Wednesday, December 26, 2007

State water council to rethink controversial regional planning boards

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 4:45 PM

The Kremlinologists over at Insider Advantage posted a news report that should bring some holiday cheer to critics of the statewide water plan. The Georgia Water Policy Council, under pressure from environmental groups and local governments, decided on Friday to hold off giving the plan its final blessing until after the new year. Critics disagreed with a last-minute change made by the state Environmental Protection Division that draws district boundaries according to county lines rather than watersheds. The agency has also come under fire for how members of the regional water-planning bodies would be selected. According to the current draft, candidates would be nominated by local power brokers from a variety of industries and sectors, and then hand-picked by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker.

The report says the vote is set for Jan. 8, which, according to my research two weeks ago, was the date all along. Oh well. Viva agua!

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Unintentionally funny headline of the day

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 4:02 PM

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Israeli military finds cluster bomb use in Lebanon war was legal

Ladies and gentlemen, after impartially investigating myself, I have concluded I have done nothing wrong.

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Year in review: Your turn

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 3:16 PM

This week's CL cover story features eight Atlantans (seven people and one slice of pizza) telling us about their 2007.

Staff Photographer Joeff Davis and I were feeling sassy, so we also put together an audio slide show using photographs our our interviewees and excerpts from our recorded interviews.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3mqK9u04kJ8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

We would love for you to share your thoughts, feelings, and rants about 2007.

Leave a comment below, or respond to the video above with your own video. The person who authors my favorite response (serious or funny) wins $20 from my wallet.

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Which cover do you like?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 10:35 AM

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You may have noticed our print cover this week: A Jack Russell terrier named Roux is digging her teeth deep into a Michael Vick jersey.

No. 7. Get it? 2007? Well, I thought it was a witty idea.

Roux, who's owned and trained by my friend Melissa Nunnink, actually was Staff Photographer Joeff Davis' second model for the cover shoot. The first was Bella, a pit bull whose time was volunteered by former CL staffer Noah Gardenswartz.

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Here's the layout we gussied up for Bella. We liked both shots, but I wanted to show folks Bella to let you decide whether we picked the right photo. And also, well, because she's kinda cute — doncha think? And, looking into Bella's noble pose ... doesn't it make you even more sick that Michael Vick would pick on pit bulls?

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Streetalk: Is Atlanta a happening city on New Year’s Eve?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 9:30 AM

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Robert: Yes, it is. There are so many clubs and restaurants in this city holding New Year’s Eve bashes. On top of that, you got the Peach Drop. I was there last year -- absolutely insane, in a good way. I was standing there and there were transsexuals to my left, 7 feet tall. I just thought, “This is cool.” I couldn’t move, but it was very happening. It’s a smaller version of Times Square. Atlanta is in the top five for New Year’s.

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Guyton: It used to be. The law changing the closing times, that’s when Atlanta became a nonhappening place. Personally I’d rather be home with friends. Before the law, I probably would have gone to some crazy dance party or a club, like Blue or the Warehouse. But clubs close too early now. Atlanta is no longer a party town. Most people now go out of town for New Year’s. Compared to other large cities, Atlanta is near the bottom.

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Jamil: In the South it is. Miami is overplayed. It’s been done before. Nothing new. It’s always water, alcohol, little outfits, predictable. Atlanta can offer a Southern culture feel, party-like-a-rock-star atmosphere. I’m staying in Atlanta for sure. Atlanta has a few hotel parties, you buy a ticket and you can just go and drink with your friends. Those are really the best places. On the East Coast, New York definitely has that stereotypical New Year’s Eve. But we’re better than Miami.

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Local refugee school on front page of New York Times

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 1:28 AM

A front-page story in today's New York Times tells the amazing story of the International Community School, a charter elementary school in Dekalb County that specializes in educating refugee children.

More than half the 380 students at this unusual school outside Atlanta are refugees from some 40 countries, many torn by war. The other students come from low-income families in Decatur, and from middle- and upper-middle-class families in the area who want to expose their children to other cultures. Together they form an eclectic community of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, well-off and poor, of established local families and new arrivals who collectively speak about 50 languages.

Don't miss the slideshow and video accompanying the story.

(Disclosure: I'm a volunteer tutor at Saturday School, a family literacy program for refugees started by ICS's founders.)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lt. gov. supports regional funding for transportation?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 25, 2007 at 10:22 PM

Huh? Who cares, run with it!

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, speaking with the Marietta Daily-Journal in a sit-down interview on Monday:

"I believe with the same amount of funding that exists today for transportation that we could do 30 percent more projects if we become focused and create efficiencies," he said.

A funding mechanism he would like to consider for transportation is a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, as the SPLOST has worked effectively for education, he said.

"I don't view that as a tax increase. I view that as putting a proposal before the voters and allowing them to choose how they want to spend it," he said.

Cagle's comments are some of the first glimpses as to how the General Assembly may approach the touchy issue of transportation funding when the legislative session starts in January. His preferred method steps in line with what the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and many public transportation advocates have been suggesting: a regional tax that will allow the people who pony up the cash to have a large say in what happens, transportation-wise, with their money. The other ideas bandied about include a statewide tax or an increased gasoline tax.

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Merry Hanramawanzamas, readers!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 25, 2007 at 1:58 PM

My humbug cigar-chomping editor, after a long day of sealing donation envelopes to MoveOn.org and spit-shining his electric automobile, climbed out from under mounds of coal and the scalps of young journalists and shouted, "Wheatley! Write me a Christmas post, dammit! Something about snow, presents, good will toward men!" I, being new to the Atlanta area — and just really, really old — am still confused by this Christmas tradition you Southerners choose to celebrate. Nonetheless, I agreed. Since I know only a little about snow and nothing about presents, I thought I'd aim for the "good will toward men" part.

From everyone here at Creative Loafing, happy holidays to you and everyone in your life. Thanks for picking us up, visiting us online, and continuing to show that you give a damn about Atlanta. We wish you the very best holiday.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

State climatologist says 2008 may be just as dry...

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2007 at 8:25 PM

If things go the way David Stooksbury predicts, prepare for a dry summer in 2008. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that the state's climatologist told a group gathered at the University of Georgia's Driftmier Engineering Center that while recent rains have helped the parched region, we've received less than half what we normally see this time of year.

"That means we are not receiving the recharge that is needed at this time of year for next summer. That is a big concern," he said.

Stooksbury had already predicted a La Nina effect would bring the Southeast a drier and warmer winter. The Banner-Herald reports the climatologist saying that soil in Middle and coastal Georgia is drier. Even with reservoirs getting a jolt from the rain, streams and groundwater levels are lower. Since late September, the drought's reach has spread farther south and closer to the coast. (Visit the Banner-Herald article to view an animation of the drought's spread.)

That doesn't exactly bode well according to what hydrologist Dan Sheer said last week to a meeting of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District at the Atlanta Regional Commission. He said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reduced releases from Buford Dam have helped slow dwindling lake levels, but that those releases are set to change June 1.

"If the [reduced releases] expire in June and we have a repeat of last year, the reservoirs would dip into dead storage near the middle of September," he said. "Lake levels would be reduced by 15 percent."

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Atlanta Blogs Today: Two pinches of Xmas with a dash of WTF?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 24, 2007 at 4:34 PM

I know everyone has better things to do these last two days before Christmas, so why don’t we all take a two day time-out from politics and spend some quality time with our families. At this time of the year, family comes first.

— Georgia Politics Unfiltered's Andre Walker, writing at Peach Pundit, and requesting a cease-fire on all things politique in the run-up to Christmas.

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My two-year-old threw a kaleidoscope at Santa Claus today.

The holiday misanthrope in me is somewhat proud of that.

— Paige at the Avery Lane Experience, remembering that one of the true joys of Christmas is letting your babychild just be a babychild, eyeballs of part-time shopping mall elves be damned.

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Late last night in the Ponce Kroger parking lot, a white-haired man approached me and told me Shirley Franklin would arrest him if he asked me anything. When I told him I didn’t have any cash, he told me he could have found me a better black mayor in 1969. He then said some other things I couldn’t really understand but I think implicated me in Mayor Franklin’s ascendancy to office and her subsequent vendetta against this man. “She ain’t my mayor,” he said a few times as he wandered off.

— Christa at PecanneLog. The white-haired man — we hope — was not Jim Wooten.

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