Category: Politics

Buckhead protests prompt calls for racial dialogue in schools and neighborhood

Many protests inspired by the police killing of George Floyd have come to Buckhead over the past month, with organizers frequently citing the neighborhood’s reputation as a wealthy, White and conservative enclave as a reason to demonstrate there. And it’s having an impact, with some civic and school leaders calling for dialogue about race and racism. City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, whose District 8 includes some of Buckhead’s most exclusive communities, said he attended every protest held at the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road. That “absolutely” had an effect on him as an elected official, he said. “The...

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Police complaint reform is one idea in Dunwoody racial dialogue

Amid nationwide protests against police brutality, Mayor Lynn Deutsch has called for a “dialogue” in Dunwoody regarding racism. Already some residents are calling for better transparency in internal investigations of the local police department through such mechanisms as a citizens review board. “It’s really important to have that dialogue, but how you do it when you’re not in person makes an already complex conversation harder,” said Deutsch, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic making large, in-person gatherings unsafe. Deutsch gave a speech about her tentative plans to make Dunwoody more inclusive at a June 11 faith-based protest at Brook Run...

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Sandy Springs starts racism dialogue; North End talks show the challenge

In the wake of the nationwide George Floyd protests, which came to Sandy Springs City Hall several times last month, Mayor Rusty Paul made an unprecedented call for a citywide dialogue on race and racism. But getting true diversity in those conversations will be challenging. And it has already been an issue in city plans to redevelop the majority-minority North End, a concept that experts say in part reflects the pattern of systemic racism in Atlanta with its risks of displacement and gentrification. “We have to begin the process of trying to eradicate racism from our community. We can’t...

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Buford Highway talks show challenge of dialogue on race

As the city goes into an “active listening” phase, as Mayor John Ernst calls it, amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality that came to Brookhaven last month, it continues with redevelopment plans along Buford Highway, where input from the renowned immigrant community is a longstanding challenge. The risk of displacing that community with skyscrapers and other higher-end uses is one of the city’s biggest policy puzzles — and, experts say, part of a pattern of metro Atlanta’s systemic racism. Some activists said the inclusionary efforts by the city have improved in the past couple years, citing more...

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How race and racism shaped growth and cityhood in north metro Atlanta

In Buckhead and Brookhaven, in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, mayors and other prominent elected officials have responded to the George Floyd protests by decrying systemic racism and calling for civic dialogues on race. According to some Atlanta historians, they won’t have far to look for subject matter. Racism, the historians say, was a driving force in making the communities majority-White and affluent, in the annexation and cityhood movements that raised them to prominence, and in the lingering segregation that they help to embody in the metro area’s housing patterns, schools and economic development. “I don’t think anything’s changed for...

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Atlanta mayor joins group considering guaranteed minimum income for citizens

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has joined a new group of mayors calling for a guaranteed income to their citizens. The Mayors for a Guaranteed Income coalition “will explore cash payment programs in their cities for guaranteed income programs,” according to a city press release. The idea of a guaranteed income is an unrestricted cash payment from the government to individual citizens to address economic inequality. Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, according to its website, includes the mayors of Columbia, South Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; Newark, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; St. Paul, Minnesota; Shreveport, Louisiana; Tacoma, Washington; and the California...

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Dunwoody mayor suggests contact tracing to slow COVID-19 spread as businesses reopen

Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch says contact tracing, or notifying people who were exposed to a person with COVID-19, is going to be key for businesses reopening amid the pandemic. Deutsch also discussed the city’s phased reopening during the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s Return to the Perimeter series on Thursday, June 25, which was sponsored by the city and Cox Enterprises. “It’s really important because for offices to open successfully and for the Georgia economy to fully reopen and to keep Georgians safe, we need everyone to work toward slowing the spread, and contact tracing is an important part...

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Bill that could lift Brookhaven’s mayoral term limits after referendum passes General Assembly

A bill that would allow Brookhaven residents to vote on unlimited terms for the mayor passed the Georgia Legislature on the last day of the session. If signed by the governor, a referendum vote to eliminate mayoral term limits will be on the ballot during the November general election this year. If a majority votes to remove the term limits, it would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. The unlimited terms, if approved, would apply to incumbent Mayor John Ernst. The bill has the support of three of four City Council members, whose offices currently have no term limits....

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Lake Forrest Drive may have been named for noted developer, not KKK leader, researcher says

The “Forrest” memorialized in Lake Forrest Drive may have been a noted real estate developer and children’s hospital co-founder, not a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader, according to a researcher. But if there is a KKK connection, it would reveal bad motives for such notable figures as the namesake of Chastain Park, he said. In the wake of protests about racism and police brutality, the city of Sandy Springs is pushing to rename the street — which runs four miles through its jurisdiction and Buckhead — based on a local rumor that it honors Nathan Bedford Forrest,...

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Bill that could lift Brookhaven’s mayoral term limits considered on Legislature’s final day

Brookhaven residents may get to vote whether to allow unlimited terms for the mayor if a bill passes the Senate today, June 26, and gets the governor’s signature. The unlimited terms, if approved, would apply to incumbent Mayor John Ernst. The bill has the support of three of four City Council members, whose offices currently have no term limits. Three years ago, a city charter review commission recommended term limits for the mayor and council members. House Bill 695 is a revived bill from last year that was amended this session to remove the mayor term limits completely instead...

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Former mayor Massell’s unfinished project: Branding the neighborhood as the ‘Township of Buckhead’

As former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell retires from leading a prominent community organization, he says he is leaving one unfinished project that he hopes will carry on: branding the neighborhood as the “Township of Buckhead.” “Buckhead is in the city of Atlanta, so we’re not a city and we’re not likely to become one, for several reasons,” said Massell, the retiring president of the Buckhead Coalition, in a phone interview. “But one thing that we can be is a township. … Instead of calling it a community of 40 or 50 neighborhood associations, we’ll now consider ourselves a township.”...

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Sandy Springs mayor’s ‘State of the City’ address rescheduled to July 9

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul will deliver his rescheduled “State of the City” address on July 9 in a virtual Zoom meeting. The original date was postponed due to an illness in the mayor’s family. The virtual address, hosted by the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. Anyone who previously registered will receive a link for the Zoom meeting on July 8. Anyone wanting to join the meeting who hasn’t registered can do so on the Chamber’s website here. Topics the mayor is expected to address include how the COVID-19 pandemic has...

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