The Five Points MARTA station by “the Gulch” in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. CASEY SYKES/CASEY.SYKES@AJC.COM
Photo: Casey Sykes
Photo: Casey Sykes

The Jolt: Mayor Bottoms makes a jobs case for ‘Gulch’ makeover

Atlanta City Hall will be a dramatic focal point today. From our AJC colleague Scott Trubey:

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms faces her biggest political test since she took office, with a City Council vote looming Monday on her proposal to provide up to $1.75 billion in public financing to help redevelop downtown’s Gulch.

Bottoms needs eight votes from the 15-member council to proceed. One hint about where she thinks some of those votes lie can be found in an op-ed, under her own byline, that appeared this weekend in the Atlanta Voice, a newspaper and website aimed at the city’s African-American audience. A taste:

The deal that has been put before City Council this week will transform what is now a gigantic hole in the ground into a sprawling destination for all Atlantans to enjoy.

It also represents one of the most significant investments in equity, affordability and quality infrastructure for the entire city in modern history.

The developer has committed to a goal of having nearly 40 percent of all Gulch development work performed by minority- and/or female-owned businesses.

The mayor asks readers to press their council members on the issue – a more traditional form of arm-twisting than that used by her predecessor.

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On Sunday, Stacey Abrams called for a “thorough investigation” into the death of a Fulton County Jail inmate who died last week after he was shocked with a Taser and pepper-sprayed.

The Democratic candidate for governor also said on Twitter that Antonio May’s death reinforced the need to “recommit to transforming Georgia’s history of mass incarceration into a story of redemption & reintegration.” 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said May, 32, was combative and failed to comply with jailers before he was targeted with a stun gun and pepper spray. He died at the scene and the GBI is investigating. Wrote Abrams: 

Antonio May's death is a tragedy, and my deepest condolences are with his loved ones during this painful time. They deserve justice and a thorough investigation. We must recommit to transforming Georgia's history of mass incarceration into a story of redemption & reintegration.

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The political action committee of Everytown for Gun Safety, the anti-gun violence group, says it’s about to drop “a first wave” of up to $10 million to back candidates in four states, including Georgia.

The group has already spent $1.2 million to back Democrat Lucy McBath in her bid to unseat GOP incumbent Karen Handel in the Sixth District congressional contest.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor, will now be another beneficiary, the group announced this morning. According to the press release, support will include contributions to candidates “and independent expenditures funding mail, television, digital and radio advertisements.”

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One possible reason for the Everytown investment here: We’ve got ourselves a nail-biter -- at least according to Cook Political Report.

The political prognosticator shifted the race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp from “leaning Republican” to “toss up” in its latest ratings. 

It’s the second organization to shift its rating after an AJC poll showed the contest in a statistical tie: Politico has also rated the contest a toss-up. 

Wrote Cook:

If there is any gubernatorial contest that excites national Democrats it’s this contest between former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The contest is already fully engaged with Republicans taking aim at Abrams’ personal finances (and personal debt) and Democrats portraying Kemp as beholden to his campaign donors (i.e., overlooking reports of sexual assault by massage therapists who are licensed by Kemp’s office). Both parties acknowledge that the contest is in the low- to mid- single digits, but disagree on which candidate is in the lead.”

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Keep an eye on U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue today. Both Georgia senators have publicly committed to voting for Brett Kavanaugh. But that was before Christine Blasey Ford accused the Supreme Court pick of sexual misconduct. In an on-the-record interview with the Washington Post published Sunday, Ford said a drunk Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her bathing suit at a high school party in the 1980s. He was 17, she was 15.

The story has prompted Democrats and U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to urge GOP leaders to pump the brakes ahead of Thursday’s planned committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Several other Republican senators continued to defend Kavanaugh over the weekend. 

So far, both Isakson and Perdue have kept quiet.

***

Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller writes of a vast study that rates life expectancy with census tracts. A stunning paragraph:

The report on neighborhoods, released this week, said that people in Vinings, an affluent area just outside the city of Atlanta, have the highest average life expectancy at birth in the state, at 87.6 years, while Georgians in Macon have the lowest average life expectancy at birth for the state, at 63.3 years.

***

If Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle can’t find solace in defeat, he can at least find company. Governing magazine notes that only two lieutenant governors – Democrat Gavin Newsom in California and Republican Brad Little of Idaho – have secured their party’s nominations for governor during this primary season. In addition to Cagle’s loss in Georgia, his counterparts in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma lost their bids for promotion as well. President Donald Trump has been a factor, but so has the relative invisibility of the job, according to the magazine:

In Michigan, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley's association with Rick Snyder's unpopular administration cost him support in his primary against state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who ran as a strong Trump supporter.

In Ohio, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was endorsed by Gov. John Kasich but distanced herself from the incumbent, claiming she hadn't talked to him for a year. She ended up losing the GOP gubernatorial primary to state Attorney General Mike DeWine by 20 points.

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