Civic League’s Water Forum brings conversation to Georgia and Atlanta’s water issues

By Matt McWilliams and Michael Mumper

Publisher’s Note: You can also see AtlCrossroads’  7-minute Video Recap, Photo Gallery and Audio Interviews of the “Water Sustains All” forum by clicking here.

In a critical reversal of a scary 2009 ruling that said Metro Atlanta could not use Lake Lanier for its water supply without congressional approval, the 11th Circuit Court last summer delivered a favorable verdict for metro Atlanta which allows Lanier to be used – in part – to supply Metro Atlanta’s water needs.  This does not mean that litigation is over; nor does it mean that Atlanta’s water woes are now behind it.

Sally Bethea, Bob Kerr and Darrell Thomas, 3 of 8 panelists at the Civic League forum "Water Sustains All"

The Civic League for Regional Atlanta re-visited the region’s water supply issues during a forum in early March, at Atlanta’s Selig Center. The event, Water Sustains All, highlighted that, even with the sun setting on that particular component of metro Atlanta’s water supply, there is still an ongoing need to advance water policy in the region.

Metro Atlanta’s water supply has been susceptible to prolonged droughts, such as in 2007 when officials estimated that the drought had reduced the area’s water to a 3-month supply.

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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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Tree Rings Suggest that Atlanta Water May Become – ugh – More Scarce

By Matt McWilliams

Metro Atlanta has struggled with water supply in recent years. A new study suggests water supply could become even more limited in the future. The study looked at local trees whose rings indicate that last century was unusually wet. If precipitation rates return to levels more typical over the last 350 years, metro Atlanta – and Georgia – could have a much larger water issue on its hands.

Then check out the Scientific-American article that the video references, by clicking hereThis article is reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500

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A Non-partisan approach to HR 1162

By Michael Mumper

Thinking in non-partisan ways is not so easy in Georgia.   It may not be anywhere.

So I’d like to bring attention from time-to-time to people who think beyond party lines in defense of their principles.

Senator Thompson

I’d like to call out Georgia State Senator Curt Thompson (D-District 5), who voted for HR 1162.  This legislation is largely seen as a Republican-led initiative, and Thompson is a Democrat.

Because it recently passed both houses of our state’s General Assembly, this resolution will go before voters this fall to decide whether the state of Georgia should have the power to authorize charter schools.  Even, potentially, over the objection of local school boards.

But I bring attention to Senator Thompson not because he voted for HR 1162.  Rather, because:

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Ethics Reform giving Georgia a boost of unity – a beginner’s guide to the story

By Michael Mumper

It’s rare in today’s politically divisive environment to find an issue so many people agree on.  But ethics reform in Georgia, and the lack thereof, is providing just that platform.

Based partly on the observation that Georgia is one of three states without limits on lobbyist gifts (see chart below) – and a recent study sponsored by a consortium led by the Center for Public Integrity that gives Georgia the lowest ranking of all 50 states – Georgia has garnered considerable negative statewide and national attention.

Rather than re-hash, let’s accumulate what we know about this issue

This issue is getting so much press on all media, I don’t know how much value AtlCrossroads would add in re-hashing pieces of what’s already known in 500 words or less.  But it may be useful to have a collection of information in one place that people can visit in order to learn more.  That’s what this compilation will try to accomplish.


The Problem: Limited limits

Jay Bookman sums it up nicely. Among the most glaring, simple-to-understand metrics, Georgia is one of just three states with no limits on lobbyist gifts to legislators.

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Transportation Investment Act – Public Hearing in the City of Atlanta asks “humongous” questions

By Matt McWilliams

The transportation sales tax vote is still months away, but it is likely voters will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions before July 31.

Fundamentally, voters will have to determine whether it’s worth it to them to levy a penny sales tax – for ten years – to fast-track transportation infrastructure investment.

Complicating matters, the Georgia General Assembly may not be able to pass transit governance legislation that will help voters understand how these new investments will be managed.

Last week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that proposed transit governance legislation has rankled some because of its intent to change representation guidelines by granting more influence to north Metro Atlanta.

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Perspectives on TSPLOST: Progress or a Tax Trap?

Is TSPLOST just what Atlanta needs for transportation and progress?  Or is it an expensive “tax trap” that will hurt us unless the project list is revamped?

A video provided by Livable Communities Coalition (LCC) provides one perspective on the potential value of TSPLOST, while Ron Sifen of Vinings adds some serious concerns about TSPLOST as it stands right now.

First the LCC video:

Next, thoughts from Ron Sifen that draw attention to what he thinks are TSPLOST’s shortcomings.

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Cutting Georgia’s Personal Income Tax – Pro and Con arguments

By Michael Mumper

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Georgia Budget and Policy Institute have different thoughts on whether Georgia should lower its personal income tax.

PRO:  Significant Reduction in Personal Income Tax Needed

Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF) says that a significant cut in Georgia’s  personal income tax is just the jolt our economy needs.   Some of GPPF’s reasons why:

  • Studies show that lowering tax rates spurs economic growth, by not just putting more money in families’ pockets, but also making investment in Georgia more attractive for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and for out-of-state businesses considering whether to relocate to Georgia.

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Income Inequality in Atlanta – How bad is it?

By Michael Mumper

Last fall, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the City of Atlanta has the highest Income Inequality of all metropolitan cities in the United States.

Really?  How is that measured? And how bad are we?  And is it actually a bad thing?

The “Gini Coefficient” measure

In the 1920’s an Italian economist and statistician named Corrado Gini developed a measure of “statistical dispersion” that is used to measure how wide differences are in income and wealth, though the measure has also proven helpful in other fields.  This measure is now known as the Gini coefficient.

Using the Gini coefficient to measure income differences, a score of 0 means everyone has the same income, while 100 represents the maximum disparity (as in one person earning all the income).  Of 134 countries whose income disparities have been measured, Sweden’s is lowest at 23 (Sweden is “the” socialist country, right?), while Namibia is highest at 71.  (In the chart referenced in the previous link, you can click on the up/down arrows at the top of the chart to sort that column.  In this article I am referencing the CIA numbers.)

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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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