Guest Columns

Georgia senators risk impairing the most important economic engine for our region

By Guest Columnist BEN DECOSTA, former aviation general manager of ATL, 1998-2010

By a 5 to 4 vote, a Senate study committee proposed a hostile takeover of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) from those who built it over the past 40 years as the premier magnet for global businesses, as a $60 billion regional economic engine and as the door for millions of travelers from around the world to visit Atlanta and America.

Atlanta city jail unsustainable, should be converted to transitional housing

By Guest Columnist JOE BEASLEY, a human rights activist in Atlanta and founder of the Joe Beasley Foundation

The taxpayers of Atlanta are losing over $30 million annually trying to maintain the Atlanta City Detention Center. We must ask whether that remains a good investment and, if not, how to create something that would be worthy of our great city and its historic legacy. I believe we need to strive for more.

Atlanta’s gentrification, now a challenge, started as sign of city’s spirit of civil rights

By Guest Columnist HATTIE DORSEY, civic volunteer, founder and retired president of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

Gentrification is a word used to describe what happens with housing development patterns in cities, particularly in the North, Midwest and West Coast cities, when neighborhoods change by race and by income. It was not a pattern that happened in the South, because housing in this region was segregated by race even years after the civil rights movement.

Women, wages, wealth, health: Power at the polls must translate to policy change

By Guest Columnist JENNIFER OWENS, deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

During the 2018 elections, a record number of women engaged in the political process, many for the first time. They ran for office, turned out to vote and flexed their civic engagement muscles. Nearly two-thirds of all competitive state legislative races had at least one woman on last November’s ballot.

Georgia’s struggling areas could benefit from smart use of federal opportunity zones

By Guest Columnist BUZZ BROCKWAY, vice president of the Georgia Center for Opportunity

Buried in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was a provision that, if used wisely, could benefit investors, while at the same time knocking down barriers to human flourishing in struggling areas of our state. Championed by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, opportunity zones allow an investor to defer capital gains taxes for up to 10 years, if the gain is invested in a Census tract designated as a qualified opportunity zone.

Building trails can build regional connectivity, state incentives would help

By Guest Columnist, MELODY L. HARCLERODE, executive director of the Sandy Springs Conservancy

Engineers from the Union Army noted a tributary in north Fulton County running into the Chattahoochee River as “Mans Cr” or “Mars Cr” on 1864 map. Now, the nonprofit Sandy Springs Conservancy is spearheading the development of the Marsh Creek Trail along Abernathy Road in partnership with the City of Sandy Springs as the initial stage of a city-wide trail system, envisioned as, “a beautiful amenity that can build physical and civic connections in Sandy Springs.”

Why save it? Just pave it – a conservation easement at risk in Morgan County

By Christine McCauley Watts, executive director of Madison-Morgan Conservancy

It sits on a little rise, Davis Crossroads does, and gives you a long view of one of Morgan County’s more bucolic landscapes. Davis descendants have farmed and cared for the land surrounding this crossroads for generations and in the last two decades have donated three conservation easements to permanently protect the scenic and agricultural conservation values found here.

Let’s rebuild trust in government with participatory budgeting in Atlanta

By Guest Columnist AMIR FAROKHI, who represents District 2 on the Atlanta City Council

Public trust in government is historically low. At a time when voting rights are under attack, transparency the exception, and inaction on critical issues the frustrating norm, cynicism about government is at fever pitch. Yet, democratic government is well placed to reestablish public trust; city government, even more so. More nimble and less partisan than any other level of government, City Hall is where residents should have the most direct input.

Unlocking potential: How mentoring changes metro Atlanta

By Guest Columnist KWAME JOHNSON, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

One of the more under-utilized resources in metro Atlanta is the potential of our young people.

In Atlanta, more than many other large cities, your ZIP code determines your life trajectory. A 2018 study from Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights showed that Atlanta and Charlotte have the lowest rates of upward mobility for children who grow up in those cities, despite very high rates of job and wage growth over the past two decades.

Georgia’s election/voting system is broken – Let’s fix it

By Guest Columnist ROBERT A. “BOB” HOLMES, emeritus distinguished professor of political science at Clark Atlanta University and former state representative

Georgia’s history of racial discrimination and voter suppression has been well documented by voting rights advocate Laughlin McDonald in his book, published by Cambridge University Press, A Voting Rights Odyssey: Black Enfranchisement in Georgia. Among the many techniques used to eliminate or diminish black political presence and influence in the electoral process were: Poll taxes, literacy tests, white elections, racial gerrymandering, run-off election requirement, closure of voting precincts, purging of voter registration lists and denial of felons’ right to vote.

Inspire Atlanta: Transforming women’s lives through leadership and philanthropy

By Guest Columnist KARI B. LOVE, CEO of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation

The mission of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation is to be a catalyst for change in the lives of women and girls. As a public foundation, our primary role is as a grant-maker, providing financial grants, resources and evaluation support to local nonprofits helping low-income women and girls to break the cycle of poverty. In order to achieve our mission, partners are critical, whether corporate or individual funders.

Re-imagination of State Farm Arena inspired by Atlanta BeltLine

By Guest Columnist THAD SHEELY, chief operating officer of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena

Just over a week ago, Elton John played his farewell tour in the new State Farm Arena, creating a neat symmetry to a weekend nearly 20 years earlier when he performed for the grand opening of Philips Arena in 1999. As both Elton and Atlanta have changed over that time, so too has the arena – that was a different time and a different place.

Republicans, Democrats introduce historic bipartisan climate bill in the House

By Guest Columnists MARK REYNOLDS and FLANNERY WINCHESTER, executive director and communications coordinator, respectively, of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Congress has found a simple, fair and effective solution to get climate change in check. On Nov. 27, a bipartisan group of five representatives introduced the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. An additional Republican co-sponsor has since joined the bill. This bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives will put a price on carbon emissions and return the revenue equally to people.

Dorothy Bolden’s impact still being felt 50 years later

By Guest Columnist NIKEMA WILLIAMS, state senator representing Atlanta and deputy political director at National Domestic Workers Alliance

The political organizing being led by Black women in Georgia is not a new phenomenon. Atlanta’s own Dorothy Bolden began organizing for domestic workers and is still regarded as “fearless” in her approach according to her obituary in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Reform of federal flood policy would reduce impact of disasters, spending after events

By Guest Columnist JOHN ERNST, mayor of Brookhaven

Last year, the City of Brookhaven purchased what is now known as Ashford Forest Preserve, 33 acres of a decommissioned runaway that had grown into a meadow full of mature trees, native plants, and a stream, from the DeKalb County government.

The $5.7 Million purchase was made possible by a Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. This federal loan allowed Brookhaven to increase its greenspace by 10 percent, mitigate stormwater problems and establish a nature preserve in our rapidly developing community. We couldn’t have done it alone and it was a win-win for the state, county and city governments and taxpayers.

The Gulch – Gulp, what now?

By Guest Columnist MIKE DOBBINS, professor of the practice of planning at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture and former Atlanta planning commissioner

With the Atlanta City Council’s action to approve the CIM deal to develop the Gulch in Downtown Atlanta, what should city officials and citizens be doing to follow up the many, many complicated steps, approvals, and financial transactions that will now persist over a 20-plus year timeframe?

As it happens, we have a precedent.

Targeted policies urgently needed for a speedy transition to clean energy

By Guest Columnist KAREN GRAINEY, assistant director of Center for a Sustainable Coast

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a monumental report on Oct. 8, warning that humanity has only 12 years to make the “rapid and far-reaching” reforms needed to prevent the worst effects of climate change. These reforms entail drastic reductions in the primary cause of global warming – greenhouse gas emissions.