I am a licensed contractor and continuing education instructor from Florida, the second most regulated state after California, and we still have these kind of stories. There are always going to be incompetent and unscrupulous builders that take advantage of the public, just like in other areas.
I have been told that studies have shown that there is no correlation between licensing and consumer complaints against contractors. If you were really serious about this topic you might do a little research, rather than use an atypical story about a job that went really bad to imply that the typical house being built averages 30 significant code violations or defects.
-- Mike Palombi, Atlanta
Shumate the schmuck
Richard Shumate claims in his column (Think Tank, "Is There Really an Energy Crisis?" May 30) that European Greens support nuclear power. A factual error of this magnitude undermines his credibility. He also dishonestly represents environmentalists as being stupidly against everything and for nothing.
For the record: Even moderate politicians in Europe recognize the fact that nuclear energy is dangerous, creates incredible pollution in the uranium mining process and leaves waste so toxic it must be isolated, no one knows how, for hundreds of thousands of years. Germany and Sweden are committed to phasing out nuclear power. Most thoughtful enviros advocate conservation and wind and solar power, which are quite highly developed AND competitive with the dirty energy forms. There is also the exciting, virtually pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell technology which promises to revolutionize our relationship to energy.
Richard may not profit directly from dirty energy but he apparently identifies with those who do, presently headquartered in the White House.
-- Tom Ferguson, Atlanta
Masses in Midtown
As a resident of Midtown (specifically the Crescent Avenue area), I can only unleash complaints regarding the throngs of yuppies who are indeed creating a scary new Buckhead of "Sex and the City" wannabes in this neighborhood at night ("Is Midtown Threatened With 'Buckheadization'?" May 23). During the day (which I only infrequently view due to the blasted 9-to-5), it is a pedestrian-friendly conglomeration of all types that make Atlanta an oasis in the South and indeed, a business center that keeps the city alive.
However, I abhor the coming of the weekend and the influx of the nightlife of overdressed, status-driven fools who act like spoiled highschoolers leaving their cheap American beer cans and used condoms draped for blocks in my neighborhood--the folks who think standing in a VIP line in sparkly pants means they have "made it." I have laughed at the irony of a past of detesting the Buckhead nightlife, now realizing too late that Buckhead was a necessary evil to keep these schmucks from destroying my neighborhood. And for those damned wannabe professionals who actually live in Midtown, it is nice to pretend that MARTA will be utilized, but these folks do not tend to believe public transportation is for anyone but the masses and their hunger for status will surely keep them off the brown, tan and orange trains and, of course, the buses.
I lived in SW downtown until my rented loft (a historical building that could not be painted) was turned condo (then painted bright purple and branded with a logo) and I was given the choice of moving out within a week or spending a horribly inflated $170,000 on 1,200 square feet in the middle of urban shit. Only the yuppies could be so smart to pay cheap Manhattan prices for an Atlanta area still quite a bit away from up-and-coming. Midtown is bland and shiny in comparison, but I found a reasonably priced place with an eclectic mix on 13th Street that made me happy enough. Now, the area is inundated with the sorry souls who follow their asses and departed from Buckhead in the despicable Second White Flight of Atlanta.
Like America, Atlanta ashamedly ignores its past and fights to be some random ideal of New York in the South, a copied image with little substance, rather than accepting a unique identity. I challenge the developers of Midtown and Downtown who can't see beyond the cash cow of each building to create a better Atlanta -- one affordable to all people: students, artists, professionals, blacks, whites, Asians, etc., in walking tree-lined neighborhoods throughout our city center. I wonder how many others there are who want to take the city back from those who have no true appreciation for what it is historically and (barely) culturally and what it one day could be (I should mention that my only plan thus far is to get as many non-khakis as possible to join me on my stoop to heckle and also to attempt to import anyone who would be considered "undesirable" to the area). The only other option is to continue to ignore the unspoken and passive segregation which is not only ugly and wrong but counterproductive to any future vision for Atlanta. Young, urban and professional, but kill me when this becomes my identity.
-- C. S. Ledlie, Atlanta
No breathing room
The use of militaristic terminology to describe business activity -- as in HomeDepot, Chick-fil-A and CNN having "conquered the nation" (Jane Says, "Wis-ful Thinking," May 23) -- always catches my attention. The "carnage" occurring in American office buildings (and also in our sporting arenas) nearly rivals that which we have wrought on battlefields. Our hyper-aggressive vocabulary is not necessarily a bad thing. But I think an argument can be made that our military has and will continue to define us.
That was an aside. The real reason I'm writing is to say that the perspective of Atlanta depicted in the last 15 percent of that column differs diametrically with the perspective of this city I have formed over the last 11 years. The air quality here is terrible, and it's going to get worse. The traffic is arguably the most dangerous in the country, and it's going to get worse. The electricity goes off and on so frequently, we don't even bother resetting the answering machine, and have to rely on wind-up clocks. The school system just might be the worst among industrialized nations. There is a water shortage, and it's going to get worse. There is more aggression and hostility between cultures here than in most other large cities. The state and local political administrations are corrupt and inept. They have sacrificed the environment and the quality of life in favor of the physical growth that keeps the local economy strong, and it's going to get worse.
I've had some bad experiences in Atlanta: life-threatening injuries, career and economic "glass ceilings," and unethical acquaintances. But I'm getting better, and will soon be leaving this -- how did you put it? -- "successful, racially mixed, open-minded city in a beautiful climate, with plenty of room to grow," even though I will not get to eat at La Fonda or Burrito Art. In addtion, under May 17 in the "Last Week" column of the May 23 CL, it is strongly implied that unnamed Georgia environmental officials are predicting worsening pollution in Atlanta due to the current president's "energy plan."
I am heartened to know that these environmental officials have finally taken an interest in the gross air around Atlanta. I would like to know, however, where they were during the last eight years, when the non-Republican local and state political administrations were thoughtlessly and wantonly trashing the environment in favor of economic growth, and the non-Republican federal administration stood by with its trousers down, watching.
-- Andy Haraldson, Atlanta
Big timber falls hard
Poor Amanda Kail seems all confused in her letter to the editor (If a Tree Falls in the Woods ... , May 16) First of all "we, the people" live under a Federal Republic system, not a democracy. That so-called "democratically decided" law was anything short of fair. I am a private land-owner in your beloved West and there are many unhappy citizens and elected officials who despise Bill Clinton's method of designating these parcels of land via the executive orders. Ahhhh ... the executive order. When a president knows he does not have the support he needs to pass a bill or make a law, he just goes ahead and writes out a nifty note and ba-da-bing "we, the people" have another federal imposition to deal with.
From what you wrote I must determine that you are an "issues" type of gal. You think government is OK when it does what you want, but when it opposes abortion or supports the right to bear arms I am sure you get your little panties in a wad. Now, myself, I can do without the bloated federal system that has strayed far, far away from the Constitution. It is typical of someone like yourself to fall head-over-heels in love with Clinton's short-sighted plan to blanket the country with one standard. All Bush Jr. is trying to do is review the executive orders and allow local governments to manage their own land via the public opinion of the citizens who live in that area.
You talk about preserving 58.5 million acres of land, but you fail to realize that 95 percent of the land in the United States is undeveloped. The remaining wild areas in this country are a hell of a lot more than you think. But please do stay in your urban high-density nightmares of crime and smog with your fellow liberal-minded elitists and stay out of matters you don't understand.
-- William Blake Scharff, Sugar City, Idaho
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