COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has been good to the Bushes.
This is where George W. Bush vanquished John McCain on his way to clinching the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. Once in the White House, Bush nurtured his family’s strong ties to the state by making frequent visits here and tapping local supporters for ambassadorships.
But as Jeb Bush considers his own presidential campaign, deep-red South Carolina — which he visited on Monday — offers a case study in how dramatically the political waters have shifted since his older brother and father entered the White House.
When the Bush network was at its zenith here, this state’s current Republican power players were relative nobodies. Gov. Nikki Haley was balancing the books at her mother’s clothing and jewelry boutique, Sen. Tim Scott was sitting on the Charleston County Council and state GOP chairman Matt Moore was finishing high school.
The Republican Party here and elsewhere has become more strident and restless, with new power centers and less certainty, presenting a candidate like Bush with fresh challenges in navigating the Republican primaries. Some of South Carolina’s leading GOP strategists and elected officials said the former Florida governor will have to nimbly adapt.
via As Jeb Bush gears up for 2016, South Carolina is a case study in GOP’s shift right – The Washington Post.
A new non-profit group, made up of prominent Buckhead attorneys, and other activists, is hoping to curb sex trafficking by suing the venues, and the customers that are part of the problem.
The founders of Civil Lawyers Against World Sex-Slavery, or CLAWS, noticed that there was a void.
“Nothing that was bringing, civil lawsuits aggressively against the customers, against the venues, against the boyfriends and handlers in order to try to eradicate the problem,” said David Boone, a longtime Buckhead attorney.
“There is a gap, there is a whole aspect of the courthouse that we can use for social change,” Boone said.
via Local attorneys combat sex trafficking with new tactics | www.wsbtv.com.
President Barack Obama’s standing with Hispanic Americans has rebounded in the wake of his decision to act unilaterally to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Telemundo survey.
The survey also shows Hillary Clinton would begin a presidential race with a strong advantage over her potential rivals in both parties among this fast-growing set of voters, should she decide to run.
Hispanic voters were among Mr. Obama’s strongest supporters in 2012, but they grew dissatisfied with his presidency in the two years since. Their drop-off in support mirrored falling approval among white voters, but also may have reflected particular frustration with the stalemate over immigration in Washington.
The new survey shows the president rebounding. Fifty-seven percent of Latinos said they approved of the job he is doing as president, up from 47% in September though still shy of the 62% mark in April 2013. Fifty-six percent said they approved of the job he was doing handling immigration, up from 45% in May 2010.
Additionally, 66% said the president was doing “very” or “somewhat” well addressing the concerns of the Hispanic and Latino community, compared to just 30% who said the same when asked about “Republican elected officials.”
That support may be helpful as the president and his administration work to sign up undocumented immigrants for his new deferred action program, which offers a shield from deportation for those who qualify. The program is under withering attack from Republicans and supporters believe it needs robust enrollment to assure it survives.
via Poll: Obama’s Standing Rebounds With Hispanics – Washington Wire – WSJ.
“Over a third of Cubans that live in Miami right now came after 1995,” Guillermo Grenier, a Florida International University sociology professor who surveys Cuban-American attitudes, told National Journal. “These are the folks that have direct and lasting contacts with the island, and with people on the island. They’re not in any way exiles in the typical sense of the word. They’ve come for a variety of reasons; sometimes they don’t like the politics, but most times they don’t like the economic situation. They don’t have much in common with the earlier group of Cubans.”
According to a FIU Cuban Research Institute poll this year, 88 percent of Cuban-Americans aged 18-29 in Miami-Dade County favor diplomatic relations with Cuba. That number declines with age, with only 41 percent of those 65 and older favoring relations.
In Florida, the Cuban-American vote is vital for politicians’ hopes, both within the state and nationwide. Older Cubans who came to the U.S. in the years immediately after the country’s 1959 revolution tend to stick to a harder line, Grenier said—and on the whole, they’re the ones who go to the polls. But as the younger generation gets older, it’ll make more of a difference in elections. Democrats are counting on that, Grenier said, as an opportunity for the party to capitalize on the younger generation’s different beliefs.
More than half of younger Cuban-Americans already lean Democrat, according to Pew Research Center data. Only 39 percent of those over 50 lean Democrat, though that number has increased in the last 10 years. Among a community that already supports normalizing relations, Democrats could use Wednesday’s historic announcement as a way to rally the younger generation of Cubans, who don’t currently vote in high numbers, to the polls.
via How Normalizing Relations With Cuba Could Reshape Florida Politics – NationalJournal.com.
Two of the Republican Party’s top White House hopefuls clashed sharply Friday over President Obama’s new Cuba policy, evidence of a growing GOP rift over foreign affairs that could shape the party’s 2016 presidential primaries.
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who backs Obama’s move to normalize relations with communist Cuba, accused Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) of being an “isolationist” with his hard-line opposition to opening up trade and diplomatic engagement with the island nation. Paul suggested that Rubio “wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat.”
Paul’s comments came after Rubio — the son of Cuban exiles who has stepped forward as a leading voice of resistance to Obama’s policy — told Fox News that Paul had “no idea what he’s talking about” when it comes to Cuba.
The feud is the loudest public dispute so far between potential GOP 2016 candidates and lays bare the divergent world views of traditional hawks — including Rubio and past Republican presidents and nominees — and the emerging, younger libertarian wing represented by Paul.
For decades, Rubio’s position has been the GOP’s natural default. But Paul is testing that convention.
via In Paul-Rubio feud over Cuba, a preview of GOP’s 2016 foreign policy debate – The Washington Post.
MARIETTA — Marietta anesthesiologist Dr. Mark Huffman sounded the alarm in a talk to state lawmakers this week, warning that independent physicians are under attack.
“We are being swallowed up by large national groups, we are being swallowed up by hospital systems, and it’s not good for patients, it’s not good for the state, it’s not good for anybody,” Huffman said.
Huffman said while his anesthesiologist group is aligned with WellStar Health System as well as it can be, “at this point, we’ve drawn the line.”
“We have to remain independent,” he said. “We have to remain independent from insurance trying to make a dollar. We have to remain independent from the hospitals trying to expand their income area, their geographical area.”
Huffman said with studies indicating that only a few hospital systems will be left in the next few decades, hospitals feel threatened.
He shared his thoughts with members of the Cobb Legislative Delegation at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia on Tuesday with Joann Thurston, executive director of the Cobb Medical Society, standing at his side.
“So you see large systems gathering in Atlanta,” Huffman said. “WellStar on the west side, Northside and then Piedmont. These hospital systems are trying to capture everything that they can.”
Huffman explained why he believes this is not good for patients, referencing WellStar and Piedmont’s union to form an insurance company.
via The Marietta Daily Journal – Independent physicians under attack says doctor.
MARIETTA — Ron Sifen, president of the Cobb County Civic Coalition, asked the county’s legislators last week to create legislation that would tighten the terms under which development authorities in the state give tax breaks to developers.
Sifen said taxpayers in the CCCC are not opposed to tax abatements, but they do not like the way development authorities have discretion over who receives a tax break. Sifen told members of the Cobb Legislative Delegation at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia on Tuesday that development authorities don’t always have criteria to follow in giving tax breaks.
“What we are asking the legislature to do is basically to require development authorities to adhere to the established criteria, and not just open the door to we’re going to give tax abatements to for no reason to whoever we want to give them to,” Sifen said.
The Development Authority of Cobb County has the ability to allow a developer to skip out on paying its full share of taxes by agreeing to a schedule, which usually lasts 10 years, during which the developer can pay only a portion, sometimes as low as 10 percent, of the property taxes it would owe to the county and the school system.
via The Marietta Daily Journal.
The Deep South has elected Republicans to every top office in the region. Now it wants to be sure that clout extends to the choice of the GOP’s 2016 presidential nominee.
Officials in five Southern states — Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2016. Texas and Florida are considering also holding a primary the same day but may wait until later in the month. Either way, March 1 would be a Southern Super Tuesday, voting en masse on the heels of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
The joint primary, which appears increasingly likely to happen, would present a crucial early test for Republican White House hopefuls among the party’s most conservative voters. It could, in theory, boost a conservative alternative to a Republican who has emerged as the establishment favorite from the four states that kick off the nominating process. But one risk is that the deep-red complexion of the Southern states’ primary electorates would empower a candidate who can’t win in general election battlegrounds like Ohio and Colorado.
Republicans from the South say their states make up the heart of the GOP and that it’s only fitting the region should have commensurate say over whom the party puts forward to compete for the White House. Proponents are already dubbing March 1 the “SEC primary,” after the NCAA’s powerhouse Southeastern Conference.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who dreamed up the “SEC primary” branding, said he doesn’t care who the nominee ends up being. He just wants his state to be relevant in presidential politics.
“Hopefully, from a selfish perspective, it makes Georgia’s voice count, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” Kemp said. “I don’t want to vote after the nominee is chosen. Other folks in the South feel the same way.”
via Dixie rising – James Hohmann – POLITICO.
James Edward Oglethorpe was born in London, England, on December 22, 1696. He was elected to Parliament, where he worked on prison reform and had the idea of a new colony where “worthy poor” Brits could be sent. In 1732, Oglethorpe was granted a charter to create a colony of Georgia in the new world.
On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered on December 22, 1808 in Vienna, Austria.
Governor George Gilmer signed legislation that prohibited teaching slaves or free African-Americans to read or write on December 22, 1829.
Martha Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. were married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia on December 22, 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would later be elected President of the United States.
On December 22, 1864, General William T. Sherman wired to President Abraham Lincoln from Savannah, Georgia,
His Excellency President LINCOLN:
I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.
From the Savannah Morning News, an African-American perspective on Savannah’s role in the Civil War.
First Bryan Baptist Church, known as Third African during this time, was the only church sitting in the middle of the battlefield.
As citizens fled the city of Savannah out of fear, officers of First Bryan refused to close the church’s doors.
Alexander Harris, a deacon of the church, was a Confederate soldier. Deacon Harris understood First Bryan Baptist Church’s defenseless position and led officers of the church down to the Confederate defense line for the city at the Ogeechee Canal to request that the church be saved from destruction.
Dr. William Pollard, an officer of the church, lived on Bryan Street across from First Bryan Baptist Church. As Sherman’s army came down Bay Road, Dr. Pollard gave the captain one of the torches that was used for light in the front of the church.
The captain used the torch so the army could see their way into the city. Gen. Sherman summoned Dr. Pollard and gave him the assignment of contacting all Afro-Americans in Savannah to request that they gather in Greene Square on Jan. 1 for the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Garrison Frazier, a retired minister and First Bryan’s eighth pastor, was the spokesman for the leaders of the Afro-American churches and minsters who met with Gen. Sherman and U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.
The Rev. Ulysses Houston, First Bryan’s ninth pastor, and officers of the church Deacon Andrew Neal and the Rev. Alexander Harris were in attendance.
The Rev. Ulysses Houston was elected to the Georgia Legislature while he still was the ninth pastor of First Bryan Baptist Church. He asked the legislature to establish Georgia State Industrial and Agriculture College, now known as Savannah State University.
First Bryan Baptist Church was constituted in 1788 is located on the oldest piece of land owned by African-Americans in the United States.
One Way to Give Today
After the murder of New York Police Department officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, the Silver Shield Foundation announced it would pay for the education of the two sons of Officer Ramos, as it has done for thousands of other children of Officers who died in the line of duty.
[Late New York Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner started his foundation in 1982 after seeing a news account of four children flanking their mother and folding an American flag at the funeral of their father, an NYPD officer who had been killed in the line of duty.
“Who’s going to take care of these kids,” Steinbrenner asked his friend, former Olympian Jim Fuchs, who would run the foundation until his death, also in 2010. “We are.”
The foundation, now run by Fuchs’ daughter Casey, has paid for the educations of thousands of children of fallen NYPD, FDNY, state police and Port Authority workers in the tri-state area, as well as 700 children who lost a parent in the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
You can donate online to the Silver Shield Foundation.
My latest column in TownHall.com looks at the idea being promoted by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for a “SEC Presidential Primary” on March 1, 2016.
More than just an SEC affair, it’s shaping up as a Southern Super Tuesday.
Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican strategist in Georgia who held leadership roles in Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, said, “an SEC primary in early March will definitely put the south in the national spotlight. However, as we have seen in the past, the field will be a lot smaller after the primaries and caucuses occur in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.”
After that winnowing process in the early states, on March 1, as many as 564 delegates from Texas (155) and Florida (100), Georgia (76), Tennessee (58), Alabama (50), Mississippi (40), and Arkansas (36) will be allocated among the remaining candidates. Based on 2012 Republican delegate allocation of 2286 convention seats, those states represent nearly a quarter of the delegates up for grab in the entire Republican primary process.
Under RNC rules, delegates in these states will be awarded proportionally among candidates according to each state’s rules. This too has implications for how candidates will campaign in these states.
“Given the new national party rules, an early March primary date will take away the guarantee of winner takes all primaries. There will be a lot of targeting done by campaigns as proportionality of delegates will be the name of the game,” said Tanenblatt.
Many within the socially conservative wing of the GOP see a Southern Super Tuesday as a way to put their own stamp on the eventual nominee. But it also means that no candidate can take all of the delegates by winning slim majorities in these states.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Sally Q. Yates, who currently serves as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, will be appointed Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In her 22 years as a prosecutor in Georgia, Yates has experience in a wide variety of cases, specializing in public corruption . She was the lead prosecutor in the Atlanta prosecution of Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.
“She did a phenomenal job putting that difficult, complicated case together,” said former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, who worked with Yates on the Rudolph investigation and has known her for 20 years.
“She’s remarkably talented and has a solution to every problem,” Freeh said in an interview. “Her biggest fans are the FBI street agents, the DEA agents, the postal inspectors and the Secret Service. Everybody sings her praises. And she has no ego. She would rather be writing a sentencing memo than get up and have a press conference.”
Yates also oversaw the prosecution of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Fanning-Lasseter and former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer; Yates personally tried former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell on federal corruption charges and led the investigation of former Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower that led to his pleading guilty to bribery.
Jack Kingston continued his farewell tour with a stop in St Simons Island to pin the Purple Heart on Staff Sergeant Jaime Perez.
As he has done numerous times, Kingston pinned a medal on Perez, in this case a Purple Heart awarded to Perez for his injuries suffered in Iraq when his convoy was hit Feb. 23, 2007, by rocket propelled grenades.
Kingston thanked Perez for the honor of letting him pin the medal on him.
“After another 22 years, I’m out of work,’’ Kingston told Perez. “To end my career doing this is one of the greatest honors you can give me.”
Kingston spoke of attending memorial services at Fort Stewart, the headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Division, in which Perez served. Generally, there are two or three families who have lost loved ones, he said.
“If you really want to see the face of war, see the faces of survivors,’’ he said.
With Perez’s wife, Melanie, and daughter, Yashira, watching, Kingston pinned the Purple Heart on Perez.
Perez, who came from Puerto Rico and now lives in Hinesville, spoke glowingly of what it means to be in the American commonwealth.
With his war done, Perez said the country can’t shrink from the battle.
“We can’t do this. We can’t back up,’’ he said. “If I had to do it again, yes. I would not hesitate.”
Our heartfelt thanks to Staff Sgt. Perez and his family.
A plan by the Chatham County Superior Court to handle major cases faster appears to have been successful.
Now as Karpf’s two-year term in the Major Crimes Division ends and he prepares to resume his duties in the other crimes division and domestic cases, Karpf said he is confident the plan adopted by the court is working as designed.
“I am always reluctant to claim victory, but I am satisfied we have accomplished what we set out to accomplish,” Karpf said.
For example, the recent trial of Norman Smart in the June 7 slaying of his wife at their Wilmington Island home was disposed of during the first week of December — an almost unheard of crime-to-disposition time frame.
“You never saw (such quick) trial of a case like that before,” Karpf said. “We’re trying them in a pretty timely fashion, and that is important.”
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners has asked the General Assembly for raises for themselves and about 20 other local officials, but State Sen. Judson Hill (R-Cobb) thinks the legislature shouldn’t be setting local salaries, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
In Cobb County, about 20 positions have salaries controlled by the Statehouse, including judges, the Board of Commissioners and various staffers. On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners approved sending a resolution to the Legislature stating the county has budgeted for these positions to receive a merit-based raise of up to 3 percent in the coming year should the Statehouse decide to adjust those salaries.
“That item was a message to the legislators that there’s money set aside for the other elected officials that may desire to go after a raise that has to be administered through local legislation,” said Cobb Chairman Tim Lee.
State Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the Cobb Legislative Delegation and the Senate Finance Committee, said it would be “wise” for Cobb’s delegation to review the process in the coming session.
“Many (members) of the Cobb County Delegation believe that it’s not our role to be approving or denying salary increases for a select group of county employees,” Hill said. “However, under old local legislation dating back 20-plus years ago, the Cobb County Delegation was required to do so, unlike, perhaps, every other county in the whole state.”
Hill said he doesn’t think the legislators should be the ones to make the decision for offices other than those required by the Georgia Constitution, such as the county’s sheriff or Superior Court judges.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the role of our delegation unique to Cobb County. If the Cobb County Commissioners want to provide pay raises for their employees, then I believe that they and those who supervise them are best suited to assess that, not somebody who’s distanced from the day-to-day operations of their agencies.”
Former State Sen. Hardie Davis was elected Mayor of Augusta in May, but takes office next month, meaning his predecessor has had a seven-month lame duck status.
“Having early elections, then not taking office until the following year complicated the issue of having individuals sitting in office knowing that they would not return,” Davis said. “I think the term is lame-duck status.”
Davis, who is completing his second full term in the state Senate, said he expects the General Assembly to tackle the issue by making start dates for the newly elected earlier after it convenes Jan. 12.
By then, Augusta will have inaugurated its first black mayor since the city and Richmond County consolidated in 1996. (Ed McIntyre was elected mayor in 1981 before consolidation.)
Davis also has mostly avoided the local spotlight since the election and instead worked to assemble a transition team and committees to prepare for his term.
“We’re targeting a February timeframe to have all that work done and an associated report done toward the end of February,” he said.
His limited involvement in city government since winning the election has been stymied by the Augusta Commission, which declined to include his requests to fund additional staff and expanded office space on the remodeled Municipal Building’s second floor.
Davis said he hoped for further conversation with the commission about making “Augusta the best place it can be” in the new year.
Warner Robins municipal offices will be shuffled around as Mayor Toms decides how to use two buildings the city bought across the street from City Hall.
Bibb County offices are also moving, as the Macon-Bibb consolidation takes effect.
Georgia Charter Schools Association will begin a Charter School “incubator” to help prepare school administrators.
The charter school incubator, New Schools for Georgia, is designed to particularly assist charters in their infancy, often their most challenging time, by helping them establish effective governing boards, boost financial sustainability and develop clear missions.
“It’s (incubator) going to significantly help with the quality of our charter schools, which is good for kids,” said Lou Erste, associate superintendent for policy and charter schools at the Georgia Department of Education. “We need higher quality (charter school) applications if we want to have higher quality schools.”
Georgia has 115 charter schools, close to 4 percent of the schools in the state; five years ago, the number was 110. Charter advocates and state education officials say the number of charter schools should be higher.
“I’ve seen a number of charter schools that have opened and run for a few years and then just basically faltered because they were unable to focus on their mission and vision,” said Allen Mueller, executive director of the new incubator, who previously was director of innovation for Atlanta Public Schools where he helped authorize the creation of charter schools in the district. “They were unable to … focus on serving kids because they were too busy trying to figure out how to deal with facilities or how to run a board meeting or how to deal with open records requests or how to hire good staff.”
The AJC profiles “Travelin’” Joe Gerrard, the Brigadier General who will take over command of the Georgia National Guard.
43257 “Stripe” above and 43256 “Rover” below are senior Lab mix buddies who are very bonded to each other. They were turned in together by their owner. Both of these boys are sweet, calm, and playful, and they’d love to find a foster or adoptive home together. Stripe and Rover are available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.
Lokie is a Bluetick Coonhound male, sweet, friendly, and smart youngster as well and knows to sit and to stay when asked. He was turned into the Cobb County Animal Shelter by his owners five days before Christmas and he’d love to find a new home for the holidays. His ID is 571557, he is in run 46, he is 1 year old, and weighs 44 lbs. Please, please, please stop by right away to meet this awesome doggie! When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.
Buddy is a Black Lab mix who was left at the Cobb County Animal Shelter on December 19th and would love a nice warm home in which to spend the holidays with a new family. The person who turned him in said he had him for a week and the owner would not come get him. The shelter contacted the previous owner who said he could stay inside for 12 hours w/o an accident and was good with kids and other pets. But apparently they aren’t coming to get him. Buddy is up to date on shots, and will be neutered, heartworm tested and microchipped when adopted. His ID is 571546, he is in run 807, Buddy is 6 years old and weighs 70 lbs. Please stop in right away to meet this very handsome boy!