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APN Chat with Paul Luna, Chef and Mayoral Candidate

(APN) ATLANTA -- Paul Luna, an Atlanta chef and business owner, is one of two candidates who have announced their intentions so far to challenge incumbent Mayor Kasim Reed in this year’s mayoral election.  As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the other candidate is activist Al Bartell.

Luna started two restaurants around 1992 called Eclipse Di Luna and Loca Luna, which he sold around 2000.  Today, he operates Lunacy Black Market, a restaurant located in downtown Atlanta, on Mitchell Street southwest of Atlanta City Hall and the Georgia State Capitol.

Luna has numerous grievances against Mayor Reed and his administration, as well as with Park Atlanta, the private company that the City has contracted with to enforce its parking rules.

“It’s a lot of little things,” Luna said of the City.  “They’ve been abusive to me.  They blocked Mitchell Street illegally.  They won’t give me my records.”

“He [Reed] doesn’t serve the public.  He’s serving Coca Cola, Arthur Blank, and the Buckhead Coalition... He’s got to support Sam Massell and the Buckhead Coalition, he’s got to kiss their ass,” Luna told APN in an interview.

“During the movie shoots they were also doing that illegally, because the Mayor is tied to Tyler Perry,” Luna said.

In December 2010, when Mitchell Street was closed to make way for the filming of a movie called The Change Up, Luna tells APN he asked the director nicely to make a temporary exception to allow Luna to hold a private party he had been planning.  When the director refused, and he lost the party, Luna fought back.

According to a post in the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Buzz Blog, Luna invited all of Atlanta to come party at his restaurant and eat for free.  “We’re not telling them to make noises, but if they want to bring their boomboxes, there’s nothing I can do,” Luna told the blog.

Due to the noise of the party, The Change Up was not able to film at that location he says.

Luna also has had disputes, including litigation, with Park Atlanta.  

“I’ve gotten fuckin 35 tickets and I’ve won more than my share because they don’t show up,” Luna said.

In the cases where he’s lost, Luna says he has attempted to challenge the legality of the Park Atlanta contract with the City of Atlanta, and with the use of off-duty Atlanta Police officers to enforce public laws for a private company.  However, he says he submits paperwork to Solicitor Rainer Carter that he says somehow never makes it to Municipal Court Judge Gary Jackson, who hears all Park Atlanta cases.

He says that his attorney submits the paperwork to Carter.  “It has to be released by the judge.  It needs to leave the judiciary system of our city to go to a higher court.  It’s being stopped in the City Solicitor’s office.  Guess what?  No phone call, no meeting from him.  Why?”

The Fulton County Daily Report’s ATLAW blog cited from the petition, filed by Atlanta attorney Cory Lynch, in August 2011.  But the blog said that Carter told them at the time he “had not yet seen” the petition.

“Mr. Luna believes that the City of Atlanta improperly delegated part of its police power by entering into a contract that allows a private entity to enforce parts of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances,” the petition stated.

“During trials at Atlanta Municipal Court, the filing says that Luna called the two parking enforcement officers who issued the tickets to the stand, and asked whether they had been appointed by the chief of police; both answered that they had not, but that they had been sworn in by the city solicitor.  Each officer ‘testified that the solicitor gave him the authority to write citations,’ it says,” the blog wrote.

“They don’t ticket in Buckhead because it’s White, man,” Luna adds.

In addition, Luna has made numerous open records requests to the City of Atlanta and says he has received no response in at least two instances, and in another instance he points to a response that appears to be inadequate.

In a request he sent to City Attorney Cathy Hampton on January 30, 2013, Luna made a voluminous request for “ALL City of Atlanta records” relating to a lengthy list of City of Atlanta departments, offices, and boards; and other entities.  Luna says he received no response to the request.  

The Georgia Open Records Act requires at least some response in three days and allows for a citizen to seek the assessment of criminal misdemeanor fines in a civil proceeding for an individual who recklessly does not comply with the Act.

In a request he sent on January 31, 2013, Luna requested from Watershed Commissioner JoAnn Macrina, “the survey conducted during Shirley Franklin's term and then Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Management for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management Jim Beard.”

Macrina responded to Luna that she would forward the request on to Susan Ross.  However, Luna says he has received no response from Ross to date.

Finally, in a request to Linda Guy, Business Manager for the Department of Finance, Luna requested on January 20, 2013, information related to “Salaries and pay of all public employees in the City and each department's payroll for 2012.  Airport revenues in 2012, including all existing airport concession stand contracts (as of this date) and also the revenue they bring in.”

Luna sent a follow-up email on January 28 to Hampton indicating he had not received a response.  

On February 05, Luna received an email from Guy providing the salary information, but neither providing him with the airport revenue nor airport concessions contracts information.

Luna says his priorities for the City of Atlanta include the environment, transportation, food, and shelter, which he says equal economic opportunity and jobs.

“In my quest for running for Mayor, I’m going to show how corrupt our City Hall is, how we’re hurting our African American communities, and how Fortune 500 companies are working in their self-interest and the interest of City Hall,” Luna said.

“It’s already written I’m gonna win.  The Creator has shown it to me,” Luna said.

Luna also says he is hiring for a new company, and that he wants to hire homeless people, battered women, troubled youth, and women who have been inmates.

(END/2013)


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