It was the second time this month a baby became a homicide victim in Atlanta. And it was one of several shootings last week that prompted responses from local elected officials, including several incidents at or near nightlife spots.
Dickens made reducing crime the central focus of his campaign last year, pitching a plan that involves hiring more police officers, bolstering community policing and targeting gang leaders. His efforts to curb gun violence in Atlanta come as Republican state leaders propose legislation for Georgians to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
Kenyatta Mitchell, Atlanta’s new Intergovernmental Affairs director, told a City Council committee last week the gun legislation has a high probability of passing. Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari wanted to know if the city and council could do more to oppose the Republican-sponsored bill.
“With everything that’s going on, I’d be terrified of the idea of someone being able to carry without needing a permit,” Bakhtiari said.
Mitchell told them to remember “everything else that we are fighting for this year” as they discuss their response to gun legislation, a sign of the tricky balance between maintaining a good relationship with the state and pushing back on proposals city officials disagree with.
“I want to make sure that we’re in good graces with folks across the street,” Mitchell said of Georgia’s General Assembly. The subtext, of course, is the Buckhead cityhood movement.
Quote of the week: “Mrs. Rowan thanks you for keeping me gainfully employed. Otherwise, I’d be sitting at home getting on her nerves right now,“ Atlanta transportation commissioner Josh Rowan told Mayor Dickens at a press conference last week.
The comment, which elicited laughs from the crowd, was a nod to Dickens’ role as the city councilman credited with creating the ATL DOT back in 2019.
Dickens and Rowan toured the department’s North Avenue facility with U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams to discuss Atlanta’s plans to use the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package to renovate streets, bridges and the sewer system. The mayor said he wants to announce this week plans to improve the city’s procurement process for transportation projects.
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@
“As we get money — federal dollars or state dollars — we want to be able to just deploy those as quickly as possible and have a procurement process that is efficient, so that we can get those dollars on the roads or bridges as quickly as possible,” he said.
The tour was one of several public appearances Dickens made last week. He toured three schools with APS Superintendent Lisa Herring, attended the funeral service for Elder Cal Merrell, a local icon affectionately known as “The Happy Preacher,” and he visited two homeless shelters to deliver COVID-19 tests — a plan from the homelessness summit he convened last week.
He also attended the Atlanta Police Department’s graduation ceremony for 33 new officers and 29 members of the citizen’s police academy. He later participated in the Clippers and Cops program for officers and residents to interact at barbershops.
The Buckhead City Committee, the group pushing to carve Atlanta’s Northside into a separate city, plans to send volunteer residents down to the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would lead to a ballot referendum on the creation of “Buckhead City.”
The group, which the committee is calling an “Anti-Voter Suppression Team,” will be “speaking to legislators, explaining our position and asking them to give us the right to vote. Simple as that,” committee CEO Bill White said at a press conference Thursday. The right-to-vote argument is a fairly common one for cityhood groups to make in Georgia.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Committee for a United Atlanta, which opposes cityhood, said “Bill White’s latest ploy is a political stunt designed to avoid talking about the dire consequences of breaking up our city.”
(Hey, speaking of Buckhead cityhood, we talked through the latest updates with our pal Greg Bluestein on the Politically Georgia podcast. Give it a listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify.)
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