Mark Pendergrast

Mark Pendergrast

In October 2011, when I began my research for the book that would eventually become City on the Verge, one of the first people I sought out was Tom Weyandt, the Senior Policy Advisor for Transportation for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Weyandt, then 64, had a rich background in Atlanta transportation issues, going back to the 1996 Olympics, when he served as the transportation director for the 1996 Paralympic Games. He had been the Atlanta city planning director as well as commissioner of community development, then worked at the Atlanta Regional Commission for decades, ending as the Director of Comprehensive Planning for the Atlanta Regional Commission, where he managed long range planning activities for transportation, land use, water resources, socio-economic research and transportation demand management. Mayor Reed was wise and fortunate to have chosen him as a special advisor on transportation issues, which he recognized as crucial to the city that began life as Terminus, the end of a new planned railroad, in 1837.

Weyandt was enthusiastic about my plan to write a book about Atlanta that would focus on transportation issues, particularly the Atlanta BeltLine, which he had been involved in helping to plan and facilitate. He provided essential insights and background information, and he arranged for me to interview Kasim Reed for 15 minutes tucked into the mayor’s jam-packed schedule. He introduced me to his son, who was beginning an experiment to see if he could live in Atlanta without a car for a while.

I tell you all this because I made a mistake about Tom Weyandt in the first printing of City on the Verge, and I feel terrible about it. I messed up. I wrote in the book that Mayor Reed forced him out in 2014, when that was not true. In fact, when Reed began his second term, Weyandt not only retained his title of Senior Policy Advisor but took on additional responsibility as Deputy Chief Operating Officer — a promotion, not a dismissal. After Weyandt retired in October 2014 after his 67th birthday, Mayor Reed lured him back in a consulting role with the Mayor’s office through the recent successful TSPLOST and MARTA referenda.

Now Tom Weyandt really has retired, although he remains very much involved in Atlanta affairs. “Although I am retired,” he told me recently, “I still have a wide range of professional associations, including consulting opportunities. I am concerned that this inaccurate information is out there now. It seems to me a reasonable approach for you to acknowledge the error on your web site which promotes the book and contains your blogs.”

That is precisely what I am doing now. Tom, I am sorry, and I will fix this error in the second printing of the book. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and this one was purely unintentional, but that does not excuse it. I hope that it is the only major error in City on the Verge, a book of which I am intensely proud otherwise. I hope that it will have a positive impact on the city of Atlanta and on urban planning elsewhere in the country and world in years to come.

Tom Weyandt summarized his experience as follows: “I consider my service with Mayor Reed since 2011 to have been personally rewarding and to have been at least a small contribution to the progress the city has made and which now indeed leaves us truly on the Verge of even better days for Atlanta.”



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