27525 is a young, male, adult yellow lab who has found himself on the wrong side of the law and now waits to be bailed out and taken to his new home from the Gwinnett Animal Shelter. Volunteers at the shelter describe him as friendly and he becomes available on Saturday.
27459 is an adult, female black lab who will become available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter tomorrow. Pretty sure that’s a friendly dog right there.
27427 (above, female) and 27426 (below, male) are baby chocolate labs who are available today for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. These two are siblings and are both described as playful and friendly.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections
Opponents of the Charter School Amendment complain that the preamble to the ballot question includes misleading statements designed to entice voters to back the measure.
[O]pponents of a November ballot question are also crying foul.
They’re upset over the preamble wording for the Charter School Commission Amendment.
It reads, “Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.”
The amendment vote was authorized by the Georgia Legislature in response to the previous Charter Schools Commission being declared unconstitutional by a court ruling.
Now voters will get to decide whether to recreate the commission.
Like T-SPLOST, it’s a hot issue that has non-partisan supporters and opponents.
Opponent Elizabeth Hooper told 11 Alive on Wednesday that she believes the Charter Schools Amendment preamble is also rigged to get “yes” votes.
“It’s absolutely biased,” she said, “Who wouldn’t be for improving student achievement?”
“To say that is going to happen is a lie,” she added.
Bert Brantley, spokesman for the pro amendment group Families for Better Public Schools, told 11 Alive News a recent study by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement proves they make a difference.
“I think it’s factual,” he said of the preamble wording.
“We’ve got proof that state charter schools perform better than the schools in the districts where those charters are located,” Brantley said.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who took heat for the T-SPLOST preamble wording, is distancing himself from this one.
Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas wrote 11 Alive that “The Secretary of State does not choose the Constitutional amendment ballot language.”
“That task falls to the Constitutional Amendments Publication Board…comprised of the Governor, Speaker (of the House) and Lt. Governor. Any language they choose must be approved by 2/3 of their board,” Thomas added in his statement.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by Republican Todd Rehm of GaPundit.com showed 48% support the amendment, while 26% oppose it.
Columbia County News-Times writer Barry Paschall argues that the Charter School Amendment will harm local schools.
Columbia County schools, like all public schools in the state, will be further damaged by the continued drain of funds toward private, for-profit schools. That’s why another analysis found much of the money behind the amendment flows from out-of-state private school companies hoping to reap millions if it passes.
Perhaps that also explains the recent commentary from an Arkansas professor boosting the amendment for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
In it, Jay Greene crowed about charter school successes around the country – but failed, oddly, to mention any from Georgia. Could that be because a study last year showed charter schools in Georgia perform no better, and in some cases slightly worse, on testing than Georgia’s public schools?
Even with the eminent danger to our financially struggling but academically strong local schools, and with virtually no evidence to support the amendment’s passage, most Columbia County voters likely will stab their own school system in the back so they can say they voted for what they think is “school choice.”
The Gwinnett County Commission is back to its full complement of five unindicted Commissioners, as Jace Brooks was sworn in yesterday.
[Commissioner Lynette] Howard said she attended Monday’s ceremony to show Brooks support.
“He makes for more sound decisions in Gwinnett County, when you have five people making that decision instead of less than, and all parts of the county are represented,” Howard said. “And District 1 has their own representative. It’s good for the people in District 1 to have their own elected official.”
Brooks said the commissioners would begin work on the budget in November.
“Now it’s time to start doing what I talked about during the campaign,” Brooks said. “The slow process of trying to rebuild the trust. That’s really where it’s got to start.”
The Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus, including members from Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth and Dawson counties, will meet publicly today at 4 PM at the Buford Community Center, located at 2200 Buford Highway, across from City Hall on Buford Drive.
Nerds patriots at Gainesville High School set up voter registration tables yesterday to mark the 225th Anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution by helping their colleagues register to vote.
The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area may lose federal funding this month as its funding sunsets.
[Augusta Canal Authority executive director Dayton] Sherrouse said it is possible – but not certain – that the “continuing resolution” that allows the government to keep operating under the previous year’s budget until a new one is adopted could preserve Augusta’s allocation for next year.
This year, that allocation was slightly more than $300,000, making up about 20 percent of the canal authority’s annual operating budget. Other funding sources include grants, sale of hydropower from the canal’s turbines, and revenues from boat tours and other activities.
Republican candidate in the Twelfth Congressional District Lee Anderson has declined the Atlanta Press Club debate against Democrat John Barrow. Barrow has said that he’ll go if Anderson does, but will not attend to debate an empty podium. I wonder if they’ll air 30 minutes of dead air.
“Lee Anderson will consider sharing the stage with Barrow once he stands in front of a local television camera and confesses his politically disastrous secret – he’s voting for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi,” [Anderson spokesman Ryan] Mahoney said in a statement.
Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has asked the court to dismiss 37 felony counts included in an indictment against Hill, claiming they were politically motivated. Walton County District Attorney Layla Zon called the claim by Hill “ludicrous”. Hill’s lawyers make an interesting claim that if resolved may affect campaigns going forward:
He also is accused of diverting money from his failed 2008 re-election campaign to himself.
“He is essentially taking from himself and therefore cannot be guilty of a crime,” Frey argued.
Zon, the district attorney for Newton and Walton counties was appointed special prosecutor in this case.“It’s not his money. The fact that he keeps arguing the campaign money is his is absurd,” she said.
She said she found it incredulous that Hill would claim it was his to do with as he wished.
“The campaign belonged to Victor Keith Hill. He can’t steal from himself,” Frey answered.
Political robocalls and automated calls from charities, or informational robocalls, such as an airline calling about a flight delay, are exempt from the ban. But those exemptions are being abused, too, with consumers complaining of getting calls that begin as a legitimate call, say from a charity or survey, but then eventually switch to an illegal telemarketing sales pitch.
Robocalls can be highly annoying to consumers because they’re hard to stop. Fraudsters use caller-ID spoofing so that when a person tries to call back the robocaller, they get a disconnected number or something other than the source of the original call.
The best thing people can do when they get an illegal robocall is to hang up. Do not press “1” to speak to a live operator to get off the call list. If you do, the FTC says, it will probably just lead to more robocalls. The caller will know you’re there and willing to answer, and may continue to call.
The data show that even Cobb, with its reputation for austerity, spends about $180,000 a year for each of its five commissioners. Gwinnett commissioners spend about $190,000, while the chairman’s budget is about $296,000. In DeKalb, each commissioner spends about $387,000. Clayton spends $240,000 per commissioner, or $1.2 million. But the actual money that Clayton spends on commissioners is much less. The County Commission’s budget includes the county manager and clerk and those employees. Additionally, Clayton commissioners, who earn $22,000 annually, do not have individual staffs and discretionary budgets.
By comparison, each state senator in Georgia cost taxpayers $200,000 annually to run his office. State senators serve about the same amount of constituents as commissioners and are likewise tasked with one specific job: to plan and approve an annual budget.
“Our phones ring off the hook,” said Fulton Commissioner Liz Hausmann, whose $398,000 budget is the county’s smallest. “The majority of it is constituent issues, problems dealing with county departments.”
Forsyth and Cherokee county sheriff’s deputies are among those now putting off training and other planning to enforce the law. It doesn’t make sense to start drafting a policy for it, Forsyth Sheriff Ted Paxton said, when the legal battle is not over.
“We are simply just in a holding pattern,” Paxton said. “Until [the legal case] is resolved, it is very difficult for us to craft any type of policy because there are a lot of unknowns.”
State officials were planning to teach the new law to officers Monday, but they postponed that training after learning the law will remain on hold.
“If I talk about it in class, officers may walk away thinking they can do it,” said Wally Marchant, supervisor of the legal training section at the Georgia Police Academy. “And I don’t want that to happen.”
In the days leading up to the latest tie-up in court, other police agencies indicated they were not ready to begin enforcing the law. Gwinnett police, for example, said this month that they could not say when or how they would apply the law until the county’s Law Department has “reviewed the complete bill after all issues have been resolved from the state.”
“Once that has been done, we will review the final law and determine if any of our current policies and procedures will change,” said Cpl. Edwin Ritter, a police spokesman.
DeKalb police said this month that they were developing a policy on how to apply the law. And now that the law is on hold again? Police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said: “We will continue to monitor legislation and plan accordingly.”
Some police emphasized that doing immigration status checks is optional under the law.
“The provision authorizes, but does not require, the department to investigate the immigration status of individuals who cannot produce adequate identification to prove citizenship,” Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said, “provided probable cause exists that the individual committed a crime.”
In Alabama, a similar measure has caused enough problems that some local jurisdictions are choosing not to enforce it.
[Clanton, Alabama] Chief Brian Stilwell said that measure — which critics call the show-me-your-papers law — has made immigrants afraid to report crimes and burdened his officers with hours-long investigations. The chief was so troubled by the law that he apologized to a young mother who was turned over to immigration authorities after committing a minor traffic infraction in town.
Supporters of the year-old law point to Alabama’s falling unemployment rate as proof it is working and preserving jobs for U.S. citizens, though not everyone agrees there is a correlation. Alabama state Sen. Scott Beason, one of the law’s architects, says it is also aimed at protecting his state’s taxpayer-funded resources and boosting public safety.
While Beason and Stilwell — both Republicans — have staked out different positions on the law, they agree on one thing: Georgia authorities should use caution when they start enforcing a similar measure.
Stilwell, Clanton’s police chief, has concluded the law is unenforceable, partly because state lawmakers this year repealed a provision authorizing police to arrest motorists for driving without a license. He added it sometimes takes hours for federal authorities to respond to his officers’ queries about the immigration status of suspects. Worrying that such prolonged stops — without an arrest — could violate people’s constitutional rights, Stilwell said his officers stopped enforcing the law last summer.
In Tuscaloosa, police officers are releasing suspects when it appears it will take too long to confirm their immigration status and if they have no lawful reason to detain them, said Sgt. Brent Blankley, a police spokesman. Like Clanton police, Tuscaloosa officers have been reaching out to Hispanics since Alabama enacted its law. Blankley indicated those efforts have paid off and that Hispanic victims are continuing to report crimes to police.
My fellow word nerds and I will be in Midtown on Thursday evening for the taping at the Fox Theatre of NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…” WABE’s Dennis O’Hayer interviewed the show’s host. O’Hayer also interviewed GBI Director Vernon Keenan on the state’s progress in combatting sex trafficking.
State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) is holding a fundraiser tonight with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in McKoon’s district.
Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens will be featured at a Campaign Rally at Wild Bill’s in Duluth on Thursday night sponsored by the Gwinnett County Republican Party.