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Going Postal

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Paid in full?
This letter is in response to a story recently published in Creative Loafing (News & Views, "A little sleazy in The Big Easy," April 10). The story reported on trips to New Orleans, La., that I took while Atlanta city attorney to serve on the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board Special Evaluation Committee.

The story failed to report that the expenses for those trips were submitted to New Orleans for reimbursement. A reimbursement check for $897.88 from Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, counsel for the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, made out to the city of Atlanta was sent to the city's law department. The law department in turn forwarded the check to the finance department for deposit in the appropriate account. The reimbursement request was submitted to New Orleans Nov. 28, 2001.

It appears that a bill for $221.47 was omitted from the request for reimbursement and was therefore never reimbursed. In an effort to put this behind us, I have sent the $221.47 to the city of Atlanta. I have enjoyed serving with the other members of the Special Evaluation Committee on behalf of the Sewage and Water Board. I hope city of Atlanta employees continue to respond favorably to fellow urban centers as they too try to tackle the difficult issues facing cities today.

-- Susan Pease Langford

Staff Writer Kevin Griffis responds: Langford's memory seems a bit better than it was two weeks ago. After discovering the charges to her city credit card for travel to New Orleans, we asked Langford if New Orleans had reimbursed Atlanta for her hotel expenses and airfare. She replied that, while she believed New Orleans would have reimbursed Atlanta for the travel, she hadn't asked for a reimbursement. She also said it didn't matter whether Atlanta, New Orleans or any other municipality paid for the travel, as long as the trip was for public service.

No records of the reimbursement Langford described in her letter were included in a response to a comprehensive open records request made by CL to the city of Atlanta. CL has subsequently requested records of any reimbursements made by New Orleans or its representatives. If Langford's explanation proves correct, we'll let you know.

Meanwhile, we're pleased she's sent the city $221.47 for her hotel stay in the Big Easy.

Retire on what?
(In response to "Brother can you spare $8.4 billion?" April 10): This is one of the best articles I have seen about this road plan and the funding of same. I can only pray that all Georgians read this article and will truly understand that all of us are going to pay for Gov. Barnes' fast-track road plan.

Unfortunately, my subdivision is currently in the path of the Northern Arc and although, right now, no houses in my subdivision are going to be taken, this monstrosity will still be on top of us and our property values have already dropped through the floor. This house was our investment for retirement. Now they are going to end up using my money to destroy my retirement for me! What a crock!

-- Joan Cox, Sugar Hill

Don't want, don't need
I loved the article on the unfunded or misfunded road projects of Gov. Barnes ("Brother can you spare $8.4 billion?" April 10). But, I would like to make one point not mentioned. Road projects are sometimes initiated for less than obvious reasons. The governor will be spending a great deal of money on these projects, they will be providing lots of jobs and they will make a lot of people a great deal of money. The Northern Arc will put money directly or indirectly into the pockets of Barnes' big-business campaign contributors. I would imagine that this was the real reason for the construction.

The northern suburbs do not need or want another major highway. Environmentalists have argued successfully that this money could be spent in a more useful and less costly manner. Geographers have argued that increasing the commute distance does nothing to decrease the congestion or pollution. So, why do we even need another highway? To help the governor get re-elected.

-- Mike Seigle, Norcross

Make the connection
(In response to "Hey, Mr. Billionaire: I've got a better place for your $200 million," March 27): The idea of Bernie Marcus providing $200 million for a loop rail is a good one.

Light rail is most important to connect our existing centers. For several years, we've been looking at light-rail to run northwest from Emory University, the CDC and this well-developed area to the Lindbergh MARTA station, along an existing rail corridor. At Lindbergh, we'd have a light-to-heavy rail connecting platform to allow easy access to more MARTA destinations. From Lindbergh, a new light-rail loop would go southwest to the Atlantic Station project (even connecting to the planned Cobb light-rail line), then along the west side of downtown Atlanta to connect Georgia Tech, Coca-Cola, and businesses along Northside Drive. This light-rail line would provide stops at the World Congress Center, Georgia Dome, and the redeveloped Means Street area, then link up again with heavy rail at the West End Marta station.

From there it would proceed east to Turner Field, the Atlanta Zoo, and on toward South DeKalb Mall-Candler Road, and ultimately extend to the Mall at Stonecrest in east DeKalb, bringing much needed and deserved service to South DeKalb.

This light-rail line could run largely within existing street right-of-way, as well as in corridors with existing rail lines. There would be very little, if any, disruption to existing residential communities.

If we are going to spend money, then let's spend it connecting our major facilities to rail access. MARTA rail service now suffers, as it always has, because it doesn't connect with enough true destination points. For our next investment, let's do something that makes sense from the beginning -- let's connect the facilities we have already so we can get to them by rail, and leave the cars at home.

Other cities like Dallas, San Diego, Boston, Seattle and Portland are making the light-rail connection. Let's do so in Atlanta, before we fall even farther behind and get stuck in more traffic.

-- Robert J. Augustine, chairman of the DeKalb Economic Development Authority, Atlanta

Hey Bernie, you listening?
(In response to "Hey, Mr. Billionaire: I've got a better place for your $200 million," March 27): I found the whole article brilliant, but especially, "When it comes to fish, think locally." Clean up the Chattahoochee.

It makes me want to cry. Thanks for such a well thought out and researched article. I was not for the aquarium -- but I had not taken it to that level of thought. Have you sent the article to Mr. Marcus? I really hope he reads it.

-- Carol McChesney, Doraville

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