Georgia Political News for Monday, February 20, 2012

Today’s adoptable dog is Ginger, who is being fostered by Adopt A Golden Atlanta. Ginger is six years old and loves playing fetch with a tennis ball. Ginger is looking for a quiet home, preferably with another calm dog.

Two dogs featured last week from the Walton Animal Shelter have been moved into foster care at Forgotten Paws. They aren’t on the website yet, but should be available for adoption.

One of two VC-25 aircraft that play the role of Air Force One visited Savannah last week, without its most famous passenger. The plane was practicing take-offs and landings at Hunter Army Airfield on Tuesday.

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum drew a crowd estimated between 3500 and 4500 last night at First Redeemer Church in Forsyth County. Santorum devoted much of his speech to the economy, and the proper role of the government under the Constitution. Senator David Shafer has been named state chairman of the Santorum campaign, said “I think Newt is clearly the frontrunner – he’s from Georgia, but I think the momentum is with Rick Santorum. Republicans are looking for someone new.” Santorum won the straw poll at the Floyd County GOP mass meeting this weekend, one of many across the state.

Notably, this is many more supporters than appeared in at least four campaign events featuring Gingrich and Herman Cain or Callista Gingrich. Gingrich told former hometown newspaper the Marietta Daily Journal that

“I think winning Georgia is really, really important. think I’m clearly ahead in Georgia…. We have a much bigger organization than anybody else. My guess is that we’ll win Georgia, but we’re going to campaign here every single day as though we’re behind, and we’re going to do everything we can to motivate people to turn out.

A tentative Gingrich visit to Carrollton remains up in the air.

Politics is the connection between transportation and economic development, according to Walter Jones. Intermodal transportation facilities including highway and rail access and the proximity of ocean ports drove the selection of Georgia for Caterpillar’s new manufacturing plant. Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman said, “[TSPLOST] is critical in making Georgia competitive. We’ll work for it, from all of our employees’ perspective here in Georgia to help get that passed here this summer.”

The Macon Telegraph editorial board opposes legislative attempts to amend the state Constitution to allow the state school board to approve local charter schools, saying the “Republican-controlled Legislature has had an anti-public school bent for years and now it foists upon us a constitutional amendment that would create an avenue for funding private charter schools. If it passes, it should be targeted for defeat at the ballot box.”

The Cobb County school board declined a $50,000 planning grant designed to help created a charter school called STEM Inventors Academy. The board said state law prohibits it from participating in a startup charter school in the way the grant envisioned.

Georgia Power opposes Senate Bill 401, which would give property owners more flexibility in installing solar power arrays by having a third party install them and purchasing power from the third party instead of financing the installation directly.

State Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) introduced House Bill 981, which would open bars, public schools, colleges and other locations that are currently off-limits to holders of concealed carry permits.

Cooke also co-sponsored House Bill 679, the “Constitutional Carry Act,” which would remove the requirement of a permit for the concealed carry of firearms.

Senate Bill 434 by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Not Jon Huntsman) the “Federal Abortion Mandate Opt-out Act” would prevent qualified health care plans from paying for abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened by a continued pregnancy.

Senate Bill 438 by Sen. Mike Crane (R-Newnan) would prohibit state employee health plans from paying for abortions. Crane says that the state spent $850,000 over the last three years paying for abortion services.

House Bill 735, sponsored by a quarter of Democrats, seeks to require four hours of firearms safety training for all applicants for a concealed weapon permit.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board opines that “all politics is financial,” and that minor changes in the law that are felt by taxpayers in the wallet engender stronger reactions than larger changes that do not seem to directly affect the size of paychecks.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Editorial Board writes that rural Georgia’s aging population, lower rates of having health insurance and scarcity of medical professionals combine to threaten a health care crisis.

Former Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer has announced his campaign for Gwinnett County Commission District 3 against incumbent Mike Beaudreau.

Paul Jannuzzo, former counsel to Glock, will be tried this week on charges of theft and embezzlement from the company as well as racketeering.

Georgian Republicans in the National Press

UGA Student Leanne Livingston, former Chair of the Kennesaw State University College Republicans was quoted in a Washington Post article about Sarah Palin at CPAC. Actually, misquoted, according to her facebook status, “I never said Palin was ever my hero as they claim.”

Not to be outdone, the New York Times quoted State Rep. Sam Teasley, an early Santorum supporter, “I think there’s a real possibility of Rick being able to win the state,” he said. “I do expect the polls will tighten.

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw Braddock told the WaPo “I’m hoping that Georgia is going to come through for Newt.

Finally, Dr. Merle Black at Emory said, “[Gingrich] needs a big win out of Georgia; he needs a headline,” but Rick Santorum “has become suddenly viable, while Newt is sinking in the national polls.”

Law enforcement behaving badly

Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth; his son Austin Bloodsworth; former Wilcox County jailer Casey Owens; and former inmate Willie James Caruthers were named in a 14-count federal indictment alleging the men assaulted inmates in the county jail.

A DeKalb County police officer was arrested in Buckhead for DUI on February 11th.

Forsyth County Sheriff candidate Duane K. Piper was cited for driving 103 mph in a 2011 BMW 325i. Piper is charged as a “Super Speeder” which raises the fines for anyone found guilty of speeding in excess of 85 mph, or in excess of 75 mph on two-lane roads. Piper recently retired after a 25-year career in law enforcement.

Railroad News

Norfolk Southern SD45 locomotive #1776 has been moved from the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke to the shops in Chattanooga for repainting in its commemorative red, white and blue bicentennial scheme. It’s expected to return to VTM on July 4, 2012.

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