Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2014

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books. On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Polls and Turnout

This is the time of year when you can play campaign strategist like you play fantasy football. Simply pick the poll you like and then figure out what your candidate needs to make it happen. I’m over public polling for the rest of the election and will instead be watching turnout figures.

That said, here’s my ten-cent analysis. (more…)

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

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and was succeeded in office by Millard Fillmore.On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

Best line of the day

From the Marietta Daily Journal previewing last night’s debate for Cobb County Commission between Bob Weatherford and Bill Byrne.

“Our personalities are different. I have one and he doesn’t,” Weatherford declared.

Then at the debate, the moderator explained how to use the microphones:

moderator Pete Combs pointed to the microphones.
“They’re microphones, they’re not clubs,” Combs said, prompting laughter.

Debate two: Collins and Hice

I moderated the debate in Oconee County between Mike Collins and Jody Hice for the Republican nomination for Congress in the Tenth District. Hice is a fine candidate on the stump and outperformed Mike Collins, but one thing he said gave me pause.

The question was whether Christianity is under attack in America, the role of Christianity in government, and whether the federal government should play a role in the issue.

Jody Hice said,

“Government has every reason not to restrict and suppress religion and Christianity but to embrace it, and promote it, and allow it to flourish. For therein, and only therein, is an environment in which limited state government can exist in our lives.”

That’s a small snippet of a longer answer to the question, but that excerpt concerns me as a Chrisitan and a Conservative.

The concern I have is that as a Conservative, I believe that government is an inefficient tool for solving social and cultural problems. Looking at the war on drugs that began in the 1980s, after nearly thirty years, government intervention yielded stronger and more effective horrifying drugs like the rising popularity of methamphetamine, a jail system so overcrowded that many states, including Georgia, are rethinking and reducing drug sentences, and a culture that is more tolerant than ever of the recreational use of drugs and alcohol.

If that’s the kind of results we could expect from government embracing and promoting Christianity, as a Christian I’d say, “no, thank you.”

Kelsey Cochran of the Athen Banner-Herald covered the debate and writes about an exciting moment.

The most contested portion of a debate between the remaining Republican candidates vying for the 10th Congressional District came after Jody Hice took a jab at his opponent Mike Collins’ father, former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins.

“You’ve said a number of times that your political philosophy is closely identified with that of your dad. He was very good on some social issues, but he went along with the establishment. …This looks like a sequel that’s a nightmare,” Hice said after citing several votes by the elder Collins to raise the debt ceiling, his own salary and to approve the No Child Left Behind Act.

Collins defended his father’s conservative voting record before pointing his finger at Hice for statements in his 2012 book perceived by some as anti-Islamic.

“In order to be a good congressman, you’ve got to be effective. My opponent wants to limit First Amendment rights for certain American citizens,” Collins said.

Hice rebutted by saying Collins was “truth-challenged” and said his published statements were taken out of context and lain with liberal talking points in recent news reports.

Rather, he said, his statements “clearly made a distinction between peace-loving Muslims who want to worship and Islamic radical terrorists and jihadists.”

In the end, both men said they are in favor of protecting the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

Former Congressman Mac Collins spoke to me after the debate and said, “If Jody Hice is going to attack my record, I should be given time to respond to it.”

I hadn’t realized that Mac Collins was in the audience, but if I were in charge of the next debate, I’d give serious consideration to allowing that opportunity.

There was a lot more to the debate, and I got home late last night, so I will discuss more of what happened in the next couple of days. I want to thank the Tenth District Georgia Republican Party, Tenth District GAGOP Chairman Brian Burdette, and Dennis Coxwell, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Debate Planning Committee for allowing me to participate.

The hundred chairs set out by Dennis Coxwell and Oconee County GOP Chair Jay Hanley were filled with voters, many of whom were not the “usual suspects” who show up for GOP meetings, but instead ordinary voters looking for information. It was one of the best debates I’ve attended.

Barr and Loudermilk meet in CD-11

Last night, Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk spoke at a candidate forum hosted by the Acworth Business Association and Barr questioned Loudermilk over an issue originally raised by WSB-TV.

Critics are questioning a local politician who now says he owns the copyright to a video that was produced with $10,000 of taxpayer money.
The video, called “It’s My Constitution,” features former state senator and current congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk and his three children talking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. It also features an introduction from State Education Superintendent John Barge, and was sent to Georgia classrooms for use in studying Constitution Day.
“It’s paid for with taxpayer dollars; arguably the public owns that,” said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.
During the credits of the 15-minute video, a copyright in the name of “Firm Reliance” appears on the screen. Firm Reliance is a non-profit organization registered to Loudermilk. The video is prominently featured on the non-profit’s website.
“If it’s in the public domain and the public paid for it and it’s for the public, why have any copyright on it?” Fleischer asked Cardoza.
He replied, “Right. I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why it says it’s copyrighted there.”

Loudermilk said because he and his children were not paid for their time writing and casting the video, they legally hold the copyright, not the Department of Education. He said they are going to use the copyright to protect the video.
“We didn’t want anyone to go in there and try to change what was in it, and also wanted to make sure no one went out and used it for profit,” Loudermilk said. “We want this available, we want it out there.”
Loudermilk added that his family and non-profit have never charged anyone to use the video and will continue to allow access to the video for educational purposes.

Here is the question from Barr last night and Loudermilk’s response, via the AJC:

Are you willing now to come forward tonight — with a degree of transparency that you seem to hold very high when you talk about these issues — and tell the voters what you are hiding with regard to your lack of transparency on these and other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money,” Barr said on the stage at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw.

Loudermilk said he has never made any money on the film and that it was copyrighted to protect its content.

“Well, Bob, you even surprise me with those accusations because there is absolutely no truth to any of those and I think you know the truth regarding those,” Loudermilk said. “The state owns the video. It is free for everyone. You can go to YouTube and see it.”

 

The “other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money” that the AJC saw fit to omit included a payment of $80,000 by the state (that means your taxpayer dollars) to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit by a woman who worked in the office that Barry Loudermilk shared with another state Senator.

From WSB-TV:

In a statement, [then-Senate President Pro Tem Tommie] Williams’ office told Geary the state Senate is not subject to the open records act and the matter related is a personnel matter.

At the time, Loudermilk claimed no knowledge of the lawsuit.

In a statement released Wednesday, Loudermilk named the employee as Ethel Blackmon.

“Though Ms. Blackmon did work in my senate office for a short time, I have never discriminated against her or anyone else, and this issue has never been raised to me. The media has also reported an alleged monetary settlement made to her, which they claim had something to do with me. I have never been consulted about a settlement, nor did I know anything about one before hearing of media reports [Tuesday],” Loudermilk said.

Barr also answered Loudermilk’s challenge about a letter Barr wrote before Eric Holder took office as Attorney General. Again from the AJC’s Jeremy Redmon:

Barr pointed out that he has since called for Holder’s resignation because he “has enabled this president through his inaction and through providing legal opinions to the White House… to continue violating the law.”

“So rather than focus on the letter, why don’t we focus on the things that Eric Holder has done in office that have led me to believe that he needs to resign and for which I have called for repeatedly,” Barr said. “Maybe you would like to join me.”

Marietta Daily Journal endorses Jack Kingston for U.S. Senate

From the MDJ Editorial Board:

Georgia has been represented on Capitol Hill in recent years by a pair of the steadiest and most-respected members of the U.S. Senate: Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) and Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb). Now, Chambliss is calling it a career and retiring at year’s end. Vying to take his place are two Republicans who will meet in a July 22 primary runoff election: Jack Kingston and David Perdue.

Perdue is one of the big surprises of this campaign season. The multi-millionaire former CEO of a string of well-known companies largely self-funded his campaign and came out of nowhere to be the leading vote-getter in the May 20 GOP primary. In the process he gathered more votes than a number of better-known candidates, including three incumbent congressmen — one of them Kingston.

Perdue trades on his “outsider” status as a non-politician and plays to those fed up by the constant bickering and gridlock on Capitol Hill. It’s a feeling with which we sympathize.

Yet Perdue has never crafted a bill, advocated for it and shepherded it to passage. He’s never had to rally his party’s faithful, line up votes or — as successful legislators must do — learn how to compromise on the occasional detail without selling out on his underlying principles.

In other words, Perdue has the luxury of having no record to run on. He is a blank slate on which voters can pin their hopes. He talks a good game about transforming Washington, but, as every president learns, even the most powerful man in the world can only change the culture there by so much. And as just one senator of 100, whoever is elected will find there is no magic wand awaiting him.

Jack Kingston, on the other hand, has written and passed many a bill and cast thousands of thousands of votes during his time in Congress. He stands by what he’s done for his district, this state and this country. He’s a known quantity — and he’s not the kind of lawmaker who’s been corrupted by the Capitol Hill experience.

Perdue is eager and affable, but given how he’s spent recent decades rubbing elbows with upper-crust business types, we’re not sure he truly understands the economic challenges of the merchants on Marietta Square, or of those shopping at the Avenues in east and west Cobb, much less the grind of living from paycheck-to-paycheck like far too many do, even in a prosperous community such as ours.

And here’s the money quote:

Keep in mind a Nunn win would mean another vote for a continuation of an Obama-type/Reid/Pelosi agenda. That makes it incumbent on Republican voters to choose the candidate who will offer Nunn the strongest challenge. And Jack Kingston is that Republican.

Doug Collins endorses Jack Kingston

Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) also endorsed Jack Kingston for United States Senate, saying,

“Jack Kingston is a proven leader for Georgia Republicans who has always stood up for the folks at home, not Washington insiders,” said Collins.  “In the short time I’ve been in Washington, I’ve made it my purpose to put people before politics, and I’ve seen Jack Kingston do the same. Jack has been a presence in North Georgia throughout the campaign, and his message of renewing America, cutting taxes, and reducing energy costs have resonated.”

“I trust Jack to go to the Senate, break the gridlock, and give life to the conservative solutions we’ve started in the House. I encourage my fellow Georgians to vote for Jack Kingston on July 22nd and ensure a Republican takeover of the Senate in November.”

More data on voter turnout

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp released information on the number of votes cast so far in early voting.

GENERAL STATEWIDE TURNOUT

Number of ballots cast: 44,342

Number of ballots voted in person:  28,000

Number of mail-in ballots returned:  16,342

Number of mail-in ballots outstanding:  18,345

 

TOP 5 COUNTIES WITH HIGHEST TURNOUT

Cobb: 2,439

DeKalb:2,401

Fulton: 1,706

Chatham: 1,705

Gwinnett: 1,687

Those numbers differ from those we wrote about yesterday because Kemp’s numbers were based on a later version of the Voter Absentee File that was not yet publicly available when we were writing yesterday.

Illegal immigrants shipped to Georgia?

The AJC was skeptical of claims that illegal immigrants were being brought to Georgia when Bob Barr raised the issue on Monday.

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state.

Yesterday, the AJC’s partner in the Cox Media Group, WSB-TV reported that indeed, “unaccompanied minors” are being transported to Georgia.

“They’ve been flooding into Atlanta for the past probably month and a-half,” attorney Rebecca Salmon told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

Salmon runs the Access to Law Foundation. The nonprofit represents children who arrived in America alone. The federal government calls them unaccompanied minors. The Gwinnett County-based foundation represents kids who have reunified with family in Georgia, Alabama, parts of Tennessee and South Carolina.

“Our current caseload is well over a thousand kids,” Salmon said.

Salmon said she helps the children determine the best option for them, which she said is often voluntarily leaving the U.S.

The majority, she said, will ultimately be deported. A small percentage could stay under special circumstances, like if they meet criteria for political asylum.

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 7, 2014

George Washington attended the first inaugural ball on May 7, 1789 on Broadway near Wall Street in New York.

Washington arrived at the ball in the company of other American statesmen and their wives. That evening he danced with many of New York’s society ladies. Vice President John Adams, members of Congress and visiting French and Spanish dignitaries, as well their wives and daughters, joined in the festivities. Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, recorded her impressions of the ball in her memoirs, noting that the president liked to dance the minuet, a dance she thought was suited to his dignity and gravity.

On May 7, 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant disengaged his Army of the Potomac from fighting against General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Battle of the Wilderness.

Although the Wilderness is usually described as a draw, it could be called a tactical Confederate victory, but a strategic victory for the Union army. Lee inflicted heavy numerical casualties (see estimates below) on Grant, but as a percentage of Grant’s forces they were smaller than the percentage of casualties suffered by Lee’s smaller army. And, unlike Grant, Lee had very little opportunity to replenish his losses. Understanding this disparity, part of Grant’s strategy was to grind down the Confederate army by waging a war of attrition. The only way that Lee could escape from the trap that Grant had set was to destroy the Army of the Potomac while he still had sufficient force to do so, but Grant was too skilled to allow that to happen. Thus, the Overland Campaign, initiated by the crossing of the Rappahannock, and opening with this battle, set in motion the eventual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Therefore, even though Grant withdrew at the end of the battle (which is usually the action of the defeated side), unlike his predecessors since 1861, Grant continued his campaign instead of retreating to the safety of Washington, D.C. The significance of Grant’s advance was noted by James M. McPherson:

[I]nstead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another “Chancellorsville … another skedaddle” after all. “Our spirits rose,” recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, “we marched free. The men began to sing.” For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle.

Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center have produced a series called 37 Weeks, which chronicles serially Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864. This is week three of the series, with episodes clocking in at under two minutes. If you enjoy learning about Georgia’s history, it’s great watching.

May 7, 1864 saw some of the first fighting in the Atlanta campaign, northwest of Dalton, Georgia.

Keith Richards recorded the first version of the guitar riff that would become “Satisfaction” early in the morning of May 7, 1965 before passing out.

On May 7, 1996, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell responded to the FBI Report that ranked Atlanta the most violent city in the nation. Campbell would succed in replacing headlines about Atlanta’s violent crime by substituting headlines about official corruption.

Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign received a boost on May 7, 1976 when he received the personal endorsement of the President of the United Auto Workers.

Happy Birthday to Bill Kreutzman, one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead. On Kreutzman’s 31st birthday, the Dead played at Boston Garden. The next night was the legendary Cornell show.

Early Voting

Secretary of State Brian Kemp reminds Georgians that early voting will be open this coming Saturday, May 10, 2014.

“Every Georgian should have the opportunity to vote in the May 20th Primary Election,” said Kemp.  “The good news is that it is easier than ever to vote early.  Georgians have the opportunity to vote early this Saturday at locations across Georgia.”

Regular early voting will continue till Friday, May 16th.

If you’re voting this weekend, please email us photos of the polling places or tweet us your photo with @gapundit in the body of the tweet.

Early Voting Button

Click here to find your early voting locations.

As of yesterday’s Absentee Voter file by the Secretary of State’s Office, 63,762 voted had applied for an absentee ballot or voted early.

Top Five Counties for Early/Absentee Votes

Fulton………..4073
DeKalb………3489
Muscogee…..3340
Cobb………….2996
Gwinnett……1896

Early/Absentee Votes by Party

Republican…..36097……56.61%
Democratic….26128……40.98%
Nonpartisan….1134………1.78%
Missing data…..403………..<1%

Early/Absentee Votes by Gender

Female………….35114…..55.07%
Male……………28634…..44.91%
Missing data……..14

Early/Absentee Votes by Race

Amer. Ind. or Alaska Nat……16……….<1%
Asian or Pacific Islander……187………<1%
Black, not Hispanic……….18627…..29.21%
Hispanic………………………….157……….<1%
Other………………………………217……….<1%
Unknown……………………….1785……2.80%

White, not Hispanic………42771…..67.08%

Two Democrats hope to meet Secretary of State Kemp in the General Election this year, and Walter Jones profiles them for Morris News.

The Democratic duo, Doreen Carter and Gerald Beckum, must face one another in the May 20 primary before the winner takes on Kemp in November.

Carter is a former city council member in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, population 2,000. Her campaign for the statehouse came up short two years ago.

If elected this year, she wants to focus on overseeing smoothly run elections, efficient operation of the Secretary of State’s Office and boosting business opportunities, according to her campaign materials.

“I will use the executive Office of the Secretary of State to encourage legislation that seeks to make voting easier for legal citizens of our state, not harder – especially for the elderly and those of foreign origin,” she said.

Beckum was mayor of the 1,200-person town of Oglethorpe for 20 years who had planned to run for the U.S. Senate until party leaders convinced him to aim for Kemp instead. He agreed since he opposes one-party rule like the Republicans have enjoyed recently.

“I think it’s bad for the state of Georgia, whether we have all Republican or all Democrat,” he said.

If elected, he’ll focus on ensuring at least one week of early voting at the option of local officials and streamlining businesses’ interactions with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Yesterday and Tonight on Georgia Public Broadcasting

It’s arguably a small point here, but one of the most cogent observations I’ve seen about this year’s campaign season comes from GPB’s News Director of TV, Radio & Digital Rickey Bevington via Bill Nigut.

For so many decades, the picture of a candidate voting ON election Day has become an iconic image, meant as a final gesture to help encourage voters to head to the polls. Yet here was [Michelle] Nunn, voting fully two weeks before the May 20 primary election. What’s going on here?”

The Nunn camp clearly believes that early voting has the potential to boost her numbers in a Democratic primary.

Bill asked a similar question of Tharon Johnson, a top national Democratic strategist on last week’s “On the Story.” Hopefully we’ll be able to see that segment online soon.

Tonight, I’ll be on GPB with Bill and his co-host Bobbie Battista, and some of the sharpest minds in Georgia politics. How I lucked into a seat at that table is beyond me, but I’ll make the most of it whenever I’m invited. I hope you’ll tune in at 7 PM on Channel 8 here in Atlanta, or your local Georgia Public Broadcasting station.

Here’s the early voting announcement by Michelle Nunn, and an excerpt

ATLANTA, GA – Michelle Nunn, former CEO of the Points of Light Foundation and candidate for U.S. Senate, stood with volunteers, family, and friends as she cast her ballot early for the 2014 primary. Nunn and the group took advantage of early voting at the Adamsville Recreation Center in Southwest Atlanta.

Nunn also highlighted the convenience of early voting across the state and encouraged all Georgians to take advantage of the opportunity. You can go to mvp.sos.state.ga.us/ to find your early vote location.

Nunn and the volunteers underscored the campaign’s larger field operation that aims to motivate more people to turn out to the polls during the early voting period. Georgia voters can vote early through May 16. The primary election is May 20.

Television Ads

Phil Gingrey “Deliver”

Delvis Dutton “Safety & Freedom”

Erick Erickson radio spot for Karen Handel

Senate Campaign Shorts

United States Senate candidate David Perdue endorsed term limits and to limit himself to no more than two terms.

“As the political outsider in this race, I am more determined than ever to fight for term limits,” said Perdue. “Most of what is wrong with Washington today is a direct result of career politicians focusing on their reelection instead of doing what is right.”

The U.S. Term Limits Amendment Pledge states, “I will cosponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits Amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.” According to the group promoting the effort, the three congressmen running for U.S. Senate from Georgia previously signed the pledge. Yet, they have not held themselves to the three-term standard.

Jack Kingston rolled out a slate of mid-Georgia endorsements, led notably by State Senator Ross Tolleson.

Among those officials announcing their endorsement today, State Senator Ross Tolleson (R-Perry) chose to back Kingston because of his focus on service.

“America needs leaders in the U.S. Senate. Jack Kingston is willing and able to help lead America back to greatness,” said Tolleson.  “Jack Kingston will not be worried about re-election but rather about serving the people of Georgia and turning the country around.”

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley accounted his support to Kingston’s values of frugality, hard work, and commitment to family.

“Jack Kingston is the only person running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia that is a truly proven conservative,” Jolley said.  “Jack Kingston is frugal, he is a hard worker and he has strong family values that I trust to be genuine.”

Georgia Chamber and Congressional Races

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce released its scorecard on the state legislature this week. State Rep. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick), a candidate for Congress in the First District was one of seven to receive failing grades, and he says it’s a “badge of honor.”

“I have found that many individuals who are familiar with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce believe receiving an ‘unsatisfactory’ grade from the Chamber is like getting a badge of honor,” the Brunswick Republican said. “I agree.”

Chapman is the only legislator running for Congress this year who got lower than a B+.

For instance, in the 1st Congressional District that Chapman is running in, Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, received an A+. Rep. Delvis Dutton, R-Glennville, got a B+. Even Sen. Jason Carter, the Democratic challenger to Gov. Nathan Deal, received a higher grade than Chapman with a C+.

Of the dozens of special-interest groups issuing scorecards after each legislative session, the Chamber is the oldest and has the deepest pockets. Its members are owners and executives in businesses of all sizes across the state, and the issues it pushes aim to help those employers in some way.

Chapman, a former small-business owner, considers himself an advocate for employers who defends his voting record and disagrees that all of the Chamber’s positions were positive for business. For example, he opposed the transportation sales tax, the hospital-provider tax and opposed legislation that would have prevented parents from blocking pornographic materials on their children’s cellphones.

Would-be Congressman Dr. Bob Johnson stepped in it badly enough that he ought to keep an eye out behind him to make sure Jack Bauer’s not trailing him.

A candidate for Congress in Georgia said earlier this year that he’d rather see another terrorist attack on the United States than have Transportation Security Agency screenings at airports.

Bob Johnson, a doctor and Republican candidate in Georgia’s solidly-red 1st District, said at a February candidate forum that the TSA is “indoctrinating” Americans.

“Now this is going to sound outrageous, I’d rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen,” he said, according to a video clip obtained by POLITICO. “Give me liberty or give me death. Isn’t that what Patrick Henry said at the founding of our republic?”

Dammit, Bob! Johnson has since walked the statement back.

“In the heat of the moment, while making the point that I would much rather fight the enemy than our federal government, I said something stupid and should have chosen my words more carefully,” he said. “…As a Constitutional conservative, it angers me that we are giving up our liberty to the bureaucratic TSA and spying on our own people in the name of false security and that has to stop.”

The fact that the videotape dates from February but just showed up first in the national political media suggests that someone has been sitting on the video waiting for an opportune time. Anyone care to speculate?

John Stone Fourth Stooge

I wrote the other day about John Stone’s ad in which he calls the other candidates in the race for the GOP nomination in the Twelfth Congressional District “the Three Stooges,” and suggested he spellcheck his ad next time. “Judgment” is properly spelled with one “e” in America, while Brits spell it “judgement.” Also important to prevent yourself from becoming the Fourth Stooge: a background check on yourself. Jim Galloway wins the headline of the week award for “John Stone throws rock, hits glass house of bankruptcies”

what Stone fails to mention is his own glass house. He’s visited federal bankruptcy court not once, but twice. Stone freely admitted having those financial blemishes on Monday:

“I do. Far in my past. Back in 2000, which is the whole point. We’ve got current members of our U.S. House who have bankruptcies in their past. A number of our district chairs here in Georgia with the Republican party have bankruptcies. But it’s in the past, before you run for Congress.

“You don’t run when you’ve got $660,000 in current judgments, outstanding.You put it behind you. You get it paid, you move on – just like our current House members and just like our district chairmen.”

A 2000 bankruptcy declaration showed Stone with $232,084 in unpaid debt, including three years of unpaid Virginia state income taxes. He was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Augusta, at the time. Stone said the bankruptcy was caused by “overburdening” medical expenses incurred by a family member.

Yesterday, Landmark Communications and RosettaStone released polling results in the 12th District, finding:

Rick Allen…………..40%
Delvis Dutton………8%
John Stone………….8%
Diane Vann………..3%
Eugene Yu…………15%
Undecided…………26%

I concur in most respects.

Guns and Butter

The Buford City Council adopted security procedures to govern public meetings in the Gwinnett County city.

The Buford City Commission voted Monday to enact security procedures and possible public screening at government meetings in response to the Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act signed into law last month by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The statute, dubbed by critics as the “guns everywhere” law, allows licensed gun owners to carry firearms into bars, churches and some government buildings. Commission Chairman Phillip Beard asked officials to seek the city’s exemption from the law or consider security and screening measures such as metal detectors.

“I’m all for guns. I’m a hunter myself,” Beard said. “But there’s a time and place for everything, and a public meeting’s not the time or place for guns.”

Beard said after the meeting that the municipal court in City Hall may exempt that building from the statute, but officials have to ensure security at other meetings. He said the “gun toting bills” satisfy gun advocates but do not ensure public safety.

“We had a man with a gun try to walk into our school board meeting last week and we had to call a police officer,” Beard said. “We’re going to have to ensure that these meetings are safe.”

Governor Deal announced yesterday that Georgia was named the #1 most competitive state for new job growth by Site Selection magazine.

“When I took office in January 2011, I made a promise to the people of Georgia that we wouldn’t stop until our state was the No. 1 place in the nation to do business,” said Deal. “We earned that designation in November for the first time ever, and now we’re adding ‘most competitive’ to our accomplishments. These rankings are not only a testament to our strong business climate, but they also speak to the commitment and support from our industry partners, communities and the people of Georgia.”

The magazine releases its Top 10 Competitive States every year in May. The Top 10 Competitive States ranking is based on an index of 10 criteria, most of which are tied to new projects and expansions tracked by Site Selection’s New Plant Database.

“Remaining competitive is key to staying ahead in the global marketplace,” said Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “With critical factors such as a qualified workforce, solid logistics infrastructure and connections in key international markets, it’s no surprise that Georgia outranks other states in this category and our state continues to be the best choice for industry-leading companies.”

As if to underscore the point, Deal also announced that a spin-off division of Kimberly-Clark will locate in Metro Atlanta.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Halyard Health, a health care company spin-off of Kimberly-Clark Corporate (NYSE:KMB), is expected to locate its global headquarters in Alpharetta, creating approximately 150-200 new jobs over the next two years. Kimberly-Clark filed a Form 10 Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the planned transaction.

“Georgia’s health care industry is uniquely poised to support Halyard Health,” Deal said. “This company is taking advantage of an eager, skilled workforce and an advanced life science and healthcare ecosystem. Special thanks to Kimberly-Clark for the major role it is playing in Georgia’s economic development and for supporting our state’s ever-changing health care industry – an industry that we are committed to growing.”

Halyard Health will be a publicly traded health care company with approximately $1.7 billion in annual net sales and leading market positions in both surgical and infection prevention products and medical devices. The new 174,000-square-foot facility in Alpharetta will house corporate officers and various corporate functions including finance, IT, procurement, engineering and quality.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 7, 2014

On January 7, 1789, Georgia voters cast their first ballots for President of the United States of America. Georgia’s electors met the next month in Augusta and cast Georgia’s electoral votes for George Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Governor George Matthews signed legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly, that described itself thusly,

An Act supplementary to an Act entitled ‘An Act for appropriating a part of the unlocated territory of this state for the payment of the late state troops, and for other purposes therein mentioned, declaring the right of this State to the unappropriated territory thereof, for the protection and support of the frontiers of this State, and for other purposes.’

This was one of the first major economic development undertakings by the state government and would come to be known as the Great Yazoo Land Fraud. The bill, passed under the pressure of intense lobbying, was such an abomination that the next year’s General Assembly revoked the Act and ordered all copies of the legislation burned, igniting a tradition that continues to this day.

Wedgwood Yazoo

In 1933, the Transylvania Club of Sandersville, Georgia commissioned a set of commemorative plates by Wedgwood; Mr. C.D. Shelnutt, Mr. C.F. Irwin, and Mr. B.J. Tarbutton paid the required deposit to begin production of the plates. In 1974, then-Governor Jimmy Carter signed a resolution of the General Assembly naming the plates the official historical plates of Georgia, and they continue to be offered for sale in pink or blue.

People who had purchased land under the Act sued to prevent the state’s overturning its own conveyances, and the United States Supreme Court for the first time invalidated a state law as unconstitutional, in a case styled Fletcher v. Peck (1810).

On January 7, 1961, Hamilton E. Holmes drove from Atlanta to Athens to enroll in the University of Georgia, beginning the desegregatation of the institution.

On January 7, 1972, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., having previously turned down appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, was sworn in as an Associate Justice, along with William Rehnquist, who would be elevated to Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan. Powell earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington & Lee University and its School of Law.

On January 7, 1997, Georgia’s Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the first Republican reelected in 68 years; he would resign his Congressional seat less than a year later.

On January 7, 1998, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky signed an affidavit denying she’d had an affair with President Bill Clinton.

On January 7, 1999, the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began. Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist presided and Georgia Congressman Bob Barr was one of thirteen house “managers,” responsible for prosecuting the case in the Senate.

Voting today

The polls will be open today from 7 AM to 7 PM for Special Elections in Georgia State House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield) and District 22 (Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton Counties.

If you live in one of those counties and have questions about whether you’re eligible to vote tomorrow and where, please login to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You may also check with your county Board of Elections. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 17, 2012

E
MurrayBlackLab

This ten-month old black-and-brindle lab mix will be euthanized at 1 AM Friday if no one steps up to foster or rescue him. Volunteers with the Murray County Animal Shelter says that while he has sad eyes, he’s a happy, calm, and gentle dog who will make a great pet. Transportation is available for this guy or any other dog at Murray County. The $115 adoption fee covers the cost for vetting, shots, heartworm check, and neutering. If you’re interested in fostering, the Shelter has several rescues it works with to facilitate foster homes. Email Lisa Hester or call 770-441-0329 if you can help.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

The National Republican Congressional Committee will continue to play Elmer Fudd to Georgia Democratic Congressman John Barrow’s Bugs Bunny, announcing yet again that they’re hunting wabbits targeting Barrow. Occasional Georgia resident Rob Simms, recently named Political Director for the NRCC, may have a better chance of catching the wascal beating Barrow.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has subpoenaed five Fulton County Elections Board officials to appear before a State Elections Board investigation into mishaps in last year’s voting and requested production of documents.

He says he had no choice.“I felt like we were not getting the type of cooperation we needed in getting documents that we needed to be ready for the hearing.”

Josh McKoon GaPundit Ethics Video

Senator Josh McKoon took a few minutes to discuss the Senate Rules, specifically the limitation on who can file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee and what voters who feel shut out from filing a complaint can do. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Congratulations to Judge Carla Wong McMillian on her appointment by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge McMillian, who served on the Fayette County State Court, is the first Asian-American judge on the state’s appellate court.

On Wednesday, January 23d, members of the state judiciary will be presenting their budget requests to the General Assembly.

The House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee will meet Friday, January 18th from 9:30 to 11 AM in Room 132 of the Capitol.

When the Georgia Senate convenes today for the Fourth Legislative Day, the first and only bill on the calendar will be Senate Bill 24, which delegates to the Department of Community Health the power to levy the so-called hospital bed tax.

Gov. Nathan Deal urged the quick passage of a Medicaid funding plan that would spare legislators from raising taxes and instead allow a state agency to fill the gaping hole in Georgia’s budget.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston on Wednesday also endorsed the governor’s plan to extend the 2-year-old funding mechanism, known as the “bed tax,” despite criticism from conservatives who oppose tax increases. The plan is expected to reach a Senate vote Thursday, and House lawmakers could debate it later this month.

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal presented his legislative agenda to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues Breakfast.

We have had one of the best years of economic development in quite some time. A few notable companies that have chosen Georgia include Baxter, General Motors, and Caterpillar, along with numerous others. We did this with your help, with both the private and the public sector doing their parts!

As governor, my goal is to see Georgia become the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. I have made that clear from the beginning, because I believe that is the best path to economic growth and the quickest way to get Georgians into jobs.  And we are not all that far off from reaching our target: For two years in a row, we have ranked in the top five for business climate by Site Selection Magazine, and we ranked No. 3 for doing business in 2012 by Area Development Magazine. But we certainly still have some hurdles that we must overcome before we get there.

This morning I will focus my remarks on one of the highest hurdles facing state government, that of healthcare.

Right now, the federal government pays a little under 66 cents for every dollar of Medicaid expenditure, leaving the state with the remaining 34 cents per dollar, which in 2012 amounted to $2.5B as the state share.
For the past three years, hospitals have been contributing their part to help generate funds to pay for medical costs of the Medicaid program. Every dollar they have given has essentially resulted in two additional dollars from the federal government that in part can be used to increase Medicaid payments to the hospitals. But the time has come to determine whether they will continue their contribution through the provider fee. I have been informed that 10 to 14 hospitals will be faced with possible closure if the provider fee does not continue. These are hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid patients.
I propose giving the Department of Community Health board authority over the hospital provider fee, with the stipulation that reauthorization be required every four years by legislation.
Of course, these fees are not new. In fact, we are one of 47 states that have either a nursing home or hospital provider fee—or both. It makes sense to me that, in Georgia, given the similarity of these two fees, we should house the authority and management of both of them under one roof for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Sometimes it feels like when we have nearly conquered all of our hurdles, the federal government begins to place even more hurdles in our path.
Georgians who have already received a paycheck this January have no doubt noticed that their payroll taxes went up and their take-home salary went down. This is the cost of entitlements. If you think your taxes went up a lot this month, just wait till we have to pay for “free health care.” Free never cost so much.

Governor Deal also mentioned that he has “a tweeter account” as the staffer in charge of social media cringed in the back.

Deal said he will work to ensure that state agencies are cooperating with and fully performing background checks for gun permits as required under federal law.

Best line of the day goes to Georgia Speaker David Ralston, who referred to the Senate’s new gift cap as “more of a sun visor than a cap.”

Speaker Ralston responded to the Senate’s opening bid on ethics reform by repeating that he favors a complete ban.

Ralston says House lawmakers plan to propose a permanent change regarding lobbyist gifts in the near future. Ralston plans to introduce legislation that would include a complete ban on items given by lobbyists.

One of the largest criticisms of the new Senate rule is that there are a number of exceptions. For instance, the law allows lobbyists to give multiple gifts that are $100 or less. It also allows for lobbyists to pay for travel and a number of other expenses related to Senators’ official duties.

Jim Galloway suggests that in exchange for ethics reform today, legislators may seek a pay raise tomorrow when the economy improves.

We need to start paying a decent salary to these 236 lawmakers sent to Atlanta each year.

The idea was considered and ultimately discarded by the alliance of conservatives, liberals and civic-minded pushing this year’s $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers.

Newly-minted State Senator Mike Dugan would like to see term limits for state legislators.

Dugan said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he hopes to introduce term limits in the General Assembly. He hopes to work toward this goal in 2013.

“What I’d like is a maximum of 10 years, which is five terms,” Dugan said. “The longest a person can be president is 10 years.

He can assume two years of a predecessor’s term and run for two terms on his own. My thought process is this can’t be more complicated than being president. If we limit that position then I think we can limit these others. There are also term limits on the Georgia governor.”

If 10 years are served, Dugan feels it should be required that a legislator sit out two terms, or four years, before running again.

“The common refrain is that we do have term limits — they are called voters,” said Dugan. “The way campaign contributions are set up now it’s really not that way. The other side is, if you have 10 years to get something done, instead of worrying about getting reelected in perpetuity you will actually make the tough decisions.”

Senator Mike Crane apparently is seeking instead to limit his own effectiveness among his colleagues.

State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, started the 2013 Georgia General Assembly session off with a bang when he became the most vocal opponent of a set of rules that would restore much of the power that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was stripped of two years ago.

“This may be the end of my political aspirations, but I will never stop fighting for liberty,” Crane said on the Senate floor.

On Tuesday, the second day of the session, Crane reiterated his position.

Crane addressed his colleagues and told them he would bring up the matter each of the remaining 38 days in the legislative session.

“Do you think freedom is at the helm of this body?” he asked.

After Crane’s comments, Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, expressed exasperation with his fellow sophomore. Both were elected in special elections to complete terms of men Gov. Nathan Deal appointed to state jobs.

“I think we need to decide if we’re more interested in getting things done or in making a point,” he said, noting that the rule empowering Cagle had already been voted on and was settled.

Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, stood up to add, “I just wanted to say ‘amen’ to what Sen. Wilkinson for what he said.”

State Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Lithonia) was elected Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

“They don’t think that anybody is going to buy into it this year,” said Kay Godwin, a Republican activist from south Georgia. “It’s not the right time, but it’s the right thing to do. We’ve mentioned to everybody that this is the direction that we want to go in. The legislators all agree with us. And the tea party.”

If you get what you pay for, then Georgians should have no reason to complain. They’ve been paying for an army of fry cooks and dishwashers.

The problem is that lawmakers themselves are loathe to raise the pay issue. “I’m not going to vote for an increase in legislative pay when I have school teachers in every district that I represent who are being furloughed,” said state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, the Capitol’s most aggressive proponent of a $100 cap on gifts for lawmakers.

No, livable wages for state lawmakers would have to be an issue taken up by a fellow with plenty of clout and little to lose. A governor in his second term, for instance.

Big wins by the Atlanta Falcons would likely help them make the case for taxpayer funding of a new stadium, according to Governor Deal.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will serve as a Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

House Republicans may begin moving forward on the project of trimming the footprint of Fulton County government, as GOPers now constitute a majority on the Fulton County delegation after redistricting.

Passing legislation that would allow north Fulton to break away to form a new Milton County remains impractical, mainly because the idea’s most powerful advocate, House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, has never been able to assemble enough votes.

More doable this year: a reconfiguration of the County Commission that would give north Fulton more input into the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax funds and services for nearly 1 million people.

The Legislature could also beef up the powers of the commission chairman and protect the county manager from being fired without cause, changes that could lessen the circus atmosphere of public meetings.

Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said such structural changes won’t end the push for secession.

“Maybe lessen the steam,” he said. “Trying to get Milton County has several hurdles that nobody’s figured out how to get around. So in the meantime, let’s make what we have work better.”

The City of Buchanan will put Sunday Sales on the March 19th ballot.

The investigation into possible corruption in DeKalb County is now focussing on six companies that made millions from the County, while CEO Burrell Ellis’s former campaign manager Kevin Ross has also been the target of a seach warrant.

Gwinnett County Chair Charlotte Nash made fighting corruption and restoring the county government’s reputation cornerstones of her State of the County address.

“I am appalled to hear Gwinnett County and corruption mentioned together,” said Nash, who joined the board after a special grand jury’s land investigation led to the public disgrace of two commissioners but faced the issue again when a commissioner pleaded guilty in a federal bribery probe last year. “Wrongdoing by leaders hurts the community, breaks the public trust and embarrasses all of those who call Gwinnett home.”

Nash pointed to changes in the county’s ethics and land purchase laws during her time in office, but said commissioners will keep working to restore trust with citizens.

“We know that we’ll have to work hard to overcome this, and we’ve taken steps to do just that,” she said. “Ultimately, it will be our behavior over time that will help us regain the community’s trust.”

This year, she said, the board will continue to try to restore public trust by hosting town hall meetings. Plus, commissioners approved a new lead investigator for the district attorney’s office, added specifically to root out corruption among public officials. She also noted the new non-profit entity created to keep public dollars separate and transparent in the Partnerhips Gwinnett economic development initiative.

An historic reduction in crime statistics in Savannah may be the result of cooked books rather than better enforcement, according to some Aldermen.

Alderman Tony Thomas, saying he had at least six constituent complaints to support his claim, leveled that allegation during Tuesday’s annual City Council retreat.

“I do not think the picture is as rosy as has been painted,” Thomas said. “We need to paint a real picture of what’s going on in this community.”

Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson said he has received similar complaints about officers trying to dissuade citizens from filing reports or complaints about officers who are slow to respond.

“They are under tremendous pressure to bring statistics down,” Johnson said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 29, 2012

This sweet brown dog is a mother at ten months of age, and she and her puppies are destined to be euthanized tomorrow morning if no one steps up to adopt or foster. They are available for adoption immediately and transportation can be arranged. These dogs can be adopted or fostered individually and any not saved by 2 AM Friday will be euthanized.

This black lab mix male is about ten months old and has the beginning of mange, but it’s easily treated. Somebody offered to rescue him but has backed out. He must be rescued before 2 AM.

There are a half-dozen other dogs in dire need before Thursday. Transportation for any of these dogs to the Atlanta area is available for free and we have sponsors who are willing to pay the adoption fee for any of these dogs. Email me if you’re interested in adopting and have any questions.

To save one of these souls, here is the contact information:

Lisa Hester, volunteer
[email protected]
[email protected]

Megan706-260-5251 (daytime Tu,Th,F)(TEXT or call)
706-695-8003
[email protected]

Pauline Davis
[email protected]
706-463-2194, TEXT messages only

If you are not able to save a dog at this time, you also may make a donation on behalf of one of the dogs or for a “hard to place” dog. To make a donation, simply go to www.paypal.com, click on the “send money” tab on the home page and enter the shelter acct, [email protected]. In the subject line, indicate this is a donation for the (brief descrip and/or ID # of animal or “hard to place dog”). IMPORTANT: Be sure to designate the payment as a “gift” or PayPal will take part of it.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

The State Elections Board dismissed seven charges against the Fulton County Board of Elections in which voters did not receive mail-in ballots they requested. The SEB sent official reprimands and instructions for remedial actions on two charges.

“It’s good to hear these cases, because it’s building up for what’s to come,” [Secretary of State Brian] Kemp said after the meeting, referring to more than 100 complaints from this year’s presidential election, such as poll workers wrongly steering some voters to provisional ballots and denying those ballots to others.

The winning PowerBall numbers drawn yesterday were 5, 16, 22, 23, 29 and Powerball of 6. Even if the State of Georgia won the $550 million top prize, we still probably wouldn’t be able to afford an extra $2.5 billion over the next ten years in order to extend benefits to more Georgians.

“We are having a difficult time meeting our obligations for Medicaid as it is,” said [Governor Nathan] Deal. “I do not foresee a situation in which the state would have another 2, 3, or 4 billion dollars over the next ten years to dedicate to that purpose.”

Medicaid is the joint federal-state health program for the poor. The federal government has promised to cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, and about 90 percent thereafter.

Health policy analyst Tim Sweeney of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute said the expansion is a major opportunity for the state.

“If you look at in context, it’s about a one or two percent increase in total state spending which is definitely affordable in the long run considering the dramatic benefits we get from it,” said Sweeney.

How does the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute fail to understand that there is no such thing as “free money from the federal government”?

Senator Jack Murphy has endorsed allowing state voters to decide whether to allow Pari-mutuel betting on horse races. I personally oppose it despite the fact that I love horses and I love racing in almost any form. The problem is the disjunction between the romantic notion of horse-racing as a high-class sport undertaken in resort-like conditions.

Foxfield aside, commercial horse racing facilities become squalid and filled with desperate people quickly. They also create a large number of people who are dependent upon commercial gambling for their livelihood, which makes the next step into casino gambling all but inevitable, because most racetracks are not commercially-viable without some form of on-premises casino or electronic gaming machines.

State Representative-elect Michael Caldwell (R) is being lauded for returning excess campaign contributions on a pro rata basis.

Caldwell told the Tribune Wednesday he returned 13.8 percent of each donor’s contributions, an amount corresponding with his leftover funds after winning the House seat against Democrat Lillian Burnaman in November’s general election.

“We wrote the checks on Nov. 7, the day after the election ended, and they were mailed last week,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell’s website shows a balance of $444, money contributors told him to keep for his next campaign after he mailed out the checks.

“I’m not going to make that decision for them. That has to be up to them,” Caldwell said.

During his campaign, Caldwell did not accept money from lobbyists or out-of-state donors and recorded all monetary and in-kind contributions.

“The state requires that you disclose contributions of more than $100, but we did every penny. I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Good news in education: more students are passing the writing test that is required for high school graduation.

93% of students passed the exam this year, up from 91% last year. State education officials started phasing out the high school graduation test last year. But they kept the writing test.

A higher percentage of African-American and Latino students passed the test this year, narrowing the achievement gap with white students. Cardoza says that’s significant.

“Closing that gap is very important because all students are going to go on from high school into either a career or on to college,” [Dept. of Ed. Spokesperson Matt] Cardoza says, “So, we have to make sure that all of those students are at that proficiency level.”

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia released a study showing that 100,000 Georgians depend on MARTA to get to work, a threefold increase over the past five years.

“If MARTA didn’t exist, those 100,000 jobs and the 80,000 they support would likely go away,” said Wes Clarke, one of the UGA researchers who prepared the study onMARTA’s economic role. “It shows the magnitude of the impact of being able to get people to jobs by way of a transit system.”

The availability of public transit has played a key role in attracting the 123, 515 jobs around the Perimeter Center in DeKalb County, said Yvonne Williams, president of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. The CIDs have four rail stations in the area serving medical centers, Perimeter Mall and office parks.

“Most of the major corporations that are here … have chosen the perimeter market for the assets of transit,” she said. “It draws employees from across the region and your high-profile corporations care about that employee footprint. We see it as a major competitive factor.”

I myself am a frequent MARTA rider, especially during the legislative session when it’s simply quicker many mornings than driving 4 miles through Atlanta traffic. Pro-tip for MARTA management: I’d probably spend three to five dollars a day on fancy coffee in the station if you sold it to me. And you could probably extract a couple extra bucks a week by opening pay toilets at the half-way point.

On Tuesday, some Paulding, Douglas and Carroll County voters will go to the polls to vote in the runoff in Senate District 30 between Bill Hembree and Mike Dugan. There will also be a special election between the winner *cough*Hembree*cough*  and a Librarian Libertarian named James Camp on January 8, 2013.

Talk about a 2014 challenge to United States Senator Saxby Chambliss have picked up.

A combination of factors has encouraged some Republicans to openly weigh a challenge. Chambliss has long faced criticism from tea party activists and other hardcore conservatives who dislike his role on the bipartisan Gang of Six, which backed a plan to reduce deficits by changing entitlement programs, make spending cuts and raising tax revenue.

“I don’t think it’s the taxes,” said Debbie Dooley, a Chambliss critic and co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party. “It’s based on that people want a fighter, they don’t want someone to acquiesce to the left.”

Chambliss’ longtime political consultant, Tom Perdue, said several members of Congress have said in the last few months that they would run for Chambliss’ seat if he did not seek re-election. And others indicated they might challenge the incumbent in a primary. Still others, Perdue said, are floating their names as a way of raising campaign cash and don’t intend to mount a real challenge.

Perdue faulted those who criticize Chambliss for working with Democrats.

“Now all of the sudden you’ve got some people, which is certainly their right — they do not think he should be working with Democrats,” Perdue said. “Well, it’s kind of hard to get anything done in Congress if both parties don’t work together.”

Congressman Dr. Tom Price diagnosed talk of him challenging Chambliss as premature speculation.

The Savannah Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2013 legislative agenda at an “Eggs and Issues” breakfast yesterday.

Securing harbor deepening funds again topped the list.

But other topics mentioned at the Savannah Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast also would require state dollars.

Tybee Island State Representative Ben Watson wants more sand on Tybee beach.

“Tybee beach re-nourishment not only affects the tourism in the Savannah beaches or on Tybee Island,” Watson says. “But it also affects the City of Savannah, our region here and the whole state of Georgia.”

Chamber Chairman Bill Shira said he’d like lawmakers to extend a tax break benefiting jet-maker Gulfstream.

“What this tax exemption does is allow Gulfstream to be more competetive,” Shira says. “What this legislative agenda is meant to do is to extend these benefits for Gulfstream into the future so that we can remain competitive.”

Speaking of Savannah, the city is ranked as the 38th fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the nation.

Over the next five years, Savannah’s population is projected to grow 5 percent, 6,700 new households in total, at an annual rate of 1 percent.

That comes as no surprise to Bill Hubbard, president and CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. In fact, he can sum up the area’s growing popularity in two words: baby boomers.

“Savannah’s ability to attract retirees is the fundamental piece that has driven our growth. Most baby boomers have weathered the recession with at least some of their wealth intact and, as they look to retirement, they are realizing that our area is a great place to live,” he said.

“Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within an hour of the coastline, and this is the most affordable coastline between Myrtle Beach and Jacksonville,” he said, adding that it doesn’t hurt that Savannah is a tourist magnet.

Kia Motors will invest more than $1 billion dollars in its West Point, Georgia operations.

A memorandum of understanding spells out a plan for Kia Motors Manufacturing America to invest $1.6 billion over the next 16 years for expanding its model offerings, including additional tools, equipment and possible building expansions. Kia is asking the Troup County Development Authority to issue $1 billion in bonds and the West Point Development Authority to issue $600 million in bonds for the improvements, and would pay the county development authority $400,000 in compensation and West Point Development Authority up to $650,000.

Governor Nathan Deal lauded the investment:

“Kia has an exceptional track record of growth in our state,” said Deal. “The wave of economic impact created by Kia’s presence in Georgia goes far beyond the 10,000-plus jobs the company and its suppliers have created and will underpin the region’s economy for generations to come. Kia’s continued commitment to our state moves us closer to making Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business.”

Being from Gwinnett County, I always understood that developers were supposed to send flowers and wine-and-dine government officials, but the Fulton County Development Authority thinks it works the other way. Take a minute to watch the video from Fox5Atlanta about $1100 monthly lunches and absorb the fact that it’s a Republican chairman and mouthpiece telling you that it never occurred to them to ask the price of the free government-provided lobster bisque that magically appeared at their monthly meetings.

More than two-thirds of the applications for disadvantaged business status under a Georgia DOT program included incorrect calculations, according to an audit of the program.

The findings of the audit raise questions about the disadvantaged business certification process GDOT had been using, but it’s not clear how many of the applicants reviewed went on to win contracts.

The “disadvantaged business enterprise” certifications give firms special consideration, since agencies set goals to award a certain percentage of contracts to disadvantaged firms.

The performance review completed earlier this year found GDOT’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity did not accurately calculate business owners’ personal net worth in 27 of the 40 applications reviewed for the audit. The errors included omissions of ownership interest in other companies or the fair market value of stocks and bonds, according to the audit. In some cases, more information would be needed to make a determination.

What’s more, GDOT increased its cap on personal net worth from $750,000 to $1.32 million for airport concessions disadvantaged business enterprise certifications, even before the federal government issued its final rule making the change. The federal change has since been finalized.

The headline of the week comes from the Marietta Daily Journal for this gem: “Speeders, chickens get little love from council members”.

MARIETTA — Speeders and chickens got little support during the Marietta City Council’s committee meetings Monday.

The public safety committee discussed conducting a “Slow Down Marietta Week” after chairman Councilman Anthony Coleman called one street “the Kennestone 500.”

“We’ve been doing some ticketing,” Coleman said about 60 tickets issued in a recent three-day period. “I don’t think that’s (the police department’s) first option, to go back to writing tickets, but it does get people’s attention. I want a proactive approach.”

Coleman said speeders create a secondary public safety problem.

“People are not following the limit and they’re tailgating drivers going the speed limit. It causes a lot of tension,” he said.

Backyard chickens failed to garner support from the judicial and legislative committee, chaired by Councilman Phil Goldstein.

Backyard chicken advocate Kristen Picken, a Marietta resident, spoke to the Council as she did at its Oct. 10 regular meeting.

“I work with a group that wants to get the law changed in the city of Marietta and the county,” she said about the Backyard Chickens Alliance of Cobb County.To