Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 10, 2014

Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850, following the death of President Zachary Taylor.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Kemp reporting turnout numbers, plus a closer look

Secretary of State Brian Kemp appears to have begun reporting daily vote totals for early voting in the Primary Runoff Election. From yesterday’s release:

General statewide turnout
Number of ballots cast: 51,659
Number of ballots voted in person: 34,452
Number of mail-in ballots returned: 17,207
Number of mail-in ballots outstanding: 16,927
Number of ballots cast, Republican: 38,052
Number of ballots cast, Democratic: 13,365
Number of ballots cast, Nonpartisan: 242

Top 5 counties with highest turnout
DeKalb: 2,802
Cobb: 2,781
Chatham: 1,994
Fulton: 1,947

Gwinnett: 1,936

One of the races I’m watching closely is the election for Sheriff of DeKalb County. Because Tom Brown resigned to run, unsuccessfully, for Congress, this year’s contest is an open seat and all primary voters can vote, regardless of which party’s ballot they pick up.

Jim Galloway has written about the runoff election in his Political Insider blog:

It is all but certain that Republicans will pick the next Democratic sheriff of DeKalb County. Which means the winner isn’t likely to be Vernon Jones, the former DeKalb CEO, but interim incumbent Jeff Mann.

This is an officially sanctioned case of crossover voting. Because Sheriff Tom Brown resigned mid-term, to make his unsuccessful Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, state law required a quick, special election to replace him.

Special elections are non-partisan, giving GOP voters a rare opportunity to insert themselves into an argument that would otherwise be settled within the confines of a Democratic primary.

A first vote on May 20, held concurrent with party primaries, winnowed a field of eight down to Mann and Jones. Democratic ballots cast in DeKalb County that day out-numbered Republican ones by 3-to-1. That dynamic will change in next month’s runoff.

So how does that look today? Here’s a breakdown by gender, race, and party of early votes cast in DeKalb County as of yesterday’s Absentee Voter File.

DeKalb Runoff Votes by Gender
Female       1716      61.24%
Male          1086      38.76%

DeKalb Runoff Votes by Party
Democratic     1917     68.42%
Republican       865     30.87%
Non-partisan      20          <1%

DeKalb Runoff Votes by Race
Asian/Pac. Islander           7            <1%
Black, not Hispanic     1366       48.75%
Hispanic                           9            <1%
Other                                8           <1%
Unknown                        60        2.14%
White, not Hispanic     1352       48.25%

Senate Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement Documents?

Yesterday, I noted about Bob Barr’s questioning of Barry Loudermilk at the Acworth Business Association’s Candidate Forum,

The “other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money” that the AJC saw fit to omit included a payment of $80,000 by the state (that means your taxpayer dollars) to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit by a woman who worked in the office that Barry Loudermilk shared with another state Senator.

One of the questions raised over the last three years about the lawsuit and its settlement was what the allegations were that led to the suit. I received via email the following documents that purport to be related to the settlement.

1. Settlement agreement in the lawsuit

2. EEOC Charges

I cannot testify to their authenticity, but they look authentic to me. One issue I would raise is that the EEOC document was in the form of a Microsoft Word document, which can easily be maniupulated, changed, or made up completely. In fact, I made two modifications myself: I redacted the home phone number and home address of the complainant.

I suspect we’ll be reading more about this issue in the coming days.

[Disclaimer: I am working for Bob Barr's campaign. Make of it what you will.]

State GOP sued for alleged discrimination

Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a story about a lawsuit filed by a former employee of the Georgia Republican Party.

A former Georgia GOP employee has sued the party and claims she was discriminated against because she is black.

Qiana Keith of Hall County says in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta, that she overheard co-workers refer to her as the “house (racial slur),” showed her disrespect and humiliated her.

The suit claims that Keith was fired after complaining to her superiors about her co-workers’ behavior and seeks damages and lost wages under the federal Civil Rights Act.

Officials with the Georgia Republican Party did not return calls for comment. Anne Lewis, the Republican Party’s attorney, said, Keith was fired for “consistently poor job performance.”

Lewis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a statement. “We immediately undertook a full investigation of those claims and found that there was no merit to any of them. The party and Chairman Padgett will vigorously defend themselves in court against these completely unfounded claims.”

Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog at the AJC included a copy of the lawsuit filing.

I am reserving any personal judgment until more facts, including a response by the GAGOP are available, but for now, having read the complaint and the story, here’s my takeaway.

1. If the alleged behavior complained about actually occurred, some of it is appalling, some of it sounds like ordinary office politics. Ordinary office hostility may sound racially-based if you already believe that there is racial tension within a workplace. But fighting over parking spots is hardly unheard of in everyday work situations.

2. The complainant will have a credibility issue based on a prior felony conviction, which is noted in the complaint.

3.  As this is only a complaint right now, it amounts to a “he said” without the other party’s reply.

Beyond the documents, this is my thinking:

1. I know John Padgett, GAGOP Chair and most of the staff personally and have never witnessed anything to give credence to any allegations of racial animus by any of them.

2. The GAGOP is making serious efforts to reach out to African-American voters on a scale I have not see in 20 years in professional politics.

3. It is possible that this lawsuit has political overtones in light of the GAGOP’s outreach to African-American voters.

4. The law firm representing the plaintiff also represented former State Ethics Commission Executive Secretary Stacey Kalbermann in her lawsuit against the state, for which they were paid in excess of $424,000.

Either way, you’ll be hearing and reading a lot about this in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols on EPA overreach

Time Echols, a Republican member of the Georgia Public Service Commission has written an Op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about recent EPA actions.

When I was a kid, we sang a song in Sunday school about the wise man building his house upon the rock. The second verse was about the foolish man building his house upon the sand. I think the president’s energy policy advisers are building that second house, and their latest efforts will do little more than cost our country billions.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the long-awaited policy on carbon dioxide at existing power plants across the country. I spent a weekend reading and posting on social media the most egregious parts of the document. As an energy official for Georgia, I should advise you to open a new savings account, because this EPA rule is going to hurt.

It is not completely clear the EPA can actually implement a carbon policy. Remember, the president was unable to get his “cap and trade” policy through Congress, and that was all about carbon. I also believe this “reduction” in carbon approach goes well beyond what the Clean Air Act intended, which was originally designed to regulate power plants, not set energy policy.

Climate talk” is en vogue right now and is receiving unprecedented media coverage. That doesn’t give the EPA the right to exceed its authority. Historically, the EPA has focused on the power plant itself and little else. Until Congress expressly authorizes it to do so, the EPA has no business impacting energy efficiency, solar and even the power plants we get to turn on.

I’m not sure even Congress can rein in this agency at this point in our country’s development. Here’s hoping for a very big wave.

 A response on Jody Hice at the CD-10 Debate

Mr. Charles Lewis of Hall County wrote me back yesterday in reply to what I wrote about Jody Hice’s statement at the Tenth District debate that:

“Government has every reason not to restrict and suppress religion and Christianity but to embrace it, and promote it, and allow it to flourish. For therein, and only therein, is an environment in which limited state government can exist in our lives.”

Mr. Lewis wrote:

I have not been following the Political race between Mr. Hice and Mr Collins because I’m not in their district.

I am a Christian and a Conservative also and I take issue with your response.  I’m not privy to the longer response that you mentioned, but I believe you are interpreting Mr. Hice’s comment incorrectly.  You seem to be interpreting that Mr. Hice is advocating big government and government intervention in our lives, and I believe he is saying that the founding fathers based our government on a faith based system founded on the Judeo-Christian beliefs that can only work correctly when operated within the confines given us by our faith and the teachings of the bible.  What I see is wrong with our government is that the reliance on faith has been removed from our government beginning with the removal of prayer in schools, continuing with Rowe vs Wade and continues today with the removal of God from every facet of government.  I believe we elect members of Congress without regard to consideration of their faith or lack of it.  Congress seems to be turning us away from the faith based foundations of government our founding fathers intended.  We need to bring God back into our government!

I whole heartedly agree with your comment that “Government is an inefficient tool for solving social and cultural problems”, but I don’t think that is what Mr. Hice is advocating.

He is correct in the context he gives Mr. Hice’s comments – I apologize that I haven’t been able to transcribe more of them, to give you some of the context of what Mr. Hice actually said, but a tight work schedule has prevented that. I’ll do my best to get you more either tomorrow or Monday.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for July 10, 2014

Tatum

Tatum is an adult male Shepherd mix. Tatum is a very playful and athletic boy. He loves to play ball, gets along with other dogs and would make a great family pet. He desperately wants to find a forever home but would be thankful also for a foster. Please call David Butler 404-597-7948 for info.

Tatum is available for adoption from Second Chance Animal Rescue and Adoptions in Roswell, Ga.

Freddie

Freddie is an eight-year old male Yellow Lab described as happy, well behaved and simply the sweetest BFF kinda pal anyone could ever have. Freddie will do best in a calm household. He loves kids, but gets over-stimulated in loud, active environments. Although he has lived in a foster home with other dogs, he’s not good at meeting new dogs while on-leash.

Freddie is available for adoption from Atlanta Dog Squad in Roswell, Ga.

Vinnie

Vinnie is an adult Golden Retriever, respectful with other dogs and he gets along well with the female resident Golden in my foster home. His foster Mom says I’m a dream on the leash, well-behaved in the house and housetrained. He’s very smart too and a quick learner.

Vinnie suffers from severe separation anxiety and thunder phobia and his foster family is working on ways to manage my anxiety. Because of his anxieties, Vinne will need a fenced yard. He would like to be with my family most of the time and when they are gone he would love to have a dog companion to keep me company.

Vinnie is available for adoption from Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta in Roswell, Ga.

Woodall to Chair Republican Study Committee

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA-07) issued the following statement regarding being selected as incoming Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of the most conservative Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Following former Chairman Steve Scalise’s departure to serve as Majority Whip, the RSC has chosen Woodall to serve as Chairman until the regular committee elections later this year. The committee’s leadership will officially transition to Woodall on July 16.

“It is both humbling and exciting to have the opportunity to lead this fantastic group of individuals committed to advancing conservative principles,” said Woodall.
(more…)

EBT participation grows at Forsyth Farmers Market | savannahnow.com

Participation in Forsyth Farmers Market’s program for people receiving EBT, or food stamps, grew for a fifth straight year in 2013, and sales this year are on track to match that, according to its latest figures.

Teri Schell, coordinator of the market, said SNAP/EBT sales totaled $31,190 last year, a 38 percent increase from 2012’s sales of $22,466.

With assistance from the nonprofit group Wholesome Wave Georgia, Forsyth Farmers Market doubles up to $60 for customers using SNAP/EBT, meaning for 2013, including matching funds, those on supplemental assistance had a total purchasing power of $62,381.

“That means over $62,000 in good food to our neighbors, but also $62,000 in our vendors’ pockets and (money) that stays within our local economy,” said Schell.

Forsyth started its double-value token program just a few months after opening in 2009 and has seen participation increase mostly through word of mouth. Forsyth Market had the highest redemption rate for SNAP at a single farmers market in Georgia in 2013, and they’ve consistently ranked in the top two since its inception.

“Every year we’ve gotten significantly better, doubling and tripling in some years,” said Schell.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, is the nation’s largest domestic food assistance program for low-income Americans.

In Chatham County, 49,102 people were receiving SNAP benefits as of May 2014, according to the state Department of Human Services, and nearly 20 percent of the county, including seniors and children, lack ready access to nearby grocery stores to buy fresh, healthy and affordable food.

via EBT participation grows at Forsyth Farmers Market | savannahnow.com.

Injured landfill eagle lands safely at Oatland Island | savannahnow.com

Found at a landfill in Savannah, Wassaw the bald eagle was a mess when she came to Oatland Island Wildlife Center in May.

A broken wing had healed improperly. She couldn’t fly.

And her former residence gave her a certain stench.

“When she came in she smelled like a landfill,” Mailler said. “We cleaned her up with some wet towels and when she was in quarantine (for a month before display) we misted her.”

Wassaw, who’s named for the nearby barrier island, still wears her solid brown juvenile plumage, a signal she’s not yet 3 years old. She’ll gradually grow into her adult coloring with the iconic white head and tail. But for now, her juvenile plumage makes it easier for the adults in her new digs to accept her as not threatening.

“It’s gone fairly well,” Mailler said. There hasn’t been any fighting but there has been occupying of space.

via Injured landfill eagle lands safely at Oatland Island | savannahnow.com.

Patriotism, pat downs, pensions become topics in GOP runoff | savannahnow.com

ATLANTA — Republican runoff opponents Bob Johnson and Buddy Carter found new sources of mud to fling at one another after the Independence Day holiday as they contend for the First District congressional nomination.

Carter’s campaign resurrected comments Johnson made in a pair of forums in October and February in which the Savannah surgeon argued congressional pensions should be paired with term limits to discourage career politicians.

“I would make sure that at the end of 12 years, if you have 12-year term limits, you would get a generous pension so that you would get the heck out of Dodge and go back home,” Johnson said in a forum at Brunswick High School. Four months earlier in Savannah, he said the $42,000 annual pension available after 10 years in office “is not an outrageous compensation.”

Carter argues now is not the time to call for boosting the pension, especially when it’s already more than the median income of most counties in the district.

“Everyday citizens are dipping into their retirement to put food on the table, and Bob wants to raise the pension,” said Carter, a pharmacist who didn’t participate in the state pension as a legislator and donated his salary when mayor of Pooler.

Johnson’s spokeswoman, Maria Jeffrey, wouldn’t say if Johnson was critical of Jack Kingston, Newt Gingrich and Nathan Deal, Republicans who all represented Georgia more than 12 years in Congress, nor did she say what pensions Johnson receives or would accept.

“The response is this: Dr. Bob supports the ultimate retirement plan for career politicians — term limits, a concept Buddy Carter vehemently opposes,” she wrote in an email.

via Patriotism, pat downs, pensions become topics in GOP runoff | savannahnow.com.

Jason Carter out-raises Nathan Deal in latest fundraising report | Political Insider blog

Democrat Jason Carter’s campaign was hoping to stay in the ballpark against Gov. Nathan Deal’s donor network. Instead, the Atlanta state senator outpaced the Republican incumbent’s fundraising machine in the three months between April and June.

Deal’s campaign said Tuesday it raised $1.27 million in the second quarter and has $2.6 million in cash on hand going into the final four or so months ahead of the November election. Carter’s camp raised more than $2 million in the same timeframe and has $1.8 million in the bank.

The surprising results will be hard for Deal’s camp to spin, one reason they were likely released so late on Tuesday evening. The campaign noted, though, that 92 percent of its donors came from within the state. A Democratic source said about 70 percent of Carter’s supporters were in-state. We’ll be able to crunch the numbers when we get the full reports.

For Carter, the fundraising numbers prove his network can hold its own – and then some – against the governor’s team. With help from his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, the Atlanta Democrat has tapped a rich vein of donors who believe in his chances in November, or are at least willing to hedge their bets.

via Jason Carter out-raises Nathan Deal in latest fundraising report | Political Insider blog.

Barr, Loudermilk clash in lively forum | www.ajc.com

Barr, a former congressman from Smyrna, questioned Loudermilk, a former state senator from Cassville, about why he copyrighted an educational video about the Constitution that was paid for by the Georgia Department of Education. Called “It’s My Constitution,” the film features Loudermilk and his family and is aimed at educating school children.

“Are you willing now to come forward tonight — with a degree of transparency that you seem to hold very high when you talk about these issues — and tell the voters what you are hiding with regard to your lack of transparency on these and other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money,” Barr said on the stage at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw.

Loudermilk said he has never made any money on the film and that it was copyrighted to protect its content.

“Well, Bob, you even surprise me with those accusations because there is absolutely no truth to any of those and I think you know the truth regarding those,” Loudermilk said. “The state owns the video. It is free for everyone. You can go to YouTube and see it.”

Loudermilk then took aim at Barr for endorsing Holder for attorney general in 2009.

“Bob, can you explain why you penned a very glowing letter of endorsement that helped Eric Holder become the attorney general of the United States?” Loudermilk asked.

Barr pointed out that he has since called for Holder’s resignation because he “has enabled this president through his inaction and through providing legal opinions to the White House… to continue violating the law.”

“So rather than focus on the letter, why don’t we focus on the things that Eric Holder has done in office that have led me to believe that he needs to resign and for which I have called for repeatedly,” Barr said. “Maybe you would like to join me.”

via Barr, Loudermilk clash in lively forum | www.ajc.com.

Ex-Fulton elections chief sues county | www.ajc.com

A fired former Fulton County elections chief is suing the county, claiming in a lawsuit filed Monday that her dismissal was, in part, retaliation for refusing to participate in a cover up.

Sharon Mitchell was interim director over Fulton County elections in 2012 when, according to a state investigation, confusion over registrations caused long wait times for voters. She was fired last year after an internal audit and a state investigation both determined the office was inept in its handling of the vote that included the 2012 presidential election.

That day thousands of Fulton County voters were forced to cast provisional ballots when they could have cast a regular ballot. Some were told — incorrectly — that they couldn’t vote at all. Others simply gave up after spending hours in line.

Mitchell, in her lawsuit, claims she brought the election office’s deficiencies to the attention of county leaders and instead of fixing them they chose to conceal them. The lawsuit also says the county hired unqualified election consultants for partisan reasons, “wasting public resources.”

via Ex-Fulton elections chief sues county | www.ajc.com.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Lee moves BRT project to second SPLOST tier

MARIETTA — The proposed bus rapid transit project has been moved down on the priority list of projects in the county’s 2016 special purpose local option sales tax wish list, a decision made by Commission Chairman Tim Lee.

Lee also originated the idea of BRT, a bus transit line that would start in Acworth and continue south to the Midtown MARTA station.

Since the BRT proposal is now listed as a “Tier 2” project, it can only be funded if SPLOST generates revenue more than the budgeted $750 million, and would still require board approval.

“Tier 1” projects are the first to be funded with SPLOST money. An example on the county’s wish list of a “Tier 1” project is improvements to Windy Hill Road.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Lee moves BRT project to second SPLOST tier.

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