The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, sharply criticized by a county task force for “gross mismanagement” 18 months ago, has cut its euthanasia rate nearly in half over the past five years, records show.
The 2012 report from the commission-appointed task force cited problems like animals being euthanized daily while the shelter sat mostly empty. Rescue groups were given as little as 45 minutes to find new homes for animals before they were scheduled to be euthanized. The shelter’s management was disorganized and most staff generally acted with “indifference, intolerance and apathy,” the report said.
However, Gwinnett now has one of the lowest euthanasia rates among metro area county animal shelters, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 2013 rate was 31 percent, down from 59 percent in 2009.
“Every effort is made now not to euthanize,” said Curtis Northrup, chairman of the county’s Animal Advisory Council. “The culture is, ‘Let’s save these animals.’”
A plan to put private organizations in charge of Georgia’s approximately 7,000 foster children is moving too fast for some child advocates who want more study before overhauling the system.
Gov. Nathan Deal last week announced plans to turn over aspects of the state’s child-protection system to private organizations after revelations of widespread failings by the agency. A bill could be introduced this session that would call for changes as early as 2015, said sources familiar with the legislation.
The sleeper issue wasn’t expected to gain traction during this speedy legislative session, but a looming federal deadline related to foster care funding has ignited a sense of urgency. Rick Jackson, a Georgia executive and philanthropist pushing the change, said the state will need to get a spending waiver from the federal government this year to make privatization a possibility.
“It’s kind of a now-or-never proposition,” he said. “It’s forced us to evaluate whether this is right for Georgia.”
But some advocates aren’t sure it is right for Georgia. Melissa Carter, director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University’s School of Law, said the waiver will give the state more flexibility on how it spends foster care dollars, but privatization isn’t the only way to make changes.
“There is not consensus from anyone who would be impacted in Georgia’s child welfare system that this is the right strategy to pursue,” she said. “The pace makes everyone anxious.”
Cobb County school board leaders met Saturday and plan to vote Wednesday on whether to accept Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s unexpected announcement that he will resign in May.
The board met in private session for several hours about Hinojosa’s planned exit, said school board chairman Kathleen Angelucci, who declined to give details. The board will vote on the matter at its regular meeting Wednesday at board offices, 514 Glover St., Marietta.
Georgia’s history is a goldmine of corruption, and David Beasley, a former editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has reached in and grabbed a few glittering chunks for examination. “Without Mercy” is his chronicle of the state’s troubled political scene during the Depression years.
Scrutinizing the sleazy reign of Gov. E.D. Rivers — the Democrat once named a “great titan” of the Ku Klux Klan — the author organizes much of “Without Mercy” around the electric chair executions of six black men in 81 minutes at Reidsville’s Tattnall Prison on Dec. 9, 1938. Beasley describes the event as “an assembly line of death.”
For Georgia’s African Americans, “justice” was sudden: A majority of the six condemned at Tattnall had only two months between their arrests and their high-voltage destiny. Their legal defense was minimal. The executioner, an electrician who worked at the Grant Park Zoo, was paid $75 per prisoner. Some of the convicted accepted their fates with equanimity; one warned ominously, “I’m gonna tell God how you done me.”
Circumstances were different for their various white contemporaries – 2,000 of whom were pardoned, including a country preacher who bumped off his son to collect on a life insurance policy; a brazen gunman who rubbed out the boss of an illegal lottery, known locally as the “bug”; and most sensational of all, the murder of a pharmacist by two millionaire fraternity boys from Oglethorpe University: Richard Gallogly, a grandson of the Atlanta Journal’s owner, and George Harsh, who would one day secure minor notoriety in “The Great Escape” World War II saga. All received commutations from Gov. E. D. Rivers. It was a notorious pardons racket, for those who could pay.
Your Georgia Desk:
From Senator Jeff Mullis: (R – Chickamauga)
20 Down, 20 to Go
The Georgia General Assembly is now halfway through the 40-day legislative session and just days away from a significant deadline. The 30th day of the legislative session—also known as Crossover Day—is the last day for Senate bills to transfer to the House for consideration, and vice versa. We are now deep into the committee process and each committee is reviewing its assigned bills. It’s important that each bill is carefully vetted to make sure it’s impact will be positive for all Georgians, and that these same bills are free of unintended consequences or negative impact.
The Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court delivers the State of the Judiciary address to the Georgia General Assembly each year. This event was observed by a joint session of the Senate and House last week. Continue reading
Your Washington Desk:
From Senator Johnny Isakson
A Weekly e-Newsletter from
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
February 7, 2014
This week, the Senate passed the conference report for H.R.2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the Farm Bill. The conference report provides $8 billion in new savings from reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which issues food stamps, largely by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the system and by strengthening work requirements for benefit eligibility. It also includes strong provisions on forestry and conservation that are important to Georgia. I was proud to vote for this bipartisan farm bill because it is vital to Georgia agriculture, which is our state’s number one industry, and it will ensure that we continue meeting the needs of farmers in Georgia and the Southeast.
Official Report on the Job-Killing Effects of Obamacare
On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report with findings that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will reduce the workforce by the equivalent of 2 million full-time workers by 2017 and 2.5 million full-time workers by 2024. Continue reading
ATLANTA — Georgia’s top judge said Wednesday too many people in the state — especially among poor and rural populations — don’t get the legal services they need.
Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Thompson made the remarks during his first annual State of the Judiciary speech before a joint session of the Legislature.
“Most of us grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance at school, in which we promised ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I don’t believe we ever meant, ‘liberty and justice only for those who can afford it,’” Thompson said.
Seventy percent of the state’s lawyers work in five counties in metro Atlanta, and six counties have no lawyers at all, he said. Because of inadequate legal services, courts statewide are seeing an increase in the number of people representing themselves, he said.
ATLANTA — The top federal prosecutor in northern Georgia and the state’s governor said Wednesday that the state and federal governments need to work with community and business leaders to help former prisoners readjust to life outside prison.
Speaking at an event on prisoner re-entry, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates and Gov. Nathan Deal urged business leaders to give people who have been convicted of a felony a fair chance in the hiring process.
Roughly two-thirds of the people released from state prisons and 40 percent of those released from federal prisons end up committing another offense within three years, and a lack of employment is a big reason for the high recidivism rates, Yates said. Literacy programs, substance abuse treatment and housing assistance are helpful for people recently released from prison, she said, “but if they don’t have a job, it’s pretty much all for naught.”
Yates said that simply prosecuting and jailing people is not going to make communities safer. She said effective prevention and re-entry measures are also needed.
Deal said the state has a moral and financial obligation to ensure that prisoners are better equipped and more skilled when they come out than when they were locked up.
“I see no reason why anyone should be released from a Georgia state prison unless they have achieved a high school diploma” or a GED certificate, he said.
ATLANTA — Lawmakers, interns and clerks got to try out pairs of the Google Glass wearable computer Thursday as representatives of the search-engine company sought to head off possible efforts to outlaw use of the technology while driving.
The gadget is worn like glasses with only one small lens that serves as the screen for viewing the internet, from video to newspaper websites and anything else that’s online. Commands are given either by voice or taps along the frame of the glasses, and manipulation takes considerable concentration for first-time wearers.
It is still in testing and isn’t available for purchase yet, so it wasn’t discussed four years ago when lawmakers passed Georgia’s law against texting while driving. The company says that means Google Glass isn’t prohibited.
“It’s hands-free. You use your voice. It’s heads-up,” said Wilson White, the corporate public-policy manager.
He argues that anti-texting laws haven’t succeeded in reducing accidents because now drivers take their eyes off of the road longer because they hold their cellphones lower to keep from being caught.
“We know people are going to do it,” he said.
Google is considering sponsoring research to prove its gizmo is no more distracting than other technology accepted in automobiles, such as in-dash internet screens.
For now, it’s not asking for specific legislation or fighting to stop any already introduced.
“What we don’t want is premature legislation that will stifle innovation,” White said.
MARIETTA — A Georgia man has been found guilty but mentally ill after threatening to eat the family of a judge in metro Atlanta.
Cobb County prosecutors said Thursday 59-year-old James Edward Satterfield was convicted on multiple counts involving terroristic threats.
Sentencing isn’t set, but authorities say the man is likely to get a prison term with psychiatric treatment.
The threats involved Cobb Superior Court Judge Reuben Green, who presided over Satterfield’s divorce. The case ended in July 2012.
A prosecutor and police say Satterfield sent a letter to the judge’s wife months later threatening to kill the judge’s children and eat them.