Photo: NICK GRAHAM/COX MEDIA GROUP
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/COX MEDIA GROUP

Atlanta’s biggest and most popular stories of 2018

From Amazon slipping from its grasp to Atlanta United’s soaring championship win, the city of Atlanta has seen its fair share of highs and lows this year. 

Since January, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s focused on city hall investigations, but there are a few other gems residents enjoyed.  

So let’s take a look back at five of the biggest and most-read stories in Atlanta this year. There are definitely others, so feel free to comment with your own top five. 

Atlanta waves goodbye to Amazon headquarters hopes

Amazon or no Amazon? 

It was the burning question in Atlantans’ minds most of the year.

And just as the city began preparing for Thanksgiving, the online retail giant rejected us for New York’s Long Island City in Queens and Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.

It was a letdown from the start, when the company announced plans to build a second North American headquarters, a massive complex which could hold 50,000 jobs.

But Atlanta just wasn’t a good fit, despite a proposal that included: a state-funded academy to train Amazon’s employees, an exclusive lounge — with free parking — at the world’s busiest airport, an Amazon-dedicated car on MARTA and more than $2 billion worth of publicly-funded incentives.

The city did, however, make the shortlist of cities on Amazon’s radar. 


RELATED| Amazon headquarters reports have Atlanta on the outside looking in

MORE|Kempner: Amazon, here’s $1 billion. Please, bring Atlanta 50,000 jobs


Former Uber Eats driver convicted of killing customer 

Former Uber Eats driver Robert Bivines was found guilty of killing his customer Robert Bivines in November. 
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Robert Bivines , an Uber Eats driver, arrived at a pair of Buckhead condominiums to deliver food to customer Ryan Thornton. 

Instead, that Feb. 17 night ended with Thornton dead and Bivines wanted in his murder. Bivines, 36, turned himself in to police two day after the fatal shooting. He had only been working for Uber Eats a week. 

Atlanta police said Bivines and Thornton “exchanged words” before Thornton was killed. 

Video from that night showed four shots fired at Thornton as he approached Bivins’ car. Two of the shots were fired after Thornton collapsed to the ground. 

Bivines maintained he shot Thornton, a 30-year-old Morehous graduate, in self-defense that night. But Fulton prosecutors argued Thornton didn’t have a weapon and if Bivines feared for his life he could’ve driven away. 

Bivines was sentenced to life in prison plus five years.


RELATED COVERAGE:

Kempner: Uber Eats murder in Buckhead? Old trouble in new economy

DA: Uber Eats driver was ‘willing to shoot someone’ over food delivery

Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer was stabbed during jail fight

Uber Eats driver sat girlfriend’s job for six hours after customer’s killing 


Atlanta ransomware attack

March seems to be the month when bad things happen to Atlanta. (Remember that bridge collapse in 2017?) 

The ransomware attack on the city’s computer network this year continued the trend. The March 22 attack crippled the city for days and had officials scrambling to determine how much information was compromised. The attack even forced some agencies to conduct much of their business by paper

The attack also compromised “years” of Atlanta police’s dashcam videos, that Chief Erika Shields said “is lost and cannot be recovered,” 

Alleged attackers demanded a $51,000 ransom, which the city did not pay. 

The city’s computer network recovered about two months after the attack. The damage could cost the city $17 million, according to an internal report. 

Last month, federal authorities charged two Iranian men, Faramarz Shahi Savandi, 34, and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, 27, in Atlanta’s ransomware attack. The duo are believed to have developed the SamSam ransomware, a malicious software that encrypts data until the infected organizations paid ransom.


MORE:

Attack on Atlanta’s computer system impacting services

Atlanta’s cyber attack could cost taxpayers $17 million

Feds: Iranians led cyberattack against Atlanta, other U.S. entities


Atlanta settles open records case

The city of Atlanta settled an open records case involving The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News in October. 

The settlement came six months after the news outlets filed a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s office alleging “a culture of political interference” with open records requests at Atlanta City Hall. 

The complaint stemed from text messages between former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spokeswoman Jenna Garland and Watershed Department communications director Lillian Govus. In them, Garland advised Govus to “be as unhelpful as possible” and to “drag this out as long as possible” when fulfilling the information request. Garland ended the text exchange by telling Govus to “provide the information in the most confusing format possible.” 

After AJC and Channel 2 reporting, the GBI launched a probe into of the text messages and the delayed release of public requested information under The Georgia Open Records Act. 

The agreement, along with a transparency ordinance negotiated by the parties and approved by the city council last month, is intended to ensure that the city makes every effort to comply with the law. 

The AJC and Channel 2 also agreed to drop their claims against the city of Atlanta.


RELATED COVERAGE:

‘Drag this out’: texts sought to block Ch. 2 probe into water billing

GBI sends Atlanta open records investigation to AG’s office

Atlanta City Council passes public records reform ordinance


Atlanta United gets city a championship 

Atlanta United celebrates winning the MLS CUP 2-0 over the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Dec 8, 2018, in Atlanta.   
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta has seen its share of sports losses and championship upsets. 

So, when Atlanta United made it to the MLS championship everyone hoped they didn’t... “Atlanta” it. (Make of that what you will.) 

The Five Stripes defeated Portland 2-0 to win the MLS Cup in front of record announced attendance of more than 73,000 on Dec. 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It was the first championship the city had since the Braves won the 1995 World Series. 

The MLS championship win is the first in Atlanta United’s two year history.

If you want to relive happier times before going in to 2019, you can watch the Atlanta United parade here: 

Check out all the great things to do in Atlanta this Holiday weekend leading up to New Years Eve!

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