Posted inDavid Pendered

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.

Posted inDavid Pendered

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.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Airport contracts: Vendor questions provide window into high stakes competition

By David Pendered

Even on the second round of bids, concessionaires who want a concessions contract at Atlanta’s airport had lots of questions about the process.

In fact, vendors submitted 157 questions. These questions provide a glimpse into the secret world of contracting that spans from local restaurants to global giants of the concessions industry.

The queries submitted by vendors indicate the level to which they are struggling to manage their way through the massive procurement process in a climate of heightened security and immigration compliance. In addition, some questions try to pry open the proposals that were rejected, possibly to learn more about the competition’s plans.

Posted inDavid Pendered

State’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ waters named by Ga. Water Coalition

By David Pendered

The Chattahoochee, Flint and Savannah rivers have made the 2011 Dirty Dozen, a list of the worst offenses against the state’s waterways, according to the Georgia Water Coalition.

“This is more than a list,” Jerry McCollum, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation and a founding member of the Coalition, said in a statement released Monday. “This is a call to action for Georgia’s citizens and its leaders. The sites populating this list are only poster children for the larger problem of a system that is failing to protect our water, our fish and wildlife and our communities.”

The Chattahoochee ranked fourth, the Savannah ranked third and the Flint River ranked seventh on the list.

Posted inMaria's Metro

Atlanta Streetcar holds great promise — but only if trains run often and link key places

Walking along the streets of downtown Atlanta, painted multi-colored lines are the first sign that the Atlanta Streetcar is on its way.

Those are the markings of all the utilities that lay underneath the surface of downtown streets — telephone, cable, fiber, water, sewer, gas and electrical lines. There are even abandoned streetcar tracks and the vestiges of pipes that were once a downtown steam heating system that served downtown buildings.

Many of those utilities will have to be relocated to make way of the 2.7-streetcar line that will connect Centennial Olympic Park with Ebenezer Baptist

Posted inGuest Column

A multi-state regional approach is necessary to wisely invest in our ports

By Guest Columnist DAVID KYLER, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast in Saint Simons Island

Much has been asserted about the economic benefit of deepening Savannah’s harbor – some of it highly speculative and contradicting official analysis by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

One thing is certain: the project’s price tag of $625 million is no chump change in today’s budgeting world. Given the political emphasis on responsible government spending and anticipated cuts in a host of federal and state programs, objective assessment must outweigh wishful thinking in public discourse and related government

Posted inEleanor Ringel Cater

Multiple personas of “Martha Marcy May Marlene’ create impressive debut film

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

“Martha Marcy May Marlene” is a curious tale of multiple identity.

Unlike “The Three Faces of Eve” or “Sybil,” in which the protagonists’ different personalities came from within, the young woman — brilliantly played by Elizabeth Olsen — in Sean Durkin’s impressive debut film, lets her identity be defined by others.

The film begins with Olsen sneaking out of a commune-like settlement in upstate New York (these details are filled in later).

Posted inDavid Pendered

Atlanta’s streetcar takes first big step through City Council

By David Pendered

The construction of the planned streetcar system in Downtown Atlanta cleared its first big hurdle Wednesday at Atlanta City Hall.

The Finance Committee of the Atlanta City Council approved measures needed to start building the streetcar system. The committee approved plans to:

Lease almost two acres for a future parking lot and maintenance barn beneath the Downtown Connector, between Auburn and Edgewood avenues;

Provide a total of up to $10.7 million to relocate water and sewer utilities, and to add enhancements related to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists along the streetcar route.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Airport concessions: Joint venture disbanded, new partnership expands bid as city alters forms

By David Pendered

The second round of proposals for concessions contracts at Atlanta’s airport looks a lot like those submitted for the first round.

The only difference is that one company, a joint venture that had been disqualified from Round 1, dropped out of competition for Round 2. However, half of that company did resubmit even more proposals with a new partner, city records show.

Atlanta also changed some reporting requirements concerning whether a company’s employees may legally work in this country. The reporting issue was one reason the city announced on Sept. 2 that it was throwing out all proposals and starting the bid process anew.

Posted inEleanor Ringel Cater

For Halloween: favorite “spooky” movies of haunted houses

By Eleanor RIngel Cater

The recent trend in horror has become so vulgar and bloody (“Saw 12” anyone?) that we’ve almost forgotten the satisfying shiver of less obvious scares.

Say, the eeriness of a terrific haunted house movie.

I recently saw the new prequel “The Thing,” (a fabulous film that offers a variation on the Haunted House theme) and that may have set me thinking.

So, as Rod Serling might say, consider these unhappy habitats.

Posted inMaria's Metro

Homeless Task Force chose to take on the community rather than seek common ground

Papa loved Anita and Jim Beaty.

When Papa — I.E. “Ike” Saporta — was alive, he found a common ground with the Beatys — a dedication to helping those less fortunate.

Papa always fought for the underdog — willing to take on the status quo when he believed in a cause — and housing the poor was one of his core beliefs.

Today the Beatys have become one of the most controversial couples in Atlanta — serving as the steadfast leaders of the Task Force for the Homeless. They have taken on the City of Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, “competing” social service organizations that serve the homeless as well as numerous civic and business leaders.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Atlanta absorbs Savannah’s port; Mayor Reed becomes port’s local public face

By David Pendered

By osmosis, Atlanta has absorbed Savannah’s port.

Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, has become the local face of the proposed deepening of the Savannah Harbor. Atlanta’s media seems to pay more attention to the latest twists in the two-decade process of deepening the harbor than to progress on the new international terminal at Atlanta’s airport.

The main news out of last week’s State of the Ports luncheon was the number of jobs the ports created in the metro Atlanta area. Meanwhile, one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s comments – concerning the transportation sales tax referendum – barely registered.

Posted inGuest Column

RedPrairie finds Georgia as a welcome place for business

By Guest Columnist MIKE MAYORAS, CEO of RedPrairie, a global supply chain and retail technology provider based in Alpharetta

In a recent column, Tino Mantella, the president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), provided some thoughtful insight on steps Georgia should take to make the rest of the country and world aware of Georgia’s dynamic and growing business environment.

He challenged us to share what we value about working and conducting business in Georgia, so that companies and professionals around the world would have a better understanding of what Georgia can offer.

In that spirit, here are a few reasons that I personally, and RedPrairie, the company I work for, appreciate the opportunity to be based in this market.

Posted inEleanor Ringel Cater

Little reason to see ‘Footloose’ remake — except to see scenes of places in Georgia

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

If someone had told me there was going to be a remake of an early ‘80s dance movie with a one-word title that starts with “F,” I would’ve guessed, without a second’s hesitation, “Flashdance,” starring a very sexy Jennifer Beals (and her body double) as a dancing welder in Pittsburgh.

I would’ve been wrong.

Instead, Hollywood has hired the once-mighty Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow”) to direct an almost scene-for-scene remake of “Footloose,” the movie that — along with “Diner” and a few others — launched Kevin Bacon’s career.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Mayor Reed envisions airport becoming a top 10 cargo handler to grow its business

By David Pendered

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed outlined his vision Tuesday for the airport to greatly expand its role as a freight handler.

Reed said he can see the day when passengers use the airport by day, and in the wee hours the airport becomes a major freight-handling facility. Reed made the comment during a panel discussion at the third annual State of the Ports Luncheon.

“At midnight, the airport should be handling cargo,” Reed said, adding that he wants to see the airport join the ranks of the top 10 cargo handlers.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Who will oversee metro transit? GRTA, GDOT, Tollway Authority possible contenders

By David Pendered

All bets are off when it comes to guessing what entity state lawmakers will select or create to run metro Atlanta’s assortment of transit systems, as ordered by Gov. Nathan Deal.

GRTA would be a logical starting point, as some lawmakers suggested last week. On Monday, Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta), who co-sponsored the bill that created GRTA in 1999 for then-Gov. Roy Barnes, said that role was part of the original vision for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

The state Department of Transportation shouldn’t be ruled out as a contender. State law provides for GDOT to own – and operate – transit systems.

Posted inMaria's Metro

Naming Doug Hooker as the new ARC director shows real progress in the Atlanta region

The selection of Doug Hooker as the next executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission sends positive signals for the metro area.

Hooker is someone who has worked in government — both for the State of Georgia as the head of the State Road and Tollway Authority and the City of Atlanta as its commissioner of public works.

Hooker also has worked in the private sector, most recently as vice president and Southern states director of the comprehensive engineering and planning firm — Atkins Global — formerly known

Posted inGuest Column

Metro Atlanta is putting a winning team of transportation projects on the field

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

In Colleen Kiernan’s recent article in the SaportaReport: “Turning Winning Transit Season into Loosing One,” she likened the development of metro Atlanta’s Transportation Investment Act (TIA) project investment list to the unfortunate ending of the 2011 Braves season.

Her supposition is that without the inclusion and/or removal of certain transportation projects in the metro Atlanta project investment list, metro Atlanta residents will be like the Braves and have to “wait until next year.”

To continue with Ms. Kiernan’s baseball analogy, let’s consider the region’s project list as our “team.”

Posted inDavid Pendered

Occupy Atlanta may be losing steam after Mayor Reed forbids hip hop concert

By David Pendered

Some of the wind seemed to have gone out of the sails of Occupy Atlanta by Sunday afternoon.

The crowd was smaller than that of Sunday a week ago. Those who were at Troy Davis Park, nee Woodruff Park, seemed a bit like the crowd who’d arrived at a hot party after it had peaked.

Mayor Kasim Reed may have contributed to the lackluster feeling. Reed has provided the group wide privilege at the city’s iconic park in the heart of the central business district. On Sunday, the mayor forbade an unpermitted concert and it was summarily cancelled.

Posted inEleanor Ringel Cater

‘Margin Call’ — small-budget, deep impact movie on economic meltdown

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Oh, for the good ol’ days of a strong economy. The days when a Hollywood disaster movie was about a meteor or a volcano.

No such luck in “Margin Call,” a small-budget film with an unexpected deep impact.

The year is 2008. The place: a brokerage firm, somewhere on the top floors of one of Manhattan’s shiniest towers of finance, that’s about to be hit by today’s equivalent of a volcano or meteor: an economic meltdown.

We begin with a staff-slashing bloodbath. “Better not to watch,” veteran Paul Bettany tells newbie, Zachary Quinto, as two automatons in expensive heels wander through the office, dispensing their nothing-personal kiss of death.