Big Plans for the ATL

I turned on my car stereo this morning and found that Album 88 wasnít ó for a change ó playing anything to my liking. So I turned on the only other station I listen to (besides NPR) ñ Dave FM. I was surprised to hear Barnes and Firfer talking with Mayor Shirley Franklin. The general subject seemed to be plans for making Atlanta more attractive and safe, and I was very interested to hear whatís up from the proverbial horseís mouth.

When I tuned in, they were on the subject of increasing the police force in Midtown and Downtown. Mayor Franklin compared Atlanta to New York City several times (which I thought was pretty funny), pointing out that Mayor Giuliani cleaned up his city by increasing the police force by 1,000 officers each year. I certainly agree that it would be nice to pump gas in East Atlanta or the Ponce area without being harassed for change. Somehow the bums here are more bothersome than the ones in NY. But crime is an ever-present aspect of city life, and in a way I miss being around people who aren’t so sheltered that every little thing on the street freaks them out.

I really cracked up when a certain gentleman called in to say that he had a major part in cleaning up Peachtree and Ponce by creating a private security force in Midtown. What made me laugh was his theory that you donít actually have to reduce crime to make a city more attractive ñ you just have to clean up the image by getting the prostitutes and panhandlers off Ponce and Peachtree. Ha! Of course, cleaning up the image might help, but once new people get robbed a couple of times, or run into a really scary pro on one of the sidestreets we always have to park on, you think they’ll still love the area?

Then the epitome of the provincial mind reared its ugly head in the form of and angry female caller who wanted to know if she could pick and choose the laws she wants to follow. Mayor Franklin was sort of like, ëHuh? Say what?í The caller explained that it seems that state government doesnít follow the law when it comes to undocumented workers. She claimed that there is a significant percentage of illegal alien workers here and that itís costing tax payers tons of money. Now, Iím not saying that she doesnít have a point at all, but the way she went about it proclaimed her ignorance and basically made her point moot.

So, the focus shifted quickly to the lighter matter of increasing green space. The Mayor wants to double it, but thinks she can only get 50% more. Hey, itís better than nothing. Through this part of the conversation, I learned a bit more about the Beltline, which will be a 22-mile loop around the city. It will be created using underutilized or unused rail systems and will supposedly make things ìprettier.î Iím all about adding some nature back in to the urban environment.

But the whole time I was listening to this conversation, I had one burning question in my mind. Itís the thing that has made me sort of angry with Mayor Franklin ó okay really angry. And finally, in the last part of their talk, the subject was broached: nightlife. A guy called up and said, ìI love the city, but one thing is that when I moved here 5 years ago, Atlanta was a vibrant, lively place. It was really the 24-hour city of the South. And since then, itís sort of Öî

And Mayor Franklin chimed in to reiterate that she was a proponent of shortening bar hoursÖnot because sheís ìnot fun,î but because ó get this ó we need to increase the police force! UmÖI donít know about you, but I had been to plenty of places in Atlanta when I first got here, before the great Club Closing Catastrophe, and I donít remember seeing any fighting in the streets, bar fights, shootings, or anything of that sort. Sure Buckhead got pretty scary and I wouldnít touch that place with a ten-foot pole, but does the whole city have to suffer for their bad behavior?

The Mayor stated that she is ìfor that nightlifeî but she obviously doesnít have any plans to change bar closing hours or give anyone their operating licenses back. So there ya have it. I suppose the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope that when her term ends, weíll see the return of our once-vibrant nightlife.

9 Comments so far

  1. True Believer (unregistered) on September 14th, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

    Do you honestly think the time bars close is one of the bigger problems facing Atlanta? If it was up to me they’d be open 24 hours a day, but really how many people stay out drinking later than 3? If you were going to tackle an annoying and useless law, do something about alchohol sales on Sunday.

    Anyway, it seems like the city should focus on the bigger problems, like crime, before they start worrying about what time bars close. More police officers would make a big difference.


  2. Aradia (unregistered) on September 14th, 2005 @ 2:12 pm

    Did I say that the bars closing early is one of the biggest problems facing Atlanta? NO. Of course increasing the police force would make a big difference – hence my comments in the original post. Panhandling is also a small worry compared to violent crime.

    Keep in mind people – if I were to cover all the bases on these subjects, I’d have to write a Lexicon, and MetroBlogs is not the place for that.

    Now, are you going to fault me for giving a shit about nightlife? If so, go ahead and stick your high and mighty attitude where the sun don’t shine. The world is F&*$ed up in so many ways that one of the ways I can get my mind out of the world of serious issues is to go out and let off some steams by dancing – not drinking. And there are fewer and fewer places to do that.

    Regarding your last comment: The purpose of my post was to highlight the fact that CRIME is one area where the focus should be when it comes to local government doing their job. My question is, why is the local gov’t putting so much focus on liquor laws and club closing times? Has crime drastically reduced since this big effort to end nightlife as we knew it? I think not.


  3. Alan Smith (unregistered) on September 14th, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for listening this morning to the show. Glad you caught the Mayor and very faithfully reported the conversation here.

    We were glad the Mayor agreed to come on the show and take calls. She will be back on All Access in about a month. Please call in and hit her with the tough questions!

    Alan Smith,
    Producer
    All Access with Barnes and Firfer
    92.9 dave fm


  4. Bill (unregistered) on September 14th, 2005 @ 11:02 pm

    Aradia, don’t you think you came down a little hard on True Believer? I don’t think he was being high and mighty, or really bashing you (which you’ve also accused him of in your latest post). And he wasn’t even disagreeing with you that the bars should be open all night. He was just saying that there are other areas, in his opinion, that the local government should be focusing on.

    As for whether or not crime has dwindled since they started messing with business hours, I have no clue. But I would bet you don’t have any stats, either. Maybe it has helped, if just by allowing cops to be somewhere at 3am besides Buckhead. It’s possible it hasn’t changed crime drastically, but maybe it’s allowed some residents of the club districts to get to sleep a little earlier. Who knows? It would be interesting to see some numbers here.

    More to my point in commenting, however:
    In your more recent post, it looks like you’re trying to position yourself as being under attack for “speaking the truth” on this site. To me, it appears that you’re just spouting opinion, same as the commenter in question (which is absolutely fine), and are then actually coming down hard on people who disagree with you (which isn’t fine if you want to play the victim of ideological oppression).

    By the way, I agree with a commenter on Andisheh’s thread that your statements “it would be nice to pump gas in East Atlanta or the Ponce area without being harassed for change. Somehow the bums here are more bothersome than the ones in NY” and “I miss being around people who aren’t so sheltered that every little thing on the street freaks them out” seem contradictory.

    Also, I’ve never heard the word “lexicon” used the way you use it. A lexicon usually pertains to a compendium of language or a catalog of words, not so much a book of facts and philosophies. But I could be wrong.

    I eagerly await your reply, and intend this post with no malice, just a little orneriness. ;)


  5. True Believer (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 10:44 am

    Aradia,

    Imagine someone writing something like this:

    But the whole time I was listening to this conversation, I had one burning question in my mind. Itís the thing that has made me sort of angry with Mayor Franklin ó okay really angry. And finally, in the last part of their talk, the subject was broached: nightlife.

    That, to me, sounds like the person speaking thinks that the most important issue is how late bars stay open. Which seems kind of petty when you think of the many serious problems the City of Atlanta faces.


  6. Aradia (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 6:24 pm

    Codymc – THANK YOU. It’s nice to see that someone can see my point.

    True Believer – I think you’re wasting your time being so critical of my “values.” If you knew more about me, you’d be singing to a very different tune. Perhaps you should check out http://www.twelfthplanet.org to learn more about what my feelings are about serious issues – my music reflects many things about the state of the world.

    I try to keep blogs on this site somewhat light and playful, unlike my other blogs and much of my music. I see that’s not a good choice here, since some people are likely to misinterpret that for a lack of priorities.


  7. Aradia (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

    Bill – I think you have way too much time on your hands. If not, and you’re just talented at ripping things apart so you can find fault with them, I congratulate you, and suggest that you look into becoming a deconstructionist literature critic :-)

    Also, again – bothersome, in the context of my post, meant annoying. I am not “freaked out” by beggars. However, I do sometimes find them irritating. I don’t see how the two points contradict one another. I find beggars who ask more than once annoying – but I like being around people who won’t be like, “Oh My God – it’s a BUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and run away screaming. Hope that clears things up for you.


  8. Aradia (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 6:41 pm

    And Bill – (I’m annoying myself with all these comments but I forgot to respond to one point you tried to make.)

    Speaker of truth? Who in hell knows what the truth is these days? And what gave you that impression? The best anyone can do is take in all the info they can, process it, and try to look at it from different perspectives to be fair – then try and decide what their opinion is.

    Perhaps because I try to look at things as objectively as possible, I may not always sound completely consistent. But of course I have opinions, and some things may simply depend on the mood I’m in, or my personal attachment to a particular issue – no matter how objective I try to be. After all, I am human (I think, or so they say).

    If I were to review all the information on a given subject, and then divulge in writing all my views and opinions on said subject, whatever the finished product is would be very very long.


  9. Bill (unregistered) on September 15th, 2005 @ 9:26 pm

    Codymc: I agree, there does seem to be some kind of conservative Christian thing going on in Atlanta lately, but I think it’s actually effecting the whole nation. The fact that the “marriage definition” laws passed so easily wherever they were proposed seems–to me, at least–to be a reflection of that shift in thinking. I also agree that the nightlife shift could be a reflection of that. But I have to argue a little and say that when I moved to Atlanta over six years ago, we used to joke then that NOTHING was open in this city past 1am. The only place we could eat late at night was Waffle House. So I don’t see the earlier closing time as inhibiting personal freedoms, since Atlanta had always rolled up its streets at sundown, anyway. The only big city I know of where you can’t find an all-night coffee shop or diner that’s not a late-night franchise.



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