County, mayors agree on six-year SPLOST | www.ajc.com

There seems to be consensus among Cobb County commissioners and the mayors in the county’s six cities on putting a six-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum in front of voters Nov. 4.

Cobb Chairman Tim Lee called a special meeting between the commission and mayors Friday morning. No official vote was taken or needed, but Lee asked the mayors if anyone objected to the six-year sales tax referendum and no one objected. The tax would raise $750 million.

“All assumptions are that this SPLOST would be six years,” Lee said. “Unless I hear otherwise, I’ll continue with that assumption.”

via County, mayors agree on six-year SPLOST | www.ajc.com.

Georgia Right to Life announces new national organization, endorsements | Gwinnett Daily Post

Georgia Right to Life is creating a new national affiliate, three months after losing its connection to National Right to Life.

The Gwinnett-based group’s president Daniel Becker announced the formation of the National Personhood Alliance, “a confederation of faith-based, pro-life organizations and leaders who believe pursuing Personhood is essential to protecting all innocent human beings in the 21st century.”

“The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups,” Becker said. “The general consensus of many in the movement is that it’s time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be ‘standard-bearers’ as opposed to ‘king-makers.’ This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today.”

Becker said, “There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill.”

A press release said the organization will become official at an October convention in Atlanta, with representatives from existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country invited to attend.

“The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old,” Becker said. “From its inception in the late 1960s, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

via Georgia Right to Life announces new national organization, endorsements | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Settlement reached in Snellville mayor vs. council trial | Gwinnett Daily Post

Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz will appoint a new city clerk and City Manager Butch Sanders will keep his job, according to a settlement reached Friday evening between the mayor and city council.

Both the council and mayor described the compromise as a win but said it may do little to repair internal struggles that lead to the lawsuit after the council approved a new contract with the city manager over Kautz’s objections and Kautz appointed a new city clerk without council’s approval.

“We’ve got some mending to do,” Kautz said. “We’re going to take it from this day forward. … This settlement is worth it to save the taxpayers’ money,” she said of the possibility of thousands of dollars in appeals costs.

“We’re glad it’s over,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, who said he was disheartened by the “collateral damage” of the case in the loss of Melisa Arnold, a 24-year employee who resigned as the city clerk during the first week of the trial.

“This time the city ate one of its own,” said attorney Laurel Henderson, who said Arnold has not yet decided if she will sue. “She has been absolutely destroyed by the experience. … I think she has been very poorly served by her employer.”

via Settlement reached in Snellville mayor vs. council trial | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Why Google, AT&T fast Internet might skip your city | www.myajc.com

If you live in one of 18 metro Atlanta cities, Internet connections 100 times faster than most American homes have may be coming your way soon.

Government officials and community activists are confused about how candidate cities were selected. They worry that unpicked cities will suffer more than bruised egos, becoming less competitive for jobs and residents. And some are looking for other ways to get fast fiber.

Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said the company first choose promising metro areas with a drive for technology and fast network connections. Then, within each area, its primary driver was to focus on the core city and the closest communities. An area’s income or racial makeup “didn’t play a role at all,” she told the AJC.

Fiber expansion is costly and will take years to complete, Wandres said. “We had to draw the line somewhere.”

“What about us?” asks Elmer Veith, who lives in a newly annexed portion of Chamblee, which isn’t on Google’s list.

But Brookhaven, which is across the street from Veith’s neighborhood, is. So is Sandy Springs, much of which is outside the Perimeter, unlike Chamblee.

via Why Google, AT&T fast Internet might skip your city | www.myajc.com.

Negative ads air again in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — A new batch of ads attacking both of the Senate Republican candidates are on the air, living up to predictions that the runoff would be heated and negative.

Jack Kingston and David Perdue are under attack by separate ads that try to paint each as less conservative than the other. And both camps complain of deliberate distortions.

The ad aimed at Perdue hammers on the theme of higher taxes. It says Perdue wants to raise them, including a sales tax on all online purchases, while Kingston “has never voted to raise our taxes. Never.”

At the same time, Kingston is being hit with a spot attacking his career in Congress for spending “our tax dollars on thousands of wasteful earmarks, all while voting to raise his own pay seven times.” He also voted repeatedly with the House leadership in raising the debt ceiling. “Jack’s 22 years of liberal spending has to stop,” an announcer intones.

The ad attacking Perdue is only airing in on Atlanta television stations because Kingston’s ability to take three out of every four votes counted May 20 in East and South Georgia shows he doesn’t need much help there. It was conceived and paid for by a political action committee called Southern Conservatives Fund which is prohibited by law from coordinating messages with Kingston’s campaign, and it’s the only television advertising on his behalf right now, notes Eric Johnson, a former Savannah legislator and gubernatorial candidate who speaks for the PAC.

via Negative ads air again in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com.

New civil rights museum also explores human rights | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — A new museum about the history of civil rights opens next week in Atlanta, the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was based. But the National Center for Civil and Human Rights also explores other human rights struggles, from women’s rights and LGBT issues to immigration and child labor.

The museum devotes separate galleries to modern human rights issues and the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, but also demonstrates how the struggles are related. Visitors learn through interactive exhibits and stories of real people.

New civil rights museum also explores human rights | savannahnow.com.

Only one state has hiked tuition more than Georgia | savannahnow.com

Only one state has jacked up tuition and fee costs for college students more than Georgia did in the five-year period from 2008 to 2013, according to a recent study conducted by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Net tuition and fees for students in Georgia’s public colleges and universities nearly doubled in that time, noted the “State Higher Education Finance” report issued by the nationwide nonprofit association of higher education chief executive officers.

Only in New Mexico, where net tuition and fees rose a remarkable 188 percent, did state officials shift the cost of college from government to students more than legislators in Georgia. Here, net tuition revenue per student went up by 93 percent as legislators cut education appropriations and reduced the value of the HOPE Scholarship many students depend on for college expenses.

via Only one state has hiked tuition more than Georgia | savannahnow.com.

Gov. Deal calls opponent ‘opportunist’ on education policy | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal denied Thursday he boosted education spending in the new state budget to win votes in his re-election as state Sen. Jason Carter charges.

The budget was approved by the legislature in March for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Republican governor said it was the Democratic challenger who plays politics by voting for all of Deal’s budgets until this year.

“Every single year I have been governor, we’ve increased the education funding, and the first three years Jason Carter has saw fit to vote for my budgets that included those increases in K-12 funding,” Deal told reporters. “Only in this year when he decided he wanted to be governor, which included the largest single restoration of K-12 funding, did he vote against it. I think the conclusion is pretty clear: that is a political statement on his part.”

Deal is responding to ads and stump speeches by Carter accusing the incumbent of cutting the state education budget more than any Georgia governor.

“There are a lot of politicians who say they care about education in election years. Then they cut education every other year,” Carter says in one ad. “It’s like Nathan Deal. Gov. Deal shorted our schools billions of dollars and cut HOPE Scholarships, while taking care of his big corporate friends.”

Spending on K-12 education has increased, even in years when weak tax collections prompted Deal to cut spending in other parts of the budget. But that growth hasn’t kept pace with funding formulas in state law, which is what Carter describes as a “cut.”

via Gov. Deal calls opponent ‘opportunist’ on education policy | savannahnow.com.