Author Archives: David Pendered

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

Tyler Perry’s studio plans must connect with federal requirements to serve, house homeless

Tyler Perry’s plans to build film studios at Fort McPherson must coexist with plans to help the homeless that were submitted to the federal government before the great recession and approved in 2011.

The post-recession economy has created challenges to comply with the original homeless plan. Business models that were to pay for the housing may no longer exist. Some service providers and regulatory agencies may have changed their focus.

Consequently, the plan will be implemented in ways that are yet to be determined, according to members of the state authority overseeing the fort’s conversion to civilian use – including the sale of 325 acres to the filmmaker for $30 million.
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As feds probe workforce program, for alleged fraud by vendors, Mayor Reed reappoints majority of its board

Federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into Atlanta’s workforce training program, city records show.

The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating allegations of fraud, by at least 57 vendors, which were unearthed in an audit released in February 2013 by Atlanta City Auditor Leslie Ward, records show.

Although an outside consultant hired by Invest Atlanta recommended July 31 that Atlanta reorganize the board that oversees the training program, Mayor Kasim Reed has recommended that 12 of 21 board members be reappointed. Continue reading

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Bats, snakes at growing risk of disease; public invited to join in annual ‘bat blitz’ in Rabun County

A mysterious and deadly disease is appearing in Georgia’s bats, and a similar illness was diagnosed in July in a snake, according to state wildlife officials.

Bats are dying from the white-nose disease, which has killed an estimated 5.7 million bats and driven one species found in Georgia to the brink of extinction. Researchers plan to count the bat population in Rabun County next week as part of the effort to monitor the disease. Experienced volunteers are welcome to participate.

Now snakes are a concern. The first wild snake in Georgia to be diagnosed with snake fungal disease was found on the edge of a blackwater swamp near Statesboro, and the implication is the disease could be spreading.
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Should ARC ban developers from its board? Tax groups press the question

The simmering battle over the structure of regional governance got hot at Wednesday’s meeting of the board of the Atlanta Regional Commission.

At least nine organizations sent representatives to voice opposition to proposed revisions to the ARC’s bylaws. They want the bylaws to prohibit the ARC from seating on its board developers and others who have an interest in development. The proposal does not do that.

“I have a problem with a person or employer who could benefit” from actions taken by the ARC board serving on the ARC board, said Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown.
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Board outlines Fort McPherson deal; munitions remediation to affect $10 million of Tyler Perry’s payments

The board overseeing the redevelopment of Fort McPherson offered an olive branch to the residents of the adjacent community Monday. The reception was chilly, at best.

“What is being done really doesn’t pass the smell test,” said West End resident Kay Wallace. “Come on, guys. We deserve better and you’ve got to give us better.”

One issue that was barely mentioned in a long-awaited presentation on the pending deal to sell most of the fort to filmmaker Tyler Perry is the status of fort’s environmental clean-up. A portion of Perry’s payments will be collected based on when the Army remediates the property and turns it over for civilian use, according to a lawyer for the board.
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Atlanta seeks to rebuild troubled workforce training program

After more than two years of review, Atlanta is taking steps to rebuild its troubled workforce development strategy.

A year-long analysis of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency released by Mayor Kasim Reed seeks to address problems in an agency so troubled that a city audit suggested Atlanta should consider disbanding the agency.

A key finding of the review stated: “Today, Atlanta’s Workforce Investment Board and the AWDA operate in ways which are in direct contrast with the emerging best practices, and should be addressed as the AWDA plans for the future.” Continue reading

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Clayton County’s vote on MARTA comes as county’s growth rate slows

As Clayton County prepares to vote this autumn on joining MARTA, a recent report from the Atlanta Regional Commission shines new light on the number of potential riders who reside in Clayton County.

The ARC’s unofficial population estimates show the county added 1,000 residents from 2013 to 2014. That was the smallest increase among the 10 counties tracked by the ARC report.

Clayton’s population shifts will be among the factoids that will bear watching as the campaign for the 1 percent sales tax gears up after Labor Day. Clayton voters rejected a proposed regional 1 percent transportation sales tax that was on the ballot in July 2012.
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ARC: Atlanta gains more residents in year than decade; no housing news

The city of Atlanta added more residents in the past year than it did during the entire first decade of the 2000s, according to an unofficial report from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Atlanta’s gain of 4,100 residents was part of a 10-county population increase of 52,700, calculated from 2013 to 2014. ARC planners said in a statement the increase is a, “sure sign that the economic recovery is continuing.”

ARC’s latest report does not examine the housing supply or construction industry. The city of Atlanta had a glut of housing after the last decade, with more than 37,000 units added to serve a city population that rose by 3,500 residents, according to an ARC report from April 2011.
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Races for governor, Senate could affect Tyler Perry’s purchase plans

The implications on the races for Georgia’s governor and U.S. senator of the Tyler Perry proposal to buy most of Fort McPherson may be starting to take shape.

The election is less than three weeks after Perry’s tentatively scheduled closing, on Oct. 15, for 330 acres of the fort. If Gov. Nathan Deal loses to Sen. Jason Carter, or if Michelle Nunn wins a Senate seat, there’s a chance that either victor may intervene to slow Perry’s deal.

At least, that’s the thought among some involved with the growing community protest that’s taking shape with an eye to slowing Perry’s project. And that’s why the size of the crowd that attended a forum last week is relevant.
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Atlanta’s water rates to be stable through 2016, Moody’s predicts

The year 2016 may prove to be a critical year for customers of Atlanta’s water system.

That’s the year Atlanta may ask voters to extend a 1 percent sales tax to help pay for upgrades to the sewer and storm drain system. Atlanta voters instituted this sales tax in 2004, and extended it in 2008 and 2012.

The year 2016 also the furthest year that a New York credit rating agency predicted that Atlanta’s water rates are likely to remain stable.
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