School systems expect financial hit from car tax changes | www.myajc.com.
Officials in some metro school systems don’t see the end of the “birthday tax” on vehicles as something to celebrate.
As they prepare budgets for the new fiscal year that starts July 1, they are forecasting that the law change could cost them hundred of thousands of dollars, if not millions, next year, and more down the road.
For example, officials in Gwinnett, the state’s largest school system, are projecting it will mean a net loss for them next year of $2.2 million to $4.2 million.
The law, which the legislature passed in 2012 and took effect March 1, requires new vehicle owners to pay a one-time, upfront title fee, currently 6.5 percent of the vehicle’s value, while owners of older cars continue to pay the annual tax. It also imposes the title fee on person-to-person vehicle sales and on out-of state vehicles being registered in Georgia.
via Georgia law conceals information on child deaths | www.myajc.com.
Georgia lawmakers said they were shining more light on the state’s care of abused and neglected children.
What they really did was just the opposite.
With near-unanimous votes, lawmakers in 2009 restored a cloak of secrecy that limits public scrutiny of the state’s child-welfare system. Many lawmakers apparently didn’t realize they had undermined two decades of transparency about the deaths of children in state care, and even the legislation’s sponsor now says it was a bad idea.
The change attracted little notice at the time. But it recently came into focus with news that 152 children died last year despite supervision by Georgia’s child protection agency. The deaths appear to have dramatically increased since 2011, although state officials say they cannot be certain that year’s count of 92 was correct.
via Despite long odds, Dalton mayor considers challenging Deal | www.myajc.com.
Dalton’s City Hall is an unlikely springboard to the state’s top office, but Mayor David Pennington seems eager to try his luck.
The conservative mayor has been stumping across Georgia threatening to bring a tea party-tinged challenge against Gov. Nathan Deal. He says he’ll abstain only if a challenger he views as better than him emerges, but that seems unlikely. Pennington is nothing if not confident in himself.
His quest for office — the word quixotic does come to mind — has ruffled feathers within his own party as he bashes the governor over ethics reform, health care spending, tax cuts and any other issue he thinks will gain traction on the right. His underlying message is that Democrats will return to power unless “true conservative” principles are embraced.
“Georgia will be devastated in the next recession. And by that point, the true liberals are going to say conservative principles have failed us,” he told a small crowd at a recent Forsyth County event. “But we haven’t had any conservative principles. We’ve had Republicans masquerading as conservatives. And if we don’t watch out, we’ll lose out.”
via Residents push for action on DeKalb shelter | www.myajc.com.
“There is a lot of politics going on, and in the meantime, there are animals dying,” said Sonali Saindane, a teacher from central DeKalb who heads the county’s animal services advisory board. “We need action.”
CEO Burrell Ellis and allies on the county’s commission put forward a plan last month that would speed up construction on a new facility advocates have argued is critical to reducing the number of unwanted pets in the county.
The plan: use $2.75 million in federal stimulus money to design and start construction of a shelter on five acres adjacent to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee.
A center is a key goal named in 2012 citizen task force report on DeKalb animal services. The report was especially damning about the existing shelter, calling the dilapidated building off Memorial Drive a “chamber of horrors” where humans and animals alike suffered amid bug infestations, mold and other problems.
Still, county officials expected a new shelter would be delayed until at least late 2014, in part because of struggles to find a large enough parcel with easy access.
Ben Carson and second thoughts on a hot GOP commodity | Political Insider | www.ajc.com.
In February, when neurosurgeon Ben Carson publicly lectured a stone-faced President Barack Obama on health care reform, the federal debt, and the biblical roots of the flat tax, Republicans thought they had witnessed the Second Coming.
Following his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson – an African-American and devout Seventh Day Adventist with an up-by-the-bootstraps message – was feted on every GOP platform possible, from Fox News to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Surely, many a Republican thought, a 2016 candidate for president had just revealed himself.
Eleven weeks and a large dose of political reality later, not even Carson is sure of that. Yes, the talk circuit beckons. He was in Atlanta on Thursday to address more than 500 Republicans in a Buckhead hotel ballroom.
Should we consider cutting off the Volunteer state’s supply of our most famous agricultural export?
via Vanessa Pinto: There Is Nothing Quite Like a Georgia Peach.
The Peach Truck is owned and operated by Stephen and Jessica Rose, a married couple who will be celebrating their one year anniversary this Summer and have embarked upon a new business that is all about peaches. The Roses met while working together in Las Vegas in 2010. Jessica hails from Seattle and Stephen is a good old Southern gent from Georgia. Through a few adventures, they both landed in Nashville, which they now call home. However, there was one problem: good peaches are hard to find. This was an issue for Mr. Rose. He was raised in peach orchards, enjoying them since he was knee high to a grasshopper.
I asked the Roses if they want The Peach Truck to be a household name — after all, they are a growing business with a following: “This is a funny question… I know when most people hear peaches, they think Georgia. So when they think peaches, and then Georgia, I hope they think about The Peach Truck and how whether near or far, they have an opportunity to make that cobbler or eat that peach and know it’s the best freshly picked peach just for you. We hope to bring that type of service to people in our hometown and far, far away. Summer is for peaches, and everyone needs that sweet treat on a hot day” says Mr. Rose.
Nashville has welcomed the Roses with open arms: “We love connecting with the good people all around us in Nashville and beyond. There is something so wonderful about sharing something you love with another person and we get to do that everyday. We have been showered with support in Nashville. There is an amazing group of entrepreneurs that are making awesome things happen all around them. We have been grateful for their help along the way and look forward to helping others as well” says Stephen Rose.
Bad news for Texas peach farmers may be good news for Georgia peach farmers.
via Hill Country peaches in short supply – San Antonio Express-News.
Hill Country peach lovers take note: Mother Nature’s fickle blasts of heat and cold took more than a bite out of this year’s crop.
Statewide, some three-fourths of the state’s leading deciduous fruit crop was destroyed by unseasonable winter warmth followed by an early spring cold snap, according to an April report by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
via Weather may cut Texas peach crop – Houston Chronicle.
Two-timing Texas weather could leave peach lovers feeling jilted this summer.
Growers say the prized summer crop could be barely a quarter of its normal size because of warmer-than-usual winter temperatures in the prime growing regions, followed by an ill-timed freeze that killed many fruit blossoms in their most vulnerable stage of life.
“We’ve definitely had some damage,” said Larry Stein, a Texas A&M University Agri-Life Extension horticulturist in Uvalde. “A lot of fruit has been lost, but there are still some peaches around.”
With the short supply, consumers could pay more when the peaches start showing up in late May, another AgriLife spokesman predicted.
via Peach crop verdict: ‘Fair at best’ – San Antonio Express-News.
FREDERICKSBURG — Damage from a late-season cold snap has turned what was anticipated to be a bumper peach crop into one now seen as “fair, at best,” Texas A&M Extension Fruit Specialist Jim Kamas said Friday.
COLLINS SIGNS LETTER TO FIX BACKLOG AT DEPT. OF VET AFFAIRS
Georgia Representative and Air Force Reservist calls on POTUS to address concerns for military servicemen and women
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), along with 26 other veteran members of Congress, has signed a letter calling for President Obama to review the extensive backlog of claims and procedural problems taking place within the Department of VeteransAffairs. Despite increased funding for the department since 2009, close to one million claims currently remain unprocessed. Collins, a Reservist, offered the following statement after sending the letter directly to President Obama:
“This is an issue I see day in and day out as a counselor of our airmen and women,” Collins said. “They are concerned with how their needs and the needs of their family members are going to be addressed by the VA. It sickens me to know this thought has become an ordinary reality for those risking their lives – both at home and abroad – in order to protect our freedoms. Whatever lingering procedural problems clearly exist within the department, Secretary Shinseki and President Obama owe it to our brave servicemen and women to see to it their claims are handled efficiently with the utmost care.”
The first paragraph of the letter reads:
“As military veterans and those actively serving in the Guard and Reserve, we are increasingly concerned with the many difficulties our fellow veterans are experiencing when filing compensation claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans of all generations deserve the highest quality care and timely delivery of services; and right now, the VA benefit delivery is putting America’s veterans at a disadvantage.”
Since 2002, Collins has served as a Chaplain in the United States Air Force Reserves, completing one combat tour in Iraq during the fall of 2008 into spring 2009.
via Congressman Doug Collins : Press Releases : COLLINS SIGNS LETTER TO FIX BACKLOG AT DEPT. OF VET AFFAIRS.