Georgia Today: Fulton County Jail update; 'Cop City' petition submitted; Georgia remembers 9/11
On the Monday, Sept. 11 edition of Georgia Today: Fulton County officials consider rehousing detainees of the fatally overcrowded Fulton County Jail; opponents of the proposed Atlanta police training center dubbed "Cop City" submit their petition to get the issue on a ballot; and on its 22nd anniversary, ceremonies across Georgia remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, Sept. 11. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Fulton County officials consider rehousing detainees of the fatally overcrowded Fulton County Jail. Opponents of the proposed Atlanta police training center, dubbed "Cop City," submit their petition to get the issue on the ballot. And ceremonies across Georgia remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: Officials in Atlanta's Fulton County are considering housing detainees in other parts of Georgia and in Mississippi. GPB's Donna Lowry reports the idea comes after ten inmates have died at the county jail so far this year.
Donna Lowry: At issue is overcrowding. The 34-year-old jail has a capacity for roughly 1,100 inmates. But Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis says there are about three times that number in the lockup right now. He blames the judicial systems backlog of unindicted cases.
Bob Ellis: Our court system does not move. The average length of stay for an inmate is 71 days. In May, 34% of the people who were in jail were unindicted. End of July it was 36%. So it means the backlog's growing. You're taking significant more time to dispose of, despite significant more funding being provided.
Donna Lowry: The process of building a new jail is in the works, but will take years. For GPB News, I'm Donna Lowry in Atlanta.
Peter Biello: Opponents of a planned police and firefighter training center in Atlanta submitted thousands of petitions to City Hall today to get the project's future on a citywide ballot. But as GPB's Amanda Andrews explains, ongoing legal battles are complicating the process.
Amanda Andrews: The Atlanta mayor's office issued a memo to the municipal clerk telling them not to begin verifying over 100,000 petitions until the 11th Circuit Court makes a final ruling on the referendum case. A federal ruling extending the deadline was issued in July, but the city appealed the decision and a stay was issued Sept. 1. Activist Kamau Franklin says organizers have followed the rules.
Kamau Franklin: The fact that they are going to accept the signatures but not start the verification process is in direct violation of the whole referendum rule and the whole referendum understanding.
Amanda Andrews: A referendum may not be held until March at the earliest. Organizers plan to challenge the delay in court. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.
Peter Biello: Ceremonies across Georgia today remembered the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Gov. Brian Kemp spoke at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville. After the ceremony, students and faculty wrote the names of those who died in the attacks on campus bricks. In Atlanta, at Christ the King Cathedral, the city's police chief, Darin Schierbaum, recalled what happened after the attacks.
Darin Schierbaum: On September the 12th, here was not Democrat and Republican. On September the 12th, there was not Protestant and Catholic. On September the 12th, we had Christian congregations protecting Muslim mosques in our city so they could not be attacked. There was unity.
Peter Biello: Georgia's Nashville and Marietta were among cities displaying nearly 3,000 American flags, one for each person killed. In Johns Creek, north of Atlanta, retired New York police officer Kenneth Marchello told the crowd about his haunting memories of Ground Zero. One of his mantras is "Never forget." And he wants children to continue learning about that day for their safety.
Kenneth Marchello: It's a life lesson. God forbid it's an active shooter or something. You might only get one chance in a hallway to hear some cop or a fireman tell you, "Go left," "Go right." If you're not paying attention, you might not hear that direction from some first responder that could save your life.
Peter Biello: After retiring from the NYPD, Marchello moved to Georgia and now coaches lacrosse.
Peter Biello: Twenty-five more Georgia counties are now eligible for federal funding to help pay for cleanup from Hurricane Idalia. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency said on Saturday that governments and electric cooperatives in the counties all in south and east Georgia, now can apply for disaster aid. A broader declaration was made last week for three counties: Cook, Glynn and Lowndes, where individuals can also apply for assistance. An estimated 80 homes were destroyed in Lowndes County alone. Gov. Brian Kemp estimates the storm caused $41 million in damage across the state.
Peter Biello: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is placing reservoirs on the Savannah River in drought stage. The agency said today that water levels in Thurmond Lake have dipped far enough for it to reduce outflow and, as a result, hydropower from Thurmond Dam. Water managers also will adjust levels on Hartwell Lake. Corps officials say this year's summer rains were 70% below normal and they expect a gradual decline in levels through December.
Peter Biello: Georgia Power is getting a nearly $3 million federal grant to study the feasibility of retrofitting its hydropower facility on the Chattahoochee River north of Columbus. The study could lead to the Bartlett's Ferry Dam, eventually using pumped storage technology, allowing it to store power using two reservoirs. The U.S. Energy Department says 43 hydropower plants in the U.S. already are using pumped storage, which the agency describes as important to advancing clean energy.
Peter Biello: The Atlanta Mayor's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has released a language guide as part of an ongoing effort to promote understanding. GPB's Amanda Andrews has more.
Amanda Andrews: Mayor Andre Dickens held a press conference where he signed the Inclusive Language and Actions administrative order to improve communication throughout the city. The guide provides official definitions and best practices for city officials to discuss subjects like race, gender, disability and immigration. Atlanta Chief Equity officer Candace Stanciel says changing language is the first step to changing mindsets.
Candace Stanciel: This is not about being politically correct, but seeing people as whole humans with complex identities. If we appreciate who people are, we can serve them where they are.
Amanda Andrews: The mayor's office will continue their month of commitment to equity with a community listening series on disability access and inclusion Sept. 26. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.
Peter Biello: A state judge in Brunswick is ordering a minister to shut down a tent shelter for homeless people. A lawyer representing the minister, the Rev. Leonard Small, says the tents are still up and providing shelter despite the order issued 10 days ago. The city and a daytime homeless shelter called The Well have been at odds over a range of issues since last year. The Well temporarily closed in April. The attorney, Doug Alexander, says that left its clients with nowhere to go.
Doug Alexander: The city has done absolutely nothing to provide shelter for the homeless or services for the homeless. The city wants them to go away.
Peter Biello: Alexander says the tents will remain up while the city's lawsuits against the shelter and the Rev. Small continue in court. Neither Brunswick's mayor nor the city's attorney responded to a request for comment by airtime. However, in court, the city has called the shelter a, quote, "public nuisance."
Peter Biello: Officials in coastal Georgia's McIntosh County are set to discuss tonight whether to rezone a historic Gullah Geechee settlement on Sapelo Island. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.
Benjamin Payne: Today's 5 p.m. workshop of the McIntosh County Commissioners comes after a heated public hearing last week where some 30 citizens blasted a proposal to rezone Hogg Hummock. Critics say the change would drive up property taxes for ancestral landowners by opening up the area to commercial development. Edward Dixon is a descendant of some of the first enslaved Gullah Geechee people to live on Sapelo Island. He says the zoning proposal is an effort by McIntosh County leaders to displace residents from Hog Hammock.
Edward Dixon: You know, they couldn't age this out because now the generations are coming back. The grandchildren, the great-grandchildren, the nieces and nephews, they're all coming back. So now they're like, "Well, we can't age them out. So now we're going to tax them out."
Benjamin Payne: GPB was prohibited by law enforcement from recording last week's public meeting, a violation of Georgia's Open Meetings Act. After this evening's workshop, a full meeting of the board is set for tomorrow at 5 p.m. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Darian.
Peter Biello: In sports: In tennis, Coco Gauff surged to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium over the weekend, winning the U.S. Open for her first Grand Slam title. In football, the Atlanta Falcons kicked off the new season with a 20-14 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Georgia Bulldogs beat Ball State 45 to 3 over the weekend. And the Braves face the Phillies twice today for a doubleheader. Over the weekend, Atlanta secured at least a wildcard spot and reached the postseason for the sixth straight year — the second longest streak in franchise history. The Braves hold a 15-game lead over second-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
And that's it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about these stories, visit GPB.org/news. And if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet, we highly recommend you do it now. It's going to be a busy week of news and we will be with you every step of the way, popping up on your podcast feed every weekday afternoon. If you've got feedback for us, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news.
Read the latest updates on the Georgia indictments here.