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Free Press 12-23-11

Free Press 12-23-11

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Published by: hudgons on Dec 28, 2011
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DeKalb residents help to bring cleanwater to remote Haitian villages
 by Nigel Roberts
lthough water coversnearly three-quarters of our planet, fresh water represents just 2.5 percentof it. And according to the NationalGeographic Society, only 1 percent of that fresh water is easily accessible.Water scarcity is becoming such aserious problem—especially in un-derdeveloped countries with growing populations, that the World EconomicForum predicts a 40 percent globalshortfall by 2030.Access to fresh water is alreadyat crisis level in Haiti. For severalyears, Food For the Poor, an interde-nominational Christian relief agency,has organized missions to address the problem in the impoverished Carib- bean nation.Two DeKalb residents,
Sheryl McCalla
, trav-eled with the organization Dec. 6 – 9to facilitate projects in remote com-munities in desperate need of clean,safe drinking water.Buckley, who lives in Decatur, isa veteran of these missions. He wentto Jamaica eight years ago on hisfirst Food For the Poor mission. Hissecond trip was to Haiti, a countrythat he developed a keen interest in because “the need is great.” Sincethen, he has made regular trips toHaiti every year.For almost a decade, Buckley, acivil rights and employment attorney,has spearheaded fund-raising cam- paigns to drill and install wells withthe assistance of Food For the Poor.His efforts led to the construction of more than 100 artesian wells through-out Haiti, with each well providingaccess to fresh water for about 5,000 people.The December mission was Mc-Calla’s second trip to Haiti. McCalla,an attorney residing in Avondale Es-tates, said she felt an urgency to helpthe Haitian people.“I’ve traveled in Europe, Africa,South America and North America, but I’ve never seen anything likethe poverty I’ve seen in Haiti,” sheemphasized.The people of Haiti, the poor-est in the Western hemisphere, havemyriad needs that range from foodand shelter to medical care. Why thefocus on water? “Water is importantto life,” McCalla stressed. “Try goinga day without clean water—just one.”“We all have a human right toclean water,” Buckley insisted. “It isthe most fundamental human right;without it, we cannot enjoy our other human rights.”Buckley said Haitians (mainlywomen and children) often have towalk long distances to obtain clean
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Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
State’s Black Democratsfght againstredrawndistricts
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comCracked, stacked and packed.Those are terms used todescribe the redrawing of legislative districts to mini-mize minority voting power.And that’s what minoritylawmakers in Georgia sayhas happened with recentlydrawn state Senate, stateHouse and Congressionalmaps.“That’s the ultimate power grab in the Gen-eral Assembly,” said Sen.
Emanuel Jones
(D-10),chairman of the GeorgiaLegislative Black Caucus.“The Voting Rights Act isdesigned to prevent thisfrom happening.”Cracking is when avoter group is split betweenseveral districts to restrict itfrom having a majority votein any one district. Packingrefers to grouping like-minded voters in a district tolimit their effect on multipledistricts. In stacking, a largegroup of minorities is placedin a district with a larger majority group.Districts are redrawn ev-ery 10 years based on popu-lation changes detailed bythe U.S. Census. In August,the Republican-controlledGeneral Assembly passedmaps with redrawn districtsthat Democrats said wereracially gerrymandered toreduce the minority vote.Passed in 1965, the Vot-ing Rights Act requires theU.S. Department of Justiceto preapprove changes madeto election procedures,including the altering of districts, in states with a his-tory of racial discrimination.Georgia is one of nine statesthat are required to have preclearance.
See Caucus on Page 15ASee Water on Page 15A
Amanda Farahany, left to right, Sheryl McCalla, and Edward Buckly at a water pump in Leogane, Haiti. Photo provided
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday December 23
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday December 23
Suburban Plaza Walmart parking plan approved
File Photo.
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comIt was neighbor against neighbor and residents against developersduring a Dec. 14 public hearing before a decision was made to giveWalmart the parking variance itneeded for its proposed SuburbanPlaza location.DeKalb County’s Zoning Boardof Appeals approved Selig Enter- prises’ request for a parking vari-ance allowing the developer tohave 3.91 parking spaces per 1,000square feet of oor space, insteadof the required 5.5 spaces per 1,000square feet.Selig Enterprises developedthe 290,000-square-foot SuburbanPlaza, located at the junction of  North Decatur Road, Church Streetand Scott Boulevard, in 1959. New plans would increase the shoppingcenter to 324,614 square feet.That variance reduced the re-quired spaces for the development by 517 spaces, from 1,786 spaces to1,269 spaces.A report by a trafc engineer hired by Selig Enterprises, conduct-ed an occupied parking space analy-sis on Dec. 3 between 2 and 3:30 p.m., showed that the additionalspaces are not needed, according to
Steve Rothman
, an attorney repre-senting Selig Enterprises.The 235,000-square-foot Cham- blee Village shopping center used2.23 spaces per 1,000 square feet.The District at Howell Mill requireda 2.8 ratio. Both shopping centershave a Walmart Supercenter.“We’re above what is actuallyneeded,” Rothman said. “Nobodyneeds 5.5 parking spaces for a shop- ping center. There really is no needto have a huge sea of concrete or more parking out there.”
Melanie White
, who had a peti-tion with 378 signatures, asked for a 90-day extension so a study on theimpact of the development on thecommunity could be performed.“In our view, you cannot decideon parking until you know enough[about] how limited parking will af-fect the trafc,” Parker said.Studies should be conducted onthe impact of trafc on the six-wayintersection at North Decatur Road,Medlock Road and Scott Boulevardand the effect of emergency vehicu-lar trafc between DeKalb MedicalCenter, Emory Hospital and Eg-leston Children’s Hospital.“We are not against develop-ment, but we are against [inconve-nience to] our neighbors that canresult in danger both to individualstransferred in emergency vehiclesas well as those who will potentially be parking and driving in the area,”Parker said.Resident
Jan Hubbard
askedthe zoning board “not to change therules for Selig.”“I’m not here to debate the mer-its or the demerits of Walmart,”Hubbard said. “I’m here because I believe that this Walmart … is thewrong land use for this location.”Other residents said they wel-comed a Walmart to the strugglingshopping center.
Sharon Johnson
, president of the Medlock Area NeighborhoodAssociation (MANA), said thegroup’s board was very excitedabout the parking variance.“We like less parking,” saidJohnson, adding that the MANA board is pleased that there will beunderground parking and no park-ing deck in the shopping center.
Charles Pursley
, vice chairmanof the church council for North De-catur United Methodist Church, saidhis church welcomes the proposeddevelopment.“We believe that his develop-ment and parking required for it…is benecial to our church and the people we serve,” Pursley said.Pursley, who lives near Subur- ban Plaza, said the additional trafcwould be benecial to the commu-nity.“I drive this all the time,” Purs-ley said. “I am aware of the trafcand I think the development andwhat it brings to the neighborhoodis worth the extra trafc that it may bring.”Before the vote, zoning boardmember 
Bonnie Jackson
urged her fellow board members to set aside personal feelings about Walmartand concerns about trafc.“We are not here to say whether a Walmart can be here,” Jacksonsaid. “Trafc is going to be trafcregardless of what goes in on thatcorner. What we’re here for only isfor the parking.”
Scott Selig
, of Selig Enterprises,said the decision by the zoning board upheld the property rights of commercial developers.“I am in favor of individualsexpressing themselves,” Selig said.“But there comes a point where wehave a constitutional right to oper-ate a company.”

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