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OPPOSING SIDES OF GEORGIA’S IMMIGRATION DEBATE SHOULD UNITE TO FORCE CONGRESS TO DO ITS JOB

When about 200 protesters gathered outside Georgia’s Gold Dome last week to support or oppose the passage of a law devised to crack down on the state’s illegal immigrant population, there were the usual signs and shouts that go with public debate over citizenship.

In the midst of the anger and passion, it was almost impossible to remember the common ground shared by even the most fringe characters of the two sides, those who vehemently oppose giving any kind of legal status to illegal immigrants, and those who want open borders.

What common ground? The recognition of the fact that the federal government, under Clinton, Bush and now Obama, has taken a shameful pass on a problem that is squarely its own to solve.

In Georgia, the two sides of the national debate are most clearly represented by D.A. King, often described by Jerry Gonzalez as an anti-immigration activist (and sometimes as a convicted felon), and Jerry Gonzalez, who is often described by King as any number of not very flattering things the most mild of which is an open-borders supporter. King is the head of the Dustin Inman Society, and Gonzalez, his nemesis, is the head of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. The talk between the two often gets ugly, but any hope for a sane approach to immigration issues relies upon them, and others like them, coming together to force the federal government to do its job. Continue reading OPPOSING SIDES OF GEORGIA’S IMMIGRATION DEBATE SHOULD UNITE TO FORCE CONGRESS TO DO ITS JOB

MAKING THE MOST OF ATLANTA POLICE

Last week, the Atlanta Police Department began collecting citizen input for its zone and beat redesign. Town hall meetings on the matter will continue through March (see below).

The redesign is based on “calls for service,” essentially calls to 911 that require police response. The goal is to use the recent influx of recruits to shrink each beat—the area patrolled by an officer—and add some beats, so that police can respond to calls more quickly.

In offering up a draft of the redesign last month, APD included the total number of calls for each of its six zones. But, the kinds of calls cops are responding to is every bit as important as the number of calls. Some calls take longer than others. The calls are so varied, from checking on elderly residents to trees falling, to rapes, robberies, and “disorderly children,” that simply slapping a total number on a zone when determining its manpower needs doesn’t make much sense. And maybe that’s not what APD will ultimately do, but recent events suggest that those in charge may not be matching manpower to the type of calls the zones are getting. Continue reading MAKING THE MOST OF ATLANTA POLICE

MAYOR REED’S POLICY ADVISOR AND I GO HEAD-TO-HEAD IN THE AJC

“Pro & Con: Should Legislature allow Atlanta to raise liquor taxes?” In today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mayor Kasim Reed’s policy advisor David Bennett says yes, it’s only pennies on a drink. I say no, small businesses will suffer.

There is no place for comments on the AJC site, so we can hash it out here, if you like. I’ll be very frank, this “it’s only pennies” stuff is silly. Taxes are always “only pennies,” but have the rest of you noticed how those pennies have added up? That new proposed tax on personal services that I wrote about last night is “only pennies” too–but at 7 percent or 8 percent on the dollar it adds up. Yes, we’re only talking about drinks, beer, etc., but clearly Bennett doesn’t know how a restaurant works if he thinks diners aren’t going to notice the increased tab and head home a little earlier or at least try to counter-balance the cost of the mojito tab by not ordering dessert or coffee. Maybe he hasn’t worked at one. I have.

SMALL BUSINESS GROUP IN AWKWARD POSITION ON TAX REFORM, ATLANTA HIT HARDEST

A proposal currently being reviewed by the Georgia General Assembly to tax services like haircuts, car repair, shoe repair, auto detailing, dry cleaning, veterinary care, tire installation and a host of others, is part of a sprawling tax reform package recommended by the 11-member Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness.

That particular aspect of the package is causing anxiety among Georgia’s small businesses which are represented, theoretically at least, on the council by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

According to the legislation that established the council, the chair of the Georgia chapter of the NFIB serves on the council, which puts the small business advocacy group in an interesting position. Continue reading SMALL BUSINESS GROUP IN AWKWARD POSITION ON TAX REFORM, ATLANTA HIT HARDEST

MAYOR REED RIDES IN LUXURY WHILE COPS CRUISE IN JALOPIES

Mayor Kasim Reed will be riding around in a new Denali, courtesy of Atlanta’s taxpayers, while some Atlanta Police officers are driving cars with slipping transmissions and no working laptops.

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. Continue reading MAYOR REED RIDES IN LUXURY WHILE COPS CRUISE IN JALOPIES

FEDERAL REPORT: ATLANTA POLICE DEPT. FALLS SHORT IN EVERY CATEGORY

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.  Continue reading FEDERAL REPORT: ATLANTA POLICE DEPT. FALLS SHORT IN EVERY CATEGORY

MAYOR REED AND THE CURIOUS CASE OF ATLANTA’S GARBAGE CONTRACTS

It was, Mayor Kasim Reed reminded Councilwoman Carla Smith, one week until Valentine’s Day.

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. Continue reading MAYOR REED AND THE CURIOUS CASE OF ATLANTA’S GARBAGE CONTRACTS

RALLY TO SUPPORT SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES

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. Continue reading RALLY TO SUPPORT SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES

PARKATLANTA OVERSEERS PARK ILLEGALLY AT CITY HALL

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.)

UPDATE: IMPORTANT TAX MEETING COMING UP FOR ATLANTANS

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)