Entries by Ken Gregor

Citizen committee could help MARTA set priorities for future expansion

Building priorities with construction sequencing was a constantly recurring, difficult and frequently divisive issue throughout MARTA’s history. It was made more complex with limited funding. On several occasions the participating counties and cities disagreed on the priority choices and, as a result, the construction schedules were sometimes adversely impacted.

Raising the next generation of technologists: Closing the technology gap for youth

By Guest Columnist KARA GRADY, a vice president at LexisNexis Risk Solutions

A group of 25 companies presented before the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce at a July 25 innovation showcase that recognized outstanding education programs from across the country. During a day that included oral testimony and a question/answer session with members of Congress, staff and the public, one Atlanta company highlighted the need for a nationwide focus on computer science education.

Solving Atlanta’s craft labor shortage: Changing perceptions, continuing education

By Guest Columnist KEVIN KUNTZ, president of the Southeast Division of McCarthy Building Co., Inc. and president of the Associated General Contractors of Georgia

The metro Atlanta landscape is rapidly changing, with a number of new developments on the horizon. The region is one of the United States more active construction markets, with a number of large-scale construction projects….

Harsh local approach to immigrants harms families, taxpayers

By Guest Columnist WESLEY THARPE, research director for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

The hot topic of immigration is never far from Georgians’ TV screens and Twitter feeds these days. Stories of migrant children taken from their parents at the border captivate viewers on the nightly news. Candidates for high Georgia offices compete over who can be most threatening to the immigrant family next door. And President Donald Trump repeatedly claims that newcomers from other lands are bad for taxpayers, harm the economy and upend the nation’s social fabric.

A personal account of Nicaragua’s untold civil strife

By Guest Columnist TOM WEYANDT, a longtime urban planner in Atlanta

MANAGUA, Nicarauga – I have been coming to Nicaragua and Granada since 2005, when my son and daughter-in-law were married on Little Corn Island, off the East Coast. The following observations will try to set the scene of Nicaragua today, as the country goes through changes so extreme the State Department advises not to travel there because of violent crime, civil unrest and a health care system so overwhelmed by the victims of violence that not all receive care.

Ga. 400 express lanes and BRT project a potential double-edged sword

By Guest Columnist CARL HOLT, an avid promoter of bicycling who volunteered as project manager for the installation of Atlanta’s first bike corral, in the Kirkwood neighborhood

Gov. Nathan Deal stood at the North Wing stairs of the Georgia State Capitol on June 19 to announce the State of Georgia will issue $100 million bonds for a bus rapid transit project in North Fulton County. Deal was surrounded by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (a candidate for governor), House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), and a group of elected officials representing the state and Fulton County.

Atlanta well positioned to continue efforts to thrive in an rapidly changing world

By Guest Columnist STEPHANIE STUCKEY, a sustainability expert

In May 2016, Atlanta became the final city to be part of 100 Resilient Cities (“100 RC”), a program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation to help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century.

The Rockefeller network enables cities to increase the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what chronic stresses or acute shocks they face.

Let’s use technology to better address metro Atlanta’s 21st century traffic ills

By Guest Columnist GEOFF DUNCAN, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor

For anyone who lives in metro Atlanta, there isn’t a day that goes by that their greatest nemesis – traffic congestion – isn’t a topic of conversation.

For far too many of us, just figuring out how we get from Point A to Point B has become the greatest challenge of living and working in this region. INRIX, the transportation analytics firm, ranked Atlanta’s congestion the fourth worst in the nation last year and eighth worst in the world.

Helping Atlanta do what is hard, but right

By Guest Columnist SALLY FLOCKS, president and CEO of PEDS, Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety

Wheelchair users recently sued the City of Atlanta for failing to maintain sidewalks that are equally accessible to people with disabilities. The condition of Atlanta’s sidewalks is deplorable, and a class-action lawsuit for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act has been a long time coming.

Congress must resolve immigration issue, return to work for American people

By Guest Columnist MARK NEWMAN, retired partner with Troutman Sanders

Agriculture is big business in Georgia. One in seven Georgians work in agriculture and the industry contributes nearly $74 billion to our state’s economy. So, when the most important piece of legislation impacting Georgia’s farmers fails to pass the U.S. House of Representatives because of an unrelated immigration issue, it is cause for serious concern.

Georgia urgently needs a coastal hazard study and plan

By Guest Columnist DAVID KYLER, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, located in St. Simons

Enormous burdens on Georgia taxpayers have been imposed by damage from major storms over the past two years. Such impacts over this period are estimated to have cost Georgians some $5 billion in property and infrastructure damage, evacuation expenses, and recovery/clean-up. The majority of these expenses have been imposed by hurricanes, Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017).

We need more role models

By Guest Columnist FRANK BROWN, CEO of Communities in Schools of Atlanta

I was shocked when I read statistics revealing that in today’s world black boys are still facing tremendous racial and financial disparities. What is more alarming is the fact that these statistics are worse than they were 50 years ago. How did we fail our youth? With so many affluent and educated black men, how could this be true? Were the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall all in vain? How can I make sure that black boys don’t get lost in the disparities of life?

Citizen scientists gathering information to inform policy decisions in West Atlanta

By Guest Columnist EMILY WEIGEL, of Georgia Tech, with NA’TAKI OSBORNE JELKS, of Agnes Scott College, and RUTHIE YOW, of Georgia Tech.

“I didn’t know crawfish lived in Atlanta!” Peering into the palm of U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Tamara Johnson, a student’s eyes grew wide at the wriggling resident of Proctor Creek. Proctor is a tributary of the Chattahoochee River; it lends its name to the only watershed located entirely in city limits. And its crawfish matter … more than you might imagine.

More than a financial burden, Plant Vogtle a bad business decision for Georgia

By Guest Columnist MICHAEL M. SIZEMORE, founding principal of Sizemore Group and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

What makes a good business decision? After running a successful architecture firm for decades, I’ve learned a thing or two about what guides good business judgment, and the importance of making sound decisions in the best interest of one’s clients….

And that is why I can say with confidence that the decision to continue the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion, despite a near doubling of its original price tag and more than five years of delay, appears to be bad business, pure and simple.

Dearth of affordable housing calls for comprehensive solution

By Guest Columnist KATHLEEN FARRELL, head of commercial real estate at SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Over the last decade, as millennials entered the workforce and delayed or indefinitely avoided buying a home, apartment complexes sprang up across Atlanta – as they did in many U.S. cities – to meet the growing demand for rental housing. Many of these new developments were built as luxury living experiences in order to command higher rents and meet the expectations of a younger clientele. The result was a robust supply of high-end units that have been absorbed by Atlanta’s strong job market, but a dearth of affordable, workforce housing.

Four decades of the Old Fourth Ward, seen from my office window

By Guest Columnist WILLIAM VANDERKLOOT, a film director/producer with a unique insight into Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

A few years ago Google announced it would archive older images from its Google Maps StreetView program to create a StreetView History section for various cities. StreetView is less than 10 years old, but decades from now it will be a local historian’s delight. I only wish we had StreetView back when I moved my company to the Old Fourth Ward in 1979.

Like the proverbial frog submersed in slowly heating water, familiarity with our immediate surroundings makes us oblivious to incremental change. That is until one day we suddenly realize almost everything is different. That happened to me regarding my studio in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

Georgia leads in addressing school climate

By Guest Columnist CAITLIN DAUGHERTY KOKENES, project manager at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Recent events such as the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February and similar occurrences across the country have brought to light the importance of school safety and student mental health.

As students, parents, administrators, and others search for ways to ensure that schools are safe places, some may be surprised to know that Georgia is a leader among states when it comes to making a concentrated effort to address and improve school climate….