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Mayor Franklin, Rotary Club discuss regionalism

By Justin Boron

Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta took some time off from the tension in the Atlanta City Council Wednesday, partaking in a buffet luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Clayton County.

Franklin spoke to the club at the Holiday Inn on Old Dixie Highway about the importance of regionalism.

Highlighting the partnership between Clayton County and the city of Atlanta, which resulted in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, she said the relationship should be extended into social concerns like improving education and helping the homeless.

Franklin called for the two different jurisdictions to build upon their shared history with the airport to create a new vision for the area.

She even went as far as to say Atlanta's history with Clayton County is stronger than its history with Fulton County.

"The challenge for us is to be as visionary on our outlook as the people that came 40 years ago," she said. "We need to leave a legacy for our children that is as proud as the one left for us."

Coming close to criticism of education in both Clayton County and Atlanta, she said the type of effort put toward education should be as strenuous as the one to land planes at the airport.

To remedy educational shortcomings, she invited the county school system to be a part of her goal to improve the success rate of public education.

"Like landing airplanes, we need to have a 100 percent success rate for students," Franklin said.

Her promise in the next 10 years is to ensure that every high school graduate in Atlanta "will be going to a school, getting a trade, or have a job."

County Commission Chairman-elect Eldrin Bell attended the lunch, but made sure to ask Franklin about some of the inequities resulting from the regional relationship she made a focal point of her speech.

U.S. Congressman David Scott, D- Georgia, has defined one of the inequities as the disparate amount of airport noise abatement money Atlanta receives compared to Clayton County residents.

Franklin assured Bell that renegotiation should happen to work out "fairness issues."

"With any partnership, it gets defined on the front end, but it requires renegotiation along the way."