Inside City Hall: Atlanta’s response to winter’s impact on the community

A weekly roundup of the most important things you need to know about Atlanta City Hall.

While most of us spent the holidays with our family last week, executives from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ administration worked to address wintry conditions affecting hundreds of residents citywide.

Atlanta’s Office of Emergency Preparedness says they coordinated with several departments, including Parks and Recreation, to fill three emergency warming centers during the cold snap. The police worked with fire and rescue personnel to fill the centers with staff, volunteers and the homeless in need of shelter. The city’s Corrections Department provided meals at the center, and Watershed Management provided water bottles.

Atlanta Emergency Preparedness Manager Asher Morris said the city even took in underserved people from neighboring jurisdictions because the city’s unofficial policy is “nobody gets turned away.”

“We had in one night 380 people in three warming centers,” said Emergency Preparedness Director Felipe den Brok.

Meanwhile, the city’s Watershed Management department on Friday was still addressing how the weather caused fluctuating water pressures in parts of the city and its service areas, such as the South Fulton area.

We’re hoping these service issues go away as temperatures rise. Either way, Watershed Commissioner Mikita Browning says they’re prepared to address any services interruptions throughout winter, which ends in March.

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Credit: adavino

Credit: adavino

As a reminder, this week is the start of Atlanta’s plan to begin shutting off water services for people with delinquent bills. Watershed Commissioner Browning says the shut offs will affect 27,000 customers. We’re planning to touch base with her to learn more about the impact of this process.

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Atlanta City Council Member Michael Julian Bond joined the chorus of voices who reacted to the death of Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, who died from cancer in Brazil at age 82. In his full statement last week, Bond called Pelé “one of the greatest professional athletes of all time.”

“He may only find peers in the likes of Muhammad Ali and our beloved Hank Aaron and his greatness in baseball, comparable to the world of soccer, or more properly ‘football,’” Bond said.

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In case you missed it: In October, Dickens participated in a special live show of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Politically Georgia podcast.

We’re revisiting his interview with AJC Political Insiders Greg Bluestein and Patricia Murphy because he told them that Atlanta is a finalist for hosting the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Dickens said Atlanta is competing with Houston, Chicago and New York, Dickens also said he’s been told that Atlanta and Chicago are in the top two for the DNC.

Dickens also said he’s planning to continue fighting against the push to create a new city by carving Buckhead out of Atlanta. Murphy said the cityhood supporters will likely reintroduce the matter in this year’s statewide Legislative Session.

“I’ve sat with the folks that were a part of the Buckhead city bill,” Dickens said. “They said I’ll give you a year (to address Buckhead’s concerns).”

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We’re looking forward the City Council’s first full meeting of 2023. On Tuesday, the council will likely vote for the mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction and the Atlanta Police Department to develop a program to provide free gun lock boxes to qualifying residents to deter accidental shootings and firearm thefts.

The council will also consider a special procurement agreement with Grady Memorial Hospital to operate the Center for Diversion Services for one year for $1.46 million. If it works out, Grady has the option of two consecutive two-year contracts to manage the city.

Speaking of the Diversion center, I recently did a deeper look into Atlanta’s contract with Fulton County to lease 700 beds at detention center. Check it out on AJC.com.

Send us tips and feedback at Wilborn.Nobles@ajc.com.