The brass at Central Atlanta Progress knows what questions reporters from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution should be asking Rachet Rob “I’ll turn your water off” Hunter and his minions at the City’s Department of Water Mismanagement. Starnes has been directed by CAP to know a minimum of four questions in her task to cut-off water: 1. Who besides the Task Force is delinquent on paying the water bill? 2. By what amount of money are those customers delinquent? 3. Has their water not been cut off? 4. If not, why not? The Brass warns how “Anita” may win on this or that particular “spin.”

Are not the answers to these questions public information that should have been given the newspaper by the Department of Mismanagement? I wonder if the struggling AJC (a bit narrower every day) has paid its water bill? My grape vine tells me that the AJC is about as broke as the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. That can’t be; billionaires can’t go broke. We can’t pay the water bill. Does anyone know of businesses with delinquent water bills? Please let me know.

The above questions are really not all that important. Those questions have to do with fairness, equity, justice, serving the public. However, one question looms! And SOMEBODY from CAP or the City or the Mayor’s office will have to answer it at a pretrial hearing on September 21, (if it really happens). That’s when a Superior Court Judge will hear, will listen, will have to be told why Debi Starnes communicates regularly with CAP brass on her task to close the task force and to cut off the water for 600 homeless people at the Peachtree-Pine shelter. Why would Starnes, an employee of United Way be talking to the doers of all good at CAP about keeping poor people from having water? CAP? United Way? City Hall? What will a Fulton County Superior Court Judge hear? As CAP brass dictates the “spin” to reporters that the water cut-off is only the tip of the iceberg. Subpoenas and depositions are flying around like flying biscuits. People that ain’t never got no subpoenas gettin ’em now. CAP may be the new “spinners.”

Stay tuned!

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
Jeremiah 22.16

Ethelyn Whitman Beaty

July 25, 2009

My favorite sister-in-law is Ethelyn Whitman Beaty. She lives and thrives in Columbia, S. C., and has been my brother’s widow since 1970. His name is Walter Kirkpatrick Beaty, Jr., and he was my favorite brother. Ethelyn told me recently that a friend asked her if she ever thought of the hereafter. Ethelyn, in her mid eighties, answered quickly, “Indeed, I do, often. Each time I go to the refrigerator, I stand there and say to myself, ‘Self, what am I here after?'”

Very few comedians make me laugh, Two who do are Foster Brooks and Jerry Farber. Jerry has served for years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. When attending board meetings, Jerry always walks in with a joke or two that breaks up everyone present. One day, however, Jerry came in wearing a very sad face, a somber countenance. In all seriousness Jerry said, I just talked to a homeless guy outside. He was wearing only one old tennis shoe. I said, “Buddy, did you lose your shoe?” With a big smile he replied, “No, I found one.”

Jerry said, “That’s the optimism we gotta have.”

I hold in my hand the memo that I cited in Part I of this article. The memo is from Dr. Katkowsky, Director of Fulton County Health Department. The memo is dated April 19, 2007, and is sent to Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell. Upon reading Rhonda Cook’s, “Homeless shelters warned of lice; Alleged source denies outbreak,” Darnell had some questions and she wanted an answer from her Health Department. Cook’s article was published on April 14, 2007, and alleged the outbreak of “lice infestation” at the Peachtree-Pine shelter. Dr. Katkowsky writes, “I am not aware of any health official declaring a lice infestation at the Peachtree-Pine Shelter or any other shelter.” Two sentences later he wrote, “I was clearly misquoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.”

The remaining portion of the two-page memo explains that he had sent two members from his staff on April 6, 2007, to meet with Task Force staff as a preventative visit. The memo states that Valerie Lofton-Dawson was “somewhat familiar with the process of how to access for lice and would report any problems to the Health Department.” There was never an infestation of lice at the Peachtree-Pine shelter, just another Starnes invention.

I liken Starnes’ “lice infestation” lie to the Cheney weapons of mass destruction farce. Neither the WMD nor the infestation ever existed. Both were made up by bearers of false witness. The entire “lice infestation” episode was a Debi Starnes creation. It did not occur according to Fulton County health officials. This creation, this fabrication, this false reporting are examples of the plan to exterminate the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. This attack has lasted for 15 years. To my knowledge no retraction of the “big lie” lice article has ever come forth, not from Debi “lice infestation” Starnes, not from Rhonda “the whole truth” Cook, not from A. J. “we’re all kind of mystified” Robinson, not from Rufus “BumBot” Terrill, not from David “Great news” Wardell, not from Horace “Hobsy” Sibley, not from Bonnie “did you write that memo?” Ware or from any other member of the mayor’s Team Goliath. In the midst of this plethora of lies, we honor the life of Walter Cronkite, a reporter who told the truth. Again, the truth is the perfect defense.

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
July 20, 2009
Jeremiah 22.16

While watching coverage of the home going of Walter Cronkite, I heard words describing him as “the most trusted man in America,” “always told the truth,” “honest,” “compassionate,” “fair,” “funny,” “unbiased” and “Uncle Walter.” Cronkite possessed a passion to educate the public by reporting all the facts. I dedicate this piece to Walter Cronkite and to honest reporting. While pondering the life of this truth-loving news man, two opposites, with apologies to Conkrite, come to mind. Rhonda “the whole truth” Cook and Steve “weasel-like” Visser are employed by the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. A more accurate statement would be that Cook writes for Debi Starnes, the mayor’s advisor on homeless matters, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta business community. Whenever she covers the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, she has been directed, coached, told what to write by Debi Starnes and the Central Atlanta Brass.

The title of this article is a direct quote lifted from a memo to Fulton County Commissioner Emma I. Darnell. The Commissioner had read Rhonda Cook’s April 14, 2007 article entitled, “Homeless shelters warned of lice: Alleged source denies outbreak.” Darnell asked questions about the article; she smelled a city hall rat, so to speak.

The first sentence of Cook’s article reads, “The Fulton County Health Departmant issued a health advisory to Atlanta homeless shelters Friday because health officials say a privately run facility at Peachtree-Pine Streets is infested with lice.” Paragraph four paraphrases the county director and I quote what Cook published, “But Fulton County Health Department Director Steven Katkowsky said an infestation of lice was discovered at the task force shelter when his staff inspected the building at the request of Atlanta’s officials.” What Atlanta officials? Guess who is quoted several paragraphs later? Of course, Debi Starnes. Whenever a lie is written in the AJC, Starnes is not far behind. She’s everywhere! She’s everywhere! She reverses Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind.” If spring comes, can WINTER be far behind?

Several paragraphs later Starnes, it’s a miracle, is available for a statement, “There were about 100 facilities serving homeless people in the city. If others are infested it would create major problems. Right now it seems to be escalating at Peachtree and Pine. If it spreads everywhere, it’s a logistical nightmare and it’s a financial nightmare for these agencies.”

Moving from Starnes, Reporter Cook cites two men from the business community. Note the balanced, fair, never lopsided coverage that follows. Cook’s sources this time are Rufus “BumBot” Terrill and CAP’s president A. J. Robinson. Atlantans were made proud when the Stephen Colbert Report featured Terrill on national television. He had built a remote controlled robot (BumBot) whose main feature is to squirt water with some accuracy and force on “bums” who happen near it. Colbert listened as Terrill explained how he douses homeless “bums” who come near his Irish restaurant. Cook quotes Terrill, “We’re trying to build up business and have conventions come here, but if you have . . . a body lice infestation and it goes into hotels, that’s a disaster.”

With adroit acumen the Central Atlanta Progress president matches Terrill’s brilliance, “The businesses in the Peachtree-Pine Street area have long thought the shelter was a problem, more so than other shelters in the city. The issue {lice} is symptomatic of a much bigger issue with the operation. Somebody needs to have responsibly (sic) for health-related issues in this shelter. It’s not the city. It’s not Fulton County. We’re all kind of mystified.” Just a note of cruel contradiction: I find it alarming that A. J. “we’re all kind of mystified” Robinson speaks concern for health issues at Peachtree-Pine while at the same time leads the parade to shut off water, an absolute necessity for healthy conditions. So much for Cronkite-like reporting, Rhonda “the whole truth” Cook.

(This ends Part I; the conclusion revealing Dr. Katkowsky’s refutation of this Rhonda Cook propaganda will be posted Monday, July 20, 2009. Stay tuned)

The names listed above are members of the Franklin/Starnes, CAP Goliath Team committed to the extermination of the Task Force for the Homeless. They will have to wait a little longer for homeless people to be without water at the Peachtree-Pine shelter. The next payment of $5,338.90 is due on July 25. By nothing short of a miracle, the $8,400 due on July 16 was paid. A minister wrote a personal check of $1000. A business person sent $2000. A committed young woman raised $2500 from her Buckhead neighbors. A prominant church through the diligence of its senior minister electronically mailed $5000 to the city’s Department of Water Mismanagement. An additional $1000 came through the Task Force’s PayPal. Incidentally, four donors were Task Force staff who have not been paid for the last three months.

The first time the city turned off the water at Peachtree-Pine was the first week of December 2008, Christmas season. Central Atlanta Progress’s David E. Wardell upon hearing that the water had been cut off, exclaimed, “Great news!” Wardell sets the tone for Team Goliath. To a person the team members are giddy knowing 550 homeless people have no water to drink. CAP contradicts itself in its philosophy of panhandling when it gives us permission to give a bottle of water, never money, of course. Sadness, yea moans, rippled through city hall when word came that the water would NOT be turned off on July 16. The bankrupt city needs every dollar it can steal; however, more than stealing its greatest thrill for Team Goliath is witholding water from thirsty homeless people. These leaders fulfill Isaiah 32.6, “For the fool speaks folly…the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.” Why Bonnie Ware, the memo writer was seen to wipe a tear as she groaned, “And those nasty people will use our water to flush; it’s just outrageous.”

Recent developments reveal Shirley Franklin and Debi Starnes to be pawns on CAP’s chess board. They are the cupbearers of Central Atlanta Progress who in turn obey the good ole boy power structure that has ruled Georgia and Atlanta since Sherman did his thing. The chilling truth that the sickness of the Franklin/Starnes yoke (and they are sick) when gone will be replaced by other cupbearers. A sweet irony: the Task Force has gumpteen deep throats in the bowels of City Hall. Oodles of city workers even right there under Rachet Rob’s nose deplore the actions of their own department, the Department of Water Mismanagement. Words of encouragement like “We’re pulling for you.” come regularly from city workers.

The word “cupbearer” brings to mind a scene in literature that clarifies the city’s oppressing the poor. Mark Twain depicted Elizabeth I’s court in a piece he called, “1601.” This satirical piece is narrated by the Queen’s cupbearer. Believing himself to be of noble blood, the cupbearer is appalled that the Queen has invited low-lifes to gather in the court. These undesireables are writers, actors, swashbucklers such as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon and Walter Raleigh. Members of the court are worthies such as the Duchess of Bilgewater and Lady Alice Dilberry.

The cupbearer voices his repulsion: “I being her majesty’s cupbearer, had no choice but to remain and behold rank forgotten, and the high having conversation with the low as though they were on equal terms. And the world will hear of this great scandal.”

The cupbearer in Twain’s “1601” makes everything clear. CAP’s initiating the plan to turn off the water at a shelter on Peachtree Street is not about water. It’s about the Duchess of Bilgewater. It’s cupbearer philosophy. It’s about CAP exclusionism. It’s about the high loathing the low. It’s about plantation thinking assessing the fact that 550 African-American males have a Peachtree Street address. Throw in “homeless males” and appears the perfect storm. This CAP zeal is about the privileged never having to stoop for the unwanted. Could we not safely add to Rachet Rob “I’ll turn your water off” Hunter the title of the Duke of Bilgewater. God rest you Mark Twain. How you would love Team Goliath.

I use the feminine pronoun for CAP because she is the ship of the city. As CAP goes so goes downtown Atlanta. If she wants something present, it’s present. If she wants something removed, it’s removed. There are many power hitters downtown, but CAP bats cleanup. We have United Way helping so many; we have Georgia State as a philosophical voice mirroring what Cardinal Newman said a university should be. We have Fulton County Library where we can read of righteousness and justice in cities like ours. We have the HARDROCK Cafe; we have HOOTERS. Atlanta has everything that all of its citizens need. But of all the givers of the good, CAP leads the pack. No one comes close.

An organization is only as good as its leadership. The captain of this good ship is A. J. “We’re all kind of mystified” Robinson; one of his shining sailors on board for a long time is the inimitable Paul “Toxic waste dump” Kellman. But, for me, the star who shines brightest in this constellation is David E. Wardell. Please stand back for his title: Vice President, Operations and Public Safety Central Atlanta Progress and Atlanta Downtown Improvement Office. If length matters, this title dwarfs all others. I’ve taught short stories not as long.

On December 2, 2008, Dave Wardell received a message from a buddy at Georgia State University. The message told Wardell about Rhonda Cook’s AJC article, “Atlanta turns off water at city’s largest shelter.” CAP’s vice president for public safety responded: “Thanks, great news.” The fact that drinking water for 550 homeless people in a shelter is being cut off is “great news.” The fact that 550 homeless people in a shelter will not be able to use 28 bathroom facilities is “great news.” The fact that 17 showers available to 550 homeless people will be turned off is “great news.”

I first heard of the acumen of Dave Wardell some years ago when CAP announced yet another program to help Atlanta’s homeless population. The program’s name was “Wake Up Atlanta.” With his crack surveillance team Wardell spotted places where homeless people were sleeping: doorways, stairwells, walkways, etc. And the public safety guru during the early morning hours went around waking up sleeping people. A homeless friend told me that Wardell was always accompanied by one of Atlanta’s finest and loved to kick the soles of shoes to alert the naughty. To my knowledge this is the most effective program for the homeless that CAP has ever initiated. Another is just ahead: the extermination of the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. and its shelter for 600 homeless people on Peachtree Street.

Every time I think of David Wardell, I pray for him. I then recite Daniel 12.3 as it describes him and his ilk at CAP: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
Jeremiah 22.16
July 14, 2009