Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 20, 2012

 

Boss is a ten-month old Pointer mix who must be rescued from the Cobb County Animal Shelter by Friday or he will be euthanized. There are several other great dogs in the same boat.

IF you are able to help – please contact: Cindy Ganues AND Rachel Tabor

[email protected]
770-590-5621 (shared extension)

[email protected]
770-590-6593

Jennifer Robinson [email protected]
770-770-590-5604

Claudia Goings [email protected]
770-590-5605

Cobb County Animal Control is located at 1060 Al Bishop Drive, MARIETTA, GA 30008
Main Phone: (770) 499-4136 and is open Tuesday thru Saturday 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM and Sunday 2 PM to 5 PM.

Please go to the Friends of Shelter Animals site below to get the most current information and updates on animals at Cobb County Animal Control…..

Go to http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/GA50.html to see some more of the animals at the Cobb shelter! Or better yet – stop by the shelter and meet them all!

See the animals of Cobb County Animal Control on Facebook — Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County!www.facebook.com/FOSACobb

Dixie Dog Rescue works with several shelters and provides long- and short-term foster care  and transportation for dogs between the shelter and their forever homes. Shelters sometime incur large veterinary bills from healthy-appearing dogs, and this time of year is difficult because of the large number of dogs that are being euthanized at shelters. Please join me in donating to Dixie Dog Rescue via PayPal as part of your holiday giving. Anyone donating will be entered in a drawing to be held on January 1, 2013 for a $50 gift certificate for Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House in Atlanta. If you work at or near the Capitol, you know Six Feet Under well and if you’re visiting the Capitol during the 2013 Session, it’s a great place to get lunch nearby.

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Early voting has begun in Special Elections for State Senate and State House, including one new early voting site in Alpharetta.

Turnout in Cherokee County in the Special Elections for Senate District 21 between Republicans Brandon Beach and Sean Jerguson, and the four-way House District 21 race is very low, according to elections officials.

Elections Supervisor Janet Munda said about 85 voters cast their ballots at the Cherokee County Elections Office in downtown Canton.

“It’s just a very, very low turnout,” Munda said. “With it being near Christmas, I think people have Christmas and not necessarily the elections on their mind.”

Munda said her office will send out between 50 and 60 absentee ballots today.

She attributed the low turnout both to the hustle and bustle of the holidays as well as confusion about voter districts following this year’s reapportionment by the local delegation.

“A lot of voters are confused,” Munda said. “A lot think they are in the right district to vote for both races and they may be in one and not the other or it may be they voted in District 21 prior to reapportionment.”

Munda said there are several ways to check your precinct.

Voters can either check their precinct cards they receive each year in the mail or go online to www.voter.cherokee.ga and click on the My Voter Page to determine their voting district.

Otherwise, Munda said everything has gone smoothly. She said about 100 poll workers have already been trained and are ready to go when the rest of the polls open.

The Cherokee County Elections office will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 26 and Jan. 1.

Heads-up to anyone involved in a Special Election in January — the State Ethics Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission electronic filing system will be offline from midnight on December 21st through 6 AM on December 26th and your campaign finance report is due December 24th.

 

The grace period for this filing ends January 2d, 2013, so you will be able to file timely, but you should check your schedule today and pencil in the dates so you don’t forget or panic when you go online to file and find the website down.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald took a trip to Germany to see how the country is using solar generation to provide much of its electricity. McDonald says he paid for his part of the trip and when asked by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for receipts, he told them to pound sand.

“I had the opportunity to participate, I wanted to pay my way,” McDonald told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noting that the Public Service Commission does not regulate solar companies.

McDonald declined to provide documents showing he covered his own expenses, saying: “Whose business is it anyway?”

The PSC does not regulate solar energy in Georgia, but the panel does have a say in the issue. The commission oversees the state’s largest utility monopoly, Georgia Power, and must sign off on where the company gets its electricity, which includes renewable fuels such as solar. The PSC recently OKed Georgia Power’s proposal to buy 210 megawatts of solar and add it to the grid over several years.

Next year, the State of Georgia will receive $56 million in tobacco settlement funds next year.

Attorney General Sam Olens said that since 2003, Georgia has received about $1.5 billion, which has been put into the state’s General Fund.

“This settlement is important for Georgia, particularly in this challenging budget environment,” Olens said Wednesday in announcing the dispute had been resolved. “Under the terms of the settlement, we avoid the possibility of costly litigation and the potential loss of the entire annual [1998 Master Settlement Agreement] payment.”

School safety, guns, and mental health services are issues that will likely be debated in the Georgia General Assembly 2013 Session.

“It’s paramount that we protect the innocent lives of our young people,” said Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville. “Our hearts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragedy beyond measure.”

Other Gainesville-Hall delegation members said they believe legislation on issues surrounding the mass killing will come up in the state’s legislative session starting next month, including concealed weapons, mental health services and gun ownership rights and responsibilities. Miller said he can’t remember a legislative session when these topics haven’t come up.

Gainesville state Rep. Carl Rogers said the government has to find a way to identify these people before similar disasters strike. Rogers, a gun owner himself, said the elected leaders need to listen to law enforcement, psychiatrists and the public on the issue. Fellow delegation member and Republican Lee Hawkins said he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and would be reluctant to infringe on the right to bear arms.

“It’s not the weapon that kills someone, it’s the person that kills someone,” Rogers said.

Legislation is only part of the solution, Miller said. There needs to be more awareness and less stigma of mental illness.

“Legislation itself is not the answer,” he said.

Carroll County education officials are asking the legislature for more flexibility.

Five of the seven members of the Carroll County Schools Board of Education, along with Superintendent Scott Cowart, met with District 18 Rep. Kevin Cooke, R-Carrollton, District 68 Rep. Dustin Hightower, R-Carrollton, and District 69 Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, at the Carroll County Courthouse.

Board chairman Dr. Jon Anderson was the first to bring up the most controversial issue in education this year — the charter school amendment.

“There are some things we need help with,” the chair said. “We are so bounded by the state. It restricts us so much, and we’re trying to be innovative, but we can’t because of the restrictions that the charter schools won’t have.”

Anderson said anything the three legislators could do to “take the handcuffs off,” the better the system will be able to continue innovating.

Hightower and Nix said their fellow legislators have heard similar sentiments from school boards across the state.

“It’s not that they hate charter schools, but they need flexibility — they need room to breathe,” Hightower said. “We’ve been getting that all over the state.”

Douglas County District Attorney David McDade represents the Georgia District Attorney’s Association at the legislature and serves on the Criminal Justice Reform Council.

The Canton City Council is considering term-limiting members.

It is expected that the resolution, which will be brought forward by Councilman Bob Rush, will pass unanimously. Once the resolution passes, it will act as an official request to the Georgia General Assembly to amend the city’s charter to create a limit of two consecutive terms of office for any person elected from 2013 on.

The Holly Springs City Council passed a resolution asking the local legislative delegation to change the election cycle for one council post.

The mayor and council members from posts 3, 4, and 5 are elected every four years at the same time presidential elections are held. Post 1 and 2 council members are elected every four years at midterms.

The council voted to request legislation to change one seat to the midterm elections, balancing out the number of seats that could change at one time.

Santa Claus may have to leave his packages of coal outside the jail cells in Fulton County next year, as the Fulton County Jail is expected to get locks that actually work.

A company that lost out on concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has dropped its lawsuit challenging the City of Atlanta’s bidding process.

Mayor Kasim Reed said in a written statement that the city is “happy to put this distraction behind us,” and, “No City elected official or employee acted improperly in connection with the food and beverage contracts awarded at Hartsfield-Jackson.”

After losing an administrative appeal of the contracts awarded this year, SSP sought a court hearing to challenge the city’s contracting procedures. SSP argued that some concessionaires who won contracts had errors in their proposals. It also that alleged problems with evaluations of proposals, and conflicts of interest.

The city says it will not be paying SSP anything as a result of the court action.

Atlanta isn’t the only city considering building a new stadium — North Augusta, South Carolina is considering building a stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets to lure the minor league team across the river after Augusta, Georgia has declined to do so.

Speaking of the Atlanta Stadium proposal, part of the terms released for the proposed stadium will include applying for a sales tax exemption on construction materials.

If a new stadium is built to replace the Georgia Dome, it would likely get a $25 million state sales tax break, in addition to the much-discussed boost from the $300 million in hotel/motel tax money proposed to help fund the project, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV.

Floyd County is having trouble maintaining services in the face of lower income.

The Floyd County Commission is projected to use $421,620 from savings to balance the 2012 budget, and the spending plan for next year is still $830,000 out of whack.

County Manager Blaine Williams has presented the board with projected revenue and expenditures for the next four years that show an increasing dependence on the fund balance.

The $12.7 million rainy day fund is expected to be nearly halved by the end of 2016. And it will dip below 30 percent of the county’s annual expenses this month.

Columbia County, Georgia’s Probate Court is seeing a rise in applications for carry permits.

On an average day, 10 to 15 people apply for the license at the Columbia County Justice Center, Probate Judge Alice Padgett said.

On Monday, the court staff handled 22 applicants before the photo and signature machine failed, leaving several applicants to return at a later date. On Tuesday, 33 people applied for the license. Some were renewals, but most were for new licenses, Padgett said.

“Somebody said they heard the price was going up, that’s why they were doing it before January,” Padgett said. “The price is not going up. We’ve not been notified and we would have already been notified.”

Columbus, Georgia is seeing a rise in sales of firearms and applications for carry permits in advance of the New Year.

Given the half-empty shelves and overflow crowds, it almost seems as though Northside Money Mizer Pawn & Jewelry has been giving away its supply of firearms. Robbie Whitten, who owns the store and six others, has seen record sales this week, due in large part to an unprecedented run on semiautomatic assault rifles.

“We have sold a quarter million dollars’ worth of merchandise in the last two days,” Whitten said Wednesday. “It’s been absolutely insane.”

Columbus residents are flocking to local gun stores in the wake of last week’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, citing concerns for safety as well as the specter of new gun restrictions. The rush is even more pronounced than the surge local retailers saw after President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.

Adding to the urgency Wednesday was news that Obama will propose changes by next month to stem the nation’s gun violence.

The flurry of activity wasn’t limited to customers fighting over semi-automatic assault weapons. At Muscogee County Probate Court, officials were processing about twice the usual amount of applications for weapons carry licenses the past three days.

“I would attribute it to the shootings,” said Brooke Bartley, a license clerk.

One concerned resident buying a weapon Wednesday was Tony Luiz of Harris County. He said the recent news, a need to protect his children and an attempted break-in of his wife’s vehicle over the weekend compelled him to buy a 9mm pistol.

The Chatham County Commission will vote Friday on whether to raise their own pay.

Unemployment in Georgia dropped to the lowest rate its seen in four years, moving to 8.5% in November from 8.7% in October.

“Once again, the rate dropped because of continued job growth and fewer new layoffs,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

The average price of gas in Georgia dropped eight cents to $3.18 per gallon last week.

A French company is proposing to recycle used nuclear fuel at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Currently, spent fuel is held on-site by nuclear plants, including Plant Vogtle.

A new webcam will allow you to watch traffic on the Savannah River from the comfort of your mom’s basement.

Visitors to the website ga.water.usgs.gov/rivercam/webcam-savannah.html can control the camera from their computer or mobile device, zooming in and out and moving it side to side and up and down. They can even snap a photo with it.

Brian McCallum, assistant director of USGS’s Georgia Water Science Center, said the camera was deployed about a year ago to assist in monitoring flooding, especially in a hurricane. Five other cameras have been installed in other flood-prone areas of Georgia, including one in Brunswick.

“We’re hopeful that if a hurricane ever hits, that we’d be able at least to have a video feed,” he said.

A similar camera was set up temporarily in Virginia Beach ahead of Hurricane Irene. It survived the storm, even with the eye passing over it.

“It showed a lot of people didn’t evacuate,” McCallum said. “They were all out there on the beach watching the waves.”

The Savannah River camera sits at the Army Corps’ dock, serving as an adjunct to a river gauge that records 13 different parameters, including water level, velocity, temperature and salinity.

It’s first-come, first-serve on the camera controls, McCallum said.

A recreated Tondee’s Taven will open January 11th in Savannah. Look for it to become a favorite hangout for Tea Party types.

 Savannah’s early revolutionists, the Sons of Liberty, met in a downtown bar called Tondee’s Tavern.

Tondee’s closed not long after America won its independence and is remembered today through a plaque on its original location at Broughton and Whitaker streets and a small lounge area at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Come Jan. 11, Tondee’s will be reborn.

Savannah restaurateur Willie Tuten will open a restaurant and bar in the Bay Street space formerly home to a Tony Roma’s franchise.

“We’re trying to re-create Tondee’s Tavern, which was the place in Savannah in the late 1700s,” Tuten said. “We’re trying to bring an old Savannah landmark back to life.”

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