Georgia Political News for April 27, 2012

“Elyse” is a 3-4 month old beagle puppy who weighs about ten pounds and is available for adoption today through Walton Animal Control Services.

Deal wraps up victory tour

On Wednesday, Governor Nathan Deal appeared at a breakfast with the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. State Representatives Ellis Black (R-174), Amy Carter (R-175), Jason Shaw (R-176),  and Senator Tim Golden (R-8) also attended.

[State Rep. Amy] Carter said Gov. Deal was one person in particular that needed to be thanked for the approval of a list of South Georgia requests.

“This gentleman to my right – I can say he’s the greatest leader we’ve ever had in the state of Georgia, honestly,” said Carter. “I can tell you this man is not just about a title. He means it; he works very hard and it’s all about making this state so much better and we’re seeing it in action      already after only two years.”

Deal also spoke with Valdosta State nursing students.

Eaton to Georgia Power: lower bills by June

Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton moved to approve Georgia Power rate cuts immediately so that they will be in place by June.

“We have to get lower rates implemented as soon as possible,” Eaton said. “Let’s do it during the summer months when people’s bills are at the highest.”

Georgia Power said in March it was reducing fuel charges — the amount it pays for natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewable fuels to make electricity — on customer bills by $567 million a year over the next two years. That would result in a 6 percent drop in a typical monthly bill of 1,000 kilowatt hours.

Georgia Power also announced that uranium testing in the groundwater around Plant Scherer shows safe levels.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will officially inform Southern Nuclear that the use of rebar in the nuclear island at Vogtle reactor three differs from approved design specs. NRC officials have not yet determined whether the difference from specifications will impact safety or require remediation.

Local incentives helped Baxter deal

Local government carried part of the cost of attracting 1500 new jobs and a $1 billion investment from Baxter International. County governments provided $101 million in incentives, while the state portion is $78 million.

The company will not pay any property tax until it’s up and running in 2018 and then payments will be phased in over a 10-year period. The company will still contribute $31 million in taxes during that time, according to the agreement.

Because the company is locating in Stanton Springs, the industrial park that is jointly owned by Newton, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties, both the incentives and revenue will be split four ways.

Newton and Walton both have a 37.5 percent share in the park, while Morgan owns 15 percent and Jasper 10percent.

Local incentives also include $5.9 million to build a wastewater pre-treatment facility for Baxter, as well as the waiving of local fees: $650,000 by Walton County and $613,400 by Newton County.

Saturday Breakfasts

Saturday, April 27th will be a great day for Republicans and conservatives to breakfast together.

Georgia Conservatives in Action are holding a South Georgia Economic Development Summit with keynote address by Gov. Nathan Deal, and featuring Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Tricia Pridemore from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, and Melvin Everson, Director of the State’s EEO Commission. Tickets are available online, and while the announcement doesn’t say whether breakfast will be served, I’ll be picking up country ham biscuits on the way in. Let me know if I can bring you something.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) will speak at the Bucksprings Breakfast at Fulton County GOP headquarters located at 5920 Roswell Rd in Sandy Springs, beginning at 8:15 AM.

DeKalb Republicans will hear from Phil Kent at their breakfast at the Doubletree Northlake, located at 4156 Lavista Rd in Tucker, GA 30084 beginning at 8 AM.

Rockdale County Republicans will hold their monthly meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Conyers beginning at 8:30 AM.

Bartow County Republicans will meet at the county GOP headquarters at 162 W Main St #106 in Cartersville beginning at 9 AM.

Michael Opitz, candidate for Congress from the 11th District will speak at the Madison Forum breakfast on Saturday at 8 AM at The Rib Ranch on Canton Road.

Campaigns, Elections, and Politics

President Obama travels to Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia today to sign an executive order that seeks to prevent fraud against military members.

Newt Gingrich will deliver his own political obituary the keynote address at the Georgia Republican Party State Convention Victory Dinner on May 18th and will address the Convention on May 19th, along with Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day.

Republican leaders believe that this year’s campaign was likely Gingrich’s last foray into electoral politics as a candidate, at least at the Presidential level.

“I would think that this will be his last run for president,” said Sue Everhart, chairwoman of Georgia’s Republican Party, a state Gingrich represented in Congress and where he won one of his two primary victories. “There are plenty of other places that he could be helpful.”

Tom Perdue, a Republican strategist in Georgia, has long been skeptical of Gingrich’s candidacy and believes Gingrich is effectively finished in politics.

“I sure don’t see how he could be a contender for anything in the future,” Perdue said.

Best Gingrich quote on the end of his campaign: “The campaign will go bye-bye, but I’ll be a citizen,” Gingrich told a supporter asking about the candidate’s future. “I’ve been an active citizen since I was 15.”

‘State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), a former national chair of ALEC, said critics of the organization “hate free markets and individual liberties.”

[Executive Director of liberal group A Better Georgia Bryan] Long has called ALEC a “radical, right-wing group that operates in the shadows of the government,” and criticized some of its model legislation on such issues as voter ID, school choice and illegal immigration.

Ehrhart responded: “Mr. Long doesn’t like free speech, doesn’t like advocacy for anything other than what he wants. The majority of the citizens in this county and this state are going to agree with the principles of ALEC. Again, back to the founding principles of this country. I’ll stand them up against his tent principles all day long. I’m not afraid of some Occupy pansy sitting in a tent without a bath, I’m sorry.” [Emphasis added because it's funny.]

Hall County legislators reviewed this year’s session with their local Chamber of Commerce board.

Rep. Carl Rogers credited Gov. Nathan Deal’s leadership with much of the session’s success.

“He knows the process and what we all go through as citizens and part-time business legislators, so it’s been good, and it’s fun again,” he said.

Rogers told the audience that he would give the 2011-2012 session a score of nine on a scale from one to 10.

[Rogers, Sen. Butch Miller and Rep. Emory Dunahoo] also took a united stand in favor of the T-SPLOST.

Miller said the plan isn’t perfect, but he said there is no “plan B.” He pointed to Spout Springs Road as an example of a local roadway that is in dire need of the funding that passage of the T-SPLOST would bring.

“Today, 14,960 cars will go out Spout Springs Road,” Miller said. “It’s a two-lane road… it’s the same road bed it was 47 years ago, and all that’s been done is it’s been scraped, graveled and black-topped.”

Dunahoo said he was originally against the one cent sales tax for transportation but has had a change of heart. He said he’s behind it as long as those in charge of dispersing the funds do what they’ve promised to do.

“The thing I was against is when we put a penny here and then don’t follow through with where the funds are supposed to go… that’s what happened on 400,” he said. 

Hall County Commission Chair Tom Oliver said the county’s budget outlook is improving, “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can take most of the furloughs off and put the retirement back in.”

Gwinnett County Chair Charlotte Nash is excited for the Commission to address a bid to build a full-service hotel at Gwinnett Center without any public financing.

Hugh Floyd (D-Norcross) will seek a sixth term in the state house from District 99.

Conyers businessman Greg Pallen will join two other already-announced candidates in the Republican race to tilt at windmills challenge Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Decatur). Since Cynthia McKinney announced her campaign as a Green Party candidate for the seat, Republicans who think they have a shot at winning that seat will not be the most delusional candidates in Metro Atlanta this year. Congratulations!

Coweta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge William F. Lee. Jr. has submitted his resignation to Gov. Deal and the investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for alleged improprieties will be closed.

Wilcox County Commissioner Tracy Tyndall lost his home in a fire, but the family is safe.

Ends & Pieces

After invoking the image of himself in spandex, Jim Galloway suggests that the combination of the mortgage crisis, unemployment and high foreclosure rates may create an explosive environment in which incidents like the Newton County armed confrontation between new homeowners and their neighbors becomes more common. Galloway calls it “mortgage rage” and its one of his best columns in recent memory.

George Chidi has penned a bitter funny incisive breakup letter to Occupy Atlanta.

Before I am inundated with the smug I-told-you-so’s from folks wondering what I’ve been thinking this whole time, a few words about what drew me to the – what shall we call it? the cause? the gathering? the emergence? – of the Occupy movement.

I believed that Occupy Wall Street – and its local branch in Atlanta – were the nascent expression of that political lethality, the visible manifestation of a public ready to figuratively tar-and-feather anyone in power who would put the interests of a small group of wired financial insiders over that of the public treasury, regardless of party.

This did not turn out to be an accurate description of Occupy Atlanta.

And it seems tonight that if it does become applicable to the group, it will be the sheerest of accidents. To say that Occupy Atlanta has lost its purpose demeans the word. Occupy Atlanta, it seems, never had purpose and despite my fervent hopes appears congenitally incapable of obtaining one.

But as it became clear that the group tolerated … say, Marxists, or 9/11 Truthers, or just general nut-cases, those with the most sensitivity to that flavor of politics left. With each … let’s call them people with “normal” political views … departure, the concentration of nuttery increased, further taxing the toleration of those who remained. Those who are left now are largely the hard-cases, folks who would have no other home for political purposes.

Pretty sure I called that one the first day of the Charlie Foxtrot occupation. Also, I noted the Marxist element within the occupation. Up-twinkles for Chidi coming to his senses.

400 former members of the 47th Infantry Regiment gathered to dedicate a monument at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center’s Walk of Honor to soldiers who have served in the unit.

On May 17th, Tennessee citizens will quake in fear that Georgia is invading to retake territory mistakenly thought for many years to be north of the border between the states, and ensure Georgia her rightful access to the Tennessee River. That won’t be Major Brad Carver leading a legion of litigious lawyers, but celebratory cannon shot from Rome to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

An authentic brass Noble Cannon produced in Rome will present four firings Thursday, May 17 at the Rome-Floyd Visitor Center.

Firings will take place at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The events are free, sponsored by the Greater Rome Convention & Visitors Bureau and hosted by the city of Rome.

The event celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Noble cannon, one of the most significant Civil War weapons to emerge from Georgia. Approximately 70 cannons were forged during the Civil War at the Noble Foundry on the Etowah River in downtown Rome.

On May 2d, the last F22 Raptor stealth aircraft will be delivered by Marietta’s Lockheed Martin.

The Blue Angels and an F22 Raptor touched down at Robins in preparation for the weekend’s air show.

Cumberland Island reported the season’s first sighting of a loggerhead sea turtle nest.

Loggerhead nesting in April is rare in Georgia, said Mark Dodd, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia sea turtle coordinator. Only one previous April nest has been recorded, Dodd said, and it was found on Ossabaw in 2001.

 Last year was record setting for loggerheads with close to 2,000 nests identified on Peach State beaches. While that’s good news for the recovery of the threatened species the recent rise in nesting also means there are likely more turtles in Georgia waters so more can be hit by boats or caught in shrimp nets.Thirteen turtles washed up dead on Georgia beaches last week, continuing a trend of a greater than usual number of such strandings this spring. The total is 50 so far this year compared to 19 by the same time last year.

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