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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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New Atlanta Falcons stadium can be a catalyst to lift nearby communities

By Guest Columnist ABLE MABLE THOMAS, a resident of the English Avenue community and the newly elected state representative for District 56

Go Falcons! Let me first state that I am a Big Falcons Fan and even attended the Falcons 1999 Super Bowl Game in Miami. And I will be attending the Falcons’ 2013 Super Bowl win. However, not everyone who lives near the Georgia Dome is as fortunate as I am.

Imagine what it is like to spend your entire childhood in the shadow of the biggest sports facility in Georgia and never have the opportunity to attend a football game or other sporting event.

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Don’t let wind energy tax credits go away because of the fiscal cliff

By Guest Columnist JENNETTE GAYER, coordinator of policy development, research and legistlative advocacy for Environment Georgia

This past Friday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made a historic announcement — for the first time ever, his department will hold competitive lease sales for the purpose of offshore wind energy development. The two areas being leased are off the coasts of Massachusetts-Rhode Island and Virginia.

In the press release, Salazar explained: “Wind energy along the Atlantic holds enormous potential, and today we are moving closer to tapping into this massive domestic energy resource to create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier.”

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Urban League of Greater Atlanta aims to be area’s ‘economic first responder’

By Guest Columnist NANCY FLAKE JOHNSON, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta

On more than one occasion when I share the many services of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, I’ve had people say to me that our organization is one of the best-kept secrets in the city.

I have to agree with that sentiment. As the president of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, one of my key goals for 2013 is to boost awareness about the League so more of our region’s residents will know of the many opportunities we have available to help them move up the economic ladder.

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Midtown Atlanta going from Blueprint to Greenprint to an urban ecodistrict

By Guest Columnist KEVIN GREEN, president and CEO of the Midtown Alliance

Depending on whom you ask, the term “sustainability” can have vastly different meanings. In the context of a dense, urban community, it goes much deeper than merely satisfying environmental concerns. Start with what the market is telling us.

Edward McMahon, an Urban Land Institute senior fellow, recently noted that “the market will ultimately favor the greenest buildings in the greenest locations in the greenest cities.” Tenants are demanding green office buildings.

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Georgia businesses and quality of life would benefit from public arts funding

By Guest Columnist DAVE PETERSON, co-founder of Atlanta-based global consulting company North Highland

All people, particularly children, need art and cultural experiences. Children need arts and culture because it promotes brain development. Adults and families need them as a way to lift themselves from the weights and measures of today’s reality.

Cities and communities need arts and culture to promote quality of life and enhance economic development. Through those artistic and cultural experiences, we all connect ourselves to the world around us in different ways and are better off for it personally and financially.

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Former UGA coach Jim Donnan lost sight of the true value of money

By Guest Columnist DAVID GELLER, founder and CEO of GV Financial Advisors

It might be hard to distinguish the barks from the boo’s at the University of Georgia these days. Not many football fans or alumni ever want to hear the name Jim Donnan again.

The former football coach was fired in 2000 after a less-than-stellar four-year career with the Georgia Bulldogs. After a large payout from the school, on top of the already high salary he made, Donnan became a commentator for ESPN. Now, he faces civil and potentially criminal charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (the other “SEC”) for allegedly participating in a Ponzi scheme.

So what happened?

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Metro Atlanta’s transportation needs can’t wait another decade to be fixed

By Guest Columnist TERRY LAWLER, executive director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta

While the recent defeat of the transportation referendum was not well received by Wall Street, the defeat was not the “second coming of Sherman” to metro Atlanta.

Yes, we still have a significant transportation funding challenge that must be addressed; and addressed quickly. But the metro Atlanta region should continue to attract investment during the coming years while we seek a long-term transportation funding solution. And we have a lot going for us in the metro Atlanta region.

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Decatur provides model of how Atlanta can reorient its growth to people

By Guest Columnist MIKE MORGAN, an Atlanta-based landscape architect and urban designer

Growth has been, for decades, one of the Atlanta’s primary economic forces. Development, infrastructure, manufacturing, engineering, and architecture are all part of the growth economy.

In aggregate, the markets that enable growth have been second only to the energy markets (fuels and electricity) in Atlanta.

Successful industries require innovation and investment. The growth industry is no different. Lately though, accommodations needed for growth have been out of balance.

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We can recapture Atlanta’s magic of 1960s by being bold with the basics

By Guest Columnist THOMAS K. GLENN II, president of the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation

The excitement over Broadview Plaza (now Lindbergh Plaza) evaporated when Lenox Square opened as the first major shopping mall in Georgia.

The Atlanta Crackers were a big deal until the Milwaukee Braves moved to town. The Atlanta International Raceway brought NASCAR racing to the region.

Citizens & Southern National Bank, First National Bank of Atlanta, and Trust Company Bank of Georgia were banks at the hub of the financial center of the South.

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Metro Atlantans must organize to prevent privatization of MARTA

By Guest Columnist PAUL MCLENNAN, a member of the Atlanta Public Sector Alliance and a retired member of the Amalgamated Transit Union No. 732

For many years now, there has been discussion at the state legislature about privatizing MARTA. In recent weeks, it has intensified.

In fact, the chair of the MARTA legislative oversight committee, MARTOC, state Rep. Mike Jacobs, has said that “privatizing some MARTA functions is essential.”

Privatization is being presented as a necessary move because of MARTA’s ongoing financial crisis. MARTA predicts a $33.29 million deficit this year. Just as we saw with Grady Memorial Hospital or the proliferation of charter schools, seizing public services by private interests is the preferred choice of many politicians when dealing with institutional financial problems.

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MARTA should open up and broaden its search for a new general manager

By Guest Columnist JANICE L. MATHIS, vice president of legal affairs for the Rainbow Push Coalition in Atlanta

Sometimes, it’s more important for a MARTA driver to give late riders a chance to board than it is to speed off to stay on schedule. That’s what MARTA needs to do now. Instead of rushing to select a new CEO, board chairman Frederick Daniels needs to slow down to give a larger group of qualified candidates the opportunity to get on board.

MARTA spent very little time trying to attract top notch executives to manage the ninth largest transit authority in the country. Instead, the board quickly assembled a short list of candidates and ran with it.

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Georgia students must be better prepared for global competition

By Guest Columnist PAUL BOWERS, CEO of Georgia Power and board chair of the /Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

We at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education are celebrating our 20th Anniversary.

As chairman of the board, I feel it is important to take this time and not only reflect on our past and how we started, but to also think about our future: the future of the Partnership, the future of our educational system, and the future of our state’s economic health and well-being.

There is a lot riding on what we have done in the past, what we do today, and how well we prepare for tomorrow.

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United Way invites all of us in the region to make Atlanta GREATER

By Guest Columnist MILTON J. LITTLE JR., president of United Way of Greater Atlanta

Metro Atlanta is a place filled with hopes and aspirations, dreams and good intentions. In each of us lies a depth of compassion that shines through even in the most difficult times. In each of us is a desire to share bread when the loaf is nearly gone — spare a nickel when a dime is all we have left.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

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Innovative workforce strategy is key to Atlanta’s economic recovery

By Guest Columnist DEBORAH SCOTT, founder of Trade-Up, a national model for prep-apprenticeship and workforce development

Atlanta is still struggling to recover from the stubborn recession that has crippled the regional economy, devastated residential and commercial real estate and kept unemployment at, or near double-digit levels. The challenge this poses for the region can hardly be overstated.

Real estate and related industries, such as construction, are about 25 percent of Atlanta’s economy. Without a recovery in that sector, the region will likely limp along for years, if not decades — a prospect that every citizen and stakeholder should find unacceptable.

But within this gloomy scenario, things are not entirely what they appear to be.

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The sinking Democratic Party in Georgia is bad news for everyone

By Guest Columnist JEFF ANDERSON, a 2010 Independent candidate for the U.S. House in Georgia’s 11th District from Acworth who heads the Anderson Center for American Policy Solutions

Georgia’s decade-and-a-half evolution into a Republican stronghold is more a story of tradition than transition.

While more than a prior century of identical Democratic dominance has surely been flipped on paper, even considering the modern demographic changes that have marked development of the New South, the general ideological character of this state’s voters really has not changed all that much.

Instead, at the level of the average Georgia citizen, this is more of a label-swapping story that centers on commercial quality issues with the two state political parties. Of real importance to each of us today is not that history, but the question of what are we getting (or more correctly, NOT getting) out of our one-party political condition?

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Challenging transportation myths after the failed regional TIA vote

By Guest Columnist HEATHER ALHADEFF, senior transportation planner in the Atlanta urban design practice at Perkins + Will architectural and design firm

I am a city planner and a native Atlantan. Like any effective planner, I’m an optimist by nature, seeking potential in every situation. It’s in my genes to convert community goals and expectations into action plans.

Like all native Atlantans, I was trained to promote what we want people to believe we are.

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Gov. Nathan Deal’s ‘Water Supply Program’ a poor use of taxpayer funds

By Guest Columnist APRIL INGLE, executive director of the Georgia River Network

Gov. Nathan Deal recently decided what his priorities are when it comes to securing future water supply for us Georgians, and it may leave you scratching your head.

Taxpayers will get a well for a resort and water park, an experiment to see if chemically treated river water can be retrieved once it’s been injected deep in to the ground; and loans for expensive reservoirs where there is no clear need for them.

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Fairness and equity must be central to any regional transportation plan

By Guest Columnist VINCENT FORT, a Georgia State Senator who has represented the 39th District that includes Atlanta and East Point since 1996

The TSPLOST referendum failed for many reasons, including distrust of government. Part of that distrust includes the perception that government in Georgia is unfair.

The message that I and others, such as John Evans of the DeKalb NAACP, Edward Dubose of the state NAACP, Georgia SCLC, Sierra Club and labor leaders, communicated to voters was that the TSPLOST project and process was unfair.

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Gov. Deal’s choice — lead in helping make metro Atlanta a global city or let it regress into a small Southern town

By Guest Columnist EGBERT L. J. PERRY, chair and CEO of the Integral Group

In the end, the Atlanta region’s utter disapproval of the T-SPLOST referendum on July 31may have been because the transportation initiative was a mish-mash of parts, without any coherent purpose.

Even those who supported it – like me – could view it only as a meager first step in transportation planning. Voters regarded T-SPLOST as devoid of real solutions to the paramount problem in Georgia: transportation. Many have also suggested that they did not trust the process, leadership and the ultimate list of projects.