Vernon is a good-looking black lab who loves swimming and people, playing fetch, and gets along with other dogs. He is available for adoption from Dixie Dog Rescue in Vidalia, Georgia.
These three dogs are still available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter in Chatsworth, Georgia and are due to be euthanized Friday morning in the pre-dawn hours unless a rescue commitment is made. Email [email protected] or call 770-441-0329 if you’re interested in helping one of these souls. Transportation is available.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections
So, I was wrong in my prediction that Bill Hembree would win the Republican Primary Runoff in Senate District 30. Mike Dugan will move forward to face
Librarian Libertarian James Camp in the January 8, 2013 election. Hembree carried Paulding County with 65% and his home county Douglas with more than 80%, but the two counties combined for only 37.7% of votes cast in the runoff. Dugan carried Carroll County, where he lives, by more than 3-to-1 and with Carroll accounting for 63.3% of the vote, it was enough to bring him in with a total margin of 750 votes.
“I’m humbled and proud,” Dugan said. “I’m not surprised that we won, but I am surprised with how well we did and I’m thankful for that. I’m going to take tomorrow off, with Christmas coming, and catch up on a bunch of ‘honey do’s,’ then I’m going to start getting ready for Jan. 8. Anybody who thinks this race is done is just kidding themselves.”
It was a disappointing loss for Hembree, who came within 2 percentage points of winning the race outright in the Nov. 6 voting. He had 48.4 percent of the vote then, while Dugan got only 24.3 percent to win a spot on the runoff ballot. But more than 70 percent of the voters turned out then, with the presidential race and several state and local contests on the ballot.
The take-away from this is that if you’re a candidate, avoid December runoffs like you would a land war in Asia. As I told the Times-Georgian, they’re unpredictable and custom-made for upsets.
Rehm cited numerous examples of candidates who trailed in general election voting only to win a runoff, including Mike Crane’s win over Duke Blackburn in the November 2011 Senate District 28 race.
Add to that Senator John Wilkinson’s win in November 2011 and Chuck Eaton’s win from behind in December 2006, and the pattern is that reversals can and do occur in late-year runoff elections.
Senator Chip Rogers resigned from the State Senate effective today. Governor Deal has ten days to call a special election to fill the vacancy, and the special election must be held at least thirty days later and no more than sixty days after the Governor calls for the election. This would allow a Special Election to fill Rogers’ seat on January 15, 2013, the day after the General Assembly convenes. Even with the possibility of a runoff election, the early date would allow a new Senator to participate in much of the 2013 Session.
Early speculation is that Brandon Beach will run, having won 12,000 votes against Rogers in the General Primary in July. Also mentioned is State Rep. Sean Jerguson, whose Cherokee County residence may be helpful in a district where Cherokee County contributed 81% of the 2012 GOP Primary.
If Jerguson runs for Senate, political consultant Brian Laurens might run for Jerguson’s seat. Scot Turner, who carried 42% of the GOP Primary against Jerguson would also be a likely candidate. The Cherokee County legislative delegation will meet with local officials tomorrow to discuss priorities for the 2013 Session, followed by a Town Hall meeting for Cherokee residents at 6:30 PM. I expect there will be some talk of the Senate race.
Dennis O’Hayer at WABE has a nearly 16 minute interview with Chip Rogers.
J. Max Davis will take office as the first Mayor of the City of Brookhaven, winning nearly 66% over Democrat Sandy Murray. Rebecca Chase Williams won the District One city council seat, with almost 66% of the vote.
Both incumbent members of the Clayton County Board of Education were defeated last night.
With 15 of the 16 precincts reported, District 2 challenger Mark Christmas appeared to have handily defeated incumbent Wanda Smith, while voters in District 7 appeared to have selected Judy Johnson over incumbent Trinia Garrett.
The two districts have a combined 30,000 registered voters. But fewer than 600 residents cast votes Tuesday. The school board race was Clayton’s only election Tuesday. The vote continues a movement of change that began this summer when the county ousted its sheriff and two longtime commissioners.
Democrat Frederick Ward won Putnam County Commission District 1 by an eight-vote margin.
Democrat Wayne Hall won a seat on the Jeff Davis County Commission.
In Augusta City Commission District 1, William Fennoy beat incumbent Matt Aitken, reversing the runoff election three years ago.
Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal will light the tree at the Georgia State Capitol today at 11 AM in the rotunda. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black will introduce the Governor.
I’ll be well-behaved at the Capitol today, as the Georgia State Troopers there will be carrying assault rifles. (Actually, I suspect they won’t carry them routinely but will have them available.)
Governor Deal says that renewing the hospital bed tax or Medicaid assessment fee is vital to healthcare in Georgia.
“Without it, we’re going to be hard-pressed to maintain the quality of care and to provide the payments to the provider community that we’d like to see.”
Passed in 2010, the provider fee allows the state to collect 1.45 percent of net patient revenue from hospitals. It raises more than $200 million annually for the state Medicaid program, and helps draw down nearly $600 million more in matching funds from the federal government.
The fee is set to expire next year, unless lawmakers decide to renew it.
Deal says allowing the tax to expire would wreak havoc on the state budget.
“I support something that is going to provide for the filling of that gap in our budget and the provider fee seems like the most logical way to do that.”
Deal says a unified front among hospitals will help avoid another ugly episode at the state Capitol.
“I certainly hope the hospital community – if they can come together on an agreement and recognize the importance of it – they’re the ones that are going to be making those payments. We would hope that would mitigate some of that conflict,” said Deal.
Regardless of the provider fee, the state Medicaid program is already financially challenged. It’s facing a deficit of more than $300 million heading into next year.
AllNews 106.7 is reporting that Fulton County may hire Republican lobbyists in order to have more effective communications with the General Assembly. Fulton County Chairman John Eaves says he thinks the Commission can be more effective by personally lobbying legislators. This is the same John Eaves whose radio ad said Republicans would turn back the clock on civil rights and evoked police dogs and water hoses. Good luck with that.
The Atlanta City Council has adopted a measure endorsing gay marriage by an 11-2 vote.
The Canton Tea Party has received a couple of nastygrams from the Georgia
Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
Carolyn Cosby, chairwoman of the Canton Tea Party, confirmed Monday she has received an order from The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission regarding ethics charges made against the Canton Tea Party and the Citizens Review and Recommendations Committee, stemming from alleged actions taken during the recent campaign season.
Complaints 2012-0032 and 2012-0033 were filed by Post 3 Commissioner Karen Bosch in June. Cosby said Monday the correspondence listed both complaints and said “respond in 15 days or pay $12,000 in 30 days.” However, Cosby said she received notice of additional complaints filed by an apparently unidentified complainant.
Ethics commission spokesperson Holly LaBerge said Monday that, in general, if a case being investigated by Ethics is not credible, it would be dismissed.
“The issuance of a compliance or consent order means there is a violation of some sort that has occurred,” she said, noting that proceedings regarding the complaints are not open record until a final resolution is made.
“The consent order can be signed by all parties or can go to hearing if the person objects to it,” she added.
In the complaints regarding the two groups led by Cosby, Bosch charges the groups were raising money to mount campaigns to influence votes for and against candidates.
To the complaint regarding the citizens’ committee, Bosch attached a flier that has Cosby’s contact number at the bottom. The flyer promoted Post 2 candidate Channing Ruskell as a “Tea Party Favorite” and decries the actions of incumbent Post 2 Commissioner Jim Hubbard. To the complaint on the Canton Tea Party Patriots, Bosch attached documentation from Hubbard, who attended a meeting of the organization. He said Cosby, would only let “favorites” address the audience and asked those in attendance to consider donating to a “special fund for the ‘favorites’ candidates.”
Cosby said Tuesday the complaints charge her of opposing the Homestead Option Sales Tax Referendum at a tea party meeting held in October. She said she was personally opposed to the HOST.
Besse Cooper, the Georgian who was the oldest woman in the world, died yesterday.
Donner is a 1-2 year old boxer mix male who is good with people, dogs, and appears to not chase cats. He is available for adoption from the Walton County Animal Shelter.
Brandie is a 4-year old, 29# low-rider who’s about the size of a beagle. An owner turn-in, she’s said to be good with kids and other dogs. She’s available today from the Walton County Animal Shelter.
28845 is a pibble mix puppywho is friendly and playful. She and a number of other puppies, dogs and cats, is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter for the discounted adoption fee of $30.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections
For a small number of voters across the state, today is Yet Another Election Day. I’ll be heading across the street shortly after publication this morning to vote in the runoff election for Mayor and City Council of the City of Brookhaven.
The first vote I will cast will be for J. Max Davis for Mayor. J. Max is a conservative who will help ensure that the City of Brookhaven fulfills its promise of lower taxes and better services. He led the group that worked for incorporation and is the best choice today. Davis is endorsed by State Rep. Mike Jacobs and State Senator Fran Millar.
His opponent, Sandy Murray, ran against State Rep. Mike Jacobs, who sponsored the incorporation legislation, and qualified to run against him this year before dropping out of that race and entering the race for Mayor. Murray opposed incorporation and worked to defeat the measure. She is supported by the Democratic Party of Georgia, with DPG Political Director Rashad Richey sending a mass email yesterday saying, “Sandy Murray is a solid Democrat running for Mayor of Brookhaven who will work with progressives….”
If I lived in her district, I would be voting today for Rebecca Chase Williams for District 1 City Council.
Senate District 30 voters will choose between State Rep. Bill Hembree and Mike Dugan in today’s runoff election, leading to the General Special Election on January 8, 2013.
Turnout could be light, if advance voting figures are any indication. Only 922 voters cast early ballots in Carroll County, about 1.8 percent of the 52,412 eligible voters.
Voters in Augusta City Commission District 1 will return to the polls today in a runoff election between Commissioner Matt Aitken and challenger Bill Fennoy. Aitken was first elected three years ago in a runoff against Fennoy.
Clayton County voters will fill two seats on the county board of education today. Clayton County is currently under investigation by SACS for board in-fighting.
District 2 incumbent Trinia Garrett will face Judy Johnson, and District 7 incumbent Wanda Smith will face Mark Christmas.
Currently, there are 18,600 registered voters in School Board District 2 and 13,775 in School Board District 7.
Early voting for the Dec. 4 election closed Friday, but the Elections and Registration Office has only received 9 in-person voters and 62 mailed absentee ballots.
“Observing the turn out for early voting, I do not anticipate a high volume of voters to turn out Tuesday,” said Elections Director Annie Bright.
Last week the State Elections Board fined Blackshear City Council Member David Broady $5500 for illegally handling 55 absentee votes in 2009 during his reelection campaign.
The civil fine amounts to $100 for each absentee vote the Georgia Secretary of State’s office investigation said Broady handled and delivered to the Blackshear post office just prior to the Dec. 1, 2009 city council District 4 runoff election.
Broady was accused of 55 felony counts of unlawful possession of absentee ballots. State law says it is illegal for anyone other than a person with legal authority to possess others’ ballots – such as an official overseeing an election – outside of the polling place.
State election officials launched a probe in January, 2011 following a complaint regarding the 2009 runoff between District 4 incumbent Broady and challenger Bernice Blakely Bowles. The State Election Board forwarded the case to the Attorney General’s office after a presentation in February this year after finding probable cause to proceed.
The absentee ballots allegedly handled by Broady were counted in the runoff election, in which Broady defeated Bowles 90-57.
In Troup County, there will be a rare runoff election for Sheriff as an independent candidate forced Democrat Ruben Hairston and Republican James Woodruff into a second round of voting. Hairston played professional football and was endorsed by the outgoing Republican sheriff.
Wilcox County also has a runoff election for Sheriff with Republican Mike Martin and Democrat Lonnie Curry on the ballot today.
McIntosh County hosts a runoff election for board of education between Republican Bonnie Caldwell and Democrat Vicky Persons after an independent ran in the general election.
Putnam County hosts a runoff election for District 1 County Commissioner with Republican Kelvin Irvin and Democrat Fred Ward making the cut.
Early voting in the special election runoff for the District 1 county commission seat ended Friday with a total of 317 ballots cast, according to the BER office. In addition, 62 absentee ballots had been returned by 5 p.m. Monday.
The Taylor County Commission District 4 seat is up for grabs today in a runoff election between incumbent Commissioner Jerry Albritton and challenger Russell Pounds, who tied in the general election with 343 votes each.
Brunswick sees a runoff for the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission between Clifford Adams and Sandy Dean after a ten-candidate
free-for-all general election.
Lobbyists are reminded that registration is due soon and the online renewal system will be available from December 17, 2012 through January 9, 2013. At least in theory. The computer system at the Commission appears to be down this morning. Consider yourselves warned.
Governor Nathan Deal named Senators Rick Jeffares and Charlie Bethel as Administration Floor Leaders, who join Senator Bill Jackson.
Deal also appointed two judges in the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit.
Deal announced Monday that he tapped State Court Judge Philip C. Smith, 57, to the superior court. He then selected Forsyth Solicitor-General Leslie Abernathy, 45, to fill Smith’s seat on the state court.
Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission had put both Smith and Abernathy on the short list for the superior court seat. The vacancy created by Smith’s promotion to the superior court was not advertised and did not go through the usual JNC vetting process, although previous governors have made similar moves.
The Atlanta City Council voted themselves pay raises yesterday, going from $39,000 to more than $60,000 and raising the Mayor’s pay from $147k to $184k per year. Because they deserve it.
The raises were pushed by an independent review committee that looked into compensation for Atlanta’s elected officials. Supporters say bigger salaries would bring better candidates, but some union officials think the money would be better spent on those supplying city services. Taxpayer watchdogs also wonder about the wisdom of giving elected officials big raises.
While most council members chose to remain silent on the issue, veteran council member Cleta Winslow defended her vote for the pay raise.
“There have been a lot media that’s been running around today — I’m not afraid of the media. I believe that we deserve the raise and I’m just going to say it,” Winslow said after listening to numerous speakers question the timing and amount of the proposed salary hike.
Fulton County will consider on Wednesday hiring Arnall Golden Gregory to lobby the General Assembly at a cost of more than $260,000.
After months of deadlock over how to handle the upcoming state Legislative session, on Wednesday the Fulton County Commission will consider hiring an outside lobbying firm at a cost of $260,416. Arnall Golden Gregory scored the best out of three bidders for the state- and federal-level lobbying job. Rusty Paul, a former Republican state senator and leader of the Georgia GOP, is a senior policy advisor at the law firm and co-chairs its government affairs team.
Paul was last seen on Fox5Atlanta defending the exorbitant lunch and flower bills of the Development Authority of Fulton County.
WABE asks “Who steals 20,000 bags of dog food,” after a theft of more than $30,000 worth of kibble from a warehouse. This guy, that’s who.
The Murray County Animal Shelter in Chatsworth, Georgia has impending deadlines on Thursday before dawn for a number of dogs.
This is a one-and-a-half year old Lab boy who is great with other dogs and with people, available from the Murray County Animal Shelter with a deadline of 2 AM Thursday morning.
This sweet brown dog is a mother at ten months of age, and she and her puppies are destined to be euthanized tomorrow morning if no one steps up to adopt or foster. They are available for adoption immediately and transportation can be arranged.
These two 16-week old lab puppy males are still available for adoption.
Six black lab mix puppies (above) and their mother (below).
The year-and-a-half Boxer female above is the shelter volunteers’ favorite because she’s sweet to people and other dogs.
This black lab mix male is about ten months old and has the beginning of mange, but it’s easily treated.
There are a half-dozen other dogs in dire need before Thursday. Transportation for any of these dogs to the Atlanta area is available for free and we have sponsors who are willing to pay the adoption fee for any of these dogs. Email me if you’re interested in adopting and have any questions.
To save one of these souls, here is the contact information:
Lisa Hester, volunteer
Megan706-260-5251 (daytime Tu,Th,F)(TEXT or call)
706-463-2194, TEXT messages only
If you are not able to save a dog at this time, you also may make a donation on behalf of one of the dogs or for a “hard to place” dog. To make a donation, simply go to www.paypal.com, click on the “send money” tab on the home page and enter the shelter acct, [email protected]. In the subject line, indicate this is a donation for the (brief descrip and/or ID # of animal or “hard to place dog”). IMPORTANT: Be sure to designate the payment as a “gift” or PayPal will take part of it.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections
Early voting has started in the runoff election for Senate District 30 between Bill Hembree and Mike Dugan.
Both Hembree and Dugan are expected to speak at the Dec. 1 county Republican meeting at Sunnyside Cafe in Carrollton, likely their last joint appearance before the election.
On the campaign trail, Hembree is emphasizing his years of experience as a legislator and his conservative background, while Dugan is running as a new face, with a new approach to the problems facing the state.
Hembree, 46, a Douglas County insurance agent, served 18 years as a Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives, chairing higher education, rules and industrial relations committees. On Sept. 6, he resigned from the House to enter the state Senate race.
Dugan, 49, is making his first run for public office. He is emphasizing his military and business experience as training for the Legislature. He has pledged to hold regular town hall meetings, if elected, and to work for term limits. He said it’s time for new ideas and new leadership.
Hembree was strong in the early voting phase of the general election when he received more votes than he did on Election Day.
District 30 comprises portions of Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties.
Extra points are awarded to the Douglas County Sentinel writer who actually used the word “comprise” correctly.
The nascent City of Brookhaven will also elect a Mayor and three City Council members in runoff elections. I’ll be voting for J. Max Davis for Mayor.
During his campaign, Davis said he had a great experience connecting the voters with his campaign, which showed in his voting results numbers.
His campaign style also includes going door-to-door and phone calling — but Davis also held meet and greets in the homes of his supporters, as well as restaurants.
“I did meetings anywhere people wanted to meet and I would come and meet and talk with them,” he said.
On his continuing campaign before the runoff, Davis does not plan to change anything, but would like to replicate the results of last Tuesday.
“We’re just focused more on getting people out to vote,” he said.
In Brookhaven District 2, Rebecca Chase Williams is the likely winner and I would vote for her if I lived in that district.
In Brookhaven District 3, Kevin Quirk came in ten votes behind Bates Mattison in the initial election. Quirk has been going door-to-door, while I haven’t seen Mattison in my neighborhood.
In Brookhaven District 4, Joe Gebbia has been endorsed by State Rep. Mike Jacobs and will likely win.
“Joe Gebbia has displayed the ability to reach out to all individuals in his district,” said state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, who was theauthor of the Brookhaven cityhood bill. “Whether you were for or against cityhood, Joe has proven that he’s committed to bringing our city together.”
The Brookhaven Patch has a pretty good analysis of the runoffs.
Plant Vogtle’s new reactors may be later than previously thought in being brought online as construction is running behind schedule. According to a story by Kristi Swartz in the AJC:
Worker training, increased project oversight and stiffer regulatory requirements are chief reasons behind the delay, tacking on six months’ worth of additional labor costs, Georgia Power has said. The project’s main contractors say the delays could be even longer, with the first reactor starting up in early-to-mid 2017 and the second one a year later.
The first of the $14 billion reactors was originally scheduled to be finished in April 2016, and the second one a year later. Regulatory and other pre-construction delays had already changed the estimate to six months later than that.
The delay had lead to a 1 percent increase in Georgia Power’s $6.1 billion portion of the project, but customers currently are not paying any of those additional costs because the utility has not asked utility regulators for permission to recoup that money.
David McKinney, Southern Nuclear’s vice president of construction support for Vogtle 3 and 4, revealed the contractors new estimated dates of “early to mid 2017, 2018” in a hearing Tuesday before the Georgia Public Service Commission.
The new reactors at Vogtle are the first to be built from scratch in the United States in 30 years. Georgia Power officials acknowledged that the project is under intense regulatory scrutiny from a cost and safety standpoint.
Frank Poe, Executive Director of the Georgia World Congress Center announced that a deal for a new Atlanta stadium should be ready by December 31st. Taxpayers will be on the hook for roughly one-third of the estimated $1-1.2 billion cost through the hotel-motel tax. Common Cause is rightly raising questions about the process and the public’s role or lack thereof.
Leaders with the Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority have talked privately about a new stadium. Those talks are legal as long a quorum of a government board is not present.
Common Cause Georgia Executive Director William Perry stands across the street from the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons play. Perry has questions about plans for a new Falcons stadium
Even if they are not breaking the law, Common Cause Georgia head William Perry argues the groups should add seats at the table for the public.
“When we’ve got a state agency dealing with a $1.2 billion facility, a third of which will be funded by taxpayers, taxpayers and citizens have a right and need to be engaged in the process,” said Perry.
Georgia might appeal a decision by a Federal Court of Appeals that prevents HB 87′s prohibition on knowingly transporting or harboring illegal immigrants in the course of another crime to the United States Supreme Court.
The state had asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision against a part of the law that would punish people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing other crimes. In August, the court ruled the measure is pre-empted by federal law, which already prohibits such activities.
Another part of the statute — nicknamed the “show-me-your-papers law” — has been on hold while the case was before the appeals court. That other provision would give police the option to investigate the immigration status of suspects they believe have committed state or federal crimes and who cannot provide identification or other information that could help police identify them.
Georgia has about 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could accept or decline such a case. Under that scenario, the state’s show-me-your-papers law could remain on hold until the Supreme Court acts.
“We are considering our options and no decisions have been made at this time,” the Georgia Attorney General’s Office said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Republican and Democratic legislators representing Macon and Bibb County are at odds whether to change local elections to non-partisan following the merger of the city and county governments.
A Republican-led push for nonpartisan elections in Bibb County led to clear fissures in the county’s legislative delegation hearings Tuesday at the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.
State Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, said partisan elections were continued in the consolidation proposal that voters approved this year.
“Are we saying, ‘We got you to vote for it, now we’re going to change it?’” Randall asked. “Some may consider it to be a deceptive act.”
Randall said she expected bills for nonpartisan elections will be filed by state Sen. Cecil Staton and state Rep. Allen Peake, both Macon Republicans whom she thinks have the votes needed to pass them.
In a 2013 budget proposal released Tuesday, Nash unveiled a spending plan incorporating a new balance of funding created by a settlement with local cities over services. It divides the county into districts, ensuring that city residents do not pay county taxes for services they only receive from the city.
While that means all city residents will receive a break on paying for development and enforcement taxes, the biggest break will come for those in cities with their own police forces.
But Nash said the service from the county police department will change little. So with fewer taxpayers footing the bill for the county force, the tax bills for unincorporated residents (and those in cities without police departments) are expected to go up.
“Essentially, it’s a redistribution,” Nash said. “We feel like the safety of the residents is so important. I could not bring myself to make the cuts needed to balance the budget in the police district.”
The Gwinnett County Commission also approved an additional payment to Partnership Gwinnett, an economic development joint venture with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce that has been under fire over its spending and whether records of Partnership Gwinnett are subject to state Open Records laws.
Under a new agreement approved by the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, the funds contributed to Partnership Gwinnett will be public.
A progress and financial report for the new nonprofit entity, along with a Board of Directors formed by the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce will be approved by the county. It would also keep the money separate from the chamber’s private donations.
“Their records will be open to an open records process so the county and the public will be aware of how those funds are used,” said Bryan Lackey, director of the county’s planning and development department.
Without discussion, Columbus Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a settlement of the city’s lawsuit against online travel websites Expedia.com and Hotels.com for approximately $586,000.
In addition to the money, the companies agree to remit the full amount of hotel occupancy taxes due to the city and to re-list local hotels on their websites, City Attorney Clifton Fay said.
The Expedia case is the second such case the city has settled with online travel sites. The city settled with Orbitz for $230,000 in 2010 and Priceline settled with the city for about $72,000 with no litigation. Those bring the city’s total in settlements to just over $888,000.
The litigation between the city and the online travel brokers began in 2006, when the city sued, claiming the companies were not remitting the proper amount of hotel occupancy taxes. Ostensibly in reaction to the lawsuits, many online brokers stopped listing Columbus hotels on their websites, costing local hoteliers business.
If travelers entered Columbus into the websites, they were directed to hotels in nearby cities instead.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close its Georgia Rural Development Office in Baxley.
Sumter County Commissioner A.J. Hurley will face trial for bribery as jury selection begins today in federal court in Albany.
Hurley is accused of agreeing to accept $20,000 in bribes from an unidentified asbestos abatement company licensed in Michigan in order to influence the vote of a contract before the Sumter County Commission, according to the indictment levied against him by a federal grand jury in May.
The government contends Hurley received two bribes.
Hurley has denied the accusations and maintains his innocence.
In honor of “Black Friday” at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, where all black or majority-black dogs and cats can be adopted for $30, a saving of $60, here’s your song of the day. 27459, a female lab, is one of the dogs who is eligible for the discount.
Rally is a Shepherd puppy from Walton County Animal Shelter whom we featured for several days. He was rescued by Pound Puppies ‘n Kitties, and we encourage you to consider donating to support their work saving dogs.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections
Rasmussen released a poll that indicates that 64% of Americans believe that too many people rely on government aid.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Adults think there are too many Americans dependent on the government for financial aid. Just 10% think not enough Americans are dependent on the government, while 16% say the level of dependency is about right.
Even most of those who say they are currently living in poverty (56%) feel there are too many Americans dependent on government financial help.
There are sharp partisan differences over this question, however. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans and 61% of those not affiliated with either of the major parties believe too many Americans are dependent on the government for financial help. But just 40% of Democrats agree. One-in-three adults (33%) in President Obama’s party believe the level of dependency in America today is about right.
Among all Americans, 34% rate government programs designed to help people get out of poverty as effective, while 59% say those programs are not effective. This includes just four percent (4%) who think government anti-poverty programs are Very Effective and 20% who feel they are Not At All Effective.
Only 13% of those currently in poverty consider the government programs effective, compared to 36% of those who are not poor.
Forty-nine percent (49%) of all Americans believe current government anti-poverty programs actually increase the level of poverty in the country. Only 20% think the programs reduce poverty, while just as many (20%) feel they have no impact.
So maybe it’s the mainstream media who are out of touch with Americans, not Mitt Romney. Who would have thought?
The Marietta Daily Journal opines that Romney should continue his discussion of taxes and entitlements.
Romney was 100 percent right to point out that a significant portion of today’s Americans — and especially those who typically support liberal candidates — are voters who see government as the answer to all problems. Too many such Americans have turned John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech admonition inside out. “Ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country!” has been dumbed down into “Ask not what I can do for my country: Ask what my country can do for me!”
It’s the difference between the “hand up” philosophy of conservatives and the “hand out” philosophy espoused by many liberals.
To his credit, Romney, as of this writing, has not backed off his remarks. Yes, it surfaced at an unfortunate (for him) time, as he and others were sharply criticizing the incumbent for his incompetent, bungled Middle East policy. But successful candidates play the hand that is dealt them and find ways to trump unfavorable circumstances. And that is what Romney must now do.
The candidate must keep hammering home the fact that Obama has driven the country off the fiscal cliff. He must remind people at every opportunity of Obama’s redistributionist policies and efforts to transform the United States from a free-people, free-market capitalist country into a government-centered entitlement society — an effort that probably has a tax-cutter like JFK spinning in his grave.
Romney is on the right track, as his comments Tuesday on Fox News showed.
Last night, Governor Nathan Deal took to the stage at a Gwinnett County Republican Party rally and spoke about Romney’s comments.
Deal said Romney’s recent comments about a growing percentage of Americans relying on government programs, with a shrinking group of those paying taxes, echoed concerns of political philosophers when this country was created.
“We’re getting outnumbered by people who don’t pay … The truth is the truth,” Deal said to a group of more than 100 GOP leaders. “It is something we ought to wake up and realize because it jeopardizes the country on many levels.”
Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers defended his acceptance of reimbursements for expenses paid by his campaign through his lawyer, Doug Chalmers.
“They were not campaign mailings, they were constituent mailings and had nothing to do with his election or re-election,” Chalmers said, who was hired by Rogers last week.
“It was proper for him to be reimbursed because he had loaned his campaign tens of thousands of dollars which were used to make these expenses in first place. There will be no double dipping—it’s perfectly legal,” Chalmers said.
Chalmers said Rogers has already taken steps to correct the matter.
“Even to avoid an appearance of impropriety, when the issue was brought to his attention, he cut a personal check to his campaign for $8,500,” Chalmers said.
Chalmers said that $8,500 check will be on Roger’s Sept. 30 campaign disclosure
But William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, said in an interview with the Tribune that Rogers could still face possible consequences.
“I think it could potentially be a problem because the senator notarized a document certifying that everything in the report is true,” Perry said. “I think it would raise a red flag that the campaign, if it was paying for the expenses, is against the law and swearing he paid for himself would potentially be a problem.”
Georgia law prohibits using taxpayer money to pay for campaign costs. Lawmakers can use state funding for newsletters and other printed materials intended to keep constituents informed about issues, which Chalmers said the funds were used for.
Perry said he did not think anyone was out to steal money, but because of lack of oversight, politicians become careless.
It is permissible for a campaign to pay for expenses incurred in the elected official’s performance of his or her duties. (OCGA §21-5-33(a)).
Speaking of political direct mail, NPR has a story this morning about the barrage of direct mail that will start filling your mailboxes any day.
In the coming weeks, candidates will bombard your mailboxes with ads. It may seem old-fashioned, but the consultants who devise direct-mail campaigns have become sophisticated about knowing whom to reach and what to say.
“It’s almost because of the changing media landscape that direct mail remains relevant,” says Anil Mammen, who runs a small direct-mail shop in Washington, D.C.
“Direct mail is one of the few mediums left where you can go reach a voter and convince your voter to consume your information, without them having to choose to do it,” says Mammen, who works for Democratic candidates and campaigns. “It’s forced upon them.”
Mammen says direct mail is an ideal medium for negative ads. People are more inclined to believe what they read.
“You can show the citation. You can show the proof if there’s a court document. You can show the court document maybe not in its entirety but enough of it,” he says. “You can deliver negative messages that require a hurdle of believability. That’s what direct mail is really good at.”
Campaigns are spending about 15 percent of their ad budgets on direct mail, says Kantar Media/CMAG, a campaign-ad tracking firm.
Costas Panagopoulos, who teaches political science at Fordham University in New York, says direct mail — unlike broadcast media, TV and radio — is a great way to reach very specific targeted groups of voters
“Political campaigns can use the mountains of available data, demographic, psychographic data about, you know, who people are, what their gender is, what their occupations are, as well as things like what magazines they subscribe to or whether they have children or a pet at home or whether they have a gold [credit] card,” Panagopoulos says.
Like taxes, direct mail isn’t going away anytime soon. This year, campaigns are expected, Panagopoulos says, to spend more than $1 billion to get their messages delivered to your door.
I received the first mailpiece of the General Election two days ago from J. Max Davis, the first Mayor of Brookhaven, who will be elected in the November 6th General Election, though some city council posts will have to be filled in runoff elections.
Professor Alan Abramowitz (D-Emory) says that increasing polarization of the electorate decreases the advantage of incumbency, leading him to tweak his presidential prediction model, which tightens his predicted margin in favor of Barack Obama.
A Georgia business is making national news with its signs in opposition to President Obama’s reelection.
Businesses take a big chance by outing their politics, says Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at New York’s Fordham University.
“They need to weigh the risks against the potential benefits of making such a visible expression of their preferences,” he says.
But the owner of one Georgia business says response to his political missives has been mostly supportive.
At Premier Platforms Inc., which sells, rents and services various kinds of aerial platforms and forklifts, David Cooper uses his giant highway marquee to broadcast his politics.
He’s no fan of President Obama, as anyone driving along Interstate 75 near Byron, Ga., could tell: “Things could be worse. Re-elect Obama — he’ll prove it,” one recent message read, according to Macon newspaper The Telegraph. Cooper told the newspaper he could “count on two hands the number of complaints” he’s gotten; one person threatened to picket the business, but the threat never materialized.
Real Housewives of Campaign 2012? Sounds like a blockbuster reality show.
See, just like our casts, these characters are hyper-competitive and more than willing to have it out in front of a worldwide audience. It’s like, “Who cares what they’re saying about us — as long as they’re talking about us! Consequences, be damned!” I mean, have you SEEN Romney’s secret video where he badmouths 47 percent of Americans? With those loose lips, it’s no wonder his ship is sinking!
Each has questioned the other’s credentials (along with jokes and jabs of birtherism and felony tax fraud) so often, that if you take out Wolf Blitzer and a debate stage and insert Andy Cohen and a “Watch What Happens Live” set, the drama is not as different, as you’d think. By the way, Andy, I can’t wait for the post-election reunion special. The ratings will be HUGE!
The race even has incredibly powerful women that are loved by their fans and feared by their opponents: Ann Romney and Michelle Obama. Each was cheered for having one of the best speeches at her convention. Each possesses a wardrobe many would love to call their own. And each can win over swing voters who may think that the Housewife’s husband is more “Desperate” than “Real.”
Former Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson was interviewed on a local Paulding County website, in which he suggests moving away from Georgia’s antiquated and uncivilized system of foreclosure sales literally on the steps of county courthouses, and into a process that allows homeowners being foreclosed upon a day in court. Given what we know about systematic fraud by foreclosing banks, wrongful foreclosures, robo-signing, and the impact of a foreclosure on families, I might support such a measure, and certainly think we should consider moving away from the status quo.
Samuel Westmoreland, the director of the Fulton County elections and voter registration office was jailed for ten days after his probation was revoked for failure to complete DUI school and community service, which were conditions of his probation for a 2009 DUI.
State Court Judge Wesley B. Taylor, in a July 16 probation revocation hearing, handed down an order postponing Westmoreland’s 10-day sentence until after the county primary elections in July “in order to prevent a potential hardship upon the voters of Fulton County.”
The elections board is scheduled to take up the matter at a specially called meeting that Matarazzo said is scheduled for noon Monday.
Westmoreland already was under fire from voters and election board members for an array of errors that occurred during the July primaries.
The missteps included the elections department assigning 690 voters in Sandy Springs and southeast Atlanta to the wrong state Senate and state House races. It also missed the deadline to certify election results by an hour and a half, leaving the county subject to fines by the state Election Board.
“He needs to be gone,” Commissioner Bill Edwards told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “It just goes to your character.”
Former Governor Sonny Perdue joined the Governors’ Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which seeks to bring a state perspective to national issues.
In Augusta, Lori Davis, a former candidate for Mayor, has endorsed Stanley Hawes for City Commission District One.
Former State Rep. Burke Day (R) has applied for an appointment to the Tybee Island City Council to fill the term of council member Frank Schuman who died in office.
Dockworkers unions have agreed to extend the deadline for negotiating a new contract with employers at East coast ports.
“I am pleased to announce that at the close of today’s productive negotiation session, in which progress was made on several important subjects, the parties have agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement due to expire on September 30 for a 90-day period, (taking it) through Dec. 29,” said George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
After talks broke down last month between the ILA and the alliance, which represents management at 14 deepwater ports between New York and Texas, Cohen coaxed both sides back to the table in hopes of averting an imminent work stoppage
Environmentalists think that Georgia should deploy more wind turbines for power generation off the Georgia coast, but Governor Deal disagrees.
“Georgia has a little over 60 gigawatts (of wind resource),” said Jennette Gayer, advocate for Environment Georgia, which helped launch the report. “That’s like 75 average-sized power plants.”
Unlike 11 of the other coastal states, Georgia hasn’t joined the Atlantic States Offshore Wind Consortium, a federal program designed to coordinate and streamline wind development off the Atlantic coast. South Carolina and Florida are the only other hold outs.
But Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson indicated via email that the governor is not inclined to support wind energy development now.
“When the markets and the technology advance further, we believe there will be a day when wind energy is a viable option for our state,” he wrote. “Georgia will start using wind energy when the prices are right and the technology is right for the unique nature of our wind energy off the coast.
“Studies show the current technologies available won’t work in Georgia’s environment. There is in fact wind energy potential in Georgia and we have every hope that improvements in technology will one day allow us to use this clean, renewable resource.”
Gov. Deal is correct. As we have seen with solar power, states that adopted utility scale solar power generation paid 3-4 times the current cost for photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity. Today, states considering implementing solar will benefit from dramatic cost reductions brought about through market forces, not goverment subsidies.
Plant Vogtle’s Unit 1 nuclear reactor is offline this week as it’s being refueled, a process that occurs roughly every 18 months.
Steel plates that reinforce concrete construction at the new reactors being built at Vogtle failed safety testing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and have not been installed.
A more detailed investigation to determine the extent of the problem – and any potential effect on the project – will be completed by Nov. 6, the report said.
The inspectors and officials from Shaw Group, the company hired to build the $14 billion project, identified the issues before any plates had been installed, an NRC spokesman said.
In an Aug. 31 interview, Buzz Miller, the executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, told The Augusta Chronicle that as many as 150 additional workers could be needed to bolster oversight programs that ensure materials meet strict nuclear standards.
In its most recent report to the Georgia Public Service Commission, the company said final projected costs for quality assurance, oversight, operational readiness and regulatory compliance rose from a projected $621 million in 2009 to $755 million in 2012.
Ends & Pieces
A World War 2-era B-17 bomber called “Memphis Belle” is receiving maintenance at Cherokee County Regional Airport until it continues its tour on Monday, but you can visit the plane until then and it will remain based at Cherokee for the next year.