Georgia Political News for April 10, 2012

10
Apr

Georgia Political News for April 10, 2012

Ari (left) and Anabella are female Golden Retriever mixes available separately for adoption from Angels Among Us Rescue. Ari is about two years old and both dogs come up-to-date on their shots.

Rome City Commissioner Sue Lee is working to upgrade the animal control shelter, which she calls “the dungeon.”

“The Animal Control shelter is abysmal,” said Lee. “I tried at this last SPLOST to get them to put a new Animal Control shelter on the SPLOST, but not only was I turned down, but I was turned down big time.”

We really just need a new one altogether,” she said. “The county is in charge of that, and it’s just not a priority with them. With two new commissioners coming on, I would hope this would be a priority for them. But your chain is just as strong as your weakest link. The chain isn’t just weak; it’s broken.”

Rome historians and the local newspaper tell the interesting story of “Brownie, the Depot Dog,” who greeted visitors in the 1920s and 30s, and is buried on the grounds with a tombstone.

Executive Branch Announcements

Governor Nathan Deal announced that March revenues were up 5% over March 2011 to $1.16 billion. In a press release, Deal said, ““Though there is still a lot of room for improvemen. This upward economic growth pattern alongside several other solid economic indicators proves we are moving in the right direction.”

Attorney General Sam Olens announced that WellCare, an HMO, has settled fraud allegations with Georgia and eight other states and the Feds for $137.5 million plus interest, payable over four years. Georgia will receive $33 million and WellCare will undergo three years’ regulatory oversight in the settlement of MediCare fraud charges that also resulted in fraud charges against six current company executives.

Georgia DNR announced that Bald Eagle nesting sites in Georgia are up over last year, along with the number of fledgling Bald Eagles. The study also documents the first known Bald Eagle nest at Lake Lanier.

The State Ethics Transparency Commission found no basis for proceeding on an ethics charge filed against Governor Deal by Rome gadfly activist George Anderson. Deal’s lawyer, Randy Evans, called the remaining charges “frivolous.” The remaining charges include goofy charges related to airplane travel during the 2010 campaign that have been thoroughly debunked.

Campaigns and Elections

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols hit a sour note when he solicited campaign donations in his Easter email to some activists.

His behavior on the PSC has been embarrassing. His excuses to repeated appearances of impropriety do not really hold up. And today he sends out an email that I struggle to reconcile with any sense of good decency for any Christian politician who is not a huckster, charlatan, or fraud.

The other Public Service Commission may take umbrage at Echols’s self-serving Op-Ed in the Athens Banner-Herald defending his vote to override a business decision made by Georgia Power and substitute his own judgment for that of the people who actually run the company. In addition to imposing costs of up to $3 billion on Georgia Power ratepayers, such action would be far in excess of the PSC’s authority to review utility decisions for whether they are prudent. A “strong conservative voice for less government interference,” indeed.

South Carolina GOP incumbents are facing a high number of primary challenges, apparently resulting from redistricting and Tea Party anti-incumbent sentiment.

Former Floyd County Commissioner Chad Whitefield has withdrawn from the race for state Senate district 52, which comprises Floyd County and parts of Chattooga, Bartow and Gordon counties. The only candidate currently in that race is former DOT Board Chair David Doss, who reported more than $26,000 cash on hand.

Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) announced that he will run for reelection in new District 140, which comprises all of Crawford County and parts of Bibb, Houston, Monroe and Peach counties.

“I am proud to say I have delivered on many of the issues I campaigned on,” Dickey said in a news release. “I have supported two balanced state budgets that reduced state spending to nearly 2001 spending levels. I supported comprehensive tax reform that will reduce taxes on our families and spur job growth.

“To cut waste and make government more efficient, I supported zero-based budgeting requiring state departments to justify every dollar spent. In addition, I supported efforts to save the HOPE Scholarship, crack down on metal theft, and grow our economy.”

The Augusta Commission voted unanimously to ask a federal judge to draw new district lines for Commission and Richmond County Board of Education seats after the local legislative delegation deadlocked during the session.

In Gwinnett County, Brian Whiteside will seek election as Clerk of Court following the death of Tom Lawler.

Gerald Couch leads fundraising for the quarter in the race for Hall County Sheriff, with more than $13,000 collected, plus a personal loan from the candidate. Jeff Strickland has raised the highest total to date with $31,000 cash on hand.

Brook Davidson is running for Hall County Probate Judge.

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson gave $500 to Regina Quick (R), former Treasurer of the local GOP, in her campaign against Doug McKillip (DR?). Quick raised more than $32,000 for the quarter and has nearly $28k on hand to McKillip’s $40k on hand.

Democrat Spencer Frye raised more than twice the amount of his opponent, Rep. Keith Heard (D-Athens).

Dougherty County Commissioner Muarlean Edwards may run against incumbent State Rep. Carol Fullerton (D-Albany), who has announced her reelection campaign.

Ports

Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) accompanied FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on a briefing and tour of the Port of Savannah, saying

“One of the core missions of the FDA is to ensure that the food on our dinner tables and in our school cafeterias is safe to eat,” Kingston said. “That effort includes keeping a watchful eye over the food imports that enter our country through our ports.”

More than 40 percent of US poultry exports ship through the Savannah port each year.

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear a challenge by environmental groups including the Savannah Riverkeeper, which is based in Augusta, GA, to the proposed deepening of the Savannah River Channel to accomodate post-Panamax ships to the Port. The groups seek to overturn the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s decision to issue a dredging permit to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Random Remainders

The Houston County school board is considering whether to teach elementary school students about sexual predators in an attempt to prevent children from being lured and abducted or sexually harassed. Similar material is already being presented to students whose parents approve, but the materials are considered outdated.

2012 County Health Rankings suggest that Middle Georgia suffers from a healthcare gap, demonstrated by the finding that Bibb County residents die at an earlier age than other Georgians.

Former Gwinnett County Commission Chair Wayne Hill, who is also a private pilot, said he would vote against privatizing Briscoe Field if he still sat on the Commission.

Snellville’s police chief now also will act as interim City Manager. A city resident noted, “obviously you all need somebody to baby-sit you; you can’t even agree on what to do for 60 days. Listening to this is like listening to my kids bicker.”

Howard Finster’s “Paradise Gardens” in Summerville, GA has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

DeKalb County’s Jan Selman, a political coach, will address the April 14 League of Women Voters of Carrollton and Carroll County’s annual meeting about the political process and how to prepare for electoral success.

The Columbus Charter Review Commission voted to remove from November’s ballot a proposal to empower the city to impose a $500 “basic services fee” on property owners.

The Whitfield County Commission will seek a new finance director, after the resignation of the new director after five days on the job.

Lowndes County is renegotiating the disposition of LOST tax proceeds with its municipalities.

The Dalton Daily Citizen has a four-part series on the Great Locomotive Chase from 1862.

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