Connect with us

#NNPA BlackPress

A PORTRAIT OF POISE: City Council President Felicia Moore says she as focused as ever on transparency, accountability

ATLANTA VOICE — There are some people who love to bask in the spotlight. And, then, there are others that prefer to do their jobs from the comfort of working behind the scenes. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore’s ascension to the gavel has been more of the latter.

After all, she began her civic service as the president of her Riverside neighborhood association. She then served as Chair of the Neighborhood Planning Unit-D, becoming a strong advocate for economic community development, which led to her election as City Councilmember for District 9, where she served 20 years before becoming President of the Atlanta City Council in January 2018.

Published

on

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore speaks upon taking the oath of office on Jan. 2, 2018 in the MLK Auditorium at Morehouse College. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen | The Atlanta Voice)
By Itoro Umontuen & Marshall Latimore

There are some people who love to bask in the spotlight. And, then, there are others that prefer to do their jobs from the comfort of working behind the scenes. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore’s ascension to the gavel has been more of the latter.

After all, she began her civic service as the president of her Riverside neighborhood association. She then served as Chair of the Neighborhood Planning Unit-D, becoming a strong advocate for economic community development, which led to her election as City Councilmember for District 9, where she served 20 years before becoming President of the Atlanta City Council in January 2018.

She said that becoming Council President had been her goal and that it’s an honor to serve in this position.

“There have been few (challenges) along the way. One, I was the new president and a new president comes with their own way of wanting to do things,” said Moore candidly about a number of the challenges she has faced. “My vision for City Council comes from my love for rules, order and parliamentary procedure.”

“One challenge was trying to change the way things were done before I became President,” she continued. “Also, the council members have embraced having a Parliamentarian and operating with order and making sure the public is respected and welcomed to our meetings.”

With that in mind, Moore has asked for a forensic audit of former City of Atlanta Chief Financial Officer James “Jim” Beard, after it was reported by an Atlanta newspaper Beard spent $2,600 in city funds on two AR-15 assault rifles, spent $60,000 on business management courses at Harvard University, used a city-issued credit card for a $10,000 hotel stay in Paris and racked up an $8,000 tab for a going-away party for outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed in 2017.

“Findings from the ongoing investigations continue to be disturbing,” Moore said in a news release. “As it pertains to the most recent allegations against the former CFO, these revelations highlight the need for both the public and city council to fully understand the scope of actions taken by the former CFO wherein internal controls were overridden.

“This is the reasonable next step toward identifying where our processes are deficient and determining the corrective action needed to ensure fiscal responsibility,” her statement continued.

Beard served as the chief financial officer under Reed. He resigned when Keisha Lance Bottoms took over as mayor in early 2018. When Bottoms took office, she requested all of her cabinet members resign and reapply for their positions.
Beard was not hired back, but he was allowed to continue drawing his $274,000 salary while attending a six-week taxpayer-funded training class at Harvard University, according to local reports.

Last month, Moore and a number of fellow councilmembers supported an executive order from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms that would effectively ban the use of e-scooters after 9 p.m. in the city. Four people have died—three since May—as the result of collisions with vehicles under low visibility.

Similar to the sentiment expressed by Bottoms, Moore said the scooters do not have the visibility to be safely operated in the evening.

“The administration is looking at other ways to approach it and it’s not just the fact the unfortunate piece,” she explained. “We do send our hearts out to those that were affected, but you have injuries; you also have issues of pedestrian safety, being able to get around the scooters, how they’re being disposed of in our creeks and waterways and being recklessly placed.”

“There are even other issues when people rent them and making sure that if an accident occurs, the people who rent them have access to the information from these companies,” she continued.

Three days ago, Uber announced plans that it would be removing its e-bikes, but would retain the use of its scooters available through the app. The pedal-assist e-bikes will no longer be available beginning this Friday, Sept. 13. However, JUMP e-scooters will stay.

Uber started testing JUMP bikes in Atlanta just over a year ago, but officially launched in early 2019. In April, there were around 1,000 JUMP bikes in the market.

“We are winding down our current JUMP e-bike operations in Atlanta,” an Uber spokeswoman Evangeline George said. “We will continue to offer JUMP scooters and look forward to continuing conversations with city leaders on how we can work together to expand transportation options.”

But transportation was only one of Moore’s priorities.

The longtime councilwoman also issued kudos to District 3 Councilmember Antonio Brown, who in partnership with the Mayor’s office, was instrumental in the creation of a Community Loan Fund through Invest Atlanta.

In mid-July, Bottoms introduced legislation that requested Invest Atlanta to establish a new Community Loan Fund designed to encourage micro and small business development within the City of Atlanta. The fund is designed to target business development that has been unserved by Invest Atlanta’s small business loan tools.

“The community loan fund will help boost the economic and social fabric of our city,” Brown said. “When we work together, we see the kind of transformational change that revitalizes our neighborhoods and empowers our constituents. This initiative will help provide equitable access to resources and create more opportunities, which truly benefits our communities.”

The Community Loan Fund will develop policies and guidelines to prioritize direct lending to credit-disadvantaged entrepreneurs using non-traditional underwriting standards.

Essentially, it acts as a funding tool for Atlanta businesses that have experienced credit challenges in the past to still have access to capital, with the end goal of residents possessing the ability to live and work in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.

“This is the center people are looking at with regards to gentrification and affordable housing. We are able to reserve the neighborhood, increase its value at the same time, make sure we’re able to drive it forward,” Moore said.

Additionally, Moore doubled-down on her interest in ensuring that the City of Atlanta maintains control of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. She said that any threat to the city’s control of that asset becomes a top priority.

In February, State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) introduced Senate Bill 131 (SB 131), legislation that would seek to create a state authority to oversee the City of Atlanta-controlled Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

John Selden, the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson, said the passage of SB-131 would have posed a huge disruption to the airport and Georgia economy and also a huge distraction to the incredible reputation it enjoys among its peers.

“To disrupt this model, where we have this wonderful relationship with our airline stakeholders, our federal partners, the City of Atlanta, the region, our economic partners that we do business with, and all of the employees—the 63,000 employees that work here at this airport—I don’t know what they are trying to (accomplish),” he said. “The airport is a magnificent, efficient running, complex operation, and to almost capriciously make a ruling to take the entire thing over, is problematic.”
Selden wasn’t alone in his opposition. The mayor, as well as leaders from both the City of Atlanta, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and Delta Air Lines—the airport’s largest airline—vocally opposed the takeover discussions.

Moore joined the rest of the council in the adoption of a unanimous resolution, introduced by Council President Pro Tem Andre Dickens, that opposed any state action that would have changed the existing governance structure of the airport.

“The citizens of Georgia support local control over state regulation,” Dickens said. “The City of Atlanta and airport are excelling in terms of economic growth and opportunity for the region. We don’t need an extra layer of oversight.”

With transparency, ethics, and accountability as the pillars of Moore’s tenure, she continues to work towards building and maintaining the trust of Atlanta’s citizens, “because if there are more eyes on what we do, how we do and how we spend the money, causes leadership to do better.”

To that end, Moore said she is active on social media because she believes there’s no excuse for Atlanta to not be informed.

“We are focused on making our office to be a resource to the public,” Moore said. “We want to show individuals how to navigate City Hall, we want our small businesses to be heard. We want to give them the resources they need to be successful.”

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Voice.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#NNPA BlackPress

U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

Published

on

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

Published

on

By

Continue Reading

#NNPA BlackPress

Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

Published

on

Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending