The blog.


Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks to enter plea in federal court | Online Athens

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks is set to enter a plea on federal charges.

Court records show the Atlanta Democrat, who was indicted in May 2013 on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false tax returns has a plea hearing Thursday afternoon in federal court in Atlanta.

Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Brooks referred questions to his lawyer, former Gov. Roy Barnes, who did not immediately return phone messages. The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta, which is prosecuting the case, also declined to comment.

via Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks to enter plea in federal court | Online Athens.


Tyrone Brooks resigns from State House

Text of his resignation letter:

Personally Hand Delivered

April 9, 2015

Honorable Nathan Deal
Governor of Georgia
State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

Dear Governor Deal,

After 35 enjoyable and successful years in the Georgia House of Representatives, I have decided
to shift my priorities and transition back to fulltime Civil Human Rights work.  I have decided to make the Moore’s Ford Bridge Lynching’s in Monroe, GA, my number #1 priority.

After leading the 12th Annual March on The Bridge on Saturday, April 4th, commemorating the 47th Anniversary of my Leader and Hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I made my final decision on Easter Sunday at the square in downtown Covington while remembering the 1970 movement, where I was almost killed by Sheriff Henry Odum Jr.   Moore’s Ford is special because it’s been a part of my life since 1968. As you know, it was on Dr. King’s agenda from 1946 to 1968.  So many of my colleagues involved in this movement have just recently passed including: Mr. Ed Brown, Camilla, GA, Mr. Ralph Ivey, Social Circle, GA,  and Rev. Clarence Grier Jr., former Pastor 1st African Baptist Church, Monroe, Georgia.  Additionally, Mr. Robert Howard is presently suffering from Alzheimer’s/Dementia plus many more others are declining in health.   Other Moore’s Ford suspects and witness are also passing away rapidly.  That’s why I have to devote all my time and energy to this movement before my time is up. Plus, we are raising a 2 month old, 5 year old, and 6 year old and a 17 year old.

Therefore I am hereby resigning from House District 55, immediately effective today.

Peace and Justice

Tyrone Brooks

cc. Honorable David Ralston
      Speaker, GA House of Representatives

Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 9, 2015

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM on April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Bill Signings

Bill Signing Pens

Gov. Deal broke out his bill-signing pens yesterday for House Bill 397, revising the State Soil and Water Commission, and Senate Bill 190, dealing with “bona fide coin operated machines.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC writes about what the Soil and Water Commission changes will mean,

It shifts the commission from a stand-alone agency to one that’s overseen by the Department of Agriculture. It also gives the governor more leeway to appoint whomever he chooses to its board rather than limiting his picks to the elected supervisors of the state’s 40 soil and water districts.

The agency drafts the state’s manual that outlines how to control erosion and prevent more dirt and runoff from seeping into Georgia’s waterways, and environmentalists worry that the changes could give Deal too much control over the commission.

Deal says the changes are crucial to recruiting new high-profile economic development prospects. He told the Georgia Farm Bureau in February that it would help straighten out “contradictory” environmental guidelines that he said could lead to litigation and threaten major deals.

The AJC Political Insider column suggests that Deal is likely to sign House Bill 110, which would allow consumer sales of some fireworks that explode.

Under House Bill 91, signed last week, up to 9,000 former high school students who didn’t graduate because they failed part of a test that is no longer required for graduation will be able to petition for a diploma.

Public Defender Standards Council

Congratulations to Bryan Tyson, the new Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. Bryan was one of Georgia’s finest election lawyers at Strickland Brockington Lewis, LLP and previously worked at the Georgia General Assembly and in Washington, DC for Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Senoia).

Last month, Gov. Deal reappointed State Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) and State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) to the Legislative Oversight Committee for the Public Defender Standards Council.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution names Winners and Losers

The AJC has taken it upon themselves to christen winners and losers for the 2015 Session, labeling Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) a loser. Kind of a cheap shot based, in my opinion, more on the newspaper’s unstated adoption of the Chamber of Commerce agenda that makes Georgians’ religious freedom second to the sale of sugar water.

Compare that to 2012, after the legislative defeat of McKoon’s ethics legislation, which the AJC clearly favored. They practically nominated McKoon for sainthood then.

The alliance’s man on the inside is McKoon, who ignored the advice of senior lawmakers and pushed his own bills to cap lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers and increase funding to the state ethics commission.

McKoon’s bills went nowhere, and even his attempts to get a hearing fell flat.

McKoon’s crusade provoked grumbling from more experienced members of his own caucus. McKoon heard it, but he said he is comfortable with the choices he’s made.

He said he believes his legislative colleagues work hard and are not corrupt, but the public’s trust in government is so low that action must be taken.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s once-proud flagship newspaper redesigned its website to feature cheesy clickbait, like the story titled, “Russian company selling ad space on women’s breasts,” which gets more prominent placement on the front page than the most recent state politics story about the Hotel/Motel tax.

The AJC has done some fine work and some of their reporters continue to do so. No one else spotted the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, and that was an epic series of reports. Stories like that make me willing to pay for access to their premium content. Unfortunately, they’re making business decisions that make it difficult to find the product they sell, actual Georgia news, behind a bunch of internet click-bait designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

You couldn’t ask for better product placement

You’ve probably seen the story going around about the guy from Savannah who got into a motorcycle wreck and ended up in a coma. Doctors recommended to his wife that she remove life support, but she refused and three years later he woke up. State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) noted on Facebook that the first thing Matthew Davis asked to eat after waking up was a “buffalo chicken wrap from Cheddar’s.” I suspect he may get a delivery soon as Peake is co-owner of the Cheddar’s franchises in Georgia.

The family is raising funds for rehabilitation and other expenses online.

We’ll file this one in the Allen Peake section as well, as Peake’s passion to bring Georgia’s “medical refugees” home was a prime mover in this year’s session of the legislature. Tom Spigolon of Neighbor Newspapers writes about one of those families.

Kim Clark said it may be time for her family to come home to Paulding County.

The Colorado resident and mother of 11-year-old epilepsy sufferer Caden Clark said the Georgia General Assembly’s action to approve legislation this year that will help her son by decriminalizing possession and use of a marijuana-derived drug treatment in Georgia “is remarkable.”

Clark, a Paulding native, said she was convinced state lawmakers would never approve such legislation before she moved her family to Colorado Springs in late 2013 in a last-ditch effort to seek access to medicinal hemp oil for Caden, who suffers from an extreme form of epilepsy.

“When we pulled out of town, there was no hope of coming back,” she said. “I feel a sense of restoration – I’m proud of my state.”

Lawmakers were convinced after seeing the potential for stopping the suffering of young children statewide, she said.

“These children captured the hearts of the Georgia Legislature,” Clark said from her home in Colorado.

Clark and her two sons, Caden, 11, and Jackson, 14, moved to Colorado Springs in 2013 to gain legal access to hemp oil, a treatment derived from the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant. Seventeen other Georgia families also moved to Colorado for the same reason, she said.

The Clarks’ story has been well-documented in metro Atlanta after two years of efforts by District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, of Paulding County and others to gain approval of the legislation.

Kim Clark is married to a longtime Atlanta police officer, Chris Clark, who stayed behind to keep his job and his family’s insurance coverage.

Uber hammered

An Uber driver’s car was impounded when he tried to pick up a passenger at the Atlanta airport.

Rich Thomas said he called Uber using the app on his phone but according to an Atlanta police report when he got in the driver’s car an officer stopped and cited them.

Thomas says he was confused when APD’s vehicle for hire enforcement stopped the Uber driver picking him up on March 25 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“The officer told him you’re not supposed to pick people up here at the airport. I’m going to have to give you a ticket and impound your vehicle,” Thomas said.

An airport spokesperson told Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri that all commercial vehicles need credentials and permits to pick up at the airport and added in a statement, “Companies that are operating illegally will be cited and their vehicles impounded.”

An Uber representative sent Viteri a statement about the issue saying:

“With the recent passage of a sensible, modern regulatory framework for ridesharing through the Georgia Legislature, we are eager to engage Atlanta airport administrators in a constructive dialogue that paves the way for more consumer choice.”

I’m going to go ahead and guess that the authorities are not super-interested in promoting consumer choice at the airport.

In Toronto, (that’s Canada, btw), Uber set up breathalyzer kiosks where drinkers could take a breathe test to earn a free ride home on the ridesharing service. It’s like the adult version of those carnival strength games. Will “free Uber drunk” enter the urban dictionary?

A lobbying juggernaut created

Who are we fooling, McKenna Long & Aldridge is already a lobbying juggernaut, but they announced yesterday a merger with Dentons US to form the world’s largest law firm. After the merger, the combined Government Relations operation will include:

·         Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and Chair of the Democratic National Committee;

·         Ron Kaufman, former White House Political Director under President George H. W. Bush;

·         Gordon Giffin, former US Ambassador to Canada;

·         Eric Tanenblatt, former Chief of Staff to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and senior advisor to the late US Senator Paul     Coverdell;

·         Anthony Williams, former Mayor of Washington, DC;

·         Four former US Congressman; and

·         Four former state attorney generals.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 9, 2015


Katniss is a little Labrador Retriever mix female puppy available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, Ga.


Frenchie is a female Labrador Retriever/Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, Ga.


Sookie is a male black Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, Ga.

For more information about any of these dogs, please visit their website, email [email protected], or call 706 566 5947, 11 am – 5pm Mon-Sat. Please visit the Shelter Location: 7133 Sacerdote Ln, Columbus GA 31907


Neighborhoods split up by proposed city lines |

Two DeKalb County neighborhoods are divided by the map for the proposed city of LaVista Hills, with some residents included in the new city’s borders and others remaining unincorporated.

In some cases, neighbors on opposite sites of the same street could end up living under different local governments if voters approve the city of LaVista Hills in a November referendum.

Residents of the Medlock and Mason Mill neighborhoods, which are located on the south end of LaVista Hills near North Druid Hills Road, said state lawmakers should have done a better job in defining city boundaries.

Borders were drawn based on census blocks, which are locations defined by the U.S. Census Bureau that don’t always follow neighborhood lines.

“This is indeed a confusing situation for those of us directly involved,” said Lynn Ganim, president of the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association. “… The state insists on continuing with this archaic and illogical method of drawing city borders, which completely disregards the human beings involved.”

via Neighborhoods split up by proposed city lines |


Georgia’s Isakson keeps up schedule after cracking three ribs |

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson recently suffered three cracked ribs, but he is keeping up his campaign and official activities.

The 70-year-old Georgia Republican, who is seeking a third term next year, unknowingly cracked the ribs while moving furniture about 10 days ago, spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said. A few days later, experiencing some pain, he went to the doctor for an X-ray and discovered the injury.

The news broke over the weekend, when a University of Georgia political science professor told his class that Isakson’s injury would keep him from speaking to his class on Friday.

But Isakson’s office announced Tuesday that the senator will speak to the class after all and then give a news conference to show the world he’s undeterred by the injury.

via Georgia’s Isakson keeps up schedule after cracking three ribs |


Deal: March revenues up 9 percent

via Press Release.

April 7, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia’s net tax revenues for March totaled $1.43 billion, an increase of $118.5 million, or 9 percent, compared to March 2014. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $13.85 billion for an increase of $794.8 million, or 6.1 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year, when net tax revenues totaled $13.05 billion through nine months. Year-to-date gross tax collections, before refunds and distributions to local governments, totaled $19.2 billion, which was an increase of $1.08 billion, or 6 percent, compared to the year-to-date total of $18.12 billion in March 2014.Continue Reading..


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 8, 2015

Mr. Max is a 2.5 year old English Mastiff (possibly mixed) who weighs in at 135 pounds. His owner died, he’s bereft, and he needs a new home and family to love. Here’s Max’s story:

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue


“My world was just turned upside down. My daddy had just left this world unexpectedly and now I am told there is no one here for me. I am mourning so badly. I can’t stop my head from spinning. My body won’t stop shaking and my heart feels like it is about to fall out on to the ground. Where is he? Where did my daddy go? Wasn’t I suppose to go before him? How do I care for myself?

I miss him so much. I was his buddy and he was mine. I would do anything for him and he would do anything for me but now he isn’t here. My daddy is gone. My home is gone. My life is in pieces.

My name is Mr. Max and I am a 2.5 year old English Mastiff (maybe mix). I am a big 135lb. boy with an even BIGGER heart. I embody everything that an English Mastiff is. I am a true gentle giant. I love everyone. I am BEYOND sweet. I am loyal, gentle, calm, sensitive, soulful. I do well with dogs AND cats. I am also potty trained. I slept in my daddy’s room every night. I don’t chew on anything that I am not suppose to. I am “kinda lazy” (what can I say- my kind tends to be) and sadly now… I must find a new home.

I want my daddy to rest in peace and not worry about me. I know he must be crying for me as he is looking down. I am sure he wish he had a will for me. He was just not old yet and I guess he didn’t think his time would come so soon. I pray for his comfort. I pray someone will let me in. I just need some time to mourn. I need some time to heal. Us, English Mastiffs are such a great kind of folk that many people who own us can tell you how special we are. Once you are owned by an EM, you will always be owned by one. In fact, they say we are like potato chips and it is hard to just have one! The angels want to help me. They just need someone to open up their heart and home for me…will you??

** Foster must be in the ATLANTA area. If so, please fill out a foster application at

Charleston Hound

This beautiful Coonhound mix has a home lined up, but he needs a ride from Winder, Ga. to Charleston, SC to help him get there. If you’re headed to Charleston and can give him a ride all or part of the way, please get in touch with the volunteers at Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder.

Barrow Doxie

This sweet, 7-month old Dachshund mix female is ready to go home with a new family – she weighs 19 pounds and is available for adoption with a $65 fee from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Barrow Pointer

This happy and friendly 3-4 year old female Pointer mix is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga.


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

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

A local variation of the “no white before Easter” rule was proposed, which I can support. It holds that the wearing of white may commence in Augusta, Georgia, upon the opening of the Masters Golf Tournament, beginning with the practice rounds. This year, the Masters is after Easter, but often is begins before the holiday and on a number of occasions, the final round of the tournament has been held on Easter Sunday.

Legislative Wrap-Up

Erratum: It was Governor Zell Miller who signed legislation in 1995 designating the Peach as Georgia’s official state fruit. Here are a couple interesting facts about the fruit:

Franciscan monks introduced peaches to St. Simons and Cumberland Island in the 16th century. Cherokee Indians grew peaches here in the 18th century. Raphael Moses, a Columbus planter, was marketing peaches in Georgia in 1851 and gets credit for being the first to sell peaches successfully outside the South.

Peach production exploded after the Civil War, when Georgia farmers were looking for alternatives to cotton. They were so successful that in the following decades Georgia earned the nickname “the Peach State.” increased railroad lines and the refrigerated boxcar meant faster shipment to markets and pushed peach production to 8 million bushels a year by 1928.

Erratum: a reader let me know yesterday that the planned grocery store that may cause trouble for a potential Athens grocery store is to be located in Douglas, Georgia, not Ocilla.

State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) told the Albany Herald he thinks that some incumbent legislators may face voters’ wrath over votes for the Transportation Tax bill, HB 170.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, is one of the state lawmakers who voted against the bill. He said some of the bill’s supporters may end up regretting it when they seek re-election.

“I believe in this vote there are some members of the General Assembly who will be vulnerable,” he said.

“Me being on the coast, this [hotel/motel] (tax) is going to have serious consequences.”

In a separate artice, Rep. Spencer is quoted on his “Hidden Predator” bill, which passed this year.

Rep. Jason Spencer, was feeling justified Thursday about criticism he received from Catholics and business groups.

“We’re feeling vindicated,” he said.

In the weeks leading up to passage, he received criticism for his charge in a newspaper column that the Atlanta archdiocese and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce were “pro-child-sexual-predator special-interest groups.”

The bill would extend the opportunity for an adult who suffered sexual abuse as a child to file a lawsuit against the alleged perpetrator. Experts testified before legislative committees that often child victims deny to themselves the seriousness of their psychological injuries or even the existence of the event until they have children of their own. But by then, the existing law prevents them from suing.

Meanwhile, the Marietta Daily Journal opines that passing the Transportation Tax Bill was the right move for the General Assembly.

A bipartisan majority of the Georgia General Assembly “bit the bullet” last week and voted to approve a transportation funding bill that should go far toward addressing decaying infrastructure. It unfortunately raises taxes at the pump for all motorists, but also does away with corporate tax break on the sale of jet fuel, sets a new fee on heavy truckers and shifts a substantial portion of the funding bill’s tax bite onto the shoulders of out-of-staters.

Gov. Nathan Deal hailed the measure as a landmark that “will give Georgia dedicated resources to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.” Credit Deal with pushing legislators to come up with the compromise bill that finally reached a vote shortly before midnight on the next-to-last day of this session. With Deal, House Speaker David Ralston and other members of the Republican hierarchy behind the drive — strongly supported by the state chamber of commerce, contractors and allied interests — HB 170 got the needed impetus to pass both House and Senate. Not all Republicans were happy with the bill but Democrats made up the difference.

The measure will impose a state excise tax of 26 cents per gallon on gasoline and will hike the tax on diesel fuel to 29 cents. The taxes will rise or fall annually based on the Consumer Price Index and the fuel efficiency of vehicles. Once the bill is signed by Deal, it will be effective July 1. The new gasoline tax will replace the current 7.5 cents per gallon state excise tax and 4 percent state sales tax.

The final version of the bill generated significant opposition from Republicans, with many of them saying the needed billion bucks should have been found elsewhere in the budget. But easier said than done, said state Rep. John Carson (R-northeast Cobb).

Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) opines on the results of the passage of his House Bill 1, called Haleigh’s Hope.

The very good news is that these Georgia families will now be able to come back home with the passage of HB 1, named the Haleigh’s Hope Act, after the young girl that inspired our entire state. HB 1 will provide immunity from prosecution for possession of medical cannabis oil for eight medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, mitochondrial and sickle cell diseases. After a resident or caregiver has received a recommendation from the physician that is treating them, they will be eligible to receive a registration card from the state, affirming they can legally possess the oil in Georgia. However, these individuals will still be required to legally obtain the oil in another state. This will be the case until we come up with a safe and effective cultivation and delivery system that is strictly regulated in our state. A commission will be created to study the best way to do that in Georgia. Their recommendation will be made to the governor and General Assembly by Dec. 31 of this year. The members of the commission will be stakeholders in this issue, including medical professionals, law enforcement officials, pharmacists, government agencies and elected officials.

While this step is too far for some, and not far enough for others, it will give some Georgia residents the option to obtain medicine that could change their lives, and it is a step in the right direction. And that is a good thing for Georgians.

We’ve heard the bill may be signed next Thursday.

Governor Deal announced yesterday that state tax revenues were up 9 percent in March 2015 over the March 2014 numbers, and year-to-date collections are up 6 percent over the same period last year.

The budget process for Columbus, Georgia is a painful one this year, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

“We were moaning last year about how tough it was,” Henderson said. “I think you’ll hear us moaning even louder this year.”

The city is looking at expected revenues of $264.3 million versus expected expenses of $265.7, meaning the city will use $1.4 million in reserve funds. That would leave a projected reserve fund of only 60.37 days, barely above the 60-day threshhold beneath which bond rating companies consider lowering a city’s rating and when the city could see cash-flow problems early in the calendar year.

The proposed budget contains more personnel additions and changes than in recent years. It calls for adding a network engineer to the city’s Information Technology department and the already controversial transfer of personnel fro the Sheriff’s Office to the Police Department, ostensibly to eliminate duplicative services. It would also eliminate several position in the Marshal’s Office, along with making some changes in vehicle policies.

Both Sheriff John Darr and Marshal Greg Counrtyman have strongly objected to the proposals, but each will have a chance to present his case to the committee in the coming weeks.

The budget for Bibb County Public Schools can be finalized now, with legislative spending priorities set for the next fiscal year.

“As we receive additional information from the Legislature and also information from the local tax digest — from the local tax assessors and commissioner’s office — we make adjustments accordingly,” he said.

Right now, it’s estimated that the school system will have a general fund of about $185 million for fiscal 2016. Collier said the goal is to always have the fund balance — what’s left over — at 8 percent of the general fund, which would be $14.8 million.

The general fund takes into account anticipated tax revenue that comes from the local and state level. Collier puts that number at about $182 million, which means it’s about $3 million less than where it needs to be to completely support Bibb school operations.

The Georgia Legislature uses the Quality Basic Education Act formula to fund public schools. It has never been fully funded, but this year the reduction in funding is less than it has been in previous years.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds will highlight National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, from April 19-25.

Reynolds will be joined by Barry Morgan, Cobb’s solicitor general, Jinger Robbins of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center and Holly Tuchman, of the Northwest Georgia YWCA, for a community rally and kick-off celebration in Glover Park in Marietta at noon April 20, according to a release from Reynolds’ office.

On April 23, the DA’s office will host the first of five classes on domestic violence, and while the classes are designed for law enforcement officers, they are open to the public.

“Violence in the home is among the most common types of crime, and it tears at the very foundation of communities,” Reynolds said. “We are committed to doing everything possible to end it.”

Allegations of racial slur-use in open court in Fannin County have allegedly led to an investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

Campaigns & Elections

Frank Reynolds, currently a Captain with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department, is running for Cherokee County Sheriff in 2016 and has begun his campaign.

When [Sheriff Roger] Garrison in 2012 announced he would not seek re-election to a seventh term, Reynolds said people began to approach him and ask if he’d planned to run for the office.

“Over the past several years, it seemed like doors were being opened and opportunities were presenting themselves, and I felt that I was being led down that path (by) a higher authority,” he said. ”And I truly believe that this is a calling.”

Now, after seven years with the agency to the north, Reynolds is ready to live, work and play all inside Cherokee County.

“I’m ready to come home,” he said. “I’m ready to come back and serve the citizens of Cherokee County.”

If elected, Reynolds told the audience he plans to protect the constitutional rights of citizens; improve community relations with businesses and various neighborhood watch programs; work to reduce unnecessary spending in the sheriff’s office budget; establish a Sheriff’s Academy, similar to citizens public safety academies implemented by local police departments; and partner with the Cherokee County School District’s School Police Department to enhance safety and security for students and other learning communities.

You can visit his website, like Frank Reynolds for Sheriff on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

David Waters, a Commander with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department appears to be readying a run, with a Facebook page, website, and endorsement by former State Senator Chip Rogers.

Also preparing a potential run is Cherokee County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant Jeff Donley, with a website and Facebook page.

Fairburn Police Chief Chip McCarthy also appears to be running, with a website a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

Caleb Phillips was sworn in as a member of the Dawsonville City Council after being the only candidate to qualify for a special election.

Former Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey has joined the Washington, DC office of Drinker Biddle & Reath as a Senior Advisor in the Government Affairs practice. Presumably he’s not yet “lobbying” under the Congressional revolving door ban.

Presidential Politics

Rafael Cruz, father of United States Senator and Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, will speak in Rome, Georgia on Friday and Saturday.

Rafael Cruz, a North Texas pastor and director of Purifying Fire Ministries, will speak at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church Sun-
day morning, at Unity Christian School on Monday morning and at the Rome Tea Party on Monday night, said Mike Morton, chairman of the local Tea Party.

“I think it’s his story, his message, that resonates,” Morton said. “His message of freedom in general and the preciousness of freedom. It just really does fit with us.”

The public is invited to attend the Tea Party gathering, slated for 6 p.m. at Congregation Beth Aliyah, 710 E. First St. The event is free, but donations will be accepted.

Cruz also will appear at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at Pleasant Valley South, 702 Pleasant Valley Road and at an 8 a.m. Monday high school assembly at Unity Christian School, 2960 New Calhoun Highway.

Hannah Payne, a Unity Christian student who created a chapter of the Young America’s Foundation at her school, asked Rafael Cruz to speak in Rome when she saw him at a conference, Morton said.

I saw Mr. Cruz speak at an Americans for Prosperity event and he is, indeed, an exceptional speaker.

United States Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced yesterday that he will run for President in 2016.

“I am running for president,” his web message said. In remarks to supporters, Paul could be counted on to be a fierce critic of Washington, where he is in his first term as a senator but seldom in line with his party’s leadership.

Paul’s challenge now is to convince Republican primary voters and caucus-goers that his is a vision worthy of the GOP presidential nomination, a prize twice denied his father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

Paul begins the 2016 race as just the second fully declared candidate, behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but he could face as many as 20 rivals for the nomination before the lead-off Iowa caucuses in February.

Along the way, Paul is likely to challenge his fellow Republicans’ views on both foreign and domestic policy, as well as the nuts and bolts of how campaigns are run. Tech savvy and youth-focused, Paul is expected to be an Internet juggernaut that his competitors will be forced to chase.

After his speech in Louisville, Paul was set to answer questions from voters on his Facebook page. Before his announcement speech, he was already selling on his website iPhone cases branded with his logo, signed copies of the Constitution and Rand Paul beer steins.

Several Georgians made the trip to Kentucky for Paul’s announcement, including Republican State Representatives John Pezold and Scot Turner, along with 3rd District GAGOP Chair Dale Jackson and former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell.

Among the items Paul is selling on his campaign website is an “NSA Spy Cam Blocker” for $15.


Some folks have made fun of this, but I think it’s brilliant. It highlights his anti-spying positions and has gotten good coverage from geek-tech sites like Gizmodo and Ars Technica. Also pretty cool is the “Don’t Drone Me, Bro!” shirt.

Rand Paul Drone Shirt

It’s pretty funny that they couldn’t bring themselves to call the “Bag Toss Game” by it’s traditional name, “Cornhole.”

Rand Paul Cornhole

Democratic strategists could barely contain their glee at the prospect of using Rand Paul as a punching bag and proxy for unpopular GOP policies.

“I couldn’t be happier. I mean, this is one of my favorite days — Rand Paul’s finally getting into the race,” [Jim Manley] senior director at QGA Public Affairs said. “We knew it was coming, but this is the big day, so put me down as one happy Democratic strategist. … There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell any of them get through a general election vis-a-vis Secretary [Hillary] Clinton.”

Now, mind you, this is coming from a former spokesman for Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Harry Reid (D-NV).

Closer to home, Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Dubose Porter had this to say,

“Rand Paul’s announcement should alarm every woman, college student, and hardworking family in the state of Georgia.

“If Rand had his way, never mind about the nearly one million Georgians that would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and never mind about Georgia’s women who make 81.2¢ for every dollar a man makes.

“President Obama’s administration has worked hard to lift up students, giving them a fair shot at the American dream. Yet, Rand opposes legislation that would allow student borrowers to refinance their loans at a lower rate. Plain and simple—Rand would kneecap 871,000 Georgia students who want nothing more than to better themselves and do right by their community.

“Rand is on the record with his desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act and opposes expanding Medicaid—something he has in common with the Georgia GOP. I suppose they all just don’t care about the 478,000 Georgians who would benefit from Medicaid expansion—or give a flying flip about the more than 631,000 Georgia children who have benefited from the ACA preventing insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums as a result of preexisting conditions.

“Even by Georgia standards, Rand Paul is a whackadoo that would turn the Office of the President into a breeding ground of the bizarre and extreme right. The guy is on the record criticizing the Civil Rights movement, saying he doesn’t believe in LGBT rights because they’re ‘based on behavior,’ and saying that vaccinating our children is a step toward ‘martial law.’

“Rand is a prime example of what we can expect from the GOP presidential field—including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and whoever else aspires to carry the extreme right-wing mantle in 2016. The GOP is offering the same old fringe, out-of-touch vision for Georgia that continues to threaten true progress.

“Georgia deserves a credible, forward-thinking Democratic leader like President Obama—whoever she or he will be.”

Last week we noted a change in former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s standard Waffle House order and suggested that “one sure sign of an impending campaign for higher office is the candidate going on a diet.”

Today, the New York Times notes that diet can be an issue for candidates.

But while [questions about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's weight] in turn gave way to all sorts of editorializing about whether the United States was a fattist country, and so on, it turns out that the weight thing, when it comes to political campaigns, is not in fact solely an American question.

Fitness, for obvious reasons, has always been part of the leadership arsenal, with the workout photo op seeming almost de rigueur, be it jogging (Bill Clinton, Mr. Cameron); golf or basketball (Barack Obama); or hunting (Vladimir Putin). But the public discussion of executive waistline issues is a relatively new development. And presumably a calculated one.

Party leaders need to use every tool at their disposal, including personal weight battles.

Just as it is probably not a coincidence that the one thing that is never mentioned regarding a female candidate, be it Hillary Clinton or Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party or Marine Le Pen, is her weight. Clothes and hair are fair game, it seems, but weight is the off-limits topic.

We go on and on about how unfair it is to women in positions of authority that their fashion statements are endlessly discussed and dissected, as opposed to their vocal statements (though I would say the two are related).

Yet here is a case of appearance-centric talk that is men-only. And it is a discussion that has been started largely by the candidates themselves, to their own ends. Which is why I would guess it is going to continue.


The Berry College Eagle Cams are pretty epic right now, with two young hatchlings. Yesterday saw what appeared to be a red-tailed hawk looking to gobble down one of the youngsters, and Mom and Dad Eagles fending off the intruder.

Zoo Atlanta is raising funds to build a Bald Eagle habitat and get a suitable bird for the zoo.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 7, 2015

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what are currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

On April 7, 1985, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Transportation Tax Bill

Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen) has written a scathing criticism of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.


“We need to raise taxes,” said The Leader, a sly grin curling across his face.  “We just have to, but we have to do it in a way where the regular schmucks out there won’t know it or understand it.”

His lieutenants bristled.  “Sir, that’s difficult.  People are paying attention to this issue.  It’s the biggest issue facing our government right now.  How are we going to fool the voters into thinking this isn’t the largest tax increase ever passed by our government?”

“Simple,” The Leader exclaimed, giddy at the thought of his deviousness and deception.  “We’ll do this just like they did Obamacare.  We’ll wait until the last minute….we’ll ram it through so no one has time to read it until it’s already passed….we’ll cut deals with the other party to buy them off.”

“But sir,” cautioned his staff attorney, “that’s not legal.  The law requires a fiscal note from the State Auditor that clearly states how much this will cost taxpayers before something like this can even be considered.”

It might be the largest tax increase ever.  We’re not entirely sure because in direct violation of Georgia law (OCGA 28-5-42) and in clear violation of the Senate’s own rules (Senate Rule 3-1.4) there was not a fiscal note from the State Auditor provided for this legislation telling us exactly what it will cost.

When I rose on the Senate floor and pointed out that Georgia law and the Senate’s rules clearly prohibit a vote on this legislation because of the lack of an official fiscal note, the angry Lt. Governor glared at me, said he disagreed with me, and proceeded with this farce.

In today’s Senate, the law doesn’t matter.  The rules don’t matter.  It’s Chicago, Georgia.  The only thing that matters is robbing taxpayers and hardworking citizens to appease big donors and corporate interests.

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