FEBRUARY 2021 • VOL. 15 — NO. 2
Buckhead Reporter FOOD FOR THOUGHT
General Muir comes to City Springs
Calling All Campers! P18 and 19
With crime on the rise, fears and reality merge
Jewish Film Festival makes its return
BY JOHN RUCH AND MAGGIE LEE
Meet the mothers of Civil Rights icons P17
Meanwhile, the Buckhead Exploratory Committee is getting some free advice from the existing Morgan County city of Buckhead. “Tell ’em to back off. We got the charter,” was the cheerful reply of Morgan County Commissioner Bill Kurtz, whose district includes the city, when told of the Atlanta
With crime on the rise, it seems just about everyone in the neighborhood has crimefighting ideas, from the kitchen-sink approach of the new “Buckhead Security Plan” developed by local organizations to a nonprofit’s call for separate cityhood. But discussion goes astray, says one criminologist, with some classic misperceptions, including crime fear that outpaces crime reality, and the notion that crime is a neighborhood-wide phenomenon rather than hyperlocal to specific blocks or buildings. And while many residents are demanding crimefighting action from officials -- including at a Jan. 4 City Hall protest -- statistics show that many of them are ignoring the Atlanta Police Department’s pleas to help stop the easily preventable crime of car break-ins, by far the most common offense and one that sucks resources away from other police work. “Put simply, there’s a disconnect between where crime is occurring and the demographics most likely to be victimized, and the areas and demographic who have the highest levels of fear,” says Joshua Hinkle, a Georgia State University criminologist who specializes in evidence-based policing and fear of crime. While the crime rate has risen in Buckhead, he said, “crime and risk of victimization there are still way lower than in, say, the south part
See CITYHOOD on page 23
See WITH on page 22
Locals donate plasma for COVID battle
The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in pre-pandemic times drew 40,000 attendees to such major local venues as the Sandy Springs Performing Arts. This year, it has found a way to return with a combination of virtual screenings and a three-day drive-in event. Above is a scene from “Asia,” a 2020 Israeli drama about a single mother’s relationship with her ailing daughter that is among the many films in this year’s lineup. See story, p. 20.
Cityhood group seeks opinion poll funding as Morgan County’s Buckhead opposes
BY JOHN RUCH
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Should Buckhead leave Atlanta for cityhood or annexation? The mysterious nonprofit group proposing the idea answered many questions — except about the identity of its own leaders — in a Jan. 20 virtual town hall where it asked for $10,000 to $15,000 in donations to conduct opinion polls.
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2 | Community
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Fulton chairman: Atlanta jail could be used by county and social services center
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In the debate over whether the Atlanta City Detention Center should remain a jail demanded by tough-on-crime advocates or turned into a social services center proposed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners says he has a solution: do both in the same building. “They’re not mutually exclusive, as far as I’m concerned,” said Chairman Robb Pitts in a phone interview. “I’ve been interested in it — still am,” said Pitts. “I still think that Fulton County needs to pursue acquiring or purchasing the city jail.” Pitts spoke the day after the fate of the city jail was discussed by the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee in a Jan 21 hearing. Bottoms has made shuttering the jail, located at 254 Peachtree St. downtown, and replacing it with a “Center for Equity” with various social services a priority of SPECIAL Robb Pitts, chairman of the Fulton her administration as a move County Board of Commissioners away from mass incarceration. The idea has been controversial, with Buckhead as a center of opposition as the neighborhood has seen crime rise in perception and reality to varying degrees. At a 2019 town hall in Buckhead, Bottoms was booed by some who thought her approach was soft on crime. She and police officials have said that critics appear to misunderstand that the city jail only houses people accused of minor crimes, not felons, and that there are more effective and equitable crimefighting strategies. Mary Norwood, who lost the close 2017 mayoral race to Bottoms and now heads the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, is a top advocate of keeping the jail open for city or county use and instead operating the social services center in another city-owned building nearby. The Mayor’s Office previously blasted Norwood’s position as divisive and “about an antiquated belief that locking THEM up and throwing away the key will deter crime.” In advance of the Jan. 21 committee hearing, Norwood circulated an email urging residents comment in favor of the county taking over the jail “to keep us safer” and for the social services center to go in the nearby building. Now Pitts, a Buckhead resident who previously served as a member and president of the City Council, is making a similar call — but for a merged facility. Talk of Fulton County buying the jail goes back at least a decade. Pitts said he helped strike a deal with former Mayor Shirley Franklin for the county to buy the jail for roughly $40 million. But that failed a decade ago when the administration of the next mayor, Kasim Reed, sought a different and more expensive deal, Pitts said. Pitts said the city jail is still of interest to the county “because we need additional space. And that city jail is a perfectly usable facility in much better shape than ours and it’s more centrally located than ours.” The current county jail is on Rice Street in Atlanta’s Westside. As part of the concept of a merged jail and social services facility, Pitts said, he would propose that the county not house felons there. The city jail, he said, is “such a nice facility, underutilized from a jail point of view. I’m aware of Mayor Bottoms vision for it and what she hopes to do, but what she hopes to do is not inconsistent [with a jail use]. …I think there’s a way for us to accommodate what she [proposes].” The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a comment request.
Community | 3
After historic Georgia elections, Democrats aim to bring blue wave to city races BY JOHN RUCH With Georgia’s historic presidential and U.S. Senate elections in the rearview mirror, the partisan political momentum is now driving toward this fall’s municipal elections in local cities. Democratic activists emboldened by victory say they will localize the blue wave by backing candidates in officially nonpartisan City Council or mayoral races. And campaigns could involve some of the local figures who stood out in Georgia’s national political spotlight, such as Gabriel Sterling, the Republican state election official who some observers say might be a good candidate for mayor in his hometown of Sandy Springs. Partisan politics has often played a role -- albeit a quiet one -- in municipal races in traditionally Republican local cities, where candidates may rely on the networking and parties may groom candidates for higher offices. But in recent years there have been flashes of more overt partisanship, as when state Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams -- now a U.S. congresswoman -boasted in 2019 of Lynn Deutsch’s victory in Dunwoody’s mayoral race, though Deutsch insisted she’s an independent. Now Democrats are coming on strong to field candidates, and maybe even sway more incumbents like Brookhaven City Councilmember Linley Jones, who confirmed to the Reporter that she quietly shifted affiliation from Republican to Democrat in recent years. “All of our focus will be put into finding good candidates to run in municipal races where we have a verified Republican running,” said Lewanna Tucker, chair of the Fulton County Democratic Committee. “We will contest every race there is, from dog-catcher to governor! We don’t plan to let up until it’s all blue.” “I’m excited, now that we won Georgia... we can focus on local [elections] again,” said John Jackson, chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Committee. “... You still have Republicans in some municipal seats. So we’re definitely going to run some Democrats against Republicans.” Jackson said that the DeKalb Democrats also plan to boost their outreach to Latino and Asian American communities in the Buford Highway corridor after former President Trump saw significant increases in votes from such BH
communities in metro Atlanta and nationwide. The Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta (JDWS) is a large, grassroots progressive group formed by residents of Brookhaven and Sandy Springs nearly 10 years ago. Known for hosting forums for state and federal candidates, the group also has many members involved in political campaigns. Now, says co-founder Valerie Habif, the salon is ready to go local. “We have not previously seen a need to involve ourselves in municipal elections because they are of course traditionally nonpartisan,” Habif said. “Our position has changed in part because of the outsized role that the suburbs and exurbs played in our recent election. … We do feel that municipal lead-
Sandy Springs or any other North Fulton city this year, it would depend on the candidates,” Kelly said of his party’s involvement. “The cities of North Fulton are the envy of local governments throughout Georgia. This was achieved through good government and conservative solutions to local issues. We hope that continues.” “Regarding Atlanta, I can tell you with confidence that our members who live in the city will be supporting anyone else other than Mayor [Keisha Lance] Bottoms due to the high crime, high taxes and her overall lack of leadership since taking office,” Kelly added. Lane Flynn, chair of the DeKalb County Republican Party, said the group’s focus is on building a voter-turnout machine like that of the Democrats and aiming to flip state and county seats
ic move from a one-time chair of the DeKalb Young Republicans to an attendee of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. Jones said that “I certainly do not consider myself Republican at this point… At this point, my views and ethics are more aligned with the Democratic Party.” “And I think I am one of those former Republicans for whom the political events of the past several years have driven me completely away,” she said, citing her “moderate” positions on such issues as voting rights, immigration, guns and race and gender equality. “It got to the point where identifying as a Republican caused me to question who I am as an American, as a Christian, as a woman, as a voter, as an elected official.” In the technically nonpartisan world
From left, John Jackson, chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Committee; Lane Flynn, chair of the DeKalb County Republican Party; Brookhaven City Councilmember Linley Jones; Valerie Habif, co-founder of the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta.
ers in Atlanta’s surrounding communities should reflect not only the diversity of their citizenship but also their concerns.” One JDWS member recently won office -- Tarece Johnson on the Gwinnett County Board of Education -- and the group is encouraging members to run for more, Habif said. JDWS won’t endorse candidates, but its members are likely to campaign for them, she said. Sandy Springs City Councilmember Andy Bauman, who was criticized as a “Democrat” by an unsuccessful opponent in his original 2013 campaign, has attended JDWS’s invitation-only forums. He has said he is undecided on a mayoral run or re-election campaign this year. For Republican officials, much of the focus will be on building state and county campaigns with an eye on 2022. Trey Kelly, chair of the Fulton County Republican Party, said he expects more overtly partisan campaign in city races this year. “In the terms of municipal races in
back to red. “Our members are of course involved in politics at all levels and will likely support specific candidates in Brookhaven and other municipal elections,” said Flynn, “but as they are considered nonpartisan, DeKalb GOP is generally not directly involved as a party with these races.” Jackson, the DeKalb Democrats chair, said his party sees the post-Trump climate as perfect for convincing Republicans to switch parties. But he admits one challenge is that figuring out city officials’ affiliation can be “a little hazy” due to nonpartisan elections and the state’s lack of voter registration by party. He said he’d heard that Jones, the Brookhaven City Council member, recently switched from Republican to Democrat and that his group might support her if so because “she’s done a pretty good job.” Jones said in a phone interview that she indeed made the switch sometime before Trump’s election, a dramat-
of city government, Jones said, party-switching can still come with price. “When you have been as formally wellentrenched in the Republican Party as I was, it was a difficult transition to make,” she said. “It can cost you friends and connections, and could even cost me my City Council seat. But I believe authenticity is the number one thing you should look for in an elected official, and you have asked, so I have answered authentically.” That’s not to say that Jones is ready for parties to get involved in local campaigns. She said most city government work is truly nonpartisan and that she first won her seat because she had been a pro-cityhood spokesperson, not because she was a Republican. “So I am saddened to hear the political parties would like to play a bigger role in it,” Jones said, “because I don’t want to see the City Council go in that direction, where … [the work] would have a larger political agenda.”
4 | Community
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Redistricting may ensure the blue wave’s Democratic dominance in local suburbs BY JOHN RUCH AND BOB PEPALIS City elections will be big news this fall, but around the same time, another political process will begin with even longerlasting impacts: the redrawing of Congressional, state legislature and City Council districts. Redistricting could affect the makeup of councils that in most cases do not now reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of their populations. And, one expert says, the redistricting may cement the new blue-wave Democratic dominance in local representation in Congress and the General Assembly, even though Republicans will control the process. One certainty is that the once-a-decade process will be intensely political as it attempts to balance short-term incumbent protection against long-term game plans, says Charles Bullock III, a University of Georgia political science professor and author of “Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America.” “If you get it right, you hold [the legislature] for 10 years,” said Bullock of the General Assembly GOP majority that will conduct the Congressional and state redistrictings. And in the digital age, they
will be able to make finely detailed tweaks to district maps for political ends. “What’s often said is, the people [once] chose their legislators and now the legislators choose their people,” Bullock says.
to draw its own districts as well as Georgia’s Congressional districts. Gov. Brian Kemp likely will call a special session of the General Assembly to focus on that task, Bullock said. As for City Council districts, that process will be up to local governments. “The timing and process of redistricting at the local level is largely governed by city charters and local legislation,” said Holger Loewendorf, research manager for the Georgia Municipal Association. Officials in Atlanta, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs indicated they are not yet sure how the redistricting will be performed. Brookhaven, which incorporated in 2012, has never redistricted before. When Sandy Springs last redrew council districts in 2013, the work was done by then City Councilmember Gabriel Sterling, who since has become internationally famous as overseer of Georgia’s historic 2020 presidential election and critic of former President Trump’s conspiracy theories. (Sterling has been tapped to chair the city’s Charter Commission this year.)
Drawing a district A district is the territory that an elected official represents. At each level of government, districts can vary in shape and size, but must contain closely similar numbers of people under the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of equal representation. To maintain that equal representation, districts are redrawn every 10 years following the results of the U.S. Census, which most recently was conducted in 2020. Previously redistricting processes typically began around late summer. But the 2020 Census results have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, missing the deadline for the “apportionment” data needed for redistricting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It remains unclear when that data will arrive, but Bullock said the process is likely to begin in late fall and last several months, with the aim of having new districts in place for 2022. The majority-GOP state legislature gets
Rules of the game At all levels, “Rule number one is, your
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districts need to have roughly equal population,” said Bullock. To avoid court challenges, Congressional districts need to be very close to equal. By law, state districts can vary up to 5% more or less, but legislators need to provide a convincing rationale, like keeping the district within the same county; a variation of 1-2% is more common. “Second rule would be, you don’t discriminate against minorities,” said Bullock. “If you have an existing minority-majority district, you probably don’t want to break it up -- ‘crack’ it, is the term they use.” Governments aren’t required to create minority-majority districts, Bullock said, but they better have “some non-racial rationale” for why they did not if there were viable alternatives that someone sues over. He says that’s especially true “if a minority population is relatively compact and is in one part of the city, and instead of putting it in a district, you cracked it...” Within those two rules, there is plenty of room for gamesmanship on protecting incumbents, punishing the opposition and setting long-term partisan power plays in motion. But a tricky factor, especially in the north metro area, can be seen in the many close election results in so-called marginal districts, where neither major party dominates the electorate. Bullock says that marginal districts can be great for voters, as their representatives may be more responsive and moderate. But such districts are loathed by incumbents and parties, as a slight change in the political wind can blow them out of power. That’s what happened 20 years after a Democrat-led redistricting attempted to protect many incumbents by preserving their marginal districts. A conservative shift in national politics knocked out many of them. “If there’s a wave against you, you lose a lot,” said Bullock.
Protecting two 6th Districts? Now the Republican-led state legislature faces a similar situation, Bullock said. “Especially on the north side of Atlanta, Republicans are going to have to make a choice,” he said: Help remaining incumbents saying “protect me,” or shore up fewer districts with bigger GOP margins. “What you’re thinking about is not how will these districts perform in 2022, but how they are going to perform in 2030,” Bullock said. “... I think that may be a battle within the Republican caucus.” Such calculations, Bullock speculates, may mean the Republicans giving up on two local districts -- both numbered 6 -that made attention-getting flips to blue in recent years: the 6th Congressional and the state Senate District 6. BH
Doing Business | 5
Doing Business | Sandy Springs startup aims to revolutionize market research “Market research” and “customer engagement” are terms that may conjure up images of focus-group meeting rooms and dinnertime robo-calls. A Sandy Springs startup aims to revolutionize the industry with an app that instantly pays vetted users to answer questions in real time via their cellphones. In the 1Q system, companies cannot not only ask questions or offer surveys, but also ask for photos and videos, and target users based on their locations at the moment. Want to see where every user wearing a certain brand of sneakers is on a live map of metro Atlanta? Want to send a coupon to every user at the big game? Those creative uses and more are possible through the 1Q app. Meanwhile, every user who responds gets part of the $1-per-answer fee, either to their bank account or to their favorite charity. (Disclosure: The Reporter previously partnered with 1Q to conduct reader surveys on topical issues.) After several years of development, 1Q says it has over 1 million users and is in a higher-profile phase. The Reporter asked CEO and founder Keith Rinzler about the startup. For more information, see 1Q.com. Tell us about the app. How does it work? 1Q is not simply a survey app. It’s a rev-
olutionary market research and customer engagement platform that is changing the way companies conduct consumer research and interact with customers. 1Q allows companies to engage with an audience in real-time based on who they are or where they are by sending questions, surveys, pictures, videos, polls or promotional offers to their mobile phones. Consumers love engaging with 1Q because we are the only company operating in the analytics and insights marketplace that pays consumers instantly per response. We started building 1Q nearly six years ago, but we’ve really taken off in the past two to three years. We’ve experienced incredible growth, are being used on a regular basis by many of America’s largest companies, and have over 1 million consumers who have signed up to be paid instantly for their responses. How did you come to be based here in Sandy Springs? My family has been in the Atlanta area for five generations, so starting a business here made all the sense in the world. There’s so much talent in the Atlanta area, and it’s only growing year after year. Thanks to Georgia Tech and initiatives like the Georgia Research Alliance, It’s
one of the best places to start a tech business anywhere in the country. As for Sandy Springs, it’s a terrific central location within the greater Atlanta area that’s easy to access for all of our team members.
the radical simplicity and transparency of our platform -- there’s clear pricing, no contracts, and literally anyone can use it to get answers to their questions by visiting 1Q.com. The list goes on, including real-time responsWhat do you offer that es that produce meanother demographic comingful results in minutes panies don’t? instead of days, the abiliFor starters, even comty to re-contact the same pared to market research respondents to dig deeper competitors that have on insights, and the abilistrong demographic proty to get feedback on vidfiles of respondents, our eo, audio, image and even platform is particularly get consumers to send targeted and precise. But you pictures. On the othwe’ve been working on er hand, for people who SPECIAL the 1Q platform for years, answer questions, they Keith Rinzler, CEO and and every client has their love getting paid instantly founder of 1Q. own favorite feature. A for each question they annumber love our highly swer and they have the opsophisticated geotargeting capabilities that tion to donate the money they earn to charlet you zero in on customers who have visities. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. ited their stores within a specific time period. Others appreciate our commitment What types of businesses are using the to data quality and making sure there are service? no “bots” or professional survey takers on Our clients come in all shapes, sizes and the platform who are more concerned with sectors. They include Fortune 500 compamaking money than answering truthfully. And then there are those who appreciate Continued on page 6
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Continued from page 5 nies, market research organizations, advertising and marketing agencies, and management consulting firms. Just in the metro Atlanta area, companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, Ted’s Montana Grill, Bain and Kids2Grow use the 1Q platform. Unlike some competitors that force you to start at a very high price-point, we can scale up or down to solve a customer engagement and market research challenge. Our pricing is radically simple: $1 per response. Period. We provide solutions both for companies that have a few hundred dollars and a few hundred thousand to spend on market research. We’ve had companies testing Super Bowl commercials, asking consumers to take pictures of store shelves to see product placement, and inquiring about straightforward questions like eating habits, how they invest money, or political opinions.
How is the pandemic affecting the survey business? The market research industry has been challenged by the pandemic, particularly traditional market research companies that specialize in things like in-person focus groups. Obviously, gathering people in-person is a non-starter in the midst of a pandemic. However, similar to how the pandemic has led many employers to become more reliant on digital communication tools like Zoom and Slack, marketers and consumer research specialists have sought out digital research tools like 1Q that can quickly deliver results anywhere and anytime. We nearly doubled our revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, and we had our highest revenue month ever in September 2020.
The following businesses recently opened in Reporter communities. GOLFTEC Sandy Springs, golf instruction and club fitting center, 6329 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. golftec.com Hotel Colee, 3377 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. hotelcolee.com Indie Studios, workspace for designers and creative companies, 190 Ottley Drive, Buckhead. indiebecomesyou.com Orthopedic Cortisone Injection Center, orthopedic pain relief practice, 1705B Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. theocic.com Village Supply, pop-up space for food and lifestyle brands, especially minority- and women-owned, Buckhead Village District, 272 Buckhead Ave., Buckhead. buckheadvillagedistrict.com
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Food & Drink | 7
Food For Thought: The General Muir’s chef chats about opening in City Springs BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN An outpost of the popular Emory Point restaurant and delicatessen The General Muir opened its doors at City Springs on Jan. 13. The Rye Restaurants group, of which chef Todd Ginsberg is a partner, has five other eateries around Atlanta: West Egg Cafe, TGM Bread, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and Wood’s Chapel BBQ. Ginsberg, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef (Southeast) in 2014 and 2015. His career began at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta and continued at the Michelinstarred Lucas Carton in Paris and Alain Ducasse in New York. Back in Atlanta, he helmed the kitchen at Bocado before launching the General Muir at Emory in 2013, which became an instant success. The General Muir is named after the vessel that carried co-owner Jennifer Johnson’s family, who were Holocaust refugees, to the United States following World War II. The restaurant serves pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, burgers and bagel sandwiches, among other traditional Jewish delicacies, as well as fried chicken and spaghetti suppers. The new location is in Sandy Springs’ civic center at 6405 Blue Stone Road, Suite 240, at the intersection with Johnson Ferry Road. For more information, see thegeneralmuir.com.
that reports to me and then we have executive chefs in each of the restaurants, and they have their sous chefs, and I oversee them all to avoid those balls falling in the gutter. That’s my goal: keeping those balls going down the alley until it ends. How is this new location in Sandy Springs different from the one at Emory? It doesn’t differ too much, other than we’ve done a couple things cosmetically. At the other General Muir, there are pictures of our families on the walls, and here we have pictures and some memorabilia of people that we’ve met over the years since we opened the first one. The menus are the same, but I think we’re going to be selling a lot more bagels, pastrami and corned beef than at the other restaurant. The fried chicken that we had available only on Friday nights at the other General Muir we are doing every night here, and we’re also doing brisket every night.
Todd Ginsberg, chef and partner at the General Muir.
You oversee seven restaurants as chef. How do you not go crazy doing that? We have a huge support team that ensures no one goes crazy, and that way we don’t drop too many balls or have things fall through the cracks. I have a culinary director
What’s been the reaction so far? Some of the people that I’ve talked to that have been to both restaurants say it’s very consistent, and that’s been great to hear. Our number one goal was to bring our product and our brand to a new space and we wanted to make sure that people are enjoying it. A lot of them live closer to here than the other spot, so this is just around the corner for them. The feedback has been great. The community has wanted us from day one and they’re supporting us and are happy that we’re finally here.
What else would you like people to know about your restaurants? That we are a friendly and safe environment for people to work in as well as eat in; that we take safety and precautions very seriously during these times; that we are protecting our staff as well as our guests. In addition to that, we’re doing things that everybody grew up eating and we just try to do them a little better than they remember them.
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8 | Food & Drink
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Quick Bites BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Milkdrop, a pop-up specializing in biscuits and biscuit sandwiches, will open for business in February beside the Buttermilk Kitchen building at 4209 Roswell Road in Buckhead. Chef and owner Suzanne Vizethann oversees both ventures and describes this new one as “a chef-driven, made-to-order experience for our fellow Atlanta foodies.” Milkdrop was scheduled to begin taking pre-orders online starting on Feb. 1 for pick-up on Saturday, Feb. 6. milkdropbiscuits.com Apt. 4B, a Caribbean restaurant and bar, is now open at 2293 Peachtree Street in Buckhead, in a space formerly occupied by 1 Kept. In charge is Haitian-born chef Dayana Joseph who “serves up inventive dishes like oxtail hummus and snapper ceviche that remix Caribbean standards with other global standouts to create something new, familiar and otherworldly, all at the same damn time,” according to Apt. 4B’s website. apt4batl.com Botica has taken over the old Watershed locale at 1820 Peachtree Road in Buckhead with chef Mimmo Alboumeh, formerly of Red Pepper Taqueria, at the helm. Lebanese by birth, Alboumeh lived in Spain and Mexico, and his cooking is inspired by both countries. The menu features smoked meats and dressings, tacos, salsas, fish, cocktails and weekend brunch. eatbotica.com Grand Lux Cafe has reopened after closing in 2020 due to the pandemic. Located at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, it first opened in August of 2018. Other restaurants at Phipps were not so lucky: Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse has had to close for good due to COVID-19, and so has The Tavern. Also, Lovies BBQ on Piedmont Road in Buckhead has shut its doors permanently. grandluxcafe.com Recess, a “vegetable-centric, fine-casual” restaurant at Krog Street Market, will open a second location at 3150 Roswell Road in Buckhead later this year. Part of the Castellucci Hospitality Group, Recess will be positioned next to another CHG property, The Iberian Pig, at Hanover Buckhead Village. recessatl.com Storico Vino, an Italian wine bar, will start pouring at Buckhead Village, 3065 Peachtree Road, in the middle of February. “This Venetian-inspired concept will provide a variety of regional wines and small bites,” says its website. storico.com Wing It On!, serving fresh, non-frozen, all-natural chicken wings and “bigger, juicier, hand-crafted chicken sandwiches” plus seasoned fries, just opened its first branch in Georgia at 8290 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. CEO Matt Ensero said in a written statement, “Our dedication and commitment to exceptional wings, award-
A publicity photo of wings and other menu items at Wing It On.
winning sauces and a phenomenal customer experience is a perfect fit for local foodies and wing fans in Sandy Springs.” wingiton.com Plant Based Pizzeria launched on Jan.16 at 8540 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. The vegan joint serves flatbreads, calzones, pastas, breakfast, desserts, and, of course, a variety of pizzas, just like their first location in Virginia-Highland. Plant Based Pizzeria also operates a food truck around town with the motto “Eat Figs, Not Pigs” emblazoned on its side. “Everything is going great,” owner Paul Jordan wrote in an email. “Hours will be extended soon once we have a full staff hired. Every new customer that has come in loves the pizzas and burgers.” plantbasedpizzeria.net Kathleen’s Catch, a seafood market, is now open at 3434 Clairmont Road in Brookhaven. The owner is fishmonger Kathleen Hulsey, who already has locations in Milton and Johns Creek. The place sells fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, salmon, tuna pokes, crab, sandwiches, salads, ceviche, chowders and smoked trout dip, as well as traditional New England lobster rolls. kathleenscatch.com
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Food & Drink | 9
Food for Thought | Brewing up a good time during the pandemic challenge Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant has opened its first location in Georgia at Lenox Marketplace, 3535 Peachtree Road in Buckhead, featuring an on-site brewery that can crank out 900 barrels of craft beer a year. Fare includes appetizers, tacos, pizzas, burgers sandwiches, salads, and entrees. A second location in the Perimeter Center area is in the works. Chief Operating Officer Joe Kopke provides details. For more information, see ironhillbrewery.com/buckhead-ga. What challenges have you had so far? This is our first location in Georgia and we were slated to open in 2020. We had some construction delays due to the COVID pandemic. It definitely caused some constraints, and was the first roadblock in the process. Once we got into a position where we could move construction forward, we were then able to successfully open Iron Hill in Atlanta. You’re bringing quite a few jobs to the area as well, aren’t you? We are. You’re talking a hundred to a hundred-and-fifty per location. We will open at the Perimeter in the summer, it looks like, so definitely extending our footprint and looking for more potential sites as we grow. We start construction in February. Can you talk about the food and beer you
are serving? Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant is a craft kitchen and scratch brewery. We operate with the freshest ingredients and make creative dishes but we also make beer from scratch. Our basis and foundation has always been a restaurant that pairs our scratch beer with our handcrafted food so that they go together. I love beer but if you can have a beer with a dish that complements it, it really just makes the whole experience even better. Obviously as the landscape has changed and the craft brewery scene is pushing forward, there are different trends. Philly Phavorite is our number-one-selling IPA and pairs well with our signature Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. We are always looking to be at the forefront of beer and we fully understand what that scope looks like. We don’t try to be the trendiest, but we’re very meticulous, serious and disciplined about our approach to making beer. And then also bringing the restaurant along with it. Iron Hill has a history of philanthropy. Tell us about it. We have our Triple Chocolate Hill dessert, which is a double fudge brownie and vanilla ice cream, then it’s got peanut butter and caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, and it’s tied to a char-
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, but a little box from Lauderhills never hurt anyone. BH
Joe Kopke, chief operating officer of Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant.
ity initiative across the company. For each one sold, we donate 75 cents to CureSearch, which is for children’s cancer, and another 75 cents to a local charity, the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. We’re always looking to do local fundraisers and engagement in the community and help out the best we can. What else should we know about Iron Hill? I think the people of Iron Hill are what make the brand. We have intelligent, incredibly hard-working brewers, we have talent-
ed chefs and leaders running the restaurant day in and day out with an intense focus on giving great hospitality and making amazing food and award-winning beer. Has the local reaction been good so far? It’s been great. A lot of beer is selling and we are fully ready to go, one guest at a time. It’s a hard time for everyone and we want to help people gather and get away from world problems, break bread and have a good experience in the restaurant. That’s really impactful in people’s lives.
2090 Dunwoody Club Drive Suite 107 Sandy Springs, GA 30350 770-396-0492 www.Lauderhills.com
10 | Commentary
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Commentary / City annexations and tax abatements need reform Editor’s note: Annexations and tax breaks have become politically contentious issues between many county and city governments. DeKalb County and Brookhaven have been involved in recent legal disputes over both issues; in Atlanta, the city government and public school system have demanded more control over tax abatements granted by Fulton County’s development authority. The Reporter asked state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver to explain a package of legislation she is proposing to reform annexations and abatements. The creation of the new city of Sandy Springs in 2005 after political control of the Georgia General Assembly shifted to the Republicans impacted the local governments of existing cities and counties throughout the Atlanta region. Since 2005, all of Fulton County has been municipalized with the creation of new cities of Milton, Johns Creek and South Fulton and the expansion of existing cities. In DeKalb County, the city of Dunwoody was created in 2008, Brookhaven in 2012, Tucker in 2016, and Stonecrest in 2017. Other new cities have been proposed, the voters have voted against a few, and legislation to create more municipalities will be filed in the 2021 session. In and around all these incorporations are related annexations and expansions of new city lines with and without opposition, and many lawsuits. For many of these political creations, opposition has been contentious and costly, whether it has come from citizens or businesses. It is also true, however, that the new cities are popular with most voters, and the annexations have benefited businesses and cities. What is not clear is whether these changes have benefited the larger number of citizens who continue to live in unincorporated portions of counties. None of these new cities or annexations has been examined in view of comprehensive planning or economic development of the counties impacted. And most have offered new forms of tax benefits to developers and property owners as inducements to annexations. My district, HD 82, includes parts of Decatur, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Tucker, and has been ground central
in a variety of cityhood and annexaamends the Title 36-36-111 et seq annextion proposals. Prior maps have includation procedure by requiring the notice ed my neighborhood of Druid Hills in of the filing of the annexation petition efforts to incorporate what remains of to disclose any proposed tax abateunincorporated DeKalb County. ments, rebates or other financial incenI have filed proposed legislation tives that a development authority of(House Bills 23, 24 fers the annexing and 66) to strengthproperty owners. en the two existing Finally, HB 66 statutes that progrants standing to vide oversight to anany local school sysnexations and issutem or other governance of bonds in tax ing authority petiabatement offerings tioning for revenue (OCGA 36-36-110 and bond validation un111, and OCGA 36der OCGA 36-82-77. 82-77). The purpose Recently, a DeKalb of these measures Superior Court judge is to provide greater granted standing Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) is transparency and alto DeKalb County the state representative for District 82, which includes part of Brookhaven. low participation by School District in a impacted local govbond validation proernments, including school systems. My ceeding over the objection of a developfirst priority is to create public discusment authority. sion for citizens and all the interested Since prefiling these bills in Nogovernments and stakeholders to provember, I have met with lawyers for pose how we can improve the statutory Brookhaven and DeKalb County and processes for annexations and new citrepresentatives from the Association of ies. County Commissioners of Georgia and OCGA Title 36-36-110 et seq provides Georgia Cities United, and I have solica procedure for a county to object to a ited advice from many others. From petition for annexation filed with a city these discussions, I have made changes and for the Department of Community to early drafts based on good and generAffairs to create arbitration panels to ous advice. I am ready to and hope we hear the dispute based on specific stancan continue these helpful discussions dards, and this procedure most recently in hearings before the House Governhas been used by DeKalb County to obmental Affairs Committee and its new ject to an annexation filed by the city of chair, Darlene Taylor. Brookhaven. My bill, HB 23, gives the loOur current systems for city crecal Board of Education ability to file an ation and the multiple annexation proobjection to an annexation and utilize cedures need reform to create greater the arbitration panel review process. transparency and participation. The companion proposal, HB 24,
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Around Town As Janice Rothschild Blumberg saw it, Jan. 6, 2021, started out as a very fine day. It was the day after the runoff election and, as the votes were counted, Blumberg was rooting for the two Georgia Democrats running for U.S. Senate.
Janice Rothschild Blumberg.
By early that afternoon, Raphael Warnock had claimed election as the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia and Jon Ossoff was on his way to becoming the state’s first Jewish member of the U.S. Senate. Taken together, their election meant the Republicans would lose their senate majority and Democrats would control the national government. “I am ecstatically happy,” Blumberg said during a phone chat early that afternoon. “It couldn’t be better. It’s wonderful.” Then, suddenly, the tenor of things seemed to change. As Blumberg and I talked, texts started to appear on my phone saying something shocking was happening in Washington. I hung up and watched TV news broadcasts fill with pictures of the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by an armed and angry mob. The mob called for the recent elections to be thrown out, for White supremacy to rise again, and for resistance to the U.S. government. Some in the group carried Confederate Battle Flags through the halls of the Capitol.
Commentary | 11
Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@ reporternewspapers.net
After a while, I called Blumberg back to get her take on what was happening. She was horrified. “Unbelievable,” she said. Yet she said she had not abandoned hope. It was still a good day. “Look at what happened last night,” she said. “Look at what happened in Georgia. There’s still hope out there.” She’s seen political upheavals before and weathered her share of them. During her long and active life -- she turns 97 this month -- she has been a writer and public speaker and has led and worked with Jewish charities and organizations. Her first husband, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, was a public critic of segregation and supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was spiritual leader of The Temple in Atlanta when it was bombed in 1958. The Rothschilds were friends of Atlanta’s Civil Rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Blumberg, who now lives in Buckhead, grew up in Druid Hills. “Atlanta was very different then, very different,” she said. “We were segregated Jewishly as well as we were racially.” She first met Rabbi Rothschild at the Standard Club, then a social club for the Jewish community that was located on Ponce de Leon Avenue. “Atlanta, and particularly the Jewish community, and particularly the Reformed Jewish community, was mostly the same people … Everybody knew everybody,” she said. She remembers the community was abuzz at the time about the new, young rabbi. “I saw him on a tennis court,” she said. “Someone said, ‘That’s the new rabbi. Want to meet him?’ He was being feted by every family with a young daughter… I think we knew [we belonged together] on our second date.” They told their family he proposed during a University of Georgia football game as they shared a poncho in a rainstorm, she said. Actually, she said, he had brought up the subject the night before by giving her a cartoon showing a man on bended knee who was saying, “It’s simple. You just ask.” They told her mother that night and the rest of the family the next day, after the game. She said she first met Martin Luther King through her mother. Her mother was hosting a European journalist who wanted to meet civil rights activists in Atlanta, so a dinner was arranged at Pas-
A changing Georgia echoes the Civil Rights years chal’s, a well-known restaurant. King dropped by to chat. A few months later, Blumberg recalled, King was arrested during a protest and Blumberg called Coretta to offer her sympathy. They hit it off. “As standoffish as she seemed to be with the public, somehow she talked to me like a sister,” Blumberg said. “I felt very big-sisterly to her.” They had much in common. Both had young children and were married to prominent men who took public positions that made them enemies who regularly threatened to do them harm. Blumberg said there were threats against her, too. The threats against Rabbi Rothschild turned into real-life harm on Oct. 12, 1958, when The Temple was bombed. Dynamite severely damaged the building, but no one was killed. The community rallied around the congregation and public figures from the mayor of Atlanta to the president of the United States quickly condemned the bombing. “A Republican president [spoke out against the bomb-
ing] on the eve of mid-term elections,” she said. “He answered from his heart, and what he did, he did from the heart. He sent in the FBI.” Yet no one ever was convicted for the bombing. And Blumberg believes echoes of those times continue today. Some politicians still offer support to right-wing extremists, including those who help stir up the mob that took over the Capitol last month. She thinks of Joseph McCarthy and others. “We’re living through some parallels to that time,” she said. I called Blumberg again on Inauguration Day. She’d watched on TV as the country had installed a new president. Georgia was being represented in Congress by two new senators. Was she hopeful? “You bet I am, I certainly am,” she said. “[There’s] a decent, kind person in there and I think he’s very smart and … he’s got really knowledgeable people around him giving advice.” It looked like things were changing. Look at what happened in Georgia.
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Dine-in Or Take-out Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at email@example.com.
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Northside tal has announced an urgent need for COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), the clear liquid part of the blood from recovered COVID-19 patients containing potentially life-saving virus antibodies. Granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA last August, CCP is given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients as soon after diagnosis as possible and has helped more than 100,000 sick Americans. But demand is up, and supply is down. What gives? According to Carrie Cox, executive director of Atlanta Blood Services (ABS), a major local supplier of CCP, only 3% of eligible donors normally give SPECIAL blood. Dr. Lonnie Herzog, left, donates convalescent plasma while “We’ve also seen getting moral support from son and fellow physician Alex. a higher rate of cancellations [of donor appointments] because of potential illness,” Cox said, “and many people are staying home.” All that’s required to donate is that you: are age 17 or older; weigh at least 110 pounds; have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis; are at least 14 days without symptoms; pass a hemoglobin test to assure a healthy iron blood count; have normal blood pressure, pulse and temperature; are in general good health and have not been vaccinated. “There’s no upper age limit,” said Cox, “but if you’re over 70, we’ll reach out to your doctor to be sure it’s safe for you to donate.” Prime donors are people who have recovered in the last 14 to 90 days because they have the highest level of antibodies. Most needed are blood types B and AB, with rare AB- the universal plasma donor. Surprisingly, since the virus is not transmitted through blood, you can donate even if you’re still COVID positive but no longer have symptoms. The whole process takes about two-and-a-half hours, with about two hours for the withdrawal. “There’s one big needle stick, and you have to keep your arm straight and still,” said Cox. “We keep you warm and feed you snacks while you watch a movie on a Kindle on a little TV cart.” For most donations, Atlanta Blood Services uses an apheresis machine, with one needle and two tubes that withdraw your plasma and return the rest of the blood to you. Unlike a whole-blood donation, which yields only one plasma dose per donaBH
tion, the apheresis machine yields up to four doses per donation, enabling one donor to help four patients. To find out more, I spoke with some recent donors, many of whom have donated multiple times. For some, donating is a family affair. Dr. Lonnie Herzog, an internal medicine physician, and his wife Kim and daughter Nikki donated their CCP to ABS together. His son, Dr. Alex Herzog, who had not had the virus, joined them for moral support. “We were fortunate to have mild cases and recovered quickly without any complications,” said Herzog. “It was important to be able to give as a family.” Dunwoody sales engineer Chris Germann, diagnosed in late July, was “wiped out for two days.” “I self-quarantined in the basement for 10 days. My wife opened the door and threw food down. When I was thirsty, I went outside to the sprinkler. Nobody else got it,” he said. A sense of humor helps. With AB- blood, Germann is a universal plasma donor, has donated CCP three times (plus more than 25 units of platelets since 2015) and considers donating personal downtime. “The hardest part is sitting still for two hours,” he said. “The needle doesn’t hurt as much as pulling the tape off, and you get to watch a movie, drink water or juice and eat junk food.” Sandy Springs marketing executive Sarah Anne Dickman was sick for eight days in December and has already donated and scheduled a second appointment. “I didn’t know about CCP till I read about it on Facebook,” she said. “It might seem intimidating, but it’s just a needle stick.” Dunwoody teacher Stacey Asher was sick for a week in July and has donated five times, sometimes while attending virtual faculty meetings. “It helps more people than you know,” she said. And do patients who receive CCP ever give back? Attorney Richard Morgan did. In November, hospitalized in the ICU at Northside with COVID-19 and double-pneumonia, his oxygen level “plummeted” so low he was told “it could go either way.” Within 24 hours of receiving CCP and other experimental medications, his body started fighting back. “The doctors were shocked at my fast turn-around,” he wrote in his newsletter. He’s now a CCP donor at ABS. Atlanta Blood Services has locations at Northside Hospital Sandy Springs and Marietta. For information, go to http://www.atlantabloodservices.com. BH
Commentary | 13
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Community Briefs SU SPEC T A R R ES TED I N SH OOTIN G DEATH O F 7-YEAR -O LD
The suspect wanted in the shooting death of 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie in December near Phipps Plaza has been arrested. According to a press release from the Atlanta Police Department, Investigators with
APD’s Fugitive Taskforce coordinated with the U.S. Marshals service to arrest Daquan Reed, 24. Reed was located on Jan. 6 in Hampton, Virginia, and taken into custody there. He is pending extradition to Atlanta. He was wanted on warrants accusing him of felony murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and reckless conduct. Maxie, a Mableton resident, shot in the head while riding in a car as it passed the area of the Phipps Plaza mall at 3500 Peachtree Road. APD investigators previously said a group of males had a “dispute” in the mall’s parking lot at the time of the shooting. APD says investigators believe the car and Maxie were not the intended targets of the shot.
PEACHTR EE R O AD R A C E TO R ETUR N IN- P ER S O N JULY 3 - 4
The AJC Peachtree Road Race will return this year as an in-person, two-day event July 3-4 after being forced into virtual-only form in 2020 by the pandemic. Registration will open March 15, according to a press release from the Atlanta Track Club, which organizes the race. Runners and walkers around the world will be able to participate virtually if they choose, as everyone did last year. The race will include the wheelchair division organized by Buckhead’s Shepherd Center. “This year, the AJC Peachtree Road Race may not be the world’s largest 10K. Our top priority is for the Peachtree to be the world’s safest 10K,” said Rich Kenah, the race director and Executive Director of Atlanta Track Club, in the release. “As planning continues, we will remain in constant communication with our medical team and the city of Atlanta to ensure all in attendance feel confident that their 4th of July celebration was both memorable and responsible.” The club has a COVID-19 task force advising it. According to the release, mitigation efforts intended to reduce the COVID-19 risk at the race will include the extended, twoday event; a limited field of runners; strictly enforcing face coverings for all in attendance when not running or walking; self-serve hydration stations along the course; and no post-race gatherings. The club also has launched a contest to design its annual T-shirt, with entries accepted through Feb. 19. For more information, see atlantatrackclub.org/peachtree.
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Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook says he plans to run for re-election on the Nov. 2 ballot. “Barring some unforeseen circumstance, I intend to [submit] my name to the voters for re-election,” he said in a text message. Shook has represented District 7, including much of North Buckhead and the central commercial district, since 2001.
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WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS SIMPLIFYING AND ORGANIZING IN THE NEW YEAR HOW DO YOU HELP PEOPLE FULFILL THOSE PREDICTABLE RESOLUTIONS ABOUT BETTER ORGANIZING THEIR FINANCES? “Predictable” is correct. In our 50-year history, we consistently hear this goal from clients. It is logical because complicated and disorganized financial planning leads to stress and procrastination over important decisions. The good news: Just a few simple steps can result in significant improvement in your planning. For most people, it starts with preparing an up-to-date Balance Sheet that lists all of your financial accounts and assets, along with all debts owed. Update this yearly as a financial discipline. AN UPDATED BALANCE SHEET MAKES SENSE. WHERE’S THE SIMPLIFYING? Find opportunities to simplify by consolidating assets and liabilities into fewer accounts that are easier to track and manage. Over time, many families “proliferate” financial accounts which no longer make sense as a whole. Consolidating accounts makes it easier to properly manage personal finances, reducing costs and account fees. Do the same with credit cards and liability accounts. Imagine the feeling of efficiency as it becomes easier and quicker to manage accounts (auto-payments, paperless files, etc.). Also, don’t forget to protect these accounts from cyber-fraud. Use a Password Manager to organize and easily recall complex passwords. WHAT ABOUT A BUDGET? Our Wealth Planning Committee, a multi-disciplinary group of professionals (CPAs, JDs, and other credentialed firm members), meets to brainstorm such topics and has developed a client-centered approach. Committee Chair, Phillip
Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman discuss the importance of developing hassle-free and organized financial lives. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)
Hamman, CFP®, CFA, commented about budgets: “We should re-invent budgeting since ‘Budgeting in Reverse’ is sufficient for most – simply identify the required savings and accumulation targets, and make sure you hit those numbers.” WHERE CAN YOU GET HELP? Slaying the “Organization Dragon” is more than a weekend exercise. If you need help getting things in order, talk with your financial advisor since they may have expertise. We advise people to be careful in seeking help. Choose an advisor 100% committed to the Fiduciary business model, with a legal duty to put their clients’ best interests first. This is the model we follow at Linscomb & Williams. Contact us if you would like to sit down and create an organized financial plan at our office in Atlanta.
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Linscomb & Williams is not an accounting firm. Subsidiary of Cadence Bank. Investment Products: Not insured by FDIC. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value. Not insured by any Federal Government Agency. Not a bank deposit.
TOGETHER THROUGH FILM
16 | Community
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BeltLine seeks tax increase, buys Buckhead site for affordable housing; founder’s group questions plan BY JOHN RUCH AND COLLIN KELLEY Atlanta BeltLine planners are seeking a 2-mill commercial tax increase in an effort to complete the trail portion of the 22-mile loop, and recently announced the acquisition of vacant parcels in Buckhead as groundwork to meet an affordable housing construction goal. Meanwhile, BeltLine Rail Now, an advocacy group cofounded by the urban planner who conceived of the park, trail and transit system, says money also should go to the light-rail part of the project and that more must be done on affordable housing. The BeltLine is a proposed system of multiuse trails and an accompanying lightrail mass transit line that would encircle intown Atlanta, largely using old railroad corridors. The transit has yet to be built, while several segments of the trail are already open, including the Northside Trail in Buckhead’s Tanyard Creek and Atlanta Memorial parks area. Planning for the Northeast Trail segment into southeastern Buckhead is underway. Legislation to create a Special Service District (SSD) within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area was introduced at an Atlanta City Council meeting on Jan. 19. Without additional funding, Atlanta BeltLine Inc. officials contend, the trail corridor would not be completed before a tax allocation district (TAD) expires in 2030. The TAD — which freezes property valuations for tax purposes and allows increased tax revenue to pay off redevelopment costs — will generate at least $1 billion less than originally projected, they say. The estimated cost to design and construct the remaining trail corridor is $350 million. An SSD is a geographic district created through legislation that levies additional property taxes to provide local government services. In the case of the BeltLine, commercial and multi-family property owners within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area — which includes the half-mile on either side of the corridor — would see an estimated 2-mill increase, or two-tenths of a penny per dollar in the assessed
value of each property. Funds go towards trail acquisition, design, and construction. Residents living in single-family homes would not be subject to the increase. The trail isn’t the only BeltLine goal affected by lower-than-expected funds. ABI and its nonprofit fundraising arm, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, are well behind on a goal of creating or preserving 5,600 units of affordable housing in the loop’s corridor by 2030. ABI said in a press release that on Dec. 28, it acquired two parcels of land -- a former ATM site and a wooded lot -- at 579 Garson Drive, just off Piedmont Road, with the intent of using it for a trail and affordable housing through a future public process. The purchase was made from Wells Fargo & Company for what ABI said was the below-market price of $900,000, a deal the financial services company intended as a partial donation. “The purchase of the Garson property is a huge step for the Atlanta BeltLine project in diversifying land acquisitions to bring greater affordability to neighborhoods all around the BeltLine, including Buckhead,” said Clyde Higgs, the CEO of ABI, in the release. “We are very grateful to Wells Fargo for their support, which will enable ABI to do more to ensure equity around the 22-mile loop.” BeltLine Rail Now said in a press release that it opposes the SSD due to lack of transit funding. The group’s cofounder is Ryan Gravel, who conceived of the BeltLine and several years ago resigned a board position at the Partnership in disagreement with its work on equity and affordability. The city and ABI should press MARTA to fully fund rail on the BeltLine, the group said. “It is now undeniable that a ‘trail only’ approach is a startling accelerant of gentrification, and does next to nothing to address Atlanta’s growing equity and mobility problems,” said the BeltLine Rail Now press release. “Further, 5,300 units of affordable housing over 25 years spread over a 22-mile corridor is a very low bar. We need tens of thousands of affordable housing units -- with access to mass transit at the time they become available.”
Arts & Entertainment | 17
Author Q & A Meet the mothers of three Civil Rights icons BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN
something they didn’t necessarily receive themselves.
What would you like people to take away from reading your book?
Religious leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and author James Baldwin have become enduring icons of the Civil Rights movement. But what about Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin -- the mothers who raised them? The rarely discussed influence of those women is the subject of Anna Malaika Tubbs’ new book “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.” A doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, Tubbs is a sociologist, anthropologist and expert in multidisciplinary studies. Outside academia, she is a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant. Tubbs will appear in a virtual SPECIAL author talk at the Atlanta HistoAnna Malaika Tubbs. ry Center on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. Registration for the free discussion is available at AtlantaHistoryCenter. com.
I absolutely agree. They were trying to push the country generally to their ideals and a vision of what was possible, because they saw so clearly that it wasn’t true in the United States. They understood they had value and worth, that they and their children deserved respect and dignity, but each day they also saw examples of that being denied to them as well as to their children. They were constantly focused on their vision for the future, helping the world realize their own ability to see humanity in everybody. And so they commanded respect in their own households and it’s very clear that the sons knew how influential their mothers were. All three of the sons later spoke about how powerful and important their mothers were within those family units. Away from their personal connections, people were not paying them the honor and respect they were due.
The biggest thing is that we re-evaluate how we’re telling our stories and history so that it includes the people that are around all of us. So, less of this notion of unicorn figures who pop up out of nowhere and are messiah-like, as if they were just born with these inspiring ideas, but to see more realistically things that were part of generational movements. Then we get a better understanding of the continuance of the work, and of where we are as a nation, and the world. Beyond that, we are specifically focusing on the stories we are intentionally erasing, and these are just three examples. Again, the sons spoke about their mothers often, and if you go back through their works with that lens, you’re going to see the moms so much more clearly because the sons had no intention of erasing their mothers. It’s up to us historians to pay more attention and stop taking for granted the work that women have been doing on our behalf, especially Black women and Black mothers.
Why choose these women in particular for your book? There are so many women I could have chosen, but I wanted to highlight Black women’s stories and talk about Black mothers, so I chose these three because their sons are so often put in conversation together. When I entered my Ph.D. [program], I had just watched the “I Am Not Your Negro” documentary based on James Baldwin’s writings, in which he speaks about Malcolm X and MLK and of bearing witness to his friends’ work, and how he felt it was his job to speak the truth about what they were doing, what they were accomplishing for our country and our world, and from that point on I saw these three men as being in a constant conversation together. I felt their moms would add an incredible, beautiful layer to the story and help us understand how all three men approached their work so differently based on what they were taught in their own families. All three moms were born within six years of each other and the sons were born within five years of each other. That allowed me to have some really cool intersections in terms of their stories and their timelines, about what was happening nationally and internationally, and how it played out so differently in each of their lives based on their own access to resources, education, etcetera. It’s interesting that all three mothers taught their sons to command respect,
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Special Section | 19
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BY COLLIN KELLEY Plans to hold summer camps for kids are, as one organizer put it, moving “full steam ahead” but with COVID-19 safety precautions still in place. While camps were cancelled or curtailed last year due to the pandemic, the vaccine and a better understanding of the safety precautions needed to hold camp sessions mean organizations can plan ahead. Registration is now open for most camp programs. Pace Academy in Buckhead will have a full slate of camps, according to Zach Slaney, the school’s director of auxiliary programs. “We are moving ahead at full steam with our programs for this summer,” Slaney said. “Pace will be offering athletic, academic, STEM, and specialty camp offerings for campers in grades K-8 for eight weeks between June 1 and July 30.” Registration opened in January at Pace and Slaney expects the slots to fill up quickly. Visit paceacademy. org. Similarly, Westminster in Buckhead will hold its
In the City Camps
summer camps with the “same COVID safety protocols in place that allowed us to safely host several of our day camps last summer,” according to the school’s communications assistant director Justin Abraham. “Some of those protocols include mask wearing for campers and counselors, temperature screening, scheduled handwashing times, social distancing, and extra cleaning and disinfecting of spaces and equipment throughout the day,” Abraham said. Along with day and sports camps featuring outdoor activities, there are a number of specialty camps being offered by Westminster including filmmaking, chess, coding, and even one for Dungeons & Dragons. Visit Westminster.net for a complete schedule and to register. In the City Camps will host summer sessions at two locations this year – Chabad Intown on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and at the Weber School in Sandy Springs – for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. Spokesperson Tali Benjamin said In the City Camps is working with medical experts to be sure about COVID-19 precautions for the summer. “We ran a modified version of our camps safely for four weeks last summer, so we do have a lot of experience with that this year,” Benjamin said. Benjamin said as much outdoor programming as possible was being scheduled so that kids won’t be cooped up inside a closed space. She said partnering with Chabad Intown would give campers plenty of opportunities to be outside on the BeltLine. Some of the camp offerings include basketball, magic, art, soccer, archery, cooking and more. Visit inthecitycamps.org for more details. Budding actors can check out the Alliance Theatre’s series of in-person and virtual camps for all grade levels scheduled for spring and summer. Camps will be held not only at the Alliance’s home base of Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, but in partnership with schools around the city. From performing on stage as part of a musical to working behind the scenes, there’s a camp for all interests and ages. Visit alliancetheatre.org for details.
20 | Arts & Entertainment
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2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns virtual and live
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A scene from “The Crossing,” a 2020 adventure story about a girl who treks across Norway’s wilderness to save two Jewish child refugees in World War II.
BY COLLIN KELLEY The 2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) will present its lineup virtually and live with a three-night drive-in experience at the Home Depot Backyard adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Downtown. Set to take place Feb. 17-28, this year’s festival will screen 38 feature and 16 short films, including world and U.S. premieres. The film selection covers a range of genres, including documentaries “Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me” and “On Broadway” comedies like “Shiva Baby,” the LGBTQ+ feature “Kiss Me Kosher,” and the drama “Asia.” It’s a big adaptation for a festival that, in the pre-pandemic years, drew more than 40,000 to several theaters and venues, including the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “In a year of firsts and unprecedented challenges, AJFF has worked tirelessly to reimagine the annual festival in a way that preserves the most cherished qualities of this annual celebration of community and the cinematic arts,” AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank said in a press release. “Though the experience itself will be undeniably different, the power of these films to connect and inspire us is more deeply felt and appreciated than ever. Our hybrid edition embraces all of the opportunities that virtual affords us while continuing our commitment to bring audiences ‘together through film’ in new ways.” The pandemic itself is addressed in the film “Atlanta: The City Too Busy to Wait,” a documentary about the local Jewish community’s response to the crisis. The 11-acre Home Depot Backyard will be able to accommodate more that 200 vehicles nightly for social-distanced drive-in screenings on Feb.18, 20 and 21. The live shows kick off with AJFF’s Young Professionals Night, followed by two campy, kitschy Hollywood classics: Mel Brooks’ sci-fi spoof “Spaceballs” and the musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors.” Each drive-in pass can be purchased for $40 and accounts for parking for one car, regardless of how many people are in the vehicle. Food trucks will be on-site serving food for moviegoers to enjoy in their vehicles. For those watching from home, the lineup of films will be accessible via smart TV, home theater, tablet or mobile device. Requiring only a single ticket per film for each household, viewers will have a flexible 48-hour window to watch festival films at their convenience. General admission for virtual screenings is $16 per household (or $14 early bird pricing), and for special events, which include Opening and Closing Nights, admission is $36 per household. Film-lovers will also enjoy an expanded program of virtual Q&A conversations recorded with filmmakers, actors and other guest speakers. The “Virtual Lobby,” featuring a series of lunchtime Zoom sessions with facilitated discussion, will take a deeper dive into films on show during the festival. Ticket holders for the opening night screening of “Kiss Me Kosher” will receive a specially curated “Festival-In-A-Box” full of “tasty and cozy surprises.” Tickets went on sale in late January for members and will be available to the general public on Feb. 10. For tickets and a full lineup of films and events, visit AJFF.org.
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22 | Public Safety
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With crime on the rise, fears and reality merge Continued from page 1 of the city where the real crime hot spots are concentrated in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods.” Research shows that middleclass suburbs tend to have higher crime fears than disadvantaged areas with higher crime rates, and vice versa, Hinkle said. And older women are the demographic most fearful of crime, while young males are the most likely to be victims of violent crime. With crime fear and crime reality existing somewhat separately, police work can be a victim of its own success. “In some studies, including one of my own, it’s found that police crackdowns may increase fear even if crime [or] disorder was successfully reduced,” Hinkle said. Maj. Andrew Senzer, the commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2 police precinct, has said in community meetings that local crime rates are rising in key violent and property categories, but well below other areas of the city. A review of the APD’s annual report
for 2020 on the most common or serious incidents bears that out. The report is based on a standard list of charges long used for national crime reporting: larceny, auto thefts, burglary, aggravated assault, robbery, homicide and manslaughter. The 2020 stats show Zone 2 lower in numbers and percentages than the rest of the city in all violent crime categories. Squelching crime means understand-
ing its causes, and that’s not easy on the current violent-crime wave. Buckhead and Atlanta are not alone in seeing a huge spike in shootings and killings, as cities nationwide are dealing with the same issues. “Pandemic, Social Unrest and Crime in U.S. Cities,” a report on 2020’s national crime rates produced by the Washington, D.C. think tank the Council on Criminal Justice, said the extraordinary year had some obvious effects, like burglary rates falling due to people staying home. Less clear is why homicides, aggravated assaults and gun assaults began increasing dramatically over 2019 numbers in late May. The timing coincides with the start of racial justice protests over the police killing of George Floyd, but criminologists in the report say it’s too soon to tell whether there is any connection. In Buckhead, discussion of crime often uses the term very broadly to mean everything from high-profile murder to illicit water-selling, and as something that occurs throughout the large neighborhood. But crime doesn’t work that way. “Crime problems, even in high-crime neighborhoods, tend to be very localized,” says Hinkle, “and what works on one block may not be applicable to the root causes of crime on another block in the same part of the city.” While residents often call for higher police visibility everywhere, the crime is in those “hot spots,” as the hyperlocalized crime sites are known. “There’s a very strong evidence base that hot-spots policing is more effective than purely random patrol,” said Hinkle. Cooling off a hot spot often does not involve police at all, but rather some other strategy, he said. Those strategies are at work in Zone 2. Senzer told the Buckhead Community Improvement District board on Jan. 27 that his officers are focused on two hot spots: the 2300 block of Peachtree Road and the Pharr Road corridor in Buck-
head Village. And one of the tactics is bureaucratic, as city officials and investigators are checking on possible mis-licensed late-night businesses that they believe are among the root causes of violent crime. But most crime is not violent. “What’s really driving crime in Zone 2 is auto crimes…,” Senzer told the Buckhead CID. The APD stats show that auto theft and larceny from vehicles comprised around 63% of all Zone 2 crimes reported in 2020. That drives officers crazy because taking a theft report can burn a couple of hours and the crime is often easily preventable -- most of the thefts involve unlocked vehicles with valuables inside, APD says. “During an eight-hour shift, depending on where you’re at, the day of the week, time of the year, all those kinds of things, you can easily take four or five reports like that in a day and it will take up your whole day,” said Officer Steve Avery, an APD spokesperson. The “Buckhead Security Plan” gained national press attention for proposing expanded and coordinated security patrols. Unmentioned was its boosting of APD’s “Clean Car Campaign” begging residents to stop making auto crimes so easy. Hinkle had a mixed view of the “Buckhead Security Plan.” The parts focused on hot-spot policing and crime-solving cameras look promising, he said, while “zero-tolerance” language refers to a crackdown style with a track record that is mixed on crimefighting but clear on race and class bias, he said. Based on current research, Hinkle said, “the most promising police strategy would be one that applied problem-solving strategies to identify and target root causes of crime problems in long-term hot spots, coupled with community policing to help reduce fear and improve police community relationships and collaboration.” BH
Community | 23
Cityhood group seeks opinion poll funding as Morgan County’s Buckhead opposes Continued from page 1 group’s aspirations. In the town hall, three BEC members, who did not appear on camera and identified themselves by first name only, provided no few new details about their proposal, instead joining commenters in reviewing the crime, tax, zoning and infrastructure concerns that sparked their urge to study various forms of separatism. Not mentioned was the existing strong opposition from the Mayor’s Office, various elected officials and the neighborhood’s dominant business organizations. BEC member “Sam” — apparently Sam Lenaeus, a Buckhead real estate agent who is the group’s CEO on its state corporation filing — emphasized that the group wants to study various options, including merely having a stronger voice with the city of Atlanta government. But he also made it clear that the group advocates cityhood and is starting by seeing whether the general public agrees. “I’d say yes, we all are here because many of us are interested in that,” said Sam in response to a pro-cityhood comment. “The question is, is everybody interested, and I hope that they are.” “As we said earlier, everything’s on the table,” Sam said at another point. “That could result in us seeking our own cityhood. It could also hopefully or possibly result in just a better voice with our current city.” Some prominent opinions were readily available in comments from among the roughly 200 people who attended the live meeting on YouTube. Jim Durrett, one of the neighborhood’s most politically powerful figures in his dual role as head of the Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, showed up to emphasize that his groups do not support the separatism. They previously joined the Buckhead Business Association and Livable Buckhead in a joint statement condemning the BEC effort. A commenter identified by name and photo as Trey Kelly, chair of the Fulton County Republican Party and a Buckhead resident, weighed in positively. “Great meeting,” he wrote in the YouTube comments. “Atlanta has become a nightmare. Let’s make it happen…” When the committee first began forming last year, it was blasted by the Mayor’s Office — which operates on a unity slogan of “One Atlanta” — as divisive and questioned by other officials as impractical. Its credibility was not helped by a previous virtual presentation where a supposedly neutral moderator answered questions at the direction of unseen and mostly unnamed group leaders. The BEC’s recently launched website has no identifying information on its leaders or members, a mystery that continued in the town hall. “Who are the board members and officers of this organization? You are asking for our money and there is zero transBH
parency as to where it is going,” wrote one commenter in a question that, unlike all others, was not answered by BEC. The one member identified in the previous virtual meeting was Randy Farmer. Someone using that name appeared in the comments section of the Jan. 20 town hall, advocating the cityhood concept. The town hall leaders claimed that BEC is a diverse “grassroots movement” and organization of “hundreds of Buckhead citizens,” but did not provide any details to support that description. A private Facebook group for the BEC had 285 members at the time of the town hall. The BEC members said the town hall would focus on the process of their study and avoid details of alternatives. But they ended up giving little information and spent most of the time reading and echoing detailed complaints
Downtown Buckhead, Morgan County, as seen in a Google Maps image.
about the neighborhood’s condition of the sort that regularly are vetted in meetings of traditional community organizations like Neighborhood Planning Units. No details were given of the difficult legislative process that it would take for Buckhead to de-annex from Atlanta and then be re-annexed or incorporated, or of the fact that there is already an existing Georgia city called Buckhead. BEC members briefly referred to a process lasting two to four years and costing “anywhere from six figures to seven figures.” Sam and Farmer referred to the political path previously laid out in the 2018 attempt by a country club community in the Henry County city of Stockbridge to separate into its own city, called Eagle’s Landing. That effort failed in a referendum, which BEC members mentioned, and amid intense controversies over racial and class division, which they did not mention. Farmer indicated in the comments that he believes policing would be better in Stockbridge if the Eagle’s Landing cityhood had succeeded. Also mentioned were the pioneering cityhood movements over the past 15 years in north DeKalb and Fulton counties that led to the incorporations of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. However, all of those cities were in unincorporated areas and did not leave existing cities.
Morgan County’s Buckhead
Top, Morgan County Commissioner Bill Kurtz. Above, the Buckhead Exploratory Committee logo as seen on its website at becnow.com.
In Morgan County’s Buckhead, the local cityhood idea is not being warmly received. Chartered in 1908, the town of Buckhead, as it’s called locally, is a dot on the map with a population around 225. It’s got four or five buildings, a Baptist church and a couple of country stores, says Kurtz. “It’s a very small town. It’s quiet, no crime. Just easy-going,” he said. Buckhead also has a mayor, Ricky Walker, who did not respond to comment requests; a call to City Hall was answered by a fax machine. But Kurtz said he can’t imagine the mayor and Town Council vot-
ing to give up the name to some big-city newcomers. “It’s a very quaint little town, very close-knit, and they’re proud of the fact that they are a city,” said Kurtz. “This has come up several times before in the past. I don’t know how the Buckhead, Atlanta group feels they can do this, because we’ve got the charter.” Kurtz -- who was born and raised in Atlanta’s Buckhead -- said that after hearing from the Reporter, he bounced the idea off a couple of local residents. “You could not publish the responses I got,” he said. Atlanta’s Buckhead dates back to a rural area of the 1830s and was annexed into the city as an unincorporated neighborhood in 1952. Both places attribute their names to a hunter killing a deer. The identical name issue has long annoyed the Morgan County locals. The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta was one big era of confusion. “A lot of people came through Buckhead, Morgan County thinking that they were going to Buckhead, Atlanta, and it got right comical there for a while,” Kurtz recalled. Sam said in the town hall he believes the “likelihood could be very high” of Buckhead becoming its own city if the citizens support the move. Asked specifically about the possibility of Buckhead leaving both Atlanta and Fulton County to join neighboring Cobb County, Sam said, “I guess we’re considering all options. That might not be the easiest or fastest path. There are other counties we could consider but Fulton could also be the answer.” Wherever Buckhead ends up, Sam said a fundamental concern is that many of its residents and businesses are moving out of it. “I don’t want to live somewhere else,” he said. “I want things to be better here.” The BEC says it is seeking both donations and volunteers. For more information, see its website at becnow.com.
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