Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2015

General James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, signed a treaty with the Spanish government of Florida on October 22, 1736.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in Milledgeville, with more than 200,000 Georgians competing for 53,309 lots of land.

Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation on October 22, 1887 that increased the number of justices on the Georgia Supreme Court from 3 to 5.

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta for the Cotton States and International Exposition on October 22, 1895.

On October 22, 1991, the Braves played Minnesota in the first World Series game in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves won Game 2 of the 1995 World Series, beating Cleveland 4-3, on October 22, 1995.

Georgia artist Howard Finster died on October 22, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Congressman Barry Loudermilk, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, will support Paul Ryan for Speaker if the Wisconsin Republican decides to seek the seat.

“We believe in freedom and freedom of expression and we don’t want to be constrained and controlled, so it makes it even harder to be Speaker over a Republican majority because a lot of times Democrats are willing to compromise their principles just to go along with the team,” Loudermilk said. “It’s harder to do that on the Republican side, because we’re ideologically driven.”

Loudermilk said he supports Ryan but needs to know more about Ryan’s conditions before casting his vote.

“I believe I can get to a place where I would support him, if the rules are in place that constrains the power of the Speaker,” Loudermilk said.

Meanwhile, his colleague in the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jody Hice, told Daniel Malloy of hte AJC that he didn’t vote for Ryan in the HFC vote, but may have left the door open to supporting Ryan on the floor.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp found that Angela Moore is not properly qualified as a candidate in the November 3 Special Election for Senate District 43, which includes parts of DeKalb, Newton, and Rockdale counties.

Former GAGOP Chair Chuck Clay has been reappointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to the Georgia Commission on Child Support.

The Georgia Ports Authority will spend $152 million in upgrades to the Port of Brunswick in the next ten years. Improvements will include a fourth berth for roll-on/roll-off cargo like automobiles, as well as rail upgrades.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has given $1.6 million and John C. Cushman of Atlanta gave more than $300k to Presidential candidates and organizations supporting them, according to the New York Times.

A federal judge overseeing the suit about whether Fayette County must use district voting or at-large voting in a Special Election ordered the parties into mediation, according to TheCitizen.com.

In the House District 122 election in Augusta, Joe Mullins has spent more than $90,000, most of it his own money.

Those expenses more than eclipse expenditures of his three opponents, Mack Taylor, Jodi Lott and Pat Goodwin.

According to his campaign report, filed Wed­nesday with the Georgia Ethics Commission, Mullins has raised $15,790 in donations from 19 contributors. He has made up the difference in expenses by loaning the campaign more than $93,000 of his own money.

Here’s part of what could be dangled in front of the Georgia legislature when they return to Session in January 2016, from Greg Bluestein at the AJC.

Mike Leven was the chief operating officer at [casino magnate Sheldon] Adelson’s firm before he returned to Atlanta in October 2014 for a second stint as the leader of the Georgia Aquarium.

“I think MGM’s commentary about a billion-dollar building is not enough. I think you need a $2 billion building. And I think that would be self sufficient and provide significant returns for the casino company and the city of Atlanta. Atlanta needs something significant or it’s not worth it. Atlanta needs a Marina Bay Sands, a Bellagio. Something that would be an Opryland at a four- or five-star level. And it would be the only place in the Southeast like that.”

“I think Gov. Deal – and I would tell him this when I see him in a couple of weeks – he should find out who buys lottery tickets and where the money comes from. It’s lower-middle class and the poor. And it goes to scholarships for people who don’t live in those communities.

“An integrated resort like Sheldon Adelson builds at anywhere between an 18 to 20 percent tax rate on gaming would produce significant money for the state and the city of Atlanta without taxing the poor or the lower-middle class … I will tell you an integrated resort built on this kind of caliber would create 6,000 jobs. And they will pay taxes to the state and add enormous value.”

In Newton County, plans for a water reservoir have been stopped after $20 million in spending over 15 years in the process.

Snellville continues to bring the crazy, with the latest being a federal lawsuit by the City Clerk.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, asks for a jury to weigh allegations that members of the city council, as well as City Manager Butch Sanders, violated her constitutional rights and the terms of an employment agreement by fighting her appointment.

In the suit, Richardson’s attorneys, Harry Daniels and Charles H. Cauble, said the amount of her compensation should be decided in court. Previously, the embattled employee unsuccessfully demanded a $1 million settlement to avoid legal action.

Mayor Kelly Kautz, who brought Richardson on to replace sitting clerk Melisa Arnold in January 2014 against the wishes of the council, couldn’t be reached for comment immediately Wednesday night. She has previously said she didn’t support the clerk’s threat of legal action.

Tom Witts, the former mayor pro tem seeking to take Kautz’s job in the Nov. 3 election, was at a loss for words at the news — briefly.

“If she has a complaint with anyone it would be with the mayor — not us,” the candidate, who has also criticized Richardson’s job performance and said the mayor didn’t have the authority for the appointment, told the Daily Post on Wednesday night. “As far as I’m concerned, the appointment was illegal.”

Chatham Area Transit Authority has rehired The Vaquer Firm to lobby at the state level, working with DC-based Squire Patton Boggs, whom the agency hired last week.

DeKalb County Restructuring

Yesterday, Sen. Elena Parent (D-Druid Hills) sent an email to constituents in which she proposed slow-walking changes to the DeKalb CEO form of government.

Whether or not this form is most beneficial to county residents and taxpayers was a topic of discussion during the meetings of the DeKalb Operations Task Force. At that time, I stated my position that we needed to take a hard look at eliminating the CEO position and changing to a commission-county manager form of government. We were unable to spend sufficient form of time on this question during the meetings of the OTF.

We did, however, recommend that a Charter Review Commission be established to take a deep dive into our current charter and recommend improvements, changes, and corrections; including specifically assessing whether the form of government should be changed or further reformed.

We were very successful in 2015 passing legislation for the independent internal auditor, ethics board reform, and purchasing code reform. The legislation for the Charter Review Commission didn’t make it through the process, in no small part due to the shortness of the session and the other DeKalb bills being debated.

In the 2016 Session, I will be sponsoring in the Senate legislation to establish the Charter Review Commission. I believe we should be thorough in assessing changes to the form of government so that citizens know what they are getting and understand how our government works. For example, we do currently have a county manager. Perhaps further reforming relative powers between the CEO, county manager, and commission would be more beneficial than eliminating the CEO, or perhaps moving to a commission/manager IS the way to go. Either way, the Charter Review Commission should begin work as soon as possible, and I remain open to ideas and ensuring that our government functions best for the people, as soon as possible.

Legislation in 2016 to establish a Charter Review Commission would mean no action on any recommendations until 2017. In my opinion, as a DeKalb County resident, that’s not good enough.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester has proposed eliminating not just the CEO position, but both County Commission “Super Districts.”

DeKalb County is in crisis. Multiple bipartisan groups have formed, representing thousands of taxpayers across DeKalb County. These citizens have signed petitions, joined social media groups, and attended Town Halls asking the current iCEO to resign and calling for the elimination of the CEO position.

DeKalb county taxpayers have endured the indictment, trials, and conviction of the former CEO. They have been presented with a report that shows that current leadership has failed to remove staff that are incompetent or corrupt. DeKalb County taxpayers have only to look at the condition of their streets, the understaffed police force, and their water bills to understand that there has been no effective management of the county for quite some time. Residents across DeKalb County are clear and united in their desire for the elimination of the CEO position.

There is no doubt that the elimination of the position of DeKalb County CEO is in the best interest of DeKalb County taxpayers.

It is important that the process to eliminate the CEO position occurs as fast as possible and stays focused and exclusive to this goal. There are those who seek to confuse and distract us from this mission. Some will try to insert political differences and prolong the process. These insider politicians will seek to slow the process down by creating a “study committee” next Session in the Georgia General Assembly. They will try to divide DeKalb and create discord by adding in other reform actions that are not as universally supported by the public.

The taxpayers of DeKalb County do not want a Study Committee. They want a single, clear piece of legislation which is limited in scope to the elimination of the CEO position in DeKalb County.

There are also those who have suggested DeKalb County should expand the number of County Commissioners. DeKalb County will not improve by adding more politicians to the mix. If there is any action to be taken, it should be to eliminate the super districts; leaving DeKalb with a commission of five district commissioners.

The problem with the “Super Commission Districts” is that their sheer size makes a challenge to an incumbent member untenable. Without the pressure of potential challenges, accountability to the voters is dramatically diminished.  Each Super District is home to roughly 350,000 voters and no Super District Commissioner has ever lost a re-election campaign. Once elected to the Commission from a Super District, the member has no need to worry about reelection or cultivating their constituents. I’m at a loss for why these Super Districts even exist, except that maybe their purpose is to provide two safe Democratic jobs in DeKalb County government.

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