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APRIL 23, 2014 · VOL. 28 · NO. 16 · FREE
It’s That Weekend, Folks! Draft Downtown to the Music pp. 8, 9, 16
A Renewed Sense of Purpose: Shape-Shifting Wester Easter p. 18
Still Song-Driven and Inspired, Still Exploring Rock and Roll p. 18
Tire Dump p. 10 · Grub Notes p. 13 · Art Notes p. 20 · Calendar Picks p. 21 · Comics p. 34 · Rhonda p. 35
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Top 10 for Tim 10.
Timâ€™s lack of experience is not an issue. Every mayor we elect for the first time is inexperienced at being mayor and has to learn on the job. He has shown by his enthusiastic agitation for opening Athens government up for everybody that heâ€™s willing to work hard and learn what needs to be done.
Tim is an outsider. Heâ€™s in nobodyâ€™s pocket. He operates out in the open, not behind closed doors. This is important for our government and for our city. We need a mayor who includes everybody in the decision-making, not just an inner circle. Thatâ€™s the way Tim works; thatâ€™s the way he would work in the mayorâ€™s office.
from the blogs ď†ž HOMEDRONE: Flagpole heads to Asheville, NC this week for Moogfest, where Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and more will perform. Follow along.
8 * /2014/ & 3
ď†› HOMEDRONE: Peep a photo gallery from The Zombiesâ€™ show last week at the Georgia Theatre. ď?… CULTURE BRIEFS: Check out a recap of the Classic City Rollergirlsâ€™ bout against Chattanooga.
Tim knows Athensâ€”the hard way. He has been out there for a long time now, going door-to-door, meeting people, listening to their concerns. He is not telling them what they want to hear; heâ€™s out in the neighborhoods listening to what people want to tell him. He has a sidewalk-smarts grasp of our city and its needs.
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Tim would be the best thing that could happen to the Athens-Clarke County Commission. He would have to rely on its members for their knowledge of government. The commission would immediately come out of its dormant state and start taking care of the peopleâ€™s business. The mayor and commission would work as a team, the way theyâ€™re supposed to do.
Tim would bring a youthful perspective to our government, and thatâ€™s extremely important in a college town which is increasingly resigning itself to old, do-nothing attitudes that favor the status quo and fear rocking the boat. Athens desperately needs somebody who will shake things up and try new solutions to the same old problems that bedevil us day after day.
Timâ€™s ideas for Athens are on the cutting edge in meeting the challenges we face. For instance, he sees our potential for a free and frequent, combined city and campus bus system, while our government is busy kicking our citizens off the university system, because our expensive-and-infrequent system canâ€™t compete. Another example of why we need Timâ€™s vision.
Tim has a sense of humor and knows how to use it to make a point. Heâ€™s willing to dress up as Charles Darwin to promote a write-in campaign against our science-denying congressman. Tim is completely serious about the need to improve government, but he doesnâ€™t take himself too seriously.
Tim is focused on our most important issues. He is committed to addressing the problems of poverty that get swept under the rug while almost 40 percent of our citizens live in poverty. Tim reminds us constantly that this burden, which crushes so many, also affects our whole communityâ€” schools, public health, public safety and our local economy.
Tim â€œgetsâ€? Athens. Heâ€™s a musician. Heâ€™s a homeowner. He works a 9-5 job and then goes out and tries to improve his community. He understands how Athens works, how it depends on the university, how it attracts people from all economic, social, racial, sexual and educational strata. He understands the importance of making our government work for everybody.
The No. 1 reason to elect Tim Denson mayor of Athens: He believes in and works for â€œAn Athens for Everyone.â€? Pete McCommons firstname.lastname@example.org
ďƒŻ facebook feedback ďƒ° â€œThis is all about the inefficient ATS, not UGA. Once-an-hour service, and they complain about a lack of ridershipâ€Ś Not to mention the areas of Clarke County where no bus runs.â€?
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talking about Prince Avenue, this time at an Athens GOP meeting Monday, Apr. 14. One attendee asked Denson if she had heard from any of business owners about the Complete Streets: Prince Avenue proposal for a road-diet demonstration project aimed at making the street safer to cross. Denson said she had not. “I don’t know” what business owners think, she said. Either she forgot or she ignored the input, but Denson has heard from business owners on the topic. The batch of emails Ever since the University of Georgia started operating a The bottom line is that Athens Transit, though one of the Flagpole obtained a few weeks ago includes one from Avid free bus that runs between the Health Sciences Campus in best systems for a city this size in the nation, is not meetBookshop’s Janet Geddis, who wrote that three of her customNormaltown and the main campus, Athens Transit has lost ing the needs of the community, and so citizens turned to ers were hit by cars, and she and her employees have had a ridership and revenue as riders opted to take the free bus that a cheaper, more convenient alternative. Seeing that, county number of close calls. runs every 20 minutes rather than wait for the one that comes officials opted not to improve the service, but to get rid of the “I sometimes wonder how people’s feat of crossing Prince once an hour and costs $1.75. competition. It’s like Warner Brothers shutting down Marvel may be negatively affecting my business,” Geddis wrote. “I No more. The Athens-Clarke County Commission will conbecause too many people went to see Captain America. suspect that having a much safer way to get across the street sider a new agreement with UGA that sets the rate at which “I wonder if we couldn’t change our routes on Prince would lead to an increase in foot traffic and a corresponding UGA reimburses Athens Transit for providing “free” rides to Avenue so it is more convenient for folks who won’t use the increase in sales.” UGA students and employees. If the commission approves the UGA bus anymore,” Commissioner Jerry NeSmith said. But that Denson also heard from Normaltown property owner Jimmy agreement, starting July 1, the Health Sciences bus won’t stop would cost money, Manager Alan Reddish replied, and so every- Wilfong, who thinks the road diet will choke traffic. Guess on Prince Avenue anymore, instead operating as an express bus body dropped it, of course. which one she listened to? between the two campuses. Denson also repeated her canard that road diet Campus Transit, funded by student fees, curproponents want to somehow game the results by rently has an “open door” policy, allowing anyone doing the demonstration in April (a month she to board free, because it’s not worth the trouble previously described as “early summer”). “You to check UGACards. It was ACC’s idea to end that don’t do it when traffic is lightest,” she said. “You policy for the Health Sciences bus. “This was not do it during real traffic.” a UGA request,” ACC Assistant Manager Blaine For one thing, proponents agreed to Denson’s Williams said. suggestion to move the demonstration to fall, and Exceptions are carved out for the Milledge then the mayor wouldn’t put it on the agenda, Avenue bus that serves fraternities and sororianyway. For another, there is the same amount of ties, as well as UGA’s evening service to student traffic in April as there is in October, except for apartment complexes on South Milledge Avenue football Saturdays. It makes no sense to design and Riverbend Parkway. In addition to the Health our transportation infrastructure for the seven Sciences bus, the language would also apply to days a year when 100,000 people are coming into UGA buses running to the new veterinary teaching town. Like every other street in Athens, Prince is hospital on College Station Road when it’s built. a mess on gamedays, and it’d a be a mess whether UGA students and employees account for more it had three lanes or 30. than half of Athens Transit’s 1.7 million annual There was a time back in February, when this riders and contribute $1.4 million to the system, Goodbye, free Health Sciences bus. Remember the times I rode you downtown and got drunk and rode idea of a demonstration was first proposed, when you back to my house? We’ll always have the memories. so the contract is vital. “We were able to get sevit looked like a no-brainer. Literally no one was eral concessions we thought were advantageous opposed to it, at least publicly. The business and to both parties,” Williams said at the commission’s Thursday, There is hope. The contract binds UGA to participate in an property owners along Prince wanted it. Neighborhood resiApr. 17 agenda-setting meeting. The contract addresses several upcoming study that the commission committed to do back in dents wanted it. Athens Regional Medical Center wanted it. issues that UGA and ACC staff have been negotiating for some December, after a Flagpole cover story on this issue prompted The Chamber of Commerce, once reliably opposed to anything time: a discussion about perhaps combining the UGA and ACC bus progressive, was not standing in the way. Yet now, somehow, • UGA’s inability or unwillingness to pay the typical $1.60 systems and providing free transit to everyone. That study is the issue has become so muddled that it may never happen— bulk fare, which was lowered to $1.41. scheduled to take place sometime after the new fiscal year which is probably the point. • How to split about half a million dollars in additional fed- starts July 1. “It’s become a political football,” Denson said at the eral funding resulting from UGA reporting its ridership to the Commissioner Kelly Girtz urged delaying a decision about Republicans’ meeting. Wonder how that happened. feds. (ACC will get 40 percent and UGA 60 percent through a the Health Sciences bus until after that study takes place. “It credit against its reimbursement to ACC.) might be a worthwhile approach, with this study coming up, Workforce Housing: The ACC Housing and Community • The contract will run for three years, not one, and each to hold off on that component until the study is complete,” he Development Department is getting ready to hire a consultant year the rate UGA pays will be tied to inflation. said. to do a long-discussed workforce housing study, Director Rob • The loss of more than 20,000 Athens Transit riders and Trevena told commissioners at a Tuesday, Apr. 14 work session. $40,000 in lost revenue since UGA began operating the health Nancy and Prince, Part Infinity: The sun rose in the east, The study will look at the rental housing needs for workingsciences bus. and so Mayor Nancy Denson once again caused a stir while class families in a market dominated by student apartments
Buses Moving Backward
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that are ill-suited for other tenants (for example, they usually have as many bathrooms as bedrooms or more). It will also look at what happens to Athensâ€™ existing stock of student housing now that thousands of UGA students are moving into new developments downtown.
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Downtown Development: I may have been too harsh in criticizing one such development, the Landmark Properties proposal for the Armstrong & Dobbs property. Commission District 3 candidate and scourge of bad development everywhere Melissa Link reports that she recently attended a meeting with ACC officials to discuss the project, and she came away with the impression that itâ€™s not as bad as she previously thought. If Melissaâ€™s not out there chaining herself to a bulldozer, we probably donâ€™t have much to worry about. But Iâ€™m still not convinced itâ€™s great. The parcel is a key gateway into downtown. Jack Crowleyâ€™s recently completed downtown master plan (p. 12) recommends residential or office space along Wilkerson Street, where Landmark wants to put a parking lot, the absolute worst use of land possible. Nor, as stated earlier, does the development include the full Hickory Street Extension connecting the Multimodal Center and UGA.
School Budget: Other than state-mandated step increases, the Clarke County School Districtâ€™s proposed $125 million budget doesnâ€™t include pay raises. On the other hand, no furlough days! And after years of layoffs, the district is hiring 33 new employees, including 18 teachers. CCSD is still running an anticipated $3 million deficit, but with $22 million in reserves, the financial picture is looking much more stable than it did a few years ago. The Board of Education tentatively approved the budget Apr. 10. Two public hearings are scheduledâ€”at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13 at Gaines Elementary School and Thursday, May 15 at Alps Road Elementary Schoolâ€”before final passage June 10. Blake Aued email@example.com
Tuition Hike: The Board of Regents voted last week to raise tuition at the University of Georgia by 7 percent, continuing the trend of shifting costs from taxpayers to students and their families. In-state tuition for UGA students who take more than six hours of classes will be $4,295 per semester in the fall, compared to $4,014 this year. Some students will have a hard time paying the higher tuition rate, according to Claire Suggs, senior education policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. â€œA student struggling to pay for classes at the University of Georgia next year will need to come up with about $600 more,â€? Suggs said. â€œState lawmakers set aside 3 percent more for HOPE Scholars next year. That wonâ€™t come close to covering the new tuition costs. â€œThe state paid for about 75 percent of the cost of higher education before the recession and 25 percent fell to students and families paying tuition. The cost is now split about 50-50 between state funding and tuition. That cost shift â€œA student struggling makes it harder for Georgia students to attain a college to pay for classes degree and for the state to at the University of realize its goal of adding 250,000 more graduates Georgia next year by 2020 through Complete College Georgia.â€? will need to come University system offiup with about $600 cials said the hike is needed to fund 1 percent merit more.â€? raises for employees (the first since 2009), pay for new medical education programs like residencies for students at the Athens Health Sciences Campus and lower the cost of textbooks. A UGA pilot program replaced a $100 biology textbook with a free online textbook. â€œOur differential tuition strategy gives us the flexibility to set tuition at rates that ensure our institutions can fulfill their instructional mission but also address the affordability concerns of students and parents, particularly at our access institutions,â€? Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs John Brown said in a news release, citing UGAâ€™s middle-of-the-pack affordability ranking among peer institutions. But tuition has more than doubled in less than a decadeâ€”it was $1,910 for full-time UGA students during the 2006â€“2007 school year. Over the same time period, state lawmakers have cut higher education funding by $200 millionâ€”even as enrollment has risenâ€”and cut the HOPE Scholarship so that it no longer covers full tuition for most students. At the University of North Georgia, as at 27 other nonresearch universities, tuition will rise 2.5 percent.
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