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Atlanta Writer

Max is an Atlanta based freelance writer who served as a Staff Writer from September 2012 to July 2015. Max's work at CL included city and state politics, education, inequality, health care, and culture.

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  string(4964) "On a recent Friday night, Beverly Brown stood on a Peachtree Street sidewalk, just outside the Georgia Pacific Center, with a clipboard in her hand. For 30 minutes, she asked a twenty-something man a series of personal questions about his upbringing, aspirations, drug use, and sexual history.

??
The young adult, who identified himself as homeless, agreed to answer the questions in exchange for a $10 gift card, a granola bar, and a nylon bag filled with toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and condoms. These interactions, which have taken place dozens of times throughout the city this summer, is part of an ongoing Georgia State University study counting the number of homeless kids and young adults in Atlanta. Researchers say the segment has never properly been counted before.

??
"The majority of homeless youth are pretty upbeat," says Brown, a full-time Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contractor, who outside of her work is an undergraduate sociology student volunteering in the count. "They don't have a woe-is-me attitude. Some have a college education, some have goals, and they're used to working. ... They're not all on drugs, as is the perception for the homeless."

??
Once a year, officials conduct what's known as a Point-in-Time count to try to measure the number of homeless people staying in shelters and living on the streets. The annual effort is required to receive federal funding for homelessness services, which is partly allocated by the size of the homeless population. But local service providers believe the count underreports the number of unaccompanied homeless youth in Atlanta.

??
"There's just not enough information," GSU sociology professor Erin Ruel says. "Because we don't know, we can talk about what a big problem this is, but we don't have to do anything about it because we don't have enough of the knowledge we need in terms of services."

??
How big is the discrepancy? In 2014, Georgia officials documented about 1,000 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 14 and 25 throughout the entire state. According to GSU sociology professor Eric Wright, the architect of the homeless youth count, the number could be as high as 2,500 homeless youth in Atlanta alone, based on estimates received from service providers.

??
"Counting youth homelessness has always been an incredible challenge," Atlanta Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kristin Wilson says. "Point-in-Time counts and registries don't seem to end up with a good way of reflecting the youth population."

??
Because officials have long underestimated the problem, insufficient resources are available to help the city's homeless youth population. In addition, Wright says, overly restrictive state regulations, especially policies on reporting unaccompanied minors to Division of Family and Children Services, an effective pipeline to a foster home, limit the ability for homeless shelters to provide shelter space for at-risk youth.

??
"Service providers are nervous of the law coming down on them," Wright says. "It's created the problem of how to best deal with a kid who's 16 and on the street. When you add in the Bible Belt, kids who are sexually experimenting, or kids with patterns of sexual abuse in families, it's a very complicated, interrelated set of problems."

??
Local homeless advocate Marshall Rancifer says only about 150 beds in Atlanta are available for the city's homeless youth at shelters. According to Rick Westbrook, executive director of LGBTQ shelter Lost-N-Found, only about a dozen beds are available in Atlanta for the more than 750 homeless kids who either identify as LGBTQ or have a gender-fluid identity.

??
"The Point-in-Time count is supposed to capture that data for the federal government that determines how much money each state will get," Rancifer says. "You can't count Atlanta's homeless population in a day. ... This count needs to happen so better services can be provided and better policies can be practiced."

??
In response, Wright has brought together several-dozen students and outreach workers to conduct anonymous interviews with as many young adults who lack a "permanent stable residence" — a broader definition than homelessness, which also includes couch surfers and transient kids passing through the city.

??
In recent weeks, student surveyors have covered as much of the city as possible with service providers. In different shifts spanning all hours, the researchers have walked through Little Five Points, roamed past Midtown clubs, searched Downtown parking decks, and stopped at extended-stay hotels near highway stops.

??
Wright's team will compile a report before presenting its findings to the public later this year. Wright then hopes to pursue federal research funding, inform current shelters' programs, and educate officials on the importance of investing in "chronically underfunded" homeless youth services.

??
But before all that can happen, the uncounted must be counted."
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??
The young adult, who identified himself as homeless, agreed to answer the questions in exchange for a $10 gift card, a granola bar, and a nylon bag filled with toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and condoms. These interactions, which have taken place dozens of times throughout the city this summer, is part of an ongoing Georgia State University study counting the number of homeless kids and young adults in Atlanta. Researchers say the segment has never properly been counted before.

??
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??
Once a year, officials conduct what's known as a Point-in-Time count to try to measure the number of homeless people staying in shelters and living on the streets. The annual effort is required to receive federal funding for homelessness services, which is partly allocated by the size of the homeless population. But local service providers believe the count underreports the number of unaccompanied homeless youth in Atlanta.

??
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??
How big is the discrepancy? In 2014, Georgia officials documented about 1,000 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 14 and 25 throughout the entire state. According to GSU sociology professor Eric Wright, the architect of the homeless youth count, the number could be as high as 2,500 homeless youth in Atlanta alone, based on estimates received from service providers.

??
"Counting youth homelessness has always been an incredible challenge," Atlanta Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kristin Wilson says. "Point-in-Time counts and registries don't seem to end up with a good way of reflecting the youth population."

??
Because officials have long underestimated the problem, insufficient resources are available to help the city's homeless youth population. In addition, Wright says, overly restrictive state regulations, especially policies on reporting unaccompanied minors to Division of Family and Children Services, an effective pipeline to a foster home, limit the ability for homeless shelters to provide shelter space for at-risk youth.

??
"[Service] providers are nervous of the law coming down on them," Wright says. "It's created the problem of how to best deal with a kid who's 16 and on the street. When you add in the Bible Belt, kids who are sexually experimenting, or kids with patterns of sexual abuse in families, it's a very complicated, interrelated set of problems."

??
Local homeless advocate Marshall Rancifer says only about 150 beds in Atlanta are available for the city's homeless youth at shelters. According to Rick Westbrook, executive director of LGBTQ shelter Lost-N-Found, only about a dozen beds are available in Atlanta for the more than 750 homeless kids who either identify as LGBTQ or have a gender-fluid identity.

??
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??
In response, Wright has brought together several-dozen students and outreach workers to conduct anonymous interviews with as many young adults who lack a "permanent stable residence" — a broader definition than homelessness, which also includes couch surfers and transient kids passing through the city.

??
In recent weeks, student surveyors have covered as much of the city as possible with service providers. In different shifts spanning all hours, the researchers have walked through Little Five Points, roamed past Midtown clubs, searched Downtown parking decks, and stopped at extended-stay hotels near highway stops.

??
Wright's team will compile a report before presenting its findings to the public later this year. Wright then hopes to pursue federal research funding, inform current shelters' programs, and educate officials on the importance of investing in "chronically underfunded" homeless youth services.

??
But before all that can happen, the uncounted must be counted."
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  string(5245) "    GSU researchers conduct homeless youth count in hopes of increasing services for at-risk population   2015-07-29T08:00:00+00:00 Counting the uncounted   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-29T08:00:00+00:00  On a recent Friday night, Beverly Brown stood on a Peachtree Street sidewalk, just outside the Georgia Pacific Center, with a clipboard in her hand. For 30 minutes, she asked a twenty-something man a series of personal questions about his upbringing, aspirations, drug use, and sexual history.

??
The young adult, who identified himself as homeless, agreed to answer the questions in exchange for a $10 gift card, a granola bar, and a nylon bag filled with toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and condoms. These interactions, which have taken place dozens of times throughout the city this summer, is part of an ongoing Georgia State University study counting the number of homeless kids and young adults in Atlanta. Researchers say the segment has never properly been counted before.

??
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??
Once a year, officials conduct what's known as a Point-in-Time count to try to measure the number of homeless people staying in shelters and living on the streets. The annual effort is required to receive federal funding for homelessness services, which is partly allocated by the size of the homeless population. But local service providers believe the count underreports the number of unaccompanied homeless youth in Atlanta.

??
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??
How big is the discrepancy? In 2014, Georgia officials documented about 1,000 unaccompanied youth between the ages of 14 and 25 throughout the entire state. According to GSU sociology professor Eric Wright, the architect of the homeless youth count, the number could be as high as 2,500 homeless youth in Atlanta alone, based on estimates received from service providers.

??
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??
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??
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??
Local homeless advocate Marshall Rancifer says only about 150 beds in Atlanta are available for the city's homeless youth at shelters. According to Rick Westbrook, executive director of LGBTQ shelter Lost-N-Found, only about a dozen beds are available in Atlanta for the more than 750 homeless kids who either identify as LGBTQ or have a gender-fluid identity.

??
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??
In response, Wright has brought together several-dozen students and outreach workers to conduct anonymous interviews with as many young adults who lack a "permanent stable residence" — a broader definition than homelessness, which also includes couch surfers and transient kids passing through the city.

??
In recent weeks, student surveyors have covered as much of the city as possible with service providers. In different shifts spanning all hours, the researchers have walked through Little Five Points, roamed past Midtown clubs, searched Downtown parking decks, and stopped at extended-stay hotels near highway stops.

??
Wright's team will compile a report before presenting its findings to the public later this year. Wright then hopes to pursue federal research funding, inform current shelters' programs, and educate officials on the importance of investing in "chronically underfunded" homeless youth services.

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Article

Wednesday July 29, 2015 04:00 am EDT
GSU researchers conduct homeless youth count in hopes of increasing services for at-risk population | more...
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  string(5341) "One summer afternoon in 2012, I walked into a building off Marietta Street, rode the elevator up to the third floor, and sat down in the offices of a man named Harvey Newman. Over the course of an hour, the retired Georgia State University public policy professor walked me through the highlights and lowlights of Atlanta's 1996 Summer Olympics and the international games' lasting legacy 16 years later.

??
The conversation ended up being more of a history lesson than a formal interview. But it helped inform my first Creative Loafing cover story. Unbeknownst to me, it would land me a job as CL's news staff writer, requiring my immersion in all things Atlanta.

??
During my first six years in Atlanta, I had not attended any neighborhood meetings, stepped inside the bowels of City Hall, or stayed up to midnight for Sine Die. Like many transplants, I was slow to get my bearings straight in an unfamiliar city and watched as other people played more active roles within its 132 square miles.

??
Months after I joined CL's staff, Newman penned a guest column about the importance of voting in local elections, in which he recalled six words of advice he used to share with his students: Citizenship is not a spectator sport. As a staff writer, my assignments have afforded me the privilege of learning that lesson firsthand. It set me on an irreversible path toward civic engagement.

??
You don't have to be a reporter, a lawmaker, a lobbyist, or even a lifelong Atlantan to help shape this city. We have the ability impact the city's 242 neighborhoods in a way that's rarely possible in large American cities. In Atlanta, an aspiring urban planner can turn an ambitious thesis into a multi-billion-dollar public project, a public defender can become a MacArthur Genius for raising the criminal justice system's standards, and a college student can help spark the rebirth of a dormant civil rights movement.

??
More of that participation is needed. In recent years, officials have expanded transit, developers have erected high-rise condos, and corporations have relocated from the suburbs to the city — all in the name of future generations. Yet the men and women for which they build aren't always involved in guiding that vision.

??
Despite our collective interests, too many of us sit on the sidelines. Empty chairs frequently outnumber citizens and activists at City Hall. Voter turnout is abysmal: About a third of registered voters cast a ballot in Georgia's 2014 gubernatorial election and less than 5 percent mashed screens to decide if Atlanta officials should spend $250 million on road and bridge repairs.

??
Atlanta has long held onto dreams of becoming a world-class city, one worthy of international praise, glorious rankings, and shiny awards. But cut through the well-rehearsed narratives of City Hall and booster groups, and it's not hard to see a struggling city that has miles to travel before achieving that vision. We're a city with the nation's widest income inequality gap, in a region with struggling schools and an antiquated transportation system, in a state more focused on protecting the right to bear arms rather than the right to carry an insurance card.

??
Despite those realities, there's enough zealous civic participation to remain hopeful. Sure, not all preservation efforts have succeeded. But structures like the Atlanta Daily World and Historic Trio buildings still stand. A woefully outdated zoning code continues to undermine smart development. Yet packed zoning review board meetings can help prevent the wrong kind of big-box store from rising next to a transformative project like the Beltline. Eleven years after Georgia banned same-sex marriage, LGBT activists have fought back against further discriminatory laws and made some small gains toward equality, a once-unthinkable victory in the heart of the Bible Belt.

??
For Atlanta to overcome its struggles, we each need to take action. Don't wait for the right moment: start a blog, voice your concerns at a meeting, or raise hell at a protest. Your actions will not go unnoticed. Atlanta is not a city where noise drowns out its participants. It's a place where the participation of newcomers is acknowledged and embraced. Those who have stayed the course — civil rights activists like Rev. Joseph Lowery, neighborhood leaders like Mother Mamie Moore, and cultural ambassadors like Baton Bob — become revered figures in their respective communities.

??
Over the next few months, Atlanta residents will be able to weigh in important debates over the city's housing policy — here's your chance to do something about affordability — and vote on the financial stability of its public schools. Atlantans will also have the opportunity to elect a new mayor and councilmembers in 2017. Residents have no shortage of moments to play a vital role on these issues or in elections. But are they willing to do so?

??
Though this is my final week at CL — I'll be headed to Atlanta magazine — it won't be my last as a journalist documenting Atlanta's continued evolution, for better and for worse. After a slow start to my own civic participation, I found my role in a city attempting to become something bigger, whatever that might look like. For those of you sitting on the sidelines, it's not too late to help shape the city."
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??
The conversation ended up being more of a history lesson than a formal interview. But it helped inform [http://clatl.com/atlanta/atlantas-olympic-legacy/Content?oid=5849123|my first ''Creative Loafing'' cover story]. Unbeknownst to me, it would land me a job as ''CL'''s news staff writer, requiring my immersion in all things Atlanta.

??
During my first six years in Atlanta, I had not attended any neighborhood meetings, stepped inside the bowels of City Hall, or stayed up to midnight for Sine Die. Like many transplants, I was slow to get my bearings straight in an unfamiliar city and watched as other people played more active roles within its 132 square miles.

??
Months after I joined ''CL'''s staff, Newman penned a guest column about the [http://clatl.com/atlanta/want-to-change-the-city-go-vote/Content?oid=9602654|importance of voting in local elections], in which he recalled six words of advice he used to share with his students: Citizenship is not a spectator sport. As a staff writer, my assignments have afforded me the privilege of learning that lesson firsthand. It set me on an irreversible path toward civic engagement.

??
You don't have to be a reporter, a lawmaker, a lobbyist, or even a lifelong Atlantan to help shape this city. We have the ability impact the city's 242 neighborhoods in a way that's rarely possible in large American cities. In Atlanta, an [http://clatl.com/atlanta/the-little-beltline-that-could/Content?oid=1259904|aspiring urban planner] can turn an ambitious thesis into a multi-billion-dollar public project, a [http://clatl.com/atlanta/jonathan-rapping-the-defender/Content?oid=13049464|public defender] can become a MacArthur Genius for raising the criminal justice system's standards, and a [http://clatl.com/atlanta/a-year-and-some-change/Content?oid=14748867|college student] can help spark the rebirth of a dormant civil rights movement.

??
More of that participation is needed. In recent years, officials have expanded transit, developers have erected high-rise condos, and corporations have relocated from the suburbs to the city — all [http://clatl.com/atlanta/stick-around-millennials/Content?oid=13546470|in the name of future generations]. Yet the men and women for which they build aren't always involved in guiding that vision.

??
Despite our collective interests, too many of us sit on the sidelines. Empty chairs frequently outnumber citizens and activists at City Hall. Voter turnout is abysmal: [http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/11/midterm-voter-turnout-drops-in-the-south.html|About a third] of registered voters cast a ballot in Georgia's 2014 gubernatorial election and [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/03/17/atlantans-approve-250-million-bond-package-to-fix-roads-bridges-and-sidewalks|less than 5 percent] mashed screens to decide if Atlanta officials should spend $250 million on road and bridge repairs.

??
Atlanta has long held onto dreams of becoming a [http://clatl.com/atlanta/atlantas-not-a-world-class-city/Content?oid=11821628|world-class city], one worthy of international praise, glorious rankings, and shiny awards. But cut through the well-rehearsed narratives of City Hall and booster groups, and it's not hard to see a struggling city that has miles to travel before achieving that vision. We're a city with the nation's [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/03/17/atlanta-once-again-the-nations-leader-in-income-inequality|widest income inequality gap], in a region with struggling schools and an antiquated transportation system, in a state more focused on protecting the [http://clatl.com/atlanta/big-ol-gun-bill-a-big-ol-waste-of-time/Content?oid=10845483|right to bear arms] rather than the [http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2014/feb/03/raphael-warnock/ranks-uninsured-high-georgia/|right to carry an insurance card].

??
Despite those realities, there's enough zealous civic participation to remain hopeful. Sure, not all preservation efforts have succeeded. But structures like the ''[http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morning_call/2015/03/historic-atlanta-daily-world-building-saved-and.html|Atlanta Daily World]'' and [https://www.facebook.com/triolaundry?fref=nf|Historic Trio] buildings still stand. A woefully outdated zoning code continues to undermine smart development. Yet packed zoning review board meetings can help prevent the [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2014/08/02/fuqua-kroger-not-walmart-will-be-the-glenwood-park-developments-anchor-tenant|wrong kind of big-box store] from rising next to a transformative project like the Beltline. Eleven years after Georgia banned same-sex marriage, LGBT activists have fought back against further discriminatory laws and made some small gains toward equality, a once-unthinkable victory in the heart of the Bible Belt.

??
For Atlanta to overcome its struggles, we each need to take action. Don't wait for the right moment: start a blog, voice your concerns at a meeting, or raise hell at a protest. Your actions will not go unnoticed. Atlanta is not a city where noise drowns out its participants. It's a place where the participation of newcomers is acknowledged and embraced. Those who have stayed the course — civil rights activists like Rev. Joseph Lowery, neighborhood leaders like Mother Mamie Moore, and cultural ambassadors like Baton Bob — become revered figures in their respective communities.

??
Over the next few months, Atlanta residents will be able to weigh in important debates over the city's [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/05/19/city-hall-crafting-plan-requiring-new-housing-to-include-affordable-units|housing policy] — here's your chance to do something about affordability — and vote on the [http://clatl.com/atlanta/bond-or-bust/Content?oid=14322671|financial stability of its public schools]. Atlantans will also have the opportunity to [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/03/16/cathy-woolard-margaret-kaiser-kick-off-2017-mayoral-race|elect a new mayor and councilmembers] in 2017. Residents have no shortage of moments to play a vital role on these issues or in elections. But are they willing to do so?

??
Though this is my final week at ''CL'' — I'll be headed to ''Atlanta'' magazine — it won't be my last as a journalist documenting Atlanta's continued evolution, for better and for worse. After a slow start to my own civic participation, I found my role in a city attempting to become something bigger, whatever that might look like. For those of you sitting on the sidelines, it's not too late to help shape the city."
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  string(5631) "    Too many Atlantans sit on the sidelines when it comes to shaping the city. That needs to change.   2015-07-22T08:00:00+00:00 Opinion - Don't be a tourist   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-22T08:00:00+00:00  One summer afternoon in 2012, I walked into a building off Marietta Street, rode the elevator up to the third floor, and sat down in the offices of a man named Harvey Newman. Over the course of an hour, the retired Georgia State University public policy professor walked me through the highlights and lowlights of Atlanta's 1996 Summer Olympics and the international games' lasting legacy 16 years later.

??
The conversation ended up being more of a history lesson than a formal interview. But it helped inform my first Creative Loafing cover story. Unbeknownst to me, it would land me a job as CL's news staff writer, requiring my immersion in all things Atlanta.

??
During my first six years in Atlanta, I had not attended any neighborhood meetings, stepped inside the bowels of City Hall, or stayed up to midnight for Sine Die. Like many transplants, I was slow to get my bearings straight in an unfamiliar city and watched as other people played more active roles within its 132 square miles.

??
Months after I joined CL's staff, Newman penned a guest column about the importance of voting in local elections, in which he recalled six words of advice he used to share with his students: Citizenship is not a spectator sport. As a staff writer, my assignments have afforded me the privilege of learning that lesson firsthand. It set me on an irreversible path toward civic engagement.

??
You don't have to be a reporter, a lawmaker, a lobbyist, or even a lifelong Atlantan to help shape this city. We have the ability impact the city's 242 neighborhoods in a way that's rarely possible in large American cities. In Atlanta, an aspiring urban planner can turn an ambitious thesis into a multi-billion-dollar public project, a public defender can become a MacArthur Genius for raising the criminal justice system's standards, and a college student can help spark the rebirth of a dormant civil rights movement.

??
More of that participation is needed. In recent years, officials have expanded transit, developers have erected high-rise condos, and corporations have relocated from the suburbs to the city — all in the name of future generations. Yet the men and women for which they build aren't always involved in guiding that vision.

??
Despite our collective interests, too many of us sit on the sidelines. Empty chairs frequently outnumber citizens and activists at City Hall. Voter turnout is abysmal: About a third of registered voters cast a ballot in Georgia's 2014 gubernatorial election and less than 5 percent mashed screens to decide if Atlanta officials should spend $250 million on road and bridge repairs.

??
Atlanta has long held onto dreams of becoming a world-class city, one worthy of international praise, glorious rankings, and shiny awards. But cut through the well-rehearsed narratives of City Hall and booster groups, and it's not hard to see a struggling city that has miles to travel before achieving that vision. We're a city with the nation's widest income inequality gap, in a region with struggling schools and an antiquated transportation system, in a state more focused on protecting the right to bear arms rather than the right to carry an insurance card.

??
Despite those realities, there's enough zealous civic participation to remain hopeful. Sure, not all preservation efforts have succeeded. But structures like the Atlanta Daily World and Historic Trio buildings still stand. A woefully outdated zoning code continues to undermine smart development. Yet packed zoning review board meetings can help prevent the wrong kind of big-box store from rising next to a transformative project like the Beltline. Eleven years after Georgia banned same-sex marriage, LGBT activists have fought back against further discriminatory laws and made some small gains toward equality, a once-unthinkable victory in the heart of the Bible Belt.

??
For Atlanta to overcome its struggles, we each need to take action. Don't wait for the right moment: start a blog, voice your concerns at a meeting, or raise hell at a protest. Your actions will not go unnoticed. Atlanta is not a city where noise drowns out its participants. It's a place where the participation of newcomers is acknowledged and embraced. Those who have stayed the course — civil rights activists like Rev. Joseph Lowery, neighborhood leaders like Mother Mamie Moore, and cultural ambassadors like Baton Bob — become revered figures in their respective communities.

??
Over the next few months, Atlanta residents will be able to weigh in important debates over the city's housing policy — here's your chance to do something about affordability — and vote on the financial stability of its public schools. Atlantans will also have the opportunity to elect a new mayor and councilmembers in 2017. Residents have no shortage of moments to play a vital role on these issues or in elections. But are they willing to do so?

??
Though this is my final week at CL — I'll be headed to Atlanta magazine — it won't be my last as a journalist documenting Atlanta's continued evolution, for better and for worse. After a slow start to my own civic participation, I found my role in a city attempting to become something bigger, whatever that might look like. For those of you sitting on the sidelines, it's not too late to help shape the city.             13083800 14930676                          Opinion - Don't be a tourist "
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Article

Wednesday July 22, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Too many Atlantans sit on the sidelines when it comes to shaping the city. That needs to change. | more...
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“This is real and the worst part of it — not unlike the Snowden incident, which I hope none of you have sympathy for him because we need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him — but just like we’re gonna lose American lives as a result of this breach."

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In a response to a question about the nation's largest federal data breach, former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, recently got a bit off track and said that Edward Snowden should be hanged for leaking NSA documents. (via Buzzfeed)

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To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks."
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__“This is real and the worst part of it — not unlike the Snowden incident, which I hope none of you have sympathy for him because we need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him — but just like we’re gonna lose American lives as a result of this breach."__

?
In a response to a question about the nation's largest federal data breach, former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, recently got a bit off track and said that Edward Snowden should be hanged for leaking NSA documents. (via [http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/retired-senator-and-intelligence-vice-chair-hang#.ki1825d8X|Buzzfeed])

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''To save ''CL'' time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks.''"
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  string(1033) "       2015-07-21T14:42:00+00:00 Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on Edward Snowden: 'We need to hang him on the court house square'   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-21T14:42:00+00:00  
*Joeff Davis/CL File
*
“This is real and the worst part of it — not unlike the Snowden incident, which I hope none of you have sympathy for him because we need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him — but just like we’re gonna lose American lives as a result of this breach."

?
In a response to a question about the nation's largest federal data breach, former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, recently got a bit off track and said that Edward Snowden should be hanged for leaking NSA documents. (via Buzzfeed)

?
To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks.             13083789 14928093                          Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on Edward Snowden: 'We need to hang him on the court house square' "
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Article

Tuesday July 21, 2015 10:42 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File

“This is real and the worst part of it — not unlike the Snowden incident, which I hope none of you have sympathy for him because we need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him — but just like we’re gonna lose American lives as a result of this breach."

?
In a response to a question about the nation's largest federal data breach, former...

| more...
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The Atlanta City Council has postponed the approval of a contract that would have equipped the bulk of Atlanta Police officers with body cameras. Concerns arose at the last minute over the vendor tapped to receive the contract.

?
Why has Buckhead investor Rick Warren, the owner of nearly 10 percent of homes in English Avenue, gone back on a five-figure donation to help a community jobs program? Legal fees.

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A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report has found that less than 15 percent of Americans eat enough fruit, while only 8.9 percent eat an appropriate amount of vegetables.

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In Hixson, Tenn., the same suburb where Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Abdulazeez lived, ISIS recruited a 29-year-old American woman named Ariel Bradley. “It was like, when I first met her she was a Christian, and then she was a socialist, and then she was an atheist, and then a Muslim," one friend told Buzzfeed."
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?
The Atlanta City Council [http://www.11alive.com/story/news/2015/07/21/atlanta-police-body-cameras/30449583/|has postponed the approval of a contract] that would have equipped the bulk of Atlanta Police officers with body cameras. Concerns arose at the last minute over the vendor tapped to receive the contract.

?
Why has Buckhead investor Rick Warren, the owner of nearly 10 percent of homes in English Avenue, gone back on a five-figure donation to help a community jobs program? [http://investigations.blog.ajc.com/2015/07/20/buckhead-real-estate-investor-reneges-on-donation-to-struggling-neighborhood/|Legal fees].

?
Ashley Diamond, a transgender inmate being held in a Milledgeville state prison, [http://www.macon.com/2015/07/19/3850369_report-transgender-georgia-inmate.html?rh=1|has filed a lawsuit] against the Georgia Department of Corrections for failing to stop multiple rapes behind bars and denying her hormonal treatment.

?
The controversial plan to build the Palmetto Pipeline, a 210-mile-long pipeline allowing Texas firm Kinder Morgan to transport oil from South Carolina to Florida, [http://specialprojects.myajc.com/palmetto-pipeline-georgia/|is facing strong opposition] from business execs, politicians, and environmental advocates.

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?
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Article

Tuesday July 21, 2015 09:02 am EDT

Jamie Hood, an Athens man who faced charges for killing two police officers, was found guilty in the death penalty trial. Hood had made the rare decision to defend himself in front of a jury of his peers.

?
The Atlanta City Council has postponed the approval of a contract that would have equipped the bulk of Atlanta Police officers with body cameras. Concerns arose at the last minute over the...

| more...
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*Clay Duda/CL File
*
There will be some new faces inside the Gold Dome in 2016 following yesterday's special elections. Retired educator Marie Robinson Metze will take over for longtime state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta; conservative activist Sheri Gilligan will fill the seat of former state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming; and former Roswell Councilwoman Betty Price (and wife of Congressman Tom Price) will replace the late state Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Rowell. The race to succeed former Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, will head to a runoff between former Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett and former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis. 

?
Family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson, wife of longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, is now a DeKalb County commissioner. 

?
Blackstone is planning to sell about 1,300 homes in Atlanta that don't fit into the company's plan to hold properties in areas with higher rents and top-improving schools.

?
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?
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?
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?
Why did a mom shoot her four-year-old son in their apartment in Pittsburgh? APD is looking for details. 

?
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has told Georgia officials to brace for the effects of Congress' failure to reach a long-term solution. It could lead to the state's highway fund going insolvent.

?
New York City officials have reached a $5.9 million settlement with the family of fatal police-choking victim Eric Garner."
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*
There will be some new faces inside the Gold Dome in 2016 following yesterday's special elections. Retired educator Marie Robinson Metze [http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/55978/153526/en/vts.html?cid=35500|will take over] for longtime state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta; conservative activist Sheri Gilligan [http://www.forsythnews.com/section/1/article/27792/|will fill the seat] of former state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming; and former Roswell Councilwoman Betty Price (and wife of Congressman Tom Price) [https://patch.com/georgia/roswell/betty-price-wins-special-election-0|will replace] the late state Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Rowell. The race to succeed former Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, [http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2015/07/14/house-district-80-race-headed-to-runoff/|will head to a runoff] between former Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett and former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis. 

?
[http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/dekalbs-district-5-finally-has-a-commissioner/|Family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson, wife of longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, is now a DeKalb County commissioner]. 

?
Blackstone [hhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-13/blackstone-selling-1-300-atlanta-houses-in-strategy-shift|is planning to sell about 1,300 homes in Atlanta] that don't fit into the company's plan to hold properties in areas with higher rents and top-improving schools.

?
An upcoming [http://saportareport.com/atlanta-slated-to-begin-125000-study-on-improving-area-near-falcons-stadium/|$125,000 study] will look at how the city should include communities near the Atlanta Falcons stadium in tackling code enforcement and flooding problems.

?
Richard Rose, president of Atlanta's NAACP chapter, [http://www.wsbtv.com/news/ap/georgia/naacp-wants-confederate-symbols-taken-off-georgia-/nmymr/|wants the massive Stone Mountain carving] that pays tribute to Confederate leaders removed. 

?
Emory University public health professor Kevin Sullivan [http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/decatur/2015/07/13/emory-child-pornography-professor-epidemiology/30113875/|is facing child pornography charges] after finding authorities found images of children on his computer.

?
Why did a mom shoot her four-year-old son in their apartment in Pittsburgh? [http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/2015/07/14/4-year-old-shot-atlanta/30139241/|APD is looking for details]. 

?
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?
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*Clay Duda/CL File
*
There will be some new faces inside the Gold Dome in 2016 following yesterday's special elections. Retired educator Marie Robinson Metze will take over for longtime state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta; conservative activist Sheri Gilligan will fill the seat of former state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming; and former Roswell Councilwoman Betty Price (and wife of Congressman Tom Price) will replace the late state Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Rowell. The race to succeed former Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, will head to a runoff between former Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett and former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis. 

?
Family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson, wife of longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, is now a DeKalb County commissioner. 

?
Blackstone is planning to sell about 1,300 homes in Atlanta that don't fit into the company's plan to hold properties in areas with higher rents and top-improving schools.

?
An upcoming $125,000 study will look at how the city should include communities near the Atlanta Falcons stadium in tackling code enforcement and flooding problems.

?
Richard Rose, president of Atlanta's NAACP chapter, wants the massive Stone Mountain carving that pays tribute to Confederate leaders removed. 

?
Emory University public health professor Kevin Sullivan is facing child pornography charges after finding authorities found images of children on his computer.

?
Why did a mom shoot her four-year-old son in their apartment in Pittsburgh? APD is looking for details. 

?
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has told Georgia officials to brace for the effects of Congress' failure to reach a long-term solution. It could lead to the state's highway fund going insolvent.

?
New York City officials have reached a $5.9 million settlement with the family of fatal police-choking victim Eric Garner.             13083717 14811162                          First Slice 7/15/15: Metze, Gilligan, Price win Gold Dome seats; Bennett and Davis advance to runoff "
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Article

Wednesday July 15, 2015 09:06 am EDT

  • Clay Duda/CL File

There will be some new faces inside the Gold Dome in 2016 following yesterday's special elections. Retired educator Marie Robinson Metze will take over for longtime state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta; conservative activist Sheri Gilligan will fill the seat of former state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming; and former Roswell Councilwoman Betty Price (and wife of Congressman...

| more...
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*
Atlanta resident Bruce Todd will have his nearly 22-year drug sentence commuted after being found guilty of crack cocaine distribution in 2003. He is one of 46 non-violent offenders who received disproportionate sentences that are being cut short by President Barack Obama.

?
Georgia's soon-to-be-released wildlife management plan will acknowledge climate change for the first time...ever. 

?
Another five people were shot by police across metro Atlanta since last Friday. Three of them were killed.

?
The number of Americans killed by police in 2015 has grown to more than 600.

?
Should Georgia's fireworks law be tweaked? State Rep. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickmauga, says yes. Fireworks should be a colorful source of amusement and celebration—not a burden or nuisance," he wrote in an op-ed.

?
It's not question of if a catastrophic tsunami will hit the Pacific Northwest. It's a matter of when.

?
The United States and five other nations have struck a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear operations in exchange for lifting financial restrictions. Republican reps and senators are now expected to challenge the deal."
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Atlanta resident Bruce Todd [http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/07/13/here-are-the-46-people-whose-sentences-obama-just-commuted/|will have his nearly 22-year drug sentence commuted] after being found guilty of crack cocaine distribution in 2003. He is one of 46 non-violent offenders who received disproportionate sentences that are being cut short by President Barack Obama.

?
Georgia's soon-to-be-released wildlife management plan [http://wabe.org/post/ga-officials-considering-climate-change-new-wildlife-plan|will acknowledge climate change] for the first time...ever. 

?
Another five people were shot by police across metro Atlanta since last Friday. [http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/suspect-shot-by-police-during-gwinnett-domestic-in/nmxsY/?ecmp=ajc_social_twitter_2014_sfp|Three of them were killed].

?
[https://twitter.com/thecounted/status/620563012831813632|The number of Americans killed by police in 2015 has grown to more than 600].

?
Should Georgia's fireworks law be tweaked? State Rep. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickmauga, says yes. Fireworks should be a colorful source of amusement and celebration—not a burden or nuisance," he [http://www.myajc.com/news/news/opinion/lets-tweak-the-fireworks-law/nmyCZ/|wrote in an op-ed].

?
It's not question of if a catastrophic tsunami will hit the Pacific Northwest. [http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one|It's a matter of when].

?
The United States and five other nations [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-deal-is-reached-after-long-negotiations.html?_r=0|have struck a deal] with Iran to limit its nuclear operations in exchange for lifting financial restrictions. Republican reps and senators [http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/14/politics/iran-nuclear-deal/|are now expected to challenge] the deal."
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
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Atlanta resident Bruce Todd will have his nearly 22-year drug sentence commuted after being found guilty of crack cocaine distribution in 2003. He is one of 46 non-violent offenders who received disproportionate sentences that are being cut short by President Barack Obama.

?
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?
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?
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?
The United States and five other nations have struck a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear operations in exchange for lifting financial restrictions. Republican reps and senators are now expected to challenge the deal.             13083703 14797828                          First Slice 7/14/15: Atlanta man among 46 drug offenders with sentences cut short by Obama "
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Article

Tuesday July 14, 2015 09:15 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File

Atlanta resident Bruce Todd will have his nearly 22-year drug sentence commuted after being found guilty of crack cocaine distribution in 2003. He is one of 46 non-violent offenders who received disproportionate sentences that are being cut short by President Barack Obama.

?
Georgia's soon-to-be-released wildlife management plan will acknowledge climate change for the...

| more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(23) "'The fight is not over'"
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  string(4644) "On the afternoon of July 9, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds invited a small group of reporters to his Marietta office to share more details about the fatal shooting of Nicholas Thomas — and inform them he would not press charges against the involved officer.

??
For the first time, Reynolds played back surveillance footage of the 23-year-old tire shop employee driving a silver Maserati sports car backward and forward as he tried to flee from the authorities attempting to arrest him for failing to pay $170 in probation fees. Not captured on camera was Smyrna Police Department Sgt. Kenneth Owens shooting at least six bullets at the car, piercing the side of the vehicle and striking Thomas' back.

??
"The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas' survivors," said Reynolds, who explained in a statement that he acted on a civil grand jury's recommendation. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force."

??
The following day on the other side of metro Atlanta, the Thomas family fiercely rebutted Reynolds at their own press conference. Inside a law office in unincorporated DeKalb County, civil rights attorney Mawuli "Mel" Davis said the Thomas family was "humiliated" by Reynolds, who did not let them see any evidence before the grand jury hearing took place. Left with no recourse against Owens, the Thomas family now plans to file a civil lawsuit against the officer and his department over the alleged wrongful death.

??
"This is a shame — it's pitiful," said Felicia Thomas, Nicholas' mother. Despite her loss, she said she wasn't surprised after the lack of transparency leading up to Reynolds' latest decision. "This is America," she continued.

??
Davis further questioned the narrative that authorities have presented to the public about the Thomas probe. Immediately after the shooting, Smyrna police said, Owens fired his weapon because Thomas was speeding in a "reckless manner" that threatened his life. However, a medical examiner's autopsy ruled a bullet entered Thomas' back, striking his lungs and aorta.

??
But Reynolds last week told reporters that Owens had actually shot at Thomas to protect another officer. In addition, Davis alleges that local authorities misinformed the public in saying they needed to arrest Thomas for felony probation violation, when in fact it was a misdemeanor probation violation.

??
"It undermines the confidence of the public," Davis said.

??
Owens, who's worked for Smyrna Police for the past 14 years, had two documented incidents of domestic violence against his wife in the late '90s. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in one incident and later resigned from his previous position with the Cobb County Police Department. On May 30, Smyrna Police allowed Owens to return to work in an administrative capacity prior to the conclusion of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe in mid-June.

??
T.J. Ward, a private investigator who this year helped find new evidence that reopened a police shooting case in Union City, has started working for the Thomas family. He said he has "a lot of reservations about what was presented to the grand jury," including the lack of key witnesses and evidence. His files about Thomas' death will soon be released now that the case is closed.

??
Nicholas' brother, Tristan Thomas, said the American justice system has ultimately failed his family. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who called the Cobb proceedings a "setup job," said he would make grand jury reform his top priority in the months leading up to the 2016 legislative session. Such legislation has long odds of passing. But Fort said he would be undeterred in pushing for change on behalf of the Thomas family and others affected by a process that lacks transparency.

??
"There are a lot of people who didn't think that flag in Charleston would be coming down," Fort said regarding the likelihood of grand jury reform passing in a Republican-controlled statehouse.

??
Marcus Coleman, founder of local advocacy group Save OurSelves, said police academy cadets must be given more stringent psychiatric evaluations before their hiring and officers retrained moving forward. Yet those reforms will likely take longer than the Thomas family would like to see happen. For Nicholas' parents, the current inaction won't prevent Owens from continuing his duties as a cop, leaving a legal fight as the only road forward to find justice for their son.

??
"The fight is not over," Davis said. "It's just going to another level.""
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??
For the first time, Reynolds played back surveillance footage of the 23-year-old tire shop employee driving a silver Maserati sports car backward and forward as he tried to flee from the authorities attempting to arrest him for failing to pay $170 in probation fees. Not captured on camera was Smyrna Police Department Sgt. Kenneth Owens shooting at least six bullets at the car, piercing the side of the vehicle and striking Thomas' back.

??
"The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas' survivors," said Reynolds, who explained in a statement that he acted on a civil grand jury's recommendation. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force."

??
The following day on the other side of metro Atlanta, the Thomas family fiercely rebutted Reynolds at their own press conference. Inside a law office in unincorporated DeKalb County, civil rights attorney Mawuli "Mel" Davis said the Thomas family was "humiliated" by Reynolds, who did not let them see any evidence before the grand jury hearing took place. Left with no recourse against Owens, the Thomas family now plans to file a civil lawsuit against the officer and his department over the alleged wrongful death.

??
"This is a shame — it's pitiful," said Felicia Thomas, Nicholas' mother. Despite her loss, she said she wasn't surprised after the lack of transparency leading up to Reynolds' latest decision. "This is America," she continued.

??
Davis further questioned the narrative that authorities have presented to the public about the Thomas probe. Immediately after the shooting, Smyrna police said, Owens fired his weapon because Thomas was speeding in a "reckless manner" that threatened his life. However, a medical examiner's autopsy ruled a bullet entered Thomas' back, striking his lungs and aorta.

??
But Reynolds last week told reporters that Owens had actually shot at Thomas to protect another officer. In addition, Davis alleges that local authorities misinformed the public in saying they needed to arrest Thomas for felony probation violation, when in fact it was a misdemeanor probation violation.

??
"It undermines the confidence of the public," Davis said.

??
Owens, who's worked for Smyrna Police for the past 14 years, had two documented incidents of domestic violence against his wife in the late '90s. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in one incident and later resigned from his previous position with the Cobb County Police Department. On May 30, Smyrna Police allowed Owens to return to work in an administrative capacity prior to the conclusion of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe in mid-June.

??
T.J. Ward, a private investigator who this year helped find new evidence that reopened a police shooting case in Union City, has started working for the Thomas family. He said he has "a lot of reservations about what was presented to the grand jury," including the lack of key witnesses and evidence. His files about Thomas' death will soon be released now that the case is closed.

??
Nicholas' brother, Tristan Thomas, said the American justice system has ultimately failed his family. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who called the Cobb proceedings a "setup job," said he would make grand jury reform his top priority in the months leading up to the 2016 legislative session. Such legislation has long odds of passing. But Fort said he would be undeterred in pushing for change on behalf of the Thomas family and others affected by a process that lacks transparency.

??
"There are a lot of people who didn't think that flag in Charleston would be coming down," Fort said regarding the likelihood of grand jury reform passing in a Republican-controlled statehouse.

??
Marcus Coleman, founder of local advocacy group Save OurSelves, said police academy cadets must be given more stringent psychiatric evaluations before their hiring and officers retrained moving forward. Yet those reforms will likely take longer than the Thomas family would like to see happen. For Nicholas' parents, the current inaction won't prevent Owens from continuing his duties as a cop, leaving a legal fight as the only road forward to find justice for their son.

??
"The fight is not over," Davis said. "It's just going to another level.""
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  string(4907) "    Nicholas Thomas' family pledges to continue push for justice with civil lawsuit   2015-07-14T08:00:00+00:00 'The fight is not over'   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-14T08:00:00+00:00  On the afternoon of July 9, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds invited a small group of reporters to his Marietta office to share more details about the fatal shooting of Nicholas Thomas — and inform them he would not press charges against the involved officer.

??
For the first time, Reynolds played back surveillance footage of the 23-year-old tire shop employee driving a silver Maserati sports car backward and forward as he tried to flee from the authorities attempting to arrest him for failing to pay $170 in probation fees. Not captured on camera was Smyrna Police Department Sgt. Kenneth Owens shooting at least six bullets at the car, piercing the side of the vehicle and striking Thomas' back.

??
"The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas' survivors," said Reynolds, who explained in a statement that he acted on a civil grand jury's recommendation. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force."

??
The following day on the other side of metro Atlanta, the Thomas family fiercely rebutted Reynolds at their own press conference. Inside a law office in unincorporated DeKalb County, civil rights attorney Mawuli "Mel" Davis said the Thomas family was "humiliated" by Reynolds, who did not let them see any evidence before the grand jury hearing took place. Left with no recourse against Owens, the Thomas family now plans to file a civil lawsuit against the officer and his department over the alleged wrongful death.

??
"This is a shame — it's pitiful," said Felicia Thomas, Nicholas' mother. Despite her loss, she said she wasn't surprised after the lack of transparency leading up to Reynolds' latest decision. "This is America," she continued.

??
Davis further questioned the narrative that authorities have presented to the public about the Thomas probe. Immediately after the shooting, Smyrna police said, Owens fired his weapon because Thomas was speeding in a "reckless manner" that threatened his life. However, a medical examiner's autopsy ruled a bullet entered Thomas' back, striking his lungs and aorta.

??
But Reynolds last week told reporters that Owens had actually shot at Thomas to protect another officer. In addition, Davis alleges that local authorities misinformed the public in saying they needed to arrest Thomas for felony probation violation, when in fact it was a misdemeanor probation violation.

??
"It undermines the confidence of the public," Davis said.

??
Owens, who's worked for Smyrna Police for the past 14 years, had two documented incidents of domestic violence against his wife in the late '90s. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in one incident and later resigned from his previous position with the Cobb County Police Department. On May 30, Smyrna Police allowed Owens to return to work in an administrative capacity prior to the conclusion of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe in mid-June.

??
T.J. Ward, a private investigator who this year helped find new evidence that reopened a police shooting case in Union City, has started working for the Thomas family. He said he has "a lot of reservations about what was presented to the grand jury," including the lack of key witnesses and evidence. His files about Thomas' death will soon be released now that the case is closed.

??
Nicholas' brother, Tristan Thomas, said the American justice system has ultimately failed his family. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who called the Cobb proceedings a "setup job," said he would make grand jury reform his top priority in the months leading up to the 2016 legislative session. Such legislation has long odds of passing. But Fort said he would be undeterred in pushing for change on behalf of the Thomas family and others affected by a process that lacks transparency.

??
"There are a lot of people who didn't think that flag in Charleston would be coming down," Fort said regarding the likelihood of grand jury reform passing in a Republican-controlled statehouse.

??
Marcus Coleman, founder of local advocacy group Save OurSelves, said police academy cadets must be given more stringent psychiatric evaluations before their hiring and officers retrained moving forward. Yet those reforms will likely take longer than the Thomas family would like to see happen. For Nicholas' parents, the current inaction won't prevent Owens from continuing his duties as a cop, leaving a legal fight as the only road forward to find justice for their son.

??
"The fight is not over," Davis said. "It's just going to another level."             13083712 14802873                          'The fight is not over' "
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Article

Tuesday July 14, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Nicholas Thomas' family pledges to continue push for justice with civil lawsuit | more...
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*Courtesy Mereda Davis Johnson, George Turner
*Either Mereda Davis Johnson and George Turner will be DeKalb County's next District 5 commissioner.
Before next week is over, DeKalb County residents who live in District 5 — the southeast part of the county that spans from around I-20 and I-285 past Lithonia — will have a new representative fighting for them at county commission meetings. For the approximately 140,000 people who live in the district, the election is of particular importance given their lack of full representation over the past two years.

?
Following the indictment of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Interim CEO Lee May had refused to vacate his District 5 seat, well after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the top county spot in July 2013. On multiple occasions, DeKalb commissioners squabbled over naming a temporary replacement so that May wouldn't occupy two positions. Amid pressure, May resigned in early May from his original southeast DeKalb post, paving the way for a special election.

?
Ten candidates entered the highly contested special election. Out of the crowded field, longtime family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson and retired MARTA manager George Turner received enough votes to advance to a runoff scheduled for July 14. 

?
Davis Johnson is making her first bid for elected office after a lifetime filled with politics that includes registering voters with her father when she was young and working behind the scenes with the political career of her husband, longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. She never considered running until hearing about the commission's vacant seat.

?
"I couldn't sit on the sidelines and hope for change," Davis Johnson says. "We have not had representation for the last two years. It clearly, clearly shows in the fifth district."

?
Davis Johnson, who received 27 percent of the vote in the May election, says the district needs to take care of beautification issues like picking up litter in the streets or paving potholes to help spur future economic development. She also says her experience running a law firm, where she's been a good financial steward of that business, will help restore potential investors' confidence following the county's ethics scandal.

?
"The work on ethics starts from the top-down, not from the bottom-up," she says. "We, as leaders of DeKalb, have to set the example for others. You can't use taxpayers' money for personal expenses, that's just common sense. ... You need transparency and oversight."

?
Turner, a longtime resident who won nearly 16 percent of the vote, has recently focused much of his energy on volunteering in several neighborhood groups and at the Gold Dome, where he's helped state Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia. He says his past experience working on MARTA budgets will help him as a potential DeKalb commissioner.

?
"I'm available," Turner says. "I have the time, I have the will, and I have skill. I've proven that I'll serve whether I'm elected or not. I'm not using this as a stepping stone. Those who voted for me, and know me, know I want to serve DeKalb and not myself."

?
If elected, he says, District 5 would need to revisit how it handles zoning, code enforcement, and public safety. Like Davis Johnson, he'd someday like to see greater economic development in the area, including a revitalized Stonecrest Mall. But first, he says, DeKalb needs to start getting residents to believe in the county's vision rather than eye the formation of new cities.

?
"We don't have a voice in the fight," he says. "They're seeing the services are being received from the county without a commissioner. … So they're taking it into their own hands. If you had a strong commissioner in that area, a city might not be necessary."

?
The winner of the District 5 race will likely be chosen by a small number of residents. Despite the complaints over the area's lack of representation, only 4,554 residents — about 5.5 percent of the district's registered voters — cast ballots in the May election. Keep in mind, of course, that voter turnout in runoffs is typically worse than general elections."
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*Courtesy Mereda Davis Johnson, George Turner
*Either Mereda Davis Johnson and George Turner will be DeKalb County's next District 5 commissioner.
Before next week is over, DeKalb County residents who live in District 5 — the southeast part of the county that spans from around I-20 and I-285 past Lithonia — will have a new representative fighting for them at county commission meetings. For the approximately 140,000 people who live in the district, the election is of particular importance given their lack of full representation over the past two years.

?
Following the indictment of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Interim CEO Lee May had refused to vacate his District 5 seat, well after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the top county spot in July 2013. On multiple occasions, DeKalb commissioners squabbled over naming a temporary replacement so that May wouldn't occupy two positions. Amid pressure, May resigned in early May from his original southeast DeKalb post, paving the way for a special election.

?
Ten candidates entered the highly contested special election. Out of the crowded field, longtime family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson and retired MARTA manager George Turner received enough votes to advance to a runoff scheduled for July 14. 

?
Davis Johnson is making her first bid for elected office after a lifetime filled with politics that includes registering voters with her father when she was young and working behind the scenes with the political career of her husband, longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. She never considered running until hearing about the commission's vacant seat.

?
"I couldn't sit on the sidelines and hope for change," Davis Johnson says. "We have not had representation for the last two years. It clearly, clearly shows in the fifth district."

?
Davis Johnson, who received 27 percent of the vote in the May election, says the district needs to take care of beautification issues like picking up litter in the streets or paving potholes to help spur future economic development. She also says her experience running a law firm, where she's been a good financial steward of that business, will help restore potential investors' confidence following the county's ethics scandal.

?
"The work on ethics starts from the top-down, not from the bottom-up," she says. "We, as leaders of DeKalb, have to set the example for others. You can't use taxpayers' money for personal expenses, that's just common sense. ... You need transparency and oversight."

?
Turner, a longtime resident who won nearly 16 percent of the vote, has recently focused much of his energy on volunteering in several neighborhood groups and at the Gold Dome, where he's helped state Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia. He says his past experience working on MARTA budgets will help him as a potential DeKalb commissioner.

?
"I'm available," Turner says. "I have the time, I have the will, and I have skill. I've proven that I'll serve whether I'm elected or not. I'm not using this as a stepping stone. Those who voted for me, and know me, know I want to serve DeKalb and not myself."

?
If elected, he says, District 5 would need to revisit how it handles zoning, code enforcement, and public safety. Like Davis Johnson, he'd someday like to see greater economic development in the area, including a revitalized Stonecrest Mall. But first, he says, DeKalb needs to start getting residents to believe in the county's vision rather than eye the formation of new cities.

?
"We don't have a voice in the fight," he says. "They're seeing the services are being received from the county without a commissioner. … So they're taking it into their own hands. If you had a strong commissioner in that area, a city might not be necessary."

?
The winner of the District 5 race will likely be chosen by a small number of residents. Despite the complaints over the area's lack of representation, only 4,554 residents — [http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/Result06162015.pdf|about 5.5 percent of the district's registered voters] — cast ballots in the May election. Keep in mind, of course, that voter turnout in runoffs is typically worse than general elections."
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  string(4416) "       2015-07-10T18:06:00+00:00 Who should fill DeKalb County's long-vacant District 5 commission seat?   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-10T18:06:00+00:00  
*Courtesy Mereda Davis Johnson, George Turner
*Either Mereda Davis Johnson and George Turner will be DeKalb County's next District 5 commissioner.
Before next week is over, DeKalb County residents who live in District 5 — the southeast part of the county that spans from around I-20 and I-285 past Lithonia — will have a new representative fighting for them at county commission meetings. For the approximately 140,000 people who live in the district, the election is of particular importance given their lack of full representation over the past two years.

?
Following the indictment of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Interim CEO Lee May had refused to vacate his District 5 seat, well after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the top county spot in July 2013. On multiple occasions, DeKalb commissioners squabbled over naming a temporary replacement so that May wouldn't occupy two positions. Amid pressure, May resigned in early May from his original southeast DeKalb post, paving the way for a special election.

?
Ten candidates entered the highly contested special election. Out of the crowded field, longtime family law attorney Mereda Davis Johnson and retired MARTA manager George Turner received enough votes to advance to a runoff scheduled for July 14. 

?
Davis Johnson is making her first bid for elected office after a lifetime filled with politics that includes registering voters with her father when she was young and working behind the scenes with the political career of her husband, longtime Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. She never considered running until hearing about the commission's vacant seat.

?
"I couldn't sit on the sidelines and hope for change," Davis Johnson says. "We have not had representation for the last two years. It clearly, clearly shows in the fifth district."

?
Davis Johnson, who received 27 percent of the vote in the May election, says the district needs to take care of beautification issues like picking up litter in the streets or paving potholes to help spur future economic development. She also says her experience running a law firm, where she's been a good financial steward of that business, will help restore potential investors' confidence following the county's ethics scandal.

?
"The work on ethics starts from the top-down, not from the bottom-up," she says. "We, as leaders of DeKalb, have to set the example for others. You can't use taxpayers' money for personal expenses, that's just common sense. ... You need transparency and oversight."

?
Turner, a longtime resident who won nearly 16 percent of the vote, has recently focused much of his energy on volunteering in several neighborhood groups and at the Gold Dome, where he's helped state Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia. He says his past experience working on MARTA budgets will help him as a potential DeKalb commissioner.

?
"I'm available," Turner says. "I have the time, I have the will, and I have skill. I've proven that I'll serve whether I'm elected or not. I'm not using this as a stepping stone. Those who voted for me, and know me, know I want to serve DeKalb and not myself."

?
If elected, he says, District 5 would need to revisit how it handles zoning, code enforcement, and public safety. Like Davis Johnson, he'd someday like to see greater economic development in the area, including a revitalized Stonecrest Mall. But first, he says, DeKalb needs to start getting residents to believe in the county's vision rather than eye the formation of new cities.

?
"We don't have a voice in the fight," he says. "They're seeing the services are being received from the county without a commissioner. … So they're taking it into their own hands. If you had a strong commissioner in that area, a city might not be necessary."

?
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Article

Friday July 10, 2015 02:06 pm EDT

  • Courtesy Mereda Davis Johnson, George Turner
  • Either Mereda Davis Johnson and George Turner will be DeKalb County's next District 5 commissioner.

Before next week is over, DeKalb County residents who live in District 5 — the southeast part of the county that spans from around I-20 and I-285 past Lithonia — will have a new representative fighting for them at county commission meetings. For the...

| more...
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  string(84) "R.I.P. Dave Walker, citizen activist who raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing"
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*PODIUM POET: Dave Walker raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing.
Dave Walker never shied away from speaking his mind. The 69-year-old activist, a longtime fixture of City Hall life, brought his fervent advocacy to public meetings for the past three decades. 

?
Earlier this week Walker died after growing ill over the past couple of years. In his absence, he leaves behind a legacy that includes zealous participation, blunt remarks, and fierce criticism — all of which have slowly dwindled inside Atlanta City Council’s chambers in recent years. 

?
“Nothing was beyond his scrutiny,” says Councilman Michael Julian Bond. “If he felt you were not being considerate of the public on a small issue, like the order of speakers in a meeting, he would call you out on that.”

?
In the mid-1980s, the Vietnam War vet first became a frequent face at 55 Trinity Avenue. During the height of his advocacy, the one-time Five Points vendor claimed to attend most public meetings. Often clad in hospital scrubs, he saw himself as a “doctor” of the political process, passionately fighting for the rights of veterans, vendors, and the greater public.

?
“He brought a combination of spiritual and philosophical to meetings,” Councilman C.T. Martin says. “He could engage you in deep conversations. He was much brighter than a lot of people thought. Some people thought he had other motives. He was trying to be a teacher.”

?
Ron Shakir, a fellow citizen activist, didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Walker, who described himself as the "only black conservative Republican in Atlanta.” Walker was also known for his polarizing viewpoints, like the time he told CL that the Atlanta Beltline was a “noose around the necks of all of Atlanta.” But Shakir says Walker often helped City Hall newcomers uncertain of how to navigate the political process find their way.

?
“Dave helped anybody who had the courage to speak in City Hall,” Shakir says. “Citizens have fainted at that podium. Dave made it easier. If he felt like someone was being bullied, he wouldn’t shy away from bullying back for them.”

?      ?        ?        
Atlanta Vendors Association President Larry Miller first met the “fiery, strong willed, and never mild-mannered” Walker through the vending community. Miller recently remembers receiving a rare compliment from Walker as he fought for the rights of vendors to hawk umbrellas and incense outside the Five Points MARTA station and Turner Field.

?
“Dave never gave anyone compliments unless they deserved it,” Miller says. “That was the most touching thing I could remember.”

?


?
Walker’s name could be found on the public comment sign-up sheet and the ballot. He ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Shirley Franklin during her 2005 re-election campaign. In 2009, he ran for Council president. The activist’s grassroots campaign received 5,759 votes in that election — nearly 10 percent of the total ballots cast — and forced current Council President Ceasar Mitchell and then-Councilwoman Clair Muller into a runoff. 

?
“I think I have accomplished a great deal,” he told CL in a 2009 interview before the election. “If not in actual legislation, then in letting the government understand that there is someone out there who is not afraid of them.

?
Walker, who claimed to have influenced “hundreds of pieces of legislation,” stepped away from his rabble-rousing role in early 2014. Between then and his death, Bond says, his absence felt as if a fellow elected official was missing from public meetings. 

?
“To not have him there is strange,” Bond says. “He was that much a part of everything.” 

?
In Walker’s honor, councilmembers started this week’s meeting with a moment of silence. The tribute was followed with nearly two-dozen residents airing their grievances regarding bad contracts, unfair laws, and other questionable policies. All of them, whether they knew it or not when they stood in front of Council, paid homage to Walker.

?
Visitation
Friday, July 10, 8 a.m. — 10 p.m. (Family will receive visitors from 6 p.m. — 7 p.m.)
''Gus Thornhill Funeral Home, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344?
Celebration of Life
Saturday, July 11, 1:30 p.m.
Gus Thornhill Chapel, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344

?
Interment (immediately following service)
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens, 5755 Mallory Road, College Park, GA 30349

?
Repast
Saturday, July 11, 4 p.m.
City Hall, Old Council Chambers, 68 Mitchell Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303''

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*PODIUM POET: Dave Walker raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing.
Dave Walker never shied away from speaking his mind. The 69-year-old activist, a longtime fixture of City Hall life, brought his fervent advocacy to public meetings for the past three decades. 

?
Earlier this week Walker died after growing ill over the past couple of years. In his absence, he leaves behind a legacy that includes zealous participation, blunt remarks, and fierce criticism — all of which have slowly dwindled inside Atlanta City Council’s chambers in recent years. 

?
“Nothing was beyond his scrutiny,” says Councilman Michael Julian Bond. “If he felt you were not being considerate of the public on a small issue, like the order of speakers in a meeting, he would call you out on that.”

?
In the mid-1980s, the Vietnam War vet first became a frequent face at 55 Trinity Avenue. During the height of his advocacy, the one-time Five Points vendor claimed to attend most public meetings. Often clad in hospital scrubs, he saw himself as a “doctor” of the political process, passionately fighting for the rights of veterans, vendors, and the greater public.

?
“He brought a combination of spiritual and philosophical [to meetings],” Councilman C.T. Martin says. “He could engage you in deep conversations. He was much brighter than a lot of people thought. Some people thought he had other motives. He was trying to be a teacher.”

?
Ron Shakir, a fellow citizen activist, didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Walker, who described himself as the "only black conservative Republican in Atlanta.” Walker was also known for his polarizing viewpoints, like the time he told ''CL'' that the Atlanta Beltline was a “noose around the necks of all of Atlanta.” But Shakir says Walker often helped City Hall newcomers uncertain of how to navigate the political process find their way.

?
“Dave helped anybody who had the courage to speak in City Hall,” Shakir says. “Citizens have fainted at that podium. Dave made it easier. If he felt like someone was being bullied, he wouldn’t shy away from bullying back for them.”

?      ?        ?        
Atlanta Vendors Association President Larry Miller first met the “fiery, strong willed, and never mild-mannered” Walker through the vending community. Miller recently remembers receiving a rare compliment from Walker as he fought for the rights of vendors to hawk umbrellas and incense outside the Five Points MARTA station and Turner Field.

?
“Dave never gave anyone compliments unless they deserved it,” Miller says. “That was the most touching thing I could remember.”

?


?
Walker’s name could be found on the public comment sign-up sheet and the ballot. He ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Shirley Franklin during her 2005 re-election campaign. In 2009, he ran for Council president. The activist’s grassroots campaign received 5,759 votes in that election — nearly 10 percent of the total ballots cast — and forced current Council President Ceasar Mitchell and then-Councilwoman Clair Muller into a runoff. 

?
“I think I have accomplished a great deal,” he [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2009/11/06/profile-dave-walker-city-hall-rabble-rouser |told ''CL'' in a 2009 interview] before the election. “If not in actual legislation, then in letting the government understand that there is someone out there who is not afraid of them.

?
Walker, who claimed to have influenced “hundreds of pieces of legislation,” stepped away from his rabble-rousing role in early 2014. Between then and his death, Bond says, his absence felt as if a fellow elected official was missing from public meetings. 

?
“To not have him there is strange,” Bond says. “He was that much a part of everything.” 

?
In Walker’s honor, councilmembers started this week’s meeting with a moment of silence. The tribute was followed with nearly two-dozen residents airing their grievances regarding bad contracts, unfair laws, and other questionable policies. All of them, whether they knew it or not when they stood in front of Council, paid homage to Walker.

?
''__Visitation__''
''Friday, July 10, 8 a.m. — 10 p.m. (Family will receive visitors from 6 p.m. — 7 p.m.)''
''Gus Thornhill Funeral Home, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344?
__Celebration of Life__
Saturday, July 11, 1:30 p.m.
Gus Thornhill Chapel, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344

?
__Interment (immediately following service)__
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens, 5755 Mallory Road, College Park, GA 30349

?
__Repast__
Saturday, July 11, 4 p.m.
City Hall, Old Council Chambers, 68 Mitchell Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303''

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  string(4891) "       2015-07-10T14:19:00+00:00 R.I.P. Dave Walker, citizen activist who raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing   Max Blau Max Blau 2015-07-10T14:19:00+00:00  
*Joeff Davis/CL File
*PODIUM POET: Dave Walker raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing.
Dave Walker never shied away from speaking his mind. The 69-year-old activist, a longtime fixture of City Hall life, brought his fervent advocacy to public meetings for the past three decades. 

?
Earlier this week Walker died after growing ill over the past couple of years. In his absence, he leaves behind a legacy that includes zealous participation, blunt remarks, and fierce criticism — all of which have slowly dwindled inside Atlanta City Council’s chambers in recent years. 

?
“Nothing was beyond his scrutiny,” says Councilman Michael Julian Bond. “If he felt you were not being considerate of the public on a small issue, like the order of speakers in a meeting, he would call you out on that.”

?
In the mid-1980s, the Vietnam War vet first became a frequent face at 55 Trinity Avenue. During the height of his advocacy, the one-time Five Points vendor claimed to attend most public meetings. Often clad in hospital scrubs, he saw himself as a “doctor” of the political process, passionately fighting for the rights of veterans, vendors, and the greater public.

?
“He brought a combination of spiritual and philosophical to meetings,” Councilman C.T. Martin says. “He could engage you in deep conversations. He was much brighter than a lot of people thought. Some people thought he had other motives. He was trying to be a teacher.”

?
Ron Shakir, a fellow citizen activist, didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Walker, who described himself as the "only black conservative Republican in Atlanta.” Walker was also known for his polarizing viewpoints, like the time he told CL that the Atlanta Beltline was a “noose around the necks of all of Atlanta.” But Shakir says Walker often helped City Hall newcomers uncertain of how to navigate the political process find their way.

?
“Dave helped anybody who had the courage to speak in City Hall,” Shakir says. “Citizens have fainted at that podium. Dave made it easier. If he felt like someone was being bullied, he wouldn’t shy away from bullying back for them.”

?      ?        ?        
Atlanta Vendors Association President Larry Miller first met the “fiery, strong willed, and never mild-mannered” Walker through the vending community. Miller recently remembers receiving a rare compliment from Walker as he fought for the rights of vendors to hawk umbrellas and incense outside the Five Points MARTA station and Turner Field.

?
“Dave never gave anyone compliments unless they deserved it,” Miller says. “That was the most touching thing I could remember.”

?


?
Walker’s name could be found on the public comment sign-up sheet and the ballot. He ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Shirley Franklin during her 2005 re-election campaign. In 2009, he ran for Council president. The activist’s grassroots campaign received 5,759 votes in that election — nearly 10 percent of the total ballots cast — and forced current Council President Ceasar Mitchell and then-Councilwoman Clair Muller into a runoff. 

?
“I think I have accomplished a great deal,” he told CL in a 2009 interview before the election. “If not in actual legislation, then in letting the government understand that there is someone out there who is not afraid of them.

?
Walker, who claimed to have influenced “hundreds of pieces of legislation,” stepped away from his rabble-rousing role in early 2014. Between then and his death, Bond says, his absence felt as if a fellow elected official was missing from public meetings. 

?
“To not have him there is strange,” Bond says. “He was that much a part of everything.” 

?
In Walker’s honor, councilmembers started this week’s meeting with a moment of silence. The tribute was followed with nearly two-dozen residents airing their grievances regarding bad contracts, unfair laws, and other questionable policies. All of them, whether they knew it or not when they stood in front of Council, paid homage to Walker.

?
Visitation
Friday, July 10, 8 a.m. — 10 p.m. (Family will receive visitors from 6 p.m. — 7 p.m.)
''Gus Thornhill Funeral Home, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344?
Celebration of Life
Saturday, July 11, 1:30 p.m.
Gus Thornhill Chapel, 1315 Gus Thornhill, East Point, GA 30344

?
Interment (immediately following service)
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens, 5755 Mallory Road, College Park, GA 30349

?
Repast
Saturday, July 11, 4 p.m.
City Hall, Old Council Chambers, 68 Mitchell Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303''

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Article

Friday July 10, 2015 10:19 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • PODIUM POET: Dave Walker raised the bar for City Hall rabble-rousing.

Dave Walker never shied away from speaking his mind. The 69-year-old activist, a longtime fixture of City Hall life, brought his fervent advocacy to public meetings for the past three decades.

?
Earlier this week Walker died after growing ill over the past couple of years. In his absence, he leaves...

| more...
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*Jim Stawniak/CL File
*
"I have never thought of it as a racist flag."

?
Georgia U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Newnan, downplays the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred, one day after South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the symbol from its statehouse grounds. He also told reporters "the majority of the people who actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side did not own slaves." (via NBC)

?
To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks."
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*
__"I have never thought of it as a racist flag."__

?
Georgia U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Newnan, downplays the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred, one day after South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the symbol from its statehouse grounds. He also told reporters "the majority of the people who actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side did not own slaves." (via [https://twitter.com/evale72/status/619212192789962752|NBC])

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*Jim Stawniak/CL File
*
"I have never thought of it as a racist flag."

?
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?
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Article

Thursday July 9, 2015 02:39 pm EDT

  • Jim Stawniak/CL File

"I have never thought of it as a racist flag."

?
Georgia U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Newnan, downplays the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred, one day after South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the symbol from its statehouse grounds. He also told reporters "the majority of the people who actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side did not own...

| more...
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*The parents of Nicholas Thomas hold a photo for their son, Nicholas, and his infant daughter.
Smyrna Police Department Officer Sgt. Kenneth Owens will not face charges for fatally shooting 23-year-old tire shop employee Nicholas Thomas nearly four months ago.

?
A Cobb County grand jury today deemed the shooting to be justified and recommended Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds to not pursue further action against Owens for his use of lethal force on March 24. On that afternoon, Smyrna and Cobb County law enforcement officers attempted to serve Thomas with an arrest warrant after he had failed to pay $170 in probation fees. 

?
Thomas, who had a previous history of evading police but had recently tried to resolve his legal issues, attempted to flee the scene in a Maserati sports car that was being serviced at the Goodyear tire shop where he worked. Owens, who claimed to have feared for his safety, fired at least six rounds at the side of the Maserati. Thomas was unarmed at the time of his death.

?
Cobb County Police, which faced backlash after initially attempting to investigate the case, eventually handed the probe over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. On June 17, the state agency handed over their findings to Reynolds, who presented the evidence to a civil grand jury.

?
“The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas’s survivors," Reynolds said in a statement. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force. Police officers in Georgia are authorized to fire their weapons to protect themselves or others from immediate bodily harm. That is what happened in this case.”

?
The Thomas family, who has criticized the use of lethal force and officers' accounts about the alleged threat to their safety, has recently urged federal authorities to become involved in the investigation. We've reached out to them for comment — and about their future plans for legal action — and will update this post once we receive more details."
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*[http://clatl.com/atlanta/ImageArchives?by=1559825|Joeff Davis/CL File]
*The parents of Nicholas Thomas hold a photo for their son, Nicholas, and his infant daughter.
Smyrna Police Department Officer Sgt. Kenneth Owens will not face charges for fatally shooting 23-year-old tire shop employee Nicholas Thomas nearly four months ago.

?
A Cobb County grand jury today deemed the shooting to be justified and recommended Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds to not pursue further action against Owens for [http://clatl.com/atlanta/unanswered/Content?oid=14494645|his use of lethal force] on March 24. On that afternoon, Smyrna and Cobb County law enforcement officers attempted to serve Thomas with an arrest warrant after he had failed to pay $170 in probation fees. 

?
Thomas, who had a [http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/28602877/shooting-reported-at-cobb-co-shopping-center|previous history of evading police] but had recently tried to resolve his legal issues, attempted to flee the scene in a Maserati sports car that was being serviced at the Goodyear tire shop where he worked. Owens, who claimed to have feared for his safety, fired at least six rounds at the side of the Maserati. Thomas was unarmed at the time of his death.

?
Cobb County Police, which faced backlash after initially attempting to investigate the case, eventually handed the probe over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. On June 17, the state agency handed over their findings to Reynolds, who presented the evidence to a civil grand jury.

?
“The loss of life is unfortunate, and I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Thomas’s survivors," Reynolds said in a statement. "But when he drove the vehicle toward officers in the manner he did, the officer who fired the shots was justified under the law to use lethal force. Police officers in Georgia are authorized to fire their weapons to protect themselves or others from immediate bodily harm. That is what happened in this case.”

?
The Thomas family, who has criticized the use of lethal force and officers' accounts about the alleged threat to their safety, has recently urged federal authorities to [http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/smyrna/2015/06/17/nicholas-thomas-smyrna-officer-shooting/28883509/|become involved] in the investigation. We've reached out to them for comment — and about their future plans for legal action — and will update this post once we receive more details."
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*The parents of Nicholas Thomas hold a photo for their son, Nicholas, and his infant daughter.
Smyrna Police Department Officer Sgt. Kenneth Owens will not face charges for fatally shooting 23-year-old tire shop employee Nicholas Thomas nearly four months ago.

?
A Cobb County grand jury today deemed the shooting to be justified and recommended Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds to not pursue further action against Owens for his use of lethal force on March 24. On that afternoon, Smyrna and Cobb County law enforcement officers attempted to serve Thomas with an arrest warrant after he had failed to pay $170 in probation fees. 

?
Thomas, who had a previous history of evading police but had recently tried to resolve his legal issues, attempted to flee the scene in a Maserati sports car that was being serviced at the Goodyear tire shop where he worked. Owens, who claimed to have feared for his safety, fired at least six rounds at the side of the Maserati. Thomas was unarmed at the time of his death.

?
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?
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?
The Thomas family, who has criticized the use of lethal force and officers' accounts about the alleged threat to their safety, has recently urged federal authorities to become involved in the investigation. We've reached out to them for comment — and about their future plans for legal action — and will update this post once we receive more details.             13083666 14762751                          Cobb D.A. won't pursue charges in Nicholas Thomas case "
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Article

Thursday July 9, 2015 01:54 pm EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • The parents of Nicholas Thomas hold a photo for their son, Nicholas, and his infant daughter.

Smyrna Police Department Officer Sgt. Kenneth Owens will not face charges for fatally shooting 23-year-old tire shop employee Nicholas Thomas nearly four months ago.

?
A Cobb County grand jury today deemed the shooting to be justified and recommended Cobb District Attorney Vic...

| more...
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  string(3329) "On the afternoon of June 28, hundreds of ATV and dirt bike riders roared across the city. The thrill-seekers popped wheelies and performed acrobatic tricks as they ran red lights, rode on sidewalks, and brought traffic to a halt.

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The massive group's defiance of the law has drawn the ire of community members who have demanded that the city clamp down on the increasingly chaotic rides. APD officers, limited by a strict no-chase policy hampering their response, have joined New York, Baltimore, and other cities' police forces in a struggle to resolve what many consider a growing problem.

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??
APD officials, who last summer pledged to adopt a new strategy, have not yet corralled the riders. Zone 3 Commander Major Jeffery Glazier says the department last weekend arrested two riders, impounded several off-road vehicles, and offered an up-to-$2,000 reward for information about suspects who smashed a patrol car's windshield.

??
"This continues to be a challenge for us and many cities around the country," Glazier says. "We are keenly aware of the dangers they pose to pedestrians and drivers as they race down our streets. Their behavior has become increasingly aggressive toward law enforcement."

??
Cabbagetown resident Libby Quattrocchi, a longtime motorcyclist and off-road vehicle owner, wants to establish a dedicated intown park for dirt bike and ATV riders to ride freely.

??
Plans for a dirt bike park are still in the early stages, with no specific location or funding source determined. Ideally, Quattrocchi says, park proponents could create Atlanta's version of Durhamtown, a 6,000-acre "off road resort" located approximately 90 miles east of the city, since many riders don't have access to cars or trailers.

??
One potential space floated for the site is the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, a long-neglected 400-plus-acre site in southeast Atlanta. Another one of the group's ideas, a dedicated lane for motorized vehicles on the Atlanta Beltline, was quickly swatted down by a project official. For Quattrocchi, the location is less important than the simple need for a space, wherever that may be.

??
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??
The massive group's defiance of the law has drawn the ire of community members who have demanded that the city clamp down on the increasingly chaotic rides. APD officers, limited by a strict no-chase policy hampering their response, have joined [http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/nyregion/for-new-york-citys-dirt-bikers-there-is-nowhere-to-ride.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&|New York], [http://www.vice.com/read/the-wheelying-dirt-bike-gangs-of-baltimore-twelve-o-clock-boyz-lofty-nathan|Baltimore], and other cities' police forces in a struggle to resolve what many consider a growing problem.

??
For the past several years, [http://clatl.com/atlanta/urban-dirt-biking-is-illegal-and-its-rising-in-popularity/Content?oid=12013274|#ATLBikeLife], a loose collective of mostly black off-road vehicle operators, have spent Sundays illegally riding dirt bikes and ATVs on Atlanta's streets and through the city's parks. Group leaders insist their rides are a peaceful alternative to what might otherwise be a life of crime or drugs for the participants. Calls to the organizers about the latest ride were not returned.

??
As the number of riders flooding the streets has increased, so have the number of residents frustrated over the damage done to public greenspace and the disregard for their neighborhoods.

??
"I'm disappointed all the way around," says Capitol View resident Joe Miller, who moved to the neighborhood last October. "A majority at-risk demographic making yet another poor anti-social choice for a public outlet, city and police leaders displaying ineptitude, and the failure of black leadership at every level to be a voice of reason and guidance for these men."

??
APD officials, who last summer pledged to adopt a new strategy, have not yet corralled the riders. Zone 3 Commander Major Jeffery Glazier says the department last weekend [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/06/29/two-arrests-made-in-massive-dirt-bike-and-atv-rally|arrested] two riders, impounded several off-road vehicles, and offered an up-to-$2,000 [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/07/01/apd-2000-reward-for-info-on-atv-riders-who-shattered-patrol-cars-windshield#readerComments|reward] for information about suspects who smashed a patrol car's windshield.

??
"This continues to be a challenge for us and many cities around the country," Glazier says. "We are keenly aware of the dangers they pose to pedestrians and drivers as they race down our streets. Their behavior has become increasingly aggressive toward law enforcement."

??
Cabbagetown resident Libby Quattrocchi, a longtime motorcyclist and off-road vehicle owner, wants to establish a dedicated intown park for dirt bike and ATV riders to ride freely.

??
Plans for a dirt bike park are still in the early stages, with no specific location or funding source determined. Ideally, Quattrocchi says, park proponents could create Atlanta's version of [http://www.durhamtown.com/|Durhamtown], a 6,000-acre "off road resort" located approximately 90 miles east of the city, since many riders don't have access to cars or trailers.

??
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??
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??
The massive group's defiance of the law has drawn the ire of community members who have demanded that the city clamp down on the increasingly chaotic rides. APD officers, limited by a strict no-chase policy hampering their response, have joined New York, Baltimore, and other cities' police forces in a struggle to resolve what many consider a growing problem.

??
For the past several years, #ATLBikeLife, a loose collective of mostly black off-road vehicle operators, have spent Sundays illegally riding dirt bikes and ATVs on Atlanta's streets and through the city's parks. Group leaders insist their rides are a peaceful alternative to what might otherwise be a life of crime or drugs for the participants. Calls to the organizers about the latest ride were not returned.

??
As the number of riders flooding the streets has increased, so have the number of residents frustrated over the damage done to public greenspace and the disregard for their neighborhoods.

??
"I'm disappointed all the way around," says Capitol View resident Joe Miller, who moved to the neighborhood last October. "A majority at-risk demographic making yet another poor anti-social choice for a public outlet, city and police leaders displaying ineptitude, and the failure of black leadership at every level to be a voice of reason and guidance for these men."

??
APD officials, who last summer pledged to adopt a new strategy, have not yet corralled the riders. Zone 3 Commander Major Jeffery Glazier says the department last weekend arrested two riders, impounded several off-road vehicles, and offered an up-to-$2,000 reward for information about suspects who smashed a patrol car's windshield.

??
"This continues to be a challenge for us and many cities around the country," Glazier says. "We are keenly aware of the dangers they pose to pedestrians and drivers as they race down our streets. Their behavior has become increasingly aggressive toward law enforcement."

??
Cabbagetown resident Libby Quattrocchi, a longtime motorcyclist and off-road vehicle owner, wants to establish a dedicated intown park for dirt bike and ATV riders to ride freely.

??
Plans for a dirt bike park are still in the early stages, with no specific location or funding source determined. Ideally, Quattrocchi says, park proponents could create Atlanta's version of Durhamtown, a 6,000-acre "off road resort" located approximately 90 miles east of the city, since many riders don't have access to cars or trailers.

??
One potential space floated for the site is the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, a long-neglected 400-plus-acre site in southeast Atlanta. Another one of the group's ideas, a dedicated lane for motorized vehicles on the Atlanta Beltline, was quickly swatted down by a project official. For Quattrocchi, the location is less important than the simple need for a space, wherever that may be.

??
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Thursday July 9, 2015 04:00 am EDT
One solution calls for 'safe space' where dirt bike and ATV riders can seek thrills | more...
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During this year's State of the Union, Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act to help an fund an employment policy offered in most other developed nations. As is the case with many other proposals, Congress so far has failed to pass that measure. With little progress at the federal level in sight, Obama Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett has toured the nation on the "Lead on Leave" tour to promote local and state governments who have been willing to give their  employees paid family leave — which the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says nearly 90 percent of American workers don't receive access to right now.

?
Atlanta's new budget, which went into effect on July 1, included $1.4 million to pay for up to six weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave for all city employees. Jarrett, who made Atlanta the last stop on a recent 12-stop nationwide tour, praised the mayor during the public discussion, saying that "your budget reflects your priorities" in operating the city.

?
"Support and momentum for policies that reflect a 21st Century workforce is building across the country, and Atlanta is a city leading by example," Jarrett said.

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According to Reed's office, the extra cash makes Atlanta's city government the first government body in the metro area to offer such a benefit to its employees. Prior to the budget's approval, Reed spokesman Jenna Garland says, city workers were only protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects an individual's job status but requires the use of sick or vacation days.

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"When we determine something is the right thing do...and when we can, we will act decisively," Reed said.

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The paid leave decision, Reed added, came on the heels of a recent plan to close the gender-pay gap at City Hall. The mayor, who introduced the equality pay proposal during the 2015 "State of the City," has spent recent months conducting an analysis on the final costs of closing the pay gap for all city employees.

?
GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Wesley Tharpe says the city's new paid family-leave policy is a "great step in the right direction" that could help government agencies — along with private companies — attract and retain talent. The city, he says, should follow up this measure by enacting a broader policy urging businesses within the city limits to also provide some paid leave to their workers. However, some limitations in current state law would require legislative action at the Gold Dome.

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"Several cities are moving in this direction nationwide, but local governments in Georgia are unfortunately forbidden from doing so," Tharpe says. "Georgia has a state law called preemption, which prevents cities and counties from raising their local minimum wage or mandating employee benefits.""
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During this year's State of the Union, Obama called on Congress to pass the [http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Healthy-Families-Act-Would-Let-Workers-Earn-Paid-Sick-Days|Healthy Families Act] to help an fund an employment policy offered in most other developed nations. As is the case with many other proposals, Congress so far has failed to pass that measure. With little progress at the federal level in sight, Obama Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett has toured the nation on the "Lead on Leave" tour to promote local and state governments who have been willing to give their  employees paid family leave — which the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says nearly 90 percent of American workers don't receive access to right now.

?
Atlanta's new budget, [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/06/25/city-budget-approved-includes-paid-maternity-and-paterntiy-leave-olive-branch-to-aps-over-beltline-payments|which went into effect on July 1], included $1.4 million to pay for up to six weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave for all city employees. Jarrett, who made Atlanta the last stop on a recent 12-stop nationwide tour, praised the mayor during the public discussion, saying that "your budget reflects your priorities" in operating the city.

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"Support and momentum for policies that reflect a 21st Century workforce is building across the country, and Atlanta is a city leading by example," Jarrett said.

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"When we determine something is the right thing do...and when we can, we will act decisively," Reed said.

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The paid leave decision, Reed added, came on the heels of a recent plan to close the gender-pay gap at City Hall. The mayor, who introduced the equality pay proposal during the 2015 "[http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/02/04/could-city-halls-gender-pay-gap-soon-be-a-thing-of-the-past|State of the City]," has spent recent months conducting an analysis on the final costs of closing the pay gap for all city employees.

?
GBPI Senior Policy Analyst Wesley Tharpe says the city's new paid family-leave policy is a "great step in the right direction" that could help government agencies — along with private companies — attract and retain talent. The city, he says, should follow up this measure by enacting a broader policy urging businesses within the city limits to also provide some paid leave to their workers. However, some limitations in current state law would require legislative action at the Gold Dome.

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"Several cities are moving in this direction nationwide, but local governments in Georgia are unfortunately forbidden from doing so," Tharpe says. "Georgia has a state law called preemption, which prevents cities and counties from raising their local minimum wage or mandating employee benefits.""
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?
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?
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?
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?
"Several cities are moving in this direction nationwide, but local governments in Georgia are unfortunately forbidden from doing so," Tharpe says. "Georgia has a state law called preemption, which prevents cities and counties from raising their local minimum wage or mandating employee benefits."             13083637 14733978                          Reed meets with top Obama adviser to raise awareness about paid family leave "
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Wednesday July 8, 2015 11:13 am EDT
For the first time in Atlanta's history, city employees recently became eligible for paid maternity and paternity leave. Inside Atlanta City Council's old chambers yesterday, Mayor Kasim Reed and a top White House official discussed the importance of the policy — one President Barack Obama has promoted across the nation — during an official discussion that drew a crowd of more than a couple... | more...
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
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"I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture…I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else."

?
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter talks about same-sex marriage, scripture, and God in a recent interview. (via Huffington Post)

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To save CL time from painstakingly documenting every comment people say, we've created 'Soundbites' to call attention to their remarks."
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*
__"I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture…I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else."__

?
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter talks about same-sex marriage, scripture, and God in a recent interview. (via [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/07/jimmy-carter-gay-marriage_n_7744390.html|Huffington Post])

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*Joeff Davis/CL File
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"I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture…I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else."

?
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Wednesday July 8, 2015 10:00 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File

"I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture…I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else."

?
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter talks about same-sex...

| more...
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*Joeff Davis/CL File
*No rest for the Atlanta Airport during its massive renovation.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport won't slow down its flight operations during its upcoming $430 million renovation. Now which firm is going to get the bid?

?
Why does Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens attend conventions instead of review rate increases?

?
A New York Times study shows the Atlanta Police has among the smallest racial disparities between its officers and residents in the nation. Where is that gap the highest? Douglasville, Powder Springs, Marietta, Covington, and Fayetteville.

?
MARTA authorities yesterday evacuated the Civic Center station after reports of smoke in its tunnel. 

?
Bridal dresses and accessories that the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized from a former Alaskan drug dealer are up for auction in Atlanta.

?
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study has found that heroin addiction has doubled among women over the past decade. And the drug's use in households making annual household incomes of $50,000 or more has grown by roughly 60 percent.

?
Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the home of longtime Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. The investigation comes more than two months after his foundation's executive director was arrested on federal child pornography charges. 
 
ICYMI: Kickback allegations have sparked a building permits audit."
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*No rest for the Atlanta Airport during its massive renovation.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport [http://www.ajc.com/news/business/hartsfield-jackson-to-be-renovated-amid-full-fligh/nmsxc/|won't slow down its flight operations] during its upcoming $430 million renovation. [http://www.myajc.com/news/business/airport-seeks-contractors-for-makeover/nmszN/?ecmp=ajc_social_twitter_2014_sfp#1fcff27d.3569129.735786
|Now which firm is going to get the bid]? ? Why does Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens [http://investigations.blog.ajc.com/2015/07/07/georgia-insurance-commissioner-has-busy-beach-convention-season/|attend conventions instead of review rate increases]? ? A ''New York Times'' study shows the Atlanta Police has among the smallest racial disparities between its officers and residents in the nation. Where is that gap the highest? [http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/03/us/the-race-gap-in-americas-police-departments.html|Douglasville, Powder Springs, Marietta, Covington, and Fayetteville]. ? [http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/smoke-reported-civic-center-marta-station/nmsrJ/|MARTA authorities yesterday evacuated the Civic Center station after reports of smoke in its tunnel]. ? Bridal dresses and accessories that the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized from a former Alaskan drug dealer [http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/08/us/at-federal-bridal-show-things-old-new-seized-and-blue.html|are up for auction] in Atlanta. ? A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study [http://www.11alive.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/07/07/heroin-use-spikes/29831183/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter|has found] that heroin addiction has doubled among women over the past decade. And the drug's use in households making annual household incomes of $50,000 or more has grown by roughly 60 percent. ? Federal Bureau of Investigation [http://www.wsj.com/articles/home-of-subway-pitchman-is-raided-1436303668|raided the home of longtime Subway spokesman Jared Fogle]. The investigation comes more than two months after his foundation's executive director was arrested on federal child pornography charges. ICYMI: [http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/07/07/kickback-allegations-spark-building-permits-audit-probe-says-department-flush-with-cash-falling-behind-goals|Kickback allegations have sparked a building permits audit]." 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Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport won't slow down its flight operations during its upcoming $430 million renovation. Now which firm is going to get the bid? ? Why does Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens attend conventions instead of review rate increases? ? A New York Times study shows the Atlanta Police has among the smallest racial disparities between its officers and residents in the nation. Where is that gap the highest? Douglasville, Powder Springs, Marietta, Covington, and Fayetteville. ? MARTA authorities yesterday evacuated the Civic Center station after reports of smoke in its tunnel. ? Bridal dresses and accessories that the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized from a former Alaskan drug dealer are up for auction in Atlanta. ? A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study has found that heroin addiction has doubled among women over the past decade. 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Article

Wednesday July 8, 2015 09:14 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • No rest for the Atlanta Airport during its massive renovation.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport won't slow down its flight operations during its upcoming $430 million renovation. Now which firm is going to get the bid?

?
Why does Georgia's Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens attend conventions instead of review rate increases?

?
A New York Times study shows the...

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