|The Black Gold Rush into the Black Mecca has finally dried up|
So when Mayor Maynard Jackson had the audacity to insist that he would let crab grass grow on the site selected for the airport unless Blacks were given a “fair” share of the mammoth project, some of his critics began to wonder if he were in control of himself.
“You know, I never said anything publicly, but I thought Mayor Jackson was asking for too much,” confesses one Black Atlanta businessman who eventually reaped nearly $1 million from the airport project because of the mayor’s refusal to back down. “I mean, here Maynard was telling these white people – I mean, big industries and financial giants like Hertz and the airlines – that if Blacks didn’t get at least 25 percent of the action, there would be no airport, or they (the big businesses) would not be permitted to be a part of it. Let’s face it, you hear about affirmative action and all that stuff, but whoever heard of it working? Who ever heard of anyone trying to make it work? I was prepared to settle for whatever I could get, to make about $60,000 or $70,000, but thanks to the mayor I ended up with much more.”
(Mayor Jackson. “The word minority should not mean women. Women are an oppressed group, but they are not a minority; they are over 51 percent of the population. Minorities and women, as separate oppressed groups, must have affirmative action. But the word minority, by definition, design and inclination, cannot include White women. When I insisted on minority participation, I meant the inclusion of Afro-Americans. And I wasn’t talking about excluding anyone; my objective was to include everyone because it’s the right thing to do.”
Along with the denial that African Americans exhibit ethnic solidarity, it is popular to deny that the government sector can serve as a valid economic asset for creating business linkages. The public sector is seen as siphoning off black talent that could have gone toward business development or achieved influence in private-sector labor markets. However, first, the public sector clearly has been the source of the greatest accumulation of saving among African Americans which could be invested in business development… African American presence as mayors and significant city administrators was a major factor in increased ability of African American owned businesses to become large enough no longer to be classified as primarily self-employment. The importance oft eh use of municipal political power to engender large-scale stable employment among other American ethnic groups is well documented.
Atlanta is a city where civil rights leaders are the namesakes of thoroughfares the way presidents and signers of the Declaration of Independence are in most other cities. There are boulevards named not just for Martin Luther King Jr. and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, but also for civil rights leaders Joseph Lowery and Ralph David Abernathy. Last year, Raymond Street was renamed SNCC Way, after the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
But no place in Atlanta embodies the progression from the civil rights movement to political empowerment to economic development quite like the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The airport is named after the city's first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, who negotiated a unique deal for its construction.
That airport was constructed with a mandate of having at least 25 percent of all of the subcontracting opportunities going to minorities and women," says Thomas "Danny" Boston, a Georgia Tech economist who studies minority businesses. "First time anything like that happened in the country."It was a kind of New Deal for blacks in Atlanta, and it grew into many other deals, including mandated set-asides for African-American and other minority contractors and subcontractors.
But the deals also made minority business disproportionately dependent on public sector work. Now, the shrinking of the public sector is having a disastrous effect on many African-American business owners, including electrical subcontractor Melvin Griffin.
Griffin's business depended heavily on public contracts for things like installing stoplights with red-light cameras. Now he gets less work and, in turn, he gives less work.
"Employees are down quite a bit," he says. "Right now, I'm only working about three people. Couple guys, I just told them don't worry about calling me because I really got no work for them."
Atlanta itself has actually grown whiter in the past decade while its suburbs have gotten blacker, according to Frey's analysis. Atlanta's population in 1990 was 67% black and 30% white; the suburbs were 71% white and 25% African American. By the end of the decade, non-Hispanic whites made up 39% of the city and 53% of the suburbs while blacks were 51% of the city and 31% of the suburbs.
|No, the airport Mayor Jackson extorted|
More than half of homeowners with a mortgage in metro Atlanta owe more than the house is worth, a new report says.Their negative equity will slow a real estate recovery as some homeowners who would like to sell and move are "trapped in their homes," because they cannot afford to sell at a loss, said Zillow's chief economist Stan Humphries. It also makes foreclosure more likely if the mortgagee loses a job or hits other economic shocks, he said.
Zillow, the online real estate data and search firm, analyzed 35 million mortgages, including 778,870 in 22 metro Atlanta counties, to conclude 55 percent of mortgages here were in the negative range. That far exceeds the national average of 31 percent. Humphries pointed out that despite the high numbers, only 8 percent of metro Atlantans were delinquent on paying.Employed homeowners who plan to stay in their homes long-term are not bothered as much by the "paper losses," he said, which makes the situation less dire.
Fiscal 2011, which starts July 1, is already a rotten apple on the teacher’s desk.
The avalanche began when DeKalb County school officials said last month that the system would be short $88 million in its 2011 budget. Since then, so many other shoes have dropped, it’s starting to look like a Rack Room out there.
On Thursday, Cobb County schools said their shortfall would approach $100 million. On Friday, Gwinnett County schools gave the same report: $100 million short. Clayton County said it will be nearly $63 million in the hole; and Atlanta, $47 million. Fulton County has said its shortfall could reach $120 million.
DeKalb now says its gap could hit $115 million. Those systems alone are facing total cuts of more than a half-billion dollars.