Jurors sympathize with alleged victim of DeKalb CEO Ellis | www.myajc.com

Jurors in the trial of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis nodded their heads and smiled in agreement Thursday with an upset businesswoman who recounted “demeaning” pressure from Ellis to give a campaign contribution.

Trina Shealey, the co-owner of National Property Institute, told jurors she believed Ellis was threatening to pull her company’s $1 million contract with the county unless she donated.

A defense attorney tried to get Shealey to concede that Ellis merely wanted the courtesy of a return phone call, but she insisted he was after one thing: campaign cash. She said Ellis wasn’t calling about the company’s contract to rehab foreclosed homes in Dekalb.

“It would be like the CEO of General Motors calling someone who works in one of the factories and telling them what to do,” she said. “There are so many layers between us and the CEO. There’s no reason for us to be talking to the CEO.”

Ellis has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he illegally mixed political activities with county business by intimidating companies that didn’t financially support his re-election in 2012. Ellis’ fight against extortion and bribery charges puts him at the center of metro Atlanta’s biggest corruption trial since former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was convicted in 2006.

via Jurors sympathize with alleged victim of DeKalb CEO Ellis | www.myajc.com.

Judge sides with Fulton in initial property tax ruling | www.myajc.com

A judge Thursday gave Fulton County a preliminary victory as it defends a 17 percent property tax increase from critics who say the county spends too much.

Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley did not rule the tax hike is legal. But he denied a request to stop Fulton from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes that six current and former state lawmakers owe because of the tax increase commissioners adopted last month.

The judge did not explain his ruling. But the decision could indicate Brantley thinks the county is more likely to prevail in the court battle over a state law that singles out Fulton County and caps its tax rate this year.

That’s a setback for the lawmakers, who asked the judge to prohibit the county from collecting the new taxes and to declare the tax hike illegal based on the law aimed at Fulton. And it means other Fulton taxpayers must pay higher taxes, at least for now.

via Judge sides with Fulton in initial property tax ruling | www.myajc.com.

Officials work to clear voter registration forms in Georgia | www.myajc.com

Election officials in Fulton and Muscogee counties — the two Georgia counties with the biggest number of pending voter applications — said Thursday they are working to clear thousands of registration forms turned in by the New Georgia Project ahead of the state’s Oct. 6 deadline.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, meanwhile, has begun to spot-check more than 51,000 applications the Democratic-backed group claims have languished in the system. It says dozens of those forms have been properly recorded and added to voter rolls.

Others, however, appear to be caught up in the state’s verification process — which in Georgia is handled by local elections officials in each county. Some of those officials said they are working hard to catch up with a “significant” increase in new voter applications before this year’s midterm elections.

That work will be front and-center in the remaining three weeks Georgians have to register, as a rare investigation launched last week by Secretary of State Brian Kemp continues.

State investigators said Wednesday they have confirmed 25 of those forms as forgeries. They labeled another 26 forms as “suspicious.” Their inquiry, which involves complaints from 13 counties, could take months to complete.

via Officials work to clear voter registration forms in Georgia | www.myajc.com.

Can you trust the unemployment rate? | www.myajc.com

To calculate the unemployment rate, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics takes samples of nearly 60,000 households. They are surveyed monthly for four consecutive months, left alone for eight months and then surveyed again monthly for the next four months.

That means that in each month, there are eight “rotation groups,” each of them intended to be representative of the population. The government then weights the groups to come up with an official unemployment rate.

So that weighting has a large effect on the result.

Krueger and his collaborators found that during the first half of 2014, the unemployment rate among people in the first month of being interviewed was 7.5 percent. However, for those in the final month of being interviewed, it was only 6.1 percent.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics weighted the first interview more heavily, so the official unemployment rate for this period was 6.5 percent.

via Can you trust the unemployment rate? | www.myajc.com.

2014 September 22 – First Draft. Political News, Now. – NYTimes.com

The quest by President Obama to put Michael P. Boggs – who supported the Confederate flag and opposed abortion – on the federal bench in Georgia is over.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, who leads the Judiciary Committee, told us it had become clear after talking to his colleagues that Mr. Boggs, under fire from Democrats for his conservative positions, could not win committee support.

Mr. Leahy signaled that Mr. Boggs should withdraw: “He doesn’t have the votes.”

Mr. Boggs earns the unusual distinction as the first Obama judicial nominee this term to fail because of Democratic opposition.

Nominated as part of a deal between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators to fill a half-dozen court vacancies, Mr. Boggs was opposed by civil rights and progressive groups. He was grilled by Democrats at a May confirmation hearing and pressed to answer additional questions in writing.

The situation was uncomfortable for Democrats, who did not want to defy the president but worried about alienating black voters they need this fall.

- Carl Hulse

via 2014 September 22 – First Draft. Political News, Now. – NYTimes.com.

The Hillary Letters | Washington Free Beacon

Previously unpublished correspondence between Hillary Clinton and the late left-wing organizer Saul Alinsky reveal new details about her relationship with the controversial Chicago activist and shed light on her early ideological development.

Clinton met with Alinsky several times in 1968 while writing a Wellesley college thesis about his theory of community organizing.

Clinton’s relationship with Alinsky, and her support for his philosophy, continued for several years after she entered Yale law school in 1969, two letters obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.

The letters obtained by the Free Beacon are part of the archives for the Industrial Areas Foundation, a training center for community organizers founded by Alinsky, which are housed at the University of Texas at Austin.

The letters also suggest that Alinsky, who died in 1972, had a deeper influence on Clinton’s early political views than previously known.

The Hillary Letters | Washington Free Beacon.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2014

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

1024px-Chickamauga

On September 20, 1863, the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg repelled Union forces under General William Rosencrans at the Battle of Chickamauga. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

800px-Cannon_Row Chickamauga

On September 21, 1863, the federal Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga after its defeat at Chickamauga.

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

On September 20, 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview with Jimmy Carter, then a candidate for President.

Bert Lance resigned as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter on September 21, 1977. After a jury acquitted him on ten federal charges in 1980, Lance served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia from 1982 to 1985.

General Colin Powell was confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 21. 1989. Powell served as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Powell was nominated by President George W. Bush as Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that post.

On September 20, 1992, Atlanta Braves David Justice, Brian Hunter, Ron Gant, and Mark Lemke hit home runs in the 6th inning of a 16-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

On September 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced on their website that they were quitting as a band.

Michelle Nunn, Deceptive Democrat Dinged on Truthiness

Michelle Nunn, whose makeover from nonprofit maven to Senate candidate is the most drastic we’ve ever seen, apparently went so far as to alter the story of her life, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politifact. (more…)

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for September 22, 2014

Freddie

Freddie is a Chocolate Lab mix who is available for adoption from Pet Friends in Chickamauga, Ga. Email [email protected] for more information.

Hanable

Hanable is a Yellow Lab mix who is available for adoption from Pet Friends in Chickamauga, Ga. Email [email protected] for more information.

Lola

Lola is a sweet Plott Hound who is available for adoption from Pet Friends in Chickamauga, Ga. Email [email protected] for more information.

Lulu

Lulu is a Plott Hound, and Lola’s sister; she is available for adoption from Pet Friends in Chickamauga, Ga. Email [email protected] for more information.

Doug Everett: Fighting Obamaphone Fraud Saves Millions

Doug Everett HeadshotIn 2012, I began raising the issue of “free” cell phones being handed out to individuals under the federal Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program, which was originally intended to provide low-cost landline phones to low-income households.

Because the cost of landline service has always exceeded the federal Lifeline subsidy, consumers have been required to pay between $5 and $10 out of pocket for discounted service. This “co-pay” served as a check on waste, fraud, and abuse.

However, certain cell phone providers began using the subsidy to distribute cheap handsets and provide a small allotment of minutes for “free.”

There is, of course, no free lunch. But the program exploded because a customer could not only get a free phone and free service from one Lifeline provider, he or she could also get a second phone from another provider, and so on. Taxpayers subsidized the cell phone bonanza to the tune of $9.25 per phone per month.

It was a win-win situation for the cell providers who were incentivized by the lack of oversight in the federal program to maximize the number of “free” phones they gave away, but it was lose-lose for taxpayers. It also meant there were fewer federal dollars available for the truly needy people for whom the program was originally intended.

Two problems allowed the abuse of the Lifeline program, turning it from a subsidy for landlines to allow low-income households to access emergency services into an “Obamaphone” giveaway celebrated in a now-notorious YouTube video. (more…)