Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/29/2013
Mayor Reed Responds to Second Misleading AJC Column On Public Property Vending
ATLANTA - Mr. Wingfield, you wrote today that I “can’t handle a little criticism, or the truth.”
I can handle criticism just fine.
But on reading your column, it would appear that you are not accustomed to responses from the targets of your frequently inaccurate, and often misleading, editorial columns. Instead, your attacks are typically allowed to pass unchecked.
When it comes to matters affecting our citizens, however, I’m not willing to sit in silence as you mislead them.
Rather than “Kasim Reed doubles down on false narrative in street vendor fight,” a more honest headline would have been “I admit that street vending is a mess you did not create, but you are not fixing it fast enough.”
If you had bothered to read the last paragraph of my response to your Sunday column chastising me for not complying with a judge’s order to resume a street vending program in the city, you would know that I fully understand the order.
We intend to come forward with a thorough program that will work, and in fact have introduced legislation that was to be taken up on the City Council’s Public Safety & Legal Administration Committee agenda today.
The paragraph actually reads as follows:
“Since the Judge’s original ruling in December 2012, my administration has consistently promised a best-in-class vending program by the end of the year. We will achieve this objective. In fact, we are solving a problem which was years in the making in less than a year. We are on target to fulfill that promise and are currently reviewing a new policy that includes best practice recommendations to address appearance, cost and administration, saleable items, permissible locations and enforcement. We are also going to ensure that any new vending program will be attractive to our city’s residents and guests, rather than a permanent eyesore. By working with our vendors and soliciting their input, we are working to guarantee that by December, we launch a fair program that supports our commitment to fair competition and expanded small business opportunities.”
Now, does that sound like someone who is “flouting the law” as you recklessly claim? Of course not, because the narrative does not fit the story you want to tell.
Interestingly, you acknowledge that the pre-2008 vending program was bad for the city on the one hand, but do not want to allow the city to have time to implement a new program, on the other.
We have a real responsibility to ensure we have a program in place that meets the needs and interests of our citizens, and of our vendors. Real responsibility for working people goes far beyond sitting down for 15 minutes to write a critique, and then move on to the next random topic. You also referenced the “real world.” Some of us in the “real world” have to stick with issues and actually solve problems. That is what we are doing here.
The 2008 vending program was two years in the making and has been a clear failure, ultimately leading to a lawsuit brought by vendors in 2011 seeking to have it thrown out. So, for six years, the program has been problematic. It’s not unrealistic for the city to take six months to remedy a problem that was six years in the making.
You point out that I am an attorney and former member of the Georgia Legislature. Both are true.
While you are neither an attorney, nor former lawmaker, I am confident that you are familiar with the notion of a legal appeal, which is what the City of Atlanta has filed in this case.
It is shocking that you wrote two entire columns on this topic and nowhere in either of them is the fact that the City of Atlanta disagreed with Judge LaGrua’s order and has exercised its right to appeal.
You can view this omission in both articles here: http://bit.ly/1bzhLdv and http://bit.ly/1aREa49 The City filed its appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court on October 11, 2013. Accordingly, enforcement of the order is stayed pending this appeal.
You don’t include this fact because that is inconsistent with your manufactured narrative in which you accuse the city of “lawless intransigence.”
I ask you what journalist, certainly one as well-trained as you, would write not one, but two, columns on a subject and never once mention that the decision which is the basis of both columns is currently being appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court because we disagree with the lower court’s decision?
Further, since when has an appeal of a lower court’s ruling constituted “lawless intransigence”? Only in Mr. Wingfield’s world.
Finally, there’s no false narrative here at all.
The city is acting to create a best-in-class program that prevents our public spaces from being turned into “swap meets” such as the kind that existed prior to my administration’s decision to remove them.
We simply want what’s best for our public spaces outside of places such as MARTA’s Five Points station and other locations throughout the city, which are used thousands of times every day by our residents and guests.
# # #
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed