Category: Abortion

19
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 19, 2012

Patsy (F) and Parker (M) are 2-3 month old puppies weighing in at about 11 pounds each. The are available for adoption for $40 each from Walton County Animal Services and have been vaccinated and de-wormed and will come with vouchers for discounted spay/neuter.

Gwinnett Urgent Care and Suwanee Station Dentistry in Gwinnett County have a therapy dog named Ruckus.

Ruckus, who will be 7 in July, is a chocolate spaniel who serves as a therapy dog for both sides of the office. The Perrys believe having Ruckus around fosters a more comfortable and family atmosphere that calms the nerves of anxious patients.

“When people come in they don’t feel well, that’s why they’re here, they’re sick,” Ron said. “If Ruckus will come in the room, their whole face just lightens up. They suddenly just start feeling a bit better.”

Gift, and her mother, Ashley, agree.

“He probably helps them feel better because they have somebody to talk to,” Myla said. “It makes it more fun that there’s an animal friend.”

Ashley Gift said Ruckus makes it easier for her daughter to visit the doctor’s office.

“She doesn’t dread coming here, she knows she gets to see him,” Ashley said. “It makes it more fun. She asks for him every time we come.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Beginning next week, satellite early voting stations open in some jurisdictions, and this Saturday is the only Saturday early voting for the July 31st elections.

The Secretary of State’s website has “My Voter Page” where you can sign in and find advanced and early voting information, as well as your new districts for State House, Senate, County Commission and other offices. This page will help you find contact information for your county board of elections if you have questions.

Governor Nathan Deal stated his support for Chuck Eaton in his reelection to the Public Service Commission. Deal said:

“During his tenure on the Public Service Commission, Chuck Eaton has assisted my efforts  for economic development and job creation in Georgia. Chuck Eaton shares my top priority to make Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do business. By working to repeal of the tax on energy used for manufacturing, Chuck’s strong, conservative record helps make this goal a reality.”

Attorney General Sam Olens and Congressmen Phil Gingrey and Tom Price discussed the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s ObamaCare ruling with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Club.

In Senate District 21, direct mail purportedly paid for by TrafficTruth.net is targeting Brandon Beach, the challenger to Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, while signs that say “Boot Chip – Are you better off than you were eight years ago” appear to have been paid for by Neighbors for A Better Cherokee.

Also in Cherokee County, the anonymous robocalls against Janet Read have continued, obviously paid for by a coward.

Pro-tip: putting flyers of any kind on mailboxes is illegal.

A group circulating a flier against Cherokee County District 2 Commissioner Jim Hubbard is in violation of U.S. Postal Service rules, postal officials say.

The flier was found taped onto mailboxes in the communities, which violates U.S. Postal Service rules, according to postal officials.

Postal Service spokesperson Michael Miles said it’s against postal policy to place anything on or inside mailboxes.

U.S. Code Section 1725 prohibits the distribution or mailing of items without paying postage.

“Many people are not aware that it is a violation of USPS policy and law to place items on or in a mailbox,” Miles said. “When this is brought to their attention, they usually refrain from this behavior and there is no need for further USPS action.”

If the violations persist, Miles said the postal service can then collect the mailers and determine how much postage is due to the service.

Once they are able to determine a cost, Miles said they can actually bill the originator for the postage.

Democrat Lesli Messinger, who is running for Congress from the First District issued a press release stating that she is “The only woman running for a national office this election season in Georgia, she’s a lone  coastal Democrat amid the state’s Congressional candidates.” Maria Sheffield (R-12) and Martha Zoller (R-9) might take issue with that, but I can see how the names “Maria” and “Martha” might be confusing on that point.

The Republican candidates in the Twelfth Congressional District met in a debate last night.

UGA Political Scientist Charles Bullock appears to be predicting defeat for the T-SPLOST.

“So although tons of money is being spent to encourage voting for the T-SPLOST and thesupport of the Chamber of Commerce, it looks like it will go down to defeat,” Bullock said in an analysis emailed to Patch. “We have the interesting phenomenon of disagreement between many GOP leaders and a group usually closely associated with the GOP (the Chamber).”

Bullock concluded: “With GOP leadership unwilling to step forward and reassure conservative, anti-tax voters that the projects to be funded with the T-SPLOST are meritorious, there is scant prospect for approval.”

Gun store owners might start lobbying for elections every year, as gun sales appear to be rising in advance of this year’s elections.

Gun sales are soaring nationwide and retailers say that’s not unusual to see during a presidential election year. “Basically the situation you have now is 2008 all over again,” said Steven B. Drew, Owner of Georgia Gun and Loan.

Analysts say the 2008 spike came from fear that new gun control legislation would make it more difficult to acquire firearms. “People were uncertain what the new President and the new administration was going to do so there tends to be a upsurge in fire arm sales in general,” said Drew.

Four seats on the DeKalb County School Board are up for election this year, and all seats will be up in 2014. All twelve candidates for those seats will be at a forum tonight from 6:45 to 8:30 PM in the  Arabia Mountain High School auditorium, at 6610 Browns Mill Road in Lithonia. RSVP to [email protected] or 770-875-0213.

In Cobb County, school board candidate Linda Hanson has accused incumbent David Banks of invading her childrens’ privacy.

Banks distributed his e-newsletter, David’s Grapevine, in which he wrote: “This week one of my opponents made it known through the Marietta Daily Journal that the Cobb County Associations (sic) of Educators had given their endorsement based on my opponents ‘activity’ in education. To determine the validity of this claim, I personally contacted the schools where their children had either attended or were presently attending and in no instance could I validate or substantiate any participation in school activities or organizations by either of my opponents.”

Hanson said she was “very concerned and most disturbed” by the newsletter.

“For him to go to my children’s schools for information for political gain is highly unethical and way beyond the realm of what a board member should be doing,” she said. “The parents in Cobb County Schools deserve better than to feel like their information, privacy is being encroached upon, regardless if it’s a board member or just someone off the street.”

Banks, meanwhile, called her concerns “silly” and insisted he did nothing inappropriate. Banks said he did not receive any records about Hanson’s children.

Gwinnett County developer Dan O’Leary still believes the casino gambling ballot question on Republican ballots will fail, and continues trying to distance his proposal for “video lottery terminals” in a casino-gambling style setting.

O’Leary believes the vote is destined to fail because of the ballot’s wording, and he’s been quietly working business crowds and boardrooms to uncouple his proposal with the outcome of the vote. His plan, he tells them, doesn’t involve a casino but video lottery terminals, which resemble a slot machine but would be operated by the lottery board.

“God as my witness, I had nothing to do with that question,” he said, arms held aloft, at a recent meeting of Gwinnett County business leaders in a cramped office across the street from the proposed site of the gambling resort.

Republican chairwoman Sue Everhart, who said she put the question on the ballot after years of urging from some GOP heavyweights, said the vote will measure the appetite for expanded gambling among Republicans.

If it passes by a clear margin, she said, it will force lawmakers to “seriously” consider the prospect of video lottery terminals. But if it fails, an outcome she expects, “it would send the message that Georgians don’t want gambling.”

“At some point the question has to be answered, and I think this will answer it,” Everhart said. “This will settle it so we can move forward.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle would like to appoint Clark Howard to the citizen review panel if T-SPLOST passes, but Howard has said he might not have time for the commitment.

Cagle had hoped Howard’s membership on the panel would assuage worries about the money being spent properly. The state is divided into 12 regions for the referendum; each has its own project list for voters to consider, and each would have its own citizen review panel.

“Voters should have as much information as possible, and the citizen oversight committee is a key part of this process,” Cagle said.

Former Cobb County Commission Chair Bill Byrne picked up the endorsement of D.A. King and the Cobb Taxpayers Association in his quest to unseat incumbent Tim Lee.

D.A. King says he’s backing Bill Byrne for county chairman. King said his original intention was to remain neutral in the chairman’s race.

“When it became clear to me that the BOC was not going to move forward on saving jobs for American workers on taxpayer funded projects by taking the next logical step with the IMAGE certification, I voted for Bill Byrne for chairman by absentee ballot and proudly support him,” King said. “Bill, an old friend, was the only candidate to reach out to me and promise, without condition, to require all public contractors and subcontractors to become IMAGE certified. I believe him when he says that he understands that illegal immigration is not a separate issue from jobs, taxes, health care and education.

“Frankly, I haven’t heard anything from the other challengers. The current chairman, who I like very much, has been dealing with the IMAGE certification issue for at least 18 months and pronounced it a great move for Cobb when he signed the IMAGE agreement. The concept that the same requirement for public contractors needs more study time strikes me as absurd and transparent. State legislation, much of which I have worked on myself over the years is written, vetted and signed into law in a three month window.”

In House District 66 (Douglas and Paulding counties), Republican Mike Miller has out-raised and out-spent both his opponents.

Bryant Cochran, the third-term incumbent Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge, and challenger Dwayne Hooper, are profiled in the Dalton Daily News.

Dr. Bernice Brooks is back on the ballot, running for reelection to the Carroll County Board of Education.

Coweta Circuit Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby signed the order, saying it would be “unjust” to leave the 12-year school board member off the ballot.

“Clearly this was an error, simply a mistake that was made,” Kirby said. “It would be incredibly unjust for Ms. Brooks to be knocked off the ballot.”

Kirby called the error a “scrivener’s error,” a clerical error made in legal documents. The hearing to address Brooks’ writ of certiorari, or appeal, was Tuesday afternoon at the Coweta County Justice Center.

Brooks was unanimously disqualified by the Board of Elections and Registration in a special hearing last Tuesday after it was discovered her house is in a different district that the district she is running to represent. While the majority of Brooks’ Villa Rica property can be found in District 1, her home and street address are actually in District 3 because of a technical error.

Computer problems aren’t the only problem facing the State Campaign Finance Commission and voters seeking to learn where candidates raised money.

whereas statewide candidates are required to file electronically, local candidates are allowed to file paper reports, and a processing backlog means they can be delayed indefinitely.

Kennesaw State University political science professor and former secretary of state advisory board member David Shock said it all spells out a “huge disservice” to voters with many contributing factors.

“The biggest reason is that, a year or so ago, a new state law kicked in that requires candidates to file with the state ethics commission. I think there’s still a lot of confusion among local candidates on what they need to do,” he said.

Many of the candidates who hadn’t filed their PFD as of last week said they thought the report had already been filed.

Before 2011, local candidates filed reports with their local election board. Shock said he believes the change was made to standardize the process, however, the increased workload on the ethics commission has stretched its resources and caused the backlog.

Other causes in the high number of late filers may be a lack of drive in collecting fines. Initial late fees have increased from $25 to $125, but may go uncollected for long periods of time.

“Voters deserve to know who is funding their candidates,” Shock said. “I don’t know what the solution is. There needs to be more people reviewing the reports. There is probably a need for more education as well for candidates on what needs to be done.”

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President Obama announced the administration’s commitment to completing federal reviews for the Savannah Harbor Deepening Project, intended to increase river access to the Port of Savannah by dredging portions of the Savannah River. In fact, the commitment is that federal review will be finished by November 2012, just in time for Congressman John Barrow to take credit for it.

11
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 11, 2012

If you’ve always wanted to lead a pack of sleek Basset Hounds, Gwinnett County Animal Shelter has got a pair for you. An adult male on the left, and young male, probably mixed, on the right, both are said to be friendly.

The deal is that Gwinnett is offering $30 adoptions through July 28th, which include microchip, first round of shots, and spay/neuter. That’s less than the average cost of microchipping alone in a veterinarian’s office. $30 for your new best friend. Also, I’m pretty sure adopting a dog is good luck for you candidates out there.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Republican Senator Josh McKoon (Columbus) has endorsed Chuck Eaton for reelection to the Public Service Commission. Senator McKoon said:

There is a very important statewide race on the Republican Ballot for Public Service Commissioner. Chuck Eaton, one of our incumbent Commissioners is on the ballot and has a primary opponent.

I have known Chuck Eaton for many years. He takes his obligation to serve the people of Georgia seriously and is a man of integrity.

I hope you will stand with me in voting for Chuck in his primary election. Chuck has earned re-election in my view, by being an advocate for consumers at the PSC and always looking for ways to innovate in the regulation of utilities. So please vote Chuck Eaton for PSC in the Republican Primary.

Eaton is running against a Democrat in the Republican Primary and another Democrat in the General Election. Matt Reid, who qualified as a Republican, has never voted in a GOP Primary and has given $250 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Expect further endorsements by real Republicans for Eaton.

The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund rated Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers “B” on his legislative record last year for the stated reason, apparently because they blame him and Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams for killing a bill that would have protected the right of employees to keep firearms in their cars at work parking lots. His opponent, Brandon Beach, received an “AQ” which means an “A” grade based on a questionnaire rather than a legislative record. The rest of the NRA ratings in contested primaries are available here.

In the North Fulton Tea Party debate last night, Rogers attributed his grade to a political game being played by a lobbyist with whom he has a frosty relationship. I’m not sure which of these lobbyists he means.

Here’s my takeaway from the debate: first, Chip Rogers put on a display of professional politics that makes me move his electoral target in the primary to 65-35. Second, Beach’s service on the GDOT board may end up being a liability among voters who spend part of every day in rush hour on GA-400.

The surprise of the night for me was that Senator Rogers answered a question on the proposed video casino in Gwinnett County in a way that sounded a lot like he would at least not oppose it, and might actually support it. He answered a follow-up question about the Republican primary ballot casino gambling issue saying that he will vote for it.

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The Georgia Supreme Court upheld provisions of the 2005 tort reform law that allow juries to consider the actions of third parties that led to the action and reduce the defendant’s liability on that basis.

Justice Harold Melton, writing for the court’s majority, said the law “makes all persons responsible according to their respective percentages of responsibility.”

Bryan Tyson has a quick summary of the decision on his SCOGblog.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson will take over as Presiding Justice on July 18th.

Governor Nathan Deal has appointed John “Trea” Pipkin III as solicitor for the Flint Judicial Circuit, comprising Henry County. Pipkin had qualified for State House district 111 in the Republican Primary but will end his campaign, leaving Brian Strickland the presumptive GOP nominee; Strickland will face a Democratic opponent in November.

Despite a 2010 decision by the United States Supreme Court, local courts across Georgia continue to close proceedings to the public. The Cordele Judicial Circuit is being sued to force open courtrooms.

John Allen, chairman of Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), has warned judges that closing courtrooms “could be a violation” of state judicial canons “depending on the set of facts surrounding the closing.”
Even lawyers have been stopped by security asking about their business before the court. JQC Director Jeffrey Davis told the Daily Report: “I’ve personally experienced the chill that members of the public would feel,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. It’s not that I’m under-dressed for court.”
Davis added that once a visitor has passed through courthouse security at the entrance, “No citizens should be questioned about the reason they are in a public courtroom.”

Candidates for the open seats in Gwinnett County Superior Court and State Court addressed a forum at Berkmar High School last night.

Kathy Schrader, who is running for Superior Court was endorsed by fellow Gwinnett County Bar Association past president Sheriann Hicks.

Court-ordered requalifying for Bibb County Board of Elections using the new district maps has produced changes in the races, moving a previously unopposed incumbent into a three-way race for reelection.

Hall County Commission Chair Tom Oliver leads in fundraising for the recently-closed disclosure period, with just under $25k cash on hand.

Early voting turnout is strong in Henry County:

Officials in the county’s Elections and Registration Department processed 685 voters as of 3:35 p.m., Tuesday, for the July 31 primaries — “a good indication that we’ll have a better turnout than normal,” said Elections and Registration Director Janet Shellnutt. “But then again, a good many come the first day and then we slack off a little bit.”

Shellnutt said although the county sees a 40-percent turnout, at the highest, during most July primaries, she expects this year to be different.

“I do think we’ll have a higher turnout during this presidential year,” she said.

One election official, who asked not to be identified, said many of Monday’s voters were particularly interested in the county’s partisan races, as well as a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum.

9
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 9, 2012

The puppies to the left are, or will between now and Wednesday, available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, which is located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville. From top to bottom, they’re described as a Hound, a Lab, and an Australian Shepherd. All are young, friendly, and playful.

Gwinnett County and many other shelters across the state are seeing large numbers of dogs and cats, which means that euthanasia becomes a daily fact of life.

It appears from Facebook that the shelter is fighting this by lowering the price of adoptions to $30 through July 28th.

Adoptions from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter include a round of vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping.

To get all that for a puppy adopted elsewhere would likely cost a couple hundred dollars and every dog or cat adopted from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter gives another animal an extra day of life and an extra chance of finding a home.

Important information for candidates and voters

Campaign contribution disclosure forms are due today for the period ending June 30th, and disclosures after today will incur a fine.

Click Here

Additionally, any candidate in the July 31st election receiving a contribution of $1,000 or more, between July 1 and July 31st MUST report the contribution electronically or by facsimile within two business days of receipt to the Campaign Finance Commission. There is no grace period for late filing. [Campaign Finance Act §21-5-34(c)(2)(C).]

According to R. Thompson & Associates, the top five filing errors are:

5)   Not reporting contributions and expenditures in the correct disclosure period
4)   Not reporting bank fees
3)   Collecting employer occupation for all contributors
2)   Failure to aggregate contributions from affiliated committees and corporations
1)   Improper carry forward of totals on the CCDR Summary

You can review the rest of the top ten filing errors here.

Speaking of filing errors, Congressional candidate Wright McLeod updated his first quarter FEC filings after one of his opponents complained and the FEC wrote to McLeod.

“After trying to hide the fact that he broke the law … for more than a month,” Scott Paradise, [Rick] Allen’s campaign manager, “we’re glad Wright McLeod finally did the right thing and admitted he broke the law.”

The FEC often takes 10 months or so to resolve complaints, so it’s unlikely to act on Allen’s complaint before the July 31 primary.

McLeod spokeswoman Holly Croft offered a different view

“It’s a shame … Mr. Allen’s campaign is hell-bent on making this election about personal attacks and petty politics,” Croft said.

The Associated Press reviewed provisional ballots in Georgia and Indiana under the states’ voter ID laws and found that more than 1200 ballots were discarded in 2008. In Georgia, a voter who is unable to show an acceptable ID on election day may cast a provisional ballot and then must present ID within two days in order to have their ballot counted.

While the number of votes is a small percentage of the overall total, they have the potential to sway a close election. The 2000 presidential race was decided in George W. Bush’s favor by a 537-vote margin in Florida.

Six Forms of Acceptable Voter ID

From the Secretary of State’s website:

1.)  Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a FREE Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

2.)  A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired

3.)  Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

4.)  Valid U.S. passport ID

5.)  Valid U.S. military photo ID

6.)  Valid tribal photo ID

Early voting starts today

The best source for comprehensive information on early voting times and locations is the Secretary of State’s MVP system. If you go there and sign in with your name, county, and birthdate, you can see a sample ballot and your new district lines. Once signed in, click the link that says “Click here for early voting locations and times” and you’ll be taken to early voting information for your county.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Emory University Political Scientist Alan Abramowitz says that the number of non-white voters may have been responsible for President Obama’s 2008 election and will be important this November.

“[The percentage of non-white voters] went from 13 percent of voters to 26 percent of voters,” Abramowitz says, “Without that trend it’s very unlikely that Barack Obama would have won the 2008 election.”

Obama needs that trend to continue and possibly even accelerate in order to win a second term. That’s because the president’s share of the white vote is dropping.

Four years ago, President Obama got 43 percent of the white vote. Polls now show him with only about 38 percent. His gender gap advantage with white women has also shrunk, and among whites without a college degree he only gets about a third.

To offset that, Obama not only has to win the minority vote, Abramowitz says he also has to make sure non-white voters make up a bigger share of the overall electorate.

“In 2008, according to the national exit poll, non-whites made up about 26 percent of the voters,” he says. “If they can get that up to say 28 percent, then Obama could probably come close – maybe even win – the popular vote while losing the white vote by 20 points.”

In this election mobilization matters more than persuasion because there are so few undecided voters, probably less than 10 percent. So both sides are now focusing more on turning out their base.

The New York Times has published a series recently debating whether political scientists are any good at predictions. Jaqueline Stevens, a professor of political science at Northwestern University writes that

It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money.

Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts.

Nate Stevens, who writes the Times’s 538 blog, wrote his follow-up analysis

Some of these experts claimed that they could predict elections to an extremely high degree of accuracy without ever looking at a poll, instead relying on various combinations of economic and other variables.

In fact, these efforts have gone badly. Models based on these “fundamentals” alone have missed election results by an average of eight points since they began to be published widely in 1992. (Those models that combined economic and polling data have had considerably better results.) This is worse than you would do just by glancing at the Gallup poll, or even by just guessing that the outcome of the election would be split 50-50.

It was also much worse than what the models advertised. Most of them claimed to have pinpoint accuracy, and would have given odds anywhere from hundreds-to-one to billions-to-one against some of the outcomes that actually occurred, like the virtual tie between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. (Many of the models had envisaged a Gore landslide instead.)

But there is also another, more sophisticated defense of the failures of prediction. “Prediction is simply not what we do,” writes Seth Masket, an extremely talented political scientist from the University of Denver. Instead, Mr. Masket and others say, the goal of political science is to explain the world rather than to predict it.

Finally, Middlebury College professor Matthew Dickinson’s blog includes an interesting conversation on the issue, drawing other political scientists into the fray.

Today at 10 AM at the Georgia State Capitol Rotunda, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers will join the Transportation Leadership Coalition in a press conference about the negative impact of the T-SPLOST on taxpayers.

At Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast, the Greater Gwinnett Republican Women held a straw poll on T-SPLOST. The results were 40 votes against the tax increase, and 7 in favor.

Forsyth County’s Board of Elections announced that it would begin counting absentee and early votes before polls close on election day.

Under a new state law, the county’s elections office will begin counting absentee ballots at 4 p.m., three hours before the polls close on election day. The move is aimed at quickening the election night return process.

Steve Voshall received the unanimous endorsement of the Forsyth County Tea Party, which he founded in 2009. Voshall is running for state Senate against incumbent Republican Jack Murphy.

John Barrow’s spat with Rev. Joseph Lowery about whether Barrow “might as well be a Republican” may benefit Barrow’s reelection in a district that leans slightly right.

that’s the perfect breeze for Barrow’s political sails. These days, he wants to be seen as the Good Ship Independent, steering between the shoals of hyper-partisans on both sides.

We made that same point more than a week ago, but without the overwrought metaphor.

DeKalb voters may be more confused than usual: Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams is running for reelection, and in a separate race, Gregory Adams is running against incumbent CEO Burrell Ellis and fellow challenged Jerome Edmondson.
Retired Army Lt. Colonel Reginald L. Pugh is challenging Democratic Senator Ed Harbison for the third time.

Pugh, 58, was defeated soundly in both attempts to unseat Harbison, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran. His third challenge is set for July 31 in the Democratic Primary. The winner will face David Brown

in the Nov. 6 general election. Brown, of Reynolds, is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

The Marietta Daily Journal has a Voters’ Guide and profiles of the Republican candidates for County Commission Chairman, incumbent Tim Lee, and challengers former Republican County Commission Chair Bill Byrne, Mike Boyce, and Larry Savage.

Events

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will appear at a fundraising lunch for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign on July 17th at the W Hotel Midtown Atlanta.

Governor Deal will speak at a luncheon during the Gwinnett Chamber’s Business Expo and Job Fair on August 23d. Registration is available on the Chamber’s website.

5
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 5, 2012

“25571” is a dachshund puppy and “25570” is being called a shepherd puppy, and both are friendly, playful (duh, they’re puppies) and will be available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. The Dachshund will be available on Saturday and the Shepherd can be adopted tomorrow.

STILL MISSING!

MacCallan is a black lab mix who wears a red collar and was lost last night when he jumped the fence at his home. He is mostly black with a white chest and friendly disposition and he answers to “Mac” or “Pig” and may be skittish around strangers. Last seen leaving the Candler Park MARTA station after apparently riding a train. Seriously. In addition to his owner’s gratitude, there may be a reward from MARTA for information leading to his arrest for fare-jumping.

If you see Mac or capture him, please call Will at 706-977-8947 or email him.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Florida’s United State Senator Marco Rubio will be autographing copies of his book An American Son: A Memoir at NOON today at the Books-A-Million at 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville, GA 30043 [Click for a map].

Candidates now have four days to file their campaign disclosure statements for the period ending June 30th. Here are some recommendations in case you’re having problems with the State Ethics Campaign Finance Commission filing system.

Click Here

As we get closer to Primary and Nonpartisan elections on July 31st, we can expect campaigns to get increasingly nasty.

Example 1 is the campaign in Gwinnett County for an open seat on the State Court. Former Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden, who lost his reelection in 2008 and is attempting a judicial comeback to the lower court.

After a recent in-person forum got testy, its not surprising that opponents of Winegarden are taking to the internet. In an anonymous website, local lawyers are sounding off on what they say was Winegarden’s judicial distemper temperment. Quote of the day goes to Lawrenceville attorney Christine Koehler, quoting District Attorney Danny Porter.

[M]y co-counsel, as well as [District Attorney Danny] Porter went with me to see then Judge Winegarden regarding my health.

Judge Winegarden’s main concern was for the schedule of the case.  In an attempt to not have a delay in the trial, Judge Winegarden asked me to postpone my surgery since doctors weren’t even sure I had cancer.

I told him that since he wasn’t a doctor I wasn’t inclined to follow his suggestion over that of my doctors.

He then continued on and on about himself until DA Porter said, “You’re an a**hole. Christine has come in here to tell you she may have cancer and she needs to have surgery and you have managed to make this all about you.”

I can find no campaign disclosures filed for any group called Citizens for Integrity on the Bench. Some of the allegations against Winegarden are signed by attorneys who are taking a risk in doing so, but other entries are unsigned. Make of it what you will.

Example 2 is the ongoing saga of the return of Beth Merkelson, a fictitious sockpuppet persona used to attack Republican senators allegedly by people connected to State Senator Cecil Staton. Staton’s Republican Primary opponent Spencer Price is fighting back against charges once again leveled via email against a political opponent of Staton.

It all started with an email from a man named Brian Zorotovich. It was sent to Monroe and Bibb County Republicans. In it, Zorotovich claims Price has unpaid taxes.

“Which is false,” Price says. “I have documentation demonstrating that I, in fact, did pay a number of taxes that were overdue–due to circumstances relating to my son’s illness and my time lost from work.”

He continued, “I had a significant reduction in income for a number of years and Mr. Zorotovich has attempted to mischaracterize that circumstance.”

He also says Price, an officer in the NationalGuard, had a business transaction with a loan that was unpaid.

Price says he got behind while deployed to Iraq.

“It was an investment in a business entity that I was developing when the investor decided to withdraw the investment based on my deployment overseas and the fact that I was no longer able at that time to continue developing the business entity. I returned the investment in full to the last penny.”

Price showed 13WMAZ his email exchanges with the State Ethics Commission. He said he sent them in an effort to correctly submit his campaign disclosures. He says that’s why several campaign disclosures were sent in late.

He says it wasn’t because he’s hiding anything, as Zorotovich’s email suggests.

Zorotovich says the Medical Center of Central Georgia sued Price over an unpaid bill of more than $100,000, but Price says this is a copy of a check showing that he paid back more than he owed.

In the email, Zorotovich denies he is associated with any campaign, but Price’s camp says Zorotovich played on the same intramural basketball team as Zachary Lewis, Staton’s aide.

“My opponent has a tremendous amount to lose if he is unseated he is the majority whip in the state senate,” says Price.

He says the email was an attack on his character and he says you don’t really know someone’s character until it’s challenged.

“I lost a child tragically. I lost a tremendous amount of time from work. I committed to paying all of the bills associated with his illness in honor of him and his life,” Price says, “And to have done that–rather than take the advice from the financial administrators at Egleston and file for bankruptcy–is a demonstration of my core character and what I’m all about.”

Price says he’s running because he’s lived a life of service as a doctor and in the military and he wants to serve the people of district 18.

Price’s camp did respond to the email and they say once Zorotovich realized they connected him with Staton’s camp the emails stopped and he withdrew all of his previous posts.

Price claims that supporters of Staton are behind the email claims.

“I am calling on my opponent, Cecil Staton, to publicly disavow this type of character assassination as unworthy of our American democratic process,” Price said.

Price provided a roster from a Georgia Southern University intramural basketball team that lists both Zorotovich and Zach Louis, who is Staton’s campaign manager.

Louis declined to answer questions by telephone Tuesday, but he e-mailed the campaign’s official response to several questions. Regarding Zorotovich, the e-mail reads: “He is not connected to the Staton Campaign. The fact that his name is on an intramural roster along with that of other students including Zach Louis does not connect him to our campaign.”

Attempts by The Telegraph to locate Zorotovich for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. Though he is listed as having a Marietta address, he does not have a listed phone number.

One thing that appears to be clear is that Senator Staton does stand behind other attacks against Price. A website that bears the disclaimer “Paid for by Staton for Senate” reiterates some of the same allegations.

Example 3 is the Democratic Primary in Congressional District One for the honor of being whipped by Republican Jack Kingston in the General Election. Lesli Rae Messinger is calling on her Primary opponent Nathan Russo to exit the primary.

Messinger says Russo doesn’t have Democratic endorsements and can’t beat Kingston, who is seeking a 10th term.

“Nathan Russo,” Messinger said in a news release “… needs to step down immediately.”

She called Russo, a retired businessman who lives on St, Simons Island, a “supposed Democratic candidate.”

Messinger, who has an antiques business and who lives on Skidaway Island, says she is backed by Bill Gillespie, Kingston’s 2008 opponent.

But Russo’s not budging.

“Look at the calendar on my website, and you’ll find lots of campaign events,” he said.

Contending he’s been too busy with other things to round up endorsements, he says Messinger has things backward.

“You can’t win in this district by appealing just to Democrats,” he said. “You need to appeal to Republicans and independents. I can do that because I’m more conservative than Kingston when it comes to cutting government waste.”

Messinger countered that Russo wants to “legalize marijuana,” re-instate the draft and “eliminate and reduce” federal farm subsidies.

“I’m certain Mr. Russo means well,” she said. “However, he seemingly has no idea that marijuana often leads to more serious addictions and, ultimately, death.”

Speaking of political cage death matches, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon will take another shot at the title bout United States Senate from Connecticut.

This time it’s the seat being vacated by Sen. Joe Lieberman, the one-time Democratic vice presidential nominee and later self-declared independent. In 2010 it was seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. McMahon is again casting herself as the outsider, and her opponent as a polished establishment pol.

But she’s hardly the upstart underdog this time. She enjoyed a nearly 2-1 edge in delegates over former Rep. Christopher Shays at the state’s Republican convention in May. The most recent statewide poll of registered Republicans showed her with 59 percent to 30 percent for Shays heading into the Aug. 14 primary.

Shays’ supporters, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and GOP strategist Karl Rove, say McMahon can’t win in November in a Democratic-leaning state like Connecticut. Rove said she had her chance in 2010 and said it’s now time to support someone with experience.

At the debate, Shays went after her record running WWE, bringing up everything from wrestler deaths to how her husband, Vince McMahon, demanded that a female wrestler remove her clothes and bark like a dog on stage during a now-infamous skit.

“Her work, her ownership of WWE, does not qualify her for a second to be the next United States senator,” he said. “The question is, who has the experience, what are they going to do when they get elected and how are they going to get it done. And I know how to get it done because I’ve done it.”

Walter Jones notes that after years in the wilderness in a solidly-Democratic state, Republicans are now the cool kids on the block.

Well, in Georgia politics, suddenly it’s cool to be a Republican. So much so, that in multiple counties all of the candidates qualified to run under the GOP standard, including dozens of incumbents who switched parties.

Considering elections are won by attracting large numbers, Republicans might be expected to welcome the newcomers with open arms. Their hesitation comes from fears of infiltration by the insincere.

Stalwarts even have a quaint name for those who get elected but don’t always hew the party line in Congress or the legislature, RINOs for Republican In Name Only.

Accusations of false-flag candidacies are popping up regularly this summer.

Here are just a few examples, starting with the only two statewide contests.

Pam Davidson endorsed the Democrat after she lost the 2008 GOP nomination for Public Service Commission to Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the eventual winner and a former Democratic elected official. Now, she’s running for a different seat on the commission, and her bona fides are being questioned by the incumbent Stan Wise she is trying to unseat.

In the other PSC race this year, Matt Reid is running for the GOP nomination against incumbent Chuck Eaton. As Eaton’s campaign consultant Todd Rehm notes on his blog, Georgia Pundit, Reid has voted consistently in Democratic primaries for the last 12 years and contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign.

“I believe that Georgia Republicans will think that the answer to our economic problems is not a liberal Democrat cross-dressing as a Republican who wants to get into office and push a radical Obama green agenda that costs ratepayers and businesses in Georgia more money every month,” Rehm wrote.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit Public Defender Mike McCarthy has been reappointed for four more years by W. Travis Sakrison, Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.

In Bibb County, voters who choose a party primary ballot on July 31st cannot vote in the other party’s election for Board of Education on August 21st or potential runoff on September 18th.

“The judge made the ruling that the parties can not alter from the time the voter begins voting,” said [elections supervisor Elaine] Carr.  “If they vote on July 31st, that party stays through September 18th.”

If Victor Hill is elected Clayton County Sheriff again, the suspension of his POST certification following indictment on 37 counts may prevent him from actually serving.

Special elections to fill two seats on the Dawsonville City Council have been changed to November.

The Dawsonville City Council voted unanimously Monday to change the date for the special election to fill the unexpired terms of two council posts.

The special election has been moved from Sept. 18 to Nov. 6.

Candidates wishing to seek one of the two seats must qualify between Aug. 28-30.

The special election is required following the resignations of James Grogan and Calvin Byrd, both of whom resigned to run for mayor following the death of Joe Lane Cox.

Grogan is now acting mayor.

The two vacant council positions have been temporarily filled by Caleb Phillips and Angie Smith. The changing of the dates means both must serve for an additional two months.

Lake Park Mayor Ben Futch has resigned following a physical altercation with the Mayor Pro Tem.

witnesses said the outgoing mayor cited “political forces that were pressuring him” and stated that “he no longer wanted to be a divisive element in the community.”

With the city’s mayoral job vacated, mayor pro-tem Sandy Sherrill will be acting mayor of the city. Tension between Sherrill and Futch escalated into a physical altercation on June 8. Though the incident was brief and no charges were filed, it has done nothing to assuage tensions that some say started when Futch took office.

“I think we need to do a forensic search on their computers before anyone takes over,” said former Police Chief Bert Rutland who was fired along with the city clerk and fire chief in January immediately following Futch’s swearing-in ceremony.

In Carroll County, two Republicans will meet in the Primary for Coroner and the winner will face Democratic retread repeat candidate LaDonna Fryar in November. Incumbent Sammy Eady is running as a Republican for the first time since first being elected in 1988 and faces former Carroll County deputy Jamie Godbee on July 31st.

Jimmy Bobo’s recycling company will leave the Ball Ground Recycling facility after a US Bankruptcy Court judge ordered him to vacate.

Under the lease agreement, the land and equipment involved in the $18 million project bonded by the RRDA becomes the county’s property.

Bobo, of Ball Ground Recycling, filed May 25 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Cherokee County backed an $18.1 million bond issue through its Resource Recovery Development Authority in 2007 to finance consolidation of Bobo recycling operations, which were spread around the county, into an industrial area.

At the time, because of intense residential construction growth, the decision looked attractive, county commissioners have said, but in hindsight, they all agree it was a bad move.

Commissioners say the reason the $18.1 million in bonds were issued to consolidate Bobo’s mulching operations was because they were under such heavy pressure to move Bobo from his sites near rapidly growing residential areas.

In a forum sponsored by the Cherokee County Republican Party, State Rep. John Carson and challenger Martin Hawley both said they would support legislation recognizing personhood as beginning at conception.

The candidates also agreed if elected, they each would support the piece of legislation regarding the right to life — a resolution that gives personhood status to all humans from conception to natural death.

For Carson, it was a personal issue, as his daughter, who is now 4, was born at 28 weeks old. He voted for the bill this past year that limited abortions from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

“She hung onto life in the NICU,” he said. “I was already pro-life, but this more than anything else helped make my decision for me.”

Hawley said he, too, believes life begins at inception and every life must be considered precious.

Carson and Hawley also agree on their opposition to T-SPLOST.

Georgia Power and Atlanta-based Solar Design & Development have been recognized by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) for the development and installation of 19 megawatts of solar power generation throughout Georgia.

The 19 MW of solar capacity, part of Georgia Power’s 50 MW large-scale solar initiative approved last year by the Georgia Public Service Commission, will be added to the company’s growing renewable energy portfolio. Georgia Power has contracted to purchase the output for the next 20 years.

Ends & Pieces

Porsche Cars North America paid $34.3 million for 56.2 acres on which it will build its new headquarters at Aerotropolis on the site of the old Ford plant in Hapeville.

Porsche also announced that June sales were up 18% over the same period in 2011, largely on the strength of sales of the new Boxster. Here’s a gratuitous photo of the new Boxster.

Shares of Volkswagen, AG, shot up on news that it will complete its merger with Porsche.

Shares in Volkswagen AG soared higher on Thursday after Europe’s biggest automaker announced a deal to complete the takeover of sports car manufacturer Porsche by the end of the month, which the company said will result in savings of some (EURO)700 million ($880 million) per year.

Volkswagen’s shares were up 5.9 percent at (EURO)135.75 in Frankfurt trading. The Wolfsburg-based company announced Wednesday night that Porsche will become a fully integrated brand as of Aug. 1 – joining others such as Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley.

On July 23d, the Blu-Ray release of Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One will be promoted with screenings in full-size theaters to show off the remastering of the series. Two episodes from Season One, Where No One Has Gone Before and Datalore will be shown.

Gerry Brown, of Cumming, Georgia, will handle one short leg of the Olympic Torch Relay in Winchester, England.

The selection process started out during a group meeting at Coca-Cola Refreshments IT Department.

“We were asked if anyone would be interested in applying to carry the torch and folks pointed at me, so I went ahead and filled out the required paperwork,” Brown said.

Brown didn’t think he would be chosen, but says he is thrilled he was picked.

Older sister Ronica Searcy proudly talks about her brother.

“He served in Desert Storm, is a great father and husband, son, and an outstanding brother,” Searcy said. “We are thrilled that he was selected to be a torch bearer. He honors our family and we are very proud of him.”

Searcy describes her brother as, “awesome and amazing.”

Brown believes serving others is the most important aspect of his life.

In addition to working for Coca-Cola Refreshments, Brown is the founder and former president of the non-profit organization, “Because We Care,” that provide community assistance to poor, distressed and underprivileged people.

Jerri Peterson and Thierry Laurent, both of Roswell, also carried the Olympic Torch.

Peterson and Laurent, who are both information-technology professionals, were nominated by their co-workers at InterContinental Hotels, which is providing all the Olympic lodging. As one of the primary sponsors of the Games, the corporation had torchbearer slots to bestow on worthy candidates within its ranks. Among Peterson’s many community-minded activities that got her nominated are her chairmanships of both the Empty Stocking Fund campaign and Project Healthy Grandparents as well as participating in fundraisers for the likes of Susan G. Komen, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity and the American Heart Association.

She and her husband, Rick, have been a host family for children of international colleagues through the American Youth Foundation, and she mentors elementary-age girls.

Laurent is a real-life example of dealing with physical adversity.

“I have Parkinson’s Disease and am currently participating in a study group with Emory University and the Atlanta chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association,” he said.

“In addition, I have had discussions with fellow co-workers who have PD, or their family members, to help them understand how I cope with the disease. Mostly it has been co-workers who have family members who have PD, and they are trying to figure out how to best work with them and make sure they take medicines and exercise.”

4
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 4, 2012

“Liberty” is a lab/bassett mix who needs a foster home in order to live to see next July 4th. Visit Angels Among Us Rescue to donate for Liberty or email [email protected] to foster her.

MISSING DOG!

MacCallan is a black lab mix who wears a red collar and was lost last night when he jumped the fence at his home. He is mostly black with a white chest and friendly disposition and he answers to “Mac” or “Pig” and may be skittish around strangers. Last seen leaving the Candler Park MARTA station after apparently riding a train. Seriously. In addition to his owner’s gratitude, there may be a reward from MARTA for information leading to his arrest for fare-jumping.

If you see Mac or capture him, please call Will at 706-977-8947 or email him.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The grace period for the campaign disclosure report that is currently due ends Monday, July 9th, and yesterday we heard multiple reports that the State Ethics Campaign Finance Commission website was bogging down as people were logged in working on their campaign disclosure reports. One incumbent legislator reported that it took 90 minutes to get the system to accept a report showing two contributions.

“The backlog in the State’s filing system appears to be exclusively for ‘candidate’ filers as we are not experiencing the same difficulties filing ‘lobbyist’ reports,” says Rick Thompson the senior partner of R. Thompson & Associates a compliance reporting firm.

Click Here

“Don’t panic,” says Thompson, whose firm is responsible for filing a number of disclosure reports for candidate filers.

“There are 5-days left and I expect the Commission to get the issues resolved. As a candidate, your best course of action is to get started now. Document your filing efforts, including screen shots of the system and its delays, so in the event you do not file in time you have solid evidence to present in your appeal. You are going to have to be patient. Off peak hour filing is not making a difference. Our firm is experiencing many of the same challenges with reports we are submitting during the day as well as reports we are entering in the overnight hours.”

Additionally, it has been suggested that people having filing difficulties keep a log of the failures, and document their problems in a letter to the Commission and to the individual Commissioners.

What appears to have happened in the past is that the Commission has fined late filers and allowed those who received fines to ask the Commission to waive the fines if they had technical problems.

As recently as Wednesday, the fines ranged from $125 for council candidate Marianne Bramble to $2,750 for mayoral candidate Dick Smith. Buelterman, as well as council members Frank Schuman and Wanda Doyle, also faced fines of $1,375, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission’s website. Council member Kathryn Williams, who is not running for reelection, had been fined $2,750.

On Friday, all the fines had been reduced to $125.

That still did not sit right with Doyle, who said she made sure to file her reports by the deadline.

“I don’t even think I should have to pay the $125,” Doyle said.

Most of those who have been fined deny filing late and say the fines were levied in error. But the head of the state agency charged with regulating the reports says it is the candidates who fouled up.

Candidates throughout the state have experienced problems filing, said Amy Henderson, spokesperson for the Georgia Municipal Association. The issues are a result of state computer glitches, candidates having to learn a new process and the understaffed commission, Henderson said.

The commission is being overwhelmed by filers and the number of questions they are getting, Henderson said.

The candidates’ appeals will be submitted to the commission for consideration at their next meeting, for which a date has not yet been set, LaBerge said.

LaBerge could not be reached Friday to find out why the fines has been reduced.

If past experience is any guide, you will also have trouble getting in touch with the Commission by phone as the deadline approaches. If this is the case, record also the times you attempted to call, and the disposition of the call, whether it was a busy number, you left a message, or you spoke to someone. I’d call from my cell phone to create a record of your calls, and take screenshots from the phone showing the calls.

Getting fined by the Commission is only one of the problems a candidate faces when they’re unable to file. The second issue, highlighted by the above story, is negative press related to the Commission website showing that your filing is late.

If one of my clients faces this problem, here’s what I suggest: contact the local reporter(s) and editor(s) covering your race, explain that you’re currently working on filing your papers, but are having problems due to the Commission’s filing system. Offer to share with them screenshots showing the problem, or ask them if they want to come over and see how the system is (not) working while you’re trying to file. Be open and honest and keep them in the loop.

By getting out ahead of the story, you increase the chance that a story, if written, carries the headline “State computer system problems delay ethics filings” rather than “Candidate fined by Ethics Commission for missing reports.”  This is much easier done if you start talking to the reporters before the grace period deadline and establish that not only are there problems with the system, but that you didn’t wait to the last moment and then try to blame the Commission’s system. And obviously the first headline does less damage to your campaign than the second.

Today from 11:30 AM to 3 PM, the Cobb County Republican Party will hold a barbecue at Jim Miller Park, located at 2245 Callaway Rd SW in Marietta. Adult admission is $15 and kids’ admission is $5 each. Williamson Brothers will be providing barbecue. If you see me there, say hello. Click here to go to our Events Calendar listing that includes a Google Map. If you’re on an iPhone, you can then click on the map and it will take you to the iPhone maps app where you can get directions.

While you’re at the Cobb GOP Barbecue, you can expect to hear about Sheriff Neil Warren’s endorsement of Josh Belinfante in the Republican Primary for State Senate District 6. Belinfante’s press release read:

Sheriff Neil Warren urged fellow Cobb County citizens to join him in his support of Belinfante. He stated, “Josh is the best candidate for the job. I know Josh personally, and we need his leadership and expertise at the State Capitol for a strong and safe Cobb County. Please join me in supporting Josh for State Senate.”

Tomorrow, July 5th, Florida’s United State Senator Marco Rubio will be autographing copies of his book An American Son: A Memoir at NOON on July 5that the Books-A-Million at 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville, GA 30043 [Click for a map].

A Commission appointed to advise Governor Deal on whether to remove Velvet Riggins from the Dougherty County School Board has recommended that Riggins be removed until the felony indictment against her has been resolved.

Riggins was indicted on April 25 by a Dougherty County grand jury on two counts of theft by taking, public record fraud and providing false information to obtain free school meals for a child.

The indictment stems from two 2011-12 free or reduced-cost school lunch applications filed for her children at Robert Cross Middle Magnet School and Lincoln Elementary Magnet School. Riggins is accused of falsifying information on the applications.

Riggins term on the school board expires Dec. 31, but she is running unopposed for a new four-year term in the November election.

Ends & Pieces

The Norfolk Southern has assembled its entire heritage locomotive fleet for “Family Portraits” at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Among the locomotives are those painted in livery honoring the Southern Railway, Central of Georgia, and Savannah & Atlanta.

5
Jun

[CLOSED] 2012 Georgia Republican Primary Survey

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25
Feb

Georgia Political News for February 25, 2012 Weekend Edition

Today’s adoptable dog is “Pooky,” a female Great Pyrenees at the Walton County Animal Shelter. She’s available immediately from an owner turn-in and the previous owner said she’s very sweet with kids and other dogs. As long as you don’t keep livestock, the problem that led to her being surrendered won’t affect you. Turns out she like chasing chickens and goats.

If you think Pooky looks like a match but you need more information about the breed, head over to Great Pyrenees Rescue and learn about the big, fluffy white dogs.

Here’s the weirdest speech from the floor of a state legislature we’ve ever seen. Pray it doesn’t get reprised in the Georgia debate on abortion.

Tonight you can join me at the “Daniel Needs a Kidney Fundraiser and Mixer,” From 6-10 PM at the Georgia Democratic Party’s Headquarters. Republican attending the event have been promised partisan amnesty for the evening.

Saturday voting is in full effect today. Early voting this year has been reduced from 45 days to 21 days. Voters may request an absentee ballot for the March 6th Presidential Preference election through this Friday, Mar. 3d.

In Memoriam

Lance Cpl. Corey A. Little, who graduated from Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County and attended Southern Polytechic, gave his life in a helicopter crash during night training along the Arizona-California border. Please join us in thanking the family of Lance Cpl. Little and praying for them. He is survived by his pregnant wife, Nicole, brother Nickolas and mother Wanda.

This morning, Capt. Nicholas Whitlock who was killed a week ago in Africa in the service of the United States Air Force, returns to Coweta County, where his funeral will be held on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Newnan. His family asks that donations in his memory be made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families. Surviving Captain Whitlock are his wife, Ashley Oddi Whitlock of Destin, Fla.; parents, Jimmy and Clare Whitlock of Newnan; brothers, James and Robert Whitlock of Newnan; grandparents, Wendell and Elva Whitlock of Newnan and Henry and Clare Schade of Florida; two nieces and a nephew. We pray for the family.

Captain Whitlock flew in surveillance and intelligence gathering operations in a plane based on the Pilatus PC-12, a popular plane among private aviators.

Legislative News

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers‘s (R-Woodstock) Senate Bill 153, passed the Senate unanimously and will require that employees of local school systems who lose their jobs for finanancial reasons and through no fault of their own will be provided written documentation of that fact. This is a great bill, and I’d like to see the concept extended to all government employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

The Senate passed SB 474 by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Pronounced “Miller”), which reduces the length of eligibility for unemployment benefits in order to help pay back more than $700 million borrowed from the Federales. The bill passed 34-13 on a party line vote with Democrats criticizing the bill. Several senators questioned whether state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was doing enough to address the debt.

Senate Bill 474, introduced by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R- Upper Left Hand Corner) would created under GRTA a regional transit council including local elected officials to coordinate local transit systems. The outlook for the bill looks dim as elected officials from Fulton and DeKalb counties are walking away.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp asked the Senate to withdraw SB 445 from consideration. The bill aimed to reduce the expense and time of applying for professional licenses.

Georgia counties are concerned that juvenile justice reform might cost them more money.

Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) sent out a weekly review for his constituents that reviews legislation he introduced and major Senate bills.

Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) told the AP that he will not seek to pass a “personhood” constitutional amendment this year, preferring to support house legislaiton aimed at reducing abortions.

Executive Branch News

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Robert C. McBurney to the Superior Court for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit (Fulton County). McBurney will take over the seat vacated by the resignation of former Judge Marvin Arrington; he served as senior litigation counsel with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and has received the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Counterterrorism Investigation, Council of Inspectors General Award for Excellence and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association National Award for Prosecutorial Excellence.

Gov. Deal also announced that Georgia State University will match scholarships provided by the new privately-funded REACH need-based scholarship, joining Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Labor, under Commissioner Mark Butler, will hold a career expo for veterans seeking employment on Feb. 29, 2012  from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Clairmont Presbyterian Church, 1994 Clairmont Rd in Decatur. For more information about the expo, contact the North Metro Career Center at (404) 679-5200.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black launched the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program during the annual Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception. The program is designed to recognize culinary excellence and promote Georgia-grown crops.

The chefs participating in the inaugural 2012 program include: 
- Holly Chute, Executive Chef, Georgia Governor’s Mansion;
- Michael Deihl, CEC CCA AAC, Executive Chef, East Lake Golf Club;
- Kevin Gillespie, Executive Chef, Woodfire Grill Atlanta; and
- Hilary White, Executive Chef, The Hil, A Restaurant at Serenbe

Campaign news

President Obama’s trip to Georgia on March 16th will include an event at Tyler Perry Studios.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was in Athens yesterday attending the Georgia Libertarian Party’s state convention as he seeks the Libertarian nomination for President.

Republican candidates for the 2d Congressional district will debate on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 PM at the Century Fire Station, located at 934 U.S. Highway 19 South, in Leesburg, Ga.

Local News

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Charter Review Commission Chair John Shinkle disagree whether to place a $500 “basic city services” fee on the November ballot. Tomlinson believes the fee will result in higher property taxes for 83% of homeowners and will only apply to those who would otherwise pay less than $500 in property taxes.

The Haralson County school system has applied to the state board of education to operate as a charter school system.

The City of Dunwoody has hired former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to investigate leaks of information regarding a proposed real estate transaction. The transaction was discussed privately in executive session, which is allowed under state law.

Railroads, Ports and Freight

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Department of Economic Development released a report that details the state’s priorities for expanding the intermodal freight system. Included in the report are the fact that the logistics industry contributes 18 percent of Georgia’s gross state product, and includes more than 5000 companies employing more than 110,000 Georgians and generating $50 billion in annual sales.

Norfolk Southern has delivered some of the heaviest components for Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4. The 3600-ton steam condenser is arriving in pieces as prefabricated parts. The parts are transferred through the Port of Savannah after an ocean voyage from Korea.

January saw drops in total imports for most US Ports, but the Port of Savannah saw a 3 percent increase, while February and March are expected to continue the trend of increasing freight traffic there.

The largest ship ever to call on the Port of Savannah arrived yesterday and is expected to leave today. MCS Roma could only call on the port and depart with a partial load and near high tide because of the need to deepen the river channel that allows access to the port. Here’s a video of the ship.

Earlier this week, United States Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss briefed Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and its needed role in creating jobs in Georgia during a tour of the facility. Blank said. “The Port of Savannah is an important part of that bi-partisan priority. I enjoyed learning about the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project firsthand. Building a state-of-the-art, modern port is key to creating an economy that’s built to last.”

Random

According to a poll by proponents of horse racing, 72 percent of Georgians favor allowing a statewide referendum on horse racing that includes pari-mutuel betting. I’m betting against it.

25
Feb

Hoping this doesn’t happen in the Georgia debate on abortion

More like a “point of personal humiliation” than a point of personal privilege.

Continue Reading..

20
Feb

Georgia Political News for Monday, February 20, 2012

Today’s adoptable dog is Ginger, who is being fostered by Adopt A Golden Atlanta. Ginger is six years old and loves playing fetch with a tennis ball. Ginger is looking for a quiet home, preferably with another calm dog.

Two dogs featured last week from the Walton Animal Shelter have been moved into foster care at Forgotten Paws. They aren’t on the website yet, but should be available for adoption.

One of two VC-25 aircraft that play the role of Air Force One visited Savannah last week, without its most famous passenger. The plane was practicing take-offs and landings at Hunter Army Airfield on Tuesday.

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum drew a crowd estimated between 3500 and 4500 last night at First Redeemer Church in Forsyth County. Santorum devoted much of his speech to the economy, and the proper role of the government under the Constitution. Senator David Shafer has been named state chairman of the Santorum campaign, said “I think Newt is clearly the frontrunner – he’s from Georgia, but I think the momentum is with Rick Santorum. Republicans are looking for someone new.” Santorum won the straw poll at the Floyd County GOP mass meeting this weekend, one of many across the state.

Notably, this is many more supporters than appeared in at least four campaign events featuring Gingrich and Herman Cain or Callista Gingrich. Gingrich told former hometown newspaper the Marietta Daily Journal that

“I think winning Georgia is really, really important. think I’m clearly ahead in Georgia…. We have a much bigger organization than anybody else. My guess is that we’ll win Georgia, but we’re going to campaign here every single day as though we’re behind, and we’re going to do everything we can to motivate people to turn out.

A tentative Gingrich visit to Carrollton remains up in the air.

Politics is the connection between transportation and economic development, according to Walter Jones. Intermodal transportation facilities including highway and rail access and the proximity of ocean ports drove the selection of Georgia for Caterpillar’s new manufacturing plant. Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman said, “[TSPLOST] is critical in making Georgia competitive. We’ll work for it, from all of our employees’ perspective here in Georgia to help get that passed here this summer.”

The Macon Telegraph editorial board opposes legislative attempts to amend the state Constitution to allow the state school board to approve local charter schools, saying the “Republican-controlled Legislature has had an anti-public school bent for years and now it foists upon us a constitutional amendment that would create an avenue for funding private charter schools. If it passes, it should be targeted for defeat at the ballot box.”

The Cobb County school board declined a $50,000 planning grant designed to help created a charter school called STEM Inventors Academy. The board said state law prohibits it from participating in a startup charter school in the way the grant envisioned.

Georgia Power opposes Senate Bill 401, which would give property owners more flexibility in installing solar power arrays by having a third party install them and purchasing power from the third party instead of financing the installation directly.

State Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) introduced House Bill 981, which would open bars, public schools, colleges and other locations that are currently off-limits to holders of concealed carry permits.

Cooke also co-sponsored House Bill 679, the “Constitutional Carry Act,” which would remove the requirement of a permit for the concealed carry of firearms.

Senate Bill 434 by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Not Jon Huntsman) the “Federal Abortion Mandate Opt-out Act” would prevent qualified health care plans from paying for abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened by a continued pregnancy.

Senate Bill 438 by Sen. Mike Crane (R-Newnan) would prohibit state employee health plans from paying for abortions. Crane says that the state spent $850,000 over the last three years paying for abortion services.

House Bill 735, sponsored by a quarter of Democrats, seeks to require four hours of firearms safety training for all applicants for a concealed weapon permit.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board opines that “all politics is financial,” and that minor changes in the law that are felt by taxpayers in the wallet engender stronger reactions than larger changes that do not seem to directly affect the size of paychecks.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Editorial Board writes that rural Georgia’s aging population, lower rates of having health insurance and scarcity of medical professionals combine to threaten a health care crisis.

Former Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer has announced his campaign for Gwinnett County Commission District 3 against incumbent Mike Beaudreau.

Paul Jannuzzo, former counsel to Glock, will be tried this week on charges of theft and embezzlement from the company as well as racketeering.

Georgian Republicans in the National Press

UGA Student Leanne Livingston, former Chair of the Kennesaw State University College Republicans was quoted in a Washington Post article about Sarah Palin at CPAC. Actually, misquoted, according to her facebook status, “I never said Palin was ever my hero as they claim.”

Not to be outdone, the New York Times quoted State Rep. Sam Teasley, an early Santorum supporter, “I think there’s a real possibility of Rick being able to win the state,” he said. “I do expect the polls will tighten.

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw Braddock told the WaPo “I’m hoping that Georgia is going to come through for Newt.

Finally, Dr. Merle Black at Emory said, “[Gingrich] needs a big win out of Georgia; he needs a headline,” but Rick Santorum “has become suddenly viable, while Newt is sinking in the national polls.”

Law enforcement behaving badly

Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth; his son Austin Bloodsworth; former Wilcox County jailer Casey Owens; and former inmate Willie James Caruthers were named in a 14-count federal indictment alleging the men assaulted inmates in the county jail.

A DeKalb County police officer was arrested in Buckhead for DUI on February 11th.

Forsyth County Sheriff candidate Duane K. Piper was cited for driving 103 mph in a 2011 BMW 325i. Piper is charged as a “Super Speeder” which raises the fines for anyone found guilty of speeding in excess of 85 mph, or in excess of 75 mph on two-lane roads. Piper recently retired after a 25-year career in law enforcement.

Railroad News

Norfolk Southern SD45 locomotive #1776 has been moved from the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke to the shops in Chattanooga for repainting in its commemorative red, white and blue bicentennial scheme. It’s expected to return to VTM on July 4, 2012.