Posted inDavid Pendered

ATL concessions: Protests filed against system that rewards Mayor Reed’s campaign contributors

Several protests reportedly have been filed over the decision by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to award airport concessions bids to certain companies, many of which have contributed to Reed’s mayoral campaigns.

At least one protest asks the city’s Procurement Department to stay the execution of contracts until the protest has been resolved. Friday apparently was the deadline for filing a protest.

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ATL concessions contracts: Details show who wins or (maybe) breaks even

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration proposes a sweeping restructuring of the food and drink concessionaires at the airport.

Reed declined Monday to talk about the concessions program and instructed his media officer to refer all questions to airport General Manager Louis Miller. Reed has been adament in maintaining that this procurement will be free of political meddling.

The proposed contracts would create a new landscape of restaurants, coffee shops and kiosks in all the existing concourses, the new international concourse that’s to open next year, and the atrium, according to the administration’s documents.

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Atlantic Station signs deal to host Atlanta Tennis Championships in July

By David Pendered

Tennis sensation Andy Roddick is scheduled to play in a tournament at Atlantic Station in July as part of a major tennis deal announced Monday.

The Atlanta Tennis Championships has signed Atlantic Station as a multi-year tournament site. The event scheduled from July 14 through July 22 is the opening event of the Olympus U.S. Open Series season.

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Occupy Atlanta not quite an Arab Spring, but stays course, message with social media

Occupy Atlanta has slipped out of the nightly news, but the protesters haven’t gone away.

Rather, participants are expanding their use of social media to spread their message and schedule events, including a Variety Show complete with a fund-raiser for the organization’s legal fund. The party is set for Dec. 29 at Manuel’s Tavern.

This is hardly the stuff of the Arab Spring, the pro-democracy uprisings that harnessed social media to topple four dictators and reshape global politics in the course of a year.

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Airport concessions: Mayor’s appointee to Housing Authority among proposed winners now before Council

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The companies selected by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to run the food and beverage concessions at the airport were made public today.

One of the proposed winners that is not now listed as a tenant at the airport is Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC, a local firm whose agent is listed on state incorporation papers as Daniel Halpern. Reed appointed Halpern to the Atlanta Housing Authority, where he helped engineer the planned departure of its CEO, Renee Glover.

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Airport concessions contracts due this week, or wait till 2012

By David Pendered

Time is running out for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to present the City Council with a list of proposed winners for 152 pending food, beverage and retail contracts at Atlanta’s airport.

The recommendations must be delivered this week if the council is to mull them over the winter holiday. The council begins its annual two-week vacation at the close of business on Friday, Dec. 16.

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Atlanta City Council secures second meeting with school board to air concerns

The Atlanta City Council and Atlanta Board of Education have agreed to meet Dec. 12 to discuss the future of the city’s public school system and its facilities.

The upcoming meeting, the second in two months, is further indication of concern among city leaders for the city’s school system as it seeks to recover from the CRCT cheating scandal and an enrollment far below the system’s capacity.

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DNR board silent after Riverkeepers call for greater protection of waterways

By David Pendered

The tipping point for some Riverkeepers was the death in May of 33,000 fish in the Ogeechee River, a shallow waterway that drains more than 5,500 square miles of sand hills and coastal plain into Ossabaw Sound, south of Savannah.

That incident propelled the Riverkeepers to call Tuesday on the appointed board members who oversee the Department of Natural Resources to provide the political backbone to protect the state’s rivers, creeks and wetlands. That includes securing adequate funding from the Legislature to enforce environmental rules and laws.

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Georgia’s economic malaise: Transportation sales tax is only proposed fix in sight

Next year’s transportation sales tax referendum appears to be the only hope for addressing any of the challenges facing Georgia’s economic development.

The sales tax would raise a projected $18.6 billion over a decade if voters in each of the state’s 12 transportation districts approve the tax in July. To put that in perspective, the state’s current budget is about $16 billion and Gov. Nathan Deal has asked his agency heads for 2 percent cuts for FY 2013, in light of economic forecasts.

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MARTA’s GM to discuss new solar power canopy as Congress debates subsidies

MARTA GM/CEO Beverly Scott plans to talk up the benefits of solar power at a Wednesday luncheon amidst rising political debate over the future of federal solar energy subsidies.

MARTA benefitted from such a program. Two weeks ago, the transit system unveiled its $10.8 million solar canopy at the Laredo Bus Facility near Decatur.

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Where’s the hot research lab: At Georgia Tech or Fort McPherson, or both?

One window into the challenge of creating a bioscience research center at the site of the closed Fort McPherson Army base is opening at Georgia Tech.

Tech is soon to start building a 200,000-square-foot bio-medical research facility on 10th Street, according to Tech’s capital plan. Fort McPherson intends to hire in February a master developer to help design the science and technology research center planned there, on 113 rolling acres.

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Future massage spas at airport delayed by change in set-aside program

By David Pendered

Three massage spas, nail salons or hair care shops are to open at Atlanta’s airport next year, the largest of them at the concourse that will serve the new international terminal.

The due date for bids was postponed from Wednesday to Dec. 14, following the city’s decision to throw out all of its original provisions that aim to help small businesses win a contract.

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Zoo Atlanta project will allow visitors to feed giraffes starting next Spring

By David Pendered

Zoo Atlanta visitors will be able to feed giraffes from a terrace that is to open next Spring.

For a small fee, visitors will be able to feed romaine lettuce to the giraffes, said Nevin Lash, an Atlanta landscape architect who is designing the new terrace and approach ramp.

“It will be a great experience with a giraffe that has a 19-inch long tongue, which you don’t get to see unless it’s feeding directly in front of you,” Lash said.

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GOP consultants in driver’s seat of region’s transportation sales tax campaign

By David Pendered

First the lead Democratic consultant dropped out, then the Democratic communications director resigned.

Now, the campaign team is still taking shape as the clock ticks toward referendum day in just over eight months for the 1 percent sales tax to pay for traffic-easing projects and transit.

One constant of the campaign has been the leadership of a small group of consultants who worked together at the Republican Governor’s Association.

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Top-tier official is second to resign from transportation sales tax campaign team

By David Pendered and Maria Saporta

A second ranking member is departing from the campaign team for the transportation sales tax that will be on the ballot next year.

Liz Flowers has resigned as communications manager, according to Renay Blumenthal, senior vice president of public policy for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and CEO of the non-profit corporation that is leading the sales tax campaign.

Flowers follows the exit of Glenn Totten, whose job as lead consultant placed him in the position of designing the campaign to inform the public about the sales tax and sway voters to support it.

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Atlanta airport plans to expand its cargo business, aviation GM says

By David Pendered

Atlanta intends to expand its air cargo business, airport General Manager Louis Miller said at Monday’s luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

“Cargo is very important to us,” Miller said. “Our goal for this year is to get two new airlines in here, and we already have one. So we’re half-way there.”

Miller’s remarks echo the emphasis Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has placed on growing Atlanta’s position in the global freight shipping industry.

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Atlanta Streetcar aims to meet federal completion deadline of May 2013 with help from city

By David Pendered

Legislation needed to build the Atlanta Streetcar is starting to move swiftly through Atlanta City Hall, including a proposal to allow Peachtree Street to be blocked during rush hours of the 18-month construction period.

This week, three measures to provide for the streetcar’s construction are expected to be approved by the Transportation Committee of the Atlanta City Council. If approved, the council may consider them at its Nov. 21 meeting.

These efforts and others intend to allow the city to meet the federally imposed completion deadline of May 2013. Construction sometimes may go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet that deadline, according to city documents.

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Atlanta worker involved with bungled airport contracts left for ‘better opportunity,’ city says

By David Pendered

An Atlanta official who was deeply involved in the airport concessions contracting program left her job with the city two weeks before Atlanta announced its decision to cancel the initial process and start anew, a city official confirmed Wednesday.

Contracting Officer Carla Cail left her city job on Aug. 17. On Sept 2, Atlanta COO Peter Aman announced the city was cancelling the concessions procurement process and would issue new requests for proposals. Aman didn’t mention Cail’s departure, although her name arose in conversation.

“She left city employment on Aug. 17, 2011 to accept a better opportunity,” Sonji Jacobs, Mayor Kasim Reed’s spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday. There was no elaboration.

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Replacement bridge across Chattahoochee River revives old zoning case

By David Pendered

The state has signed a contract to replace the bridge on U.S. 41 across the Chattahoochee River, and the project has renewed issues related to the Nature Conservancy’s purchase of riverside land almost 40 years ago.

The conservancy in the early 1970s purchased 16 acres in a negotiation that also allowed construction of an apartment complex with 427 homes to be built on the remainder of land held by developers Julian LeCraw and Tom Towles.

This past May, Cobb County took almost a half-acre of the Columns at River Parkway property to allow for the bridge replacement project.