Category Archives: observations

Atlanta Press Club hosts Georgia General Assembly press discussion

By Michael Mumper

 

Thursday night the Atlanta Press Club hosted “Georgia’s General Assembly Unplugged: Behind the Headlines with the State Capitol Press” , at the Commerce Club. Some 80-90 folks attended, by my count. The moderator was Jeanne Bonner of Georgia Public Broadcasting.

atlanta-press-club-logo-2012Panelists included:
Tom Crawford, The Georgia Report
Charles Edwards, Public Broadcasting Atlanta
Walter Jones, Morris News Service
Aaron Gould Sheinin, Atlanta Journal Constitution

The four issues that received the most attention:

BedTax – maybe the most important piece of legislation given its $700 million price tag, coupled with the implications of “tax” that could have derailed action. Gov. Deal’s support of quick movement of this through the Assembly is probably a huge win for everyone.

“What do Los Angeles Falcons Do?”

Falcons Stadium – Crawford: $300 million of public money, really? Even if it’s just $200 million; never see the return for that. Jones: but if you have to tax, is there anyone better to tax than yankees? Theoretically, this is a good fight for the Tea Party because giving public money to a billionaire is an easy fight. But people outside of Atlanta don’t care too much about this legislation either way. Sheinin: this is also a “bed tax”. Edwards: there’s too much interest in seeing it happen, it’ll fly, but probably from the Atlanta City Council rather than the Georgia General Assembly. Notably, however, there will be no or negative impact to neighboring Vine City. And given the recent reports that Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank has been approached from Los Angeles interests to move the team there, Edwards asks, with his fist in the air, “What do Los Angeles Falcons Do?”

Ethics Reform – Sheinin: probably a 60% chance that this will pass this session. Depends on what’s really in Ralston’s heart and mind about this, and that’s hard to tell. Supposed poison pill elements of the bill would need to be addressed.

Gun Control - something like 1 bill in favor of more stringent control; 12 for less control. Crawford: But Deal and Ralston seem to have put their foot down that there’s not much taste for gun legislation this session. Edwards: Will the Price Middle School shooting impact this?  Sheinin: only if It’s true that an armed counselor at the school helped subdue the shooter.

Other issues that got a notable mention:

  • Juvenile Justice Reform should pass easily (said Jones), like last year’s Criminal Justice Reform, given how this issue meets both progressive criteria (shifting punishment to treatment) and conservative criteria (cheaper).
  • Adjustments to tax reform from 2012 (e.g. car leasing problem)
  • Elder Abuse
  • Dog Bill – Jones is kinda kiddin’ with us here

Key Missing Legislation (things Georgia really needs but there just ain’t the climate for it, according to the panelists):

• Investment in K-12 (Edwards), even though (wrongly) more attention is currently being given higher education.
• Roads & Bridges (Sheinin), and I might add, transportation in general, as many predicted would happen if TSPLOST fell last July, which, well, you know…
• Uninsured Georgians (I can’t recall if Crawford or Jones mentioned this)

No one discussed Chip Rogers on the record. Well…

Governor Deal’s legacy
Criminal Justice Reform and Juvenile Justice Reform, so far, are Deal’s key achievements. Per Sheinin, after May 25, 2014, when qualifying for next term elections for Governor are due, we’ll find out if Deal has any real competition. If not, we may see a “new Deal”: bolder, stronger, faster. Could be tackling Georgia’s underinsured problem. One attending journalist cautioned that we’ll never again see the boldness of a Zell Miller-type Governor, given today’s 24-hour news cycle, the transparency that social media engenders, etc.

Any future legislative leaders emerging?
Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton), Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) hold promise.

Is the Tea Party impacting the Assembly?
Sheinin: Some 87 of 180 in the General Assembly are freshmen, and perhaps 20-30 of those are Tea Party members or sympathetic thereof. So, electorally, not yet a major impact; no “big” wins like the Tea Party defeat of Senator Lugar in Indiana. (Though some think US Senator Chambliss’ not seeking a 3rd term is bowing to Tea-party pressure.) But from a policy standpoint, there’s much agreement among the panelists that the Tea Party is an important factor.

Do journalists impact/cause legislation? (e.g. school dropouts, sex trafficking)
As Jones relayed, back in the day, media could more easily impact legislative action. When one journalist pursued a story, others in the Assembly hallway would hear, pursue and drive the story forward. Many papers would be propelling a story line. The antagonist couldn’t claim that one paper’s geographic or political leanings were motivating the angle. Nowadays, with fewer papers and smaller staffs, it’s harder to gain and keep momentum. (My note: Ethics legislation certainly was propelled this year by considerable coverage from every political bent last year.)

Journalism’s business model
On a separate note, I had a discussion with a journalist before the panel discussion about the future of journalism models, given the slam that has hit print news media in the last 10 years. It was noted that Tom Crawford’s Georgia Report is completely “behind the firewall” – meaning you have to pay to read any of it. We both gave kudos to Tom for making that happen. The Saporta Report is completely free, paid for by some advertising and mostly (we think) from guest columnist thought-leaders.  Of course PBA has a member-donation model, and I am a regular listener. The AJC is partially behind the firewall, but, my friend said, “If the AJC goes totally behind the firewall, I would definitely pay to read it.” I agreed with my friend, but said that I would never tell the AJC that.

Whoops.

Michael Mumper

See Michael Mumper’s bio in the About Us section above.

Charlie Harper: I’m right, and you’re evil

By Charlie Harper

Published: August 24, 2012 by ledger-enquirer.com, at http://bit.ly/NqLI8S.

I was a little bored, and I decided to weigh in on a Georgia legislator’s Facebook page regarding traffic congestion in suburban Atlanta. I should know better, but I also know better than to slow down and look at car accidents on the side of the road as I pass them, too. Sometimes you just can’t help yourself, despite the fact that you know you’re going to see things you probably wish you hadn’t.

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My Own Crossroads

By Michael Mumper

When I named this blog AtlCrossroads, and purposefully chose the word crossroads to be part of it, I didn’t originally have ME in mind.

I had divergences in mind, yes.  As in the City of Atlanta with its suburbs, between Metro Atlanta and Georgia, between conservative and progressive ideologies, between strong political forces and the citizens who give strength to our democracy.

And with these divergences, I was thinking, come the opportunities for coming together again. As crossroads do.

Me, at 235 lbs.

Me, at 200 lbs.

And yet I may be the one on the path of “coming together again.”  I’m on the path of returning to the trimmer, healthier me of my college years.

My weight has been dropping over the last 20 weeks, from the picture on the left, where I stood after Thanksgiving, to the picture on the right, taken a few hours ago.  I decided tonight that my goal is to return to my college weight of 170.  So I still have a ways to go.

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Atlanta’s Transportation Investment Act really needs St. Francis of Assisi (smile)

By Michael Mumper

My mind is grappling with the magnitude of different approaches and reactions to the Transportation Investment Act, particularly for the Atlanta region, with two of these views presented by Steve Brown, Fayette County Commissioner, and Bruce Gunter, president of Progressive Redevelopment Inc(For more information on the TIA, click here).

Yes, we’ll be voting on it on the TIA July 31.

Well, maybe.

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Georgia Charter School Amendment, HB 1162

By Michael Mumper

The Georgia “Charter School Amendment”, HB 1162, narrowly failed to pass last week, and the bill’s legislative leaders are aiming to bring it back for another vote.  Here are four views on the bill, plus a few thoughts of my own:

Georgia State Representative Jan Jones (R, District 46), the bill’s originator: http://bit.ly/A8YY6E (via @ajc), argues primarily that — after the Georgia Supreme Court struck down a 2008 state law that addressed the state’s role in local, public education — the bill would “reassert the state’s partnership role in public education”. Specifically, according to Jones, by enabling the state to approve charter schools, this legislation would give Georgia “another tool to give students learning opportunities, which sometimes cannot be offered within attendance lines.”

Three additional points she adds:

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Welcome to ATL Crossroads! – Where issues engagement meets discussion!

By Michael Mumper

I just launched this blog February 3, 2012!  Admittedly, I’m excited and a little nervous.  I’m not a writer, much less a journalist.  But I am someone who cares passionately about the average citizen being able to learn about and engage on the issues that face us.  This means you, and I’m right there with you.  Learning as we go.

Whether we’re talking about transportation, immigration, water, education, or health care, this blog is about helping us find facts and opinions (from both the expert and grassroots angles) that help us learn more about these issues and engage with others in conversations about them.  THE DIFFERENCE between this site and many others out there is that this site is not directly intended for those who have already formed “expert” opinions about the issues. It’s not for people who insist they are “right” and that those who disagree are ignorant or worse.  Rather, this blog is intended for you, and me, who want to learn MORE about the issues, and have positive, constructive, solution-oriented conversations.  Consider us interested beginners.  We want to learn or review some basics, hear differing viewpoints, have the opportunity to do our own research to get a little deeper, and then maybe add a few comments.

Help me grow the impact of this site by telling me what YOU would like to talk about!

See Michael Mumper’s bio in the About Us section above.