Almost a year ago, I stood next to my wife Bonnie, put my hand on my Father’s Bible, and swore to uphold the Constitution and represent the people of Georgia in the United States Senate. This is a role I never imagined, but one I take very seriously.
To emphasize the magnitude of this responsibility, I held my first staff meeting at the National Archives—home of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We reflected deeply on the role of our federal government and the need to hold it accountable to the people we represent.
I came to the Senate with a sense of urgency to make a difference. In my first weeks, I sponsored three bills that would help put in place a system that is more representative of Georgia’s priorities, including a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, a Fair Tax system, and term limits legislation. But as a businessman with no political experience, it immediately became clear to me that Washington’s budget process is broken. It has only worked four times in the last forty years. In the real world, this would have been fixed long ago. Continue Reading..
Dogs allocated to the program, which is based in Newnan, are put through rigorous testing and assessments to qualify as training candidates. The dogs admitted must possess the following characteristics: self-confidence, soundness, high food drive, sociability and adaptability.
The USDA accepts shelter dogs who fit the specific behavior profile to create a large group of detector dog candidates. The dogs accepted into the program are trained to detect pests and diseases on agricultural products.
Former Cherokee animal shelter dogs Bo and Kirby, both beagles, and Dutton, a chocolate lab, are all waiting for handlers/trainers to be assigned to them to carry out their official duties
“We don’t advise cooking with the water, showering or bathing,” said Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health at the North Georgia Health District in Dalton.
Unlike public water systems, wells are easily contaminated.
“Bacteria, viruses, chemicals, even manure from farms. When (wells) are covered with flood waters, most of them get contaminated, one way or another,” King explained.
While homeowners with contaminated flooded wells can still flush their toilets, King advises them to buy their drinking water. Any food touched by flood waters should also be tossed in the trash.
Homeowners with flooded wells should use bleach to disinfect it, and wait at least 8 hours before flushing the system. Water samples should then be dropped off at a public health lab for testing to determine if the well is safe to drink.
“We’re not saying everybody who drinks a contaminated well is going to get sick, but we’re especially concerned about small children and people with compromised immune systems,” King said.
Oconee County officials were asking people along Briar Lakes Court to evacuate their homes Tuesday evening due to the possibility of a dam failing on one of three lakes in the subdivision located off Mars Hill Road near Georgia Highway 316.
If the dam fails, it will cut off access to homes along the dead-end street, according to Oconee County Fire Rescue and the county’s public works department. There are approximately nine homes along the street.
“Residents on Briar Lakes Court are encouraged to leave now or risk being trapped in their homes,” the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page. Other homes in the subdivision are not in any danger, according to the post.
The good folks at Country Livin’ Pet Rescue have found themselves in a bit of a financial pickle, with veterinary bills piling up. A dog who has come down with Parvo is expensive, whether it be for a rescue group or a family. There are three ways you can help this fine organization:
3. Phone the vet, Happy Tails, at 678-963-5004 and make a credit card payment to donate toward the bills of Country Livin’.
Folks are sometimes surprised at what seems like high fees to adopt a mutt through a rescue group. But you’re not just paying for “a dog,” you’re paying to support the rescue that gave their blood, sweat, tears, and money to save the dog who suddenly broke with parvo or the dog who came into a public shelter with a broken leg and had no one else to save their lives. This is especially true with smaller rescue groups.
Veterinarians often offer credit and reduced rates to rescue groups, but the bills can pile up fast, and a single canine illness can threaten a group’s ability to continue its mission. It’s not too late to be a Christmas miracle for someone.
Coco is a sweet little (6lb) Chihuahua who found herself being taken to a kill shelter after becoming pregnant. It wasn’t Coco’s fault her family didn’t have her spayed, yet she almost paid the ultimate price. Coco is housebroken, crate trained and gets along with other dogs. Cats – not so much Like many Chihuahua’s, Coco has a slight heart murmur but that doesn’t keep her down. Her favorites things to do are to sit in your lap, go for rides in the car and go for long walks. Coco is estimated at 2 – 3 years old and she is available for adoption from Country Livin’ Pet Rescue in Metro Atlanta.
Gunnar is a beautiful 1-year old blue merle male aussie. He is young and playful, but can be shy meeting new people. Gunnar is great with other dogs, good with kids and good with cats. He is a very cool dude that is looking for his own family. Gunnar doesn’t understand why he doesn’t have his own family and is hoping someone will adopt him soon so he can bond with them and have someone to go on walks with, play ball with, etc. Could you be that person? Gunnar is available for adoption from Country Livin’ Pet Rescue in Metro Atlanta.
Lola is a super fun-loving 10-12 month old German Shepherd Dog mix girl. She is crate trained, housebroke, and tons of fun! She knows sit, down, shake and is working on other commands. She loves to play with other dogs or people, likes toys, and gives kisses. She has a scar on one side of her face that we aren’t quite sure how she got, but it is all healed up now. She is a sweet young girl that needs a chance! Lola is available for adoption from Country Livin’ Pet Rescue in Metro Atlanta.
State Representative Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) on the need for House Bill 713, which would prevent rapists who impregnate their victims from claiming parental rights to prevent prosecution.
Lobbyists are often denigrated by candidates seeking office and by citizens who think they wield too much influence. The best lobbyists wield whatever influence they have by providing timely, accurate information about the businesses, industries, or nonprofit groups they represent. Especially in highly-technical areas, or those involving the interaction of federal laws and programs with state law, they can help solve problems and challenges faced by state and local governments.Continue Reading..
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.”