Friday’s Freshest: Today is Veterans Day. In this week’s commentary, investigative journalist Chris Butler shares his thoughts on how Americans currently view the holiday. Many veterans feel overlooked, misunderstood or isolated in their re-adjustment to civilian life. While many do not expect the grateful recognition that Veterans Day promotes, the rest of us have a responsibility to appropriately honor their sacrifices and celebrate their legacy.
Quotes of Note
“We sleep peaceably in our beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” –George Orwell
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” –Mark Twain
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” –G.K. Chesterton
On Our Desks
Money out of your pockets: See how Georgia taxpayers fell victim to government waste, fraud and abuse in the month of October. Investigative journalist Chris Butler details four stories of local government malpractice in the Peach State.
Ralston departs: A big shakeup in leadership is coming to the Georgia House of Representatives, as longtime speaker David Ralston announced he will not seek another term due to health concerns. In his weekly column, Kyle Wingfield explains the magnitude of this change and details the political attributes necessary to hold the speaker’s gavel.
Deep impact: The Foundation’s most recent study provides a comprehensive review of Georgia’s development impact fees. Impact fees are included in residential development costs and used to fund infrastructure growth. In his commentary, research fellow J.Thomas Perdue summarizes the new study and how impact fees can affect housing costs. This is the first part of our work on this topic, which we will follow up with additional research and publications. Access the full study here!
We’ve got issues: The Foundation’s 2022 Guide to the Issues is here! You can read J.Thomas Perdue’s commentary on the purpose and contents of this year’s edition here. Guide to the Issues is our biennial resource that outlines our positions and policy recommendations on pertinent topics. Access this year’s Guide here!
Join us! The Foundation has partnered with America’s Future for an upcoming discussion on housing and rent affordability in Atlanta. Research fellow Tyler Webb will join Seth Daniels, a government affairs manager at the Atlanta Apartment Association, for a deep dive into what we can do to drive down rent prices. The event will take place at Park Bench Battery – 900 Battery Ave SE Ste 1060, Atlanta, GA 30339 on Wednesday, November 16 from 7-9 p.m. You can reserve a spot here. Tickets are expected to sell out.
Save the date: The setting for the Foundation’s annual Georgia Freedom Dinner has been announced. The dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at the Cobb Performing Arts Center at 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway in Atlanta. Table sponsorships are available. Please contact us here for more information.
Back to the drawing board: The Alpharetta City Council rejected a redevelopment plan for North Point Mall. Despite some community support, council members opposed the $550 million project in a 4-2 vote. The Council has been consistently skeptical of redevelopment, and had recently pushed the developer, Trademark Property Company, to decrease the number of apartments. Ultimately, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Council did not trust Trademark to carry out a project that would actually address the mall’s decline. The Council will allow Trademark to submit a new plan in six months.
MARTA’s future: Next week, MARTA will reveal three alternatives for routes or modes of its proposed Clifton Corridor transit lines, according to Saporta Report. The Clifton Corridor, which was originally proposed as a light rail line but has been under consideration as a bus rapid transit line as an alternative, would run between Buckhead’s Lindbergh Center Station and either the Avondale or Decatur stations. Along the way, it would serve major institutions such as Emory University. Earlier this year, MARTA narrowed 10 alternatives for routes and modes down to three. A meeting on Nov. 15 will be held in person at North Decatur Church, and another on Nov. 17 will be held virtually via Zoom.
Enrolled back: Enrollment in Georgia’s public universities fell for the second year in a row, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Data from the University System of Georgia showed a 1.8% drop in enrollment, or 6,179 students. Officials pointed to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a job market that has encouraged some potential college applicants to seek work instead of a degree. Eight Georgia schools saw enrollment bumps, 17 had enrollment declines, and only Dalton State College remained flat. Chancellor Sonny Perdue said the system needed to do a better job of demonstrating how college degrees benefit Georgia’s workforce.
A troubling trend: Alcohol-related deaths increased by almost 30% in the United States in 2020 and the trend continued in 2021, reports the Associated Press, which cited CDC numbers. These deaths are two and a half times more common among men than women and highest for ages 55-64. The study found that as many as one in eight deaths among American adults aged 20-64 were alcohol-related. New Mexico had the highest percentage at 22%, and Mississippi had the lowest at 9%. Georgia saw a 22-year high in alcohol-related deaths in 2020, according to Atlanta News First.
Chemical chaos: A chemical plant near Brunswick caught fire on Monday, which led to the evacuation of about 100 nearby homes, according to NBC News. Local officials noted concerns about smoke from the fire drifting into populated areas. Fire Capt. Eric Proswimmer, who was on the scene with fire crews from nearby Jacksonville, Fla., said heat from the fire caused three chemical tanks to explode. Symrise, the German chemical company that operates the plant, said Monday that the cause of the fire is still unknown. WJCL Savannah reported Monday that evacuation orders were being lifted, and residents were allowed to return to their neighborhoods.
The finish line: Brian Kemp won a second term as governor in Tuesday’s elections, leading a Republican sweep of Georgia’s constitutional offices. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr and State School Superintendent Richard Woods all won re-election, along with Insurance Commissioner John King, who was appointed to his job in 2019. Winning for the first time were Burt Jones as lieutenant governor, Tyler Harper as agriculture commissioner and Bruce Thompson as labor commissioner. Republicans will also retain control of both the state House and Senate.
Another lap: The race for Georgia’s seat in the U.S. Senate will go to a runoff after neither Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) nor challenger Herschel Walker (R) won a majority on Tuesday. Warnock, who finished first with 49.4% of the vote, fell less than 23,000 votes short of winning outright. The Dec. 6 runoff could be for control of the chamber, as votes were still being counted in Arizona, where Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly led, and in Nevada, where Republican challenger Adam Laxalt was ahead. Democrats need to win two of these final three seats to maintain a 50-50 split in the Senate and effective control over the chamber.
Securing their votes: On Monday, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Kellie Hill extended the deadline for absentee ballots to November 14 after 1,036 voters did not receive their ballots. The lawsuit was originally filed Sunday by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Elections and Registration Director Janine Eveler cited “human error, with new staff not following procedures” as the cause of the situation, reports CNBC.
Atlanta development: Major expansions by Children’s Healthcare and Emory University are driving rapid growth on both sides of North Druid Hills Road just east of I-85, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Residential development targeting affluent healthcare workers includes Bryn House, with 337 luxury apartments, and developer Greystar’s 350-unit project, as well as Cortland Oleander’s 350 units, which opened in 2019. There are more developments planned nearby. Existing residents of the area are concerned about increased traffic on already clogged suburban roads.
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