Battle of words (and insults) keeps the APS/Beltline $19 million dispute on the front page

If there was ever a time that cool heads and negotiations outside of the media were called for, this is it. However, Mayor Kasim Reed, who is the lead negotiator for the City, just can’t seem to get the message. When the negotiations stalled, then APS Superintendent Davis stated that all options were on the table including a lawsuit if necessary. As the AJC reports (see here),

 That didn’t sit well with Mayor Kasim Reed, who said he was “troubled” by the remarks because he’s a longtime supporter of Davis and the school system.

“The person who took on the challenges facing APS was me,” Reed said in an interview last week. “I’m the person who when the system was on probation and the board was fractured, was working with the business community to get a new leader and turn it around.”

Reed said the conflict isn’t personal, but that didn’t stop him from taking direct aim at both Davis and APS Board Chairman Courtney English. English recently announced hiring Davis as a consultant to manage the Beltline conflict for a $1 fee.

“Courtney English praising Erroll Davis was terrific news to me given the fact that when Erroll Davis’s contract was up for reauthorization, I had to persuade him not to fire him,” Reed said.

The mayor then compared English to former APS board chairman Khaattim El, who resigned following the test cheating scandal. “I think he is going to reach a similar fate,” Reed said of English. “If he doesn’t change his behavior he is going to have a deeply fractured board.”

English responded,

“This issue isn’t about me or my leadership style or the mayor. This issue is about the 60,000 kids in the Atlanta Public Schools system who right now are entitled to $19 million dollars and $162 million over the life of the Beltline TAD,” he said, referring to the tax allocation district APS helps fund to build the project. “My priority is making sure we do right by them,” he said.

Davis added,

“I’m not going to second guess his comments or conversation. He will do what he believes is appropriate for him to do. I will do what I believe is appropriate,” Davis said. “…We have a contract and want our money. It’s that simple from our perspective.”

The Mayor’s message to APS is fairly clear – ‘I engineered Davis’ contract extension (in retrospect – gee thanks Mr. Mayor) and Chairman English – you better toe the line.’

The Godfather could not have said it better!

This is just a suggestion – stop talking to the press and start talking to each other. There are reasonable ways out of this impasse, but fighting it out in the headlines is not one of them.

The positions are hardening on both sides – I say fire them both (or put them in time-out which may be more appropriate) and let people with normal size egos and less petulant attitudes negotiate this quietly and competently.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon & Facebook]

One Response to Battle of words (and insults) keeps the APS/Beltline $19 million dispute on the front page

  1. Beverly Fraud says:

    Again, this begs the question: How much does Reed feel he is “owed” for doing his part to politically protect Beverly Hall (and by extension, ‘Brand Atlanta’) during the cheating scandal?

    And why is no one willing to ask it? A truth that hits too close to home perhaps?

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