4

When Athens met Athens

This final note from Athens, Ga., today. It's worth a mention that there are a bunch of other Athenses in the United States. Athens, Ala., Ohio and N.Y., to name just a few.

Couple of years ago, the original Athens helped fly the mayors of all those places to come for a visit. Heidi Davison was the mayor of Athens, Ga., then. She spotted trouble right away.

Heidi Davison: We started walking around and there were all these big huge black bags on the streets. And we were like 'what is all this stuff?' And we went back to the desk clerk and asked what is all this stuff and she said, 'oh we've had a garbage strike for three weeks.'

She says the trip was an enlightening experience.

Davison: We've never had a garbage strike. I don't think we've ever had a strike, which is good, I'm glad. Because I don't think our police are set up for riots. I don't remember riot gear being in their budget.

Davison also told us, by the way, the plan was for a Greek delegation to make a return trip here. Never happened, Davison says.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Log in to post4 Comments

Messrs. Owens and Casta,
I don't believe we've met. However, I'd like to respond to your comment. First, I never said a "labor dispute necessitates sending in the riot police." Secondly, what I shared with the producer in regards to riot gear is that our police department is well-trained, highly skilled, and very prepared. The comment used came about after we discussed the need for the Athens, Greece police to use shields and gas masks, which our police have not needed in my experience and, therefore, I wasn't sure if this was equipment they normally keep in their arsenal. Oftentimes budgets preclude buying such equipment especially when not needed or it can be borrowed from others, which is often the case. I never said our police didn't have a riot plan. My choice of words didn't convey this very well, I agree. The swat team regularly competes with other PDs around the country and routinely lands in the top 5 of those competitions. I can assure you our entire police force is fully prepared to meet the challenges before them. They bring pride to our city. Finally, to Mr. Casta, I am not sure how you interpreted my remarks to suggest that my only recollection of a 10-day trip to Athens, GR is piles of garbage or that I am, "myopically attracted to ugliness." The discussion was about the budget crisis and its effect on the city so I offered the experiences of the various strikes and protests witnessed. However, had he asked me what my most vivid recollection was I might have suggested the Parthenon and its beautiful companion museum, Lycabettus Hill, Delphi, the Plaka - including the fish,meat and spice market - and the National Gardens, the Christmas tree lighting at Syntagma Square along with the wonderfully fun, interesting, and fascinating interactions with the people of the city, including the mayor and others. I can only ascertain that neither of you heard nor read the entire script of the nearly two hour interview with the producer. Had you done so your inaccurate comments might have been avoided. I wish you all a happy holiday season and appreciate the opportunity to reply.
Thanks. Heidi Davison

What a snooty attitude. It is really distressing that the mayor of Athens, GA, recalls only piles of garbage from Athens. Some people are myopically attracted to ugliness while they disregard what is really worth seeing. Has she heard of the Athenian Agora or the Parthenon, I wonder?

Actually yes, there is a riot response plan here in Athens GA. In 1998, there was a minor riot in front of Stegeman Coliseum due to a lack of football season tickets. I was caught up in it... the police came and hosed everyone down and sent everyone home. After that, the university changed its ticketing method to a lottery to avoid that situation.

I think this exchange says more about the leadership of Athens Georgia than Greece.

This is because, firstly, the former mayor seems to believe that a labor dispute necessitates sending in the riot police, and secondly because she did not know whether the police in her city -- with a population of over 100,000 and a major university with highly ranked sports programs -- even had a riot response plan.

Hint: If they didn't, you should have fired someone.

With Generous Support From...