June 13, 2012

City Dope

Athens News and Views

More than 200 people ran in the 5K Race for a Better Athens last Saturday, June 9 to benefit Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. The course was designed to give runners an intimate view of the area that would be affected by Selig Enterprises' proposed develo

Commissioning: The June 5 meeting of the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission was notable mainly for the commission's approval of the county's FY13 budget, which, it was agreed among the several commissioners who remarked upon it, was the most difficult in recent memory. Notable, too, was its unanimous passage, since Commissioner Doug Lowry was in attendance. Lowry has made a point of recording "no" votes on recent county budgets to reflect his displeasure with with the size of ACC's government, but said he had promised Commissioner Kathy Hoard he'd sign on to this year's out of appreciation for his colleagues' willingness to reinstate a fire department ladder company that had been cut from earlier drafts of the FY13 ledger. Another M&C voting session, another fascinating civics lesson!

Also of interest was the appointment of local attorney and Republican state House candidate Regina Quick to the Athens Downtown Development Authority. Quick has been an outspoken critic of the ADDA's enforcement of paid onstreet parking in areas outside of downtown, which she has held is beyond the authority's legal purview. But she's also a downtown business and property owner with some very strong opinions about how Athens' central district could function better. She'll be an active presence on the authority, as she is in every arena in which she participates, and if she beats Doug McKillip in the July 31 District 117 Republican primary, the ADDA will have a voice in our legislative delegation, which has sometimes bent over backwards to find reasons to dismiss its requests.

Moving Forward: While we're on the subject, it looks like the ADDA will be having a special called meeting sometime in the next week or so to talk about possible opportunities for creating a downtown master plan. That task, identified as a heavy priority by commissioners over the past year in light of possible and imminent major development downtown—including, but not limited to, Selig Enterprises' highly controversial proposal for a self-contained shopping mall on the Armstrong & Dobbs property possibly anchored by a 90,000-square-foot Walmart (see photo)—was nonetheless left unfunded in the aforementioned difficult FY13 budget.

If someone's figured out a way to get a serious master plan done in a way that we can afford, more power to them—provided, that is, whatever is produced actually has the authority to guide policy and won't just be regarded as a quaint artifact of a fleeting moment when a few people professed to give a damn. If you happen to be one of those people at this moment, you can probably get up to date on this by keeping an eye on the ADDA website ( We'll give you another heads-up here next week.

Up and at 'Em: You know how the elections for the ACC Commission seats that turn over in January 2013 are now on July 31 instead of in November? (No? Well, yeah, they are. Thanks again, Georgia Legislature!) OK, so get this: they're pretty much right on top of us. Absentee ballots are going out this month, and thanks to the hot mess dropped in their laps by the state Republicans, our local elections office will be generating over 100 different ballots to be mailed on request. More dates to keep in mind and pass along are the voter registration deadline on July 2 and the beginning of the early in-person voting period on July 9.

As mentioned above, this is also the legislative primary, in which District 117 voters will have the opportunity to choose between McKillip and Quick. District 118 incumbent Keith Heard is being challenged by Spencer Frye on the Democratic ticket, with Christopher Perlera and Carter Kessler running on the Republican side. Chuck Williams is unchallenged in District 119.

Personal and Public: After a little more than two-and-a-half years on the beat, your friendly neighborhood City Dope is moving on to another assignment next month. More on that some other time, but for now the business at hand is finding the next tenant of the city editor's office at Flagpole. The fact that you're reading this column means you're interested in local news and politics, one of the primary qualifications for the job. If you think you've got the writing and editing chops to be the next Dope (after all, the bar's currently set pretty low), send a cover letter, resumé and samples of published writing to