Georgia Political News for April 23, 2012

“Yo quiero new home!” says “23436,” a friendly chihuahua puppy available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

The adoption fee is $30, plus a $60 required vet fee. Seniors age 55 and older and county employees adopt for free with seniors paying only half the vet fee, and county employees paying the $60 vet fee.

Governor Deal tours state with bill signings Tuesday and Wednesday

Gov. Nathan Deal will take his magic pen on tour this week, visiting seven cities across the state to hold bill signings. On Tuesday, Deal visits Augusta, Statesboro, and Savannah, while Wednesday takes him to Valdosta, Albany, Warner Robins, and Columbus.

T-SPLOST not their cup of Tea

The Atlanta Tea Party will be holding a T-SPLOST Town Hall in Buckhead at a date likely in June and place to be named and Georgia Tea Party Patriots will host a statewide summit including a T-SPLOST debate and breakout sessions to discuss how activists can defeat the statewide referenda.

Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation notes that 52 percent of Metro Atlanta spending will go toward transit, which currently is used by 5 percent of the population, and that the sales tax structure of T-SPLOST will require all Atlantans to subsidize transit that few of them use and many oppose having near their homes.

Jim Galloway notes in the AJC that T-SPLOST proponents will be spending millions of dollars on the Political Consultants Full Employment T-SPLOST effort.

The Savannah Morning News provides some details about the projects included in the T-SPLOST for the Coastal Region and suggests that voters spend some time learning more before the July 31 election.

A Letter to the Editor in the Fayette County Citizen argues that if MARTA ridership is declining while we face $4 per gallon gas, the half-billion dollar subsidy to the transit system will only increase while serving only 5 percent of Metro Atlanta citizens. (Note that is a LTE and I don’t know if it was fact-checked.)

Fox31 News in Albany has a short video about a T-SPLOST information meeting held there.

Representative Ed Rynders of the Georgia [General] Assembly says “it’s an estimate that over 10,000 jobs will be created that not including the shopping center that may open up and create an economic corridor area.”

A widely-circulated Op-Ed likens the T-SPLOST to “a Bernie Madoff scam,” noting that under the terms of the enabling legislation, GDOT may redirect funds already committed to projects that are covered by the T-SPLOST.

By listing “the state” as a benefactor of regional funds, this makes it legal to “redirect” regional funds instead of federal and state funds as the FAQ explains. This means the regions lose a huge portion of the state and federal tax moneys they have paid in in fuel taxes. This makes a “bad deal” a “worse deal” for taxpayers, cities and counties.

T-SPLOST was a topic in Washington, DC as the Atlanta Regional Commission’s LINK trip included discussions with officials from other states who attempted similar measures.

Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson expressed his support for the project to the LINK attendees, but acknowledged its political peril.

“Hopefully we’re going to see some miracles with the T-SPLOST [transportation referendum] that takes place later this year,” he said.

Campaigns and Elections

Congressman John Barrow (D-Augusta) faces a tough reelection fight and has added cutting the federal debt to his legislative agenda.

Democrat Barack Obama drew just 44 percent in the new 12th in 2008; he took 55 percent in the old 12th. National GOP groups have targeted Barrow for political extinction.

“At least in theory,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock, “because of the way the district is drawn, a Republican should be able to pull it off.”

Meanwhile, GOP contenders are doing their best to recast Barrow, unopposed for renomination so far, as the Democratic president’s Siamese twin.

Although he’s bucked Obama on some — but not all — issues, they gleefully note he once said in a campaign mailing he works “hand in hand” with the president.

UGA’s Bullock said the GOP nominee need not match Barrow dollar for dollar but needs enough money to buy a high profile in key TV ad markets.

Help from national party groups could be critical, he added.

The National Republican Congressional Committee considers the contest one of its top national priorities, spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Barrow’s getting help from major figures in his party.

Walter Jones writes that campaign donations and legislative priorities appear not to match up.

The types of bills passed in the last two legislative sessions don’t bear a close resemblance to the types of groups making the most candidate contributions during the 2010 campaign.

Supporters of “tax reform” ponied up more than $100,000 to legislators in advance of this year’s legislative session and Georgia utility companies have donated more than $190,000 to legislative candidates after a ban on company contributions was lifted.

Forsyth News has three videos from the Tea Party debate for candidates for Sheriff and discusses the debate among Commission candidates.

Mark Williams (R-Duluth), who is running for the State House seat currently held by State Rep. Pedro Marin, played ice cream man over the weekend, distributing ice cream, t-shirts and campaign literature from a 24-foot truck wrapped with his campaign propaganda.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are urging the USDOJ to reject redrawn districts, suggesting that Rep. Doug McKillip was using redistricting to score favorable publicity and points with Republicans.

Billy Breeden will run for an open seat on the Leesburg City Council in the July 31 special election.

Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell announced he will seek reelection from District Two.

Cynthia McKinney will run for Congress as a Green Party candidate from the Fourth District, which she formerly represented as a Democrat. While the party label has changed, McKinney will still bring the crazy.

Tracked down at her mother’s home Thursday by a reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McKinney declined to comment and ordered the reporter off the property.

US Senator Johnny Isakson (R) likes his job a lot, as he told a class at Armstrong Atlantic State University.

All three Northwest Georgia delegates to the Republican National Convention are bound to vote for Newt Gingrich.

When Layla Shipman of Rome goes to the Republican National Convention in August she’ll be casting her vote for Newt Gingrich, but she said she’ll be happy to back Mitt Romney if he wins the nomination.

“It is my job — and my duty and my honor — to do whatever I can to get Obama out of the White House,” she said. “My loyalty lies with conservative values … not one particular candidate.”

Shipman, who is Gingrich’s Northwest Georgia field representative, is one of the three first-ever GOP delegates from the new 14th Congressional District.

Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill (D) and current Forsyth Sheriff Ted Paxton (R) both will have to deal with public embarrassments as they seek election this year. Hill has been indicted on 37 counts of corruption, while Paxton was the subject of a 911 call after he passed out at the home of a friend.

Random Notes

The Americus Times-Recorder is grateful for the passage of reforms to the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings laws and for Gov. Deal’s signature of the legislation.

Columbia County judges are being lenient in allowing reporters to tweet during court proceedings.

A Confederate battle flag that was returned to Fort McAllister near Savannah was unveiled over the weekend and the Savannah Morning News has photos and video.

Sixty-four percent of Snellville residents believe the city has a good or excellent image, up from 34% in 2009.

Merle Haggard performs Wednesday, April 25th at the Macon City Auditorium.

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