Note to readers: Here is a press release issued Wednesday by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration in response to a Maria’s Metro column that appeared this week. At SaportaReport, we strongly believe in being as fair as we can be, and we are publishing Reed’s response in its entirety. Naturally, there is tension between public officials and journalists. Obviously, my relationship with Mayor Reed is no exception. Despite what the mayor says, I do my best to provide accurate information in my stories and columns. When I do offer a point of view, it is based on facts, journalistic standards and my love for Atlanta. Also, please know that as a reporter, I have never endorsed any particular candidate. It was true in 2009, and it is true today. I will continue to call things as I see them. I’ve been a reporter for 37 years, and I’ve developed a tough skin and will not be bullied or intimidated. Thanks for reading SaportaReport. Maria
Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
|Anne Torres, Director
|Jenna Garland, Press Secretary
Reed Administration Response to Maria Saporta’s August 1 Column in the Saporta Report
Statement from Press Secretary Jenna Garland
ATLANTA – “For more than seven years, the Mayor’s Office has treated Maria Saporta with professional courtesy, allowing her incomparable access to the Mayor, senior city leaders and even private sector leaders through the Atlanta Committee for Progress. In return, Saporta has continually published inaccurate, hastily-thrown together blog posts that fail to meet the editorial standards of our city’s major publications. Saporta attempts to portray herself as a standard-bearer in Atlanta’s civic discourse, but the constant mistakes and slanted viewpoint undermine her. A telling example is her story on the resignation of the former CEO of Invest Atlanta, which was retracted by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Saporta’s recent column on city employment contracts is an example of an interview where Mayor Reed allowed her a window into his thought process, only to have Saporta twist his meaning. During the interview, Saporta raised the question of employment contracts; Mayor Reed made it clear that he was thinking through this process and hadn’t made any decisions. He’s weighing multiple factors, including the tension between his opposition in principle to saddling the next Mayor with too many obligations, and the risk to major public projects from abrupt management changes.
The City has the largest number of capital projects – with the greatest budgets – underway now than at any point in its history. Atlanta residents can be proud of the high quality of public servants working in Mayor Reed’s Administration. Our highest-performing leaders are being regularly recruited by other cities and the private sector. These offers become more attractive when considering the uncertainty that comes with a new Administration. Saporta completely fails to mention this point, and instead provides a crystal-clear example of her bias against the Mayor when she writes ‘on the other hand, if those people were doing a really good job, a new mayor likely would want to keep them with or without a contract.’ Surely, Saporta has been around long enough to know what happens to even the best employees when a new leader comes in.
Saporta cites two examples from the transition from the Franklin Administration, but leaves out key facts. Former airport General Manager Benjamin DeCosta actually had a two-year contract. Renee Glover, a friend of Saporta’s, was given another lucrative, five-year contract to run the Atlanta Housing Authority in 2010, just as Mayor Reed was taking office, only to later resign with nearly two years left on her contract. She earned widespread criticism for her exorbitant salary – the highest in the nation – and was also the subject of recent investigative reporting by the AJC, which shined a light on the long-term contracts Glover locked in with developer Egbert Perry. These contracts have affected AHA in its ability to develop affordable housing across the city.
Instead, Saporta insinuates, with great condescension, that Mayor Reed needs to ‘let it go.’ Mayor Reed was elected to two four-year terms, totaling eight years, not seven and a half. He intends to serve until the last hour of the last day, as successful administrations do.
And the next Mayor hasn’t been elected yet. Saporta quotes two candidates for Mayor in her column: Cathy Woolard and Ceasar Mitchell. Woolard has not held public office since she resigned her seat on the Atlanta City Council and was rejected by DeKalb County voters. She now sits at five percent in the polls and, four months from election day, has no legitimate path to becoming Mayor. Council President Mitchell, after running for Mayor for the past ten years, sits at nine percent polling in this year’s race for Mayor. Notably, he ran for Mayor in 2009 against Reed and quit that race.
They, and other candidates, would do well to recognize a few key facts: There is only one Mayor at a time. The City of Atlanta is in its strongest financial shape in 50 years. Mayor Reed has raised cash reserves from $7.4 million, when he was elected, to $175 million. The City of Atlanta’s credit rating is at AA+, the highest in history. Crime is down 37 percent. We’ve had seven balanced budgets, with no furloughs, and no property tax increases. We have $4.1 billion in new construction underway, including the $2.6 billion expansion of MARTA, and the largest expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine since its inception.
Another point that publications and blogs like Saporta’s frequently fail to mention is that Mayor Reed’s job approval rating sits at 68 percent, while 69 percent of voters think the City is on the right track.
The fact of the matter is that Maria Saporta wanted someone else elected Mayor of Atlanta in 2009, and despite her own advice, she has never let it go.”