The blog.


Medical marijuana supporters gear up for next chapter

ATLANTA — Supporters of medical marijuana in Georgia are revving up for a new fight.

Last year the state passed landmark legislation, enabling access in certain cases to medical marijuana. But supporters said even then what they say today: the legislation did not go far enough.

“I think it’s a logical first step,” said Rep. Allen Peake of Macon. “But we have got to deal with the access issue. That’s crucial if we’re going to come up with a solution for Georgia citizens.”

The focal points this year: better access and in-state cultivation. Georgians can possess cannabis oil to treat severe forms of certain illnesses, but for now, they can’t obtain it legally.

via Medical marijuana supporters gear up for next chapter.


Trump to Atlanta October 10th | Political Insider blog

Toward the very end of this piece on Donald Trump and the televangelizing crowd is a small mention that The Donald may be headed to Atlanta on Oct. 10 for a meeting with black pastors.

Think of the possibilities of a Donald Trump/Creflo Dollar ticket.

via Paul Broun heads up effort to oust next House speaker — before he’s elected | Political Insider blog.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2015

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Former President Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The lobbying public policy juggernaut that is Dentons, formerly McKenna Long & Aldridge, began a road tour inaugurating their new practice in Washington, DC last night.

Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich, settling into their new roles at the global law firm Dentons, took the mike on Tuesday evening at a private reception in Washington, D.C., where colleagues and business contacts gathered for a night of celebration to inaugurate the firm’s new public policy team formed by the July 1 merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge.

“We are going to Cairo!… and then London!… and then we are going to those places and a lot more!” Dean said in a tongue-and-cheek speech before the crowd at the Zaytinya restaurant in Penn Quarter, imitating his famous rally cry during his 2004 presidential run.

Dean joined McKenna Long & Aldridge in 2009 after serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and this year teamed up with Gingrich once the former Republican speaker of the House joined his newly-merged firm, now known as Dentons, in May.

“I’m a futurist, and this is the world’s largest law firm — I’m going to have 3,700 Chinese colleagues — it can’t get any better than this,” said Gingrich, white wine in hand, grabbing a quick minute with Big Law Business at the event.

And as it turns out, there may have been more behind Dean’s playful rallying words: Eric Tanenblatt, the co-practice leader of Dentons’ U.S. public policy and regulation practice, said that the firm intends to take Dean and Gingrich “on a road show,” from New York to Los Angeles and more cities where they will speak their views on the latest policy issues.

The Dentons Public Policy Practice road show will pull into Atlanta on October 27, 2015.

Government to Stay Open

Yesterday, every Congressional Democrat and 91 Republican voted to pass a Continuing Resolution by a 277-151 margin. For Conservaatives who thought Boehner leaving office would lead to more conservative policy, it was a disappointment.

The Senate passed a Continuing Resolution by a 78-20 margin, with all 20 no votes coming from Republicans.

Roll Call notes that Rep. Tom Price voted against the spending measure, while his opponent in the Majority Leader race, Steve Scalise, voted in favor.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is the favorite to succeed Boehner as speaker, voted for the bill, along with Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who wants to be the majority leader, and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who wants to be whip. Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, who is also said to be eyeing a bid for whip, voted “yes” as well.

Those who voted “no” included Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, who is running for majority leader, and Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who also running for whip. Rep. Dennis A. Ross of Florida might also be running for whip, and he, too, voted against the CR.

AJC Political Insider Daniel Malloy has the vote breakdown of Georgia’s Senators and Representatives:

Senate — Yes: David Perdue (R) and Johnny Isakson (R)

House — Yes: Sanford Bishop (D-Albany), Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), John Lewis (D-Atlanta), Austin Scott (R-Tifton), David Scott (D-Atlanta) and Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).

No: Rick Allen (R-Evans), Buddy Carter (R-Pooler), Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Tom Graves (R-Ranger), Jody Hice (R-Monroe), Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), Tom Price (R-Roswell) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County).

Daniel Malloy also brings news that Democratic Congressman John Lewis (Atlanta) will seek reelection next year to a 16th term.

DeKalb County Corruption Report Released

DeKalb BOC sign

Yesterday, independent investigator and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers released a 40-page report on his findings with Investigator Richard Hyde in the DeKalb County corruption probe. Click here to pick up your own copy.

Channel 2 News discussed the report:

Bowers and Hyde call the misspending and mismanagement they uncovered in DeKalb appalling corruption caused by a complete absence of leadership.

The report recommended that interim CEO Lee May resign immediately.

“He needs to resign because there is a total absence of leadership in that county,” Bowers told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher.

[Interim CEO Lee] May calls the investigation absurd.

“The content of this report is at best laughable. At worst it’s pitiful. And I can’t be any stronger than that. And that has absolutely nothing to do with asking me to resign. If that’s the thought, so be it. And I’ll answer that question for you right now, I’m not resigning,” May said during a late-afternoon news conference.

“The giving of money to charities becomes sort of a campaign slush fund for folks. That’s what it becomes,” Bowers said.

Here’s what Channel 2 chose to focus their 11 PM coverage on last night:

They questioned $36 that May spent on an in-room movie and $222 on a massage at a hotel in Hawaii — paid for by taxpayers.

May was asked if the movie was adult in nature and he denied that it was.

“Absolutely it was not an adult movie. I watched a litany of movies and I believe that’s the totality of movies,” May said.

But Channel 2 Action News confirmed with the hotel that it was in fact a purchase for adult movies.

“Mr. Hyde asked him about those. He said that he would give us the documentation showing that he had paid that back, but he never did,” Bowers said.

Here’s why this issue isn’t going away. Two of the dominant media outlets in Atlanta – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB – get to take credit for the investigation every time they run a story, ensuring that neither of them will get tired of running stories on the investigation any time soon.

Much of what was spotlighted in Wednesday’s report was first exposed by a series of Channel 2 Action News/Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigations last year.

We questioned tens of thousands of dollars in retail purchases without receipts, the buying of gift cards that were given away with no documentation and tens of thousands of dollars that commissioners donated to various charities.

We also exposed numerous purchases that appeared to be for personal use, including some commissioners’ legal bills.

Also coming under fire in the report is District Attorney Robert James.

The report also accuses DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James of refusing to cooperate with the investigation. James says the report is false. If anyone were to face corruption charges, James would be the one that would announce them.

Where the report becomes more troubling to the District Attorney is the allegations of Open Records Act violations on page 5 of the report:

the district attorney, Robert James, in clear violation of the Georgia Open Records Act, flatly refused to even respond to our letters requesting documents that could have explained his questionable spending. Instead, he complained to Mr. May about our request. Mr. May then wrote a letter to James stating that our request was “beyond the scope of the Executive Order.”

Whatever confidence we had in Mr. May ended when we received, through the news media, his “Dear Robert” apology written to the district attorney. That letter also gave the appearance that Mr. May was attempting to help Mr. James cover-up misconduct. The law requires these public records, indicating how funds were spent by Mr. James, to be available for inspection at all times to anyone. As a result of Mr. May’s interference, and Mr. James’ refusal to follow the law, we were unable to determine if expenses incurred by the district attorney were appropriate or legal.

At some point, a complaint will be filed with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens about alleged violations of the Open Records Act. If Olens finds that violations occurred, the District Attorney’s office will be fighting on two fronts against the current AG and a former one.

Scoring on the Bowers Report

Lee May comes out as a loser in this report. The investigators suggestion that he resign captured the headlines, and the “movie” expenditure would embarrass any human being with a sense of shame. I’m guessing that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney will do more than simply file these charges away. As Bowers noted, the indictment of former DeKalb County employee Bob Lundsten sets the bar for prosecutions on misuse of county funds. One of the charges against Lundsten appears to have been over a $22 expenditure and there will be many that meet that level or worse.

District Attorney Robert James also takes a hit with allegations that he stonewalled the investigation and violated the Open Records Act. James is already opposed for reelection next year by the very able Sherry Boston and this is a major hit to his chances at the ballot box.

Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton is the BOC member who faces the worst prospects, with payments of more than $34k to her then-boyfriend from county taxpayer dollars.

Three winners emerge from the report. As CBS46 notes,

The report calls for five of DeKalb County’s seven commissioners to resign. Commissioners Nancy Jester and Mereda Davis Johnson were not named as corrupt.

Also emerging as a winner is John Ernst, who is currently running for Mayor of Brookhaven and during the period under investigation was Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics. From pages 34-35

the [county Board of Ethics] was inactive from 2003 until late 2013. During this decade, there was a total of $36,000 budgeted for the ethics board. According to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for that period only $3,000 was spent.

According to former Director John Ernst, the Ethics Board became active in late 2013, after the indictment of CEO Burrell Ellis. For 2014, the budget was $215,000, but only $71,000 was spent. Recently, the board imposed a public reprimand on a county commissioner, which is the first such action the board has taken in over a decade.

As a disclaimer, I will note that I am supporting Ernst for Mayor of Brookhaven, where Mrs. GaPundit and I make our home.

Also a net winner is DeKalb County Solicitor Sherry Boston. Her office was dinged over a single $175 payment that the investigators questioned, but the additional ammunition her campaign for DA picks up against her opponent, incumbent District Attorney Robert James far outweighs that small negative.

While it would be premature for the LaVista Hills and Tucker cityhood movements to take a victory lap, their prospects of passage have been enhanced by the widespread corruption uncovered at the county.

In closing for today, let me say this. Some of the allegations in the report include truly small change – a $6 charge by the Fleet Management Department stands out. But corruption is like termites in your home. No single insect does much damage, as a $6 charge is tiny compared to a county operations budget that exceeds $1 billion per year. But the cumulative damages of thousands of insects doing a little damage can undermine your home’s foundation. The cumulative effect of many tiny acts of corruption and incompetence similarly undermines public trust in their government, especially elected leaders.

In this context, the $800k cost of the investigation is less than one-tenth of one percent of the current year’s county budget of $1.33 billion. That’s like paying $120 to have a termite inspection on a $200,000 house. If you suspect something’s going on, better to find out now and start treatment than to continue burying your head in the sand.

Brookhaven Mayoral Race

Yesterday, the AJC Political Insider profiled Dale Boone, the professional competitive eater who is also running for Mayor of Brookhaven.

Donald Trump has shown us how celebrity can vault you into the upper reaches of American politics. Boone may be about to learn how fickle that power can be.

“I’m not a competitive eater. I’m the defending world champion. There’s a huge difference. I’m the top one,” the 49-year-old Boone said.

Over Labor Day weekend, Boone won a hotdog-eating contest on Tybee Island. “That was a good-bye wave. Everyone was upset and crying,” the big man said. Boone has promised to give up his profession should he win on Nov. 3.

“I can be your full-time mayor at part-time pay. I’ll get this thing straightened out,” Boone said. Fighting crime and establishing an independent city school system are on his agenda.



Adoptable Georgia Dogs for October 1, 2015

In September, the “Fall in Love” free adoptions at DeKalb Animal Services and Fulton Animal Services resulted in many successful adoptions, but they continue to take in between 20 and 40 animals per day. So, they’re extending the free adoptions through the month of October. Here are a few of the dogs looking for new homes.


Graham is a 9-month old, 38-pound Black Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services. He’s already neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to go home.

Hi, my name is Graham, I”m looking for my forever home. My foster parents have taught me how to `go` outside and I now go to the back door and cry when I need to go out. I am also crate trained. I do enjoy big bones which helps a lot with my teething. I am learning leash manners and I know how to sit on command! We are presently working on `stay.` I have lots of puppy energy and would love to have room to run and play with my new family. I have lots of love and kisses to give and will be forever faithful to my new family.

Bernie Lomax

Bernie and Lomax are a pair of small male Labrador Retriever mixes who are available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services.


Fiona is an adult female Flat-Coated Retriever mix who is available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services.


The Full Bowers Report on DeKalb County

Click below to download.

Dekalb County Bowers Report


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 30, 2015

Wyoming adopted the first state constitution to allow women to vote on September 30, 1889.

In fall of 1863, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the second woman in the United States to graduate medical school, traveled to the Chattanooga area to treat soldiers wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Despite her degree, at First Manassas she was only allowed to serve as a nurse. Eventually she became an unpaid volunteer field surgeon for the Union army and served on front line battlefields for nearly two years.

In fall of 1863, in response to the dire medical needs, she was transferred to a Union hospital in Chattanooga.  Finally, in September 1863, her relentless perseverance paid off, and she was awarded a commission as a “Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)” with the Union Army of the Cumberland. It was technically a civilian, not a military, position, but she did receive compensation. A few months later she was appointed a civilian contract assistant surgeon for the 52nd Ohio Infantry, a Union regiment wintering in Chattanooga.

Though she had been a civilian contractor, Walker was recognized as the first-ever female U.S. Army Surgeon. In November 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a bill awarding her the highest U.S. Armed Forces decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. The citation stated that she had “devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health.  She had also endured hardships as a prisoner of war for four months in a Southern prison.”

Walker remains today the only woman, and one of only eight civilians, ever awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke in favor of Women’s Suffrage in an address to Congress on September 30, 1918. The bill to pass the 19th Amendment would die in the Senate that year after passing the House.

On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season.

On September 30, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter led the Harris Poll for President over President Gerald Ford by a 50-41 margin. In November 1976, the popular vote tallied 50.08% for Carter to 48.01% for Ford, with an Independent taking nearly a point.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The best news I’ve heard all morning isn’t really news in the traditional sense, but came in the form of an email informing me that Amazon Prime Now has expanded to offer same-day delivery in my area.

Former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr (Smyrna) has joined the Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign as Chair of “Liberty Leaders for Cruz.”

In a statement, Barr said that Cruz understands the oath of office is a “solemn commitment” to act in accordance with the Constitution.

“Which is after all, the mechanism whereby our individual and collective freedoms as a country are secured. It is that commitment to the Constitution and to Liberty that has drawn me to serve Sen. Cruz,” Barr said.

Add State Rep. Brad Raffensperger to the list of supporters for the Georgia campaign of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams has dropped out of the November 3d election after her husband, Dick Williams, fell and broke his leg and required hip replacement.

Williams, who was appointed Mayor when former Mayor J. Max Davis resigned to run for a vacant seat in the State House of Representatives, was finishing the unexpired portion of Davis’ term and qualified to run for Mayor on her own, seeking election to a four-year term. But Williams’ campaign had gotten off to a slow start while she recovered from kidney surgery, and had to make funeral arrangements for her mother, who passed away in August.

Williams said she would not be able to care for her husband and carry out her duties as Mayor while running a campaign.

“My first priority is to take care of my family, especially my husband of 36 years,” Williams said. “I have responsibilities as the Mayor that I will not set aside. That means that campaigning would become the lowest priority, and I owe my supporters more than that. If I can’t make my campaign my first priority, I can’t really ask voters and supporters to do so. That’s why I’m ending my campaign.”

Williams had notified the city clerk of withdrawing from the race, but it was unclear at press time whether her name would still appear on ballots for the Nov. 3 election. An official with the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office said that ballots were being printed this week in anticipation of mailing absentee ballots and the start of early voting on Oct. 12.

The Brookhaven Post was able to catch up with John Ernst, one of two remaining candidates in the Brookhaven Mayor’s race.

“I spoke with Mayor Williams for a couple of hours yesterday and got the news about her withdrawal from the race,” Ernst told The Post. “I wish her husband a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the Georgia Gang soon. Mayor Williams has had a distinguished career in public service as one of the founding members of our City and the Editor of the Dunwoody Crier. I look forward to continue working with Rebecca and everyone to make Brookhaven better.”

With Williams pulling out of the race, that leaves attorney John Ernst and competitive eater Dale Boone as the remaining Candidates. This development also negates any possibility of a run-off.

On November 3rd, 2015 Brookhaven will, in fact, elect a new Mayor.

Republican DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester endorsed John Ernst after Williams dropped out.

Jester said in a release, “I first met John Ernst when he served as Chairman of the DeKalb County Ethics Board. Under his leadership, the Board became functional again and handed down its first conviction against an elected official in 15 years.”

Jester says she is endorsing John Ernst for Mayor of Brookhaven “because his experience and leadership make him uniquely qualified to keep up the good work in DeKalb’s newest city while providing the highest level of ethics, accountability, and value-added for the voters.”

“With three generations of his family – his parents, his wife and him, and their two young sons – living in Brookhaven,” Jester adds, “John Ernst is fully-invested in Brookhaven’s success for all its residents.”

Jester went on to say that her family’s prayers are with Dick Williams, who she says has has done so much for the citizens of Dunwoody and DeKalb County and with his wife and current Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams. “We wish them a speedy and full recovery and look forward to seeing them both.”

Did you catch where it says, “competitive eater Dale Boone”? The candidate for Brookhaven Mayor is one of the most interesting candidates not named after our favorite breakfast food. Here’s his logo:

Dale Boone Logo Large

That’s clearly a shooting star trailing bacon behind it. Is this the result of the popularity of Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon’s bacon-themed campaign?

The bio page on Dale Boone’s website barely notes his distinguished career as a competitive eater. So, we turned to that compendium of true facts, Wikipedia for the skinny. Among the highlights of his professional competitive eating career:

In July 2006, Boone took part in the Memphis Rib Eating Championship and emerged as victor.

Boone went on to receive the title of Perry Krystal Champ by finishing, in eight minutes, thirty-seven Krystals.

In May 2009, Boone captured the winner’s title at the inaugural World Donut Eating Championship at Bangalore, India, organised by Donut Baker.

Boone holds a total of 52 world records. Some of them are records for eating hot dogs, including having eaten ten hot dogs in two minutes and fifty-five seconds. He has also set a world record for eating twenty-eight reindeer sausages in twelve minutes. His second world record of finishing two hundred and seventy-four Russian dumplings (pelmeni) in six minutes was included in a compilation by Bleacher Report, titled “Top 10 Unbreakable and Disgusting Competitive Eating Records”. His win at the 2009 Indian donut eating contest earned him another world record for chowing down forty-four doughnuts in twelve minutes.Boone is the reigning World Champion of the World League Of Competitive Eating (WLOCE), HQ in Bangalore, India.

That’s three dozen donuts in six minutes across three rounds of competition. We are in awe.

Presidential News

Lamborghini Diablo 4

If I were looking for a reason to support Donald Trump for President, I might have found it in this: he once owned a bright blue Lamborghini Diablo Roadster and branded it with a Donald Trump plaque. The car is now for sale with an asking price of $299k. In the article about the Diablo, Lamborghini of Atlanta was cited.

I put a call in to Ed Bolian, head of sales for Lamborghini of Atlanta and the man who inherited the Cannonball Runrecord from me. Bolian’s as honest and earnest as a Lamborghini dealer can be, and I trust his judgment. He’s discreet about his politics, so I figured he’d be objective in appraising the car’s value.

“It’s probably worth $175k to 180k,” he said, “but you have to ask at least $100k more than you’ll accept. Anyway, Trump’s ownership doesn’t really add anything, because pretty much anyone who bought a Diablo back then was a celebrity.”

Orange Lamborghini Diablo 10192014

Both of the photos above are Lamborghini Diablo VTs that I photographed in Atlanta. As far as I know, neither was ever owned by Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, October 14th, Dr. Ben Carson will appear in Atlanta at a fundraising reception at Cobb Galleria. For $2700 you get a Photo Op and VIP Reception at 6 PM and will be listed as a Host. A thousand dollars gets you the VIP reception and photo and for $500 you get into the general reception at 6 PM.

With a previously announced event in Gainesville on October 11th, we wonder if Dr. Carson will be spending several days in Atlanta next month.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 30, 2015

Today is the last day of $10 dog and cat adoptions at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


NC1 is a sweet 13-year old senior female Terrier mix who weighs 14 pounds and is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


46980 is a female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


46524 is an adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


45584 is a friendly adult male Labrador Retriever mix who is fully-vetted and ready to go home today. He is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


46657 is an adult male Labrador Retriever (or Hound) mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Gwinnett Rabbit

That’s a funny looking dog. Or it’s a rabbit. Either way, it’s available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Gwinnett Bird

This is a flying dog. It’s a breed I’ve never heard of before, called either a “Parakeet” or “Budgie,” and it’s available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


Williams drops out of Brookhaven Mayor’s race – Dunwoody Crier: News

Citing multiple family issues, Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams today announced she is ending her election campaign.

Williams, who was appointed Mayor when former Mayor J. Max Davis resigned to run for a vacant seat in the State House of Representatives, was finishing the unexpired portion of Davis’ term and qualified to run for Mayor on her own, seeking election to a four-year term. But Williams’ campaign had gotten off to a slow start while she recovered from kidney surgery, and had to make funeral arrangements for her mother, who passed away in August.

Last week, her husband Dick Williams broke his femur as the result of a fall, which required hip replacement surgery that will take several weeks of physical therapy to ensure a full recovery. Williams said she would not be able to care for her husband and carry out her duties as Mayor while running a campaign.

“My first priority is to take care of my family, especially my husband of 36 years,” Williams said. “I have responsibilities as the Mayor that I will not set aside. That means that campaigning would become the lowest priority, and I owe my supporters more than that. If I can’t make my campaign my first priority, I can’t really ask voters and supporters to do so. That’s why I’m ending my campaign.”

via Williams drops out of Brookhaven Mayor’s race – Dunwoody Crier: News.


Williams pulls out of Brookhaven Mayoral race | The Brookhaven Post | Brookhaven, GA

With about five weeks left before the November 3rd General Election, Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams has announced she is withdrawing her bid to retain her appointed seat as Mayor of DeKalb’s largest and newest municipality.

According to the Crier, last week Williams’ husband, Dick Williams, required hip replacement surgery after sustaining a fall where he broke his femur, resulting in “several weeks of physical therapy to ensure a full recovery.”

“My first priority is to take care of my family, especially my husband of 36 years. I have responsibilities as the Mayor that I will not set aside,” Williams said in an announcement. “That means that campaigning would become the lowest priority, and I owe my supporters more than that. If I can’t make my campaign my first priority, I can’t really ask voters and supporters to do so. That’s why I’m ending my campaign.”

via Williams pulls out of Brookhaven Mayoral race | The Brookhaven Post | Brookhaven, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 29, 2015

Georgia History

On September 29, 1526, 600 Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon landed on the Georgia Coast, the first European colonists in Georgia.

Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on Sapelo Sound in present–day McIntosh County. He sailed north from Hispaniola during the summer and first landed in present–day South Carolina. Meeting no natives, he traveled south along the coast before settling in Georgia.

To help establish the colony, Ayllon brought with him the very first group of slaves.  But hunger, disease, and conflict with the natives all took their toll, and the settlement survived for only three months.

Other sources say that the September 29, 1526 landing was in South Carolina and Vasquez de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on October 8, 1526.

WSB-TV took to the airwaves for the first time on September 29, 1948.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Trump GA2

Would be Peach State supporters of the Donald J. Trump campaign now have a way to get in touch with the mothership sign up to volunteer for the campaign.

Candidates in the State House District 122 race and Columbia County Commission District 3 will speak to voters in a forum at 6 PM at the Columbia County Library’s Performing Arts Theater in Evans.

Commission District 3 candidates Jim Bartley, Gregory Grzybowski, Gary Richardson, Frank Spears and Russell Wilder will take the stage first for a question-and-answer session, followed by state House District 122 candidates Pat Goodwin, Jodi Lott, Joe Mullins and Mack Taylor in a separate session.

Steve Crawford, the publisher of the News-Times, and Ed Burr, a member of the chamber’s board of directors, will ask questions of each candidate, whose answers will be limited to two minutes. Questions from the audience also will be asked, if time allows, event organizers said.

Candidates will also have two minutes each to make opening and closing statements.

The free event is open to the public.

The premiere political event of yesterday was a lecture on Georgia history by First Lady Sandra Deal and her co-authors of Memories of the Mansion Jennifer Dickey and Catherine Lewis. Five former First Ladies joined Mrs. Deal and Drs. Dickey and Lewis at the Atlanta History Center. Here’s my favorite of the stories, told by Mrs. Zell Miller and relayed by Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

Shirley Miller: Sometimes, signature policy events are born in interesting places. Shirley remembered her husband Zell welcoming droves of elite high school students to the Mansion. As he shook hands with each of them, he asked where they were headed to college. Student after student told him they were going out of state. Zell took a pen in hand and got to work that very evening. “So on a kitchen stool on a yellow legal pad, HOPE was born.”

And another favorite told by Jeff Busbee and recounted by Jill Vejnoska of the AJC:

Jeff Busbee recalled that his father worked hard to attract international business to Georgia during his two terms, but also liked to play hard at practical joking. One time a state senator equally well known for his practical jokes departed from a working dinner at the mansion only to be stopped near the gate and made to open his car trunk by a state trooper. Inside was a large box of the official state silverware he’d supposedly “lifted” from the mansion — placed there by that jokester Gov. Busbee.

The Price is Right

Congressman Tom Price made official his bid for Majority Leader in the United States Congress, sending an email to fellow Republicans.

In order to succeed, our Leadership must be responsive to you, the Representative[s] of the American people.

The hurdles that inevitably lay ahead will require effective and capable leaders. It will require new thinking and a change from the status quo. And it mus advance the cause of a smaller, more limited, more accountable government by allowing everyone’s voice to be included.

That is why I humbly ask for your support to by your next House Majority Leader in the United States Congress.

House Ways & Means Chair and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed Price’s bid for Majority Leader.

“Tom Price is a committed conservative and a good friend,” Ryan said in a statement. “He and I have served for years together on the Budget and Ways and Means Committees, working to pay down our debt, fix our tax code, and grow our economy. Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles. He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective Majority Leader, and I’m proud to support him.”

Ryan endorsed Price in his 2014 race for conference chair, which he lost to [Cathy] McMorris Rodgers.

Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling said he will not run for a leadership position and endorsed Price. Cathy McMorris Rodgers also declined to run for Majority Leader.

Though she hadn’t formally declared she was running for the job, McMorris Rodgers had started making calls seeking support soon after House Speaker John Boehner surprised the political world and fellow members with the news he was resigning on Friday.

But in a crowded field against the current third-ranked House Republican in Scalise and Price, the powerful budget committee chairman, the Washington State Republican decided to not continue in the contest.

“The best way right now for me to empower my colleagues through positive change is to remain conference chair,” McMorris Rodgers said in a written statement.

The other announced candidate for Majority Leader is Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Scalise, currently the House GOP whip, has attracted the support of defense-minded lawmakers like Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, who opposed Scalise in his last leadership election.

Scalise has not rolled out a list of supporters — and furthermore, hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy. Some have questioned whether he’ll remain as majority whip and forgo a race for majority leader.

But during a Monday meeting with lobbyists at the Capitol Hill Club, Scalise reaffirmed that he’s running for the No. 2 slot. He also emphasized that he’s raised $3.5 million for Republicans this year and has traveled to 50 cities and 25 states.

The New York Times on Sapelo Island

Speaking of Sapelo Island (see History, above), The New York Times has an article about the Geechee-Gullah settlement on Sapelo Island and how property taxes are causing problems for one of the last remaining groups.

Sapelo Island, a tangle of salt marsh and sand reachable only by boat, holds the largest community of people who identify themselves as saltwater Geechees. Sometimes called the Gullahs, they have inhabited the nation’s southeast coast for more than two centuries. Theirs is one of the most fragile cultures in America.

These Creole-speaking descendants of slaves have long held their land as a touchstone, fighting the kind of development that turned Hilton Head and St. Simons Islands into vacation destinations. Now, stiff county tax increases driven by a shifting economy, bureaucratic bumbling and the unyielding desire for a house on the water have them wondering if their community will finally succumb to cultural erosion.

The county, which has about 14,000 year-round residents and thousands more with vacation homes, had for years put off reviewing its taxable property. An outside firm did the last valuation in 2004. Paul Griffin, the chairman of the Board of Tax Assessors, called the work “very, very sloppy” at a June meeting covered by The Darien News.

In 2009, the county was in the process of updating its tax digest when the state froze property taxes to help stanch the effects of the recession. Instead of continuing its work, the county stopped the process until this year.

The county also started a new garbage pickup service and added other services, which contributed to the higher tax rates, he said. Sapelo Island residents, however, still have to haul their trash to the dump.

“Our taxes went up so high, and then you don’t have nothing to show for it,” said Cornelia Walker Bailey, the island’s unofficial historian. “Where is my fire department? Where are my water resources? Where is my paved road? Where are the things our tax dollars pay for?”

Here, where land is usually handed down or sold at below-market rates to relatives, Ms. Bailey has come to hold four pieces of property. She lives on one, which is protected from the tax increases by a homestead exemption. The rest will cost her 600 percent more in property taxes. “I think it’s an effort to erode everyone out of the last private sector of this island,” she said.

Ashes, Ashes, All Fall Down

Coal ash is exactly what it sounds like – the residue from burning coal, and when power plants’ appetite for coal was measured in trainloads, it could accumulate rapidly. Containing coal ash is often done in ash ponds near coal-fired powerplants, and have for a number of years been a target for environmentalists and now the Environmental Protection Agency.

Georgia Power announced yesterday it is working on a timetable for the closure of 29 ash ponds in Georgia.

Georgia Power announced today that the company is developing a closure timeline for all of its 29 ash ponds and expects to finalize and release the schedule within the next six months. The schedule will be developed in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) costly Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule as well as the soon-to-be signed Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines. The company will consult with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop the plan.

“We are developing an ash pond closure timeline that will meet all federal regulations in the most economical way for our customers and our business,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “Safety and compliance will continue to be our primary focus throughout the closure process, while fulfilling our longstanding commitment to protect the environment and the communities we serve.”

Georgia Power has a strong safety and compliance record with a comprehensive and rigorous inspection program to safely maintain its containment structures and facilitate long-term planning. The company is in the pre-closure process at several retired or converted coal-fired generation sites which includes some preliminary site work such as ash relocation and tree clearing, as well as considering vendors for potential closure activities.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce applauded the move,

The Georgia Chamber supports Georgia Power’s announcement today that it is proactively moving to close all ash ponds associated with its power generation activities across Georgia.

“Georgia Power has a long and distinguished history of delivering high quality, safe, reliable and affordable energy supplies to businesses, industries and communities across the state and this decision exemplifies that tradition,” said Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark.

The Chamber is confident that through this decision, Georgia Power will continue to proactively position its business to satisfy Georgia’s current and forecast energy needs.

This decision will continue to position the state as a national leader in the provision of environmentally responsible and diverse energy supplies.

While supporting this Georgia Power decision, the Chamber is concerned with the continued endeavors of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose layers of costly regulations on the nation’s energy sector.

Each additional regulation adds upward pressure to energy costs and become an additional burden on industry, pressuring industry profitability and competitiveness.

Water Wars Everywhere

A Senate spending bill does not contain language that would affect the tri-state water issues between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, according to the AJC.

This spring, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., secured language in an appropriations bill that would have blocked the Army Corps of Engineers from reallocating water in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basin until the governors of Alabama and Georgia work out an agreement. This matters because recent court decisions have tilted in Georgia’s direction the battle over how much water metro Atlanta can draw from rivers and reservoirs, and the corps is updating its water plans accordingly.

Georgia does not want Congress to weigh in at all on the water wars, and Isakson said he’s been working to eliminate Shelby’s “egregious language.” The House version of the energy and water appropriations bill does not have the language.

Isakson said the water wars issue was an important reason why he voted for the “continuing resolution” — even though it did not defund Planned Parenthood, as he and most Republicans would have liked:

“I can understand people who want to make a political point [about Planned Parenthood] and that’s all well and good, but I don’t want Atlanta to run dry. … I’ve been crawling on my hands and knees for the last two weeks following along the process to make sure that language isn’t in there.”

Meanwhile, some communities around Savannah are being limited in their withdrawals of groundwater from the Floridan aquifer.

Cities, towns and industries around Savannah have new marching orders about how much water they can pull from local wells.

The city of Savannah, the largest permit holder in the region, will see its current limit of about 23.5 million gallons a day go down to about 18 million gallons.

The cuts are meant to address problems with saltwater seeping into the freshwater Floridan aquifer, an otherwise pristine source of drinking water that flows beneath coastal Georgia. The same aquifer extends south into Florida and north into coastal South Carolina, including Hilton Head Island where wells have become too salty to use.

That issue has become a sticking point between the two states with Georgia officials offering pumping reductions as a way to slow the salt migration and head off a water war with the Palmetto State.

Medical Cannabis

Haleigh Cox, the six-year old namesake of the Haleigh’s Hope Act, has returned to Georgia.

Almost two years ago, now six-year- old Haleigh and her mother, Janea Cox, moved to Colorado.

Her husband had to stay behind in Monroe County to work.

“I’m just happy that we’re able to get home and get Haleigh’s medicine here where she’s happier and healthier,” says Cox.

Governor Nathan Deal signed the Georgia Medical Marijuana Bill, or “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” into law this past April.

They have to order medical cannabis oil from Colorado. Cox says her next steps will be fighting to have medical marijuana grown in state.

State Representative Allen Peake, Chair of the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis, will be holding its next meeting this Wednesday.

Tomorrow, the Chairs of the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis will gavel in their next meeting to discuss moving forward.

State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) announced that the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) in Atlanta.

The meeting will feature presentations from the medical community, including two Commission members: Dr. Yong Park, Neurologist, Georgia Regents University; and Dr. Cynthia Wetmore, Hematologist/Oncologist, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Steven Morris of Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates, the largest gastroenterology practice in the nation will also address the Commission.