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An artist’s walk through the valley of censorship

After censorship, can there be reconciliation? That was the question for Atlanta artist Ruth Stanford on a recent visit with her to the re-installation of “A Walk Through the Valley” at Kennesaw State University. A month ago, the university’s president ordered her artwork removed from the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art as controversial.

It’s back after the sides found common ground, but the notoriety forced Stanford to scrutinize her comfort zone as an artist and sort out the ambiguities exposed by an issue that seems black and white. Is it possible for an introvert to take a stand as an artist?
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Business leader John Wilson, who helped make Atlanta more international, has passed away

By Maria Saporta

A behind-the-scenes Atlanta business leader who led key organizations at a sensitive time in the city’s history — John C. Wilson — passed away on Saturday night at Piedmont Hospital.

Wilson, a fifth generation Atlantan, served as the president (a position now called chairman) of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1970 — helping foster the idea of Atlanta as the next great international city. He was chairman of the International Air Routes Task Force in 1971 — which helped open Atlanta’s airport to inaugural international service a couple of years later.

Wilson also served as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as well as several other corporate and civic boards.
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Atlanta developer Egbert Perry to become chair of Fannie Mae in March

By Maria Saporta

As a nod to the impact he has had on cities, Atlanta’s own Egbert L.J. Perry has been named as chairman of Fannie Mae.

Perry, chairman and CEO of the Integral Group, has served on the board of Fannie Mae since 2008. He will assume his Fannie Mae chairmanship in late March.

“As we continue to support America’s economic recovery through the creation of a better housing finance system, we are excited and honored to have Egbert as our new chairman,” said Tim Mayopoulos, CEO of Fannie Mae. “Egbert’s appointment further reflects our commitment to the continued reform of the nation’s housing finance system.”

Perry founded Integral in 1993 to provide real estate development, advisory and investment management services and is a celebrated innovator in urban revitalization.
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Breaking Bad Fan? I’m here to talk about actor Aaron Paul

By David Luse

I attended an advanced screening of Need For Speed earlier this week. Stars Aaron Paul and Kid Cudi, and director Scott Waugh were available afterward for a Q&A to promote and talk about their film.

The three of them then invited everyone out for pizza at Ormsby’s, a West Midtown hotspot that supports a young, intellectual twenty-something crowd. The hilarious thing was that the owner or manager-on-duty of Ormsby’s disallowed outside pizza. So we were served from a rental Suburban across the street. It was all handled with good humor, and for Ormsby’s part, it was reasonable given that they serve food. Everyone went in for drinks afterward.

Well while sipping on a Reissdorf (they really have a fantastic beer selection) I chatted with the director and squeezed a question out of Aaron Paul. If you don’t care about the movie, skip the next four paragraphs.
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Cousins Properties buys Texas towers in focused effort to expand beyond Atlanta region

Cousins Properties, Inc. – a bellwether Atlanta-based REIT – has closed its previously announced purchases of two office projects in Texas for a total cash price of $1.1 billion.

The two purchases increase Cousins presence in one of the fastest growing regions of the country, according to urban demographer Joel Kotkin, who’s been including the Third Coast since at least 2011 in his list of the nation’s growth corridors.

The Cousins deal includes a 10-building office project in Houston, which Kotkin names as “the clear center” of a mega region that stretches along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida. Houston was the destination of this year’s LINK delegation, which was covered extensively by Maria Saporta. Continue reading

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A new MARTA: Good news highlighted by GM Keith Parker

MARTA GM Keith Parker on Friday painted a portrait of MARTA that’s dramatically improved from the doom-and-gloom image sketched in last year’s management audit by KPMG.

Parker presented MARTA as a service provider that’s determined to balance its budget by raising money through land leases and improving customer service so more people want to use the system. One dramatic indicator of the new approach: MARTA is hiring bus drivers, as opposed to slashing payroll expenses.

As for media reports about expanding service in the Ga. 400 corridor, Parker said the route will go into the pot for consideration with two other routes that have long been considered: I-20 east and the Clifton corridor. “For whatever reason, 400 caught the attention of the media; but as I stressed to them, 400 is not a favorite,” Parker said during a presentation to Georgia Stand-Up.
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Atlanta Falcons have helped revive community spirit — win or lose

By Maria Saporta

The energy — and the tension — in the Georgia Dome on Sunday captures a feeling that has been lost in recent years — a feeling of being in the game.

The last five years have been tough for Atlanta, a city used to being an economic star in the country. The Great Recession hit Atlanta harder than most other cities because it targeted the real estate and banking — two industries that had helped build Atlanta.

And yet, during Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, the city’s troubles are put aside as people rallied behind a team that is only one win away from the Super Bowl.
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A wish list for ‘pragmatism and compromise’ – not ‘brinksmanship’

By Guest Columnist LISA BORDERS, president of the Grady Health Foundation and former president of the Atlanta City Council and mayoral candidate

The coming holidays puts one in mind of wishes and presents, of the resolutions we will make to be better, smarter, more thoughtful in the New Year. We will accomplish all that we should have done before.

The wish list grows from year to year.

For a city or a state, the list is long and includes good jobs, affordable housing and effective transportation. Across political lines and through the years, the desire for leadership that answers the call to address community-wide challenges continues to ring out.
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Column: Atlanta Police Foundation launching $8.1 million campaign

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, November 23, 2012

The Atlanta Police Foundation is launching an $8.1 million, three-year campaign to continue improving public safety in the city.

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has made the lead $1 million gift to that campaign. “The Woodruff Foundation has been our biggest supporter,” said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

The foundation was started in 2003 as a way to bolster the city of Atlanta’s public safety efforts.
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