Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 18, 2013

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 18, 2013

On December 18, 1701, Charles Wesley was born in Epworth, England. In 1735, Charles and his brother John Wesley, sailed for Savannah in the Colony of Georgia. Charles was appointed Secretary of Indian Affairs by Governor James Oglethorpe but returned to England the next year. As an early leader in the Methodist movement, Wesley is perhaps best remembered for his hymns, of which he wrote more than 6000,

On December 18, 1857, Milton County, Georgia was created including parts of then-Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton Counties. It was named after former Georgia Secretary of State John Milton. In 1932, Milton County became part of Fulton County where it currently remains.

On December 18, 1865, United States Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement confirming the ratification and adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery. According to Seward’s statement, the ratification was official as of December 6, 1865, upon Georgia’s approval.

On December 18, 1866, Georgia Governor Charles Jenkins signed legislation creating a Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools.

On December 18, 1886, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb was born in Banks County, Georgia. Cobb would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with the highest vote total in the inaugural induction. You can visit the Ty Cobb Museum the next time you’re in Royston, Ga.

Balfour trial

Yesterday, it was the prosecution against Senator Don Balfour (suspended) that was scattered, smothered, and covered. From the AJC:

Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin spent much of Tuesday walking former GBI agent Wesley Horn through a confusing series of dates and paperwork laying out the state’s case that Balfour, R-Snellville, claimed bogus mileage and reimbursements. However he was frustrated by defense attorney William Hill Jr. who three times objected when McLaughlin mistakenly brought up the wrong dates.

The confusion bolsters Balfour’s claims that errors in 16 expense reports filed over five years were simple mistakes made by a busy man who has problems with details but is not a criminal.

In his cross-examination of Horn, Hill hammered at mistakes made in the 18-count indictment charging Balfour. Hill said the indictment incorrectly cites wrong or non-existent parts of state law.

From the Fulton Daily Report:

Testimony Tuesday morning from the state’s second witness, legislative fiscal officer Robyn Underwood, contained some elements that seemingly were more helpful to the defense.

Underwood, who has worked for the General Assembly for more than 30 years and as head of both chambers’ fiscal office since 2002, confirmed that Balfour claimed expenses for which he was not entitled. But Underwood conceded during cross examination that she had no proof that he intended to make false claims. She also admitted her office made its own clerical mistakes involving Balfour’s reimbursement requests. For instance, her staff paid Balfour in error twice for one day in which he was entitled to expenses.

[Defense attorney Ken] Hodges brought up 391 days in which Balfour did not submit reimbursement claims even though he could have, including more than 7,000 eligible miles totaling more than $3,000. Hodges also mentioned that Balfour opted out of the state’s pension plan, saving taxpayers more than $100,000. Hill repeated the claims later, arguing that the state couldn’t prove mens rea.

[Roy]

Barnes, the one-term Democratic governor who left office in 2002, testified that he found Balfour to be “a man of integrity” despite their political party differences. He also testified that reimbursement mistakes were not uncommon for legislators.

“I hate to say this but you sign whatever your staff puts out because you’re so dang busy,” said Barnes, who also chaired the Senate’s Judiciary Committee prior to becoming governor.

#ShaqAttack on #OfficerMorgan Day

Shaquille O’Neal joined the City of Covington Police Department, and apparently half of Newton County in honoring the wish of a young boy with spinal muscular atrophy who wanted to be a police officer.

The young Covington resident has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that affects his muscle movement and leaves him in a wheelchair.

When the Covington Police Department learned Morgan’s story, they wasted no time in making his dream come true. The little boy was sworn in as the newest member of the force. He also led this year’s Covington Christmas Parade.

Tuesday, Dec. 17 is Officer Morgan Day in Covington, and people showed up at the town’s historic square to celebrate this very special police officer.

Shaq showed up and helped rescue a cat from a tree.  He led the crowd in singing.  11Alive’s Julie Wolfe says the event touched him so much, Shaq got teary-eyed.

Morgan began his foot patrol at 11 a.m. He arrested a bank robber, solved an art heist and rescued a kidnapped mascot. Then he was treated to a visit from Santa Claus and other Christmas surprises from the 11Alive Help Desk.

Fulton Elections probems referred to AG

For as long as I can remember, Fulton County Elections has had problems with the actual administration of voter registration and elections. Yesterday, the State Elections Board voted to forward allegations of irregularities in the 2012 elections to the Attorney General. From the AJC:

Thousands of Fulton County voters were forced to cast provisional ballots last year when they could have cast a regular ballot. Some were told — incorrectly — that they couldn’t vote at all. Others simply gave up after spending hours in a futile attempt to choose their elected officials.

An investigator listed those findings at a State Election Board hearing Tuesday, giving example after example of how he alleged Fulton County botched its 2012 general election. And though county officials say some of the investigation’s other claims are exaggerated, board members voted unanimously to refer the matter to the state’s attorney general for administrative proceedings.

Those proceedings will determine whether Fulton committed at least 15 violations of state election laws during its 2012 general and primary elections. It faces the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and perhaps some remedial lessons in how to run elections.

In the July 2012 primary an unknown number of people may have voted in the wrong state House and Senate districts because of redistricting mistakes. Fulton officials say the outcomes of the races were not affected because they were either uncontested or the margin of victory was large enough that the improper ballots would not have made a difference.

Colin Martin Contests Columbus

Colin Martin, a Coverdell Leadership Institute/RLG graduate from the class of 2001, will step down from his job as VP for Government Affairs at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce in order to run against Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Martin said he will resign his position at the chamber on Dec. 31 and soon thereafter make a formal announcement of his candidacy. He said friends urged him to seek the office and he sees it as a way to serve the community.

Martin said he would like to see more servant leadership in the mayor’s office, more listening and less talking.

“I’ve been married for 24 years and been a father for 18 years. And the two most important lessons that I got out of that are, number one, I’m usually not the smartest person in the room and number two, I don’t have to be the person who is always right,” Martin said.

“Servant leadership is really in the end what we’re all here to do. I think that’s what the mayor ought to be, a servant leader, willing to let other people have the spotlight, to stay in the background and let other people have the glory.”

Martin also said he would like to establish a more “collaborative” relationship with Columbus Council.

“I would listen more and talk less,” he said. “I’d work collaboratively with the council and not have an adversarial relationship, which is what I sense when I watch council on TV.”

An Open letter from Dale Jackson

Third District Georgia Republican Party Chair Dale Jackson has written an open letter to Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss urging them to reject the Murray-Ryan Budget deal sent over by the House.

As the Chairman of the 3rd District GAGOP, it is my responsibility to protect the republican brand and principles for which it claims to represent. The time has come that we must no longer be satisfied with “well it could have been worse”.

This latest budget deal completely destroys the only conservative victory we have seen the past 5 years, in the sequester. It increases spending by $63 Billion. It does this by taking from all Americans their hard earned money in the form of FEES. It also creates future ways to increase spending in the future, that will have unforeseen consequences.

I now urge our two Senators Chambliss and Isakson, to stand with my fellow conservatives across this entire state and reject this “deal”, and demand actual spending cuts. I would also ask that any Republican official in the state at any level, please sign on to this letter.

Cherokee County GOP interviews candidates in HD 22

I’m awarding five points to the Cherokee County Republican Party for posting interviews with the candidates for House District 22 on their website. This is a great service to the candidates and voters in the district and would be a fine thing for other county parties to consider adding to their media efforts.

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