ATL concessions: Mayor Reed takes podium to blast Common Cause, its ED

By David Pendered

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After hearing an emotion-packed speech from Mayor Kasim Reed, who lambasted Common Cause of Georgia and its executive director, the Atlanta City Council voted to break until about 7:45 p.m. to hear legal advice and eat dinner.

The council is still clearing its throat over the $3 billion package of airport concessions put forward by Reed’s administration. The council has not discussed how late it intends to work before voting to approve, reject or delay the concessions package.

Reed took the podium in the public area of the City Council Chambers to respond to questions and comments from Councilmember Michael Julian Bond. Bond was pressing the point of why the administration had structured the 152 airport sites into one single piece of legislation.

Reed responded that the city would be vulnerable to lawsuits if the council altered the administration’s package. Reed and Bond went back and forth a few times before Reed began a defense or explanation that lasted several minutes about the airport concessions package.

Then Reed turned his attention to media response to Common Cause’s calls for the council to slow down its review of the concessions package. He started with an editorial in a Columbus newspaper.

“The Columbus newspaper,” Reed said. “We could finance Columbus with two months of our operations.”

Reed also linked Common Cause to a front page story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Common Cause has been bashing the City of Atlanta for the past two weeks,” Reed said. “Talk about pay to play reform. A massive front page story besmirching my character, my name and you all too.”

Later Reed said: “For God’s sake, Common Cause – which has driven the media inquiry – has so much stain on it that it stinks,” Reed said.

Reed said that William Perry, Common Cause’s executive director, had exceeded the limits on campaign contributions from individuals that he is now calling for when Perry ran for office against Councilmember Carla Smith, and against Councilmember Kwanza Hall when Hall served on the Atlanta school board.

After the mayor left the podium, Bond responded:

“I appreciate your comments and your passion for our city. I appreciate what you said and look forward to future discussion with the airport chief, and I appreciate your defense of our city. I had a conversation, one of man, with Maynard [Jackson, a former mayor and namesake of the new international terminal] about public service when I received my first bruising.”

Jackson advised Bond that politics is “one of the most beautiful career choices you can make, but also the most unforgiving.”

The council talked several more minutes about what to do next before deciding to break for dinner. They convened an executive session to hear the city attorney explain why the public cannot learn the names of companies the administration chose for contracts until after the contracts are signed or become invalid.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 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.

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