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Reporter’s Notebook: David Perdue announces run for Georgia Governor with bold video

A view of Atlanta's skyline from Midtown. (Photo by Jason Weingardt, Unsplash)

If you’ve lived in the South for a while, you’ve probably accepted that snowy days are far and few between. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the winter wonderland fun!

For your fill of tubing, snowballs and ice skating, head over to Snow Island on Lake Lanier, Skate the Sky on top of Ponce City Market or hit the ice at Atlantic Station.

Now on to other news from around the city:

David Perdue announces run for Georgia Governor with bold video

Former U.S. Senator David Perdue announced his campaign for Georgia Governor this week.

In his campaign video, Perdue immediately zeros in on one candidate — Stacey Abrams. 

“I’m David Perdue. I’m running for governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is never Governor of Georgia,” he began.

He then called out fellow Republican leaders like Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who both have elections on the horizon.

“Unfortunately, today we are divided, and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame,” he said. “[Kemp] has failed all of us and cannot win in November.”

He also ignited the ongoing us-versus-them mentality between the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia, saying he aims to “fight Biden’s overreaching mandates like Florida is doing, instead of caving to liberals in the city.”

Election Day for Georgia’s gubernatorial race is Nov. 8, 2022.

Read more about the election from SaportaReport‘s Tom Baxter.

— Hannah E. Jones

Artist TeMika Grooms painted this mural in Southeast Atlanta to honor World AIDS Day. (Photo courtesy of AHF)

AIDS activists, Atlanta City Council unveil memorial to commemorate World AIDS Day

On Saturday, Dec. 4, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) through its Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition (BLACC) and Atlanta City Council District 11 Marci Overstreet paid tribute to the African Americans in the metro area who have been leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS by creating a mural in their honor.

The mural, created by artist TeMika Grooms, was unveiled at the 3100 block of Campbellton Rd in Southwest Atlanta to celebrate the collaboration between BLACC and the city as part of the Office of Cultural Affairs ELEVATE festival in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s recognizing the virus now known as AIDS. 

“This mural will not only be a wonderful artistic gift to the community but will serve as a reminder of the work that has been done by Black Atlantans in shifting the early trajectory of HIV/AIDS and to empower each of us to our part in working towards a world free of this virus,” Imarra Canady, the chair of BLACC, said in a statement.

Within the state of Georgia, Fulton and DeKalb counties have the highest numbers and rates of people diagnosed with and living with HIV. 70 percent of those with the infection live in the Atlanta Metro area and 71 percent of new cases are Blacks.

Canady added that the way to change this trajectory “starts by taking control of your health and knowing your status and getting tested.”

To learn more about HIV/AIDS and where to receive a free confidential HIV test log onto FREEHIVTEST.net.

— Allison Joyner

News anchor Dale Julin

Savannah news anchor is behind controversial claim of ID’ing Zodiac Killer

An investigative team’s controversial claim to have identified the infamous Zodiac Killer has a little-noticed basis in the research of a Savannah TV news anchor who is said to have a book in the works.

The Zodiac was a serial killer who murdered at least five people in California in the 1960s. The killer was notorious for wearing a bizarre hooded costume and for taunting authorities with coded messages sent to police and newspapers. The unsolved case gained a new generation’s attention with the release of the 2007 Hollywood film “Zodiac.”

The “Case Breakers,” an informal group of former law enforcement officers and others that investigates unsolved crimes, made national news in October for a claim to have identified the killer as a man named Gary Francis Poste, who is now dead. 

The identification was rejected by local police and derided by leaders of an amateur-investigator subculture for having thin evidence and particularly for not revealing details of a claim to have cracked the code on still-unsolved Zodiac messages. However, the Case Breakers have promised more details to come.

Only a few stories made clear the reason for the lack of detail the Poste identification was not the discovery of the investigators who were quoted in the national media, but rather was done by Dale Julin, a weeknight anchor at Savannah’s WJCL 22 News, who announced his retirement on Thursday, Dec. 9.

Julin did not respond to an interview request and is not quoted in national stories. On Twitter, he responded positively to a California newspaper’s scoop about his research that was based on a reporter obtaining an earlier, “bootleg” version of his manuscript. The story details Julin’s code solutions and a claim to have found the site where another murder victim was left. Julin wrote on Twitter: “6 years and 10 months. Finally. Thank you Casebreakers [sic]!!!”

Another local paper reported it had been contacted by Julin years before about the Poste claims and looked into them, but did not report them due to the unverifiable evidence.

Julin previously worked at California TV stations and in 1994 won a Peabody Award for an investigative story revealing that a 1950 Air Force plane crash secretly involved a nuclear bomb and radioactive material. He reportedly became interested in the Zodiac case after being contacted by a man who claimed to know Poste and his involvement in the murders.

“Case Breaker” member Jennifer Bucholtz, who is on the faculty at the online for-profit American Military University, is the one who discussed the code-cracking claims in national media stories, leading to initial confusion that she was the code-breaker. In an October podcast with her school’s publicist, Bucholtz explained how Julin contacted her in frustration about a lack of publisher interest in his Zodiac book. She also detailed more of his complex code-breaking method, which included identifying alleged 1950s and ’60s song lyrics and rearranging anagrams.

“Like I said, we’re not releasing all details of Dale’s work yet,” Bucholtz said in a podcast transcript. “I mean, that is his. So his manuscript is at an editor at this point, so it’s not been released, but will hopefully be out in the near future. He deserves a majority of the credit for all this work that was done to figure out and link Poste to these crimes.”

John Ruch

Doug Hooker with his wife, Patrise Perkins-Hooker, during the October LINK trip to Chicago. (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Atlanta Community Foundation and Doug Hooker

As he transitions from his role as executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, Doug Hooker will be taking a bigger volunteer leadership role at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Hooker has been named vice chair of the Community Foundation’s board starting in 2022 working with current board chair, Susan Grant. Then Hooker will assume the role of the Foundation’s board chair in 2023 and serve a three-year term.

“There is no more perfect person for this role at this time with the challenges and opportunities Atlanta faces than Doug,” said Frank Fernandez, the Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “His unique perspective leading the region’s planning organization and accelerating the collaborative forces for good through public, private and nonprofit organization make him the exact leader we need now. Doug retires from the Atlanta Regional Commission in March of 2022, and then he will dig into our challenges and lead us forward in new and exciting ways to solve our region’s most challenging issue: equity.”

The Foundation also acknowledged the service of five outgoing Board members who have helped guide the organization through a period of growth and challenge in the last five years.

The Community Foundation also honored five board members who will be rolling off the board at the end of the year. Those members are Frank Bell, founder of Intellinet; Barbara Bing-Pliner, a community volunteer; Millard Chaote, chairman of Choate Construction Co.; Bryan Rand, a senior director at Tritium Partners; and Greg Vaughn, an executive at Spencer Stuart search firm.

The whole board helped guide the Community Foundation through its priorities:

  • Census advocacy campaign to improve response and the accuracy of results in our metropolitan region, particularly with difficult-to-mobilize populations
  • The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund in partnership with United Way, which ultimately raised and deployed $30 million to nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic
  • Creation of the GoATL Fund, the South’s first impact investment fund
  • Vote Your Voice, a partnership with Southern Poverty Law Center, now expanded to a significant, $100 million initiative
  • Executive CEO succession planning, search and transition
  • TogetherATL, the Foundation’s 2022-2026 strategic plan focused on equity and shared prosperity for the region

“These volunteer board members provided us with critical insights over these last five years in our organization’s growth and transformation,” Fernandez said. “They went way beyond the job description of a ‘volunteer board member’ especially in the last two years as their leadership guided the Foundation through the COVID-19 Fund, the dual pandemics for health and racial justice and our new strategic plan, #TogetherATL. These board members jumped at the time they were needed most.”

Maria Saporta

Site of new Downtown Commons development project in East Point, GA. (Photo credit: City of East Point)

East Point announces $111 million revitalization project for Downtown Commons

On Tuesday, East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham announced the $111 million construction of the city’s Downtown Commons. 

Ingraham, along with the East Point City Council, will work with Mynd Match Development Group to enhance the nine-acre Legacy Project with commercial, retail and residential real estate as well as greenspaces with public art.

“This is a long-awaited announcement for our residents and I look forward to a more equitable housing strategy, continuous community engagement and a placemaking destination that will be catalytic to revitalizing our downtown,” Ingraham said in a statement.

Excel Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Mynd Match, said “we are thrilled to tap into the longstanding development, construction, design, finance, leasing, procurement,” of the project which will provide 1,500 jobs to the city.

— Allison Joyner

The South Fork Confluence Pedestrian Bridge overlooks the junction of the South and North Forks of Peachtree Creek. (Photo courtesy of The South Fork Conservancy)

New pedestrian bridge overlooking Peachtree Creek

In a city with traffic as notorious as Atlanta’s, having a place to enjoy nature and get away from the bustle is essential.

With this in mind, the City of Atlanta and South Fork Conservancy teamed up to build the $2.5 million South Fork’s Confluence Pedestrian Bridge. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 11 a.m.

The bridge, nestled where the South and North Forks of Peachtree Creek meet, offers a birds-eye view of the creek and connects to trails in the area.

The planners were mindful of the creek’s fragile ecosystem, so the bridge and ramp will not add runoff into the creek, helping protect the area from erosion.

“We are grateful to all the dedicated individuals who have worked so hard to build this connection to nature,” Chair of the South Fork Conservancy Julie Ralston said in a press release. “It’s truly a bridge to the future.”

— Hannah E. Jones

A vessel departs the Garden City Terminal, in Savannah. (Photo courtesy of Georgia Ports Authority/Jeremy Polston)

Port in Savannah to fast-track expansion

The state port in Savannah announced steps Monday intended to move cargo more quickly through the clogged port. Thirteen ships were anchored offshore Monday, waiting for space at a dock, port records show.

By June 2022, the port intends to have increased its cargo-handling capacity by 25 percent, or 1.6 million containers. The expansion comes as the nation’s ports and transport systems cannot keep pace with consumer demand. 

The port already has expedited cargo movements: In October, 504,350 containers were moved, about 6,000 more than the previous record, set in March.

“Through ingenuity and teamwork, GPA has put into place what amounts to the largest current expansion for a port operation in North America,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement released Monday.

In addition, the Georgia Ports Authority voted Monday to buy nine cranes to help move cargo. The cost was reported at $24.4 million.

David Pendered

“The Hill.” (Photo courtesy of the Upper Westside Improvement District)

Part of reservoir green space to reopen decades after Olympics closure

A 2-acre section of what was once a park around the Hemphill Reservoir will be reopened to the public in a fence-moving project that will start this month. Advocates hope it’s a first step toward opening more of a 147-acre space that was shuttered for security for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

The initial project will move back a fence at Howell Mill Road and 17th Street to create a public green space, according to the Upper Westside Improvement District and Friends of Waterworks. The Friends group has pushed for reopening the park at the Northwest Atlanta water facility for over a decade. The Improvement District, a group of commercial property owners who tax themselves to fund local projects, has been involved for five years.

The groups are calling the area “The Hill” and identifying it as one of the highest points in the city, affording a skyline view they liken to the tourist-attracting Jackson Street bridge.

The shuttering of the reservoir park, out of alleged concerns of terrorists poisoning the water supply or other issues, is one of the lesser-known legacies of the Olympics. For generations, the green space had been a park. As the press release says, “Schools held track meets on reservoirs’ banks, its gazebo and lodge hosted school proms, and the world-class BBQ pit was the centerpiece of community events for decades.”

In a press release, the groups called the City’s decision to move the fence a “surprise” after years of negotiations and pressure.

“The residents and the businesses tell us they want more parks in the Howell Mill-Marietta [Street] area, and we have a huge, magnificent space which was once open to everyone and will be again,” Elizabeth Hollister, the Upper Westside Improvement District’s executive director, said in the press release.

“Friends of Waterworks is grateful to the Upper Westside Improvement District for taking the lead on moving the fences back,” Friends of Waterworks co-chair Chris LeCraw said in the press release. “Opening the hilltop has been a successful public, private and philanthropic effort, and we hope to continue to grow our relationship with Watershed to open even more of the Waterworks.”

The groups credited the leadership of District 9 City Councilmember Dustin Hillis and Mikita Browning, the commissioner of the City’s Department of Watershed Management.

The fence-moving work will include the City improving sidewalks. The Improvement District is “requesting” a crosswalk at Howell Mill and 17th Street as well, the press release says.

In 2018, the Improvement District and the Friends group were involved in another nearby park effort, a 4.5-acre site at Northside Drive and 17th Street where a “water-themed learning landscape” and an amphitheater are now planned, according to the press release.

— John Ruch

The Georgia Capitol. (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Fulton County hires two lobbying firms for federal, state affairs

Fulton County has selected two lobbying firms to represent the county. Total annual payments are not to exceed $239,976, according to a report of the Dec. 1 meeting of the county’s board of commissioners.

McGuireWoods Consulting LLC won the bid to represent Fulton on federal intergovernmental and interagency affairs. Two other firms had bid on the contract, Dentons US LLP and M & W Government Affairs LLC., doing business as Milne, Wiener & Shafe Global Strategies.

The annual payment to McGuireWoods is authorized at up to $120,000. Terms include two renewal options.

Georgia Public Affairs LLC. won the bid to represent Fulton on state intergovernmental and interagency affairs services. Two other firms had bid on the job, Dentons and McGuireWoods. The annual payment is authorized at up to $119,976. Terms include two renewal options.

Georgia Public Affairs’ staff includes former House Speaker Terry Coleman and Ryland Needom McClendon. McClendon retired from MARTA in 2018 as an assistant general manager. Previously, she had served on MARTA’s board and in 1991 was elected chairperson the first African American and first female to lead the board.

David Pendered

Holiday cheer and fear at Netherworld

What happens if you mix two things that don’t match — like the suspense and creepiness of Halloween and the warm, fuzzy end-of-year holidays? The product is something like Netherworld’s Haunted Holiday, which looks like a nightmare, but this time with multi-colored string lights. 

Netherworld’s dark take on the holiday season brings a yuletide-fueled adrenaline rush for any spooky season lover. 

Visit on Saturday, Dec. 18, to see what’s lurking behind the Christmas tree.

— Hannah E. Jones

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native who recently graduated from Georgia State University, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah is excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Atlanta and its people. Hannah can be reached at hannah@atlantaciviccircle.org.

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