Interview with Maynard Jackson

OK, so, let's recall that specific moment, if you will, when you had to call halt.


Well, there, ah, it's really difficult for me to remember the exact thing that precipitated it. More it was an accumulation of things. Ah, we couldn't get the number of bidders we wanted on the deals, so that we would have a good cross-section for the benefit of the taxpayers. We were determined not to sacrifice anything in excellence, or anything else for the, ah, the benefit of the program. I was confident we could do the program of affirmative action and manage this project well, better than ever had been done before. And we proved that. But there came a time when we saw that, ah, we weren't going to be able to proceed as we had thought we were to build that airport unless we were prepared to back up on our affirmative action commitment. Abandon it in part, as a matter of fact, ah, and then move ahead and build the airport, and just kind of, you know, retrofit, which never has worked. So we said, OK, we won't build it, until the situation is right. And I was asked in a news conference about that, is that in fact what I had decided. I said, "Yes." "What about all this, you know, you're, you'll be accused of holding up progress", I mean there was a big to-do, it was front page stuff, it was hot stuff. I was attacked right and left. You know, we're the ones who got the project going after people said it couldn't happen. Eleven years of people talking about it, we made it happen. And we held it up for a year. But we were busy. I mean, I'm also part politician, right? So I didn't want to come out of a year of delay, with all this criticism and not have a better idea. So we spent that year refining the project. We came out with a better idea that was 7 million dollars cheaper, and better designed and so forth. And then we went ahead. Ah, because by that time people had come to believe that, ah, I was truly crazy enough to do what I said, which was to let the project sit out there and weeds grow until people did what was right. Now, I don't want to be that way. What I want to be is mister nice guy, and I'm not a confrontationist by spirit. But again, where you try to work things out in a non-confrontational way, and it does not work, where you move reasonably, you have fair rules and fair practices, and, and it gets you zero, then you've got to do everything that legally and ethically you can do to make the change occur--to put it behind you. Suffer the trauma and then build back from it, and that's what we did. And today we are a much better city for it.