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Former employees of the recently shuttered restaurant group Here to Serve and its 10 restaurants are suing the company for alleged unpaid wages.

The suit, filed in Atlanta's U.S. District Court, says Here to Serve violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay some employees earned wages and overtime from mid-September through Oct. 5.

A voting member of the Federal Reserve's policy committee says he believes the economy is on a satisfactory track and an increase in interest rates is likely to be appropriate in either October or December.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, says the economic data has been giving off mixed signals and there is more ambiguity in the data than there was a few weeks ago.

How To Have A Fun Halloween On A Skeleton Budget

Oct 8, 2015
Atlanta blogger Heidi Rew offers up tips for making homemade Halloween costumes that look great, but cost next to nothing. Retail experts estimate Americnas will spend more than $7 billion this Halloween.
Photos Courtesy of Heidi Rew

Halloween is fast approaching, but sometimes the high costs of celebrating All Hallow’s Eve can be a scary proposition.

Americans still spend more at Christmas, but retail experts estimate consumers will spend more than $7 billion this year to get their ghost on. After all, Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without costumes and candy, haunted houses and spooky spectaculars, decorations and more.

Fantasy Football Leagues At Center Of Real Investigation

Oct 8, 2015
Stephan Savoia / Associated Press

It started out as a very simple idea. Diehard sports fans created imaginary teams to compete against each other, often just for bragging rights, and sometimes for a little money. And fantasy sports leagues were born.

David Goldman / AP Photo

A movement to increase the minimum wage is underway both nationally and in Georgia, but the effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hours, either on the federal or state level, is a contentious one at best.

Most minimum wage workers in Georgia are classified under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but those not covered under the FLSA could be making as little as $5.15 an hour, the state's minimum wage.

Those working for tips, like restaurant workers, typically earn much less, around $2.15 an hour.

Stephen Morton / AP Photo/Georgia Port Authority

The U.S. trade deficit jumped sharply in August as exports fell to the lowest level in nearly three years while imports increased.

This jump possibly stunted efforts from Mayor Kasim Reed and the Metro Atlanta Chamber to get area businesses to sell more of their products abroad. The deficit grew 15.6 percent to $48.3 billion, the biggest deficit since March, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Exports of goods and services dropped 2 percent to $185.1 billion, the lowest level since October 2012, while imports rose 1.2 percent to $233.4 billion.

The front entrance of Southern Regional Healthcare Center in Riverdale, Georgia
Brenna Beech / WABE

Grady Memorial Hospital has backed out of a bid for acquiring Southern Regional Medical Center in Clayton County, leaving just one bidder left for the hospital. 

California-based Prime Healthcare Foundation submitted a of letter of interest in purchasing Southern Regional in July, but Grady joined with a last-minute bid on Sept. 25, just weeks before the scheduled auction.

Jim Burress / WABE

 

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced this week that it plans to cut an undisclosed number of management and salaried jobs, despite record profits during the first half of the year.

Delta recorded more than $2 billion in profits during the first six months of 2015, more than double the same period last year, thanks in part to lower fuel costs.

Despite that, revenue was flatter than expected, up just 3 percent through June and only 1 percent in the second quarter.

via Wikimedia Commons

The city of Atlanta's sale of Underground Atlanta to a developer from South Carolina for $25.75 million was supposed to have closed on Sept. 30. Instead, both parties delayed the closing until Jan. 15 because the complicated real estate deal has run into some hurdles.  

Mayor Kasim Reed describes them as "solvable."

Developer T. Scott Smith is willing to invest up to $400 million to revitalize Underground Atlanta and its surrounding area. 

John Lorinc / WABE

Chick-fil-A is opening an outpost in New York City on Saturday, marking a high-profile milestone in its push to become a bigger national player.

The Atlanta-based chain known for its fried chicken sandwiches with pickles has been stepping up its expansion and now has more than 1,900 stores in 42 states, although its heaviest presence is in the South.

By comparison, McDonald's has more than 14,300 locations, and KFC more than 4,300.

Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation wants to expand.

It's made a last minute bid to take over Southern Regional Medical Center, which is in bankruptcy.

Grady will be competing against California-based Prime Healthcare in an auction scheduled for next week.

Prime’s bid is valued at $18 million, compared to $20 million from Grady.

John Haupert, CEO of Grady Health Systems, says the organization has the money to make the move, even though it was struggling itself just a few years ago.

Ric Feld / Associated Press

The battle over gate space at Dallas Love Field continues in a Texas federal court, as Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines duke it out. 

Amtrak says that on Thursday it will start charging $20 to passengers who exceed restrictions for carry-on and personal items.
Michael Kurras/Shreder 9100 / http://en.wikipedia.org/Shreder 9100

Amtrak is boarding a baggage fee bandwagon that has generated billions in revenue for the airline industry.

The passenger train operator says that on Thursday it will start charging $20 to passengers who exceed restrictions for carry-on and personal items.

Customers are allowed to bring two personal items weighing up to 25 pounds and two carry-on bags weighing no more than 50 pounds. The fee applies to each item above those limits.

A portrait of a person at the wheel of a Volkswagen vehicle
Fernando Filho / flickr.com/fpena

 

Investigations have been launched into former Volkswagen chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn following admissions that the German automaker rigged diesel engine emissions software.

Winterkorn resigned almost immediately, but that might not be enough to prevent him and other Volkswagen officials from facing criminal charges.

WABE legal analyst Page Pate discussed the issue on “Closer Look,” including what he said were changing attitudes about addressing corporate misconduct.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sponsored 96 national health organizations between 2011 and 2014, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Ric Feld / Associated Press

Coca-Cola says it spent $118.6 million on health research and partnerships over the past five years, including funding for a group that was criticized for downplaying the role of sugary drinks in fueling obesity.

The world's biggest beverage maker vowed last month to be more transparent about efforts to promote health messages and programs. The pledge came after a New York Times story detailed the company's funding for the Global Energy Balance Network.

Coca-Cola bottle top
Justin Taylor / flickr.com/bludgeoner86

Coca-Cola says it was notified by the IRS that it owes $3.3 billion more in federal taxes, as well as interest, for 2007 to 2009.

The Atlanta-based company says in a regulatory filing Friday that it believe the assessments are without merit and plans to pursue "all administrative and judicial remedies necessary to resolve the matter."

The maker of Sprite, Dasani, Powerade and other drinks says the disagreement is over how much of the money it makes from licensing products overseas should be considered be considered taxable income in the U.S.

Commentary: 'Eco' Locomotives Are Good For Georgia

Sep 18, 2015
Norfolk Southern's "Eco" Locomotives
Norfolk Southern Corporation, nscorp.com

Norfolk Southern unveiled its new "Eco" locomotive on Sept. 1 at Atlanta's Inman Yard.

The new locomotive is up to 25 percent more efficient than the train engines currently rolling on our rails, making them even more environment-friendly. 

It's a no-brainer.

The more freight that travels on railroads rather than trucks and highways, the better off we will be.

Doraville GM Plant Redevelopment 'Game Changer,' Mayor Says

Sep 17, 2015
Doraville, Georgia City Hall
Bob Kelley / City of Doraville

Big changes are happening in Doraville in suburban Atlanta.

The city of just over 8,300 residents in DeKalb County is undergoing a major redevelopment at the site of the old Doraville General Motors Assembly Plant, at Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Interstate 285.

A movie studio, Third Rail Studios, will anchor a new media complex at the site – to be called the Assembly after the old GM factory it’s replacing.

“It’s going to be the lead in the state for innovative design for film and TV,” Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman said during an interview on “Closer Look.”

Paternity Leave More Common As Dads Demand Equal Time

Sep 17, 2015
A newborn lays on its dad
Datreic / flickr.com/9653109@N04

More and more U.S. companies are modernizing their parental leave policies to include new fathers.

Former WABE reporter Josh Levs just reached a settlement last week over an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint he filed against Atlanta-based CNN and Turner Broadcasting in 2013.

Levs argued the companies' leave policy discriminated against biological fathers because the companies offered only two weeks of paid leave to new dads, but 10 weeks to new mothers and adoptive parents of either sex.

Brenna Beech / WABE

  

Meals On Wheels Atlanta is a critical food program that helps elderly and disadvantaged people eat healthy and regular meals. And sometimes those meals are the only sustenance recipients receive.

It costs a lot to feed the city’s expanding senior population. That’s why a recent $1 million donation by an anonymous local couple, who worked with the Meals On Wheels Atlanta, was so important to the organization.

This June 19, 2015 photo shows the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building, in Washington. The Federal Reserve is getting close to raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, possibly in September.
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

The Federal Reserve begins its much anticipated September meeting Wednesday where board officials could decide to raise interest rates after years of historic lows.

Director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business and board member of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, Rajeev Dhawan, joined “Closer Look” to discuss what higher interest rates would mean for the economy, businesses, job seekers, homebuyers, how a hike would impact the U.S. stock market and overseas markets, and more.

m01229/flickr.com

Chick-fil-A has moved closer to securing approval for its first restaurant on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Times reports that company representatives are scheduled to appear before Barnstable's Site Plan Review Committee on Thursday.

The chicken sandwich restaurant received a zoning amendment from the town in May that would allow a drive-thru on property near the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis.

It still needs approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Future Of Fracking In Georgia Dependent On Several Issues

Sep 9, 2015
In this March 25, 2014 photo, workers keep an eye on well heads during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. oil well, near Mead, Colo.
Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it’s commonly known, is sometimes a polarizing issue, one that has sparked heated debates between environmentalists and energy advocates.

Fracking opponents argue that the process of fracking, which involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the earth to release the natural gas in rocks, is dangerous for several reasons, including the contamination risk to groundwater.

Frontier Airlines jetliner
Daniel Betts / flickr.com/Daniel Betts

Frontier Airlines announced a one-day promotion Wednesday for $1 flights originating in several cities including Atlanta. But as of mid-afternoon, it was a hit-or-miss proposition booking any flight on Frontier; the airline’s website temporarily crashed.

Frontier’s main Web page intermittently read, in part, “Oh no! So many people are trying to take advantage of our low fares that our system can’t keep up.”

Doraville, Georgia City Hall
Thomson200 / wikimedia.org/Thomson200

In the late 1940s, the tiny agricultural enclave of Doraville, north of Atlanta in DeKalb County, had just under 500 residents. But, during the 1950s, the city experienced a population explosion as General Motors moved in and built a new assembly plant. Now the city has some 11,000 residents.

Doraville city officials, like District One Councilman Robert Patrick, are betting the old GM assembly plant will once again spark an economic growth as redevelopment plans move forward at the plant site.

Emory Expert Offers Analysis On Stock Market, China Slowdown

Aug 31, 2015
The Charging Bull, sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull, stands in Bowling Green Park in the Financial District in Manhattan, New York City.
Sam valadi / flickr.com/132084522@N05

Financial markets took a roller coaster ride last week, nose-diving and rebounding, then nose-diving again before gaining back some losses, all amid worries over China’s worsening economy.

By week’s end, though, stocks recovered somewhat after investor reassurances that the U.S. economy is in good shape.

“Growth is slowing in China,” Clifton Green, an associate professor of finance at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, said during an interview on “A Closer Look.”

China’s exports were down by 8 percent year-over-year in July, he said.

A collage of well-known fast-food chicken restaurants
Chris Potter, Mike Mozart, Mike, Mike Mozart / flickr.com/86530412@N02, flickr.com/jeepersmedia, flickr.com/shmajent, flickr.com/jeepersmedia

Fast-food chain Bojangle's has its eye on Atlanta with plans to open several more locations in the area this year.

That brings its total number of Atlanta locations to at least 45, or about one-third the number of local Chick-fil-A restaurants here. Add in Popeye’s with 10, Church’s Chicken with 32, and KFC with nearly 60, and it’s clear Atlanta has a lot of chicken choices.

"In order to make it, you've got to make it in Atlanta,” says restaurant analyst John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting Group.

But is the market saturated?

This probably isn't what the United Nations had in mind when it established the International Day of Peace: Burger King is asking McDonald's to join forces to create a "McWhopper."

In full-page newspaper ads Wednesday, Burger King said it's calling for a truce with McDonald's so that they can create a mashup of their most famous burgers — the Big Mac and the Whopper. Burger King says it wants to serve the concoction for a single day at a popup location in Atlanta, a midway point between the headquarters of the two chains.

Boyd Coons with Atlanta Preservation Center talks on A Closer Look on Monday, August 24, 2014 about Atlanta losing historical neighborhoods.
Brenna Beech / WABE

Atlanta’s booming redevelopment sector is creating an economic boon for some, while pricing others right out of their homes because of the rising costs of rent in some areas of the metro area.

Smith's Olde Bar, an iconic music venue in Atlanta, for example, is at risk of losing its space because the property is reportedly scheduled for auction this week. Another proposed development, the Morningside Strip Center, may be in jeopardy because the rents could be too costly and unaffordable for local businesses.

Trader Christopher Martin works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 358 points, also 2.1 percent, to 16,990.
Richard Drew / Associated Press

U.S. markets plunged at the open Monday following a big drop in Chinese stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 1,000 points in early trading.

The Dow was 783 points, or 4.8 percent, lower as of 9:40 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 87 points, or 4.5 percent, to 1,882. The Nasdaq composite fell 247 points, or 5.1 percent, to 4,465 points.

China's main index has lost up to 8.6 percent as investors shaken by the sell-off last week on Wall Street unloaded shares in practically every sector.

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