The blog.

1
Mar

Dog tethering rises as key issue in Gwinnett’s proposed animal ordinance changes | Gwinnett Daily Post

LAWRENCEVILLE — Do Gwinnett County’s public safety officers have better things to do with their time than hanging out to see how long a dog has been tethered to a post?

Snellville resident and animal rights advocate Jen Wagner seems to think so.

Wagner addressed the county commission Tuesday about a proposed major overhaul of the county’s animal control ordinance. If approved by county leaders, the changes would, among other things, eliminate a loophole that lets pet owners leave their animals tethered outdoors and unsupervised for up to an hour at a time.

The tethering issue, under the current law, requires a delicate balance for the county’s law enforcement agencies as Wagner pointed out to commissioners.

“As the law stands now, Gwinnett officers would be required to sit and watch a dog for an hour to determine whether the owner was breaking the law,” Wagner said. “I think we can all agree our law enforcement officials have much, much better use of their time, but at the same time, these residents can’t be allowed to continue to violate the law day after day.”

via Dog tethering rises as key issue in Gwinnett’s proposed animal ordinance changes | Gwinnett Daily Post.

1
Mar

Sheriff Butch Conway given Humane Society award for animal advocacy | Gwinnett Daily Post

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway has always been known as an animal lover. He’s been involved with the Society of Humane Friends and the Spay Neuter Action Coalition of Georgia and has campaigned on his history of advocacy for pets.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s position was solidified even more. The Humane Society of the United States, in partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association, gave Conway the 2014 Humane Law Enforcement Award.

“The Humane Society of the United States has long recognized Sheriff Butch Conway for his efforts to combat illegal animal activities as well as very proactive efforts he’s made,” Debra Berger, state director of the organization, said. “He has shown leadership in combating animal cruelty, illegal animal cruelty, for a long time, and it’s very much appreciated by the people who care about animals.”

Berger praised Conway’s work against dog fighting and his “Less Lethal Animal Encounters” training course for law enforcement, as well as his programs to bring dogs and cats in to work with county jail inmates to prepare the animals for adoption.

“I’m proud to get this,” Conway said. “I’ve gotten a few awards, but this is important to me.”

via Sheriff Butch Conway given Humane Society award for animal advocacy | Gwinnett Daily Post.

1
Mar

Anti-Common Core activist group holds meeting with Superintendent Richard Woods, Rep. Tom Rice | Gwinnett Daily Post

NORCROSS — Tom Rice called it democracy in action, and several of the supporters of the grassroots effort were buoyed by the chance to organize their cause and spread their beliefs.

A first-of-its-kind all-day meeting organized by the group Georgians to Stop Common Core met on Saturday at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church where Rice, a state representative who represents the area opened the meeting with a prayer. State School Superintendent Richard Woods, who campaigned against Common Core during last year’s election, also attended the meeting.

“My position has not changed,” Woods told the crowd. “People know that, they know that in the government, sometimes we just smile and we agree to disagree. They know exactly where I stand on these issues and where we’re at. Thank you for everything you’ve done. It’s a fight worth fighting, hang in there and we will get there.”

The focus was on Common Core’s impact on Georgians and how to restore quality education and local control. The group believes the standards were “hurriedly adopted” in Georgia without legislative process to make Georgia eligible to receive funding in the Race to the Top grant competition in 2010.

via Anti-Common Core activist group holds meeting with Superintendent Richard Woods, Rep. Tom Rice | Gwinnett Daily Post.

1
Mar

DeKalb brushed off concerns about politically-connected developer | www.myajc.com

When Vaughn Irons got clearance to double as a DeKalb County official and a county contractor, some employees tried to put a stop to it.

The objections they raised about conflicts of interest, though, got brushed aside by the county’s higher-ups.

Baffled members of a bid evaluation committee demanded an explanation, but they were instructed by contracting officials to put Irons’ company in the mix of firms vying for federal stimulus funds. A financial officer put her suspicions of collusion into a formal written grievance, and she says she personally implored interim CEO Lee May to step in. But, she said, he told her Irons’ contract was a “non-issue.”

 

No one, it seems, was willing to root out how, exactly, a sitting DeKalb Development Authority board member would be exempt from an ethics code that says the county government can’t do business with its own officials.

 

via DeKalb brushed off concerns about politically-connected developer | www.myajc.com.

1
Mar

Lobbyist charged with bringing gun to state Capitol | www.wsbtv.com

ATLANTA — A lobbyist who brought a handgun inside the Georgia Capitol likely did it by mistake, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Troopers told Channel 2′s Jessica Jaglois they found the weapon during routine security screening.

The gun was detected by an X-ray machine when the lobbyist passed through a main entrance.

“Under Georgia law he was allowed to exit the building, secure the weapon and return to the Capitol.

No charges were filed.

via Lobbyist charged with bringing gun to state Capitol | www.wsbtv.com.

1
Mar

DeKalb leader wants controversial developer off county authority | www.ajc.com

DeKalb County interim CEO Lee May said Saturday that he will try to remove Vaughn Irons from the Development Authority, along with the rest of the board.

The move comes days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News revealed Irons’ company, APD Solutions, did business with the county government after an invalid, possibly forged legal document showed up in the contracting department. The document purporting to be from the Ethics Board said he had no conflict of interest, overturning an assistant county attorney’s ruling that he could not be a member of the government and a government contractor too.

via DeKalb leader wants controversial developer off county authority | www.ajc.com.

1
Mar

Early decision possible on who pays for nuclear overruns | www.ajc.com

Uncertainty has loomed for years over whether Georgia Power customers will be stuck paying for big cost overruns on the the nuclear expansion under way at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

The issue wasn’t expected to be settled until after the first of two new reactors is online, now slated to be in mid 2019.

But a move Friday by Georgia Power could push the state’s elected Public Service Commission to act now, rather than letting the matter lie until years in the future when the PSC might have a different makeup.

And by getting approval now for what is ultimately at least $1.4 billion in higher costs, the company might avoid having to halt its collection of the project’s financing costs for anything beyond the original cost estimate. Georgia Power customers already are paying Vogtle’s financing expenses in their monthly power bills.

PSC Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton said he’s trying to understand the ramifications of what the company is asking for in its Friday filing.

But he said he thinks the company’s moves “would be a step in the direction of gaining recovery for those extra costs sooner rather than later.”

via Early decision possible on who pays for nuclear overruns | www.ajc.com.

1
Mar

Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk buck leaders, help sink short-term homeland security bill | Political Insider blog

WASHINGTON – With the clock ticking toward a midnight funding stoppage for the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. House failed to pass a three-week funding bill Friday, with Georgia Republicans Barry Loudermilk and Jody Hice objecting.

Loudermilk, of Cassville, and Hice, of Monroe, were among 52 Republicans who voted against a three-week bill to keep the department open. House leaders are now discussing an attempt to push through a one-week bill before the midnight shutdown, but it’s unclear if that would swing any votes.

The final vote was 203-224, as almost all House Democrats lined up against the short-term bill, insisting the House swallow the Senate-passed “clean” funding bill through September. House Republicans had tied DHS funding to blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration actions that could remove the threat of deportation for up to 5 million people now here illegally, setting up this showdown months ago.

But Democrats remained united against it. After the vote, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said “we are at the precipice. We should do this now” rather than postpone things a week or three. In Democrats’ view, Republicans sooner or later will have to fund the department without immigration preconditions, especially since Senate Republicans have already caved.

via Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk buck leaders, help sink short-term homeland security bill | Political Insider blog.

1
Mar

Ethics watchdogs unhappy with latest cutbacks | The Watchdog blog

Gov. Nathan Deal proposed a huge bolstering of the state ethics commission, but House leaders have cut back his ambitious plans and government watchdogs aren’t happy about it.

Under Deal’s budget proposal, the long dysfunctional agency, which enforces the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws, would get four new attorneys and four investigators to resolve complaints more quickly and eliminate backlogs. Most of the complaints are filed against state and local politicians and lobbyists.

The House didn’t go along with the governor’s proposal, cutting the expansion in half. The chamber backed giving the agency two more lawyers and two auditors, cutting Deal’s proposal by $400,000. Still, it is more than the commission has now.

William Perry of Georgia Common Cause criticized the cuts, noting that House Speaker David Ralston had agreed with Deal that a funding increase was needed. He called the House’s move “a signal that the leadership in our state has no real interest in fixing a problem that has cost taxpayers more than $8 million and counting. Repeated underfunding of the agency has left it a mess and, without the proper resources, it can’t be fully cleaned up.”

Perry said a performance audit of the agency last fall concluded that a lack of independent funding was among the commission’s biggest problems.

via Ethics watchdogs unhappy with latest cutbacks | The Watchdog blog.

1
Mar

‘Right to try’ drugs mean ‘right to hope’ for some | www.myajc.com

The bill would allow a doctor to petition a drug company on behalf of a dying patient with any illness to use a drug that has passed only through the first of three phases of testing required for FDA approval.

So-called “right to try” bills are sweeping the country, with bills similar to Georgia’s being sponsored in 26 states. Five states — Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Michigan — passed similar laws in their 2014 legislative sessions.

Critics of the bills fear they are based on emotion rather than medicine and that they flout FDA protocol that protects people from purveyors of snake oil.

Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, who brought the Georgia bill before the House Health and Human Services Committee, said he recognized that access to a drug does not mean healing from a drug.

via ‘Right to try’ drugs mean ‘right to hope’ for some | www.myajc.com.