The blog.

8
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 8, 2015

Georgia and American History

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 77th 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 calls Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. USS John Warner was commissioned on August 1, 2015 at Norfolk Naval Station.

The submarine’s namesake, John W. 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 one year ago today.

Tomorrow, the Macon Vet Center will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

 The New York Times writes that Hillary Clinton is “methodically building a political firewall across the South in hopes of effectively locking up the Democratic nomination in March,” but perhaps her strategy is based on memories of cratering across the Deep South in 2008 after then-upstart Barack Obama set her packing. Early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina set in motion a collapse of Clinton’s campaign that also saw her lose the entire Deep South, as well as North Carolina and Virginia. Here’s the map we’ve used multiple times before:

800px-Democratic_presidential_primary2008

But back to the Times article:

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, struck by the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders in those [Iowa and New Hampshire], have been assuring worried supporters that victories and superdelegate support in Southern states will help make her the inevitable nominee faster than many Democrats expect. They point to her popularity with black and Hispanic voters, as well as her policy stances and the relationships that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have cultivated. Mrs. Clinton was similarly confident at this point eight years ago, before Barack Obama and his superior organizers began piling up delegates, including in many Southern states.

In interviews, advisers said the campaign was increasingly devoting staff members and money to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 while laying the groundwork to sweep Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on March 1.

Mrs. Clinton’s Southern strategy shows in sharp relief the imprint of the data-driven, organization-focused nature of the Obama 2008 campaign on the Clinton operation.

“There’s so much focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, but Secretary Clinton and her team know that the South will deliver a huge number of delegates that will essentially seal the nomination for her,” said DuBose Porter, the Georgia Democratic Party chairman and a Clinton supporter.

Southern states will play a far bigger role than usual in this nominating cycle, with most voting by March 15, and black and Hispanic votes will be crucial in many of those Democratic primaries.

This week will see a visit to Atlanta by Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. From the AJC Political Insider:

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and insurgent Democratic presidential candidate, makes his first Georgia visit of the campaign on Friday [September 11, 2015] for an Atlanta fundraiser.

The 6 p.m. event at 200 Peachtree will cost you a minimum of just $50 to attend and, unlike most candidates, Sanders opens his fundraisers to the press.

News of the Sanders visit comes a day after Hillary Clinton canceled a Sept. 17 campaign appearance. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a run, spoke at an Atlanta synagogue on Thursday.

This weekend on the way to Dragon Con, I saw this button, the first Bernie Sanders piece I’ve seen in person. Is it any wonder there’s a strong overlap between people who live in a fantasy world and those who attend Dragon Con?

Bernie Sanders Pin 2016

I award the Bernie Sanders supporters 2 points for having a sense of humor about their candidate.

“Bernie, y’all” buttons and brochures titled, “Who the hell is Bernie Sanders” got Georgians for Sanders a feature in the New York Times.

Speaking of Dragon Con, longtime Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) was there to discuss March 2, the second comic book graphic novel based on his experiences during the Civil Rights movement.

Lewis and Aydin touched on everything from the Freedom Rides to Lewis’ relationship with Malcolm X and what Lewis thinks of the Black Lives Matter movement:

On making young people aware of the Civil Rights movement: Lewis said we have to find a way to make the movement “plain and clear,” which he thinks the “March” books are trying to do. He related a story about Martin Luther King Jr.’s father saying “Son, you have to make it plain” when he was writing his sermons.

On the 1961 Freedom Rides: Lewis, who was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, recalled the white and black activists eating a meal of Chinese food before they left from Washington, DC. “Eat well,” someone said. “This might be our last supper.” He said an interracial group being able to sit down and eat together in the U.S. capitol created a “circle of trust” amongst the activists, “a band of brothers and sisters.”

MARTA is considering adding wifi and cell service in part of the tunnel under downtown Atlanta. From the AJC:

If all goes as planned, a six-month pilot project would start in January with three stations — Five Points, Peachtree Center and Georgia Dome/Georgia World Congress Center and inside a tunnel that connects them. All 38 stations would feature cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi access by July 2018. The $25 million system would be designed, installed and maintained at no cost to MARTA.

In fact, the transit agency would profit from the deal.

MARTA would get $1 million up front by signing the contract prior to construction. After the vendor signs up cellular carriers, it would provide MARTA with a 55 percent profit share for the first 10 years and 60 percent for the next decade.

The profit-sharing agreement could bring in as much as $10 million in revenue to MARTA in the first decade and almost double that amount in years 11 through 20, according to the vendor’s estimates. However, MARTA officials acknowledge those projections may be rosy and said they aren’t counting on getting that large of a return.

During the legislative session, I frequently take MARTA and one sore spot from the ride is the cell phone and internet blackout that starts once you get into the tunnels.

In addition to the five pounds of crazy that will be Snellville’s elections, Norcross will also see a contested Mayoral race this November.

The talk about Snellville’s mayoral race has focused largely on Mayor Kelly Kautz and former Councilman Tom Witts, but the final list of candidates released on Friday shows they are not the only people seeking the city’s top elected post.

Garry Lapides, a former representative of the city on the Evermore Community Improvement District board, also qualified to run for the mayor’s seat as the race, which was already expected to be hotly contested, becomes a three-way battle.

Meanwhile, each of the council seats up for election this year in the city will be contested. Post 1 Councilman Dave Emmanuel will be challenged by Barbara Moston, while Dexter Harrison and Roger Marmol are running for the Post 2 seat currently held by Councilman Diane Krause, who opted to not seek re-election.

Mike Sabbagh and Cristy Lenski will face off for the Post 3 council seat that Witts vacated to run for mayor.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson will be challenged by Gordon Tomlinson. Meanwhile, Councilman Craig Newton faces a challenge from Vincent Maiello and fellow Councilman Charlie Riehm is opposed by Pierre Levy.

On Tuesday, the Cobb County Commission will vote on a 2016 budget that totals about $785 million dollars.

Gasoline was available for under $2 in Valdosta this weekend.

In Richmond County, your next traffic citation could be issued electronically.

Currently, officers in the three-man High­way Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic unit are the only ones with the technology, but the sheriff’s office hopes to expand it.

Electronic citations work with the aid of small, handheld machines that resemble a BlackBerry. Officers can enter licenses, vehicle identification numbers and license plates into the system and print out a citation from the patrol car.

The job of Mayor of Gordon, Georgia pays $3,600 per year, but the legal bills racked up by current Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue in an effort to keep her job have totalled more than $95k, with the bill being sent to taxpayers.

Legal bills for Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr and Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce in their lawsuits against the city government total nearly $400k, with the bill to be footed by the taxpayers.

All told, the latest expenses total $389,980 for the two city officials. The city’s tab for expenses in defending the case is almost $500,000.

Council’s approval of the fees and expenses is sought after Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller of Stone Mountain, Ga., ruled April 23 that the city must pay legal expenses for both elected officials from the city’s general fund and not from their budgets. Fuller was appointed to hear the cases because local judges recused themselves.

Four ordinances must be approved to pay all the expenses. It takes six votes from council to approve each request.

Bob Coggin is making a gentlemanly exit from Newnan City Council, declining to run again after a 2013 redistricting because, he says, both of his potential opponents “ do a heck of a good job in their service on the city council.”

Declining docks and derelict boats on Lake Lanier are a problem for local governments and neighboring homeowners, according to the Gainesville Times.

Forsyth County commissioners are seeking a crackdown on spas and massage parlors that may be fronts for prostitution.

Cherokee County school superintendent Frank Petruzielo will retire this coming February after 17 years on the job.

Solarize, a project in Savannah for bulk purchase of solar panels, resulted in 60 installations of panels, tripling the county’s installed base.

Port Wentworth will host contested elections for two district seats on City Council and one At Large seat.

In Cumming, one incumbent City Council member faces no opposition, while two incumbents who previously announced retirements will face reelection against challengers.

Longtime Mayor of Carrollton and legendary Georgia politician Wayne Garner changed his mind about seeking a fourth term and will retire at the end of his current term.

DeKalb County gets weirder

Lee May or someone in DeKalb County may be in hot water after releasing to the media copies of search warrants that had been ordered sealed by the judge issuing them.

Earlier this week, May’s office released search warrants that they had received pertaining to some of his emails. CBS46 has now learned that information was sealed in Superior Court to protect the investigation and should not have been made public.

“I was told that the information was open and available to the public anyway,” DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said.

Brennan was asked if he was informed that the warrant should have been sealed.

“No, there was no discussion of that at all. As a matter of fact, on the documents it says, ‘filed in open court’ and courts are open to the public,” Brennan said.

The FBI is investigating whether a company won a county contract in return for a contribution. In 2011, Water Removal Services of Alpharetta allegedly wrote a $4,000 check to May after doing some work on a sewer in front of May’s home. The company later won a county contract for $300,000.

Brennan said May did nothing wrong and that someone forged the CEO’s signature on the check.

4
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 4, 2015

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

heartofatlanta.digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta pool.digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Atlanta Time Machine has a webpage with interesting images of the Motel.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Uncle Vice President Joe Biden defended the Obama Administration’s foreign policy achievements Iran Deal in a speech in Atlanta last night, calling it a big f*cking “good deal,”according to MyAJC.com.Continue Reading..

4
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 4, 2015

Liberty

Liberty is a 2 year old female hound mix. House trained. Loves kids and very affectionate. She loves to wrestle with other dogs. Must have someone who is willing to let her play fetch with a tennis ball! Extremely smart and knows some commands. She’s 40lbs. Which is small for a hound and won’t get any bigger. Liberty is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Ellie

Ellie is a two year old boston terrier/boxer mix. She is a petite gal, weighing about 30 pounds. Ellie is calm, quite, well mannered, very good natured and low energy. She gets along with other dogs but does not care for active players. She would be fine being the only dog. She gets along with cats. Ellie is house and crate trained. Ellie is heartworm positive but currently being treated. Ellie is the perfect little companion and likes to be her person’s shadow.

Ellie is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Goofy

Goofy is a young male Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

In addition to rescuing and fostering dogs from local shelters, BARC Humane operates the Moody Pet Guardian Angel Program to provide foster homes to pets of Moody Air Force Base personnel who are deployed. After their owner’s deployment ends, the foster animals return to their homes.

Click here to make an online donation to BARC Humane Society, or you may mail a check to:

BARC Humane Society
307 E Jane St
Valdosta, GA 31601

PHARM Dog USA is a Missouri-based charity that helps place assistance dogs with farmers to allow them to continue farming after an accident or disability. From the Macon Telegraph,

PHARM Dog USA has a shoestring budget, but founder Jackie Allenbrand is committed to help disabled farmers prove they can be as independent as their able-bodied peers.

“People think of farmers as rugged and tough,” Allenbrand said. “When you see a big, burly farmer crying after they get a dog because they know they can keep farming, you see what a difference it’s making. That’s what drives us.”

PHARM Dog USA trains Labrador retrievers and lab mixes for service skills, such as retrieving tools, carrying buckets or opening gates, while border collies are trained only to herd and help control cattle and other animals. The farmers never pay for the dogs, which are donated or rescued from shelters, and agriculture rehabilitation groups pay for the training. PHARM Dog also has received some grants and gets dog food donated by Cargill Nutrition.

 

3
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 3, 2015

The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on September 3, 1776 at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

A fleet of 22 French ships arrived off the coast of Savannah on September 3, 1779 to help wrest control of the city from the British.

On September 3, 1862, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in Atlanta and within five miles of its border by the Confederate government. Two years later, September 3, 1864, General William T. Sherman would occupy Atlanta.

The Georgia General Assembly expelled 25 of 29 African-American members from the State House on September 3, 1868, arguing that Georgia’s constitution did not allow them to hold office.

Anne Frank, age 15, and seven other Jews who were hiding together in Amsterdam were the last Dutch prisoners transported to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944.

Having received the Democratic nomination for President, Jimmy Carter began the General Election with an address from his front porch in Plains, Georgia on September 3, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Senator Johnny Isakson will visit Fort Benning this afternoon.

Fort Benning is the second military post on Isakson’s list as he visits four installations in Georgia over two days. The visit includes a briefing with the command staff, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and the 75th Ranger Regiment. U.S. Reps. Tom Graves, R-Ga., and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., will accompany Isakson, R-Ga., during the visit.

Isakson voiced concerns about military cuts not only at Fort Benning but other Georgia posts on July 8, a day before the same numbers were announced by the Army. The cuts are part of the U.S. Department of Defense plans to reduce the Army to 450,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, 2017.

In addition to the military personnel, officials have said that cuts to the civilian employees may come sometime this fall. Across the Army, officials have said about 17,000 civilian positions will be eliminated.

The Ranger School at Benning is going fully coed, as the Army announced the leadership training course will be opened to women.

Earlier this week, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the appointment William H. Mills of Blakely County as state court judge in Early County.

Nominations for three new seats on the Georgia Court of Appeals closed this week. Nominees who submit full application packets will be interviewed and the Judicial Nominating Commission will send a list to Gov. Deal.

State Senator Michael Williams (R-Forsyth County) will serve on the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House during the 2016 legislative session to address any tax reform legislation,” he said.

The committee will be made up of appointed members from both chambers of the legislature. Its main objective is to draft legislation relating to tax reform and introduce it during next year’s General Assembly.

“I’m proud to appoint Sen. Williams to the [committee] and look forward to thoroughly evaluating their findings,” Cagle said in a statement. “[He] has been a leader on these issues, and I’m thankful he’s lending his time and expertise to the important work this committee will perform.”

Two Cumming City Council seats will see contested elections, while the incumbent is the only candidate in the third.

While incumbent Lewis Ledbetter will not face opposition for the Post 3 seat he has held since 1971, the Post 4 and 5 races drew six and two candidates, respectively.

The Post 5 contest features Linda Ledbetter and Julie Tressler, both of whom ran unsuccessfully in the June special election to fill the unexpired Post 1 term of Rupert Sexton, who retired. Chuck Welch won the seat and took office in July.

For Post 4, the six-candidate field includes John Crowe, Christopher Light, Guy McBrayer, Dana Sexton, Marcus “Jack” Shoemake and Avery Stone. Sexton is the wife of Rupert Sexton.

In Canton, incumbent Mayor Gene Hobgood faces former City Council member Pat Tanner.

Ward 2 incumbent Jack Goodwin qualified for re-election Tuesday and will face opposition from residents Jeff Adams and John Clark, City Clerk Susan Stanton said.

Incumbent Farris Yawn will face opposition from resident Jim Busi in his re-election bid. Yawn and Busi faced off in the 2014 race to fill the then-vacant Ward 3 seat.

The only candidate to qualify for the Ward 1 seat was former Councilwoman JoEllen Wilson. The seat is now held by Hooky Huffman, who did not qualify for re-election.

Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn will not run for reelection, creating an open seat election.

Vaughn, who had said she would run, instead threw her support behind Councilman Chris Wizner, who entered the race the same day. Councilman Al Thurman and Alison Feliciano, a local business owner, have also signed up to run for mayor.

Gwinnett County will undoubtedly host the craziest election this year, as City Council Member Tom Witts (sane) has qualified to run against incumbent Mayor Kelly Kautz. Qualifying continues through Friday.

The City of Attapulgus, GA has the lowest qualifying fees I’ve seen – $30 to run for Mayor and $18 for City Council. Climax, GA is a close second with candidates ponying up $20 to run for City Council.

The expected tab for administering next year’s elections will be $6.5 million for Gwinnett County. This is but one of the tidbits that Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post gleaned from the 2016 county budget proposal.

Walker County, Georgia has a mixed bag for November elections. LaFayette will not hold elections as only the incumbents qualified while Rossville has only non-incumbents on the ballot for City Council.

3
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 3, 2015

LifeLine Animals continues their September free adoptions at DeKalb County Animal Services and Fulton County Animal Services.

BG Rascal2

Baby Girl is an 11-year old Terrier mix and Rascal is her 6-year old Chihuahua mix BFF. They’re inseparable and are looking for a home to spend the rest of their days together.

Baby Girl loves everyone and everything, she is the first one to check new things out and will shower you with love and affection as much as you let her. Rascal is a little shyer than Baby and sticks close to her side. Once he gets to know you, he is a happy, wiggly little guy who loves to play.

Baby Girl and Rascal are available for no-cost adoption at DeKalb County Animal Services.

Baby Girl Rascal

Kacey

Kacey is a 4-month old Hound dog girl who is available for adoption with no fee from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Beatrice

Beatrice is a 4-year old female Black Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption with no fee from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Vicente

Vicente is an 11-month old Retriever mix who wants to shake your hand. And that of everyone he meets.

This hand-shaking, bubbly, and totally hilarious Labrador mix would love to entertain your with his goofy personality and enthusiasm for tricks. Vicente already knows how to sit, shake, and lay down! He dreams of doing zoomies around your yard, shaking hands with all of your guests, and rolling around in a bed of toys. Come meet Vicente at DeKalb Animal Services! His adoption fee includes his neuter, vaccinations, microchip, and more! For more information email [email protected]

2
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2015

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead for the Eizenstat Memorial Lecture: “Challenges Facing the U.S. and the World in the 21st Century” from 7:30 to 10 PM Thursday night. Expect horrible traffic that day. This is what happened when Biden came to town in 2013.

Search warrants were served yesterday seeking emails between DeKalb County iCEO Lee May and two former county employees.

[Kelvin] Walton is DeKalb’s former director and chief procurement officer. [Morris] Williams is the former DeKalb County government chief of staff.

The emails for May, Walton and Williams were ordered to be turned over for the period of Dec. 13, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2011 and concern conspiracy to defraud and making false statements.

May issued a statement promising his cooperation. “Today, DeKalb County received search warrants issued by DeKalb Superior Court for emails for myself and two former DeKalb County employees,” May said in the statement.

“I have said from the very beginning that I expect full cooperation from all county employees as it pertains to the ongoing investigations into DeKalb County government.  I include myself in that directive, and I have ordered staff to comply completely and as rapidly as possible.”

“I share the sentiments of everyone who wants to get to the bottom of corruption and wrongdoing, and these search warrants are a step in this process.  Personally, I have nothing to hide; and there will be nothing in my email to suggest I have done anything wrong.”

Continue Reading..

2
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 2, 2015

In August, over 756 animals came into DeKalb County Animal Services and over 660 into Fulton County Animal Services.  To save lives, LifeLine Animal Project is offering FREE adoptions on all pets during the entire month of September!  This includes the pets spay/neuter, microchip and vaccines — a $250 value for free!  LifeLine makes up the cost through their fundraising efforts and grants.

All month long, LifeLine Animal is offering free dog and cat adoptions at their facilities in Fulton and DeKalb Counties.

You can also check out a “Dog for the Day” to help exercise the animals at the shelter and maybe “test drive” a new best friend.

Betty

Betty is a 10-year old Boxer mix who weighs 50 pounds and is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services with no adoption fee through the month of September.

Hi! I’m Betty. I”m a 10 year old spayed female who recently completed heartworm treatment. I absolutely love people and am the gentlest old soul you will ever meet. Whether I am getting a bath, taking walks around the block, hanging out in my crate, or just snuggling on the couch, I will look up at you with my sweet brown eyes and you”ll know how much I love you. My foster mom thinks I would be the perfect companion for an older human or a family with small children because I am so calm and gentle.

My activity level is low. I like walking around the block one or twice a day, and the rest of the time I am content to take quick trips to the back yard in between snoozes on the couch or in my crate. (I am wonderful in my crate and also house trained).

Even though I am so laid back with humans, there are a few situations when I can behave reactively to other dogs. I am very food motivated, and need to be fed in my kennel away from other dogs. I have become more relaxed with my foster siblings over the past few months. At first, my foster brother and I had a few disagreements, but with time and supervision we are getting along much better. We love going on walks and even play in the yard together. Please know that while I enjoy meeting most other dogs, I can”t make friends with cats. They just look like squeaky toys to me.

All I want in this world is someone to love me and let me live out my golden years giving snuggles and taking naps on the couch. Will you be my forever family?

Graham

Graham is a nine-month old, 38-pound Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for no-cost adoption from Fulton County Animal Services all month.

Graham is in foster care!

“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.”

Ava

Ava is a two-year old, 36-pound Labrador Retriever mix (we’d say maybe Shepherd too) who is available for adoption at no cost in September from Fulton County Animal Services.

My name is Ava!! I have been told that I am a cute little nugget! I am a very sweet and loving. I gets along great with all the dogs in my kennel! I have been here since 4-14 and it is upsetting that I still here.

I went out for Dog For The Day yesterday and the volunteers just fell in love with me! Here are some notes. “She was so very excited just to leave the kennel that we had a hard time getting the harness on her. She wiggled all over the place! Once in the car she was so happy watching out the window as wethey were driving. When we were walking her on the leash she is so well behaved and doesn”t pull or even want to leave your side. She loves to play with toys and had a lot of fun playing with a football! We never heard her bark. She loves to sit in your lap and give hugs and kisses. She is an absolute sweetheart!” So she sounds like the perfect dog!

I am only urgent because they know that it is time for me to find the best family ever and that it is not fair that I have been here so very long. Please come by and take me into the yard, you won”t be able to resist falling in love with me! She is awaiting your visit!

Dia

Dia is a 1-year old, female Lab mix who is available for adoption at no cost in September from Fulton County Animal Services. From her profile:

Our brindle baby Dia is such a love and the joy she feels can be easily seen in her pictures. Amazingly enough she has been here for almost four months and staff and volunteers just aren”t sure why she has trouble standing out at the shelter. She shines whenever she gets out and is able to show how happy and willing to please she is!

One volunteer said, `We had a great time taking her out! Dia seemed to really enjoy hiking and playing in the river. She walked great on the leash and didn”t pull. She was also calm and friendly with other dogs and a few kids we saw. Hope she finds a home soon- I can tell she would make a great companion!` We agree and want Dia to never have to come back to the shelter after a fun day of adventures. Please come meet this beautiful lady and see if she is the one for you!

1
Sep

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 1, 2015

Yesterday, I picked up Kira, an adult female Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) from DeKalb County Animal Services and drove her to Loganville, where she is now being cared for by Country Livin’ Pet Rescue and will soon be available for adoption.

Kira Freedom Ride

My total time commitment was about two hours and it may have saved two dogs – Kira and the dog who took her kennel at DeKalb. It’s a great low-cost way to help out with dog rescue if you’re unable to adopt or foster.

Check out her video on Facebook – she loves to play fetch, appears to be trained, and is a very nice calm dog.

Pierre

Pierre is a short and sweet little pocket pittie that can’t wait to waddle into your life on his short little legs! This 3 year old boy showers everyone he meets with buckets of affection. Pierre has some patchy hair loss on his back and his adopters will need to continue his vet care. Pierre is available for adoption from DeKalb County Animal Services. I happened to see this little guy yesterday when I was picking up Kira and he’s adorable. If you adopt him and tell everyone he’s a French Bulldog mix, they’ll believe you. I’d guess he’s maybe 35 pounds.

Vinnie

Vinnie is a little 4-year male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Ruxpin

Ruxpin is a middle-aged Shepherd or Retriever mix whose face totally looks like a bear. He’s maybe a little bit fluffier than he needs to be, but he’s well-behaved and gets along well with other dogs. He just needs to be reaquainted with exercise. Ruxpin is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Control in Winder, GA.

Each of these guys is one of a number of dogs who are available for $30 adoption fee in the Pre-Labor Day Adoption Special that runs all week.

 

Barrow Labor

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During the “Fall in Love” promotion at LifeLine Animal Services’ DeKalb and Fulton shelters, all adoptions during the month of September are free – including full vetting for your new best friends.

The takeover by LifeLine at DeKalb and Fulton Counties has been a resounding success for both the animals who come in to the shelters, and for the taxpayers. From the Saporta Reporta,

After a lot of hard work, the chances have improved significantly that an animal will come out alive from a shelter in Fulton and DeKalb counties – up from 15 animals out of 100 in 2012, to 85 animals out of 100 in 2014, according to the contractor who took over the facilities in 2013.

The turn-around has been so dramatic that the two counties should be able to reach the “no kill” threshold of saving 90 out of every 100 animals, according to Rebecca Guinn, founder and CEO of Lifeline Animal Project. The “I’m In” campaign, seen on MARTA vehicles, aims to reach the goal by 2016.

The “no kill” rate of 90 percent accounts for some animals being too sick, too injured, or too behaviorly unsound to save, Guinn said. The rate has been reached in cities including Austin, Texas and Reno, N.V.

“LifeLine’s work with FCAS [Fulton County Animal Shelter] is making a difference in Fulton County,” John Eaves, Fulton County chairman, said in a statement. “Through the generous and consistent support of partners and the community, access to quality adoption and other animal services is dramatically decreasing the population of homeless animals in our community.”

County commissioners in Fulton and DeKalb decided to outsource their shelters in 2013. Both counties were struggling to manage the shelters at a time property tax receipts were flagging in the wake of the Great Recession.

The contract fees paid by the counties covers the cost of operating the shelters, Guinn said. In the case of Fulton, the contract also provides for LifeLine to manage the animal control program. DeKalb County retained control of that program in its jurisdiction.

Justin Tomczak, who also serves as First Vice Chair for the Cobb County Republican Party, wrote in Huffington Post about insurance issues for owners or potential adopters of dogs labeled “Pit Bulls.”

I work for an insurance company and as a result, I frequently talk to people who own or have adopted a dog and had problems getting homeowners or renters insurance because of the breed of dog they own. Many of them share stories like that of Chris and Zach Olson. Since June they have been fostering a dog named Venus through Ruff Start Rescue in Minnesota. Venus is the quintessential underdog because she is a pit bull with health problems who arrived at the rescue. That didn’t matter to Chris and Zach and they applied to adopt Venus just over a week after they began fostering her. When Chris called her homeowners insurance carrier to share the good news, the response was not unusual.

“My insurance company said they couldn’t provide coverage because I had a pit bull.” said Olson. “I panicked, I was on the verge of tears because my husband and I had already fallen in love with Venus. She is a good dog who hadn’t done anything wrong so why was she already being treated like a bad dog?”

As dog owners, we are responsible for the health and safety of our pets. We need to make every effort to set up our dogs for success by avoiding situations where they feel the need to protect themselves. Unfortunately not every dog owner acts in a safe and responsible manner and as a result, people can be injured. It doesn’t matter if it is a poodle or a pit bull, any breed of dog can bite or cause injury, and any breed of dog can make a great family pet.

I mentioned that I work for an insurance company; at State Farm, risk is determined by the dog’s bite history rather than breed. As a member of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition, we focus on educating people about how to understand a dogs’ body language as one way to prevent dog bites. We educate young children and their parents about the importance of being a responsible pet parent through Kindness is Powerful events with internationally renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell. We sponsor A Super Smiley Adventure with Megan Blake on Pet Life Radio and share uplifting stories about the human-animal bond through our Canine Assist Team. Most important of all, we understand that dogs are a member of the family.

1
Sep

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

On September 1, 1864, Confederate General John B. Hood withdrew his troops from Atlanta, leaving the transportation hub to fall into Union hands.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Later that evening, Senator Miller had a televised run-in with Chris Matthews.

Georgia Politics

Yesterday, incumbent Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams qualified for election to a full term in her own right after being appointed earlier this year to serve out the remainder of the term of Brookhaven’s first Mayor, J. Max Davis. Also qualifying were former DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair John Ernst and competitive eating champion Dale Boone. Incumbent City Council Members Linley Jones, a former President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and Bates Mattison also qualified for reelection. Mattison also serves as Chair of the Board of Brookhaven Innovation Academy, which was recently granted a state charter.

Also qualifying yesterday was Smyrna Mayor Max “Baconator” Bacon, who will face City Council member Wade Lnenicka. In addition to the matchup for Mayor, Smyrna will see contested elections between Derek Norton, a lobbyist for the Atlanta Apartment Association and Georgia Apartment Association and incumbent Melleny Pritchett for Ward 1 and between former Democratic State Senator Doug Stoner and Tara Simon, who was a finalist on Season Two of The X Factor.

If Dale Boone is elected Mayor of Brookhaven and Max Bacon is reelected in Smyrna, I hope the Georgia Municipal Association will pit them against each other in an eating contest.

Johns Creek voters will have a diverse set of candidates from which to choose, as Jai Lin, originally from Taiwan, qualified for City Council Post 2 and Dr. Nazeera Dawood qualified for City Council Post 5.

I’m willing to be that the craziest election will be in Snellville, where incumbent Mayor Kelly Kautz qualified for a second term.

She will face a familiar foe in Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, who has been among her most vocal critics in the city government.

“After an outpouring of support from citizens and much discussion and prayer with my family, my husband and parents have given me their full support and blessing to run for reelection,” Kautz said in a statement after signing her qualifying paperwork with her infant son in her lap. “I strive to be a role model for my new son, and I feel that I would not be setting a good example now if I gave in to negative bullying not to run for reelection.”

Kautz was initially “hesitant” to reveal her decision to run. Her campaign announcement said: “Mayor Kautz has never wavered in her desire to serve the citizens of Snellville, but she did not want to subject her family and friends to the false, negative attacks that are often associated with Snellville politics.”

“Because of the antics that occurred over the last two weeks this does not come as a surprise,” he said Monday. “Why else would she buy every Website available with Tom Witts in it and then connect them to a donation page on her Website.”

Witts was referring to Kautz’s purchase of the Website votetomwitts.com and others, which she said would be used for potential marketing.

Votetomwitts.com has no content. But Witts and others accused Kautz of using the site recently to direct traffic to her own campaign site with a well-placed “donate” button.

Asked about the button, Kautz said it was added during a transition of the site from a mayoral page to a candidate page. She said it wasn’t her intention for anyone to see the button unless they were “actively looking.”

Witts called it “dirty politics plain and simple.”

In South Georgia, incumbent Valdosta Mayor John Gayle faces at least two opponents.

Warner Robins Post 4 Council Member Tim Thomas has drawn opposition from Betsy Loiacono.

The City of Forsyth is holding both General Elections and a Special Election in November.

In Forsyth, voters will decide on the mayor and three of six council positions. Those are Post 1, currently held by Jimmy Jones; Post 3, currently held by Melvin Lawrence, and Post 4, currently held by Greg Goolsby. In addition to those seats, there will be a special election in November for Post 2.

City Clerk Janice Hall said Councilman Eric Wilson, who represented Post 2 and was not up for re-election, resigned from his post to run for mayor.

“We’re actually having our regular election and a special election in one election in November,” Hall said. “(Wilson) has qualified to run for the mayor position, so we will have a special election for Post 2 (also). … (Wilson) did not have to resign to run for mayor, he could have remained on council and ran for mayor. If he were successful in running for mayor, then after the first of the year, we would have had to have had a special election to fill his seat.”

In Columbia County, at least five contestants candidates will be on the ballot in a special election for County Commission District Three.

The five – Jim Bartley, Greg Grzybowski, Gary Richardson, Frank Spears and Russell Wilder – had previously announced their intentions to run in the Nov. 3 special election to fill the seat vacated by Mack Taylor in July.

No others have publicly declared an interest in the race, but the door to enter remains open until noon Wednesday, when qualifying closes.

All five qualified to run as Republicans and have said getting a handle on the county’s growth is the election’s key issue.

The District 3 seat, which was vacant for nine months after Com­mis­sio­ner Charles Allen was forced to resign in March 2014, was filled in a special election runoff in December when Taylor defeated Trip Derryberry.
Taylor announced his departure in July, after only seven months in office, to pursue the state House District 122 seat vacated by longtime Rep. Ben Harbin.

Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner is seeking reelection to a fourth term.

Cave Spring, Georgia will have a contested election for Mayor.

Cave Spring City Clerk Judy Dickinson said Dennis Shoaf and Angela Kerce qualified Monday for the mayor’s seat being vacated by Rob Ware.

Political newcomer Kerce lists her occupation as merchandiser. Shoaf, a line manager at Kellogg’s, is a sitting councilman who had to resign his Post 4 seat to run for mayor.

The Post 1 and Post 2 council seats also will be filled in the Nov. 3 election.

Post 2 incumbent Nellie McCain qualified to seek another term. Local auctioneer Tom Lindsey signed up to run for the Post 1 seat held by Kenneth Agan, who also is expected to run.

Non-Election Related

So, apparently, there are now three classes of immigrants – documented, undocumented, and those whose documents are questioned, and the third group is suing Georgia over driver’s licenses.

A group of immigrants whose legal residency is disputed sued Georgia’s state government Monday for refusing to issue them driver’s licenses.

The immigrants had been ordered deported, but they are either seeking to have their removals suspended or come from countries that will not allow their return. Federal officials have issued them work permits and Social Security numbers. While the Department of Driver Services had previously issued driver’s licenses to such immigrants, the state started rejecting those applications this summer.

“There is no rational basis for the policy, or even any benefit to the state of Georgia as a result of the policy,” the lawsuit said. “Indeed, if anything, the refusal to issue driver’s licenses to this group of immigrants costs the state of Georgia millions of dollars in lost administrative fees from potential registered drivers.”

State officials declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Congressman Sanford Bishop will co-host a Military Family Unit Summit at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia.

Bishop, who co-chairs the Congressional Military Family Caucus, is hosting the 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. summit to discuss pressing issues impacting America’s service members and their families.

Loggerhead turtles set a new record for nesting sites on the Georgia coast this year, according to the Savannah Morning News.

A loggerhead sea turtle that laid her eggs on Little Cumberland Island on Thursday put Georgia over its previous nesting record set just two years ago. The latest nest was No. 2,290.

“Loggerheads have done it again,” wrote Georgia Sea Turtle Coordinator Mark Dodd, in an early morning email to the volunteers, interns and staffers who patrol beaches to monitor and protect sea turtles. “I am very happy to report that loggerhead nesting hit a new all-time high for the period since comprehensive surveys were established in Georgia in 1989.”

Loggerheads, which grow up to 4 feet long and weigh 200 to 400 pounds, are the main sea turtle visitors to Georgia beaches. The species, federally listed as threatened, nest every two or more years laying up to 150 eggs at a time in multiple nests over the season.

Ossabaw struggled this year with feral hogs eating turtle eggs until new equipment — a thermal rifle scope — helped reduce their raids. Further south, on Cumberland, what’s thought to be three or four family groups of coyotes feasted on turtle eggs before nine animals were removed. It’s more common to see coyote tracks on many of Georgia’s beaches now than in past years, Dodd said.

“With so many (predatory) species, once they learn turtle eggs are easy food, they can wipe you out pretty fast,” Dodd said.

But predators are a struggle to be expected every year on remote barrier islands. Despite them, about 65 percent of nests have hatched to date, releasing more than 100,000 hatchlings. Hatching is expected to continue through mid-October.

31
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2015

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which this Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This is qualifying week for most municipal elections that will be held November 3, 2015. Expect a flurry of announcements in coming days.

Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams will run for election for the city’s top spot after being appointed Mayor to fill the remainder of the term vacated by former Mayor J. Max Davis. Our condolences to the Mayor’s family on the loss of her mother. Mayor Williams will meet former DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair John Ernst in November.

The most mouth-watering municipal election this year is for Mayor of Smyrna, where incumbent Max Bacon is running on the tasty breakfast anytime treat named after him.

Heart Bacon Sticker628

Next week, Mayor Bacon will hold a campaign kickoff.

Max Bacon Kickoff

But wait, it gets better. His campaign Twitter handle is @VoteBaconator.

John Heneghan, who runs the excellent Dunwoody North blog, will run for reelection to the Dunwoody City Council.

Also in Dunwoody, City Council Member Denny Shortal resigned earlier this month to run for Mayor.

In Gainesville, three City Council seats are up for election, as are three seats on the city’s Board of Education.

Local officials in Carrollton credit the Port of Savannah, more than 300 miles away, with a recent business deal that will bring new jobs to the West Georgia city.

Coweta County will be seeing campaign signs everywhere as election season kicks off for municipal seats in Newnan, Senoia, Moreland, Turin, Sharpsburg and Haralson.

Gwinnett County may have more municipal elections than anywhere else, with qualifying this week for Auburn, Braselton , Buford, Dacula, Duluth, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Snellville, Sugar Hill, and Suwanee.

In Savannah, Tom Barton writes that conditions might be ripe for a reprise of Susan Weiner’s 1991 upset election as Mayor of the coastal city.

[I]f I’m Mayor Edna Jackson or any of the seven incumbent members of Council running for a second term, I’m not just sweating bullets as qualifying for this year’ non-partisan election begin Monday. I’m also perspiring hand grenades. That’s because the Savannah electorate seems to be in the mood to clean house.

That’s how it was back in 1991 and in 1995. Weiner rode a tidal wave of voter disgust with the incumbent mayor over the city’s failure to address violent crime and the belief that the city’s leadership was complacent, arrogant and out-of-touch. A grassroots coalition called Renaissance Savannah released a critical report called “Is Savannah Growing Senile.” It helped propel Weiner into the mayor’s office and Rousakis into the history book. Then, only four years later, Weiner the Reformer was a victim of some of the same dynamics. She lost to Floyd the Everyman, ushering in a rare era of good feeling in city politics.

Incumbent Savannah mayors are tough to beat. Especially if that mayor is African-American. Adams ran unopposed for his second term. Otis Johnson won 70 percent of the vote, besting a five-candidate field in his bid for a second term in 2007. The conventional wisdom, since then, has been that a white person, especially one with Republican leanings, couldn’t be elected mayor. While there’s some truth to that CW — Savannah is a majority black city and city voters have tended to prefer Democrats, I don’t think it applies in this year’s elections. I think the right white candidate can win a citywide election. And timing is key.

That was a big lesson from the 2014 race for Chatham County District Attorney. Meg Heap, who is white, took 56 percent of the countywide vote to beat Larry Chisholm, who is black. But she enjoyed significant crossover support in the city from black Democrats, in large part because of Chisholm’s four years of incompetence. This reveals a growing maturity of Savannah’s black electorate. While it is rightfully proud of black political trailblazers who become the “first black” official elected or named to a public office, I think an increasing number of black voters appear to be putting more stock into a candidate’s competency than in skin color. By the same token, I think some black voters are getting sick and tired of being taken for granted by black candidates.

I think such dynamics will play huge roles in November. Especially in the aldermanic contests in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th districts, where incumbents Mary Osborne, John Hall and Estella Shabazz are trying to cling to power.

Bonds Everywhere

Governor Nathan Deal has thrown a caution flag to legislators debating repealing the state income tax, according to Walter Jones of Morris News.

“I have asked them to be very cautious,” he said Friday after addressing a science-education group.

Leaders in the legislature have, for years, been calling for replacing the [income] tax with a higher sales tax.

Higher interest costs the state money it could otherwise use to fund education, health care or other public services, so officials like Deal try to keep investors happy, especially the rating agencies that grade bond risks.

“From what I have seen and read of their comments, even the introduction of legislation to [cut taxes] sometimes gets noted in their assessments of why they gave us a certain rating,” the governor said.

Georgia is one of just a handful of states with the highest rating by all of the rating agencies, helping the state pay about the lowest interest rates on its bonds, a status Deal is keen to maintain.

“[Investors] obviously don’t look at it through those lenses,” he said. “They are very focused on not having anything that jeopardizes the revenue flow for a state.”

That’s why his goal is to build the state’s reserves to $2 billion as the rating agencies recommend.

At the same time, the governor cares about stability.

“We need to ensure that we’re on solid footing in order to sustain the budgets that we have continued to pass and will pass,” he said.

David Pendered writes in the Saporta Reporta that Southern Company may see its debt ratings downgraded if the acquisition of AGL Resources closes.

Moody’s Investors Service has reduced the credit outlook of Southern Co. from stable to negative as a result of Southern’s decision to purchase AGL Resources. Moody’s affirmed Southern’s current ratings, but expects to reduce ratings if the AGL deal goes through as announced.

According to a ratings statement Moodys issued Aug. 24: “The Southern Company’s rating is likely to be lowered by one notch at or before the closing date of the AGL acquisition if the transaction is financed as currently envisioned.”

The purchase of AGL will push Southern’s total debt from less than $2 billion to the range of $10 billion to $11 billion as it works to manage the mounting costs of expanding its facilities, according to Moodys.

[T]he purchase of AGL comes at a time Southern’s rating faces rising financial pressure from expansions in Georgia and Mississippi, and expansion into renewable energy, according to the rating action.

Speaking of the expansion in Georgia, the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is proceeding apace after a schedule revision earlier this year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia Power Co. reported Fri­day that Plant Vogtle’s expansion is progressing as planned after the Waynesboro, Ga., facility’s budget and schedule were revised earlier this year to reflect an 18-month delay and a $246 million increase in capital construction costs.

Total construction and capital costs remain at $5.045 billion, and in-service target dates for the plant’s two new nuclear reactors – Units 3 and 4 – are still tentatively set for June 2019 and 2020, the power company disclosed in its latest construction monitoring report.

In Georgia Power’s last report, which the state approved earlier this month, it said Plant Vogtle’s capital construction costs had increased from $4.8 billion and that the expected completion dates had been delayed from an original schedule of April 2016 and 2017.

“We are not changing any forecasted costs and schedules in this report,” Buzz Miller, Georgia Pow­er’s executive vice president of nuclear development, said in an interview. “Now, it’s about getting it online and getting the plant going.”

A retired power plant on the Savannah River in downtown Savannah will be the location for a new $235 million luxury hotel built with the assistance of up to $10 million in historic preservation tax credits.

That’s because with less than two hours left in the 2015 legislative session, the Georgia Senate gave final approval to upping the potential state tax credits on historic preservation projects from $300,000 to $10 million, an amount helpful to major redevelopments like [Richard] Kessler’s. That’s on top of federal tax credits.

The bill was sponsored by the Legislature’s unofficial business tax credit king, House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, and pushed along by the city’s leading lobbyist and preservationists.

“This will be a game-changer not only for Savannah, but all over the state,” predicted Stephens.

Others see it as part of a disturbing trend of lawmakers picking “winners and losers” by giving tax breaks to select private businesses.

Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, called it a “horrible bill.”

“I can’t stand to see the state invest tax dollars in private entities,” said Stover. “This is something we are seeing happen over and over again because, quite frankly, we don’t have the backbone to say no.”

“We could never get some members (of the General Assembly) to understand, or they wouldn’t understand, the fact that there is a return on investment to historic tax credits,” said Mark Kessler [son of developer Richard Kessler]. “Where the state may see this as a giveaway, there is an immediate return on investment.”

Lawyers for Nydia Tisdale sent a love letter nastygram to a number of elected and appointed officials as well as private property owners over her forced removal from a public event last year, according to the Dawson Advertiser.

Attorneys for a woman arrested last year at Burt’s Pumpkin farm for videotaping a public GOP rally have filed notice of their intent to sue for $550,000 the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Tony Wooten, Burt’s Pumpkin Farm, Attorney Clint Bearden, organizers of the event and two additional sheriff’s deputies.

Nydia Tisdale, 52, was arrested Aug. 23, 2014, and charged with criminal trespass and felony obstruction of an officer after she refused requests to turn off her video camera.

“What precipitated this was the arrest of Nydia Tisdale for filming an event where others were also filming,” [Attorney Gerry] Weber said. “She was both arrested and brutalized by the officer (Capt. Tony Wooten). And, ultimately, we think this matter is important because free press is important. In our view, government officials should defend a citizen’s right to free speech and open government.”

The notice also alleges Tisdale’s video recording, which was held as evidence by the sheriff’s office, was “digitally altered – and critical portions that captured Capt. Wooten’s use of excessive force and Ms. Tisdale’s screams for help had been deleted.”

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Major Nicholas Neal will go to prison after being convicted of public corruption in a scheme to sell auto parts to the department he worked for, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Convicted in a public corruption trial, the former local sheriff’s office major was sentenced Friday to two years in prison, followed by eight on probation. He was found guilty Thursday of illegally selling automotive parts to the county government, even after Sheriff Butch Conway told him that it wasn’t allowed.

Chief Judge Melodie Snell Conner expressed regret handing down the sentence, saying that Neal had done “a lot of good” in his many years around Gwinnett. His ties to the community and 25 years in law enforcement factored into the judge’s decision to allow him to surrender on Monday.

“I’m sad to be here and disappointed to be here because I do know Mr. Neal professionally,” said the judge who, like Neal, is a Gwinnett native. “It’s just painful to be a part of this.”