Monday, April 30, 2012

Transportation tax boosters 'disappointed,' 'dismayed' with Sierra Club opposition

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the business community's PR campaign pushing for the passage of a regional transportation tax in metro Atlanta, expressed "disappointment" and "dismay" late this afternoon after learning that the Sierra Club would oppose the measure. Via the group's release:

"We find it highly unusual that an organization charged with preserving and protecting our environment would oppose a transportation investment that has the potential to do exactly that," said Che Watkins, campaign manager for CTM. "The Regional Transportation Referendum holds more promise of relieving congestion and reducing air pollution than any plan in decades," said Watkins.

The organization, which advocates for more transit options in the region, cited "sprawl-inducing road expansion" as a major reason for its opposition. And yet, supporters believe the July 31 referendum provides unprecedented transportation options for metro Atlanta commuters, and holds the most promise for relieving air pollution, excessive tailpipe emissions and other environmental damage caused by traffic congestion.

"If the Sierra Club has its way," said Watkins, "more harm will be done to the environment as the state continues to fund roads to the exclusion of transit. This plan generates one-third of public funding in the region for transit," said Watkins. "Any organization that supports the environment would support this plan."

With both supporters and opponents of transit taking aim at the $8.5 billion project list, Watkins noted that "We've obviously achieved the right balance of both. The one-sided supporters on either side - roads or transit - must acknowledge that the region needs a healthy mix of both to relieve congestion and give commuters options to get to home and work quicker."

I'm disappointed that both sides in the debate haven't resorted to any name-calling. No talk of "corporate fat cats" or "Teva-wearin' tree-bark eaters." LAME.

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Pics of the week: Photos of people who have been abducted by aliens

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM

An eruption shot off the east limb of the Sun
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
  • An eruption shot off the east limb of the Sun

What does the sun look like?

A Los Angeles Times photographer talks about covering the LA Riots.

What if you break a $300,000 figurine when you are on an assignment for Creative Loafing?

My favorite dog video .

Another uniquely American story: imagine this causing a heart attack.

Finally, photos of people who have been abducted by aliens

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Castleberry Hill residents open to alternate stadium site

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Vine City and English Avenue residents have long cursed the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome for acting as a massive wall between the historic communities and the revitalization of downtown Atlanta. So we weren't surprised when they expressed concern over talks of a possible open-air football stadium along Northside Drive - a project that most likely would've isolated them even more from Atlanta's central business district. The location would create a traffic nightmare for the area because, unlike the Georgia Dome, it's not located near a MARTA rail stop.

But that might not happen. State officials and Atlanta Falcons executives revealed last week that they were also considering an alternate site for the new stadium, which we now know will cost nearly $1 billion and feature a retractable roof, located south of the Georgia Dome and west of "the Gulch." The potential site would be close to MARTA and could be incorporated into the proposed downtown train terminal. It'd also be very close to Castleberry Hill, where residents have co-existed with game day tailgaters and the assorted crowds attracted to other events at the Dome.

I first thought that the idea of building a stadium even closer to the neighborhood, which over the decades has watched its former industrial warehouses evolve into art galleries and lofts, would've been met with criticism. But apparently not. Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association President Eric Morrisey told CL late last week via email:

Co-locating a new stadium near an existing MARTA station and the planned [downtown train terminal] development is more logical than building a stadium away from heavy rail. A new stadium with the right design could work really well in the area and help businesses and the neighborhood. If the plans advance, I encourage all involved in the development to actively engage Castleberry Hill, the AUC, Vine City, and Downtown in the dialogue, as we would be the communities most directly impacted by the development.

Now, that's not a blessing and a rolling out of the welcome mat. But it is a sign that the neighborhood's willing to work with officials should they decide the public's massive gift to Arthur Blank Falcons' new home needs to be closer to mass transit. Which, really, it does.

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The Televangelist: 'The Good Wife' Season 3 Finale

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM

You cant kid a kidder

Last week I wrapped up watching "Battlestar Galactica" (and yes, I finally get what everyone was geeking out about. All true, and just like the "Portlandia" episode), a show which mastered the art of the season-ending cliffhanger. I can't give a single example because staying spoiler free makes this show even more heart-pounding, but suffice it to say I was thrilled that the series had already ended, so that after hyperventilating through each finale I could just put in the next disc and see where the show was going from there.

"The Good Wife" took an (octagon shaped) lo-fi page from the book of "Battlestar" last night and gave us a finale that asked more questions than it answered, and set up an entirely new trajectory for its fourth season. I have grumbled at length about the uneven nature of the series, particularly this year, but "Dream Team" was a fitting ending for a season where uncertainty reigned.

A few of the long-term arcs seem to finally be getting some motion, most particularly #Kalinda'sPast (I'm hashtagging it because CBS did and also because it begs for it). #Kalinda'sPast was explored in one of the most forgettable narratives in Season Two, with Blake. This season, Kalinda retreated into the shadows more, to her character's benefit, which is what made her sudden turn back into Bisexual Warrior Kalinda last night so jarring. I wondered for a minute if I was on the wrong channel. It's clear that Kalinda's husband is a threatening figure who has a lot of connections, but he obviously had not tracked her down - or perhaps bothered to - until Alicia poked the bear. Seeing Kalinda finally face up to her past and confront it head on (or in a chair in front of her door with a loaded gun) will be turning over a new and refreshing leaf for her.

It's the same kind of self-awareness and honesty that Peter gave into last night as well. His matter-of-fact honesty in the deposition about his separation from Alicia will have consequences for his campaign, but it was the right thing to do and something that Alicia would (and did) respect. "The truth is bigger than you think," she tells him after she decides to drop by their old house and spend time with the family after all. Alicia, too, is facing up to the reality that she has missed her life with her family. The elevator scene with Will was call-back to the beginning of the season when their affair officially began (doesn't that seem like a long time ago?), except here they both acknowledge that while the affair may not have been a mistake, there is not much future in it. Later, Alicia stands outside her old home and is torn, as she has been all season (but particularly in the last half of it) whether to return to her old traditional life or continue to forge a new one. "The Good Wife" has been excellent at keeping a realistic tone regarding complicated family dynamics. Alicia is looking for a way to reconcile what is best for her as well as for her family. That answer is not simple.

Continue reading »

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The Televangelist: 'Mad Men' Season 5, Ep 7

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Misery, party of five

Last year at the Emmys, "Mad Men" won Best Drama (again) for a season that many felt was not, perhaps, as deserving when compared to some of the other contenders. There was a feeling that after so many years the voters weren't even bothering to think about it - it is "Mad Men," and always shall be "Mad Men!" After this last season of "Breaking Bad" I predicted that that show would finally eclipse its AMC brother and take home the title prize. There was no show on TV that could touch its suffocatingly horrifying and fantastic anxiety-inducing madness.

And now "Mad Men" is back - not just back, but back with a vengeance. Though it has had its detractors this season, I think its most recent episodes have been the best we've seen in, well, years. Has it proved itself better than "Breaking Bad?" There's still plenty of season to go before making that decision, but I would say currently it's certainly on route to coming close.

"At the Codfish Ball" was all about the ladies, but while each female seemed to be on track for success, the reality was much dimmer. The episode was framed by telephone conversations between Sally and That Creepy Former Neighbor Kid Glen (also known as series creator Matthew Weiner's son). The two have stayed in touch, it seems, since his departure from her neighborhood, and Glen is clearly the only real confident that Sally has. While in their first conversation the two chat and crack wise, in the second conversation Sally has been changed. The conversation isn't taking place on a sunny afternoon but in the dark. "How's the city?" Glen asks. "Dirty," Sally replies quickly and without hesitation.

Sally, like a grownup, took care of her grandmother after she tripped on the telephone cord (or "Gene's toy" as it later turned into), but when she came to her father's apartment Megan made her spaghetti as a kid-friendly alternative to their dinner. Wanting to seem more grown up, Sally puts on makeup later which Don immediately tells her to take off. "There's nothing you can do, Don" Megan's father Jean-Paul Sartre Emile interjects. "One day your daughter is going to spread her legs and fly away." Whoops! It's the kind of comment that can't just be laughed away - Emile is (accidentally) talking about his own resentment about his daughter's relationship with Don, and it turned into foreshadowing for Sally. Her "date" with Roger was incredibly cute until we all saw, like a slow-motion car wreck, the events that would lead to Sally walking in on Megan's mother going down on Roger (or in other terms, her grandmother sucking off her date). Dirty indeed.

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Sierra Club to oppose transportation tax; urge metro Atlanta elected officials to try again

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 9:39 AM

You'd normally expect the Sierra Club, which for years has been among the most vocal proponents of new transit in auto-dependent metro Atlanta, to embrace a measure that would raise billions of dollars in funding for new buses and rails throughout the 10-county region. But in this case you'd be wrong.

The Georgia chapter of the eco-advocacy group went public today with its opposition to the regional transportation tax. Executive Director Colleen Kiernan argues that the list of projects to be funded by the one-percent tax measure feature too many road that will fuel sprawl. And the proposed transit projects are "vaguely defined" and underfunded. Interestingly enough, the Sierra Club is joining forces with tea party members to defeat the measure.

Here's the group's full statement released this morning:

Today the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club announced that it will recommend a "no" vote on the July 31st transportation sales tax referendum (T-SPLOST). "This project list is primarily a business-as-usual sprawl-inducing road program," said Georgia Chapter Director Colleen Kiernan. "We support Plan B - a fix-it-first road strategy and a project list that emphasizes transit expansion and improvement."

The Georgia Chapter has a long history of opposing sprawl-inducing highways like the Northern Arc and supporting increased funding for sustainable transportation including MARTA, Beltline transit, and commuter rail.

While much discussion has focused on the transit component of the project list, the T-SPLOST is first and foremost a road building initiative. Claims by pro-transit supporters that 52 percent of revenues would go to transit do not account for the 15 percent local set-aside, which is expected to go primarily to roads; the final total for transit would be closer to 40 percent. Given that existing transportation funding already overwhelmingly favors roads, passage of the T-SPLOST would only further entrench that divide.

Even the transit expansion projects that Sierra Club supports in concept, including the Northwest corridor, are vaguely defined and underfunded. Other transit projects, like the continuation of GRTA bus service, reward the state for not coming to the table to continue commuter bus service, instead electing to rely on the region step in and assume responsibility.

Other supporters of the regional T-SPLOST argue it will be make-or-break for MARTA, but passage would not address MARTA's most pressing need, which is to raise service up from the skeletal current levels. Because the legislature didn't suspend or remove the 50/50 split this year, further deterioration of MARTA service remains a real and unacceptable possibility. The current suspension expires just after regional T-SPLOST revenue would flow, so the supplemental capital funding would have limited impact on MARTA's operational budget.

Sierra Club hoped that the 2012 legislature would make the regional T-SPLOST more palatable to transit supporters by creating equitable and representative regional transit governance, but unfortunately the 2012 session was the worst in recent memory for transit.

"We hope Atlanta can follow the example of Seattle, defeat the current proposal and get right to work on Plan B," continued Kiernan. "Other funding options that should be considered include restructuring the gas tax, charging more for parking, and an expanded regional transit agency. If our leaders fully embrace transit as the centerpiece of a transformative vision for the region's future, Atlanta can take its place among other forward-looking metropolitan areas that have positioned themselves for enduring success in the 21st century."

Will such an effort work? Writes Charlie at Peach Pundit:

To some, this may appear to be a huge problem for passage of the T-SPLOST, as there are now two groups with both grassroots activists and nominal money to counter the multi-million dollar PR campaign being waged by those who favor the massive tax increase. Yet in the new opposition one can now see the roots of a new message emerging from the pro T-SPLOST advocates -and those roots are blond.

Consider it a Goldilocks campaign. With the Sierra club saying there's not enough transit and the TEA Party saying there's too much, expect those supporting the measure to claim it's just right. Now eat your porridge.

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Photos: Inman Park Festival Parade

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Among the many parade participants: men carrying attaché cases and pun-loving 'gnomes'
  • Dustin Chambers
  • Among the many parade participants: men carrying attaché cases and pun-loving 'gnomes'
The Inman Park Festival brought thousands out to the historic neighborhood this weekend where people shopped for local art and ate whatever fried kind of thing that tickled their fancy. The parade took place on a warm and breezy Saturday afternoon.

Inman Park Parade gallery

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First Slice 4/30/12: EPA to test Atlanta neighborhoods for toxic nastiness

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 8:33 AM

One World Trade Center
1. The Environmental Protection Agency will test for toxic lead residue in Morningside and other Atlanta neighborhoods near a former lead-smelting factory turned concrete plant in Morningside (you've seen the site if you've exited I-85 at Piedmont Road). The factory operated without air-pollution control devices for more than 40 years.

2. The New York Times reports on Anytime Cutz, Atlanta's 24-hour barbershops. What happens next: the local paper writes a feature, the 24-hour cable news networks produce a segment, and soon the world becomes overrun with these establishments. Which is a good thing.

3. Workers at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta this week will deliver the factory's final F-22 Raptor. The fighter jet — which reportedly cost $140 million each — was targeted to meet budget cuts and considered antiquated in a time of drone warfare. The award-winning foreign policy wonks on the Marietta Daily Journal are warning President Obama about the decision.

4. One World Trade Center today is expected to surpass the Empire State Building as New York City's tallest skyscraper

5. Remember the other night after our squash game how you kept on saying how you wanted to own a small town in Georgia? I know, I know, serendipity! Or coincidence?

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5 things today: Khaira Arby, Merchandise

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

1. Khaira Arby plays the Earl
2. Merchandise and others play 529
3. Joe McGuinness plays Blind Willie's
4. Deep Sleep, Cops, and others play WonderRoot
5. Blood on the Dancefloor and Brokencyde play the Masquerade


5 things today: Khaira Arby, Merchandise

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

1. Khaira Arby plays the Earl
2. Merchandise and others play 529
3. Joe McGuinness plays Blind Willie's
4. Deep Sleep, Cops, and others play WonderRoot
5. Blood on the Dancefloor and Brokencyde play the Masquerade


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