Mayor Kasim Reed has signed into law a 3.5 percent pay raise for nearly 3,000 City of Atlanta employees yesterday, July 21, after a vote by the city council at its July 20 meeting. However, the pay increase wasn’t for all city employees. Sworn officers are still waiting on their increases due to ongoing litigation over pension funding. The council is expected to take up additional pay raises in August.
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UPDATE: The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved an ordinance at its July 20 meeting authorizing the Commissioner of Public Works to create a prioritized list of sidewalk maintenance and repair locations throughout the city. The legislation was introduced by Councilmember Mary Norwood. Funding for the repairs will come from a portion of the city’s infrastructure maintenance and improvement account and all other applicable and available funding sources until such funding is exhausted. According to Sally Flocks, founder of Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS), property owners will still be on the hook for repairs after the city money runs out. “By 2020, the new infrastructure account is likely to have over $20 million,” Flocks said. “That will be for repairs to roads and bridges as well as sidewalks, so it’s unlikely it will allocate sufficient funding to sidewalk repairs to even keep up with the estimated $15 million cost of the annual sidewalk disintegration. The ordinance is a good step forward, but people shouldn’t expect it will be enough to repair many sidewalks on neighborhood streets.”
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A vote to spend nearly $2 million on 1,000 body cameras for the Atlanta Police Department went back to committee after questions were raised about the bidding process. Decatur-based Utility Inc., which provides APD’s in-car camera equipment, questioned why the body cameras weren’t put out for bid. The owner of Utility and several staff members spoke during the public comment section about the issue.
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The council also voted 8-2 on a resolution to ask Gov. Nathan Deal to form a study group on how to “augment” the carvings on Stone Mountain to represent more of the state’s history. Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, who crafted the resolution, said Stone Mountain, which is a state park located in DeKalb County, is supported by tax dollars and should reflect all of Georgia. “It’s not beyond the pale to adapt that face of Stone Mountain to add more images,” Bond said, mentioning Georgia founder James Oglethorpe, Yamacraw Indian Chief Tomochichi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Jimmy Carter. In the resolution Bond cited racial tensions and the rejuvenated debate of removing Confederate symbols from state property following the murder of members of a Charleston, SC church by a white supremacist.
Both Councilmembers Howard Shook and Alex Wan voted against the resolution, with Wan stating the city wading into the debate about Stone Mountain was a “stretch.”
Councilmember Ivory Lee Young compared the carving of Confederate general’s on Stone Mountain’s north face to the Nazi swastika. “I vowed when I moved to Atlanta in 1988 that I would never set foot on the grounds of Stone Mountain until that carving glorifying those terrorists is gone, and I won’t.”
Bond also introduced legislation calling for the state to provide funding for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to investigate officer involved shootings where racial or social economic bias have been alleged. That legislation passed unanimously.