Guest Columns

Congress should protect Georgia’s young immigrants by enacting Dream Act of 2017

By Guest Columnist ANÍBAL TORRES, executive director of Atlanta’s Latin American Association

The fate of nearly 29,000 young immigrants who live in Georgia hangs in the balance. The attorneys general of nine states and one governor have told President Trump that if he does not start phasing out a 2012 program that allows DREAMers to work and live in this country without fear of deportation, they will file a lawsuit in September to end the program. Without this protection, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, these young people could face deportation.

Demolition of Jordan Hall another sign of Atlanta’s dereliction of historic buildings

By Guest Columnist JAY SCOTT, a principal at Green Rock Partners, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in urban design, landscape architecture and planning

The Metro Atlanta YMCA is about to destroy a significant part of civil rights history in the African American Community, historic Jordan Hall. They are not doing it alone.

Their primary partners are the Woodruff Foundations and Invest Atlanta, who have given more than half of the $20 million necessary.

From crisis to Beloved Community

By Guest Columnist Dr. R.W. WILLS, Sr., pastor of Friendship Baptist Church

In his highly regarded work, Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities, Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Jr. proposed a blueprint for constructive community restoration. He offered this thoughtful text recognizing that many of our urban communities across our nation are once again experiencing the chaotic effects of being separate and unequal.

Moreland Avenue’s remake will promote alternative transit in a growing community

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

The Georgia Department of Transportation, along with City of Atlanta and Little Five Points Community Improvement District, has been working to transform a half-mile section of Moreland Avenue (U.S. 23/Ga. 42) from a traditional urban highway to a Complete Street. A Complete Street usually involves a road diet, to provide a safer corridor for all modes of transportation. What is unique about this corridor is that Moreland Avenue is a six-lane roadway passing through one of Atlanta’s more pedestrian active business districts, Little Five Points.

Why ‘We the People’ need the Legal Services Corp.

By Guest Columnist JOHN BARROW, representative of Georgia’s 12th Congressional District from 2005 through 2015

When I was in Congress I was able to help a lot of folks get their Social Security or VA benefits, and I got a lot of hugs from those I was able to help. Now I’m working as a volunteer in a legal aid office supported by the Legal Services Corp. And just the other day I got a hug from a victim of domestic violence I’d helped get a protective order.

Facing federal budget cuts, Georgia alone cannot bear the brunt of environmental protection

By Guest Columnist GIL ROGERS, director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Georgia and Alabama offices

On July 4th, many Georgians celebrate by heading outdoors to cool off in rivers and lakes around the state, hike trails around Georgia’s state parks, and enjoy the fireworks after running Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K.

To revitalize Atlanta, let’s incorporate local black business, economic communities

By Guest Columnist JOSEPH R. HUDSON, chair of the Economic Development Committee of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP

We pride ourselves on being “a city too busy to hate” and boast about the leadership class of black individuals who pepper the Atlanta backdrop. However, we refuse to use that same spirit of fact and community to promote the entire city and to utilize more than a few personalities. Should we not recognize a historic black community, its people, businesses, culture, history, and future as important reasons for Atlanta’s overall success as a city?

Georgians, state treasury to suffer under President Trump’s budget plan

By Guest Columnist TAIFA BUTLER, executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Georgians can find a lot not to like in the federal budget President Trump is proposing. It jeopardizes the state’s financial stability. It promises to hurt the ability of millions of Georgians to meet basic living standards. Even Social Security disability benefits are slashed in the planned budget cuts.

Faith community stepping up on climate change

By Guest Columnist SUSAN VARLAMOFF, coauthor of the ‘Laudato Si Action Plan’ and author of ‘Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast’

Nature abhors a vacuum. With the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, there is a void in global leadership on climate change that others are willing and able to fill it. Countries like China, Germany and France are stepping up. In the U.S., states, cities, universities, corporations, and even churches are voluntarily reducing greenhouse emissions in the spirit of the Paris climate accord.

Yes, you can bike in Atlanta

By Guest Columnist KEVIN H. POSEY, an advocate for sustainable transportation and urban development practices worldwide

Atlanta is notorious for being a car-dependent city. Whether it’s minor snowstorms that create scenes akin to a bad disaster movie or burning bridges made of steel and concrete – materials not known for their combustibility – Atlanta’s car addiction is now in the same league as that of legendary Los Angeles. But in a revolutionary change of direction, the bike is being elevated as a legitimate way to get around for those of us who wouldn’t be caught dead in Lycra.

Prevent proposed development to preserve majestic coastal beauty of Cumberland Island

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

Georgians must resolve to protect Cumberland Island as a rare natural treasure

Among my most cherished memories as a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania is a series of summer treks to the New Jersey shore. Reflecting on these memories, it’s evident that from my earliest days I found the attraction of the land-sea boundary instinctive and insistent – a place where some of nature’s most beautiful, dynamic, and, at times, powerful and destructive forces could be witnessed.

Regional education report shows families deserve same school options as region’s CEOs

By Guest Columnist GLENN DELK, an Atlanta attorney who is a longtime school choice advocate and co-founder of 21st Century STEM Academy set to open in August in Decatur

Members of Georgia’s public school establishment consistently oppose funding for charter and private schools on the grounds they are not “accountable.”

However, as evidenced by the recent report, State of Education in Metro Atlanta: Baseline Report 2017, issued with great fanfare by Learn4Life – a collaborative initiative of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the United Way of Greater Atlanta and eight public school district partners –the reality is that traditional districts are the ones who are unaccountable.

Access to healthcare emerges as major issue in upcoming runoffs for state Senate, Congress

By Guest Columnist MELITA EASTERS, founding chair and current executive director of Georgia’s WIN List

While more recent headlines have pushed aside coverage of public reaction to the House GOP passed “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act, passed during the administration of then-President Obama, there remains deep anger about the draconian nature of the legislation which may well turn the tide in two upcoming Georgia elections.

Are We There Yet?

By Guest Columnist ANDRE DICKENS, a member of the Atlanta City Council who serves the entire city

Every day, Atlantans share our roads and rails with our 5.7-million-person region. How you get to work, school, and home matters to me – is it stress-free, smooth, safe, and predictable?

Investing in America’s ‘Best Idea’ – our national parks

By Guest Columnist SALLY BETHEA, the board chair of Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy, the nonprofit friends group for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

America’s mayors are pitching an investment in the infrastructure of our national parks as a win-win for cities and their residents: A way to create U.S. jobs by restoring historic buildings, fixing outdated and unsafe water and electrical systems and improving crumbling roads and trails to benefit all park visitors.

Georgia’s WIN List plans to ‘Grab ‘em by the midterms’ in 2018

By Guest Columnist MELITA EASTERS, founding chair and current executive director of Georgia’s WIN List

As Women’s History Month, with its selected celebrations of women’s achievements in business, education, the arts and even politics drew to a close, women received many reminders in recent weeks of just how much is left to do before the face of power truly changes to one which is more equitable and representative.

Time has arrived for politicians to step up and fund transit, mobility

By Guest Columnist PAUL MCLENNAN, a retired member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, co-host of WRFG’s Labor Forum and human rights activist

With the closing of a major interstate in the heart of the city, Atlanta is facing a major transportation crisis. Traffic came to a standstill. Some parked their cars on side streets and chose to walk miles to get home. Schools have been closed. Workers must spend longer hours in their commute. Businesses and productivity will take a huge hit.