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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 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
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
“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.
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?”
“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?
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:
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.
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.”
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
Does a federal law that applies to some states but not to others, even to some counties but not to others, make constitutional sense? That’s the question the country has been debating, sometimes bitterly, across political, geographical and racial lines for almost half a century now.
The law in question is of course the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which made the most fundamental right of citizenship a reality for millions of Americans, mostly black and mostly in the South, to whom it had been long denied through the slimiest and most cynical kinds of political chicanery.
The heart of the Act is that specified regions with a documented history of voter discrimination must get federal approval for changes in election procedures, including reapportionment. Both Alabama and Georgia fall under its mandate,
The argument now is whether the law has outlived not just its usefulness, but also its essential fairness (if indeed it was technically and constitutionally “fair” in the first place). Although its most outspoken political foes now are Republicans, the Voting Rights Act was extended most recently in 2006 by a GOP-majority Congress and signed by President George W. Bush.
One of the arguments against the law is that it relies on cases and statistics that are literally decades old, and is based in many cases on circumstances that have long since changed or vanished. Though the U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped the issue in a 2009 Texas case, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that some areas still governed by the law have better minority registration and voter rates than some that aren’t.
For me the most compelling argument now against the law is not racial and social progress over the last 47 years (though that certainly shouldn’t be ignored), but the principle that a United States law should apply to all 50 of said United States, not just to nine or 12 or 15.
Of course, even as I write this, the very states in question lead the nation in secession petitions after the reelection of President Barack Obama. If there’s a legitimate case against the Voting Rights Act, some among us are spectacularly inept in pleading it.
40,558 – Number of votes cast in Gwinnett County as of Saturday.
22,400 –Total votes cast at the Gwinnett County Elections Office in Lawrenceville in the first week of early voting according to Gwinnett County Communications Director Joe Sorenson.
7,600 – Total number of voters who went through the satellite voting locations throughout Gwinnett County.
4 – The number of satellite locations across Gwinnett County. They are Centerville Community Church in Snellville, Dacula Activity Building in Dacula, George Pierce Community Center in Suwanee and Lucky Shoals Community Center in Norcross.
45 minutes – Average wait time for voters standing in line outside the Elections Office Monday.
1 hour 30 minutes – The longest wait time of the day early Monday morning. Sorenson says he expects the wait times to grow as the week goes on.
“Last year in Georgia there were 72 fatal house fires and 67 of them didn’t have a working smoke alarms,” Hudgens said. “If you have a smoke alarm, make sure it’s in working order. Changing the battery at least once every year and cleaning dust from the device are easy ways to ensure continued protection of your family and your property. Having a working smoke alarm doubles the chances you will survive a fire in your home.”
Daylight saving time ends Sunday, November 4th at 2:00 a.m., when clocks are set back one hour.
We were about to change all the batteries in our smoke and CO2 detectors because somewhere in the house, one of the blamed things is chirping just often enough to drive me insane while I work from home, but not often enough to figure out which one it is.
Commissioner Hudgens is a great public servant for Georgia and we don’t get to say that often enough here because he seems to keep a pretty low profile in the media. Not what we’ve come to expect from that office.
The two helicopters are to be used primarily to move groups of people in and out of areas. They each can carry at least 33 seated passengers, as well as heavy equipment such as bulldozers. Additionally, they each left Savannah with a 2,500-gallon water bucket for firefighting and a vehicle.
Leading the two crews are Chief Warrant Officers Timothy Ladson, 47, and Lance Brennan, 38, full-time pilots who said they are well-trained and prepared for whatever they may encounter. The unit served twice in Afghanistan and fought fires in the Okefenokee Swamp.
“Everybody is excited; everybody wants to go and help out,” said Ladson, a Groves High School and Savannah State University graduate, before deploying.
“Sometimes people hesitate a little bit to go to Afghanistan. But on a mission like this, when you’re going to help people on our home soil, there’s no hesitation whatsoever.”
Like many of the crew members, Brennan, a Liberty County native, has seen the around-the-clock news coverage of communities devastated by the large storm that made landfall in the northeast on Monday, leaving flooding, power failures and death in its wake.
“I’m expecting to see a lot of debris and a lot of water,” Brennan said.
“I expect the worst but hope for the best. If they send us on up, I hope to see a lot of people already coming back in and taking it upon themselves to not wait for us, but to start the clean-up process and then when we get there, to further assist them in the clean-up and rebuilding.”
By Monday night, U.S. Coast Guard aircrews and helicopters from Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla., had already arrived in Elizabeth City, N.C., to allow for faster response times following the storm’s landfall, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday.
The Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, sent two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and two pilots. Air Station Savannah deployed a third Dolphin helicopter, four pilots and six crew members.
Air Station Savannah executive officer, Cmdr. David Cooper, headed north as well to coordinate the Coast Guard’s aviation response for the storm.
Speaking at a press conference at his campaign headquarters following a visit to the Columbia County American Legion, Anderson said that any cuts he approved in Congress would not include the defense budget.
“The main thing we can do is get Mitt Romney in the White House,” Anderson said. “Then, with Joe Wilson’s leadership, we can make sure that our defence is the strongest Defense Department ever. We are totally opposite to what Obama and John Barrow want to do. We want to make the Defense Department stronger.”
When pressed on his opponent Congressman John Barrow’s stand against the looming economic sequestration and the effect it would have on defense spending, Anderson responded that to support the President was, in fact, supporting sequestration.
“He’s right,” Wilson said, “He (Barrow) supports Obama, the leader in the White House, the man who wants to cut our defense department. That’s the difference right there.”
Joe Wilson must be an honorable man, as he is a graduate of Washington & Lee University, one of the finest institutions of higher learning in our nation.
I received word that a bus of volunteers will head to Virginia this weekend to campaign for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in that swing state Commonwealth. Maybe they’ll stop briefly in Lexington.
Another FREE trip to a swing state-VIRGINIA. Jack Smith “the Lion of N. GA” I call him, is heading up a bus to Virginia to walk neighborhoods for freedom. I told Jack, a herd of wild horses could not keep me from going on this trip. Like Mary, Jack has fun trips.
For this side of Atlanta our bus will leave from the Home Depot on Hwy 92, 200 feet off exit 7 off 575. Park on the far side of the parking lot were the plants are. (Home Depot is 200 West of exit 7)
Briefly, it will be four days, Thursday November 1 to Sunday, November 4. ALL-expenses paid, (transportation, lodging for 3 nights, and ALL meals)
Would you like to go? Would you like to make a difference? Contact Jack Smith,[email protected] or 706-635-3831
White voter registration, which stood at 63 percent in 2008, has dropped to 59 percent of the 5.3 million signed up to cast ballots in this year’s presidential contest. African-American registration stands at 30 percent, just as it did in 2008.
The difference comes from the growing pool of voters who decline to identify themselves by race, or describe themselves as something other than white, black, Asian-Pacific, Hispanic-Latino, or Native American. That group grew from 3.6 percent in 2008 to 8 percent today.
The decline of the white vote in Georgia has been slow but steady. In January 2001, whites made up 72 percent of registered voters; in January 2007, they were 67 percent. Blacks in 2001 made up 26 percent of the electorate, and 27 percent in 2007.
My colleagues Joe Kirby and Bill Kinney reported in Tuesday’s Around Town that current State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) will not return calls from the media.
Let’s let that one soak in a moment. Stoner is fighting for his political life, having been redistricted into a new Sixth District that is heavily Republican and against a formidable opponent, Hunter Hill, of Vinings, who has all the right credentials: Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, three tours of duty in Afghanistan, two Bronze Stars, bright, articulate and a family man. In my opinion, Stoner would have a tough time with Hill even without all the gerrymandering.
When AT asked why Stoner won’t return calls to the media, Melissa Pike, chair of the Cobb Democratic Party, informed them that the Senate Democratic Caucus is “very, very, very firm that they are going to be united, they’re going to give a consistent response and that consistent response is going to come through Liz Flowers.” Flowers is with the caucus and will return media calls to Stoner by asking what questions will be asked him.
Pike says she wishes the House would do the same thing so “we wouldn’t have 800 answers to the same question, which makes it so easy to pick off our legislators.”
Having been around politics before Pike and Flowers were potty-trained, I will say that is about as dumb a thing as I have ever seen or heard.
If Democrats are so simple-minded they can’t be trusted to answer a question properly from the media — which, by the way, is a pass-through to voters and constituents — then they are not qualified to hold public office.
Assuming Hunter Hill is going to roll Stoner like a cheap cigarette on Nov. 6, Republicans will have a super majority and Democrats will become even more irrelevant. Liz Flowers won’t need to worry about screening calls. Georgia Democrats will be full of sound and fury, signify nothing.
Power can do strange things to good people.
If someone from the Republican Caucus suggests screening your calls and blocking the media from talking to you, tell them to go microchip their body parts. You work for the constituents. Stay in touch with them.
In defense of screening calls for candidates, I note that it’s not unheard of for reporters to call just hours before deadline on a story that nowhere includes the words “breaking news” and a candidate who is, say, preparing for a televised debate, may not feel the same sense of urgency the writer wishes to impart. It also allows staff to ensure that the candidates has any facts, legislation, etc. available if he or she is going to be asked about it, rather than have to call back after shuffling papers or reviewing the subject of the story. Finally, in down-ballot races, ninety percent of the questions asked by reporters will be the same as have been asked and answered a dozen times. Allow us to send you written answers to these, and the candidate will have more time to answer fully and thoughtfully the specific and unique questions that may be specific to your media outlet.
After meeting in a called, closed-door session for two hours Oct. 24, the Cherokee County Board of Elections emerged to vote to authorize a motion for county Superintendent of Elections Janet Munda to challenge Poole’s qualifications and eligibility to seek and hold office and set a hearing on the matter. The controversy centers around whether Poole can legally hold office under the Georgia Constitution while owing unpaid taxes.
The AJC notes that enforcement of the state’s law against texting while driving appears to be low.
In the two years after a ban on texting while driving in Georgia took effect on July 1, 2010, state records reveal that fewer than 50 people a month have been convicted of the offense, for a total of 1,281 convictions as of Sept. 17. That’s a small fraction of the 22,500 people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the same time frame. The Department of Driver Services (DDS) only tracks convictions, not the number of citations issued, DDS spokeswoman Susan Sports said.
Many law enforcement officers say the law is difficult to enforce. State troopers have only issued an average of 11 citations a month since the law took effect.
Lt. Les Wilburn, assistant troop commander for the Georgia State Patrol, said troopers have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking. Most drivers simply stash their phone when a cop is in sight, he said.
To effectively prevent texting while driving, I recommend installation of something called a “spouse” in the passenger seat of your car. An alternative to that device is a “parent” or “tattletale sibling who receive money for reporting older brother/sister.”
Last week the federal government gave final regulatory approval to deepen the river to 47 feet, from its current 42 feet, at a cost of $652 million.
Georgia has already put up $181 million for its cost-share portion of the deepening tab, including $47 million last year. Deal, during a brief interview following the annual State of the Ports luncheon at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, said he’ll probably request a similar amount from the General Assembly come January.
“We haven’t finalized our figure yet,” the governor said, “but it’s safe to say we’ll be in keeping with what we’ve given in years past.”
Savannah is the nation’s fourth busiest container port and moved a record 3 million containers the last fiscal year. Nearly 100,000 jobs in metro Atlanta alone are directly tied to the distribution of goods that come through Savannah and the port at Brunswick.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a final “record of decision” last Friday allowing 32 miles of Savannah river and harbor to be deepened so ever-larger container ships can ply the waterway. Foltz called the decision “really great news for Georgia and anyone in the Southeast who uses our port for commerce.”
With Hurricane Sandy closing major deepwater ports from Virginia to New York, a domino effect has delays stretching up and down the coast and into the nation’s heartland.
“This storm has definitely disrupted shipping along the Eastern Seaboard,” said Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
“Already, we’ve had a number of vessels that were scheduled to be in port by today either delayed or rerouted,” he said. “Ultimately, this is going to affect trade — unfortunately in the middle of peak retail season.”
The northeastern U.S. ports supply 170 million U.S. and Canadian customers with cargo goods. Disruption to these ports is also expected to have a significant impact on supplies like food and oil to the region.
CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp., the two main Eastern railroads, are telling customers to expect at least three days of traffic delays in the affected areas. For truckers, travel in the region will remain difficult, though some road restrictions are being eased as the storm passes through.
I’ll be in Savannah in December and would like to hear any recommendations for good bird-watching or train-watching in the area. Also, nominations for best seafood will be accepted, and a couple places may be reviewed.
His passion for animals and his willingness to serve the community has led to the formation of two new endeavors meant to keep dogs and cats from being put to sleep and providing affordable veterinarian services for those who can’t afford it.
The American Veterinary Animal Welfare Foundation was launched last year as a way to rescue animals in local shelters that would otherwise be euthanized, and to help offset some of the free veterinary care he and his staff often provide.
“We are rescuing dogs off death row at the shelters,” said Deborah York, president of the Animal Welfare Foundation. “We’re bringing them in, vetting them and finding them homes.”
The non-profit foundation relies entirely on donations. Since receiving its rescue license in May, nearly 100 pets have been rescued by the foundation. Though the foundation rescues animals it is not a drop-off location for people who simply don’t want their animals.
Once a month, the foundation has a booth at PetSmart in Douglasville where it offers animals for adoption, and all the animals are on display at Petfinder.com. The cost of adoption is $150 for males and $200 for females, which covers an animal being fully vetted, microchipped and spayed/neutered.
Besides donated funds, the foundation has set up a thrift store at its previous clinic building across from its current location on Thomas Dorsey Drive — once a month items are sold and the money goes to pet rescue. Items to be sold can be donated by contacting Atlanta West Veterinary Hospital.
Burnett and his staff provide about 15 to 20 hours a week of what they refer to as “community service,” which is veterinary care for those who can’t afford to pay. Donations to the foundation also will go toward helping fund some of these pro bono services.
“We’re trying to serve the community and make a living too,” Burnett said.
Burnett and fellow veterinarian Steve Hathcock will launch the Bay Springs Clinic on Nov. 13, which will provide affordable spay/neuter procedures and other smaller veterinary services. The clinic will be located behind Vaughn Tile on Highway 61 North.
Over the weekend, Early and Advance voting surpassed the one million mark, with 99,979 votes being cast according to the latest absentee voter file from the Secretary of State’s office. Of the early/advance voters on Saturday for whom the SOS reported a “Last Party Primary,” 54% had last voted in a Republican Primary and 46% in a Democratic Primary.
Gwinnett County Animal Shelter runs a “Black Friday Sale” with adoptions of dogs and cats with black or majority-black coats costing only $30, a significant discount over the normal cost of $90 and a probably less expensive than the first set of vaccinations, which all of these dogs have received.
27904 above is described as “a treasure” by volunteers at the shelter, and “likes to retrieve a ball & lets you take it from his mouth. He doesn’t look to have been stray for long – appears well-kept, also he is non-reactive to other dogs. He’s small-statured and an absolute ball of fun! Would make a great companion all-around.” Unfortunately, he’s also listed as “urgent,” which means in danger of euthanasia. If someone adopts him today, a sponsor will cover the difference between the normal price and the “sale” price.