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 selected from regional leaders throughout the country.

“Chairman Olens is a visionary leader and bridge builder, one who is truly a national example for encouraging regional cooperation,” Krautler said in a statement.

One of Olens’ regional successes was when he helped Cobb County reach an agreement with adjacent Fulton County to create an interconnecting traffic system. The two governments were able to cooperate so well that they later negotiated a $59 million agreement for Cobb to provide water and sewer services in parts of North Fulton.

Meanwhile, Olens is weighing on Gov. Sonny Perdue’s plan (SB200) to merge the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority (see Maria’s Metro column). In fact, Olens believes the Georgia Department of Transportation could be part of that reorganization as well.

In an email to me, Olens wrote: “I support a consolidation of all three state agencies. There are however significant problems with SB200. It appears to create another level of bureaucracy with significant legal issues rather than a solution that provides transparency and accountability.”

Another one of Olens’ concerns is the role that Metropolitan Planning Organizations (such as ARC) will play in helping guide transportation decisions in their regions.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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