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Mayor Reed Serves Tough Menu at 2014 State of the City Address

2/21/2014, 9:46 a.m.
For Mayor Reed, the 2014 State of the City breakfast address was a time to give the people of Atlanta something to chew on which doesn’t sit too easy to stomach.

"I think he should have been convicted of the most serious charges possible but I am happy that he is going to jail to be what appears to be for the rest of his life," Mayor Reed said.

In addition, he offered his support for parents Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, stating that "nobody can replace the views and feelings of parents who lost a child." He also shared his reflection on what the Jordan Davis killing meant to him.

"I started to talk about the young kids as soon as I got elected, because I happen to be a black man and I was a young black man," Mayor Reed said. "I understand the challenges that are associated with growing up as a black man. And that's why we've had the unprecedented number of investment that we've had in young people."

Under his term, the city of Atlanta has reopened 33 recreational centers and created four Centers of Hope that currently serve more than 1,000 Atlanta youth each week.

But there are still underserved youths in the city, specifically when it comes to education.

Just days after former Atlanta Public Schools’ Human Resources director Millicent Few entered a plea deal related to the APS cheating scandal, Reed also urged a push forward in the academic narrative.

He added that the cheating scandal had a chilling effect on helping kids, which Atlanta Board of Education member Cynthia B. Brown (District 8 At-Large) explained to The Atlanta Voice.

“APS in the last four years has really gone through the perfect storm of dysfunction, with the cheating scandal, a difficult redistricting, a superintendent search, the SACS accreditation issue, and infighting among the board—It’s really been difficult for the school board to get anything done,” she said.

For Reed, the breakfast was a time to give the people of Atlanta something to chew on which doesn’t sit too easy to stomach.

“Everybody got burned over the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s time for us to shake off the challenges and play at the highest level.”

Reed’s plans for the city include more venture capital investment in Atlanta, which he will get started with his trip next week to Silicon Valley.

Less than 10 percent of venture capital funds in the U.S. are coming into the Southeast, and each year, half of Georgia Tech’s graduates are leaving Atlanta, he cited.

Enticing these next-generation tech men and women is what Reed hopes will build a stronger, more lucrative future for the city of Atlanta financially, which in turn can be used to invest in the city’s ailing school system.

“If we fix repeat offenders and strengthen our schools, I think everybody else in the Southeast can forget about it,” Reed said.

On the lighter side of the breakfast, Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America and Global Chief Customer Officer for The Coca-Cola Company introduced the second-term mayor to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

It has not been a necessarily joyful start to the New Year for Reed, who is still reeling from the pounding he took from local press, national media and the weather alike.

“Why do I have to deal with storms named Leon…and Tupac?” he said jokingly. Tupac was reference to winter storm Pax, which left hundreds of thousands without power in Georgia.

But Reed continues to roll with the punches, as he borrowed a quote from famed “urban philosopher” Iron Mike Tyson.

“Everyone has a plan till they get hit.”