Thomas Wheatley is Creative Loafing’s ace reporter and Atlanta’s ultimate man on the street. When it comes to urban development, local politics and the every day issues that effect intown Atlanta, he’s first on the scene. For those of you who’ve ever wondered what he’d do as Mayor, or why his shoes are so shiny, this one’s for you…
Q. Favorite neighborhoods?
Q. Mayor for a day- what’s on your agenda?
A. I’d start the day at 6 a.m. with a citywide address on a PA system, replete with a marching band soundtrack. Honestly, I’d sit down with downtown property owners, banks and small businesses and artists to discuss what could be done to fill vacant spaces. Then I’d call Georgia Tech and Georgia State to see if some students could overhaul the city’s website. I’d make sure they’d include a page where city lobbyists could register and disclose their activities. (Thomas lets us know that, thanks to a new law that took effect this year, lobbyists must disclose what they spend on city officials.) I’d appoint Besha Rodell to chair a MLK Day Planning Committee, Pecanne Log to a City History Task Force, and demand Gwynedd Stuart, who sends me photos of kittens and miniature horses at least once a day, be named executive director of Zoo Atlanta. And I’d reopen Sci-Trek just for kicks. Between all that I’d magically find billions of dollars in funding, which I’d use to build transit lines and bike lanes throughout the city, fix sidewalks and potholes, maintain parks, and start a program that offers seed funding for small businesses.
Q. A transplant is trying to decide between moving to Atlanta and our bitter rival, Charlotte. Sell them on why they should move here.
A. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that Charlotte’s fun. It’s a great city. A nice city, which, from afar and through our eyes, might seem like it’s got its act together. But Atlanta’s got culture. It’s got grit and this incredible history. We might be behind on transit, but we can build that. It’s a lot more difficult to “”create”” culture.
Q. Creative Loafing decides to move you over to the Food & Drink desk. What can we expect out of your first issues?
A. Lots of articles about burritos, tacos and veggie burgers. And which restaurants have the best homemade lemonade. The following week my editor would tell me I need to stick to writing about the Beltline, furries and reservoirs.
Q. Hidden Atlanta gem?
A. I’m addicted to shoeshines. It’s a sickness. And the best shoeshine in Atlanta (that I’ve found) is at the Capitol. And The Varsity has some of the best ice in the world.
Photo Credit: Pecanne Log