Last week I read a teaser from Atlanta Magazine on the Mayor’s use of eminent domain to address the hot mess that is Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter. This has been an on-going challenge within the City of Atlanta for years and I commend the Mayor for attempting to address it. I look forward to the full article and better understanding the motives and plans regarding this decision. At first blush though, this appears to be a page out of the Campbell-Franklin playbook: out of sight, out of mind for the city’s homeless.
I have always admired Mayor Reed’s pragmatism in politics. He works across the aisle to move policies that are embraced by both sides. I wish more policy makers were like him- effective, solution oriented, and innovative. His partnership with Governor Deal has been the lynchpin in getting the Savannah Harbor deepened, opening up trade for the entire state.
Yet the use of eminent domain in this case, to build a police and fire station seems not only overblown, but out of touch. As a rule, I have a real problem with eminent domain. I see it as an over reach of the government where the cards are stacked against the private property owner. While I recognize it has its place in the toolbox of policy, I fear it is far overused already.
Additionally, while as a resident I would certainly value the presence of more police and fire fighters in the area, the plan to disperse the shelter visitors around the city into smaller groups, smacks of former mayors’ prior move to push the poor and panhandling into Clayton County. In my humble opinion, it is less of a solution, and more of a stop gap approach to sweep the city’s complex challenges under the rug.
The Mayor has asserted that citizens of Atlanta want this shelter gone. Sort of. I want the litter, loitering, drug use and sex in the public park gone- I want the people who need treatment and therapy to receive it.
The reality is that homelessness is complex. In recognizing that, the solution to address this population must also be. This broad brush stroke approach probably wins the Mayor some points in some camps, but most recognize this is not actually a solution; this is merely kicking the can. Continue reading “Peachtree-Pine: Atlanta’s Playbook On Kicking The Can” →
Last week, the Georgia House Ways and Means Committee hosted a meeting in which they discussed Rep. John Carson’s (R, 46th) “More Take Home Pay” Bill. The bill is the first attempt at tax reform in Georgia since 2010, so let’s all be grateful for an attempt at addressing the behemoth that is Georgia’s Swiss cheese tax code. You may find the bill, as introduced by clicking here. However, it is my understanding that the bill is a “working document” and has not been updated online. For whatever reason, the Georgia General Assembly’s process of policy exists largely outside of the sphere of modernity. The bills are not updated in a timely manner online for easy dissemination. The fiscal note is not readily available online in conjunction with the bill itself, and if the bill is discussed between sessions of the legislature, it would seem it is perfectly normal and acceptable to not include those discussion documents online in one central area.
Clearly, I am not of the same accord.
In the #gapol Twitter feed, I posed my questions and graciously Rep. Brett Harrell (R, 106) informed me that (as always) I may contact the Ways and Means staff for any of the documents shared in the meeting. I have chosen to share them with you below. Continue reading “Tax Reform in Georgia: Codified Elitism?” →
I love Georgia, business, and promoting women. So when I see a headline that embraces all three- I’m tickled pink! It would seem that Alpharetta has been named by Goodcall.com as THE city in the US for female entrepreneurs. Here’s the full article regarding the stats and other cities that made the top ten. Continue reading “Alpharetta: THE City for Female Entrepreneurs” →
I feel I have either recently had an excellent reprisal on history lessons or politics has dwindled to nothing more than reuse and recycle. This idea crystallized for me watching Netflix (the bastion of intellect and high-minded shows that it is). Netflix has The Kennedys on tap right now, and after my binge watching of Mad Men and House of Cards in lieu of watching the Republican debates, this seemed like a natural order of viewing pleasure. The last episode I watched was the one where Kennedy has to send the National Guard down to Ole Miss to allow James Meredith to register for classes that led to a riot that killed two people. Prior to the riot, Governor Barnett stoked the flames of the already burning anger in the crowd by citing their outrage over all the “wrongs” the Kennedy Administration had done them, not disclosing that he and Kennedy had repeatedly been in discussion over the matter in an attempt to prevent the situation becoming a riot. The outrage that Barnett fueled reminded me so much of what’s going on now in politics. Not much has changed since the 1960s: Confederate flags, reproductive rights, belittling of women. The names have changed, but the song remains the same.
In each situation, the outraged party says someone has gone “too far”. I don’t disagree.
Personally, I find outrage to be a poor tool for getting anything actually done policy-wise. I have done my share of marching and angry finger-wagging to be sure, and once I recognized how little the other side listened to this (and how these stunts are used to manipulate the media), I chose a different path. There is a place for passionate discourse in politics- lord knows I have my soap boxes. Yet as soon as the conversation ends, you have no means for a workable solution, only fallout. You have no ability to interact across the aisle without the courtesy of respect for the other side.
But it sure gets you attention, does it not? Take a look at the headlines compiled over the weekend. Continue reading “Faux Outrage: Politics in the Era of Trump” →
Recently, President Obama announced that he will be pushing forward with a new way to impact the criminal justice system. America is no stranger to incarceration as we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Georgia has the fifth highest prison population in the nation. Unfortunately, we do not have many strong, effective systems in place to reintroduce these offenders back into society. A pilot program that would give some prisoners’ access to federal Pell Grants has been suggested. Prisoners previously had access to these grants but in 1994 congress banned this practice. Pell grants are limited to low-income students and do not require repayment. A student can get up to almost $6,000 to help finance their education. In addition to the grant, the administration is working with colleges to get classes set up for the inmates.
Some may argue that federal funding should not be allocated towards those who have broken the law. While I understand the hesitation, the statistics on repeat offenders do not lie. An estimated 68% of over 400,000 prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison and even more were arrested within five years according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. According to the Georgia Center for Opportunity, 20,000 prisoners are released back into the Georgia community every year which leads to 2 out of 3 of those being rearrested within three years. Recidivism, relapsing into criminal behavior, is highest among inmates 24 or younger. The likelihood that these young people have had a quality education is slim. Some statistics state that more than 60% of inmates can barely read and write. Education has a direct impact on a persons’ risk of becoming a criminal and it plays a large role in whether or not a prisoner can survive in the real world after their release. Having a stable family, being able to find a job, education level, and his or her mental health after leaving prison all affect a prisoners’ success after incarceration. Not being able to survive outside of prison leaves many former inmates with few options. This leads to repeat offending, homelessness, mental illness, violence in the home and other economic issues.
Studies have shown that inmates who participate in prison education programs are less likely to return to prison, 43% less likely to be exact. Offering grants to inmates could be a great start to transforming our criminal justice system. We cannot expect people to actually change after incarceration with little to no help. Prisoners return to a world with little to no structure, an education that pales in comparison to their non criminal peers, families that have continued life without them and a job market that wants nothing to do with them. Offering them a substantial grant that could elevate their education level and give them a new life after incarceration could transform our entire society economically and socially. Education serves as not only a tool to lift oneself out of an unfortunate circumstance, access new opportunities, but also as a confidence builder. It has the ability to shape the mind, alter perspectives and propel individuals forward. Giving prisoners the opportunity to learn gives them a real second chance at life. We do prisoners and our overall society a disservice when we fail to give individuals the help they need to be constructive members of society. The purpose of incarceration should be to punish and reform. It seems as though we are only succeeding at half of the job.
Tweet me your thoughts – @Lbriana12
I am somewhere firmly in the middle.
Growing up in the bustling metropolis of Social Circle, Georgia was idyllic. I grew up on a farm where the gravel meets a road named after a Primitive Baptist Church. My parents believed very deeply in education as a key to my future success, and whereas my clothes and toys may have been limited by budget, my parents never allowed my love of books to be. The problem with rearing me was that I always asked questions and wanted to understand the hows and whys of things. My mother is a spitfire optimist who fiercely believes in the potential of all children, especially her own precocious one. When she hears of something new, she often wishes to try it, much to my father’s consternation. In me this fostered a love of innovation and an innate curiosity about whether a different method might be more effective. My father is a resolute pessimist who enjoys stories of yesteryear, traditions, and the quality of developed ritual. From him my love of folklore, politics, and ambition in business was cultivated. He is the steady; she is wide open. As I have aged, I am a strong representation of both and, like my geographical location, I am caught somewhere in the middle of hope and reluctance. Continue reading “Georgia: Somewhere Between Koinonia and “The City Too Busy To Hate”” →