Sunday, June 29, 2008

Add It Up: Black Gold, Tifton Tea

Posted By on Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 10:35 AM

Earliest date new U.S. offshore drilling might produce oil for market: 2030

Earliest date oil from the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge might produce oil for market: 2018

Estimated amount offshore and ANWR drilling will lower the price of gasoline per gallon in 2025: 3.5 cents

Barrels of oil Americans use daily: 21 million

Barrels of oil Tifton agricultural scientist J.C. Bell says he can produce annually using bio-mass (non-food plant materials): 5 billion

Percent of current U.S. oil consumption 5 billion barrels equals: 65

Annual budget of Bell’s research facility: $60 million

Exxon-Mobil’s average daily profit during the first-quarter of 2008: $119.3 million

Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, Bell BioEnergy Labs, Tifton Gazette, CNNMoney.com

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Profile: Jay Yeomans, paintball referee

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 5:00 PM

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Jay Yeomans, 51, is head referee at Paintball Atlanta. An aficionado of paintball for 15 years, he also maintains the company’s equipment and the facilities.

"You get bruises, maybe a couple little stitches, a turned ankle, something like that – something you can do playing in the backyard. But no one has had a serious injury [at Paintball Atlanta], especially eye-related."

"Everybody [at Paintball Atlanta] has got to deal with me sooner or later. I'm not known for my wonderful attitude."

"When a paintball hits you in the mask and it's in your mouth, usually you gag, hack and spit. And cussing usually is in there somewhere. It's got that 4-week-old, uncooked meat smell. It's nasty."

On his daughter: "She just turned 18, she's been playing for four years. She's very brutal. She put Father's Day scars on both sides of my neck. It’s alright. I got her later."

Is paintball a sport? "What is your definition of a sport? Okay, like football where you’re playing against another team in front of an audience – spectators – at the big tournaments? You get just as many people as you would on a decent football game. There is money at stake, trophies at stake, sponsorships from manufacturers."

On real guns: "Most of my guns, I have sold. One of them was grandfather’s shotgun – sentimental. I kept that. One’s a pistol – protection. I kept that."

"Paintball is nothing like the military. It’s a very sore spot. There are a lot of people out there, churches and other organizations that consider paintball as teaching our children paramilitary training, how to kill somebody else. I’ve called it a paintball gun – we call it a paintball marker. . We don’t kill in paintball, we eliminate. Usually until the next game starts up, which is usually in about 10, 15 minutes."

"Because the word “gun” is just not a good thing to be thrown around. You can’t talk about paintball in schools because it involves a gun, if you will. Because my daughter tried to set up a team, to start playing a team at school. And the word “gun” came out, and they said, 'That’s it. Forget it.'"

“The pay’s good and it’s a job I love doing. You can’t beat that."

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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Blogger: Police shadow Critical Mass bike ride

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 3:42 PM

Blogger Shelby Highsmith (who blogs as Shelbinator) reports yesterday's Critical Mass group bicycle ride around Atlanta was shadowed by more than a dozen Atlanta Police Department vehicles.

If you were robbed, mugged, or otherwise assaulted or injured in the downtown Atlanta area between 6:45 and 8:00pm on Friday, we bicyclists do apologize for your lack of police protection. You see, we were busy occupying about a dozen motorcycle cops and several police cruisers with our monthly bike ride.

Be sure to check out Shelby's video.

Atlanta is an under-policed city experiencing a double-digit increase in serious crime. Is following and ticketing bike riders a responsible allocation of the police department's resources?

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Franklin's worst-of list

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 2:09 AM

"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,"

-Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, on the City Council's decision today to not to raise property taxes to offset the city's budget shortfall.

I wonder where her own staff's chronic mismanagement of the city's budget office ranks on Franklin's policy poop list.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Coal-fired power plant ruling expected next week

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 10:04 PM

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 they’re falling down dying,” she said, adding that she had 19 boxes of documents sitting in the clerk’s office that she needed to examine. “We need to look at both the economy and the environment. That’s 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.

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City Council bucks Mayor Shirley Franklin on tax hike

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 10:00 PM

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.

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The council unanimously approved the budget which, according to Finance Committee Chairman Howard Shook, has not happened in years. "We definitely suspended the political dynamics to work together," he said.

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."

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Georgia Stand-Up releases report outlining community engagement

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 9:47 PM

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.

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AJC publisher: More cuts to come

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 9:12 PM

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.”

Mellott’s 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 daily’s 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.

Continue reading »

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George Bush arrested for cocaine possession

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 8:47 PM

George Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in Augusta.

Seriously.

(Tip o' the crack pipe to Rogue109 at Peach Pundit)

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From the CL mailbag: Mythical Maidens

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 7:53 PM

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" /]

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