Waste, corruption rule administration

To the editor:

I was saddened to read that “the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency spent $11.3 million issuing contracts without competitive bids, making questionable expenditures and supplying services to ineligible recipients.”

During the nearly eight years of the Franklin administration, there has been a pattern of such waste, mismanagement and alleged corruption, directly reflecting on Mayor Shirley Franklin:

• In four of the past five years, the city budget was “force-balanced” by former Chief Financial Officer Janice Davis through fictitious cash carry-forwards totaling $241 million. Janice Davis was never charged but, instead, was given a glowing letter of recommendation to the Transportation Department of Texas, where she is now employed.

• Hundreds of millions of dollars have been transferred from the Department of Watershed Management to other Atlanta departments without the approval of the City Council.

• The city uses commercial paper for long-term projects, wasting taxpayer dollars.

• The misuse of credit cards by city employees, charging personal purchases to city credit cards. No disciplinary action was ever taken to fire those employees.

• The recent audit of fleet management indicates waste, mismanagement and alleged corruption. Here, again, no disciplinary action was ever taken to fire the employees involved.

• The Department of Aviation’s budget increased from $68.3 million in 2007 to $143.8 million in 2009, while many airport contracts have not been bid in decades. There is a complete lack of independent oversight at the airport.

Only a forensic audit by a highly reputable firm will reveal the true extent of this waste, mismanagement and alleged corruption.

John S. Sherman, president

Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation

History of the BeltLine tracks

To the editor:

I read your article about the BeltLine supporters vs. Amtrak and the Georgia Department of Transportation (“BeltLine supporters fight competing plan for rail line,” Feb.6-19). I hiked the BeltLine section in question from Armour Yard to DeKalb Avenue on Dec. 18, 2000. This was before there was any publicity about Ryan Gravel’s thesis on the BeltLine. Our National Railway Historical Society hiking group found that, except for the Piedmont Road overpass and the two Clear Creek trestles, there was room for two tracks.

The biggest hurdles for new rail service were the grade crossings at Monroe Drive, Irwin Street and DeKalb Avenue. I favor elimination of all grade crossings on any commuter rail or high-speed passenger service. Monroe Drive would be difficult. This entire BeltLine section may be too congested for this service.

You might be interested in the history of this section. It was the original 1870s main line into Atlanta from the Northeast. It was built for the Atlanta & Richmond Airline, which became the Atlanta & Charlotte Airline Division of the Southern Railway System, now Norfolk-Southern. The Brookwood (Peachtree Station) came much later. Trains for Alabama were required to run backward from Howells Junction to the downtown Terminal Station. This awkward move is what Amtrak will be forced to execute if Atlanta ever builds an intermodal station back downtown.

Perhaps in this stage of Atlanta’s development, the BeltLine supporters should prevail!

Rutherford “Ruddy” Ellis

Atlanta Chapter, National Railway Historical Society