An open letter to Mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms

Dear Mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms,

Congratulations on being elected Atlanta’s 60th mayor!

I begin this letter with an outstretched hand to let you know I want you to be a successful mayor.

My hope is you will appreciate the role of the press – to question, to inform, to probe, to be skeptical, and yes, to be critical when necessary.

This hope is not limited to me. Ideally you will embrace people who think differently than you do, that you will treat the press and fellow public servants with respect, and that you will seek mutually-beneficial solutions while governing our city.

Money to build pricey pedestrian bridge over Northside Drive should be spent at street-level

Memo to Atlanta’s next mayor:

Please put a stop to the building of an unnecessary $24 million loopy-loop pedestrian bridge across Northside Drive.

Now let me explain my rationale.

The expensive pedestrian bridge would connect the Vine City MARTA Station with the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The total length of the bridge would be about two blocks to just get pedestrians to cross over a 70-foot crosswalk.

Atlanta – save Gaines Hall – a building too important to die

It’s been more than two years since historic Gaines Hall caught on fire – and little has been done to save one of the oldest and most significant buildings in Atlanta.

Gaines Hall continues to deteriorate in front of our eyes – a victim of the natural elements as well as inadequate fire insurance coverage. The building also has been in the middle of a hotly contested legal battle between the  City of Atlanta’s Invest Atlanta and Clark Atlanta University over who owns land that used to belong to Morris Brown College.

SaportaReport explores Atlanta Civic Circle to convene engaged citizens

SaportaReport hit an important milestone this past week.

We brought together our Thought Leader partners and friends for a special evening of fellowship on Nov. 9 – when we discussed how we can improve civic journalism in Atlanta.

The evening culminated with two sequential interviews with Atlanta’s mayoral run-off candidates, when they were able to share their vision for Atlanta’s future. We were the first venue to have a joint appearance of candidates Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms after the Nov. 7. general election. Here is our livestream on Facebook. 

Integral’s Egbert Perry finds stance of AHA and Mayor Reed ‘baffling’

Affordable housing developer Egbert Perry, and his Atlanta-based company  – Integral, are fighting back against claims by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) that he had received a sweetheart deal to buy land next to his company’s existing developments.

In an effort to set the record straight, Integral and its development partners filed a legal response late Saturday to an AHA lawsuit. The response seeks to correct several statements AHA and Reed have made, which Perry said are  misrepresentations of his company’s actions and history.

25th reunion show of Morning X reminds Atlanta of what we’ve lost

Oh the memories.

Cumulus Radio and 99X decided to tease us last week by reuniting Barnes, Leslie and Jimmy for a one-time-only Morning X show on Oct. 26 to mark the 25th anniversary of when the show began.

Listening to Steve Barnes, Leslie Fram and Jimmy Baron for the better part of the commercial-free six hour show (extended two hours for the reunion) was like encountering friends you had not heard from in over a decade, and yet it felt as though no time had passed.

Atlanta striving to restore our natural amenities – our trees and our waterways

East Lake. Lake Claire. Vine City. Parkway Drive. Lakeview  Avenue. Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Atlanta is full of streets and neighborhoods with names that hark back to a different time – when the city’s natural environment defined communities before they became built up, paved over or tunneled under.

Now a comprehensive effort is underway to bring back Atlanta’s natural amenities and make them part of our city’s future.

As Keith Parker exits MARTA and Nat Ford leads APTA, transit holds key to Atlanta’s and nation’s future

By Maria Saporta At 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Keith Parker’s tenure as MARTA’s general manager and CEO ended as he started his new role as the CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Georgia. The timing was significant. During his last week at MARTA, Atlanta hosted the annual meeting and Expo of the American Public Transportation […]

Group seeking to find – and restore – the Flint River near the airport

Atlanta’s largest mass of concrete – Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – sits on top of the headwaters of the Flint River.

In looking over the acres and acres of concrete, it’s hard to envision streams and rivers that used to run through what once were working-class neighborhoods with 1950s-style homes lined with mature trees.

But Hannah Palmer and Ryan Gravel have done just that.

MARTA – a jewel in metro Atlanta’s economic development future

All of a sudden, nearly everybody wants MARTA.

Metro Atlanta and Georgia have always been obsessed with economic development – attracting new companies to town or getting existing companies to expand.

So when Amazon says it wants to locate its second headquarters in a place with transit, it is sending a message loud and clear to our state and local officials that metro Atlanta needs to expand its regional transit system.

Sun shines for 2017 Music Midtown; new city leaders will weigh in on future festivals

Music Midtown 2017 was a nearly fairy-tale event.

The weather was gorgeous (no rain or storms and not too hot) on both Saturday and Sunday. The music was fabulous (at least most of the acts I saw). And, as always, it provided some of the best people-watching in town.

But I kept thinking – what if Music Midtown had happened a week earlier when Hurricane Irma was making its way through Georgia.

Atlanta City Design 2017: A grand vision for people, nature and people in nature

In a  City Hall conference room, Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane gently unrolled a mega-watercolor that Christian Sottile, an urban designer from Savannah, had painted of the new Atlanta City Design.

The watercolor captured the significance of the design process and its potential for Atlanta by using a graphic style that dates back to the early 1900s – depicting a desire fort this design tol become part of city’s landscape and identity for decades to come.

Atlanta’s mayoral race is up for grabs

The 2017 Atlanta mayoral election is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

And it is anybody’s guess on how it will shake out.

The back-and-forth between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell this past week shined a spotlight on several of the complex issues that will influence the outcome.

Forget the symbols of the Confederacy; instead let’s preserve our African-American heritage

It makes no sense.

As the nation and our region ponder whether to erase Confederate history by removing monuments and renaming streets, we are letting our precious landmarks of African-American history crumble to dust.

Where is the passion and dedication to save the pillars of U.S. black history? Let’s begin with Gaines Hall, built in 1869 and the second oldest building in the city of Atlanta, and the place where W.E.B. DuBois wrote the mind-changing book: “The Souls of Black Folks.”

Mayor Kasim Reed may award key employment contracts before leaving office

With less than six months remaining before he leaves office, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is working on all cylinders trying to accomplish as much as he can in the precious time he has left.

But all this activity has a downside.

The next mayor of Atlanta could inherit a City Hall where major policy moves, government contracts and personnel decisions will have been decided before he or she takes office.