The Predator Destroying Atlanta

An Atlanta man is going to jail because he didn’t do what they City wanted him to do with his properties. Rick Warren, of Buckhead, owns about 150 properties, many in a “rough” area of Atlanta, GA, off English Avenue. He’s been in a dispute for dozens of city code violations throughout 2015. He was found guilty in July on several counts, and now he has been sentenced to 60-days in jail?

Why is it always the perceived “rich guy” that gets conflated into a “predator” always gets the ultimate penalty? Why would the Mayor of one of America’s largest cities see fit to sit idle on a court bench watching a property-dispute case for the city? There’s more to this case than what meets the eye. This is about stopping gentrification and projecting failed-policy onto a likely target: the evil guy who profits by buying properties from people who can’t afford them. In fact, the rapid transformation of Atlanta, which speaks to the very success of some of Mayor Reeds’ business-policies, is creating an unintended consequence for his fellow politicians: The poorest people are being forced to move out of the city as rents rise, and along with those moves go their votes.

It’s easy to make this Warren-guy look bad and hide the City’s true intentions. Warren goes to the courthouse looking for people with financial problems, and then offers to buy those properties; he’s even failed to pay mortgages on properties for which he was collecting rent. But, in reality the Government has fully subsidized millions of lower-income Americans so they can stay in houses for which they are not paying the mortgages. In other words, poor people and rich people have banking disputes, but only poor people get the social-pass. We forget just how awful the banks behaved from the top down and rarely helped anyone before they missed mortgage-payments. It’s easy to label Warren a “predator” as Mayor Reed did. He saw this man as so evil, he sat in the courtroom to watch as Warren received a 60 day prison sentence. For his constituents, it appears he is being a champion for the “little guy.” But, he’s not; this is politics!

Warren did get in over his head. The turbulent financing conditions and his past financial problems (stemming from the financial crash of 2008-2009) meant he had to get investors to commit funds to help him fund and finance the purchases. The goal? Fix the properties and turn them into income producing properties for a profit? The crime? Not doing it fast enough. Some investors bailed and a lot of his resources were spent battling the city. Properties acquired from poor-owners, who were frustrated with the community-decline, and owners in foreclosure, he couldn’t repair fast enough, nor, in reality, comply with city codes. Yes, he violated city code and in some cases appears to have mishandled his crisis. But jail? Really?

The media piled on; The property violations include some 100 various infractions against city code for condition, grass, a dead dog, public nuisances, dangerous and inhabitable conditions, mold and even a murder. Many of these properties are what many real estate investors call “tear-downs.” But, wait, how did we get here? The community was being ignored and allowed to rot while crime went rampant. Who gets to punish the city for failing to police, patrol and enhance this area; or at least attempt to stop these problems? See, that’s why Rick Warren has to be made a poster-child; to deflect from the City’s leadership and policy failure.

The real crime here is the crime of politicians allowing an entire community to go untouched and failing to do anything about it until they had a fall-guy to blame it on. The image of Mayor Reed sitting in court as a spectator is a chilling irony of the actual City-history of the community that created this ruckus…while officials watched it happen and did nothing. Now, the “rich guy” can take the fall in the interest of political brownie-points.