Category: Politics

Atlanta mayor urges Census completion, discusses police morale and pandemic reopening

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a Sept. 16 press conference urged quick completion of U.S. Census forms, discussed police morale and a possible new police chief, and said special events permits might be allowed in October if COVID-19 cases trend downward. U.S. Census Bottoms encouraged residents to quickly complete the 2020 Census after President Donald Trump ordered early collection of the data – a move that has prompted a lawsuit from cities and civil rights groups. “The Trump administration shaved off an entire month of time,” Bottoms said in the virtual press conference. “The deadline was originally Oct....

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Dunwoody to demolish former Austin Elementary School

The Dunwoody City Council approved the demolition of the former Austin Elementary School in a 6-1 vote during its Sept. 14 meeting. The demolition will cost $279,000, according to a bid from Complete Demolition Services. The DeKalb County School District considered keeping the old elementary school, located at 5435 Roberts Drive, to help with possible elementary school overcrowding, but dropped the issue in May 2019. The new Austin Elementary is located a half-mile away at 5321 Roberts Drive and opened in January. Mayor Lynn Deutsch said the district rejected the building because of the costly repairs. “It is not...

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City contracts for Lakewood and Buckhead’s Chastain Park amphitheaters need better supervision, report says

The city of Atlanta’s leases with promoter Live Nation to run amphitheaters at Lakewood and Buckhead’s Chastain Park “do little to protect the city’s interests,” according to a new audit. At Chastain, the report says, the problems include a lack of revenue documentation, a failing sound monitoring system that led to a noise violation, incorrectly diverted funds, and a technical failure on a minority hiring requirement. The city got about $4.2 million in revenue from the two venues in 2016 through 2018, according to the City Auditor’s Office report, which was finished in August and delivered Sept. 8 to...

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Atlanta City Council tells Fulton agency to stop granting tax breaks within city limits

The Atlanta City Council is joining the call for the Development Authority of Fulton County to stop granting tax breaks to developers within city limits, reviving a major, metro-wide political controversy that went dormant during the early months of the pandemic. City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland on Sept. 8 introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by 13 of his 14 colleagues, calling for such deals to be provided only by Invest Atlanta, the city’s own development authority, and in accordance with a recently adopted “Economic Mobility, Recovery and Resiliency Plan.” That plan is focused on policies to create middle-income jobs and affordable...

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City tennis centers’ future unclear after council rejects management contract amid Buckhead opposition

The future of Atlanta’s city tennis centers is a mystery following the City Council’s rejection of a proposed management change that was especially opposed by players at Buckhead’s Bitsy Grant and Chastain Park locations. The Sept. 8 council vote to essentially kill a recommended contract for the city’s five tennis centers was the latest chapter in a year-long saga pitting longtime operator Universal Tennis Management against newcomer Agape Tennis Academy, both of whom are blasting the process and each other. The city is managing the tennis centers itself for now and it is unclear if or when it will...

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Brookhaven creates framework for ‘Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission’

The city of Brookhaven has created a framework for a “Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission” that aims to improve race relations in the city, which was spurred by the nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality. City Planning Commission Vice Chair John Funny presented the framework to City Council during its Sept. 8 work session. He said the commission’s goals will be to have an open dialogue about race, identify issues within the city and recommend strategies or policies to improve the identified issues. City Manager Christian Sigman said city staff will brief Councilmember Madeleine Simmons, who...

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Court delays hearing for controversial $13.5M tax break for Brookhaven’s Dresden Village

The bond validation hearing for an up to $13.5 million tax abatement for a Brookhaven development that drew opposition from DeKalb County has been delayed because of a potential conflict of interest. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick was scheduled to hear the case of the Dresden Village project on Sept. 8. But because her law clerk lives in Brookhaven, Hydrick said, she is giving the Brookhaven Development Authority and the county, which filed a motion to intervene in the hearing, a chance to ask for a different judge. The tax break was approved by the Brookhaven Development...

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Several Buckhead and Sandy Springs precincts to have new voting locations Nov. 3

Polling places for several voting precincts in Buckhead and Sandy Springs will change for the Nov. 3 general election. Fulton County said the changes are part of a plan to increase the number of polling places and reduce the number of voters assigned to each polling place. The county has seen long lines at polls in elections during the pandemic. Affected voters will be notified by mail, and notices will be posted at the original polling places on Election Day, according to the county. The list of local precincts that are affected is below. For more about the election...

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Dunwoody Charter Commission keeps millage cap, discusses mayor and City Council term limits

The Dunwoody City Charter Commission opted against recommending removal of the city’s maximum tax millage and discussed recommending changes to mayor and City Council term limits. The tax rate can only be set above 3.04 if a majority of voters approve it, according to the city charter. The cap has been in place since the city’s incorporation in 2008. Residents who opposed the recommendation said voters should make changes to the millage rate, not the commission. The commission will vote on whether to recommend changes to the charter’s term limits at its next meeting on Sept. 21. The commission...

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Dunwoody City Council hybrid meetings have virtual and in-person audio problems

The Dunwoody City Council’s hybrid virtual and in-person meetings have had a variety of technical difficulties and audio issues — both for those watching the meeting at City Hall and in their homes. The council started conducting hybrid meetings, where some members of the council sit at their City Hall desks while others tune in virtually, on July 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Council members at City Hall sit spaced away from each other and all wear masks. City staff members and members of the public can present or comment at the presenter podium in City Hall or...

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In Buckhead’s latest party mansion case, an unhappy neighbor is also City Council member

It’s a familiar story in Buckhead: a lavish mansion is rented out for noisy parties that, neighbors complain, continue even after the arrest of an owner and operator. But this time, one of those neighbors is Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook, and he’s doing more than calling the cops — he’s filing legislation to totally ban short-term rentals in single-family neighborhoods. The mansion at 3511 Roxboro Road in Ridgedale Park racked up 34 noise complaints and 55 other police calls between Jan. 1 and Aug. 21, according to Atlanta Police Department records, while hosting such events as “the biggest...

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Dunwoody residents to vote Nov. 3 whether to extend Sunday alcohol sales

Dunwoody residents will vote Nov. 3 whether to extend Sunday alcohol sales. On Aug. 24, City Council passed a resolution to approve a referendum so residents can vote on whether the city can permit the sale of beer, wine and liquor by the package and by the drink from 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. The resolution comes after Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 3 signed House Bill 879, which allows municipalities to extend the hours during which people can purchase packaged alcohol on Sundays. The state previously allowed packaged alcohol sales, from grocery stores and package stores, from...

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