Why I quit my job to fight for Better Georgia

BetterGeorgia.comIn late October, I took one of the biggest leaps of faith of my life. I left Georgia’s best PR firm — Jackson Spalding — to create a start-up called Better Georgia.

This isn’t an ordinary start-up, either. I’ve worked with others to create Better Georgia from our passion to see Georgia better represent the people who call this state home.

So, why, exactly, did I leave a comfortable job?

For one, I simply grew tired of watching our state go in the wrong direction. And I really grew tired of listening to people who act as if the state belongs to lobbyists, big pocket corporations and partisan extremists.

It really disgusts me to see Georgia GOP Chairman Sue Everhart call Georgia “one of the reddest states in our great nation.” It bothers me because it’s simply not, true.

Georgian’s don’t care about Republicans or Democrats. They don’t care if this state is red or blue. Georgian’s are fed up with partisan politics. It’s time to look past the ‘R’ or ‘D’ that follows a candidate’s name and look to see how they care for our state.

The people I’ve met in Macon, Columbus, and pretty much every corner of the state, really just want our state to be great again. We all value a state that fosters better schools and better jobs.

In fact, I moved to Georgia more than a decade ago because the state offered good jobs, a creative atmosphere and a distinct contrast to some of the views that were popular in my home state of Alabama.

While I still love my hometown of Troy and will always root for my alma mater’s Crimson Tide, I don’t want Georgia lawmakers to use Alabama as a model for governance.

Sadly, that’s the direction we’ve been heading.

Today, Georgia faces historic levels of unemployment with nearly half a million workers looking for jobs. Georgia has the 3rd highest poverty rate in nation, with two cities ranked among our nation’s 10 poorest places to live. Georgia’s students are defaulting on student loans faster than the national average. Meanwhile, businesses refuse to open in Georgia because our representatives pass laws intended to please a small, extreme group.

These are startling facts. I refuse to sit in silence as we continue to fall further behind.

I’m hoping I don’t have call attention to these problems on my own. Please join me at Better Georgia. By working together, we can improve our state.

Candi’s for Breakfast offers late night option

Candi's for BreakfastMmmm. Late night breakfast. Candi’s for Breakfast in the Old Fourth Ward has kindly offered to help the neighborhood sober up or wind down after this weekend’s Atlanta Dogwood Festival and Sweetwater 420 Fest. The breakfast spot has extended its hours from the typical 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. to also include 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

How cool is that?

Candi’s for Breakfast will be open late-night Friday and Saturday.

A little birdy told me that if the new hours draw enough traffic, they may come back for a few more weekends. Maybe even permanently.  Eat up, Old Fourth Ward!

Video of man pulled from MARTA rail tracks

The tension is almost palpable in the first seconds of this amazing YouTube video showing a man being rescued by strangers from the MARTA train tracks in the Five Points Station in downtown Atlanta:

[Read more…]

2010 census, Atlanta demographics and Georgia elections

Georgia Election & Census Map ComparisonEven the most casual observer understands the 2010 census — which shows shifting Atlanta demographics — will lead to profound changes in the political landscape. Figuring out exactly how those changes will shape Georgia elections is the part that requires some brain power and a crystal ball.

I’m thinking about this today because the Georgia Assembly is nearing the end of this year’s session and our political attention will soon shift to redistricting and, of course, the 2012 election. My weekend reading also uncovered a thought-provoking article from CNN on the “8 political takeaways from the census” which led me down this rabbit hole. More on that in a bit.

At first glance, the election map looks very ugly for Georgia Democrats. When looking at the Georgia counties Barack Obama won in 2008 compared to the counties that have grown in population over the past decade, you would think the Democrats have lost Georgia forever. There are too many counties Obama won that also show a loss in population. And there are plenty of John McCain counties that show an increase in population.

This can’t be good. Right? [Read more…]

UPS leads Atlanta among Forbes’ most reputable cos.

United Parcel Service logo (2003-present)

Image via Wikipedia

UPS makes an appearance as the only Atlanta-based corporation in the Top 20 of the most reputable companies in the US, according to the sixth annual list from advisory firm Reputation Institute, in partnership with Forbes Media. UPS, in fact, ranks in the Top 10 at No. 6.

Other Georgia companies making the list include No. 24 Home Depot, No. 25 Coca-Cola, No. 61 Southern Company, No. 102 Delta Air Lines and No. 105 Aflac.

The Reputation Institute’s annual list is an attempt to rank brands by influence. [Read more…]

‘Gone With the Wind’ manuscript found for 75th anniversary

Well, I declare. Someone has found part of the “Gone With the Wind” history that scholars had considered gone forever. And just in time for the 75th anniversary of the novel’s publication.

Here’s how the New York Times writes about the news:

Long thought to have been burned the way the North set fire to the cotton at Tara, the final typescript of the last four chapters of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” has turned up in the Pequot Library in this Yankee seaport town. If not quite a spoil of war, the manuscript is a relic of some publishing skirmishes, and it will go on exhibit starting on Saturday, before traveling to Atlanta, Mitchell’s hometown, in time for the 75th anniversary of the novel’s publication in June.

On the same day that I read about this discovery, I made a discovery of my own. I realized only by accident that Margaret Mitchell’s last home was in an apartment building designed by Neil Reid at 1 S. Prado. A plaque outside the building, sitting just across from the entrance to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, tells visitors that Mitchell’s housekeeper burned the GWTW manuscript in the boiler room at the author’s request, upon her death. [Read more…]

Emory University Hospital among nation’s elite medical centers

U.S. News & World Report revised its ranking of national hospitals today. And it’s great news for Atlanta. Even better news for Emory.

While I usually like to find and highlight the Atlanta perspective on national articles, this time that’s not necessary. Here’s how U.S. News presents its findings from 52 metro areas:

Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital is among the nation’s elite medical centers. It is one of only 152 of the country’s 4,852 hospitals to be named a U.S. News Best Hospital in even a single specialty in the 2010-11 national rankings. And while most of the 152 are ranked in just a few of the 16 specialties that Best Hospitals covers, Emory is ranked in 11.

Fifteen minutes away, on the other side of the Northeast Expressway, Piedmont Hospital is less well-known. Nevertheless, it is among the best hospitals in the Atlanta area.

Not too shabby.

Here are the Top 5 hospitals in Atlanta: [Read more…]

Ranking the AJC’s combined online, print circulation

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s circulation hasn’t grown much lately — online or print — but the local news vehicle still pulls in a significant audience. According to the Pew Research Center, the AJC’s 2010 circulation sits right in the middle of the pack of the Top 25 newspapers when ranked by combined print and online local audience.

So, how did the AJC rank? No. 13 with 2.17 million readers. That 2010 audience is down 2.8 percent from 2.23 million in 2009. (See the full chart from Poynter Institute below). [Read more…]

What happens when rural Georgia dies?


Image by The Suss-Man (Mike) via Flickr

Living in Atlanta provides a certain degree of isolation from rural Georgia. I’ve enjoyed spending time in the North Georgia mountains and have traveled across the southern part of the state for three days with a client. But despite this seeming detachment, Atlanta and the rest of Georgia are mutually dependent. I don’t see any way to file for divorce, even if we wanted to.

So when I read stories from rural Georgians saying the area is dying, I take notice.

It’s true that the past decade has not been kind to rural Georgia. But is rural Georgia really dying?

The Peanut Politics blog definitely thinks so.  The rural Georgia blog provides a pretty pessimistic outlook for the future of anything outside Georgia’s metro areas. [Read more…]