Deal: Kubota to create 650 jobs in Hall County, invest $100 million
Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA), a leading global manufacturer of small tractors, RTVs and lawn mowers, will expand its headquarters in Gainesville, creating an additional 650 jobs and investing $100 million into the project over the next several years.
“Kubota’s presence in Georgia continues to be one of our state’s greatest business success stories,” Deal said. “This expansion is yet another testament to our state’s growing international business presence. Japan remains one of Georgia’s top five investor nations, and I thank companies such as this one for investing in our state and creating job opportunities for Georgians.”
In order to meet growing demands, KMA will purchase 180 acres located within Hall County’s Gateway Industrial Centre, which will support additional manufacturing for its current operations. KMA will continue to operate its existing facilities in Gainesville Industrial Park North at Ramsey Road. With this expansion, Kubota Corp. will employ more than 2,900 Georgians in two counties. (more…)
At last night’s debate, Michelle Nunn continued to avoid answering questions directly. At every opportunity she turned her answer to repeated attacks on David Perdue.
She refused to express any sense of disdain, disappointment, or even disagreement with the Georgia Democrat party for the hate-filled and divisive racial flyer sent to black families across Georgia. The flyer depicted little children in Ferguson, Missouri holding signs saying, “Don’t Shoot Me.”
Instead she said that we should have a conversation. Listening to Michelle Nunn in all of the debates reminded me of a group of ivory tower PhD Philosophy students. She liberally weaved phrases like, “have a conversation”, “more collaboration”, “bi-partisanship” into every answer.
At every opportunity, David Perdue clearly and pointedly reminded her that it is Harry Reid, and the Democrats who are holding bills and not showing any bi-partisanship. It is Harry Reid that is refusing to have the conversations.
Michelle Nunn never answered the question as to whether or not she would vote for Harry Reid as her party’s leader. Harry Reid is not up for re-election. There is no talk of anyone else being considered by Democrats in the Senate. By her refusing to simply answer the question, Georgians know that Harry Reid has her vote.
Michelle Nunn finally took a clear position on an issue that would impact the average Georgian. She is strongly in favor of increasing the minimum wage.
Earlier in the debate, candidates were asked what they would say to the small business owner or the person who is out of work. When Michelle Nunn said that we needed to increase the federal minimum wage, David Perdue asked her to choose which employee she was going to let go because of mandating an increase in the minimum wage. (more…)
October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.
This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
Cobb County voters have historically been reluctant to give their sales tax pennies to county government, rejecting special purpose levies four out of nine times since 1981.
And two years ago, Cobb voters dealt the regional transportation sales tax one of its worst defeats in Metro Atlanta, casting 68 percent of the ballots against.
But this year’s proposed six-year, $750 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is challenged by more than just history.
The Nov. 4 referendum follows a Cobb Board of Ethics’ decision to proceed with a trial-like hearing into Commission Chairman Tim Lee’s recruitment of the Braves, and after a year marked of critics complaining time and again about a lack of transparency in the county’s stadium dealings.
During a marathon July meeting of the commission in which the board approved placing the tax on ballots, Commissioner Lisa Cupid told Lee that voters shouldn’t have to “play detective” to understand the projects on the list.
“We are trying right now to overcome some concerns people have about how transparent we are,” Cupid said. “This is another example of us not being as transparent as we could and should be. …I feel like I’ve had to play detective.”
Concerns about transparency could be another reason for already skeptical Cobb voters to reject the tax plan, said David Shock, assistant chairman of Kennesaw State University’s Political Science and International Affairs Department, who has studied SPLOST initiatives statewide. He said Cobb voters are unusual in their distaste for sales tax. While that method of funding is typically embraced throughout Georgia, Cobb residents usually mount well-organized opposition that appeals to the county’s staunchly conservative voting base, he said.
Shock said the controversies surrounding Lee could have an impact, especially given the razor-thin margins of recent SPLOST votes. The two most recent initiatives approved were by an average of just 100 votes out of more than 40,000 ballots cast in each of the 2005 and 2011 elections.
One of the beauties of a SPLOST is that it spreads the cost of government across all classes and everyone who spends money in a community, be they rich, poor, residents, non-residents or even here illegally.
Nobody likes paying taxes, but the benefits of past SPLOSTs can be seen all over the county. And Cobb’s triple-AAA bond rating, a distinction shared with only a few dozen other communities around the country, is further evidence that the county continues to be well run.
Next month’s SPLOST referendum will be a departure from its predecessors in one significant way, however. That is, it will take place in conjunction with a general election, when turnouts are high, rather than as a stand-alone special election, when turnouts are small and easier to manipulate. That has made it more incumbent than usual for the county to assemble a list of projects to be funded that are both needed and justifiable.
We think the county has done that — and that this SPLOST deserves your vote.
There are good arguments on both sides of the 2016 SPLOST renewal debate, which will be voted on by Cobb residents in a few days.
However, the real issue here is trust. I believe there are many good people in Cobb government who do their jobs with integrity and professionalism. However the Board of Commissioners has shown itself to be lacking in those qualities. We have a chairman who thinks it is OK to ramrod $400 million in borrowing through without bothering to inform his fellow commissioners until the last minute, not to mention allowing the county residents a vote. And we have seen with the 2008 parks bonds that the will of the voters can just be discarded whenever the commission feels like it. Those bonds were voter approved and could have been used to purchase valuable green space, at a time when real estate was cheap. I have to question whether this was done deliberately to allow those in the real estate development community, many of whom have close ties to the commission, more opportunities for profiteering.
If the voters cannot be trusted to weigh in on $400 million of bonds for the Braves stadium, or to have some influence on the future land use of an already overdeveloped east Cobb real estate market, then maybe they should not trust this commission as currently constituted to spend $750 million more of their money.
For the first time I will not be voting for a SPLOST. There have been town hall meetings where both sides have laid out their case for and against it. I am not sure which side is the more meritorious, but my inclination would be to support it. A good part of the factors going into my deliberations is that I trust my elected officials unless I have reason not to. In this instance I no longer trust the chair of the Cobb County Commission, Tim Lee. I have never particularly liked his style of governing, but I am sincere in saying that I would not let that alone interfere with my making important decisions. That said, Lee broke faith with the electorate in the new stadium deal. As I wrote in last week’s Agitator, I can live with broken promises and deal with it at the ballot box. Things can change that caused an official to change his position, and that is up to each voter to decide whether it is a deal-breaker for earning that voter’s support.
Lee was caught telling one story about his relationship with attorney Dan McRae, only to have an email completely and factually contradict him. Adding to that was how the email was intentionally written outside the Cobb County government’s email system to avoid having to comply with any Open Records Act requests that might come along. And this particular email goes to the core of how the stadium deal was negotiated.
Cobb County is going to raise the hotel/motel/car rental tax and a few others to support the bond deal that will help pay for the stadium. The public never got a meaningful chance to voice its opposition to it. There are lots of questions about whether all the promises the Braves made can or will be kept, and whether the property owners will ultimately be on the hook if all the happy talk of revenue doesn’t live up to the expectations. By then Lee and many of his cheerleaders will be long gone.
O’Dell said the benefits of the tax for county residents are numerous.
“First and foremost, it has been the mechanism that has kept this county the home of the lowest property taxes in metro Atlanta for more than a decade,” he said. “Second, it is the fairest mechanism for which to pay for infrastructure and capital projects because it is a tax that all of those that utilize our service systems and infrastructure pay. And lastly, it keeps this county largely debt free.”
O’Dell said one of the biggest benefits of the SPLOST is it collects revenue from everyone who spends money in the county, which spreads out the tax burden. While there are conflicting studies about exactly how much of the $750 million would come from those who live outside the county, O’Dell said it’s more than nothing.
Does it make you suspicious when you see the largest newspaper in the county and the head of the pro-tax contingent apparently quoting the same talking points? Then again, good arguments tend to be repeated and used by others.
Lance Lamberton predicts Cobb voters will reject the county’s proposed six-year extension of its special purpose local option sales tax Nov. 4 for several reasons.
“I think this is the most wasteful SPLOST we’ve ever had,” he said.
“It’s for six years. There’s a credibility and trust issue. And it’s held in a general election,” Lamberton added.
“I’m of the view that putting more money in the private sector is a better use of people’s money than putting it in the public sector,” he added.
According to Lamberton, the proposed SPLOST would cost a family of four with a median annual income of $65,000 about $3,080 over its six-year life.
Lamberton said voters should also reject the SPLOST proposal to send a message to the state Legislature the county wants to be able to levy the SPLOST at less than 1 percent. A bill to allow for a fractional SPLOST failed to reach the governor’s desk during this year’s legislative session.
“We were very, very close to getting a fractional SPLOST in the last session of the Legislature,” he said. “I think that this defeat of the SPLOST will put it over the top. Then, we can present a SPLOST, and even the Cobb Taxpayers Association would not be in opposition to a good fractional SPLOST.”
Lamberton also has an issue with the six-year term of the proposal.
“It’s assuring the SPLOST will be in place for eight years,” he said. “That’s pretty unusual. On top of the fact that it’s already existed for 10 years continuously.”
The Marietta Daily Journal has done an excellent job of presenting both sides of the argument for their voters – that’s what I think makes them a great newspaper.
89,106 or 32% are African-American in-person voters
178,915 or 64% are White in-person voters
ABSENTEE BALLOTS ALREADY CAST
28,184 have voted by paper mail-in ballot
4,408 or 16% are African-American voters
22,637 or 80% are White voters
ABSENTEE BALLOT STILL OUTSTANDING (“UNCAST”)
42,397 ballots remain outstanding (not sent back in)
28% of outstanding ballots were mailed to African-American Voters
64% of outstanding ballots were mailed are to White voters COMPARE TO 2010:
In 2010 at this time, 253,999 had voted.
26% were African-American voters and 72% were White voters
We received word yesterday that Sunday early voting in Albany netted 500 voters, of whom 470, or 94%, were African-American. Compare this to roughly 60% of 2010 votes in Dougherty County being cast by African-Americans. The Democratic party appears to have dominated Sunday early voting in Dougherty. The Albany Herald wrote about early voting there:
Four hundred ninety-nine voters cast ballots during the four-hour period, catching many elections officials off-guard with a turnout that Dougherty Elections Board Chairman Commodore Conyers said “proved there was a need for a Sunday vote.”
Dougherty Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said she was not surprised by the large turnout and that the process was running as smoothly as possible.
“We had a state investigator come in and approve everything, and we’ve had a poll watcher assigned to keep an eye on everything,” Nickerson said. “Everyone’s being very patient.”
Poll watcher Joseph Brannan of Columbus said he’d been appointed by the state to keep an eye on the process in Albany. He said he’d seen no irregularities.
“Dougherty County is the only county in Southwest Georgia to hold Sunday voting, but watchers have been assigned at every place in the state where there’s Sunday voting,” Brannan said. “I’m not really watching for anything in particular.
“What I’ve seen so far is that the Elections staff has done a very good job of conducting the voting. I don’t think they or anyone was really prepared for this big a turnout, but they have worked diligently to keep the process moving.”
Dougherty County Commissioner Clinton Johnson, who asked the Elections Board to reconsider its initial vote not to allow Sunday voting, smiled broadly as he watched the voters stream into the Riverfront Resource Center.
“I think (the Elections Board) took the right side in this matter,” he said. “Today proves that the Democratic process works in Dougherty County. A need was definitely met here today.”
It’s the first Sunday voters can go to the polls in one metro county and many went straight from church for early voting ahead of the November election.
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter spoke to the Piney Grove Baptist Church on Glenwood Avenue Sunday morning.
After the service, she planned to caravan with parishioners to the early voting site in south DeKalb. The group planned to use a full-size bus and two other smaller vans to get what they called “Souls to the Polls.” Unfortunately, plans changed when the bus carrying Carter and several parishioners broke down. A different bus took some parishioners and Carter left to vote at another time.
We spoke with DeKalb County’s election director about the first chance to vote on a Sunday.
Campaigners holding signs while people drive by, hoping to get voter for their favorite candidate. For the first time in Richmond County people can cast their ballot on Sunday.
“It’s better for me considering I’m a single parent and I’m very busy during the week day. This way I won’t have to interrupt my son’s schedule to come during the week day,” said Martha Gilyard Wilson.
After some prayer, church members hit the polls.
“So we as a congregation committed that we would become faithful voters, and we would exercise our rights by voting early,” said Pastor Mark Pierson.
Taking advantage of Sunday voting, a new trend this year in several Georgia counties, voters lined up outside the ACC Board of Elections Sunday, and by 1:30 p.m., 3,923 combined advance and Sunday voters had done so, and by the end of the day, about 300 would cast Sunday ballots.
Church vans pulled up throughout the afternoon, unloading passengers who otherwise might not have made it to the polls. But the turnout was already as varied as the candidates themselves: A group of men showed up on skateboards, wheeling past ladies still in their Sunday hats to take their place in line.
Election Supervisor Gail Schrader said she and her staff were surprised at the turnout.
“We knew it would be good, but we didn’t know exactly what to expect,” she said.
A man wearing a purple usher’s ribbon from church earlier in the day said his church leader encouraged people to get out and vote.
For Thaddeus, the man in the ribbon, Sunday voting was more about ease of access than anything else, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual election-day hustle and bustle.
“People like to get out and mingle, you know, but some of them might not be able to make it out, if they don’t have a car,” he said.
Another plus to Sunday voting was that parking downtown was free.
As of early Friday, 14,530 residents have taken advantage of early voting in Gwinnett County. More than 10,000 voters have cast ballots in person at the elections office since advance voting began on Oct. 13.
An additional 4,449 voters have cast ballots by mail and 27 have voted via electronic ballots. Advance voting continues this week at the Gwinnett County Elections Office, located at 455 Grayson Highway, Suite 200, in Lawrenceville. Voters may cast ballots at the Elections Office through Oct. 31, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Voting will also take place at the county’s six satellite locations — Bogan Park Community Recreation Center, Lenora Park Activity Room, Centerville Community Center, Dacula Park Activity Building, George Pierce Park Community Recreation Center and Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center. Satellite locations will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, Oct. 27-31.
After passing a resolution to allow Sunday voting last month, the Richmond County Board of Elections decided to operate a single polling location at the Municipal Building’s newly renovated lobby to gauge interest in the idea.
Though numbers didn’t come close to the 1,275 voters who visited four polling locations across the county Saturday, Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey said the 497 who cast ballots Sunday show how popular the concept might be.
Doors were open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and less than three hours into the first Sunday voting period, the polling location was running voters through at a rate of about 100 per hour, she said. The location featured 20 voting machines and 10 poll workers.
“I can’t attest to why they’re choosing to come out today, but it is certainly popular with many citizens,” Bailey said. “Anytime you provide an opportunity it’s always good to see people take advantage of it.”
Additional Sheriffs Come Forward After False Endorsements are Exposed
More sheriffs have contacted AG Sam Olens’ campaign saying they too did not endorse Hecht. Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight was so angry he went to the local newspaper to set the record straight saying “I never endorsed Hecht.” “He was just collecting names.” See yesterday’s article HERE.
The current list of falsified switchers who have contacted the campaign stands at 14. One sheriff in a Metro Atlanta county is still an Olens’ endorsee, but asked not to be listed in the press release. One additional sheriff on Hecht’s list was never on Olens’ list.
Current list as of 10-24-14:
Sheriff Nick Norton, Lanier County
CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Bobby Harrell pleaded guilty on Thursday to criminal ethics charges and agreed to immediately resign from the legislature.
Harrell, a Republican who became speaker in 2005, pleaded guilty to six counts that included using campaign funds for personal expenses, misconduct in office and false reporting, in a case that has laid low a key figure in the state Republican Party.
Harrell also agreed to cooperate with investigators going forward and to submit to polygraph tests, prosecutors said, raising the specter of further probes into other top state officials.
“I have agreed to this today to end what has been a two-year nightmare,” Harrell said in a statement. “To continue to fight this would have taken at least another year, possibly two.”
Harrell, who was indicted last month on nine criminal counts that included falsifying his private plane’s logbook to seek payment for non-existent travel, had previously denied any willful wrongdoing.
Under the plea agreement, Harrell will serve three years’ probation of a suspended six-year prison sentence and will pay a $30,000 fine, prosecutor David Pascoe said at a hearing in Columbia, the state capital.
That happened. I expect you’ll be hearing about it in robocalls, TV ads, and on the radio for the next couple of weeks, and perhaps into January.
Here’s a partial transcription of President Obama:
And these last two years I want a Congress that does work, and the only way I can do that, even though I’m not on the ballot, is to make sure that our people turn out to vote, that young people and black folks and latinos and progressives and people who share a vision of making sure that this economy works for everybody and not just a few people, that those folks turn out and when we do, we win, and no place is a better example than in Georgia.
Michelle Nunn will win the Senate if there is high turnout among Democrats. And if there is low turnout or just ordinary turnout, then she won’t win. And if Michelle Nunn wins, that means that Democrats keep control of the Senate, and that means that we can keep on doing some good work.