Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

As economy tanks, bigotry rises

The current economic and political climate is giving rise to extremists, according to Bill Nigut, the Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“In times like these, hatred and bigotry flourish,” said Nigut, whose organization fights prejudice in society. “We have even seen a backlash to the (President Barack) Obama election in the white extremist community.”

Nigut, a longtime political reporter for WSB-TV, joined the ADL in January, 2007 after serving as executive director of the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Coalition for three years.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

GWCC’s COO Khalil Johnson to retire

After 30 years at the Georgia World Congress Center, Khalil Johnson announced today that he will retire as chief operating officer on Aug. 1.

Johnson has been an integral part of GWCC’s operations for decades.

Before he was named COO in 2002, Johnson was general manager of the Georgia Dome. In that role, he was involved in the 1996 Summer Olympics, two Super Bowls, SEC football championships and several basketball tournaments including one Final Four and several NCAA regional matches.

Dan Graveline, GWCC’s executive director, broke the news at the monthly meeting of his authority.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Sam Olens honored with national award

Our own Sam Olens is receiving national recognition.

The past weekend, Olens was presented the Tom Bradley Leadership Award from the National Association of Regional Councils at its national conference.

Olens is chairman of both the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Cobb County Board of Commissioners.
The award is given to leaders who excell in advocating for regional concepts, approaches and programs at all levels of government.

Chick Krautler, ARC’s director, said that Olens was

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

The economy’s “100-year flood”

Don Nicholaisen, former chief accountant of the Securities & Exchange Commission, started off his talk at Atlanta Rotary today by addressing students in the audience.

He told them they should feel excited about the future because they can help model the new economy.

And then he spoke to the other people in the room.

“Those of you who have been around a while should be scared to death,” he said. “We are seeing something we’ve never seen

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Metro Atlanta must fix its problems to stay competitive

The executive committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce heard an outsider’s view Thursday morning of how our region is faring from an economic development perspective.

Bob Hess, managing principal of NKF Consulting which helps companies in assessing their location needs, told the executives that the economic development world has become “fiercely competitive” as there are fewer and fewer projects on the horizon.

And those competitors are not just other U.S. cities but cities from across the globe.

Again, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport clearly is metro Atlanta’s key magnet in attracting and retaining companies to the area. The region also has a young, educated workforce, cultural amenities, corporate headquarters, strong colleges and a competitive cost of living.

But our weaknesses are becoming greater.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Planning for pedestrians, not cars

Irony of ironies.

For nine days, new urbanist Andres Duany and his team have been in Atlanta working on ways to design pedestrian-friendly communities that welcome all generations.

And on Tuesday, the day of his last presentation, one of the out-of-town participants was hit by a car at a crosswalk at Courtland and Ellis while walking from her hotel to the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The woman was in Atlanta with the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the key sponsors of Lifelong Communities planning endeavor.

It just so happened that Sally Flocks, executive director of PEDs — an advocacy organization for pedestrians, was participating in the

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

High’s China show could be biggest yet

People are loving the Terracotta warriors.

Michael Shapiro, director of the High Museum of Art, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of Atlanta Kiwanis Club, told the audience that “The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army,” might end up being the High’s biggest show ever.

So far, the show has sold more than 250,000 tickets, and there are still two months left to the exhibit.

Shapiro, who has been with the High Museum since 1995, said the museum started keeping good visitation records during the Olympics. The Impressionists exhibit after the Olympics attracted 250,000 attendees.

The first year of the Louvre-Atlanta partnership (a show that lasted nearly a year rather than several months of a more traditional exhibit), about 300,000 people visited the High.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Maran: metro Atlanta needs voice at state

Solutions, including new transportation funding, must be found to relieve this region of congestion, says Jim Maran, president of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Maran, and several of his Gwinnett colleages, met with the staff of the Atlanta Business Chronicle this morning to talk about economic development and the county’s views toward the region.

The conversation kept returning to transportation. And Maran voiced a concern that many in the metro have about Gov. Sonny Perdue’s possible restructuring of the state’s main transportation agencies.

A draft of the plan was leaked to the press last week that stated that a new transportation authority would have a seven-member board — three appointed by Perdue, two appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and two appointed by House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

What role should the public play in planning?

New urbanist Andres Duany is not much a fan of public participation in planning.

In speaking to metro Atlantans in two forums this past week, Duany made several references to how community involvement in the planning and design process can be a bother.

When unveiling plans for a site near Toco Hills, Duany described an existing apartment community with large trees that all would be razed to make way for his vision. Duany’s design included putting in a new grid street system with new residential development of 60 units per acre for a total 1,500 units.

In the question-and-answer period, local planner Don Broussard told Duany that he had been a member of the Congress of New Urbanism for about 10 years.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Shopping malls can be new town centers

In presenting preliminary plans on five different communities in metro Atlanta on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 14, Andres Duany shared ideas on how to retrofit suburban shopping malls.

Duany, considered the father of new urbanism, said malls are between 120 and 180 acres. They are strategically located on arterial roads. And they have (now often vacant) big box stores that can be converted for new uses.

“All the parking lots are just building sites,” said Duany,

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

The World According to Andres Duany

Nearly everything that’s wrong with our American society can be blamed on sprawl.

At least that’s what Andres Duany, the father of “new urbanism,” believes.

Duany is in Atlanta working on a nine-day planning exercise called: “Lifelong Communities.” He was brought here by the Atlanta Regional Commission, and several other partners, to help design welcome communities for our aging population.

Posted inLatest News, Maria Saporta

Future transportation dollars at risk

Could transportation funding reach a stalemate yet again this year?

The politics between all the diverse constituencies at the state could torpedo progress for another year.

The state House is favoring a statewide sales tax. The state Senate is favoring a regional solution, giving metro counties the option to vote in a one-cent tax.

The big question is the role the governor will play. Will he side with the House or Senate, or will he promote his own agenda?