Georgians may find out next week if they get their first new coal power plant in 20 years.
Lawyers with GreenLaw, an environmental law firm that argued against the Longleaf Plant in Early County, said Fulton County Superior Court Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore will issue a ruling between Monday and Thursday. The case examines whether the state Environmental Protection Division acted appropriately in not requiring the proposed coal plant to regulate its carbon dioxide emissions, the greenhouse gas scientists say is concentrating in the atmosphere and causing global warming.
Dynegy Co. and LS Power, the two companies pushing the plant, say it would add to the impoverished county's tax base and bring much-needed jobs to the area. A host of opponents and critics said most of the created jobs would be temporary construction positions and that any benefit to the county would be outweighed by the health impact of the plant's harmful emissions. The Medical Association of Georgia issued a resolution opposing any new coal plants in the state because of their emissions' unhealthy effects.
It's a tough call, however. Even Moore expressed difficulty with the position in which she was placed, as she stated from the bench during the case's June 3 hearing:
No one can be employed if theyre falling down dying, she said, adding that she had 19 boxes of documents sitting in the clerks office that she needed to examine. We need to look at both the economy and the environment. Thats what I will do.
Moore's ruling could establish a precedent as well, something that Dynegy's lawyers argued would be inappropriate were it decided by a judge rather than politicians. Should Moore rule against the plant, her court would be the first in the country to do so.
The Atlanta City Council officially approved a new budget this afternoon that not only doesn't include the .43 mill tax hike recommended by Mayor Shirley Franklin, but actually includes a modest tax rollback.
It's a scenario that wouldn't have been predicted even two weeks ago when the city was still $40 million short of making up a projected $140 million shortfall in the FY 2009 budget.
The $570.8 million budget restores the cuts in the City Solicitors Office and the city's public defender program. It also restores code enforcement officers cut by Franklin.
The budget approved by the council includes almost $14.6 million in cuts, which will be accomplished through an across-the-board 2.5 percent cut in each city department. Council members said that the bulk of that, $13.4 million, can be done by not filling vacant positions.
Franklin reacted angrily, saying that anyone who believes the city can cut an additional $14.6 million without laying off current employees doesn't understand the operations of a city government.
"The budget decision of the council today is among the worse I have seen in my almost 20 year professional career and it will have negative ramifications for the quality of life in this city," she said in a statement.
Franklin has line-item veto power, but the unanimous vote makes the budget all but veto-proof.
"This is a risky choice in a bad economy, and the people of Atlanta will have to bear the burden of the council's decision to not do what is in the best interest of the residents," Franklin said.
The council also reduced its own budget by $1.3 million and expects to generate an additional $2 million through the sale of taxicab decals currently held by the city.
Shook said members are counting on extra revenue from a tax digest that has "sky-rocketed" in the city almost 20 percent on average and especially with commercial property. He also said the city has to look at ways to generate more income through police tickets, code enforcement and the municipal court system.
"We're politicians and we listen to our constituents," he said. "They were very clear about being unhappy with a property tax increase."
Shook said he hopes the mayor will not create a "feud" with the council by closing swimming pools or recreation centers.
At a late afternoon press conference, Council President Lisa Borders tried to strike a conciliatory tone with Franklin. "This is a very tough economic time for everyone," she said. "The council wanted to give ultimate flexibility to the mayor on the across-the-board 2.5 percent cuts. We wanted to meet with the mayor. We're open-minded and want to have conversations with the mayor."
Shook echoed that sentiment. "We want to work with her," he said. "I hope she spends the weekend kicking furniture, and then comes back Monday ready to work together."
Georgia Stand-Up, a nonprofit community activism group that raised awareness about Beltline-inspired gentrification with its eye-opening report last year, just released a study for policymakers and citizens alike about community engagement. It's a great read. For more information about the report, click here.
There'll be a lengthy post later about the organization's event held today downtown. Beltline CEO Terri Montague made an appearance and addressed citizen concerns about displacement, public engagement, and progress on the Beltline.
AJC Publisher John Mellott attempted to calm the waters Thursday in an e-mail to staff members after a sister Cox family-owned paper announced big staff reductions earlier in the week. But Mellott also warned that more cuts are likely to hit the Journal-Constitution.
The economic factors affecting our business have worsened, Mellott wrote to the AJC staff. The recession, the housing market downturn, as well as soaring newsprint and fuel costs have increased the urgency to reduce expenses. We will do so aggressively and in ways that make most sense for our market, our readers and our advertisers.
Mellotts e-mail followed an announcement that the Palm Beach Post, which along with the Atlanta paper is owned by Cox Newspapers, would reduce its workforce of 1,350 people by 300 including a whopping 130 from the newsroom. The cuts are the latest in a slew of workforce reductions at dailies across the country.
All Cox newspapers are carefully assessing their own markets and business models and will be taking the actions necessary to remain financially sound, Mellott said in the e-mail.
Mellott also said a long-coming effort to reinvent the print paper, dubbed internally as AJC 2.0 are in the final prototyping stage. While the dailys brass have talked enthusiastically about 2.0, many rank-and-file journalists are sweating what may be around the corner. They fear it will herald a new round of cuts.
George Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in Augusta.
(Tip o' the crack pipe to Rogue109 at Peach Pundit)
Today we received a postcard from Greenville, South Carolina showing a woman wearing a bikini riding a horse.
On the back it reads "MythicalMaidens.com, DVDs for sale! Horseback Riding, Swords, Viking Helmet, the Greek Goddess, plus custom DVDs. Order Today!"
If you're into women with swords standing on garden furniture, you'll love this clip:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://lads.myspace.com/videos/vplayer.swf" width="430" height="346" fvars="m=13598519;type=video" wmode="transparent" /]
Mayor Shirley Franklin is none-too-pleased with the city council's adopted budget that actually lowers property taxes and cuts an additional 2.5 percent from departments.
In fact, she calls it the worst decision she's seen in her almost-20 year professional career.
UPDATE: The mayor's office has release a revised statement that has the correct dollar figures and a mysteriously removed exclamation point. Yet no punctuation has replaced it... scandal!
Original statement follows after the jump. Here's the revised one:
The Atlanta City Council is now asking the Administration to make an additional $14.6 million in cuts without cutting personnel. As I stated earlier, anyone who believes that the City can cut $14.6 million (the proposed Administrations budget already included almost $60 million in cuts) without laying off current employees does not understand the operations of city government. It cannot be done, responsibly
This is a risky choice in a bad economy and the people of Atlanta will have to bear the burden of the Councils decision to not do what is in the best interest of the residents, both short term and long term.
To balance the budget on the backs of employees is irresponsible, when they were offered an alternative of a modest tax increase in an effort to preserve gains in public safety and to maintain core services. The Council had the authority to do this but it is an unwise business decision and represents one of the worst public policy decisions I have seen in my 20 year professional career and it will have negative ramifications for the quality of life for the people of Atlanta.
A 15-year-old northwest Atlanta girl was discovered missing from her home early Wednesday morning, an acquaintance just e-mailed me.
Yungai attends the Darlington School in Rome, Ga., but was staying during summer vacation at her family's house near Banker Road and Hood Avenue.
She's 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds, and has short, black, permed hair, usually worn in a ponytail. She was last seen wearing a hooded jacket and flip-flops.
If you have any information, please contact Atlanta Police Sgt. Tucker at 404-817-7895.
Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., her family and others will meet at Salem Baptist Church at 2283 Baker Road, and will walk around the neighborhood to draw attention to her case.
Here at CL, we'd been reporting that an Atlanta tax increase seemed increasingly inevitable. Well, the same Council members who seemed so fatalistic last week got together last night and cobbled together an alternative plan that appears to allow them to escape Mayor Shirley Franklin's proposed tax hike.
Just minutes ago with a curious Franklin herself sitting in the audience the Council voted 14-0 (with Lamar Willis walking in moments later) to adopt an amended budget that wipes out the .43-mill tax increase, cuts all departments by an additional 2.5 percent and even includes a teeny-tiny tax rate rollback that will save the owner of a $200,000 home about seven bucks.
However, the budget the Council is looking to pass is $570.8 million, about $13 million less than the Mayor's proposal. When we figure out how they made these numbers work out, we'll update this post.
Meanwhile, the Council is on recess and will re-convene shortly after lunchtime to finish up on this stunning turn of events. Stay tuned or head down to City Hall to catch the action yourself!
Highly respected news organization The Onion has gripping video coverage of a tragic story we may soon face: An expectant panda, communicating through cutting-edge technology, tells the world in staccato bursts of honesty that a zoo life is not one she'd wish upon her offspring.
Officials at the zoo, which, in light of the revelation, has become a battleground for abortion rights and pro-life advocates, say they hope the panda will make the right choice. But they're also fearful of what may transpire if they are hesitant to act.
Thank you, Onion, for opening our eyes to what will be our city's darkest hour. That'll be whenever Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Mei Lan get Internet access and discover the plight of their distant brethren, but you know what I mean.
Until then, we stand vigilant alongside the truth may her blade of righteousness cut us all down to size.
Click here for the video and the heart-wrenching pleas the panda makes to her "human masters." Click here to look at our cuddly creatures at Zoo Atlanta. We just wanna nuzzle their cute widdle nosies.
(Screenshot from The Onion)
Do I understand correctly that due to the "proactive" commitment to affordable housing on the…
Considering that Georgia has great difficulty teaching school children to read, write, and add, how…
I went to the quarterly briefing last night and several points that are mentioned in…
Sarcasm check on Aisle 13.
Nomadologist: When I went to the southwest planning meeting last year, they said that the…
If this thing gets all tied up in the courts (and the curtain pulled back:…