The blog.

2
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2015

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead for the Eizenstat Memorial Lecture: “Challenges Facing the U.S. and the World in the 21st Century” from 7:30 to 10 PM Thursday night. Expect horrible traffic that day. This is what happened when Biden came to town in 2013.

Search warrants were served yesterday seeking emails between DeKalb County iCEO Lee May and two former county employees.

[Kelvin] Walton is DeKalb’s former director and chief procurement officer. [Morris] Williams is the former DeKalb County government chief of staff.

The emails for May, Walton and Williams were ordered to be turned over for the period of Dec. 13, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2011 and concern conspiracy to defraud and making false statements.

May issued a statement promising his cooperation. “Today, DeKalb County received search warrants issued by DeKalb Superior Court for emails for myself and two former DeKalb County employees,” May said in the statement.

“I have said from the very beginning that I expect full cooperation from all county employees as it pertains to the ongoing investigations into DeKalb County government.  I include myself in that directive, and I have ordered staff to comply completely and as rapidly as possible.”

“I share the sentiments of everyone who wants to get to the bottom of corruption and wrongdoing, and these search warrants are a step in this process.  Personally, I have nothing to hide; and there will be nothing in my email to suggest I have done anything wrong.”

Continue Reading..

2
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 2, 2015

In August, over 756 animals came into DeKalb County Animal Services and over 660 into Fulton County Animal Services.  To save lives, LifeLine Animal Project is offering FREE adoptions on all pets during the entire month of September!  This includes the pets spay/neuter, microchip and vaccines — a $250 value for free!  LifeLine makes up the cost through their fundraising efforts and grants.

All month long, LifeLine Animal is offering free dog and cat adoptions at their facilities in Fulton and DeKalb Counties.

You can also check out a “Dog for the Day” to help exercise the animals at the shelter and maybe “test drive” a new best friend.

Betty

Betty is a 10-year old Boxer mix who weighs 50 pounds and is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services with no adoption fee through the month of September.

Hi! I’m Betty. I”m a 10 year old spayed female who recently completed heartworm treatment. I absolutely love people and am the gentlest old soul you will ever meet. Whether I am getting a bath, taking walks around the block, hanging out in my crate, or just snuggling on the couch, I will look up at you with my sweet brown eyes and you”ll know how much I love you. My foster mom thinks I would be the perfect companion for an older human or a family with small children because I am so calm and gentle.

My activity level is low. I like walking around the block one or twice a day, and the rest of the time I am content to take quick trips to the back yard in between snoozes on the couch or in my crate. (I am wonderful in my crate and also house trained).

Even though I am so laid back with humans, there are a few situations when I can behave reactively to other dogs. I am very food motivated, and need to be fed in my kennel away from other dogs. I have become more relaxed with my foster siblings over the past few months. At first, my foster brother and I had a few disagreements, but with time and supervision we are getting along much better. We love going on walks and even play in the yard together. Please know that while I enjoy meeting most other dogs, I can”t make friends with cats. They just look like squeaky toys to me.

All I want in this world is someone to love me and let me live out my golden years giving snuggles and taking naps on the couch. Will you be my forever family?

Graham

Graham is a nine-month old, 38-pound Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for no-cost adoption from Fulton County Animal Services all month.

Graham is in foster care!

“Hi, my name is Graham, I”m looking for my forever home. My foster parents have taught me how to ‘go’ outside and I now go to the back door and cry when I need to go out. I am also crate trained. I do enjoy big bones which helps a lot with my teething. I am learning leash manners and I know how to sit on command! We are presently working on ‘stay.’ I have lots of puppy energy and would love to have room to run and play with my new family. I have lots of love and kisses to give and will be forever faithful to my new family.”

Ava

Ava is a two-year old, 36-pound Labrador Retriever mix (we’d say maybe Shepherd too) who is available for adoption at no cost in September from Fulton County Animal Services.

My name is Ava!! I have been told that I am a cute little nugget! I am a very sweet and loving. I gets along great with all the dogs in my kennel! I have been here since 4-14 and it is upsetting that I still here.

I went out for Dog For The Day yesterday and the volunteers just fell in love with me! Here are some notes. “She was so very excited just to leave the kennel that we had a hard time getting the harness on her. She wiggled all over the place! Once in the car she was so happy watching out the window as wethey were driving. When we were walking her on the leash she is so well behaved and doesn”t pull or even want to leave your side. She loves to play with toys and had a lot of fun playing with a football! We never heard her bark. She loves to sit in your lap and give hugs and kisses. She is an absolute sweetheart!” So she sounds like the perfect dog!

I am only urgent because they know that it is time for me to find the best family ever and that it is not fair that I have been here so very long. Please come by and take me into the yard, you won”t be able to resist falling in love with me! She is awaiting your visit!

Dia

Dia is a 1-year old, female Lab mix who is available for adoption at no cost in September from Fulton County Animal Services. From her profile:

Our brindle baby Dia is such a love and the joy she feels can be easily seen in her pictures. Amazingly enough she has been here for almost four months and staff and volunteers just aren”t sure why she has trouble standing out at the shelter. She shines whenever she gets out and is able to show how happy and willing to please she is!

One volunteer said, `We had a great time taking her out! Dia seemed to really enjoy hiking and playing in the river. She walked great on the leash and didn”t pull. She was also calm and friendly with other dogs and a few kids we saw. Hope she finds a home soon- I can tell she would make a great companion!` We agree and want Dia to never have to come back to the shelter after a fun day of adventures. Please come meet this beautiful lady and see if she is the one for you!

1
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 1, 2015

Yesterday, I picked up Kira, an adult female Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) from DeKalb County Animal Services and drove her to Loganville, where she is now being cared for by Country Livin’ Pet Rescue and will soon be available for adoption.

Kira Freedom Ride

My total time commitment was about two hours and it may have saved two dogs – Kira and the dog who took her kennel at DeKalb. It’s a great low-cost way to help out with dog rescue if you’re unable to adopt or foster.

Check out her video on Facebook – she loves to play fetch, appears to be trained, and is a very nice calm dog.

Pierre

Pierre is a short and sweet little pocket pittie that can’t wait to waddle into your life on his short little legs! This 3 year old boy showers everyone he meets with buckets of affection. Pierre has some patchy hair loss on his back and his adopters will need to continue his vet care. Pierre is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services. I happened to see this little guy yesterday when I was picking up Kira and he’s adorable. If you adopt him and tell everyone he’s a French Bulldog mix, they’ll believe you. I’d guess he’s maybe 35 pounds.

Vinnie

Vinnie is a little 4-year male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Ruxpin

Ruxpin is a middle-aged Shepherd or Retriever mix whose face totally looks like a bear. He’s maybe a little bit fluffier than he needs to be, but he’s well-behaved and gets along well with other dogs. He just needs to be reaquainted with exercise. Ruxpin is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control in Winder, GA.

Each of these guys is one of a number of dogs who are available for $30 adoption fee in the Pre-Labor Day Adoption Special that runs all week.

 

Barrow Labor

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During the “Fall in Love” promotion at LifeLine Animal Services’ DeKalb and Fulton shelters, all adoptions during the month of September are free – including full vetting for your new best friends.

The takeover by LifeLine at DeKalb and Fulton Counties has been a resounding success for both the animals who come in to the shelters, and for the taxpayers. From the Saporta Reporta,

After a lot of hard work, the chances have improved significantly that an animal will come out alive from a shelter in Fulton and DeKalb counties – up from 15 animals out of 100 in 2012, to 85 animals out of 100 in 2014, according to the contractor who took over the facilities in 2013.

The turn-around has been so dramatic that the two counties should be able to reach the “no kill” threshold of saving 90 out of every 100 animals, according to Rebecca Guinn, founder and CEO of Lifeline Animal Project. The “I’m In” campaign, seen on MARTA vehicles, aims to reach the goal by 2016.

The “no kill” rate of 90 percent accounts for some animals being too sick, too injured, or too behaviorly unsound to save, Guinn said. The rate has been reached in cities including Austin, Texas and Reno, N.V.

“LifeLine’s work with FCAS [Fulton County Animal Shelter] is making a difference in Fulton County,” John Eaves, Fulton County chairman, said in a statement. “Through the generous and consistent support of partners and the community, access to quality adoption and other animal services is dramatically decreasing the population of homeless animals in our community.”

County commissioners in Fulton and DeKalb decided to outsource their shelters in 2013. Both counties were struggling to manage the shelters at a time property tax receipts were flagging in the wake of the Great Recession.

The contract fees paid by the counties covers the cost of operating the shelters, Guinn said. In the case of Fulton, the contract also provides for LifeLine to manage the animal control program. DeKalb County retained control of that program in its jurisdiction.

Justin Tomczak, who also serves as First Vice Chair for the Cobb County Republican Party, wrote in Huffington Post about insurance issues for owners or potential adopters of dogs labeled “Pit Bulls.”

I work for an insurance company and as a result, I frequently talk to people who own or have adopted a dog and had problems getting homeowners or renters insurance because of the breed of dog they own. Many of them share stories like that of Chris and Zach Olson. Since June they have been fostering a dog named Venus through Ruff Start Rescue in Minnesota. Venus is the quintessential underdog because she is a pit bull with health problems who arrived at the rescue. That didn’t matter to Chris and Zach and they applied to adopt Venus just over a week after they began fostering her. When Chris called her homeowners insurance carrier to share the good news, the response was not unusual.

“My insurance company said they couldn’t provide coverage because I had a pit bull.” said Olson. “I panicked, I was on the verge of tears because my husband and I had already fallen in love with Venus. She is a good dog who hadn’t done anything wrong so why was she already being treated like a bad dog?”

As dog owners, we are responsible for the health and safety of our pets. We need to make every effort to set up our dogs for success by avoiding situations where they feel the need to protect themselves. Unfortunately not every dog owner acts in a safe and responsible manner and as a result, people can be injured. It doesn’t matter if it is a poodle or a pit bull, any breed of dog can bite or cause injury, and any breed of dog can make a great family pet.

I mentioned that I work for an insurance company; at State Farm, risk is determined by the dog’s bite history rather than breed. As a member of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition, we focus on educating people about how to understand a dogs’ body language as one way to prevent dog bites. We educate young children and their parents about the importance of being a responsible pet parent through Kindness is Powerful events with internationally renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell. We sponsor A Super Smiley Adventure with Megan Blake on Pet Life Radio and share uplifting stories about the human-animal bond through our Canine Assist Team. Most important of all, we understand that dogs are a member of the family.

1
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 1, 2015

On September 1, 1864, Confederate General John B. Hood withdrew his troops from Atlanta, leaving the transportation hub to fall into Union hands.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Later that evening, Senator Miller had a televised run-in with Chris Matthews.

Georgia Politics

Yesterday, incumbent Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams qualified for election to a full term in her own right after being appointed earlier this year to serve out the remainder of the term of Brookhaven’s first Mayor, J. Max Davis. Also qualifying were former DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair John Ernst and competitive eating champion Dale Boone. Incumbent City Council Members Linley Jones, a former President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and Bates Mattison also qualified for reelection. Mattison also serves as Chair of the Board of Brookhaven Innovation Academy, which was recently granted a state charter.

Also qualifying yesterday was Smyrna Mayor Max “Baconator” Bacon, who will face City Council member Wade Lnenicka. In addition to the matchup for Mayor, Smyrna will see contested elections between Derek Norton, a lobbyist for the Atlanta Apartment Association and Georgia Apartment Association and incumbent Melleny Pritchett for Ward 1 and between former Democratic State Senator Doug Stoner and Tara Simon, who was a finalist on Season Two of The X Factor.

If Dale Boone is elected Mayor of Brookhaven and Max Bacon is reelected in Smyrna, I hope the Georgia Municipal Association will pit them against each other in an eating contest.

Johns Creek voters will have a diverse set of candidates from which to choose, as Jai Lin, originally from Taiwan, qualified for City Council Post 2 and Dr. Nazeera Dawood qualified for City Council Post 5.

I’m willing to be that the craziest election will be in Snellville, where incumbent Mayor Kelly Kautz qualified for a second term.

She will face a familiar foe in Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, who has been among her most vocal critics in the city government.

“After an outpouring of support from citizens and much discussion and prayer with my family, my husband and parents have given me their full support and blessing to run for reelection,” Kautz said in a statement after signing her qualifying paperwork with her infant son in her lap. “I strive to be a role model for my new son, and I feel that I would not be setting a good example now if I gave in to negative bullying not to run for reelection.”

Kautz was initially “hesitant” to reveal her decision to run. Her campaign announcement said: “Mayor Kautz has never wavered in her desire to serve the citizens of Snellville, but she did not want to subject her family and friends to the false, negative attacks that are often associated with Snellville politics.”

“Because of the antics that occurred over the last two weeks this does not come as a surprise,” he said Monday. “Why else would she buy every Website available with Tom Witts in it and then connect them to a donation page on her Website.”

Witts was referring to Kautz’s purchase of the Website votetomwitts.com and others, which she said would be used for potential marketing.

Votetomwitts.com has no content. But Witts and others accused Kautz of using the site recently to direct traffic to her own campaign site with a well-placed “donate” button.

Asked about the button, Kautz said it was added during a transition of the site from a mayoral page to a candidate page. She said it wasn’t her intention for anyone to see the button unless they were “actively looking.”

Witts called it “dirty politics plain and simple.”

In South Georgia, incumbent Valdosta Mayor John Gayle faces at least two opponents.

Warner Robins Post 4 Council Member Tim Thomas has drawn opposition from Betsy Loiacono.

The City of Forsyth is holding both General Elections and a Special Election in November.

In Forsyth, voters will decide on the mayor and three of six council positions. Those are Post 1, currently held by Jimmy Jones; Post 3, currently held by Melvin Lawrence, and Post 4, currently held by Greg Goolsby. In addition to those seats, there will be a special election in November for Post 2.

City Clerk Janice Hall said Councilman Eric Wilson, who represented Post 2 and was not up for re-election, resigned from his post to run for mayor.

“We’re actually having our regular election and a special election in one election in November,” Hall said. “(Wilson) has qualified to run for the mayor position, so we will have a special election for Post 2 (also). … (Wilson) did not have to resign to run for mayor, he could have remained on council and ran for mayor. If he were successful in running for mayor, then after the first of the year, we would have had to have had a special election to fill his seat.”

In Columbia County, at least five contestants candidates will be on the ballot in a special election for County Commission District Three.

The five – Jim Bartley, Greg Grzybowski, Gary Richardson, Frank Spears and Russell Wilder – had previously announced their intentions to run in the Nov. 3 special election to fill the seat vacated by Mack Taylor in July.

No others have publicly declared an interest in the race, but the door to enter remains open until noon Wednesday, when qualifying closes.

All five qualified to run as Republicans and have said getting a handle on the county’s growth is the election’s key issue.

The District 3 seat, which was vacant for nine months after Com­mis­sio­ner Charles Allen was forced to resign in March 2014, was filled in a special election runoff in December when Taylor defeated Trip Derryberry.
Taylor announced his departure in July, after only seven months in office, to pursue the state House District 122 seat vacated by longtime Rep. Ben Harbin.

Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner is seeking reelection to a fourth term.

Cave Spring, Georgia will have a contested election for Mayor.

Cave Spring City Clerk Judy Dickinson said Dennis Shoaf and Angela Kerce qualified Monday for the mayor’s seat being vacated by Rob Ware.

Political newcomer Kerce lists her occupation as merchandiser. Shoaf, a line manager at Kellogg’s, is a sitting councilman who had to resign his Post 4 seat to run for mayor.

The Post 1 and Post 2 council seats also will be filled in the Nov. 3 election.

Post 2 incumbent Nellie McCain qualified to seek another term. Local auctioneer Tom Lindsey signed up to run for the Post 1 seat held by Kenneth Agan, who also is expected to run.

Non-Election Related

So, apparently, there are now three classes of immigrants – documented, undocumented, and those whose documents are questioned, and the third group is suing Georgia over driver’s licenses.

A group of immigrants whose legal residency is disputed sued Georgia’s state government Monday for refusing to issue them driver’s licenses.

The immigrants had been ordered deported, but they are either seeking to have their removals suspended or come from countries that will not allow their return. Federal officials have issued them work permits and Social Security numbers. While the Department of Driver Services had previously issued driver’s licenses to such immigrants, the state started rejecting those applications this summer.

“There is no rational basis for the policy, or even any benefit to the state of Georgia as a result of the policy,” the lawsuit said. “Indeed, if anything, the refusal to issue driver’s licenses to this group of immigrants costs the state of Georgia millions of dollars in lost administrative fees from potential registered drivers.”

State officials declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Congressman Sanford Bishop will co-host a Military Family Unit Summit at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia.

Bishop, who co-chairs the Congressional Military Family Caucus, is hosting the 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. summit to discuss pressing issues impacting America’s service members and their families.

Loggerhead turtles set a new record for nesting sites on the Georgia coast this year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A loggerhead sea turtle that laid her eggs on Little Cumberland Island on Thursday put Georgia over its previous nesting record set just two years ago. The latest nest was No. 2,290.

“Loggerheads have done it again,” wrote Georgia Sea Turtle Coordinator Mark Dodd, in an early morning email to the volunteers, interns and staffers who patrol beaches to monitor and protect sea turtles. “I am very happy to report that loggerhead nesting hit a new all-time high for the period since comprehensive surveys were established in Georgia in 1989.”

Loggerheads, which grow up to 4 feet long and weigh 200 to 400 pounds, are the main sea turtle visitors to Georgia beaches. The species, federally listed as threatened, nest every two or more years laying up to 150 eggs at a time in multiple nests over the season.

Ossabaw struggled this year with feral hogs eating turtle eggs until new equipment — a thermal rifle scope — helped reduce their raids. Further south, on Cumberland, what’s thought to be three or four family groups of coyotes feasted on turtle eggs before nine animals were removed. It’s more common to see coyote tracks on many of Georgia’s beaches now than in past years, Dodd said.

“With so many (predatory) species, once they learn turtle eggs are easy food, they can wipe you out pretty fast,” Dodd said.

But predators are a struggle to be expected every year on remote barrier islands. Despite them, about 65 percent of nests have hatched to date, releasing more than 100,000 hatchlings. Hatching is expected to continue through mid-October.

31
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2015

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This is qualifying week for most municipal elections that will be held November 3, 2015. Expect a flurry of announcements in coming days.

Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams will run for election for the city’s top spot after being appointed Mayor to fill the remainder of the term vacated by former Mayor J. Max Davis. Our condolences to the Mayor’s family on the loss of her mother. Mayor Williams will meet former DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair John Ernst in November.

The most mouth-watering municipal election this year is for Mayor of Smyrna, where incumbent Max Bacon is running on the tasty breakfast anytime treat named after him.

Heart Bacon Sticker628

Next week, Mayor Bacon will hold a campaign kickoff.

Max Bacon Kickoff

But wait, it gets better. His campaign Twitter handle is @VoteBaconator.

John Heneghan, who runs the excellent Dunwoody North blog, will run for reelection to the Dunwoody City Council.

Also in Dunwoody, City Council Member Denny Shortal resigned earlier this month to run for Mayor.

In Gainesville, three City Council seats are up for election, as are three seats on the city’s Board of Education.

Local officials in Carrollton credit the Port of Savannah, more than 300 miles away, with a recent business deal that will bring new jobs to the West Georgia city.

Coweta County will be seeing campaign signs everywhere as election season kicks off for municipal seats in Newnan, Senoia, Moreland, Turin, Sharpsburg and Haralson.

Gwinnett County may have more municipal elections than anywhere else, with qualifying this week for Auburn, Braselton , Buford, Dacula, Duluth, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Snellville, Sugar Hill, and Suwanee.

In Savannah, Tom Barton writes that conditions might be ripe for a reprise of Susan Weiner’s 1991 upset election as Mayor of the coastal city.

[I]f I’m Mayor Edna Jackson or any of the seven incumbent members of Council running for a second term, I’m not just sweating bullets as qualifying for this year’ non-partisan election begin Monday. I’m also perspiring hand grenades. That’s because the Savannah electorate seems to be in the mood to clean house.

That’s how it was back in 1991 and in 1995. Weiner rode a tidal wave of voter disgust with the incumbent mayor over the city’s failure to address violent crime and the belief that the city’s leadership was complacent, arrogant and out-of-touch. A grassroots coalition called Renaissance Savannah released a critical report called “Is Savannah Growing Senile.” It helped propel Weiner into the mayor’s office and Rousakis into the history book. Then, only four years later, Weiner the Reformer was a victim of some of the same dynamics. She lost to Floyd the Everyman, ushering in a rare era of good feeling in city politics.

Incumbent Savannah mayors are tough to beat. Especially if that mayor is African-American. Adams ran unopposed for his second term. Otis Johnson won 70 percent of the vote, besting a five-candidate field in his bid for a second term in 2007. The conventional wisdom, since then, has been that a white person, especially one with Republican leanings, couldn’t be elected mayor. While there’s some truth to that CW — Savannah is a majority black city and city voters have tended to prefer Democrats, I don’t think it applies in this year’s elections. I think the right white candidate can win a citywide election. And timing is key.

That was a big lesson from the 2014 race for Chatham County District Attorney. Meg Heap, who is white, took 56 percent of the countywide vote to beat Larry Chisholm, who is black. But she enjoyed significant crossover support in the city from black Democrats, in large part because of Chisholm’s four years of incompetence. This reveals a growing maturity of Savannah’s black electorate. While it is rightfully proud of black political trailblazers who become the “first black” official elected or named to a public office, I think an increasing number of black voters appear to be putting more stock into a candidate’s competency than in skin color. By the same token, I think some black voters are getting sick and tired of being taken for granted by black candidates.

I think such dynamics will play huge roles in November. Especially in the aldermanic contests in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th districts, where incumbents Mary Osborne, John Hall and Estella Shabazz are trying to cling to power.

Bonds Everywhere

Governor Nathan Deal has thrown a caution flag to legislators debating repealing the state income tax, according to Walter Jones of Morris News.

“I have asked them to be very cautious,” he said Friday after addressing a science-education group.

Leaders in the legislature have, for years, been calling for replacing the [income] tax with a higher sales tax.

Higher interest costs the state money it could otherwise use to fund education, health care or other public services, so officials like Deal try to keep investors happy, especially the rating agencies that grade bond risks.

“From what I have seen and read of their comments, even the introduction of legislation to [cut taxes] sometimes gets noted in their assessments of why they gave us a certain rating,” the governor said.

Georgia is one of just a handful of states with the highest rating by all of the rating agencies, helping the state pay about the lowest interest rates on its bonds, a status Deal is keen to maintain.

“[Investors] obviously don’t look at it through those lenses,” he said. “They are very focused on not having anything that jeopardizes the revenue flow for a state.”

That’s why his goal is to build the state’s reserves to $2 billion as the rating agencies recommend.

At the same time, the governor cares about stability.

“We need to ensure that we’re on solid footing in order to sustain the budgets that we have continued to pass and will pass,” he said.

David Pendered writes in the Saporta Reporta that Southern Company may see its debt ratings downgraded if the acquisition of AGL Resources closes.

Moody’s Investors Service has reduced the credit outlook of Southern Co. from stable to negative as a result of Southern’s decision to purchase AGL Resources. Moody’s affirmed Southern’s current ratings, but expects to reduce ratings if the AGL deal goes through as announced.

According to a ratings statement Moodys issued Aug. 24: “The Southern Company’s rating is likely to be lowered by one notch at or before the closing date of the AGL acquisition if the transaction is financed as currently envisioned.”

The purchase of AGL will push Southern’s total debt from less than $2 billion to the range of $10 billion to $11 billion as it works to manage the mounting costs of expanding its facilities, according to Moodys.

[T]he purchase of AGL comes at a time Southern’s rating faces rising financial pressure from expansions in Georgia and Mississippi, and expansion into renewable energy, according to the rating action.

Speaking of the expansion in Georgia, the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is proceeding apace after a schedule revision earlier this year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia Power Co. reported Fri­day that Plant Vogtle’s expansion is progressing as planned after the Waynesboro, Ga., facility’s budget and schedule were revised earlier this year to reflect an 18-month delay and a $246 million increase in capital construction costs.

Total construction and capital costs remain at $5.045 billion, and in-service target dates for the plant’s two new nuclear reactors – Units 3 and 4 – are still tentatively set for June 2019 and 2020, the power company disclosed in its latest construction monitoring report.

In Georgia Power’s last report, which the state approved earlier this month, it said Plant Vogtle’s capital construction costs had increased from $4.8 billion and that the expected completion dates had been delayed from an original schedule of April 2016 and 2017.

“We are not changing any forecasted costs and schedules in this report,” Buzz Miller, Georgia Pow­er’s executive vice president of nuclear development, said in an interview. “Now, it’s about getting it online and getting the plant going.”

A retired power plant on the Savannah River in downtown Savannah will be the location for a new $235 million luxury hotel built with the assistance of up to $10 million in historic preservation tax credits.

That’s because with less than two hours left in the 2015 legislative session, the Georgia Senate gave final approval to upping the potential state tax credits on historic preservation projects from $300,000 to $10 million, an amount helpful to major redevelopments like [Richard] Kessler’s. That’s on top of federal tax credits.

The bill was sponsored by the Legislature’s unofficial business tax credit king, House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, and pushed along by the city’s leading lobbyist and preservationists.

“This will be a game-changer not only for Savannah, but all over the state,” predicted Stephens.

Others see it as part of a disturbing trend of lawmakers picking “winners and losers” by giving tax breaks to select private businesses.

Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, called it a “horrible bill.”

“I can’t stand to see the state invest tax dollars in private entities,” said Stover. “This is something we are seeing happen over and over again because, quite frankly, we don’t have the backbone to say no.”

“We could never get some members (of the General Assembly) to understand, or they wouldn’t understand, the fact that there is a return on investment to historic tax credits,” said Mark Kessler [son of developer Richard Kessler]. “Where the state may see this as a giveaway, there is an immediate return on investment.”

Lawyers for Nydia Tisdale sent a love letter nastygram to a number of elected and appointed officials as well as private property owners over her forced removal from a public event last year, according to the Dawson Advertiser.

Attorneys for a woman arrested last year at Burt’s Pumpkin farm for videotaping a public GOP rally have filed notice of their intent to sue for $550,000 the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Tony Wooten, Burt’s Pumpkin Farm, Attorney Clint Bearden, organizers of the event and two additional sheriff’s deputies.

Nydia Tisdale, 52, was arrested Aug. 23, 2014, and charged with criminal trespass and felony obstruction of an officer after she refused requests to turn off her video camera.

“What precipitated this was the arrest of Nydia Tisdale for filming an event where others were also filming,” [Attorney Gerry] Weber said. “She was both arrested and brutalized by the officer (Capt. Tony Wooten). And, ultimately, we think this matter is important because free press is important. In our view, government officials should defend a citizen’s right to free speech and open government.”

The notice also alleges Tisdale’s video recording, which was held as evidence by the sheriff’s office, was “digitally altered – and critical portions that captured Capt. Wooten’s use of excessive force and Ms. Tisdale’s screams for help had been deleted.”

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Major Nicholas Neal will go to prison after being convicted of public corruption in a scheme to sell auto parts to the department he worked for, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Convicted in a public corruption trial, the former local sheriff’s office major was sentenced Friday to two years in prison, followed by eight on probation. He was found guilty Thursday of illegally selling automotive parts to the county government, even after Sheriff Butch Conway told him that it wasn’t allowed.

Chief Judge Melodie Snell Conner expressed regret handing down the sentence, saying that Neal had done “a lot of good” in his many years around Gwinnett. His ties to the community and 25 years in law enforcement factored into the judge’s decision to allow him to surrender on Monday.

“I’m sad to be here and disappointed to be here because I do know Mr. Neal professionally,” said the judge who, like Neal, is a Gwinnett native. “It’s just painful to be a part of this.”

31
Aug

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for August 31, 2015

Penny

Penny is a year-and-a-half old female Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from the Clayton County Humane Society.

Penny was found at animal control, shaking and cowering in the back of her cage. With just a little TLC and a lot of hugs and kisses, she has blossomed. She is a very sweet, happy dog who is eager to make you smile. She is young, we believe perhaps she was born around January 2014 and she weighs 10 pounds.

Ted E Bear

Ted E. Bear is a male Havanese and Poodle mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Clayton County Humane Society in Jonesboro, GA.

Ted E. Bear was found at animal control at just 3 months of age, he has already found himself locked up. He has a great personality that will make anyone smile just watching him. He is pretty clean in his crate so he may be on his way to being housebroken, but he would benefit with owners that could let him out every several hours until he is fully housetrained.

Roxy

Roxy is a young female Shih Tzu who is available for adoption from Clayton County Humane Society in Jonesboro, GA.

oxy was an owner surrender and when she came into our shelter her coat was in terrible shape. Now cleaned up by the shelter’s groomer she is adorable! Roxy is a very sweet dog that loves everyone she meets. She will require professional grooming so consider the added expense and time involved with lots of brushing before adopting a Shih Tzu.

30
Aug

The Marietta Daily Journal – Ott to Trot Commissioner said to be eying chairmanship again

COBB Chairman Tim Lee already has one announced opponent in his race next year for another term. But might he be on the verge of having another challenger — and losing the first one?

Cobb Republican sources tell Around Town that Southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott is giving serious consideration to jumping into the chairman’s race instead of running for a third term as a district commissioner.

Ott, who flies for Delta Airlines, has said in the past he’d like to be chairman but could not afford the pay cut. Ott and Lee have clashed repeatedly during their tenure together on the board.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Ott to Trot Commissioner said to be eying chairmanship again.

30
Aug

The Marietta Daily Journal – Cobb cities begin qualifying for elections

Mayoral seats in Smyrna, Powder Springs, Kennesaw and Austell are all up for election this year, and three of the four sitting mayors said they plan to run again.

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon, Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins and Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn say they plan to run for another term as mayor of their cities, but Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said he will not.

All four cities will hold qualifications between Monday and Wednesday. In all, at least 14 council seats across the four cities will be up for election this year.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Cobb cities begin qualifying for elections.

30
Aug

Lee’s legal defense cost taxpayers $24,000 | www.myajc.com

Cobb County taxpayers spent $24,000 on Commission Chairman Tim Lee’s legal defense against an ethics complaint, plus another $9,600 to cover the bills of two lawyers advising the Board of Ethics on the case.

Lee’s defense team submitted a 13-page invoice detailing about six weeks of work performed on behalf of the chairman last fall.

Although the case ended Nov. 21, Lee’s two attorneys — Ben Mathis and David Cole, both of whom are partners at Freeman Mathis & Gary — submitted their bill for $18,871 to the Cobb County Attorney’s Office Aug. 18.

via Lee’s legal defense cost taxpayers $24,000 | www.myajc.com.

29
Aug

Dulek announces run for Savannah’s 3rd District | savannahnow.com

Gordonston resident Kim Dulek announced Thursday her intention to run against incumbent Savannah Alderman John Hall for the District 3 seat.

After three bullets entered her home’s window during a nearby shooting March 15, Dulek said it became clear that crime has gotten out of hand and that she did not think Hall was taking it seriously enough.

“I just felt stronger and stronger that there has to be some change,” she said.

In addition to working to improve public safety by supporting the Savannah-Chatham police, Dulek said as an alderman she would focus on economic development, tourism, increasing community involvement and developing more mentors for young people.

via Dulek announces run for Savannah’s 3rd District | savannahnow.com.