Kasim Reed Response to Atlanta NAACP Chapter

 

FALSE CLAIM: During the Kasim Reed administration, the movement toward safe, affordable housing came to a screeching halt. Because of his actions, no units were planned since the administration of Shirley Franklin. Instead, generous tax benefits flowed to help finance upper income condominiums and rental units along the Beltline and downtown. New college graduates from Tech, the AUC, Emory, and Georgia State can hardly afford to live in Atlanta.

 

The Truth: The statement is riddled with patently false statements and fails to include the substantial work of the Reed Administration, Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), Invest Atlanta (IA) and Atlanta BeltLine to establish the City’s first affordable housing policies and move the needle on affordable housing across the City.

In 2010, we were trying to recover from the Great Recession and a foreclosure crisis. There was very little construction at all, but even given those hugely challenging circumstances, Mayor Reed’s administration increased the number of people served by affordable housing policies by 25 percent. Notably, under former Mayor Reed’s leadership, the City passed its first affordable housing policy. The ordinance requires a set percentage of residential real estate units from any developer receiving public funds to be leased to working households whose income falls below a certain percentage of the area median income (AMI). Shortly after the City’s adoption of the policy, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, and Fulton County all followed suit and adopted similar policies to ensure the creation of affordable housing units in our City.

This statement also irresponsibly omits the $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant awarded to the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority in 2015. The grant continues to support the revitalization of west Atlanta, including Vine City, Ashview Heights and the Atlanta University Center with the development of affordable housing in these communities. Programs like the Choice Neighborhoods Heritage Owner Occupied Rehab Program which provides up to $60,000 for health and safety repairs to low-and-moderate-income families and the first mixed-income, 135-unit multi-family building currently under construction at the former University Homes site are funded through the grant.

During Mayor Reed’s tenure, AHA continued to build new affordable rental and for-sale housing units on AHA-owned land at sites including:

  • University Homes (Veranda/Oasis at Scholars Landing were constructed in 2015/2016),
  • Perry Homes (West Highlands, where a mix of new affordable and market-rate homes have been sold over the last nine years), and
  • McDaniel Glen (a rent-to-own program at the Mechanicsville Scattered Sites opened in 2016).

Additionally, since 2009, hundreds of additional new affordable units were constructed in multi-family buildings on the sites of:

  • The former McDaniel Glen (now called Mechanicsville),
  • The former Grady Homes (now called Auburn Point), and
  • The former Harris Homes (now called Collegetown).

Since 2009, AHA has built out its project based rental assistance (PBRA) program which allows the agency to subsidize new affordable units in third-party owned newly constructed multi-family buildings. The PBRA program is marketed as “Home Flex” and has allowed for the construction of thousands of affordable/subsidized units that are connected with a multi-family building (this is not a Section 8 voucher). Some AHA constructed PBRA communities include:

  • Oasis of Vine City (currently under construction)
  • Mercy Housing’s Reynoldstown Senior Residences
  • Columbia Residential’s Retreat at Edgewood
  • National Church Residences’/Columbia Residential’s Imperial Hotel

It is programs like this that allowed AHA to increase the number of households it serves from 17,258 in June 2009 to 23,180 in the beginning of 2018.

The Reed Administration and Atlanta Housing Authority took significant steps to increase economic vitality, mobility, and equity for all Atlantans. It is a disservice to ignore the work of committed public servants toward creating housing opportunities for low-income and working families.

FALSE CLAIM: Because of the machinations of the Reed administration, the gleaming new Mercedes Benz stadium pays no property taxes yet consumes substantial city services and police protection. If taxed appropriately, an estimated $12 million could benefit Atlanta’s K-12 school children in addition to county and city coffers.

 

The Truth: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (“MBS”) directly provides thousands of jobs, and supports tens of thousands more through all of the sports, hospitality, entertainment, and hotel/motel jobs directly relying on it for its existence. Because of the construction of MBS here in the City, the City hosted the Super Bowl, the NCAA College Football National Title game, the NCAA Final Four, and won the Atlanta United soccer franchise.

MBS thus generates tens of millions annually in sales taxes, hotel/motel taxes, income taxes, and good paying quality jobs throughout Atlanta and the region, including significantly higher property values and thus tax revenues. This attack also conveniently omits the fact that the Georgia Dome, as a State-owned facility, also did not pay any property taxes. Finally, the infrastructure built to support the stadium including streetscapes, sidewalks, and roads and other important elements have strengthened the entire AUC and the westside corridor. On net, the comparison between no MBS and MBS isn’t even close – all Atlantans are far ahead with MBS built and operating in the core of the City.

FALSE CLAIM: Mr. Reed has announced the endorsement of the police union IPBO, a group that has never acknowledged police misconduct, no matter how egregious. Because of its policies and practices, most Black police officers are not members of that union. One retired Black APD sergeant calls the IPBO “the Klan.”

 

The Truth: Mayor Reed sought the endorsement and support of all of the men and women of Atlanta’s Police Department who put their lives on the line every day and night to protect our City at a moment when crime and violence are devastating our City. Mayor Reed is proud to have their endorsement, as well as that of numerous other organizations and individuals, and is committed to working with those men and women and their union leadership to restore safety to our City in a manner consistent with our values and legacy as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. As his record and the 40-year low in crime during his prior term demonstrates, we can have respect for civil rights and effective policing and safe streets – it is a false choice to suggest otherwise.

This attack also fails to acknowledge the campaign’s endorsement by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 134, AFSCME Local 1644, the Georgia Federation of Public Sector Employees, the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 8, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, and the Atlanta Daily World, not to mention individuals like Ambassador Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson III. Mayor Reed’s lifelong support for civil rights and civil liberties is not fairly in question, and this slur is nothing but.

FALSE CLAIM: Notably, Mr. Reed did not embrace President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Policy that, if implemented, might have saved Black lives. There were 7 police killings of unarmed Blacks during the Reed administration and another 4 since.

 

The Truth: This allegation is entirely false, and reflects either a willingness to intentionally deceive, or an egregious lack of even modest due diligence. Frankly, it is an alarming example of what happens when someone agrees to act as a mouthpiece for hostile interests. The truth is, during Mayor Reed's administration, APD Chief George Turner and APD fully participated in President Obama’s strategy and the City was acknowledged by President Obama as being an exemplary department. In fact, the APD is one of only fifteen law enforcement agencies nationwide to have received a model city designation for its implementation of the fifty-nine recommendations established by President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Mayor Reed’s hire as his Police Chief, George Turner, was a product of Atlanta’s public housing projects and a 20-year veteran of the police force. Under Chief Turner’s leadership, APD was intimately involved in President Obama’s policing strategies. In 1.4 million officer interactions, we had officers fire their guns less than seventeen times. The Reed Administration also disbanded the police department’s Red Dog unit, decriminalized marijuana which eliminated jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, implemented body cams, insisted that third party agencies investigate officer-involved shootings, and launched a pre-arrest diversion program that directed people to social services rather than the criminal justice system when the crime is likely related to untreated mental illness, addiction and extreme poverty. These policies were all enacted before the murder of George Floyd and under Mayor Reed’s leadership, crime fell to 40-year lows in a manner that was consistent with our values.

FALSE CLAIM: Prime Black-owned property was fair game for Atlanta’s agencies under Kasim Reed, in Black neighborhoods and the Atlanta University Center. Reed wasted taxpayer dollars trying to wrest Clark Atlanta and Morris Brown land away, a fight that diverted substantial funds from their educational mission of educating Black students.

 

The Truth: This is another series of false statements. First, the City’s $10.1 million dollar investment in Morris Brown during Morris Brown’s bankruptcy kept the land from going to private developers that would not have allowed Morris Brown to continue operating. The City’s multimillion dollar lifeline investment enabled Morris Brown to continue to function and recently regain their accreditation. This would have been impossible without the Reed Administration’s leadership, as neither the State nor the Federal Government were willing to act to save Morris Brown. Dollar General and Family Dollar were both actively working to acquire Morris Brown’s land and assets and Mayor Reed’s lifeline worked to preserve this historic institution. Finally, the minor dispute with Clark Atlanta involved a contested land transfer that occurred more than 50 years ago. Once that dispute was resolved by a court, the City of Atlanta and InvestAtlanta honored the outcome and result.

FALSE CLAIM: Corruption appeared to be rampant under Mr. Reed with a reported 7 indictments and convictions, including chief financial officer Jim Beard. His lawyers claim that Mr. Reed is no longer under investigation, but we have heard no such declaration from the U. S Attorney’s office. Documents from the ongoing investigation point directly to personal expenditures, some since reimbursed.

 

The Truth: While being attacked and lied about comes with the territory, it is tragic to see Trump-era attacks being parroted by erstwhile civil rights advocates at the behest of secret dark money interests. The truth is that after years of having his life turned upside down by a Republican U.S. Attorney appointed by Donald Trump to attack one of the South’s most prominent Black male politicians, the U.S. Attorney’s office ultimately walked away with a closed file. If that kind of vindication shouldn’t put an end to these slurs and character defamation, what would?

FALSE CLAIM: Atlanta, touted as the cradle of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, has been silent on the issue of Confederate monuments and other traitorous honorariums around the city. Not a single monument was moved or removed under Kasim Reed, despite the national movement acknowledging the white supremacist messaging and symbolism, and progress on removing them in other cities.

 

The Truth: While a State Senator, Kasim Reed led the effort at the Georgia General Assembly to change Georgia’s State flag to get the Confederate battle emblem off of it. None of his opponents were involved in that fight, and none of them received death threats because of it. As to his record as Mayor, Mayor Reed put the City on the leading edge of addressing these issues. For example, in 2015, Mayor Reed’s commission recommended removing the name “Confederate” from any City street, a recommendation that was ultimately carried out. Mayor Reed’s work made possible and set the stage for the work Mayor Bottoms’ administration did to purge our City of the monuments to hate. Thus, it is false and deceptive to say that he was inactive.

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