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City Talk

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday - Email me. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

CITY TALK: Looking back with nostalgia, ahead with optimism

I don’t have any data to back up what I’m about to say, but it seems like Savannah has a disproportionate number of really old businesses. I’m talking about businesses that are still doing pretty much the same thing they were doing generations ago, often by members of the same families that founded them.

CITY TALK: Jepson Center worth a visit for art, food

On Sunday afternoon, a steady stream of visitors flowed through the Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts.

Most of the visitors seemed to be tourists — the city was crawling with them through the holidays — and most were headed for the Jepson’s major exhibition “Monet and American Impressionism.”

CITY TALK: Proposed alcohol ordinance rewrite faces new Savannah City Council

The city of Savannah’s proposed rewrite of the alcohol ordinance was back in the news last week. It’s one of the pieces of unfinished business that the new mayor and council will have to consider in 2016.

The proposed ordinance has many moving parts, and I can’t possibly look at all the issues in a single column.

CITY TALK: Learning lessons from New Orleans

I spent most of Christmas week in New Orleans. I didn’t hear a single siren.
In fact, I didn’t even see a police officer or cruiser over the course of five days. 
New Orleans is a high-crime city like Savannah, and you can certainly find ugly pockets of violence.

CITY TALK: Numbers tell story of crime, jobs

City Talk turned 15 years old recently. I’m 51. Freaky, right?

I’ve written about many topics over the years, and I’ve cited all sorts of numbers and statistics in this space. I’m rarely shocked by the data that comes across my desk.

But I never imagined that crime would spike as much as it did in 2015.

CITY TALK: Proposed Forsyth bike ban will hurt police efforts

“Why are we building an arena when crime is out of control?”

“Who cares about a Cultural Arts Center when so many people are getting shot?”

A lot of my friends asked questions like these in recent months. I think the answer is pretty easy.

CITY TALK: Emergent Savannah takes stock of past, considers future

Last Monday evening, The Sentient Bean was packed for Emergent Savannah’s exploration of “Savannahness.”

Founded about a year ago, Emergent Savannah describes itself as “a collaboration of local activists who believe that Savannah is capable of evolving into a more intentional community.”

CITY TALK: Shootings in Savannah's Ellis Square problem for whole city

I was in Ellis Square at 1:45 a.m. on Saturday. I had just left The Jinx on West Congress Street after the release show for the new record by the local rock band Niche.

It was especially quiet for a balmy Friday night in the City Market area.

As I learned the next morning, trouble was brewing nearby.

Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin has pledged to help stop rising crime in Savannah. He said ending the city’s increasing violence will require a collaborative effort between residents and police.

CITY TALK: Streetscape plans could impact downtown Savannah

In recent days, we’ve heard some important updates about long-discussed projects that will alter the streetscape of greater downtown Savannah.

It’s curious that all this news has come to the fore immediately after the Dec. 1 runoff, but it’s unlikely earlier discussion of the changes would have impacted the final outcomes in the races for mayor, alderman at-large and second district alderman.

CITY TALK: CAT scandal spotlights lack of transparency

After reading last week about the federal indictment of the Chatham Area Transit executive director and maintenance director for mail fraud and extortion, I went to to look at recent financial information.

CITY TALK: Impressive turnout boosts challengers in Savannah runoff

In last Sunday’s City Talk, I pitched the notion of encouraging more citizens to vote in Savannah elections by switching to the same calendar used for national and countywide elections.

As we discovered last Tuesday, there’s another way to drive turnout in Savannah.

CITY TALK: Holiday events set for Wright Square, design district

The first week of December brings us two traditional holiday events that highlight locally owned small businesses in the Historic District: the Downtown Design District’s Holiday Walk and the Wright Square Merchants’ Holiday Open House.

Savannah Morning News file photo

CITY TALK: How can we get more Savannah residents to vote?

Of course, there are many reasons why some folks can’t or don’t vote. Thousands of college students and members of the military have moved here relatively recently and aren’t really connected to local politics. Some adults have lost their voting rights, while others have embraced cynicism.

But is the low turnout simply about cynicism or lack of connection to the city? Are there ways to get more residents to vote?

CITY TALK: Employment remains strong with runoff election looming

According to data released in recent days, the Savannah area economy remains generally strong.

That’s important news as we head toward the Dec. 1 runoff election in the city of Savannah for mayor, an alderman at-large seat and first district alderman.

CITY TALK: Does Savannah need two arenas?

An advisory committee recently recommended to Savannah city officials that the current arena at the Civic Center remain in use even after a new state-of-the-art $100 million dollar arena is built less than a mile away.

CITY TALK: Election returns reflect changing demographics

The shifting political winds and changes in neighborhood demographics can be seen in the votes cast at two key polling places: Bull Street Baptist Church and Williams Court Apartments.

Meldrim Row Apartments before demolition

CITY TALK: Checking out the dinner menu at the Collins Quarter

The Collins Quarter, which opened in summer 2014, has transformed the intersection of Oglethorpe Avenue and Bull Street. With its expansive windows, welcoming lighting and sidewalk tables, The Collins Quarter enlivens that stretch of Bull Street throughout the day, but the effect is especially felt at night.

CITY TALK: Lucky's Market revitalizes key stretch of Abercorn

When I finally made my first trip to Lucky’s Market, the new store at 5501 Abercorn St. was humming with activity.

That’s not surprising for a brand new store, but this was on Sunday evening, with blustery winds and rain that made it feel a lot colder than it really was.

The tag line on the Lucky’s Market website is “Organic for the 99%” and the store certainly offers all sorts of organic options.

CITY TALK: Crunching numbers from last week's Savannah city election

The runoff between DeLoach and Jackson could follow a similar pattern to the runoff between Otis Johnson and Pete Liakakis in 2003. White candidates picked up a majority of the vote in the general election, and Liakakis appeared to be headed for victory in the runoff.

CITY TALK: Local jobs growth may be moderating

September data released recently by the Georgia Department of Labor showed continued job growth in the metro Savannah area, which includes Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties.