Former Mayor Franklin’s Privatization Schemes Go National
(APN) ATLANTA — Former Mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin is now the CEO of an organization called Purpose-Built Communities, whose goal is to promote demolitions of low-income housing and privatization of public schools, in emulation of Atlanta’s East Lake model, across the entire nation.
Doing public relations for PBC is none other than Alisias, the controversial PR firm who put a happy face on public housing demolitions in Atlanta for the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), while helping to orchestrate the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education takeover, which led to a governance and accreditation crisis for the whole school system. Charter school advocates thrive on public school governance crises, as evidenced by New Orleans, Louisiana, which is now all-charter, and Naomi Klein’s book the Shock Doctrine.
Alisias, a public relations firm and think tank with a privatization agenda, has its fingerprints all over this.
On September 27 through 29, 2011, PBC will be having a conference in Indiannapolis, Indiana, where speakers will include Tom Cousins, Founder of PBC; Warren Buffett, who has invested in PBC; Franklin; US Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN); Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone; Renee Glover, CEO of AHA; and Richard Barth, CEO of KIPP Foundation, which runs charter schools.
PBC was founded as a Georgia limited liability corporation in 2008, according to the Secretary of State’s website, under the name East Lake Replication, LLC. It changed its name in 2009 to New Community Ventures, LLC, and again in 2010 to Purpose-Built Communities, LLC.
Cousins founded the organization to replicate the East Lake model, which he supported.
Of course, Franklin, while Mayor, was highly supportive of the AHA public housing demolitions. In 2008, Atlanta Progressive News revealed that Franklin signed off on five demolition applications to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development without seeking City Council input.
Later that year, Franklin vetoed legislation by Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9), which sought to allow the Council to see the demolition applications for three public housing applications; the Council overrode the veto.
On PBC’s website, the organization states its Purpose is to “transform struggling neighborhoods into vibrant and sustainable communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”
It goes on to state it uses a holistic model to achieve this transformation, but that the two most important parts of this model are housing and education.
As for housing, they are looking to demolish low-income housing, especially public housing, to create mixed-income housing, ultimately diminishing a city’s affordable housing stock, creating more competition among low-income people to find housing and pushing low-income people out of the area.
As for education, they do not state their model on their website, but almost all the links related to K-12 educational resources provided on the education page are related to charter schools.
And so, in the guise of a holistic, integrated approach to improving communities is a privatization scheme which seeks to further the undoing of public housing and public education, two of the last bastions which stand in the way of neoliberalism’s capitalist plot for total domination of all national assets.
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Cousins approached Franklin about joining PBC after her finishing her term as Mayor.
The PBC has come to look like a microcosm of Franklin’s executive branch administration at City Hall.
Greg Giornelli serves COO of PBC. He previous served as COO for the City, and prior to that, as Executive Director of East Lake Meadows, which transormed the East Lake public housing into a mixed-income community with a golf course and Atlanta’s first charter school. He is also Cousins’s son-in-law.
Luz Borrero, PBC’s Vice President, oversaw several departments for Franklin.
According to the Chronicle, PBC provides technical assistance and grant assistance to cities across the US where there are individuals who want to implement the East Lake model.
“PBC screens potential partner communities to make sure they have all the necessary ingredients for success,” the Chronicle reported.
These ingredients include: “the opportunity to replace a failed low income housing development with a high-quality, mixed-income housing community; available federal or state funding for the low income housing portion of the mixed-income project; the ability to create a neighborhood charter school; the ability to raise significant philanthropic dollars; and the presence of a lead nonprofit organization with business and civic leaders that will take ownership of the project.”