Tag: Atlanta

Bureaucrats shut down Atlanta Food Truck Park

Many Georgians were outraged last year when kids had their lemonade stand shutdown because they lacked a food permit. Judging from the reaction, most people found it ridiculous. After all, these were kids who were simply trying to earn money to visit a waterpark for some summer fun.

While this seems like a very minor example, it was a case of a local government infringing on economic liberty*; and sadly, these cases aren’t few and far between. And though it’s not a simple lemonade stand run by kids, the City of Atlanta has shutdown the Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market, and not because of the lack of a food permit or for health code violations:

Last Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department License and Permits unit arrived at the Atlanta Food Truck Park and began shutting down trucks left and right. The park on Howell Mill Road, the first permanent food truck park in Atlanta open 7 days a week, remains temporarily closed until enough of the vendors can clear up the permit issues with the APD.

For the most part, news about the closing has been limited to references of “permitting issues,” without much detail as to what that means. I spoke with Howard Hsu yesterday, co-owner of the Atlanta Food Truck Park, to get a better understanding of what exactly is happening, and what is next for the Food Park. What follows is a very condensed summary of that conversation.

To be perfectly clear, none of the permits in question have anything to do with food-safety violations. All of the vendors affected had business licenses and had passed health inspections. Also, the park itself is not in violation of any permits, just all of the vendors that populate it.

The crux of the issue is the restriction – or rather, enforcement – of the number of locations allowed by a mobile vending permit. Until the passage of the Food Truck Ordinance, the City of Atlanta’s verbiage was singular – “location” – meaning that a food truck operator would have to re-apply for a new permit and re-pay the associated fees every time it moved locations. Section G of the new ordinance changed the City of Atlanta’s wording to allow for “multiple locations as indicated on the vending permit.”

The other major change brought on by the ordinance was the reduction in permissible proximity to a brick-and-mortar business selling similar items from 1500 feet to 200 feet.

However, the Food Truck Ordinance did not re-write every tangled link of compliance across the wide range of required permits, only the City of Atlanta codes. The wording still remains in the State of Georgia’s code that “a mobile food service unit or an extended food service unit must restrict operation to a maximum of two (2) locations or areas stipulated by the permit.” That would mean a re-application process and hundreds of dollars in fees every time a food truck wants to operate from any location that isn’t one of the two on file with the State Health Department.

Up until this point, the Atlanta Police Department hadn’t enforced the two location restriction in the Georgia code as long as the vendor had valid city permits.

So, technically, every one of the vendors at the park was required to have the Howell Mill Park as one of their two locations on file with the State Health Department. But it wasn’t just one or two lazy owners whose permits were not up to date; every truck in the park was in violation.

Hsu relayed the strong sense of frustration among the food truck operators with the process, as many of them had applied numerous times for the permits showing the Howell Mill address as a location, only to have their application delayed or denied for trivial reasons.

But it wasn’t until he explained the cause of the most recent delay in re-opening the park that I realized just how silly and frustrating this process can really be.

My wife and I attended the opening of the park a couple of weeks ago with some friends. It’s a really a neat concept. The only negative was that, because the lines were so long and some trucks were already running out of food, we wound up eating at Six Feet Under. Of course, we didn’t leave until I had my first taste of King of Pops.

It’s not like the restaurant owners don’t know what they’re doing. For example, Howard Hsu and his wife run at least two restaurants (Gezzo’s in McDonough and Sweet Auburn in Atlanta) and are well-seasoned (no pun intended) in the bureaucracy that comes with being small business owners. They’re bright people with a passion for food and pleasing their clientele.

It’s not a lemonade stand, but it’s a similar story. Unfortunately, these restaurant owners and their hardworking employees now have to deal with economic losses because of bureaucratic wrangling. Great job, Atlanta.

*And no, I’m not speaking out against licensing requirements, merely the overly bureaucratic process that it has become.

Mayor Reed Acts; Protesters Ordered to Leave Park

– Estimated 50 OWS-Atlanta Protesters Remain for Possible Arrest –

The large majority occupying Atlanta’s Woodruff Park left hurriedly, but a small group remained behind to be arrested late Tuesday evening. At this time, there is no notice that any arrests have been made.

Check out the excellent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article by Christian Boone and Rhonda Cook for more details. Here is an excerpt of the piece:

Deputy Police Chief Calvin Moss announced at 11:52 p.m. that the executive order allowing protesters to stay in the park has been revoked. Protesters were told to leave the park and any belongings left behind would be treated as abandoned property.

At 10:45 p.m., Tim Franzen, an Occupy Atlanta leader, told participants who wanted to be arrested to gather in a circle in the middle of the park where there was the best lighting for the media to see. He advised people who had been drinking, using drugs or were on probation not to take part. Those who did not want to be arrested but wanted to continue the occupation were told to circle the park until 6 a.m. and then return.

Some of the people waiting to be arrested waved small American flags. About 50 remained in the park at midnight. Several hundred people were outside the park.

Franzen said arrangement already had been made to cover the bail of group members who were arrested. They are expected to be charged with violating a city ordinance, a misdemeanor.

Based upon previous reports, protesters had worked out a plan to have members return to the public park at 6:00 AM the day following arrests. Members of the group left open the possibility that another venue within the city might also be chosen for future protests.

(Cue the creepy organ music in a minor key and the deep-voiced, overly dramatic, off-screen narrator) So, will the APD make arrests? Will the OWS squatters return at 6 AM? If they do, does the City of Atlanta have a plan to counter? If not, will this soap opera continue forever? (Cut organ and narrator)

In the meantime, congratulations to Mayor Reed for taking some action. He showed patience and now he is showing leadership. That pesky Rule of Law thing really does need to be respected.

Roadshow EXTRA: Drinking Made Easy!

It’s my pleasure to introduce a SPECIAL EDITION of the PeachPundit roadshow series – A night of comedy at Center Stage with comedian Zane Lamprey!

Zane is a buddy of mine who is the host of the hilarious series “Three Sheets” – originally on the MojoHD channel, and recently on FLN and The Travel Channel. He travels around the world ‘studying’ local drinking customs, beverages, and hangover cures. Now he’s embarked on a nationwide standup tour and is currently filming a companion series about drinking customs, beverages, and hangover cures right here in the the States. Even better – after his gig here in Atlanta, he’s hanging around and filming for the show. Who knows, perhaps he might even have a chance to work some pundit-related humor in his act….

You will not regret joining Clayton, Icarus, Tyler, Jason, and other PeachPundit celebrities for a raucous night of comedy and fun. And, as a special treat, PeachPundit readers will get their first round on us! But be warned, you’ll have to prove you’re a loyal reader with the correct answers to some PP trivia!

Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster for only $25. You can get more information about Zane from his website at zanelamprey.com.

Episodes of Three Sheets can also be watched for free on Hulu.com. But beware – they are addictive!

Milton County Resolution Anticipated To Get Vote On Cross-Over Day

This one perplexes me, but folks on both sides of this issue are telling me that there will likely be a vote on a resolution which will authorize a referendum amending GA’s Constitution to re-create Milton County tomorrow. While most have been told there will not be a vote unless there are enough votes to pass, those in favor either think they have or can get the needed votes.

I don’t see it. The issue pits two members of house leadership against each other. Jan Jones, newly promoted to Speaker Pro-Tem, is heavily in favor and pushing hard for passage. But newly elected Majority Whip Ed Lindsey is relatively quietly, though staunchly, against. One would have to assume that in-town Republican Mike Jacobs may not want to see a weaker Fulton County, as a partner in MARTA and Grady Hospital on which his county depends. Jill Chambers also has a record of bucking the majority on creating new government entities.

Given that this is a constitutional amendment, a 2/3 majority is required to pass. Thus, it’s further hard to see what will be offered to a sufficient number of Democrats to make them turn their backs on Atlanta and Fulton County. The numbers become more difficult when you factor in a few rural uber-conservatives who can’t seem to justify creating an additional county government which the state must then provide services too. As reported here earlier, regional heavyweight Sam Massell claims an added expense to the state of $6 Million the first year, and $3 Million per year thereafter. Read more

Prosecutor With Strong Record Of Fighting Corruption Confirmed By Senate As US Attorney

It’s official, Sally Yates is now the US Attorney for North Georgia.

Yates has a record of prosecuting corruption cases involving federal officials. As noted in the AJC article linked above, she was instrumental in obtaining convictions in both airport corruption cases and that of former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell.

I’m guessing that any public official who has been walking a fine line with legal issues in the course of their political career will not be sleeping as well with Ms. Yates sitting in her new chair.

“Mayor Of Buckhead” Not Keen On Milton

Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and former Mayor of Atlanta, has decided to weigh in on the proposed split of Milton County from Fulton with a “No” vote.

After Massell was defeated for re-election in 1973, he became the defacto voice of the Buckhead and North Atlanta areas, and is still affectionately known as Buckhead’s mayor.

His position, issued via the following press release, is significant because it represents somewhat of a shift in the coalitions that make up Fulton County Politics. Massell could often be counted on by those who felt their interests were not being represented at City Hall to be their point man, and he could often be counted to raise (and resolve) issues on their behalf.

But with Massell favoring the status quo for Fulton, he now finds himself squarely aligned with those at both City Hall as well as those in the Fulton County Government complex.

Time will allow a proper measure of the seismic nature of this shift, but as of now, Buckhead’s power center is aligned with Fulton, and not the folks North of the Chattahoochee.

Full press release here: Read more

The Atlanta Tea Party Just Got Bigger

April 15th was going to see a big tea party in front of Georgia’ Gold Dome, but it just got bigger.

Tonight on Fox News, Sean Hannity intends to announce that he’ll be live from Atlanta that evening covering the Atlanta Tea Party in front of Georgia’s State Capitol Building.

He’s asked me to be there with him. I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re interested, be at the steps of the Capitol in Atlanta by 6pm on April 15, 2009. We will make sure the nation hears that we’re sick and tired of out of control government, both from the Democrats and the Republicans.

Delta cutting flights, trimming jobs once again

Atlanta/Peachtree City mega-employer Delta Air Lines cut 4,000 jobs in 2008 and appears poised to cut far more in 2009, according to a Bloomberg News report (via the Fulton County Daily Report). With a planned drop of up to 8% in capacity, the 75,000-employee airline will have to trim staff at a level commensurate with the income decline resulting from decrease in travel demand associated with the ongoing economic downturn.

“We have seen a fairly significant dropoff in demand, starting in October,” [Delta Air Lines] President Ed Bastian said on a Webcast of a Credit Suisse Group AG airline conference in New York. “The revenue environment is as cloudy as it’s ever been. We’ve never seen the level of demand destruction that some are forecasting for our business.”

Delta will offer “voluntary programs” to shrink its workforce as it reduces flying, Bastian and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told employees in a memo. A spokeswoman, Betsy Talton, said no details were available.

Splash In Fountains; Register To Vote

The Obama campaign will be out at Centennial Park all day Saturday in downtown Atlanta with another voter registration drive. Details here. And around 5pm-ish, Howard Dean and the DNC tour bus will roll over to Spring Street (see details below) to, er, pump up the volume. It’s all part of the 50 State Strategy.

Atlanta Campaign for Change Headquarters
1080 Spring Street NW
Atlanta, GA

And yep, as much as folks on PP cling to those guns and religion and poll data and faith in politicians like golf course Saxby Chambliss and traffic-hell fundraisers in rich-people Buckhead mansions, or other such No (R) Grassroots Left Here In Georgia Whatsoever, or whatever else they can wrap their denial around, Georgia is part of the Dem’s, again, 50 State Strategy.

Anything is possible in 110 days, especially with the biggest push into southern states since Sherman himself. Boom, boom, boom.

Black Atlanta Bloggers On NPR Today

Peach Pundit’s own Andre Walker and v-logger Amani Channel (and some other dude I don’t know. Yet.) will be blogger roundtable guests on NPR’s News & Notes show today at 1:00 pm.

As what we get in Atlanta is a veritable hijacking of the airwaves with that insufferable classical music they program into our heads for six hours straight, day in day out, here on Atlanta’s WABE (don’t get me started), some of Georgia’s best bloggers won’t be heard over the airwaves, but you can listen to the online stream here when it’s available. Or try Peach State Radio if you’re outside the city.

UPDATE: Show’s available here.

Mayor Franklin’s Daughter Sentenced

Since the AJC’s buried this one down in the Metro section on their homepage today, let’s look at CBS46’s story instead:

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A daughter of Atlanta’s mayor was sentenced Monday to three years of probation for laundering money for her ex-husband’s drug operation.

The Greenville News reported that Kai Franklin also will have to serve three months of home confinement.

Franklin pleaded guilty in December. Prosecutors said she bought $14,000 in money orders to pay the mortgage on an Atlanta home she owned with her then-husband, Tremayne Graham and structured the transaction in a way designed to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.

“I’d just like to apologize to my mother, my family and friends,” said Franklin, who was accompanied in federal court by her mother, Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. “I really want to move on with my life.”

Full story here.