Time to play ball at Suntrust Park

    After five years of planning, campaigning, and backroom deal-making, SunTrust Park is finally ready for some baseball.  The Braves open the park up this Friday in an exhibition against the New York Yankees before going on the road to start the regular season until their official opening day at home on April 14th. Beyond the hazy gray-area that is building a new baseball stadium with taxpayer money without actually getting any input from said taxpayers, the two biggest concerns are parking and traffic.  Are there enough spots?  How congested will the already-congested Cumberland area get on game day?  How will commuters and residents be effected?  Well, we’re about to find out. New entrance and exit ramps on both I-285 and I-75 should make it easier to get in and out of the area, and signs starting an exit away from the park will hopefully direct fans and prevent backups.  Likewise pedestrian bridges over both highways allow fans to park in lots further away from the stadium and still have access. With some 14,000 official spots to Turner Field’s mere 8,700, Braves officials seem confident that parking won’t be much of an issue once fans get used to the setup.  The big difference there is that at SunTrust Field the lots are spread out all across the area, with only a couple exclusive parking decks available very close by.  The rest of the lots will require up to a mile of walking or for fans to jump on one of the many shuttle buses that will be circling the stadium. Looking at the map above, the Delta, Braves 9,...

District 6 update: Ossoff extends lead, GOP dogfight for second place

  A poll from Clout Research and zpolitics released Friday shows Democrat Jon Ossoff with a strong lead over a crowded field in the race to replace Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. With 41% of the vote, Ossoff has extended his lead from the last round of polling where he had 32% of the vote.  Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) remains in second place at 16%, followed closely by fellow Republican and former Johns Creek Councilman Bob Gray at 15.6%.  Cobb County’s Judson Hill, a former state Senator, was third among Republicans at 9%, followed by Dan Moody (R) and Ron Slotin (D). On the Democratic side Ossoff’s big polling lead has liberal mouths watering, wondering if a major get-out-the-vote push could drive him up and over that 50% mark he would need to avoid a runoff.  His Democratic rivals could throw a wrench into that plan, however. With former Democratic state Senator Ron Slotin sitting at 2.6%, we could see a scenario where he and the other remaining Dems in the race steal just enough of Ossoff’s votes to keep him under 50% on April 18th.  That would be a devastating blow for a party that has come together for a candidate more than any we’ve seen in Georgia in recent years. Even with Ossoff’s big money and big support from both local and national Democratic figures, he would be a major underdog in a special election in a district that sent Tom Price back to Washington with over 60% of the vote in his most recent race. For the GOP an arms race has developed...

2018 Federal budget could throw wrench into Atlanta transit plans

  The first version of President Donald Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget could pose quite the problem for Atlanta’s ambitious public transportation plans. The budget, which still has to make it through Congress, would put a halt on the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, which is used by municipalities to receive matching federal dollars on local transit programs.  The City of Atlanta was hoping to receive that money to match that raised by the .5 cent MARTA sales tax hike that Atlantans approved in November of last year. Currently the tax is expected to raise $2.5 – $3 billion of revenue for MARTA, which would be used on a series of projects including light rail along parts of the BeltLine, expanding the much-maligned Atlanta Streetcar, and eventually building new heavy rail lines toward Alpharetta and Emory.  While the ‘shovel ready’ parts of that plan should be able to go on as scheduled, the more expensive and distant portions are at risk should the city not receive matching funds from the New Starts program. Other cities with similar transportation plans such as Buffalo, Durham, and Seattle face concerns as well as they too hoped to receive matching funds for their projects. The budget however is far from settled though, it will surely undergo a series of changes as it works its way through Congress, even one that is Republican controlled.  While Republican policy seeks to remove Federal funding from most local transportation projects, there could be pushback from enough Democrats and urban Republicans to keep additional funding for the...

‘Verified Voting’ advocates urge paper ballots in GA

  Georgia politicians and election officials have vouched for the security and accuracy of the state’s voting machines since their introduction back in 2002, but could recent security breaches have the Peach State heading back to paper ballots?   Maybe so if advocates from the Verified Voting organization get their way. Following a hack of the Kennesaw State Center for Election Systems which houses, maintains, and tests the state’s voting machines, in which some 7.5 million voters may have had their records stolen, many are wondering if voting machines are as safe as the experts claim. KSU’s Center for Election Systems is not directly connected to the Secretary of State’s own records, but considering the SoS accidentally gave away over 6 million Georgia voting records back in 2015 Georgians have reason to be wary. Verified Voting, “a non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates for legislation and regulation that promotes accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections,” called this week for Georgia to switch to paper ballots until its issues are resolved. Barbara Simons, chairwoman of the nonpartisan organization’s board, argued that at least for April 18th 6th district election the state should use paper balloting.  “Under the circumstances, the only prudent thing to do is make sure voting is done in a secure fashion,” she said.  “This should not be a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats both care about secure elections.” For many switching back to paper ballots in this age of smart phones and virtual reality seems like a massive step back in time.  When you can’t trust the machines that accept and tally votes though, sometimes simpler is...

Gwinnett makes MARTA push

  It seems like everywhere you look these days Metro Atlanta counties are lining up to expand public transportation, and Gwinnett County is apparently no exception. Four Democratic Gwinnett state House Reps. – Pedro Marin, Dewey McClain, Brenda Lopez, and Scott Holcomb this month co-sponsored House Resolution 565, which would recommend that the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners “take action to incorporate mass transportation into Gwinnett County.”  As Clayton and Fulton Counties work to expand their transportation options, Gwinnett leaders hope not to be left behind. A resolution is not a bill, and in fact has no effect whatsoever on the law.  HR 565 serves only to nudge Gwinnett leaders along the path toward a full discussion of transportation options for a rapidly growing county that like others around the city is often strangled by traffic.  Whether bus service, light rail, or heavy rail, these House Reps. want to begin the debate as soon as possible to get the transit ball rolling. What could public transportation in Gwinnett look like?  See a very unofficial and very hopeful mock up below....

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