Brookhaven Reporter - May 2021

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MAY 2021 • VOL. 13— NO. 5

Brookhaven Reporter WORTH KNOWING

A legendary bookstore lives on



‘Hypersonic’ airplane company takes flight at PDK P20


Majorityminority area a focus of council redistricting plans

Ashford Park Progress



New DHA president ponders Dunwoody’s future P11


Helping the arts recover from the pandemic


commission is tasked with recommending improvements to diversity and racial equity in the city’s practices, this subcommittee with improvements to policing in particular. The 2020 report had not been posted to the police department’s website at the Reporter’s deadline. The 2020 report included “use of force” statistics, data that has not previously been included in annual reports, said Snively. Ac-

A possible option for the city’s new council districts map shows three districts that are majority-white and one with a majority of minority populations. The presentation comes amid calls for a majority-minority district and better representation for residents living along the Buford Highway corridor. Brookhaven hired the consulting firm FLO Analytics to help with redistricting efforts ahead of the city’s November elections. The city has decided to redistrict ahead of the release of 2020 U.S. Census data, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, because of its upcoming elections and numerous recent annexations to the city. Prior to an April 28 redistricting town hall, the City Council considered an amendment to the city’s charter for redrawing council districts at its April 27 meeting. According to city spokesperson Burke Brennan, the council districts are delineated in the city’s charter, so any change to the districts would necessitate a change to the charter. The council doesn’t normally vote on “first reads,” or introductions, of legislation at council meetings. Brennan said this was a procedural, but non-binding, vote. The council will hold a final vote on the charter amendment and the map at its May 4 meeting. “They did vote to approve the read,” he

See POLICE on page 16

See MAJORITY on page 22


A passerby stops in Ashford Park April 24 to check out progress on construction of a splash pad that is expected to be completed this summer. The splash pad, a bridge seen in front of the passerby, and a new pavilion already constructed are among $1.94 million in amenities being added to the park at 2980 Redding Road under a city bond-funded improvement program. The splash pad was intended for a spring completion, but wet weather and pandemic-related issues with supplies and equipment delayed the work, the city says.

Police reveal arrest and use-of-force data by race BY SAMMIE PURCELL


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According to data from the Brookhaven Police Department, while a majority of people arrested in 2020 were white, a majority of those the police used or threatened to use force against were Black or African American. Lt. David Snively presented the BPD’s 2020 Data Analysis Report at an April 7 meeting of the Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission policing subcommittee. The

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2 | Community ■

City Council adopts plans for spending grant money to help low- and moderate-income residents BY SAMMIE PURCELL The City Council on April 27 approved plans for using a federal grant that aims to assist economically disadvantaged areas of the city -- especially the Buford Highway corridor -- with such programs as tenants’ rights education, code enforcement and housing rehabilitation help. The city expects to receive about $350,000 annually over the next five years from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD). These funds are intended to go toward improving housing, neighborhood and employment conditions within the city for Brookhaven’s low- and moderate-income residents. The council adopted the five-year Consolidated Plan and the 2021 Action Plan during its April 27 meeting. According to Director of Strategic Partnerships Patty Hansen, the plan can now be submitted to HUD to qualify Brookhaven as an entitlement community. Brookhaven began collecting public input for the plan in January of this year to help decide where and how funds should be spent. According to the plan, the city’s public input process included online surveys in English and Spanish, and the city received

479 responses. The plan breaks down Brookhaven’s “needs” into five categories: Housing needs, homeless needs, non-homeless special needs, economic development needs and community development needs. The main area of interest for improvements is the Buford Highway corridor, but some improvements can be citywide. While the consolidated plan covers the next five years, the plan lists nine projects that are to be undertaken in the next year. Most of the projects will target the Buford Highway Corridor, which was found to have the greatest concentration of households with severe housing problems, according to the plan. Those housing problems can include lacking a kitchen, incomplete plumbing facilities, or overcrowding. Buford Highway also has a significant immigrant population, including a large Hispanic community. Residents can read the Consolidated Plan at the city’s website at https://www.

Project One: Administrative and Planning

The administrative and planning project allocates $72,246.80 to “planning and

administering projects and activities for the CDBG program,” according to the plan. These funds are to be used to oversee the program in its entirety and ensure compliance with federal regulations. City spokesperson Burke Brennan said in an email that these funds have been used for the development of the five-year Consolidated Plan, the Annual Action Plan, and an Impediments to Fair Housing Study, which documents fair housing issues Brookhaven faces and identifies ways to address those issues. He also said the funds will go towards a Consolidated Annual Report, which will be released next year.

Project Two: Fair Housing Services

This project will aim to support housing stability and improve overall housing quality, according to the plan. In an interview, Hansen said this project will focus on community outreach and making sure residents along the Buford Highway Corridor understand their rights as renters. A total of $5,000 will be allocated towards this project and the project could benefit up to 50 families, according to the plan. Activities for this project could include “literature distribution, education or testing.”

Hansen said offering more housing education to renters along Buford Highway and making sure that education is put out in multiple languages could help better serve non-English speakers living in those areas. Dia Parker, the executive director of Los Vecinos de Buford Highway -- an organization that helps foster community development among those living in apartment complexes on Buford Highway -- said more educational resources and assistance would be important for those communities. “If the city is going to continue to provide sort of naturally occurring affordable housing alongside some of their more luxury projects, then educating tenants and landlords on the Fair Housing Act, having multi-lingual code enforcement resources, and ensuring that there’s funding not just for the short term, but for the long term for these educational resources … are all things that I think the city could improve upon,” Parker said in an interview.

Project Three: Workforce and Entrepreneurial Development

This project aims to increase the median household income of Brookhaven residents. $10,000 will be allocated towards this project, and the city hopes to serve up to 50 low- or moderate-income families, according to the plan. The plan states that this project would include activities to support residents looking to gain necessary skills to enter the workforce or start businesses of their own. Hansen said the project could include job training for specific industries, such as the food industry, or software or tech training. “We have unemployed and underemployed [residents] that need to work on skills,” Hansen said. “It might be getting a certificate for food service -- that’s a very specific thing. We have partners who will provide us with space, we can work with different partners who have those courses set up.”

Project Four: Neighborhood Safety

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This project aims to offer programs and activities that will help keep neighborhoods safe along the Buford Highway Corridor. According to the plan, $5,000 will be allocated toward this project, which aims to benefit up to 100 people. Hansen said the city does not know what exactly these funds will be used for, but they wanted to make sure the funds were available just in case. “If there’s any support that’s needed we wanted to make sure we had some funds in there,” Hansen said. “For instance, if the police come to us and say, ‘Hey we want to expand this program,’ we didn’t want to block them out because neighborhood safety is always a bigger issue in low income areas.” While the police would be part of the neighborhood safety project, Hansen said the project could also include investments in neighborhood safety outside of the poContinued on page 14 BK

MAY 2021


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4 | Community ■

City plans ‘Recovery Festival’ as post-pandemic celebration BY SAMMIE PURCELL The city is planning to hold a “Recovery Festival” this year to celebrate the resilience of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. At its April 14 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance to increase the available budget in the City Marquee Events Department by $325,000 and put that

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towards a onetime festival. There are no concrete details about the festival at this time. According to the ordinance, the idea came about due to the hardships the restaurant and music industries specifically have faced during the pandemic. The ordinance also mentions the FILE cancelation of the Visitors attend the 2019 Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival. city’s 2020 and 2021 editions of the Cherry Blossom Festival, the city’s annual music and arts festival, as a deciding factor. The ordinance authorizes the City Council to approve agreements for full stage and production services as well as individual entertainment agreements not to exceed $150,000 for the event. “The 2020 and the 2021 Cherry Blossom Festivals were both canceled due to the global pandemic,” said Director of Strategic Partnerships Patty Hansen. “As we are coming out of it … Council has asked staff to move forward with a plan to celebrate that, but also to help heal the local businesses who have really been through a lot, and the community that has banded together.” Hansen said a date for the event should be announced soon.

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Community | 5

What local leaders have done a year after racial dialogue promises BY JOHN RUCH, SAMMIE PURCELL AND BOB PEPALIS In May 2020, the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis triggered historic nationwide protests. Some leaders in local governments, schools and the business community issued unprecedented statements of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and made calls for racial dialogue. A year later, what have they done to follow through on their anti-racism promises? The Reporter checked in with several to find out.

City governments

The cities of Brookhaven and Sandy Springs have formed official government bodies to examine issues of racial and class equity. Dunwoody, on the other hand, has made ad hoc efforts largely involving personal decisions by the mayor. Brookhaven’s Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission launched last year and is in the process of a year-long review of every city policy and procedure. The Brookhaven Police Department improved access to some of its arrest and use-of-force data, with the SJREC and investigations by the Reporter exposing some concerns about race and ethnicity in the data that are among the items under the commission’s review. Sandy Springs last year held a series of virtual community dialogues about race

and racism that drew around 250 participants. This year, it launched a formal Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to make policy recommendations. An early proposal to rename Lake Forrest Drive and Forrest Lake Drive, sparked by concern that it had a Confederate and Ku Klux Klan inspiration, has been tabled after counter-evidence that the “Forrest” may have been a real estate developer and children’s hospital co-founder. In Dunwoody, Mayor Lynn Deutsch expressed concern about racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and care, and pledged to increase the diversity of city boards and commissions. City spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said Dunwoody provided federal CARES Act grants to nonprofits aiding underserved minority communities -- something other local cities did as well -- and noted a recent partnership with the nonprofit We Love BuHi to provide COVID-19 vaccines to non-English-speaking communities. She also said Deutsch generally “continues to have conversations with community members about issues of race and diversity” and attended a vigil for victims of March mass murders at metro Atlanta spas, most of whom were Asian. Boettcher said that Deutsch “followed through on her commitment” to diversify city bodies. “From 2019 to 2021, minority participation on city commissions, committees and boards increased 200%,” said Boettcher, but she could not cite the actual


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numbers or names of the members. Lydia Singleton-Wells, an activist who held Black Lives Matter protests in Dunwoody, said she has befriended Deutsch and continues to advise her. “Dunwoody’s leadership wasn’t diverse at all, and still isn’t very diverse,” said Singleton-Wells. “But the mayor and I are working very hard to diversify some of those channels, whether it be diversifying their social media, or diversifying the images that they have on their website [and] making sure that community events are well-posted so that more people can participate instead of the same few that have been participating for the last decade.”

Lovett School

In June 2020, a protest targeting prejudice in Buckhead’s private schools drew over 1,000 marchers to the neighborhood. Among the “Buckhead 4 Black Lives” organizers were brothers Franklin and Harrison Rodriguez, recent graduates of the Lovett School, which responded with a pledge of action. Lovett spokesperson Courtney Fowler pointed to the school’s website, where an August 2020 “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” report lays out various strategies and policies. The focus areas are “Student Experience,” “Employee and Family Experience,” “Institutional Policy and Practice,” and “Pedagogy.” “Our commitment to Diversity, Equity

and Inclusion is forever, and our work is ongoing,” said Fowler.

Buckhead CID and Coalition

The highest-profile work last year by the Buckhead Community Improvement District, a self-taxing group of commercial property owners, and the Buckhead Coalition, a charitable nonprofit, was coordinating a “Security Plan” in response to rising crime that alluded to protests as reducing respect for law enforcement. However, the CID also stated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Jim Durrett, who leads both groups, said the Coalition has very intentionally increased the diversity of its membership” and will continue to do so as it adds new members through early 2022. As for the CID, Durrett cited its hiring of Walter Dixon as its first community programs coordinator. Dixon, who is Black, earned the opportunity through the Georgia Works program for chronically homeless men. “Personally, I have been trying to learn from people wiser than I am, by reading [Ibram X.] Kendi’s ‘How to Be an Antiracist,’ for example,” added Durrett, “and I have been working with other Urban Land Institute members both locally and nationally to address diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within the organization and within the real estate industry.”

6 | Arts & Entertainment ■

Food for Thought: Bringing books and wine to Buckhead BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Lucian Books and Wine, a wine bar and bookshop that also serves food, plans to open in mid-May in Buckhead’s new Modera apartment building at 3005 Peachtree Road at the intersection with Pharr Road. Pratt Institute graduate Katie Barringer, formerly of Cover Books in the Westside, and sommelier Jordan Smelt, Cake & Ale’s former wine and beverage director, are the owners. The place is inspired by British artist Lucian Freud and reflects their own “fervent interests.” Barringer and Smelt explained the concept to the Reporter. First of all, what do you have in mind for the wine bar? Smelt: It will be in the neighborhood of 250 bottles when we open. You’ll be able to find chardonnay from the premier regions of the world right alongside something unexpected from Patagonia or South Africa or Australia. Most of the list will be dominated by European regions, but there will be plenty of things from the States, and all with organic farming as a baseline. A rotating list of by-the-glass options will completely turn over every two months. There will be grape-based spirits such as Brandy, Cognac, Armagnac -- things

that are meant to be sipped on after dinner as opposed to a full-on mixology program, and an abbreviated aperitif menu that will be kept very simple and clean.

tions from popping in for an early glass or two of wine, or a snack, to a full-on dinner.

You’re going to have “thoughtful and delicious food.” What does that mean?

Barringer: The last thing to say about the food is the sustainability factor. It’s thoughtful in the sense of the integrity of the ingredients, and the seasonality and the story of the food prior to it getting on the plate.

Smelt: Our chef is Brian Hendrickson, [an] alum of Cakes & Ale. In a similar way to Cakes & Ale you will see some Mediterranean influences. We’re going to open with a daytime menu from when we open at 11 until 4 p.m. -- light snacks that pair well with wine, so you can have a glass while you browse in the bookstore, and you can piece together a light lunch out of that as well. We do have plans for a lunch program but that will probably not come until fall. Our dinner menu will begin at 4 p.m. Barringer: We want a small concise menu ranging from elevated bar snacks to fullsize composed dinner entrees. We’re trying to think of the different experiences that people may come to Lucian for. It could be a glass of wine, it could be a group of friends, it could be a dinner, so we’re trying to provide a food menu with options for all of those scenarios -- a range of size and composition. Smelt: That’s part of the reason for beginning dinner service at 4. You have op-

Can you describe what you’re going for in the book shop?

Smelt: Katie is doing a mixture of known with unknown and I think that perfectly sums up an aspect of the wine program as well. Some household names will be on the wine list, but also a lot of small production wines that are absolutely fabulous that folks may not recognize but hopefully will come to love as much as we do. It’s definitely a place to explore and find some things you’ve never tasted or seen before.

Barringer: Nonfiction SPECIAL books with a strong emBarringer: Our favorite phasis on art architec- Lucian Books and Wine owners Jordan part of what we get to do Smelt, left, and Katie Barringer. ture, design and phois that process of introtography. There will be ducing something and a great collection of cookbooks and wine watching that process of discovery, and exand cocktail-related books, with a balance panding their experience. of classic, recognizable names as well as Smelt: It’s more fun to introduce a new small production artist books that you’ve wine or new beverage to someone that never seen before, and everything in behasn’t tried it before and just see their face tween. There will also be a smaller seleclight up. Whether it’s a wine or a book, the tion of magazines with a focus on internafeeling is the same. tional titles on similar subjects.



MAY 2021

Food & Drink | 7

Quick Bites: Restaurant openings and news BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Kid Cashew, a “fast-casual” grill joint offering Mediterranean classics, burgers and vegan dishes, is coming to 6090 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. July 1 is the projected opening date, according to Ackerman Retail, the brokers involved in the project. With locations in North Carolina and South Carolina, this will be Kid Cashew’s first spot in Georgia. Film producer Martin Sprock is behind the venture. ►The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill in Buckhead is introducing “patio party themes” such as Luau, Lobsterfest, Low Country Boil, and Fish Fry, with food and drink specials every Thursday through June 3, plus live music starting at 5 p.m. Known for its “handcrafted cocktails and coastal-inspired fare,” the eatery at 3279 Roswell Road will have $5 featured cocktails, $5 local draft beers, plus beer and seltzer bucket specials. New menu items include smoked salmon tostadas, Buffalo hot fish bites, and jumbo lump crab cakes.

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Chido & Padre’s at 128 East Andrews Drive in Buckhead has reopened with a new menu from executive chef Thomas Goss, who is putting a modern spin on traditional Mexican recipes, according to a spokesperson for parent company Southern Proper Hospitality. Goss will “create a spellbinding menu that blends envelope-pushing dishes with familiar favorites.” Botanico Kitchen & Bar has closed its Buckhead location on Pharr Road, blaming an increase in crime in the area. A post on its website said the decision was made because of “criminal activity nearby and concerns about the safety and experience of our customers and employees.” Botanico’s owners previously told the Reporter they will be relocating to a new venue elsewhere in Atlanta to be announced at a later date. Pontoon Brewing and Porter Pizza & Brewery, both based in Sandy Springs, will join breweries in Roswell and Alpharetta as part of a marketing initiative called the Topside Tap Trail, aimed at drawing attention to several brewpubs and taprooms in all three cities. “The trail was established to ensure North Fulton’s beer culture along the GA 400 corridor gets the acclaimed recognition it deserves,” the organizations Visit Roswell, Awesome Alpharetta and Visit Sandy Springs said in a statement announcing their partnership. topsidetaptrail.tcom


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8 | Arts & Entertainment ■

Arts events begin an in-person comeback BY JOHN RUCH With most of Georgia’s pandemic restrictions lifted by the governor and the accelerated rollout of vaccines, in-person arts events are slowly returning to local communities after a year of streaming and shutdowns. Some are coming back with a bang, like Sandy Springs’ decision to throw all COVID-19 precautions to the wind for an outdoor concert series. But many local organizations are proceeding with pandemic caution. And by and large, they aren’t coming back as fast as some of the bigger, wealthier institutions in Atlanta, like State Farm Arena and the Alliance Theatre, which are returning this month with outdoor shows or occupancy limits. For updates and more events, see our Rough Draft Atlanta calendar at calendar.

COMING SOON Chastain Park and Dunwoody art festivals The Dunwoody Art Festival, from Splash Festivals, returns May 8-9 in a new location at Brook Run Park. Mask-wearing and social-distancing will be in place. For those uncomfortable with possible COVID-19 risks, many vendors will be available online also. Info: The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces is restarting its slate of festivals beginning with the Chastain Park Spring Arts & Crafts Festival on May 15-16. It also aims to bring back the Sandy Springs Artsapalooza in September. Info: City Green Live This free outdoor concert series, held by the city of Sandy Springs at its City Springs civic center, raised eyebrows with the decision to open with a no-masks, no-distancing policy for its April 30 kickoff with Drivin’ N Cryin’, scheduled for April 30, after the Reporter’s deadline. Other shows in the series are: Cha Wa (May 14); Old Salt Union (May 28); Uptown Funk (June 11); Randall Bramblett & the Megablasters (June 25); Tribute (July 23). Info: Concerts by the Springs Another free concert series from the city of Sandy Springs, this one held at the Heritage Amphitheatre on Blue Stone Road. Shows include: Super Deluxe (May 9); Bumpin’ the Mango (June 20); 7 Sharp 9 (July 11); Head Games (Aug. 8); Hot Licks & Rhetoric (Sept. 12). Info:


City Springs Theatre Company This homegrown Sandy Springs professional theater company returns with a performance of “Mamma Mia!” May 7-9. But instead of its home venue at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, CSTC is heading outdoors to the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. CSTC has announced a summer show as well -- “West Side Story” for July 9-18 -- but has not yet determined where that will be staged as the Performing Arts Center’s status remains unclear. Info:

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Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park The Buckhead venue is starting to bring in some of 2020’s rescheduled shows this summer, starting with Anthony Hamilton (July 3); Alicia Keys (July 29); and Wilco and Sleater-Kinney (Aug. 14). Info: Other clubs and halls Some local clubs and halls have already begun holding shows with pandemic precautions and a much lighter schedule than usual. They include the Buckhead Theatre (, the Sandy Springs jazz club Cafe 290 (cafe290atlanta. com), and the Punchline Comedy Club in Buckhead (

IN THE WORKS Some other local venues are keeping events largely virtual for now while seeing where the pandemic goes. The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead is open for visitors with pandemic precautions and limited capacity, but its large slate of author talks and other programs remain free Zoom programs. As part of a national “Go Public Gardens Days” this month, the museum will welcome the public into its gardens and hold an event called “Mimosas for Moms.” Info: Local theater groups continue to seek a way forward. Sandy Springs’ Act3 Productions ( intends to film a play on its stage and stream it in August as a fundraiser, with hopes of holding in-person theater in late fall. Dunwoody’s Stage Door Players ( aims to hold some performances in Brook Run Park this summer and hopes to have a return to indoor shows in July or August.

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10 | Commentary

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Our mission is to provide our readers with fresh and engaging information about life in their communities. Published by Springs Publishing P. O. BOX 9001 Atlanta, GA 31106 Phone: 404-917-2200 Brookhaven Reporter | Buckhead Reporter Dunwoody Reporter | Sandy Springs Reporter Atlanta Intown Atlanta Senior Life

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Commentary Pandemic closures spotlight arts’ value to economy, communities During the past year of a global pandemic, people have turned to books, music, television and film for solace, distraction, entertainment and shared experiences even while apart. Yet the arts sector has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. Georgia’s budget has provided some funding for our arts organizations and adapted grant applications and needs due to these unforeseen circumstances. However, both the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan from the federal government have designated a different, larger opportunity for muchneeded funding to support the recovery of the arts sector. Considering the size of the arts industry, the number of arts jobs that have been lost, and the importance of the arts to the overall economy in the state, it is clear why this additional recovery funding will be vital. The arts industry is not exclusively about entertainment. It is about jobs, economic development, and thriving communities in Georgia. The nonprofit arts industry in Georgia is made up of more than 2,800 organizations that support over 30,000 jobs with an annual economic impact of over $2 billion dollars. Americans for the Arts reports that Georgia’s arts sector is 4.3% of the state’s gross domestic product, which is roughly the size of the construction industry. Further, the nonprofit arts industry is part of a robust ecosystem of creative workers that move between sectors and drive innovation in our state. The creative industries bring together the not-for-profit sector with the for-profit creative sector such as film, digital entertainment, publishing and design. The creative industries in Georgia represent nearly 200,000 jobs, $37 billion in annual revenue, and an annual economic impact of $62.5 billion. Additionally, the arts industry is inextricably bound to other economic drivers, such as tourism, which generated $39.14 billion in direct spending in 2019, and film, which boasted a $2.9 billion in direct spending in 2019, while also anchoring the lively, exciting communities that attract businesses and skilled workers. The arts industry also provides a tremendous number of unseen services in the state that make our communities better places and improve the quality of life for all Georgians. For instance, teaching artists use the arts to explain science and math concepts to students. Art therapists work with children in homeless shelters and veterans with PTSD across the state to help them explore and address traumatic experiences. Other artists work with communities on murals and beautification projects that create pride in neighborhoods. These are the types

of projects funded by Georgia Council for the Arts through our grants program. Americans for the Arts reports that 59% of performance venues in the country remain closed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in 2020 was 7.8%. Performing artists, though, had some of the highest unemployTina Lilly is executive director of the Georgia Council for the Arts, a ment rates of any secstate agency that promotes, funds tor during COVID: actors and advises the arts industry. (40.2%), dancers (45.6%) and musicians (27%). The Brookings Institution estimated that approximately 86,244 arts industry workers had lost their jobs in Georgia as of July 2020 – a number that is roughly the population of Buckhead in Atlanta. While artists and arts administrators are hurt by shuttered arts organizations, the closings are also problematic for nearby restaurants, shops and businesses that rely on the people brought in by performances, concerts, exhibits and festivals. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, funded through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), will provide $16 billion to theaters and performance venues across the country, the majority of which remain closed a year into the pandemic. ARP also provided $135 million to the National Endowment for the Arts, which will distribute 60% directly to arts organizations, and 40% will be split between state and regional arts organizations to grant to organizations in their territories. These funds, like the CARES Act funds, are intended to pay the most basic expenses for these organizations to preserve jobs and keep the organizations open: salaries and rent/mortgage expenses. The arts industry is the linchpin to moving our economy forward and getting people to travel for concerts, visit our small cities for unique festivals, and support neighborhood restaurants and shops. The federal funds will help this industry do what all small businesses want to do: retain jobs, keep their venues open, and go back to what they do best – finding creative ways to serve their communities.

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MAY 2021

Commentary | 11

Around Town

Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@

New homeowners association president asks, what is Dunwoody? What is Dunwoody? Turns out that’s a trickier question than you might suppose. “What is it now?” Bob Fiscella mused one sunny morning recently as we chatted at a table outside a coffee shop in Dunwoody Village. “When we became a city, a lot of people thought we were a real-life Mayberry. A lot of people still believe that. But as we change demographically, I think people want to see it be a lot more vibrant. Especially young people.” Fiscella’s new job requires him to consider how those various points of view fit together, if they do. He’s the new president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the 51-yearold, 881-member group that promotes the city’s homeowners’ interests and claims to be “one of the most powerful associations of its kind in the United States.” The DHA board takes positions on zoning and development issues and the organization sponsors special family-centered events such as Dunwoody’s Fourth of July Parade, which it claims is Georgia’s largest. When considering the current role of the DHA, there’s a lot of history to take into account. Before Dunwoody became a city, the DHA functioned almost as an unofficial branch of government. Developers who wanted approval to build in Dunwoody or the surrounding area had to curry the group’s favor. The DHA had clout because of the votes it could command. And the homeowners’ group had a lot to do with the creation of the city of Dunwoody itself, in part as a strategy to thwart development of apartment complexes in the area. The city and the association were so closely tied at the beginning that the head of the DHA was elected the city’s first mayor. JOE EARLE Now that the city’s been around a Bob Fiscella, the new president of the dozen years, things have changed, of Dunwoody Homeowners Association. course. To explain the DHA’s current role, Fiscella said simply, “In a nutshell, our role is to improve the quality of life in Dunwoody and keep real estate values up.” Fiscella, who’s 61, came to his new post in a roundabout way. He’s a genial guy who sells real estate in and around Dunwoody these days, but his background is in TV sports. He grew up in Texas, studied broadcasting at the University of Texas and spent about 17 years covering sports for CNN. After that, he worked for another five years for Fox Sports. Along the way, he says in his online bio, he interviewed sports figures such as Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Arnold Palmer. “Broadcasting was always my thing,” he said. He ended up in Dunwoody after he married. At the time, he lived in Midtown and his wife lived in Roswell. “Dunwoody was the compromise,” he said. Once he started a family, the odd working hours required of a working sports reporter took their toll and he got out. He started selling real estate, he said. “Why I chose real estate, I don’t know,” he said. “I thought, ‘OK, there are a lot of nice houses in Dunwoody. That seems easy.’ But it’s a hell of a lot harder than it seems.” After the city incorporated in 2008, Fiscella wanted to get more involved in his community, so he ran for City Council a couple of times, but never won a seat. He says now he’s just as happy that he didn’t. “Losing that race was a blessing in disguise because those first councilmembers had to put in a lot of time,” he said. Looking ahead, Fiscella says he’s not planning any major changes, although he’d like to raise the group’s profile. He sees the job of the DHA as continuing to monitor zoning and land development in the area. Sitting at the Dunwoody Village coffee shop, he pointed out that the way the shopping center surrounding him was developed represented one of the DHA’s major past victories and that some proposals on how to revitalize the area could pit the homeowners against the city in the future. But he also said the association also needs to keep watch on the city’s schools. Dunwoody needs another high school, he said, because Dunwoody High “once was a neighborhood school and now it’s a mega-school.” “We do have to become a little more open about DeKalb County Schools. I think they are the biggest threat to keeping our property values up in Dunwoody,” he said. “How do we get our voice heard now with DeKalb County Schools? … I think we should.” If Dunwoody had its own school system, as some community leaders have unsuccessfully proposed in the recent past, “our property values would skyrocket because it would be the best school district in the state,” Fiscella said. “I think it’s still a pie-in-the-sky kind of dream,” he said, “but we have to push on DeKalb County schools whenever possible. I think we just need to keep our voice being heard. Can we exact any change? I don’t know. But we’ve at least got to try.”

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12 | Commentary ■

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

This year will be notable for many best friend, Pat Conroy, author of “The things. One that most people may not Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides” notice is the 50th anniversary of a and “The Water Is Wide,” all of which much-loved independent bookstore became movies, with the first two earnthat once nurtured some of Georgia’s ing multiple Oscar nominations. most famous writers.Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who The book parties were Conroy’s idea lives on the DunwoodyFounded in 1971 and operated to people helpwhose bring more business into the Sandy Springs line until and writes about lives inspire others. Contact her at 1996 in a house on Midtown’s Juniper struggling little shop that sold used Street, the Old New York Book Shop beand rare books at prices as low as 25 came famous for its legendary invitacents. Whenever an Atlanta writer got published, the shop would host a book-signing-andschmoozing party to celebrate. Book parties were the only time the shop sold new books. During the 1970s and 80s, almost every serious Atlanta-based writer attended them, including not just Conroy but also Terry Kay, James Dickey and Anne Rivers Siddons, all of whom became lifelong friends and literary legends almost as big as Pat. No longer in the SPECIAL/JUST BARTEE house on Juniper Cynthia Graubert with two of her cookbooks. Street, the Old New tion-only book parties and its most faYork Book Shop still exists, still opermous customer and the shop owner’s ated by its founder Cliff Graubart and

50 years later, a legendary indie bookstore lives on in Sandy Springs

Cliff Graubert, left, with author Pat Conroy in 1976.

his wife Cynthia Graubart -- but in their house in Sandy Springs. Though the parties are over and most of the writers they celebrated have passed away, its original mission of buying and selling rare and out-ofprint books remains. Luckily, most Americans still read real books. According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, despite the popularity of e-books and audio books, 65% of U.S. adults said they had read a print book in the previous year. Some spend their lives not just reading books but collect-


ing them, amassing personal collections of hundreds of books. So, what happens to these beloved collections when their owner passes away and leaves them to their heirs? Who has room for them? Yet, who would even think of throwing them in the trash? If a parent or dear relative dies and leaves their beloved book collection to you, what do you do? You can contact the Old New York Book Shop. If your collection sounds interesting, Cliff will make a personal visit to your home to see it.


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MAY 2021

Commentary | 13

“It’s really quite lovely. Families feel burdened by suddenly inheriting books from a loved one. He gives the books a new life.” Cynthia Graubert Author and bookseller

“I go look and usually buy some or all of the books,” said Cliff, who maintains an inventory of 10,000 individual books in his basement. Most of the collections are from estates. Even if he buys an entire collection, he usually sells the books individually to different buyers looking for a particular book that may not necessarily be rare but merely hard to find. “I get orders from everywhere, including Amazon,” he said. He also gets calls from customers from the old days looking to sell. “I get calls all the time, asking, ‘Is this the same shop that was on Juniper Street?’” he said. Many of the callers give their name, as if hoping he’ll remember them. Sometimes he remembers. Often, they’re adult children living far away who have inherited book collections

from their parents in Atlanta. He’ll consider anything that sounds interesting, even if it’s not his specialty of literary fiction. He remembers one call from a man in Alabama whose brother-in-law, a founder of a major Midwest science fiction convention, had died and left him his books. “He was connected to the great sci-fi writers of the 1950s and had a very extensive collection. It wasn’t my genre, but I bought the entire library,” Cliff said. “It came to a lot of money.” But in the end, it’s not just about the money. “Cliff still gets great joy from going on house calls and meeting people who want their books to live on in some way,” said Cynthia. “He hears the story of their collection and gets their books into the hands of people who really want them.”

Cliff misses the old days but says these days are “bittersweet.” “It’s really quite lovely,” said Cynthia. “Families feel burdened by suddenly inheriting books from a loved one. He gives the books a new life.” Both the Graubarts are published authors. Cliff has published a book of short stories titled “The Curious Vision of Sammy Levitt” and is working on a memoir about Conroy. Cynthia has published 12 cookbooks, including co-authoring “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” with Nathalie Dupree. Her two newest books are being released this spring. For information, go to and cynthiagraubart. com.

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14 | Community ■

City Council adopts plans for spending grant money to help low- and moderate-income residents Continued from page 2 lice department. However, she said, the city would still likely go forward under the advisement of public safety officials. “[There] could very likely be neighborhood programs that our police department would support enthusiastically,” she said.

Project Five: ADA Sidewalk Improvements

This project sets aside $50,000 for sidewalk improvements. Improvements could include increasing access for individuals with mobility issues by adding Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps, according to the plan. At the April 27 council meeting, Hansen said these improvements will be made citywide, not just in the Buford Highway corridor. She said the city does not yet know exactly where these improvements will take place.

Project Six: Neighborhood Facility Improvements

This project sets aside $59,802 for neighborhood development and to improve neighborhood facilities along the Buford Highway corridor. According to the plan, these facilities could include things such as parks or recreation centers. About 100 lowand moderate-income residents are expected to be helped by this project. Hansen said the city suspects there could be lead paint, mold or asbestos in some of the facilities the city inherited from DeKalb County. She said she did not yet know which facilities would receive improvements.

Project Seven: Residential Rehabilitation

This project sets aside $115,000 to support renovations and improvements for existing housing units. This is a citywide project that could also help residents outside of the Buford Highway corridor, according to the plan. “If you, because of your income, are struggling to maintain your home, and you could potentially lose it or have to move away, or be in an unhealthy situation, we are allowed to use these funds to go in and make an improvement,” Hansen said. This project’s programs may include emergency repairs, accessibility improvements, and other rehabilitation efforts, according to the plan. The project is expected to assist up to 10 households.

Project Eight: Targeted Code Enforcement

This project sets aside $10,000 to allow for Brookhaven’s Code Enforcement to be more focused along the Buford Highway Corridor. According to the plan, this project will allow for more targeted building and property code enforcement activities to improve the safety of neighborhoods in the area. Hansen said during the public outreach

process of the consolidated plan, residents along Buford Highway brought up the low quality of rental housing and health and safety issues in their rental units. “This tells us that renters who are concentrated on Buford Highway are potentially living in housing that we need to … look more closely at and work with the landlords, and support their efforts to make improvements if necessary,” Hansen said. Code enforcement in Brookhaven was a bit of a controversial topic in 2019. At the Reserve at Brookhaven apartments on Buford Highway, the then owner of the complex, Chip Fife, said the city’s code enforcement was being very strict regarding tenants keeping items such as bicycles on their patios. Fife said the decision to fine residents for these patio violations was a direct result of the city’s beautification push and construction on the Peachtree Creek Greenway in the area. A city spokesperson at the time said the city was not responsible for the fines. Despite that controversy, Parker said Los Vecinos de Buford Highway would be invested in seeing better code enforcement for tenants along the corridor. “When people think of organizations like ours, which is focused on teaching tenants their rights and teaching tenants how to advocate for themselves, you might think that we would think of code enforcement as one of our enemies,” she said. “But we definitely don’t see it that way. Parker said code enforcement could help tenants along Buford Highway by getting maintenance issues taken care of in a timely manner and enforcing consequences when landlords are doing something wrong. “I think one of the key things that we all have to remember is that code enforcement can’t do anything unless they’re called by a tenant, and come into the home and see what the problem is,” Parker said. “They might hear from advocacy groups like us, or from community organizations or churches that something is going on in the apartments, but until a tenant makes a complaint directly to them, their hands are kind of tied.” Parker said giving tenants the opportunity to make complaints anonymously to code enforcement or giving them more language options when doing so could really help. “When it’s easy to contact code enforcement and there’s low liability and risk on the tenant, then code enforcement can be an asset,” she said.

Project Nine: Family Stability Services

This project sets aside $34,185 to help improve access to childcare for moderate- and low-income families, according to the plan. During the April 27 council meeting, Hansen said childcare services was the number one concern for many of the residents who responded to public input. BK

MAY 2021

| 15

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS RE-THINKING ROTH IRAS… ROTH IRAS ARE NOT EXACTLY NEW. WHAT IS THERE TO “RE-THINK?” More to the point: Some people should re-think the use of Roth IRAs. Start by remembering two key differences between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. First, money contributed to a Roth has already been taxed. BUT, if you conform to the rules, everything you ever withdraw, including earnings that might be many times what was contributed, is completely tax-free. Second, unlike traditional IRAs, there is NO requirement to withdraw minimum distributions from a Roth IRA after reaching age 70-1/2. YOU SAID “SOME PEOPLE” MIGHT NEED A RE-THINK. WHO SPECIFICALLY? After 50 years of working with clients, we’ve now advised through the full cycle of IRA drawdowns for some of our longer-tenured families. Oftentimes, we encounter meaningful balances left in these IRA accounts when the estate passes to the next generation. Those clients were well enough positioned for retirement that they did not “need” all the funds in their IRA. That is the opportunity. SO, HOW DOES THAT CONNECT TO THE ROTH IRA? Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, chairs our Wealth Planning Committee, a group of our professionals with multiple professional backgrounds, including attorneys and CPAs. He summarized the connection in this way: “Clients approaching or just starting retirement may forecast that IRA accounts will not be fully withdrawn during their lifetime, leaving a balance for heirs. Until seeing the numbers, it is difficult for them to imagine the potential wealth enhancement from a Roth conversion. The strategy of converting all or a portion of a traditional IRA and paying some tax now is counter-intuitive, but the savings accumulated over many

Bill Kring, CFP®, MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®, and Sam Tortorici, CEO & Director, Cadence Bank, N.A., and President, Cadence Bancorporation, weigh the differences between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, and the importance of having a team of professionals to determine the right choice for you.

years can be substantial.” Each person’s situation is unique, and running the numbers is critical. WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS? Make sure you have experienced and well-trained eyes preparing the analysis. This is an area where it is essential to rely upon an advisor who is 100% committed to the fiduciary business model, which puts the client’s interest first. Do not rely on “analysis” from anyone with a product selling motivation. Our experienced team of financial professionals are ready to sit down to visit about the potential, either virtually, or in person, from any of our locations.

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16 | Public Safety ■

Police reveal arrest and use-of-force data by race Continued from page 1 cording to the document, out of 2,281 arrests in 2020, police used or threatened to use force 280 times. Officers are required to make a report every time they threaten to use force against someone, such as using a Taser, gun, dog or other physical force. In 2020, there were 186 instances where an officer threatened to use force, accounting for 8% of all arrests. There were 94 instances where an officer used force, accounting for 4% of all arrests. Ethnicity data from the report showed that of the people who police used or threatened to use force against in 2020, 23% were Hispanic and 76% were non-Hispanic. When broken down by race, 44% of those who police used or threatened to use force against were white, 1% were Asian, and 1% were of an unknown race. While Black or African American people represented 42% of 2,281 arrests in 2020, they made up 54% of people that police used or threatened to use force against. Despite the data, in an emailed statement Snively said force was not disproportionately used against any group. He said “percentage points alone are not sufficient to contextualize any one, or any series of, police-citizen encounters.” Snively said each instance of force is reviewed by BPD six times and by an external auditor a seventh time.

“The purpose of the first four reviews is to determine whether the individual use of force was objectively reasonable, lawful and policy compliant,” he said in an email. “A fifth review occurs to ensure that our training practices reflect real-world needs. The sixth and seventh reviews are to determine whether there is evidence that bias contributed to an unreasonable, unlawful, or non-compliant uses of force. Given these multiple reviews, there is no evidence to suggest that our officers’ presentations and uses of force in 2020, or any other year, were motivated by anything other than the circumstances encountered by officers during the lawful discharge of their duties.” Snively did not respond to questions about the process of how bias reviews are conducted in time for publication. The 2020 Brookhaven report listed the types of force officers used in 2020. Out of 280 instances where the police used or threatened to use force, officers applied “physical contact” 61 times. In 21 cases, an officer used a Taser, and in 11 instances an officer deployed a police dog. There were 186 instances where an officer presented force, but did not use it. According to the report, Brookhaven and Chamblee officers killed one person in 2020. The incident took place along Buford Highway in Chamblee, and it is un-

clear who the offending officer was. A BPD press release at the time alleged the person opened fire on police. Snively could not provide reports or documents on this incident because it is still under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The report also included a breakdown of arrests and other crime statistics by different demographic factors. According to the report, of the 2,281 arrests made in 2020, those arrested were more likely to fall in the 25-29 age group than any other, and 77% of those arrested were male. Of those arrested, 64% were not residents of Brookhaven, while 36% were. The report also breaks down arrest data by ethnicity and race. During the SJREC’s policing meeting, most of the conversation centered around the need for more precise race and ethnicity data in police reports, not use-of-force statistics. Prior to 2020, BPD did not include an ethnicity category. Instead, they mostly reported Hispanic arrestees as white, a choice the department made even though Brookhaven has a large Hispanic population. The department now requires officers to ask someone who is arrested whether they identify as Hispanic or not, but ethnicity and racial data are still reported separately. Some commissioners expressed concern over the accuracy of self-reported data, wondering if people might have rea-



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son to lie about their ethnicity due to fear or mistrust of police. According to the report, out of 2,281 arrests in 2020 57% of those were white people, 42% were Black or African American, and 1% were Asian. When broken down by ethnicity, 63% of those arrested did not identify as Hispanic or Latino, while 37% did. According to data from the SJREC’s website, 53% of Brookhaven’s population is white, 10% is Black or African American, 5% is Asian, 30% is Hispanic, and 2% is of another race.

Other statistics

According to BPD, 2020’s crime numbers are not directly comparable to 2019. The police department previously used the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) to keep track of crime data, but replaced the system with the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2019. At the April 7 SJREC policing meeting, Snively gave an example of the difference between UCR and NIBRS. “[UCR] summarized the crimes that were happening in a community,” he said. “For example, if someone robbed a gas station tonight, and they entered carrying a gun and they pointed the gun at two customers, and they shot and killed the clerk during that robbery, UCR would report that as one homicide and no other crime. By contrast, NIBRS would report that as one homicide, one robbery, and three aggravated assaults.” According to a 2020 Crime Statistics report -- not the 2020 Data Analysis Report -- and raw 2019 cime data provided by the BPD, burglary reports in the city decreased by about 26% from 2019, moving from 220 cases to 163. Larceny saw a 7.4% increase, moving from 1,105 cases in 2019 to 1,193 cases in 2020. Motor vehicle theft also saw a slight increase, rising from 161 cases in 2019 to 176 cases in 2020. Aggravated assault reports saw about a 3.6% decrease, moving from 111 cases in 2019 to 107 cases in 2020. Reported rape cases increased by one, moving up to nine reported cases in 2020. Murder reports decreased by one, moving down from three to two. According to Snively, murder could also include non-negligent or negligent manslaugther. According to the 2020 Crime Statistics Report, calls for service decreased in 2020, moving from 94,046 in 2019 to 91,159. The Data Analysis report previously showed that there were 98,575 calls for service in 2020, but Snively said the statistics report pulled out all calls for service that were canceled. The Crime Statistics Report showed that arrests decreased in 2020, going from 3,073 in 2019 to 2,281. However, the 2019 annual crime report lists the number of arrests in 2019 at 3,061. Snively said the discrepancy in this data is a result of the dates on which the arrest data was pulled.


MAY 2021

Arts & Entertainment | 17

Author Q&A: What Hollywood gets right and wrong about the South BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN From “The Birth of a Nation” to “Forrest Gump,” “Gone with the Wind” to “Green Book,” Hollywood has a long, complex and sometimes troubled relationship with depictions of the Deep South. Writer and historian Ben Beard, a Georgia native who now lives in Chicago, examines that legacy in his new book “The South Never Plays Itself: A Film Buff’s Journey Through the South on Screen.” Beard will appear in a free, virtual author talk hosted by the Atlanta History Center on June 3 at 7 p.m. See for details. Beard answered some questions about what Hollywood gets right and wrong about the South. Can you name a movie about the South that you think gets it right, and why? I think a lot of films catch or capture aspects of the South, but the South isn’t a monolithic thing. “Magic Mike” keys into the beachy, druggy, hang-out Florida of late nights, diners, day-drinking, and sketchy people. It’s a great movie. (The sequel is wretched.) “Junebug” handles evangelical religion on its own terms, revealing generous, friendly people who are also standoffish and judgmental. It’s a great movie, too. “Moonlight” is a wonderful film, tak-

individual films that misfire or misrepresent: “Tobacco Road,” “The Alamo,” “White Lightning,” “Mississippi Burning,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Triple-9.” The list is long, really. A lot of the old films, pre-1950s, celebrate the Old South as a prelapsarian Eden, which is nonsense.

Ben Beard, author of “The South Never Plays Itself.”

ing viewers through the poor and Black areas of Miami. “God’s Little Acre” digs into the belligerent lunacy of a certain Southern type, the deluded country dreamer. “Conrack” follows a teacher working with Black students off the coast of the Carolinas. None of these movies have anything in common with each other. The South is a vast expanse of land and people. Name one that is egregiously short-sighted or just plain wrong. A lot of Southern movies get things wrong. One, they often use Southern accents as a shorthand for racism. Two, they


often use the South as a scapegoat for America’s racial sins. Three, they group the South together as one thing, which it isn’t. Four, back in the day they often left out Black characters. Five, nowadays they often reveal a binary place, of just Black and white people. Six, they often portray the South as more violent than the rest of the country, which is a complete and utter joke. (Except, maybe not: Louisiana is the most violent state in the Union, per capita.) As an aside, New Orleans is too complex and rich a locale for most films. I can’t think of a great New Orleans film -- not really. As to

You write about Hollywood’s “distorting lens.” Can you elaborate? I think American cinema is so good, we take for granted technical expertise and a wide array of film genres. I love old musicals, Westerns and film noir. I think Hollywood has a great track record with dramas, melodramas and romantic comedies, and a pretty good output of war movies, heist films and gangster pictures. But Hollywood is historically pretty bad at local color, local customs. Hollywood struggles with smaller, more personal films. And Hollywood -like New York -- is in love with itself and its own importance. The South is a complex reality and a complex idea. Hollywood isn’t good at dealing with either. So Southerners are often seen as dumb, ignorant reactionaries or sages dispensing folksy wisdom. I don’t look to Hollywood for nuance, but still, the overall picture of the South is pretty dismal, movie-wise.

18 | Special Section ■


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MAY 2021

Special Section | 19

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20 | Doing Business ■

‘Hypersonic’ airplane dreamers test their tech at PDK BY SAMMIE PURCELL The future of hypersonic air travel isn’t as far away as you might think -- in fact, it might be in your backyard. Hermeus is an Atlanta-based startup focused on bringing hypersonic air travel to the masses. Think the supersonic passenger airliner the Concorde, which flew from the 1970s to 2003 -- but faster. Founders A.J. Piplica, Michael Smayda, Glenn Case and Skyler Shuford started the company in 2018 and are now working on designing a hypersonic aircraft that could take passengers from New York to London in 90 minutes. To build a hypersonic plane, they need somewhere to test the engine. Shortly after Hermeus started, they chose DeKalbPeachtree Airport (PDK) to be their engine testing ground. The Reporter spoke to Case about hypersonic travel and why they chose PDK. Can you explain the background of Hermeus and how you got started? We were founded back in November of 2018. We were working for an aerospace company here in Atlanta at the time, but also working in the hypersonics world. We saw this incredible opportunity for commercial hypersonics and sort of jumped ship -- decided to jump off the cliff and try to build a plane on the way down.

What’s the goal that you’re working towards? Our end goal is to transform transportation by building Mach 5 aircraft. Mach 5 aircraft means around 3,300 miles per hour, or five times the speed of sound. It’s been pretty well studied that anytime humankind has increased their speed of travel -- be it from walking to horses, or horses to automobiles, to ships to aircraft -that a large economic impact follows suit. It’s a lot of economic growth in terms of trillions of dollars of real, new growth in economies. That’s one of the ways we really care to change the world -- by speeding up travel. Not only does it make your life a lot better, because of life lived on the ground and not the air, but it brings real, new growth and new economies to many parts of the world. How fast will that Mach 5 plane be able to travel in terms of going from one place to another? You’re looking at New York to London in 90 minutes. And that 90 minutes in-


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a regional-type place. Why is PDK the best spot for this testing facility? PDK is, of all the airports in the Atlanta area, definitely the best one to work with in terms of being able to attract talent. It allows us to make noise -- and that noise is well within the envelope that the airport currently operates under. No one’s heard us testing yet! It alSPECIAL Left, One of Hermeus’ prototype ‘hypersonic’ airplane lows us to run up jet enengines. Right, Hermeus co-founder Glenn Case. gines, which most places aren’t permitted for. PDK is cludes taxiing out, acceleration up, cruise obviously permitted for running up those and then deceleration and landing. types of engines. That really creates an international, inBut it’s also inside the Perimeter, in a tercontinental flight that is more along place that’s very accessible for folks that the lines of a regional flight today. I don’t live either in the Brookhaven area, or know about you, but I certainly don’t hesDowntown and Midtown, or where I live in itate to hop on a flight when I’m flying the north Alpharetta area -- it’s still very acfrom Atlanta to the Mid-Atlantic or somecessible. So we’re able to attract a full range where around there, where it’s only about of people -- folks that are young and might an hour-and-a-half [away]. I’ll take a weekwant to live closer to the city, or folks with end trip somewhere on a plane there, but families that might want to live in a litonce that aircraft flight hits six or sevtle north of the city with more yard. It’s a en hours, those trips have been fewer and great place that allows us to attract really far between. But think of what would hapgreat people, but also allows us to get our pen if that flight to Paris was more akin to job done in terms of the permitting and eva regional flight. That’s essentially what we erything associated with that. want to do. We want to shrink the world to

MAY 2021

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said. “But it doesn’t have any bearing … it’s like a prerequisite to the vote that binds.” Initially, the city presented five map drafts at an April 20 town hall meeting. By the time the city held its second hybrid town hall meeting at the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce on April 28, three more maps had been added to the city’s website. The sixth scenario was requested by Councilmember Joe Gebbia, but Brennan said that scenario did not follow census tract lines, which is required for redistricting. The city then added Scenario Seven and Scenario Eight based on public input, said Brennan. At the Reporter’s deadline, there were only eight maps on the city’s website. During the meeting, the city presented the map for Scenario Seven only. Mayor John Ernst indicated the council preferred Scenario Seven, but no final decision will be made until the May 4 vote. He said that “... we are looking to pass it next Tuesday. But any option is technically viable up until the point where we pass the maps.” In Scenario Seven, Districts 1, 2 and 3 are majority white. District 4 is plurality Hispanic, making up 44% of the population. District 4 would also be 18.1% African American or Black, 7.9% Asian, and 27.8% white. During Brookhaven’s redistricting process this year, community leaders have brought up the possibility of creating a majority-minority district -- a district composed of mostly racial or ethnic minorities. According to Brennan, the sixth map Gebbia requested was made in an attempt to keep all of the Buford Highway corridor -- which has a large Hispanic population -in one district. Scenario Seven does offer a plurality to Hispanic voters and creates a majority-minority district when minority voters are combined. But some of the other drafts offered on the city’s website had higher percentages. For example, Scenario Three’s District 2 would have been 56% Hispanic. The neighboring city of Chamblee, which also has many new annexed areas, recently proposed creating a majority-minority district. Santiago Marquez, CEO of the Brookhaven-based Latin American Association, said in an interview with the Reporter that while he hasn’t been able to look at the district maps yet, the LAA would be interested in the possibility of a majority-minority district. “If it makes sense, I think that would be wonderful,” Marquez said. “We’re here to serve the Latino community but also the entire community. Our interest is to make sure that the Latino community and the folks that come to our building looking for help with civil services have a voice and are being taken care of, and their concerns are being represented at all levels.” Ben Griffith, an election law expert and adjunct professor at University of Mississippi School of Law who the city has

brought in as a consultant, spoke at the April 28 meeting. He said there is no indication that Brookhaven has had issues with “white racial … polarized voting.” “Those are the key things that we would be looking for in determining whether there’s a need to go into a further detailed process of creating a majority-minority district,” he said. Questions about representation came up during both town hall meetings, along with concerns about keeping certain neighborhoods together. During the April 20 meeting, resident Jason Talley asked what goals the city has for redistricting and how Brookhaven is thinking through “the goals of representation and ways in which those goals are not adequately served by the status quo/current district model.” City Attorney Chris Balch did not mention diversity or the possibility of a majority-minority district in his answer to Talley’s question, but said the main goal of the process is to make sure districts are balanced. “The only goal of this redistricting is to make sure that we have equally divided populations -- or nearly equally divided populations -- amongst the four representative districts of the city as [much as] it’s possible to do based on the requirements that state and federal law impose on us,” Balch said. “There is no subterfuge or underhanded goal here other than making sure that we have districts that adequately represent one person, one vote as required by the U.S. Constitution and that meet the legal requirements of state and federal law otherwise.” According to Brookhaven’s Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission’s website, 53% of the city’s population is white, 10% of the population is Black, 5% is Asian and 30% is Hispanic or Latino. According to the website, those numbers are based on previous U.S. Census data. Hispanic is an ethnicity, and can include people of different races. Since ethnicity and race are collected separately by the census, it is possible the white or Black statistics on the city’s website include parts of the Hispanic population, Brennan said in an email. The current City Council has only one non-white member, Councilmember John Park, who was born in South Korea. There are no Hispanic or Latino representatives, despite the large Hispanic and Latino population along the Buford Highway Corridor. At the April 28 meeting, Gebbia said while none of the scenarios were perfect, he did think Scenario Seven is a good compromise and keeps the populations between districts in balance. “None of the scenarios were the best that we wanted as individual council members,” Gebbia said. “It was a compromise, obviously. But the goal was to have it be as close to zero discrepancy between the population bases.”


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