Rev. Fletcher, Candidate, Slams Councilman Young over Stadium Vote

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(APN) ATLANTA — Rev. Darrion Fletcher, 50, of Walking Through the Vine Ministry, is challenging Councilman Ivory Young (District 3) for his seat on City Council of Atlanta in this November 2013 Municipal Election.

Fletcher is highly critical of Young, including for Young’s support for the new Falcons Stadium to be located in the Vine City community.

“I think the new stadium, they totally took advantage of the people in Vine City and English Avenue because they’re low-income people. I think they did what they wanted to do. I’ve been sitting at the table for three years. They did never did go to the community,” Fletcher told Atlanta Progressive News.

“Our elected official Ivory Young and others should have been more negotiable… to the community impacted. They did what they wanted to do because they’re high stakes players. When you don’t have money, they think you don’t have any say so,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher has already distributed 8,500 copies of a flyer, entitled, “Where Were Our Elected Officials When We Needed Them?,” throughout the community critical of Councilman Young.

One District 3 voter told APN she received the flyer, and that although she did not know Rev. Fletcher prior to receiving it, she read the flyer twice, was impressed by it, and agreed with its contents.

“The residents of the 3rd District voted for people to protect our best interest; that has not been the case with our current council member. Our representative is more interested in projects than the people he was elected to serve,” the flyer states.

“During the time our schools were closing, our councilman was working on a project called Mims Park. A rich man from another district north of Atlanta wanted to bring his family history to a historically black community,” the flyer states.

“Councilman Young encouraged his colleagues that this was a great project, which will be staged on property that has a very bad sewage problem and causes water to back up in the community. Not only did he submit legislation for a 50-year lease so that Mr. Mims would not have to pay taxes while seniors and other homeowners are not protected by this 50 million dollar deal. Mr Young sold our history,” the flyer states.

“We trusted Councilman Young and he let us down for a rich man that lives up north of Atlanta. Councilman Ivory Young must go!”

Walking Through the Vine is an outreach ministry, or a ministry without a physical building, and Fletcher considers himself a community pastor.

His ministry, which received a proclamation from Mayor Kasim Reed, puts on numerous programs for Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods each year.

These events include a Youth Day, a Family and Friends Day, and Meet and Greet Neighbor Day, a crime prevention event, and a Tree Light Up.

At the Tree Light Up, the ministry has routinely fed over a thousand people a soul food dinner each year for the last seven years. The ministry also provides toys for the children at the event, and the event features gospel performers.

“I receive no grants. It all comes out of my own pocket, my wife, and friends,” he said.

Fletcher will be using his event organizing skills to host several campaign events between now and November in District 3.

On April 20, 2013, for example, Fletcher will be having a Gospel Fest at the corner for Joseph P. Brawley Drive and Joseph E. Boone Boulevard, in the parking lot of the church on the corner. The event will feature some eight gospel groups, he said.

“I’ve been getting good feedback. A lot of people are supporting me. A lot of people are upset with Ivory right now,” he said.

Fletcher also serves as Public Safety Chair for NPU-L and on the NPU-L Executive Board.

“When I came [to Vine City] over fifteen years ago, it was a mess. People didn’t know who their leader was. I had guns in my face, but I had to maintain my life because I had to do what God sent me to do,” Fletcher said.

At one point, Fletcher’s ministry had a resource center that he was financing out of his own pocket. He said the center would serve over 150 children at a time. “I was doing counseling for people with drug problems,” he said.

This is Fletcher’s second time running against Young. “I’m more out there than I was last time,” he said.

Fletcher says he has church members and volunteers serving as neighborhood captains for his campaign, and that he has volunteers throughout the district.

“We’ve been going door to door. We’ve got people living in certain communities – we got them working in the community that they live in,” Fletcher said.

Young is likely to receive financial support from the business community and Mayor Reed.

However, Fletcher believes Young is “very vulnerable.”

“I’m not worried about the money situation. I got the people. I’m out here where the peoples are. That’s why I’m starting out early. I’m not worried about the support Ivory gets, I got a different strategy.”

Fletcher also criticized Young’s support for the WalMart recently opened at Historic Westside Village after a Publix grocery store there closed.

Fletcher said he believed that developer H.J. Russell & Company, who sold the property to Walmart in January 2012 for 4.25 million dollars, profited from the investment of public funds in the development of Historic Westside Village.

APN was able to confirm that the City Council of Atlanta indeed approved two pieces of legislation in 2001 authorizing a total of 7.325 million dollars in public funds for the shopping center, including 6.825 million dollars in a Section 108 loan and 500,000 dollars from the 2001 Trust Fund budget.

According to the second piece of legislation, the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Empowerment Zone, as of 2001, had committed a combined 16 million dollars to the project.

In 2012, Saporta Report wrote, “Over the past 15 years, Atlanta provided about $70 million to the mixed use project, all of it through loans and grants from Atlanta’s development arm, according to city records.”

Fletcher also criticized Young for his support of Mims Park.

“You had legislation with Mims Park, you have a fifty year lease. You lease something, you don’t have to pay taxes. What about the senior citizens who cannot afford the property taxes when that 50 million dollar park takes place?” Fletcher said.

“That’s what they were turning their focus to, while they were closing our schools down,” he said.

“They [voters are] very frustrated. You see the community crying out that nobody ever asked them anything,” he said.

Going into the 2009 Municipal Election, Councilman Young was one of the more progressive members of the Atlanta City Council, per the APN Atlanta City Council Scorecard; however, his voting pattern has gone greatly downhill over the last three and a half years.
Young’s current score is 35.14 out of 100, based on 39 votes or other actions dating back to 2003. He is in thirteenth place out of fifteen Councilmembers, meaning he is currently the third least progressive Councilmember.

In 2010, Young supported limiting public comment, and was one of five Councilmembers who refused to disclose his secret vote on the matter, thus leading APN’s News Editor to file a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. Young disclosed his vote two years later after APN prevailed at the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Also in 2010, Young supported the sale of City Hall East to a developer poised to make hundred of millions.

In 2011, Young supported the Yolanda Adrean (District 8) proposal to take away pension benefits from current city employees, completely shifting the pension from defined benefit to defined contribution.

In 2012, Young supported the controversial airport concessions contracts, despite numerous problems with the bidding and selections process; he opposed preventing circuses from beating elephants in the City of Atlanta; he supported a sole source contract with FogFuels; he supported two draconian proposals to increase jail time for certain categories of panhandling; and he supported a Walmart in the Lindbergh neighborhood opposed by the surrounding communities.

In 2013, Young supported the Falcons Stadium, despite the fact that no Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) has been put in place. While an amendment requires the development of a CBA to be approved by the Council, there is no promise that what the Council approves will reflect the actual wishes of the community.

(END/2013)

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