Archive for December, 2010

Ah goody, statistics and politics

On Tuesday the first numbers from the census were released, outlining which states are gaining congressional seats and which lose them. No big surprise, Georgia gained a seat. We saw an 18% increase in population over the last 10 years, and though the state hasn’t quite broken the 10 million mark, we’re close. Check the complete state stats here, but for our fair state and city:

Previous districting, blue and red, spread out over population segments of ~630k (thanks, Washington Post)

Georgia

8,186,453: population, 2000

9,687,653: population, 2010

18.3% increase

Atlanta

416,474: population, 2000

540,922: population, 2009 (details of the 2010 census will be released in the next few months)

23% increase

So Georgia (Atlanta, really) earned a 14th congressional seat based on population gains, which will probably be in the northern suburbs, which will most likely mean another republican congressperson. In the summer Governor Deal will call a special session to redraw districts for state House, state Senate, and the new congressional seats based on population changes. I’m sure based solely on the population changes. Surely gerrymandering was just a vocab word from middle school. I assume everyone will behave like gentlemen and women.

Just for some more fun with numbers, congressmen in the 113th Congress will be representing an additional 63,520 citizens (going from 631,306 citizens per congressman in 2000 to 694,826 citizens per congressman in 2010).

The Peach Pundit update has more discussion than I care to follow, much less recap, but has information worth sharing…

City of Atlanta water contains probable cancer causing chemical

An environmental group that tested drinking water in the city of Atlanta found it contains hexavalent chromium, a chemical that the National Institutes of Health has described as a “probable carcinogen.”

The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said in a study released Monday that the level of the chemical in Atlanta’s water ranks 13th-highest among water systems it tested last spring in 35 U.S cities.

But water officials in Atlanta and metro Atlanta said Monday that the level of the chemical found in the city’s drinking water, .20 parts per billion, is well below the 100 parts per billion of “total chromium” in the water that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe to drink.

Read mo’ from the AJC

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No worries. Just drink Coke instead! This is Atlanta, after all.

Special Giveaway: Hawks tickets, for TONIGHT’S GAME!

Dear Loyal Metblog Readers,

Some friends at StubHub (who knew we had friends at StubHub?) have graciously agreed to donate a pair of Hawks tickets for tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Seats are in section 108, tipoff is at 7:30 PM.

This appears to be a member of the Hawks basketball team. Photo by Scott Cunningham

As a reward to our long-time readers and quick searchbar users, the tickets will go to the first person to name the player previous author james (successfully) petitioned to stay here in Atlanta. Well, at least the guy signed a four-year contract after james posted an open letter to him here on metblogs, so you draw your own conclusions.

Be the first to leave your comment (make sure to include your email address when you login – it won’t show, but I’ll get it) and I’ll send you the electronic tickets for tonight!

From Sunday sales laws come “shot houses”

A little noticed story was reported by WSBTV Channel 2 last night. Apparently, someone in a College Park neighborhood was selling booze out of their home on Sundays in what the story refers to as a “shot house.” According to police, “Customers could go to the home on Surrey Trail and order a drink, or buy a six pack on Sunday.” Hmmm. So the illegal activity in question is a direct result of the government’s decision to outlaw an activity one day out of the week that it fully supports and collects taxes on the other six days of the week. WEIRD.

These are probably NOT the kinds of drinks they were making at the shot house. I wonder if it had a name.

After receiving reports from neighbors about a line of cars in front of the home on Sundays, police “conducted surveillance, made traffic stops as customers left, and sent in an officer with a hidden camera. They then returned with a warrant and the SWAT team.” Okay, I get it. Something illegal was going on. And it’s the police department’s job to stop it. I understand that the problem here isn’t just selling alcohol on Sundays. Someone was selling out of a home in a residential neighborhood, operating without a license and in a place with children and families. Obviously, the potential exists for some sort of misconduct or violence to spill over. This is all bad. I’m glad the police intervened. 

 BUT. But. The fact that all of this happened – the bar’s existence, the police raid, the arrests, the coming prosecutions – happened because our state allows for the sale of alcohol Mondays through Saturdays. But not Sundays – unless you drink at a bar. On Sunday, it’s illegal. From a policy standpoint, it seems like a problem to require law enforcement to commit precious time, manpower, and resources to shut down shot houses while potential robberies, rapes, and homicides are taking place elsewhere. Can we just allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays already? Is it really too much to ask?

The Latest Street Name Changing Ridiculousness

Atlanta has a pretty serious history of street name-changing ridiculousness. A certain street on the west side of the city has gone through four names (based on some serious Wikipedia-ing, it looks like it went from Bellwood Ave to Bankhead Ave in the 1920s to Bankhead Highway to, most recently, Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. You can’t bounce on DLH. But I guess you don’t get robbed on DLH?).

Other egregious offenses that come to mind are the Lakewood Freeway -> Langford Parkway switch, Stewart -> Metropolitan, our Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and, most ridiculous of all, a  stretch of Memorial Drive has already been switched back to Memorial after a brief stint as Cynthia McKinney Parkway.

The latest round of street name changes is up for a vote this week.  City Council is proposing to change Harris St. downtown to John Portman (the architect behind downtown’s gorgeous atrium hotels who is often partially blamed for the neighborhood’s dearth of welcoming street life), and to change Cone to recognize Xernona Clayton, a well-known civil rights activist and close friend to Coretta Scott King.  Both people are living, both people have made significant contributions to the city, and, I strongly believe, neither street name change is warranted. Creative Loafing has a thoughtful editorial about the issue here — “A surefire way not to be remembered: Note to City Council: Street signs are not chalkboards.” (more…)

This burger thing – am I missing something?

Earl burger

Flickr photo by Intrepidation

Every now and then, maybe once every three months, I think about having a burger.  But I don’t. After one disappointing encounter too many, I pretty well gave up.

Too dry or too greasy. Too much glop on it. Too big, too charred, too much bread. Some have the the heft of a brick and taste of absolutely nothing. With so many other things to eat, it didn’t seem worthwhile to keep searching for a passable version of one food. So, I probably haven’t had a hamburger in about five years.

I thought Atlanta’s two-year-old gourmet burger epidemic would have burned itself out by now, but I would have lost money on that bet. Maybe now, when the choices are about as good as they’re likely to get, is the time to give it another try. I live close enough to Grindhouse to walk (not today, lest I freeze my face or who-knows-what else off in the process). I can get to Wonderful World pretty easily (Hmm, their site is down. Anyone know what’s going on with them?) and it wouldn’t be too much trouble to MARTA my way over to Flip or Yeah! Burger. But, once there, would it be worth the time and, more importantly, the money?

Is anyone a new burger convert? Is there really something to all this or is everyone just going because everyone else is going?

Public Hearing on the Downtown Streetcar

Image courtesy of Georgia Transit ConnectorWhether the downtown streetcar project has you saying “Yay!” or “#$%&!” or just “Huh?” you’ll want to get to the second public hearing  that the Federal Transit Administration, the City of Atlanta and MARTA are holding Monday evening.

If you’re in the “Huh?” crowd, have a look at the Atlanta Streetcar Environmental Assessment (big PDF) before you go. It’s long, but pretty much every speck of information in the streetcar project is there, all in one package. Just <Ctrl+F> to search for a term if you don’t have time to pore over every one of the 345 pages between now and Monday afternoon.

Time and place:

December 13, 2010
5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.
Auburn Avenue Research Library
4th Floor Auditorium
101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, Ga. 30303

H/T to Creative Loafing.

A Little Holi-data

Brookings city population change map

An indicator map illustrating population growth among American cities since from 2000 to 2009

Well, it’s almost Christmas and that means new toys. My current favorite actually came out in May, but somehow escaped my attention then. Let’s pull it out of the box and see what it does.

When The Brookings Institution’s “State of Metropolitan America” report was released this summer it drew attention locally because of its revelation that the city of Atlanta’s population – unlike that of most other major cities – is slowly becoming more white.

But, spend a bit of time fiddling with the dozens of levers and switches on the report’s interactive map and data exploration page , and you’ll find plenty more about how the city is changing (and staying the same).

Some examples:

Singles

Choose the “Cities” tab, “Households and families” on the “Subject” drop-down menu, and “Living alone households” on the drop-down labeled “Indicator.”.

Looks like there might be something to all the talk about Atlanta being a great place for single people. According to Broookings’ data, nearly 46 percent of Atlanta residents lived in single-person households in 2009, the second-highest percentage of the 95 cities listed and highest in the Southeast.

Now, change the indicator drop-down to “Change in living alone households since 2000.”

The report indicates that between 2000 and 2009, the number of single-person households in the city increased by nearly 47 percent, ranking it third amontg the 95 listed. One-person households increased by about 39 percent in the Atlanta metro area in the same period, which placed at number seven of 100. So, if you’re looking to meet someone, the odds are not only in your favor,  they seem to be getting better and better.

By the way, does anyone know what’s going on in McAllen, Texas? A 113 percent increase in less than ten years – what’s that about?

(more…)

Sardonic Christmas Traditions

Atlanta has always struck me as a place that eschews tradition. We have a young, mobile population, we tear down old buildings when they get old (or just abandon them to the point where it’s not a stretch to picture them as post-zombie-apocalypse), and generally tend to get excited about the next big thing, improving and tweaking and changing and leaving behind last year’s big thing.

Which doesn’t lend itself to a lot of tradition – even the Rich’s Macy’s tree has moved from downtown to Underground to Lenox, and the Pink Pig downgraded from mythical flying monorail

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

Earth-bound. Might as well be one of those trains at Northpoint Mall.

that soared through the toy department to a flat track on the ground that chugs through Christmas decorations. Bummer.

In an effort to combat this crappiness and embrace the season, my friends and I have set upon a different tradition – going to the annual Santaland Diaries performance at the Horizon Theater in L5P. This year is their twelfth production of David Sedaris’s story, a completely bitter and sardonic one of an out-of-work writer who takes a job as a Macy’s Elf. Harold Leaver plays Crumpet the elf, and guys, the man make me laugh. Pretty hard.

(more…)

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