imageIt’s tough to pick a favorite: Watching Mayor Shirley Franklin explain away the city’s crime issue and new ranking as the country’s second-least safe large city. Or her back-and-forth with the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans over the gay group’s call for her resignation just months before her term ends.

The debate over the crime stats is playing out through Creative Loafing and now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her flap with the Republican gays started last week and continues through Southern Voice. We feel like we’ve got a ringside seat to the mayor’s unraveling during her sprint to the finish.

Sadly, it’s tarnishing her otherwise top-notch record of accomplishments during two terms in office.

Squabble No. 1: Real Clear Politics took recent crime stats for cities across the country, did some math and came up with rankings. Atlanta sits behind only Memphis in having more crime per person. Franklin says not so fast, that the stats are wrong and the math bad.

Squabble No. 2: Georgia Log Cabin Republicans said in a May 28 statement that Franklin should quit and Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, should call in the state’s National Guard to take control of the city’s “crime mayhem.” Franklin’s retort? “Partisan political antics.”

I will not be drawn into the partisan political antics reflected in your story and I have every intention of staying in office until the 59th mayor is sworn in next January.

Atlanta has a seven-year track record of crime reduction.  There has been steady and dramatic improvement in Atlanta’s crime rate over the past 7 years.  In 2002 the City of Atlanta was ranked 3rd in the CQ Press rankings and we are now 16th.  In that time the city’s crime rate has dropped from 11.2% to 8.7%, which is nearly a 25% improvement.  Perhaps more importantly, our rate of violent crime is down nearly 40% over this period.  And the preliminary year-to-date crime numbers indicate that overall crime is down 10% in 2009 alone.  By any measure, the City of Atlanta is safer now than it has been in decades. 

So I would encourage the Georgia Log Cabin members to become members of the Atlanta Police Foundation which is a nonprofit organization that provides oversight, advocacy and support to the Atlanta Police Department and for them to participate in the dozens of NPU groups who work hand in glove with police zone commanders and officers to prevent crime….....drive the crime stats and progress not the negative rhetoric.

Georgia LCR President Jamie Ensley fires back:

I beg your pardon Mayor Franklin, but I think you are the queen of partisan negative rhetoric.  You tried to make voters believe in your radio ads a few years ago, that if Republicans were elected to the Fulton County Commission, African Americans would be fighting off dogs and water hoses.  Instead, on your watch there have been numerous senseless innocent victims of murder, robbery, and lawlessness, which are a direct result of your incompetence and failure to provide proper protection by a strong police force. I really think you should ask actual crime victims of Atlanta what they think of your fuzzy math statistics.

And we thought there’s no way a lame-duck mayor could generate headlines during the hot, congested, smog-shrouded months of summer. We were wrong. Where’s the popcorn?

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