Tags: airport | power outage | atlanta | corruption

Airport Malfunction, City Corruption and Visionless Voters in Atlanta

Airport Malfunction, City Corruption and Visionless Voters in Atlanta
A passenger looks at the departure board for the status of flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on December 18, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. Hundreds of flights were cancelled after a power outage at the airport. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

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Wednesday, 27 December 2017 02:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Frequently flyers observe, “You can get to heaven or hell, but you have to go through the Atlanta airport to get there.” On Sunday, December 17, 2017, travelers at the Atlanta airport believed they were in hell. The electric power at the airport was out for approximately 11 ½ hours — zilch — no lights, no nothing. The bathrooms didn’t work, the escalators and elevators didn’t work, no water to drink, nothing worked, it was pitch black.

Under the airport there was a fire in the tunnel that brought the electrical service for the entire facility. The fire knocked out the power line. One might ask, “Wasn’t there a backup?” Indeed there was a backup power line: in the same tunnel right beside the primary power line. They both burned up. Next one might ask: “Wasn’t there some sort of emergency light system in the airport that did not rely on the power sources?” The answer is: “No.” Not even a flashlight or candle.

More than 1,400 flights were canceled, estimates suggest $100 million dollars was lost; Delta Airline lost at least $50 million dollars. Meanwhile, with this kind of money at risk, the finger pointing has begun. Delta's CEO says he plans to have discussions with the officials of the airport (the City of Atlanta operates the airport) and Georgia Power who supplied the power lines, and all parties are now reviewing their contracts and leases.

Simon Bloom, an Atlanta attorney specializing in construction real estate law said, “…one could make the case that the city was asleep at the switch, literally and figuratively.” Meanwhile the blame seems to reside somewhere between Georgia Power and the City of Atlanta: the precise facts are yet to be determined and announced. What is clear, Delta has been the most vocal about what happened; other organizations have remained relatively silent; the mayor, Kasim Reed, said nothing the first 6 ½ hours of the crisis! He said he was waiting for information before speaking.

The Atlanta airport, much of it sitting in Clayton County, not even overlapping with the city, is one of the major sources of income for Atlanta. Over the years, the airport has had several remodeling periods and add-on construction, so the responsible parties, at this point, are elusive. Georgia Power is not answering all its calls about the problem. Perhaps it does not know for sure, or does not want to compromise any future arguments with premature facts.

What is exceptionally significant to note at this time is that Atlanta, only a few weeks before, had a rough and tumble mayor election. One major issue in the election was the history of bribes and illegalities when Atlanta signed agreements with contractors. One might argue, a company that possibly was awarded a contract after making successful bribes, may not be the most capable of the bidders, and this view might filter down to even the architects designing structures.

In addition, one might expect the city of Atlanta to have highly capable people to give oversight to such massive projects as an airport, but was the oversight capable? With the known corruption in Atlanta government (there have been police test cheating scandals, public school testing scandals, and even the last mayoral election is not settled: there were about 4,096 absentee ballots issued and about 1,386 returned and counted, and several small sections of the city are believed not to have been legally eligible to vote) the quality of any enterprise of the city should be questioned.

It is not too difficult to make the connection between possible corrupt, incompetent high-level city officials, even including the mayor, and voters that ignored the potential corruption and choose to put them in office anyway on the basis of their political party and their race, and then connect all of this to the disasters that result from bad construction and mismanagement.

And so these poor travelers stranded at the airport, hungry, thirsty, missing their vacation, missing their business appointments, and who knows what else, should all know about the city of Atlanta voters’ priorities and its oblivious attitude toward meaningful problems that affect the fortunes of companies and individuals.

And it is only one step further in logic to extend this to America. Those politicians demanding even more government resources for domestic welfare programs rather than more defense spending at a time when North Korea is building missiles and nuclear weapons that can strike United States cities are not doing all citizens or even the voters who elected such politicians, a favor. American voters need to wise up, and we can start with the voters in the city of Atlanta.

John Havick has a Ph.D. in political science. He was a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology for many years, authored several books and a number of articles, including the widely cited "The Impact of the Internet on a Television-Based Society." His work has appeared in The New York Times, and his recent book, "The Ghosts of NASCAR: The Harlan Boys and the First Daytona 500," is available at ghostsofnascar.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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JohnHavick
Frequently flyers observe, “You can get to heaven or hell, but you have to go through the Atlanta airport to get there.”
airport, power outage, atlanta, corruption
853
2017-03-27
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 02:03 PM
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