By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.
The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….
About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.
“Handel shows the most momentum at the moment,” he said. “Kingston has solidified second place with his more recent ‘Obamacare’ ad featuring images of Barack Obama engaged in leaving a faux voicemail for Kingston. But his first round of ads featuring an old station wagon clearly hurt him with female voters who tend to dominate the metro-Atlanta electorate.”
Handel’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, stressed that she has spent little on advertising while Perdue and Kingston have each invested more than $1 million on television.
“We feel confident that as we spread Karen’s message of achieving conservative results, we will continue to grow our momentum,” he said.
Within an hour of the poll’s release, the Handel campaign sent an email to supporters stating, “a new poll released this afternoon has Karen Handel surging,” and soliciting contributions to help “keep the momentum going.”
Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Eric Tanenblatt and Tharon Johnson, both from the McKenna Long law firm here in Atlanta. In 1992, Eric Tanenblatt was Political Director for Paul Coverdell’s Senate campaign, and I interned there. Since then, Eric has become a nationally-recognized Republican political strategist and served as a political advisor and National Finance Co-Chair for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as well as Georgia’s State Chairman for President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000. Tharon Johnson managed Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s first winning campaign in 2009 and National Southern Regional Director for the 2012 Obama For America campaign, leading the presidential re-election campaign efforts for 11 southern states, including two key battleground states, Florida and North Carolina.
Here’s the take on yesterday’s poll and what it means for the Republican nomination for United States Senate from two of the top political operatives in the country.
It was an honor to talk to these gentlemen and be allowed to pick their brains on polling and politics nationally and in Georgia. I learned more in an hour there than in anything else I’ve done in recent years.
Hopefully, we’ll be talking more in the future.
As it happens, I had met Tharon the night before on the set of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On the Story.” It was a pleasure to be with hosts Bill Nigut and Bobbie Battista, as well as fellow panelists Jim Galloway of the AJC, Jackie Cushman, and of course, Tharon. Here’s a clip.
solidifying [Kingston's] position as the choice of the business establishment and representing a blow to businessman David Perdue, who is fighting in the same space of the Republican primary electorate.
The Chamber can back up its endorsement with independent spending, though political director Rob Engstrom would not reveal any plans for a buy. The group has already spent $500,000 each backing Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., in their primaries against tea party insurgents.
Word is Perdue had a testy interview with the Chamber, but Kingston also mostly votes with the Chamber’s wishes: He got 75 percent on the group’s scorecard last year, compared with 67 percent for Rep. Phil Gingrey and 46 percent for Rep. Paul Broun.
I think that it also hurts Kingston in some quarters, Tea Party-type conservative activists who are suspicious of anyone who appears too close to the Chamber of Commerce may distance themselves from his campaign at this point. But to the extent that Kingston wishes to discuss economic development, and fostering both the Port of Savannah and agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry, it enhances his ability to discuss business development and job growth.
Speaking of job growth, yesterday saw the announcement that Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped again, for the ninth consecutive month. This marks the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, and the lowest since Governor Nathan Deal took office. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Deal campaign is talking to their media strategists about adding that point to the currently-running TV ad.
We’ll wrap up this morning’s news with a look at John McCallum’s newest commercial featuring his wife Heather, who just happened to have been the first deaf person selected as Miss America, winning in 1995. Heather has an impeccable Republican pedigree herself, having spoken at the 1996 and 2000 Republican National Conventions.
Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.
An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.
Campaigns & Elections
It’s not really a campaign, but Governor Deal makes a cameo in the new “Chop Arm Strong” video.
State Senator Buddy Carter has a second ad out in his Congressional bid, again touting his credentials as a pharmacist.
The group, funded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, has bought $1.3 million in ad time between now and the May 20 primary. We assumed this was all to bash Nunn, but that is not the case.
Gingrey’s campaign responded swiftly, issuing a statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Sebastian:
“This attack on Rep. Gingrey is a clear indication his establishment opponents see he’s on-the-move, and is the most viable conservative in the race.
“The attacks on conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey from this special interest group are straight out of Barack Obama’s liberal playbook. Georgians will not let these Chicago-style tactics on leaders who have proven records in cutting spending, protecting our military and veterans, and fighting Obamacare stop them from supporting conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey.”
Later yesterday an email to supporters sounded this note:
Their motivation is a clear indication that his establishment opponents see he’s moving up in the polls, and is the most viable Constitutional conservative in the race for U.S. Senate.
Twice named most conservative member of Congress, the establishment will stop at nothing to elect a moderate to the U.S. Senate.
They know Phil has fought to reduce the debt, cut the deficit, cap spending, balance the budget, and — throughout his time in D.C. — has returned more than $1.4 million of his personal office’s funds to the U.S. Treasury.
Most importantly, they know Phil will never waver on our conservative values.
Here’s the ad that Gingrey put at least part of his $725k ad buy behind.
We have re-calculated the Polling Index for this race. Below is a chart of the three-poll index and tables that also include a four-poll version.
Deal v Carter
Here’s the weighted average for the last three polls:
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
And the weighted average for the last four polls:
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
The weighted average or index looks backwards at the most recent 3 or 4 polls and computes an average that account for the sample size. An 800 sample survey will have more effect on the final number than a 400 sample survey.
This naturally reduces the appearance of volatility and, we think, accounts for differences in pollsters’ methods.
“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”
Keystone XL remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill as Republicans crank up pressure on President Obama to sign it. Nunn would be among the ranks of other oil and gas-friendly Democrats, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), who support the pipeline.
The Voter Registrations and Elections Division is looking for dedicated citizens to serve as paid poll officials for the 2014 elections.
#Successful poll officials demonstrate patience, enjoy working with people, take direction well and are detail oriented. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Gwinnett, at least 16 years old and able to read, write and speak English. Those who were convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude or judicially determined to be mentally incompetent are not eligible to serve as a poll official.
#Poll officials must have transportation to and from the polling location and have access to a computer to complete online training; some officials may require additional training. All officials must report to their polls by 6:30 a.m. on election day and work the entire 14 hour day.
Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.
That is the best graphic depiction of what happened in Atlanta on Tuesday. If I knew who originally posted the graphic, I would credit them.
Two points I’d like to make from this. First, this shows how a graphic can convey information better than words in some cases; if Facebook and other social media are part of your business, political campaign, or activism, understand the power of graphics and do more of them and fewer words. Second, this indicates to me that the problem was not that we didn’t have enough equipment, salt, sand, etc., but that the fast-pace dumping of hundreds of thousands of commuters onto the Atlanta roads.
From the whole mess and the blamestorming that are following, here are two truths about Atlanta that I have been reminded of.
1. Our weakness is our reliance on government. This is true across the United States, but demonstrated nowhere more memorably than Atlanta’s road beginning Tuesday afternoon.
2. Our strength is our community and the willingness of our friends, family, neighbors, churches, business owners, and ourselves to lend a hand to someone in need without having to be told, asked or paid to do so.
Going forward in Georgia government, let us pray that these lessons don’t get forgotten yet again.
1. Please stay off the roads. We are still in a State of Emergency and we need to keep the roads as clear as possible. This is for your safety and the safety of others.
2. School children across the Metro-Atlanta area are safe and in good hands. Georgia State Patrol Troopers have been assigned to assist schools where children needed to spend the night. I’d like to thank teachers, parents, school faculty, and all those involved for their hard work and dedication to our children’s safety.
3. Yesterday, I instructed the National Guard to send military Humvees to our interstates to assist school buses and get food and water to stranded residents. All school buses and children have been responded to and are safe. Stranded citizens have access to emergency services throughout the Metro-Atlanta area. We are still in the process of clearing roads and assisting those in need. Again, please stay off the roads so we can continue this process.
“We have been monitoring the situation for the past two weeks,” said Mike Giles, the president of the Georgia Poultry Federation. So far, members have been able to find the propane they need, but they have felt the pinch of the shortage, he said.
Facing a shortage of fuel across much of the country, the National Propane Gas Association successfully lobbied the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow more free transport of fuel for the Southern, Midwestern and Eastern regions. The rare order applies to eight Southern states including Georgia, 10 Midwest states and 14 Eastern states. A total of 30 states so far have individually issued Hours of Service relief.
The National Propane Gas Association also is working with officials within the pipeline, rail, and truck transport industries and asking for propane shipments to be prioritized within their industry.
Farming groups and state governments have done what they can to support the propane industry in its efforts to get fuel to the producers who need it.
“The National Chicken Council (NCC) which represents companies that produce, process, and market over 95 percent of the chicken in the United States is working with the appropriate federal agencies, organizations, and stakeholders to help alleviate the spot shortages being experienced with the very tight supply of propane in at least 31 states, many of which have important production of chicken,” said Mike Brown, the president of the National Chicken Council.
With inclement weather headed toward Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal today in coordination with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black signed an executive order prohibiting price gouging for propane. Georgia’s continued period of cold weather has increased the demand for propane, causing a substantial prices increase in recent days.
“Our families, farmers and small business are worried about getting the heat they need during times of frigid weather,” Deal said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about price gouging, and we aim to prevent that.”
“Due to the much colder than normal weather this winter, we have seen a higher demand for propane gas resulting in shortages and escalating prices in Georgia and across the nation,” said Black. “Livestock and poultry farmers, along with food processors, depend on propane to continue business. We are doing everything possible to work with the propane suppliers and agribusinesses to meet the challenges we are currently facing.”
Already many gasoline outlets are dry after a rush on fuel Tuesday afternoon, and gridlocked roads are preventing tanker trucks from replenishing them.
Worse, the demand is likely to pick up in a big way over the next two or three days, as motorists reclaim their cars on the sides of roads and try again to drive them home.
GaPunditPro now available in the AppStore
We have submitted for App Store approval Version 1.01, which fixes a bug that prevents one-click calling to legislators from the Legislative Directory. We’re not sure how long the App Store process will take for approval of a simple fix, but we’ll let you know and it should update automatically for those of you who are already using it.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs, setting the stage for final passage of a new five-year farm bill that has been stalled for more than two years.
Negotiators from the House and Senate spent several weeks working out their differences on issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers. The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this week.
Compared with earlier, more contentious votes on the farm bill, Wednesday’s vote was largely bipartisan. Many Democrats who had opposed it because of cuts to the food stamp program supported it on Wednesday. A number of Republicans, including many who wanted deeper cuts to the food stamps, also voted for passage.
The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, had endorsed the bill and urged Republicans to support it, even though they said they would have liked to see more changes.
Public Policy Polling continues to release curious polling results. The biggest issue I have with their polling is in how they weight the responses to arrive at a sample that reflects what they think Georgia’s electorate will look like in 2014.
The biggest red flag to me is that they consistently show party identification as being evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Except when they don’t. Now they’ve released two polls within the past week that directly contradict each other on the partisan makeup of Georgia’s electorate.
WASHINGTON — Democrat Michelle Nunn is neck-and-neck with four top-tier Republican U.S. Senate candidates in hypothetical matchups by Public Policy Polling.
The full results of the poll commissioned by liberal group Americans United for Change are here and put Nunn in the lead, but around the 3.9 percent margin for error. She leads Rep. Paul Broun, 42-41, Rep. Phil Gingrey, 45-41, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, 44-40, and Rep. Jack Kingston, 44-42.
The results are a small bump for Nunn from what PPP found in August, when Nunn was either tied or slightly ahead of the GOP field. The automated poll of 640 Georgians recorded an even split of Republicans and Democrats at 38 percent each, with 24 percent classifying themselves as Independent or other. Notably, the sample was 53 percent female.
Others note that the predictive ability of polling six months or more out from a general election is suspect at best. So why bother? I would say that these early polls are by-and-large designed to demonstrate that the Democratic candidates have a shot at winning in November and are commissioned solely to produce polling results that can be used in fundraising for those Democratic candidates and allied organizations.
The family of Congressman Charlie Norwood today endorsed Rick Allen to follow in the late Congressman’s footsteps in the race for Georgia’s 12th-District seat. The endorsement includes Rep. Norwood’s widow, Gloria, and his sons, Charles III and Carlton.
“One of a Congressman’s most-important responsibilities is to help folks in his district to navigate the confounding maze of government agencies. In many important cases, our Congressman is the last source of help for citizens in crisis. As government regulation continues to grow, it is critical that we elect a Congressman who will fight for his constituents in the daily affairs of the district. (Military benefits, Social Security matters, relations with the Department of Agriculture, etc.)”
“Rick will fight for what is right when his constituent is meeting difficulty with our government. His decades of business success prove that he has the heart and determination to do what ‘needs doin’. If the Norwood family were at odds with a governmental agency, we’d want Rick beside us in the foxhole. And, we know he would be.”
Jones became Augusta’s first black solicitor general when he was elected in November 2004 with more than 59 percent of the votes. He ran unopposed in 2008, but resigned the next year to compete with Davis for the Senate seat, left open at the resignation of Ed Tarver, now a U.S. attorney.
Two other attempts – an unsuccessful House run in 2002 and a 2012 loss to Marion Williams to represent Super District 9 on the Augusta Commission – left the Augusta lawyer undaunted.
Besides Johnson, Augusta real estate agent Elmyria Chivers is running for the Senate seat.
With no announced Republican candidates, the election likely will be decided in the general primary May 20, when Augusta also will pick a mayor and vote on the latest sales tax referendum.
“While the President attempts to shift from the core issues that cripple our economy and threaten our security, we must bring attention to the solutions for these problems passed by the House but awaiting action in the Senate,” said Kingston. “With millions of Americans working only part time or out of the work force entirely, we cannot afford to wait. There are a number of projects we can begin now that will create jobs and strengthen our economy, namely the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”
“We need the kind of growth that comes from stopping overregulation and supporting opportunities in the private sector. Instead of increasing the cost of health care, we need to encourage companies to hire full time employees instead of more part-time workers,”
It might not seem like it but Groundhog Day is actually next week. This week, President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to Congress. Unfortunately, it was just a lot more of the same old, same old.
At a time when more than 60 percent of Americans think the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy, President Obama took this opportunity to continue to promote his same “no jobs” economy: more federal spending, more federal bureaucracy, and higher taxes. As it’s been for the first five years of his presidency, this is nothing more than a recipe for economic disaster.
This president has shown time and again that he has little respect for the American people and no respect for the US Constitution. Tonight’s speech was just one more example of his disdain.
President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address resembled a man speaking to himself more than anyone else in the room, a desperate effort to convince himself of his own relevance at a time when his approval ratings are in the toilet. 51% disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president while 43% approve. 63% of Americans have some/no confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country’s future and 49% say Obama is not honest or trustworthy. Despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric, this is his fifth State of the Union Address; Americans have heard these promises before. It is time for the President to take ownership of his record and be held accountable for the results.
The President said he is leading by example on raising the minimum wage for all future federal contractors through executive privilege and called on private sector businesses to do the same. This ignores the reality that businesses forced to artificially raise their minimum wage must factor in the rising business costs and often must lay off low level workers. These are the very workers that, in theory, would benefit from the living wage increase.
Medicinal use of marijuana is finding some supporters I would at one time (last week) have considered highly unlikely. From WSB-TV,
Channel 2 Action News has learned state lawmakers supporting medical marijuana could have a bill ready to go as early as this week that would make medical marijuana legal in Georgia.
Channel 2′s Lori Geary began reporting the issue weeks ago and talked to an unlikely co-sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Micah Gravley, a Republican from Paulding County.
He says when he was first asked about the issue he flat out refused, telling supporters of the issue he’s a conservative, Christian Republican.
Then he says the parents of 10-year-old Caden Clark reached out to him, “I have had a 180-degree change because I’ve seen how it can impact these kids and how it can impact these families who are now separated because one’s here in Georgia, the other one’s in Colorado.”
Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal said he’s not taking a stance on the issue but said, “I think there’s a strong case being presented by some of the families in some serious situations involving their children.”
till, the Christian Coalition remains firmly against any state law on medical marijuana.
The president of the group, Jerry [Luquire], told Geary that marijuana, in any form, is considered a Class 1 substance by the federal government, one of the most dangerous drugs. He says federal law trumps state law. He accuses the lawmakers supporting the bill of a conspiracy to break federal law.
Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Monday that he’s not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as in Colorado, and he also is against a sweeping medical marijuana law. However, he did indicate he is open to looking at derivatives that might be medically useful.
“From what I understand, with the oil, the intoxicants have been removed,” Dugan said. “I’m willing to listen to that. I want some medical professionals to come forward and tell me what benefits it would have, and I’ll make a determination from that.”
He said states that have passed medical marijuana bills have suffered widespread abuse, and he feels Georgia doesn’t need that.
Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said so far, he’s seen only anecdotal evidence from personal stories, and he’s looking forward to hearing medical presentations.
“If the stories prove true, and we see remarkable results with certain candidates, this sounds like one more tool in the doctor’s cache of things that could relieve untold suffering for many,” Crane said. “There’s more discussions to be had, and I think we’re going to see that. It’s something I’m very concerned about, but very cautious. As we move forward, I’m going to take extreme caution on this issue.”
Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he wonders if there’s any other drugs that can do the same thing as the medical marijuana.
“If the answer is ‘no,’ then I’m willing to listen to the debate,” Nix said. “I would want it to be something in a pill or oil form, and legislation that would have a narrow scope of what was allowed. I won’t support legislation if it looks like people want to use it to get their foot in the door to support recreational marijuana. That’s my concern.”
Nix said if the drug works for children with seizures, maybe that’s the only thing for which it should be prescribed.
“I’m not heartless,” he said. “If that’s the only thing that will help these children, let’s figure out a way to do it, but let’s not use it as that door opener to fully legalize marijuana.”
A new statewide poll shows that 62% of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Further, more than half of all Georgia voters now support regulating the legal consumption and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over.
In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.
Fifty -seven percent of voters supported legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. State
lawmakers have indicated interest in studying this legal option.
Here’s a question that will specifically interest some politicians.
Q5 If a candidate supported marijuana law reform, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate in the next election, or would it not make a difference?
Wouldn’t make a difference……………29%
A couple of things to note. First, if that question on reelecting a candidate who supports changing marijuana laws is accurate, it doesn’t tell the story most incumbents are likely interested in – the effect of a vote on their party’s primary voters. There are likely differences between Republicans and Democrats, and geographic differences between, say, a Metro Atlanta suburban or in-town district, and a strongly conservative rural district.
The second point I’d like to make, and one that has implications for polling beyond the issue of marijuana is that in this poll, Public Policy Polling found the partisan self-identification as follows:
Q8 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.
Part of what a pollster does, and what a discerning consumer of polling should do is to not place all your faith in any given poll, but to add the results of each poll into the mix as part of the context. And then compare that with your experiences in Georgia politics.
So I feel safe in the following prediction: in 2014, the Republican electoral advantage in closely-contested statewide election will be in the range of Republican +6 to Republican +10. That’s after campaigning, but for now, any poll I see that doesn’t show a lead in GOP self-identification in the +3 to +6 range warrants a look at the crosstabs to see what’s going on.
Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 310 CLOB
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm or upon adjournment, 341 CAP
House Rules Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm-3pm, 341 CAP
Senate Health & Human Services Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, 450 CAP
Senate Transportation Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, MEZZ
Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
Wed, January 22, 3pm – 4pm, 307 CLOB
Since we mentioned the Limited Edition “Cotton Boll” logo t-shirt we saw from one of Jack Kingston’s past Congressional campaigns, we have been sent photos of some other Limited Edition Kingston swag. Here is the “Children of the Corn” logo.
“The threat of the loss of accreditation is no longer imminent,” said Mark Elgart, whose agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, precipitated a crisis in December 2012 that led to the governor’s intervention. SACS placed DeKalb on probation and threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board and superintendent failed to address management concerns.
Gov. Nathan Deal replaced six of the nine school board members, just after the old board replaced the superintendent. DeKalb’s new leadership has made remarkable progress addressing the issues, Elgart said, but he said the work is far from done and that the elections May 20 for the nonpartisan school board are a major concern.
“The election is critical,” said Elgart, who is the president and chief executive officer of SACS’ parent company AdvancED. The agency’s opinions about accreditation influence a school district’s reputation, and by extension its graduates’ chances for college admissions and scholarships. That, in turn, affects the local economy, since public education is a key factor businesses consider when choosing where to locate.
“This community needs to pay close attention to whom they elect,” Elgart said. “Politics is one of the reasons the system got itself to this point.”
The school board fiasco has already become a launching pad for one deposed member, Nancy Jester, who is now seeking the state superintendent’s job. And the upcoming school board elections, which could feature comeback bids by one or more of the ousted board members, may inject another dose of politics.
I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”.
I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb. Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012.
Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.
Academic achievement and growth in many schools is unacceptable. DeKalb’s graduation rate, at 58.9%, is far too low.
Of the 25 high schools in DeKalb, 8 have graduation rates below 50%, while only 4 have rates above 75%. All four of these schools are specialty or magnet schools.
I appreciate that SACS finally recognized that DeKalb needed some sort of intervention.
The entire episode exposes the structural weaknesses in our state’s accountability model. While SACS can provide a useful and supplemental service via their third party accreditation products, Georgia must not continue to abdicate it’s role in holding districts accountable for their results and financial management.
Jester also released in the last several days a map that shows per-pupil spending and graduation rates in Georgia and neighboring states. It’s worth taking a moment to look at.
On January 15, 1796, Jared Irwin was inaugurated Governor of Georgia for his first term. Irwin repealed the Yazoo Act. Irwin County, the city of Irwinville, and the town of Irwinton are named after Governor Irwin. He previously served in the State House and the convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1787. After his first term in office, Irwin served as President of the State Senate and became Governor again in 1806 when Gov. John Milledge resigned. After completing that term, he was elected to another full term as Governor.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the pleasure of working at the State Capitol several years ago with a lady who had known King as a youngster, as a fellow member of “Daddy” King’s church and schoolmate. Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama helped the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.
Last night on Facebook, a friend asked why the Georgia legislature is addressing the scheduling of party primary elections. Here’s what he said:
Question. Why is the state supervising and funding party primaries?
Parties are private organizations. Let ‘em run (and pay for) their own primaries.
That’s a legitimate question. Here’s why.
After Reconstruction, whites in some Southern states attempted to retain exclusive power and deny black citizens the right to vote. One of the tools they used was “white primary” elections. After Supreme Court decisions striking down state-administered white primaries, some states then tried privatizing the primary elections as a way of continuing to disenfranchise black voters. An initial Supreme Court allowed this, reasoning that private parties were free to determine eligibility of voters.
The United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the district court decision in an opinion written by Judge Samuel Hale Sibley, a Georgia native and alumnus of UGA and the UGA School of Law. Thurgood Marshall, later an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was one of the lawyers representing Primus King.
So, that’s why the state administers party primary elections in Georgia.
[O]n the second day of this year’s session, FOX 5 found a number of lawmakers potentially soliciting donations.
FOX 5′s Chris Shaw found both Democrats and Republicans in both the state House and Senate accepting donations when law says they cannot. Most said it was simply an oversight, some took measures to pull donation pages from their websites while FOX 5 cameras rolled.
§21-5-35. Acceptance of contributions or pledges during legislative sessions
(a) No member of the General Assembly or that member’s campaign committee or public officer elected state wide or campaign committee of such public officer shall seek or accept a contribution or a pledge of a contribution to the member, the member’s campaign committee, or public officer elected state wide, or campaign committee of such public officer during a legislative session.
(b)Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to:
(1) The receipt of a contribution which is returned with reasonable promptness to the donor or the donor’s agent;
(2) The receipt and acceptance during a legislative session of a contribution consisting of proceeds from a dinner, luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event held prior to the legislative session;
(3) The receipt of a contribution by a political party consisting of the proceeds from a dinner,luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event in which a member of the General Assembly or a public officer elected state wide participates; or<
(4) A judicial officer elected state wide, a candidate for a judicial office elected state wide, or a campaign committee of such judicial officer or candidate
That said, if you receive a contribution during the session, your best bet is to return it immediately, and document the check you sent.
Governor Deal’s State of the State
The Senate Press Office brings you a nearly-three minute “Senate in a Minute,” featuring Governor Deal’s State of the State.
Here are some of the best quotes from the State of the State 2014:
1.My basic focus has been on creating private-sector jobs for Georgians. With your help and the involvement of our business community, we have done some great things. We have implemented real tax reform, such as eliminating sales tax on energy for manufacturing; we have essentially removed the marriage tax penalty on working Georgia couples; and we have abolished the annual birthday tax on vehicles. And each of these are part of a mosaic that led Site Selection Magazine to declare Georgia to be the number one state in the nation in which to do business.
2. the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and is costing our state $327 million dollars this year. You should be aware that, even without expanding, currently Medicaid and PeachCare cost every Georgian through federal and state taxes nearly $1,000 each year. Expansion would add 620,000 people to our taxpayer funded health plan, costing us even more. Now, the executive branch in Washington is trying to do what the courts deemed unconstitutional for Congress to do, but we will not allow ourselves to be coerced into expansion. Be assured, I am prepared to fight any intrusion into our rights as a state.
3. According to the federal department of labor, in the three years since I became governor, there have been approximately 217,000 new jobs added in our state, and major job announcements are almost a weekly occurrence. As a result, our state unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 5 years!
4. I have included $35M for the deepening of the Port of Savannah. If approved, we will have $266M, which will represent Georgia’s share of this important project.
5. For students who pursued those areas, we have paid 100 percent of their tuition through the HOPE Grant. This year I am asking you to expand that to an additional 4 areas of training—welding, health care technology, diesel mechanics and information technology.
In order to fill the needs of a growing economy, we need more of our citizens to acquire education and skills beyond high school. To encourage this, I am asking you to create a new Zell Miller HOPE Grant for students in our technical college system. This grant will cover 100 percent of tuition for those who maintain a 3.5 grade point average.
6.[D]uring my administration, funding for education has increased by over $930M. That does not include capital spending for education, which represents 76% of our entire state bond package. $239M of this year’s capital investments went to the Department of Education for use on K-12 programs. Since FY 2012, nearly 50 cents of every dollar of new revenues has been dedicated to education. In the budget I am sending you for FY 2015 almost 82 percent of new revenue receipts are dedicated to education, with 68 percent of those new revenues going to k-12 alone.
As these numbers indicate, we will spend almost $8 billion in next year’s budget on k-12 education. My proposal represents the largest single year increase in k-12 funding in 7 years. That’s an addition of $547M….
7. I have included $44.8M in the budgets to better connect every classroom in Georgia, including those in rural areas, to the internet and digital resources students need to thrive. It is my goal that every child in any classroom in our state will have access to the best instruction possible, and this can be done by expanding the availability of our on-line learning.
8. This year, we intend to roll out our third leg of our criminal justice reforms, the one that will sustain our previous efforts. If an offender has been equipped to enter the workforce upon release, that person will stand a greater chance of avoiding relapse. If our reentry and reform efforts reduce our recidivism rate by 25 percent, we would see around 1,400 fewer crimes each year, with at least 1,100 fewer victims! This is a goal we should be able to achieve or exceed.
These Criminal Justice reforms will allow non-violent offenders to break their addictions, reclaim their lives and keep taxpayers from spending $18,000 per inmate for each year they are in prison. These reforms will also increase the safety of our society.
9. [T]oday, more Georgians have jobs than at any other time since October 2008. We are getting people in our state back to work at a faster rate than the national average. For those 217,000 or so Georgians who now have jobs, they know what the sting of the frozen economy feels like. They lived through it. But for them, the freeze has ended.
This is what we’ve done in three years … imagine what we will do in the next five.
And since Georgia has now been recognized as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, we can rightfully expect many more jobs to come our way.
Here’s an audio clip that we’ve converted to a YouTube clip, so that it can be viewed on an iPhone or other mobile devices when you receive our morning email. It’s a bit of work to do it, but we’re interested in whether you think it’s useful.
“I applaud Governor Deal on his third State of the State Address. Georgia has a come long way in the last three years, with 217,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in new private system. The Governor’s low tax policies are exactly what we need to keep attracting new business. I look forward to hearing from the Governor again next year and three years to follow.”
Today under the Gold Dome
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM Appropriations Higher Education 606 CLOB
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Joint Appropriations Education 341 CAP
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Joint Appropriations Public Safety 506 CLOB
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Projected) Floor Session
12:30 PM – 5:30 PM Joint Appropriations Economic Development and General Government 307 CLOB
12:30 PM – 4:00 PM Joint Appropriations Health and Human Services 341 CAP
Her website can be found at VoteCatherine.com. It’s worth noting that yesterday was apparently her birthday. She can thank Rep. Jacobs for his vote to repeal the Birthday Tax, which meant that she didn’t have to pay ad valorem tax to renew her car tag yesterday.
“What Ms. Marlow did is send a letter to AdvancEd in which she made several, pretty serious allegations against the board chair and the board, and never did she address those concerns to the Board of Education,” Roach said.
Marlow said she was sanctioned for the “act of sending a letter,” and if the sanction is upheld, “the effect would be chilling.”
“It will send a message that the voice of the minority does not matter,” she said. “It’s not OK for a member, who is in the minority, to speak up when they see something wrong. To not be able to say, ‘I smell smoke, I think there may be a fire.’”
Roach said the “matter of free speech in this context is quite complicated.”
Here’s a general rule regarding free speech: if someone says the issue of free speech is “complicated,” they’re almost always trying to use government to stop it.
The First Amendment statement that Congress [later extended to most levels of government] “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no more complicated than the Second Amendment’s statement that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Rep. Allen West to speak in Cobb County
Former Congressman (and retired Lt. Colonel) Allen West will deliver the keynote address at the Cobb County Republican Party’s President’s Day Dinner on February 17, 2014 at the Renaissance Waverly. Save the date if you’re interested in going, and be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as they’re available, as the event is likely to sell out.
Bridging The Gap of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to assist veterans with their transition home. Many of the veterans we serve suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Combat Stress and are homeless. We utilize a mentorship program to enable veterans to function as productive members of our society by addressing their housing, job placement, and health needs.
We’re still awaiting details on the location of the Muscogee County Republican Party event on February 28, 2014.
Old Vinings Inn was built in the 1880s and served as the village post office. Over the years, the building was purchased and renovated, used as an apartment building, a general store, a filling-station with a family residence upstairs. This unique setting is full of warmth and of history. Today’s Old Vinings Inn is inviting and sophisticated while preserving its rich history — the perfect setting for an evening out.
Mrs. GaPundit and I went to the Atlanta History Center last night to see Mary Matalin and James Carville on the local stop of their book tour. Here are my favorite quotes from the night:
Matalin, discussing being in the White House on 9/11/2001 “Working in the White House may be your dream job, but you’ll never look worse in your life.”
Matalin on Zell Miller, “one of my favorite politicians is Zell Miller…he officiated at our wedding and got a standing ovation.”
Carville on the New Jersey bridge scandal, “The bridge scandal doesn’t matter, [Chris Christie] wasn’t ever going to be the Presidential candidate anyway. Ain’t nobody in the South voting for a global-warming loving, Obama-hugging Republican. Not happening.”
Carville on political candidates, “I like politicians. They do something few people are willing to do. They dare to fail publicly.”
That last bit is part of why I love working in politics. Especially the first-time candidates, or those who are just entering the big leagues from sandlot baseball.
Senate moves state election dates
We’ve been talking for some time about May 20th Primary elections, with the date being set for federal elections like U.S. Senate, by a federal judge. Yesterday, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 310 by a 38-15 vote, setting the same date for state elections.
General Primary Qualifying Period: Begins at 9:00 a.m. on Monday of the 11th week prior to the General Primary and ends at 12:00 Noon on the Friday immediately following (March 3 – 7, 2014)
General Primary Election: Held on the 24th week preceding the November General Election (May 20, 2014)
General Primary Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Primary (July 22, 2014)
General Election: Held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November (November 4, 2014)
General Election Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Election (January 6, 2015)
As of today, we are 125 days from the Primary Election.
That’s the driving reason for a short session – because state legislators and other elected officials can’t raise money during the session, but will be immediately into the campaign season when the session’s over, potentially affecting the traditional incumbent advantage in fundraising.
Will qualifying still be held in the Senate and House chambers as it has been in recent years? It’s unlikely, as the session will be continuing during the March 3-7 qualifying period.
HB 310 would also require all candidates to file a campaign finance report on March 31. That date, however, would appear mostly aimed at unelected challengers because incumbent state officials cannot raise money during the 40-day legislative session. With little or no fundraising to report, incumbents would have little to disclose by March 31.
The primary date change came about after U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones chastised Georgia officials last year for not giving military residents and other Georgians living overseas enough time to return absentee ballots by Election Day.
The primaries had originally been scheduled for July, but the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state over its practice of holding federal runoffs three weeks after an election.
The bill is expected to win quick passage in the House, which means Georgia voters would be casting their ballots before Memorial Day. Officials expect higher turnouts then than if they had held the primary in June — which Jones had originally ordered.
Successful Columbus criminal defense attorney Stacey Jackson confirmed Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for the Georgia House seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Buckner.
Jackson, who was raised in Harris County and still resides there, said the question is not why he should seek the District 137 seat, which covers Talbot County and parts of Harris, Meriwether, and Muscogee counties.
“The question is almost why not?” Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I grew up in Harris County. My father was an educator in Talbot County and the principal at Central-Talbotton in the 1980s before he move to Harris County-Carver Middle School. My mother is assistant principal at Harris County High School. I have relatives in Meriwether County and relatives in Columbus. It makes sense.”
It possibly sets up an interesting November race with Jackson, a black Republican, against Bucker, a white Democrat, in a district that is slightly majority black and heavily rural once you get out of the Midland area of Columbus.
Mary Helen Moses has announced that she will run for Superior Court in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, which comprises Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis and Wayne counties. We’re not sure if this is a challenge to a sitting judge, an open seat, or one that was newly-created. We’ve asked and will pass on that information when we are able.
Why does this matter? Because assumptions about the partisan ratio within the electorate underlie most political polls. And the AJC thinks there are more self-identified Democrats than Republicans. It appears that their poll released earlier this week was weighted in a way that created that Democratic advantage, which didn’t exist in their raw data, and which inflates Jason Carter’s numbers in the poll question about the Governor’s race. Advantage, Deal.
Governor Deal to give State of the State today at noon
• Improve Education
• Increase Public School Funding
• Expand HOPE Scholarship
• Promote Job Creation
• Business-Friendly Investments
• Expand the Port of Savannah
• Reform the Criminal Justice System
Senate Press Office “Senate in a Minute”
We love this new video feature from the Senate Press Office. The most-recent features Senator Judson Hill. This is must-watch video for political junkies. Thanks to Senate Press for bringing this to the citizens of Georgia.
“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”
Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.
He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.
“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”
Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.
“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”
“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of 802 registered voters showed Deal with 47 percent support in a head-to-head matchup against 38 percent for state Sen. Jason Carter, his likely Democratic opponent.
But for sophisticated analysts, here’s the money quote:
Among respondents, 44 percent identified themselves as a Democrat or Democratic-leaning, while 43 percent identified as Republican or Republican-leaning.
The first line of numbers represents the “raw” or “unweighted” results. Weighting was then added to bring the sample in line with the expected demographics of the electorate. The second line depicts the results after applying weighting. One thing stands out clearly in the totals under PARTY. The original sample, before weighting, showed an advantage in Party Identification for Republicans by 240 to 212. After weighting this becomes a 224-196 advantage for Democrats.
The difference here is enough to shift the electorate from a Republican-advantage to a Democratic advantage, and that will have the effect of lowering Governor Deal’s numbers and raising Jason Carters through the magic of mathematics.
Last week, another poll was released by InsiderAdvantage.com, for whom I work. I will note that I did not conduct this poll, nor did I have anything to do with the analysis or writeup of it. That poll showed Governor Deal with a 44-22 advantage over Jason Carter and it was weighted by partisan identification, which I don’t believe in doing. I’ll see if I can get the raw data for that poll and present an in-depth analysis of the two polls side-by-side. Stay tuned.
2014 Session of the General Assembly
Today at 10 AM, the 2014 Session of the General Assembly will open at 10 AM. The legislature is aiming to adjourn Sine Die on or about March 16, 2014.
Instead of the traditional week off for Appropriations meetings, there will be substituted a single meeting on January 15th from 1:00 to 6:00 PM.
The General Assembly will meet in session on Monday through Friday of this week. After taking Monday, January 20, 2014 off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, session will resume on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 through Friday January 24, 2014. Each day’s session is projected to start at 10 AM, and we will update this as the week progresses.
General Assembly Meetings on January 13, 2014
Convening of Georgia General Assembly
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 13, 2014 11:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Georgia Capitol, Washington Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA
Senate HHS Committee
Starts: 1:30 PM
Ends: January 13, 2014 2:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Location: 450 CAP
Adoption of Rules SB 141 (Beach-21st) “Patient Injury Act”; create an alternative medical malpractice litigation.
Senate Ethics Committee
Starts: 2:30 PM
Ends: January 13, 2014 3:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: 125 CAP
General Assembly Meetings on January 14, 2014
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 14, 2014 12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
Lieutenant Governor’s Foster Care Reform Initiative Working Group
Starts: 1:30 PM
Ends: January 14, 2014 3:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: 307 CLOB
House Insurance Committee
Starts: 2:00 PM
Ends: January 14, 2014 4:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 606 CLOB
General Assembly Meetings on January 15, 2014 12:00 AM
Georgia Chamber: Eggs & Issues Breakfast
Starts: 7:30 AM
Ends: January 15, 2014 9:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: Georgia World Congress Center, Andrew Young International Boulevard Northwest, Atlanta, GA, United States
Starts: 10:00 AM
Ends: January 15, 2014 12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
State of the State Address
Starts: 12:00 Noon
Ends: January 15, 2014 1:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Location: Georgia Capitol, Washington Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA
Georgians are generally bullish about the direction of their state but want lawmakers to remain focused on boosting an economy and job market that voters say remains weak, according to a new poll conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A majority of registered voters say the state is headed in the right direction, with 51 percent saying they are satisfied with Georgia’s course and 7 percent who say they are very satisfied. But, asked whether their personal financial situation is better or worse than five years ago, or if jobs are readily available in their communities, voters are much less optimistic.
Voters indicated that they generally support the job state lawmakers are doing. The poll showed 45 percent of respondents approve of the General Assembly’s job performance, compared with 39 percent who disapprove.
But when it comes to one of the top priorities for 2014 for the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, voters gave a resounding thumbs down. The GOP leadership in both chambers wants to greatly expand where gun owners can carry firearms. But voters in the poll by majorities exceeding 70 percent said it was a bad idea to allow owners to carry guns on college campuses, into churches and other locations.
The poll, conducted by Abt SRBI of New York, surveyed 802 adults statewide between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 on what issues Georgians want their Legislature to tackle in 2014. The margin of error for each response is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by live operators and included respondents via cellphone and landline.