Below is the full unedited transcript of the interview with mayoral candidate Al Bartell held on Feb. 16, 2017, at the offices of Atlanta Black Star.
Present for interview from Atlanta Black Star: Neil Nelson, co-founder and chairman of ABS; Cliff Albright, contributing writer; Tanasia Kenney, staff writer; Kamau Franklin, political and social editor.
Neil Nelson: You hopefully see the entire picture, and you probably have in your mind what you think are the top issues that voters should be thinking about, if they’re not already doing so. Can you just give us a overall view of what those maybe top five issues are?
Al Bartell: Absolutely, absolutely. The top five issues are categorical in nature. The first one is housing, the second one is small business development. The third one’s transportation, fourth one is public safety, and the fifth one is public health. It would be education, but the city of Atlanta doesn’t have an accountability for education. We have an actual board of education, so the fifth one is public health rather than education. Go ahead.
Neil Nelson: Delve in.
Al Bartell: That’s the content, so to speak. The context, as you put it, is a global context. In fact, metropolitan Atlanta in particular, and the city of Atlanta specifically, has been chosen and selected as a global destination. As a structure for government, we are not prepared for that accountability. The way to get prepared for that accountability, we must have leadership and that leadership has to be in the executive office, which we know as the mayor. In order to accept the offer of being selected as global destination, I think that it’s useful, like you say, to build on our history as a people of growing who we are, developing who we are, and sustaining who we are.
In order to grow who we are as a people, develop who we are as a people, and sustain who we are as a people, we have to put preventive measures in place to withstand that which threatens our survival. The most powerful threat to our survival as a people in America, particular in the southeast region of the nation, is being picked as a global destination. We’re not prepared for the onslaught of data that we have to deal with to sustain ourselves as a people in the southeast region of the nation.
The reason for that is we’ve gone through four public policy ages in America. The first public policy age was agriculture. We measured how we dealt with work, play, and worship by our relationship to nature. Then we moved into the industrial age, large smokestacks, industry, workers, organized labor, which shaped our relationship to work, play, and worship. Then we moved into the computer or the information age, where tons of information, computers, the whole automated reference points, shaped our relationship to work, play, and worship. Now we’re in the communications age, where we measure our performance as leadership in the black community by what and how we communicate.
The challenge is in the south, we didn’t have the large smokestacks of industry, thousands of people in the workforce, that whole organized model. We didn’t have that here in the south, nor did we have the 100 story buildings with mainframe computers on every floor. We didn’t have the automated reference point here in the south. In effect, we’ve been snatched out of the agricultural age, and slammed into the communications age, and we’re not prepared for that kind of reference point. Those of us who are leaders, we have to prepare our people to deal with being selected as global destination.
Neil Nelson: Thank you.
Al Bartell: You’re welcome.
Kamau Franklin: Can I [inaudible 00:03:55] real quick, follow up?
Al Bartell: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kamau Franklin: How do we get prepared? What is it that you are suggesting that preparation looks like?
Al Bartell: There’s two things we’ve got to do to get prepared. The first thing we have to do is establish a system of government where we have community, having us eat at the table to the same degree as lobbyists, specialists groups, and corporations. If we don’t put that framework in place, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in south Georgia of making that happen. We have to alter the paradigm of leadership. Currently, our leadership model for governance in this city is a corporate model. That’s not going to work to have neighborhood community faith in small business leaders, and be at the table to the same degree as lobbyists, specialists groups, and corporation.
The next thing we have to do is shift our relationship to financing. We can no longer interact with ourselves as the victims of commerce. We have to interact with ourselves as … Particularly from a historical reference point, that are marketable, that’s why we got picked as a global destination, because those historic reference point, I think which is shifting from a civil rights model only to a business development model, and both of those things being a framework for community at the table like lobbyists, specialists groups, and corporation, and shifting us as a city from a civil rights model to a business model. Most of those things can be accomplished as a mayor of a southern city.
Cliff Albright: Out of the five categories that you gave us, a little bit later on there will be specific questions on housing, small business, but out of the other three, transportation, public safety, and health, pick any one of those three and can you give us a specific policy that you have in mind for any one of those three areas?
Al Bartell: Sure. Let’s go with public safety. You know there’s been a lot of conversation about black males in particular being blown away on the street, what are we going to do about that, the whole relationship of distrust to the police. We have to shift the relationship from police to a militaristic model to a community policing model. That’s the public policy I want to put in place, Cliff, is to shift the dialogue from a militaristic model of police to a community policing model. If we do that, we got a shot at shifting our relationship to violence prevention and shifting our relationship to public safety as a public policy model.
Kamau Franklin: Real quick, then. Then what does that look like in terms of policing? What’s the community policing model look like?
Al Bartell: The community policing model looks like the following. You have to design a budget for community policing. Right now, our budget for police is a resource driven model. How many police can we have? How much equipment can we have? What’s the budget to sustain the car, the gas, and all of that? We have to have a budget for community policing model. Just like we would have the other unit commanders and department commanders of the police force, we have to have a full scale, fully funded department for community policing, and community engagement.
Kamau Franklin: I’m still going to challenge you to dig a little deeper on that. I get the budgeting part, but what does that look like in terms of how the police interact with the community on the street? How does that community model differ from what we have now?
Al Bartell: It differs in three ways. We can set up housing where we house police in these neighborhoods and communities. We used to have public housing projects, we don’t have those anymore. We have large-scale apartments now that function the same way. We want to have police live in those apartment complexes. A lot of the disadvantaged areas in Atlanta are rental areas, over 90% rental areas. We have to set up police where they live in those areas.
The other thing we got to do is design a hybrid model between a car patrol and foot patrol. Right now, maybe 10 to 15% of the patrol is foot patrol, and the other 85% is car patrol. We’ve got to increase the matrix of foot patrol. Having police officers live in the challenged areas, increasing the amount of foot patrol, and then a public communication. Public awareness, public service announcements, where the police communicate directly to the community about what’s available, who they are, where they are, with community advisory councils. If we do those three things, get police to live in the community, be able to shift the dialogue about what we say and how we say it, and be able to shift the whole relationship to who a police officer is, then we can reshape the dialogue on violence prevention.
Kamau Franklin: Do you want to do any follow up, or should I [inaudible 00:09:12].
Neil Nelson: I do have a question about that.
Al Bartell: Sure.
Neil Nelson: Do you see any role in that model for community oversight of the police in the community?
Al Bartell: I do. I want to take the citizen’s review board and make it a critical part of the executive management of the office of the mayor. Right now, it’s for the most part some afterthought with some citizens getting together. They don’t have a reliable budget, no staff, their investigative work is done by the police department themselves. I want to strip that model out and get a reliable citizen’s review board that is fully staffed and inside the budget.
Neil Nelson: You’re saying that if I have a complaint, a police officer we’d have interaction in the community. Today, I go, I talk to a police officer about that.
Al Bartell: Exactly. About your complaint.
Neil Nelson: Right. You’re saying that under your administration, you would have a citizen review board that would take my complaint and investigate the police for that?
Al Bartell: Absolutely, absolutely.
Kamau Franklin: In terms of your motto, you didn’t speak about drug laws, or anything of that nature. I know some of that is handled at the state level, but obviously the enforcement by the police, the mayor can have a lot of input in how these actually operate in the community. Do you have any thinking or policy ideas around some of the current drugs laws, and how enforceable you would want them to be under your administration?
Al Bartell: The drug laws are not working because they’re not connected to the community. It’s all resource driven, how many people can you arrest, how much money can you pull off the street, how much drugs can you pull off the street. There’s no partnership between the community and police about crime prevention. It’s all after the crime has happened. We want to shift the public policy to front end load crime prevention the same way we front end load criminal arrest and prosecution.
Kamau Franklin: I’m going to move to the second official question.
Al Bartell: Sure.
Kamau Franklin: That was a good rabbit hole we went down in. I, and actually Cliff, we’ve had some experience working with outside candidates, third party candidates. Cliff in Alabama, me myself in Jackson, and you being a green party candidate, how hard is it for you, in terms of having not as much resources as other democratic candidates, so therefore how realistic is it for people to believe that you are electable?
Al Bartell: Sure. If I had to compete in a partisan election, the bar would be so high. It would just more be a perfunctory move to deliver a communication, and that’s real. Because it’s non-partisan, everybody’s on the same playing field. I have access to the exact same voter base. The card I’m playing, so to speak, is I’m betting on community unrest going to the polls. We’ve had community unrest in the city before, in the last election, 14 to 17%. The one before that, 18 to 21%. That’s not enough. This time, with the national model being built around community unrest, and some of it being in certain cities, and Atlanta has caught hold of that, I’m betting that that’s going to go to the polls. If that keys up and go to the polls, I’m their candidate, and I’m the next mayor.
Kamau Franklin: Really quick. I’m going to describe you as a left of center candidate.
Al Bartell: Yes, left of center.
Kamau Franklin: The other left of center candidate in your race is Vincent Ford.
Al Bartell: That’s correct.
Kamau Franklin: What’s the difference between you and Vincent Ford [inaudible 00:13:04]?
Al Bartell: The difference between me and Vincent Ford is Vincent does political marketing. I do community engagement. On any given day, a political marketing scenario, Vincent is going to blow you away. The community is now clear, that’s not the model they’re interested in. They’re no longer interested in the political marketing candidate. They want a community engagement candidate. That’s the difference between me and Uncle Vince.
Kamau Franklin: For full disclosure, I used to work for Uncle Vince.
Al Bartell: Vince is a buddy of mine. Vince is my partner. He and I were kidding down at General Assembly the other day. I walked up on him and said, “Hey, Mr. Mayor.” He was like, “You the one who’s Mr. Mayor, hijacking the community agenda.”
Cliff Albright: Just to push it a little bit further on the partisan issue, the issue of partisan politics, party politics, manifests itself in terms of the labels on the ballot-
Al Bartell: Correct.
Cliff Albright: In which case, what you said is absolutely correct. You want an equal playing field.
Al Bartell: I am, I am.
Cliff Albright: Party politics also plays itself out in terms of financing.
Al Bartell: Oh yes, it does.
Cliff Albright: Even without those labels being on the ballots, that infrastructure that supports party candidates-
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Cliff Albright: … Still exists.
Al Bartell: Yes, it’s going to hit.
Cliff Albright: With that in mind, how do you expect to be able to compete with those existing infrastructures, even without the labels [crosstalk 00:14:39] on the ballot?
Al Bartell: I’ve got to use the flaws of the infrastructure to my advantage. For example, you know teamster is part of the labor community, and a faction of the established Democratic party came out and held a fundraiser for Vincent Ford, supportive of Vincent Ford. Media hit, and then died off. Nothing. Peter Armand came out, Buckheads for us. That media hit, died out. Caesar came out, public relations move. Died out. Keisha never did get hers off the ground, and then Kathy had a move with the gay community, and some of the environmental community. Died out. The community drum beat is on a trend. It keeps going, and it’s looking for a candidate. The political structure, one of the most powerful, ingenious, well-built political structure in the history of our nation was the Clinton machine.
Cliff Albright: Which Clinton?
Al Bartell: Oops. I use them as one, but most recently Hilary. You know, you look at numbers, that thing didn’t deliver people to the polls. It did not deliver people to the polls. I have to use that to my advantage, Cliff. I have to come in on the back end and say, “No matter how much money or structure you got, it’s not going to have people go to the polls.” I have to have people go to the polls. The relationships I built in the community, each one of those neighborhood associations is a quarter of a million dollar media hit on its own merit. I’ve got to activate that and use that to counteract the fact that I’m not going to be able to afford that multimillion dollar media market in metro. I’m not going to be able to afford the millions of dollars that it’s going to take for staff and get out the vote folks. I’m not going to be able to afford that. I’ve got to be able to use the fact that none of that will mobilize people to go to the polls, and as a community relationships candidate, I can mobilize people to go to the polls.
Neil Nelson: I’ll follow up on that. I’m an engineer by training, so logistically, the [inaudible 00:17:07] logistics to say, how do you go from where you are today to execute that model that’s tough on that strategy, and at the end of this process produce that? I hear the analysis of it, but I’m not seeing yet how do you go from piecemealing this thing, putting it together, and saying, “These communities, these organizations, these players are going to be on my side for these reasons.” And get the vote out. What does that look like day to day going forward?
Al Bartell: Let’s take it from engineering statistical perspective.
Neil Nelson: Sure.
Al Bartell: You know, there’s two approaches to engineering. One is the Newtonian approach where it’s cause and effect. The other one is Einstein’s approach about the theory of relativity. I have 212 neighborhood associations throughout the city of Atlanta. They all know each other, and they have their own communications framework. As an engineering perspective, I’ve got from computer science, I’ve got to be able to input data in. Whatever I put in there is going to come back out. I put garbage in, garbage back out again. The computer engineering fact is a social engineering model. The structure is already in place. What’s missing is the design of the message. Our messages in the south have been designed either by a charismatic model or a resource-based model. I want to switch and use a communication-based model and use data to put that information into the already existing model.
Tanasia Kenney: In 1990, the city of Atlanta was about 67% African American, and about right now it’s about 50% African American.
Al Bartell: Sure.
Tanasia Kenney: What policies do you plan to enact in order to incentivize the reversal of African Americans leaving the city?
Al Bartell: Well, let me use a more cultural term. Some of us begin to break down the language of people of African descent. There’s two cultural languages, if you will. One of them is African Americans, the other one is black folks. African Americans have moved out to the suburbs. Black folks are still in the city. When that number decreases, the African American population decreases. What I’m interested in doing to attract that back, one, and decrease the outflow, is put small business development at the same public policy level as corporate employment. Our current job creation model in our city is a corporate employment model. That is not going to work. It’s just not.
We don’t have the union strength like we used to, Cliff, to be able to sustain that anymore. What we can do, on any given day you can go to the community and see people selling things. The entrepreneurship matrix is high, and it has a value on it. If it could get some public policy support, then it could sustain itself. If we sustain the entrepreneurship model and the small business model, we can attract African Americans back in the city, and keep them from leaving, and not just have a pool of just black folks.
Neil Nelson: I like that. I’m going to piggyback on that response with another question that we had planned for later. Since we’re already there, let’s talk about that. In a small business, obviously that’s what we are, we’re a small, black-owned business, and we understand the pain points of small businesses. What exactly though can a mayor do to help small businesses in general grow? Again, what I’ve seen in the research says that the top three issues for small businesses are finance, finance, and finance.
Al Bartell: To the third power, that’s right.
Neil Nelson: What can the mayor do now, the current mayor should be doing that he’s not doing, and what would you do to help those small businesses come back in the city, stay in the city, and most importantly, grow?
Al Bartell: Grow. I think what the current mayor should be doing, and what I will be doing, is the exact same thing that Maynard Holbrook Jackson did. It’s not rocket science. He knew the impact of a city budget and city contracts. Particularly there can be link to federal dollars and philanthropic dollars. He went to the banking industry and said the following, “I will move my money if you do not support a small business development framework.” I’m clear that if we had a mayor who had the courage or the intention to do that, it would have the same impact. The resources we have here to sustain subcontracting, like the airport, the data card is coming up in midtown, all of metro that feeds off a data matrix now, we can sustain a small business network by having the city budget and all the contracts that a city budget impact be leveraged for the banking industry to support a small business development model.
Maynard Holbrook Jackson did that. I have not seen the last three mayors do that, and I’m interested in putting that back in place. You know, it’s not rocket science. The model that New Orleans used as a comeback model was that model. When Mitch, the new mayor of New Orleans, decided that he was going to call a meeting of the banking industry and talk about numbers and support and financing, they bought into it because they could see the growth development, they just didn’t have any access to it. It’s not going to be transported to Detroit. The new underpinning model, they’re not lobbying for corporations to come in there. They’re going to set up a small business model, and the way you do that is by having a city administration move that money to areas that can sustain the banking industry. The banking industry is not going to move unless there’s sustainable data that is resource-driven. The only resource in challenged communities is a city budget and city contracts.
Kamau Franklin: [inaudible 00:24:17] any follow up? Okay. [inaudible 00:24:22]
Tanasia Kenney: Affordable housing has been in the news lately with the belt line area not [crosstalk 00:24:32] its affordable housing goals, and widespread gentrification of [crosstalk 00:24:36] placed in certain neighborhoods. On your issue page, you mentioned the disrupt of urban gentrification. Can you explain what that is?
Al Bartell: Sure. When gentrification is a participatory model, by that I mean gentrification includes the disadvantages, then you can work out scenarios, and it’s going to take time. When gentrification includes the disadvantages a model can be set up to impact all of the forces that cause gentrification that is disruptive. Disruptive urban gentrification is gentrification that does not include the disadvantages.
For example, the housing market in metro is going to be funded, no question. There’s Northside Drive, and the mayor’s out there with a starter pistol, and he pulls that pistol, and that thing’s going to rush across Northside Drive and eat up everything between Northside Drive and 285. If we consider that the people who live over there cannot even meet the threshold of what’s currently called affordable housing, so a market-driven model is not going to work. You got to have a support-driven model that works. The only one currently that works in the southern part of the United States is what’s called community land trust, where the community owns the land, and you in effect own the house.
When you leave, you leave all that behind. You don’t get to sell it, you don’t get to do the windfall profit. There’s several zones throughout the city where we can create a community land trust. We went to the mayor, we went to the city council, we asked them to do it, and because they couldn’t justify it in a market-driven model where the right people couldn’t get a return on their investments, they wouldn’t move on it.
A city budget and a county budget and a federal budget can be designed to impact community land trust and community land trust zones and set up the kind of affordable housing that’s going to be necessary. Because the affordable housing model currently leaves out 95.3% of the people that can’t meet the criteria for an affordable housing model. We have to have a community land trust model that worked in the early 80s that we will be able to sustain at the level of an urban neighborhood, and prevent urban gentrification, disruptive urban gentrification.
Kamau Franklin: One quick follow up. I noticed a couple of small models in Atlanta, like in Pittsburgh there’s a small land trust, but they seem to be underfunded, under capitalized-
Al Bartell: They are.
Kamau Frankiln: … In terms of trying to move forward with it.
Al Bartell: They are. They are underfunded.
Kamau Franklin: You mentioned federal dollars, county dollars, and city dollars.
Al Bartell: That’s correct.
Kamau Franklin: Let’s imagine that the federal dollars won’t come, and the county dollars, you know-
Al Bartell: Can’t come.
Kamau Franklin: … They might be a little, yeah. Particularly with everything being [crosstalk 00:27:54] to the city these days.
Al Bartell: Exactly.
Kamau Franklin: Where would you get that money in the budget to sort of reorientate towards that model, and what kind of fight back would you expect from developers who say, you know, leave this model alone because we like it, because we get rich on it.
Al Bartell: Absolutely. One of the things that is one of the best-kept secret in Atlanta is one of the largest land owners in the city of Atlanta is the city of Atlanta. The whole reference point to land ownership in the city of Atlanta is huge. The things we could do with community reinvestment dollars from the banking industry. The city puts up a match, community reinvestment dollars are available. We just have not had the political courage or more specifically, when we use a corporate model of governance, and a corporate model of development, then that’s not going to happen.
We have to use a community-based model of development. The city being such a land, a large land owner, we could get at least 35 to 40% of the rental community in community land trust today, because of just the land that the city owns. We challenge the elected leadership, who say that they’re only going to invest in a market-driven model because they don’t have the land. We challenge that, because the data shows that over 30% of development land in the city of Atlanta, the city owns.
Kamau Franklin: Cliff, the next question is yours, but that question may be answered, so I don’t know if you want to switch to the urban environment subject.
Cliff Albright: Yeah, maybe, or there may be more. Is the community land trust your primary vehicle for addressing the affordable housing issue? If not, are there any other … ?
Al Bartell: It’s the prime issue.
Cliff Albright: That’s prime?
Al Bartell: It’s the prime issue. It is absolutely the prime, number one issue. Absolutely. It’s the one that Marian Berry used up in Washington DC, and then Coleman Young used it in Detroit. Briarly used it out in Los Angeles, and so the community land trust model works. Man, that corporate market-driven model was so strong, and Wall Street backed it on the investment calendar, that you couldn’t even get people to talk about community land trust. Now that we’ve separated the hedge fund money from the Wall Street investment model, we can bring that conversation back to bear.
Kamau Franklin: Really quick, what about renters though? What about where do renters fit into your land trust model?
Al Bartell: The land trust qualifies people as a participatory model rather than a resource model. Renters have no resources, but you can put a contract in place that forces them to have practices of participating, and sustaining the property, caring about the property. You can train them to do financial [inaudible 00:31:02], you can train them to do housing upkeep, you can train them to look at all the models it would take, like winterization, and heating, and air conditioning. You can train them on being able to sustain that model.
Kamau Franklin: Would you put any resources into building affordable housing particularly for renters?
Al Bartell: Absolutely. Multi-family can be a key component. Over on Joseph E. Bloom Boulevard in particularly, the multi-family model worked real, real well. We took them helicopters and went in there and took the bluff back, let’s put multi-family housing in there.
Kamau Franklin: Cliff, you can go.
Cliff Albright: In your issue section of your website, you say you want to protect the environment-
Al Bartell: I do.
Cliff Albright: … From urban pollution and urban density. Can you describe what you mean by that, and what laws and/or policy initiatives would you enact to counter those things?
Al Bartell: Sewer laws. Our sewer laws are horrible when it comes to being able to address urban density. To the degree that we had to “sue” the city of Atlanta. We were betting on the EPA to back our hand, and they didn’t. The consent decree went in, and it was supposed to be finalized by 2013 or there was going to be a huge fine, and a court monitor would take over the management of that sewer system. Because President Obama wanted to get re-elected, and rightfully so, and Atlanta was a great fundraising base, and rightfully so, the power broker said, “Well, if you want that to happen here, we need an extension on our consent decree.” They moved it out to 2026, and the EPA signed off on it.
What I want to do, Cliff, is I want to make sewer redesign a part of public policy development. Nothing moves on the development scale unless the sewer system can support it. That means we’ve got to go from combined sewers to separated sewers. We’ve got to go from just having it be an afterthought in the Department of Watershed Management to an entire what’s called a public utility. We don’t have a public utility in our city. We’re not going to be able to manage an environmental concern without having a public utility. As mayor, one of the first departments I want to create is a public utility department, a public utility department. That way, I can restore the sewer system, restore our relationship to environmental policy, and restore our relationship to state, county, and federal government in the area of environmental protection that we currently do not have.
Kamau Franklin: On your issue page, on your website, you say that you want to see the city shift from data as a threat to data as a possibility.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Kamau Franklin: Can you tell us what that actually means, right, and can you provide some examples of where the city has seen data as a threat?
Al Bartell: Okay. Well, the contracting strategy of our city is currently being challenged. People have been arrested and indicted. The first reference point that was communicated to the mayor was put on a data display. He said he had one million, 1.4 million pages of data. What they actually got to see, that part of it was not even legible, big gaps in the categories, the relationship to data entry is missing. The relationship to tracking contracts from a data reference point is missing. The capacity of our city to manage from a data-driven reference point is only at about 22, 23%. The planning organization for the state is all over us about not meeting the requirements and giving us exceptions, and so I think that is our Achilles’ heel. We have a very, very poor relationship to communicating data, collecting data, and distributing data. If we put 21st century strategies in place to communicate data, collect data, and distribute data, we can increase our effectiveness per department by as much as 250%.
Neil Nelson: Follow up on that. That estimate of improvement, where’s that coming from? What’s the source of that?
Al Bartell: Georgia Tech.
Neil Nelson: Is that a department of sorts?
Al Bartell: Yeah, they have an entire city planning department over at Georgia Tech talking about the global model. Georgia Tech’s model has been engineering. As of six months ago, they shifted their entire hiring of professors and student body to impact data.
Kamau Franklin: For my clarity, are you suggesting also that the city is actually losing money because of its poor record keeping or inability to analyze data-
Al Bartell: That’s correct, yes.
Kamau Franklin: … Do you have any estimates? You promoted that it’s going to be a big shift.
Al Bartell: About a million dollars a month.
Kamau Franklin: A million a month?
Al Bartell: At least. In each subdivision. On any given day, a city department will have as many as 10 to 12 subdivisions, and each one of those subdivisions, we’re losing at least a million dollars a day because of our relationship to data.
Kamau Franklin: Let me be clear. First you said a month, and then you just said a day. Which number are you giving?
Al Bartell: That was a month. Million dollars a month.
Neil Nelson: What’s the source of that? If you remember.
Al Bartell: The source of that is the data planning analysis that Georgia Tech has done over time.
Cliff Albright: The basis of the million is … What is that million made of?
Al Bartell: The million is made of five reference points. The first reference point is the equipment usage, not the cost of the equipment, but the equipment usage. The time that it takes for someone to familiarize themselves with the equipment, look at what product they want to produce, and by when that product can be produced costs us time and money. One is the relationship of people to equipment.
The other relationship is the relationship of software to the equipment. Outdated software, and picking cheap software products on the market rather than effective, long-term, progressive software. If the equipment relationship of people to the equipment, the relationship of software to the equipment, and then the management structure is a relationship-based management structure. Tracking communication is relationship-based rather than data-based. It wastes time, decreases effectiveness.
Then the fourth one, and most critical, is the reporting system. The reporting system is still a paper-based system. Staff meetings are generally driven by paper, and are no longer reliable. Then the last one is the financing. Our bond market could be tripled if we could increase our relationship to data-driven management practices.
Kamau Franklin: Do you have a follow up to that?
Neil Nelson: No. The data planning, or the city planning department at Georgia Tech, is that a monthly report, annual report that they put out?
Al Bartell: They do an annual.
Neil Nelson: Okay, got it.
Tanasia Kenney: Also on your website you have an outline of ways for stakeholders to engage with government. How do you practically see yourself enacting these ideas?
Al Bartell: It’s a capacity building strategy. We have to build the capacity of neighborhood leaders, community leaders, faith leaders, and small business leaders to communicate data, collect data, and distribute data. For example, on any given day, we can go into the community and see entrepreneurs selling stuff, making things happen, hospitality. How many laptops do you see of people collecting data and information from their customers? How many laptops do you see that can say, “Here, I can give you a print-out right now of how to be in communication with me and the kind of products that are available, and the kind of events that’s going to last from March to October.” That kind of capacity building for small businesses would be critical.
The communication relationship is already in place neighborhood to neighborhood to neighborhood to neighborhood. People grew up here, they know each other, but none of that’s on data. None of that has been captured. None of that information has been collected, so to speak. The faith community, on any given Sunday, the amount of communication, and people, and impact, and contacts is huge. How much of this is on data? You’ve got major churches who you see a group of people huddled in the back of the church on Sunday morning, holding programs that they printed up the night before.
The whole relationship to neighborhood leaders, community leaders, faith leaders, and small business leaders, and building their capacity for data, would give us the opportunity to build economic, social, political, and faith-based structures that we currently do not have. That’s what it’s going to take, by the way, to address the challenges that come with being selected as global destination. That’s why on the website I put, “Neighborhood leaders, community leaders, faith leaders, and small business leaders.” Then I put, “Communicate data, collect data, and distribute data.” Then the last part of where you measure the capacity building is in the design of projects, programs, ministries, initiatives, coalitions, collaboratives, and networks.
Kamau Franklin: Open up. Do you want to?
Cliff Albright: Yeah. Well, no. Just move on.
Kamau Franklin: No, no, no. I’m not moving on. I had a follow up. Structurally, this may be you may have a background in engineering, I feel like this is like an engineering thing. For us lay people, I see an outline, right? What I’m looking for is how does that practically put into some kind of policy or program. Are you talking about revising the NPU system, are you talking about creating some new system in which you bring all these stakeholders together? If so, to do what? To implement what? I’m trying to figure out, we saw the outline, I was like, “Okay. I see that.” What does that mean, practically speaking for you as mayor and some initiative that you’re pushing for?
Al Bartell: Practically speaking, it means that we have to do a language match. A resource-driven management structure, which is what our city has, all of that stuff is in project management language. The community operates from relationship language. We have to do what’s called taking folks down flip-chart alley. It would be useful for each neighborhood planning unit to have a million-dollar budget to do that. To say, “Here’s the criteria of a project. Here’s what plan means. Here’s what development means. Here’s what evaluation means. Here’s what analysis means.”
Over here, the faith community says, “We just want to get together and do the Lord’s work.” That’s the language. We got to show the language match. Community says, “Well, we just want to get together and clean up the neighborhood and make it better for everybody.” That’s the language context. It would be useful if a neighborhood planning unit had the money to put that kind of capacity building and training development in place to shift the relationship from a relationship-driven communication to a data-based communication.
Neil Nelson: I’m following so far. Help me though with how on Sunday morning, back to the Sunday morning with the program, how does that help the city of Atlanta or other stakeholders do business better, just live better, besides the church itself?
Al Bartell: Sure.
Neil Nelson: Connect those dots.
Al Bartell: Let’s take the language you just used called do business better. On any given day, a church has 40% of the people in there who are selling something. The top of the list is customers who get their hair done at people’s houses. The network for that is in the church. People who do babysitting, the network for that is in the church. Cars, get your car fixed, the network for that is in the church. If we considered that the church is already a reliable business development network, and develop some public policy to pull it out of the proselytization into this is the fabric of what sustains the community from a city policy perspective, then we could shift the dialogue, shift the participation, and shift the impact on a Sunday morning.
Neil Nelson: It’s clear what you mean by that. Still, it needs a bit more, if you don’t mind.
Al Bartell: Sure.
Neil Nelson: How do you take that data as the city of Atlanta, and use it, you know, in concrete ways? I get that in the city, in the church, on a given Sunday, you have a number of people who are providing services as entrepreneurs to maybe other members in the community at large. What does that data … How does the data work for the city, and how does, I guess, Person X, who’s not part of the church community benefit from that?
Al Bartell: Two things.
Neil Nelson: Sure.
Al Bartell: One is, that church is a part of the neighborhood planning unit system in Atlanta. Okay? They are willing to be on the city’s website. If they’re willing to be on the city’s website of a neighborhood planning unit, that immediately puts them inside of a reliable public policy conversation. We can say to them, “Are you willing to establish a 501 C3 and so social impact? Are you willing to establish a community development corporation? Are you willing to establish a small business corporation and be able to have a framework for customer service, delivery, product design, all of that?” A sitting mayor can ask those questions, and put those resources in place to make that happen, all because each one of those churches is inside of a neighborhood planning unit, which is an administrative arm of the city.
Cliff: I’m also trying to picture and connect the dots. What I’m hearing is essentially that you want the city to increase its budget to each of the NPUs to be able to provide more capacity building for organizations within the NPU?
Al Bartell: You keep talking like that Cliff, I’m going to have to hire you. The answer to your question is yes. Because that’s what we did with the empowerment zone, to Bill Campbell’s credit. One of the things he went to to set up the empowerment zone was the faith community. He extracted that kind of information, extracted that kind of data, set it up, and it was running, and effective. Then he shifted his focus and went to Washington DC to get the resources that he need from Department of Housing, and then forgot all about what he had put in place. The model is there to be able to develop those kind of relationships as solid, reliable public policy strategy. Yes Cliff, that’s exactly what I want to do.
Kamau Franklin: I think we kind of covered that next question.
Neil Nelson: Yeah, I already asked that question. We’re clear on that.
Kamau Franklin: You want to do … I think is it Cliff?
Cliff Albright: That’s me. Would you support the establishment of a minimum wage in Atlanta? If so, how much should it be and why?
Al Bartell: Love those labor questions. Here’s the deal, Cliff. We have to establish a collective bargaining strategy in our city. The current strategy in place of strong-arm tactics for political marketing strategies is a disservice to the labor community and a disservice to the employee base. If we had a collective bargaining strategy, the minimum wage would automatically be a part of it. It wouldn’t be some afterthought that we now got to lobby for, and march for, and advocate for if we had a collective bargaining strategy.
We don’t have to have a certified public policy for a union in order to have a collective bargaining strategy. We can have unions be at the table designing a collective bargaining strategy in our city. If we do that, the minimum wage would come along with it, Cliff. We can’t just do a stand-alone reference point called minimum wage, because there’s no framework, no structure in place that can manage all the partners, that can manage the data, that can manage the governance. To just do a minimum wage without governance is not going to work, and we can’t sustain that.
If we do collective bargaining strategies, then we can do a minimum wage, we can sustain it, and we won’t have to use the financing of the pitching system to hijack the rights of employees. Right now, we use the firing of the pitching system to hijack the rights of employees. Under a collective bargaining strategy, we could challenge that. The city council has the authority to put one in place, just like the mayor was. Now, it’s going to take political courage to do that, and I’m willing to put that kind of matrix in place.
Cliff Albright: Just to make sure I heard you correctly, so the assumption is that with collective bargaining automatically comes-
Al Bartell: Minimum wage.
Cliff Albright: … A minimum wage.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Kamau Franklin: As the city though, you’re usually on the other side of the collective bargaining. Are you suggesting that you’re going to be less adversarial to labor in terms of what they demand for higher wages of some kind? I mean, it sounds good, don’t get me wrong. People are going to sit down and talk, and work it out together as collectively collective. The labor union’s going to come at you and say, “Yeah, we think our employees, do you think the city employees should make $35 an hour?” That’s not collective bargaining strategy. Aren’t you going to be put in a position of having to fight back against that and say it should be lower? It’s not going to be a kumbaya moment with the labor unions in the room.
Al Bartell: Point made, point made. It’s not supposed to be a kumbaya moment. It’s supposed to be fiercely competitive. It’s supposed to be fiercely competitive. That’s why you have what’s called a collective bargaining strategy. It’s based on collective bargaining. The city and labor are at the same effect of being selected as global destination. Neither one of them is prepared for that. You can’t have a reliable wage system in a municipality or a county without having the government accountability at the table. The competitiveness comes along with it. I’m not proposing kumbaya. I’m proposing fierce, hard knuckle competitiveness inside of a collective bargaining strategy.
Kamau Franklin: I just got to be clear though. Do you support, even if it’s a collective bargaining strategy, do you support a raising of the minimal amount, the minimum wage, or a standard minimum wage in Atlanta even under a system of collective bargaining?
Al Bartell: I support raising it to what the market will bear. The metropolitan Atlanta market can bear $23, $24 an hour, because we’re just that collected to the global economy that’s becoming a data-driven model. The manufacturing base that strapped places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, those rust bucket cities, we didn’t have that here. We’re at the ground floor on building an economy. The economy that’s going to be built in the southeast region of the nation can support an escalation in the wages, absolutely.
Cliff Albright: I guess there’s two ways to look at this, right? If we’re talking about a city worker minimum wage-
Al Bartell: Yes, yes.
Cliff Albright: … Or a overall market minimum wage, and cities have tried, well, some have gone around just looking at what they pay their workers, and some looked at it as city wide. What you’re just talking about, the collective bargaining strategy, you’re talking about city and city workers, right?
Al Bartell: That’s correct.
Cliff Albright: In which case, you’re the market.
Al Bartell: That’s correct.
Cliff Albright: What the question is is how high would you be willing … You’re saying that I support their right to collectively bargain, and once they do that, we’ll figure out how high that wage can go?
Al Bartell: No, the other way around. The other way around. A city government in a non-manufacturing economy becomes customer-driven, not product-driven. In a customer-driven market, in the southeast region of the nation, that’s going to be about data and communication. A city government becomes a functioning reference point inside of that larger market. With that is going to come the resources to operate all of that. It makes the case for the contracting process as opposed to the staffing up process, which brings small businesses and corporations into the mix. You have city employees, and at the same time you have contracted labor, and that’s the balance that drives up the wages. If you’ve got all one, all contracting, or all privatization, that’s not a reliable model. If you’ve got all high-staff employees, that’s not a reliable model. You have to do a balance of both, and when you can do that, it drives up the wages.
Neil Nelson: For clarity’s sake, for my clarity at least, if you’re the mayor, do you have an idea what that number would be inside the city employee?
Al Bartell: A city employee now, given that we’re in a data-driven economy, we could justify $17.50 per employee, absolutely.
Neil Nelson: That’s based on what kind of data?
Al Bartell: Based on two data sets.
Neil Nelson: Sure.
Al Bartell: Let’s look at water and sewer. 80% of the water and sewer money doesn’t come from taxes, right? We’re now beginning to make the case that all the other city services doesn’t have to come from taxes either. Because people are willing to pay for what they use, rather than have a standard rate. We have to have the technology and the software in place to make that simple, and we don’t have that.
Neil Nelson: You’re saying, just so I’m clear, you can shift the data, we shift the [inaudible 00:58:43] of the administration and the services so the residents of the city towards one where people are looking at where you’re seeing what people are using, and billing them for it, then the price and revenue go up, you can pay your employees more.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Neil Nelson: Has there been any studies though that show what that-
Al Bartell: Cleveland.
Neil Nelson: No, I’m saying in Atlanta, have there been any studies in Atlanta that looks at current situation and says, “Okay, based on these fundamental assumptions, and these financial data points, if we go to that model, this is where the revenue will be for the city.”
Al Bartell: It hasn’t been politically savvy for a sitting mayor to release that kind of baseline data to an academic community for them to study.
Neil Nelson: Interesting.
Al Bartell: If they did that, the people who we’ve elected mayor would not have gotten elected.
Kamau Franklin: Can I just [inaudible 00:59:40] some clarity on one of the things that you just said? You said they would pay for what they use, and based on his follow up, the suggestion was they would bring in more revenue.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Kamau Franklin: Would that be higher rates for people?
Al Bartell: Not at all, not at all.
Kamau Franklin: Why not? More revenue means I pay more, that means higher rates. Why doesn’t that make sense?
Al Bartell: It doesn’t mean I’m paying more because the rate is higher. It means I’m paying for what I use.
Kamau Franklin: However though, they would pay more?
Neil Nelson: Some would pay more, right? Because if we’re all paying equal right now, I’m assuming we’re all paying equal, it’s a dollar whatever a month, in this room, and then that’s going to be, what’s that, $7? If we change the model to usage-
Al Bartell: Exactly.
Neil Nelson: … Then you would charge some people less-
Al Bartell: Exactly.
Neil Nelson: … Because some people are losing less, and some people more.
Al Bartell: Some people more, yeah.
Kamau Franklin: How do we know that’s going to bring up revenue as opposed to bring down revenue? Maybe there’s more people-
Neil Nelson: Paying less.
Kamau Franklin: … Paying less. I mean, it’s almost a follow up to the other question.
Al Bartell: Point made, point made. The design of the quality of life means the following. There’s things you can’t do anymore because it’s language as unsanitary. You have to do, you have to use a particular baseline. Then the quality of life and the “style of living” in metropolitan Atlanta is a high style of living, and people are willing to pay for it. The data points that out. Where the data points it out is in the role of gentrification. The other 150 counties get elected on saying, “You pay more if you live in Atlanta. You will pay more if you be like Atlanta.” Yet the population still moves to the urban city because they’re willing to pay for it. That’s what the data points out.
Tanasia Kenney: On your website, you have a question about revitalizing the community through infrastructure projects and initiatives and things like that. Can you give me some specific examples of how you’ll enact policy to build infrastructure, and what does that word mean for you?
Al Bartell: Reliably so, and in my opinion justifiably so, the criticism of the Republican governance strategy is justified. One of the things that they are going to do is fund infrastructure. The market for funding infrastructure in America is in the southeast region of the nation. That money is going to come out of Washington DC through the south like Grant through Richmond. That’s a old Civil War term. The question is can we develop an entrepreneurship approach to city government, and take advantage of the infrastructure funding that is coming? That’s what I mean by an infrastructure strategy based on public policy and the funding that’s going to be coming.
Many of the arguments is made in urban American that we’re not going to be able to do X, X, X, because they’re going to cut off the funding, they’re going to cut off this, and they’re going to cut off that. That assessment is accurate, except for when it comes to infrastructure. Because they’re clear that the job creation base, the job sustainability base, and all those markets that’s going to fund the investment ratio up in New York, is going to come from urban framework. That infrastructure has to be in those urban frameworks. We as a city need to position ourselves to start to plan for that now. On my website, I’m talking about now, let’s do the planning. Let’s do the planning.
Cliff Albright: There’s an assumption that this money is coming from-
Al Bartell: It’s not an assumption. It’s in the budget.
Kamau Franklin: There’s no budget yet that says that’s happening.
Al Bartell: There’s no budget’s been approved. Let me step inside of your point, Cliff. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Cliff Albright: I mean, that is the point. If that doesn’t come, because I think we’ve seen it’s not a guarantee, you know, there may be infrastructure spending, but we’ve seen that the new federal government is no fan of places that didn’t vote a certain way.
Al Bartell: That’s correct enough.
Cliff Albright: Poughkeepsie might be getting a whole budget of infrastructure, but we don’t know what Atlanta’s going to be getting.
Al Bartell: I hear you.
Cliff Albright: If we assume, or we don’t assume any increase in federal support, state support, because we know the history of state support for Atlanta.
Al Bartell: Sure, sure.
Cliff Albright: Just off of what we now know, the status quo, what would your plan, what do we have within our own means to do our own infrastructure spending? If the cavalry doesn’t come, what will you do?
Al Bartell: If the cavalry doesn’t come, then the banks are going to fork over that money. Because all the investment scenarios of the banking industry is based on infrastructure. If it doesn’t come, they’re going to fund it themselves. Case and point, we, Atlanta, got picked as a global destination. We talk about American football and the Super Bowl. American football has a Super Bowl once a year. Soccer has events like that two or three times a week. The Mercedes Benz stadium, that’s not an American football stadium. That is a global soccer stadium that was built with private money. What I’m saying to you, if money for infrastructure doesn’t come from Washington DC, the private sector’s going to fund it, because they want to participate in that global economy.
Kamau Franklin: Will they fund what you want? They’ll fund what they think makes them money, but will they fund what the city wants them to fund? For instance, some cities are now opposed to stadiums.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Kamau Franklin: [inaudible 01:06:41] stuff with Turner Field, where the community itself was back and forth around who should get that contract, what should happen with that development. Private developers, I believe, want more box stores, bigger stadiums, and then there’s an argument to be made, is that what’s good for the city? Just because there might be private equity that continues to flow, how does that build the infrastructure that the city itself may be concerned about?
Al Bartell: Sure, point made. A redesigned sewer system is a redesigned sewer system for everybody. Because that stadium now puts the west side on the map, that entire sewer system all the way up to 285 has to be redesigned. Everybody benefit. Redesign transportation roads and the maintenance of them-
Kamau Franklin: Before you go on-
Al Bartell: I’m sorry, go ahead.
Kamau Franklin: … Are you suggesting that the private equity, or private businesses through the city would have to pay for that new infrastructure in terms of the sewer or the roads?
Al Bartell: Absolutely, absolutely. If it doesn’t come from Washington-
Kamau Franklin: … Expanding of it, yeah.
Al Bartell: … If it doesn’t come from Washington DC, the private sector’s going to fund it, no question.
Kamau Franklin: Why? There was a question. Why would they fund it? What’s going to make them fund it? They haven’t funded it in the past, and obviously we’re at this state because no one just probably has necessarily put a lot of money into it, what is it that you’re going to do that’s going to make them fund it now?
Al Bartell: The reason why they haven’t funded it in the past is because the technology of infrastructure has not been linked to the investment criteria. This is the first time in the history of the investment community that infrastructure has been linked to the investment criteria. If I don’t have an infrastructure in place, there’s no way I can get a return on my investment. The global market is going to drive that return on investment, and put whatever they need to put in place to make that happen.
Kamau Franklin: Would you say that you are saying that you would tell private investors, “The city’s not going to pay for it, so if you want it, you have to pay for it.” Is that basically the strategy, I mean?
Al Bartell: That’s a strategy, to tell them.
Kamau Franklin: Is that your strategy?
Al Bartell: No. My strategy is they’re going to offer to pay for it. The private sector’s going to offer to pay for it. The thing I have to do as mayor is make sure that the disadvantaged populations don’t get displaced when they do that. The private sector’s going to offer. I’m not going to have to demand them to pay for it. They’re going to bring that money in here and pay for it. All of the development that’s going on around the old stadium in Georgia State, and the developer, they went and bought all of underground. You think the city’s going to put money in there? Not at all.
The case that the developer who bought the underground made is the following. When we came in here, the sewer system was broken. The buildings, the heat was escaping, and the air conditioning weren’t made. We made an investment in those three systems, and now the property has saved the city $5.7 million per month. That’s the argument that they’re making. I’m not going to have to demand it. They’re going to offer it. The thing I’m going to have to do, my man, is make sure that the people who are impacted by it get to stay here and not be gentrified.
Cliff Albright: I think the example you gave points out the problem, right? They invested in the heating and the air in that facility.
Al Bartell: Yes.
Cliff Albright: While down the road, nothing got invested over there. I think what we all recognize is that private business has an interest in making sure, you know, the banks have an interest in making sure that the roads around the dome, around the bends, are going to be nice roads. They don’t have as much of an interest in building up infrastructure in other parts of the city. You know, private money will protect its interest, but the nature of city-wide infrastructure is it’s a collective good. I think that’s the thing we’re pushing back on a little. You know, what leverage you have on them to not just make sure that their immediate surroundings have plumbing and roads and all of that, but there’s investment elsewhere throughout the city.
Al Bartell: The leverage is, if you want to call it leverage, is knowing that they already have plans in place to build out everything in the city. The private sector already has plans in place, and that includes any infrastructure that comes with it. The leverage is for us to know that and plan for it. What was that that Marvin Harrington said? If you’re not on the menu, if you’re not designing the menu or something, you’re on the menu to get eaten. The operative language for that is you have to do the planning now. If we don’t do the planning to include ourselves in that, then we are going to get eaten alive. I think that a sitting mayor has the authority, and has the accountability, to do that kind of planning.
Kamau Franklin: Any follow up?
Neil Nelson: I would say following on that point, because the point came from if the federal government doesn’t fund the infrastructure, then your argument is that the private sector will do so.
Al Bartell: Absolutely.
Neil Nelson: With banks and others, and other private monies. I think the challenge with that though is that you go back to a market-driven scenario.
Al Bartell: Right.
Neil Nelson: Where the market controls the focus and privatization of development, which is in contrast with what you were laying out in the last hour for developing and for Atlanta. How do you then balance those two realities?
Al Bartell: The market’s a very funny thing. The market responds to planning. You had thousands of cases where big private sector head comes in, multi-billion dollar hit, this community over here sets up a community development corporation. This community over here does nothing. They get displaced, and have to pronounce the word Douglas County. These people over here have a community developed corporation in place because they planned for it, and the private sector funds their small businesses, funds their daycare, funds their school. The only thing that was missing is these folks did the planning. I think a mayor, a mayor, should induce the planning strategy with the neighborhood planning units and those neighborhood associations do those community development corporations.
Neil Nelson: I see. You’re saying that the defensive is the offensive of planning ahead.
Al Bartell: Exactly.
Neil Nelson: For the private sector, they’re coming anyways-
Al Bartell: They’re coming anyways.
Neil Nelson: … Plan for them, and then at least get some things out of the deal.
Al Bartell: Absolutely. That’s the way Anthony did it in Washington DC, when Marian Berry stopped being mayor, and Anthony took over being mayor, Anthony was a planner and an accountant. All those community development corporations in Washington DC, they’re still there today.
Neil Nelson: How do you make sure that those planning units are really, as a mayor, if you can, what kind of policies do you put in place to make sure that they remain community controlled and not … Because we look at the current situation with the current mayor-
Al Bartell: That’s correct, that’s correct, yes.
Neil Nelson: … Is he probably thinks he’s doing the same thing you’re doing, which is that he’s saying, “Hey, I’m bringing the money into Atlanta, big corporations, big banks are coming in.” I went to one of his presentations or meetings last year, and he’s saying the similar thing with different words. How do you make sure that it’s not just the big corporations that eventually come? Because big capital, private money doesn’t have the same oversight as federal money or city money.
Al Bartell: That’s correct.
Neil Nelson: How does the city make sure that those kind of units are not being overran or being bought out or undercut by that private equity money that comes in to fund the infrastructure?
Al Bartell: You have to build the capacity of the people who live there. Which means the following. I’ve got to go those neighborhood associations, and say the following, “I want to know everybody on all these streets that’s got a computer. I want to know everybody on these streets that’s got a computer. I want to know how many people on these streets that’s got a cell phone. I want to know how many people on these streets have been to what’s called some kind of training and development about organizing or project management.” That becomes my database. As a mayor, if I can do that, then I can start building the capacity.
The only way that it’s going to happen is I’ve got to build the capacity of neighborhood, community, faith, and small business leaders. Because currently, they don’t have the capacity to sit at the table. They don’t have the capacity to communicate, and they don’t have the capacity to prevent their own neighborhoods. As much as I am guilty of criticizing Kaseem, there are things that he says that are blatantly, cold-bloodily accurate. One of them is the following. He says, “I could take a hundred million dollars per neighborhood and give it to them today, and they wouldn’t know what to do with it. They wouldn’t be able to handle it.” He’s accurate when he says that.
Neil Nelson: Understood. Any follow up?
Kamau Franklin: Yeah, real quick. In terms of the work that you’ve done already, you’ve obviously been a person who’s been in the community.
Al Bartell: Right.
Kamau Franklin: How successful have you been in trying to implement this model on the community end? Where do you see the pitfalls that have happened? Can you describe the particular community that you’ve been working in and so forth? I’m assuming it’s almost like you’re saying the work that I’ve been doing, I’m going to, you know, empower other people to do that work if I’m mayor.
Al Bartell: I am.
Kamau Franklin: I just want to …
Al Bartell: The measures I’ve been looking at to say something is working, or something is successful, regarding community engagement is to get buy in from federal organization that is outside of their budget. I considered that a way to build capacity, like a model that has capacity building already in it. The housing model doesn’t have community capacity built in already in it. The transportation model does not have community capacity built in already in it. The small business development model does not have community capacity building already in it. A current model that has community capacity building already in it is the environmental movement.
I took the environmental movement and said the following, “We have to get urban leaders involved in the environmental movement.” The greatest contributor to air, land, and water pollution is urban centers. We got to get urban leaders involved in the environmental movement, and build their capacity to communicate data, collect data, and distribute data. When the president was in his reelection strategy, the council of mayors went to him and says, “Man, you’ve got to do something about urban America.” Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornell was eating him alive on the media, right? He said, “I know, man. I understand. I can’t do that and get reelected. If you get me reelected, if you just get me elected, I promise to do that.”
Got elected, called together all of his national folks, housing said, “Excuse me? There’s nothing coming out of housing. We can’t get banks to loan money. We’ve got to shut down all the framework that we have in place, so it’s not going to come from housing.” Transportation says, “We’re not going to get the Republicans to give us any money to do any transportation money out in urban neighborhoods and community.” Education said, “Not happening.” The people who said, “We may have an idea.” Particularly in the southern urban centers, there is lakes, streams, rivers, water bodies all over urban America. We think we can make the case for an economic development model, but there has to be community capacity building.
They picked 19 sites across the country. The [inaudible 01:21:06] over in the west Atlanta got picked. I said to EPA the following, “Here’s a capacity building model to build the capacity of neighborhood, community, faith, and small business leaders. To communicate environmental data, collect environmental data, and distribute environmental data. I want to do six round table discussions, and make that happen, and build the model. I need a quarter of a million dollars to do that, $250,000.” They said, “Good idea, Al. Here’s 20.” I did that. I collected the data, I showed that the urban waters strategy could be given to 500 people. That’s a distribution data reference point. They have that. I showed that I could take people in the room and explain the difference between a project, a program, a ministry, and an initiative. They’d never heard anybody explain that to them before. That was reliable data.
The EPA made that one of the cornerstones of the big conference that they had, and says, “Okay. We want to keep doing that. We don’t know what’s going to come out of Washington DC, but we know we want to keep doing that.” The mayor took the key, set up the office of sustainability, started marketing to the philanthropic community, and then set up the office of resiliency. You’ve got the philanthropic community that’s at the table, and all that came out of the work that I did. That’s how I measure my success, and that’s how I measure the impact, and I know that the model is now available. That model was here before I got here. I didn’t create it, I learned it from other people. I’m just saying, it’s not that we don’t have models in place that can decrease gentrification, destructive gentrification. It’s not that we don’t have models in place that can cause small businesses to thrive. It’s not that we don’t have models in place that can do $17.50 for minimum wage. We have the models. What’s missing is leadership. That’s the leadership that I want to change.
Kamau Franklin: Any follow up?
Neil Nelson: No, that’s fine.
Kamau Franklin: Let’s move on to our Trump question. There’s got to be a Trump question.
Al Bartell: Got to.
Kamau Franklin: We thought we’d flip it on you and say, knowing that most of the, well you in particular, right? You’d be considered again left of field.
Al Bartell: I would, I would.
Kamau Franklin: What are the things, knowing that Trump’s administration is considered far right, what are the things that you think that you may have in common with the Trump administration that you can work on together in Atlanta, if you were to become mayor?
Al Bartell: The Trump administration is far right on everything but the investments criteria. They aren’t far right on the investments criteria, they are straight down the middle. If that return on investment can be justified, it’s coming. All of the economic development data, save the following. The most sustainable growth and development opportunities are in the southern cities of the United States of America. Atlanta is at the top of the list because of the already resource base we got here. Airport, hospitality industry, sports industry. We’ve got all kind of feeders that the investment community uses. The person who knows that better than anybody is Donald Trump. He’s a major player in the hospitality industry, and it’s coming to serve that global sports industry. What there is for us to do is plan for that. If we plan for it, we can participate in it. The Trump administration, they’re going to follow that investment matrix. They’re not far right on it, they don’t have some manic ideology about it, it is solid, reliable, and sustainable, and it’s coming.
Kamau Franklin: Any follow ups?
Neil Nelson: The final question. I’m a Black Star, or a publication. We reach about over six million per month of the country. Atlanta in particular, we reach over 300,000. I think that’s significant for America-
Al Bartell: Considerably.
Neil Nelson: … In Atlanta. Can you give me five reasons why our readers should vote for you, and why we should potentially endorse you and tell them to vote for you?
Al Bartell: Here’s the reason why you should endorse me, and tell them to vote for me.
Neil Nelson: Sure.
Al Bartell: Black Star has the capacity to communicate, collect, and distribute data. That’s what you do. All day, every day. No other candidate is going to come in here and talk to you about their relationship to communicating data, collecting data, and distributing data. If the matrix for communicating data, collecting data, and distributing data becomes the power broken reference point for the 2017 mayoral election, Black Star is in a position to broker that election. Because you know how to communicate to both African Americans and black folks. The Inquirer doesn’t have that matrix. The Tribune doesn’t have that matrix.
None of the other black publications have the matrix of data reference point like you do. They just don’t have it. They could have it, but they didn’t. No other candidate is going to come in here and communicate to you about your strength that you currently have, and it’s relationship to the larger marketplace like I have communicated. That’s the kind of mayor you’re going to need, that’s the kind of mayor that will be useful for your support, and that’s kind of mayor that can hear what you’re communicating. That’s why you should endorse me, and tell your folks to vote for me.
Neil Nelson: Any other follow up questions?
Kamau Franklin: What are the issues that you think the readers agree with you on that makes them want to endorse you? I mean, makes them want to vote for you.
Al Bartell: Sure. Your readers agree with me on the single fact that’s glaring. They are not included in the future of what’s coming to metro. Everywhere they look for data, they can talk about how they can be included, they don’t find it. Sooner or later, they’re going to depend on you, your readers are going to depend on you to communicate something about that. It would be useful for you to vet candidates against that particular background. That’s my pitch.
Kamau Franklin: Thank you so much.
Neil Nelson: Thanks for coming out.