Politics

Commentary
3:12 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

Former Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. Not Romanticized In New Film

Former Atlanta Mayor Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. poses under a sign designating Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard.
Credit Associated Press

A new documentary takes a look at the life of former a former Atlanta mayor. Fifty years ago, he gained national standing as a man of courage.

Ivan Allen Jr. was the only elected leader from the South to testify in Congress for the integration of all places of business.

It was one of Mayor Allen's moments of truth. His dedication to doing the right thing changed Atlanta's trajectory from a sleepy Southern town to the bustling economic center of the Southeast.

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Transportation
12:22 pm
Mon May 25, 2015

Chattanooga Mayor: Bullet Train To Atlanta Unlikely

The proposed high-speed rail line would extend 110 miles along Interstate 75 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. In this July 26, 2011 file photo, a CRH high-speed train leaves the Beijing South Station in Beijing.
Credit Andy Wong, File / Associated Press

The mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, says he doesn't think a bullet train connecting Chattanooga to Atlanta, Georgia, will happen. 

The high-speed rail line would extend 110 miles along Interstate 75 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to downtown Chattanooga. It’s been in the planning stages since 1998.

The state of Georgia has invested millions of dollars to study the project. A few years ago, both states received a $13.8 million federal grant for environmental studies.

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A Closer Look
3:09 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Fight Over Ga.’s 'Religious Freedom' Bill Far From Over

Columbus Ga. residents, from left, Katy Clyde, Patricia Lassiter, and Wandra Jordan cheer during an Atlanta rally against Ga.'s contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act legislation.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The fight over Georgia’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, did not end when the measure stalled in the state legislature last month.

Debate over the RFRA measure continued last weekend at the Republican State Convention in Athens.

Convention delegates agreed on a resolution that urged GOP lawmakers to pass the bill without an amendment that would prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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Politics
6:04 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Athens Residents Want Street Declared As Historic District

West Rutherford Street in Athens, where a demolition permit has been issued, is looking to gain historical district designation. In this file photo, Caterpillar shows off one of the construction vehicles it will make at its new Athens facility.
Credit Charles Edwards / WABE News

There’s a street in Athens, Georgia, some residents want to make sure doesn't change.  

West Rutherford Street was once part of a streetcar suburb in Clarke County with homes dating back to the early 1900s.

Athens-Clarke County commissioners are now asking for a moratorium on building and demolition permits in that neighborhood.

A few years ago, homeowners on West Rutherford Street said no thanks when they were asked to be part of a historic district. 

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Politics
3:24 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Georgia Negotiates Over Developmental Disability Transfers

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry, middle, and advocates speak during a forum at The Carter Center about the state of the 2010 settlement Georgia reached with the federal government.
Credit The Carter Center

Georgia is in negotiations with the federal government over a 2010 settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department. By June 30, the state was supposed to move all people with developmental disabilities out of state-run hospitals and into community settings. But the state is not going to meet to that deadline.

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Politics
4:59 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Fulton Chairman Asks For Inquiry Into Recreation Board Appointment

Fulton County Board Chairman John Eaves has asked the state attorney general to investigate an Atlanta councilwoman's appointment to head the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves wants the state attorney general to investigate the hiring of an Atlanta councilwoman who will be supervising the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, the board that will oversee Turner Field's redevelopment once the Braves leave for Cobb County.

In a letter dated Thursday, Eaves asked Attorney General Sam Olens to investigate “whether any ethical or legal provisions have been or may be violated” by Keisha Lance Bottoms’ serving on both the City Council and AFCRA.

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Politics
8:46 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Ga. Senators Want Truck Safety Upgrades After Deadly Crash

Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are pushing for the federal Department of Transportation to mandate new safety requirements for heavy trucks.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia's U.S. senators are citing a recent highway crash that killed five nursing students as they push the federal Department of Transportation to mandate new safety requirements for heavy trucks.

Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue sent a letter Thursday to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx asking the agency to finalize a rule requiring heavy tractor-trailers to use devices limiting their top speeds.

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Politics
6:05 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Advocates Hope Next MARTA Committee Chair Will Attract Funds

The chair of MARTA's state oversight committee was recently appointed as a judge, leaving a key position open at a moment when the transit agency is looking to expand.
Credit Allison Guillory / WABE

The chair of MARTA's state oversight committee was recently appointed as a judge, leaving a key position open at a moment when the transit agency is looking to expand.

Lee Biola of Citizens for Progressive Transit views the outgoing chair, Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, as an ally - a big change from the previous chair.

"It went from someone who was antagonistic towards MARTA, who was throwing up barriers to accomplish anything, to someone like Mike Jacobs who was willing to work with MARTA and make things better," Biola said.

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Politics
8:23 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal Releases List Of 11 Bills He Vetoed

Gov. Nathan Deal has released his list of vetoed bills for the 2015 legislative session.
Credit Denis O'Hayer / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal has released a list of 11 bills that he vetoed.

The list of vetoed bills that Deal released Tuesday included one that would have allowed motorcycle and bicycle riders to enter intersections without regard to traffic signals. That bill would have allowed riders to ignore traffic signals if their motorcycle or bike wouldn't activate a traffic control device.

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Politics
6:42 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Gov. Deal Vetoes Tax Break Bill And Senior Services Plan

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Brenna Beach / WABE

Tuesday was the last chance for Gov. Nathan Deal to veto bills passed during this year’s legislative session. He ultimately nixed 11 bills.

One measure included $110 million in tax credits. It began as a way to help small businesses in low-income areas. Then the Senate, led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, added millions for tech start-ups. The state's venture capital fund, Invest Georgia, was to dish out the incentives.

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A Closer Look
6:14 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Sen. Isakson: 'Fast Track' Bill Vital For Promoting Trade

Sen. Johnny Isakson says the international trade legislation currently before Congress will help Georgia businesses.
Credit U.S. Senate

It’s not often that President Barack Obama and Georgia’s two Republican U.S. senators agree on major issues, but they’re on the same side when it comes to a new international trade agreement.

Earlier this month, Johnny Isakson, Georgia’s senior senator, spent part of the weekly GOP broadcast address urging Congress to continue the Trade Promotion Authority, which is more than 30 years old.

The bill would give U.S. negotiators a "fast track" to finish talks on the big Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal involving 12 nations – including the U.S.  

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In Conversation With Valerie Jackson
9:00 pm
Sun May 10, 2015

Barney Frank Discusses Time In Congress, New Book, Gay Rights

Author and former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank served for over 30 years in the House of Representatives.
Credit Brookings Institution / www.flickr.com/Brookings Institution

In this installment of “Valerie Jackson In Conversation,” we speak to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank. 

Frank served for over 30 years in the House of Representatives and was widely considered to be one of the most powerful members of Congress during his tenure. Jackson talks with the former congressman about his wide range of accomplishments from finance reform to gay rights.

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A Closer Look
4:37 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May Pressured Into Resigning Seat

Lee May, left, has been interim CEO of DeKalb County for almost two years, leaving his constituents without representation on the DeKalb County Commission. May resigned his seat Friday.
Credit Lisa George / WABE

The tangled and bitter battle over Interim CEO Lee May’s District 5 seat on the DeKalb County Commission may be nearing an end.

May announced the resignation of his commission seat in a press conference on Friday morning, after telling WABE in March he had no plans to give up his seat.

May said he changed his mind after complaints from some of the constituents in his district about the lack of representation for such a long time.

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Guns
4:01 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Georgia No. 1 For Guns Used In Out-Of-State Crimes

Guns are displayed during a news conference at police headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Authorities in New York City say they've arrested six people and charged them with selling 155 guns transported from Georgia to an undercover officer in Brooklyn.
Credit Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Tens of thousands of New York City police mourned the death of fellow officer Brian Moore Friday morning. He was shot last weekend on a street in Queens. 

Investigators since have traced the gun used to kill Moore back to a 2011 pawn shop burglary in Perry, Georgia.

Georgia tops the list as a source of guns used in crimes in other states. In 2013, more than 3,000 guns originally purchased legally in Georgia were confiscated outside the state by police, according to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Florida is a very close second.

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Politics
1:57 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Sponsor Of $900M Transportation Plan Nominated For DOT Job

State Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, presents a bill proposing to raise millions of dollars more to maintain Georgia's roads and bridges before the House Transportation committee, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

 

Gov. Nathan Deal has nominated the lawmaker who sponsored the state's new $900 million transportation plan to fill a key position at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The governor's office said Friday that Deal has picked Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, to become the agency's new planning director.

Roberts' position must be approved by transportation committees in the House and Senate. Deal's office said Friday it expects Roberts to start his new job May 15.

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Energy
11:00 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Proposed Palmetto Pipeline Faces Opposition In Georgia

The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering giving energy company Kinder Morgan permission to take over private land to build an oil pipeline along Georgia’s coast. In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe for the stalled Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla.
Credit Sue Ogrocki, File / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering giving energy company Kinder Morgan permission to take over private land to build an oil pipeline along Georgia’s coast.

On Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal spoke out against the plan in a television interview. Thursday night, people packed into a public hearing near Augusta, Georgia, to voice their opinions.

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Criminal Justice
5:37 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Gov. Deal Signs Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Governor Deal signed a bill into law today that would create a new state agency, the Department of Community Supervision, to oversee felony parole and probation. The bill also makes reforms to the misdemeanor private probation system.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a key part of his criminal justice reform package on Thursday.

The bill, HB 310, will create a new state agency, which will be known as the Department of Community Supervision, to oversee felony probation and parole. Deal appointed a new commissioner, Michael Nail, to head the agency.

The law would also make changes to the state’s private probation system for misdemeanor offenses.

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Politics
5:07 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Mayor Not Budging On Call To Fire Nobel Summit’s Organizer

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

The city of Atlanta and organizers of a Nobel Peace Prize summit have just a few more days to resolve a tense standoff, or else the summit will be moved to another city. That's according to the international body that selects host cities.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says his staff is in discussions with event organizers but he remains adamant that the summit's lead organizer, Mohammad Bhuiyan, must be fired due to mismanagement concerns.

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Politics
12:53 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Georgia School Systems To Decide On Operating Models

Atlanta Public Schools has told the state it intends to become a charter system.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

  

  

All Georgia school systems face a deadline next month. They have to decide how they want to run their schools, and they get three choices from the state.

The first choice for school systems is the "status quo," which means they have to follow all state mandates unless there are extenuating circumstances like a natural disaster. So far, only the Burke County school system has decided to do so.

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Politics
10:29 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Gov. Deal Signs Bill To Protect Teens From Cyberbullying

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill on Wednesday that's aimed at the prevention of cyberbullying.
Credit Rachel Johnson / flickr.com/rachel-johnson

  

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law Wednesday that seeks to prevent teenagers from becoming victims in cyberspace.

The law says you’re not allowed to put a teenager’s personal information like a phone number or username on a pornographic website. It also prohibits anyone from posting a picture of a minor’s face on one of those sites. State Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, authored the law.

“We really want to confront cyberbullying. It’s become a very huge epidemic, and it really affects a lot of teenagers,” Belton says.

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A Closer Look
4:42 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson Attacks New GOP Budget Plan

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, spoke with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer in the studio on May 5, 2015.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

In a wide-ranging interview on "A Closer Look," Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, had strong words for the new federal budget plan passed by the Republican majority in Congress.  

Johnson, whose district includes Rockdale County and parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton Counties, also discussed his recent speech on the House floor – in which he said, "It feels like open season on black men in America."  

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Politics
3:25 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

Strip Club Lawsuit Likely After Sex Trafficking Law Signed

New legislation could lead to strip clubs having to pay $5,000 a year or one percent of their annual profits a fund to help victims of sex trafficking.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

 

Several adult entertainment clubs could soon sue the state over a new sex trafficking law.

Gov. Deal signed the legislation yesterday. It could lead to strip clubs having to pay $5,000 a year or one percent of their annual profits a fund to help victims of sex trafficking. But that part of the legislation still needs voter approval.

Now that the sex trafficking bill has been signed, attorney Alan Begner says one thing is for sure: “You can certainly guarantee the law will be challenged.”

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A Closer Look
10:32 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Horse Race Wagering Talks Possible, Hints House Speaker

Ralston said the late Rep. Harry Geisinger “has brought me around a good ways” on horse racing bills.
Credit Roger Blake / flickr.com/rogerbarker

Could legal betting on horse racing make some headway at the Gold Dome?  

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has indicated it's possible.  Ralston has always questioned whether horse track betting could survive economically without adding casino gambling.  But, in a segment of an interview with Denis O'Hayer, Ralston said the late Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, "has brought me around a good ways" on horse racing bills.

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Politics
4:44 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

$1 Billion Georgia Transportation Bill Signed By Gov. Deal

Gov. Deal stands near orange construction cones just before signing HB 170 on Monday. The legislation is supposed to bring in nearly $1 billion for transportation.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

There could soon be smoother roads and fewer potholes on state-owned roads.

On Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a nearly $1 billion transportation bill. Most of the money will go to maintain existing roads and bridges.

Deal says it fills one of Georgia’s most critical needs.

“We are paving the way forward for more than 6.5 million Georgians to a better ride, a safer ride and a more prosperous state,” Deal says.

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A Closer Look
4:15 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Harry Geisinger Remembered As Pioneering Georgia Lawmaker

Former speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, left, speaks with Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, on the floor of the House, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006. Geisinger died last Friday.
Credit Ric Feld / AP Photo

When he first entered the Georgia General Assembly in 1968, Harry Geisinger was among a small handful of Republican lawmakers who were anything but a threat to Democratic Party dominance.

By the time he returned to the Gold Dome in 2005, he had joined a solid GOP majority in the legislature and across state government.

Geisinger, who died last Friday at the age of 81, is being remembered as an architect of his party’s rise to power and a leader on issues including horse racing, solar energy and economic development.

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Politics
8:54 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Ga. Lawmakers Dub 2015 General Assembly 'Year Of The Child'

Sen. Renee Unterman, center, has been an advocate for legislation that would set up a safe harbor fund for children who are victims of sex trafficking.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal plans to sign a bill Tuesday that would levy an annual $5,000 fee on strip clubs and fine pimps $2,500 to set up a fund to help sexually exploited children.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, has been trying for six years to get the Legislature to set up a Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for housing, health care and other services for children forced into prostitution, for which she says Atlanta has become a hub.

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Politics
6:30 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Atlanta City Council To Vote On Infrastructure Project List

According to Councilman Wan, if Council approves the list, construction could begin as early as later this month.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

The city of Atlanta is about to move one step closer to starting work on a large batch of road and bridge projects.

In March, Atlanta voters approved $250 million in bond money for new infrastructure projects. At the time, city officials said the project list was 90 to 95 percent finalized. Some residents were uneasy about approving bond money for an incomplete list.

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A Closer Look
5:38 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Fulton Jail Will Keep Improving, Says Chairman Eaves

Fulton county has been working on improvements to the jail, and just last month a federal judge said it had done enough to lift the federal supervision.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Conditions at the Fulton County Jail have been so bad, the jail has been under federal supervision for about a decade. 

That was part of the settlement of a 2004 lawsuit against the county, which cited things like overcrowding, low staff numbers and dangerously poor medical care.  The county has been working on improvements, and just last month a federal judge said it had done enough to lift the federal supervision.  

The big question now centers around what the county will do to remain out of legal trouble over the jail.  

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Politics
5:36 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Atlanta Mayor, Fulton Chairman At Odds Over Turner Field

Mayor Kasim Reed says he's willing to get input from Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves on Turner Field, but he says doesn't want the process to get ''bogged down.'' Eaves says he doesn't want a Turner Field deal to move too fast and says the ''county will be involved on some level.''
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he welcomes input from Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves on a deal to transform Turner Field after the Braves give notice. Reed says the city still can act alone if it wants to, however, he says it doesn’t mean it will.

Mayor Reed says it all comes down to simple math. He says the city has six seats on the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority and the county only has three. The Authority maintains and operates Turner Field.

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Politics
5:31 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Fulton County Chairman Pushes For T-SPLOST Reboot

Fulton County Board Chairman John Eaves says he wants to put a possible penny sales tax for transportation projects up for a vote as soon as next year.
Credit Katie King / WABE

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves says he wants to hold a vote for a local penny sales tax to fund transportation projects as soon as next year.

Eaves says the county has to fix its transportation problems because it’s vital to Fulton’s future competitiveness. He says it’s the top concern he hears from those considering a relocation to the region, and the primary complaint he hears from current residents.

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