09-28-18 Buckhead Reporter

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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 • VOL. 12 — NO. 20


Buckhead Reporter



► Lenox Square parking spaces become parks PAGE 2 ► As 285/400 interchange expands, air pollution is a concern PAGE 6

Pickin’ tunes on the porch

Darlington tenants protest mass displacement BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net


The band Flat Pickin’ – featuring members, from left, Kirby Black, Ryan McDonald, Leslie Crum and Page Garwood – perform at the Fall Folklife Festival at the Atlanta History Center on Sept. 22. The annual festival included an arts market and many other activities.

Battle against Tesla CEO is latest high-profile case for local lawyer Page 4

We have a moral obligation to be faithful stewards of Buford Highway’s heritage, while ensuring its sustainable growth for generations to come. JOE GEBBIA BROOKHAVEN CITY COUNCILMEMBER

See COMMENTARY, page 10

OUT & ABOUT Welcome fall with Apple Cider Days Page 16

Tenants at the Darlington apartments are rallying against a mass move-out that would displace them from the historic Buckhead complex for a renovation. The conditions at the complex have quickly deteriorated since receiving the notice to vacate, residents said. In August, renters at the Darlington, one of the few lower-cost apartment complexes in Buckhead, received notice they had to vacate their units by Oct. 17. Varden Capital Properties, the developer that purchased the building about a year ago, plans to renovate the complex, but has released few details and did not respond to requests for comment. Participants at the Sept. 17 rally spoke about conditions at the apartment while holding signs that said “people before profit” and “housing is human right.” They later walked to the sidewalk at Peachtree Road See DARLINGTON on page 15

TSPLOST money may be lower than expected, officials fear BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Atlanta’s special transportation tax may be producing less money than expected and is under review by the city Auditor’s Office, according to City Councilmember Howard Shook and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, who are raising the alarm that some projects could lose funding. The Buckhead CID is concerned some planned projects expected to be funded See TSPLOST on page 22

2 | Community

Lenox Square parking spaces become parks

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A - Blue Heron Nature Preserve staff and volunteers have


fun with their parking space at Lenox Square’s annual PARK(ing) Day event organized by Livable Buckhead.

B - Luq Coffen, at right, a member of the Georgia Chalk Artists, invites the public to draw on chalk boards at the Sept. 14 event. C - Nate Hoelzel, special projects manager of Lifecycle Building Center, sits on a bench made from recycled construction materials. All the materials located in the parking space were recycled. D - Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling pedals a stationary bike that powered a small carousel in the pocket park created by the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM). E - Hundreds of people attended PARK(ing) Day at Lenox Square where groups transformed parking spaces into green spaces and more. PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY



BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A section of Lenox Square’s parking lot was recently transformed into a place where anything but cars could go as part of the annual PARK(ing) Day event. Several businesses and groups created small park spaces in the parking spaces where mall visitors looking for a break from the merchandise could play Jenga or pick up a flower bouquet. Other organizations included interactive exhibits such as a stationary bike that powered a small merry-go-round or usable furniture and household items made from recycled construction materials. “The whole concept is, if we didn’t have all this automobile infrastructure, what do we want to do with the space?” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, which organized the Sept. 14 event. PARK(ing) Day is a national event that began in San Francisco in 2005, when a local design firm rented a metered parking spot and created a minipark with sod, a park bench and a tree. Since then, the event has spread to other cities around the U.S. The idea behind the event is make the area less caroriented, at least temporarily, and get people thinking about parks in an urban environment. This year, 40 parking spots at Lenox Square were transformed by businesses, nonprofits, schools and individuals. Cherry Street Energy provided solar-powered generators used to fuel the food trucks on site. Livable Buckhead plans to use solar-powered generators for outdoor movie screenings in October. Plans are also to find ways to incorporate solar-powered features along PATH400 and its connected parks.




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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


A local education group has planned a property tax forum for Oct. 3 at Sutton Middle School. The North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. with refreshments. The panel will include several Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education members and is set to start at 7 p.m. in the school’s theater, 2875 Northside Drive, NAPPS announced. The officials and candidates participating in the panel include Leah Aldridge, a candidate for state Senate District 6; Byron Amos, District 2 APS board; Lisa Bracken, the chief financial officer of APS; Cynthia Briscoe-Brown, at-large representative on the APS board; Betsy Holland, a candidate for state House District 54; Kandis Wood Jackson, at-large representation on the APS board; District 6 state Sen. Jennifer Jordan; and Nancy Meister, District 4 APS board.


Livable Buckhead has set two “bike-in” movie nights for October. The organization is encouraging residents to ride their bicycles to two Halloween-themed movie screenings planned in Buckhead parks, according to an announcement in the North Buckhead Civic Association’s newsletter. The first is a showing of “Hocus Pocus,” a 1993 Disney movie, set for Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Marie Sims Park, 3464 Roxboro Road.


“E.T.” will be shown Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Old Ivy Park, 519 Old Ivy Road. Food trucks will be on-site at the first showing. Livable Buckhead will provide popcorn at the second, according to the announcement.

PATH400 WINS $10,0 0 0 FR O M T R A NS P O R TATI O N G R O UP

PATH400, the multiuse trail being built along Ga. 400, won a transportation award through popular vote that comes with a cash prize of $10,000, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced Sept. 25. The trail was one of 12 nationwide projects up for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials award. “The prize money will help us as we work toward completing the trail and as we continue adding events and features that make PATH400 even better than it already is,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, in the press release.

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4 | Community

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Battle against Tesla CEO is latest high-profile case for local libel lawyer BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

A dramatic rescue of a dozen boys from a flooded cave in Thailand this summer was followed by a bizarre sideshow: a world-famous billionaire inventor groundlessly smearing one of the rescue advisers as a pedophile. On Aug. 28, Tesla CEO Elon Musk doubled down, taking to Twitter to ask why cave expert Vernon Unsworth hadn’t sued him over the slur. “@elonmusk should check his mail before tweeting,” came a prompt reply illustrated with a photo of an intent-to-sue letter. That mic-drop tweet came from the fingertips of L. Lin Wood, a Buckhead attorney who has become one of the nation’s top libel warriors after using similar inyour-face tactics to defend the honor of such clients as Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, and the family members of JonBenét Ramsey, the child victim of a notorious unsolved murder. “[The false accusations] change their life forever, because the shout of ‘guilty’ is never overcome by the whisper of innocence,” Wood said of his clients in a recent interview. Over the years, Wood has represented both sides in prominent sexual misconduct and assault claims. Current clients include casino mogul Steve Wynn, who denies several workplace misconduct claims, and 15 years ago Wood represented the woman who accused basketball star Kobe Bryant of rape in a case that was later settled without admission of wrongdoing. Such cases leave him with some strong concerns about the “#MeToo movement” and the social media era. While saying he is often the first to go to the “court of public opinion,” Wood is also concerned it “has no rules of evidence.” “I don’t know what the future of reputation is going to be. We have normalized, in so many ways, heinous accusations,” Wood said, predicting the court system eventually will tighten protections against defamation.

Early career and Richard Jewell

Growing up in Macon, Wood saw his family interact with the court system in one of the worst possible ways: his father killed his mother. “I grew up in a family household of domestic violence,” he said. While that was a factor in his decision to become a lawyer, he says his personal inclination to persuasion and advocacy was the prime motive. He recalls doing well as youth pastor for a day at his church at age 13. “Everybody was telling me I was called by God to be a preacher, and I said, ‘No, I’m going to be a lawyer,’ ” Wood says.

L. Lin Wood, left, and Richard Jewell at a 2006 event where Jewell was honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue as a rescue hero of the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

His career began with medical malpractice defense in Macon. Then he moved to Atlanta to advocate for patients in such cases. After working at various firms and other specialties, including Medicare fraud cases, he now runs his own boutique civil litigation practice in Midtown. Formerly a longtime Sandy Springs resident, he now lives in Buckhead’s Peachtree Park, close to his office, in a relatively modest home. He says what he likes best about his work is his personal connection with his clients, not material goods he can gather with the fees. “I don’t need a $5 million house. All I’d have is a lot of empty rooms,” he says, adding that he’s happy with his Buckhead neighborhood. “I love this part of the city. I love being surrounded by trees and the community.” Wood’s success in libel litigation — still a major focus of his firm — started with the extraordinary case of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, which killed one person and injured more than 100. Jewell, a security guard at the park, was at first hailed as a hero for discovering the bomb and guiding people away from its blast zone. But an FBI investigation leak led to a media frenzy suggesting Jewell was himself the bomber.

Wood got the case as a referral from another lawyer who knew him as an aggressive courtroom advocate. Among the challenges: “I didn’t know anything about libel law at the time,” says Wood. He plunged in, learning as he went, in a case that “seems almost surreal” in retrospect. Jewell had “the two most powerful entities in the world trying to put him in prison with the death penalty”— the U.S. government and the media, Wood said. “Those are spooky days.” Wood said it is important to him that he believes his clients are innocent of the accusations against them, a decision he makes after reviewing the case and his “instincts” when talking to them. So his first meeting with Jewell — in a conference room that happened to overlook Centennial Olympic Park — was crucial, especially because Wood had counted himself among those suspecting him. “Finally I said, ‘Richard, I’ll represent you if you want me to, but first you’ll have to accept my apology. … I thought you did it. I believed what I saw on TV. I believed what I read in the papers.’ ” Wood’s fierce defense helped Jewell avoid prosecution and won some settlements, including from NBC News, and


some cases continued even after Jewell’s untimely death in 2007 at age 44. The real criminal was later revealed to be Eric Rudolph, a hate-driven terrorist who had also bombed an Atlanta lesbian nightclub and clinics that performed abortions in Sandy Springs and Alabama. But even Jewell’s vindication will not fully remove the cloud, Wood says, noting “his name does not appear in the [Olympic] park” and he never got a commendation from the International Olympic Committee or other Games organizers. “People are going to remember Richard Jewell as the guy falsely accused of bombing the Olympics,” says Wood. “Richard should be remembered as a hero of the Centennial Olympic Games. Richard saved hundreds of innocent lives. … He was a legitimate hero.” “I love Richard Jewell,” Wood adds. “I miss him every day.”

The Ramseys and presidential candidates

Wood soon was among the attorneys involved in another major media frenzy, the JonBenét Ramsey murder in Boulder, Colo., in 1996, where parents John and Patsy and brother Burke frequently involved in law-

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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net suits to clear their names. Over 20 years of sexual assault allegations that were still later, Wood is still representing John and under investigation at press time. Wood Burke Ramsey in a pending case. likened the case to his defense of Cain on The Ramseys had previously lived in TV talk shows: “I made the point it’s a slipthe Atlanta area; JonBenét was born here pery slope and I don’t think we want to and is buried in Marietta. Wood said he got decide who’s going to govern us based on involved in the case when Patsy Ramsey guilt by accusation.” heard about him after contacting a local More generally in the social media age, family whose child had been murdered. Wood said, “The pendulum has swung too “People don’t know this. Patsy would far in favor of the First Amendment” and hear about people who lost a child and he believes libel laws will be tightened – reach out to them quietly,” Wood said. though not in the way President Trump As with Jewell, Wood developed a persometimes calls for. “The change in the lisonal connection with the family, includbel laws and First Amendment laws … it’s ing Patsy, who died in 2006. “I was a pallnot going to come from legislation. It’s gobearer at Patsy’s funeral,” he said. ing to come from the court system” and As Wood’s libel-law experience grew, how it interprets the definition of a “pubhe found himself involved in presidential lic figure” who has less defamation proteccampaigns. “I always said I want to repretions, Wood said. sent somebody who could be president,” That could make Unsworth’s case Wood says, “but realized if I’m representagainst Musk tougher, Wood said, being them, they have a problem that might cause he gave media interviews criticizprevent that.” ing Musk’s proposal for using a miniature That was the case submarine for the with Herman Cain, cave rescue, and whose 2012 Repubthus might be conlican nomination sidered a public figattempt failed amid ure “as if he’s a pressexual misconduct ident or movie star… allegations that he and I think that’s just denied and fought wrong.” with Wood’s representation. He said The Musk he also successfully case represented anothIn taking on er Republican conMusk, Wood says he tender, Rick Perry, is once again repreby killing a pending senting a rescue hero Huffington Post sto— in this case, Unry that would have sworth’s knowledge reported some sort of the Thailand cave of allegations. system was crucial Other clients information for the have included fordivers who got the mer California Consurvivors out. L. LIN WOOD gressman Gary Con“Vern is as close dit, who was caught BUCKHEAD LIBEL ATTORNEY to Richard Jewell as up in a media frenzy I’ve seen in my pracover the still mystetice,” Wood says. “But rious 2001 murder of Chandra Levy; Perri for Vernon, I’m not sure that rescue could “Pebbles” Reid, manager of the R&B group have happened.” TLC; casino and newspaper owner Sheldon As for Musk’s comments, Wood says he Adelson; and “Dr. Phil” McGraw. has seen many defamation cases and, after working with ultra-wealthy clients, is faThe ‘#MeToo’ era miliar with the “billionaire mentality.” But The “#MeToo” movement of revealing he says he was still surprised by the novellong-suppressed stories of sexual abuse ty of a tycoon issuing a slur while making and harassment raises some concerns it clear he had no evidence, then essentially from Wood’s libel-lawyer perspective. inviting the target to sue. “I have a healthy respect for the “I’ve been through enough that it ‘#MeToo’ movement,” Wood says. He said doesn’t shock me. But what Musk did is that based on what he’s read, he would declose to shocking me,” Wood said. “You cline to represent Harvey Weinstein, the can’t make this up. There’s no good explamovie producer who is now charged with nation for what Mr. Musk did.” rape after scores of sexual abuse allegaNaturally, Wood expects to win the tions against him sparked the movement. now-filed lawsuit and secure damages in Wood also says he believes the accuser he the “tens of millions of dollars.” represented in the Kobe Bryant case was “If you got $20 billion,” Wood asks, “how the victim of a crime in an “egregious case.” much do you have to pull out of your pockBut Wood also spends some time on et to learn your lesson?” Twitter defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is the subject

People are going to remember Richard Jewell as the guy falsely accused of bombing the Olympics. Richard should be remembered as a hero of the Centennial Olympic Games. Richard saved hundreds of innocent lives. … He was a legitimate hero.

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6 | Community

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As 285/400 interchange expands, air pollution is a concern spread vehicle exhaust similar to a smokestack, dispersing pollution over a larger area, but at lower concentrations.

Pollution types and mapping

An Atlanta Regional Commission map showing estimated levels of particulate matter pollution in the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange area in terms of average annual micrograms per cubic meter. High levels are red; low levels are green. All of the levels are within federal guidelines, but health officials say any level can cause illness.

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Air pollution is a little-discussed aspect of the state’s I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction and expansion projects, partly because planning studies said it essentially has a neutral effect by improving air quality in some ways and harming it in others. But the interchange area’s exhaust-related pollution is already among metro Atlanta’s highest, and the expanded highway lanes will have one new impact: dumping pollutants closer to homes, businesses and parks. The state’s current “Transform 285/400” interchange rebuild, and its plan to add toll lanes over the next decade, present various pollution tradeoffs, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation and air-quality experts. Faster traffic flow and possible Ga. 400 mass transit could reduce local air pollution; more traffic, ineffective transit and lanes closer to neighborhoods could increase pollution. GDOT’s environmental study for Transform 285/400 found it had no overall significant impact on air pollution and meets federal standards. But, regardless of federal guide-

lines, motor vehicle exhaust contains dangerous, tiny particles of pollution that the World Health Organization says has no known safe level of exposure. An Atlanta Regional Commission map of how such pollution spreads off highways shows that the 285/400 interchange is rivaled only by Atlanta’s Downtown Connector for concentrations of the dangerous particles. Relatively high concentrations of the pollution blows onto some Sandy Springs city parks and the Medical Center’s hospitals, among other areas, according to the map — and that’s only one type of air pollution. “Too much time spent in that area outdoors … is probably not healthy,” said Paul D’Onofrio, an ARC planner on air quality and climate change who worked on the map, about those higherconcentration spots. Transform 285/400 is expected to wrap up in 2020. The additional toll, or “managed,” lanes — four on each highway — are in the planning stages. According to GDOT’s website, environmental studies for the Ga. 400 toll lanes are underway with construction expected to start in 2021 and finish in 2024; the I-285 toll lanes have early studies underway and are expected

to start construction in 2023 for a 2028 opening. GDOT has committed to design transit bus access on the Ga. 400 lanes, and local cities are studying the possibility of some sort of I-285 transit as well. Brian Gist, an attorney in the Atlanta office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said his advocacy organization has various air-quality concerns about the toll lanes. Those include whether transit will actually work on the lanes, whether they will use “clean” buses, and whether drivers who can’t afford tolls will boost pollution by sitting in congestion or using local streets instead. “The question is, if we want these [toll lanes] to benefit regional transit … are we really incorporating transit into those lanes?” asks Gist. His group also believes GDOT could do a better job of “taking a hard look at the aggregate impact of all these projects,” he said. Another new factor with toll lanes is the proposal for portions of them to run on elevated ramps 30 or more feet tall. That idea has drawn some local criticism about aesthetics and right of way, but it may have air quality effects, too. Gist said his group has yet to study the issue, but that elevated lanes could

Exhaust-related air pollution is broadly trending downward due to tighter fuel-efficiency standards and other regulations, Gist and D’Onofrio said, but remains a significant problem, and new transportation technology hasn’t solved it. Electric vehicles, which eliminate local pollution, are still a small factor, and such new developments as ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles may increase congestion and pollution, Gist said. Fossil-fuel vehicles produce several types of air pollution, such as ozone, which can cause health problems, and greenhouse gases that SPECIAL contribute to climate change. They also produce “particulate matter” — tiny particles of pollutants that, when inhaled, can cause cancer and heart and lung disease, among other lethal ills. Metro Atlanta’s highway pollution was a major issue and legal battle in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gist said, when the region was ruled out of compliance with federal air-quality standards. Various regulations, along with tighter federal fuel-efficiency standards, now have the region in compliance, Gist said. Road projects like Transform 285/400 are required to be built in ways that do not increase air pollution above those federal rules. But federal standards don’t tell the entire story about such dangerous pollutants as particulate matter. An example is a type known as “PM2.5,” meaning particles 2.5 micrometers in size — so tiny they can go directly into the bloodstream when inhaled. PM2.5 from vehicle exhaust usually falls out of the air within 300 to 500 feet of roads, Gist and D’Onofrio say. The federal limit for PM2.5 exposure is an annual average of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, which the metro area at least meets, according to Gist and D’Onofrio. But the World Health Organization recommends a practical standard of 10

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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net micrograms per cubic meter, and also says that any amount of PM2.5 air pollution has demonstrated illness-causing effects. “There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur,” the WHO said in a 2013 report, which estimated 3.1 million deaths from the pollution worldwide in 2010. To the ARC, even today’s lower levels of PM2.5 are a significant health concern. In 2016, the ARC produced the “Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study” to look at the local effects of PM2.5 pollution from vehicle exhaust. A major motive, D’Onofrio said, is informing governments that might build along roadways about pollution risks. “People shouldn’t be building schools right next to freeways. Playgrounds shouldn’t be next to freeways,” he said. The study includes a highly detailed map of how PM2.5 pollution is estimated to spread from metro Atlanta roadways, color-coded to show annual average concentrations of 1.2 to 7.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The map uses traffic, emissions, weather and physics modeling based on 2015 data that D’Onofrio said would not have changed significantly yet; an update is planned in about two years. On the map, the 285/400 interchange puts much of Perimeter Center into red and orange areas reflecting higher PM2.5 concentrations. The most intense estimated pollution is along I-285 in Sandy Springs between Long Island and Glenridge drives. Allen Road Park, featuring a playground and sports courts, is within that area; the city’s Hammond and Ridgeview parks are in higher-concentration areas as well. So are Dunwoody’s Georgetown Recreation Club and the publicly accessible green spaces in Perimeter Center’s Concourse and Ravinia skyscraper complexes. All of the “Pill Hill” hospitals — Northside, Emory Saint Joseph’s and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite — are also in higher-concentration zones; Northside said it uses industry-standard air filtration and monitoring systems that would keep out pollutants. But air patterns make some results surprising. Fulton County’s Heards Ferry Elementary and Riverwood high schools are directly next to I-285, but in lower-concentration areas for PM2.5 — though they still get some, between 2 and 3 micrograms per cubic meter. D’Onofrio said that exhaust-related particulate matter is only about 30 to 50 percent of overall air pollution, so areas with higher PM2.5 concentration probably have other significant air pollutant levels as well. “You should be worried about any kind of air pollution in general,” he said.

285/400 impacts

When GDOT’s 2015 environmental study for Transform 285/400 reported “no significant impact,” that meant it will meet federal pollution standards. What that means at the local level has some nuances. The study broadly refers to what Gist calls the typically “give and take” concept of vehicle-caused pollution: If traffic moves through the area faster as intended by the project, vehicles will dump less pollution in any given spot; but the improved road might attract more drivers, which will boost overall pollution. The study does not quantify the assumptions and generally presented it as a canceling-out effect. The study predicted that Transform 285/400 will slightly reduce carbon monoxide emissions in the entire area, but may slightly increase around certain interchanges. Particulate matter pollution would continue to meet federal standards, and GDOT avoided doing a “hotspot” analysis of the effects after a state and federal review. Another type of pollution addressed by GDOT’s study was “mobile source air toxics,” referring to various particular pollutants, including cancer-causing substances. GDOT said there are no agreed-upon standards for measuring and controlling them yet and predicted the project would have “no appreciate impact” on their local levels. But that still meant a projected 9.4 percent increase in the interchange area by 2039. And, GDOT said, new lanes added as part of the interchange reconstruction would put such pollution closer to homes and businesses. GDOT also addressed “environmental justice” issues, saying that minority and low-income households within the project area were clustered along the western section of I-285. GDOT reported no project impact on that area, but it’s the zone that the ARC maps show as having the highest local concentrations of PM2.5 highway pollution. As GDOT begins planning the additional toll lanes, Gist said air quality should be a significant concern. The bus transit, which could reduce vehicle trips, will only work if the design doesn’t leave the buses “stuck in traffic like everybody else,” he says. There is also the possibility the buses themselves will produce pollution.

A closer look at the interchange’s particulate matter pollution in the Atlanta Regional Commission map.

“We strongly support clean buses,” Gist said, saying his group prefers compressed natural gas fuel over diesel, and electric power above all. Another concern is that drivers who cannot afford the toll lanes will be stuck in traffic and divert their trips onto local streets, increasing conges-

tion and pollution there. Pollution on local streets has a bigger impact, Gist said. “Where there are people walking and riding bikes and waiting for the bus,” he said, “they’re breathing that automobile exhaust.”

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8 | Education

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State school superintendent talks local control, start dates BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

State Superintendent Richard Woods spoke on his support for local control, including on trade-oriented classes and school start dates, during a Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce luncheon Sept. 14. Woods, who took office in 2015 and is running for re-election this year against Democrat Otha Thornton, has focused his platform on decentralizing control, saying he thinks local districts should make the big decisions for their schools, including school schedules. Legislation was introduced in the General Assembly’s last session that would prohibit schools from starting prior to the third week in August. A state Senate study committee is researching how changing the school schedule could affect the travel and hospitality industries. Woods said he understands some industries could be helped by a longer summer, but the school calendar would have to be made up somewhere, either by ending later or cutting mid-year breaks, he said. He also believes the start date should not be mandated by the state. “I really believe in local control and I think they know what is best for their kids,” said Woods, who oversees 1.8 million students across 180 districts. About 90 percent of Georgia children attend public schools, he said. He also believes the importance of tests should be de-emphasized, Woods said at the luncheon, which was held in the City Springs Studio Theatre. “Success is not measured by test scores,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure our kids are ready for life.” Encouraging every student to pursue a college degree from a four-year university is also unnecessary, he said. There is a shortage of employees to fill manual labor jobs, including electrician and contractor positions, he said. “Those are good and honorable trades. They are things that we need,” he said. Shop classes have upgraded dramatically to fill that need in recent years, he said. Increasing local district decisions also includes creating programs focused on trades, Woods said. He has encouraged prominent industries to partner with their local districts to create coursework that could support that business, such as mining in North Georgia or entertainment industry needs. One of the major missing pieces in Georgia needed for the entertainment industry is people who write scripts, so they created new coursework for that, he said. “We want to make sure that we are listening to businesses throughout the state,” he said.


State Superintendent Richard Woods speaks with luncheon attendees at the end of the Sept. 14 event, which was held in the City Springs Studio Theatre.

Agriculture remains the largest industry in the state, he said, but entertainment jobs have grown rapidly as a state tax credit and other incentives draw film and TV productions to Georgia. “Opportunities like we have never seen are at the doorstep for our children,” Woods said. Large school districts in the north metro area should be leaders for smaller districts in the state, Woods said. “You are great incubators of innovation,” he said of Fulton County and other large districts in the area.


The Senate school safety study committee held its next-to-final meeting at Chamblee Charter High School on Sept. 18 as it begins to wrap up its research. The study committee has met with teachers, students, parents and local first responders across the state. Its members inSPECIAL clude local State Sen. Fran Millar. Sens. John Albers, who chairs the committee, Kay Kirkpatrick and Fran Millar. Following the meeting, where the committee heard mostly from Gwinnett County community members, Millar said he expects recommendations to center around needing more funding for safety improvements. That may include allowing schools to

use special purpose tax, or EPLOST, funds for the projects or initiatives, Millar said. “We have to make a safe environment for children,” Millar said. Millar does not support or expect any recommendations to arm teachers. “I don’t see that happening in the metro area,” he said. “It is more important to arm school resource officers.” The committee will meet a final time with community members in Savannah on Oct. 26 before reviewing the information in November at the state Capitol. The committee will then draft a report on its findings and recommendations for the Senate.


Graduation rates for DeKalb and Atlanta public school districts increased last school year while Fulton’s remained the same, according to state data. Statewide, the graduation rate rose to 81.6 percent in 2018 from 80.6 percent in 2017. DeKalb County School District DeKalb’s graduation rate for 2018 was 75 percent, an increase over 2017’s rate of 74 percent. Chamblee Charter and Dunwoody high schools are two of nine schools in the dis-

trict with rates above 80 percent. Chamblee Charter’s new rate is 83 percent, an increase over 2017’s 81.9 percent. Dunwoody’s is 86 percent, an increase over 2017’s 85.7 percent, according to the state. Cross Keys High’s rate fell to 64.4 percent. Last year, it was 68.7 percent. Fulton County School District The district’s rate remained the same at 86.8 percent, the highest graduation rate of all large metro Atlanta school systems, according to the district. North Springs Charter High School’s rate fell from 90.4 to 90.1. Riverwood International Charter School’s rose from 87 to 92.2, according to the district. Atlanta Public Schools Atlanta Public Schools’ rate increased to 77 percent in 2018. The rate in 2017 was 71.1 percent, according to the district. North Atlanta High School’s rate fell from 94.9 percent to 92.5, according to the state.


Three elementary schools that feed into Riverwood International Charter School have received International Baccalaureate certification, making Riverwood the first Fulton cluster to be completely certified.

Heards Ferry, High Point and Lake Forest elementary schools have been certified by the elite education organization, the Fulton County School District announced Sept. 14. Riverwood International Charter School was certified in 1999 and Ridgeview Charter School in 2009, the district said in a press release. IB certification is a long process that includes consultations and verification visits from the international organization. Becoming an IB school allows it to be part of global of network of schools that focus on the personal development of students and academic rigor, according to the website. Schools pay thousands in fees to apply and annual fees each year to be a member. There are also fees associated with the special tests administered to students, according to the website. Lib Roberts, High Point’s certification coordinator, said in the press release that the certification is expected to increase student performance and provide more opportunities for students after graduation. “The greatest benefit will be that entire generations of students will begin to see the world as a more connected place where people with varied heritages and cultures are able to celebrate and embrace our human commonalities rather than our differences,” Roberts said in the release.

Education | 9

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Riverwood International Charter School budget rises by $5M


An illustration shows the planned design for the new Riverwood International Charter School.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

After expressing surprise and disappointment, the Fulton County Board of Education voted unanimously to increase the budget for a phase of the new Riverwood Charter International School in Sandy Springs by more than $5 million. District 5 Board Member Linda McCain said she understands that construction costs are rising nationwide, but is concerned that the Riverwood project has risen to encompass about 10 percent of the district’s capital budget for the next five years. “This is unbelievable,” McCain said. “Did we design this building to be one of the most expensive buildings we’ve done in Fulton County? That’s my only takeaway from this,” she said. The Fulton County School District staff attributed the increases to rising construction costs, particularly for such materials as cement and steel. The school, located off of Heards Ferry Road at 5900 Raider Drive, is being built in seven phases to allow the school to remain open during construction. That process is causing the construction time to be much longer than typical, another factor driving up costs, said Patrick Burke, the district chief operating officer, said during a presentation at the board’s Sept. 13 work session, which is archived in video online. Delaying approval of the “Phase 2B” contract increase, which totals $5,766,746, could affect costs and schedules, he cautioned. The total budget for Phase 2B, which includes roofing, doors, windows, interior finishes and landscaping, now comes to $29,580,046. To prevent similar increases for the following phases, Burke said phases 3 through 7 will be bid in a way that locks in the prices. District 2 Board Member Katie Reeves expressed disappointment and shock that district staff or the construction manager did not see the cost increase coming.

“Somebody should have caught this,” Reeves said. “I’m having a tough time trying to absorb that every single gut check along the way failed us.” District 4 Board Member Linda Bryant said that this is not the only project funded by the special purpose local option tax that has gone over budget. She renewed her call for an audit of SPLOST projects that gets into more details than the annual audit already done.

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Commentary / A city’s approach to preserving Buford Highway’s community Stretching from the tony outskirts of Buckhead to a bustling I-285 and beyond, the Buford Highway Corridor stands at the precipice of an economic renaissance the metropolitan Atlanta area hasn’t seen since Atlantic Station opened for business in 2005. However, unlike the toxic brownfield that once sullied the north Atlanta skyline, the Buford Highway corridor has a lot that needs to be preserved and curated. Celebrated for its ethnic diversity, hundreds of businesses, large and small, call the corridor home and its collection of international restaurants can take diners on culinary adventures around the globe featuring exotic cuisine from Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, Columbia, Cambodia, China, Japan, Ethiopia and beyond. Mixed into the pocket communities that line the corridor are schools, parks, retail, multiuse trails, playgrounds, a movie studio, historic neighborhoods and other urban amenities. The dilemma for Brookhaven is how can the community and culture be preserved when redevelopment is a certainty? It’s a matter of when, not if. This conundrum is the impetus for the painstakingly deliberate approach Brookhaven has taken for the current zoning rewrite process, which codifies more than two years’ worth of citizen input into the zoning law that will shape this region’s future. On one hand, we have to set realistic and attractive standards that allow developers to build what the community needs. Things like mixed-use projects were not even addressed in DeKalb County’s zoning code a dozen years ago. Parking lots between buildings and the

street used to be the accepted approach the corridor, and the 30 units of afto development, but not anymore. fordable housing included were a welOn the other hand, we have to encomed component. However, the acsure that these developments create the companying demand for a 30-year, 100 opportunity for the existing commupercent property tax abatement for all nities to remain in place, if they want 300 apartments and parking deck was to. This means we must address the afnot realistic. fordable housing/workforce housing The Buford Highway corridor issue. We must also have standards for has long been identified as a priorigreenspace and integrate multimodal ty redevelopment area, as outlined in transportation options at Brookhaven’s 2034 Compreevery opportunity. hensive Master Plan. I have An example of how always said that this area is this works successfully is prime for $3 billion to $4 bilBrookhaven’s partnership lion in development in the with Children’s Healthnext five to 10 years. Chilcare of Atlanta. Zoning dren’s Healthcare, Emory was put in place that aland the Atlanta Hawks allowed the hospital to beready get us halfway there, gin construction of its $1.6 but that’s on the other side billion campus, which inof I-85, and not a residential cludes a multimillion-dolarea. Buford Highway itself lar commitment to infrahas such a large population structure improvements, that it must be addressed in including transportation. represents District 4 on a holistic fashion. The zoning for Children’s The corridor continues Brookhaven City CounHealthcare is limited to a cil. His district in- to morph into much more specific area south of I-85 cludes the portion of Bu- than Atlanta’s melting pot, and the campus is purford Highway in the far beyond the cuisine and posefully oriented to concity of Brookhaven and international flair. Families the area where Chil- and young professionals are nect with the Peachtree dren’s Healthcare of At- being drawn to its laid-back Creek Greenway that will lanta is developing its charm and promise of ecoultimately connect Mernew hospital campus. nomic opportunity. cer University in unincorporated DeKalb through This is the Buford HighBrookhaven to the Atlanway corridor, with a perta Beltline. sonality, presence and promise like noAn example that didn’t work is where else. We have a moral obligation the recent proposal to build a townto be faithful stewards of Buford Highhome project in an assembled residenway’s heritage, while ensuring its sustial neighborhood off Buford Highway. tainable growth for generations to The developer’s proposed investment come. matched the character envisioned for

Joe Gebbia

Letter to the Editor


The residents of Buckhead’s Darlington Apartments are set to be displaced in less than four weeks. As I have seen firsthand, many of the residents are elderly, infirm, sick or otherwise unable to relocate themselves. There are also young children and working single parents and married couples. Most need assistance from the community. On Sept. 17, a collection of nonprofit agencies and housing providers gathered in the lobby of the Darlington to meet with residents facing displacement. We saw more than 50 residents, most of whom did not have their next steps ordered. Overwhelmingly, the residents we met are on fixed incomes and do not have savings or the cash on hand to pay for security deposits, first month’s rent or utilities, let alone moving expenses. Thanks to generous donors, our partner churches and agencies, and experienced emergency assistance staff, we are providing the needed financial support, counseling and referrals for relocation. The situation at the Darlington is dire, so I am calling on the broad-

er Atlanta community to walk alongside of us as we walk alongside these neighbors in crisis. These nonprofits need donations to provide these services. The broader issue of affordable housing and poverty in Atlanta needs heightened attention by us all. We cannot allow our most vulnerable neighbors to continue to go through crises like this, and never alone. As a city, we must find innovative solutions that are inclusive of those in our community who are low-wage earners or struggling to make ends meet. Let’s be a city of light and hope for all. Each of us is made in God’s image and is deserving of love and support, especially during hard times. When we show compassion and kindness to our neighbors in need we see the very face of God. Keeva Kase President and CEO, Buckhead Christian Ministry

Jenny Jobson Executive Director, Midtown Assistance Center


Commentary | 11

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Oriental & Area Rug Hand Washing

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

Remembering an old-fashioned journalist One of the things that takes some getting used to as you get older is that you have so much more to remember. Not new things; you forget those. Old things. Something you see will set off a little Roman candle in the back of your brain and suddenly you’re remembering something that happened in 1969 or someone you knew in 1975. The confluence of recent high-profile funerals for John McCain and Aretha Franklin sparked in me the memory of the quite different memorial event that occurred a generation ago. I hadn’t thought about my friend Jim in a long time, but (although I was living half a continent away at the time, so I wasn’t present in person) stories I heard of his funeral stick with me all these years later. It was either the saddest or the most affectionate memorial I’ve ever heard of. And I still can’t quite figure out which it is. Jim was an old-fashioned newspaperman. He was a little guy, had a white beard and wore a coat and tie to work every day. He’d hacked his way for years around small-town papers scattered across the Carolinas. I knew him when I was just starting my career at the afternoon paper in my hometown and he was finishing up his as the daily columnist on the bigger morning paper. Jim was like other newspaper columnists I’ve known through the years — very little like the man his readers thought he was. In real life, he was a quiet guy who was friendly, but mostly kept to himself. He dated a woman on the copy desk and may have been married before, but he never talked much about his personal life or history. He smoked a lot of cigarettes and loved a cherry-flavored soft drink called Cheerwine that was made in his hometown and that he enthused over in print whenever he couldn’t think of anything else to write about. The person he appeared to be in his column was quite different. He came off as a complete extrovert, a friendly guy who loved to chat anytime, anyplace about anything. People who’d never met him thought he was a gabby, bubbly guy. He wasn’t. There were a few stories about him that made the rounds, of course. One time, the office wags said, Jim was sitting quietly in the newsroom when a call went out over the police scanner about an armed robbery that had just taken place. The dispatcher described the getaway car and Jim looked up, bemused. The car sounded a lot like his car. Then the dispatcher called out the license plate number and it was his license plate number. Then the dispatcher broadcast Jim’s address and said officers were being dispatched there immediately to arrest him. Jim scrambled to the phone to call the cops and say it couldn’t be him because he had been sitting in the newsroom all morning surrounded by fellow reporters and please don’t come arrest him. It must be a mistake. It wasn’t. It turned out the robbers had stolen it from a parking lot to use in the holdup. Jim was probably best known among us younger reporters for his group beach trips. He’d worked at a lot of papers and knew a lot of writers, so every year — sometimes twice a year — he’d gather a crew of 15 to 25 at the Cadillac Motel in Myrtle Beach for a long weekend of poker, drinking, fishing and eating seafood. Jim loved to play a game we called “monte.” A player started with a two-card or three-card hand and could improve it with several draws of replacement cards followed by betting. Best two-card or three-card hand won. Jim liked it because it moved fast and a lot of us could play at once. He also liked it because he won a lot. He didn’t drink alcohol, so he’d sit at the table with bottle of Cheerwine and quietly stack up the chips as the rest of us grew drunker through the evening. After Jim died, there was some sort of service, but his buddies held on to his ashes. A few months later, some of the beach trip regulars carried his urn along on a poker trip to the Cadillac Motel. At some point during the evening, someone called for a round of monte. They set Jim’s ashes at the head of the table, opened a bottle of Cheerwine and set it next to him and dealt him a hand. Jim won the hand. The players gathered the chips and put them in the urn with his ashes and raised a glass to him. The next morning, they dumped the ashes and chips into the ocean at a spot where Jim like to fish. There were no anecdote-filled eulogies or public outpourings of affection and grief that I ever heard about. Just a few guys sharing a last card game and a drink. Perhaps that’s sad. But I think Jim would have liked it that way. He always kept to himself.

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Around Town

Read Robin Conte’s debut book ‘The Best of the Nest’ “The Best of the Nest” offers 49 of Reporter Newspapers columnist Robin Conte’s witty essays on suburban family life, organized by seasons. They include some of the pieces that won Robin the first-place Lifestyle/Features Column award in 2017 and 2018 and first-place for Humorous column in 2018 from the Georgia Press Association.

Order the book at bestofthenest.net Follow Robin’s book-related appearances at robinconte.com.


12 | Community

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Pink Pony files for bankruptcy after lawsuits, shortened hours

Dennis Williams, CFO of Trop Inc., the company that owns the Pink Pony, said the Brookhaven strip club remains open after filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy.


BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net






fa r m

e t k r a m s r e ST


Lawsuits and an earlier last call have forced the company that owns the Pink Pony to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to an executive of the strip club. Dennis Williams, the CFO of Trop Inc., the company that owns the Pink Pony, said the club remains open and the Sept. 19 bankruptcy filing allows Trop Inc. to “reorganize





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our structure.” “We feel it’s necessary to do this to continue operating and to give us some relief,” Williams said. The Pink Pony has been losing nearly $30,000 a week since the city of Brookhaven began Aug. 1 enforcing its 2 a.m. last call on weekdays and midnight last call on Sundays at all clubs in the city. The strip club had been staying open until 4 a.m. seven days a week before the new hours were enforced. “This takes a bite out for everyone,” Williams said, saying bartenders and entertainers are also losing tip money due to the shortened hours. But the Pink Pony has also been “besieged” by lawsuits from former dancers over wage and hour complaints, he said. Filing for bankruptcy “gives us some relief from the attacking litigation,” Williams said. “We’ve lost a lot of business [because of shortened hours] and we are under siege from lawsuits,” he said. “With the loss of revenue and the costly litigation, [bankruptcy] is a way to reorganize our corporate structure.” On Sept. 17, the latest lawsuit against Trop Inc. and the Pink Pony was set to go to trial in U.S. District Court. But by filing for bankruptcy on Sept. 19, the lawsuit is automatically halted. The latest lawsuit, filed in June by Samantha Holdren and other dancers in a class action lawsuit, alleges the company did not pay them minimum wage, improperly collected a portion of their tips, and did not pay them overtime for working more than 40 hours a week. Because the company is in charge of hiring and firing dancers and keeping track of their schedules, the dancers argue they are employees. This current federal lawsuit is the latest of several federal lawsuits filed by former dancers against Trop Inc. and the Pink Pony alleging the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, by labeling the dancers as independent contractors rather than employees. The bankruptcy court filing shows Trop Inc. owes more than $1 million to a Covington, La., bank and more than $62,000 to Atlanta attorney Ainsworth Dudley, the lawyer who has represented dancers in past lawsuits and is representing Holdren in the latest lawsuit. Thousands more are owed to what appears to be former employees. Williams said the city’s decision to enforce its earlier hours at venues serving alcohol is also putting a major dent in the Pink Pony’s business and played a significant role in the decision to file for bankruptcy. Since 2014, the Pink Pony has been operating under an exit agreement with the city of Brookhaven. That exit agreement mandates the Pink Pony pay the city $225,000 a year to cover such resources as police costs. The agreement ends Dec. 31, 2020. As part of that agreement, the Pink Pony was allowed to operate until 4 a.m. seven days a week. But this year the city revised its alcohol ordinance, including rolling back last call to 2 a.m. The exit agreement between the Pink Pony and the city states that if the city rolls back hours at bars and clubs within its alcohol ordinance, then the Pink Pony’s annual $225,000 fee will decrease by $25,000 for each half hour of less serving time. Josephine, Medusa Restaurant & Lounge and XS Restaurant & Lounge, all blackowned clubs, sued the city alleging the city’s alcohol ordinance was discriminatory in part because it allowed the white-owned Pink Pony to stay open until 4 a.m. seven days a week and sell alcohol on Sundays. A federal judge said in a ruling it was unfair for some clubs to be forced to close earlier while the Pink Pony stayed open later. Rather than allowing all clubs remain open until 3 or 4 a.m. as the other clubs wanted, the city began enforcing the 2 a.m. last call to ensure all venues address the judge’s concerns and ensure all venues are treated the same. BH

| 13

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


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14 | Community

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Council member signs on to solar panel project Atlanta City Council member J.P. Matzigkeit, left, gives Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling, right, a look at the solar panels previously installed on his roof in a promotional video for the solar program.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Atlanta City Council member J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents Buckhead’s District 8, has joined a citywide solar panel program that assists residents in buying and installing the panels. “It’s something I want to do to promote alternative energy,” he said. “I really think it’s important and want to be a part of it.” Solarize Atlanta, a program formed through a partnership with a for-profit company, Solar CrowdSource, the city of Atlanta, and several organizations, including Environment Georgia, kicked off early this year. The program aims to bring down the cost of solar panels for house and commercial building owners through bulk purchases. Solar panels still cost thousands of dollars, but are expected to be about 20 percent cheaper through the program. The program has extended its residential deadline to Dec. 31 in hopes of getting the 1,000 sign-ups it needs to offer a deeper discount. According to the program’s website, 932 people have signed up so far. The deadline for commercial customers has been extended to April 2019. For more information, visit solarcrowd-


source.com. As a “green” person and a longtime parks advocate and cyclist, Matzigkeit designed his house to be energy efficient, he said. He already has a small solar panel set up on the roof that powers the home’s hot water heater, but always intended to add more, he said. The Solarize Atlanta program offered

a good opportunity to get those plans done, he said. “You have somebody who has already done their homework for you,” he said. Taking on solar panels as an individual and doing that research can be an overwhelming process, Matzigkeit said. But all the work required for Matzigkeit was signing up and sending an email, he

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said. An engineer then comes out to do a consultation and make plans for how to install the panels. “They’ve really made it easy and economical, so it was perfect for me,” he said. The panels Matzigkeit has signed on to install are estimated to power 10 to 15 percent of his home’s needs and cut the power bill by the same amount. The energy savings are estimated to cover the cost of the panels within five to 10 years, Matzigkeit said. Solar power is a part of the city’s goal to transition to completely renewable energy for city operations by 2025 and for citywide consumption by 2035. The Atlanta City Council is considering a measure that would push those goals back to 2035 for city operations and 2050 for citywide, according to the resolution. The Renew Atlanta Bond team did more studies and met with residents, later determining it may not be feasible to finish by the current goals, Matzigkeit said. “It really was an aspirational goal. It was set with not a lot of due diligence,” Matzigkeit said. “This is something that we need to work through.” But Matzigkeit thinks the solar program will go a long way in working toward that goal. Livable Buckhead is serving as the commercial building sales arm and recruitment tool for Solarize Atlanta. Denise Starling, the executive director of Livable Buckhead, said it is in talks with several Buckhead buildings, but none have officially committed yet. Starling, who recently toured Matzigkeit’s home in a promotional video for the solar program, said she is looking to get one building to do a project that could set an example for other buildings, like Matzigkeit’s could do for other residents, she said. “Our goal is to have one statement project,” she said. BH

Community | 15

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Darlington tenants protest mass displacement Continued from page 1 and chanted as cars drove by. Residents complained the air conditioning was broken for three weeks. Once that was fixed, the hot water stopped working, they said. Most at the rally said they are not trying to stay at the apartment and don’t plan to return once the renovations are done, but want more moving assistance from the owner. Athena Parker, who said she has lived at the Darlington since moving to Atlanta eight years ago, said she believes the owners are forcing residents out because they want to make more money on a property in a prime location. “I think they’re doing it because they’re greedy,” she said. She said she is afraid the only affordable options available to her may be in a dangerous area. “This is my home. These people are my family,” Parker said. “I’m scared. Am I going to become homeless?” The apartment complex, located at 2025 Peachtree Road, was built in 1951 and is famous for its “Atlanta’s Population Now” sign, which has been tracking the population since 1965. The original sign was replaced in the 1980s before being upgraded to a digital version in 2008, said Richard Waterhouse, the executive director of the Buckhead Heritage Society. “The sign is certainly a historic cultural element in Buckhead,” Waterhouse said in an email. “We hope that the new owners will keep the sign and continue to maintain it.”

‘Luxury’ renovations

TriBridge Residential sold the property to Varden for $30 million in April 2017, according to Fulton County property records. The Sandy Springs-based developer is known for renovating affordable complexes into “luxury” units. Varden has purchased and renovated approximately 18,000 units in the Southeast since 2012, according to its website, but the Darlington is the only complex it currently owns in Georgia. The rents at the Darlington range from $600 to $1,000 per month, according to the website. The commercial units at the bottom floor of the complex have already closed or relocated, including a salon and grocery store. Sam Massell, the president of the Buckhead Coalition, has previously expressed support for mandated affordable retail units. He said he hopes both affordable residential and commercial space is still available after the renovation. BH

Bottom left, clockwise, The Darlington is located at 2025 Peachtree Road. Athena Parker speaks about conditions at The Darlington apartments at a Sept. 17 rally. The famous “Atlanta’s Population Now” sign was originally erected in 1965. The digital sign was installed in 2008. PHOTOS BY EVELYN ANDREWS

“I think it’s a shame to lose low-rent housing, but, based on the condition, it sounds like it needs a major renovation just to be safe for everybody,” Massell said. Varden’s practice of buying up low-cost housing complexes and renovating them is “creating a crisis in the south,” said Tim Franzen, a housing activist who helped organize the rally with the Housing Justice League. The organization, which was created about six years ago, is helping bring together partners that could help Darlington residents find new housing, Franzen said. “They help make Buckhead work,” he said. “Now they’re going to have to commute.” Many of the people living in the Darlington work at places like grocery stores and the nearby Piedmont Hospital and Shepherd Center, said Romunda Bostic, who has lived at the complex for five years. “They may not be doctors, but they are the people who push your relatives around the hospital or take them their food,” Bostic said. “You still want those services in the city of Atlanta, so therefore you need to provide housing for these same people.” Bostic said she wants the owner to provide a discount on their last month’s rent to go toward deposits and moving expenses. “At least provide packing supplies,” she said. Buckhead Christian Ministries, a homelessness prevention and services organization, joined several other nonprofits and

agencies at a Sept. 19 event that provided assistance to Darlington residents, including funds to help pay deposits and bills, said Keeva Kase, the president and CEO of the organization. “This is a particularly challenging scenario because the timeline is short and we’re having to activate very quickly,” Kase said.

Tenant complaints

Renee Henson, a resident who uses a wheelchair, said it is difficult for most people to move in 60 days, but especially for the several disabled renters at the Darlington. But she said she can’t live in the current conditions. Henson and other residents

said the conditions have worsened since they were notified they had to vacate, including broken air conditioning, hot water and freight elevator. The complex has had those problems previously, and other issues like bug infestations, but maintenance would fix it, Parker said. Tennia Daniels, who has lived at the Darlington for 17 years, said the lack of access to the only elevators big enough for furniture, has forced some residents to leave large items behind. At least one of the recent small fires, which is being investigated as an arson case, was caused by someone setting that furniture on fire, she said. Near the end of the rally, participants walked to the sidewalk at Peachtree Road and handed out a list of demands to pedestrians and cars stopped at the traffic signal. Demands included access to air conditioning and hot water and to delay renovation of the building until all residents are relocated. Bostic said the rally was not only about improving conditions and finding new housing for Darlington residents, but also for preventing similar situations. “You shouldn’t have to have a rallies so you can have air conditioning,” Bostic said. Bostic said she was displaced previously in Buckhead when her apartment building was renovated and sold as condos. The experience repeating is a sign of the Buckhead community continuing to become more difficult for low-income people to afford, she said. “At one time, Buckhead was a community for everybody,” Bostic said. “People fail to realize the old Buckhead was not a place where you had Tom Ford and the Hermes shops up the street.”

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16 | Art & Entertainment

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Sunday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. New Orleans-based Lightwire Theater brings the story of “The Ugly Duckling” alive on a stage lined with electroluminescent wire and charged with a blend of puppetry, technology and dance. $12-$16. Morris & Rae Frank Theatre at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or call 678-812-4002.


Sunday, Oct. 7, 4-7 p.m. The Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association presents Carolina Gator Gumbo, a group of musicians from Charlotte, N.C. who mix traditional Cajun and Creole arrangements with touches of country and blues. Cajun/Creole food for sale. All ages. No partner necessary. $18; $14 active military; $5 students. Free beginners’ dance lesson at 3 p.m. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org or 877-338-2420.


Friday, Oct. 12 to Sunday, Oct. 28 Act3 Productions presents a play adaptation of the 1967 romantic comedy film “The Graduate,” the story of a recent college graduate who is seduced by an older woman and then falls in love with her daughter. $15-$23. Act3 Playhouse in Sandy Springs Plaza, 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: act3productions.org.


Sunday, Oct. 7, 3-4 p.m. Join Bike-Walk Dunwoody on the first Sunday of each month for a community bicycle ride. The event starts at 2:45 p.m. at Village Burger on Dunwoody Village Parkway with a short pre-ride safety talk. Riders depart at 3 p.m. for a 4.5-mile loop around Dunwoody. All ages and abilities welcome. Helmets required. Free. Hang out after the ride for $1 custards, $1 off beers, and postride socializing at Village Burger, 1426 Dunwoody Village Pkwy., Dunwoody. Info: bikewalkdunwoody.org.


Saturday, Oct. 13, 7:30-11:30 a.m. Races begin at 7:45 a.m. The Sandy Springs Education Force hosts its fifth annual Peachtree Road Race qualifying 10K/5K and a new post-race Literacy Event featuring author and illustrator meet and greets, book signings and presentations, a book character dress-up parade and storytelling. Race fees vary. Literacy Event is free. City Springs Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: active.com/sandy-springs-ga.


Through October The Dunwoody Preservation Trust presents a series of fun and educational events at historic venues. Among the highlights are an Oct. 6 guided tour of a burial ground of some of Dunwoody’s founding families; an Oct. 13 “Village Fest” at the 1870 Donaldson-Bannister Farm with musical performances, food and family activities; and an Oct. 20 genealogy seminar on tracing your family tree. Most events are free. Info: appleciderdays.org.

Friday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 13, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Galloway Theatre Company presents a one-hour-long version of “Twelfth Night,” a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare characterized by mistaken identities, love triangles and emotional reunions. $10; $5 students. Chaddick Center for the Arts at The Galloway School, 215 West Wieuca Road. N.W., Buckhead. Info: gallowayschool.org.

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Art & Entertainment | 17

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net



Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.


Friday, Oct. 5, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 7, noon to 5 p.m. The annual Spruill Center for the Arts Ceramic Bowl Sale offers pieces created by students and instructors of the center’s Ceramics Department. All proceeds benefit the Ceramics Department. On Friday night, a variety of chili can be sampled. Free. Spruill Arts Education Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org.


Sunday, Oct. 14, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Animal lovers are invited to Brook Run Dog Park for the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s Blessing of the Pets. Rabbis and pastors will give public and private blessings to people and leashed or caged pets of all faiths and backgrounds. Vendors, pet adoptions, low-cost vaccinations, microchipping. Free. 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/pets.


OCT. 14 & NOV. 11 Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and ever-changing exhibitions. Second Sundays are sponsored by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

Sunday, Oct. 14, 1-4 p.m. The Chattahoochee Nature Center holds its annual outdoor food and craft beer event featuring food tastings from local chefs, samplings from local craft breweries, live bluegrass music and games. The event raises funds for the nature center’s urban farm which supplies more than five tons of fresh produce annually to the North Fulton Community Charities food pantry. $50 adults ($45 advance); $15 children; ages 10 and younger free. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org/ special-events/fundraisers/harveston-the-hooch.



Mondays, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, 7-8:30 p.m. Coming up next in a series of Monday fall lectures by North Fulton Master Gardeners at the Lost Corner Preserve: Oct. 1 — Learn about fruits that grow well in Georgia, even in small backyards; Oct. 8 — Composting. $10 donation requested. 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. Info: friendsoflostcorner.org/master-gardenerclasses.

Continued on page 18


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18 | Art & Entertainment

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Continued from page 17


Wednesday, Oct. 3, 9:30 a.m. Artist and instructor Maureen Engle, who uses a fresh approach in her palette knife and watercolor paintings, presents the October program of the Dunwoody Fine Art Association. Refreshments and social time are followed by the program at 9:45 a.m. Open to all interested artists. Free. Spruill Arts Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Room 4, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodyfineart.org.


ecks Patios/ D y At Ever ! n Locatio

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m. Daniel Tindol, owner of Floristique Weddings and Events, offers tips on designing a holiday wreath at the next meeting of the Dunwoody Garden Club. The club meets monthly on second Wednesdays from September to May. Free. New Pavilion at the Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodygardenclub.com.

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Author and editor David W. Blight discusses his biography of Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery in Maryland and went on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. $10, $5 for members. Reservations are suggested. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W., Buckhead. Info: 404-8144150 or AtlantaHistoryCenter.com/Lectures.


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Saturday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. Kids can make a bird feeder out of materials such as sticks, cardboard tubes and pine cones in this edition of the monthly Little Diggers family gardening series. Suited for ages 6-10 with an accompanying adult. Presented by Heritage Sandy Springs in partnership with the North Fulton Master Gardeners. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, 220 Mount Vernon Highway at City Springs, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.


Saturday, Oct. 13, 6-10 p.m. The Community Assistance Center hosts its 16th annual Vintage Affair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church. This year’s theme is the Golden Age of Hollywood and guests are invited to dress as their favorite Hollywood icons or in vintage Hollywood style. Food from local restaurants, wine tasting, auction. The Vintage Affair benefits CAC, a nonprofit that promotes self-reliance and helps people meet basic needs in the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody communities. $110; $200 couples. 805 Mount Vernon Highway N.W., Sandy Springs. Info: vintageaffair.org.



Community | 19

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Between Buckhead and Bankhead, life expectancy has a 25-year gap BY ANDY MILLER Life expectancy at an English Avenue neighborhood address, in a low-income section of Atlanta, is 63.6 years. But less than 10 miles away, an address in the affluent Margaret Mitchell area of Buckhead, named after the famous writer, has a life expectancy of 87.2 years. Such startling variations commonly appear in new data that break down life expectancy at birth — the average number of years a person can expect to live — for most of the census tracts in the United States, for the period from 2010 to 2015. A census tract is an area roughly equal to a neighborhood. We all have heard how life expectancy can vary from nation to nation. But this is the first statistical information of its kind that speaks to how our health in the United States is influenced by conditions in the localities where we live. The data was collected through a joint effort of the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, the National Association for Public Health Information Systems, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the project. “This is really the first measure of health at the neighborhood level,’’ said Abbey Cofsky, managing director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also helps produce health data by county in the County Health Rankings. The data comparing counties, she noted, “can mask differences between

neighborhoods.” Even a modest-sized county can have great internal diversity, and in some states, especially in the West, counties can be geographically very large.

What’s the problem? Life expectancy has been dropping in the United States over the past couple of years, though there is debate among experts about exactly why. The opioid epidemic may be a major reason for recent declines in Americans’ life expectancy, a new study said in August. Yet a second study found rising death rates among Americans ages 25 to 64, but cited a number of factors as potential causes, HealthDay reported. Nationally, average life expectancy at birth for the 65,662 census tracts studied was 78.8 years. Georgia’s is slightly lower, at 77.4 years, according to the tables. The report on neighborhoods, released in September, said that people in Vinings, an affluent area just outside the city of Atlanta, have the highest average life expectancy at birth in the state, at 87.6 years, while Georgians in Macon have the lowest average life expectancy at birth for the state, at 63.3 years. Factors influencing life expectancy can include access to stable jobs, good education, affordable housing and business investment in a community, Cofsky of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation added. “Some neighborhoods can be cut off from opportunity.’’ Areas with high poverty can lack access to healthy food, and may have safe-

ty problems for residents, she said. The life expectancy data can spark a conversation among stakeholders and community leaders about potential improvements, Cofsky said. The new resource is accompanied by an interactive tool that allows you to plug in your ZIP code or street address and see life expectancy rates in your own neighborhood and how it compares to county- and state-level data, as well as the national average.

Finding out who needs help

“Public health professionals have understood for a while that social determinants of health — the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, and age — are powerful predictors of one’s life opportunities and health outcomes, including life expectancy,’’ said Dr. Harry Heiman, a health policy expert at Georgia State University. In Atlanta, Buckhead and Bankhead are only a few miles apart, but the difference in life expectancy in the two neighborhoods is almost 25 years, he said. “Even in larger geographic areas whose health outcomes appear to be good, it is critical to assess disparities within the population or geographic area, particularly for disadvantaged groups — those with higher disease burdens, worse health outcomes, and shorter life expectancies,” Heiman said. The data should prompt a “call to action for state leaders and policymakers to not only address the gaps in our health care system, especially for low-

income and rural populations, but to also address the upstream, neighborhood-level social determinants critical to improving health and life opportunities,’’ he said. Tabia Akintobi, associate dean for community engagement at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, said the data “allow us to develop approaches that are more targeted’’ to individual neighborhoods ‘‘so we can target limited public health resources more equitably.’’ “In metro Atlanta and the broader state of Georgia, there are huge differences between communities,” said Akintobi, who’s also principal researcher for the Prevention Research Center at Morehouse. “These differences are not only related to individual behaviors, but, more importantly, the political investments, or lack thereof, in communities that result in poorer housing, lower community economic and workforce development and educational achievement. All of these issues result in the connection between where people live and how healthy they are.” Investment in neighborhoods with poor health outcomes is critically important to address health disparities and advancing health equity, she said. “We have to have strong alliances with businesses,’’ Akintobi said. Policy experts, researchers, government officials, community leaders and businesses and health care providers are all critical “to creating this culture of health that is a return on investment for all,” she said. This story was reported and published in partnership with Georgia Health News.

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24 AWARDS FOR EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE General Excellence / 2 awards


e’re honored that Reporter Newspapers has won 24 awards in its division in the Georgia Press Association’s 2018 and 2017 Better Newspaper Competitions, which are judged by newspaper professionals from around the country.

Photography /4 awards Lifestyle Column /5 awards Layout & Design /3 awards Local News Coverage / 3 awards Newspaper Website / 2 awards Business Writing / 2 awards

Thank you to our readers, advertisers and peers who support our mission of providing trusted, hyperlocal community journalism.

Enterprise Writing Special Issue Religion Writing

The #1 preferred source for local news and information!* MAY 12 - 25, 2017• VOL. 8 — NO.

MAY 26 - JUNE 8, 2017 • VOL. 11— NO. 11


Sandy Springs Reporter


► New law is a boost to local beer, whiskey crafters PAGE 4 ► Cuban sandwich shop mixes tastiness with tenacity PAGE 5

Dawn of a new church



Dunwoody Reporter


Perimeter Business



► Eyed for trails, pipeline routes are serious business

Current City Hall site City proposes targeted for redevelopment $106 million

Little-known vet memorials | 8


The city is proposing a $106 million operating budget for fiscal year 2018, an increase of about a half-percent over the current year, officials said at a May 23

OUT & ABOUT Lantern Parade will light up the Hooch

Page 20 buys condos, displaces tenants

Page 16



Chairperson, Georgia Public Broadcasting

See Commentary, Page 14


OUT & ABOUT Storyteller ‘Rosie the Riveter’ comes to town Page 19


From documentaries on diversity and inclusion to community partnerships on autism awareness, GPB is an educational lifeline to millions of Georgia students, teachers and residents.






on ► MARTA’s CEO speaks response to I-85 disaster PAGE 5

► ‘The good, the bad the ugly’ of 2017 legislative session



City’s new medical center wants to grow

Mary Hall Freedom House, a nonprofit that helps women with homelessness and addiction issues, has bought 33 units of a Sandy Springs condominium complex for use as transitional housing and possible redevelopment into a larger facility or headquarters. One of the two dozen tenants currently renting those condo units is complaining about the “irony” of losing her home to an organization that helps the homeless. See HOMELESSNESS on page 22

I want to see a competition that celebrates our everyday Home Kitchen challenges. ... The Chairman would be the Original Iron Chef’s Mother-in-Law. Prizes are a month’s supply of lasagna and a spa weekend. A chef wins if her kids eat her food. Robin’s Nest, page 15

See CURRENT on page 22

DeKalb CEO: EMS response time improves BY DYANA BAGBY


Ambulance response times in the city are improving after changes were made by the private company contracted by DeKalb County to provide the emergency service, including hiring more staff, according to county officials. The City Council in December raised serious concerns with the DeKalb Fire & Rescue chief and the regional director of American Medical Response over ambulance response times in the city, noting there were numerous instances of ambuSee DEKALB on page 13


on April 8 as part Corporate Boulevard page 19. of Peachtree Creek around For more photos, see a bank of the north fork “Sweep the Hooch” event. Volunteers clean up Riverkeeper’s annual of the Chattahoochee

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Passing on her culinary passion Page 27

OUT & ABOUT Get grounded with Earth Day events I believe [President

Trump] is strong enough to force Congress to break through this nonsense and get something done. DAVID PERDUE U. S. Senator

See PERDUE, page 21.

Page 6

11 — NO. 5


Glowing for a cause

BY DYANA BAGBY spapers.net dyanabagby@reporternew

A developer plans to build two residential towers and an office tower at Perimeter Center East, where Dunwoody City Hall now is located. Representatives from North Carolina-based Grubb Properties described their proposal, which is still in the concept stage, to the board of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association on May 7. The company owns about 19.5 acres in Perimeter Center East, with three mid-rise office buildings, one of which serves as City Hall. The property is behind the Ravinia complex off Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The city is relocating to a new City Hall

16, 2017 • VOL.

Buckhead Reporter


BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.n et

percent decline. The police department would get a budget boost of more than 9 percent to about $22.8 million. Part of that is a salAbove, a a bird’s eye view of the proposed redevelopment in ary increase to remain competitive as Perimeter Center East includes, residential towers and a new office to the left, two new tower. In the State Patrol pay boost is attracting offiremain and have retail on the ground center are two current mid-rise office buildings that would floor. To the right are two new apartment Inset, an illustration of what the buildings. cers away from the department, city offistreetscape might look like in the development. cials said. The boost also includes hiring

EXCEPTIO 11 See CITY on pageNAL EDUCATOR ss literature Teaching Homelessne through life nonprofit


Picking up at Peachtree Creek



VOL. 9 — NO. 8

Brookhaven Reporter


FY2018 budget

home of St. Joseph Maronite to the first Mass, held Sunday, May 14, at the new Rev. Dominique Hanna welcomes his congregation the former building of Apostles St. Joseph moved from an Atlanta location into Catholic Church at Glenridge and Hammond drives. attended St. Joseph’s debut. financial turmoil. More than 400 parishioners Church, a Lutheran congregation that closed amid

Pages 18-19

APRIL 14 - 27, 2017 •

► Buckhead company keeps ‘quirky’ old-school sodas fizzing

City Council meeting. The budget will take effect July 1. The council will hold public hearings on the budget on June 6 and June 20. The budget projects revenues of about $92 million, with money from a reserve fund balancing the expenditures. The revenue projection is about 1 percent higher than fiscal 2017. While most revenue sources are projected to increase, property taxes are expected to show a 2.2

EDUCATION Top of the Class






► Historic locomotive makes tracks to Buckhead PAGE 4 SPECIAL SECTIO N | P22-27

Buckhead ma ster plan to allow more input on big ideas

Wearing glow necklaces and Garden Hills shirts with in the Garden Hills/Pe second annual Family reflective shoeprints, adults, Flashlight Fun achtree Park kids of all ages, Run, held Sunday Friends Group strollers and PHOTO BY volunteers, PHIL MOSIER dogs take benefits Childre evening, Feb. 26. The nearly 1-mile to the streets of n’s Healthcare race, organiz of Atlanta. More pictures, page ed by 18.►




Classroom gam from math to es, Shakespeare

to the April 18 As the days tick down the open 6th Conspecial election to fill each of the 18 cangressional District seat, furiousPage are trying 28 didates in the large field from the pack. ly to separate themselves was at The latest public opportunity forum hosted by the April 9 candidate rs Association the Dunwoody Homeowne Dunwoody High at Crier and Dunwoody early voting in School. Voters are already seat that had been the election to fill the Tom Price, who reheld by Republican

See 6TH on page 18

reporternewspa pers.net


of Atlanta is seekChildren’s Healthcare along the Northing to have 11.4 acres into the city of east Expressway annexed 8-story office Brookhaven for a proposed massive expansion of building as part of a at North Druid Hills its new 45-acre campus includes buyRoad and I-85. The expansion ing out a church. city officials say is It’s just part of what redevelopment commajor medical-related to the Execuing after years of anticipation tive Park area. request with CHOA filed the annexation is asking for a spethe city on April 5. It also for some of the propcial land-use permit 8-story, 340,000the build to order erty in on land currently square-foot building also wants CHOA zoned only for five stories. to build a parking deck. SLUP requests are The annexation and up by the Planning expected to be taken Council in June. Commission and City is approved SLUP and “If the annexation See CITY on page 20

6th District hopefuls squareEXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR off in debate


► New prog ressive attracts activ group ists

OUT & ABOUT A very

[Students need] special more ‘reallife’ education scenarios: finan es, investing, c- performance of budgeting. A lot of ‘The kids graduate Wizard of Oz’ and don’t know how to balan ce a checkbook, Page but know how 6 to do some math problem with only symbols.”

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@rep orternewspape rs.net The Buckh ead master plan will keep on planning for a while. A Feb. 27 community meeting for the “BUCKHEAD REdeFINED” scheduled to plan was be the last, but now input will continue into April to hash out some controversial ideas, said Eric Bosma lead consul n of tant Kimley -Horn. Those clude ideas inlarge and small for Buckhead’s commercial core, from a new Ga. 400 terchange to ina neighborhood trail loop. A crowd of about 100 at the Atlant Internationa a l School receive ing, 90-min d a sprawlute presen tation that rowed some narearlier ideas, others, and elaborated introduced still more concepts, all new while mingli ng short- and long-term plans. Several of its steps” are alread recommended “first y underway, ing the PATH4 like finish00 trail along Ga. 400; some See BUCKHEAD on page 16

Massell: Buckhead getting bigger busier, wealth , ier




Residents grad on preparing e schools students for careers and civic life See COMMUNITY SURVEY Page 14

*Source: independent reader survey

www.ReporterNewspapers.net ■ Published by Springs Publishing LLC


Buckhead is big, busy and wealthy. And by 2020, it’ll be even bigger, wealthier. busier and So said Buckhe ad Coalition Sam Massel president l in his annual “State of the Community” address Feb. 23 at the City Club of Buckhe ad, hosted by the Buckhead Business Associa tion. Massell listed branding points” several “bragging and projecting the the neighborhood booms in ’s population, real estate See MASSELL on page 17

Classifieds | 21

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Reporter Classifieds

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CNA – Flexible & Dependable with References. Minimal 4 hours available per client. Personal care for loved ones. 404-397-9429.

Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576. Matthew’s Handy Services – Small jobs & chores are my specialties! Shelves, organizers, carpentry, painting, etc. Call 404-547-2079 or email: mwarren8328@gmail.com

Single Office for Rent – Located in Class A space in Sandy Springs overlooking Buckhead. Access to 400/285. Covered parking, Fitness Center and Cafeteria. Access to Break room, Conference room and Storage room. Call Jonathan at 404-983-1279.

CEMETERY PLOTS Arlington Memorial Park – Section F. Two side by side plots. Single $2000 - Both $3500. Call 1-706-354-8312.

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Property Home Tending by Charles – “On the market or just Away.” Regular inspections of unoccupied property. Call 404-229-0490.


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22 | Community

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TSPLOST money may be lower than expected, officials fear Continued from page 1 with the transportation special local option tax, or TSPLOST, dollars could be cut if the audits show numbers lower than expected. “My apprehension level is starting to go through the roof,” said Shook at the CID board’s Sept. 26 meeting. “I think if everything was going to turn out to be fine, those signals would have been sent out a long time ago.” “It’s not as ironclad as we were expecting and as it has been in the past,” said CID Executive Director Jim Durrett. Shook, who presents Buckhead’s District 7 and sits on the CID board, said that he expects the numbers to come back lower than projected. While Shook said he has received little solid information on what the returns are, he is concerned it could ultimately be “significantly less” than expected. Millions of dollars for CID projects are tied to TPLOST funds, including $5 million for PATH400, the multiuse path being built along Ga. 400. If the projects are cut from the funding list, the CID would have to also cut the projects or find a new

source. The TSPLOST funds are also used to leverage federal dollars, which could disappear otherwise. CID projects on the list include the Wieuca Road/Phipps Boulevard roundabout and Piedmont Road widening. The independent city auditor’s office is conducting two audits on the program funds. Reports are expected to be released sometime in October, Shook said. City Auditor Amanda Noble confirmed that her office is conducting the audits, but did not provide any other information. The mayor’s office did not have immediate comment. He said there has been less money available for some projects than has publicly been promised. “There’s not a lot of concrete information flowing out of the people who manage it right now,” Shook said. “This is a growing area of concern for a lot of people.” Tom Weyandt, who is serving as the interim manager for the Renew Atlanta Bond program and the TSPLOST funds, called for an internal review when he took the post, Shook said. The other review was called for by a City Council res-

My apprehension level is starting to go through the roof. I think if everything was going to turn out to be fine, those signals would have been sent out a long time ago. HOWARD SHOOK CITY COUNCILMEMBER

olution that was cosponsored by Shook. The auditor cannot discuss any finding prematurely, but Shook said he is disappointed the final reports have taken as long as they have. The council resolution was passed in March. The TPLOST was passed by voters in 2016 and is expected to bring in $300 million over five years. Shook said in a December 2017 article that previous city Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard reported that the TSPLOST was meeting projections. The MARTA expansion was approved at the same time, but is a separate tax and questions about its funding were not raised. Fulton County has had funding problems with its separate TSPLOST, which could be caused by faulty projections, businesses failing to charge the new tax or lower consumer spending. If the returns are less than expected, the City Council would have to decide what projects to cut from the TPLOST funding list, Shook said. “We will monitor the situation and adapt as clarity emerges,” Durrett said.

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Public Safety | 23

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Police Blotter / Buckhead The following information, involving events that took place in Buckhead Sept. 7 through Sept. 20, was provided to the Buckhead Reporter by the Zone 2 precinct of the Atlanta Police Department from its open data records.


500 block of Bishop Street — Sept. 11

400 block of Armour Drive — Sept. 19

2400 block of Camellia Lane — Sept. 16

500 block of Ivy Place — Sept. 11

500 block of Bishop Street — Sept. 19

1200 block of Collier Road — Sept. 19

700 block of Woodward Way — Sept. 12



700 block of Fountainhead Lane — Sept.

2400 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —

700 block of Cosmopolitan Drive — Sept.

Sept. 7


1300 block of Northside Drive — Sept. 10


2500 block of Piedmont Road — Sept. 11

2100 block of Pied-

600 block of Antone Street— Sept. 12

BURGLARY-RESIDENCE 2400 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —

Sept. 7

3400 block of Roxboro Road — Sept. 7

2300 block of

1900 block of Dellwood Drive — Sept. 8 1900 block of Monroe Drive — Sept. 8


700 block of Fountainhead Lane — Sept. 9

800 block of Chattahoochee Avenue — Sept. 10


Piedmont Road — Sept. 14

3400 block of Pinestream Road — Sept. 8

Road — Sept. 9

Sidney Marcus Boulevard — Sept. 13

block of Longleaf Drive — Sept. 15 1000 block of Huff Road — Sept. 18 2000 block of Monroe Place — Sept. 18

3000 block of Maple Drive — Sept. 7 3200 block of Lenox Road — Sept. 11

2000 block of Peachtree

700 block of

1000 block of Huff Road — Sept. 7

700 block of Lindbergh Drive — Sept. 8

Sept. 8

mont Road — Sept. 13

block of Vivian Lane — Sept. 14

700 block of Huff Road — Sept. 7

2100 block of Monroe Drive —

1200 block of Menlo Drive — Sept. 10 1700 block of Northside

Drive — Sept. 11 1200 block of Collier Road —

Sept. 12 3300 block of Peachtree Road — Sept. 15 3400 block of Kingsboro Road — Sept. 16

200 block of Pharr Road — Sept. 15 2200 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —

Sept. 16 3300 block of Peachtree Road — Sept. 20

LARCENY Between Sept. 7 and Sept. 20, there were

102 larcenies from vehicles reported across Zone 2 and 50 reported cases of larceny and shoplifting.

AUTO THEFT There were 26 reported incidents of auto

theft between Sept. 7 and Sept. 20.

Long-vacant Fulton court liaison job to be filled BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

A Fulton County program billed as the “eyes and ears of the community” in the court system has gone unstaffed for nine months amid public complaints. But a hiring is coming soon now that additional county funding has come through, the District Attorney’s Office says. District Attorney Paul Howard “is actively working to fill the position” of Citizens’ CourtWatch coordinator, according to DA’s Office spokesperson Chris Hopper. CourtWatch is a community liaison program intended to boost the public presence in the courtroom for hearings in prominent cases, which prosecutors believe can help to sway judges and impress offenders. Prosecutors track cases involving accused repeat offenders or high-profile crimes, then provide that information to the CourtWatch coordinator, who sends out a summary of cases to the public. But the latest CourtWatch coordinator, Danielle Simpson, left in January and has not been replaced, Hopper said. The job has been advertised online for some time, but had not been filled. That has frustrated some residents, including members of the Facebook-based anti-crime group Concerned Citizens United. The lack of the CourtWatch coordinator was a major discussion point at an Aug. 8 meeting in Buckhead held by that group and other activists with Fulton prosecutors about a notorious murder at the Capital City country club. At that meeting, the prosecutors urged residents to attend court hearings, but acknowledged the CourtWatch position was unfilled. Ann Walsh, a Concerned Citizens United member who helped to lead the meeting, said the DA’s Office did not respond to questions about CourtWatch and residents feared it would be permanently unfilled. “It is vital to the community to have a contact within the DA’s office who can be a liaison for communication …,” she said in an email. The Fulton Board of Commissioners recently approved supplement money for the DA’s Office in what Commissioner Lee Morris, who represents Buckhead, calls “an extraordinary midyear step.” The CourtWatch job was not specifically mentioned in the DA’s Office request, Morris said, but salaries were the general purpose. “He spent too much,” Morris said of Howard. He said the DA offered unusual


higher starting salaries to gain enough prosecutors, and the office had unexpected high expenses in prosecuting Buckhead attorney Claud “Tex” McIver for the highprofile murder of his wife Diane. Hopper indicated that funding was the problem for CourtWatch, saying that “because of the additional funds from the county, [Howard] will be able to fill the position.” According to the online job posting, the CourtWatch coordinator salary is $34,987.

24 |

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