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Mary Norwood announces bid to return to Atlanta City Council

Former Atlanta City Council member Mary Norwood, who wooed gay voters by supporting marriage equality when she ran for mayor in 2009, announced today that she is running for the council's Post 2 seat.

Norwood previously held the Post 2 seat, which is elected citywide, before deciding to run for mayor. She narrowly lost to Kasim Reed in a runoff election, but won a majority of votes in District 6, home to the city's largest concentration of gay voters. At the time, Reed did not support allowing gay couples to marry, although he has since changed his mind and now backs marriage equality.

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Battle over Cheshire Bridge Road: Zoning proposal pits gay City Council member, critics

Cheshire Bridge road businesses

Bobby Hammill sits in his office in the new BJ Roosters on Cheshire Bridge Road. Opened just last month, the gay club is twice the size of its old location just down the street. His neighbors are Jungle and Heretic, two other popular gay clubs, and the Doll House, a strip club.

“I’ve lived in the area for 21 years and I understand what the complaints are about from the neighborhoods,” Hammill said. “But I personally feel what’s going on is unfair. It’s like they are prosecuting people who really aren’t doing anything wrong.”

What’s going on, and has been going on since January, is proposed zoning changes to the Cheshire Bridge Road corridor, long considered Atlanta’s red light district.

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Point: Time to revitalize, not sterilize Cheshire Bridge

At a recent public hearing, a speaker describing Cheshire Bridge Road as “the most wonderful street in Atlanta” drew chuckles from the audience. That the comment elicited laughs sadly captures the disappointment many hold in how the corridor falls far short of its real potential.

Over a decade ago, nearby residents, businesses, property owners and city planners undertook a long, collaborative public process to design a vision for the area. Their work resulted in the Cheshire Bridge Road Study adopted by the city of Atlanta in 1999.

Six years later, the zoning changes corresponding to that plan were enacted, creating two neighborhood commercial (NC) districts along the street, but in the eight years since 2005, no more meaningful progress has been made.

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Counterpoint: Save Cheshire Bridge from Alex Wan and the gentrifiers

Cheshire Bridge Road: alluring, risque, diverse, authentic, vibrant, alive, and now... endangered because of people like Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, the openly gay official whose District 6 includes both Cheshire Bridge Road and Midtown.

Recently, we learned of a zoning effort to change the character of Cheshire Bridge by getting rid of restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores that were grandfathered in as part of a 2005 rezoning. Now Mr. Wan wants to go back and get rid of grandpa.

The legal aspects of this do not bode well for Wan nor for the neighborhoods he purportedly represents, as they have proposed an illegal “taking.”

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Matt Rinker seeks to unseat three-term council member Natalyn Archibong

Matt Rinker

Matt Rinker will challenge incumbent Natalyn Archibong for the District 5 seat on the Atlanta City Council. If elected, he would become the second openly gay man to serve on the council.

All City Council seats as well as the mayor’s post are up for election this year on Nov. 5. Archibong, a bankruptcy attorney, confirmed she is seeking re-election for a fourth term.

Rinker, 35, of East Atlanta, said Feb. 5 he is challenging Archibong because he feels she has not done a good enough job to eliminate crime in the District 5 neighborhoods including East Atlanta, Cabbagetown, East Lake, Kirkwood and Reynoldstown.

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[Updated] Atlanta City Council settles third Eagle lawsuit for $330,000

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The Atlanta city council unanimously voted today to approve settling the third lawsuit stemming from the botched police raid on gay bar the Atlanta Eagle. The total of the settlement is $330,000.

Eagle attorney Dan Grossman told the GA Voice he was happy with the proposed settlement because his clients, whose constitutional rights were allegedly violated, "have now gotten justice."

As part of the settlement, Grossman also requested the Atlanta Police Department be mandated the police chief fire officers who destroy evidence in a civil case.

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Atlanta City Council member asks LGBT community to delay accusing APD of abuse until facts gathered

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Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan said at Monday's Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board meeting that as a community, LGBT people should not jump to a snap judgment about the Atlanta Police Department until all facts are gathered about arrests made at Blake's on the Park on Friday night.

Wan, the sole openly gay member of the council, represents District 6, including Blake's and Midtown. He said Monday that he became involved in the now open investigation into police conduct at the gay Midtown bar on Jan. 20 after police were called to the scene to help with a fight that broke out between patrons and staff.

"Within a half hour … I got responses from both the major [Major Chris Leighty, Zone 5 commander that includes Blake's] and from the city attorney," he said.

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Atlanta City Councilmember hosts forum on Midtown public safety

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan (District 6) will host a public safety forum on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the YMCA on North Highland Avenue to discuss recent criminal activity in and around Midtown.

The meeting follows an armed robbery and police shootout on Oct. 26 in the heart of the Midtown residential neighborhood. The robbery occurred near the intersection of 8th and Myrtle streets.

Joining Wan, the only openly gay council member, will be Atlanta Police Department Zone 6 Commander Major John Dalton and Zone 2 Commander Major Robert Browning.

The forum will offer citizens a chance to engage the Atlanta Police Department in an effort to find ways of working with the department to reduce crime in the Midtown neighborhoods as the holidays approach.

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Atlanta City Council pushes toward Sunday retail alcohol sales

The Atlanta City Council is considering a measure that would allow city voters to decide in November whether or not to allow retail alcohol sales on Sunday.

Sunday alcohol sales are supported by City Council Members Alex Wan, Kwanza Hall, Cleta Winslow, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michael Julian Bond, H. Lamar Willis, and Yolanda Adrean, according to a press release from the council.

Wan, councilmember for Atlanta's District 6, is the first openly gay man to serve on the council. He asked supporters on Facebook last week whether or not they supported Sunday alcohol sales. Nearly everyone who responded voiced support for the measure.

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Breaking: Atlanta City Council approves settlement over Atlanta Eagle gay bar raid

Staff and patrons of the Atlanta Eagle mark the one-year anniversary of the botched police raid

The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously this afternoon to approve a $1.025 million settlement in a federal lawsuit over the Atlanta Police Department's 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The settlement must now go back to the federal judge for final approval. All parties in the case are under a gag order until the settlement is finalized.

Before the vote, the council met in closed executive session to discuss the proposed settlement, which was reached Friday between city attorneys and attorneys for patrons and employees of the Eagle.

The settlement resolution includes $1.025 million to go into an escrow account with Lambda Legal, one of two nonprofit legal groups that joined attorney Dan Grossman in representing the Eagle plaintiffs. The Southern Center for Human Rights also joined the case.