The blog.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for October 2, 2015

Emma Frost

Emma Frost is a 2-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption at no charge from DeKalb County Animal Services.


Skip is a 3-year old Border Collie mix boy who is available for adoption at no charge from DeKalb County Animal Services.

Sugar Ray

Sugar Ray is a 3-year old Boxer mix boy who is available for adoption at no charge from DeKalb County Animal Services.


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

On October 2, 1789, President George Washington signed a resolution transmitting the (then-twelve) amendments constituting the Bill of Rights to the states that had ratified the Constitution. Click here for the letter from Washington to Governor Charles Pinckney of South Caroling that accompanied the amendments.

On October 2, 1835, Texans and Mexicans met in the first military battle of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted. As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.

When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities. Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2. After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew.

Texas Cannon Flag 600

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed on November 26, 1863 and on the fourth Thursday in November every succeeding year.

This announcement harkened back to when George Washington was in his first term as the first president in 1789 and the young American nation had only a few years earlier emerged from the American Revolution. At that time, George Washington called for an official celebratory “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” While Congress overwhelmingly agreed to Washington’s suggestion, the holiday did not yet become an annual event.

Thomas Jefferson, the third president, felt that public demonstrations of piety to a higher power, like that celebrated at Thanksgiving, were inappropriate in a nation based in part on the separation of church and state. Subsequent presidents agreed with him. In fact, no official Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by any president between 1815 and the day Lincoln took the opportunity to thank the Union Army and God for a shift in the country’s fortunes on this day in 1863.

On October 2, 1879, Wallace Stevens was born. Stevens would become a renowned poet and insurance industry lawyer. My favorite poem of his is “Connoisseur of Chaos.”

The pensive man . . . He sees the eagle float
For which the intricate Alps are a single nest.

President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke at the White House on October 2, 1909.

On October 4, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegram to the Georgia Democratic Party Convention delegates in appreciation for their support of his admininstration.

On October 3, 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed to the United States Senate from Georgia following the death of Senator Tom Watson. After initially being rebuffed by the Senate, Felton was sworn-in on late in November, becoming the first woman to serve in the United States Senate.

The Savannah River Bridge opened on October 4, 1925.

The first televised Presidential address from the White House was broadcast on October 5, 1947.

Thurgood Marshall was sworn-in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 1967.

Betty Talmadge, then wife of Senator Herman Talmadge, hosted a fundraiser with Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale on October 2, 1976.

Ground was broken for The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on October 2, 1984.

Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted on October 4, 1990.

The Georgia Supreme Court outlawed use of the electric chair as “cruel and unusual punishment” on October 5, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Beer brewers’ carefully-planned tour & souvenir beer programs took a hit this week with a Georgia Department of Revenue rule that says they can’t vary the price according to the quantity of souvenir beer offered.

Legislation adopted this year gave craft brewers the ability to sell facility tours and give away their product — a kind of backdoor way to actually sell their beer directly to customers, something those brewers have long sought. After Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into the law, the state Revenue Department enacted rules governing the tours. Those regulations allowed brewers to create different tour packages at different price levels.

But last week the department issued a “bulletin” saying while brewers can offer different levels of tours, the price differences cannot be based on the value of the beer.

State Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, wrote to the Department of Revenue in June, before the first set of regulations were finalized, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Harrell asked the department to consider a wide range of hypothetical tour scenarios involving multiple prices and a large beer selection. Harrell specifically asked Revenue officials to tell him whether his scenario would be allowed under the law.

Harrell told the AJC that a Revenue employee told him that “‘based on our review, none of your suggested events exceed the allowed amount limits.’ They didn’t see there was any issue with the fictious tour sale.”

However this plays out at the agency, expect the General Assembly to reconsider the issue next year.

State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Canton) wrote on Facebook that the agency actions conflict with the legislation passed this year.

I have complained to the DOR that they are creating a new law, something reserved for the legislature, with this bulletin. The words on the page are clear to me, the breweries can charge whatever they like for tours for whatever reason they want to.

By eliminating the ability to vary the size of the souvenir, the DOR is destroying the intent and actual meaning of SB 63.

AJC Columnist Kyle Wingfield blames it on the dastardly alcohol wholesalers’ lobby.

SB 63 [the “Beer Jobs Bill”] was held up by lawmakers beholden to the alcohol-wholesalers lobby at every turn before finally gaining approval as a watered-down, near-beer version of itself on the final day of the session. It wasn’t much: Breweries won the chance to give away limited amounts of their beer as “free souvenirs” included in the price of “educational and promotional brewery tours,” a needlessly complicated compromise only Rube Goldberg could love. Given the way even limited “sales” of beer can boost a small brewery’s bottom line and help it grow, though, at least it was something.

The final text of SB 63 allows breweries to “charge varying fees for the brewery tours.” It says nothing about how those fees are to be determined. The Revenue Department now says breweries “may not vary tour prices in such a way that the tour prices are clearly and directly tied to the market value of the alcohol furnished.”

Although one can contort the vague words of SB 63 just enough to get to the place Revenue’s rule-writers arrived, this policy runs plainly counter to the spirit of the law evident throughout this year’s debate.

It does, however, fit neatly with the wholesalers lobby’s desire to kill such legislation entirely. Only the willfully naive could believe they didn’t lift a finger to ensure the new rule was written just so.

Apparently, there’s some sort of sporting event in Athens this weekend. With rain predicted, some parking will be limited and predictions are sounding like TomorrowWorld’s mud bowl.

[T]he intramural fields are so water-logged from recent rains—with more rain forecast for later this week—that they’ll be closed off to vehicles this weekend, meaning the loss of 2,000 parking spaces. Some tailgating areas may be closed as well. Updates are available here.

UGA is urging people to use lots on the periphery of campus that aren’t always full, as well as parking provided by local schools, churches and businesses (including Flagpole). Carpool if you can and get there early, too.

Kingston Tailgate

Former Congressman Jack Kingston has been spreading the word about a tailgate being hosted by his daughter and son-in-law in Athens tomorrow. If you think you might attend, RSVP to [email protected]

If you recall the debate over Medical Cannabis legislation over the last two years, part of the discussion was controlled clinical trials at whatever they’re calling the Medical College in Augusta. Some preliminary results are in and show promise, according to Kristina Torres of the AJC.

Georgia-based clinical trials have shown early promise in using cannabis oil to treatment epileptic seizures, although researchers said they won’t know for sure until at least the end of next year what strides they have made in the study of medical marijuana.

I would also expect some form of legislation to be discussed next year that would allow some form of heavily-regulated in-state production of medical cannabis. From Channel 13 WMAX,

“There is still a lot of skepticism in the medical community so it’s imperative that we show there is research that medical cannabis does work for almost all of the qualifying conditions that we have in Georgia,” State Representative Allen Peake said.

He’s the commission’s chairman said it’s imperative that lawmakers listen to the medical community and doctors’ concerns about control and purity of the drug. One committee member, Doctor Cynthia Wetmore, is concerned about the composition of out of state cannabis. She says marijuana grown here would give officials more control.

“Right now, when patients are getting it from all different sources but there’s not much consistency, the only way to ensure consistency is to grow it, have control over it so that we’re able to purify it and have quality control of the different batches,” Wetmore said.

Janea Cox’s daughter Haleigh inspired Georgia’s medical marijuana law. Janea thinks Georgia-grown cannabis would increase access for families like hers who depend on it to help conditions like seizure disorders.

“It’ll make it easier for access for patients here and its also better so that Georgia can regulate their own rules and be able to regulate it a lot better. Growing is definitely one of those promises that were hoping for,” Cox said.

Atlanta Public Schools Broken

APS Superintendent Maria Carstarphen has this to say, according to the AJC.

“I don’t know why as a community we don’t understand that Atlanta Public Schools is effectively broken. We have the lion’s share of every problem you can possibly imagine in urban public schools. But I am here. This is my community,” she said. “They are my babies and my children and I expect of myself to do a good job with or without the support of anyone else. I believe in Atlanta. I believe in Atlanta Public Schools. I have met this staff. I know our children are beautiful and can deliver if we hold them to the right expectations.”

Despite all the challenges the children bring to the classroom, Carstarphen cited an even bigger challenge for APS. “Culture is the biggest challenge for Atlanta Public Schools. Every great strategy we have gets eaten for  breakfast because of the culture sometimes.”

DeKalb County Corruption Probe

In response to the release of the Bowers-Hyde report on corruption in DeKalb County, Governor Nathan Deal has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the report.

The GBI cannot open an investigation on its own it must be directed to by another agency.

The governor is not asking the GBI to investigate the report, but he is asking the GBI to review it.

The report authored by former Attorney General Mike Bowers and investigator Richard Hyde claims there’s widespread corruption inside DeKalb County government, starting with interim CEO Lee May.

“It was a very sad day for DeKalb County,” County Commissioner Nancy Jester told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot.

Jester says corruption is a cancer eating away at the DeKalb government.

She told Elliot that she welcomes any outside agency taking a closer look at the Bowers report, but she wants a full investigation not just a review.

Interim CEO Lee May would like to sweep another new set of allegations under the carpet with the Bowers report. From Jodie Fleischer at WSB,

A little more than a year after he accepted $3,500 in bribes to help a nightclub owner, zoning official Jeremy “Jerry” Clark began billing DeKalb County taxpayers as a consultant, a Channel 2 Action News investigation found.

Records show between March and August of 2014, Clark submitted invoices totaling $24,500 for youth outreach services, skirting multiple DeKalb County policies and possibly state law.

“It’s either a crime was committed, which is what it smells like, or someone has played loose and easy with the regulations,” said former DeKalb District Attorney Bob Wilson, who reviewed the situation at the request of Channel 2.

But DeKalb County CEO Lee May says he won’t request an investigation of this situation; the high-ranking official who facilitated it is May’s Chief of Staff and long-time adviser Edmond Richardson.

Lee May also declined an interview request, but issued a statement saying, “I am very disappointed in how it was handled.  It might have been to the letter of all laws, but certainly not in the spirit in which I expect this government to be operated.”

May said he has no plans to investigate the situation.


Congratulations to Colin Martin, who has joined the staff of Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.

Colin Martin, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year against incumbent Teresa Tomlinson, will start the new job on Thursday.

Field Representatives represent the congressman at events and meetings throughout the 13-county district that stretches from the southern tip of Metro Atlanta to north Columbus. Martin will cover the southern part of the district that includes Upson, Lamar, Pike, Meriwether, Harris, Muscogee, and part of Troup counties.

“Congressman Westmoreland has been a true servant-leader for the Third Congressional District and the Columbus region,” Martin said. “I am both humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve his constituents in this role.”

Here’s my professional advice to Colin: there will be lots of people from the area you cover in Athens on Saturday. You should go there to make yourself available for any comments and concerns they may have for Cong. Westmoreland. But this is probably not a reimbursable expense, it’s part of going the extra mile to serve.

The AJC Political Insider turned up an interesting nugget. It appears that Donald J. Trump may be headed to Atlanta this month.

Toward the very end of this piece on Donald Trump and the televangelizing crowd is a small mention that The Donald may be headed to Atlanta on Oct. 10 for a meeting with black pastors. Think of the possibilities of a Donald Trump/Creflo Dollar ticket.

In the Augusta area, voters will elect a new Columbia County Commissioner for District 3 and a new State Representative for District 122 in a special election on November 3d.

The District 122 special election became necessary when Ben Harbin, who represented the county in the Georgia Legislature for 20 years, announced he was resigning in the midst of his term to take a position with the lobbying firm South Strategy Group.

Four candidates qualified to run for the open seat – Pat Goodwin, a former chairwoman of the Columbia County Republican Party and the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Jodi Lott, a registered nurse and co-owner of Evans Rehabilitation Services; Joe Mullins, a developer and entertainment promoter; and Mack Taylor, a lawyer in private practice who resigned his seat on the Columbia County Commission in July to pursue the office.

In the other race featured at the forum, five candidates explained why they wanted to be the next commissioner for District 3, a seat vacated in July when Taylor resigned to run for the state Legislature.

Jim Bartley, Greg Grzybowski, Gary Richardson, Frank Spears and Russell Wilder have stepped up to fill the remainder of Taylor’s term.

For more on those candidates and their positions on issues, check out the Augusta Chronicle article cited above.


Georgia doctors encouraged in study of medical marijuana |

Georgia-based clinical trials have shown early promise in using cannabis oil to treatment epileptic seizures, although researchers said they won’t know for sure until at least the end of next year what strides they have made in the study of medical marijuana.

The update came Wednesday during the latest meeting of the state’s Commission on Medical Cannabis, formed earlier this year to study the effect of Georgia’s new medical marijuana law and whether it should be expanded to allow growers to harvest and distribute cannabis oil in-state.

Dr. Yong Park, a neurologist leading the trials through Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia, said as of April, seizures caused by one of the most severe forms of epilepsy — Dravet Syndrome — fell by as much as 60 percent in children who had used a specific drug, the cannabis-derived oil Epidiolex, for at least 12 weeks.

Seizures were also down among patients with other forms of epilepsy, Park said, while 9 percent of all patients were seizure-free. The trials officially began enrolling children late last year and updated data will be available by December, he said.

via Georgia doctors encouraged in study of medical marijuana |


Georgia’s small brewers get hosed again | Kyle Wingfield

Georgia’s mandated middleman monopolies are at it again.

Perhaps no more market-oriented piece of legislation than Senate Bill 63, a.k.a. the “Beer Jobs Bill,” cleared the General Assembly this year. But that says more about the dearth of such bills in this, the alleged “best state in the nation to do business,” than the brilliance of this particular one.

SB 63 was held up by lawmakers beholden to the alcohol-wholesalers lobby at every turn before finally gaining approval as a watered-down, near-beer version of itself on the final day of the session. It wasn’t much: Breweries won the chance to give away limited amounts of their beer as “free souvenirs” included in the price of “educational and promotional brewery tours,” a needlessly complicated compromise only Rube Goldberg could love. Given the way even limited “sales” of beer can boost a small brewery’s bottom line and help it grow, though, at least it was something.

The operative word: was.

Out of the blue, the state Revenue Department recently issued a rule to clarify this muddle. Its chosen form of clarity? Tearing a hole clear through the law.

The final text of SB 63 allows breweries to “charge varying fees for the brewery tours.” It says nothing about how those fees are to be determined. The Revenue Department now says breweries “may not vary tour prices in such a way that the tour prices are clearly and directly tied to the market value of the alcohol furnished.”

via Georgia’s small brewers get hosed again | Kyle Wingfield.


Medical marijuana supporters gear up for next chapter

ATLANTA — Supporters of medical marijuana in Georgia are revving up for a new fight.

Last year the state passed landmark legislation, enabling access in certain cases to medical marijuana. But supporters said even then what they say today: the legislation did not go far enough.

“I think it’s a logical first step,” said Rep. Allen Peake of Macon. “But we have got to deal with the access issue. That’s crucial if we’re going to come up with a solution for Georgia citizens.”

The focal points this year: better access and in-state cultivation. Georgians can possess cannabis oil to treat severe forms of certain illnesses, but for now, they can’t obtain it legally.

via Medical marijuana supporters gear up for next chapter.


Trump to Atlanta October 10th | Political Insider blog

Toward the very end of this piece on Donald Trump and the televangelizing crowd is a small mention that The Donald may be headed to Atlanta on Oct. 10 for a meeting with black pastors.

Think of the possibilities of a Donald Trump/Creflo Dollar ticket.

via Paul Broun heads up effort to oust next House speaker — before he’s elected | Political Insider blog.


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

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Former President Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The lobbying public policy juggernaut that is Dentons, formerly McKenna Long & Aldridge, began a road tour inaugurating their new practice in Washington, DC last night.

Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich, settling into their new roles at the global law firm Dentons, took the mike on Tuesday evening at a private reception in Washington, D.C., where colleagues and business contacts gathered for a night of celebration to inaugurate the firm’s new public policy team formed by the July 1 merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge.

“We are going to Cairo!… and then London!… and then we are going to those places and a lot more!” Dean said in a tongue-and-cheek speech before the crowd at the Zaytinya restaurant in Penn Quarter, imitating his famous rally cry during his 2004 presidential run.

Dean joined McKenna Long & Aldridge in 2009 after serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and this year teamed up with Gingrich once the former Republican speaker of the House joined his newly-merged firm, now known as Dentons, in May.

“I’m a futurist, and this is the world’s largest law firm — I’m going to have 3,700 Chinese colleagues — it can’t get any better than this,” said Gingrich, white wine in hand, grabbing a quick minute with Big Law Business at the event.

And as it turns out, there may have been more behind Dean’s playful rallying words: Eric Tanenblatt, the co-practice leader of Dentons’ U.S. public policy and regulation practice, said that the firm intends to take Dean and Gingrich “on a road show,” from New York to Los Angeles and more cities where they will speak their views on the latest policy issues.

The Dentons Public Policy Practice road show will pull into Atlanta on October 27, 2015.

Government to Stay Open

Yesterday, every Congressional Democrat and 91 Republican voted to pass a Continuing Resolution by a 277-151 margin. For Conservaatives who thought Boehner leaving office would lead to more conservative policy, it was a disappointment.

The Senate passed a Continuing Resolution by a 78-20 margin, with all 20 no votes coming from Republicans.

Roll Call notes that Rep. Tom Price voted against the spending measure, while his opponent in the Majority Leader race, Steve Scalise, voted in favor.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is the favorite to succeed Boehner as speaker, voted for the bill, along with Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who wants to be the majority leader, and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who wants to be whip. Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, who is also said to be eyeing a bid for whip, voted “yes” as well.

Those who voted “no” included Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, who is running for majority leader, and Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who also running for whip. Rep. Dennis A. Ross of Florida might also be running for whip, and he, too, voted against the CR.

AJC Political Insider Daniel Malloy has the vote breakdown of Georgia’s Senators and Representatives:

Senate — Yes: David Perdue (R) and Johnny Isakson (R)

House — Yes: Sanford Bishop (D-Albany), Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), John Lewis (D-Atlanta), Austin Scott (R-Tifton), David Scott (D-Atlanta) and Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).

No: Rick Allen (R-Evans), Buddy Carter (R-Pooler), Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Tom Graves (R-Ranger), Jody Hice (R-Monroe), Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), Tom Price (R-Roswell) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County).

Daniel Malloy also brings news that Democratic Congressman John Lewis (Atlanta) will seek reelection next year to a 16th term.

DeKalb County Corruption Report Released

DeKalb BOC sign

Yesterday, independent investigator and former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers released a 40-page report on his findings with Investigator Richard Hyde in the DeKalb County corruption probe. Click here to pick up your own copy.

Channel 2 News discussed the report:

Bowers and Hyde call the misspending and mismanagement they uncovered in DeKalb appalling corruption caused by a complete absence of leadership.

The report recommended that interim CEO Lee May resign immediately.

“He needs to resign because there is a total absence of leadership in that county,” Bowers told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher.

[Interim CEO Lee] May calls the investigation absurd.

“The content of this report is at best laughable. At worst it’s pitiful. And I can’t be any stronger than that. And that has absolutely nothing to do with asking me to resign. If that’s the thought, so be it. And I’ll answer that question for you right now, I’m not resigning,” May said during a late-afternoon news conference.

“The giving of money to charities becomes sort of a campaign slush fund for folks. That’s what it becomes,” Bowers said.

Here’s what Channel 2 chose to focus their 11 PM coverage on last night:

They questioned $36 that May spent on an in-room movie and $222 on a massage at a hotel in Hawaii — paid for by taxpayers.

May was asked if the movie was adult in nature and he denied that it was.

“Absolutely it was not an adult movie. I watched a litany of movies and I believe that’s the totality of movies,” May said.

But Channel 2 Action News confirmed with the hotel that it was in fact a purchase for adult movies.

“Mr. Hyde asked him about those. He said that he would give us the documentation showing that he had paid that back, but he never did,” Bowers said.

Here’s why this issue isn’t going away. Two of the dominant media outlets in Atlanta – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB – get to take credit for the investigation every time they run a story, ensuring that neither of them will get tired of running stories on the investigation any time soon.

Much of what was spotlighted in Wednesday’s report was first exposed by a series of Channel 2 Action News/Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigations last year.

We questioned tens of thousands of dollars in retail purchases without receipts, the buying of gift cards that were given away with no documentation and tens of thousands of dollars that commissioners donated to various charities.

We also exposed numerous purchases that appeared to be for personal use, including some commissioners’ legal bills.

Also coming under fire in the report is District Attorney Robert James.

The report also accuses DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James of refusing to cooperate with the investigation. James says the report is false. If anyone were to face corruption charges, James would be the one that would announce them.

Where the report becomes more troubling to the District Attorney is the allegations of Open Records Act violations on page 5 of the report:

the district attorney, Robert James, in clear violation of the Georgia Open Records Act, flatly refused to even respond to our letters requesting documents that could have explained his questionable spending. Instead, he complained to Mr. May about our request. Mr. May then wrote a letter to James stating that our request was “beyond the scope of the Executive Order.”

Whatever confidence we had in Mr. May ended when we received, through the news media, his “Dear Robert” apology written to the district attorney. That letter also gave the appearance that Mr. May was attempting to help Mr. James cover-up misconduct. The law requires these public records, indicating how funds were spent by Mr. James, to be available for inspection at all times to anyone. As a result of Mr. May’s interference, and Mr. James’ refusal to follow the law, we were unable to determine if expenses incurred by the district attorney were appropriate or legal.

At some point, a complaint will be filed with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens about alleged violations of the Open Records Act. If Olens finds that violations occurred, the District Attorney’s office will be fighting on two fronts against the current AG and a former one.

Scoring on the Bowers Report

Lee May comes out as a loser in this report. The investigators suggestion that he resign captured the headlines, and the “movie” expenditure would embarrass any human being with a sense of shame. I’m guessing that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney will do more than simply file these charges away. As Bowers noted, the indictment of former DeKalb County employee Bob Lundsten sets the bar for prosecutions on misuse of county funds. One of the charges against Lundsten appears to have been over a $22 expenditure and there will be many that meet that level or worse.

District Attorney Robert James also takes a hit with allegations that he stonewalled the investigation and violated the Open Records Act. James is already opposed for reelection next year by the very able Sherry Boston and this is a major hit to his chances at the ballot box.

Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton is the BOC member who faces the worst prospects, with payments of more than $34k to her then-boyfriend from county taxpayer dollars.

Three winners emerge from the report. As CBS46 notes,

The report calls for five of DeKalb County’s seven commissioners to resign. Commissioners Nancy Jester and Mereda Davis Johnson were not named as corrupt.

Also emerging as a winner is John Ernst, who is currently running for Mayor of Brookhaven and during the period under investigation was Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics. From pages 34-35

the [county Board of Ethics] was inactive from 2003 until late 2013. During this decade, there was a total of $36,000 budgeted for the ethics board. According to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for that period only $3,000 was spent.

According to former Director John Ernst, the Ethics Board became active in late 2013, after the indictment of CEO Burrell Ellis. For 2014, the budget was $215,000, but only $71,000 was spent. Recently, the board imposed a public reprimand on a county commissioner, which is the first such action the board has taken in over a decade.

As a disclaimer, I will note that I am supporting Ernst for Mayor of Brookhaven, where Mrs. GaPundit and I make our home.

Also a net winner is DeKalb County Solicitor Sherry Boston. Her office was dinged over a single $175 payment that the investigators questioned, but the additional ammunition her campaign for DA picks up against her opponent, incumbent District Attorney Robert James far outweighs that small negative.

While it would be premature for the LaVista Hills and Tucker cityhood movements to take a victory lap, their prospects of passage have been enhanced by the widespread corruption uncovered at the county.

In closing for today, let me say this. Some of the allegations in the report include truly small change – a $6 charge by the Fleet Management Department stands out. But corruption is like termites in your home. No single insect does much damage, as a $6 charge is tiny compared to a county operations budget that exceeds $1 billion per year. But the cumulative damages of thousands of insects doing a little damage can undermine your home’s foundation. The cumulative effect of many tiny acts of corruption and incompetence similarly undermines public trust in their government, especially elected leaders.

In this context, the $800k cost of the investigation is less than one-tenth of one percent of the current year’s county budget of $1.33 billion. That’s like paying $120 to have a termite inspection on a $200,000 house. If you suspect something’s going on, better to find out now and start treatment than to continue burying your head in the sand.

Brookhaven Mayoral Race

Yesterday, the AJC Political Insider profiled Dale Boone, the professional competitive eater who is also running for Mayor of Brookhaven.

Donald Trump has shown us how celebrity can vault you into the upper reaches of American politics. Boone may be about to learn how fickle that power can be.

“I’m not a competitive eater. I’m the defending world champion. There’s a huge difference. I’m the top one,” the 49-year-old Boone said.

Over Labor Day weekend, Boone won a hotdog-eating contest on Tybee Island. “That was a good-bye wave. Everyone was upset and crying,” the big man said. Boone has promised to give up his profession should he win on Nov. 3.

“I can be your full-time mayor at part-time pay. I’ll get this thing straightened out,” Boone said. Fighting crime and establishing an independent city school system are on his agenda.



Adoptable Georgia Dogs for October 1, 2015

In September, the “Fall in Love” free adoptions at DeKalb Animal Services and Fulton Animal Services resulted in many successful adoptions, but they continue to take in between 20 and 40 animals per day. So, they’re extending the free adoptions through the month of October. Here are a few of the dogs looking for new homes.


Graham is a 9-month old, 38-pound Black Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services. He’s already neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to go home.

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.

Bernie Lomax

Bernie and Lomax are a pair of small male Labrador Retriever mixes who are available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services.


Fiona is an adult female Flat-Coated Retriever mix who is available for adoption at Fulton County Animal Services.


The Full Bowers Report on DeKalb County

Click below to download.

Dekalb County Bowers Report


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 30, 2015

Wyoming adopted the first state constitution to allow women to vote on September 30, 1889.

In fall of 1863, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the second woman in the United States to graduate medical school, traveled to the Chattanooga area to treat soldiers wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Despite her degree, at First Manassas she was only allowed to serve as a nurse. Eventually she became an unpaid volunteer field surgeon for the Union army and served on front line battlefields for nearly two years.

In fall of 1863, in response to the dire medical needs, she was transferred to a Union hospital in Chattanooga.  Finally, in September 1863, her relentless perseverance paid off, and she was awarded a commission as a “Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)” with the Union Army of the Cumberland. It was technically a civilian, not a military, position, but she did receive compensation. A few months later she was appointed a civilian contract assistant surgeon for the 52nd Ohio Infantry, a Union regiment wintering in Chattanooga.

Though she had been a civilian contractor, Walker was recognized as the first-ever female U.S. Army Surgeon. In November 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a bill awarding her the highest U.S. Armed Forces decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. The citation stated that she had “devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health.  She had also endured hardships as a prisoner of war for four months in a Southern prison.”

Walker remains today the only woman, and one of only eight civilians, ever awarded the Medal of Honor.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke in favor of Women’s Suffrage in an address to Congress on September 30, 1918. The bill to pass the 19th Amendment would die in the Senate that year after passing the House.

On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season.

On September 30, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter led the Harris Poll for President over President Gerald Ford by a 50-41 margin. In November 1976, the popular vote tallied 50.08% for Carter to 48.01% for Ford, with an Independent taking nearly a point.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The best news I’ve heard all morning isn’t really news in the traditional sense, but came in the form of an email informing me that Amazon Prime Now has expanded to offer same-day delivery in my area.

Former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr (Smyrna) has joined the Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign as Chair of “Liberty Leaders for Cruz.”

In a statement, Barr said that Cruz understands the oath of office is a “solemn commitment” to act in accordance with the Constitution.

“Which is after all, the mechanism whereby our individual and collective freedoms as a country are secured. It is that commitment to the Constitution and to Liberty that has drawn me to serve Sen. Cruz,” Barr said.

Add State Rep. Brad Raffensperger to the list of supporters for the Georgia campaign of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams has dropped out of the November 3d election after her husband, Dick Williams, fell and broke his leg and required hip replacement.

Williams, who was appointed Mayor when former Mayor J. Max Davis resigned to run for a vacant seat in the State House of Representatives, was finishing the unexpired portion of Davis’ term and qualified to run for Mayor on her own, seeking election to a four-year term. But Williams’ campaign had gotten off to a slow start while she recovered from kidney surgery, and had to make funeral arrangements for her mother, who passed away in August.

Williams said she would not be able to care for her husband and carry out her duties as Mayor while running a campaign.

“My first priority is to take care of my family, especially my husband of 36 years,” Williams said. “I have responsibilities as the Mayor that I will not set aside. That means that campaigning would become the lowest priority, and I owe my supporters more than that. If I can’t make my campaign my first priority, I can’t really ask voters and supporters to do so. That’s why I’m ending my campaign.”

Williams had notified the city clerk of withdrawing from the race, but it was unclear at press time whether her name would still appear on ballots for the Nov. 3 election. An official with the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office said that ballots were being printed this week in anticipation of mailing absentee ballots and the start of early voting on Oct. 12.

The Brookhaven Post was able to catch up with John Ernst, one of two remaining candidates in the Brookhaven Mayor’s race.

“I spoke with Mayor Williams for a couple of hours yesterday and got the news about her withdrawal from the race,” Ernst told The Post. “I wish her husband a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the Georgia Gang soon. Mayor Williams has had a distinguished career in public service as one of the founding members of our City and the Editor of the Dunwoody Crier. I look forward to continue working with Rebecca and everyone to make Brookhaven better.”

With Williams pulling out of the race, that leaves attorney John Ernst and competitive eater Dale Boone as the remaining Candidates. This development also negates any possibility of a run-off.

On November 3rd, 2015 Brookhaven will, in fact, elect a new Mayor.

Republican DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester endorsed John Ernst after Williams dropped out.

Jester said in a release, “I first met John Ernst when he served as Chairman of the DeKalb County Ethics Board. Under his leadership, the Board became functional again and handed down its first conviction against an elected official in 15 years.”

Jester says she is endorsing John Ernst for Mayor of Brookhaven “because his experience and leadership make him uniquely qualified to keep up the good work in DeKalb’s newest city while providing the highest level of ethics, accountability, and value-added for the voters.”

“With three generations of his family – his parents, his wife and him, and their two young sons – living in Brookhaven,” Jester adds, “John Ernst is fully-invested in Brookhaven’s success for all its residents.”

Jester went on to say that her family’s prayers are with Dick Williams, who she says has has done so much for the citizens of Dunwoody and DeKalb County and with his wife and current Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams. “We wish them a speedy and full recovery and look forward to seeing them both.”

Did you catch where it says, “competitive eater Dale Boone”? The candidate for Brookhaven Mayor is one of the most interesting candidates not named after our favorite breakfast food. Here’s his logo:

Dale Boone Logo Large

That’s clearly a shooting star trailing bacon behind it. Is this the result of the popularity of Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon’s bacon-themed campaign?

The bio page on Dale Boone’s website barely notes his distinguished career as a competitive eater. So, we turned to that compendium of true facts, Wikipedia for the skinny. Among the highlights of his professional competitive eating career:

In July 2006, Boone took part in the Memphis Rib Eating Championship and emerged as victor.

Boone went on to receive the title of Perry Krystal Champ by finishing, in eight minutes, thirty-seven Krystals.

In May 2009, Boone captured the winner’s title at the inaugural World Donut Eating Championship at Bangalore, India, organised by Donut Baker.

Boone holds a total of 52 world records. Some of them are records for eating hot dogs, including having eaten ten hot dogs in two minutes and fifty-five seconds. He has also set a world record for eating twenty-eight reindeer sausages in twelve minutes. His second world record of finishing two hundred and seventy-four Russian dumplings (pelmeni) in six minutes was included in a compilation by Bleacher Report, titled “Top 10 Unbreakable and Disgusting Competitive Eating Records”. His win at the 2009 Indian donut eating contest earned him another world record for chowing down forty-four doughnuts in twelve minutes.Boone is the reigning World Champion of the World League Of Competitive Eating (WLOCE), HQ in Bangalore, India.

That’s three dozen donuts in six minutes across three rounds of competition. We are in awe.

Presidential News

Lamborghini Diablo 4

If I were looking for a reason to support Donald Trump for President, I might have found it in this: he once owned a bright blue Lamborghini Diablo Roadster and branded it with a Donald Trump plaque. The car is now for sale with an asking price of $299k. In the article about the Diablo, Lamborghini of Atlanta was cited.

I put a call in to Ed Bolian, head of sales for Lamborghini of Atlanta and the man who inherited the Cannonball Runrecord from me. Bolian’s as honest and earnest as a Lamborghini dealer can be, and I trust his judgment. He’s discreet about his politics, so I figured he’d be objective in appraising the car’s value.

“It’s probably worth $175k to 180k,” he said, “but you have to ask at least $100k more than you’ll accept. Anyway, Trump’s ownership doesn’t really add anything, because pretty much anyone who bought a Diablo back then was a celebrity.”

Orange Lamborghini Diablo 10192014

Both of the photos above are Lamborghini Diablo VTs that I photographed in Atlanta. As far as I know, neither was ever owned by Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, October 14th, Dr. Ben Carson will appear in Atlanta at a fundraising reception at Cobb Galleria. For $2700 you get a Photo Op and VIP Reception at 6 PM and will be listed as a Host. A thousand dollars gets you the VIP reception and photo and for $500 you get into the general reception at 6 PM.

With a previously announced event in Gainesville on October 11th, we wonder if Dr. Carson will be spending several days in Atlanta next month.