Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz and the city council are heading before the Georgia Supreme Court to revisit whether Kautz has the authority to fire City Attorney Tony Powell against the council’s wishes.
In a ruling issued Monday, all of the high court’s justices agreed that they would review a Georgia Court of Appeals decision from March that said the power to get rid of the city attorney rested with the council, not the mayor.
Kautz and the council will make their cases during a hearing as early as January, but no specific date was set in the ruling. A spokeswoman for the justices said it could be some time before a court date is set.
The appeals court’s ruling, which agreed with a local ruling by Gwinnett County Judge Timothy Hamil, was a split decision in which the three of seven justices sided with Kautz. At the time, the mayor said the lack of agreement between the justices showed that further review was needed. Kautz has fired Powell multiple times, only to have the council rehire him.
Meanwhile, the city still has the issue of whether the mayor’s attorney fees from her now-settled suit against the council, which was also the result of a power struggle, will be covered by Snellville coffers.
This is the results from the “second wave” of online polling. Their aggregate estimate is David Perdue 47% to Michelle Nunn (D) 38%.
Their weighting puts Black voters at 25% of the electorate. I disagree and have gone over why I think African-American voters are more likely to constitute about 30% of the electorate.
I think more than anything else, this reflects the difference between in-state pollsters, who are aware of what’s going on at the grassroots level, and someone in Washington or New York, assessing things from afar.
At this point, no sane person will apply to work at the Commission for at least five years.
The state ethics commission on Monday voted unanimously to fire its executive director, Holly LaBerge.
The move comes less than a week after a Fulton County Superior Court judge said LaBerge had been “dishonest and non-transparent” over the course of a whisteblower lawsuit filed by her predecessor.
A federal grand jury has served DeKalb County with a wide-ranging subpoena for vendor payment records, a clear sign that a corruption investigation won’t end with this week’s guilty plea by ex-Commissioner Elaine Boyer.
Investigators want evidence of what work was done for the money, such as reports, written opinions, audits or correspondence.
he subpoena names 62 vendors paid by all the remaining sitting commissioners and Interim CEO Lee May, dating back more than six years. May was a commissioner before replacing suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, who goes on trial Monday on corruption charges of his own.
Included on the subpoena are two companies operated by Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s ex-boyfriend, Warren Mosby. HSI Systems & Consultants and RighThink Associates received more than $34,000 in taxpayer funds during Sutton’s first two years in office, mostly for Mosby’s advice on how to be a commissioner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week.
ID #23592629 is a sweet and friendly 3-4 month old female Shepherd/Retriever mix puppy was brought to the shelter with her three sisters and who is available for adoption from the Polk County Animal Shelter in Cedartown, Ga.
ID #23592625 is a sweet and friendly 3-4 month old female Terrier/Retriever mix puppy who was brought in with her three sisters and is available for adoption from the Polk County Animal Shelter in Cedartown, Ga.
ID #23621149, called Buddy, is a young male (still a little puppy-like) Redbone Coonhound mix male who is available for adoption from the Polk County Animal Shelter in Cedartown, Ga. Like most coonhounds he is friendly.
ID #23592637 might be a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinoix mix or a Black Mouth Cur – he is about 4 months old and very friendly and gets along well with others; he is available for adoption from the Polk County Animal Shelter in Cedartown, Ga.
ID #23592620 is a 3-4 month old Retriever/Terrier mix female who was dropped at the shelter with her three sisters – she is friendly and available for adoption from the Polk County Animal Shelter in Cedartown, Ga.
On September 7, 1864, General William T. Sherman sent a letter to his Confederate counterpart, General John Bell Hood, offering to transport civilians out of Atlanta for their safety.
The Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1 million for construction of a new State Capitol on September 8, 1883.
President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901. He is buried in Canton, Ohio, not far from the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
Alonzo Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company on September 6, 1905, one of Georgia’s great success stories.
The Fulton County Courthouse was dedicated on September 8, 1914.
On September 6, 1941, Margaret Mitchell christened the cruiser USS Atlanta – Atlanta would later sink after being hit by 50 shells and a torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened on September 7, 1963 in Canton, Ohio.
The Summerhill Race Riot broke out in Atlanta on September 6, 1966.
President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974 for “all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”
Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter returned to the Little White House in Warm Spring, Georgia, on September 6, 1976 to kick off the final phase of his presidential campaign.
Future Atlanta resident Curtis Mayfield saw his song, “Superfly” turn gold on September 7, 1972.
Here’s my favorite song by Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”
On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, which promised to turn over control of the canal to Panama by 2000.
On September 8, 1976, the Georgia State Board of Education began reviewing the FY 1977 Department of Education budget, the first to exceed one billion dollars.
On September 8, 1986, Herschel Walker made his professional football debut with the Dallas Cowboys.
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on September 7, 1998.
Happy 76th birthday to Sam Nunn, who graduated from Emory College (1960) and Emory University School of Law (1963) before being elected to the United States Senate in 1972. If you were born before November 6, 1972, you’ve never seen his name on your ballot.
On September 6, 2014, USS John Warner (SSN-785), a mighty Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding. Big John will call Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. Warner served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as United States Senator from Virginia from 1979 to 2009. As a Senator, Warner chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee during three different periods, and chaired the Senate Rules Committee.
A graduate of Washington & Lee University and the Commonwealth’s public law school, Warner served in the United States Navy during WWII and in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.
Chick-fil-a founder S. Truett Cathy died at 1:53 AM this morning at home.
“I had a low image of myself because I was brought up in the deep Depression,” Cathy said in a 2008 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I struggled to get through high school. I didn’t get to go to college. But it made me realize you can do anything if you want to bad enough.”
Cathy began tinkering with boneless chicken at his hamburger haven, the Dwarf Grill (now Dwarf House) in Hapeville, which opened in 1946 largely to serve nearby Ford plant workers. He spent four years devising the ingredients for his famous sandwich, which he began selling in 1961 before the ultimate formula was settled.
The motorcycle-riding, God-fearing Cathy resisted the temptation to take the company public. He was afraid a board of directors would unload him for not maximizing profits. And he wanted free rein on charitable ventures, which included sponsoring foster homes, summer camps and academic programs.
Cathy also didn’t want to change his policy of closing on Sundays. That started when he drew the shades at the Dwarf Grill once a week to preserve time for courting the woman he would marry.
“If it took seven days to make a living with a restaurant,” he once said, “then we needed to be in some other line of work.”
One of my favorite writers, Peggy Noonan, has memorialized her friend, Joan Rivers, in a Wall Street Journal column – I was frankly surprised they were friends as their public personas were so different, but Noonan writes movingly of her late friend and relates memories that illustrate why they were close. It’s an excellent read.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Corry Bliss, who managed Karen Handel’s campaign for U.S. Senate this year, is now running the reelection campaign for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas). From Politico.com:
On that campaign, Bliss worked with consultant Chris LaCivita, who national Republicans have dispatched to shore up Roberts’ support amid growing concern about independent Senate candidate Greg Orman.
The GOP caught a big break Thursday afternoon when Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach ruled that Democratic nominee Chad Taylor must stay on the ballot. After speaking with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Taylor dropped out Wednesday night.
Public and private polling has shown that Orman — who has been both a Republican and Democrat in the past but is currently employing Democratic vendors — leads Roberts in a head-to-head matchup. Taylor plans to appeal Kobach’s ruling, and his chances for successfully getting his name off the ballot remain somewhat unclear.
Bliss previously ran the Senate campaign of Linda McMahon of Connecticut
into the ground. All three campaigns were also worked by Virginia consultant Chris LaCivita.
An Associated Press story discusses the importance of both parties’ Washington leadership – they play important roles as fundraisers for their own party’s candidates and bogeymen for the opposing candidates – as seen in Georgia among other states.
Candidates in the battle for control of the Senate agree: It’s the other guy, the other guy’s party and — especially — the other guy’s party leaders.
But the finger-pointing is getting dicey, and not just for incumbents who have to defend the ways of Washington.
Newcomers are trying to campaign as outsiders without alienating, or being linked to, party leaders who may be helping them try to win an office on Capitol Hill.
Georgia’s Michelle Nunn bemoan[s] congressional inaction but do[es]n’t call out members of their own party, some of whom have been important fundraisers. Nunn will receive a big financial boost this week from national Democrats, with first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton holding separate fundraisers for her in Atlanta.
Nunn’s GOP opponent, businessman David Perdue, depicted Washington politicians as crying babies in TV ads during a tough primary but now needs and courts that establishment support.
The candidates all have to figure out how much distance to keep from their own benefactors and party leaders, some of whom have played big roles in the dysfunction that voters detest.
“It’s a delicate balancing act for any candidate in a general election environment, no matter what party you are,” said GOP strategist Chip Lake. “You have to pick a team. You can’t be a candidate and say you are going to go up there and solve all these problems without being on a team.”
Though Georgia is considered a relatively solid Republican state in presidential elections, its changing demographic composition has made it an increasingly attractive target for Democrats.
A typically red state, Georgia hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator in 14 years, and that is seeming less and less likely to change in 2014. Though they started out fairly even, Perdue has been slowing pulling further and further ahead since January and now holds a nearly 4 percent lead.
Michelle Obama will be in Atlanta today to raise money and rally voter support for fellow Democrat Michelle Nunn.
Obama’s day begins with an event with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at Booker T. Washington High School — where Martin Luther King Jr. attended before leaving early for Morehouse College. Obama will tour a college fair and then give a speech in the school gymnasium that promotes her “Reach Higher” initiative, pushing students to complete post-secondary education.
In the afternoon, Obama will attend a closed-press fundraiser for the Nunn campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Then she will speak at a public “Voter Registration Rally.”
If you had any lingering doubts that Georgia’s statewide races – not just the Senate race – are becoming more like national politics, here are two points that may dissuade you.
EMILY’s List, a national funder of pro-abortion Democratic candidates has weighed in on the Georgia State School Superintendent’s race, endorsing Democrat Valarie Wilson.
EMILY’s List is a high-profile, national group that backs female Democratic office-seekers. Support from EMILY’s List often opens up national fundraising opportunities for a candidate.
Wilson faces retired Irwin County educator Richard L. Woods in the superintendent’s race. As a Democrat, she is in a tough battle to win election in a state that currently has no Democrat in statewide office.
A poll of 1,578 likely voters conducted Aug. 24-25 for WRBL-TV and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer showed that Wilson trails her Republican rival by about 4 percentage points — just beyond the poll’s margin of error.
Two points about that article – the AJC writer omits the concentration on exclusively funding pro-abortion candidates, and they also omit who did the poll they reference. GaPundit.com conducted the poll for News 3 WRBL, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, and PMB Radio.
Georgia Equality, a statewide organization that promotes “fairness, safety and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities” has endorsed a strictly-Democratic slate of candidates, including Jason Carter for Governor, Valarie Wilson for State School Superintendent, and a bunch of others whom you’ve never heard of.
Clarke County School Superintendent Philip Lanoue has complained that the state-mandated teacher evaluation system is “paralyzing” the school system.
Lanoue recited a whole catalogue of problems with the new test, beginning with the state Department of Education web page school systems must use in connection with the system.
“We spent an inordinate amount of time just trying to load the system,” he said.
The new system is expensive — the school district has spent $10,000 in printing costs alone for newly designed pre-tests meant as the first step in measuring student progress over the academic year. It’s also time-consuming for teachers and administrators.
Another problem is the system’s heavy reliance on test scores. Under a 2013 state law sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, “student growth” as measured by standardized tests accounts for half a teacher’s grade — even though the tests won’t count at all for individual students this year.
State legislators upped the ante with a 2013 bipartisan bill calling for those test scores to be 50 percent of the teacher grade. That may be a higher percentage than any other state, said Tim Callahan, director of membership and communications for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
“I don’t know of any others (states with a higher percentage),” agreed Sally Zepeda, a teacher assessment expert with the University of Georgia’s College of Education.
Some predict state legislators will come up with a fix, including Clarke County Board of Education President Charles Worthy.
The polling station within the Gallery at South DeKalb will be among three open on the last Sunday in October. Think busloads of churchgoers, perhaps from the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, pastored by Bishop Eddie Long, turning the day into a social event.
In an interview late this week, May didn’t deny that this would be a result. “I encourage everybody to be as creative as they can to get voters to the polls,” he said.
May also challenged other counties to make the Sunday move. We understand that Clayton County, where voters will decide whether to accept an expansion of MARTA, may be next — perhaps followed by Rockdale, Bibb, Douglas, Muscogee and Richmond counties.
Anywhere Democrats control local government, and where African-American churches are a substantial part of the political fabric.
“I think the rest of the 158 counties in Georgia ought to do it. Voting ought to be as convenient as possible,” said DuBose Porter, the chairman of the state Democratic Party. “We would appreciate other counties stepping out and the challenge Lee May has made for other counties to do it.”
A spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said that Sunday polling conforms with current state law — state election officials have been given a heads-up by their DeKalb counterparts.
In the 2012 general election, which saw President Barack Obama re-elected – though he fell short in Georgia — DeKalb County churned out 307,474 ballots.
But in the 2010 gubernatorial contest, when former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, faced Republican Nathan Deal, the DeKalb vote amounted only to 208,732. The 100,000-vote difference in DeKalb is significant, given that Barnes lost by just over 250,000 votes.
Read those last two paragraphs again – this has the potential to be a game-changer in the November elections.
Savannah bars and restaurants may see major changes in the laws governing their businesses as the Savannah City Council debates broad changes to the liquor laws.
By Tuesday, the date of the first public meeting on the ordinance, at least one proposal was nullified after the city received near unanimous criticism for trying to restrict 18- to 20-year-olds from restaurants serving alcohol after 10 p.m.
The draft, which had been in the works for more than a year, had stipulated midnight originally, but some restaurant and bar owners questioned the logic of having a curfew at all in a town with such a heavy military and college presence.
Jamie Durrence and Alan Williams, managing partner and director of operations for Daniel Reed Hospitality, which operates Soho South Café, Local 11ten and The Public Kitchen & Bar, said the regulation of legal adults with a curfew was unacceptable.
“Members of the military and SCAD students are a huge client base for our restaurants,” Durrence said in a statement. “It just does not seem very hospitable and makes little sense considering you can legally bartend in the state of Georgia at 18 years and pilot an aircraft at 17. But not eat where alcohol is served after 10 p.m. or midnight? Unimaginable.”
The Georgia Republican Party has filed a complaint alleging that Democratic Congressional candidate Brian Reese failed to properly file campaign finance disclosures.
The complaint from Timothy Waters of Savannah alleges that Reese didn’t itemize small contributions as required. By lumping them together, Reese makes it impossible for observers to tell if a particular gift is a donor’s first or if it might be enough to exceed that individual’s total maximum when added to previous gifts.
Federal election law limits individuals to $2,600 to a candidate for any election.
As of the latest reports in July, Reese has raised a total of $11,500 which is barely more than 1 percent of the $840,000 his Republican opponent, Buddy Carter has raised.
“In the interest of transparency and compliance with the standard practices and requirements of the Federal Election Commission, I hope you will rectify this matter with the candidate and his committee in a timely manner,” Waters wrote.
Speaking of DeKalb County, at least one politician who began the year in office will not be voting in November, as the guilty plea by Elaine Boyer to federal corruption charges will likely prevent her from being able to vote. Burrell Ellis, suspended as CEO of DeKalb County, is scheduled to begin his trial on state corruption charges today.
The case could have far-reaching repercussions not just for Ellis, but for a county that has been struggling to improve its reputation as a good place to do business.
More than 69 percent of businesses that responded to a recent survey listed “government leadership” as the county’s most significant challenge to creating jobs and economic growth, according to an April 1 report prepared for the county by Angelou Economics.
“The county at one point was the darling of economic development in Georgia,” said Angelos Angelou, the Texas-based consultant who prepared the report. “Perception is reality. … It’s a problem until they change that perception.”
DeKalb was once recognized as a model for community accomplishments when it received the All-America City Award from the National Civic League in 1998.
The region’s luster has faded, giving way to a steady stream of corruption allegations against Ellis, county commissioners and rank-and-file government employees.
Now that the federal money has run out, a state law passed earlier this year means that the University of Georgia program to sell Obamacare policies will close.
Many Obamacare opponents, however, don’t believe the state should spend any money or resources to promote the health care law in any way, even if the funds are federal dollars, not state.
The goal of the new law was to essentially throw sand in the gears of Obamacare, said state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, who sponsored HB 943.
Obamacare is “even more perverted than the old system,” said Spencer, a physician’s assistant. Spencer said he wanted to limit navigation programs such as UGA’s “because it essentially pushes (people) to come out and sign up for Medicaid.”
As part of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, the federal government awarded roughly $3.8 million in grants for navigator programs in Georgia, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One went to UGA, the other nearly $2.2 million grant went to Seedco, a nonprofit that heads a coalition of more than a dozen Georgia nonprofits.
This year, $3.2 million will be available from the federal government for navigators in Georgia. Seedco and others have applied, and a decision on who will get the grants could come as soon as Monday.
UGA provided a dozen navigators, primarily in small towns from Dawsonville to Douglas. With the university’s vast extension service, it made sense for UGA to provide the program, said Deborah Murray, associate dean of extension and outreach for UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Harvard University has deposed recipients of the original mega-gifts Emory University ($105 million) and Washington & Lee University ($100 million) as the recipient of the largest gift ever to an American university with a $350 million pledge from the family of late Hong Kong developer T.H. Chan. Since the 1979 Woodruff gift to Emory, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has donated $261.5 million in 2006 and $295 million in 1996.
The Associated Press writes that jeans may be on their last legs, as yoga pants become more popular. Upside: maybe we won’t see any more mom jeans on major Presidential candidates. Downside: maybe we’ll see the 2016 candidates wearing yoga pants.
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One question has become more pressing as Election Day nears: Where is the Republican wave? For Democrats, the good news is that there doesn’t appear to be an overwhelming Republican tide this year; the bad news is that Democrats could well lose the Senate even without such a wave. Six of the most competitive races are Democratic-held seats in states that Mitt Romney carried by 14 points or more. With a map like that, Republicans don’t need to dominate the country; they just have to win some select states.
While the two vulnerable Republican seats, in Kentucky and Georgia, remain so, the GOP has pulled out front, as we suspected back in the spring.
In Georgia, where Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss stepped aside and created an open seat, his wannabe GOP successor, former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue, appears to be edging ever so slightly ahead of Democrat Michelle Nunn, the former head of the Points of Light Foundation and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. Like Virginia and, to a lesser extent, North Carolina, Georgia is becoming less of a GOP lock thanks largely to demographic changes, but it has a way to go before it becomes a purple state.
With just over a month left to register to vote in November’s General Election, a local advocacy group is making a final push to help Korean-Americans sign up.
The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center wants to help 10,000 Korean-Americans register to vote in Gwinnett County. AALAC executive director Helen Kim Ho says the group has helped 2,000 voters sign up since launching the campaign last month.
“This specific campaign into the Korean community really just started,” Ho says. “What we’ve found in the past is that people tend to register closer to the deadline.”
So until then, Ho says, AALAC will continue holding registration drives. They’ll visit churches, businesses, and neighborhoods to help register voters.
Former DeKalb County Board of Education member Nancy Jester is running to fill the DeKalb County Commission seat vacated by Elaine Boyer.
“My skill set is needed here,” says Jester, saying her skill set is financial. If elected, she says she will not only work to cut spending, she will help restore trust in DeKalb County government.
“I’ll put an online check register on my website so that you’re not going to have to send a records request and wonder how the money is being spent in District 1’s commission office.”
Jester is running for the seat Elaine Boyer gave up a day before federal mail and wire fraud charges against her became public. Boyer pleaded guilty to those charges earlier this week.
Former DeKalb County school board member Nancy Jester plans to run for the District 1 seat on the DeKalb County Commission.
Jester announced in an email this morning, Sept. 3, that she would kick off her campaign with a 10 a.m. “coffee talk” at Cafe Intermezzo in Dunwoody on Sept. 4.
“Please join me to kick-off my campaign and discuss the reforms needed in DeKalb County government,” Jester said in an email.
Jester plans to seek the seat vacated by the resignation of former Commissioner Elaine Boyer. Boyer resigned the day before federal prosecutors accused her of misusing county money.