The blog.

28
Dec

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for December 28, 2015

Nala

Nala is a pit/dalmatian? mix, about 4-5 months old, albino white with a few brown spots. She is completely deaf but very playful, going through crate and leash training and housebroken( almost),  just needs lots of attention.  Nala is a great pup, getting better on a leash, and is adapting well to crate training.Current on all shots and is negative for heart-worm. She’s in a foster home but needs a new foster home or forever home as soon as possible. If you’re interested in helping her, email me directly and I’ll put you in touch with her foster.

Everly

Everly is a 16-pound, year-old female Manchester Terrier & Dachshund Mix who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

I was picked up as a stray and taken to a noisy animal shelter. I huddled in a corner until one of the shelter workers took me into her office and gave me some TLC. That was just what I needed! Then the lady from Ruffus Rescue came to get me and I’m very grateful for that. She says I’m very sweet and she really loves me. You will, too!

Bernie

Barney is a 50-pound, year-old St. Bernard and Collie mix male who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

I got out of my yard and ended up at the shelter in a rural area. They tried to get me back to my humans, but no one ever came for me and then they moved. I’m a friendly doggie, so Ruffus Rescue took me in, even though I’m bigger than most of the others in their group. That’s fine with me ’cause I get along with everyone. I like to take walks with my foster Mom and I don’t even pull on the leash. All in all, I’m a very good boy and I think I’d be a great family dog!

Mrs. GaPundit and I met this guy over the Christmas weekend, and he’s an absolutely great dog who will make a fine best friend and lifelong companion for a lucky individual or family.

April

April is a 1-1/2 year old, 35-pound Beagle mix female who is available for adoption from Ruffus Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

I was found wandering in a rural area, so animal control took me to their shelter. I was afraid I wouldn’t get out, but I was happy when Ruffus Rescue took me into their group. I have lots of energy for walks and play (like chasing squirrels), and it would be great to have a fenced yard, but I can also be calm, quiet and cuddly in the house once I feel at home. I love people and I like other doggies once I get to know them. Please give me a chance to show you!

She’s a sweet dog on the small side of medium. She’s a little reserved at first but is a real sweetheart.

28
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 28, 2015

Georgia History

Legislation creating the city of Columbus, GA was signed on December 24, 1827.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia on December 28, 1856 and moved to Augusta, Georgia with his family a few years later. Wilson would later practice law in Atlanta, marry Ellen Axson of Rome, Georgia, and serve as President of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Recently, Princeton University debated removing Wilson’s name from campus.

The Kimball Opera House in Atlanta, a former location of the State Capitol, caught fire on December 27, 1894 and was destroyed.

On December 29, 1896, Georgia Governor William Y. Atkinson signed legislation creating the state Schoolbook Commission.

On December 26, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt watched a private viewing of Gone With the Wind at the White House.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

February 1, 2016 is the voter registration deadline to be eligible for voting in the 2016 Presidential Primary on March 1, called the “SEC Primary.”

Franklin Graham will hold a Prayer Rally at the Georgia State Capitol in Liberty Plaza on February 10, 2016 at Noon. As it happens, that’s nineteen days before Georgians go to the polls in the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary.

NPR has a piece on the organizational efforts put into Southern states like Georgia that will vote on March 1st.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is making a big bet on building a strong organization outside the four early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The idea is to pick up a strong lead in delegates needed to secure the nomination when 14 states, mostly in the South, vote on March 1 in the so-called SEC primary.

One of the places Cruz is trying that strategy out in is Tennessee, where he’ll stop on Tuesday, part of a multiday tour of states voting on March 1.

“So as those other candidates fall off, where do the Carson people go? A lot of them are evangelical and they’re going to go to Cruz. The Huckabee, the Santorum, lot of those folks, I think, are going to gravitate to Cruz as you move ahead,” said Gill.

While Politico writes about the competition between Cruz and Trump for Southern votes.

The battle for the South has settled into a race between two candidates, and neither is Marco Rubio.

In interviews with more than two dozen party officials, political operatives and activists, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were repeatedly named as front-runners and likely winners in one of the most conservative regions of the country. Both contenders draw huge crowds and appeal to large swaths of middle- and lower-income white Republican Southerners, who are deeply angry with Washington.

Cruz has Trump, and the rest of the field, beat on organization, but Trump still lures the bigger audiences. And there is an increasing acknowledgment, even among the Republican elite, that the billionaire real estate developer has a committed base here, some of whom are likely voters and not the political celebrity gawkers many mainstream GOP operatives have guessed.

But the feeling on the ground is that Cruz has the momentum with conservative activists and that there’s some true support behind Trump’s high poll numbers, much as many party stalwarts wish otherwise. And while Rubio is generating considerable interest among more centrist Republican voters, he’s being squeezed not just on the right by Cruz but in the moderate lane by Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

“Rubio’s got a lot of names, prominent elected officials; he’s the establishment darling right now,” said Chris Brown, a Birmingham, Alabama, consultant who is backing Bush. “But that is not contributing to rank-and-file voters. They are more Cruz-oriented.”

Large parts of Georgia are flooded by El Nino rains. On Christmas Eve, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens Counties in North Georgia.

The other flood worth watching out for is prefiled legislation for the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, which convenes on January 11th.

[S]tate Rep. Brad Raffensperger filed one proposal that would, if it should become law, set being registered to vote in Georgia as a requirement for anyone elected or appointed to any local or state public office. The same measure would require anyone elected or appointed to a public body in the state be a legal resident of Georgia.

Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek, is an engineer elected in special balloting earlier this year after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed House District 50 incumbent Lynne Riley as the state’s revenue commissioner.

In another measure he prefiled for possible consideration in the upcoming legislative session, the metro Atlanta legislator proposes requiring anyone “appointed to serve on an authority, school district, commission, council, or board for a local governing body … [be] …. a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the jurisdiction being served for one year immediately preceding such appointment.” That same bill would mandate that no one who is not a U.S. citizen, and who has not lived in the state for at least four years, could be appointed to serve on any state “authority, board, council or commission.”

Raffensperger’s prefiled proposals came just days after state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, prefiled a proposal calling for a statewide referendum on amending the state constitution to make English the official language of the state of Georgia.

Among other legislation prefiled in recent days is a proposal from Sen. Michael “Doc” Rhett, a Marietta Democrat, that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone involved in divorce proceedings to attempt to purchase a firearm, unless the person has written permission from the judge presiding over the case. In Georgia, misdemeanors are punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

Also on the 2016 Agenda will be fighting over the public schools funding formula.

The Education Reform Commission, which has more than 30 members, recently completed its work and passed its report to Gov. Nathan Deal. One of the key parts of the commission’s report was a new funding formula to replace the three-decade old Quality Basic Education formula.

“At its outset, I charged the commission with providing recommendations to improve education, increase access to early learning programs, recruit and retain high-quality instructors and expand school options for students and families,” Deal said in a statement earlier this month. “I look forward to reviewing their recommendations as to how we might achieve these goals.”

Former University of Georgia President Charles Knapp, who chaired the commission, said the report responds to the governor’s charge and provides bold recommendations that will better prepare students for life and the workforce.

The formula includes a quarter of a billion dollars of additional “new money” allocated for K-12, a 3 percent jump from this year’s budget, which was more than $8 billion. Under the current formula, the state salary schedule is based on years of experience and education degrees. The new proposal would require each school system to have its own schedule, while the state would offer a template including minimum requirements. Pay for performance being on the table has drawn some criticism from teachers’ advocacy groups as Deal has favored at least a portion of salaries be based on performance.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC takes a look at this year’s Savannah elections for Mayor and City Council.

Edna Jackson, the city’s first black female leader, became the first incumbent mayor defeated here in 20 years, beaten by a conservative business owner. Two other black female contenders for the City Council were rejected by voters. They, too, fell to a pair of graying, white candidates.

That’s a seismic electoral shift in a city with a population that’s 55 percent black — minority voters who typically overwhelmingly support Democrats in Georgia — and hadn’t elected a Republican-leaning mayor since 1991. Sea change, indeed.

If national elections are typically about the economy, Savannah contests have long revolved around public safety. And the incoming mayor, Eddie DeLoach, capitalized on concerns about crime to build a new coalition he hopes will endure.

Crime rates that had leveled off during Jackson’s first three years in office soared in 2015. The number of homicides nearly doubled over the past year, making it Savannah’s bloodiest since 1991, and violent crime grew by more than 20 percent.

DeLoach pounced on those concerns. At the first debate, when asked to name the city’s top three challenges, he answered succinctly: crime, crime and crime. He vowed to fill the number of vacancies in the Police Department — at one point, the number had swelled to 100 openings — and pledged to hire 15 additional officers to a new violent crime unit.

Michelle Hall will run for a Hall County State Court seat being vacated by Chief Judge Charles S. Wynne, who is retiring at the end of his term.

 

22
Dec

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for December 22, 2015

Washington0503

Number 0503 is an 8-year old Pointer mix who came into the shelter when his owner died. He is heartworm positive and is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Washington0504

Number 504 is a sweet older (8+) hound girl whose owner died. She is heartworm positive and is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Calla

Calla is a 4.5-to-5-year old Labrador and Terrier mix girl who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Calla is approximately 3.5-4 years old.  She came to our shelter in June 2012 after being picked up as an under weight stray. For the past 3 years she has been overlooked at our shelter due to shyness and preferring the safety of her doghouse. Two months ago, some local high school students began coming to the shelter to help with dogs. Calla’s life changed.  She now realizes that people can be good and give lots of love.  She spends time out of her doghouse so she can get attention from people. She is still shy and loud noises bother her, but she has come such a long way.  She is a sweet, loving girl who deserves a home with a family who will spoil her.

Cobb County Animal Shelter is holding adoption specials to help dogs and cats find their new homes for the holidays.

Just in time for the holidays, the shelter is hoping to add a four-legged member to Cobb families with its Home for the Holidays pet adoption event where all dogs and cats are available for $60.

In addition to the holiday special, today and Wednesday, the shelter staff is waiving its adoption fees so people can add a new pet to their family for free.

In an effort to provide the animals with a better life at the shelter, Cobb Animal Control is selling pet calendars featuring shelter animals for a $15 donation.

Dog adoptions include vaccines, rabies shots, deworming, spay and neutering, and a heartworm check.

Cat adoptions include vaccines, rabies shots, deworming, spay and neutering, and a FIV/FLEV test.

22
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 22, 2015

Georgia and American History

James Edward Oglethorpe was born in London, England, on December 22, 1696. He was elected to Parliament, where he worked on prison reform and had the idea of a new colony where “worthy poor” Brits could be sent. In 1732, Oglethorpe was granted a charter to create a colony of Georgia in the new world.

On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered on December 22, 1808 in Vienna, Austria.

Governor George Gilmer signed legislation that prohibited teaching slaves or free African-Americans to read or write on December 22, 1829.

Martha Bulloch and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. were married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia on December 22, 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. would later be elected President of the United States.

On December 22, 1864, General William T. Sherman wired to President Abraham Lincoln from Savannah, Georgia,

His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

W.T. Sherman,
Major General.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Donald J. Trump campaign has opened an office in Cobb County. From a visit by WSB-TV,

Walk through the doors of the brand new Georgia campaign office for Trump and there’s no mistaking where you are: a golden bust of Trump donated by a Georgia artist.

“I’ve been supporting Trump probably since he announced,” [campaign volunteer Erik] Johnson said. “I like what he stands for, I do believe he can bring our country back.”

Critics say one of Trump’s weaknesses is his ground game. Jeanne Seaver is Trump’s grassroots coordinator and she disagrees. She says his message is resonating because of the gridlock in Washington.

“They totally threw us under the bus, they made promises and they’re not keeping them,” Seaver said.

Trump’s state director, Brandon Phillips, says they’re serious about Georgia.

“We’re a very well organized campaign, we’re very serious about Georgia, particularly the south,” Phillips said.

“I’ll tell you the pressure is actually off because we don’t have to go around chasing donors for one, that’s nice. Energy level from the supporters is remarkable, really is unbelievable,” Phillips said.

CNN dinged the Ted Cruz campaign for not focusing enough on SEC football tailgates.

“There’s a heavy evangelical base down there and they think his focus on those states sets him apart,” said Mattingly. “There’s not a lot of time after those early states to really refocus and rejigger your team. Ted Cruz is already there.”

“One problem with his strategy though: Jeb Bush probably had the best way of doing this — going to SEC football games. That’s where you should focus. It’s not where Ted Cruz is focused but his team is down there and in full effect right now.”

The latest offering from Right to Rise USA, supporting Jeb Bush.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has dropped out suspended his campaign for President.

Graham’s bid, which never cracked 1 percent in primary polls, locked up an unusual amount of elite support. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), his closest friend in the Senate, immediately endorsed Graham and campaigned with him throughout New Hampshire. Scores of South Carolina donors, who might have otherwise jumped to higher-polling candidates, stayed on Graham’s team out of loyalty — and on the chance that his moderate campaign broke through.

“I think we all owe him a debt of gratitude,” said David Wilkins, the South Carolina chairman of Graham’s finance committee, who served as ambassador to Canada under George W. Bush. “His decision frees up a lot of very strong Lindsey Graham supporters here to make new endorsements, but it’s too soon for me. This is Lindsey’s day.”

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) will not rejoin Governor Deal’s Floor Leader team for the 2016 Session, which begins January 11.

State Rep. Allen Peake was appointed to the role only a few months ago. Being a governor’s floor leader involves helping carry the chief executive’s legislation through the House. It also involves staying on the same policy page with the governor.

However, the two disagree on Peake’s No. 1 priority. The Macon Republican is the Legislature’s chief cheerleader for medical cannabis and authored this year’s new state law that allows possession of certain liquid medical marijuana. Now he wants in-state cultivation and manufacture of the liquid.

Deal is not willing to go that far and has said he is not confident that Georgia can control a medical marijuana industry.

Peake, who owns several restaurants, said he is stepping aside because of the business obligations of opening three new restaurants next year and a “passionate desire” to move forward with cultivation legislation.

He said Deal deserves someone totally focused on his agenda, and “I look forward to supporting his initiatives in the House this next session, when I can.”

The “Opportunity School District” Constitutional Amendment on next November’s General Election Ballot will have some vocal opposition, according to the AJC.

At a Capitol press conference Thursday, Clarke County Superintendent Philip Lanoue, the national superintendent of the year, laid out the basics of the appeal to voters to reject the state-takeover plan.

“We need to help you build your community around your school and we can do that outside the Opportunity School District,” he said. “But if you vote this in, what you’ve said is that you’re giving the responsibility to educate your children to someone else.”

In November 2016, Georgians will vote on authorizing the Opportunity School District. The proposed change would allow the state to take over “failing” schools and close them, run them or convert them to charter schools.

“Choice and greater accountability are very weak levers to sustain success across all schools,” said Warren Simmons, executive director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and a Southern Education Foundation board member. The groups released a report Thursday outlining alternatives to the state takeover plan and analyzing the performance of similar state-supervised districts in other states.

“We are presenting an alternative vision for Georgia’s citizens and lawmakers that includes input from actual classroom teachers, the practitioners, and proven research-based alternatives,” said Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators. “We feel these options would be more successful in addressing and influencing the actual underlying causes of low academic achievement.”

Floyd County will have a passel of elections this year, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The first election on the calendar is the presidential preference primary, set to take place on March 1. Voters will choose who they want as the Democratic or Republican presidential candidates.

Voters must be registered by Feb. 1. Advanced voting will begin Feb. 8 and end Feb. 26.

A general primary election will be held on May 24, with the registration deadline on April 26.

The Floyd County district attorney, two Floyd County Commission seats, Floyd County Sheriff, state House and Senate seats and U.S. House seats will be among those up for election.

Advanced voting for this election will begin on May 2 and end on May 20.

If needed, a general primary runoff will be held July 26.

Advanced voting for the runoff would begin on July 5 and end on July 22, if needed.

The general election will be Nov. 8. Voters have to be registered to vote by at least Oct. 11. Advanced voting will begin on Oct. 17 and end on Nov. 4.

Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson and two City Council members were sworn in Monday night.

Brookhaven’s new Mayor, the third in its three-year history, and the second elected by the voters, will be sworn in on January 4, 2014.

 The City of Brookhaven will swear in Mayor-Elect John Ernst, Jr. during a ceremony to be held at City Hall.

The Honorable Mike Jacobs will administer the Oath of Office.

Ernst was elected in November when he defeated challenger Dale Boone 87% to 13%.

The event will be held at 10:30 AM, January 4, 2016 at City Hall located at 4362 Peachtree Rd.

 

21
Dec

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for December 21, 2015

This week, many shelters and rescue groups across Georgia will offer free or reduced cost adoptions in order to clear the shelters for the holiday.

Gwinnett County is discounting all dog and cat adoptions this month to $20 to pay for spay and neuter.

Gwinnett December

Gwinnett Boxer Girl

This beautiful baby female Boxer mix is among the dogs adoptable for $20 from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Metro Savannah Animal Control and Coastal Pet Rescue have both discounted all cat adoption to $12 through December 23d.

Barrow County Animal Control has discounted all dog and cat adoptions to $15 through December 31.

Barrow Golden Retriever

This handsome 3-4 year old Golden Retriever is among the dogs that can be adopted for $15 fully vetted and microchipped from Barrow County Animal Control.

Angels Scout

Angels Among Us is discounting all Chihuahuas, Seniors, and those dogs that have been in foster home for more than a year. Scout is a 65-pound adult male Lab mix who is eligible for discount adoption. He’s sweet, loving, and snuggly, but would be best in a home without small pets or kids.

21
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2015

Georgia History

On December 21, 1829, Georgia Governor George Gilmer signed legislation outlawing the teaching of African-Americans to read or write. One year later to the day, he signed legislation claiming for the state all territory occupied by the Cherokee tribe.

On December 21, 1835, Oglethorpe University was incorporated near Macon, later moving to Atlanta.

On December 21, 1863, the Confederate government selected a site in Sumter County for construction of Camp Sumter, which would be better known by the name Andersonville Prison.

General William Tecumseh Sherman received the surrender of Savannah, Georgia on December 21, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

With Christmas fast approaching, we’re happy to begin this morning with an uplifting story out of Douglas County, Georgia.

Douglas County Superior Court judge Beau McClain came up with a bold idea.

Let’s serve all the needy children in this community,” he proclaimed.

All of them. Toys for roughly 17,000 Douglas County children. With only about $60,000 in cash donations.

“We haven’t done a whole lot of fundraising,” remarked Judge McClain. “The money has just shown up.”

First, how do you find every needy child in Douglas County? Judge McClain started by asking the school system to identify every student who’s on free or reduced lunch. Because that information is private, organizers asked the school system to give those students a golden ticket and bring it to a special distribution spot this weekend, a ticket redeemable for at least one Christmas present.

Second, how to get the toys with little money on hand to buy them?

Turns out, almost all those presents were donated. They began arriving this summer, when Judge McClain received several pallets of slightly damaged toys from a friend.

But it was the only packaging that was damaged. The toys themselves were fine. And they were top-of-the-line toys like Star Wars action figures and Elmo. Judge McClain thought the box would make no difference to a happy kid.

“You know Christmas morning a child is going to tear that box apart to get to that toy and start playing with it.” Judge McClain pointed out.

Toys for Tots decided to make Operation Christmas the sole distributor in Douglas County. Operation Christmas wound up with plenty of toys, even more for the younger children.

“Kids from six down to infant are going to be amazed by what they wake up and see under the Christmas Tree on December 25. God showed up with incredible abundance and we have more than enough for everyone.”

Thanks to Judge McClain and all who gave their gifts, their time, and their treasure to make this happen.

On Friday morning at the Georgia State Capitol, Senator JaNice Van Ness was cermonially sworn-in to the state’s Senior chamber as the newest Senator, representing DeKalb, Newton, and Rockdale Counties. JaNice Van Ness Podium

Sen. Van Ness also recorded a brief video message for her constituents.

Larry Walker Ross Tolleson

Larry Walker, III was also at the Capitol and sworn-in as the new State Senator from District 20, succeeding Sen. Ross Tolleson, with whom he is pictured above.

Ted Cruz came to Georgia this weekend with stops in Kennesaw and Bloomingdale.

Cruz Inside 2

Cruz was accompanied by his wife, Heidi, and his two daughters.

Cruz Portrait Backdrop

Herman Cain was among the introductory speakers.

Herman Cain at Ted Cruz

Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal covered the Cruz appearance in Kennesaw.

With his wife and two daughters at his side, Cruz, decked out in a brown leather jacket, blue jeans and cowboy boots, spoke to a crowd estimated at 2,000, according to Scott Johnson of east Cobb, the campaign’s state grassroots co-chair.

Cruz spoke to reporters before he was introduced to the crowd by radio host Herman Cain, a former GOP presidential candidate.

“Our team we’ve got here in the great state of Georgia is incredible,” Cruz said. “And what we’re seeing here, what we’re seeing in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada and what we’re seeing all across the country is the old Reagan coalition coming back together.”

[Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing said,] “It confirms the fact that Cobb County is the strongest Republican county in the state of Georgia, and our candidates are coming here to talk to, particularly in these rallies, to the grassroots and to get the support of those voters here in Cobb County. They know this is where the base is.”

On Saturday Morning, the Cruz campaign held a rally at Ottawa Farms in Bloomingdale, which is in Chatham County.

Attendees included Savannah mayor-elect Eddie DeLoach, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, and former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who introduced Cruz.

The Texas senator began his town hall by listing the five things he plans to do on his first day in office and why his stop here is so important.

“Georgia is going to play a critical role in Super Tuesday and the so called SEC primary,” he said. “Georgia is going to help ensure that we as Republicans nominate a real conservative, a strong principled conservative to be president. …Our constitutional rights are under assault each and every day and America has receded from leadership. It has made the world a much more dangerous place.

“And yet I’m here with a word of hope, encouragement and exaltation. … The first thing I intend to do is rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by this president. President Obama is fond of saying he’s got a phone and he’s got a pen. You live by the pen. You die by the pen. And my pen has got an eraser.”

Cruz said he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood, end the country’s nuclear deal with Iran and end federal persecution of religious liberty.

Cruz said during a small news conference after his speech that he could see a role for fellow Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio in his administration, but he failed to elaborate what the role would be.

“Marco is a very talented leader,” he said. “Any Republican president would be a fool for the men and women standing on that debate stage not to comprise a substantial portion of their candidate, and I look forward to hopefully winning the nomination, winning the election and continuing to work with these extraordinary leaders from across the country.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC puts the Cruz campaign swing through Southern states in the larger context of the Presidential campaign’s race for delegates to the Republican National Convention.

As he tries to position himself as the alternative to Donald Trump over the likes of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other establishment favorites, the regional March 1 vote — known in these parts as the SEC primary — is the cornerstone of his strategy.

“I don’t know who did the calendar,” said Rick Tyler, a Cruz spokesman, “but it certainly benefits us.”

There are 565 delegates up for grabs March 1 in the first wave of primaries and caucuses held after the four early-voting contests in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Cruz’s home state of Texas has the most delegates at stake that day. The delegates are awarded proportionally instead of on a winner-takes-all basis, which means no candidate is likely to land a knockout blow.

But Cruz hopes to emerge from the vote as one of the last contenders standing. And his visit to Kennesaw on Friday — the third stop in a weeklong tour of cities voting March 1 — is aimed at consolidating his support in Georgia.

“We are so encouraged by what we’re seeing. The energy, the passion, the excitement we’re seeing on the ground is breathtaking,” said Cruz. “We’re seeing conservatives uniting, and that’s what it will take to win.”

To answer Rick Tyler’s question, credit for the prominence of Georgia and the South in this year’s presidential campaign goes largely to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Politico.com also ran a piece on Ted Cruz and his southern strategy for the GOP nomination.

He jets between stops in a charter plane, the crowds at his events line up in advance outside the doors and young attendees are treated to peppermint sticks and pictures with Santa.

It’s not quite the spectacle of the Donald Trump show, but as Ted Cruz barnstorms through his 12-day Southern swing he is producing his own series of campaign extravaganzas that befit his newfound status as Trump’s closest rival.

The differences between this tour and Cruz’s first major trip through the South — a summer bus tour in August — are manifest. The crowds are bigger this time and the events come with more bells and whistles, ranging from videos that feature endorsements from prominent conservative leaders to the heightened presence of lawmakers and party officials.

Back in August, as a middle-of-the-packer, Cruz’s stops at restaurants and in parking lots had an informal feel. Now, firmly ensconced in second place after Trump in national polls and leading in Iowa, Cruz holds elaborate and orderly gatherings marked by single-file lines to enter the venues, VIP lists and a robust security presence.

The Texas senator is now halfway through his 12-cities-in-12-days tour through many of the Southern states that vote on March 1 — states that Cruz is counting on to serve as a firewall. But looming large over Cruz’s splashy efforts is Trump, whose own rallies — particularly here in Alabama — have drawn huge crowds.

Cruz’s events this weekend were hardly on Trump’s scale. He had 1,300 at a Saturday event near Mobile, and around 1,500 packed into a civic center here, in this small town near Birmingham, on Sunday — large crowds for any candidate other than Trump, who drew roughly 20,000 people to Mobile in August.

Many of those in attendance at Cruz’s rallies were hopeful that the senator’s field organization and debate performances will keep him competitive in the region despite widespread interest in Trump, at least some of which, they contend, is due to the novelty factor of his candidacy rather than genuine support.

In Alabama and elsewhere in the South, Cruz has brought on board leading conservative activists and is organizing intensively on the ground, aggressively list-building at his rallies by encouraging attendees to text the word “liberty” to a number he provided.

Georgia Democrats were quick to link a single line in a 30-minute stump speech by Cruz to the spectre of racial segregation.

Party spokesman Michael Smith said the Republican presidential candidate’s remarks in Kennesaw Friday, in which he vowed to oppose granting illegal immigrants U.S. citizenship “today, tomorrow, forever,” is alarming and inexcusable.

“But to trot out that line in Georgia — the cradle of the civil rights movement — is downright detestable,” said Smith. “This kind of ugly, xenophobic throwback to a much darker time in Southern politics has no place in our discourse and certainly has no place in the state of Georgia.”

Of course, the whitest place in America on Saturday night was the debate stage for the Democratic Presidential nomination. And never mind that Cruz, along with Marco Rubio, is Hispanic, or that an African-American named Ben Carson and an Asian-American named Bobby Jindal were part of the GOP field.

If you’re a campaign enthusiast, the Washington Post has a great explainer on the issue between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over campaign data.

Congratulations to Gwinnett County native Mike Royal on being elected Chair of the Georgia State Board of Education. In Cherokee County, Dr. Brian Hightower will take over as the next Superintendent, replacing Dr. Frank Petruzielo beginning February 1, 2016.

18
Dec

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for December 18, 2015

Luke Manchester

Luke is a 14-year old Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Manchester Animal Control in Manchester, GA.

Luke was turned into the shelter because his owners said they didn’t have time for him anymore. He has been around small children and likes to play fetch. Luke lived his previous life on a chain and is ready to break free of that lifestyle!!

Golden Luke

Golden Luke is a 6-year old Golden/Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Ginny Millner Rescue Group in Atlanta, GA.

I’m a little shy, but all I need is a little love and some time.

I’d love your whole attention, but I’d be ok with another dog.

I was rescued off the streets where I lived for a long time. I’m still growing hair back from the mange I had really bad. I walk excellent on the lead, calm and would be great for someone who is less active.

LukeChi

Luke is a 1-year old, 4-pound Chihuahua who is available for adoption from Your New Best Friend Pet Rescue in Powder Springs, GA.

I’m full grown, crate trained, and ready for my foreverhome. It seems like it’s taking forever to find my forever home, and no one can believe it because I’m such a handsome guy, who loves to play.

I get along great with my other furry friends and I enjoy kids that are gentle with me. I can’t wait to find someone who will play with me and love me forever!

18
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 18, 2015

The British ship Mayflower landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620.

MayflowerHarbor

Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who founded Methodism, and one of the great hymn-writers, was born on December 18, 1707. Wesley accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1736.

The first national day of thanksgiving was observed on December 18, 1777 commemorating the American victory over the British at Saratoga the previous month.

Congress wrote, “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn THANKSGIVING and PRAISE; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor”.

On December 18, 1834, Governor William Lumpkin signed legislation chartering the Georgia Methodists Conference Manual Labor School at Oxford, Georgia, which would later become Emory College in 1836 and Emory University in 1915.

On December 18, 1865, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement verifying the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

The office of Superintendent of Public Education and Georgia Schools was created on December 18, 1866 when Gov. Charles Jenkins signed legislation passed by the General Assembly; on December 18, 1894, Gov. William Atkinson approved a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to make the State School Commissioner elected statewide.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If you’re heading to the Ted Cruz rally in Cobb County tonight, the time has changed – doors will now open at 6 PM and the program starts at 7 PM. Times for the Cruz event on Saturday in Bloomingdale, GA are unchanged.

Former Donald Trump staffer Seth Weathers has started a SuperPAC to support Trump turn out crazy unconventional voters.

Voters in Sumter County will decide whether to allow Sunday sales of alcohol at the same time they vote for President on March 1, 2016.

This morning at 10 AM, JaNice Van Ness will be sworn-in ceremonially at the Georgia State Capitol. Newsmax takes a look at the race, the first national media mention I’ve seen of it.

Republican JaNice Van Ness won a special election for the Georgia state Senate on Dec. 1. What’s remarkable is the district is heavily Democratic and gave Barack Obama 72 percent of its vote in 2012.

Coming in a district that is also roughly 56 percent black, the win of Rockdale County Commissioner Van Ness (who is white) was not only surprising but unique and even historic.

“If there is any national message here, I hope it will be that if people educate themselves on the issues, you can achieve change — and every vote counts,” said Van Ness, who won by a mere 84 votes out of more than 7,400 cast.

Van Ness (who was formerly Rockdale County GOP chairman) told me how she believed “if ever we had an chance to elect a conservative [to the Senate], it was in a special election. I also felt my involvement in the community with a diverse group of people would provide the outreach we needed to win.”

A small business owner and member of the Rockdale Baptist Church, Van Ness is unabashedly pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Second Amendment.

“And, as a 25-year member of our local Chamber of Commerce, I stressed how the unaffordable Affordable Care Act [the official name for Obamacare] was putting some serious challenges to the work of small business owners like me,” she added.

The Republican State Leadership Committee weighed in strongly for her.

“JaNice Van Ness’ special election win this month was the embodiment of the RSLC’s philosophy that a candidate makes a district competitive, not the other way around,” RSLC spokesperson Ellie Wallace told me, “Her victory in a district President Obama carried with 72 per cent of the vote proves that the candidate who shows voters the right ideas with the right experience to move that district in the right direction is the one who will prevail.”

17
Dec

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for December 17, 2015

Libby

Libby is an adult female German Shepherd who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Hulk

Hulk is an adult male Rottweiler mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

BB_Hab

B.B. is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

17
Dec

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 17, 2015

France formally recognized the United States as an independent nation on December 17, 1777.

General Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from his military district, which covered parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky on December 17, 1862. President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order.

President William McKinley visited Savannah, Georgia on December 17, 1898. While there, McKinley attended church at Wesley Monumental Methodist Church and visited Georgia Agricultural and Medical College (now Savannah State University) and the Seventh Army.

On December 17, 1902, legislation changed Georgia’s state flag changed to include the coat of arms on the blue band.

Flag_of_the_State_of_Georgia_(1902-1906).svg copy

On December 17, 1944, Major General Henry C. Pratt ordered the end of the imprisonment of American citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps.

WTBS began broadcasting under new call letters on December 17, 1976 and uplinked its programming to satellite to become “America’s Super Station.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Butch Teresa Miller FR

State Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) will continue to serve as Senior Floor Leader for Governor Nathan Deal, who is a constituent of Miller’s.

As a senior floor leader, Miller helps carry Deal’s legislative priorities through the Senate, sometimes presenting and defending the governor’s agenda as a kind of right-hand man.

Miller also is there to push back on legislation that Deal does not support.

Miller said that his role allows him to “peek behind the curtains” and better understand the political maneuverings and policy proposals that shape legislation.

Republican lawmakers are expected to push for lowering state income tax rates in favor of higher sales taxes; to consider changes to the funding formula for transportation projects; to debate whether to allow the in-state cultivation of medical cannabis oil; and how to reform public schools and boost the technical college system.

“Sen. Miller represents his constituents, of which the governor is one, with honesty and integrity,” Chris Riley, Deal’s chief of staff, said. “His conservative values and work ethic are well-known and admired by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The senator is a doer, not a follower, a characteristic that embodies the governor’s term in office.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has arranged free credit monitoring services for Georgia voters who were registered on October 13, 2015 or earlier. Full information on the range of services for voters whose data was inadvertently released may be found on the SOS website.

Linda Meigs, Mayor of Meigs, Georgia, may face a recall election.

Since Harris has been in office, she has been arrested for theft from the city and reportedly told police officers not to respond to certain calls after the city lost its insurance.

According to the city’s police chief, the elections commissioner in Meigs has received a petition for a mayoral recall with 165 signatures.

Only 116 were needed to hold the election. If the signatures are all verified, the election would be held May of 2016.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission had a busy week, issuing decisions in an investigation against former Insurance Commissioner and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine.

The state ethics commission handed colorful former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine a split decision Wednesday in his case alleging that he raised illegal contributions during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and spent money on races he never ran.

Citing the state’s statute of limitations, the panel dismissed complaints that Oxendine took 19 contributions that were over the legal limit during his 2010 race.

But the commission also decided to move ahead on charges that Oxendine spent more than $200,000 in 2010 runoff and general election contributions, despite the fact that he never ran those races. That keeps the complaint against Oxendine’s handling of his 2010 gubernatorial race alive and means it won’t be decided until 2016, at the earliest.

“It was kind of a mixed bag,” said Douglas Chalmers, Oxendine’s lawyer. Chalmers said Oxendine may appeal the commission’s ruling in Superior Court.

The Commission also took action in two other cases against elected officials.

The state’s ethics commission, formally known as the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, on Wednesday found probable cause that state Rep. Earnest G. Smith, an Augusta Democrat, violated various state laws in his handling of campaign cash.

A commission investigation found Smith committed 88 violations of campaign finance laws. Among them: Smith allegedly failed to disclose property he owned on personal financial disclosure reports and failed to report $7,503 in campaign contributions and $25,297 in campaign expenditures since December 2010.

Commission attorney Robert Lane said $19,256 of the unreported expenditures were checks made out to “cash,” and Smith has provided no receipts showing how the money was spent. Lane said the Attorney General’s Office should investigate to determine whether Smith used the money for personal instead of campaign purposes — a move that would amount to theft.

In a separate case, former Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph also could face a criminal investigation.

A commission investigation found 17 violations by Ralph, who left office in 2012. Among other things, the investigation found he deposited 107 campaign contributions totaling $68,025 into his personal bank accounts, failed to report or itemize $109,200 in contributions, and spent $88,000 on expenses that were not “ordinary and necessary” campaign costs.

For the record, making campaign checks out to cash is not a best practice for ethics reporting.

Hall Booth Smith will be the first new law firm to represent the Muscogee County School Board in 65 years.

It is one of the firms where lawyers from the school district’s current legal counsel, Hatcher, Stubbs, Land, Hollis & Rothschild, will work as of Jan. 1, when Hatcher Stubbs officially breaks up.

Hatcher Stubbs has been MCSD’s lone legal counsel in the 65-year history of the school district. The Hatcher Stubbs lawyers who have been doing the bulk of the legal work for MCSD, Greg Ellington, Melanie Slaton and Chuck Staples, are among those moving to Hall Booth.

Myers cited a board policy that says “legal counsel shall be appointed by the board,” but Lewis cited another board policy that says the appointment shall come “upon the recommendation of the superintendent.”

“Tonight, we finally have the chance to end the string of nearly seven decades of no-bid contracts when it comes to legal counsel,” Myers said. “I’m sorry for all you folks who thought I had a problem with Hatcher Stubbs. Tonight, you get to find out I didn’t. I have a problem with no-bid contracts generally, and I certainly have a problem with no-bid legal contracts. Back to this process, how can you come up with any other conclusion but that this was a rigged system, a rigged pick?”

Columbus City Council approved its first Tax Allocation District this week.

Columbus Council unanimously approved creating the city’s first Tax Allocation District. It will facilitate the creation of a Fort Benning Technology Park, in the hope of luring defense contractors, among others, to otherwise unused land near the main gate of the post.

A decision on three other TADS, one around the Liberty District, one in Uptown and one in the area between TSYS and Bibb City for the creation City Village, was put off until January.

Voting 9-0, with Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Turner-Pugh yet to arrive, councilors approved creating the district, but the resolution does not give the go-ahead to any development within it. That will have to be done by council later.

DeKalb County’s Good, Bad and Ugly

The City of Brookhaven celebrates its third birthday today, and next month will swear-in its third Mayor since incorporation on December 17, 2012.

CBS46 is reporting that former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones is considering a comeback bid.

Former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones attended the final county commission meeting of the year Tuesday, while interim CEO Lee May did not.

“I don’t know why the iCEO was not here. I can tell you this, that’s a big job. When I was here because of our form of government, I presided over the meetings so I had to be here. In fact, I went eight years and never missed a meeting,” Jones said.

While in office, Jones stirred up some controversy of his own. He was accused of excessive spending and was sued for racial discrimination. Still, the former CEO didn’t rule out the possibility of a return to politics and running for DeKalb County CEO.

“I think if Vernon wants to run again and he feels he has something to offer this county then he should do it,” DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said.

Commissioner Nancy Jester opposes the idea and said Jones put a down payment on some of the problems the county is facing today.

“I don’t think that he’s the right fit,” Jester said. “The cityhood movement was also something that I think people often times will say came from frustration in dealing with his administration.”

The DeKalb County Commission approved the creation of a Tax Allocation District related to the former GM Plant in Doraville, according to a report by the AJC’s Mark Niesse.

The DeKalb County Commission unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday to invest in the redevelopment of the shuttered General Motors factory in Doraville.

The commission’s action obligates a portion of future property tax growth to help pay for infastructure improvements, including a tunnel to the Doraville MARTA station and a street grid on the property.

Developers hope to transform the vacant 165-acre site, known as Assembly, into a vibrant mixed-use area that includes businesses, residential housing and parks.

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester released a video report on the Commission’s action and addresses the TAD approval.

At a recent event, Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) said that the success or failure of the GM site is the biggest economic development issue in DeKalb County. Millar cited the site as one of the most valuable development sites in the Southeast and said that the County government’s actions will determine whether DeKalb County has any major economic development going forward. I agree.

Peach State Presidential Politics

Texas Senator Ted Cruz opened what I believe is the first Georgia field office for a 2016 Presidential campaign yesterday.

His highly organized grassroots efforts are spreading in Georgia like wildfire, and he is now the first presidential candidate with a campaign headquarters established in Lowndes County. The office will open with a ribbon cutting Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 3 pm.

County Chairman Trey Taylor says, “Our nation is at a political crossroads. We cannot continue down the road we have traveled over the last several years. Leadership is what this nation needs, the kind of leadership Ted Cruz has shown his entire career. Championing conservative causes, fighting for religious liberty, our Second Amendment rights, preventing government overreach, and providing for a stronger, safer America. It is clear that Ted Cruz is a man called for this time in our history. We welcome all committed, compassionate conservatives to our cause.”

He views Georgia as essential in his effort to be named the GOP nominee in the coming election, and has made his presence known here, as has his wife, Heidi, who has spoken around the state just this month.

Cruz said recently, “Georgia is a crucial state to the 2016 election and I am looking forward to working alongside the stronghold of courageous conservatives who work tirelessly to defend conservative principles across the state.”

He spoke confidently of his leaders, saying, “The team we have put together has unparalleled experience running and winning campaigns at the grassroots level. I am honored and excited to have their enthusiastic support as we spread our message in Georgia and across the region.”

For signage or to find out how you can get involved at the local level, visit the campaign office at 2110 N. Patterson St. Stay up to date on local efforts by liking the Lowndes County for Ted Cruz, 2016 page on Facebook.

Campaigns & Elections magazine has an article suggesting that asking whether Republican campaigns in Iowa are not putting forth sufficient efforts in field work.

Consultants from both sides of the aisle are scratching their heads over the Republican presidential contenders’ field operations in Iowa.

Field organizing in the lead off caucuses is the industry’s gold standard, but Republicans this cycle are putting GRPs ahead of phone banks and canvassing. Some GOP consultants shrugged this off as a continuing trend while their Democratic counterparts believe it could be another edge they have in the race for the White House.

By stymying the development of well-rounded campaign staffers, the eventual nominee could be shorthanded when it comes to the general, argues Jeremy Bird, co-founder of 270 Strategies.

“The fact that none of them are serious about running a field organizing program in a race that’s wide open is very surprising to those of us who’ve seen how important that is — especially in a caucus state,” said Bird, who was the national field director for President Obama’s reelection campaign.

“You get a long-term reward from that early investment. But they’re not focused on building leadership, developing relationships and doing the hard, nitty-gritty work.”

Republican campaigns neglecting field in favor of TV is nothing new, according to Chris Turner, CEO of Stampede Consulting.

“Emphasis on television, it’s like, is the sky blue?,” said Turner. “A lot of consultants are good at television; they know television. They’re going to default to that business. There’s a lot of pain in our business for taking risks.”

The first negative political direct mail in the Presidential campaign is appearing in Hawkeye State mailboxes, according to Jonathan Martin of the New York Times.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jmartNYT/status/677184604374077440

The Cruz-Rubio dynamic appears to be growing more confrontational beyond the debate stage and campaign trail. Republicans in Iowa this week received their first piece of mail from a group run by backers of Mr. Rubio, criticizing Mr. Cruz for his vote to limit the National Security Agency’s metadata program. (Mr. Cruz has said an alternative program strengthened the country’s capacity to fight terrorism.)

“These men undermined our intelligence agencies’ ability to stop terrorist attacks,” the mailer read, below a photo of Mr. Cruz, Mr. Paul, President Obama and Senator Harry Reid.

Negative Mail Iowa Rubio copy

Peach State Economy

Yesterday, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler reported that unemployment declined in Georgia for November.

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November was 5.6 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 5.7 percent in October. The rate was 6.7 percent in November 2014.

“Our employers created 3,700 jobs in November, which helped push the unemployment rate down to its lowest point since March 2008,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

The number of jobs increased to 4,309,100, or 0.1 percent, from 4,305,400 in October. Much of the job growth came in professional and business services, 2,300; construction, 2,100; education and health services, 1,800; leisure and hospitality, 1,700; and manufacturing, 1,400. These gains were somewhat offset by losses in information services, government, financial activities, and trade, transportation and warehousing.

“Over the year, we added 92,900 jobs, which is a respectable 2.2 percent growth rate,” said Butler. “Georgia continues to grow jobs faster than the nation, which has a 1.9 percent growth rate.”