Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15, 2014

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution too effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Political Rewind Tonight

Last week, I spoke to the Georgia Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Committee at their quarterly meeting with Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist, in what we jokingly called the “Political Rewind” road show.

lpc_meeting_2014_10_edna

From GMA’s writeup:

The key to victory for the gubernatorial and senate candidates will be women, said political strategists Tharon Johnson and Todd Rehm. At the GMA’s Legislative Policy Council (LPC) meeting this week, Johnson and Rehm discussed the upcoming elections for governor and Georgia’s next U.S. senator.

“Independents, especially women, are going to be the key for election for both the governor’s race and the senate,” said Rehm, a Republican political consultant and blogger.

Johnson, a Democrat political consultant, said he’d advise Senate candidate Michelle Nunn to run commercials featuring her father, former Senator Sam Nunn. “Knowing that [David] Perdue is going to get more old white guys, put your dad on TV to get the older voters who remember and liked him.”
(more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 13, 2014

Former Confederate President Alexander Stephens was released from federal prison on October 12, 1865 and returned to Georgia.

On October 13, 1870, Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating the Georgia State Board of Education.

On October 13, 1885, Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation authorizing the creation of a state school of technology as a branch of the University of Georgia; the school would open in Atlanta in October 1888, and in 1948 was renamed the Georgia Institute of Technology.

On October 13, 1918, the ban on public gatherings in Atlanta to prevent spread of the Spanish flu, was extended an additional week.

1929 UGA vs Yale Tix

The first game in Sanford Stadium was played on October 12, 1929, with the University of Georgia Bulldogs beating the Yale Bulldogs. Here is the first ten minutes of the game.

1929_Georgia_vs_Yale

On October 12, 1958, The Temple was bombed after a phone call to WSB warned that Black churches and Jewish temples would be blown up.

Democrat Jimmy Carter received a post-debate bump against President Gerald Ford, with polls showing Carter at 50%-40% over the incumbent, up from 47%-45% before the debate.

Former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2002, becoming the second native Georgian to win the award, with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., having won in 1964.

DeKalb Jurors fight like politicians

The latest political soap opera in DeKalb County is not the behavior of politicians, but of voters. Specifically the dozen or so who were chosen to serve on the jury in the trial of suspended CEO Burrell Ellis. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 9, 2014

Georgia and American History

Today is Leif Erikson Day, celebrating the Norse explorer being the first European to visit North America. From Mental Floss:

While the actual date of Leif Erikson Day doesn’t have anything personally to do with Leif, it was picked for the holiday because it’s the anniversary of the day that the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger, Norway, back in 1825. The arrival of the Restauration marked the beginning of organized immigration from Scandinavia to the USA. The holiday was first recognized by Wisconsin in 1930, eventually becoming a nationally observed holiday in 1964.

On October 9, 1963, the Board of Regents approved a new junior college in Cobb County that is today Kennesaw State University. The next year, Cobb County voters approved a bond referendum to fund construction.

Democrat Jimmy Carter challenged President Gerald Ford to make his income tax returns public on October 9, 1976.

United States Senator Sam Nunn announced on October 9, 1995 that he would not run for reelection. From CNN’s contemporary story:

“I know in my heart it is time to follow a new course,” Nunn told reporters gathered in the Georgia State Capitol. He said his decision followed “a lot of thought and prayer” and he expressed enthusiasm about meaningful days ahead in the private sector.

“Today I look forward to more freedom, to more flexibility,” he said, adding he planned to spend time with his family, to write, and “devote a substantial amount of time” to public policy and public service. He said he has no immediate plans for a presidential bid.

Nunn hailed America as “the greatest country in the world,” but cited problems that need attention, including education concerns, illegitimate children, and widespread violence and drugs. He expressed optimism on such items as the strong military and entitlement reform.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said of Sam Nunn’s retirement,

“For those who listened carefully, it is clear that the Democratic Party is not the vehicle for the values outlined by Sen. Nunn.”

Nolan Waters of Knight-Ridder wrote of the announcement,

Nunn’s departure is a watershed.

“Nunn is the last of the great moderate Southern Democrats. This creates a huge hole for the party,” said Merle Black, a specialist on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta.

Nunn, like President Clinton, helped organize a group of moderate Democrats, the Democratic Leadership Council, in an attempt to move the party rightward after the 1984 landslide re-election of President Reagan.

“He has been fighting the liberal wing of his party for over two decades,” Black said. “It’s been a losing battle.”

In place of Nunn, the state’s most prominent politician is becoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich – whose futuristic, activist style of conservatism seems radical along-side Nunn’s traditionalism.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Earlier this week, longtime journalist George Chidi wrote about the disturbing history of Tom Owens, who is running as a Republican in the November 4 Special Election for DeKalb County Commission. Here’s a short excerpt:

The 62-year-old Vietnam veteran and anti-immigration activist [Tom Owens] has a years-long history of legal trouble tied to harassment of political figures, acquaintances and romantic targets. He pleaded no contest to a stalking charge in Forsyth County, with a note in the documentation tying his behavior to mental health issues. At least three people have obtained restraining orders against him in the last eight years, the most recent of which expired this year.

Meanwhile, the head of a Christian religious charity found herself filing a police report less than five months ago, complaining that Owens had come to her to her thrift shop to berate her for her insufficient hate toward African Muslims … spitting on the shop doors while he was at it.

Then at a debate hosted by the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association, this happened:

[Tom] Owens and a friend, Joe Newton of Gwinnett County, got into a shouting match with George Chidi, a blogger for Peach Pundit.

Chidi has published a blog post investigation of Owens’ background, discovering stalking charges, restraining orders, harassment of candidates and a lingering feud with the imam of a mosque behind his home. Owens didn’t appear to like it.

Tom Owens then ran to DeKalb County and took out a Temporary Protective Order against George Chidi, vaulting this into the national media and becoming an embarrassment to the Republican Party. From the Associated Press story:

A Georgia politician got a temporary restraining order earlier this week against a journalist blogger he accuses of threatening and harassing him.

The writer, George Chidi, denied threatening the politician and said the move is a way for the candidate to avoid answering questions about his past ahead of an upcoming election.

Chidi said he’s writing a book on civic engagement in Georgia and wanted to interview DeKalb County Commission District 1 candidate Tom Owens about the public’s perception of him.

“I hadn’t approached him until he became a public figure,” Chidi said. “He’s running for a seat that’s open because the incumbent has resigned and is going to jail for corruption charges.”

“The principle of this is severely damaging to the civil process and to journalism,” Chidi said. “If a candidate for public office can shut off unfavorable coverage by abusing the temporary protective order process without penalty, that is going to happen to everybody. It is a standard practice to say that questions that you don’t like are harassment,” Chidi said.

Even more damaging is the assertion that a journalist can violate a TPO from his laptop.

On Wednesday, Chidi told HuffPost that he had also been served with a notice that he had violated the order by “contacting third parties via social media.”

Chidi said that he’s worried his case could set a dangerous precedent for journalists who write unfavorably about politicians.

“Imagine a politician who can shut off a journalist covering him in the month before an election when everybody is paying attention to politics,” he told HuffPost. “It is chilling. It makes it much more fraught to report on issues of public importance, particularly around politics.”

“It’s dangerous to the public to have a court tell a journalist to stay away from public figures and political candidates,” Chidi added.

“His assertion that I said I was out to ‘destroy’ Tom Owens is an error at best, and a fabrication at worst. I didn’t say it,” Chidi responded via email. “The commission race has almost nothing to do with my very small town and absolutely nothing to do with my personal politics. I make no effort to conceal those — I’m a card-carrying progressive Democrat — but there’s no Democrat even running for the seat.”

Witter sent HuffPost a video that he claimed showed Chidi harassing Owens at a candidate forum on Sunday. In the video, Chidi can clearly be heard telling Owens that he is a reporter. When Owens declines to answer his questions, Chidi begins shouting them.

Though we are polar opposites, I consider George Chidi a friend and will donate to his defense fund. You can join in the defense of the First Amendment against politicians who prefer not to answer legitimate questions about their history by donating today.

On Polling

Via Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy, and Jim Galloway, we note that Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has ranked public pollsters and several Georgia-based firms make the cut.

Survey USA received an ‘A’. The firm used by the AJC, Abt SRBI, was given a ‘B+’. Public Policy Polling of North Carolina was graded at ‘B-‘. Landmark Communications got a ‘C+,’ and InsiderAdvantage was given a ‘D.’

One Georgia firm took the win in worst performance over the time surveyed.

Here’s the bigger point, I think, from Silver,

[T]he differences in poll accuracy aren’t that large. We estimate that the very best pollsters might be about 1 percentage point more accurate than the average pollster over the long run. However, the average poll in our database missed the final election outcome by 5.3 percentage points. That means even the best poll would still be off by 4.3 points. It’s almost always better to take an average of polls rather than hoping for any one of them to “hit a bullet with a bullet.”

Nate Cohn, writing in The New York Times, tackled an issue about which we have written extensively – the effect of African-American turnout and weighting of polls in Georgia.

No other plausibly competitive state has seen a more favorable shift for Democrats in the racial composition of eligible voters over the last decade. The pace of demographic change is so fast that Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, is locked in a tight race against the Republican David Perdue for an open Senate seat — even with an off-year electorate that is favorable for the G.O.P.

The pace of demographic change might even be fast enough to outpace the polls.

Polls show Mr. Perdue leading Ms. Nunn by about three percentage points. The various Senate models, including The Upshot’s, give Ms. Nunn about as good a shot — roughly 20 percent — of winning as Democratic incumbents in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alaska. But there’s reason to wonder whether her chances are better still: Recent polls are most likely underestimating the share of voters who are black, along with Ms. Nunn’s share of the vote.

According to data from the Georgia secretary of state, the 2010 electorate was 66.3 percent white and 28.2 percent black. Since then, the white share of registered voters has fallen, to 58 percent from 62.6 percent. White voters turn out at somewhat higher rates than other voters in midterm election, so we should expect the white share of the actual vote to be a little higher. Combining the data on registered voters with census data on the voter-eligible population, I expect the 2014 electorate to be about 64.2 percent white and 28.8 percent black. (Ms. Nunn is expected to win at least 90 percent of the black vote.)

Yet the last four nonpartisan polls that released demographic data showed an electorate that’s 65.7 percent white and 25.7 percent black. Those polls show Mr. Perdue ahead by 3.3 points, but they would show something closer to a dead heat if the likely electorate matched my estimates.

During this cycle, we have been estimating African-American turnout as constituting roughly 30% of the November electorate. But there’s a complicating factor. It’s name is “unknown.” In 2012 statistics from the Secretary of State, more than 200,000 voters from the General Election were recorded as having “unknown” race or gender. That’s roughly 5.5% of votes cast that year, and that complicates calculations of race and gender for weighting purposes. We’ve dealt with that and with the very low numbers of self-identified Asian, Hispanic, and Other race voters by combing them with “unknown” under the heading of “other”.

When pollsters are arguing about 2-3 points of African-American participation and the results on poll results, having 5.5% of voters as “unknown” could affect the accuracy of polling that uses weighting for race as part of the methodology.

I also want to note briefly that Erick Erickson and I agree on our general approach to polls and polling from public sources. The other day, he discussed the issue on his radio show, saying:

“Pay attention to the polling trends, don’t pay attention to the polls.

I think what you’re seeing in Georgia is that the number of registered white voters has gone up but the percentage of registered minority voters has gone up higher.

I think we put too much stock in polling as an easy way to generate news… I don’t think we should…. I pay attention to the polling averages.”

I disagree with a lot of the other stuff that Erickson says on that particular show, but on this I agree. Today, Huffington Pollster has Governor Deal at 47.3% to Democrat Jason Carter with 41.8% while RealClearPolitics has Deal at 47.3% and liberal Jason Carter at 43.8%.

Huffington Pollster shows Republican David Perdue at 45.9% to Democrat Michelle Nunn with 41.7% and RealClearPolitics has Perdue at 46.8 to 43.6% for liberal Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Mr. Hill Goes to Washington

Judson Newt Et Al

State Senator Judson Hill (R) led a trip to Washington, DC, with his incoming Republican colleagues, Michael Williams (R-27), Greg Kirk (R-13), John F. Kennedy (R-18), and P.K. Martin (R-9).


Coweta County Candidate Forum – GA Senate District 28 & Ga House District 132

October 9 @ 6:00 PM8:30 PM
Central Education Center, 160 MLK Dr, Newnan, GA 30263

The Coweta Republican Party is proud to join with the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of C…

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Oglethorpe County GOP: Meeting with AG Sam Olens & Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens

October 9 @ 7:00 PM8:00 PM
Oglethorpe County GOP HQ, 1816 Athens Rd, Crawford, 30630

Oglethorpe GOP Meeting Speakers: Sam Olens, Georgia Attorney General and Ralph H…

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Brooks County GOP: Meeting

October 9 @ 7:30 PM8:30 PM
AG Building, 400 E Courtland Ave, Quitman, GA 31643

Brooks County GOP Meeting  Come and and meet our Republican candidates for Count…

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Peach County GOP: Meeting

October 10

Georgiabob’s Cane River Vineyard, 144 Cane River Dr, Byron, GA 31008

 

+ Google Map

Peach GOP Meeting

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Fulton County GOP BuckSprings Breakfast: With AG Sam Olens & Leo Smith

October 11 @ 8:30 AM9:30 AM

Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, 85 Mount Vernon Hwy, Sandy Springs , GA 30328

 

+ Google Map

FULTON GOP October Breakfast “BuckSprings Edition” Our LAST breakfas…

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Chatham County GOP and Savannah Area Republican Women’s Yard Sale

October 11 @ 8:30 AM12:00 PM
11 East 73rd Street , Savannah, GA 31405

Giant Yard Sale. If you want it, we probably have it. Designer clothes; Ralph La…

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Coweta County GOP: Breakfast with GA GOP Chair John Padgett

October 11 @ 9:00 AM10:00 AM
Golden Corral, 605 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan, 30263

Guest Speaker John Padgett – Ga GOP Chair

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Rockdale County GOP: Meeting with Rep. Tom Kirby

October 11 @ 9:00 AM10:00 AM
Whistle Post Tavern, 935 Railroad St NW, Conyers, GA 30012

Rockdale GOP October Meeting  Representative Tom Kirby will be our guest speaker…

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Gov. Nathan Deal: Columbia County Fall Festival

October 11 @ 9:00 AM11:00 AM
Evans Town Center Park, Evans, GA 30809

GOVERNOR DEAL TO VISIT COLUMBIA COUNTY FOR FALL FESTIVAL The Columbia County Rep…

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Push for Perdue BBQ with David Perdue

October 11 @ 11:30 AM1:00 PM
Exchange Club Fairgrounds, 101 Emory Dawson Parkway, Brunswick, GA 31520
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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2014

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1920 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 1:55 PM today. Here’s his schedule: (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 27, 2014

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1966. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

Elaine Boyer indicted

A day after she resigned from the DeKalb County Commission, federal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges were filed against Elaine Boyer.

The information charges Boyer with participating since at least September 2009 in a scheme to defraud the county by submitting false invoices for consulting services that were supposedly performed by an unnamed adviser whom Boyer had hired to assist her with her public duties.

According to the information, for at least two years invoices were submitted to Boyer’s office for the adviser’s consulting services, but no such services were performed. Boyer used the invoices to authorize payments—and mail 35 checks totaling more than $78,000—to the adviser who, the information said, funneled about 75 percent of the funds, an estimated $58,000, into Boyer’s personal bank account.

Boyer then used the money to pay personal expenses, including purchases at hotels and high-end department stores, the information said.

The criminal information also charges Boyer with using a county-issued Visa purchasing card, which was intended for county-related purchases, to make more than 50 personal purchases totaling more than $15,000 that included airline tickets and hotel rooms for personal travel for herself and her family.

United States Attorney Sally Q. Yates said she intends to ask for prison time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the consultant in questions is likely Marion Rooks Boynton.

[A]n Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation that began months ago found that only one consultant received those kinds of payments from Boyer.

It’s Marion Rooks Boynton, a 72-year-old evangelist who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb County offices 30 years ago. In recent weeks, the AJC had been asking Boyer for proof of the work Boynton had performed.

She could produce none.

Tuesday afternoon, Boyer told a federal magistrate judge she will plead guilty to a mail fraud charge in connection with that scheme. Boynton has not been charged.

Boyer also plans to plead guilty to another scheme first revealed in the AJC in March: using her county purchasing card to pay for personal expenses.

It is my personal hope that Nancy Jester will run for DeKalb County Commission to fill the seat vacated when Boyer resigned. During her service on the DeKalb County Board of Education, Nancy Jester uncovered millions of dollars in fraud, and sacrificed her political career on the School Board to bring the fraud to light. DeKalb County deserves an honest, principled public servant, not another political hack with ties to Elaine Boyer.

More on Polling

Yesterday, I wrote about a difference between the recent poll released by Landmark Communications, and those by other polling firms.

The Landmark poll projects a 29% ‘black vote.’  Frankly, anywhere from 28% to 30% would be reasonable, but we believe 26% is too low and has caused other polls to incorrectly display higher support for Republican candidates at this stage of the election.

The Republican National Committee apparently wrote to a member of the RNC from Georgia:

Having said that the poll you site does have African American turnout #’s at 29%. That is about 4 pts higher than the historic average but I don’t know that it is impossible.

So, there seems to be a difference in opinion on the historic figures for African-American turnout as a percentage of all voters. The difference between the RNC’s 2010 figure or 25% and Landmark’s 2010 figure of 28.5% is very significant in this setting.

It might be correct that an historic average of the percentage of Georgia voters in a General Election who are African-American is 25%, but that’s the wrong number to use as a predictor for 2012 turnout. The clear trend among the Georgia electorate is rising African-American turnout. Additionally, as Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications pointed out,

Since 2010, there have been 925,000 newly registered voters (net) in Georgia. Based on voting behavior by all demographic groups, this registration has added approximately 200,000 net new behaviorally Democratic voters to Georgia’s voting rolls. This means approximately 50,000 net registered voters added each year to the voting rolls in Georgia since the 2010 election.

The most relevant actual numbers are from the 2010 General Election, in which at least 28.29% of voters were African-American, and the 2012 General Eleciton, in which at least 29.89% of voters were African-American. On that basis, I’d say that if your pollster is using 25% as the percentage of the 2014 General Election that is likely to be African-American voters, they’re clearly wrong, essentially more than doubling the margin of error.

Here are three fundamental facts to understand when you’re looking at polling:

1.) the nature of polling is such that you can be wrong in the weighting and still have numbers that accurately represent the state of the electorate

2.) you can have everything absolutely correct methodologically and still be dead wrong on the numbers that count – the margin of error you read about whenever you see a poll is calculated at the 95% confidence interval, meaning that one in 20 polls will be outside the margin of error. Another word for “outside the margin of error” is “dead wrong.” Read that again – 1 in 20 polls is wrong.

3.) a single poll, even if absolutely correct, is a reflection of a point in time, and not a predictor of the future.

Governor Deal in Braselton

Governor Deal Braselton

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal spoke to a lunch held by the Jackson County Republican Party in Braselton, Georgia. Lunch was catered by Higher Grounds Coffee House, a very nice shop that I’ll visit again when in Braselton. Second from the right, next to Gov. Deal is Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum.

I’ll listen to the recording later today and see if I can pull out a couple segments to transcribe, but here’s what I took away from what Governor Deal said:

Voter turnout is absolutely critical, Republican voters must go to the polls….I’m afraid [changes in the primary schedule] may have desensitized people in this election cycle to the point where they just stay home, and we can’t afford to have that happen. Our base needs to turn out…. I would urge you to try and make sure that your family, and anybody you have any kind of contact or influence with, please stress to them the importance of this election.

Now this is a precursor to [2016], where we have a Presidential election. So, if Georgia shows any signs of vulnerability, then we are going to be deluged as a state that can no longer be counted on in the Republican column, and that has rather devastating effects for us, so we need to make sure that we do get the [voter] turnout this time.

Sam Olens notches a win for open government

Yesterday, Attorney General Sam Olens announced that his office prevailed in a lawsuit under the Open Records Act against the City of Cumming and Mayor Ford Gravitt.

Judge Adamson ordered the defendants to pay $12,000 in penalties, the highest amount possible under the law. Defendants have also been ordered to pay attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a later hearing.

“This ruling is a major victory for government transparency,” said Olens. “Georgians deserve a government that operates openly and honestly. The essence of our democracy is that elected officials are held accountable to the citizens and that citizens are allowed to exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment.”

At a Cumming City Council meeting on April 17, 2012, Mayor Gravitt demanded that citizen Nydia Tisdale cease filming the meeting and subsequently ordered her to leave the meeting. Ms. Tisdale returned to the meeting with another hand held camera and was again told to stop recording the meeting. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act expressly provides that visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.

“My office takes very seriously our responsibility to enforce the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. The actions by the mayor in this circumstance were egregious, and it is essential that he be held responsible for his actions.”

Nydia Tisdale, who was ordered to stop video recording a public meeting was also at the center of the dispute this past weekend at an event held on private property, where she was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and obstruction.

Here’s the lesson for folks in politics: video recording devices are everywhere, and if you’re holding a public meeting at which candidates or elected officials are speaking, they will be recorded. In fact, the whole incident at Dawson County was recorded, and at least audio and photos are available. See, there’s this thing called an iPhone that combines a video recorder, audio recorder and camera.

If the candidates speaking this week had simply ignored Ms. Tisdale, there would be no issue. Instead, some well-meaning folks handed Gov. Deal’s opponent, Jason Carter, yet another stick with which to scourge our Republican Governor over something he and his campaign had nothing to do with.

The Democratic Party of Georgia, through spokesman Michael Smith, sent us word last night that they, too have seized on the issue. Smith coupled the reporter’s ouster with the GOP’s all-white ticket to try to make the case that Republicans are “rejecting huge swaths of the public.”

Said Smith: “They continue to alienate women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants with hostile rhetoric and policies. Just this year, the Georgia Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected women and people of color on their Primary ballot. And now—in an apparent attempt to conceal what they say behind closed doors—it seems the GA GOP is purging itself of the press as well.”

This is nothing less than a political amateur hour blunder.

Pro-tip: the media can’t hold a circus if you don’t act like a clown.

Here’s a video shot a couple weeks ago by the lady who was forcibly removed from the Dawson County event. It’s well done and embarrasses no one. In fact, if I were one of the candidates in the video, I’d be grateful, and I’d be forwarding it to my friends and supporters to share with their friends and family.

Best of all, nobody embarrassed themselves or their fellow Republicans.

Professionals on-stage do not get flustered or distracted by video recordings, or even hecklers. They continue with their remarks, and for goodness sake, they don’t embarrass their Governor with whom they share a ticket in November.

Computer Programming as a foreign language

Earlier this week, Governor Deal announced that he is asking the State Board of Education to allow computer programming classes to satisfy part of the requirements for a high school diploma.

“Students need to acquire the 21st century skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce,” Deal said. “Computing is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the country with average salaries nearly twice the national rate. In fact, more than half of the projected job growth in the STEM fields will be in computing occupations. We must begin training our young people in these areas prior to their post-secondary education so they are prepared to fill these high-wage, in-demand positions.”

“This change will support our STEM efforts — science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “It is a recognition of the evolving dynamics of our increasingly technologically dependent world.”

“If Georgia is to maintain a world-class workforce, then we must ensure that our students can understand and apply sophisticated technology,” said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson. “I applaud Governor Deal for this change that will improve the education of students and build a better future for Georgia.”

Currently, Georgia allows Advanced Placement Computer Science to satisfy the fourth and final science credit in high school. Only 18 percent of Georgia high schools offer this class and less than one percent of students took the course in 2013. Other coding courses can count only as elective credit and access to these courses is limited.

“I am working to keep Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation for business and we must have a strong education system that responds to the needs of companies across our state in order to do so,” Deal said. “Computer science should no longer be just a high school elective. With the help of strong partners like Georgia Tech, we can develop these valuable courses and better prepare our students for college and the workforce.”