OCTOBER 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 10
Buckhead Reporter AROUND TOWN
Oglethorpe professor brings ghosts to life
HEAD FOR THE HILLS PAGES 21-29
VOTERS GUIDE TO NOV. 3 ELECTION PAGE 12
Got that swing
‘Buckhead Blue’ private police patrol pitched as solution to crime
Presidential campaigns appeal to suburban fears
BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
the industry giant Airbnb and reviving longstalled talks about a possible registration system and tighter ban on “party houses.” “Diplomacy is the greatest weapon here,” said Pam O’Dell, executive director of the Short Term Rental Owners Association of Georgia, saying her group wants a seat at the table with residents and officials to talk
Amid an increase in shootings and quality-of-life crimes like street racing, political momentum is building for a neighborhoodwide private police force of off-duty officers already dubbed “Buckhead Blue.” However, the leader of two groups likely to operate such a program is expressing caution about it. Envisioned as a larger version of a Midtown program called “Midtown Blue,” the Buckhead concept was proposed at a September community meeting by Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, who recently moved to Peachtree Road and got an earful of street-racing noise. The idea was greeted with interest from leaders of neighborhood and business groups and such elected officials as City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit. “We’re at war against crime and we need to act like it,” Matzigkeit said he told attendees at a private Sept. 24 virtual meeting that included interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant and officials with the Atlanta Police Foundation, the Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Community Improvement District. “I don’t get the sense of urgency… from people that I would like to get that sense of urgency from,” he said. Jim Durrett, who is both executive director of the Buckhead Community Improve-
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Ailyn Bisogno; daughter Fiorella, 4; and their dog Toddy enjoy a new, sculpture-style swing at Mountain Way Common on Sept. 26. The swing is part of an improvement project wrapping up this month at the 9-acre park at North Ivy Road and Mountain Way beneath Ga. 400. The project, done by the park’s friends group and Livable Buckhead, turns part of roadway into a multiuse path featuring decorative panels and planters. For more information see MountainWayCommon.net.
Call for short-term rental ban sparks talk of other rules
BY JOHN RUCH
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Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook’s newly filed legislation to ban shortterm rentals in all single-family neighborhoods may be short-term itself after lawyers and fellow elected officials are through with it. But it’s having the intended effect as a shot across the bow, drawing reactions from
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A proposed express bus route between Buckhead and Cobb County, an idea pitched as a solution to the neighborhood’s commuter cut-through traffic, is now in the official metro Atlanta regional transit plan. Assuming the project remains in the Regional Transit Plan for its formal adoption by the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, whose board vote is expected in December, it would become eligible for state and federal funding. An opportunity for some state funding could come next year, but many planning details about the bus route have yet to be worked out, the CID board was told at its Sept. 23 meeting. Traffic between Cobb and Buckhead has long been a neighborhood issue, but advocacy for the current bus service arose in 2018 from the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, an umbrella group of neighborhood associations, when chair Mary Norwood began calling for a new MARTA subway line. That idea boiled down to a less expensive concept of an express commuter bus route that would avoid using residential streets. The CID, a selftaxing group of commercial property owners, and Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit whose services include alternative commuting options, got on board with the idea. The bus concept’s inclusion in the ATL’s transit plan was announced to the CID board by Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead. Details of the route are yet to be determined, Starling said, including the terminuses and whether it would use I-75 or I-85 to go through Buckhead. The specific route included in the ATL plan runs between Tower Place complex on Buckhead’s Piedmont Road and the Marietta Transfer Center Park-and-Ride on South Marietta Parkway in Cobb. That route uses I-75 in Cobb, the top end of I-285 and I-85 in Buckhead. The use of existing toll lanes on I-75 and toll lanes planned on I-285 could speed the route’s service. The route could include a terminus farther north in Cobb: the Town Center Park-andRide on Big Shanty Road in Kennesaw. Also to be determined is exactly how such a route would circulate in Buckhead’s business district and how it would connect with the local Buc shuttle. That local shuttle itself is undergoing a reinvention into an on-demand, Uberstyle service in a plan delayed by the pandemic. “We’ve got to figure those pieces out,” Starling said. The ATL plan filing proposes making the route part of the State Road and Tollway Authority’s existing “Xpress” commuter bus service, but that is not a requirement. Starling estimated annual costs of such a route at $436,000. The filing in the ATL plan has it budgeted at $11,137,500 for operations and maintenance costs, which would be over a period of at least 10 years. The first funding opportunity, Starling said, would be next year through a state bond program that is partly paid for by taxes on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The project is in the transit plan under the name “Northwest Corridor-Buckhead Express Bus Service,” project number 179. The ATL is accepting public comments about the regional transit plan and projects within it through Oct. 19 and is holding a series of virtual meetings in October. For more information, see atltransit.ga.gov/districtdownloads.
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4 | Art & Entertainment
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Sports, politics and city changes are spotlighted new 1996 Olympics exhibit BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
The revamped and reinvented 1996 Olympics exhibit at the Atlanta History Center reopened last month with a new focus on urban change and the intersection of sports and politics. “Atlanta ’96: Shaping an Olympic and Paralympic City” is a 2,600-square-foot exhibit featuring hundreds of artifacts and images about the city’s unlikely successful bid for the 100th Summer Olympics and the mega-event’s impact on the metro area. Like the original exhibit that opened in 2006, it includes historic sporting moments, medals, torches and the terrorist bombing that marred the event as recently depicted in the controversial movie “Richard Jewell.” But the revamp comes in an era when the Olympics is under renewed scrutiny for expense, displacement of residents and other effects, and when the Games and pro sports in general are wracked with controversies over players engaging in political protests. The new exhibit follows those themes with looks at how the Olympics changed life here and includes local protest movements. Exhibit curator Sarah Dylla compared
ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
The Centennial Olympic Stadium in Summerhill under construction around 1994. The new exhibit looks not only at the events in the stadium, but the planning process that put it there and the local protests against it. (Photo by Ross Henderson, courtesy Georgia Amateur Athletic Foundation Collection, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center.)
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the Games to “this big splash, and what are all the ripple effects of people trying to involve themselves in different ways, whether that’s aligning themselves with it or reacting to it? It’s all ... civic participation, and I’ll just make a push for how important those types of lessons are today, that we all need to find ways to make our voices heard more.” The original exhibit had what Dylla calls a “sports hall of fame” approach, where visitors walked around a mock footrace track to follow a day-by-day recounting of the Games. That nostalgic exhibit was suitable for an audience that still had fresh memories of 1996, Dylla said. The new exhibit frames the bigger picture of what the Olympics likes to call the “legacy” -- the long-term changes from the Games. The exhibit begins with the story of Atlanta’s longtime dreams of international prominence, redevelopment and sports glory; the growth of the Olympics itself into a city-changing mega-event; and how those trends intersected in 1996. The exhibit then tells not only the sporting story of the Atlanta Games, but also how it changed the city. Through some interactive elements, it invites viewers to think about what and how they would like to change about their neighborhoods and society. The idea, Dylla says, is to treat the Olympics as “the civics lesson that it is.” Particular people and organizations that seized the Olympics moment for change are highlighted. One is Buckhead’s Shepherd Center, whose advocacy saved the Paralympics -- a related Games for athletes with disabilities -- from being cut from the program as a money-saver. The Paralympics became a firm partner of the Olympics after that, and Dylla said the local advocacy helped to improve accessibility in the city. The late activist Ethel Mae Matthews is another person highlighted in the exhibit. The Peoplestown resident was a prominent protester against stadium projects, including the Olympics stadium, that demolished homes and displaced residents in areas long afflicted with racial segregation and poverty. As a private business deal, the Olympics offers little or no input from residents affected by its plans. Matthews’ story is one of many of residents who organized in an attempt to gain transparency and influence, and who were precursors of what is now a global protest movement critical of the Olympics and similar mega-events. One piece of 1996 history deliberately left out of the exhibit is its most infamous name: Eric Rudolph, the terrorist who set off a bomb in Centennial Olympics Park. The exhibit addresses the bombing and names the victims and Jewell, the security guard who warned people away from the bomb before being wrongly suspected C
Art & Entertainment | 5
of planting it. After a “big discussion,” Dylla said, History Center staff decided it was “interesting and powerful” to deny Rudolph himself the notoriety of being named. The new exhibit is intended to last 10 to 20 years, Dylla said, until interpretation and perspective inevitably changes for another era. “Atlanta ’96” was intended to open in July to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but this year’s ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER edition was postA section of the new “Atlanta ’96” exhibit at the Atlanta History Center describes the city’s bid for the Olympics. poned by the COVID-19 pandemic, as was the exhibit. of early October, it was operating under version of the exhibit is planned for a reThe Sept. 18 opening date coincided with pandemic restrictions, including timed vamped version of the History Center’s the 30th anniversary of the International ticketing, limited attendance and rewebsite, which likely will go online in OcOlympic Committee announcement that quired mask-wearing. The pandemic contober. Atlanta was awarded the Games. ditions mean that some interactive elFor tickets and updated visiting inforThe History Center is located at 130 ements of the Olympics exhibit will be mation, see atlantahistorycenter.com. West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead. As for now. SpringsDerma-PressAd-OctoberIssue.pdf 1 suspended 9/28/20 10:27 AM A substantial online
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Council, school board tell Fulton authority not to grant tax breaks within city BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
The Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta Board of Education have adopted resolutions calling on the Development Authority of Fulton County to stop granting tax breaks to developers within city limits. The resolutions are part of an ongoing controversy about where tax abatements are appropriate and what authority should cut bond-issuance deals that enable them. The resolutions call for such deals to be made only by Invest Atlanta, the city’s own development authority, and in accordance with a recently adopted city plan focused on policies to create middle-income jobs and affordable housing and to support small businesses. “Tax abatements should be used to support projects committing to deeply affordable housing and projects in underserved neighborhoods in need of middle-wage jobs, grocery stores and other amenities,” said City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland in a press release, almost repeating verbatim the text of the council resolution, which passed in September. “Offering tax abatements in thriving parts of town discourages development in communities that need it the most. And it withholds needed funding for everything from police and fire services to street improvements and parks upkeep. Making up for that lost revenue falls to Atlanta homeowners and renters.” The school board resolution, passed this month, had similar language. It says that tax abatements in the city should be made by Invest Atlanta “for equitable distribution of development across Atlanta to ensure investments are made for every Atlanta Public Schools student to graduate ready for college, career and life.” The resolutions specifically cites DAFC’s Aug. 25 approval of tax abatements valued at over $11 million for three projects, including two in the hot areas of Atlantic Station and the Atlanta BeltLine. All three are in tax allocation districts, or TADs, where developers already get a different kind of tax break where they are allowed to keep the value of their property taxes for use in infrastructure on the site. The granting of tax abatements within TADs is especially controversial, with critics calling it a form of doubledipping that also delays the conclusion of the TAD deal. “This resolution does not tell the whole story,” said DAFC Executive Director Al Nash in a written statement about the council’s resolution on behalf of the agency. He said the council fails to mention that such projects are “bringing tech jobs from Microsoft and Google when tech office space in other cities are losing leases”; that they create “more affordable housing that meets all city guidelines they have put in place”; that they may involve infrastructure improvements, such as a sewer line in Peoplestown; or that the deals mean “millions of dollars in taxes collected on blighted properties” that would have stalled due to cleanups or other challenges. “These are harder stories to tell as they go beyond what can be shared in a tweet or a headline, so we’ve always offered to meet with city and school leaders to review the
comprehensive reports we provide to their staff,” Nash said. “We want them to gain a deeper understanding of these projects, including why incentives are needed and the overall benefits. During these unprecedented times, it’s even more important for us to look for ways to solidify and strengthen our partnership to ensure economic development continues within the city of Atlanta and Fulton County.” At the end of September, Nash announced his retirement. He will continue to serve while the authority seeks a new CEO. Controversy continues to rage over when tax abatements are appropriate and who should grant them. Criticism from such high-profile figures as former APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen drew increasing scrutiny to tax abatements over the past three years. The heart of the controversy is that many abatements go to luxurious projects in such hot real estate markets as Buckhead and Midtown, where it appears that projects would be built without any incentive. Such tax breaks, critics argue, pad the pockets of wealthy developers with money that should go to public schools and other civic needs, and which must come from tax increases on homeowners and renters instead. Amid debate late last year, the DAFC for the first time in memory rejected a tax break request. The denial was for an estimated $2.2 million tax break for a tower proposed by the Loudermilk Companies, one of Atlanta’s largest developers, in Buckhead, which is possibly the hottest real estate market in the Southeast. That project at 359 East Paces Ferry Road moved ahead without the incentive and is now being leased by the company as “high-powered, boutique-style office spaces.” The recent scrutiny led DAFC to institute some reforms, including publicly revealing the estimated value of the tax breaks it grants. DAFC also has arranged deals to get some public benefits in exchange for tax breaks, such as creation of affordable housing units, but also has no mechanism to confirm such goals are met or to get the money back if a developer fails to meet them. Another controversy is whether county development authorities should be granting such tax breaks in cities that have their own development authorities, often with differing policy goals and standards. Invest Atlanta itself last year told DAFC to stop operating within the city, which the county agency refused to do; the City Council is now joining that call. Also last year, the city of South Fulton and DAFC got into a major conflict over which agency should grant a tax break for a commercial development, which led some state legislators to file a bill preventing DAFC from operating within cities. Atlanta is not the only city experiencing tax break controversies. A major dispute is underway between DeKalb County and the city of Brookhaven over the city development authority’s recent approval of a $13.5 million tax break for a mixed-use project under the code name “Project X.” County Commissioner Jeff Rader has blasted the deal as an unnecessary giveaway for a project that would have been built anyway. The city says the overall value of the project makes it worthwhile.
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Voters Guide to Nov. 3 ballot questions BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
Voters will face several ballot questions on Nov. 3, including constitutional amendments and statewide and local referendums. Their wording can be confusing. The following is a guide to what they mean in plainer English.
State Constitutional Amendments
Amendment 1: Dedicating fees and taxes to intended purpose This amendment aims to halt the state’s frequent practice of taking fees or taxes that are imposed for specialty funds and instead spending them elsewhere. The example that drove this proposal was fees charged to purchasers of tires and to governments for solid-waste disposal. Those fees were intended to pay for cleanup of dumps and landfills, but frequently are diverted to other spending. A “yes” vote would require such money to go to its intended purpose in most cases and barring an emergency. Amendment 2: Ability to sue government This amendment would allow people to sue state or local governments over the legality of their laws. It is a reaction to a controversial 2017 Supreme Court of
Georgia decision that “sovereign immunity” bars such lawsuits without the state’s consent; that case addressed a lawsuit filed by doctors against an abortion law. A “yes” vote would waive sovereign immunity in cases alleging a government official acted “outside the scope of lawful authority” or in violation of state laws or the Georgia or U.S. constitutions. A court could make a ruling, but damages or fees could only be charged in such a case with the General Assembly’s approval.
Tax exemption for real estate owned by charities A “yes” on this question would create a property tax exemption for vacant lots owned by registered nonprofit organizations “whose mission is solely to build and finance affordable homes at 0% interest loans,” said Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), lead sponsor of the legislation that is putting this question to the voters. It is specifically intended to help Habitat for Humanity, which had many vacant lots donated to it in the last recession. “This will help further the mission of organizations like Habitat for Humanity and others by allowing them to direct the dollars saved from ad valorem tax to constructing affordable housing,” says Gambill. Once the housing is built and given to
a homeowner, the property would go back on the tax rolls.
DeKalb County referendum
Board of Ethics reform A “yes” vote on this question would reform the DeKalb County Board of Ethics, which has been inactive since the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2018 ruled that its current board member appointment method is unconstitutional. The question is confusing because it talks about revising the board without explaining how. The current board was appointed by various officials and agencies, including such private groups as universities and the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce. The majority involvement of private organizations is what the Supreme Court ruled unlawful. If successful, the question on the ballot would dissolve the board as of Dec. 31 and appoint a new one, with three members chosen by the county delegation in the state House of Representatives, three by the county delegation in the state Senate, and one by the county tax commission. Two alternates would be appointed by the clerk of the county Superior Court. The Board of Ethics is intended to independently review claims of improper conduct by public officials. This is the third reform to appear as a ballot question in five years amid concerns the board was not independent. In 2015, voters ap-
proved the current board that turned out to be unlawful. Last year, voters rejected another reform proposal amid concerns it again gave the county CEO and Board of Commissioners too much influence. The DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council, a group that advocates for the Board of Ethics reform, opposed last year’s ballot question but is supporting the one on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Brookhaven special referendum
Removal of mayoral term limit Only voters in the city of Brookhaven will see this question, which would remove the current term limit for the mayor. Under the existing city charter, mayors are limited to two consecutive four-year terms. If that limit is removed, the change would apply to incumbent John Ernst, who this year began his second term in office and would be free to run again. The city government drew controversy with an attempt last year to remove the term limit solely by state legislation. Some state legislators balked and required that the issue go before voters. The question does not affect other restrictions on who is eligible to run for mayor, including residency and voter registration requirements.
WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? THE LAST 12 MONTHS HAVE BEEN FULL OF TURMOIL IN THE ECONOMY AND MARKETS. IS TODAY UNUSUAL COMPARED TO OTHER MARKETS L&W HAS OBSERVED IN OUR NEARLY 50 YEARS? In our nearly 50-year history, we’ve seen a lot of markets that created financial uncertainty, which makes planning difficult. The “flavor” of each dish offered up by the markets is always distinct, but the basic ingredients are the same. The key to a successful outcome in personal financial health is not unlike following a healthy diet – get sound ongoing advice from someone who has your best interest at heart. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “…YOUR BEST INTEREST AT HEART”? Linscomb & Williams had a new client who was unexpectedly early-retired from a downsizing. We explained it this way: ask someone, “What should I eat?” You likely won’t get the same recommendation from your neighborhood butcher as from a Registered Dietician. Your butcher might recommend the pork spareribs that just arrived, knowing you’ll find that recommendation appealing. The dietician, on the other hand, insists on a balanced program that will achieve your ultimate health goal, though it includes items you might not like. SO, HELP US WITH THE CONNECTION TO FINANCIAL ADVICE DURING MARKET TURMOIL? Much of what passes for financial “advice” today is equivalent to the butcher selling you the pork spareribs. The pork spareribs are what he has on hand to
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sell; he thinks they will work OK for you and that you’ll be happy. He’s not that concerned that it is the best option for your long-term health. Most financial advisors still operate outside a 100% pure fiduciary standard, and thus not always under a legal obligation to put your best interest above their own. PRESUMABLY, L&W FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT APPROACH? At Linscomb & Williams, we are like that Registered Dietician. Following the fiduciary standard, we are obligated to put your interest ahead of our own. This is always important, but most especially, in times of market turmoil -times when it makes sense to get a second opinion from an experienced firm with no products to sell. We have an experienced, credentialled team ready to deliver that second opinion right here, right now.
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Pandemic safety rules apply to trick-or-treating, cities say BY BOB PEPALIS As Halloween approaches, local cities say they will not impose any special pandemic rules on trick-or-treating beyond those already applying to public activity. But the city governments are adjusting or canceling their own events.
Brookhaven Brookhaven has no additional restrictions or changes to Halloween this year, said city spokesperson Burke Brennan. Residents should follow state and city health rules. “Maintain six feet distance, wear a mask, etc. -- but that is not just Halloween, it is every day until Nov. 30, when the current ordinance expires,” Brennan said. As organized gatherings of 30 or more people are prohibited, no citysponsored Halloween events are scheduled, he said.
Dunwoody “Historically, Dunwoody has not regulated Halloween, and we’re not going to start this year,” Mayor Lynn Deutsch said. “I’m confident that families can find a way to trick-or-treat safely.” People have a choice about participation, she said. Leaving your lights off is a signal you don’t want Halloween visitors. “Every bit of COVID-19 related research shows that large gatherings are a bad idea, so I’m discouraging Halloween parties,” Deutsch said. The city’s traditional Halloween Spooktacular Drive-thru at Brook Run Park on Oct. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. will be modified to include COVID-19 safety precautions, city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said. Residents and other visitors can drive through a haunted display of spooky decorations, timed special effects and music. Decorated Dunwoody Police vehicles will promote the department’s annual “See & Be Seen on Halloween” campaign. Officers will give out clip-on flashers to make sure children are visible if they go trick-or-treating in the dark. Cars will enter Brook Run Park from Peeler Road and follow directional signage to the drive-thru. The event route wraps around the Veterans Memorial and ends near the driveway at 4770 North Peachtree Road.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said during an Oct. 6 City Council meeting that the city will leave trick-or-treating up to individual homeowners associations and
leave it in the hands of parents. Recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic, Paul said “We are not going to either outlaw or endorse Halloween.” However, the Sandy Springs Farmers Market at City Springs on Oct. 31 will have a Halloween theme and trickor-treating. Guidelines for social distancing and public health will be observed, including a mask requirement on city property, as children get to trick-or-treat in age groups. No purchase is necessary for children to receive treats. The schedule is: 9:30-10:30 a.m., ages up to 2; 11-11:30 a.m., ages 3-5; noon12:30 p.m., ages 5-7. Parents with children in multiple age groups should pick one time within their eligible grouping for the entire family. The Farmers Market will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Photo backdrops in the form of Halloween-themed vignettes will decorate the City Green. A city-themed template will be available for free for families looking to carve pumpkins at home.
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10 | Perimeter Business
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Perimeter hotel market rebound could take more than a year
The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North hotel, left, in the Concourse Center as seen in 2017.
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BY BOB PEPALIS The hotel industry won’t get back to its 2019 occupancy and revenue numbers until the late 2022 or even 2023, a Sandy Springs hotel director told the city’s Hospitality and Tourism Board during its Sept. 24 meeting. As hotel revenues go down, so too does the revenue for Visit Sandy Springs, which gets its funding from hotel and motel taxes. Executive Director Jennifer Cruce told her governing board, the Hospitality and Tourism Board of Directors, that her staff continues to revise its revenue estimates. All marketing and social media has been brought in-house. She earmarked $200,000 that could be cut from the budget. And she was scheduled to discuss budget adjustments with Mayor Rusty Paul, chair of the board. In 2019, Visit Sandy Springs had revenue of $1.8 million. Initially for 2020, it budgeted for $1.7 million in revenues, but ultimately collected $1.2 million. The city receives a share of the tax revenue also. For fiscal year 2021, which started in July and runs through June 2021, Cruce said the agency budgeted $820,000 early in the pandemic based on forecasted occupancy rate and room rates. But she doesn’t anticipate receiving that much revenue, as those projections were from when public health officials said the pandemic would drop off with a possible spike in November. The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North adjusted its budget to 40% to 45% of 2019’s numbers, said John Visconti, director of marketing for the hotel and a board member. Businesses he has contacted want to get back to traveling, he said, but no travel is planned until next year. “I’m concerned but I’m optimistic about the second half of next year,” Visconti said. A lot of groups still plan travel in the second half of next year, he said. He expects corporate travel to resume by then. As dismal as it sounds, Visconti said Sandy Springs is in a good situation with hotels running at 40% to 45%occupancy. “I will tell you we have hotels in our company that are running 10% occupancy,” he said. Hotels in the city and across the country have adjusted rates. But that affects funding and revenue streams, he said. The Westin has booked some small weddings with 80 to 100 people instead of the 300-person weddings it had pre-pandemic. The Perimeter area may lose some hotels, but most of those lost in metro Atlanta will be downtown. Those hotels rely on the convention business. “The convention business takes a lot longer to come back because you have thousands of people in one place,” Visconti said. With the Perimeter area depending on corporate customers in much smaller groups, it’s recovery can be quicker. But traveling will be different, he said. Corporations will try to cut trips down to one or two nights at most. If a traveler has a lunch appointment, they’ll be expected to head back home that same afternoon. “I truly believe we will get back to the corporate market, the group market, the social market,” Visconti said. “People want to socialize, people want to connect. People want to share ideas.”
Art & Entertainment | 11
PATH400 to host mini art installations in ‘tiny parks’ event
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The PATH400 multiuse trail will host dollhouse-style “tiny parks” in an art installation show and contest Oct. 16-18.
The installations in the “Big PATH, Tiny Parks” displays will be made by resident and sponsors of the host organizations, Livable Buckhead and Tiny Doors ATL. “The goal is to demonstrate the value of increased green space in our community by showcasing how impactful community art is and the value of parks -- no matter how small,” says Livable Buckhead’s website. The installations will be 14-by-18 inches and “must include an element of recycling/ reuse and illustrate green space in a unique way,” according to Livable Buckhead. In addition, a DJ will create “an ‘immersion’’acoustic experience” along the route, Livable Buckhead says. The installations will be on view in-person and virtually, as will voting on the best versions.
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for Georgia House District 54
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for equal rights and fair treatment for all Georgians Vote by mail, vote early (October 12 - October 30), or vote at your polling place on November 3rd!
12 | Community
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to key local races on the Nov. 3 ballot Many races will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, including the U.S. presidency. The following are Voters Guides to candidates in some key local races. For full answers from the candidates and more election coverage, see ReporterNewspapers.net.
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Republican Angela Stanton King and Democrat Nikema Williams are competing to replace the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Stanton King did not provide Voters Guide answers.
nikemaforcongress.com What is motivating you to run for this office? As your congresswoman, I will build upon the legacy of Congressman John Lewis. Each generation has an obligation to move us closer to true equality for all. Our country, our state and our district are at a pivotal moment. Our district deserves a fighter to combat against the repeated attempts to strip away our rights, our dignity, and our ability to thrive. I will fight as I have throughout my career to make sure that everyone can live the full promise of America.
Republican incumbent Barry Loudermilk faces a challenge from Democrat Dana Barrett. Neither candidate provided Voters Guide answers.
Democratic incumbent Jen Jordan faces a challenge from Republican Harrison Lance.
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Harrison Lance What is motivating you to run for this office? I was born and raised in my district and have seen everything change as we advance in capabilities and goals for our cities and state. I want to support law enforcement so they can keep our families safe. We must also eradicate human trafficking, as it is a terrible crime that is plaguing our state. Lastly, we need to continue to promote an environment where Georgia can be the number one place in this nation to do business. These are bipartisan goals that should rise above party politics and political posturing.
11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
vating factor for me is my children and their future. Every child in this state deserves a first-class education that will provide the skills to compete in an everchanging global economy. We must invest in smaller class sizes, in our teachers, and in job training programs in high schools. Every child in this state deserves to breathe clean air and drink clean water. That is why we must stop harmful chemicals from being released into our air and water. Every child deserves to feel safe, which is why common-sense gun reforms, like universal background checks, are needed.
What is motivating you to run for this office? The biggest moti-
Zan Fort, Sonya Halpern, Jo Anna Potts and Linda Pritchett are competing in a Democrat-only primary to fill a seat left vacant by Nikema Williams, who is running for Congress. Potts and Pritchett did not provide Voters Guide answers.
Zanfort.com What is motivating you to run for this office? BH
The current political climate in this country is very concerning to me. The rise of nationalist, fascist ideals in state and federal government and the backwards policy toward dealing with the COVID-19 crisis have made it imperative that I become involved in creating policy to reverse these trends. Second, my desire to run for this office has been strengthened over years of watching the career of my father, former state Sen. Vincent Fort. His years of activism and political service has served to foster my own political aspirations.
Sonya Halpern Sonya4ga.com
What is motivating you to run for this office? I have spent the better part of the last 20 years working with community organizations and nonprofits throughout Senate District 39. In that time, I have come face to face with the myriad problems that arise from poor policy decisions at the state level, from lack of healthcare access to crippling poverty. I realized that the only way to create meaningful change is at the state level. I have spent decades fighting the symptoms of bad policy that leaves so many people behind -- now I’m ready to tackle the issues head on.
STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 40
Democratic incumbent Erick Allen faces a challenge from Republican Taryn Chilivis Bowman. Neither candidate provided Voters Guide answers.
Republican incumbent Deborah Silcox faces a challenge from Democrat Shea Roberts.
sheaforgeorgia.com What is motivating you to run for this office? In 2018, I ran to represent our district because I felt our leaders no longer reflected our community’s shared values. Since then, the need for change has only become more urgent. As we see our way out of this global health crisis, we need legislators who will fight for accessible, afBH
Community | 13
www.ReporterNewspapers.net fordable healthcare, support our small businesses, and fully fund our schools; representatives who will prioritize fair elections over politics; leaders who will forge an inclusive Georgia to protect our children’s futures. In 2018, we came close to winning this critical seat. This year, we’re finishing what we started.
SilcoxforGeorgia.com What is motivating you to run for this office? I am proud to be a strong, independent voice for House District 52, which I have represented since 2016. My focus has been and will continue to be the issues that matter most to our community. My experience in the legislature and my commitment to the health, safety and economic security of this district have motivated me to seek re-election in 2020.
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Democratic incumbent Betsy Holland faces a challenge from Republican Lyndsey Rudder.
betsyforgeorgia.com What is motivating you to run for this office? Working Georgians continue to go without access to healthcare, and hospitals are facing financial strains. Now more than ever, we must ensure that every Georgian has an insurance card in his pocket. When I return to the Capitol, I want to implement a COVID economic recovery plan that supports workers and small businesses. I will fight for equal rights and access for all Georgians. Finally, the GOP-led legislature passed a budget that included devastating cuts to public education, mental health services and infrastructure improvements. I’m determined to get back to the Capitol to restore funding for these critical services.
Lyndsey Rudder voterudder.com
What is motivating you to run for this office? As a prosecutor and mother of two young children, I am deeply concerned about the direction of our district. The district is plagued by crime, neighbors feel unsafe in the community, and businesses are being directly targeted by violent protestors and looters. Crime and business are
extrinsically linked and recognizing the correlation between these two principles is key to the success and safety of the district. I have entered the race because we – the district – deserve better; we deserve a leader willing to stand up and fight for our community.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION The Public Service Commission is a state body that regulates utilities. Its members represent regional districts, but are elected by all voters statewide. This year, south Georgia’s District 1 and north Georgia’s District 4 are on the ballot. In District 1, incumbent Jason Shaw faces challengers Robert Bryant and Elizabeth Melton. In District 2, incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. faces challengers Daniel Blackman and Nathan Wilson. Melton was the only candidate in either race who provided Voters Guide answers.
DISTRICT 1 Elizabeth Melton melton4georgia.com
What specific policy would you create or continue to lower utility rates for residential customers? I would require utility companies to bear the financial responsibility of cleaning up environmental problems that they have created rather than allowing those costs to be passed along to the ratepayer. I would require companies to bear the financial responsibility of dealing with the mismanagement of large-scale projects rather than allowing the ratepayer to be penalized. In times of crisis, such as a pandemic, in which devastating impacts are broadly experienced, I would require companies to absorb their share of those impacts rather than requiring ratepayers, who have also been disadvantaged, to have to make up the difference.
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16 | Commentary
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COMMENTARY Presidential campaigns reach out to local suburbs with common theme of fear Presidential election contests are increasingly decided in the suburbs of major American cities. Whether discussing Bucks County, Pennsylvania; the “I-4 corridor” in Florida; Macomb County, Michigan; or Racine County, Wisconsin, suburbs are the site of the most pitched campaign battles for swing voters. So far, the 2020 race is no different. However, to the extent the electoral map has expanded — into places like Gwinnett County, Cobb County or north Fulton County — in the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, it is because of their competing appeals to these suburban swing voters. Suburbs are increasingly competitive because they are increasingly diverse. Whereas suburbs were once largely the domain of middle- and upper-middle-class Whites who voted in large majorities for Republicans, suburbs are becoming more socioeconomically and racially diverse. There are more working-class voters, who tend to vote for Democrats, and college-educated voters are moving slightly in the direction of Democrats as well. Additionally, the nature of candidate-centered campaigns and the decrease in party identification among suburban voters makes for the perfect concoction of swing and persuadable voters. In the 2020 race, the campaign appeals to suburban voters represent divergent views on who these potential voters are and what they want out of federal policy. It is often the case that Republican and Democratic campaigns use different appeals to attract would-be swing voters, but their differences are often marginal and often quite subtle. In the case of the Trump and Biden campaign efforts to appeal to suburban voters, this could not be further from the truth. The differing messages emerging from the Trump and Biden campaigns stem from a difference in conceptualizing what suburbs are and who lives there. The Trump campaign, as evidenced by the president’s tweets and statements at his rallies, sees the suburbs as havens for people who are fearful of crime and population density associated with major cities. The president’s statements about “suburban housewives” who want to be sheltered from “invaders” evince an image of the American suburb that may have been accurate a few decades ago but does not reflect most suburban residents today. However, beyond the surface level,
the president’s tweets and statements do strike at an important aspect of suburban living: housing and zoning regulations. As suburbs become denser, there is more significant attention on and response to changes to the regulatory environment. The Trump campaign’s calculation seems to be that these appeals will generate activity among those who would be most attuned to those changes, and these are the types of voters who they think are most likely to turn out to vote. Contrary to the Trump campaign, the Biden campaign focuses its message to suburban voters primarily on healthcare rather than on suburban living as such. Recent polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The New
ing communities. Conversely, the Biden campaign thinks suburban swing voters are going to be fearful about losing the guarantees for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act as well as the fear of the unknown regarding the ongoing pandemic. The question, again, turns on which of these campaigns is more accurately reflecting the mood and concerns of modern American suburban voters. We will not be able to answer that question until after November 3, 2020. Nonetheless, as the fall presidential campaign season heats up metro Atlanta’s airwaves, it is easy to see why. Metro Atlanta, like the long-watched suburban areas in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and fellow Sunbelt
J. Benjamin Taylor is an assistant professor of political science at the School of Government & International Affairs at Kennesaw State University, where he researches American political behavior.
York Times/Siena College suggest that the Biden campaign may be on the right track. Suburbs and their residents are not monolithic, but KFF polling focusing on Sunbelt suburbs suggests healthcare access and costs are a top concern, while the New York Times/Siena College poll from Midwestern states shows housing and zoning are not top-of-mind for voters. Though Biden and Trump split voters’ sentiments on the economy — another top concern among suburbanites — Biden is viewed more capable on dealing with healthcare and handling the coronavirus pandemic. Though these conceptions of suburban voters and the issue they care about — zoning and lifestyle versus healthcare — diverge, the underlying theme among both campaigns is fear. The Trump campaign thinks suburban voters are fearful about the influx of new people and changes to their outly-
state North Carolina, has an increasingly diverse population. Coupled with the movement of college-educated voters drifting more towards the Democratic Party generally, we see the amalgam of people in the Atlanta suburbs are exactly those swing, persuadable voters campaigns so desire to target. The trick for both campaigns is to find those voters, mobilize them with their message of fear about what the other candidate will do, and make sure more of their preferred voters cast ballots than voters motivated by the other campaign. While these objects may seem straightforward, it takes a lot of effort and message repetition for a campaign to mobilize their voters. So, if you are tired of seeing campaign commercials on television and hearing them on the radio, settle in, because they are not going anywhere.
represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC. BH
Commentary | 17
Answers to life’s (food) questions I’ve been married for 25 years and I’ve raised four kids, but I still call my mother with food questions. On this particular evening, however, I started out very confident in my culinary abilities. The sky was storm-cloud gray outside and the wind was blowing the patio furniture from one side of the deck to the other, but the ominous weather didn’t deter me. I had a bag of frozen seafood, and I was going to whip up a week-night defying dinner of linguine with sautéed scallops. I had stocked up frozen seafood for my daughter’s return from college. She had a
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recently announced she was a pescatarian, and the rest of the family were the beneficiaries of her lifestyle choices. My hungry 14-year-old twins were already in their Boy Scout uniforms, prepared to go to their meeting that night, and in my own predictably last-minute fashion, I was starting dinner exactly 25 minutes before it was time to leave. I followed the package directions to quick-thaw the scallops, as butter melted and water boiled. Pasta went in, scallops began to sizzle, lightning flashed, thunder cracked, and then it
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happened — the power went out. “Oh, NO!” I cried. I really did not know what to do. The scallops were only partially cooked, and I didn’t want to waste them. They were the expensive bag — wild, not farmed.
Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.
“We have a Coleman stove,” my eager little Star Scouts
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said from their perch at the breakfast bar. I dialed my cellphone. “Hello, mom? It’s me—is it rain-
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ing there? Well, I’ve got a quick food question. The power just went out here, and I just started cooking scallops.
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No, they were frozen, and I quick-thawed them. Yes, under cold running water. So I don’t know — can I put them
in the fridge now and finish cooking them later?”
I started going through the dark refrigerator, pulling out bread and jelly. “Boys, I guess you’re just going to have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches tonight.” “We have a Coleman stove.” They had found their spelunker headlamps and were back at the barstools with the lights secured around their foreheads. I continued my cell phone food-crisis conference. “OK, but here’s the thing, Mom. I don’t know when the power will go back on or when I’ll be able to finish cooking them —“ I had found the lighter and was walking around the house, lighting Mediterranean-fig-scented candles. Meanwhile, my boys were on their own cellphone, informing the Scoutmaster about the power outage and discussing how that might
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affect their meeting. Still a bit dubious about the cooling power of my refrigerator and the staying power of the uncooked scallops, I addressed my Scouts, “Boys, I’m really sorry. This was going to be such a great dinner. But we’ll eat it tomorrow — I hope.” I had found a package of lunch meat that didn’t smell too strong and set that on the breakfast bar, alongside the strawberry jam. “Mom! We’ve got a Coleman Stove!”
Before I knew it, they were climbing back up the basement stairs, one carrying a lantern, one carrying the stove, and both wearing their spelunker type headlights. One took off his headband flashlight and put in on my head, the other set up the stove and lit both burners, and 10 minutes later, they were eating linguine with sautéed scallops. We looked like coal miners hovering over French cuisine. I drove my twins to the Scout meeting (which had not been cancelled), and on the way back I noticed that the lights were on in the house two doors down from my home. The blackout began at exactly the house before mine.
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I entered my own dark house, opened my kitchen windows to air out the smells of burnt butter and seafood, removed my headlight, relit the candles, and settled down with a glass of wine. Some things are better by candlelight, anyway.
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18 | Commentary
Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at email@example.com.
In Luke 9, when Samarian villagIn ninth grade, it was his turn. With ers refuse to lodge Jesus and his disci50 cents from his mother, he made his ples and James and John want to pray for first solo shopping trip to the local conheavenly retribution, Jesus rebukes them venience store. for their anger. The passage ends simply: “I guess it took me a little too long “And they went to another village.” to choose between the chili cheese corn This passage defines the ismission chips and he said. “I got to the regCarol Niemi a marketingof consultant who lives on a thepie,” DunwoodySandy Springs line and of writes about people whose lives inspire being so happy with the Rev. William Givens, lead pastor ister and remember others. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. the Buckhead Baptist Church, said to be my chips, the first time buying them on the only Black pastor leading a historicalmy own.” ly white Buckhead church. His joy was short-lived. Givens can’t confirm the claim, but he “The cashier asked me, ‘What else?’ I lives to confirm the passage from Luke. said I didn’t have anything else. The man He spent his early years in South behind her told me to empty my pockets Georgia, in a church-going family with a or he would call the cops,” he said. “We mother who taught love and acceptance didn’t have much but our name and our and a stepfather who was a preacher. word, so I emptied my pockets.” “We went to Black churches. White It was 20 years before he ate those people went to White churches,” he said. chips again and five before he told his For him, that was just how it was unmother. til sixth grade, when his two best friends, Flash forward a few years. With no Forrest, who was White, and Bubba, who intention of entering the ministry, he was Black, encountered racism head on. joined the National Guard and entered “They went to Forrest’s church togethcollege, where as “one of 11 Black kids on er, and the church asked Bubba to leave,” campus,” he frequently experienced subhe said. tle and overt racism. One day everything
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The Black pastor of historically White church leads with reconciliation changed for him. “At a church service where a pastor was praying for me, I saw a dove descend from the ceiling onto his hand,” he said. “I felt peace hit my body, forgave everyone for everything, and haven’t felt any animosity since.” In 2008, as the religious life beckoned, he and his wife Gloria, who is white, decided he should accept a scholarship for a master of divinity degree from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. In 2010, he became an intern at Buckhead Baptist Church, then a predominantly White church. All was good until 2011, when he became associate pastor. Church members during that time remember turmoil. “Some wouldn’t attend if they knew he was preaching,” said Diane Irby, a member since 2008, “but when he preached, he always gave a great message.” In 2014, the congregation voted him lead pastor. “That’s when people walked out,” said Irby. “Now he’s drawing a lot of young families, and we’re very mixed.” A member of one of those families is Kamesha Gray “I’m in awe of his strength,” she said. “A congregation walked out on him because of what he looked like. But he kept preaching love, and Gloria stood by his side every single Sunday.” On Aug. 30, everything Givens stands for came to fruition during a Service of Reconciliation. To start, Thomas Hammond, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, read an official apology by the Southern Baptist Convention dating from 1995 for its historical oppression of African Americans. According to a longtime White member of the church, Givens’ response was what everyone was hoping for. “I’ve heard of other reconciliation services that devolved into corporate guilt trips. This one was Biblically based,” said
Rev. William Givens.
J.C. Davis. “We resolved as a church to repent of the sins of our forefathers and work hand in hand with the mission of the Lord.” Like Jesus in Samaria, Givens called for moving forward to “the next village” and recounted the ways he has seen racism evolving, with examples from his own life, on which he expanded during a phone call with me. “A couple of years ago, I was deciding on whether or not to purchase a convenience store. That’s a long way from the ninth-grader with the 50 cents,” he said. “I genuinely believe good is happening now. We need to notice those things and be a part of that change.” Givens believes the answer is love, not hate, and there’s only one way to get there. “We covenant not to look back, but to move forward,” he said. Services at self-described “most loving church on the planet” are Sundays at 11 a.m. at 4100 Roswell Road and livestreamed on the website at buckheadbaptist.org.
Around Town Here’s a question for the Halloween season: How do you properly act like a ghost? Apparently, you just keep it real. Matt Huff figured that out a few years ago. He teaches theater at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, where he’s an associate professor, so for most of the time, he works with students to stage and study plays. But in recent Octobers, he’s filled another role: he directs ghosts. Actually, actors portraying ghosts. He works with the volunteers who portray the ghosts on the Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Tours at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery. His role is to help bring those ghosts, well, to life. Like many freelance jobs, this one started with an email. Huff said that seven or eight years ago, when the cemetery’s annual Halloween tour was growing rapidly in popularity, he was among a group of local theater people who were invited to direct the actors who appear during the tour in order to sharpen up the show. “I was the only one who said ‘yes,’” Huff said during an interview via Zoom. “I’m really glad I did.” During past tours, guides have led small groups through the cemetery, where they encounter actors portraying people buried nearby. This year’s tour is expected to be different because of the pandemic. The guides and ghosts will remain, but the tour is moving online, and the in-person tour may be cancelled, although that decision had not been announced by mid-September. The online tour will be opened to the public on Oct. 29. It will cost $15. For details see oaklandcemetery.com or facebook. com/OCATL. “I’m actually really excited about it,” Huff said. “This is a cool thing.” The annual tour is the biggest single fundraiser for the Historic Oakland Foundation, the nonprofit that takes care of the cemetery. But Mary Margaret Fernandez, special events & volunteer manager for the foundation, argues the October event offers something more than a fun way to support the cemetery financially. The tour provides, she said, an unusual way of looking at Atlanta history. The ghosts include both famous and relatively anonymous Atlantans, and the actors and their speeches “show what lies between those two dates you find on their headstones,” she said. One tour, for instance, featured a notorious 19th century madam. Another introduced a bi-racial couple who were married at a time their relationship was itself illegal, Huff said. “It’s amazing to see how the telling of these stories has breathed new life into the history of the city.” Fernandez said. “We’re preventing certain areas of Atlanta’s history from being forgotten.” BH
Commentary | 19
Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@ reporternewspapers.net
Which ghosts will appear on the tour, Fernandez said during a phone interview, is a carefully guarded secret. “It’s different every year,” Huff said. “They change it up. There are a million stories at that cemetery, so they’re never going to run out. I’m always amazed at the stories they find.” Huff’s job, Fernandez said, is to coach the actors to make their performances “feel genuine. … It makes the performances feel like they’re being told to you by someone you know rather than someone very polished. He makes it very personal.” So, just what do you tell an aspiring ghost about how to address a tour group? Talk like you mean what you say. “You’re not speaking about the cemetery in the third person,” Huff said. “You have to speak the lines as if you’ve lived it.” Huff said one of the first things he suggested was that the foundation hire a professional playwright to script the tour so that the stories were presented consistently. Now the foundation uses two writers, who work with material from a variety of sources, including the families of the departed, to construct the stories the ghosts
He teaches Oakland Cemetery’s ghosts to come alive
tell, Fernandez said. “I’ve always looked for a creative challenge,” Huff said. “When I go there [to the cemetery] and I follow a group for a performance, when I see the whole thing in context, it really is a magical experience. … It is like his-
tory is coming to life right before you.” But, despite the fact these are ghosts and it’s the Halloween season, not necessarily a scary experience, he said. “It’s enlightening,” he said, “not frightening.”
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about a solution short of a blanket ban. Shook’s taste for diplomacy ran short in August when he became one of the unhappy neighbors of Buckhead’s latest notorious party mansion at 3511 Roxboro Road. Events there this year have resulted in dozens of police calls and operated under such promotions as “the biggest topless pool party ever.” Neighbors say the events have in the past two years since the mansion was vacated by former owner and star musician Young Thug. “Ironically, the best, quietest neighbor we had was a rapper. That was Young Thug,” said Shook. “And God, if I had known he was gonna be the best owner we ever had, I’d have taken him a Bundt cake.” Shook noted a long-stalled city proposal to register and license short-term rentals, which was put on hold to allow homeowners to make money from tourists when Atlanta hosted the 2019 Super Bowl. “I’m on Year Three of waiting for the planning department short-term rental legislation, and I’m done,” Shook said. In early September, he filed the legislation seeking to ban short-term rentals. J.P. Matzigkeit, Shook’s fellow City Council representative in Buckhead, signed onto the proposal. Last year, Matzigkeit was working with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration on other legislation to tighten restrictions on “party houses” in the zoning code to make it easier to declare them illegal commercial uses. That legislation is also stalled in Neighborhood Planning Unit review. “Frankly, it will be better legislation when combined with short-term rental legislation,” said Matzigkeit. “That will give it much more meat and teeth and substance.” Matzigkeit is an old hand at dealing with party mansions. Last year, he coordinated city and APD efforts that ended years of events at a notorious Garmon Road mansion, which involved jailing the operator and shutting off the water for unpaid bills. Matzigkeit said he supports Shook’s nuclear-option call for a short-term rental ban. But, he said, he “absolutely” supports the creation of a registration and licensing system that would ensure operators are known to city officials and pay lodging taxes. “It’s a business. People are operating this as a business and we need to treat it as such,” he said. The neighboring city of Sandy Springs has such a registration system and earlier this year said it had more than 50 registered. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to questions about Shook’s proposal and the other pending legislation efforts.
Airbnb is not a fan of Shook’s legislation. In a written statement, the short-term rental company said, “The vast majority of Atlanta hosts are sharing their homes responsibly and a blanket ban would hurt thousands of local families who depend on the income they earn hosting to help pay the bills. We are committed to working with the city of Atlanta to reasonably address quality of life issues, while preserving property rights for residents.” The Roxboro Road mansion was rented out via Airbnb, according to the Atlanta Police Department. Airbnb said that it has since removed that property from its listings, and has made other policy changes related to party uses. “Last year, we introduced a ban on ‘party houses’ -- meaning, listings which cause repeated neighborhood nuisance” and created a “neighborhood support line” for unhappy neighbors to call, said the Airbnb statement. And on Aug. 20, Airbnb banned parties and events altogether. O’Dell said her short-term rental association draws a distinction between rentals that are for lodging and those that are venues for parties. She indicated her group might be open to a registration system and suggested as one reform that the law requires short-term rentals to be a minimum two-night stay to ensure the use is lodgingoriented. O’Dell would not say how many members her group has, but claimed that, without a staff, it can organize peer groups of short-term operators to deal with neighbors’ complaints. “We can do a lot more than a local government to stop any disruption at a short-term rental,” she said, adding that does not include party hours, which the group “can’t do anything about.” Most important, she said, is that shortterm rental operators be involved in discussions about legislation, because otherwise, the result will be “misguided and ineffective.” Meanwhile, Matzigkeit is dealing with yet another party house. The mansion at 3234 Andrews Court had 45 police calls for service between June 20 and Sept. 18, according to APD records, including Aug. 15 reports of gunshots. Among the incidents was an Aug. 23 birthday party with over 100 guests, shuttle service, a $40 “gift” to enter and “at least six female strippers,” according to an APD report. Flourish Home Investors LLC of Decatur, the owner listed in Fulton County property records, did not respond to a comment request and is under notice of being dissolved by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office for failure to register, according to state records.
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OCTOBER 2020 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net
Mountain foliage will be ablaze with reds, oranges and yellows in late October BY COLLIN KELLEY If you’re looking for a socially-distanced weekend outing this fall, a drive through the North Georgia mountains or North Carolina to see the leaves changing color couldn’t be more perfect. According to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map at smokymountains.com, Oct. 12-19 will be optimum for peak color in North Carolina, while Oct. 19-26 will offer the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows in North Georgia. At this writing, Georgia State Parks were still limiting access if parks become too overcrowded to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Some activities in the parks have also been limited or cancelled, so check with the individual park before you go at gastateparks.org. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, these are the parks to check out the best leaf color along with some recommended activities. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge – Dawsonville Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall. A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views. There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top. For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a lifesize bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and views of the forested valley. Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route. Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s green lake. For a challenging, allContinued on Page 22
A new life awaits in Asheville
Black Rock Mountain State Park – Clayton At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. (Brasstown Bald is the state’s highest peak.) Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike. For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging trails. A favorite hike takes you down a staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.) The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon.
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A N S L E Y M O U N TA I N S . C O M 404.480.HOME | 116 WEST MAIN STREET, UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GEORGIA 30513 Equal Housing Opportunity | Christopher Burell, Principal Broker and Chief Motivation Officer | All information believed accurate but not guaranteed. If you have an existing relationship with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation.
day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail. Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore. Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks worth stopping to see. Moccasin Creek State Park – Lake Burton Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake. Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions. Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees. Smithgall Woods has some of the park system’s most sought-after cabins and is near wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest. Tallulah Gorge State Park – Near Clayton Tallulah Gorge is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, but hikes to the bottom of the gorge and climbing permits were still not being offered at press time. Unicoi State Park & Lodge – Helen Ziplines take you high above the forest canopy for a unique view of leaves. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. Unicoi offers a lodge and restaurant.
Vogel State Park – Blairsville The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall below the dam. The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery. NORTH CAROLINA Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival At press time, the annual Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival at Village Green in downtown Cashiers was still on for Oct. 9-11. Artisans, food, entertainment and more are staples of the event, which will be happening just as the leaves are at their peak in western North Carolina. Visit Cahsiers411.com for more information. HIGHLANDS While most of the events planned for the fall (including the annual Highlands Food and Wine Festival) have been cancelled, Highlands still offers great shopping, dining, and the chance to explore the scenic surroundings. According to the experts, the second week of October will be peak color for the leaves. Visit highlandschamber.org for more information. ASHEVILLE There’s always something to do in Asheville, and while the pandemic has cancelled many annual events in and around the city, you can still enjoy dining, shops, visit the Biltmore Estate, take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, or have a drink at one of the breweries or distilleries. The leaves will be at their peak in Asheville during the fourth week of October. Visit romanticasheville.com for more.
Special Section | 23
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404.480.HOME | ANSLEYMOUNTAINS.COM | 116 WEST MAIN ST. UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GA 30513 Equal Housing Opportunity | Christopher Burell, Principal Broker and Chief Motivation Officer | All information believed accurate but not guaranteed. If your home is currently listed, this is not a solicitation.
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Special Section | 25
THE PRESERVE AT
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Bringing Families Together
GlenCove community takes multigenerational approach to homes, amenities
BY COLLIN KELLEY The centerpiece of the GlenCove development near Cashiers, NC is 12-hole par-three golf course designed by Beau Welling, but the links are just a taster of what this new community has to offer for the entire family. The 160-acre development from Old Edwards Hospitality Group is embracing a “multigenerational” approach to its amenities and residences. Comprised of 33 cottages and 17 estate lots, GlenCove truly does have something for all ages to enjoy. According to operations director Jerry West, 21 of the cottages and four of the fiveacre estate lots were already sold by late September. Prices range from $1.3 to $2.3 for the cottages, which come in three different styles, and the estate lots are selling for between $500,000 and $900,000. “Our first residents moved into their homes in September and we’re expecting six more to move in by the end of the year,” West said. Once families settle in, they will find that there are activities for three generations to enjoy – at the same time or separately. Strengthening familial bonds and bringing families together is a prime directive of GlenCove. West said the golf course, called The Saddle, was designed by Welling with all ages and skill levels in mind. “We wanted to make the course fun and inclusive, so everyone can enjoy it.” Another big feature of GlenCove is an internal hiking trail system that runs for six miles – from flat areas around the lake to “severely strenuous” in the mountains on the property. Those who enjoy gardening and farming, will be drawn to the three-acre organic farm, which will have a CSA program available for growers to sell their produce. Kids will have plenty to keep them entertained year-round, including an event lawn for games of kickball, soccer, croquet or foursquare. The Entertainment Barn has a bowling alley, pool tables, ping-pong tables, video arcade, carnival games, a large dining room and kitchen, and the golf lounge and shop. Back outside there are two pickleball courts, hard surface courts for basketball, bocce ball area, a playground, four lane lap pool, and a splash pad. Those enjoying the outdoor amenities can enjoy food from onsite food trucks and dine under a pavilion adjacent to the pool area. Copper Lake is stocked with fish, plus there’s a beach area and a boat house where paddle boats are available. West said a wellness and fitness center is under construction and will include state-ofthe-art equipment, yoga and meditation areas, and more. For more information, visit glencovelifestyle.com.
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A Weekend in Asheville
The funky, walkable, artsy city is an easy drive from Atlanta BY SALLY BETHEA Asheville is the sort of place that you never tire of visiting—at least I never do. No matter your age, interests or style, there is always something cool and new to do in this funky, walkable, artsy, good-eating, brewery-rich, city—just a 3.5-hour drive north of Atlanta. The cool mountain air is an added bonus. On a recent visit, we appreciated the COVID-19 protocols, including the statewide requirement that masks be worn at all inside public places and outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible; the restrictions minimally affected our favorite activities. The Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, located in The Grove Arcade, is always one of our first destinations—after checking in to a B&B or Airbnb within walking distance of downtown. Used books (in excellent condition, including first editions), fine wine or beer, and bistro-style bites are available in the comfortable space. On the dogfriendly patio, you can order larger meals. Information: batteryparkbookexchange.com. Second only to Portland, Maine—on the breweries-per-capita list—Asheville is considered one of the fifteen best beer cities in the world. The city’s walkability makes brewery touring easier and safer. Our favorite is The Green Man Brewery, located in the South Slope District near interesting art galleries and restaurants; it’s one of several dozen breweries with socially-distanced, outdoor seating. An IPA-lover, my draft pick is always the Wayfarer. Information: greenmanbrewery.com. If the weather is nice, head to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a popular unit of the national park system; the BRP’s visitor center is just a 12-minute drive from downtown Asheville (Milepost 384). From there, it’s a half an hour drive to a 360-degree mountain view at Craggy Pinnacle (Milepost 364). The 1.4-mile, round-trip hike to the top of the 5,892’ peak can
be crowded, so try to go early. Additional hiking opportunities are available on nearby Craggy Gardens Trail with its mile-high bald and panoramic views. Sections of the Parkway typically close in the winter. Information: nps.gov/blri/indx.htm. ►Locally known as Foodtopia, Asheville has more than 100 full-service restaurants in a five-square-mile area. Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, a sustainable seafood restaurant with tented, outdoor seating, is just a five-minute walk from the North Asheville B&B where we stayed and we’ll definitely be back. My Jumbo Lump Crab Louie Salad was delicious and my companion thoroughly enjoyed his Oyster Po Boy. Information: jettieraes.com. On our way out of town, we visited the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum on the Blue Ridge Parkway to walk the forested hiking (and biking) trails along Bent Creek, a tributary to the French Broad River, and tour the cultivated gardens and extraordinary bonsai exhibit. An unexpected surprise was the Nature Connects®: Art with Lego Bricks traveling exhibit, featuring larger-thanlife-size sculptures, which runs through Nov. 1. Information: ncarboretum.org.
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Special Section | 29
30 | Public Safety
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‘Buckhead Blue’ private police patrol pitched as solution to crime Continued from page 1 ment District and president of the Buckhead Coalition, tapped the brakes on the idea at an Oct. 6 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit B. He called for a data-driven approach so that such a patrol is not merely a reaction to some crime issues that he
believes are short-term and will “dissipate.” “So rather than say, ‘We’re gonna go with a ‘Buckhead Blue’ program and it’s gonna have this, that and the other thing,’ what we’re really going to do is study the heck out of it” to understand crime-fighting needs, said Durrett.
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Durrett expressed displeasure that the program already has a catchy name prior to any decision on whether it should exist. “I hate the idea that it’s already been branded,” he said, warning against setting unrealistic expectations. “Buckhead Blue” is just one idea reportedly discussed in that meeting and in others as groups like the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods (BCN) call for a crackdown on crime with such strategies as tougher sentencing. That approach is markedly different from the calls for more restraints on policing in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, including many held in Buckhead. A big factor is controversy over Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ handling of crime and the June police killing of Rayshard Brooks, which led locally popular Police Chief Erika Shields to step down and is spurring a minor movement toward separate cityhood for Buckhead. Asked about the protests, Matzigkeit said they have not factored into his discussions so far. But he also stepped back from the war metaphor, saying that privately hired police could do more than arrest suspects. He pointed to another ongoing effort to check the licenses, permits and taxes of area restaurants that many officials and neighborhood association leaders believe may be operating improperly after-hours or as nightclubs. “You can enforce the laws with police with guns. You can also enforce the laws with people with calculators and pencils,” said Matzigkeit. Enforcing any laws with off-duty police officers requires something else: money, and probably a lot of it. Buckhead is already paying for a lot of private security, from a new CID patrol-car program to long-standing arrangements by individual homeowner associations and shopping center landlords. “Buckhead Blue” might incorporate such programs and expand it, leaving open questions of who would pay for and coordinate it. Also yet to be seen is whether the Atlanta Police Department, which is said to have shrinking ranks amid morale issues, could provide enough officers. Crime is down citywide, but Buckhead community groups have been rattled most of the year by an outbreak of gun violence, including two killings on public streets. The neighborhood also has been agitated by its share of citywide quality-of-life and safety issues, including street racing and young people selling water along roadways. The water-selling issue showed Buckhead’s taste for a crackdown. Earlier this year, while the Bottoms administration spoke of tolerance and had an advisory council working on an entrepreneurship diversion policy, APD’s Buckhead-based Zone 2 precinct arrested two juvenile water-sellers and had a press release issued to highlight weapons-related charges and alleged lack of cooperation from Fulton County youth detention officials. Maj. Andrew Senzer, Zone 2’s commander, told the BCN at its Sept. 10 meeting that APD decid-
ed “it was just time to take action, regardless of what the city’s overall position was.” The effort was successful in driving watersellers out of Buckhead, Senzer said. The move came amid pressure for a crackdown from the Buckhead CID. At the Sept. 10 meeting, the BCN laid out a “resolution” proposing legal crackdowns on noise violations, illegal nightclubs and street racing. The resolution -- since approved by a majority of the BCN’s member neighborhood associations -- seeks to tackle street racing with such tactics as seizing vehicles from suspects and inflicting higher fines and jail terms, including on spectators. All of those provisions were recently considered by the City Council and rejected as violating state laws and, in the case of arresting spectators, possibly the Georgia and U.S. constitutions. However, local state Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) later said she is working on legislation to authorize impounding street racing cars. Senzer said that a couple of APD vehicles can scare off a large crowd of street racers; the problem is preventing them from moving elsewhere in the community. Pitts then explained that he recently moved to Peachtree Road and witnessed the loud street racing first-hand. He said that “it may be time for us to look at something like… ‘Midtown Blue.’” “Midtown Blue” was created 20 years ago by the Midtown Alliance, a nonprofit organization, in conjunction with its thennew community improvement district, a self-taxing group of commercial property owners called the Midtown Improvement District. Its chief element is patrols conducted at all times by more than 40 off-duty APD officers as well as a staff of private security officers who lack arrest powers. It also includes a network of security cameras and outreach on such issues as code enforcement and security audits. “Public safety was an impetus for the creation of the Midtown community improvement district, to add an additional layer of security patrols and protection beyond APD’s normal level of service,” said Brian Carr, a Midtown Alliance spokesperson. “At the time, Midtown was a disinvested place, with vice and other challenges that did not contribute to a sense of safety and well-being, especially after dark.” Carr said the program amounts to 750 additional officer-hours of patrols per week above those provided by APD’s Zone 5 Midtown precinct, with which “Midtown Blue” shares a joint office. He credits the program with keeping Midtown crime low, citing such stats as four pedestrian robberies so far this year in the dense, popular neighborhood. The year’s debate about policing reforms did not touch “Midtown Blue,” said Carr. “Our program continues to operate as it did before the protests against racial inequality,” he said. If Buckhead created a similar program, Carr said, the Midtown Alliance does not expect that it would be harmed by competition for off-duty officers. BH
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