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Why Buckhead’s impact on the election is different this year

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Though a quick scan of the latest financial reports shows Council President Felicia Moore with a strong base of support from the northside, all of the candidates are looking for votes and support there by pitching themselves as the best candidate to address Buckhead-specific issues and stop “Buckhead City” from happening.

So even if the Buckhead vote on Nov. 2 is spread out across several candidates, residents there could still get their wish of having a mayor that aligns with them on major issues.

That was on display at the Buckhead-focused forum, which was hosted by Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Business Association. For example, all of the candidates who were there, which included the leading hopefuls except Councilman Antonio Brown, said they oppose broad changes to single-family zoning laws — that’s part of the Buckhead pledge. They all also vowed to hire more police officers, and support keeping the mostly empty Atlanta jail open (both components of the pledge).

As some of the candidates mentioned, many of these issues impact residents citywide. Folks in other parts of town, for example, have pointed out that they’ve been dealing with concerning crime rates for years and don’t have the financial resources or political influence to explore a step like seceding. It all feeds into longstanding concerns that Buckhead gets special attention from the city due to its wealth and political capital.

And with the cityhood movement gaining momentum, and the impact that could have on the city, Buckhead is — again — taking center stage.

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Early voting is open until Oct. 29. Election Day is Nov. 2. (John Spink / <a href="mailto:John.Spink@ajc.com">John.Spink@ajc.com</a>)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

With one week of early voting done, it was a busy weekend for the candidates, who are now in the throes of their get-out-the-vote effort.

  • Councilman Andre Dickens received an endorsement from the local United Auto Workers union and visited residents at barber shops in southwest Atlanta on Saturday.
  • Felicia Moore held a picnic with supporters to celebrate her endorsement from the Professional Association of City Employees, the union representing Atlanta workers.
  • Members of Atlanta’s biker community came out in support of former Mayor Kasim Reed for an event Saturday.

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We told you last week all about how Kasim Reed is the clear winner of the money race at this point, raising over $2.8 million in his bid for a third term, with $900,000 on hand.

His campaign is now facing an ethics complaint surrounding the 648-page financial report that lists his contributions and expenses for the last three months.

William Perry, the founder of the group Georgia Ethics Watchdogs and a frequent Reed critic, filed a complaint with the state ethics commission last week over omissions in Reed’s report. Channel 2 Action News’ Richard Belcher reported that over 1,000 expenses in Reed’s latest disclosure — about 98% — do not list their description or purpose, as legally required. The occupation and employer for many contributors is also not listed.

In a statement to Belcher, Reed’s campaign did not dispute allegations in the complaint but called Perry a “widely discredited campaign ethics expert” and said it has 30 days to amend the report. Perry donated to Moore’s mayoral campaign, but said he is not working for her.

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Speaking of campaign reports, Councilman Antonio Brown told us his disclosure was submitted to the city last week, though it has not yet been uploaded to the city’s site. Brown said his campaign was late in filing the report due to a death in his finance director’s family.

Brown confirmed that his campaign has raised about $380,000, and has just over $52,000 on hand.

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Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has officially put her support behind Andre Dickens, telling WSB Radio’s Shelley Wynter that the two-term councilman is the most qualified candidate and the “right person for this time and moving forward.”

Franklin has long been a fan of Dickens, going back to his successful first run for City Council in 2013. She endorsed Dickens, a political newcomer at the time, over incumbent Councilman H. Lamar Willis, who had the backing of then-Mayor Reed. So far this election cycle, Franklin has made her anti-Reed sentiments known in several social media posts, using the hashtag #anybodybutkasimreed.

Another ex-mayor, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, endorsed Reed last month.

Keep reading for more details on other endorsements that were rolled out this week.

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ICYMI: It was a busy week for debates in the mayor’s race, as more negativity between the candidates began to bubble up in ads and public appearances. We have you covered with recaps of the WSB-TV, Atlanta Press Club and 11Alive debates.

Also, don’t forget about the City Council races on your ballot. J.D. teamed up with our colleague Ben Brasch for a closer look at a trend emerging in Council races across the city.

The candidates polling in the top half of the mayor's race convene at the Atlanta Press Club debate Tuesday.

Credit: Courtesy/

Credit: Courtesy/

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At the AJC’s Oct. 4 forum with the mayoral candidates, we asked them if they thought the “Atlanta Way” still exists, and what that looks like today in a city where so many feel left out of the equation. All of the hopefuls agreed that the Atlanta Way needs to change and expand to include more voices and communities. In a column for Saporta Report, John Ruch took a deeper look at the significance of that admission.

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Two local advocacy organizations focused on transit and housing released score cards last week for the mayoral and City Council candidates. Beltline Rail Now scored candidates based on answers to a survey about their support for Beltline transit.

And the Housing Justice League released the results of a questionnaire it sent to mayoral and council candidates focused on housing policy and tenants’ rights.

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The endorsement corner:

  • EMILY’s List, which supports Democratic women in politics, endorsed Moore for mayor on Friday.
  • The local Communications Workers of America union is backing Dickens.
  • Atlanta’s police union, which was at odds with Reed at times during his first two terms in City Hall, endorsed him for a third term last week.

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What’s coming up:

    • The Alliance of Intown Neighbors, made up of leaders from various Atlanta neighborhoods, is holding a virtual mayoral forum on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.
    • A mayoral forum hosted by The Temple, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church on Thursday, Oct. 21 will center around gun violence prevention. It will be held at St. Luke’s, and vaccinations and masks are required. Our own Kevin Riley, the AJC’s editor, will co-moderate alongside WABE’s Rose Scott.
    • The Southside Mayoral Forum will bring the candidates together to address issues relevant to the city’s Southside on Friday, Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m. It’ll take place at the Hillside International Truth Center on Cascade Road.

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We’ll leave you with this: What’s the future of the Atlanta airport? The next mayor could dictate that. The AJC’s Kelly Yamanouchi has all the details on how the mayoral candidates are pitching themselves as the best person to oversee one of the world’s busiest airport.

Thanks for reading, and as always, send us any feedback or story tips at jdcapelouto@ajc.com and wilborn.nobles@ajc.com.

WILBORN NOBLES III

Wilborn P. Nobles III covers the Atlanta mayor's policies for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wil (not "Willie" or "William") previously covered Baltimore County government at The Baltimore Sun, but he never finished "The Wire." He also covered education for the Times-Picayune in his hometown of New Orleans, so he tries to avoid discussions about football. Wil used to play tuba for his high school marching band, but he eventually put down his horn to intern at The Washington Post. The Louisiana State University graduate enjoys gardening, comedy, and music.

Wilborn.Nobles@ajc.com

J.D. CAPELOUTO

J.D. Capelouto is a local news reporter covering City Hall and all things intown Atlanta for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His work focuses the City Council, neighborhood issues, public safety, housing and transportation. J.D. was born and raised in Atlanta and has lived in the city all his life, except for four years at Boston University, where he studied journalism and learned how to dress for cold weather. He’s been with the AJC since 2018, and has previously written for The Boston Globe and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. When he’s not reporting or scrolling through Twitter, J.D. enjoys pop culture podcasts, “Survivor” and visiting various pools around Atlanta.

Joseph.Capelouto@ajc.com

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The Path to a Livable Future: Excerpt

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Ed. note: The following excerpt is taken from Stan Cox’s new book The Path to a Livable Future, published by City Lights. You can find out more about the book and order it here.

The excluded begin to realize, having endured everything, that they can endure everything. They do not know the precise shape of the future, but they know that the future belongs to them. They realize this—paradoxically—by the failure of the moral energy of their oppressors and begin, almost instinctively, to forge a new morality, to create the principles on which a new world will be built.—James Baldwin, No Name in the Street, 1972

Voting Donald Trump out of the White House may have forestalled a descent into fascism, but it did not resolve our national predicament. It’s as if, like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the 2015 film The Revenant, we had fought off a bear attack, but we were all still lost in the wilderness, gravely injured and not knowing how many more bears were out there. The election results preserved an opportunity to reverse the climate emergency, but achieving that with the necessary speed is now an even more daunting prospect, given that we lost four precious years. Trump’s defeat most likely prevented many thousands more Covid-19 deaths, but it came too late to save the hundreds of thousands of lives that could have been saved. And while freeing ourselves from white supremacy at the highest levels of the Executive Branch achieved an important victory, even more strenuous efforts lie ahead to completely emancipate U.S. society from racial injustice.

We lived to fight another day, but we didn’t buy ourselves any time. The urgency of our predicament is even greater than before the nightmare of 2020 began. Not only does the death toll from police shootings of Black people keep rising, communities of color remain outside many of the political processes required to restructure the institutions that directly impact their security, safety, health, and quality of life. Millions of people don’t have access to adequate food, health care, or clean air and water. And we are hurtling faster than ever toward the deadline for ending greenhouse emissions. The United Nations reported in 2020 that a decade of global procrastination on climate has dramatically raised the bar for effective climate mitigation. Greenhouse emissions will now need to be reduced at four times the annual rate that would have been required if serious collective climate action had started in 2010. That will be exceedingly difficult, but there’s still a chance. Procrastinate a little longer, and our chance of success dwindles significantly.

For decades, but especially since the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005, there has been much speculation over the threshold for declaring and acting on the global ecological emergency—in other words, how big and extreme do climate disasters have to be, how many lives do they have to take, how high must the price in economic misery be, before our society collectively decides to do what is necessary? Disasters have become more deadly, more destructive, and more numerous, but they have not yet reached the threshold at which our society is willing to shake off its resistance to change. We now need to educate ourselves to understand that the disasters we face are part of an ongoing process, a trajectory of calamities increasing in momentum and intensity, and not a series of unrelated one-offs. To wait until a disaster is massive enough to incentivize collective change may very well mean to wait far too long, as there will be no vaccine to immunize ourselves against the mass extinctions, wildfires, drought, and food chain collapse that climate scientists forecast for us. The time to act is now.

Public health and climatic stability are linked and must be dealt with together. Likewise, without a focus on abolishing injustice, working on climate change alone will address only the symptoms, not the root structural causes of our collective maladies. In some ways, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic delayed and complicated efforts to tackle the global climate emergency. In other ways, it provided a glimpse of what decisive action on the global ecological crisis should look like—and what it should not look like. Many of the same ecologically sound measures that can reduce risk of future pandemics are also necessary to prevent climatic catastrophe.

Necessarily bold climate action has long been rejected because it is seen as an obstacle to unlimited economic growth, and thus too extreme to be considered by a capitalist political system. The pandemic woke us to the fact that a five-alarm global emergency requires that we set aside business as usual in order to take extraordinary actions and accept dramatic departures from everyday life. Some nations did that in 2020, but unfortunately, neither the U.S. government nor the owning and investing classes had the stomach for extraordinary measures. Throughout the year, neither the coronavirus nor the climate emergency was adequately addressed.

The full story of 2020, however, was even bigger. The pandemic and economic collapse not only converged with the climatic nightmares of the wildfires in the West and the onrush of hurricanes and tropical storms that depleted the weather authorities’ alphabetical list of twenty-six planned names and then ran nine letters deep into the Greek alphabet—it also coincided with America’s racial reckoning and broad support of the Black Lives Matter groundswell; with a street-level struggle against white supremacy and state violence; and with the battle to defend voting rights and the rule of law against the proto-fascist forces that were being mobilized by Team Trump through the Executive Branch. Peering back through that maelstrom, is it possible to discern both the necessity and the possibility of bottom-up transformation?

Exploitation of ecosystems and mineral resources is a triple threat, lying at the root of the climate emergency, the growing threat of pandemic diseases, and the widespread degradation of the environmental circumstances in which marginalized communities are often stuck. The threats to the climate, public health, and local environments have a disproportionate impact on people of color, Indigenous communities, immigrants, and other marginalized people, both in the United States and across the globe. Consequences include poverty, hunger, illness, and oppression. These political legacies of white supremacy continue to undermine our collective wellbeing. The national failure to act on the climate emergency has its roots in an attitude held by much of affluent white society that its members can shield themselves while marginalized and impoverished people here and around the world suffer the worst consequences of deadly heat waves, flooding, landslides, and storms. Countering white, male, and other supremacies at the root of environmental injustice requires diversifying the process of change itself to weave in the strategies, leadership, social dynamics, and traditions of communities of color, Indigenous communities, women and youth, and others whose voices have not yet been heard.

Cruel calculation also lies behind the failure of many of our political leaders and their supporters to deal effectively with the health injustices that were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020, the coronavirus killed people in Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities at approximately double the rate suffered by white people. In 2020, life expectancy decreased by nine months in the U.S. white population, by almost two years in the Latino population, and by 2.7 years in the Black population. When vaccines finally became available, their rates of delivery reflected a perverse logic, one not of medical ethics but of privilege. By mid-February 2021, 9.1 percent of whites had received at least the first dose, compared with 4.5 percent of Blacks and 3.5 percent of Latinos. Waiting at the tail end of the queue to obtain vaccinations were the nation’s 3 million farmworkers, for all the same reasons that they’d had so little access to protective equipment and occupational measures to prevent infection throughout the pandemic. In one bright spot, Indigenous people, who have suffered higher Covid-19 death rates than any other group, had the highest inoculation rate at that point: 11.6 percent. This success came thanks in part to tribal vaccination programs that were apparently “running more efficiently and effectively than in many states,” according to the Guardian, as well as greater acceptance of vaccines than prevails in non-Indigenous communities.

White decisionmakers on the right could look at the racial and ethnic differences in death rates and conveniently see the strange new coronavirus as someone else’s problem. They remained as unconcerned about the white privilege and systemic racism that created the huge disparities in the virus’s impact as they were about the virus itself. With economic growth at stake, those near the peak of the wealth pyramid seemed to view the pandemic, like the climate emergency, as something against which their wealth was a shield, protecting them until business as usual could properly resume. That kind of thinking would have catastrophic consequences.

In 2020, it became crystal clear that American society could not resolve its proliferating crises one by one. Public health officials were constantly featured in the media saying that Washington couldn’t revive the economy until the pandemic was suppressed. But it was also impossible to deal with either Covid-19 or the climate emergency without confronting systemic racism head-on. To quote the climate activist Vanessa Nakate, “Every climate activist should be advocating for racial justice because if your climate justice does not involve the most affected communities, then it is not justice at all.” Furthermore, neither newly emerging pandemic pathogens nor runaway greenhouse warming can be avoided without reversing ecological destruction. And, to complete the circle, neither racial justice nor health justice nor environmental justice nor climate justice can be fully secured without turning the existing economy inside out, dedicating it to meeting society’s needs, not feeding the net worth of the plutocrats. Sacoby Wilson, a University of Maryland environmental health scientist, put it this way:

“Covid-19 has shown that we have a lot of Haves in this country, but we have a lot more Have-Nots. Our policies have disproportionally benefited the Haves while disproportionately impacting the Have-Nots. To address the disparities in Covid-19, we have to address our structural inequalities in this country. The first place to start is race and racism.”

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For Uber and Lyft, the Rideshare Bubble Bursts

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Rideharing companies made a lot of promises. They’re not being kept.

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As Rents Rise, So Do Pressures on People at Risk of Eviction

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The end of the federal ban on evictions came amid soaring rents that make it harder for people to find new places to live.

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Renderings vs. Reality: Downtown tower built atop old parking garage

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Renderings vs. Reality: Downtown tower built atop old parking garage Josh Green Mon, 10/18/2021 - 14:08

Atlanta development watchers may recall being incredulous when news broke in early 2019 that a residential tower would be built atop a downtown parking garage that’d been standing for almost 20 years.

Well, it happened. And the concept that became 29-story Ascent Peachtree started welcoming its first renters on Friday, project reps tell Urbanize Atlanta.

Two and ½ years after breaking ground, so to speak, the $125-million Greystar venture at 161 Peachtree Center Avenue is a rare, non-student high-rise downtown that could inject vibrancy into the blocks north of Georgia State University.

Along with top-shelf amenities across two levels, including a rooftop space called the Elevé terrace, the project has brought 345 apartments and townhomes with orientations that made skyline views a priority. Rentals start on the 12th floor.

Access to hammock cabanas, concierge services, a yoga studio, and one-Gig Wi-Fi won’t necessarily come cheap at Ascent Peachtree, with studios starting at $1,560 monthly.

Rents for two-story townhomes with large, north-facing patios and about 2,400 square feet climb as high as $6,500 monthly.

Seventy units—or roughly 20 percent of the building—are being reserved as “workforce housing” for residents earning 80 percent of the area median income or less, meaning they’d pay around $1,200 monthly.

Banyan Street Capital, which owns the revamped Peachtree Center food and shopping hub across the street, will operate the parking deck. It was designed to be the base of an early 2000s office tower that was cancelled during the Great Recession.

We toured the building this past summer to take in the new perspectives it offers on Atlanta’s original high-rise district. More recently, project reps supplied photos of finished aspects of the building. Those are filed below—alongside a street-level, exterior pic we took in May—in before/after format against the project’s renderings.

Subtitle
After two and 1/2 years of construction, luxury project Ascent Peachtree is welcoming first residents
Neighborhood
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A photo and a rendering of a large apartment tower in downtown Atlanta.
Before/After Images
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
Before Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
After Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
Before Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
After Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
Before Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
After Image
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A rendering of the amenities level at a new apartment building in downtown Atlanta.
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Legislation will promise Gulch money for affordable housing initiatives

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Forthcoming Atlanta City Council legislation will guarantee that the controversial Gulch redevelopment will propel affordable housing initiatives across town, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during a Thursday press conference.

Propped up by nearly $2 billion in public financing and tax incentives, the potentially $5 billion plan to revitalize downtown’s 50-acre concrete wasteland calls for the creation of a $28 million, city-run affordable housing trust fund, which will help finance the construction and preservation of new units, offer residents down payment assistance and provide an anti-displacement fund to help legacy Atlantans stay in their homes.

Click here to read the full story on Atlanta Civic Circle.

The post Legislation will promise Gulch money for affordable housing initiatives appeared first on SaportaReport.

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