DeKalb Commissioners OK Salary Increases, Ethics Programs With Budget Vote | WABE 90.1 FM

With a 4-2 vote, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved its mid-year budget, which includes salary increases for county employees and some new ethics watchdog positions.

The more than $554 million budget increases spending by 2 percent over last year, while keeping property tax rates flat.

Interim CEO Lee May said the spending plan, which also allows for at least $36 million to be set aside in reserves, shows the county is moving in the right financial direction.

“We are looking good,” May said. “We’re putting more money in reserves than we ever have in recent history, and we’re funding the critical mission of our county.”

via DeKalb Commissioners OK Salary Increases, Ethics Programs With Budget Vote | WABE 90.1 FM.

Solution Still Unclear As Atlanta City Council And APS Discuss Beltline Contract Dispute | WABE 90.1 FM

A joint meeting Tuesday between the Atlanta City Council and board members of Atlanta Public Schools ended with both sides acknowledging the need to solve a contract dispute over Atlanta Beltline debt.

The solution, however, remains unclear.

APS says it’s due millions for giving up a portion of its property tax money for the Beltline, but the city disputes the school system’s figures.

via Solution Still Unclear As Atlanta City Council And APS Discuss Beltline Contract Dispute | WABE 90.1 FM.

Could Self-Driving Cars Be Coming To Georgia? One Politician Hopes So

ATLANTA — Self–driving cars– they’re not science fiction any more.

Georgia legislators are so serious about the idea, they want to pass a law that would make those cars legal on the road.

Representative Trey Kelley (R- Cedartown) leads a house committee that will study autonomous vehicle technology.

He says that technology is coming, so Georgia needs to figure out how to deal with it.

“We’re still somewhere 10 to 15 years away from full implementation, but it’s important to start looking into how to further develop this technology and prepare for tomorrow when it gets here,” said Kelley. “20 years ago, people were walking around with briefcases and calling them cellphones, so as technology moves even faster, that’s something that can catch on and we need to be ready for.”

via Could Self-Driving Cars Be Coming To Georgia? One Politician Hopes So.

Local attorney says hundreds of border kids arriving in Metro… | www.wsbtv.com

ATLANTA — Local nonprofits working with unaccompanied minors from other countries estimate thousands of them are trying to get to Georgia or have already reunited with family here.

Now that humanitarian crisis at the border is reaching 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.

via Local attorney says hundreds of border kids arriving in Metro… | www.wsbtv.com.

Cleveland tops Dallas in bid to host RNC in 2016 – Northwest Georgia News: National

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cleveland won the unanimous backing of a Republican National Committee panel on Tuesday, all but guaranteeing the GOP’s 2016 presidential pick will accept the party’s nomination in perennially hard-fought Ohio.

The Republicans’ site selection committee backed Cleveland over donor-rich Dallas, and the full 168-member RNC is expected to ratify the choice next month. The move signals the role Ohio — and its 18 electoral votes— plays in presidential campaigns.

“As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race,” said party Chairman Reince Priebus.

The RNC did not announce a start date for the convention but Priebus said that June 28 or July 18, 2016, are the two options under consideration. An earlier-than-normal convention was a priority for Priebus, and leaders of Dallas’ bid said the calendar was the main factor running against the Texas city.

via Cleveland tops Dallas in bid to host RNC in 2016 – Northwest Georgia News: National.

Polk’s first week of early voting sees 275 people out at the polls – : Local

Voters will be able to get to the polls early at the Polk County Administration Building, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the elections office.

Elections director Karen Garmon said Rockmart voters will get their own polling place at the Nathan Dean Center the week of July 14 through 18. The polls will be open in Rockmart that week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well.

Following the first week of voting – minus the day lost to the July 4 holiday – the elections office reported 275 voters came to cast their ballots at the poll.

Voting continues until July 18, the Friday before the runoff election on July 22.

via Polk’s first week of early voting sees 275 people out at the polls – : Local.

Middle Georgia polls see few early voters | Elections | Macon.com

Middle Georgia ballots are trickling in slowly one week after early voting began.

Bonnie Smith, deputy registrar for Macon-Bibb County’s Board of Elections, said the polls have been slower than usual.

“It’s slow because there’s so little on the ballot,” Smith said.

Charlene Maynard, elections secretary, said 496 people had voted in Macon-Bibb County as of Monday evening.

via Middle Georgia polls see few early voters | Elections | Macon.com.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Kingston for US Senate: He’s in tune with most Georgians

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.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Kingston for U S Senate He s in tune with most Georgians.

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.

 

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 9, 2014

Intake of dogs and cats at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter has become overwhelming and they’re being put in the position of having to euthanize in order to create space for more animals. All the animals there are urgent.

Gwinnett Great Dane

40383 is an adult Great Dane who was found stray and is friendly. He will be available for adoption beginning Friday, but if you’re interested, go ahead and get your paperwork in to the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Gwinnett Chihuahua

40276 is an adult Chihuahua who is scared and unfriendly. Shelters are stressful for dogs and cats and most will come out of there shells when they get into a home.

Gwinnett Goldenish

40128 is a young male Golden Retriever mix puppy who is medium-sized, friendly, and ready to go home for a discounted $30 adoption fee.

Gwinnett Baby Pit

39661 is a young female puppy who is listed as a pit bull, but looks every bit as much a Lab mix to me. She is friendly and energetic.

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