Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for Jan. 24, 2013

CherokeeAmbryAmbry is a female, mixed-breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Cherokee County Animal Center.

CherokeeCriKee

 

Cri-Kee is a young male hound dog puppy, who along with several siblings, is available for adoption from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter.

CherokeeLilBoy

 

 

 

 

Lil Boy is a young male mixed-breed puppy, looks like a Shepherd mix to me, and he’s available for adoption from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter.

LifeLine Animal Project will offer low-cost pet vaccinations in its Avondale Estates office on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

Costs range from $25 for basic vaccines and exams to $70 for vaccines and medical tests for both cats and dogs. Microchips also are available, at $25 each.

The clinic runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at LifeLine, 129 Lake St., Avondale. No appointment is necessary.

More information: www.LifeLineAnimal.org.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Early voting has started in the Special Election for House District 71.

Early voting will be today through Saturday, and next Monday through Friday. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Jan 26 will be the only Saturday of early voting.

Early voting takes place at the Coweta Voter Registration Office in the County Administration Building at 22 East Broad St., downtown Newnan.

There are six candidates vying for the seat, vacated by the withdrawal of Robert Stokely. The district, which currently covers most of the eastern half of Coweta, except for Senoia and Haralson, and a sliver of Peachtree City, was represented by Billy Horne, R-Sharpsburg, for the past several years. Stokely was elected in 2012 but withdrew after being appointed to a judgeship in Coweta Magistrate Court.

There are five Republicans, and one Democrat, running for the seat. The Republicans are: Richard Weisser, a real estate broker; David Stover, a business owner; Darryl Marmon, an attorney; Michael Farbo Jr., a U.S. Army Special Operations retiree; and Tom Crymes, a general contractor. Teacher Cynthia Bennett is running as a Democrat. There is no party primary, and all candidates run together.

“Everything is ready, we are just waiting for the crowd,” said Coweta Chief Registrar Joan Hamilton on Tuesday.

Republican Scot Turner and political consultant Brian Laurens met Tuesday night in a debate hosted by the Cherokee County Republican Party; both are candidates in the runoff election for State House District 21.

Much of the debate, sponsored by the Cherokee County Republican Party, focused on political issues, but Turner used his opportunity to question his opponent at the end of the night to ask about Laurens’ actions during a November traffic stop.

Turner asked Laurens about a traffic stop by the Holly Springs Police that took place inside Laurens’ neighborhood in November.

“I was made aware of a traffic stop where you had run a stop sign and began to berate the police officer. It appears you tried to call the mayor to talk your way out of the ticket,” Turner said. “After you left, you came back and got into an argument with two police officers.”

In a video of the incident, Laurens tells police officers he would take down the stop signs that night, but the officer argued they were public property. Laurens, however, continued to argue the signs were the property of the homeowners association.

In the video Laurens said he had called Mayor Tim Downing to ask about the signs.

During the debate, Turner questioned Laurens’ appeal to the mayor.

“How can we trust you, as a public servant, over the really big issues when you tried to use what was basically a politically corrupt move to benefit you personally?” Turner asked.

“Wow. That’s quite an accusation,” Laurens said. “A roundabout is designed not to have stop signs, to keep traffic moving. They’re supposed to have yield signs,” he said, adding that he called Downing because Downing was a developer of the neighborhood, not because he is the mayor.

You can watch police-car videos of both of Laurens’s run-ins with the police here, as well as video of his answer at the Cherokee GOP debate.

The craziest part of the whole exchange is the second video.

Laurens continued the discussion with Officer West and Sgt. Brian Cain. Laurens told both officers that he planned to take all the stop signs down.

Sgt. Cain reminded Laurens that he could not personally remove stop signs as they were government property.

He also told Laurens that he would need to take his issue with the stop signs up with the city council and “not take your anger and frustration out on one of my officers.”

“You have a court date for this very reason right here to explain your side of the story to the judge and not to come out and raise your voice and treat my officer the way with you treated him,” he added. “That’s why you have a court date. We’re not going to argue with you about this any further.”

Laurens, who said Turner’s question about the incident is “quite an accusation,” said he eventually paid the $140 fine “because there was a stop sign there.”

And here’s something for the goofy conspiracy theorists out there:

When reached by phone Wednesday, Downing was tight lipped about his alleged conversation with Laurens.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to inject myself into this race,” he said, adding he has endorsed Turner in the race. “The video speaks for itself.”

This is not the first time Brian Laurens has wound up in the news for his actions in public.

Canton Police officers were dispatched to the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center Saturday afternoon after a party member allegedly refused to follow parliamentary procedures during the delegate selection process.

According to an incident report from the police department, First Vice Chair Brian Laurens was ejected from the convention for interrupting the procedures. Laurens, who on Thursday called the incident minor, resigned from his position with the party in the days following the convention, citing family and business obligations as the reason he was stepping down.

According to the police report, John Marinko, the county’s vice chair for events who was serving as the sergeant-at-arms during the convention, told the officer that arrived in response to a call for help that Laurens did not follow the rules during the meeting.

Marinko said in the police report that Laurens, 29, was asked several times to “conduct himself in a proper manner,” but refused to do so.

The report alleges Laurens refused to sit down and, when asked to do so, began yelling and “causing a scene.”

Fellow sergeant-at-arms Lawrence Mrozinski, who told police that he spoke with a “final authority” at the convention who wanted Laurens removed, offered Laurens one more chance to calm down, but he refused.

Mrozinski told police Laurens became physical when Laurens “body checked him with his chest and stomach,” and placed his hands on Mrozinksi’s shoulders.

Conservative activist Kay Godwin and Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans have op-eds about legislative ethics appearing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A $400 million Federal “Race to the Top” Grant for K-12 education will end in 2014.

The money funded some big initiatives, including a digital system to track students and a new teacher evaluation system. The four-year grant ends in 2014. State superintendent John Barge said during a budget hearing this week officials have been preparing for the transition.

“We know in a year and a half these funds are gone,” Barge said, “So, our goal right now is to build the system and have it develop so we can maintain it from that point forward.”

More stringent eligibility requirements are resulting in fewer students receiving HOPE Scholarships and Grants.

During the 2011 fiscal year, 256,417 students received some form of the scholarship. A year later 202,906 students got it, according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission, which administers the program.

“I expect to see another decrease this year,” said Tim Connell, president of the agency. “And while we may see it rebound slightly, I don’t know if we will see those large numbers again.”

 Nearly 9,000 students lost the [HOPE Grant, mainly used by students in the Technical College System of Georgia] because they were unable to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average, a new rule lawmakers set when they overhauled the program. That requirement was already in place for students in the University System of Georgia.

State Rep. Sheila Jones has introduced House Bill 23, which would require carbon monoxide detectors in schools.

The DeKalb County Board of Education has passed a five-year plan for construction of new facilities.

DeKalb officials said the new plan had to be completed quickly to qualify for state construction funds. It was previously presented in conjunction with a redistricting plan and a December deadline, but officials then realized two things: they had more time, and they did not have to present a redistricting plan to the state. Thus, the deadline moved, and the talk of large-scale redistricting ceased.

Bibb County Schools Superintendent Roman Dallemand has asked the Board of Education for a buyout offer.

Dallemand raised the prospect of a buyout with school board members behind closed doors during their Jan. 17 meeting, saying he believes it is time for him to leave the post, according to three sources, including two school system employees.

Afterward, board members discussed Dallemand’s overture but took no action during the meeting.

The board has scheduled a called meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday. The only item on the meeting agenda is listed as “executive session — personnel matters/future acquisition property/pending litigation.”

Some folks think that students might gain the ability to carry guns on campus with a weapons permit, but frankly, I think that’s overblown. If it does happen, it’s likely to be under a bill introduced by someone other than the current bill’s sponsor.

Amazon.com appears to not be collecting sales tax on transactions with Georgia residents, according to the AJC.

Georgia shoppers at Amazon still aren’t paying sales tax, three weeks after the start of a state law designed to snag the money from the world’s biggest online retailer.

Shoppers buying items from Amazon.com to be shipped to Georgia should be prompted to pay sales tax under the law that took effect Jan. 1. But repeated checks of Amazon.com show that isn’t happening.

Amazon’s inaction could throw the state and the internet giant into a potentially costly battle that feeds into a national debate over whether all online retailers should be required to collect sales tax across the country.

On Friday, the Bibb County Commission will hold a work session to develop priorities for this year.

Kevin Barrere, spokesman for the Bibb County government, said he expects the discussion will include how to prioritize projects funded with money from the special purpose local option sales tax approved by voters in November 2011. Other discussions could include means of moving the government forward before the Bibb County and Macon governments consolidate next January.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle has average high school SAT scores for Fulton County and will be publishing them for DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett in coming days.

The Emory University School of Medicine has received three grants totalling $300,000 from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to research causes and cures for mental illness. Emory’s Vaccine Center will be one of four in the US to run national trials on a flu vaccine.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway has weighed-in on discussions of the Second Amendment.

“I encourage all law abiding citizens to acquire and maintain the skills to safely carry a firearm in order to protect themselves and others,” Conway said.

“Sadly, our society contains those that will harm others when given the opportunity,” the statement continued. “An armed citizen certainly presents much less opportunity to those that would do them harm.”

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis has 24-hour police protection at his home, ever since search warrants were served there.

The DeKalb County Commission voted to impose an excise tax on energy used in manufacturing, to replace the county portion lost when the state repealed the tax.

A joint meeting of port officials from Georgia and South Carolina to discuss developing a port on land owned by Georgia in Jasper County, SC has been cancelled.

They said an updated study on the economic viability of building the shipping terminal isn’t ready. The proposed $5 billion port terminal would be located in Jasper County, S.C., across the river from Savannah.

Progress on the joint port has been bogged down for more than a year as Georgia and South Carolina have feuded over a planned $652 million expansion of the Port of Savannah.

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