The former chairman of the board of South Carolina State University was found guilty of most charges against him last week after a trial involving allegations of plans to bribe a DeKalb County official.
The federal jury on Thursday convicted Jonathan Pinson on 29 of 45 felony counts, including racketeering. Co-defendant Eric Robinson, who was Pinson’s business partner, was found not guilty on seven counts.
The judge in the case had previously thrown out two counts against them related to accusations that they tried to arrange a bribe of DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson and suspended DeKalb County Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton.
A witness, former construction company CEO Richard Zahn, had testified that the defendants told him Watson could help him get work on the county’s $1.7 billion water and sewer upgrade project if he paid Watson $50,000 or $60,000. Zahn also said the defendants wanted him to buy Atlanta Falcons box seats for Walton.
An ethics complaint filed Monday against DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon accuses her and an assistant of spending government money on gift cards and lawyers.
There are now ethics complaints pending against all six DeKalb County commissioners and Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.
Gannon said the allegations are unfounded, and she said she has legitimate explanations for every expenditure in her budget.
MARIETTA — Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) says if voters want to elect a flip-flopper, Bob Barr is their man.
Loudermilk claims Barr has reversed himself on such positions as whether to impeach President Barack Obama and the fitness of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“You’ve got the Defense of Marriage Act that Bob authored, then he goes to work for the ACLU, and he sues the Defense of Marriage Act,” Loudermilk said. “He helped author part of the Patriot Act, and then voted for it, and then comes back and says that was a very bad idea. I think the biggest thing that concerns people is that after being in Congress and fighting for all these things, then he works for the ACLU, fighting against some of the things that he fought for in Congress.”
Loudermilk recalled a debate Barr had with radio personality Neal Boortz when he was still in the Congress. Barr opposed legalizing marijuana while Boortz favored it.
“Bob was adamantly opposed to it. Now, Bob is in support,” Loudermilk said. “I think there’s many, many instances of flip-flopping, and that’s where we contrast ourselves. Look, I’ve been very consistent with my stance on things, whether you agree or disagree.”
MARIETTA — Eleventh Congressional District voters may choose to send a seasoned congressman back to Washington or take a shot in the dark by electing a neophyte, said former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna.
Six candidates ran in the Republican primary for the District 11 seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta).
Of the 57,009 voters, Loudermilk came in first with 20,862 votes, or 37 percent, followed by Barr with 14,704, or 26 percent, state Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead) with 8,448, or 15 percent, and Tricia Pridemore with 9,745, or 17 percent. Trailing behind them were Larry Mrozinski with 4 percent and Allan Levene with 2 percent.
With no Democrat in the race, the July 22 runoff is expected to determine the election.
“The important thing in this congressional race,” Barr said, “is whether or not the people of Cobb County and the people of the 11th District are going to have somebody represent them in the Congress who actually has the knowledge, the skill set, the experience working on those issues in that arena which is the Congress — not the Gold Dome, the Gold Dome doesn’t teach you anything about how to get things done in the Congress — or whether they want a neophyte up there who basically is just going to go up and by all accounts, by all analyses, vote no on everything.”
Barr, who served in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2003, claims Loudermilk has already alienated the Republican leadership, an action he called strange.
“Do we want somebody in the Congress representing the 11th District, and this applies especially to Cobb County, which if I’m not back in the Congress will be the first time in decades, at least three decades, that Cobb County has not had somebody from Cobb representing them in the House of Representatives,” Barr said. “Do the people want somebody that actually has a track record and the experience on the issues that matter to the district and to Cobb County to once again move those issues forward, or do they want to take a shot in the dark and send somebody up there with no experience in that arena, and who’s already basically told people I’m just going to be on my own up there. In other words, somebody that won’t get anything done.”
The Marietta Daily Journal – Essential maintenance Tumlin plans to use SPLOST money to improve roads
MARIETTA — Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin hopes voters will approve a special purpose local option sales tax Nov. 4 because he said the city needs the money.
Most of the projects the city has on its $70 million wish list to be funded by the SPLOST are related to maintaining roadways.
The Cobb Board of Commissioners will decide July 22 whether to put before voters a 1 percent SPLOST, expected to collect $750 million over six years.
SPLOST money currently makes up the majority of the funding the city gets to cover local projects, Tumlin said.
“Money for maintenance and the support for getting rid of potholes used to come from the state, but now the SPLOST basically took that over,” Tumlin said.
MARIETTA — A poll of Cobb’s four district commissioners reveals they are leaning in favor of a six-year term for a proposed 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.
During a meeting between the Board of Commissioners and the county’s mayors last month, Lee asked the mayors if they supported a six-year SPLOST. All said they did, with the exception of Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, who was absent.
Next, Lee asked the four district commissioners. Commissioner Helen Goreham said she supported a sales tax renewal for that length of time, but the other three said they needed more time to consider the idea.
Commissioners will vote July 22 on whether to call for a SPLOST referendum on Nov. 4, the length of time the tax would last and the list of projects it would fund.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid expressed her support.
“I would hope the public would support a six-year SPLOST because it enables us to do more,” said Cupid, who represents south Cobb.
AP: Do you believe the House and Senate should take a closer look at tax breaks, specifically corporate tax expenditures, and would you be willing to eliminate some of these tax breaks even though that would result in an effective tax increase on those businesses?
Kingston: Again, I don’t believe we have a revenue problem as much as we have a spending problem, so I would not want to have tax reform designed to increase the revenues. But we need tax simplification. We need a tax code that stimulates business growth. We need one that is simple to comply with, and one that is transparent so that you are not spending thousands of dollars to a CPA or an accountant to fill out your tax return. I support the fair tax, and I am endorsed by fair tax author John Linder and fair tax champion Congressman Rob Woodall. But I’m also supported by flat tax champion Steve Forbes. The last statistic I saw, and I’m always a little nervous quoting statistics, so I’m going to couch this by saying the last statistic I saw was that we spend 6 billion man-hours a year complying with the tax code. That’s time that could be better spent inventing a better mouse trap, curing some horrible disease or investing frankly in a plant expansion that would create more jobs. So we need, in order to compete in the international marketplace, a simpler tax system.
Perdue: No, I wouldn’t and the reason why is that, again, we already have a tremendous disadvantage. These are job creators, these are people that reinvest capital, they reinvest properties, they create jobs. And we have them already at a tremendous disadvantage against foreign competitors. Let me give you an example, our 35 percent corporate tax rate on manufacturing in the United States is competing with someone let’s say in Malaysia at a 16 or 17 percent corporate tax rate. … What we’ve had is 100 years of Congress and various administrations using taxes to direct activity, and how people operate. I believe that has put us at a tremendous disadvantage. It’s a very confusing and expensive burden on not only businesses but individuals. I have become a student of the fair tax, and I think it absolutely would level the playing field with foreign competitors and bring some manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. So I have become not only a supporter of that, but a proponent of that. So you say, how do you get the economy going again? It’s a very broad answer. But the number one thing to do to solve the debt crisis is to get the economy going again like we did in the 80s.
AP: As you just mentioned, you are against amnesty for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. Do you believe they can and should be immediately deported? And if not, what would you propose the federal government do if not offer a pathway to citizenship?
KINGSTON: If you enforce existing laws, which would be part of the crackdown on those who knowingly hire, I think a lot of this works its way out. People would actually be inclined to leave on their own. They are very used to passing back and forth in the border. But we have to make a philosophical decision, are we a nation of laws? And any time you relax your immigration laws or interpretations of those laws, you get an influx of new illegals because word of mouth, people are watching, what is the policy of the White House? And in this case, what is it this year versus last year? Case in point of the children who have come over now from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. That was because of an Obama administration change in policy, and the policy change did not address Mexican children. So Mexican children are being turned around immediately and Honduran kids are not. It was a crisis created by the White House.
PERDUE: The Senate bill was over 1,000 pages, and it laid all of this stuff out and gives everybody a reason to not do it and here we are months later with nothing going on. I think the first thing we need to do is get a bipartisan agreement on the first component, and let’s secure this border. It’s a national security issue. And frankly we’re all being irresponsible for not doing it. And it’s not just Mexico. It’s Canada, it’s the ports, it’s the airports. This is a very open country. And with the technology we are seeing in terrorists hand right now, we should all be concerned. … Right now we are bringing in over 1.1 million legal immigrants, and that is over twice the high-water marks of the 1880s to the 1920s and even during the Reagan era, it’s more than twice. We have got to address the different components of that to see what is the right number, whether getting back to 500-600,000 is the right number. What is the right number? Nobody is talking about that. And look, I believe that when you secure the border then you can enter into a dialogue around what do you do about the people that are here.
AP: The chief criticism has been federal involvement in the initiative. If the federal government were to stop encouraging states to adopt Common Core and halt any coordination, communication or regulation on the issue, would that satisfy your concerns?
KINGSTON: I think it would. Georgia knows how to compete with neighboring states and does not need Washington bureaucrats to tell us how to run our schools. All states compete against each other right now for employers, and when a new business is coming to town, one of the questions they ask, is what kind of school systems do you have. For example, Douglasville just got the Keurig coffee company, 500 jobs. Keurig is not going to move a factory there unless they know that their employees will have access to good school systems. And if they can’t find it in the state of Georgia, they are going to go to South Carolina, Alabama, California, or wherever. I think there is a real competitive market mechanism that keeps this in check.
PERDUE: Common Core is not going to solve the education problem in this country. No Child Left Behind didn’t. Race to the Top didn’t. Common Core will not. … Common Core, at its best, is now a distraction from a debate around what the real issues are, and that is how do we get our kids to read by fourth grade, how do we get them to stay in school, how do we get them to be proficient in math and science and to be meaningful players in the economy when they get out.
MARIETTA — After spending more than 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jack Kingston believes he’s prepared to represent Georgia as a U.S. senator.
“I think people are more focused on issues rather than just name ID and creating a following,” said Kingston. “It started with (seven) candidates; there was a lot of confusion over who’s who. Now, people want to get more in the weeds on where are you on this or that kind of issue. People invite the debate now, and that’s healthy.”
Kingston faces businessman David Perdue July 22 in the Republican runoff for Georgia’s open Senate seat. The winner faces Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, Nov. 4.
Kingston said he’s a soldier fighting for the conservative cause. In contrast, he said, Perdue never voted in a Republican primary before deciding to run for Senate.
“I don’t apologize for the fact that while I was fighting Obamacare, he sat on a board that said we needed a national solution for the uninsured,” Kingston said. “I don’t apologize for the fact that while I was fighting the stimulus bill — both Obama’s and Bush’s, I might add — he was taking stimulus money on the board of Alliant Energy. I don’t apologize for the fact that I’ve been fighting amnesty and he sat on the board of the National Retailers Association and said the Senate amnesty bill was a step in the right direction.”
Perdue has criticized Kingston’s endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying the group disagrees with him on amnesty and Common Core.