Republican Coan joins Democrats at bill signing ceremony

Mike Coan will be in mixed company today during a bill signing ceremony.

The Republican from Lawrenceville reached across the aisle during the last legislative session, working closely with Democrats to try to repeal Georgia's Jim Crow laws.

The General Assembly even held a rare Saturday session in March to give Georgians who work during the week a chance to see the Legislature in action. That's when the House took up bills to repeal a series of requests the Legislature had made between 1952 and 1991 for national conventions to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Coan, a white conservative, worked with Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a black liberal from Atlanta, on the measure.

Another Democrat, Rep. Stan Watson of Decatur, will join the pair at a ceremony today when Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, signs the bills into law.

Brooks said the bills he and Coan are sponsoring enjoy the support of leaders from both parties, most of whom have signed on as co-sponsors. Rank-and-file House members lined up for an hour last week to sign them, he said.

"It's not a partisan issue,'' Coan said in February. "It's about right and wrong.''

Senator leads revitalization effort

Now that the session's over, State Sen. Curt Thompson found another way to keep busy.

He announced last week the formation of the county's third Community Improvement District, this one in the Jimmy Carter/Indian Trail corridor.

For now, leaders are forming a Community Improvement Association, but they hope to establish a self-taxing district in a year. It would be the third such district in Gwinnett.

"This is the first step in saving this important area of Gwinnett County. This corridor was the county's economic engine during the boom years, but it has been allowed to decline. This group of leaders stands ready to restore to the area the vibrancy it once had," Thompson said.

Rising crime, the presence of gangs, declining property values, and the prospect of a solid waste transfer station being located in the area have galvanized many members of the local business community to come together to create the association, he said.

"By focusing attention on the problems our area now faces and working to resolve them, we hope to accomplish our ultimate goal of increasing property values in this corridor," said John Perlman, a business owner on Oakbrook Parkway in the affected area.

Community leaders representing affected businesses in the area have been joined in the initial formation meetings of the group by civic leaders such as Gwinnett School Board member Louise Radloff and representatives from the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. The initial meetings have focused on taking official positions against a proposed solid waste transfer station on Oakbrook Parkway and in support of sidewalk improvements in the area.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com .