Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 30, 2012


The litter of five puppies above was abandoned in a convenience store parking lot and the three girls and two boys will be available for individual adoption beginning Sunday from the Bainbridge Humane Society.

A popular Christmas season fundraiser for local rescue groups and humane societies is the Pet Pic with Santa. Here’s a list of several places to have your dog or cat photographed with Santa.

Gwinnett County is having photos with Santa at their Animal Shelter, as well as discounted $30 adoptions through December 23d.

We understand the potency of using dogs in marketing, but sometimes you really need an outside opinion on whether your business can really use a dog in its ads. Exhibit one is this display ad from a Hall County urologist.

While they don’t say it, I can only assume from the advertisement that “no needles” combined with a photo of a dog with two tennis balls in its mouth means your vasectomy will be performed by a labrador retriever working without benefit of anesthesia. Hope the dog isn’t named Chopper. [language warning at that link]

Angels Among Us rescued one of the most pitiful severely-neglected dogs I’ve seen and is racking up veterinary bills to find out what he needs. Please consider donating to his care if you are able. If you give online, please note in the online form that you learned about Harding from GaPundit.com. When rescues know where the money comes from it is helpful to them, and to us as we are gaining credibility with rescue groups, which I believe will help us save more animals.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Governor Nathan Deal’s experience in Congress will be useful as he monitors the fiscal negotiations and assesses the impact on Georgia.

“When you’re looking at a project where 70 percent of the cost is expected to be paid by the federal government, that first step of getting it into the federal budget and approved is critical.”

Deal recently said he’d ask state lawmakers for an additional $50 million this year to deepen the port so it can accommodate the larger cargo ships expected when the Panama Canal is expanded in 2015.

If Deal’s request is approved, it’ll bring the state’s share to $231 million. The project’s total price tag is $652 million.

Whether or not Congress can reach a debt reduction deal by the end of the year, federal funds are expected to be tougher to come by in 2013. Nonetheless, Deal says the project is in a good position.

“This is a difficult time to get any new projects in the federal budget but we are hopeful. We think the merits of the project hopefully will be able to convince those in Washington to include it in the next budget.”

State Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and spoke with WABE’s Dennis O’Hayer about the impact of Washington’s negotiations on Georgia’s budget.

“As far as the state budget is concerned, there are some effects that would happen that maybe aren’t as severe as the overall impact on the state from sequestration. What we as a state would do, as far as those cuts that flow through our budget, we’re going to look at those individually and on a case-by-case project decide if we need to try to find the funds to replace any or part of that.”

Mediation with attorneys involved in the lawsuit by environmental groups seeking to stop the Savannah Harbor Expansion and dredging of the Savannah River is taking place in Charleston. Because Charlestonians are historically dispassionate about negotiations involving the federal government.

The Georgia Ports Authority approved spending $2 million to upgrade the roll-on/roll-off cargo capacity at Savannah’s Ocean Terminal.

Restoring the full Pre-K calendar will be another of Governor Deal’s priorities in the 2013 Session of the General Assembly.

Gov. Nathan Deal says he’ll put money in his proposed state budget next year to restore all the days cut from pre-K programs.

Reducing them by 20 days, Deal noted in an interview Wednesday, was part of a bail-out for Georgia’s financially strapped HOPE scholarship program.

It’s funded by state lottery revenues, which have failed to keep pace with HOPE-related costs.

Ten days were restored in this year’s state budget.

“And being able to put 10 more back will bring us back to where we were,” Deal said.

Not certain of retaining their spot as the most embarrassing County in Georgia as Honey Boo-Boo’s Wilkinson County home makes a strong play, Clayton County voters will head to the polls again on December 4th to decide runoffs for the School Board. Whoever’s on the ballot, we can county on Clayton County to make the abosolute worst choice.

Republican District Attorney-elect Meg Daly Heap is preparing to take office in Chatham County.

One priority Heap has set is ramping up prosecution of repeat offenders.

A defendant with three prior felonies can be charged as a recidivist, which means even at the state level, they would not be eligible for parole.

“This is a tool we have, and we need to use it,” she said. “They’re getting out and committing more crimes.”

The State Elections Board informed Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry that he’s not allowed to visit election precincts while he’s a candidate on the ballot unless he is actually voting at the time.

Brink Bradshaw and Kelvin Williams, the director of Thomson-McDuffie County Elections and Voter Registration, lodged the complaint with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees elections. They accused Usry of intimidating voters by visiting three polling places during last year’s municipal election.

Usry told state investigators that he had heard rumors of irregularities and wanted to check them out. He said he didn’t know it was illegal for a candidate to visit polling places for any reason other than voting.

Electric rates will be lower beginning in January for Georgia Power customers after action by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

“We have low natural gas prices to thank for this rate reduction,” said Georgia PSC Chairman Tim Echols, in a statement. “But I believe our investment in new nuclear will be our saving grace when gas prices rise again decades from now.”

CobbEMC rolled back electric rates while upping the monthly service charge, but says that most ratepayers will pay less net.

The company and its chairman insist the changes will result in unchanged or lowered bills for more than 80 percent of members.

“Apples to apples, whatever you spent in July of 2012, in July of 2013 you’re going to pay less,” Chairman Ed Crowell said. “The service charge accounts for the fixed costs of every customer, whether they have electricity flowing or not. The wiring, the meter, that stays the same. What we found when we tried to reduce rates was that the Wholesale Power Adjustment had been built up over the years with fixed costs, rather than increasing the base service fee. It hasn’t been bill clearly in the past.”

Georgia Solar Utilities will get stomped on by an 800-pund gorilla attempt to revise the Territorial Electric Service Act in the General Assembly in order to compete with Georgia Power, EMCs and municipal electric utilities.

Economic forecasts from the University of Georgia suggest our state’s economy should slightly outpace the rest of the country in 2013.

“We will outperform the average state in 2013,” Robert Sumichrast, dean of UGA’s Terry College of Business, told hundreds of businessmen, politicians and academics Thursday at the Georgia World Congress Center. “The massive restructuring of the state’s private sector is complete and the real estate bubble is over.”

The economist predicted Georgia will achieve a 2.1 percent growth rate next year, compared with a national growth rate of 1.8 percent. That would reverse several years in which Georgia largely lagged the nation in major economic measures such as job losses, home values and personal income.

The UGA forecast cites a dropping unemployment rate, strengthening job growth and a mild rebound in home values, which it expects to grow 3 percent to 5 percent.

Augusta won’t be as lucky.

the forecast … calls for the Augusta area’s employment to grow by 0.4 percent in 2013. That would be an improvement over the negative 2.1 percent pace for this year.

The metro area will lag the rest of the state’s 2.1 percent expansion and the nation’s 1.3 percent.

“Strong performance of the metro area’s services-producing industries, notably health care and private education, will be a positive for the local economy,” the economists wrote.

Hall County’s housing market is near the bottom of the list of metro areas nationwide.

Among 304 metro areas, the Gainesville MSA, which is basically Hall, is ranked No. 301, with a 5.75 percent drop in housing values over the past year. The report is based on the housing price index, which takes into account new and refinanced mortgages.

Two Florida cities — Gainesville and Tallahassee — and Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, N.Y., are the only metro areas that have worse showings, the 77-page report states.

Ends & Pieces

Dahlonega will display what is thought to be the only diving bell that survives from Georgia’s gold rush era. The diving bell was used to prospect on the bottoms of rivers near the town.

The Trust for Public Land is working to link the southern end of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain to the Chattahoochee River to provide for expanded recreation opportunities.

Gov. Deal calls for $50 million additional for Savannah Harbor Expansion

From the Press Release:

Deal calls for $50 million in new funds for deepening port

November 19, 2012
Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that as part of his FY2014 budget proposal, he will seek an additional $50 million in funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project at the Georgia Ports Authority Board meeting.

“I am committed to allocating funds and time to this pivotal link in our logistics network,”said Deal. “Expanding the Savannah Harbor is vital to our renewed economic growth and plays an integral role in helping make our state the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business.”

If approved, the proposal will increase state funding for the deepening project to $231.1 million.

“Studies indicate that the port deepening will reduce shipping costs by at least $213 million a year,” said Georgia Ports Authority Board Chairman Robert Jepson. “The 5.5-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio demonstrates that the expenditure would be a wise investment of federal dollars.”

Overall, the cost of the project is anticipated to be $652 million. The Record of Decision, signifying final federal approval for the project, was issued in October, allowing for construction to begin in 2013.

“The milestone decision made thus far by our federal agencies along with strong support from the state signifies great confidence in the surety and soundness of our deepening plan,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “We are and will continue to work diligently with our leaders in Washington to cultivate further funding for a successful port deepening.”

Georgia Republican Political News for May 9, 2012

“Ludwig” is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Basset Hound, who is one year old and will be available for adoption through Angels Among Us Rescue after a short quarantine and vetting period. He is very friendly and great with children and has worked with special needs kids in a program through the shelter where he was an inmate. Angels Rescue spends about $150 per dog for vetting and is asking for online donations and foster homes.

Real ID Act requires proof of identity for driver’s license

Beginning July 1, 2012, Georgians seeking or renewing a driver’s license will have to present additional evidence of their identity and immigration status under Georgia’s Secure ID implementation of the Federal Real ID program.

“This program will give Georgians the most secure IDs we’ve ever issued in this state,” said Deal. “It is our duty to protect our residents’ identities to the best of our ability.”

The new documentation requirements mean you must prove (1) you are who you say you are; (2) social security number; and (3) your home address. A list of acceptable documents and FAQs is available on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Republican Danny Dukes will seek election as Chairman of the Cherokee County School Board. Dukes pledges to “eliminate all teacher furloughs by reducing a bloated central office, take every step possible to cut the County dropout rate in half, and never vote for a tax increase.”

“During the last few weeks, I have discovered a groundswell of support for a true conservative as Cherokee County School Board Chair. Parents, teachers, community leaders and citizens share my sincere passion for the children of our county. We all deserve a School Board with positive, collaborative energy and an effective leader who works for solutions based on conservative principles,” said Danny. “We can have the highest performing school system in Georgia if we put students first and pledge to work with other elected leaders to solve problems. And we can do all this without raising taxes.”

Join David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black tonight at 5 PM to support the reelection campaign of State Rep. Steve Davis (R-Stockbridge). $10 gets you a steak and potato dinner and kids eat free.

Federal court vacancies on the bench for the Northern District of Georgia and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals are straining their ability to handle cases and will be worsened when an additional sitting judge takes senior status.

Georgia’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of three year property tax assessment freeze by Effingham County that sought to help address the flood of foreclosures.

The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce heard from the Georgia Ports Authority on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, while the comment period on SHEP has been expanded by 15 days by the US Army Corps of Engineers to June 5th.

South Carolina’s Savannah River Maritime Commission hopes to limit the dredging that will allow better access to the Port of Savannah to 45 feet, rather than the 47 feet recommended by the Corps.

Savannah and Macon prompted some of this year’s revisions to Georgia’s Open Records and Open Meetings laws, according to a discussion by Republican Attorney General Sam Olens at the Atlanta Press Club.

The US Chamber of Commerce is buying ads in four states and will likely enter into Congressional races in Georgia.

Georgia State Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) issued a statement lauding Gov. Nathan Deal for signing Shafer’s Zero-Based Budgeting legislation.

“I applaud Governor Deal, not just for signing the bill but for his leadership in voluntarily implementing zero based budgeting,” Shafer said.  “This tool is already being used to identify unnecessary spending and ensure that tax dollars are being used wisely.”

Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau is considering proposing a 1% county sales tax to replace property taxes in funding county government operations. I’m sure it’s completely unrelated to his reelection campaign and choice of political consultant.

Ruby D. Jones is seeking reelection to the Savannah-Chatham County School Board.

Philip Johnson is running as a Democrat for Newton County Commission District Five.

Robert Stokely is running as a Republican for State House District 71, to replace Billy Horne, who is not seeking reelection.

Republican Jon Heffer will run for State House District 28 in Banks, Habersham, and Stephens Counties.

Susan D. Brown announced her candidacy for Hall County Probate Judge.

Randy Evans, a retired police officer, is running for Whitfield Magistrate Judge.

The Rome City Commission has appointed Detrick Redding to the Ward 2 vacancy on the Commission..

Republican Dick Perryman is running for District Attorney in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit, which comprises Atkinson, Berrien, Clinch, Cook, and Lanier Counties.

Carroll County Commissioner Kevin Jackson is seeking reelection as a Republican.

Five of six candidates for Richmond County Sheriff addressed the Augusta-Richmond County Committee for Good Government yesterday.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) joined Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) in discussing recent metal theft legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly.

Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann asked her colleague Emma Darnell to stop insulting North Fulton residents.

Bibb County Board of Education members will discuss reapportionment maps passed by the General Assembly at 6 PM on Thursday.

Peachtree Corners is making progress as Georgia’s newest city.

Forsyth County is re-running the election announcement for T-SPLOST after messing up the wording the first time.

Tomorrow night, Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) will hold a fundraiser at Manuel’s Tavern from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Ends & Pieces

Alan Abramowitz of the Emory University Department of Political Science discusses the role of SuperPACS and Merle Black has a short history of “Nasty Politics” and negative advertising.

The Board of Regents has released names for two institutions resulting from the merger of predecessor colleges. According to GPB, North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega and Gainesville State University will become the University of North Georgia, while Middle Georgia State College is the new name for the merger of Middle Georgia College in Cochran and Macon State College.

2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Porsche Cars North America, headquartered in Atlanta, released April sales figures that show 911 sales up 69% over the previous April and the best April ever for the company.

Georgia Tech will receive federal funding for research into nuclear power production and scholarships under the Nuclear Energy University Program, part of a $47 million program by the US Department of Energy to spur careers in nuclear power.

Georgia Power will testify before the Public Service Commission today that it is still under budget for the construction of Plant Vogtle’s new nuclear reactors, though overall costs may increase.

Seven cases against alleged Masters ticket scalpers were dismissed.

Mary Echols, daughter of PSC member Tim Echols was named Prep Player of the Week by the Athens newspaper after leading Athens Christian to a third state track-and-field championship and winning four individual and relay titles. That’s a pretty amazing performance.

Krispy Kreme is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year.

Political partisans may choose not to accept facts that clash with their strongly held beliefs.

On a range of issues, partisans seem partial to their political loyalties over the facts. When those loyalties demand changing their views of the facts, he said, partisans seem willing to throw even consistency overboard.

Wisconsin’s “Total Recall” dynamic may be a harbinger of partisan civil war nationwide.

The politics of pro-Walker and anti-Walker are so advanced in the Badger State now that relatively few voters remain persuadable. And the depth of that divide is expected to remain, regardless of the outcome on June 5.

The divides of our era seem to be deepening. Consider the big margin by which North Carolina adopted a constitutional amendment this week that denies legal standing to civil unions and domestic partnerships all in the name of banning gay marriages that were already outlawed in the state.

And consider the drubbing Indiana gave to six-term Senate icon Richard Lugar in Tuesday’s Republican primary, which state treasurer Richard Mourdock won with 60 percent of the vote.

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