Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Slice 3/31/13: Piedmont Park's lake is not for swimming

Posted By on Sun, Mar 31, 2013 at 9:30 AM

A man hopped in Lake Clara Meer in Piedmont Park yesterday afternoon and bobbed up and down for two hours, according to reddit user JCool123. "They had 4 fire trucks, 2 ambulances, and a shit ton of cops just to get this one guy out of the water," he or she wrote.

Plans for the downtown train terminal located on top of the Gulch in downtown are moving along. No word on when we'd see trains actually serve that massive facility.

People named in grand jury indictments related to the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal are expected to turn themselves in on Tuesday. The grand jury has reportedly set multi-million-dollar bonds for several defendants, including former superintendent Beverly Hall.

The South Carolina man who expressed remorse for attacking Congressman John Lewis, D-Atlanta, during the Freedom Rides in the 1960s has died. Elwin Wilson, a former Ku Klux Klan member, became a "national symbol for reconciliation and redemption" after apologizing to the icon of the Civil Rights Movement. He was 76.

Save the Berlin Wall!

And Kim Jung-Un, it's Easter weekend, just leave us all alone.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

5 things to do: BaconFest

Posted By on Sat, Mar 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

5 things to do in Atlanta today

1. BaconFest at Dad's Garage

2. WREKTACULAR 45th Anniversary Benefit Concert at the Drunken Unicorn

3. Falling In... opens at Beep Beep Gallery

4. Barkfest at Meehan's Public House

5. Dr. John & The Nite Trippers at the Variety Playhouse

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Beverly Hall, other school officials, indicted in APS cheating scandal (Update)

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall

A grand jury has indicted former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall and more than two dozen other former educators on an array of charges, including racketeering, for their alleged roles in the school system's test-cheating scandal.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard this afternoon announced that Hall and 34 principals, administrators, teachers, and other APS officials were indicted on 65 counts, including violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, theft by taking, influencing witnesses, conspiracy, and false statements. (Here's the DA's announcement. And here's a link to the indictment.)

Hall, who joined APS in 1999, was considered a star administrator who turned a poorly performing school system into a success story. But in late 2008, the AJC conducted an analysis into suspiciously high gains on test scores. Reporters Alan Judd and Heather Vogell continued digging and found more instances of changed answers and other signs of possible cheating. The state took notice and launched its own investigation in early 2010.

In July 2011, Hall, who has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in a cheating scandal, resigned from APS. A few days later, the state released its report. It was depressing. According to its authors, "[a] culture of fear and a conspiracy of silence infected this school system, and kept many teachers from speaking freely about misconduct. From the onset of this investigation, we were confronted by a pattern of interference by top APS leadership in our attempt to gather evidence."

After the jump, comments from APS Superintendent Erroll Davis and Mayor Kasim Reed.

Continue reading »

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Alleged drug kingpin nabbed in Buckhead

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 5:04 PM

An alleged drug kingpin from the Baltimore area was arrested two nights ago in Buckhead after recently relocating to the Atlanta area, a U.S Marshals spokesman tells CL.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Gavin Duffy tells CL that Jeffrey Cofield is "reportedly a major supplier of heroin in the Baltimore area." He is also a "person of interest" on several weapons charges, media outlets report.

Duffy said the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force - which locates dangerous fugitives in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia - recently discovered that Cofield was in Atlanta. In a joint investigation and arrest with the Atlanta Police Department, Cofield was located and taken into custody "very peacefully," or without incident, Duffy said.

Cofield was found in an associate's condo in Buckhead, Duffy said. Authorities found cash, drugs, and an assault rifile and pistol. Two of his associates were also arrested.

"The Marshals Service has an integrated computer network that permits leads to be sent from all over the nation and be acted on immediately," Chief Inspector Keith Booker told the AJC. "In this case, we were able to have Mr. Cofield in custody in less than 24 hours, before he could establish himself in Atlanta."

Another marshal raid in the Old Fourth Ward along Edgewood Avenue last night was completely unrelated to Cofield's arrest, Duffy told CL. APD told us last night that the department assisted the feds in locating a "wanted person" in the area but he or she was not there.

"It was a raid for a fugitive and some amount of narcotics were discovered," Duffy said. "During the course of the event, narcotics were seen in plain view. Just one fugitive was taken into custody."

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Downtown task force includes heavy hitters

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Task force would look at myriad plans for downtown
When the city announced its plans to create a task force to imagine ways to revitalize downtown, people's eyes might have initially rolled. Numerous plans already exist for boosting the historic and cool neighborhood.

But judging by the people who are being tasked with leading the group, it should be worth watching.

Typically, these councils are filled with appointees made by the city's movers and shakers. It's not too often that you see those movers and shakers actually serving on the groups.

But going by the names delivered to the Atlanta City Council's Community Development and Human Resources committee, the 25-member Downtown Development Technical Advisory Group, or DDTAG, could include several well-known folks. Among them: Keith Parker, general manager and CEO of MARTA; Georgia State University President Mark Becker; Frank Poe, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority; Invest Atlanta CEO Brian McGown; and Central Atlanta Progress honcho A.J. Robinson, among others.

The resolution that created the group, which will develop a master plan to try and revitalize downtown Atlanta, first passed unanimously in the Community Development and Human Resources Committee on Jan. 15.CL reported in January that various groups agreed to serve on the task force. Individuals and officials from the state, city, MARTA, neighborhood organizations and GSU all said they wanted to participate.

However, instead of appointing underlings, many of the officials on DDTAG submitted their own names to the Council.

Other members selected to serve on the committee include Atlanta Braves executive Mike Plant, transportation planner Heather Alhadeff, financial consultant Michael Tabb, Shean Atkins of the Atlanta Housing Authority, and nearby Neighborhood Planning Unit leaders. Political operative Tharon Johnson, who managed President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign in the Southeast, will serve as one of Mayor Kasim Reed's appointees.

The downtown task force would explore the reasons why Atlantans "don't want to come to downtown," Atlanta City Councilman H. Lamar Willis - who pushed the proposal with Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms - told CL in January. The task force will conduct a $500,000 study, which will also consist of assessing Underground Atlanta, the shopping and entertainment center located in the heart of downtown.

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ATLwood: Anchorman 2 gives Peachtree an ice rink

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Currently Filming

- Anchorman 2 filmed at Piedmont Park on Thursday. Rumor is that Vince Vaughn will be joining the cast soon (for a minor role) ...

- The movie also turned Peachtree Street into Rock Center last weekend, installing a temporary ice rink (here's a blurry shot from Reddit, and a close-up).

- The Brad Pitt-produced The Returned filmed at Sweetwater State Park on Tuesday.

- The pilot "Surgeon General" filmed at the Atlanta Galleria Office Park this week.

- A movie prepped to film in Decatur Cemetery this weekend - any clues on this one?

- Speaking of the dead, check out the latest "Walking Dead" set pics on Walking Dead Locations.

- "The Vampire Diaries" mostly filmed in studio in Decatur this week, though Wednesday it was near Glenridge Drive and Mount Vernon Highway in Sandy Springs.

- "Being Mary Jane" is filming on Nelson Street, with a base camp right around the corner on Mitchell.

Upcoming Filming

- According to ATLwood friend @peachyscoop, Lauren Graham, Joel McHale and Robin Williams will all be in town in April to start filming a new movie.

- And, as Peachy put it, "Man, will it be HOT in the ATL this summer when Jon Hamm comes in town in May to film Million Dollar Arm." Get my smelling salts!

Continue reading »

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Sine Die 2013: Ethics compromise passes, abortion and gun proposals stall

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 9:43 AM

It was a late night at the Gold Dome as Sine Die ended right around midnight. After a grueling 40th day under the Gold Dome, leaders of both chambers gaveled the legislative session to a close and state lawmakers tossed shreds of proposals, reports, and other paper documents into the air in celebration.

Aside from passing Georgia's $19.3 million budget for fiscal year 2014, which the House OK'ed around 8:30 p.m. last night, state legislators primarily focused on ethics, abortion, and guns.

Ethics reform - House Bills 142 and 143:

A small group of lawmakers worked early in the morning of Sine Die to broker a compromise between the state Senate and House of Representatives versions of the dueling ethics bills. A $75 gift cap meant that the Senate conceded $25 while the House caved in on the gift ban originally proposed by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Unsurprisingly, there are exceptions. Among those are committee dinners and travel expenses. On the positive side, citizen activists won't need to register as lobbyists under the legislation, unless they receive $250 or more in reimbursements.

The bill outlining lobbyist gifts unanimously passed, albeit with some additional loopholes, in the state Senate. Ralston asked his House members to move forward and also approve the ethics proposal.

"By voting for the report, because although not perfect, this measure does for the first time put limitations [on] spending," Ralston said. As the Speaker indicated, the consensus among lawmakers was that something had to pass and that additional ethics reforms could be revisited next year.

"We took a small step in a state that ranks 50th in the nation for ethics laws," William Perry, the executive director of Common Cause of Georgia, said after the session. He said good-government watchdogs would continue the push for ethics reform.

Continue reading »

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Weekend Arts Agenda: Observational Film Love

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Mr. Coperthwaite by Anna Grimshaw
  • Mr. Coperthwaite by Anna Grimshaw

Film Love and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center will present part one of Anna Grimshaw's Mr. Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine woods tonight at 8 p.m. The filmmaker will be present for the work's debut. Parts two and three will follow later this year.

More after the jump.

Continue reading »

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First Slice 3/29/13: 'Atlanta thrives on paradox'

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 8:50 AM

1. "Atlanta thrives on paradox."

2. Nope, Al Capone never kicked it at the Clermont, and Reynoldstown definitely isn't named after Burt Reynolds. [Editor's note: We pinky swear this link actually worked this morning. Not sure what the ATL Mag folks are up to ...]

3. Yup, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is still the busiest.

4. Mayor Kasim Reed is No. 1 in Arthur Blank's playbook, and he's got the jersey to prove it.

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