Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert thanked commissioners this week for their unanimity in passing the consolidated government’s first annual budget of $159 million. That vote took place Monday, the last day of the old fiscal year. Nobody got everything they wanted, and some commissioners had to “swallow hard,” but their final agreement sent a strong signal that the city-county merger is working out, Reichert said.
The vote was 8-0, with Commissioner Gary Bechtel voting via Skype. The only absence was Commissioner Mallory Jones, who explained on Tuesday.
“I came in at 5:05 and you had already passed the budget,” Jones said. After repeatedly revising funding for outside agencies in committee meetings, commissioners didn’t hold any last-minute debates before the budget’s final passage.
WARNER ROBINS — A former City Council candidate is seeking the city’s support in building a safe haven for the region’s young homosexuals.
Neal Erwin plans to present some of his ideas during a public comment period at Monday’s City Council meeting. He told The Telegraph he’s mulling over several general ideas, such as a club for gay teens and people in their early 20s that could incorporate HIV and AIDS testing. It also could include a home schooling program.
“If they’re being bullied at school, maybe this could be an alternative for them,” said Erwin, 44, who said he remembered what it was like being a young gay man.
“You didn’t dare tell anybody. Your friends were dying of AIDS. … The same struggles I had back then are the same struggles today. You have parents kicking teens out because they’re gay,” Erwin said. He said he joined the U.S. Army and lived 10 years under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Erwin said there was not a specific incident or issue leading him to want to create a safe haven. He envisions a place that would be welcoming to anyone.
WARNER ROBINS — Brig. Gen. Cedric George won’t be serving a third year as commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.
That had seemed to be a growing possibility, but late Thursday the base confirmed that he is leaving.
The date has not been set, but the new commander will be Brig. Gen. (select) Walter Lindsley. Lindsley is director of staff at Air Force Materiel Command headquarters.
George is headed to a job at Air Force headquarters as director of system integration in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support.
George will hold a place in Robins Air Force Base history as the first commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. The unit was created two years ago as a part of Air Force Materiel Command’s reorganization.
ATLANTA — The Associated Press sat down recently with the two Republicans competing for Georgia’s open Senate seat to discuss three key issues. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue will meet in a runoff July 22, and the winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the fall. Below is a discussion on tax reform and how to tackle the nation’s $17.5 trillion debt. Candidate remarks have been edited in some places for length.
AP: Do you believe the United States can substantially reduce its debt by only cutting spending and not seeking additional sources of revenue, and what sort of additional revenues might be possible?
KINGSTON: I believe we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem, that we have to rein in spending. There is a lot of duplications. For example, there are 47 different federal job training programs. And that would mean 47 managers, 47 locations, 47 desks, 47 sets of telephones and policies and letterheads. We actually have passed in the House a bill that consolidates those and reduces it down. And maybe you don’t need (just) one but you don’t need 47 federal job training programs. … Number two, the waste of the programs. There is a 16 percent error rate in school lunch and 25 percent in school breakfast. Surely, Democrats and Republicans could agree on let’s go after that kind of documented waste that the inspectors general have pointed out.
PERDUE: First of all, I don’t believe the answer to our problem is increasing taxes. That just can’t happen. We’ve proven that time and time again. Nor do I believe that we can solve this debt crisis just by cutting spending. … To solve the debt crisis, we have to cut spending, but we also have to get the economy going and that increases revenue without increasing taxes. We have over $2 trillion sitting offshore in foreign banks. These are U.S. profits trapped overseas because of our tax laws. We are the only developed country that has a repatriation tax law on foreign profits, and those monies inadvertently get invested over there. I think you can get bipartisan support for changing that one part of the tax code, I really do. I think that’s a short-term, that can be done right now. And those dollars would come flying, I believe, back into the economy and be invested in creating capital investment and jobs.
Chatham County is continuing to underpay what the city of Savannah says it’s owed for certain police costs due to an ongoing disagreement about their respective obligations.
The disputed amount totals more than $1.1 million with $275,158 in under payments through May 15 this year and $845,064 in 2013, according to city records obtained by the Savannah Morning News.
Cherokee County Elections Supervisor Janet Munda was fired Wednesday amid a criminal investigation initiated in June into allegations she used a county credit card for unauthorized purchases.
The Cherokee County Board of Elections voted unanimously at a specially called meeting to terminate Munda from her appointed position as elections supervisor and voter registrar, effective immediately.
A letter of termination outlined seven county policies Munda was accused of violating, including misconduct, carelessness or negligence with county money, inappropriate handling of county funds and failure to follow procedure for use of county funds.
Munda could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said no charges had been filed as of Wednesday, and the criminal investigation was expected to continue for at least a few more weeks, as county credit card records going back more than a year are obtained by authorities.
A Canton resident is filing ethics complaints against Carolyn Cosby, a Ball Ground resident planning to run as an independent candidate against Cherokee Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens in November.
Garrett Jamieson said he mailed complaints to the state ethics commission Monday, contending Cosby has violated Georgia campaign law by not registering the Canton T.E.A. Party or Georgians for Healthcare Freedom as political committees.
Jamieson alleges in the complaints each group collects money and spends it on their causes, making them subject to state ethics law requiring such organizations to be registered with the ethics commission and report financials. According to state law, groups using money to affect the outcome of an election — whether it is related to a candidate, referendum, recall or ballot question — must register as a committee and file financial disclosures.
Cosby, a 63-year-old Maine native and longtime critic of Cherokee government, said neither group has any reason to report to the state ethics commission. She said the complaints show her political opponents are “fishing” for something against her.
“They’re looking for something, but there’s nothing to be found,” said Cosby, who must turn in the signatures of nearly 6,000 registered county voters to elections officials by July 8 to make it on the ballot. “I’ve been waiting for them to make complaints. I knew they were going to. Anybody can make an accusation. These are unfounded accusations. They’re on a fishing expedition. They’re hoping to find some infraction; that’s all this is about.”
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners is considering an increase in taxes to address issues at the sheriff’s office and fire department with deputies and firefighters leaving for more pay elsewhere.
After a 3-1 vote during their meeting Tuesday night, commissioners are considering a potential millage rate of up to 10.268 mills for this coming year, with a final vote expected July 24. The potential rate, which would be up 0.321 mills from this year, would cover a 10-percent pay hike for deputies and firefighters, and a 2-percent increase for other county employees.
Commissioner Jason Nelms was absent.
Commissioner Harry Johnston cast the only vote against the increase, which he said “deeply troubled” him. According to Johnston, it would result in an increase of about 10 percent for the average homeowner because of changes in the county’s tax digest.
The first week of early voting for the July 22 general primary runoff election wrapped up Thursday, as the Cherokee Elections office was closed Friday for the Fourth of July holiday.
Early voting began June 30, and interim Elections Supervisor Kim Stancil said turnout has been decent, but she expects early voting to pick up as Election Day nears.
“The turnout has been light to average,” Stancil said Thursday. “This is the first week and people are getting ready for the holiday.”
The last day for early voting is July 18, four days before the general primary runoff election to decide two local races and several state and federal elections.
Another piece of revisionist history from Barry Loudermilk. Thomas Jefferson was not the youngest member of the Second Continental Congress. Loudermilk told the Marietta Daily Journal:
“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that changed the entire world. He was the youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress, and so I think it’s a good idea to bring somebody new.”