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Monthly Archives: February 2011
The Atlanta Police Department has unveiled possible names for the new unit set to replace the controversial, elite Red Dog unit.
The new unit, jokingly referred to within the APD as “Green Frog,” will be officially named one of the following, according to an APD internal memo issued today, depending on which one gets the most votes from officers throughout the department. Deadline for voting is March 7. The “winner” will be announced March 14.
The following is a guest column from Atlanta resident and Department of Watershed Management customer David J. Payne.–SR
MORE WATER FOLLIES WITH CITY HALL
By David J. Payne
My award winning gardens played host to tours and fundraising events in the years prior to Atlanta’s droughts and watering restrictions. Once the dry spell set in, however, many of the heirloom plants I’d cared for died from heat and lack of water. In February, with adequate rain promising a less-thirsty year, I wanted to restore my once beautiful grounds. So, I contacted Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management (DWM) to find out about installing an irrigation meter that would measure outdoor water usage only, in the hopes that it would help reduce my monthly water bill.
The last time I checked, an irrigation meter cost about $300 to install. That was only a couple of years ago. Naturally, it was a total shock when I was told that the current cost is $1,800 plus permit fees.
The “420 Times,” an online publication that bears the subtitle “the magazine of medical marijuana and natural healing,” took note of the recent arrest of an Atlanta Police officer for possession of marijuana and posed the question to its readers, How many cops smoke weed?
Most of its readers said that they believed more than 20 percent of police officers smoke weed. Two purported veteran law enforcement officers responded in the comments section of the article, one of them claiming to be a DeKalb County Police officer who said he smokes marijuana everyday. Both said drug testing among police departments is basically non-existent or easily “gotten around.”
The APD doesn’t routinely test for drugs among its officers, something that local advocates have said is a problem. The APD officer arrested on the marijuana charge on Feb. 3, Investigator Bennie Bridges, who led the department’s ill-fated, unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle bar in 2009, had a history not of drug use, but of alcohol abuse.
The 420 Times writer, Joe Klare, sums up: “The problem of course is that while many cops are smoking, they are also out there busting other smokers. This creates a hypocrisy that seriously undermines the authority of the police. After all, if people don’t respect the police, they will be less likely to help them solve real crimes in the future.”SR
The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that the mayor has upgraded his ride because, according to COO Peter Aman, the GMC Yukon Denali is safer than the sedan the mayor was driving. The AJC quotes a security specialist in Dallas, Texas saying that an assassin would have an easier time bumping off the mayor in the Ford Taurus previously allotted to him.
What are Atlanta’s city officials so worried about? In addition to the mayor’s new semi-military SUV, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell ordered security officers to sit in on council meetings beginning this month.
Yesterday, WSB-TV reported on a U.S. Department of Justice audit that showed alarming mismanagement of federal funds by the Atlanta Police Department. The federal audit report used by WSB stated: “We are concerned that the City of Atlanta may not be able to properly manage the $16.9 million it has been awarded under the 2009 Recovery Act.”
The Ramage Report has dug a little deeper and found a follow-up report showing that of all funding recipients audited, the APD is the only one that failed to meet requirements in every category. At least one of the infractions occurred as recently as summer 2010.
The remark was not made in a discussion of roses and candy, but instead in one of sewer sludge and solid waste.
In late January, the mayor had vetoed the Atlanta City Council’s approval of three waste management contracts valued at a total of about $9 million because, he said, they had not been reviewed by his chief of staff, Candace Byrd, or Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman.
The mayoral veto has been used but rarely in Atlanta City Hall, in part because the council has had a track record, over successive mayoral tenures, of rubber-stamping whatever the mayor says. Reed’s use of it, which was underlined by his attendance at the City Council meeting on Feb. 7, set off shockwaves through the usually complicit council.
The “Battle for the Bottle” continues at the Gold Dome on Wednesday as Georgians for Sunday Sales holds a press conference and rally to urge passage of a bill to allow local communities to decide whether retailers should sell alcohol on Sunday.
The grassroots, bipartisan group’s rally will begin at noon on the steps on the Washington Street side of the state Capitol. The public is invited to participate.
The City of Atlanta’s Department of Public Works oversees the city’s much-hated parking enforcement contract with private company PARKAtlanta.
Yet, Department of Public Works employees brazenly park illegally right outside City Hall every day of the week in spaces that are supposed to be reserved for the media.
They were there again today as these photos show, parked at the intersection of Washington Street and Trinity Avenue. (Their tag numbers are shown in the photos on this page.)
In this week’s Creative Loafing (which bears cover text too lengthy and semantically confusing to repeat), writer Gwynnedd Stuart positions former Citizen Review Board member Owen Montague as the lynchpin in the story subtitled “Policing the police has been a futile task for Atlanta’s Citizen Review Board.”
Montague said he wanted Atlanta Police Sgt. Kelly Collier fired for untruthfulness regarding the APD’s unlawful 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle bar but couldn’t get anyone on the board to second him. Instead, the board recommended a lighter punishment.
The Loaf clearly wants to hammer home the idea that the board should have more sway over police. Yet, why should the CRB have more influence over the APD when its recommendations are more lenient than those of the APD’s own internal affairs unit?
UPDATE: The Atlanta Police Dept. has postponed the Buckhead meeting on its proposed redesign for Zone 2, the first of six such meetings to get public input on a citywide redesign of zones and beats. The redesign seeks to use more than 200 new officers to decrease the size of beats–the geographic areas patrolled by one (and sometimes two) officers on a given shift–in order to hasten police response times. Zone and Beat Redesign Overview Powerpoint Presentation (DRAFT 11 09 2010) APD Spokesman Carlos Campos says in a statement: “The Atlanta Police Department will need to postpone the informational meeting on beat redesign scheduled for next Thursday, Feb. 24th, due to a scheduling conflict. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to those who had planned to attend. However, this meeting – and others in each zone – will be scheduled and held. Notice will be sent when dates are set.”
As stated earlier, the Fulton County Taxpayer’s Association will host a seminar with Mike Bell, a former chief financial officer with the City of Atlanta and, more recently, with DeKalb County, to explore tax reform possibilities for Fulton County. Among items to be discussed is the Homestead Option Sales Tax which the association believes will save property owners as much as 46 percent.
Experts have said an additional sales tax would have a disproportionate impact on those with less income, and, on another front, DeKalb has been embroiled in a more-than-decade-long Georgia Supreme Court lawsuit over the way it splits HOST revenue with cities like Decatur, so this should be an interesting meeting.
Here are the details:
Where: Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Rd, Room 2301
When: Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 19, 10am to12pm (a continental breakfast will be provided)