All posts by Scott William

Raleigh, Other Amazon’s HQ2 Final Cities Ranked by Housing Market

Raleigh, N.C, Atlanta, Ga., and Pittsburgh, Penn. come in the top-ranked cities for Amazon’s HQ2 based on their relatively affordable homes, above-average school scores, and below-average crime rates and property taxes, according to a national property data warehouse.

The May 2018 issue of the Housing News Report by California-based ATTOM Data Solutions ranked the top 19 U.S. finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters based on factors that influence the housing market and quality of life.

The report focuses on seven factors in ranking the cities. Those are home prices, appreciation, affordability, school scores, crime rates, property taxes and environmental hazards. The top-ranking city, Raleigh has a median home price of $235,000, is among the lowest environmental hazards and crime rates, and is among the highest school scores.

Atlanta and Pittsburgh, which came in second and third, have lower median home prices at $220,000 and $150,000 respectively. Those cities have significantly higher crime rates, but also boast high school scores and better five-year home appreciation than Raleigh.

Although they came in middle of the pack, the report specifically highlighted the District of Columbia and its surrounding counties, Montgomery County, Md. and Northern Virginia.

“We have the kind of talent in the categories they are looking for. It would be good for this economy. It would diversify it and it would attract other businesses,” said economist Stephen Fuller, director of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in the report.

Seattle-local and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has already established a presence in D.C. He bought the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million and bought a former Textile Museum in 2016 to convert into a residence that might become the largest home in the nation’s capital.

Among those three candidates near Washington D.C., Northern Virginia had the lowest median home price. But homes were more affordable in Montgomery County due to higher wages in that area, according to the ATTOM Data Solutions analysis.

But Washington D.C. ranks 12 on the list with Montgomery County in the ninth spot and Northern Virginia coming in at 13.

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The Hottest Markets for U.S. Real Estate In April

How the mighty have fallen! For the first time in years, California markets aren’t fully dominating our monthly list of the hottest markets on realtor.com®. In fact, the Golden State has even ceded its long-held No. 1 spot!

Each month at realtor.com®, we rank the top metro areas where homes sell the fastest, and where eager house hunters are clicking up a storm on our listings. And each month, California reliably hogs the greatest share of the top 20 spots of any state. But while 11 of the top 20 markets in March could be found in the Golden State, in April, that tally had fallen to only six.

That’s the lowest number since we started doing this ranking, in 2013.

Nine other states were represented on the top 20 list: Texas (2), Massachusetts (2), New York (2), Michigan (2), Colorado, Washington, Ohio, Idaho, and Wisconsin.

Longtime top dog San Francisco fell to No. 3 in April, ceding the throne to … Midland, TX, which had previously been at No. 5. Second place went to Boston, which just hosted its famous marathon.
(The definition of big-city markets often include neighboring towns. For example, the San Francisco market includes nearby Oakland and Hayward, and the Boston market includes Cambridge, Newton, and a tiny slice of New Hampshire.)

The top movers for the month are Racine, WI (up 28 spots from March); Rochester, NY (up 14); and Detroit (up 13). Columbus, OH, moved up five spots to reach No. 4, the highest it’s ever reached in our ranking.
Realtor.com’s hottest markets receive 1.6 to 2.7 times the number of views per listing compared to the national average. These markets are seeing homes move off the market 17 to 40 days more quickly than the rest of the United States.

The hot list

This article, "The Hottest Markets for U.S. Real Estate: Is California’s Reign Over?" appeared first on Real Estate News and Insights from realtor.com.

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Greystone launches $168.6 million project to restore low-income apartments in Georgia – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Greystone & Co. will work with federal and state agencies to renovate 1,130 low-income apartments in Georgia, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The $168.6 million initiative involves preserving and recapitalizing 26 properties in 17 counties that were built in the 1970s and 1980s by Atlanta-based Hallmark Cos, an owner and manager of about 11,000 affordable housing units, primarily in the Southeast. The Georgia properties were developed under the Section 515 rural-housing program, which was created to provide low-rent housing for people over 62 years old.

Tenants at these complexes, which are sorely in need of repairs, pay about $400 to $500 a month in rent, according to WSJ.

The "recapitalization" provided an average of $37,000 per unit for improvements such as new appliances, cabinets and electronics. The deal also involved the sale of properties and refinancing of debt on the portfolio.

New York-based Greystone, a real estate lending, investment and advisory company, hopes to help address Georgia’s affordable and low-income housing shortage with the project.

More at the Wall Street Journal here.

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Incumbent invites challenger to spend a day with him at Georgia’s Capitol [photos]

Gallery: Incumbent invites challenger to spend a day with him at Georgia’s Capitol

ATLANTA — Colton Moore speaks the language of the southern politician. He refers to his own generation as “the young folks,” our current era as “this day and age.” He calls a politician “a gentleman” and a gathering of politicians “a meeting among gentlemen.” He makes observations such as “The Appalachian is a special breed. They’re rugged, independent.”

And his voice: It’s deep and smooth, like an old radio announcer’s. It travels through halls and takes command of conversations. This isn’t an accident.

Moore, 24, trained his voice. He sits in his room alone, verbally sprinting through tongue twisters.

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“Betty-Botta-bought-a-bit-of-butter-but-she-said-this-butter’s-bitter,” he chants.

“Around-the-rough-and-rugged-rock-the-ragged-rascal-ran.”

“Tommy-Atatamas-took-two-Ts-and-tied-them-to-the-top-of-two-tall-trees.”

Moore thinks hard about how to use this voice. He considers how to best approach powerful people, how to greet them and hold casual conversations. He stands straight, all 6 feet, 4 inches of him. He looks them in the eye and encourages them to keep talking. He gives signals that they’re saying is important and interesting. “Yeaaah,” he says with that deep voice. “Surree,” he says.

All of which is to say, Moore always appears in control, even when logic says he shouldn’t be.

Take March 28, the day before Sine Die, the closing of the Georgia state legislature’s 2018 session. Moore met in the Capitol with John Deffenbaugh, 73, who represents Dade and Walker counties in the House. On May 22, the two will face each other in the Republican primary for Deffenbaugh’s seat. No Democrat is running.

When Moore signed up to run, Deffenbaugh invited him to Atlanta. He wanted to show Moore how to do the job. If nothing else, he said, the trip would allow them become friends. And everyone always needs more friends.

The day Moore arrived, the legislature was out of session. So with the room empty, Deffenbaugh brought him to the House floor. He shared a couple rules. Don’t touch the desks. Don’t touch the chairs. Don’t smoke, despite the old ashtrays built into the desks. Don’t walk down the middle aisle.

“For some reason,” Deffenbaugh said, his voice soft and slow, “that’s a sacred thing for the members.”

He brought Moore to the well, the lectern in front of House Speaker David Ralston’s seat, where representatives introduce bills. Moore remembered something Deffenbaugh said earlier, something about a book of rules that representatives follow. He wanted to read it.

“Procedure rules?” Moore asked. “Is that close by?”

“Yeah,” Deffenbaugh said. “Yeah, it is—”

“Or,” Moore said, with a sudden idea, “do you want to get a picture right here? I think, while we’re standing here, this would be a great place for us to take a picture.”

Deffenbaugh agreed.

“Can we get the seats in the background?” Moore asked an impromptu photographer.

“This is the most common shot,” Deffenbaugh responded, suggesting they stand in a different direction, one that would capture the speaker’s rostrum.

Moore said OK. He asked for a moment to button his charcoal Brooks Brothers suit jacket and chuckled — the clumsiness of it, his jacket unbuttoned for a photo in the Georgia House of Representatives. Deffenbaugh buttoned his jacket, too.

The photo out of the way, Moore again asked for the book. Deffenbaugh found one nearby, read the title out loud.

“Rules, ethics and decorum,” he said.

“All right,” Moore said. “So everyone has a copy of this?”

“Yes,” Deffenbaugh said. “And that tells you how to present things, when you can do it, timing of doing it. Um. Someone put a, uh, amendment on a bill yesterday. And the guy who had the bill didn’t like the amendment. So he questioned the timing of the bill. Or the amendment. As it turned out, it was like an hour off.”

“So was the objector successful?” Moore asked.

“Yeah,” Deffenbaugh said.

“Yeah?” Moore said.

“It was, uh, there was no amendment on the book,” Deffenbaugh said.

“Yeah?” Moore said. “Wow.”

“So,” Deffenbaugh began. He saw Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon. “Hey! Bill! Let me introduce you!”

___

Can a 24-year-old succeed in the Capitol?

These are seats held, mostly, by older men. Some of them are middle-aged, with families and established careers as lawyers or small business owners. Others are retired or, in Deffenbaugh’s case, semi-retired. The job is part-time. The state pays about $17,000 a year, plus a per diem for lodging and meals.

But the work goes beyond 40 hours a week from January through March, when the legislature is in session. The rest of the year, representatives sit on study committees and prepare bills for the next session. Constituents and local politicians also rely on them to grease wheels in Atlanta.

Deffenbaugh said the pay isn’t worth the work, if that’s what you’re after. It’s especially difficult to justify in the early stages of your career.

Then there is the matter of actually legislating. Perhaps more than any other job, success in politics is dictated by relationships. Relationships are dictated by commonality. Hence the problem of a 24-year-old, trying to push bills through a committee. How would Moore build a rapport with, say, a Vietnam veteran?

Deffenbaugh said the job is not all about writing bills. Speed and aggression don’t always lead to results. You have to go along, get along, work with the same people every day.

“The biggest thing you could ever accomplish is to be part of this family,” he said. “And not everyone’s accepted, by the way. You have to earn that right.”

Those close to Moore resent questions about his age. He has dreamed of a career in politics since elementary school, when he would retreat from playing to watch the evening news. He believed, even then, that politicians and their laws shape the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, like his parents.

And so he began to prepare, fine tuning how he connected to others.

Tonya Gatlin, a Dade County High School teacher, said Moore presented the polish of a business executive when he was a teenager. He charmed people, even those much older than him. He circulated through rooms.

“He was like the faculty,” Gatlin said. “He was so mature.”

High school friends made T-shirts, urging people to vote for Moore for president in 2028. This was only kind of a joke. Climbers have to start somewhere, and Moore chose Georgia State House District 1.

If people get to know him, he said, just listen to him speak, he can cut through concerns about his age. He is urgent. He believes the world, in its natural state, is anarchy. Without strong, brave politicians, the world gets worse. He is afraid to miss the fight.

“Whether it be greed, whether it be extortion, the world is full of very, very dark avenues and dark people,” he said. “I just want to be a light of good. Oftentimes, you cross bad actors. I just hope I am strong enough, mentally and physically, to stand toe to toe with these people.”

___

“This is Colton Moore,” Deffenbaugh said in a cheery tone at a House luncheon. “And, uh, he’s my opponent.”

Politicians and lobbyists laughed, drowning out Deffenbaugh’s voice. State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, a 16-year veteran of the legislature, stood up and pointed.

“You’re going to get beat!” he shouted, though it wasn’t clear whom he was shouting at.

Deffenbaugh introduced Moore to others at the Capitol; they had similar reactions.

“Don’t teach him everything,” State Rep. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville, told Deffenbaugh.

“I’ve got underwear older than you,” State Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, told Moore.

“You’re his opponent?” State Rep. Johnnie Caldwell Jr., R-Thomaston, said. “That … that’s an anomaly.”

“All right …,” Gov. Nathan Deal said, before excusing himself for a meeting.

Why would Deffenbaugh do this?

“Why not?” Deffenbaugh said.

Well, he’s preparing his opponent to take his job. Moore can tell voters he’s seen the legislature up close, gaining valuable experience.

“I guess that could be,” Deffenbaugh said. “My mental capacity is such that I do things sometimes without knowing some of the ramifications of it. But it’s always worked out.”

Deffenbaugh narrowly won the District 1 seat for the first time in 2012. Out of 3,659 votes, he edged Alan Painter by 97. In his first-re-election, he expanded his margin of victory, beating Dade County Commissioner Robert Goff in a runoff by 248 votes. He also faced Democrat Tom McMahan in the general election both of those years, though McMahan could not break 35 percent.

Deffenbaugh did not face any challengers in his last campaign, in 2016.

Since taking office, he has not invited any of his other challengers to the Capitol. But he heard Moore was an energetic young man. Well educated, too. He believed Moore was qualified for the job, at least as much as anyone can be.

“Why not find out who he is, what he’s up to?” Deffenbaugh said.

In his six years in office, Deffenbaugh has rarely grabbed a headline. His seat, assigned by Ralston, is in the back of the chamber. He’s never given a dramatic, inspiring speech from the well. He doesn’t like to publicly question the author of a bill during a session, preferring to talk to them quietly in the hall.

With the exception of a couple local acts — adding a hotel-motel tax in Dade County; changing the Trenton city clerk position from elected to appointed — he has only passed one bill. That legislation, passed in March, will add a 16th member to the Georgia Board of Public Safety.

Deffenbaugh is not an instinctual political animal, by his own admission. His speech is not smooth. Several times during Moore’s visit, he referred to him by the wrong first name. He gets other people’s first and last names mixed up. While telling a story about a former government worker, he asked his wife, “What was his name? He had that Hitler thing.”

“Pete,” Linda Deffenbaugh said. “And don’t tell them about that Hitler thing.”

“Don’t tell them about that Hitler thing?” he asked. “OK.”

The Deffenbaughs met at Covenant College, where John enrolled in 1966 after a stint in the Air Force. For the last 50 years, they’ve lived within a mile of the college. Deffenbaugh sold industrial electronics to companies with big buildings. When the legislature is out of session, he still works a couple days a week.

His political career began in 1997 with the Dade County commission. He lost his re-election in 2000, then lost bids for the county executive seat in 2004 and 2008. He later became the county’s Republican Party Chair. He decided to run for office again when former State Rep. Martin Scott stepped away.

“I’ve always liked service,” he said. “So why not?”

Deffenbaugh takes pride in the simple parts of the job, not the three-dimensional chess other representatives play. He likes helping constituents.

There was once a 68-year-old lady who was having trouble getting a new driver’s license. The woman was born in her home, Deffenbaugh said. She didn’t have a birth certificate to show a Department of Driver Services employee. Deffenbaugh put her in touch with somebody who could work around the problem.

There was another lady, he said, who called him, frustrated that she couldn’t get her brother into a Veterans Affairs nursing home. The woman had reached out to the VA several times and got the run around.

Deffenbaugh said he called an office in Atlanta. Somebody then called somebody else in Washington, D.C. That person relayed a message: The man was approved for placement in the nursing home; a worker had simply failed to file the paperwork.

All it took was a call from an elected official.

“I get answers quicker,” he said. “There’s no reason why that should be so. But it is. I’ve been able to help a lot of people, just with minor things.”

___

At 10:30 a.m. on March 29, the last day of the legislature, Moore sat in the gallery of the House, waiting for a session to start. It was supposed to begin at 10. But Ralston was not at his seat. Representatives shook hands, slapped backs, laughed at each other’s jokes. It was entirely possible they were discussing pending legislation; it was possible that Moore was too far away to hear the details of their important conversations.

“I’m not impressed,” he said.

State Rep. David Clark dressed like an American flag: a blue suit with white stars and bright red pants. He tilted back in his chair, laughing with a lawmaker behind him. Dunahoo, wearing a seersucker suit, chatted with someone away from his desk.

“He’s just lollygagging,” Moore said. “Having a good time. And my impression is, every time I read the news, that everything is so hectic and so busy on Sine Die. This is the last day to get business done. And here we are, starting this thing 30 minutes late. And we’re playing tiddlywinks, you know? It’s frustrating.”

He continued, “Obviously, this is not punctual. They’re just now starting to pass out different papers. Where is the speaker? Where’s David Ralston? He needs to come down and call his house to order.”

“They’ve had 40 days to exchange pleasantries with each other,” he said. “Is it a social club?”

Above all, Moore appreciates the value of hard work. He doesn’t listen to music. He can’t remember the last TV show he watched. He doesn’t go to the movies. He doesn’t like sports. He doesn’t read, save for an academic article before bed. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, though he hopes to one day meet the right woman — “someone who’s just as passionate as I am.”

Before bed, he wonders if let any time slip away.

“I have a lot of things I want to do in life,” he said. “I don’t know how long I have to live. Every minute of the day, if I’m not working toward getting those things accomplished, then it’s a waste of life.”

He gets this ethic from his father. Walter Moore is the Appalachian man, the special breed who is rugged and independent. He is a hillbilly, Moore said, “as country as cornbread.”

Walter began a truck driving career at 16. After a stint in the Army, he drove trucks to oil fields in Texas and transported steel from Chattanooga to Detroit. He brought loads of cars to auctions throughout the southeast, taking Moore along.

There, Moore became infatuated with the auctioneers. They were at the center of the show, talking rapidly, holding people’s attention, moving product. At 7 years old, he began practicing his own auctioneer chants.

Walter kept him busy. In addition to the trucking jobs, Walter ran a cattle farm on Lookout Mountain. He also cleared land. When he found a good oak tree, he chopped it up and sold it to the timber buyer with the highest price. Moore worked alongside him.

His freshman year at Dade County High School, Gatlin recruited Moore to The Future Business Leaders of America. She was impressed with his people skills. He helped classmates. She watched him move naturally through cliques.

His junior year, out of 20,000 students, delegates elected him vice president of the Georgia chapter of FBLA. He traveled throughout the state, helping train other students for leadership roles. He organized workshops at conferences. Gatlin worried Moore worked too much. The next year, he told her he wanted to be the organization’s president.

“His ambition, what he exhibits,” she said, “it’s so powerful.”

Members of the Georgia FBLA chapter elected him president in 2011. He missed more than 50 days of school his senior year, working at conferences throughout the country. He traveled to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Orlando. He ate continental style, listened to seminars from political speechwriters, learned how Wall Street and K Street policies impacted business.

In college, he won the FBLA public speaking national championship.

His freshman year at the University of Georgia, where he studied international affairs and political science, Moore flew to Dallas for a 10-day auctioneering school. After getting his license, he started working car auctions in Athens, Ga. He practiced his call for hours.

He learned how to create a sense of calm with his cadence at the beginning of a sale, using longer filler words between bids: “Are-you-able-to-buy? Are-you-able-to-buy? Are-you-able-to-buy?” He learned how to create urgency toward the end of a sale, ratcheting his speech from 80 beats per minute to 120, trying to drive up the price in the final moments: “And-take-and-take-and-take-and-take.” His voice grew strong.

Moore left the company in Athens after the boss refused to pay him what he wanted, worked one auction in Atlanta and got recruited to a British company in April 2016, four months before graduating. He later left for an auction company in the Philippines.

He usually works a week or two overseas, then returns to Dade County for about a month. While home, he still works for his father, hauling cattle and clearing land. He proudly calls himself a workaholic. He doesn’t worry whether he’s toiling away in his youth.

“If I’m tired or lonely or worried,” he said, “I’m not working hard enough. When I think, ‘Oh, I’m just depressed.’ Well, I probably need to take my mind off that with some work.”

Michael Gargiulo, his college roommate, said Moore is not always so intense. They used to attend football games, shoot skeet and play a NASCAR video game to unwind. They even — gasp — went to the bar a couple times a week.

It’s just, Gargiulo said, Moore is motivated. He wants to change things, make it so certain bad things won’t happen to other people.

Like what?

“His family members went through … ” Gargiulo started. He paused. “Different situations.”

Moore sat in a booth at the Metro Cafe Diner in Atlanta, one of those restaurants with a collection of big cakes waiting behind glass. It’s a special place for him. When they were in FBLA, he and Gargiulo ate here after conferences around the block, sometimes talking past Midnight.

He considered his campaign. He hadn’t raised any money yet, and he knows he’s young. But he’s optimistic. He understands Dade County; his father’s family has lived on Lookout Mountain since just after the Civil War. He’s ready to grind through the next couple months, knocking on doors and speaking to civic groups.

He knows what it means to fight through tough times. Back when he was a kid, his family moved into subsidized housing.

“That,” he said, “was quite the turning point in my life.”

What happened?

“It’s given me all my drive,” he said.

But what happened?

“Going forward in politics, it’s something that I really want to change,” he said. “That issue being said, there’s 100 other issues. There’s thousands of other issues that people are just as passionate about.”

But if there’s something motivating you to run for office, don’t you want voters to know? Don’t you want people to understand where you’re coming from?

Moore took a breath: “It’s criminal justice reform.”

What happened was, in November 1996, a confidential source told the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force commander to check Walter Moore’s business. Investigators entered at night. In a storage room, a drug dog stopped at a box. Inside, wrapped tightly in plastic, they said they found seven packages of marijuana. It weighed about 20 pounds.

Moore was 3 at the time. His father’s trucking company was done. Moore and his mother, Angie, moved out of their home in East Ridge to Trenton’s Edgewood Townhouses, which provided housing to low-income families. Angie took a job on the line at Cooper’s Hosiery Mill in Fort Payne, Ala. They spent their money on lawyers.

From the elementary school playground, Moore watched his father, a jailhouse trusty, mow grass. Two-and-a-half years after his arrest, a jury convicted Walter in April 1999.

Before the sentencing hearing, Walter’s friend picked Moore up and drove him to court. He told Moore this might be the last time he saw his father in a while. Moore brought a drawing of two giraffes, a father and son.

Walter faced 10 years in prison. Ultimately, though, a judge gave him credit for time served in jail and sentenced him to 10 years on probation. Three of those years were intensive probation, meaning he had a curfew. An officer checked on him five days a week.

In the years that followed, the family struggled. Walter’s probation kept him in Trenton. He couldn’t work in trucking and took at a job at a local lumber mill instead. Creditors sued the family for $20,000.

Moore said Walter has maintained he was innocent. Asked about this time in their lives, Angie wrote in an email, “Bad things can happen to good people.”

Nevertheless, Moore said Walter slowly built his business back. The family saved enough money to move out of the Edgewood Townhouses, renting a home on Sand Mountain.

“The friends I had there in the apartment complex,” Moore said, “many of those individuals have been in and out of the criminal justice system. We were both there.”

He pounded his finger on the table and inhaled.

“I often think, had my father went on to prison, would I be just like all those other individuals that I was with there in the apartments? Would I be in and out of the criminal justice system?”

His eyes were red.

“Would I have had the opportunity to succeed at life? So yeah, I mean, that — that — that’s quite, quite … ”

He cried.

“I was quite blessed to have the father I had.”

He coughed. His voice broke. He was no longer in control.

“I think maybe, maybe, when all that situation happened, he realized he had to do the best job of raising me as he could. You know? I’m proud of him for what he’s done in my life … I remember telling my mom, ‘Whatever it takes. How do we get dad back? How do we get dad back?’ She didn’t have an answer.”

He tried to repress his sobs and pointed outside.

“There’s big, big things to be done in criminal justice reform,” he said. “Big things. There’s a lot of innocent people. There’s a lot of innocent people that get turned around in the criminal justice system today.”

Public defenders’ case loads are too big, he said. He believes too often, prosecutors threaten defendants with long prison sentences. Too often, the defendants are scared and take a lower plea agreement.

“They become convicted felons, many times,” he said. “They can’t go out and get a job, you know? They mess up their entire lives.”

He wants funding for more public defenders, allowing them to spend more time on each case. He also wants to expand conviction integrity units in Georgia. Starting in Dallas in 2007, some counties across the United States have hired groups of prosecutors to review old cases. They search for unjust convictions.

“If I get elected,” Moore said, “I tell you, one of the probably first things I’ll do: I’ll be flying out to Texas to meet with that group and figuring out how they operate.”

___

Around 6:30 p.m. on March 29, the final hours of the legislative session, Moore walked downstairs from the gallery, to the door of House. A couple of lobbyists sat on a bench together, one man’s arm slung over another’s.

“You are the impeccable southern gentleman,” someone inside the chamber said.

A group stood in a circle, all wearing the same pins — “Vote No on SB 363” and “Vote No on SB 452.” Another group huddled around a TV, showing the action inside the House as lawmakers voted through a conveyor belt of bills. They jotted notes on yellow legal pads, typed text messages. A TV reporter stood in front of a camera, reading notes.

“I’ll just walk,” she told a cameraman, practicing gesturing her arms before her live spot.

On TV, Ralston announced to the chamber that it was time to break for dinner.

“I want to emphasize this point,” he said. “Please be back in your seats by 7:20.”

Legislators rushed out to the hall. Moore stood in the sea of dresses, bow ties and seersucker suits. He hoped to meet Deffenbaugh for dinner. This was one last chance to rub elbows with legislators.

He stood tall in front of the entrance of the House. He arched his eyebrows. His eyes darted between doors, looking for his opponent.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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A Different Kind Of Gender Gap: 7 Places Where Women Earn More Than Men

Courtesy of Lindsey Cambardella

CHAMBLEE, Ga. — This Atlanta suburb is a lot like other metropolitan suburbs around the country. A manufacturing economy is giving way to new apartments and tech enterprises built around a quick commute to Atlanta.

And as in other communities, there’s a measurable pay gap between its working men and women. But there’s something different about Chamblee: Here it’s the women who earn the higher wages, typically $1.37 for every dollar brought home by a man.

That’s astonishing in a country where — nearly universally and in nearly all of the 2,700 locations reviewed by Stateline — men earn more than women. Nationally, the pay gap is wide: Women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar men take home.

Of the 2,700 locations in the United States with more than 10,000 workers, Stateline found, there are just six municipalities and one county that flip the script in a statistically significant way.

A Stateline review of census data on earnings across the country found that women also make more in Lake Worth, Florida; the cities of Plainfield and Trenton in New Jersey; Inglewood, California; the village of Hempstead on Long Island, New York; and the Washington, D.C., suburb of Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Most are diverse suburbs in large metro areas. All are majority-minority, and many have low-income neighborhoods as well as the economic benefits of proximity to vibrant cities.

The reasons for the pay differences are complex and uncertain: Pay may be relatively higher for young millennial women who have landed jobs in big cities and found affordable housing in commuter suburbs such as these. And the communities’ high numbers of single male laborers, many of whom are immigrants working without documentation, can also hold down male income, which makes female income relatively higher.

But there are also some hopeful signs for all women in these places: Women in Chamblee, for instance, earn more than women in the Atlanta area as a whole, and out-earn men in some lucrative, male-dominated fields, such as computers and engineering, with the help of female business entrepreneurs sensitive to the need for flexibility to attend to family responsibilities.

In Chamblee, one of those women is Lindsey Cambardella, an attorney who grew up in the area and yearned to run a business. She applied last year for her dream job, running a national language interpretation and translation firm. She was married, in her 30s, with no kids — and worried about that impression.

“I was very up front,” Cambardella recalled recently. “I said, ‘I’m planning to have children — and soon. I don’t want you to have any surprises.’”

Fortunately, the business owner was also a woman, one who had built the firm up by herself over 20 years after a career in sales and state government, while also raising a son.

“She immediately shot back: ‘That doesn’t scare me at all,’” Cambardella, 34, recalled. “I think I was lucky in that she was open-minded and not worried about it.”

Cambardella now makes more than her husband, an urban landscape architect who took a step down in pay recently to take a job with the city of Atlanta.

Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University economist, argued in a 2015 paper that more flexible hours would go a long way toward solving the gender pay gap, which she said is often caused in part by women working fewer hours and stopping work at times, often to raise children.

That’s one reason Shear Structural, an engineering firm started by three women in Chamblee, prioritizes flexibility, said co-founder Malory Atkinson.

“They say a lot more women study STEM fields than actually end up working in it,” she said, “so we’re very cognizant of that, and we do whatever it takes to be accommodating.”

The gender pay gap is especially wide for women with children and women who are married (because employers suspect they will have children). Men, by contrast, tend to get paid more after marriage based on the assumption it will make them more ambitious.

“Marriage adds a premium to a man’s income, and it’s a drag on women’s income,” said Ariane Hegewisch, study director for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington.

More Men in Low-Paying Jobs

But the reason women make more than men in the seven places on Stateline’s list is not entirely a reflection of their own success. Many of the places on the list have low-wage male workers, often unauthorized immigrants, and that alone can bring down the median male wage to a point where it is lower than that of women.

“All low-paying jobs have similar pay for all,” Goldin said. “If everyone got the minimum wage, then the gaps would disappear.”

In Chamblee, a city shared by professionals commuting to Atlanta and immigrants working locally, women make more than the typical Atlanta metro worker, but men make far less.

Yet even in this town, the gender pay gap that exists between people working in the same professions still tends to favor men.

A majority of Chamblee’s female employees work in management, science and arts jobs, where their typical pay is about $57,000 — less than men working in the same fields. Women make more than men in the city as a whole, across professions, because immigrant men working in low-paying service or labor jobs bring down the median pay for men.

Chamblee has long been a destination for immigrants. The city has a dense housing district called “the Triangle” where Chinese and other Asian immigrants once lived and worked in nearby factories. Asian institutions and restaurants remain, and the name “Chinatown” is still on many facades — but most of the factories have closed, and the city’s immigrants are now mostly men from Latin America.

Most men in Chamblee work in service jobs, construction, factories or moving and shipping jobs, where they typically earn $20,000 to $25,000 a year, the equivalent of $10 to $12 an hour.

Census data shows that Chamblee’s immigrants are mostly from Mexico and Guatemala, and those who are not citizens are predominantly men, by a nearly 2-1 ratio.

Those men typically arrive alone in their 20s, work for three to five years, and go back home to enjoy the money they’ve saved, said Julio Penaranda, who manages Plaza Fiesta, a Hispanic-themed shopping center in Chamblee.

“Their earning potential is very limited,” he said, “because these workers are unskilled and undocumented.”

Diversity and High Income

Another reason women might earn more than men in some predominantly black suburbs, like Prince George’s County along with Trenton, New Jersey, and Inglewood, California — is that black women tend to be better educated than black men, said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and co-author of the center’s 2018 report on the pay gap.

Prince George’s County has only a modest boost for women’s pay at 103.5 percent of men’s earnings. But it’s the only county on the list and by far the most populous area, with about 900,000 residents.

Tonia Wellons, 46, lives comfortably there, in a 3,200-square-foot home in Upper Marlboro. Wellons is a vice president at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and has held high-ranking positions in the Peace Corps and at the World Bank.

She makes “a little more” than her husband, Lyndon Joseph, an electrician with his own home improvement business. They have four children, including one in college.

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Wellons said many of her neighbors moved there from neighboring Washington, D.C., in search of a more serene setting to raise children. The county is known for its prosperous black community — it has by far the highest household income, about $76,000, of any majority-black county. The second is DeKalb County, Georgia, where Chamblee is located.

Some of the factors that stand out in Prince George’s County: a large minority population and a lot of people who work for the federal government, which has civil service rules that discourage discrimination in hiring and promotions.

Nationally the pay gap between black and Hispanic women and men of the same group is smaller than that between white women and white men, according to census data. White women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and a gender gap exists across all racial groups.

Prince George’s has the third-most full-time federal workers — about 65,000 — of any county in the nation, more than half of whom are women. Another 32,000 residents work for nonprofits, and two-thirds of them are women too, including Wellons.

The importance of federal and other government employment is clear, said several experts on pay inequity.

The fact that all seven places are majority-minority is harder to explain.

Race alone is not enough to explain why women make more in some majority-minority communities, Hegewisch of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said.

“The few places with no gap or reverse gap do tend to be urban and majority-minority,” said Kevin Miller, senior researcher at American Association of University Women. “What’s happening there is that white men, the group with the most disproportionately high salaries, are more absent from those areas.”

Wellons has a theory about why racially diverse areas may see more equity in pay by gender.

“There’s more [racial] equity here. There really is. I can feel it,” she said. “Maybe racial equity encourages other kind of equity too.”

What Now?

Working to reduce the pay gap is an ongoing issue for women, even in those communities where overall they make more compared with men.

Wellons got her first lesson in pay discrimination in one of her first jobs out of graduate school 20 years ago. She learned that a male colleague with the same job and qualifications was making $7,000 a year more.

“Back then, that was significant. I was making $27,000 and he was making $34,000. So it was a lot,” Wellons said. She approached her bosses, who argued with her and threatened to invite others to apply for her job as a test of its market value, but she prevailed and got the raise.

In her career, she said, she’s also been surprised at the difference between male and female attitudes toward pay. At the World Bank, she spent years negotiating pay for new hires.

“Men always wanted to negotiate,” she said. “The women would just say, ‘Thank you.’ They were so happy to be offered fair pay.”

Women don’t negotiate for their own pay as aggressively as men, said Hegewisch, but that’s partly because they’re judged more harshly than men for doing so.

“When women do negotiate as assertively as men,” she said, “they do not get the same results.”

In Chamblee, Cambardella said she was surprised that a male family friend with a good job negotiated when he was offered a raise a few weeks ago.

“I would have just said ‘Thank you!’” she said. “He said, ‘Oh I have a different figure in mind.’”

Cherlee Rohling, a 28-year-old Chamblee resident who is engaged to be married, said she thinks the pay gap sometimes favors young women because they’ve had to work hard for the success they get. An operations manager for a manufacturer, she makes more than her fiance.

“Women have had to start working 10 times harder than men, and we don’t give up,” Rohling said. “I’m sure I make more than some men, but not because of youth — because I’m a hard worker.”

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Buford Highway: Development threatens Atlanta’s immigrant corridor

Alda Chen, manager of CD Tower & Gift Shop in Asian Square on Buford Highway, arranges her displays. Buford Highway is the cultural epicenter for metro Atlanta’s Latino and Asian populations. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

The pulse of this region’s immigrant community is found along an eight-mile stretch of road in DeKalb County, just east of Atlanta’s city limits. Here, you can grab a green tea roll or soboro bread for breakfast at a Korean bakery, then slip next door for a lunch of pollo asado with a side of tortilla.

Atlanta doesn’t have a Chinatown or Koreatown or Little Havana. But there is Buford Highway, the international corridor where all these cultures, and more, co-exist.

“I don’t know where else you can have a taqueria beside a Vietnamese restaurant beside a Middle Eastern restaurant,” David Schaefer, managing director of advocacy for the Latin American Association, said recently. “And those groups live in very close proximity to each other. You go to an apartment complex and hear 20 languages.”

Buford Highway has been an affordable place for immigrants and first-generation Americans to shop, work and live for decades. More than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses line the street. But the area’s growing popularity among developers is threatening to drastically change its culture and identity.

+ A dealer shop is decked with bunting on Buford Highway in Atlanta on January 19, 2018. Buford Highway is the cultural

A national trend toward urban living has coincided with a population boom in metro Atlanta, putting a premium on areas inside Interstate 285. Buford Highway — which runs through Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville — is one of the few places where builders can purchase land at relatively low prices.

Clusters of apartment buildings on the road have been purchased and razed. In their place sprout townhouses or condominiums that carry price tags far out of reach of the residents who have long lived along the thoroughfare. Now many are concerned that the panaderias, hair salons and ethnic markets could be muscled out by the Starbucks, Whole Foods and mixed-use developments.

At El Autentico Sinaloense Pollos Asados restaurant in Doraville, patrons pay little mind to the encroaching development. During lunchtime, they fill small tables and booths surrounded by bright green walls and posters of rural scenes.

Manager Octavio Vergara says the same people come into his restaurant day after day: Mexicans who miss home and its food; Americans who have developed a taste for authentic Sinaloa style chicken. Spanish hip-hop blares from the restaurant’s speakers. When the music shifts to a ranchera ballad, a waitress sings along.

Most of the customers know little about development coming to the old General Motors plant a half-mile mile away or the planned Peachtree Creek Greenway, which will start a mile down the road. But the changes will be hard to ignore.

Brookhaven City Councilman Joe Gebbia’s district runs along Buford Highway. He said change is unavoidable and to be expected.

“This is the hottest market right here, and it’s going to flow over into Chamblee and Doraville eventually,” he said.

He is sensitive to concerns about property values rising so rapidly that local business owners and residents are squeezed out. There are no magical solutions.

“We’re really wrestling with how to address this issue and how to be effective in doing it right,” Gebbia said. “We haven’t come up with the answer.”

Gebbia points to the cranes that hover over the North Druid Hills campus of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, as well as the recently constructed Emory Sports Medicine Complex that houses the Atlanta Hawks’ practice facilities.

As related businesses sprout up, the effects are bound to reach the immigrant corridor on the other side of I-85.

“This whole thing is just going to light up like a firecracker right here along Buford Highway,” Gebbia said.

The uncertainty worries longtime residents like 19-year-old Adela Lopez. She has lived in the Foxwoods Apartments almost all of her life, but now she wonders if rent will increase to the point her family is priced out or if the property might be sold to a developer who will tear down the buildings.

Nearby at the old GM site, a 165-acre project called the Assembly is already home to a movie studio and was chosen for the new headquarters of Serta Simmons Bedding. Also coming are apartments, a hotel, a park, shopping and so much office space that the Assembly is on the list of sites pitched to Amazon.

Marian Liou wants to bring attention to the businesses along Buford Highway that exist today. She created We Love BuHi to highlight the community’s cultural identity and to come up with programs and policies that support it.

“You can’t ever preserve a place’s value until the people there see it as a place of value and a place of protection,” she said.

+ Jonathan Jimenez, a stylist at The House of Jolie Hair Salon, cleans up his work station on Feb. 24, 2018. TIA

Deidre “Chantel Jolie” Bell opened the House of Jolie Hair Salon in the Northeast Plaza strip mall in September. On a recent Saturday afternoon, reggaeton blasted from the speakers as men and women waited their turn at the stylists’ chairs.

Bell said the location along Buford Highway helps her cater to people from various backgrounds. She isn’t too worried about the threat of development, as long as government agencies implement policies to protect small businesses.

“I think what it’s going to do is make my business grow,” she said. “It’s only going to bring more people.”

Much of the shop’s clientele is drawn from foot traffic generated by roughly 60 other businesses at the plaza.

Down the street at El Autentico Sinaloense Pollos Asados, Genesis Lugo waited for her order and talked about the sense of connectedness she feels when she comes to the restaurant. “The food they make here is like the food they make where my mom’s from,” she said.

Her brother discovered the restaurant a couple of years ago, and Lugo visits Buford Highway about once a month. Lugo said these kinds of restaurants make this part of Atlanta unique.

“It’s just really special to have all these cultures together to allow people to explore and try all these different things,” she said.

On the other side of Buford Highway is ViVi Bubble Tea, a colorful shop serving the milky beverage that originated in Taiwan. The New York-based owners wanted to expand into the Atlanta market, so they chose this roadway because of its high density of Asian residents and businesses.

“My family has always come here for grocery shopping,” Vivi employee John Zhang said of the area. “Especially if we want to have something close to our culture.”

+ Betsy Eggers and Sarah Kennedy lead a tour of an area in Brookhaven near Buford Highway that will one day become

Many look forward to the Peachtree Creek Greenway, the linear park that will extend 12 miles from Doraville to the Atlanta Beltline once completed.

The first mile of the Greenway will be built this year and snakes underneath Buford Highway. It will have wide sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists, giving them close-up views of a babbling creek. Trailheads will hitch the Greenway to nearby roads and businesses.

“The people want connectivity,” said Sarah Kennedy, vice chairwoman of the nonprofit organization behind the Greenway.

Still, the project’s similarities to the Beltline have caused apprehension.

The Beltline, the network of parks and trails that circles intown Atlanta, has been popular among tourists, residents and developers, winning numerous awards for urban renewal. But it’s also caused housing prices to skyrocket. Some accuse project administrators of ignoring warnings and failing to prevent longtime residents from being priced out of their homes.

Patsy Moeller is a member of the board for Interfaith Outreach Home, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing along Buford Highway for needy families. The organization owns a 10-unit apartment building where clients pay reduced rents as part of a program to get them on their feet.

“Look at what is happening all around us, and we are right in the middle,” Moeller said. “Can the city come along and change zoning so that we are not allowed to be in that space anymore? What does that mean for our families?”

The Greenway’s backers say they have paid attention to some of the negative impacts the Beltline had on affordable housing, and they don’t want to replicate those problems along Buford. They are hopeful that local governments and other groups can help guide them.

“It’s difficult for us to have much control over other people’s property,” Greenway Chairwoman Betsy Eggers said. “That’s not our mission.”

+ Buford Highway is the pulse for Metro Atlanta’s Latino and Asian populations, particularly the stretch that begins in the city of

A group of Georgia Tech graduate students analyzed affordability along Buford Highway as part of their graduate level coursework last semester. Their professor, Gary Cornell, encouraged them to draft recommendations on how to preserve the area’s uniqueness, knowing that the Greenway and other developments could have a substantial impact on people who live there now.

His class presented it findings to the Brookhaven City Council in late November. Among the recommendations: requiring developers to calculate how new projects will affect affordable housing and creating zoning laws that focus on preserving Buford Highway’s character, even as new office buildings or subdivisions are planned.

Brookhaven Councilman Bates Mattison, whose district includes a small tract of the road, said the students’ suggestions should be taken seriously.

“That’s what our city needs is to really create a vision for this corridor. We know that it is our diamond in the rough that has so much economic potential,” he said.

The Latin American Association and Center for Pan Asian Community Services, both located in this area, are active in the fight to preserve Buford Highway as an immigrant-friendly community. Their efforts are buoyed by grassroots organizations like Los Vecinos de Buford Highway — translated to mean The Neighbors of Buford Highway.

Los Vecinos is an offshoot of work begun by Rebekah Cohen Morris when she was a teacher at Cross Keys High School. Hoping to keep her mostly Latino students engaged, she weaved civics and political activism into her lessons. After the class concluded for the year, those students decided to keep working. Today, Los Vecinos is a nonprofit that encourages people to speak up about the conditions of the neighborhoods and get involved in political conversations about the future of Buford Highway.

Sometimes, Morris worries the discussions are too late. She lives in the area and can rattle off the names of torn down apartment complexes.

It’s “hard to stop a rushing training,” she said. Still, she thinks there’s time to shape the way development goes.

Morris would like to see local governments update their zoning laws to allow more density in new housing developments, such as high-rise buildings. She thinks if developers have more units to sell, they’ll have incentive to keep them affordable.

She also wants governments to offer financial resources to landlords who would like to fix up aging complexes that have fallen into disrepair. Too often, Morris said, those complexes become eyesores and land in the hands of investors looking to build more townhouses.

Morris is also a proponent of inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to set aside a certain percentage of new units for affordable housing. The city of Atlanta’s inclusionary zoning ordinance just went into effect, so it’s too early to say if it will have an impact on housing prices near the Beltline and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

She believes the Greenway’s proponents, local governments, developers and residents must work together to address the challenges Buford Highway is facing.

“We have to think about things as interconnected,” she said.

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Ga. Weather Forecast: When It Will Rain President’s Day Weekend

ATLANTA, GA — We’ve got a rainy weekend ahead of us in metro Atlanta, according to the National Weather Service. From Friday afternoon on, there will be a chance of showers all the way through Sunday night and into President’s Day.

Saturday will be the rainiest day of the weekend, according to the forecast. There will be a 60 percent chance of rain during the day, followed by a 50 percent chance Saturday night.

Friday night, the chance of rain will be 30 percent, the same chance forecast for Sunday and Sunday night. Fortunately, the forecast calls mainly for showers, not thunderstorms.

It’s possible it will be rainy on Monday for President’s Day, but it’s not a sure thing. There will be a 20 perdent chance of showers during the day, dropping to a 20 percent chance Monday night.

Temperatures throughout the long weekend should be pleasant, too, with highs ranging from the upper-60s to low-70s and lows only getting down into the 50s most nights.

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Here’s your President’s Day Weekend weather forecast for metro Atlanta, from the National Weather Service:

Friday: A 40 percent chance of showers, mainly after 3 p.m. Cloudy, with a high near 72. West wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 m.p.h. Friday night, a chance of showers before 10 p.m., then a slight chance of showers after 4 a.m. Cloudy, with a low around 52. Northwest wind 5-10 m.p.h., becoming light north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Saturday: Showers likely, mainly between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Cloudy, with a high near 65. East wind around 5 m.p.h. becoming southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. A 50 percent chance of showers Saturday night, mainly before 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49. Southwest wind 5-10 m.p.h. becoming northwest after midnight.

Sunday: A 30 percent chance of showers after 1 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 67. Northwest wind around 5 m.p.h. becoming east in the afternoon. A 30 percent chance of showers Sunday night. Cloudy, with a low around 57.

President’s Day: A 30 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 72. A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59.

Photo via Shutterstock

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Kenan Thompson to serve as grand marshal at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, Ga. – Atlanta native and comedy sketch actor Kenan Thompson of “Saturday Night Live” fame will return to his home city of Atlanta to serve as the grand marshal for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a 16-year-old on Nickelodeon’s wildly popular all-kid sketch comedy-variety show “All That” in 1994 before starring in the American teen sitcom “Kenan and Kel” alongside Kel Mitchell between 1996 and 1999. Thompson also appeared in several films early in his career, including “Good Burger,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” and “Heavyweights” among others.

Thompson will visit with race fans, attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting and give the drivers’ command as part of his grand marshal duties.

“Atlanta Motor Speedway is my home track, and being grand marshal at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is a great honor,” said Thompson. “I’ll make my city proud.”

Recently, Thompson has returned for his 15th season on “Saturday Night Live,” making him the show’s longest-running cast member. He has made numerous contributions to the show with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of “Deep House Dish,” boisterous second wife Virginiaca Hastings and “Weekend Update” correspondent Jean K. Jean.

Thompson has also showcased his voice talents as Greedy Smurf in the animated films “The Smurfs” and “The Smurfs 2.” Other past projects include starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes on a Plane,” Wieners” and “The Magic of Belle Isle” with Morgan Freeman.

The Atlanta NASCAR Weekend features Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 23, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 Benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 24, and culminates with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 25.

For more information or purchase tickets today, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

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