As a new year begins, many Atlantans are sitting on the couch, recovering from a late night of partying while pondering resolutions for the next 365 days. Since most of the city is busy thinking about their own personal goals, I’ve made a list of resolutions for Atlanta in 2018. Happy New Year!
1. Land Amazon’s HQ2
Atlanta is home to many international corporations that have driven its immense growth over the last 25 years, but landing a key partnership with Amazon would launch the city into a new atmosphere. Atlanta is likely to be in the final four when Amazon makes its decision, and the city’s leaders need to make this their top business priority. Becoming the second headquarters for Amazon would create 50,000 jobs in the city, and with so many people flocking to the city, this would be a massive victory.
2. Hold a new mayor accountable from the beginning
Kasim Reed is departing as mayor on Jan. 4. His regime was marked by plenty of accomplishments, but it was also fraught with controversy. In February, as allegations of bribery swirled, Reed’s response was to dump 1.47 million sheets of documents and asked the media to go through them manually if they wanted to find anything shady. Then, there was the bizarre conflict of interest at Hartsfield Airport. And don’t forget Reed’s affinity for blocking journalists and other critical Atlanta residents on Twitter (myself included – he blocked me after I wrote about his Twitter habits and reached out to his office for comment), only to ask them to follow him for important information during severe weather events.
And obviously, each of those are Reed’s problems; that’s for his legacy, not Bottoms’s. But Bottoms worked closely with Reed while he was mayor, and she was, by all accounts, his hand-selected successor. She needs to forge her own identity as mayor, and if she falls back on some of the same questionable leadership tactics as Reed, she should be held accountable. Atlanta finds itself at a very important time in the city’s history, and it needs a leader who can create solutions to difficult questions.
3. Get serious about transit
According to projections, Atlanta will be the sixth-largest city in America by the 2040s. If we’re all navigating the Downtown Connector in our cars each day in the 2040s, Atlanta will become unsustainable chaos. Mass transit has to be on the table and seriously discussed in the next decade, but there need to be innovative ideas that come forth as well. The ITP vs. OTP mentality isn’t working, and suburbs need to work more closely together to make decisions in the best interest of metro Atlanta rather than their own neighborhoods. This can can’t be kicked down the road any longer.
4. Actually get ready for the next Snowpocalypse
Getting serious about transit includes developing a plan for the worst-case scenario. On Dec. 8, we almost saw another disaster when snow fell hard and everyone left work at the same time. Schools dismissed and, again, it took people hours to get home. If the roads had iced over, there would have been no difference between what happened in January 2014 and what would have happened Dec. 8. City leaders cannot allow a replay of Snowpocalypse 2014 – not in 2018, and not ever.
5. Shore up whatever happened at Hartsfield Airport
The World’s Busiest Airport endured a complete shutdown on Dec. 17 when a fire cut the lights for hours and forced the hub to cancel all flights for the rest of the day. The jokes came easily, especially from people who still believe Atlanta is just a bunch of toothless rednecks who wear overalls with no shirt underneath daily. Though technically not responsible for the mess – Georgia Power owns whatever happened underground that day – Atlanta’s leaders must work with the utility company to guarantee a disaster of that magnitude never happens again. Amazon is watching, guys.
6. Raise a banner of some type
Believe it or not, Atlanta’s actually starting 2018 in pretty good shape in terms of its sports teams’ chances to achieve success. UGA finds itself in the College Football Playoff for the first time, just two wins from a championship. The Atlanta Falcons are in the playoffs, hitting the road as the NFC’s No. 6 seed. And Atlanta United FC is bolstering its roster in hopes that the side can compete for an MLS Cup this year. Sure, there’s that Atlanta Sports Curse and all, but who really believes in that kind of thing?
7. Remain a leader of inclusivity in the South
Race relations are not great in the country right now, but in 2017, we saw Atlantans of all races and backgrounds marching arm-in-arm for causes in which they believe. The “Us vs. Them” mentality cannot be allowed to creep into our daily dialogue, and though many of the city’s groups remain separated by ZIP code, Atlanta’s ability to get along for common causes is one reason it remains the capital of the South.
8. Work harder to preserve the city’s history
All too often, the “City Too Busy to Hate” is also the “City Too Busy to Keep Historic Buildings Standing.” Atlanta should strive to preserve its history and work harder to make it a reality. Transforming buildings like the old City Hall East into Ponce City Market is a great start, but Bottoms and her new administration should continue the good work with city council members to keep the preservation momentum rolling.Follow @Sean_Breslin