Georgia Political News for May 1, 2012

Molly is an adoptable female dog who has been spayed and is current on her vaccinations. She’s available today from Walton County Animal Services.

DeKalb County Commissioners will join with volunteers in a fundraiser at Stars and Strikes bowling lanes in Tucker on May 20th to benefit the county’s spay/neuter program. They also will accept donations of collars, leashes, and laundry detergent.

Georgia Democrats Attack Blogger, First Amendment

Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon is defending Political Director Rashad Richey in emails to Democratic activists.

Given the current circumstances, we will be conducting a press conference later this week at a time to be determined to address these issues.  At that time, I also expect Mr. Richey’s lawyer to be present to answer questions about any potential legal action, if any, that may be taken against those involved. That matter is between Mr. Richey and his counsel.

Lori Geary reports that the Dems are “talking to lawyers about possible legal action against some of the bloggers involved.”

Some Democrats suggest that the incident has further tarnished the party and Chair Mike  Berlon.

Campaigns, Politics and Elections

Mitt Romney, who will be the Republican nominee for President, will visit Atlanta on June 11th for fundraisers in Cobb County. Tickets start at $1000 per person. The Marietta Daily Journal suggests that makes Cobb County the center of the political universe for that night.

Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton (R) has called on Georgia Power to move up the effective date of a 6% rate reduction to relieve consumers as we enter the summer cooling season.

“We all know the rates are going to decrease. We know that because we’ve seen the projections. It’s not just that we’re able to do it a month earlier, it’s the fact that we’re doing it during the summer cooling season when bills are the highest.”

If the Public Service Commission and Georgia Power agree on the request, the average ratepayer would save about $8 on their June bills.

That appears likely to happen. A Georgia Power spokeswoman says the company is working with PSC staff to implement the decrease by June 1.

In March, due largely to lower natural gas prices, Georgia Power said it would reduce its fuel recovery charges by about a billion dollars over the next two years. The result is a six percent decrease in customer bills.

Former Gwinnett County Chair Charles Bannister, who resigned before a county special grand jury could question him about land deals, is suing Sheriff Butch Conway in federal court over Bannister’s DUI arrest that resulted in his release after no evidence of alcohol was present in his bloodstream. The suit contends that Conway set about eliminating Bannister as a political force in the county.

The suit accuses Conway and two deputies of false arrest, false imprisonment and retaliatory prosecution. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for “extreme humiliation, embarrassment and anguish which has continued to this day and is expected to continue into the future.”

Governor Nathan Deal signed two executive orders: the first creates a task force to implement digital learning in Georgia’s k-12 schools; the second creates a panel to recommend nominees to replace members removed from the Miller County school board.

“Students need to develop technical literacy in order to attain 21st century skills and become competitive in the global marketplace, and our state will invest in that education,” said Deal. “We must increase the quality and quantity of our digital learning opportunities to ensure that our students are college or career ready.”

The Digital Learning Task Force will recommend ways to improve student achievement through the creation of robust digital learning environments, which may include the transition to digital textbooks and the effective use of wireless mobile devices. The task force will have 10 members named by the governor. They will include two superintendents, a state representative, a state senator, a district-level content specialist and business leaders who rely on a technically competent workforce.

The Miller County School Board Nominating Committee will include three members of the state Board of Education, including the member from the congressional district that encompasses Miller County. The school board chair will select the other two members, and the state superintendent will serve as an ex-officio member. The action derives from the state Board of Education’s recommendation that the governor remove and replace all members of the Miller County school board.

Priscilla Thomas is the first candidate to announce for Chatham Commission District Eight.

Alfreda Goldwire, President of the Savannah Federation of Teachers will run for the Sixth District seat on the Savannah-Chatham County School Board.

More information has become available in the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigation that led to the resignation of Coweta Judicial Circuit Judge William F. Lee, Jr.

Two Carroll County commissioners expressed opposition to splitting off a Carroll Judicial Circuit from the existing Coweta Circuit, leading Carroll Chair Bill Chappell to pull the issue from the agenda.

Forsyth County will gain a third Superior Court judgeship under legislation signed by Gov. Deal.

Deal will appoint the new judge, who will begin Jan. 1. The new judge’s term will run through Dec. 31, 2014, at which time he or she must be re-elected for a full, four-year term, to begin Jan. 1, 2015.

Four judges in the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit have announced they will run for reelection.

Superior Court Chief Judge Frank C. Mills III, Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea, Magistrate Court Chief Judge James Drane III and Probate Court Judge Keith Wood all announced their campaigns.

All incumbents currently are unopposed and officially will qualify May 23-25.

Drane will qualify as a Republican in the partisan primary.

Channing Ruskell, who served as Cherokee County Solicitor General from 1997 to 2002, will run for Cherokee County Commission District Two, which is currently held by Jim Hubbard.

Brian Poole will run for Cherokee County Commission District Three, the seat currently held by Karen Bosch.

Kim Cochran will seek reelection to Cherokee County School Board District Two in the Republican Primary.

Very little interest exists among citizens in running for office in Carroll County according to the elections office.

The Newton County News has a listing of candidate for county office.

Rickey Tumlin has dropped his campaign for the Republican nomination for Hall County Sheriff, endorsing Jon P. Strickland, one of six remaining candidates.

The Georgia Department of Revenue charged Chatham County 25 cents for a copy of a list of documents and $799.57 to complile the list, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Marietta lawyer Jonathan Crumley, who is suing the Cobb County Commission in federal court seeking new district lines before this year’s elections believes his pursuit of the case is a civic virtue.

“I want the next generation to have more people who step up when they have a chance. I think part of the reason we’re in some of the quandaries we’re in right now is that we’ve lost that general concept of civic virtue, and that’s on both sides of the aisle.”

A complaint has been filed against the Forsyth County Board of Ethics alleging the Board violated the county ordinance governing it.

The Cherokee County School Board approved by a 4-2 vote a resolution urging voters to oppose the Charter School Amendment.

The resolution states, “The Cherokee County Board of Education believes that development of a separate and distinct funding system for calculation of a local funding share to be unilaterally taken away by the state from the critically-needed funds provided for the education of students in local public school districts and provided instead to state-authorized charter or private schools is unconstitutional, inequitable and threatens the integrity of the existing statewide system of providing for and properly funding quality public education.”

State Reps. State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, (D-Lithonia), Rep. Pam Dickerson, (D-Conyers), and Sen. Rick Jeffares, (R-Locust Grove) expressed support for legislation that would prevent local officials from keeping fees collected by their offices for themselves, as is currently permitted in some cases.

T-SPLOST and transportation

The Georgia Sierra Club announced that it opposes passage of T-SPLOST in Atlanta because it doesn’t include enough transit. Citizens for Transportation Mobility, which supports T-SPLOST opposes the Sierra Club’s opposition. Che Watkins, who manages CTM pro-T-SPLOST campaign, said,

“We’ve obviously achieved the right balance of both. The one-sided supporters on either side – roads or transit – must acknowledge that the region needs a healthy mix of both to relieve congestion and give commuters options to get to home and work quicker.”

A new group called Traffic Truth has formed to oppose T-SPLOST on the contention that passage of T-SPLOST won’t actually reduce traffic congestion in Metro Atlanta.

Atlanta Regional Commission representatives faced a crowd that included many Tea Party members who are skeptical about the T-SPLOST.

Some in the audience didn’t want to hear any of it.

Conrad Quagliaroli, a member of the Cherokee TEA Party Patriots, said he’d “rather have the money stay here in Cherokee County.”

When asked what alternatives he would suggest, he said he would be in favor of a bus line, but added he was “dead set” against using mass transit options.

Unincorporated Cherokee County resident Tony Wuest said he felt Thursday’s meeting was a little bit “one-sided.”

He said he wanted to see more of a debate structure than a question and answer format.

He noted he had concerns about MARTA and its operations as his sticking points on why he’s reluctant to support the referendum.

The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce is supporting T-SPLOST by circulating a “Fact and Fiction” brochure, while the Three Rivers Region, which includes  includes Coweta, Carroll, Heard, Troup, Meriwether, Spalding, Lamar, Upson, Pike, and Butts counties, cranks up its “voter education campaign.”

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce claims to have no position on T-SPLOST but has offered to help regions that seek to pass the transportation tax. [The Times-Georgian included that bit about the Georgia Chamber, but I have since been told by a representative of the Chamber that they do, in fact, support the passage of T-SPLOST.]

The citizens review committee tasked with making a recommendation on Briscoe Field to the Gwinnett county commission voted to recommend against privatizing the airport or allowing commercial flights.

When Gov. Deal spoke in Savannah last week and said that Georgia would fund the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to keep it moving along and seek federal reimbursement later, the state had already increased its funding by $46.7 million, bringing state funding to $181 million.

Ends & Pieces

Occupy Atlanta will join in a Charlie Foxtrot rally with immigrants’ rights advocates, workers’ rights organizations, and other Commies to celebrate International Workers’ Day May Day rail against injustice.

Their demands include: stopping local-federal immigration enforcement partnerships; stopping attacks on workers and unions; halting the use of E-Verify, a federal database businesses can use to check the eligibility of new hires; and putting a stop to deportations.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has effectively banned the construction of coal-fired power plants. Georgia Power brought the second of three units at natural gas-fired Plant McDonough online in Smyrna.

Ricky Scaggs will play Bremen’s Mill Town Music Hall tonight at 7 PM.

 

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