In unveiling his new "Blueprint for Restoring Public Safety in Atlanta," state Sen. Kasim Reed brought out the big guns in the form of Evander Holyfield's right and left arms. While bringing a well-known heavyweight boxing champ to a campaign press conference might initially sound like a publicity stunt, there was actually a relevant connection: Holyfield was a friend and mentor to Vernon Forrest, the welterweight boxing champion who was murdered at a Castleberry Hill gas station this past Saturday night after he confronted a mugger.
Reed's plan, which will now go toe-to-toe with the patented Mary Norwood 12-Point Public Safety Program, is titled "Securing Atlanta." Here's the campaign blurb:
Securing Atlanta is a comprehensive plan to tackle the growing problem of crime in the city. The plan includes increasing the existing size of our police force with 750 additional police officers, establishing a dedicated revenue stream for public safety, updating our technology such as adding more surveillance cameras, improving officer retention by restoring step increments and making salaries more competitive. Securing Atlanta also takes a holistic approach to reducing crime by addressing other contributing factors such as the importance of revitalizing our neighborhoods, giving our young people greater opportunities and addressing the escalation in gang activity.
Unlike Norwood's plan, Reed's proposal includes a funding method, the above-mentioned "dedicated revenue stream for public safety," which he has said would be in the form of a special tax district whose residents (that's us) would foot the additional cost.
Can we now expect Lisa Borders to roll out her own splashy public-safety initiative, perhaps called, "Kicking Butt and Taking Names: Fighting Crime in the ATL?" Apparently not, judging from her most recent campaign release, headlined: Borders Calls For End To Public Safety Rhetoric.
Here's the lede:
Mayoral candidate Lisa Borders today called out her opponents for trying to capitalize on Atlantas recent crime activity without real funding solutions and without a real understanding of processes.
Atlantans must come together to send a strong message that we will not tolerate crime in Atlanta, but that message must also be accompanied by a plan and funding mechanisms, Borders said. Crime stats are one thing. Saying you want to crack down on crime is another. But the real issue is what is your plan and how to you propose to pay for it?
Ooh, snap! She seems to ignore Reed's funding proposal (which I'm not advocating, but simply noting).
Then she takes aim at Atlanta's not-so-beloved police chief:
Borders also is concerned that current Police Chief Richard Pennington has not been in the forefront of addressing the recent crime concerns facing the city.
Ooh, double snap! Or, as Andisheh might say, quite the understatement. But after criticizing her opponents for making noise over the crime wave, Borders listed elements from her own public-safety plan:
Ultimately, she's right that any candidate should be expected to explain how his or her initiatives would be paid for. But you're never going to stop politicians from taking advantage of sometimes tragic circumstances or using celebrities to bring attention to their campaigns.
The irony here is that none of the candidates will be getting Evander's vote; the "Real Deal" lives in Fairburn.
(Photo courtesy Kasim Reed campaign)
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