Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 23, 2012

Gwinnett County has brought in a lot of puppies the last few days. Unfortunately, this means that some of them will likely end up being euthanized. Today, all black or majority-black dogs and cats are discounted to $30 adoption fee at the County Shelter for their “Black Friday Sale,” which happens every week.

These lab mix puppies will be available for adoption on November 26, 2012. From Sunday, November 25th through December 23d, all dogs and cats are available for $30 from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. If I were buying someone a dog or cat for Christmas, I’d take them to the pound and let them pick one out rather than surprise them, and make sure they’re committed to 8-15 years of caring for the animal.

That said, if you wanted to surprise me with a dog, this might be the right one. She is a beautiful 6-month old Shepherd mix who looks just like a younger version of my Roxy.

 

For Christmas, in honor of Roxy, if anyone adopts or fosters that Shepherd mix, we have a couple sponsors who will pay the adoption fee and three months’ supply of the brand of kibble that Roxy prefers. Email me if you’re interested in taking them up on the offer.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

 

Former Arkansas governor, Fox News commentator and winner of the 2008 Georgia Republican Primary for President candidate Mike Huckabee is scheduled to visit Valdosta Saturday to sign his new book, Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family, and the Things That Matter Most, and meet fans at Books-a-Million stores in Albany and Valdosta.

Huckabee will sign his book, “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett,” starting at 8 AM at the Books-A-Million at 2601 Dawson Road, Albany, GA 31707.

Later that day, he will appear beginning at 11 AM at Books-A-Million, Promenade Plaza, 1705-C Norman Drive, Valdosta, GA 31601.

Macy’s at Lenox Square lit their Great Tree last night, along with fireworks that we could see from our front door.

The Macy’s Great Tree is a 60-foot white pine filled with over 4,000 lights. The décor package includes 100 red Macy’s stars, 1,200 multi-color metallic basketball-sized ornaments and 8.2 miles of  wiring throughout.

Douglasville Chief Municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins doesn’t charge for performing weddings, but asks instead for a donation to the Douglas County Animal Shelter or Humane Society.

“I’ve had donations as small as $5 and $10 and some as large as $250,” Rollins said. The idea came after he decided weddings were something he didn’t want to charge for.

“I thought it would be an opportunity to pass along a little money for people that wanted the service, and I’m glad to do it,” he said. “They get the benefit. I let people set their own amounts so they can contribute what they feel comfortable with. They are all happy I’m not asking $100 or $150 and most of them, when they find out its for the humane society, they like it even more.”

Rollins has been rescuing dogs for many years. He and his wife Sandra bought their first Rottweiler, but every one after has been a rescue from the local shelter or one in Roswell they also work with.

Pat Fulghum, a local animal shelter volunteer and member of the Douglas County Animal Control Advisory Board, said Rollins brings in between $200 and $300 a month in donations.

The Cherokee County Commission is considering revisions to its animal code to bring it in-line with state law.

Enforcing leash laws is difficult when witnesses don’t show up.

Upson County has run into a bit of a problem when it comes to having a county wide leash law. Commissioner Steve Hudson told the rest of the Board of Commissioners at last week’s meeting that after researching the current ordinance, he found it covers 99.9 percent of the problems the county may deal with when it comes to nuisance animals. However, the main problem comes from the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who make a complaint and are subpoenaed for court do not show up.

Animal Control Director Smart Web told the board that everyone who files a complaint is subpoenaed to testify in Magistrate Court, yet when they or the witnesses, do not show up, the judge dismisses the case. Web told the board at that point his hands are tied.

“Until I get somebody to help me and my staff with this issue, the nuisance ordinance is going to be dead,” said Web. He continued that the only way to try the case without having the person, who made a complaint, is if the incident happened to him or one of his staff members.

Dawson County is establishing a mental health court, aided by a state grant.

County commissioners on Thursday approved a proposal by Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin to accept the grant, which would establish a local mental health court.

In a letter dated Oct. 26, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the Dawson County H.E.L.P. Program had been awarded a $69,213 grant from Accountability Court Funding Committee.

“As you know, expanding and strengthening accountability courts in Georgia is not only one of my top initiatives as governor, but also a very strong personal interest,” Deal wrote. “I have seen firsthand the success stories that come out of courtrooms like yours.

“By providing you with the resources you need and expanding these services throughout the state, we can improve public safety by rehabilitating the appropriate offenders.”

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says that new jobs aren’t just in retail.

The retail industry alone saw a jump of almost 6,000 jobs. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said retail isn’t the only place he’s seen an increase in jobs. He said there’s been a spike across the board.

“Pretty much all the major categories saw job gains, even all the way down to construction, which has been struggling in this economy,” Butler said,

But even though Georgia is showing positive growth, Butler said problems in Washington, D.C., primarily that looming fiscal cliff, could destroy any forward momentum by raising taxes and killing jobs.

“That would have devastating effects on Georgia’s economy. Also we have to keep our eye on Europe on the financial markets over there because that also affects Georgia’s economy because let’s face it, Georgia has an international economy now,” Butler said.

US Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) told WMAZ in Macon that he considers Grover Norquist’s pledge against tax increases less important than the good of our country.

Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said solving the nation’s fiscal woes may mean breaking the anti-tax pledge he signed years ago.

Chambliss signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, penned by conservative activist Grover Norquist.

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss says. “If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”

“But I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist,” Chambliss says, “I’m willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.”

Democrat Kim Alexander, who won the election for State House District 66 over Republican Bob Snelling, credits God and a good ground game for her win.

“I know it had a lot to do with God,” she said.

Alexander, a Democrat, won the Nov. 6 election for the seat despite being outspent by former four-term lawmaker Bob Snelling — a well-known Douglasville civic leader who had easily won his Republican primary.

However, the representative-elect from Douglasville said voters do not always favor the candidate who spends the most on advertising.

“Some people are going to win on issues,” Alexander said.

House Democratic Caucus chairwoman Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, said her group had targeted the District 66 race as winnable.

“Rep.-Elect Alexander was in a targeted seat based on our data analysis of the race and her previous campaign experience. The Georgia Democratic Party and House Democratic Caucus provided direct candidate training, and through independent expenditures not associated with her campaign, also provided communications support for the race,” Abrams said.

Abrams said her group — consisting of all the House Democratic members — opted to assist Alexander because she had unsuccessfully sought the District 67 seat in 2010 and was capable of running a “very disciplined” campaign.

“I think a ground game matters a lot,” Abrams said.

In addition, the demographics of the district appeared favorable to a Democrat, Abrams said.

“We had a great candidate,” Abrams said. “She’s just a very charismatic person.”

Alexander said the caucus provided a phone bank — some manned by area members of organized labor groups — and helped pay for five separate pieces of direct mail for her. Each direct mail piece typically costs up to $6,000 for each mailing, longtime political watchers have said.

Winning and losing candidates should pick up their signs.

There seems to be a bit of a littering problem in some local areas: Lingering campaign signs two weeks after the election.

Now Valdosta city leaders are asking folks to please take them down. But if they’re on private property there’s nothing they can do about it according to Georgia state law.

The city and county used to enforce a one week grace period after elections but a change in state law ended it.

“Personally, everybody has their own opinion but I think immediately after the election they should have someone come pick up the signs,” said Jeffrey Williams, Lowndes Co. Resident.

Beginning on Sunday, you can buy Georgia Lottery tickets without leaving your home.

The move is expected to increase the state lottery’s revenue by millions of dollars a year — thus helping the state’s lottery-funded HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs — and it positions Georgia among the first states nationwide to expand lottery sales to the Internet.

Powerball, Mega Millions and Fantasy 5 will be the first games online, a lottery spokeswoman said Wednesday. Others may follow. The expansion coincides with the launch of the lottery’s new debit card, which will be used for online and, eventually, retail transactions.

Branded as the “iHOPE” card, it will allow players to preload funds, buy tickets and have their winnings automatically downloaded into the card’s account.

Online lottery sales became possible last year, after the U.S. Justice Department reversed itself and said the national Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting. The act otherwise prohibits placing bets over telecommunication systems across state or national boundaries.

Ansley Park residents are fighting a 24-hour convenience store that would also sell alcohol.

The old Shell used to be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., which Ansley Park and Sherwood Forest neighbors didn’t have a problem with. They said a 24-hour station would bring several problems.

“Having a 24-7 station selling wine and beer, we are very afraid that it will increase people coming here and loitering in our neighborhood,” said Ansley Park resident Jane Harmon.

“We’ve spoken to other neighborhoods that have these issues, and loitering is their No. 1 issue,” said Christopher Jones, who lives near the entrance to Sherwood Forest.

Jones is the chair of the Ansley Park Zoning and Land Use Committee. He said the station would violate Atlanta’s zoning rule, that states alcohol cannot be sold within 300 feet of any private residence.

Gainesville businessman Ken Cronan has a letter from the County Commission Chair saying that his landfill is in compliance with zoning regulations, but others in local government have raised questions.

Ken Cronan said he was sorry neighbors had to deal with the horrible smell coming from the landfill, but it had nothing to do with the zoning rules county leaders said the landfill broke.

Cronan’s apology comes two days after Hall County leaders found the Gainesville Waste and Recycling landfill off Athens Highway violated zoning rules by accepting tons of food waste.

In June, Cronan got state permits to accept and compost food waste at the site. Those permits required the landfill be in line with local zoning. In a November 2011 letter to state environmental officials, Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver claimed the site, “complies with local zoning.”

“I feel like I followed all the guidelines that were put before me,” Cronan said.

However, county documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News show when commissioners last rezoned the site in 2007, they limited intake to construction and demolition debris plus yard waste — no food waste allowed. It’s why Commissioner Ashley Bell wants to get to the bottom of Oliver’s letter.

“We have to rescind this letter,” Bell said. “We don’t know where it came from. We know it was penned by my chairman, but there was no authorization of this commission to do that.”

Yesterday, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal changed her Facebook profile photo to a shot I took earlier this year at the “Grillin’ with the Governor” event. I’m pleased and flattered.

Speaking of photography, this is an extraordinary deal on a great camera: Canon S100 12.1 MP Digital Camera. It’s received great reviews and fits in your pocket, unlike the large DSLR I usually carry around. I borrowed one of these for a couple of days and it’s the only little camera I’ve seen that I’d be happy using instead of a DSLR.

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