Downtown AJC Building Being Donated to City of Atlanta

How DOES the AJC get all these great scoops?  🙂

The paper reports this morning that Cox Enterprises will be donating its downtown building along Marietta Street and the former printing press building behind it to the City of Atlanta.  The property is estimated at $50 million.

According to the AJC, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed plans to “put police and fire training academies in the buildings, use the auditorium for public meetings, create a gallery space that formerly was at City Hall East, and use warehouse and parking space.”

Not only will this fill a currently vacant building in downtown Atlanta, but it’ll save the city some serious coin as they move departments from leased spaces.

Nice move Cox Communications!

Atlanta’s Personal Responsibility Failure: Sidewalks

I’ve never owned a home in the city of Atlanta, so I was completely unaware that adjacent property owners are responsible for repairing the city’s sidewalks.  Oh golly!

Not surprisingly, this guest column on Saporta Report by Sally Flocks of PEDS reports the program isn’t working out all that well.

The City’s program is politically unpopular, especially in low-income areas, and has been ineffective city-wide. The annual budget includes no funding for sidewalk maintenance or enforcement, which ties the hands of Public Works officials. Few people voluntarily repair sidewalks, and everyone who walks suffers as a result.

The 2008 State of the City’s Infrastructure report estimates that 18 percent of the City’s sidewalks need to be repaired or replaced, at a cost of $79.4 million.

In 2004 the City launched a campaign to educate property owners about their responsibility to repair sidewalks. During the four years that followed, the City collected just $200,000 from property owners for sidewalk repairs. At that rate, addressing the City’s backlog of broken sidewalks would take sixteen centuries.

Imagine if we tried to employ this method of maintenance and repair to roads.  Now THAT would be humorous!

Self-Interest Economics

Ariel Hart has a nice cover story in this morning’s AJC about the different metrics being used by political talkers to demonstrate how Atlanta is either getting fat or screwed in the distribution of Federal Stimulus funding.

As Hart points out, those in Atlanta  – who want more money – use the “For every thousand dollars metro Atlanta contributes to the economy, so far it’s getting back $1.37 from the stimulus road fund. The rest of the state is getting $2.02.” argument.

“How outrageous!!” cry the cultured urbanites.

The smaller cities and rural areas – who also want more money – roll their collective eyes and counter with this argument – summarized by Hart – “metro Atlanta is getting $66.81 per person in the area, while the rest of the state is getting $56.06.”

Not knowing which money-grubbers to trust, Hart turns to the economists, which surprisingly, are also of two minds.

So with few options remaining, the tired and intrepid reporter turns to the great-decider himself, Sonny Perdue, who’s spokesman rolls his eyes in his excellency’s absence and utters “If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you can find an economist to say anything,”

And like a Turgenev short story, Hart’s article concludes without the closure we all seek.  We don’t discover who the real purveyor of truth is, or what it is about economists that makes them “say anything.”  It just is.

Atlanta Grew

If you’re like me (and I’m certain you are), you hate it when newspapers, blogs, or jerks on the street talk or write in the present tense about data that concerns the previous year.

Like this AJC article, “City of Atlanta Continues Rapid Growth“.  From the title you might think, “Wow, even in a recession, Atlanta’s hanging in there!” and then you go about your day, spewing untruths because you were too lazy to read the in-depth 5-sentence blurb.  And that’s too bad because people were finally beginning to respect you.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that the title is referencing census data comparing 2008 to 2007, not 2009 to 2008, and as we all know Lehman Brothers didn’t fail until mid-September 2008, so 2008 isn’t all that clean if you’re looking for a post-recession gauge.  So, it looks like we’ll just have to make do knowing that the city of Atlanta grew 3.4% from ’07 to ’08 and wait ’til next year for any kind of 2009 data.

Atlanta Wins $300,000 to Plant Trees

Wheatley informs us that Atlanta won the American Express “Root For Your City” contest, which awarded the major U.S. city with the most credit card usage $300,000 to plant native trees.

Pretty cool!  The more carbon-dioxide sucking trees the better!

And You Thought WE Had Money Problems!

Annexation got your blood boiling?

Well that tax base initiative has nothing on the city of Atlanta’s efforts to create a local gaming authority that would set up a casino at Underground!

Gambling.  Is there anything it can’t do?