Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 24, 2012

24
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 24, 2012

 

Braydon is a two-month old, ten pound Rottie mix male puppy who is available today for adoption from Walton County Animal Services.

Scout, Sally, Sasha, and Sara are four boxer-mix puppies who were found abandoned in a box and emaciated. They’re now up-to-date on their shots and available for adoption from Walton County Animal Shelter. They weigh fifteen pounds each. If you adopt one of these dogs, which cost $40, a significant saving over vaccinating a new puppy alone, I’ll make it a buy one, get one free and pay for a second puppy for you or a sponsorship payable to the shelter or any rescue that saves one.

Major David Gray, who was killed in Afghanistan on August 8th, was honored in a memorial service in Loganville this week.

Gray’s brother-in-law, Ken Baumann, expressed many of the thoughts others had in the crowd.

“David lived for serving others,” Baumann said. “He learned to serve from those who went before him. He set the example for those who will come after. I’ve never known a batter man than David.”

Gray, whose funeral was last week in Colorado, will be laid to rest Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. He leaves behind his wife, Heather, and three children, Nyah, Garrett and Ava.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Courts

Fulton County Daily Report has a story on the two new judges elected in Gwinnett County, Kathy Schrader to the Superior Court and Emily Brantley to State Court, and discussion of Alison Sosebee’s win over Appalachian Circuit District Attorney Joe Hendricks, Jr., and notes on other Court runoffs.

Rather than returning to the short list used in two recent appointments to the Court of Appeals, the Judicial Nominating Commission will take applications and compile a new list for the vacancy created by Judge Harris Adams’s announced retirement.

The Judicial Nominating Commission released a list of 28 nominees for an opening on the Cobb County Superior Court. Notable nominees include Cobb Solicitor Barry Morgan, State Court Judges Maria Golick, Roland Castellanos, Deputy Chief District Attorney Van Pearlberg, who ran for Superior Court this year, and Cindi Yeager, who ran for DA. Nominations are closed and completed application packages due at the end of the month. The Commission will interview applicants and prepare a short list for the Governor’s consideration.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed Putnam County State Court Judge Enis Trenton “Trent” Brown III to the Ocmulgee Circuit Superior Court to fill a vacancy resulting from Judge John Lee Parrott’s resignation.

Victor Hill, who has extended Clayton County’s tenure as most embarrassing County in Georgia, will be tried on 37 felony count indictments beginning November 26th. The disposition of those accounts may determine whether Hill is able to take office.

“This is a bizarre set of circumstances that just hasn’t happened before,” said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, president of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

Sills said Wednesday he expects the sheriff’s association to ask the governor to suspend Hill if he has not been tried by the end of the year. Sills said the association’s leaders have started discussions but no steps can be taken until Jan. 1, when Hill would take office.

Though Hill has only won the Democratic primary, there is no Republican on the November general election ballot.

“Victor Hill … hasn’t been elected sheriff yet and he won’t be sheriff-elect until November,” Sills said.

Also, Georgia has suspended Hill’s certification as a law enforcement officer, which state law requires all sheriffs to have.

The former homicide detective’s certification was suspended when he was indicted in January. If he takes office on Jan. 1, the law gives him six months to secure Peace Officers Standards and Training Council certification. Until then, “he can’t arrest anybody.” Sills said.

POST has said Hill would not be certified if he is under indictment. No trial date has been set.

Angela Garmley, who accused former Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran of propositioning her in his chambers leading to Cochran’s resignation, had drug possession charges against her dropped.

Executive Branch

Governor Deal spoke to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce yesterday and took the opportunity to speak in favor of the Charter School Amendment on November’s ballot.

Gwinnett County’s school board as well as the state school superintendent have come out against the proposed amendment, which would guarantee the state’s right to charter public schools even if the local school board does not support it.

But Deal said that the eight state-chartered schools in Georgia are all outperforming the public schools in the area. He pointed to Ivy Preparatory Academy, located in Peachtree Corners, as an example, since the students at the all-girls school are doing better on standardized tests than even the high-quality Gwinnett schools in their area.

“We want to give parents and students some choices,” he said, adding that the proposal would not decrease state funding for public school districts. “The important thing is we have the right facts on the table (for the Nov. 6 election), so people have a choice.”

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said he wasn’t surprised by the governor’s endorsement, but the statistics about Ivy Prep are not correct, adding that the test scores lag behind after sixth grade.

“I appreciate the governor being in Gwinnett. … He has really tried to improve the economic development posture of the state, and it fits in well with what we are trying to do in Gwinnett,” Wilbanks said, but added that he did not believe the charter school amendment was the way to do it. “I think it’s bad policy. … If it becomes reality, it will be bad for education in the state.”

The Gwinnett school system has four of its own charter schools, so Wilbanks said he isn’t opposed to the idea in general, just the legislation proposed.

“This amendment is about who gets to approve them, who gets to control them and fund them,” he said.

Gwinnett Daily Post writer Frank Reddy has a first-person account of attending his wife’s family reunion in the Governor’s Mansion.

Attorney General Sam Olens wrote Deal that federal law may require the state to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who have been given deferred action status.

“While I do not agree with the actions of the President in issuing the directive, it has been implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), and state law recognizes the approval of deferred action status as a basis for issuing a temporary driver’s license,” Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, wrote in a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Campaigns & Elections

Three Georgia based campaigns are noted for campaign innovations by NationalJournal.com.

HOW-TO TAPES (1990) – In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as Newt Gingrich was ascending to the height of his power, he took time to teach fellow Republicans how to come along for the ride. As part of his drive to build a GOP House majority, Gingrich used GOPAC, which he controlled, to send instructional tapes to party candidates up and down the ballot, teaching them the art of using language to build contrast with their opponents.

THE MICRO AD (1998) – In 2002, then-Rep. Saxby Chambliss used a series of 10-second ads to cast the votes of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Max Cleland, on social issues as out of step with conservative Georgia. “Why would he do that?” the Chambliss spots asked.

The short, concise arguments helped Schumer and Chambliss win Senate seats. But the McCain-Feingold reform law, which required a candidate to stand by his or her ads, effectively killed the technique. Now attack ads come in 30-second increments—long enough to deliver a more detailed message but also to risk diminishing the attacker’s standing.

THE VIRAL VIDEO (2002) – 

Before YouTube, before Web ads, and before cable news channels began playing campaign ads on a loop, there was King Roy, once an affectionate nickname for Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. Republican ad producer Fred Davis turned the moniker into a negative, portraying the Democrat as a rat with a gold crown. Davis screened the video for journalists, then mailed it to thousands of voters. The spot flashed across the front page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Barnes lost to Republican Sonny Perdue by 5 points. “We had no money to run [the ad] on TV,” Davis said. “So the plan was to produce 25,000 VHS videotapes and mail them to highly targeted opinion leaders.”

Davis’s ad presaged a decade in which clever, or clumsy, political videos caught fire as a powerful tool.

Add Cherokee County District Two Commission incumbent Jim Hubbard to the list of incumbents booted from office. Former county fire chief Raymond Gunnin won the Republican Primary Runoff on Tuesday by a 57-43 margin.

Dave Wickert, in the AJC, wrote about factors that may have contributed to the high number of incumbents beaten in runoff elections.

Voters tossed politicians out of office across metro Atlanta in a nearly clean sweep of incumbents: 11 of 13 lost in local races.

Political observers say a poor economy, an unpopular transportation sales tax proposal, distrust of government and various local issues contributed to the results.

Jeff Tullis of Grayson voted for Hunter over Beaudreau in Gwinnett. He said Hunter has the best interests of the county at heart. And though Tullis has no opinion of Beaudreau, he said tough economic times “are affecting people on both sides of the aisle.”

“I feel that people are just fed up with the status quo,” he said. “I’m definitely not better off than I was four years ago.”

Todd Rehm, a Republican political consultant and pollster, said that’s a common theme in recent anti-incumbent fervor. “It’s the economy, stupid,” he said.

Rehm said incumbents even at the local level have a hard time getting re-elected in a tough economy. He said hot local issues — such as corruption allegations involving former commissioners in Gwinnett and the recent failed transportation sales tax measure elsewhere — also worked against incumbents.

“The T-SPLOST by itself, in a normal year, might not have caused the ripple that it has,” Rehm said. “But when you add it to the economy, the general sense that some of these local governments are raising taxes too much already … that certainly turned a couple of races.”

Julianne Thompson, a co-chairwoman of the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, sees another message in Tuesday’s results: Voters just don’t trust government.

“I think it would be very difficult for [public officials] not to get the message,” Thompson said. “But I’m not so sure that some of them have gotten the message.”

The State Elections Board has forwarded allegations of voting fraud in City of Gray elections to Attorney General Sam Olens’s office.

Because the Secretary of State’s office agreed to extend the time period for accepting ballots from overseas military personnel until August 31, certification of federal elections has been delayed. This also means a delay in recounts for Congressional elections, such as the Twelfth District, where Rick Allen’s consultant said a recount will be requested.

Click Here

Internet cafes are becoming major sources of campaign donations in Florida. I didn’t know those were still a thing, but apparently gambling is involved.

Transportation

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is still on track for federal approvals in November.

“The Savannah Harbor Expansion project is all about increasing economic efficiencies for the nation,” said [general manager of navigation improvements and environmental management for Georgia Ports Authority Hope] Moorer, who also serves as project manager for the endeavor. “Savannah is a port of national significance, accounting for nearly 9 percent of all container trade and 12.5 percent of all exports in the country.

“When I began working here in 1999, we were moving about 750,000 twenty-foot containers a year. Last year, we moved just shy of three million.”

Because Savannah is the shallowest among major ports worldwide — 42 feet at mean low tide — most container vessels coming into the port are operationally constrained, Moorer said.

“When we began this study, that number was around 50 percent,” she said. “Today, it’s 80 percent, with 30-40 percent of ships having to wait for high tide to come into port.”

William “Bill” Bailey, chief of the planning division for the US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah district discussed the approval process ahead.

“The Corps’ Chief of Engineers report was signed Friday and sent to the Department of the Army, which will look it over, then send it on to the president’s Office of Management and Budget.”

The OMB will study the project and decide whether it’s a project they want to spend money on, he said.

“When all those studies are complete, it will go back to the Department of the Army for a final OK, known as a Record of Decision,” Bailey said.

“The Corps cannot start moving toward construction until it has a Record of Decision,” he said. “Even then, it must draw up a legal document of agreement between the Corps and the project’s local sponsor, either the Georgia Department of Transportation or the state DOT and Georgia Ports.

“If the Record of Decision comes, as anticipated, in November, we could expect to execute the contract sometime in the spring and possibly begin actual work around the harbor entrance as early as May.”

North Fulton Community Improvement District, the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, and MARTA will hold a Connect 400 transit forum to discuss transportation needs along the 400 corridor on Thursday, Aug. 30 from 9 to 10:30 AM at the GNFCC, located at 11605 Haynes Bridge Road, Suite 100 in Alpharetta.

Former State Rep. Mark Burkhalter, who probably holds the record for shortest tenure as Speaker of the Georgia State House, has been appointed by Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann to the North Fulton CID Board.

The North Fulton CID is a self-taxing district that spans from Mansell Road north to McGinnis Ferry Road.

It was established in 2003 by business leaders in the North Fulton community who were committed to enhancing infrastructure and partnering with other public and private entities to bring about community improvements.

Since its inception, the North Fulton has invested over $13 million directly in the North Fulton Community.

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