanship or need repairs and can't get them. "This is a valuable program that's helped a lot of people," says Legal Aid attorney Bill Brennan. "Shutting it down is not the answer.""
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  string(4430) "An internal investigation has revealed the latest twist in the woes of the city's troubled home-repair program: The officials who oversaw the program authorized payments to contractors for work that was never performed on houses owned by disabled and elderly homeowners.

According to the investigation conducted by the city's legal department, officials who ran the home-rehabilitation program didn't follow the requirement of accepting the lowest bid from contractors. Some contractors were paid before they even received a building permit; others were paid in full even though the repairs were "often never completed."

Three city employees who oversaw the program have been placed on paid administrative leave and two others have retired.

Each year, the city receives approximately $1.5 million in federal funds to repair about 50 low-income elderly or disabled homeowners' houses that violate the housing code. According to federal guidelines, the city decides what repairs need to be made, accepts bids from contractors in a designated pool, then chooses the lowest bidder to perform the work. After the repairs are made, a city inspector approves the work and the contractor is paid.

But that's not how it's been done.

"The city selected specific contractors at an inflated cost," says Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Karen Miniex. "I think there's some kind of kickbacks. Why else would [[contractors be paid] for work that doesn't get completed?"

Legal Aid filed a lawsuit against the city in April on behalf of six homeowners who alleged shoddy or incomplete work on their homes. As the internal investigation was wrapping up in July, the city reached a settlement with Legal Aid that paid the homeowners a total of $90,000.

According to the report, management problems stymied the program. Rehab officials routinely approved substandard work. In one case, a homeowner needed new tile in her bathroom because of a leak; the tile was replaced before the leak was repaired and had to be replaced a second time after a rain.

Similar mismanagement problems cropped up in the program in the late 1980s. It led to the dismissal of a city inspector after a contractor admitted to paying kickbacks to get away with performing shoddy work on the homes of the elderly.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a scathing report to the city that found, among other things, "systemic deficiencies" with the rehab program that "did not conform to acceptable industry practices." The city responded two months later and promised to fix the program. But Linda Allen, a HUD spokeswoman, says that never happened. "Usually, we don't have a city like this," Allen says.

The city has forwarded its internal investigation to HUD, the agency that funds the rehab program. Allen says the agency hasn't decided what actions to pursue, which could include a criminal investigation. Allen would not comment when asked if the contractors will be required to pay back money they received for work that wasn't done.

The mayor's office has remained mum on the issue and deferred all questions to the Bureau of Housing. "Due to numerous concerns by both the city and HUD, the program is on hold to conduct internal reviews of the programmatic procedures and processes," says Keisha Davis, the department's public information manager.

The only substantial comment from the city came at an Aug. 17 press conference that announced the findings. "There is sufficient evidence to conclude that certain employees of the Bureau of Housing, both past and present, mismanaged the owner-occupied housing-rehabilitation program," said the city's chief operating officer Lynnette Young. "Either they knew the work had not been performed or they were grossly negligent." She also vowed that Atlanta would get the program back on track within the next 90 days. The program was halted in November because of the HUD findings.

City councilman C.T. Martin said he is still studying the city's report. "I'm very disturbed," Martin says. "So many seniors have roofing problems and gutter problems and want to stay in their homes."

Meanwhile, the real victims are the homeowners who qualify for the program and either have suffered from poor workmanship or need repairs and can't get them. "This is a valuable program that's helped a lot of people," says Legal Aid attorney Bill Brennan. "Shutting it down is not the answer.""
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  string(4697) "    Authorities approved pay for work that never happened   2006-09-06T04:04:00+00:00 City's home-repair program in tatters   Alyssa Abkowitz 1224003 2006-09-06T04:04:00+00:00  An internal investigation has revealed the latest twist in the woes of the city's troubled home-repair program: The officials who oversaw the program authorized payments to contractors for work that was never performed on houses owned by disabled and elderly homeowners.

According to the investigation conducted by the city's legal department, officials who ran the home-rehabilitation program didn't follow the requirement of accepting the lowest bid from contractors. Some contractors were paid before they even received a building permit; others were paid in full even though the repairs were "often never completed."

Three city employees who oversaw the program have been placed on paid administrative leave and two others have retired.

Each year, the city receives approximately $1.5 million in federal funds to repair about 50 low-income elderly or disabled homeowners' houses that violate the housing code. According to federal guidelines, the city decides what repairs need to be made, accepts bids from contractors in a designated pool, then chooses the lowest bidder to perform the work. After the repairs are made, a city inspector approves the work and the contractor is paid.

But that's not how it's been done.

"The city selected specific contractors at an inflated cost," says Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Karen Miniex. "I think there's some kind of kickbacks. Why else would contractors be paid for work that doesn't get completed?"

Legal Aid filed a lawsuit against the city in April on behalf of six homeowners who alleged shoddy or incomplete work on their homes. As the internal investigation was wrapping up in July, the city reached a settlement with Legal Aid that paid the homeowners a total of $90,000.

According to the report, management problems stymied the program. Rehab officials routinely approved substandard work. In one case, a homeowner needed new tile in her bathroom because of a leak; the tile was replaced before the leak was repaired and had to be replaced a second time after a rain.

Similar mismanagement problems cropped up in the program in the late 1980s. It led to the dismissal of a city inspector after a contractor admitted to paying kickbacks to get away with performing shoddy work on the homes of the elderly.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a scathing report to the city that found, among other things, "systemic deficiencies" with the rehab program that "did not conform to acceptable industry practices." The city responded two months later and promised to fix the program. But Linda Allen, a HUD spokeswoman, says that never happened. "Usually, we don't have a city like this," Allen says.

The city has forwarded its internal investigation to HUD, the agency that funds the rehab program. Allen says the agency hasn't decided what actions to pursue, which could include a criminal investigation. Allen would not comment when asked if the contractors will be required to pay back money they received for work that wasn't done.

The mayor's office has remained mum on the issue and deferred all questions to the Bureau of Housing. "Due to numerous concerns by both the city and HUD, the program is on hold to conduct internal reviews of the programmatic procedures and processes," says Keisha Davis, the department's public information manager.

The only substantial comment from the city came at an Aug. 17 press conference that announced the findings. "There is sufficient evidence to conclude that certain employees of the Bureau of Housing, both past and present, mismanaged the owner-occupied housing-rehabilitation program," said the city's chief operating officer Lynnette Young. "Either they knew the work had not been performed or they were grossly negligent." She also vowed that Atlanta would get the program back on track within the next 90 days. The program was halted in November because of the HUD findings.

City councilman C.T. Martin said he is still studying the city's report. "I'm very disturbed," Martin says. "So many seniors have roofing problems and gutter problems and want to stay in their homes."

Meanwhile, the real victims are the homeowners who qualify for the program and either have suffered from poor workmanship or need repairs and can't get them. "This is a valuable program that's helped a lot of people," says Legal Aid attorney Bill Brennan. "Shutting it down is not the answer."             13022376 1262416                          City's home-repair program in tatters "
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 6, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Authorities approved pay for work that never happened | more...
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  string(33) "Big Beltline decisions on the way"
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  string(4811) "This fall, the Beltline — a proposed 22-mile loop of transit, parks and new development circling intown Atlanta — will begin to take shape.

??
But what, exactly, should that shape be? The question has brought neighborhood groups, transit advocates, city officials and real estate developers to a serious crossroads.

??
Should the Beltline, which is anticipated to take at least 15 years to build, be an eco-conscious and user-friendly light-rail or streetcar line — or a less sexy but more affordable bus rapid transit system? Should it be a continuous loop — or a reverse "G"-shaped route that would require a transfer to the north-south MARTA rail line? And should development along the Beltline be high and dense — or more in keeping with the current size and scale of the neighborhoods along the Beltline's path?

??
MARTA's board is in the midst of applying for federal grants to help build the Beltline. (City and county agencies already have approved a tax-allocation district to raise much of the money.) Before MARTA finalizes its application, the transit agency must vote on the Beltline's preferred mode of transit — light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit — as well as its route. The vote is expected in the next few months.

??
Neighbors and transit advocacy groups, who came out in droves to attend public hearings last month, have strongly lobbied for light rail or streetcars. Lee Biola, president of advocacy group Citizens for Progressive Transit, points out that while bus rapid transit might be as much as $270 million cheaper initially, the rising cost of gas and the expense of maintaining and expanding the system could negate those early savings.

??
Biola and other transit and environmental advocates also are concerned that if the Beltline, a loop of mostly abandoned railroad tracks, is paved to accommodate bus rapid transit, the road eventually could be expanded to serve cars, too. He says a rail line, on the other hand, signifies permanence — and a commitment to public transit and cleaner air.

??
"Rails will have a bigger effect on people's willingness to leave their cars behind," says Biola, whose group held a Sept. 5 rally outside MARTA headquarters.

??
Johnny Dunning, MARTA's manager of regional planning and analysis, says it would be "highly and extremely unlikely" that cars would ever be allowed to travel the Beltline. "Putting another road within this already concentrated area of roads would be very counterproductive," Dunning says. "We're trying to get people to use other modes of transportation."

??
Although a recent MARTA study ranked bus rapid transit as the favored transit for the Beltline, Dunning says MARTA's board could feel differently.

??
"Bus rapid transit was a viable option," Dunning says. "Does it mean it's the best option? You have to weigh in public input for that. Community support is so key, and I think our board is definitely going to consider that."

??
Dunning also says the board is likely to approve the continuous route for the Beltline — which neighbors overwhelmingly supported.

??
Over the next two months, two City Council committees also will hear from residents — this time about a developer's requests for rezoning and land-use changes at two controversial sites along the Beltline.

??
Suburban mega-developer Wayne Mason, who owns five miles of the Beltline, wants to develop a pair of condo towers rising nearly 40 stories each on 7.5 acres at the corner of Monroe Drive and 10th Street. He's also hoping to redevelop 12 acres — including the Amsterdam Walk shopping center near the northeast end of Piedmont Park — as a mixed-use complex that could be built as tall as 15 stories. Together, the two developments would contain nearly 1,700 residential units.

??
For the development to go forward, Mason and his partners must get approval from the city both to rezone the properties and to change a 15-year community development plan that says the land should be maintained as open space.

??
The majority of the properties' neighbors — including Liz Coyle, vice chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-F — are strongly opposed to the developments.

??
"There's nothing wrong with 80 units per acre in a high-rise on Peachtree Street," Coyle says. "But allowing this dense development forever compromises the vision of the Beltline as a linear park."

??
GET INVOLVED A hearing on changing the city's land-use plan to accommodate the high-rise condo towers overlooking Piedmont Park will be held Mon., Sept. 11, 6 p.m. in Atlanta City Hall Council Chambers, 55 Trinity Ave. For more info on the towers, visit www.neatlantabeltline.com and www.bncatlanta.org. For more info on the Beltline, visit www.cfpt.org and www.itsmarta.com."
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  string(4864) "This fall, the Beltline -- a proposed 22-mile loop of transit, parks and new development circling intown Atlanta -- will begin to take shape.

??
But what, exactly, should that shape be? The question has brought neighborhood groups, transit advocates, city officials and real estate developers to a serious crossroads.

??
Should the Beltline, which is anticipated to take at least 15 years to build, be an eco-conscious and user-friendly light-rail or streetcar line -- or a less sexy but more affordable bus rapid transit system? Should it be a continuous loop -- or a reverse "G"-shaped route that would require a transfer to the north-south MARTA rail line? And should development along the Beltline be high and dense -- or more in keeping with the current size and scale of the neighborhoods along the Beltline's path?

??
MARTA's board is in the midst of applying for federal grants to help build the Beltline. (City and county agencies already have approved a tax-allocation district to raise much of the money.) Before MARTA finalizes its application, the transit agency must vote on the Beltline's preferred mode of transit -- light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit -- as well as its route. The vote is expected in the next few months.

??
Neighbors and transit advocacy groups, who came out in droves to attend public hearings last month, have strongly lobbied for light rail or streetcars. Lee Biola, president of advocacy group Citizens for Progressive Transit, points out that while bus rapid transit might be as much as $270 million cheaper initially, the rising cost of gas and the expense of maintaining and expanding the system could negate those early savings.

??
Biola and other transit and environmental advocates also are concerned that if the Beltline, a loop of mostly abandoned railroad tracks, is paved to accommodate bus rapid transit, the road eventually could be expanded to serve cars, too. He says a rail line, on the other hand, signifies permanence -- and a commitment to public transit and cleaner air.

??
"Rails will have a bigger effect on people's willingness to leave their cars behind," says Biola, whose group held a Sept. 5 rally outside MARTA headquarters.

??
Johnny Dunning, MARTA's manager of regional planning and analysis, says it would be "highly and extremely unlikely" that cars would ever be allowed to travel the Beltline. "Putting another road within this already concentrated area of roads would be very counterproductive," Dunning says. "We're trying to get people to use other modes of transportation."

??
Although a recent MARTA study ranked bus rapid transit as the favored transit for the Beltline, Dunning says MARTA's board could feel differently.

??
"Bus rapid transit was a viable option," Dunning says. "Does it mean it's the best option? You have to weigh in public input for that. Community support is so key, and I think our board is definitely going to consider that."

??
Dunning also says the board is likely to approve the continuous route for the Beltline -- which neighbors overwhelmingly supported.

??
Over the next two months, two City Council committees also will hear from residents -- this time about a developer's requests for rezoning and land-use changes at two controversial sites along the Beltline.

??
Suburban mega-developer Wayne Mason, who owns five miles of the Beltline, wants to develop a pair of condo towers rising nearly 40 stories each on 7.5 acres at the corner of Monroe Drive and 10th Street. He's also hoping to redevelop 12 acres -- including the Amsterdam Walk shopping center near the northeast end of Piedmont Park -- as a mixed-use complex that could be built as tall as 15 stories. Together, the two developments would contain nearly 1,700 residential units.

??
For the development to go forward, Mason and his partners must get approval from the city both to rezone the properties and to change a 15-year community development plan that says the land should be maintained as open space.

??
The majority of the properties' neighbors -- including Liz Coyle, vice chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-F -- are strongly opposed to the developments.

??
"There's nothing wrong with 80 units per acre in a high-rise on Peachtree Street," Coyle says. "But allowing this dense development forever compromises the vision of the Beltline as a linear park."

??
__GET INVOLVED__ ''A hearing on changing the city's land-use plan to accommodate the high-rise condo towers overlooking Piedmont Park will be held Mon., Sept. 11, 6 p.m. in Atlanta City Hall Council Chambers, 55 Trinity Ave. For more info on the towers, visit [http://www.neatlantabeltline.com/|www.neatlantabeltline.com] and [http://www.bncatlanta.org/|www.bncatlanta.org]. For more info on the Beltline, visit [http://www.cfpt.org/|www.cfpt.org] and [http://www.itsmarta.com/|www.itsmarta.com].''"
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  string(5073) "    MARTA expected to make critical vote in upcoming months   2006-09-06T04:04:00+00:00 Big Beltline decisions on the way   Mara Shalhoup 1223634 2006-09-06T04:04:00+00:00  This fall, the Beltline — a proposed 22-mile loop of transit, parks and new development circling intown Atlanta — will begin to take shape.

??
But what, exactly, should that shape be? The question has brought neighborhood groups, transit advocates, city officials and real estate developers to a serious crossroads.

??
Should the Beltline, which is anticipated to take at least 15 years to build, be an eco-conscious and user-friendly light-rail or streetcar line — or a less sexy but more affordable bus rapid transit system? Should it be a continuous loop — or a reverse "G"-shaped route that would require a transfer to the north-south MARTA rail line? And should development along the Beltline be high and dense — or more in keeping with the current size and scale of the neighborhoods along the Beltline's path?

??
MARTA's board is in the midst of applying for federal grants to help build the Beltline. (City and county agencies already have approved a tax-allocation district to raise much of the money.) Before MARTA finalizes its application, the transit agency must vote on the Beltline's preferred mode of transit — light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit — as well as its route. The vote is expected in the next few months.

??
Neighbors and transit advocacy groups, who came out in droves to attend public hearings last month, have strongly lobbied for light rail or streetcars. Lee Biola, president of advocacy group Citizens for Progressive Transit, points out that while bus rapid transit might be as much as $270 million cheaper initially, the rising cost of gas and the expense of maintaining and expanding the system could negate those early savings.

??
Biola and other transit and environmental advocates also are concerned that if the Beltline, a loop of mostly abandoned railroad tracks, is paved to accommodate bus rapid transit, the road eventually could be expanded to serve cars, too. He says a rail line, on the other hand, signifies permanence — and a commitment to public transit and cleaner air.

??
"Rails will have a bigger effect on people's willingness to leave their cars behind," says Biola, whose group held a Sept. 5 rally outside MARTA headquarters.

??
Johnny Dunning, MARTA's manager of regional planning and analysis, says it would be "highly and extremely unlikely" that cars would ever be allowed to travel the Beltline. "Putting another road within this already concentrated area of roads would be very counterproductive," Dunning says. "We're trying to get people to use other modes of transportation."

??
Although a recent MARTA study ranked bus rapid transit as the favored transit for the Beltline, Dunning says MARTA's board could feel differently.

??
"Bus rapid transit was a viable option," Dunning says. "Does it mean it's the best option? You have to weigh in public input for that. Community support is so key, and I think our board is definitely going to consider that."

??
Dunning also says the board is likely to approve the continuous route for the Beltline — which neighbors overwhelmingly supported.

??
Over the next two months, two City Council committees also will hear from residents — this time about a developer's requests for rezoning and land-use changes at two controversial sites along the Beltline.

??
Suburban mega-developer Wayne Mason, who owns five miles of the Beltline, wants to develop a pair of condo towers rising nearly 40 stories each on 7.5 acres at the corner of Monroe Drive and 10th Street. He's also hoping to redevelop 12 acres — including the Amsterdam Walk shopping center near the northeast end of Piedmont Park — as a mixed-use complex that could be built as tall as 15 stories. Together, the two developments would contain nearly 1,700 residential units.

??
For the development to go forward, Mason and his partners must get approval from the city both to rezone the properties and to change a 15-year community development plan that says the land should be maintained as open space.

??
The majority of the properties' neighbors — including Liz Coyle, vice chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit-F — are strongly opposed to the developments.

??
"There's nothing wrong with 80 units per acre in a high-rise on Peachtree Street," Coyle says. "But allowing this dense development forever compromises the vision of the Beltline as a linear park."

??
GET INVOLVED A hearing on changing the city's land-use plan to accommodate the high-rise condo towers overlooking Piedmont Park will be held Mon., Sept. 11, 6 p.m. in Atlanta City Hall Council Chambers, 55 Trinity Ave. For more info on the towers, visit www.neatlantabeltline.com and www.bncatlanta.org. For more info on the Beltline, visit www.cfpt.org and www.itsmarta.com.             13022386 1262435                          Big Beltline decisions on the way "
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News Briefs

Wednesday September 6, 2006 12:04 am EDT
MARTA expected to make critical vote in upcoming months | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(43) "Developer tears down Queen Anne in Kirkwood"
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  string(2566) "Last Wednesday afternoon, a piece of Kirkwood history met an abrupt demise when developers turned a 106-year-old Queen Anne-style farmhouse into a pile of splinters. It just so happened the demolition occurred the same week CL ran a story detailing neighbors' fruitless efforts to save the property. Kirkwood resident Sally Alcock says the timing of the demolition was no coincidence.

"Enclave of Kirkwood partner Joe Amszynski was extremely angered by the article that appeared in Creative Loafing, and he felt that the neighborhood had left him no other option," she says.

A realtor herself, Alcock says the Queen Anne was "a wonderful gem of a home that's now gone, and it can never be replaced. ... It will never be the same."

Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization, was present at the demolition and made frantic phone calls to city officials in a last-ditch effort to halt the demolition. But it was already 4:30 p.m. — too close to closing time to reach anyone. He claims the late start was an intentional move to prevent neighbors from stopping the bulldozer.

Angry neighbors turned out in protest, some even documenting the destruction on film. They stood powerless as a backhoe quickly knocked down the Queen Anne.

Williamson, who spoke briefly with Amszynski on the scene, says he thinks the developer demolished the house because he was angry about the article. "It was deliberate across the board," he says. "It wasn't just a business thing. There were bad feelings involved."

Alcock says community advocates are particularly upset because they believe the demolition permit had expired the day before the house was torn down. Granted on June 23 and good for 60 days, the city-issued permit would indeed seem to have expired a day before the actual demolition occurred. But city rules are largely silent on the subject of penalties for such technical violations, says one long-time city official who asked not to be named. The issue is likely to be considered moot since the developer could easily have renewed the permit.

Amszynski says the permit was valid but declined to comment further, except to say the developers are ready to put the episode behind them and push forward with their project to build high-density infill housing.

Williamson says "pushing" is an apt description of how the partnership does business, adding that he will continue to fight the development.

"It may have been a bad decision on their part," he says, "thinking that knocking down the house will make the neighborhood go away.""
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  string(2572) "Last Wednesday afternoon, a piece of Kirkwood history met an abrupt demise when developers turned a 106-year-old Queen Anne-style farmhouse into a pile of splinters. It just so happened the demolition occurred the same week ''CL'' ran a story detailing neighbors' fruitless efforts to save the property. Kirkwood resident Sally Alcock says the timing of the demolition was no coincidence.

"[[Enclave of Kirkwood partner Joe Amszynski] was extremely angered by the article that appeared in ''Creative Loafing'', and he felt that the neighborhood had left him no other option," she says.

A realtor herself, Alcock says the Queen Anne was "a wonderful gem of a home that's now gone, and it can never be replaced. ... It will never be the same."

Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization, was present at the demolition and made frantic phone calls to city officials in a last-ditch effort to halt the demolition. But it was already 4:30 p.m. -- too close to closing time to reach anyone. He claims the late start was an intentional move to prevent neighbors from stopping the bulldozer.

Angry neighbors turned out in protest, some even documenting the destruction on film. They stood powerless as a backhoe quickly knocked down the Queen Anne.

Williamson, who spoke briefly with Amszynski on the scene, says he thinks the developer demolished the house because he was angry about the article. "It was deliberate across the board," he says. "It wasn't just a business thing. There were bad feelings involved."

Alcock says community advocates are particularly upset because they believe the demolition permit had expired the day before the house was torn down. Granted on June 23 and good for 60 days, the city-issued permit would indeed seem to have expired a day before the actual demolition occurred. But city rules are largely silent on the subject of penalties for such technical violations, says one long-time city official who asked not to be named. The issue is likely to be considered moot since the developer could easily have renewed the permit.

Amszynski says the permit was valid but declined to comment further, except to say the developers are ready to put the episode behind them and push forward with their project to build high-density infill housing.

Williamson says "pushing" is an apt description of how the partnership does business, adding that he will continue to fight the development.

"It may have been a bad decision on their part," he says, "thinking that knocking down the house will make the neighborhood go away.""
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  string(2844) "    Historic home toppled, despite neighbors' protests   2006-08-30T04:04:00+00:00 Developer tears down Queen Anne in Kirkwood   Chase Mitchell 1224146 2006-08-30T04:04:00+00:00  Last Wednesday afternoon, a piece of Kirkwood history met an abrupt demise when developers turned a 106-year-old Queen Anne-style farmhouse into a pile of splinters. It just so happened the demolition occurred the same week CL ran a story detailing neighbors' fruitless efforts to save the property. Kirkwood resident Sally Alcock says the timing of the demolition was no coincidence.

"Enclave of Kirkwood partner Joe Amszynski was extremely angered by the article that appeared in Creative Loafing, and he felt that the neighborhood had left him no other option," she says.

A realtor herself, Alcock says the Queen Anne was "a wonderful gem of a home that's now gone, and it can never be replaced. ... It will never be the same."

Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization, was present at the demolition and made frantic phone calls to city officials in a last-ditch effort to halt the demolition. But it was already 4:30 p.m. — too close to closing time to reach anyone. He claims the late start was an intentional move to prevent neighbors from stopping the bulldozer.

Angry neighbors turned out in protest, some even documenting the destruction on film. They stood powerless as a backhoe quickly knocked down the Queen Anne.

Williamson, who spoke briefly with Amszynski on the scene, says he thinks the developer demolished the house because he was angry about the article. "It was deliberate across the board," he says. "It wasn't just a business thing. There were bad feelings involved."

Alcock says community advocates are particularly upset because they believe the demolition permit had expired the day before the house was torn down. Granted on June 23 and good for 60 days, the city-issued permit would indeed seem to have expired a day before the actual demolition occurred. But city rules are largely silent on the subject of penalties for such technical violations, says one long-time city official who asked not to be named. The issue is likely to be considered moot since the developer could easily have renewed the permit.

Amszynski says the permit was valid but declined to comment further, except to say the developers are ready to put the episode behind them and push forward with their project to build high-density infill housing.

Williamson says "pushing" is an apt description of how the partnership does business, adding that he will continue to fight the development.

"It may have been a bad decision on their part," he says, "thinking that knocking down the house will make the neighborhood go away."             13022253 1262189                          Developer tears down Queen Anne in Kirkwood "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 30, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Historic home toppled, despite neighbors' protests | more...
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  string(3610) "Over the next two months, voters can expect to see Mark Taylor tout his lottery credentials, mend fences with former Cathy Cox supporters and sell his populist plans to help low-income Georgians. But the Democratic nominee for governor will simply be spinning his campaign wheels unless he can achieve a much more difficult objective.

??
"For Taylor to have any chance against Sonny Perdue — and this is true for most races — he has to absolutely discredit the incumbent," says Bill Shipp, a political columnist who appears on TV's "The Georgia Gang."

??
But how do you besmirch the record of a sitting governor who hasn't left much of a record to attack?

??
"The reality is that Perdue has a very modest record of achievement," says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor. As a result, Perdue has ruffled far fewer feathers than his predecessor, Roy Barnes, whose many initiatives — reforming schools, shifting transportation funding and changing the state flag — made him legions of enemies across the state.

??
A do-nothing first term has traditionally heralded a return to the Governor's Mansion, says Shipp, pointing out that the strategy paid off for George Busbee and Joe Frank Harris. The energetic and omnipresent Zell Miller, on the other hand, barely won re-election against a Buckhead tycoon who'd never held public office.

??
The most obvious glitch in Perdue's uneventful gubernatorial legacy is the more than $1 billion in cuts he made to public school funding during his first three years in office. With Georgia schools still ranked near the bottom of the heap nationally, Taylor is expected to spotlight Perdue's decision to delay the class-size reductions promised by Barnes while ordering up $1 billion in corporate tax cuts.

??
But Charles Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia, says the governor is already addressing these potential weaknesses. Perdue's first campaign ads blame his early budget cutting on a weak economy, an explanation Bullock believes will wash with most viewers. A recent TV spot claims Perdue has reduced class sizes and committed $1 billion to schools — without mentioning that he's the guy who took away the $1 billion in the first place.

??
In fact, Perdue's new campaign slogan, "Sonny did" — and the accompanying boasts of such take-charge actions as temporarily lifting the state gas tax during the post-Katrina price spike — appears calculated as an antidote to criticism that he's been the Georgia political version of Garfield the Cat.

??
So where does that leave Taylor? Most likely, looking for ways to exploit dissatisfactions with the governor that voters don't yet know they have.

??
"With a challenger behind in the polls to an incumbent who hasn't incited much anger, you can expect to see a scorched-earth campaign," Bullock says. "One tactic may be to portray the Republicans as the party of sleaze," using Perdue's controversial purchase of Florida swampland from a political contributor as an opening.

??
Another avenue might be to blame Perdue for Georgia's recent weak economic growth and loss of manufacturing jobs in rural areas, says Shipp, adding, "It's going to be very difficult to convince voters that Perdue is hurting them."

??
Still, he notes that the polls now showing Perdue far ahead may soon be as obsolete as those which predicted Cox would win the primary — especially given Taylor's strength as a campaigner. "It may look at this point like Taylor's beaten," says Shipp, "but we haven't even begun the real race.""
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??
"For Taylor to have any chance against Sonny Perdue -- and this is true for most races -- he has to absolutely discredit the incumbent," says Bill Shipp, a political columnist who appears on TV's "The Georgia Gang."

??
But how do you besmirch the record of a sitting governor who hasn't left much of a record to attack?

??
"The reality is that Perdue has a very modest record of achievement," says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor. As a result, Perdue has ruffled far fewer feathers than his predecessor, Roy Barnes, whose many initiatives -- reforming schools, shifting transportation funding and changing the state flag -- made him legions of enemies across the state.

??
A do-nothing first term has traditionally heralded a return to the Governor's Mansion, says Shipp, pointing out that the strategy paid off for George Busbee and Joe Frank Harris. The energetic and omnipresent Zell Miller, on the other hand, barely won re-election against a Buckhead tycoon who'd never held public office.

??
The most obvious glitch in Perdue's uneventful gubernatorial legacy is the more than $1 billion in cuts he made to public school funding during his first three years in office. With Georgia schools still ranked near the bottom of the heap nationally, Taylor is expected to spotlight Perdue's decision to delay the class-size reductions promised by Barnes while ordering up $1 billion in corporate tax cuts.

??
But Charles Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia, says the governor is already addressing these potential weaknesses. Perdue's first campaign ads blame his early budget cutting on a weak economy, an explanation Bullock believes will wash with most viewers. A recent TV spot claims Perdue has reduced class sizes and committed $1 billion to schools -- without mentioning that he's the guy who took away the $1 billion in the first place.

??
In fact, Perdue's new campaign slogan, "Sonny did" -- and the accompanying boasts of such take-charge actions as temporarily lifting the state gas tax during the post-Katrina price spike -- appears calculated as an antidote to criticism that he's been the Georgia political version of Garfield the Cat.

??
So where does that leave Taylor? Most likely, looking for ways to exploit dissatisfactions with the governor that voters don't yet know they have.

??
"With a challenger behind in the polls to an incumbent who hasn't incited much anger, you can expect to see a scorched-earth campaign," Bullock says. "One tactic may be to portray the Republicans as the party of sleaze," using Perdue's controversial purchase of Florida swampland from a political contributor as an opening.

??
Another avenue might be to blame Perdue for Georgia's recent weak economic growth and loss of manufacturing jobs in rural areas, says Shipp, adding, "It's going to be very difficult to convince voters that Perdue is hurting them."

??
Still, he notes that the polls now showing Perdue far ahead may soon be as obsolete as those which predicted Cox would win the primary -- especially given Taylor's strength as a campaigner. "It may look at this point like Taylor's beaten," says Shipp, "but we haven't even begun the real race.""
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  string(3873) "    Mark Taylor needs to discredit incumbent to win, polls say   2006-08-30T04:04:00+00:00 Perdue will be a hard man to beat   Scott Henry 1223597 2006-08-30T04:04:00+00:00  Over the next two months, voters can expect to see Mark Taylor tout his lottery credentials, mend fences with former Cathy Cox supporters and sell his populist plans to help low-income Georgians. But the Democratic nominee for governor will simply be spinning his campaign wheels unless he can achieve a much more difficult objective.

??
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??
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??
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??
A do-nothing first term has traditionally heralded a return to the Governor's Mansion, says Shipp, pointing out that the strategy paid off for George Busbee and Joe Frank Harris. The energetic and omnipresent Zell Miller, on the other hand, barely won re-election against a Buckhead tycoon who'd never held public office.

??
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??
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??
In fact, Perdue's new campaign slogan, "Sonny did" — and the accompanying boasts of such take-charge actions as temporarily lifting the state gas tax during the post-Katrina price spike — appears calculated as an antidote to criticism that he's been the Georgia political version of Garfield the Cat.

??
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??
"With a challenger behind in the polls to an incumbent who hasn't incited much anger, you can expect to see a scorched-earth campaign," Bullock says. "One tactic may be to portray the Republicans as the party of sleaze," using Perdue's controversial purchase of Florida swampland from a political contributor as an opening.

??
Another avenue might be to blame Perdue for Georgia's recent weak economic growth and loss of manufacturing jobs in rural areas, says Shipp, adding, "It's going to be very difficult to convince voters that Perdue is hurting them."

??
Still, he notes that the polls now showing Perdue far ahead may soon be as obsolete as those which predicted Cox would win the primary — especially given Taylor's strength as a campaigner. "It may look at this point like Taylor's beaten," says Shipp, "but we haven't even begun the real race."             13022254 1262190                          Perdue will be a hard man to beat "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 30, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Mark Taylor needs to discredit incumbent to win, polls say | more...
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  string(1415) "On June 28, Abdikafi Yusuf's brother and father, refugees from Somalia, paid $20 and exited the Department of Driver Services center with an identification card valid for five years.

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??
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 30, 2006 12:04 am EDT
ID requires yearly renewal | more...
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But the proposed scale of the development isn't the only sticking point. Even before it reached the county, the project had come under fire from local neighborhood groups because it would replace the 524-unit Peachtree Gardens Apartments, the largest remaining bloc of affordable housing in tony Brookhaven.

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Although the county can't require Sembler to help relocate the more than 3,000 apartment-dwellers, some of whom have lived there more than 40 years, the company has been trying to work out a deal to appease the Brookhaven Homeowners and Neighborhood Business Alliance.

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??
But even if the relocation issue is settled, that doesn't mean neighbors will support a proposed project whose size far exceeds the recommendations in a study commissioned by the Atlanta Regional Commission just last year.

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??
But the proposed scale of the development isn't the only sticking point. Even before it reached the county, the project had come under fire from local neighborhood groups because it would replace the 524-unit Peachtree Gardens Apartments, the largest remaining bloc of affordable housing in tony Brookhaven.

??
Although the county can't require Sembler to help relocate the more than 3,000 apartment-dwellers, some of whom have lived there more than 40 years, the company has been trying to work out a deal to appease the Brookhaven Homeowners and Neighborhood Business Alliance.

??
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??
But even if the relocation issue is settled, that doesn't mean neighbors will support a proposed project whose size far exceeds the recommendations in a study commissioned by the Atlanta Regional Commission just last year.

??
"Sembler didn't do their homework," Hughley says. "They thought they could just announce a $400 million project, and that would be the end of it.""
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??
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??
"They are just trying to take a cookie-cutter version of their Perimeter plan and plop it down here," says Gannon, referring to Sembler's 42-acre Perimeter Place, which opened earlier this year in Dunwoody. The company, however, wants to make its proposed Brookhaven Place even larger. Located on the north side of Peachtree Road a mile northwest of Lenox Square, it would be a mixed-used mega-complex, with 600,000 square feet of retail space, 1,700 apartments and condos, and a 150,000-square-foot office building. The project would easily be the biggest of many the company has developed in Atlanta over the past couple of decades, including last year's mammoth Edgewood Retail District.

??
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??
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??
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??
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??
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 23, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Size of development, leveling of affordable housing at issue | more...
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  string(3359) "Already suffering from the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, metro Atlanta is likely to see even more people lose their homes as a result of predatory lending practices and the popularity of adjustable-rate mortgages.

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That's one of the conclusions reached in a new study by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a national advocacy organization that focuses on low-income consumers. Another eye-catching assertion of the study is that upper-income black homebuyers are more than five times as likely to be saddled with high-interest loans than upper-income whites.

??
Call it institutional racism or redlining; the reality is that even major banks and reputable mortgage lenders typically offer higher rates for homes in such places as South DeKalb, the biggest local boom area for black homebuyers, than they do in Buckhead, says Dana Williams, chairman of ACORN's Georgia chapter.

??
"In many minority neighborhoods, the interest rates offered are higher than in majority-white neighborhoods," he says. "In many cases, people with sub-prime loans could've qualified for the prime rate."

??
One of the biggest dangers for average homebuyers, says Emory Law Professor Frank Alexander, are adjustable-rate mortgages, which now account for nearly a quarter of all home loans nationwide. Alexander, an expert on affordable housing, says ARMs, as they're called by lenders, tantalize uneducated consumers with initially low interest rates that can gradually increase until the borrower falls behind in his payments and loses his property. Even worse, he says, are interest-only loans, which only make sense for buyers who plan to sell or refinance soon.

??
Another problem, says Alexander, has been the temptation of home-equity loans, which allow people to extract what seems like easy money from their houses, but which can prove ruinous if the real-estate market stalls or takes a downturn.

??
"The mentality has been to leverage your property to the hilt and use that money for living expenses," he says.

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But even if it sounds as if many of these woes are brought about by bad financial decisions by homebuyers, Alexander says the situation is made worse by Georgia law.

??
"Georgia's foreclosure laws are among the friendliest to lenders, and its predatory-lending laws offer minimal protection to borrowers," he says. As a result, Atlanta has become a sort of playground for fly-by-night lenders who entice aspiring homeowners into taking on loans they may not be able to afford. Many of the sub-prime mortgages being offered also come burdened with hidden charges and obscure fees and penalties.

??
Samuel Ghee, a 49-year-old painting contractor, says he is in danger of losing the Sylvan Hills house he bought last year because of rising interest on his home loan. He says he thought he was taking out a fixed-rate mortgage, but instead ended up with an ARM that included unexpected fees. "I don't think that even if I'd read all the closing papers, I would've caught that," he says. "The loan has blown up on me now."

??
Ghee is among many mortgage-holders who have turned to ACORN for help. Williams says unscrupulous lenders have become bolder about taking advantage of uninformed borrowers, explaining: "If the laws in Georgia aren't fixed, we'll have more people being put out on the street.""
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That's one of the conclusions reached in a new study by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a national advocacy organization that focuses on low-income consumers. Another eye-catching assertion of the study is that upper-income black homebuyers are more than five times as likely to be saddled with high-interest loans than upper-income whites.

??
Call it institutional racism or redlining; the reality is that even major banks and reputable mortgage lenders typically offer higher rates for homes in such places as South DeKalb, the biggest local boom area for black homebuyers, than they do in Buckhead, says Dana Williams, chairman of ACORN's Georgia chapter.

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??
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??
"The mentality has been to leverage your property to the hilt and use that money for living expenses," he says.

??
But even if it sounds as if many of these woes are brought about by bad financial decisions by homebuyers, Alexander says the situation is made worse by Georgia law.

??
"Georgia's foreclosure laws are among the friendliest to lenders, and its predatory-lending laws offer minimal protection to borrowers," he says. As a result, Atlanta has become a sort of playground for fly-by-night lenders who entice aspiring homeowners into taking on loans they may not be able to afford. Many of the sub-prime mortgages being offered also come burdened with hidden charges and obscure fees and penalties.

??
Samuel Ghee, a 49-year-old painting contractor, says he is in danger of losing the Sylvan Hills house he bought last year because of rising interest on his home loan. He says he thought he was taking out a fixed-rate mortgage, but instead ended up with an ARM that included unexpected fees. "I don't think that even if I'd read all the closing papers, I would've caught that," he says. "The loan has blown up on me now."

??
Ghee is among many mortgage-holders who have turned to ACORN for help. Williams says unscrupulous lenders have become bolder about taking advantage of uninformed borrowers, explaining: "If the laws in Georgia aren't fixed, we'll have more people being put out on the street."             13022071 1261844                          Study shows strong disparity in loan rates "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 23, 2006 12:04 am EDT
High interest heaped upon black homebuyers | more...
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  string(1637) "Nearly 15 months after the owner of North Highland Avenue's Hilan Theatre applied for a liquor license, the License Review Board recommended Aug. 15 that the license be denied.

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Mayor Shirley Franklin has the final say, though she rarely contradicts the board. The owner of the Hilan, Jeff Notrica, has the right to appeal her decision.

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Notrica faced fierce opposition from some of the theater's Virginia-Highland neighbors. At issue was whether the Hilan is far enough away from the nearest private residence. According to the city's alcohol code, the distance must be at least 300 feet.

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Neighbors also expressed concern about noise and traffic at the theater, which Notrica wants to open as a convention center.

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Jonathan Weintraub, an attorney representing the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, wrote a letter to the License Review Board earlier this month claiming Notrica had built a zigzagging hallway in the theater's foyer to circumvent the law: "We respectfully submit that the measurements of the applicant are at best incorrect ... in that a maze ... adds approximately 229 feet to the distance." Weintraub claims the actual distance to the nearest home is about 90 feet.

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The former movie theater, which has an occupancy of about 700, has been fully renovated with two bars and a rooftop terrace. Three prior attempts to reopen it — as a pool hall, a brew pub and a live-music venue — all failed, due in part to the vociferous neighborhood group.

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Notrica faced fierce opposition from some of the theater's Virginia-Highland neighbors. At issue was whether the Hilan is far enough away from the nearest private residence. According to the city's alcohol code, the distance must be at least 300 feet.

??
Neighbors also expressed concern about noise and traffic at the theater, which Notrica wants to open as a convention center.

??
Jonathan Weintraub, an attorney representing the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, wrote a letter to the License Review Board earlier this month claiming Notrica had built a zigzagging hallway in the theater's foyer to circumvent the law: "We respectfully submit that the measurements of the applicant are at best incorrect ... in that a maze ... adds approximately 229 feet to the distance." Weintraub claims the actual distance to the nearest home is about 90 feet.

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The former movie theater, which has an occupancy of about 700, has been fully renovated with two bars and a rooftop terrace. Three prior attempts to reopen it -- as a pool hall, a brew pub and a live-music venue -- all failed, due in part to the vociferous neighborhood group.

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??
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 23, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Traffic, noise main concerns voiced by civic group | more...
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  string(3214) "Sharon Hill remembers hearing about a Hispanic woman who was robbed of $10,000. The woman stashed the money under her mattress to save for a down payment on a home because, as an undocumented immigrant, she couldn't find a bank that allowed her to open a bank account. One day, she returned from work to find her house trashed and her life savings gone. But she was too scared, Hill says, to face authorities and file a police report. So she just chalked the devastating robbery up to a setback in life.

??
"This woman just needed a bank account," says Hill, executive director of Georgia Appleseed, a public interest law group. "This is a public safety problem for all people, regardless of their immigration status."

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Many of Georgia's Latino immigrants who carry cash are preyed upon because most of them don't have bank accounts. That's because many local banks hesitate to open accounts for non-citizens — even though no federal law hinders it. Financial institutions fear that if they accept foreign IDs from immigrants to open an account, they could possibly be aiding terrorists or drug money launderers.

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But it's just as unsafe for the more than half a million Latino immigrants in the state, with a collective buying power of about $10 billion, to be unable to protect their earnings with an account or checkbook.

??
Georgia Appleseed is trying to change that.

??
On Sept. 5, the group will host a banking panel in Moultrie, 25 miles away from where a string of robberies in Tifton occurred last fall, culminating in the brutal murders of six Hispanic migrant workers. (The attackers beat the men with aluminum bats as they slept in their trailers.) Appleseed will show local financial institutions and their attorneys that the public-safety needs and economic benefits outweigh the risks of allowing immigrants to bank.

??
To drive home that point, they've invited a Mexican Consulate coordinator to speak on the security features of the Mexican ID, a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation community affairs officer, and Tennessee banker Robert Byrd.

??
In 2004, Byrd noticed a large number of Hispanics cashing their checks on Friday afternoons. He knew he'd prefer them to be account holders instead of mere check cashers. So he attended a Federal Reserve conference and soon learned that he could legally allow non-citizens to open accounts. "We're not in the business of enforcing immigration law," Byrd says. "The regulatory authorities blessed it, and it seemed to be the right thing to do."

??
Today, about 14 percent of Byrd's 20,000 checking account holders are Latinos. And he hopes other banks will follow in his footsteps. In recent years, the United Americas Bank in Roswell has specifically courted the Latino community and has approximately $75 million in deposits, while El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad (The Bank of Our Community) has more than 10 branches in the metro Atlanta area.

??
"There's a tremendous amount of opportunity for this population to start saving, get a loan, buy a car and a house," Hill says. "But it can't be done without financial security."

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??
"This woman just needed a bank account," says Hill, executive director of Georgia Appleseed, a public interest law group. "This is a public safety problem for all people, regardless of their immigration status."

??
Many of Georgia's Latino immigrants who carry cash are preyed upon because most of them don't have bank accounts. That's because many local banks hesitate to open accounts for non-citizens -- even though no federal law hinders it. Financial institutions fear that if they accept foreign IDs from immigrants to open an account, they could possibly be aiding terrorists or drug money launderers.

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But it's just as unsafe for the more than half a million Latino immigrants in the state, with a collective buying power of about $10 billion, to be unable to protect their earnings with an account or checkbook.

??
Georgia Appleseed is trying to change that.

??
On Sept. 5, the group will host a banking panel in Moultrie, 25 miles away from where a string of robberies in Tifton occurred last fall, culminating in the brutal murders of six Hispanic migrant workers. (The attackers beat the men with aluminum bats as they slept in their trailers.) Appleseed will show local financial institutions and their attorneys that the public-safety needs and economic benefits outweigh the risks of allowing immigrants to bank.

??
To drive home that point, they've invited a Mexican Consulate coordinator to speak on the security features of the Mexican ID, a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation community affairs officer, and Tennessee banker Robert Byrd.

??
In 2004, Byrd noticed a large number of Hispanics cashing their checks on Friday afternoons. He knew he'd prefer them to be account holders instead of mere check cashers. So he attended a Federal Reserve conference and soon learned that he could legally allow non-citizens to open accounts. "We're not in the business of enforcing immigration law," Byrd says. "The regulatory authorities blessed it, and it seemed to be the right thing to do."

??
Today, about 14 percent of Byrd's 20,000 checking account holders are Latinos. And he hopes other banks will follow in his footsteps. In recent years, the United Americas Bank in Roswell has specifically courted the Latino community and has approximately $75 million in deposits, while El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad (The Bank of Our Community) has more than 10 branches in the metro Atlanta area.

??
"There's a tremendous amount of opportunity for this population to start saving, get a loan, buy a car and a house," Hill says. "But it can't be done without financial security."

??
''For more info on Georgia Appleseed's Latino financial access project, visit [http://georgia.appleseeds.net/|georgia.appleseeds.net].''"
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  string(3524) "    Hispanic residents fear being robbed, banking industry scared of funding illegal activities   2006-08-16T04:04:00+00:00 Group wants banks to accept immigrants   Alyssa Abkowitz 1224003 2006-08-16T04:04:00+00:00  Sharon Hill remembers hearing about a Hispanic woman who was robbed of $10,000. The woman stashed the money under her mattress to save for a down payment on a home because, as an undocumented immigrant, she couldn't find a bank that allowed her to open a bank account. One day, she returned from work to find her house trashed and her life savings gone. But she was too scared, Hill says, to face authorities and file a police report. So she just chalked the devastating robbery up to a setback in life.

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"This woman just needed a bank account," says Hill, executive director of Georgia Appleseed, a public interest law group. "This is a public safety problem for all people, regardless of their immigration status."

??
Many of Georgia's Latino immigrants who carry cash are preyed upon because most of them don't have bank accounts. That's because many local banks hesitate to open accounts for non-citizens — even though no federal law hinders it. Financial institutions fear that if they accept foreign IDs from immigrants to open an account, they could possibly be aiding terrorists or drug money launderers.

??
But it's just as unsafe for the more than half a million Latino immigrants in the state, with a collective buying power of about $10 billion, to be unable to protect their earnings with an account or checkbook.

??
Georgia Appleseed is trying to change that.

??
On Sept. 5, the group will host a banking panel in Moultrie, 25 miles away from where a string of robberies in Tifton occurred last fall, culminating in the brutal murders of six Hispanic migrant workers. (The attackers beat the men with aluminum bats as they slept in their trailers.) Appleseed will show local financial institutions and their attorneys that the public-safety needs and economic benefits outweigh the risks of allowing immigrants to bank.

??
To drive home that point, they've invited a Mexican Consulate coordinator to speak on the security features of the Mexican ID, a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation community affairs officer, and Tennessee banker Robert Byrd.

??
In 2004, Byrd noticed a large number of Hispanics cashing their checks on Friday afternoons. He knew he'd prefer them to be account holders instead of mere check cashers. So he attended a Federal Reserve conference and soon learned that he could legally allow non-citizens to open accounts. "We're not in the business of enforcing immigration law," Byrd says. "The regulatory authorities blessed it, and it seemed to be the right thing to do."

??
Today, about 14 percent of Byrd's 20,000 checking account holders are Latinos. And he hopes other banks will follow in his footsteps. In recent years, the United Americas Bank in Roswell has specifically courted the Latino community and has approximately $75 million in deposits, while El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad (The Bank of Our Community) has more than 10 branches in the metro Atlanta area.

??
"There's a tremendous amount of opportunity for this population to start saving, get a loan, buy a car and a house," Hill says. "But it can't be done without financial security."

??
For more info on Georgia Appleseed's Latino financial access project, visit georgia.appleseeds.net.             13021936 1261579                          Group wants banks to accept immigrants "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 16, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Hispanic residents fear being robbed, banking industry scared of funding illegal activities | more...
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  string(3231) "At 332 Murray Hill Ave. in Kirkwood is a gold-colored Queen Anne-style farmhouse as old as the neighborhood itself. Astute film buffs may know it as the childhood home of actress Jane Withers, who co-starred with James Dean in Giant. To neighbors with an interest in history, it represents a time when rural and suburban housing were interspersed and Kirkwood was an independent city.

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But now, the 106-year-old property may fall victim to high-density infill housing. The Queen Anne sits on one of seven parcels of land purchased for development by Enclaves of Kirkwood LLC.

??
The plan is to demolish the farmhouse — along with two post-WWII-era homes beside it — clear-cut the tree canopy above it and haul in 8,000 cubic yards of dirt to flatten out the land. The developers want to create a plateau rising 6-8 feet above the adjacent property, which will be subdivided into 10 lots.

??
Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization (KNO), is now locked in a struggle to save the house, which he says has stayed remarkably solid and structurally sound over the years. "It is well worth preservation," he says. "It's the only architectural example of this style left in Kirkwood, and pretty much left in this area."

??
The developers, who could not be reached for comment, first approached the KNO last October, and their original plan was to build 36 townhomes. "We rejected them out of hand," Williamson says. "At that point in time, we told them that if they took this house off the table, we would be much more willing to work with them, and we have maintained that stance since then."

??
The developers eventually proposed to subdivide the parcels into 10 lots — which would conform to other lot sizes in the surrounding area, giving the neighbors very little leverage to fight against it.

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In a bid to save the Queen Anne, the KNO offered to support variances and re-zonings for two additional lots. The group also found a buyer for the house who was willing to pay at least $300,000. The developers turned down the neighbors' proposal and counter-offered to create 13 lots and move the house up to the street.

??
The KNO rejected the idea. "It's just architecturally insane to take that house, move it up to the front and call that 'preservation,'" Williamson says.

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He says the Enclaves of Kirkwood partners have shown no respect for it from the start, allowing squatters to vandalize its interior since they purchased it in 2001.

??
Watershed issues have also become a point of contention between the two parties. The source point spring of Sugar Creek, one of Kirkwood's major streams, lies in the Queen Anne's backyard. Williamson says the infill housing will literally bury the spring. However, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management says the stream is not an official state waterway, so there's nothing they can do about it.

??
The developers have the go-ahead to begin their housing project, but the KNO continues to negotiate with them in the hope of saving the landmark structure. At the KNO's monthly meeting last Thursday, residents voted unanimously to keep fighting to save the house, which Williamson says reflects growing neighborhood support."
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  string(3220) "At 332 Murray Hill Ave. in Kirkwood is a gold-colored Queen Anne-style farmhouse as old as the neighborhood itself. Astute film buffs may know it as the childhood home of actress Jane Withers, who co-starred with James Dean in ''Giant''. To neighbors with an interest in history, it represents a time when rural and suburban housing were interspersed and Kirkwood was an independent city.

??
But now, the 106-year-old property may fall victim to high-density infill housing. The Queen Anne sits on one of seven parcels of land purchased for development by Enclaves of Kirkwood LLC.

??
The plan is to demolish the farmhouse -- along with two post-WWII-era homes beside it -- clear-cut the tree canopy above it and haul in 8,000 cubic yards of dirt to flatten out the land. The developers want to create a plateau rising 6-8 feet above the adjacent property, which will be subdivided into 10 lots.

??
Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization (KNO), is now locked in a struggle to save the house, which he says has stayed remarkably solid and structurally sound over the years. "It is well worth preservation," he says. "It's the only architectural example of this style left in Kirkwood, and pretty much left in this area."

??
The developers, who could not be reached for comment, first approached the KNO last October, and their original plan was to build 36 townhomes. "We rejected them out of hand," Williamson says. "At that point in time, we told them that if they took this house off the table, we would be much more willing to work with them, and we have maintained that stance since then."

??
The developers eventually proposed to subdivide the parcels into 10 lots -- which would conform to other lot sizes in the surrounding area, giving the neighbors very little leverage to fight against it.

??
In a bid to save the Queen Anne, the KNO offered to support variances and re-zonings for two additional lots. The group also found a buyer for the house who was willing to pay at least $300,000. The developers turned down the neighbors' proposal and counter-offered to create 13 lots and move the house up to the street.

??
The KNO rejected the idea. "It's just architecturally insane to take that house, move it up to the front and call that 'preservation,'" Williamson says.

??
He says the Enclaves of Kirkwood partners have shown no respect for it from the start, allowing squatters to vandalize its interior since they purchased it in 2001.

??
Watershed issues have also become a point of contention between the two parties. The source point spring of Sugar Creek, one of Kirkwood's major streams, lies in the Queen Anne's backyard. Williamson says the infill housing will literally bury the spring. However, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management says the stream is not an official state waterway, so there's nothing they can do about it.

??
The developers have the go-ahead to begin their housing project, but the KNO continues to negotiate with them in the hope of saving the landmark structure. At the KNO's monthly meeting last Thursday, residents voted unanimously to keep fighting to save the house, which Williamson says reflects growing neighborhood support."
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  string(3488) "    Neighbors fight to save farmhouse   2006-08-16T04:04:00+00:00 McMansions may uproot historic Queen Anne   Chase Mitchell 1224146 2006-08-16T04:04:00+00:00  At 332 Murray Hill Ave. in Kirkwood is a gold-colored Queen Anne-style farmhouse as old as the neighborhood itself. Astute film buffs may know it as the childhood home of actress Jane Withers, who co-starred with James Dean in Giant. To neighbors with an interest in history, it represents a time when rural and suburban housing were interspersed and Kirkwood was an independent city.

??
But now, the 106-year-old property may fall victim to high-density infill housing. The Queen Anne sits on one of seven parcels of land purchased for development by Enclaves of Kirkwood LLC.

??
The plan is to demolish the farmhouse — along with two post-WWII-era homes beside it — clear-cut the tree canopy above it and haul in 8,000 cubic yards of dirt to flatten out the land. The developers want to create a plateau rising 6-8 feet above the adjacent property, which will be subdivided into 10 lots.

??
Earl Williamson, president of the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization (KNO), is now locked in a struggle to save the house, which he says has stayed remarkably solid and structurally sound over the years. "It is well worth preservation," he says. "It's the only architectural example of this style left in Kirkwood, and pretty much left in this area."

??
The developers, who could not be reached for comment, first approached the KNO last October, and their original plan was to build 36 townhomes. "We rejected them out of hand," Williamson says. "At that point in time, we told them that if they took this house off the table, we would be much more willing to work with them, and we have maintained that stance since then."

??
The developers eventually proposed to subdivide the parcels into 10 lots — which would conform to other lot sizes in the surrounding area, giving the neighbors very little leverage to fight against it.

??
In a bid to save the Queen Anne, the KNO offered to support variances and re-zonings for two additional lots. The group also found a buyer for the house who was willing to pay at least $300,000. The developers turned down the neighbors' proposal and counter-offered to create 13 lots and move the house up to the street.

??
The KNO rejected the idea. "It's just architecturally insane to take that house, move it up to the front and call that 'preservation,'" Williamson says.

??
He says the Enclaves of Kirkwood partners have shown no respect for it from the start, allowing squatters to vandalize its interior since they purchased it in 2001.

??
Watershed issues have also become a point of contention between the two parties. The source point spring of Sugar Creek, one of Kirkwood's major streams, lies in the Queen Anne's backyard. Williamson says the infill housing will literally bury the spring. However, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management says the stream is not an official state waterway, so there's nothing they can do about it.

??
The developers have the go-ahead to begin their housing project, but the KNO continues to negotiate with them in the hope of saving the landmark structure. At the KNO's monthly meeting last Thursday, residents voted unanimously to keep fighting to save the house, which Williamson says reflects growing neighborhood support.             13021920 1261550                          McMansions may uproot historic Queen Anne "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 16, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Neighbors fight to save farmhouse | more...
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  string(3213) "It doesn't seem like a topic that would warrant much discussion. After all, how many ways can you measure 300 feet?

??
When it comes to the city of Atlanta's alcohol laws, however, determining 300 feet is no simple task. And it's particularly problematic for a historic Virginia-Highland theater whose owner wants to operate it as a convention center hosting bar mitzvahs, weddings, live music and community theater.

??
All Atlanta businesses that serve booze — with the exception of restaurants and large shopping centers — must do so at least 300 feet from the nearest private residence. On the surface, the rule shouldn't pose a problem for the fully restored and ready-to-open Hilan Theatre. The owner of the Hilan has mapped the nearest residence at 315 feet from the theater's door, according to the theater's liquor license application.

??
A lawyer retained by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, however, is challenging that measurement. Jonathan Weintraub says his gauge of 300 feet would place the Hilan well within range of the nearest home. As a result, the 1932 structure tucked behind the Ben & Jerry's and Starbucks on North Highland Avenue — complete with two bars, two greenrooms, a rooftop deck and room for more than 700 people — would be prohibited from pouring.

??
"What you have," says Peggy Harper, a member of the city board that votes on liquor license applications, "is a contradiction."

??
Harper says the License & Review Board, which is scheduled to rule on the Hilan's liquor license application on Aug. 15, will have to decide whether to consider a newer definition of how to measure 300 feet — or adhere to the previous definition, which still exists in another part of the alcohol code. What's more, the theater's application was filed before the definition was changed.

??
The newer part of the code says 300 feet "shall be measured by straight line." The older definition states distances "shall be measured by the pedestrian route of traffic."

??
Weintraub claims that, if measuring by straight line, the nearest residence is fewer than 90 feet from the Hilan.

??
He also claims the "pedestrian route" still would be less than 300 feet — if the Hilan's owner, Jeff Notrica, hadn't constructed a hallway through which patrons must "zig-zag" to get to the theater's door. "It's so obviously an artifice to try to get around the distance requirement," Weintraub alleges.

??
He says the civic association opposes the theater due to the vehicle traffic and noise that are likely to accompany it.

??
Notrica and his attorney, Michael Sard, declined comment.

??
Sard, however, is well-acquainted with the acrimony of sophisticated neighborhood associations. In 1993, he represented the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in a successful battle against the Buckhead Neighborhood Alliance — and paved the way for a now-iconic 65-foot copper fish to be erected atop the Atlanta Fish Market on Pharr Road.

??
The License & Review Board is scheduled to vote on the Hilan Theatre's liquor license application on Tues., Aug. 15, at 5 p.m., in committee room No. 2 of Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. The meeting is open to the public."
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  string(3182) "It doesn't seem like a topic that would warrant much discussion. After all, how many ways can you measure 300 feet?

??
When it comes to the city of Atlanta's alcohol laws, however, determining 300 feet is no simple task. And it's particularly problematic for a historic Virginia-Highland theater whose owner wants to operate it as a convention center hosting bar mitzvahs, weddings, live music and community theater.

??
All Atlanta businesses that serve booze -- with the exception of restaurants and large shopping centers -- must do so at least 300 feet from the nearest private residence. On the surface, the rule shouldn't pose a problem for the fully restored and ready-to-open Hilan Theatre. The owner of the Hilan has mapped the nearest residence at 315 feet from the theater's door, according to the theater's liquor license application.

??
A lawyer retained by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, however, is challenging that measurement. Jonathan Weintraub says his gauge of 300 feet would place the Hilan well within range of the nearest home. As a result, the 1932 structure tucked behind the Ben & Jerry's and Starbucks on North Highland Avenue -- complete with two bars, two greenrooms, a rooftop deck and room for more than 700 people -- would be prohibited from pouring.

??
"What you have," says Peggy Harper, a member of the city board that votes on liquor license applications, "is a contradiction."

??
Harper says the License & Review Board, which is scheduled to rule on the Hilan's liquor license application on Aug. 15, will have to decide whether to consider a newer definition of how to measure 300 feet -- or adhere to the previous definition, which still exists in another part of the alcohol code. What's more, the theater's application was filed before the definition was changed.

??
The newer part of the code says 300 feet "shall be measured by straight line." The older definition states distances "shall be measured by the pedestrian route of traffic."

??
Weintraub claims that, if measuring by straight line, the nearest residence is fewer than 90 feet from the Hilan.

??
He also claims the "pedestrian route" still would be less than 300 feet -- if the Hilan's owner, Jeff Notrica, hadn't constructed a hallway through which patrons must "zig-zag" to get to the theater's door. "It's so obviously an artifice to try to get around the distance requirement," Weintraub alleges.

??
He says the civic association opposes the theater due to the vehicle traffic and noise that are likely to accompany it.

??
Notrica and his attorney, Michael Sard, declined comment.

??
Sard, however, is well-acquainted with the acrimony of sophisticated neighborhood associations. In 1993, he represented the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in a successful battle against the Buckhead Neighborhood Alliance -- and paved the way for a now-iconic 65-foot copper fish to be erected atop the Atlanta Fish Market on Pharr Road.

??
''The License & Review Board is scheduled to vote on the Hilan Theatre's liquor license application on Tues., Aug. 15, at 5 p.m., in committee room No. 2 of Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. The meeting is open to the public.''"
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  string(3477) "    Measurement of 300 feet could determine fate of venue   2006-08-09T04:04:00+00:00 Fight over Va-Hi theater heating up   Mara Shalhoup 1223634 2006-08-09T04:04:00+00:00  It doesn't seem like a topic that would warrant much discussion. After all, how many ways can you measure 300 feet?

??
When it comes to the city of Atlanta's alcohol laws, however, determining 300 feet is no simple task. And it's particularly problematic for a historic Virginia-Highland theater whose owner wants to operate it as a convention center hosting bar mitzvahs, weddings, live music and community theater.

??
All Atlanta businesses that serve booze — with the exception of restaurants and large shopping centers — must do so at least 300 feet from the nearest private residence. On the surface, the rule shouldn't pose a problem for the fully restored and ready-to-open Hilan Theatre. The owner of the Hilan has mapped the nearest residence at 315 feet from the theater's door, according to the theater's liquor license application.

??
A lawyer retained by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, however, is challenging that measurement. Jonathan Weintraub says his gauge of 300 feet would place the Hilan well within range of the nearest home. As a result, the 1932 structure tucked behind the Ben & Jerry's and Starbucks on North Highland Avenue — complete with two bars, two greenrooms, a rooftop deck and room for more than 700 people — would be prohibited from pouring.

??
"What you have," says Peggy Harper, a member of the city board that votes on liquor license applications, "is a contradiction."

??
Harper says the License & Review Board, which is scheduled to rule on the Hilan's liquor license application on Aug. 15, will have to decide whether to consider a newer definition of how to measure 300 feet — or adhere to the previous definition, which still exists in another part of the alcohol code. What's more, the theater's application was filed before the definition was changed.

??
The newer part of the code says 300 feet "shall be measured by straight line." The older definition states distances "shall be measured by the pedestrian route of traffic."

??
Weintraub claims that, if measuring by straight line, the nearest residence is fewer than 90 feet from the Hilan.

??
He also claims the "pedestrian route" still would be less than 300 feet — if the Hilan's owner, Jeff Notrica, hadn't constructed a hallway through which patrons must "zig-zag" to get to the theater's door. "It's so obviously an artifice to try to get around the distance requirement," Weintraub alleges.

??
He says the civic association opposes the theater due to the vehicle traffic and noise that are likely to accompany it.

??
Notrica and his attorney, Michael Sard, declined comment.

??
Sard, however, is well-acquainted with the acrimony of sophisticated neighborhood associations. In 1993, he represented the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in a successful battle against the Buckhead Neighborhood Alliance — and paved the way for a now-iconic 65-foot copper fish to be erected atop the Atlanta Fish Market on Pharr Road.

??
The License & Review Board is scheduled to vote on the Hilan Theatre's liquor license application on Tues., Aug. 15, at 5 p.m., in committee room No. 2 of Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. The meeting is open to the public.             13021800 1261287                          Fight over Va-Hi theater heating up "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 9, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Measurement of 300 feet could determine fate of venue | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(49) "IMAGE makeover: Atlanta film fest gets a new cast"
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  string(30) "Gabriel Wardell takes top spot"
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  string(30) "Gabriel Wardell takes top spot"
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  string(5414) "When Gabriel Wardell assumes his new role as executive director of the IMAGE Film and Video Center in September, he expects to bring some steadiness to a venerable Atlanta arts organization that recently has seemed anything but stable. "IMAGE is not a phantom ship riding through the fog without a captain," Wardell says. "I'll be responsible for setting the agenda and being the voice of the institution."

??
In the past two years, the 31-year-old non-profit film and video center — best known for producing the Atlanta Film Festival — has suffered turnover at the top, going through three executive directors and three film festival directors over the past two years. Jake Jacobson, who contends he was fired after directing the 2006 Atlanta Film Festival, says, "The road is just strewn with discarded festival directors over the years."

??
When Wardell steps in, part of his job will be to help energize a film festival that, despite its size and successes, seldom lives up to the expectations you'd have for a 30-year-old event in a city as big as Atlanta. Primarily, Wardell must provide a new vision for IMAGE at a time of enormous and rapid changes in the film industry.

??
Jon Aaron, president and CEO of IMAGE's board of directors and acting executive director of IMAGE for more than a year, admits that the staff has undergone a high share of changes. "Ever since Brian Newman left (as IMAGE executive director) two years ago, we've gone through fits and starts," says Aaron. Previous Executive Director Alison Fussell (Newman's replacement) and Atlanta Film Festival Director Jessica Denton each remained in their respective jobs for less than a year.

??
Jacobson came on board in early 2006 to program the Atlanta Film Festival, which had a record 27,000 attendees and saw ticket sales go up 10 percent. "When the festival ended, I was getting ready to prepare for next year, and Jon Aaron said I would not be continuing there," says Jacobson. "It's been referred to as a 'resignation,' but that's simply not true. I was asked to leave."

??
Aaron thought Jacobson's festival was a success. "If the film festival was all that IMAGE did, he would have been fine," Aaron says. "But he didn't seem like a good fit." Jacobson says he was never given a firm reason for the dismissal. But he thinks Aaron may have been upset by a caustic letter Jacobson wrote to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who criticized the paper's coverage of the festival. Aaron, a realtor and president of Crosstown Business Management, Inc., plans to leave IMAGE's board by the end of the year, having served over too many terms while serving as acting executive director. He plans to remain in the organization to assist in Wardell's transition.

??
Critics of the Atlanta Film Festival include former members of its own board of advisors. "There's a total lack of leadership at the film festival," says advertising executive Joel Babbitt, for four years a member of IMAGE's board of advisors. Babbitt recently resigned out of frustration, saying the board never met. "My resignation was a statement more than anything else," he says. "What's the sense of being a member when there's no meetings?"

??
Wardell plans to begin his duties as program director starting Sept. 1. Moving to Atlanta qualifies as a homecoming of sorts for him; he served as IMAGE's program coordinator in 1997 before leaving to program festivals in Maryland and Sonoma Valley, Calif. His roots run deep in the at-times scruffy world of independent film. His mother worked as an extra in John Waters' film Female Trouble, and Wardell has been a long-time board member of the Slamdance Film Festival, an "underground" answer to the prestigious Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah.

??
Wardell says IMAGE's appearance as a revolving door is not unusual. "It's par for the course to have turnover in the nonprofit arts world. There's a lot of burnout and a lot of people who feel underpaid and underappreciated. The strength of IMAGE is that it has survived. IMAGE is among an elite group of festivals. Of maybe 7,500 in the country, only a handful is more than 25 years old, let alone 30."

??
Wardell says that hiring a director for next year's 31st Atlanta Film Festival is one of his first priorities. "The festival director job, I think, will be an easy decision to make. I already know people in the festival world I'm interested in, so there's an attractive pool of candidates."

??
Wardell takes the helm at a time when digital filmmaking and the Internet are causing enormous changes in film festivals and video centers like IMAGE nationwide. Most notoriously, New York City's renowned Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers closed earlier this year. "When organizations like IMAGE were founded in the late 1970s, if you wanted to make film, you needed access to technology — cameras, lights, etc.," says Wardell. "Now I can shoot a film on my camcorder, edit it on a laptop, distribute it around the world by posting it on YouTube."

??
Wardell won't mention any of his specific plans for the organization, saying that he wants to meet with the IMAGE staff, board and members of Atlanta's filmmaking community before he announces changes or new initiatives. If IMAGE were a movie, its script would still be under wraps, but the organization finally has cast a leading actor."
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  string(5407) "When Gabriel Wardell assumes his new role as executive director of the IMAGE Film and Video Center in September, he expects to bring some steadiness to a venerable Atlanta arts organization that recently has seemed anything but stable. "IMAGE is not a phantom ship riding through the fog without a captain," Wardell says. "I'll be responsible for setting the agenda and being the voice of the institution."

??
In the past two years, the 31-year-old non-profit film and video center -- best known for producing the Atlanta Film Festival -- has suffered turnover at the top, going through three executive directors and three film festival directors over the past two years. Jake Jacobson, who contends he was fired after directing the 2006 Atlanta Film Festival, says, "The road is just strewn with discarded festival directors over the years."

??
When Wardell steps in, part of his job will be to help energize a film festival that, despite its size and successes, seldom lives up to the expectations you'd have for a 30-year-old event in a city as big as Atlanta. Primarily, Wardell must provide a new vision for IMAGE at a time of enormous and rapid changes in the film industry.

??
Jon Aaron, president and CEO of IMAGE's board of directors and acting executive director of IMAGE for more than a year, admits that the staff has undergone a high share of changes. "Ever since Brian Newman left (as IMAGE executive director) two years ago, we've gone through fits and starts," says Aaron. Previous Executive Director Alison Fussell (Newman's replacement) and Atlanta Film Festival Director Jessica Denton each remained in their respective jobs for less than a year.

??
Jacobson came on board in early 2006 to program the Atlanta Film Festival, which had a record 27,000 attendees and saw ticket sales go up 10 percent. "When the festival ended, I was getting ready to prepare for next year, and Jon Aaron said I would not be continuing there," says Jacobson. "It's been referred to as a 'resignation,' but that's simply not true. I was asked to leave."

??
Aaron thought Jacobson's festival was a success. "If the film festival was all that IMAGE did, he would have been fine," Aaron says. "But he didn't seem like a good fit." Jacobson says he was never given a firm reason for the dismissal. But he thinks Aaron may have been upset by a caustic letter Jacobson wrote to an ''Atlanta Journal-Constitution'' reporter who criticized the paper's coverage of the festival. Aaron, a realtor and president of Crosstown Business Management, Inc., plans to leave IMAGE's board by the end of the year, having served over too many terms while serving as acting executive director. He plans to remain in the organization to assist in Wardell's transition.

??
Critics of the Atlanta Film Festival include former members of its own board of advisors. "There's a total lack of leadership at the film festival," says advertising executive Joel Babbitt, for four years a member of IMAGE's board of advisors. Babbitt recently resigned out of frustration, saying the board never met. "My resignation was a statement more than anything else," he says. "What's the sense of being a member when there's no meetings?"

??
Wardell plans to begin his duties as program director starting Sept. 1. Moving to Atlanta qualifies as a homecoming of sorts for him; he served as IMAGE's program coordinator in 1997 before leaving to program festivals in Maryland and Sonoma Valley, Calif. His roots run deep in the at-times scruffy world of independent film. His mother worked as an extra in John Waters' film ''Female Trouble'', and Wardell has been a long-time board member of the Slamdance Film Festival, an "underground" answer to the prestigious Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah.

??
Wardell says IMAGE's appearance as a revolving door is not unusual. "It's par for the course to have turnover in the nonprofit arts world. There's a lot of burnout and a lot of people who feel underpaid and underappreciated. The strength of IMAGE is that it has survived. IMAGE is among an elite group of festivals. Of maybe 7,500 in the country, only a handful is more than 25 years old, let alone 30."

??
Wardell says that hiring a director for next year's 31st Atlanta Film Festival is one of his first priorities. "The festival director job, I think, will be an easy decision to make. I already know people in the festival world I'm interested in, so there's an attractive pool of candidates."

??
Wardell takes the helm at a time when digital filmmaking and the Internet are causing enormous changes in film festivals and video centers like IMAGE nationwide. Most notoriously, New York City's renowned Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers closed earlier this year. "When organizations like IMAGE were founded in the late 1970s, if you wanted to make film, you needed access to technology -- cameras, lights, etc.," says Wardell. "Now I can shoot a film on my camcorder, edit it on a laptop, distribute it around the world by posting it on YouTube."

??
Wardell won't mention any of his specific plans for the organization, saying that he wants to meet with the IMAGE staff, board and members of Atlanta's filmmaking community before he announces changes or new initiatives. If IMAGE were a movie, its script would still be under wraps, but the organization finally has cast a leading actor."
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  string(5773) "   atlanta film festival Gabriel Wardell takes top spot   2006-08-09T04:04:00+00:00 IMAGE makeover: Atlanta film fest gets a new cast ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Curt Holman Curt Holman 2006-08-09T04:04:00+00:00  When Gabriel Wardell assumes his new role as executive director of the IMAGE Film and Video Center in September, he expects to bring some steadiness to a venerable Atlanta arts organization that recently has seemed anything but stable. "IMAGE is not a phantom ship riding through the fog without a captain," Wardell says. "I'll be responsible for setting the agenda and being the voice of the institution."

??
In the past two years, the 31-year-old non-profit film and video center — best known for producing the Atlanta Film Festival — has suffered turnover at the top, going through three executive directors and three film festival directors over the past two years. Jake Jacobson, who contends he was fired after directing the 2006 Atlanta Film Festival, says, "The road is just strewn with discarded festival directors over the years."

??
When Wardell steps in, part of his job will be to help energize a film festival that, despite its size and successes, seldom lives up to the expectations you'd have for a 30-year-old event in a city as big as Atlanta. Primarily, Wardell must provide a new vision for IMAGE at a time of enormous and rapid changes in the film industry.

??
Jon Aaron, president and CEO of IMAGE's board of directors and acting executive director of IMAGE for more than a year, admits that the staff has undergone a high share of changes. "Ever since Brian Newman left (as IMAGE executive director) two years ago, we've gone through fits and starts," says Aaron. Previous Executive Director Alison Fussell (Newman's replacement) and Atlanta Film Festival Director Jessica Denton each remained in their respective jobs for less than a year.

??
Jacobson came on board in early 2006 to program the Atlanta Film Festival, which had a record 27,000 attendees and saw ticket sales go up 10 percent. "When the festival ended, I was getting ready to prepare for next year, and Jon Aaron said I would not be continuing there," says Jacobson. "It's been referred to as a 'resignation,' but that's simply not true. I was asked to leave."

??
Aaron thought Jacobson's festival was a success. "If the film festival was all that IMAGE did, he would have been fine," Aaron says. "But he didn't seem like a good fit." Jacobson says he was never given a firm reason for the dismissal. But he thinks Aaron may have been upset by a caustic letter Jacobson wrote to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who criticized the paper's coverage of the festival. Aaron, a realtor and president of Crosstown Business Management, Inc., plans to leave IMAGE's board by the end of the year, having served over too many terms while serving as acting executive director. He plans to remain in the organization to assist in Wardell's transition.

??
Critics of the Atlanta Film Festival include former members of its own board of advisors. "There's a total lack of leadership at the film festival," says advertising executive Joel Babbitt, for four years a member of IMAGE's board of advisors. Babbitt recently resigned out of frustration, saying the board never met. "My resignation was a statement more than anything else," he says. "What's the sense of being a member when there's no meetings?"

??
Wardell plans to begin his duties as program director starting Sept. 1. Moving to Atlanta qualifies as a homecoming of sorts for him; he served as IMAGE's program coordinator in 1997 before leaving to program festivals in Maryland and Sonoma Valley, Calif. His roots run deep in the at-times scruffy world of independent film. His mother worked as an extra in John Waters' film Female Trouble, and Wardell has been a long-time board member of the Slamdance Film Festival, an "underground" answer to the prestigious Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah.

??
Wardell says IMAGE's appearance as a revolving door is not unusual. "It's par for the course to have turnover in the nonprofit arts world. There's a lot of burnout and a lot of people who feel underpaid and underappreciated. The strength of IMAGE is that it has survived. IMAGE is among an elite group of festivals. Of maybe 7,500 in the country, only a handful is more than 25 years old, let alone 30."

??
Wardell says that hiring a director for next year's 31st Atlanta Film Festival is one of his first priorities. "The festival director job, I think, will be an easy decision to make. I already know people in the festival world I'm interested in, so there's an attractive pool of candidates."

??
Wardell takes the helm at a time when digital filmmaking and the Internet are causing enormous changes in film festivals and video centers like IMAGE nationwide. Most notoriously, New York City's renowned Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers closed earlier this year. "When organizations like IMAGE were founded in the late 1970s, if you wanted to make film, you needed access to technology — cameras, lights, etc.," says Wardell. "Now I can shoot a film on my camcorder, edit it on a laptop, distribute it around the world by posting it on YouTube."

??
Wardell won't mention any of his specific plans for the organization, saying that he wants to meet with the IMAGE staff, board and members of Atlanta's filmmaking community before he announces changes or new initiatives. If IMAGE were a movie, its script would still be under wraps, but the organization finally has cast a leading actor.       0,0,10    "atlanta film festival"  13021799 1261284                          IMAGE makeover: Atlanta film fest gets a new cast "
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News Briefs, Movies, Festivals

Wednesday August 9, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Gabriel Wardell takes top spot | more...
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  string(4511) "Plus, endorsements in other runoffs

??
Creative Loafing last month endorsed Greg Hecht, a former state senator and assistant district attorney from Clayton County, in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

??
We like Hecht's aggressive, scrappy attitude. He'd be quite comfortable punching back hard against Republican attacks — a must in Georgia's current dogfight politics.

??
Hecht articulates creative ideas for lowering the cost of prescription drugs, building commuter rail lines and bulking up Georgia's vocational training.

??
But after recent low-blow antics by Hecht, CL is changing its endorsement for the Aug. 8 Democratic primary runoff. We now support Jim Martin, a former state representative and human resources commissioner from Atlanta.

??
Ten days before the July 18 primary, Hecht sent out a mailer that grossly misrepresented Martin's stance on rape and sexual assault. Hecht's campaign pulled a quote from a 1994 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and placed it out of context, claiming Martin said victims of rape "should have known better." The complete quote, as it ran, was, "If there were any such factors — such as she was in a bar, should have known better, wore a short dress — some juries are unwilling to prosecute the crime as rape."

??
The sensational mailer showed a woman's face covered by a hand and also attacked Martin, a defense attorney, for his law firm's representation of the defendant in a two-decade-old rape case.

??
The quote refers to a bill Martin authored in the General Assembly. The purpose of the bill, Martin says, was to gain more convictions for rape and sexual assault.

??
Prosecutors and women's groups were divided over whether Martin's bill would have made it easier to win convictions or represented an attempt to go too easy on rapists.

??
The issue might have been a valid campaign dispute defining two candidates' positions. That would have required principled debate. But Hecht maladroitly elected to sling mud.

??
Hecht says Martin started the negative campaigning a month earlier by painting Hecht as not sufficiently supportive of abortion rights. A June 9 letter on Jim Martin letterhead authored by three pro-choice advocates states, "Greg Hecht has failed to support women on the tough votes that really matter." In 1997, Hecht voted for a partial-birth abortion ban, which put a stop to certain late-term abortions. Martin voted against it.

??
Hecht retorts: "What we were saying was, 'Look, Mr. Martin, you started this debate. ... And the truth is we've been a champion for women, and you started this negative campaign.'"

??
Martin counters: "There's a difference between showing the difference in my position and Greg's position ... and distorting that position. I never did that."

??
Hecht maintains his mailer is accurate. "I think the piece was too graphic, a little over the top," he says. "But the factors are what he said, not what we said."

??
There are nuances in this tit for tat. But there is a clear difference in tactics used by the two men: Martin's campaign accurately took on Hecht for a vote he took.

??
Hecht crossed a line between aggressive campaigning and smearing his opponent. We're comfortable with his scrappy style, but not when it turns into an irresponsible, false characterization of a decent public servant.

??
Martin has been criticized for not being forceful enough in his commissioner's post and for being a bit too mellow.

??
As we said in our earlier endorsement of Hecht, both candidates are highly qualified. But we'd rather see a decent, honest candidate take on Republican Casey Cagle in November than one who misconstrues the facts.

??
(For transcripts of CL's interviews with Martin and Hecht, see www.clpoliticalparty.com.)

??
Our other endorsements

??
· Secretary of State

??
· We did not endorse either of the Democratic candidates who made it to the runoff. Gail Buckner has been a good, if not stellar, state legislator. Darryl Hicks has valuable business experience. We tilt towards Hicks due to his passion for efficient customer service.

??
· Karen Handel is the best choice — by far — in the Republican runoff.

??
· Congress, District 4

??
· The soft-spoken Hank Johnson should be given a chance to restore dignity to the seat long abused by Cynthia McKinney.

??
· State Legislature

??
· District 58 (neighborhoods east of Grant Park): Allen Thornell.

??
· District 59 (west of Grant Park): Rep. Douglas Dean."
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  string(4529) "__Plus, endorsements in other runoffs__

??
Creative Loafing last month endorsed Greg Hecht, a former state senator and assistant district attorney from Clayton County, in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

??
We like Hecht's aggressive, scrappy attitude. He'd be quite comfortable punching back hard against Republican attacks -- a must in Georgia's current dogfight politics.

??
Hecht articulates creative ideas for lowering the cost of prescription drugs, building commuter rail lines and bulking up Georgia's vocational training.

??
But after recent low-blow antics by Hecht, CL is changing its endorsement for the Aug. 8 Democratic primary runoff. We now support Jim Martin, a former state representative and human resources commissioner from Atlanta.

??
Ten days before the July 18 primary, Hecht sent out a mailer that grossly misrepresented Martin's stance on rape and sexual assault. Hecht's campaign pulled a quote from a 1994 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and placed it out of context, claiming Martin said victims of rape "should have known better." The complete quote, as it ran, was, "If there were any such factors -- such as she was in a bar, should have known better, wore a short dress -- some juries are unwilling to prosecute the crime as rape."

??
The sensational mailer showed a woman's face covered by a hand and also attacked Martin, a defense attorney, for his law firm's representation of the defendant in a two-decade-old rape case.

??
The quote refers to a bill Martin authored in the General Assembly. The purpose of the bill, Martin says, was to gain more convictions for rape and sexual assault.

??
Prosecutors and women's groups were divided over whether Martin's bill would have made it easier to win convictions or represented an attempt to go too easy on rapists.

??
The issue might have been a valid campaign dispute defining two candidates' positions. That would have required principled debate. But Hecht maladroitly elected to sling mud.

??
Hecht says Martin started the negative campaigning a month earlier by painting Hecht as not sufficiently supportive of abortion rights. A June 9 letter on Jim Martin letterhead authored by three pro-choice advocates states, "Greg Hecht has failed to support women on the tough votes that really matter." In 1997, Hecht voted for a partial-birth abortion ban, which put a stop to certain late-term abortions. Martin voted against it.

??
Hecht retorts: "What we were saying was, 'Look, Mr. Martin, you started this debate. ... And the truth is we've been a champion for women, and you started this negative campaign.'"

??
Martin counters: "There's a difference between showing the difference in my position and Greg's position ... and distorting that position. I never did that."

??
Hecht maintains his mailer is accurate. "I think the piece was too graphic, a little over the top," he says. "But the factors are what he said, not what we said."

??
There are nuances in this tit for tat. But there is a clear difference in tactics used by the two men: Martin's campaign accurately took on Hecht for a vote he took.

??
Hecht crossed a line between aggressive campaigning and smearing his opponent. We're comfortable with his scrappy style, but not when it turns into an irresponsible, false characterization of a decent public servant.

??
Martin has been criticized for not being forceful enough in his commissioner's post and for being a bit too mellow.

??
As we said in our earlier endorsement of Hecht, both candidates are highly qualified. But we'd rather see a decent, honest candidate take on Republican Casey Cagle in November than one who misconstrues the facts.

??
(For transcripts of CL's interviews with Martin and Hecht, see [http://www.clpoliticalparty.com/|www.clpoliticalparty.com].)

??
__Our other endorsements__

??
· Secretary of State

??
· We did not endorse either of the Democratic candidates who made it to the runoff. Gail Buckner has been a good, if not stellar, state legislator. Darryl Hicks has valuable business experience. We tilt towards Hicks due to his passion for efficient customer service.

??
· Karen Handel is the best choice -- by far -- in the Republican runoff.

??
· Congress, District 4

??
· The soft-spoken Hank Johnson should be given a chance to restore dignity to the seat long abused by Cynthia McKinney.

??
· State Legislature

??
· District 58 (neighborhoods east of Grant Park): Allen Thornell.

??
· District 59 (west of Grant Park): Rep. Douglas Dean."
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  string(4753) "    Aug. 8 primary runoff   2006-08-02T04:04:00+00:00 Hecht's antics give Martin edge in lite guv's race     2006-08-02T04:04:00+00:00  Plus, endorsements in other runoffs

??
Creative Loafing last month endorsed Greg Hecht, a former state senator and assistant district attorney from Clayton County, in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

??
We like Hecht's aggressive, scrappy attitude. He'd be quite comfortable punching back hard against Republican attacks — a must in Georgia's current dogfight politics.

??
Hecht articulates creative ideas for lowering the cost of prescription drugs, building commuter rail lines and bulking up Georgia's vocational training.

??
But after recent low-blow antics by Hecht, CL is changing its endorsement for the Aug. 8 Democratic primary runoff. We now support Jim Martin, a former state representative and human resources commissioner from Atlanta.

??
Ten days before the July 18 primary, Hecht sent out a mailer that grossly misrepresented Martin's stance on rape and sexual assault. Hecht's campaign pulled a quote from a 1994 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and placed it out of context, claiming Martin said victims of rape "should have known better." The complete quote, as it ran, was, "If there were any such factors — such as she was in a bar, should have known better, wore a short dress — some juries are unwilling to prosecute the crime as rape."

??
The sensational mailer showed a woman's face covered by a hand and also attacked Martin, a defense attorney, for his law firm's representation of the defendant in a two-decade-old rape case.

??
The quote refers to a bill Martin authored in the General Assembly. The purpose of the bill, Martin says, was to gain more convictions for rape and sexual assault.

??
Prosecutors and women's groups were divided over whether Martin's bill would have made it easier to win convictions or represented an attempt to go too easy on rapists.

??
The issue might have been a valid campaign dispute defining two candidates' positions. That would have required principled debate. But Hecht maladroitly elected to sling mud.

??
Hecht says Martin started the negative campaigning a month earlier by painting Hecht as not sufficiently supportive of abortion rights. A June 9 letter on Jim Martin letterhead authored by three pro-choice advocates states, "Greg Hecht has failed to support women on the tough votes that really matter." In 1997, Hecht voted for a partial-birth abortion ban, which put a stop to certain late-term abortions. Martin voted against it.

??
Hecht retorts: "What we were saying was, 'Look, Mr. Martin, you started this debate. ... And the truth is we've been a champion for women, and you started this negative campaign.'"

??
Martin counters: "There's a difference between showing the difference in my position and Greg's position ... and distorting that position. I never did that."

??
Hecht maintains his mailer is accurate. "I think the piece was too graphic, a little over the top," he says. "But the factors are what he said, not what we said."

??
There are nuances in this tit for tat. But there is a clear difference in tactics used by the two men: Martin's campaign accurately took on Hecht for a vote he took.

??
Hecht crossed a line between aggressive campaigning and smearing his opponent. We're comfortable with his scrappy style, but not when it turns into an irresponsible, false characterization of a decent public servant.

??
Martin has been criticized for not being forceful enough in his commissioner's post and for being a bit too mellow.

??
As we said in our earlier endorsement of Hecht, both candidates are highly qualified. But we'd rather see a decent, honest candidate take on Republican Casey Cagle in November than one who misconstrues the facts.

??
(For transcripts of CL's interviews with Martin and Hecht, see www.clpoliticalparty.com.)

??
Our other endorsements

??
· Secretary of State

??
· We did not endorse either of the Democratic candidates who made it to the runoff. Gail Buckner has been a good, if not stellar, state legislator. Darryl Hicks has valuable business experience. We tilt towards Hicks due to his passion for efficient customer service.

??
· Karen Handel is the best choice — by far — in the Republican runoff.

??
· Congress, District 4

??
· The soft-spoken Hank Johnson should be given a chance to restore dignity to the seat long abused by Cynthia McKinney.

??
· State Legislature

??
· District 58 (neighborhoods east of Grant Park): Allen Thornell.

??
· District 59 (west of Grant Park): Rep. Douglas Dean.             13021665 1261026                          Hecht's antics give Martin edge in lite guv's race "
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News Briefs

Wednesday August 2, 2006 12:04 am EDT
Aug. 8 primary runoff | more...