The blog.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 24, 2015

Adopting a dog from Walton County is one of the best bargains available – for $40, you get your new best friend, complete with vaccinations, deworming, and discounted spay/neuter from a local vet. If you’re not near Walton and you adopt one of these puppies, we can help you find low-cost spay/neuter near your home.

Here’s the story of how these three puppies ended up at the Walton County shelter.

“[Walton County Animal Control] picked up three puppies off of Highway 81 going toward Oxford. I was the one who called them in and stayed with them until the officer came. Hannah from Monroe Animal Hospital stopped to help as well. I wanted to give you a little background. When we got there, only one of the males would approach us. We were able to get a leash on him easily, but other two were too skittish. When they saw your officer take him to the truck, they darted into a drainage pipe that they had obviously been living in. We were able to coax one out and your officer got him but the third female was very frightened. She hid in the drainage pipe for over an hour. When she saw an opening, she darted out and took off running. We were able to surround her and get a leash around her and your officer came back and picked her up. All three were very skittish and hard to approach, but after they were caught they did very well and let everyone pet them.”  All three are very sweet and are enjoying their kennel and free food with wagging tails!


Axel is a 4-month old, 15-20 pound yellow male mixed-breed puppy who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.


Apollo is a 4-month old, 15-20 pound yellow male mixed-breed puppy who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.


Buttercup is a 4-month old, 15-20 pound yellow female mixed-breed puppy who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.


Fix Georgia Pets is a 501(c)(3) that raises money for grants to provide free or low-cost spay/neuter services and educate Georgians about the need to fix their dogs and cats.

Please consider making an online donation to


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 23, 2015

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Save the Date: May 26, 2015 from 5-8 PM

The Walton County Republican Party will hold its annual barbecue, hosted by Chairman Roy Roberts at the Nunnally Farm at 74 Nunnally Farm Rd. Between Walnut Grove and Monroe just off HWY 138. This is the best political event of the year.

Confirmed attendees: Senator Isakson, Gov. Deal, Sec. of State Brian Kemp, Ag. Com Gary Black, Attorney General Sam Olens, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, Congressman Jody Hice, and Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Padgett.

Tickets this year will be $15.00 or a table of 9 for $180.00

From Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) and Anna Bullard, mother of Ava, we learned that Governor Deal will sign Ava’s Law, requiring insurance coverage for children with Austism age 6 and younger. The bill signing will be held Thursday, April 29 at 11:30 AM at the Georgia State Capitol.
Georgia Unfiltered writes that Rafer Johnson will run in 2016 for the State House District 62 seat currently held by Ladawn Blackett Jones, who announced previously she will not seek reelection.

Whatever the top court ultimately decides, Olens said he is prepared with his advice to those parties the decision affects, since it will become the law of the land.

“We’re going to encourage all of those agencies that have a policy role that they immediately follow the law,” he said.

Olens, who defended Georgia’s own gay-marriage ban in a federal case that is still pending, said that he merely represents state government in court and doesn’t try to make policy himself.

“I cringe just as much when an attorney general seeks to defy the law as when anyone else does it,” he said. “When the United States Supreme Court rules, it’s not time for criticism, it’s not time for banter. It’s time for the lawyer to play lawyer and to assure that everyone follows that law.”

On the related issue of religious-liberty legislation that caused much controversy during this year’s legislative session, Olens said it was possible to draft a bill that would protect an individual’s religious beliefs without opening the door to discrimination. However, he declined to say how the wording would read.

Toll lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett County are likely to be extended further out to Hamilton Mill Rd exit.

[Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell] McMurry came to Gwinnett on Wednesday to address the county’s Chamber of Commerce about recently passed legislation that increases gas taxes and reworks the state’s new funding model for transportation projects. After the presentation, he talked with Daily Post about the state’s plans for more toll lanes.The toll lanes project will be underway before the new funding model goes into affect, but the lanes illustrate the one type of work state leaders want to accomplish with new revenue streams.

The decision pending before the state transportation board in May will be the selection of a company to design and build the lanes. The new lanes will be managed access lanes, with designated entry and exit points, that will be built in an existing median. It is similar to toll lanes under construction in Henry County.

The new toll lanes will be accompanied by new free-to-use lanes which will be built between Ga. Highway 20 and Gravel Springs Road, McMurry said.

The Marietta Daily Journal writes that Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s “SEC Primary” will help bring presidential contenders to the Peach State.

“Things are coming together fairly well,” Kemp said at a Madison Forum luncheon in Marietta on Monday. “Regardless of what happens, we have gotten some great press about our SEC primary idea. The sole reason I came up with this idea is to try to have more of us go first. That will give us a little more say (in the election). The problem in the past is that the race would already be over when it got to us, or we’re on the same day as New York and California and nobody pays attention to us.”

Georgia captured a bit of that attention during the 2012 campaign, when surprise front-runner Newt Gingrich, hot on the tail of a win in the South Carolina primary, won our state’s primary a week later.

But Kemp’s proposal would put Georgia and the other participants on the minds of the candidates and the media long before primary week, and likely would result in multiple trips by most of them to the Peach State in the months leading up to voting day. That would translate not just to more exposure for our state, and more influence, but also more spending here by the various campaigns and those covering them.

“There is a great opportunity. I don’t think the candidates can ignore us,” Kemp said. “They’re going to know that the South marks the first … at least on the Republican side. Regardless, we’ve already seen more candidates, more action in Georgia as of now than we did in any cycle that I can remember. I think that bodes well for us. We’re going to continue to see candidates have to pay attention to the South.”

Ann Coulter spoke to a sold-out house at Kennesaw State University last night.

One questioner from the audience asked Coulter about the possibility of the U.S. becoming more socialist in the next five to 10 years if a Democrat was elected to the presidency.

Coulter said it wasn’t a matter of a Democrat being elected, but existing U.S. immigration policy.

“I mean, our legal immigration is amnesty on the installment plan,” she said.

If the U.S. had the same demographics now that it did in 1980, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency by a larger landslide than Ronald Reagan did, she said.

“Democrats couldn’t win elections any more so they brought in new voters,” Coulter explained. “And I don’t understand how my party, the Republican Party, got on the wrong side of the question: ‘Should Democrats be allowed to establish their political hegemony for all time?’ But apparently we did.”

More than 40 million new voters have been brought into the U.S., Coulter said.

“And by definition any immigrant who comes to America makes America a more statist, less free place,” she said.

Coulter blasted presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who she said ran as “the tea party savior” in Florida on a ticket opposing a pathway to citizenship.

“That’s a code word for amnesty,” Coulter explained. “And then he got to Washington and spent three years pushing nothing but amnesty. And lying about his bill going around saying, ‘No, we have to have enforcement first, enforcement first.’”

Governor Deal spoke to a lunch in Marietta, where he touted Georgia’s economy.

Deal said he was pleased his plan for the state to take over failing public schools in Georgia and place them in an “Opportunity School District” was approved by the legislature. The state would have the authority to take over up to 20 schools each year if they score below a 60 on the College and Career Performance Index for three straight years.

Deal said the plan has to be implemented with a constitutional amendment because of a Georgia Supreme Court decision, “as opposed to other states like Louisiana and Tennessee who can simply do it statutorily.”

Deal said if approved by voters when it is placed on the ballot in November 2016, the Opportunity School District will show Georgia is dedicated to improving education.

“I think it’s time we recognize that there is a direct link between failing schools, school dropouts and those dropouts being a menace to your community because they have no marketable skills,” Deal said. “That’s why 70 percent of our inmates in our state prison system are high school dropouts. There is a direct correlation, and it’s time we start doing something about it.”

The General Assembly this year passed a bill increasing funding to the Georgia Department of Transportation by about $900 million this year, which Deal called a “major achievement.”

“I know that most of you understand that we have not kept pace with the demands that have been placed on our infrastructure,” Deal said. “This will allow us the opportunity to do that. I think it is a responsible thing to do.”

“Are there those who will not like it because they claim it’s a tax increase? That is true. That has already happened … but remember, we have not increased excise tax on gasoline since 1977 or somewhere like that,” Deal said. “It’s been a very, very long period of time, and many things in terms of cost of construction and all the other things that are associated with maintaining and especially developing and improving your transportation system has become even more expensive as time goes by.”

After he concluded his remarks, Deal was asked to speak on the controversial religious liberty bills that failed to become law during this year’s legislative session. The governor said the state should take care to avoid the situations in states that passed similar laws this year, where fears that the bills could result in discrimination caused a backlash.

“I don’t think we want the spectacle that occurred in Indiana,” he said. “I don’t think we want to go through what Arkansas went through either. I think there should be some way that we can reconcile that.”

“I think there are circumstances, over which none of us have any real control, that have distorted the arguments surrounding (the bills),” Deal said. “I am hopeful that we can dispel that and deal with it in a meaningful and forthright manner.”

Judge Tilman Self said he will dismiss a lawsuit by the Crawford County Coroner and entertain a motion by the defendants to recover attorney fees.

Former Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley is facing a dozen charges alleging insurance fraud.

Earlier this week, the Public Defender Standards Council settled a lawsuit by the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Lawyers with the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in January 2014 against the four-county Cordele Judicial Circuit and other defendants. Among the problems they cited were juvenile defendants often appearing without a lawyer or represented by lawyers who met with them only briefly, public defenders unable to spend more than a few minutes per adult case, and chronic underfunding and understaffing.

The Southern Center says the agreement with the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, its director, the Cordele Circuit public defender and the circuit’s four county governments was filed Monday. If it is approved by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, it will go into effect July 1 and will run for three years.

According to the Southern Center, the remedies proposed in the settlement include the following:

— Children will be represented by a lawyer specializing in juvenile law and childhood and adolescent development.

— People arrested in the circuit will see a lawyer within days.

— The circuit public defender’s office will go from two assistant public defenders to four and from one investigator to two.

— Every public defender will attend annual training to keep abreast of developments in criminal and juvenile defense.

Emory University School of Law is creating a John Lewis Chair in Civil Rights and Social Justice, which will be endowed by $500,000 the University will raise to fund it.

A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Floyd County is bringing in more money than expected for the County, along with the cities of Rome and Cave Spring.

The Bryan County Development Authority was briefed on a proposed extension of the Palmetto Pipeline.

About 20 attendees raised pointed questions about several key issues at the meeting at the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office complex near Richmond Hill. Jimmy Burnsed, chairman of the Bryan County Commission, began with one that has been a major talking point.

“Will you use eminent domain, or do you think you will be able to accomplish everything without eminent domain? …That is the biggest issue I heard from folks last night,” Burnsed said.

“Our goal is to not use it all,” Kinder Morgan representative Allen Fore said. “We are working with individual landowners now. A good indication of the reception is that over 90 percent of people approached have granted Kinder Morgan access to survey their property.”

Earlier in the week, hundreds showed up to a Georgia Department of Transportation meeting to discuss the pipeline extension.

The Houston-based energy company Kinder Morgan wants to build the 360-mile pipeline to carry oil and gas through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. As a first step, the Georgia Department of Transportation is considering a request for a certificate that would allow the company to use eminent domain to acquire land.

Nancy Cunningham of Savannah was among roughly 500 people who filled the Richmond Hill City Center.

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline does not benefit anyone in Georgia,” she said. “It is not convenient. It is not necessary. We don’t need it, we don’t want it, and we’re not gonna have it.”

Dozens of other opponents spoke of concerns about environmental damage and the risk of an oil spill. A representative of a union that represents pipeline construction workers stood up to defend the plan.

This weekend, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Valdosta Chapter will observe Confederate Memorial Day.

Lawsuits by elected officials against the City of Columbus government have cost nearly a half-million dollars in legal fees so far, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Sheriff John Darr, Clerk of Superior Court Linda Pierce, Marshal Greg Countryman and Clerk of Municipal Court Vivian Creighton-Bishop are suing the city because they say their budgets are not sufficient to cover all of their mandated duties.

Stone Mountain Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller, appointed to hear the case because of conflicts of interest with Muscogee Superior Court judges, is currently studying preliminary motions in the cases, including motions filed by the city asking him to dismiss the cases.

Fay presented the tally of attorney fees so far incurred by the city in the cases, which total $478,600. Broken down, the suit filed by Pierce has cost the city about $217,755. The suit filed by Darr has cost about $111,600 and the suit filed jointly by Countryman and Creighton-Bishop has cost a little over


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 23, 2015


Helena is a gorgeous 6 year old Irish Setter mix girl and weighs only 33 pounds. Just a perfect size for any type home. She sits so very quietly in her run watching all the action going on around her. Helena is a well mannered girl and aims to please, she sits and stays when she is told and walks very well on a leash, no pulling at all. Her coat is soft and silky. She came to the shelter as a stray with ID on 04/15 and her family chose not to come for her when they were contacted. She is current on her vaccines and micro-chipped. She will be spayed and tested for heart worms upon adoption. She is waiting for you in run 849 and her ID# is 573805.

Helena is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA. When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.


Sabrina is a precious 6 month old, 33 pound Pointer mix baby girl. She lost her way and has found herself in a bad situation, stuck in a very loud and scary place. Her family taught her so much before she got lost but they did not think to come looking for her in the shelter. She knows sit, stay and lay down on command. She walks nicely on the leash and would love to go on daily walks or runs. Sabrina has been spayed, tested negative for heart worms and will be micro-chipped when adopted. She is current on vaccines. Sabrina would like so much to get out of the shelter into a home of her very own with a nice soft bed and lots of toys to play with. She is waiting in run 303 and her ID# is 573803.

Sabrina is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA. When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.


Romeo is a sweet young male Chihuahua mix. And they both are well behaved and know to sit. Romeo was still recovering from his neuter surgery so a little out of it for his photo session. Romeo and Juliet arrived at the shelter as strays on 4/16/15 and sadly no one came to find them. Romeo is up to date on shots, now neutered, heartworm tested negative and will be microchipped when adopted. His ID is 573658, he is in cage 904 in the Puppy Room with Juleit, he’s 1 1/2 years old and weighs 12 lbs. Come by soon to meet these little sweeties!

Romeo is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA. When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.


Juliet is a sweet young female Chihuahua who was found stray with Romeo. Her ID is 573659, she is in cage 904 in the Puppy Room with Romeo, she’s 1 1/2 years old and weighs 11 lbs.

Juliet is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, GA. When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 22, 2015


Phoenix is a female baby Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Phoenix was the victim of puppies being given away in the Wal-Mart parking lot. She and her friend Richmond (possibly her brother) were being given away at Wal-Mart, two teens brought them home and their father threatened to throw them out in the woods. Their friends were visiting and they took them home, but they couldn’t keep them either because of landlord restrictions. The mom then called us and we were able to take them into our rescue. Phoenix is a very cute little girl who loves to run and play. She gets along great with other puppies. Her estimated Date of Birth is 02-08-2015. Her adoption fee includes age appropriate vaccines, microchip, and spay.


Richmond is a male baby Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

Email [email protected] for adoption information and their adoption schedule. Email is the best form of communication for us and will receive a quicker response than phone calls. Their volunteers work full time jobs in addition to rescue, so please be patient. Thank you!


Frenchie is an adult female French Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from TenderHeart & Great Pyr Rescue in Newnan, GA.

The vet thinks she’s about two years old. She is crate trained and very friendly with people. She is particular about the dogs she associates with and her rescuers feel she would do best in a one-pet household where she could be the center of everyone’s attention. Her adoption fee includes her vaccines, microchip, and spay.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2015

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

A verbal commitment by an unnamed team brought the Braves here.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

[Language warning for this last clip.]

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Georgia Politics

Georgia Department of Veterans Service Commissioner Pete Wheeler died yesterday at the age of 92 after serving in that office since 1954.

He was Georgia’s longest-serving agency head and worked under a dozen governors, from Herman Talmadge to Nathan Deal.

In a 2006 interview with UGA’s Russell Library, Wheeler said his department was the first in state government to do away with segregation policies, integrating the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville. “We were the first state agency, even before the University of Georgia. We ended segregation in our department. We were the first one and I am very proud of that.”

Governor Nathan Deal announced that he will order flags flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Commissioner Wheeler.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released a statement,

“Commissioner Pete Wheeler dedicated a lifetime of service to our state and nation and his fellow veterans. He made tremendous strides in modernizing and advancing services to benefit Georgia’s veterans and their families. He will be deeply missed by all Georgians and the millions of veterans across the country who have benefitted from his immeasurable contribution and courageous leadership.”

Bill Signing

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal signed a pair of bills to improve education across the state and to ease governmental burdens on new Charter Schools.

First up was the Opportunity School District legislation, Senate Bill 133,

Deal Signs OSD 1

From a press release by Gov. Deal’s office,

“By signing the Opportunity School District bill, we are promising better days ahead for students trapped in failing schools,” Deal said. “The power of positive change now rests in the hands of Georgia’s voters, and I know they share my belief that every child can learn and should have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the workforce or for college.

“There are currently 139 schools across Georgia that have received a failing grade from the state accountability system for at least three consecutive years. Too few of these students go on to higher education, too few attain job skills and too few get a high school diploma. Too often this leads to a life that never fulfills its potential. With this new system, we can and will do better.”

The OSD legislation requires a constitutional amendment to be enacted. The General Assembly passed the constitutional amendment resolution and the implementing legislation during the 2015 legislative session. It now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.

Deal also signed HB 372, the Utopian Academy for the Arts Act. The need for this law stems from efforts by Clayton County officials to obstruct the opening of a state-approved charter school, preventing children from attending class and costing the schools hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I can’t remember a previous bill signing that included a costume change, but Gov. Deal donned the blazer worn by students and administrators at Clayton County’s Utopian Academy to sign the bill helping that school.

Deal Signs Utopian 1

If I were a betting man, I’d wager $50 that his press people came up with the idea of putting on the blazer during the Masters.

The Governor’s signature is not required for proposed Constitutional Amendments, which require 2/3 majorities in each chamber and voter approval in a referendum.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about the upcoming referendum, which will be on voters ballots for November 2016.

The governor and his allies have cast his constitutional amendment as a moral imperative. Deal said Tuesday that victims of the state’s worst schools “become the fodder of our prison system.”

Leading Democrats and some influential educators groups have staunchly opposed the plan, fearing it gives the governor’s office far too much power. DuBose Porter, who heads the Democratic Party of Georgia, said the fate of struggling schools shouldn’t rest in the hands of a governor who “has shown such a complete disregard for education and its funding.”

The plan, which passed both chambers by razor-thin margins, now hinges on a 24-word question that will be placed on ballots next year: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

Deal and his allies are already preparing what could be a multimillion-dollar campaign to push his top second-term initiative across the finish line. And critics have vowed to mount a counteroffensive.


Secretary of State Brian Kemp has called a Special Election for House District 115 to fill the seat vacated by former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) before he plead guilty to federal fraud charges.

Notice is hereby given that a special election shall be held on June 16, 2015, in a portion of Fulton County to fill the vacancy in District 55 of the State House of Representatives created by the resignation of Tyrone Brooks. A run-off election, if needed, shall be held on July 14, 2015.

Qualifying for the special election shall be held in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

The dates and hours of qualifying will be Tuesday, April 28, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday, April 29, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; and Thursday, April 30, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 12 o’clock noon. The qualifying fee shall be $400.00.

Washington, DC

Senator Johnny Isakson’s spokesperson reiterated that the Senator will vote against the nomination of Loretta Lynch as United States Attorney General, according to the AJC.

“Following his meeting with Loretta Lynch and her confirmation hearings, Sen. Isakson was dissatisfied with her responses to questions regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive action that attempts to circumvent Congress and grant amnesty to millions in this country illegally or her beliefs regarding protecting the Second Amendment.”

Senator David Perdue gavelled-in his first hearing as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development’s on the operational effectiveness of the State Department. The Inspector General for the U.S. State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors, Steve Linick, testified about the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) efforts, initiatives, and challenges in performing adequate oversight.

“Georgians sent me to Washington to make the federal government more effective, transparent, and accountable. Today’s hearing is part of our Congressional oversight authority. It is my hope that this first hearing and the bipartisan work of this subcommittee will help uncover ways we can improve and streamline oversight at the State Department in order to support the men and women who serve our country here at home and around the world,” said Perdue

“The Office of the Inspector General was designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and has laudably found ways to save taxpayers millions of dollars. However, they do not have autonomy or independence to conduct adequate oversight. Given the important mission of the State Department, it’s outrageous that Mr. Linick and his team are not given full authority to hold a department of 72,000 employees accountable. As chairman of this subcommittee, my goal is to improve the overall operational effectiveness of the State Department and provide greater transparency and accountability for the American people,” said Perdue.

Religious Liberty

Jim Jess wrote an account of how the resolution supporting Sen. Josh McKoon’s RFRA bill was passed by the Sixth District Convention of the Georgia Republican Party,

The first resolution supported Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s effort to hold what is being called an “SEC Primary” on March 1, 2016, which would be held the same day as a number of other Southern states. The regional primary would attract presidential candidates to campaign in the South. The second resolution opposed the Advanced Placement U.S. History (A-PUSH) framework being promoted by a national testing company and some education consultants. According to critics, the proposed A-PUSH curriculum focuses on America’s faults and ignores some of our nation’s great achievements. The delegates passed both of these resolutions by nearly unanimous majorities.

But the big story is what the committee did not do. The committee received a number of resolutions its members refused to bring to the floor. While resolutions are often used in such gatherings to rally support for a number of Republican priorities, this committee seemed more interested in limiting the number of resolutions that delegates could consider.

In a rather unusual parliamentary procedure, a delegate asked for her resolution about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Senate Bill 129, to be discharged from the committee and sent to the floor for consideration. The delegates supported her position and voted to bring it to the floor. Two of the three Resolutions Committee members spoke against adopting the resolution, one even going so far as to argue that because some members of the legislature were confused about the legislation, delegates should not consider it. This prompted Fulton County delegate Nate Porter to stand and argue that the reason for resolutions is to give direction to those who are in office.

State Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) also argued in support of the resolution. He said that delegates should not believe inaccurate information being circulated in the media, as many of these arguments against the bill were wrong. He pointed out the importance of enacting the legislation to protect citizens of faith who are being deprived of their rights.

When delegates voted on the resolution, nearly all the delegates in the auditorium rose to their feet to indicate their approval. Less than a dozen of the 200 delegates rose to vote “no.” The resolution will now be sent to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and all members of the legislature to indicate the convention’s support for the bill.

GAGOP Chairman’s Race

The AJC Political Insider has a squib about a small billboard that has appeared in Athen, where the GOP State Convention will be held next month. The sign on Milledge Avenue reads, “Georgia GOP Must Elect New Chairman.”

Alex Johnson, the only known candidate running against current Chairman John Padgett, sent out an email trumpeting the results of a straw poll in the 3d Congressional District Convention,

First, at the 3rd District Convention, a straw poll was conducted which included a poll for GAGOP Chairman. I received 75% of the vote, with the incumbent receiving only 17%. If this is any indication of statewide trends, it shows a substantial desire for fresh, professional and energetic leadership within the GAGOP that will practice financial stewardship and truly support and grow our county parties. It also shows a substantial increase over the 40% of the votes received at the 2013 state convention.

Second, the 10th District Convention refused to seat Newton County delegates due to the rule-breaking that occurred at the County level. It is definitely refreshing to see the rules being upheld in the 10th district and a concerted effort to ensure that we Advance the GOP through growth of the party and not excluding hard-working Republicans. Hopefully the same will be done by the State GOP.

A quick review of straw poll results shows that they almost never reflect reality. I’d suggest that many straw polls are held specifically to boost candidates who may have a limited but active following.

In May 2013, before the last State Convention, the results of a straw poll showed the following:

Alex Johnson-47 votes
B. J. Van Gundy-32 votes
John Padgett-5 votes
Seth Harp-2 votes

Johnson also led an April Straw Poll in the Eleventh Congressional District

30% Alex Johnson 54 votes
25% Undecided 44 votes
24% John Padgett 43 votes
17% BJ Van Gundy 30 votes
4% Seth Harp 8 votes

In Athens that year, John Padgett led the first ballot, with Alex Johnson in second place, VanGundy third, and, if I recall correctly, Seth Harp dropped out.

As far as the Third Congressional District GOP being a bellweather for the rest of the state, have a look at the March 2014 straw poll results for the United States Senate race,

US Senate
Paul Broun………… 39%
Karen Handel…….. 36%
David Perdue…….. 12%
Derrick Grayson….. 9%
Jack Kingston…….. 2%
Phil Gingrey……….. 2%
Art Gardner……… 0.5%

David Pennington…. 60%
Nathan Deal……….. 35%
John Barge…………. 5%

State School Superintendant
Mary Kay Bacallao…. 56%
Nancy Jester……….. 21%
Richard Woods…….. 11%
Ashley Bell…………… 7%
Kira Willis……………. 3%
Allen Fort…………….. 1%
Mike Buck…………… 0%
Sharyl Dawes………… 0%
Fitz Johnson…………. 0%



Tybee officials look to put an end to Orange Crush |

Following more than two dozen arrests and a shooting on the beach that left one man injured on Saturday afternoon, Tybee Island officials want to put a stop to Orange Crush, the annual beach party that draws thousands of college-aged students to the island.

Mayor Jason Buelterman, with the Tybee Island City Council, released a statement Monday saying that after the rash of weekend violence the city had reached a tipping point in dealing with the event, which has no official sponsor but is spread through social media.

Buelterman and council members said that while the majority of the party goers behaved responsibly the risks to public safety posed by such large groups of young people without supervision has become unacceptable.

“After approximately twenty-five years, we have reached a tipping point and going forward will be doing everything in our power to put an end to this event while, of course, maintaining a public beach for everyone,” the statement read.

via Tybee officials look to put an end to Orange Crush |


Ga. Supreme Court considering whether prosecutors must prove lack of consent in child sexual-battery cases |

ATLANTA — The justices of the state’s highest court are mulling whether Georgia law considers all touching of a child’s sexual areas illegal or when consent is a factor, after hearing oral arguments Monday in a man’s appeal of a sexual-battery conviction.

A law updated in 2003 defines sexual battery as touching without consent, and a separate law says no one under the age of 16 has the legal capacity to give consent.

Putting the two together can create a problem for people in innocent, daily activities, noted Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias.

“If you don’t have a ‘lack of consent’ (as part of the law), then I’ve committed the offense of sexual on my own children thousands of times, probably, as has every person in this courtroom who has a child,” he said. “Because if a child under the age of 16 can’t consent, then every time you’ve changed a diaper, every time you’ve patted your child on the butt when they do a good play at a sporting event….”

The issue arises because in the appeal for Patrick Watson of St. Marys, his attorney, Noah Pines, argues that prosecutors never proved the family member Watson is charged with touching didn’t approve.

via Ga. Supreme Court considering whether prosecutors must prove lack of consent in child sexual-battery cases |


CAT expects more funds for maintenance, tax revenues in FY16 |

Chatham Area Transit officials said Tuesday the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, in addition to maintaining and operating the organization, is designed to cut back on the system’s debt and achieve new priorities.

During the CAT board of directors’ first reading of the fiscal year 2016 budget this week, Chief Financial Officer Terri Harrison reported the next budget, which begins July 1, will grow 8 percent over last year’s budget to $21.5 million. Harrison said the growth will reflect CAT’s financial position at the end of the current fiscal year.

CAT CEO Chad Reese said based on current projections, the transit system will end the current fiscal year with surplus funds — money that will be used to pad a reserve.

via CAT expects more funds for maintenance, tax revenues in FY16 |


Pooler Council delays vote on hookah lounge |

A representative for the owner of a Pooler restaurant and hookah lounge argued Monday that a public smoking ban that went into effect in the city this year doesn’t apply to the business.

Mike Vaquer, speaking on behalf of Harry Kyriakides, the owner of the Mediterranean Tavern at 125 Foxfield Way, told the Pooler City Council this week the smoke-free air ordinance passed by the city council at the end of last year applies only to tobacco products. Hookahs don’t fit this description, he said, because the substance smoked in these pipes is shisha.

A publication put out by the University of Maryland identifies shisha as a tobacco that is soaked in molasses or honey and mixed with fruit.

via Pooler Council delays vote on hookah lounge |


Effingham school board postpones governing decision |

Members of the Effingham County Board of Education voted 3-2 to delay a decision about how the school district governs itself.

Vickie Decker, Robert Grant and Beth Helmly voted for the delay Thursday night and Troy Alford and Lamar Allen voted against it.

Helmly said she would like to know which waivers the district would be likely to request and how much it will cost to develop a plan before she votes.

“You might be thinking of some waivers that I’d be totally against,” she said.

School Superintendent Randy Shearouse said he thinks the district mainly would be considering waivers for what the state calls the “big four” — class size, how money must be spent, certification and salary schedule.

via Effingham school board postpones governing decision |