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Your daily jolt: Tweaked plans for Falcons stadium could leave Friendship Baptist in place

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The city of Atlanta has quietly begun drawing up plans that would allow the new Falcons stadium to be built on the more desirable southern site, but would leave 151-year-old Friendship Baptist Church untouched.

Albeit, with a behemoth of a new neighbor.

Late Monday afternoon, city officials and stadium architects huddled in response to Friendship Baptist’s rejection of its latest offer. The result on Tuesday was a single-page memo from Duriya Farooqui, the city’s chief of operations, to Mayor Kasim Reed.

While negotiations are proceeding apace with a second church, Mount Vernon Baptist, the memo made this point:

“The negotiation with Friendship church has not yielded a resolution and no further delays can be absorbed. The offer made through the City has increased from $10 Million to $15.5 Million. The asking price by Friendship Church has meanwhile moved in a direction away from an initial ask of $20 Million to a recent proposal as high as $24.5 Million. This leaves the gap between the two offers substantially the same since initial offers and no closer to a resolution within the time frame [that] a location and orientation decision is needed.”

Although a northern site for the new stadium remains an option, Farooqui recommended that pursuit of the southern site continue, with possible design changes that “may not necessitate the acquisition and reconstruction of Friendship Church.”

According to the drawings we saw, if you were to twist the new stadium about 15 degrees counter-clockwise, Friendship Baptist could be accomodated – but at the sacrifice of a grand boulevard originally included in the plan.

Only a narrow strip of land would separate the new stadium from the historic church.

One note: What we’re seeing is some extraordinary bargaining between a government entity and a private organization. Were this being done under state auspices, negotiators would be more tightly bound by real estate appraisals.

One suggestion: Cedar bushes are ideal as fast-growing privacy hedges. Friendship Baptist might want to invest in some.


In all the hoopla over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, one thing was missed: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday passed out a bill sponsored by Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., that would compensate the 52 victims of the Iran hostage crisis for the 444 days they were held captive. The compensation would come from fees collected from violations of Iran sanctions. Click here for some background on the bill.


Speaking of the SCOTUS decision, here’s the link to the Shelby opinions. Think of them as a piece of history you’ll want to pass on to your grandchildren.


On Tuesday, we pointed to a national study that showed black and Hispanic students making substantial gains in charter schools. But my AJC colleague Maureen Downey quickly pointed out that, while the study did include Georgia, our state didn’t perform all that well:

In Georgia, the study found that students in charter schools now lose 14 days of learning in math compared to peers in regular public schools. They fare better in reading, gaining 14 days.

Georgia was also cited as a cautionary tale. The study found that the improvements in the nation's charter schools since 2009 reflect more aggressive efforts to shut down the lowest performing ones….

So while Georgia closed its low performing charters, it also turned around and approved new schools that turned out to be low performing, according to the study data.


CNN Radio may be gone, but an old favorite is back, with a familiar face. From the press release:

CNN today announced that Crossfire, previously the longest running political debate program on television, will return to the network this fall. Hosting from the right will be Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp, with Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones hosting from the left.

“Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that Crossfire did – it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again,” said Jeff Zucker, President of CNN Worldwide. “We look forward to the opportunity to host passionateconversation from all sides of the political spectrum.  Crossfire will be the forum where America holds its great debates.”


While you slept, this may have been the most dramatic development in American politics. From the Associated Press:

AUSTIN, Texas — Despite barely beating a midnight deadline, hundreds of jeering protesters helped stop Texas lawmakers from passing one of the toughest abortion measures in the country.

As the protesters raised the noise to deafening levels in the Texas Senate chamber late Tuesday, Republicans scrambled to gather their colleagues at the podium for a stroke-of-midnight vote.

"Get them out!" Sen. Donna Campbell shouted to a security guard, pointing to the thundering crowd in the gallery overhead that had already been screaming for more than 10 minutes.

"Time is running out," Campbell pleaded. "I want them out of here!"

It didn't work. The noise never stopped and despite barely beating the midnight end-of-session deadline with a vote to pass the bill, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the chaos in the chamber prevented him from formally signing it before the deadline passed, effectively killing it.

Dewhurst denounced the protesters as an "unruly mob." Democrats who urged them on called the outburst democracy in action.

In either point of view, a raucous crowd of chanting, singing, shouting demonstrators effectively took over the Texas Capitol and blocked a bill that abortion rights groups warned would close most abortion clinics in the state.

"They were asking for their voices to be heard," said Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who spent nearly 11 hours trying to filibuster the bill before the outburst. "The results speak for themselves."

The final outcome took several hours to sort out.

Initially, Republicans insisted the vote started before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent the day trying to kill. But after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place Wednesday, and then were changed to read Tuesday, senators retreated into a private meeting to reach a conclusion.

At 3 a.m., Dewhurst emerged from the meeting still insisting the 19-10 vote was in time, but said, "with all the ruckus and noise going on, I couldn't sign the bill" and declared it dead.

He denounced the more than 400 protesters who staged what they called "a people's filibuster" from 11:45 p.m. to well past midnight. He denied mishandling the debate.

"I didn't lose control (of the chamber). We had an unruly mob," Dewhurst said. He even hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may immediately call another 30-day special session, adding: "It's over. It's been fun. But see you soon."

Many of the protesters had flocked to the normally quiet Capitol to support Davis, who gained national attention and a mention from President Barack Obama's campaign Twitter account. Her Twitter following went from 1,200 in the morning to more than 20,000 by Tuesday night.

"My back hurts. I don't have a lot of words left," Davis said when it was over and she was showered with cheers by activists who stayed at the Capitol to see her. "It shows the determination and spirit of Texas women."


The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes on the claim that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, has stated that he wants public schools to teach women to "stay in their place."

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