Behind the Eagles – Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 8, 2013


Behind the Eagles – Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 8, 2013

Our friends at Rick Thompson & Associates asked me to remind all Georgia candidates that Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports are due to be filed with the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission no later than midnight on July 8th.

If you need help getting your disclosures done on time, you can visit their website or call them at 404.492.8878. Mention for a discount; also, if you do that, they’ll deliver a paper sack full of dollar bills to me.

Cherokee County Ga Old CourthouseOnce upon a time in Cherokee County, being incarcerated in the County Jail was referred to as being “behind the eagles” because the cell windows looked out on the eagle statuary on the facade of the old courthouse.
Cherokee County Ga Courthouse Eagles

Today, no one’s housed in the historic courthouse anymore, so Cherokee County Board of Education member Kelly Marlow and her political consultant Robert Trim didn’t spend any time behind the eagles after they turned themselves in on charges of filing false charges against the county school superintendent.

Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow and her political adviser, Robert Trim, turned themselves in at the Cherokee Detention Center on Saturday morning on felony charges of making false statements that the county school superintendent tried to run them over with his car.

Marlow and Trim turned themselves in to police at about 8 a.m. and two hours later were released on bond, set at $11,200 for each, said Pacer Cordry, spokesman for the Canton Police Department.

Despite having previously hosted political events including a meet-and-greet for Kelly Marlow, the Bridge Mill Club realized its rules prevented it from hosting political events, so Smart Citizens Rally Against Marlow, or SCRAM! wasn’t allowed to host a planned event there.

Governor Deal: GOP must appeals to voters who aren’t like us

Gov. Deal argues that some Georgia Republican initiatives should appeal to minority voters and help prevent the party’s hold on Peach State political power from eroding under the coming demographics waves.

He argues that his criminal justice overhaul should appeal to minority voters by keeping more low-level offenders out of prisons, which lock up a disproportionate number of blacks. And he said his party’s backing of the charter school amendment should also resonate with minorities, who gave it heavy support in major majority-black counties.

Beneath it all is the hope that the GOP could begin winning over reluctant minorities who see their economic bottom line as the biggest concern, if Republicans can stake a claim as the party of job creation.

“We have to use our power to show we’re fair and impartial,” Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview. “A lot of voting patterns are dictated by perceptions of parties at the federal level. But the Republican Party at the state level can begin to set an example.”

It could take more than that, though, to convince minorities who have rewarded Democrats with near monolithic support. Hispanics haven’t forgotten about the immigration crackdown that Deal signed in 2011. And many black voters were outraged by the GOP’s celebratory response last week to a ruling that undoes part of a voting law dating to the civil rights era.

The governor doesn’t see debates over controversial social issues as a zero-sum game that favors Republicans while infuriating Democrats. He notes traditionally strong support for abortion restrictions among minority clergy and the overwhelming endorsement of charter school expansions in majority-black counties such as Clayton as examples.

“Social issues are always the most difficult to deal with,” said Deal. “There is an assumption that these social issues necessarily break down on either racial or party lines, and that’s not exactly true.”

In recent weeks, he’s sought to step up his efforts to underscore that point. At the GOP convention in Athens, he cited statistics that show 56 percent of Georgia public school children are non-white and reminded the overwhelmingly white audience that change was coming.

He’s announced recent minority appointments to counter criticism that few blacks are picked for Georgia posts, though critics say he still has a ways to go. And he’s met with civil rights groups on his push to improve the rehabilitation of released inmates.

But like national Republicans, the brunt of his pitch to minorities hinges on economic arguments. It hasn’t worked yet on a national level, but he said making them stick here will ensure the GOP remains relevant in a changing Georgia.

“Do you want a good education? Do you want an economy that will support businesses? These are the issues we’re working on,” said Deal. “We sometimes get distracted about things we disagree on more than things we do agree on, and I would maintain the economy is one of them.

Often, how you say it is as important as what you say. Here’s a discussion on differences between how Gov. Deal and Democratic State Rep. Stacey Evans talked about rolling back the GPA required to maintain the HOPE Grant for technical schools. It’s instructive as to how we should be discussing the positive effects of conservative policies in a way that will connect with the hopes and dreams of voters.

On Immigration

M. Stanton Evans writes in Human Events that immigration reform may be a lose-lose scenario for the GOP nationally.

That issue is whether the Republican Party, dazed from a daily pounding by the Washington press corps, will agree to commit political suicide by enfranchising 11 plus million illegal aliens on U.S. soil, the vast majority of whom will soon be casting Democratic ballots.

As is well known, the GOP is being stampeded toward this political cliff with the argument that only by agreeing to such legislation can it appeal to Hispanic voters, 70 per cent of whom supported Barack Obama in last year’s election. By endorsing amnesty for illegals (though not called such), say the pundits, Republicans can improve their standing among Hispanics.

This advice, be it noted, comes from the same media/political sectors that constantly urge the GOP to cave in on other issues. According to the political sages, and GOP “consultants” who take their marching orders from the press corps, the party also needs to opt for same-sex marriage, a pro-choice message on abortion and other such positions if it wants to win elections.

All of this is virtually guaranteed to happen because the immigration battle is strictly about the votes, and nothing but the votes. All the rest is sham and smokescreen. Obama and his party want their 70 percent of these 11-plus million illegals and will stop at nothing to get it. The mystery in the case is why the Republican Party, with its comfortable majority in the U.S. House, would consent to this Democratic power play, and thus connive at its own destruction.

To see what the Republican future would be like under this plan, we need only look to California, which up through 1994 was something of a Republican stronghold. That all changed when state restrictions on immigration were overturned by liberal jurists, and waves of immigrants turned the state’s politics upside-down. Today‘s California GOP is a small minority, routinely outvoted in state and Federal elections, with small chances of improvement.

Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush, who carried 44% of Hispanic voters in 2004, weighed in on immigration.

Bush will discuss immigration in a keynote address Wednesday during a naturalization ceremony at his new presidential library in Texas.

“I think it’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people,” Bush said Sunday in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “The legislative process is — can be ugly. But it looks like they’re making some progress.”

But it may not make any difference to conservatives in Congress.

Bush is not necessarily a role model for the new generation of Republican lawmakers. Many lean more to the right and reject a basic tenet of immigration reform — a long-term path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally — in a package with tougher border security and guest-worker programs.

Moreover, House conservatives who were swept into office in the tea party surge are suspicious of the GOP’s Bush-era leaders, whom they blame for running up fiscal deficits and compromising conservative values.

Although Bush’s support can’t hurt, House Republicans “are not going to pay too much attention” to the former president, his brother and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and other Republicans who support reform, said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, an advocacy group. “It’s not going to make the difference with conservative Republicans who hold the key to immigration reform in the House.”

Whether rank-and-file Republicans ultimately approve an immigration bill that President Obama will sign may depend on which wing of the GOP prevails in an internecine battle that will play out over the next several months.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has billed next week’s Republican session in the Capitol basement as a freewheeling discussion on the legislative path forward without “any predictions on what the outcome of that conversation’s going to be.”

The conversation is likely to be lively. The more conservative flank rejects what it derides as “amnesty” for immigrants, while a reemerging moderate wing will attempt to shore up support for prominent Republicans at the forefront of the debate.

“We’re never going to win the ‘Hell no!’ caucus,” said one pro-reform Republican strategist. “But there’s a large majority that could support reform and is either inclined to or undecided, and that’s where our efforts are most focused.”

The feud has left Republicans without a cohesive national message on immigration reform just as party leaders want to appeal to Latino voters who abandoned the party in the last two presidential elections.

The Savannah Morning News has a story about the impact of state immigration laws on Georgia and Alabama agriculture, two years after the high-profile passage of Georgia House Bill 87. The article is worth reading in its entirety.

Two years after Georgia and Alabama passed laws designed to drive away people living in the country illegally, the states’ agricultural areas are still heavily populated with foreign workers, many of whom don’t have legal authorization to be here.

There are still concerns over enforcement and lingering fears among immigrants, but in many ways it appears that people have gone on with life much as it was before the laws were enacted.

Farmers say many of the foreign workers have returned because the laws are not heavily enforced and it once again seems safe to be here.

But the story is more complicated than that: Some are still staying away or have gone underground, according to community activists, and some farmers say they are filling labor shortages not with returning immigrants but with workers hired through a program that grants temporary legal visas.

An informal survey conducted in Georgia showed that farmers of onions, watermelons and other hand-picked crops lacked more than 11,000 workers during their spring and summer harvests of 2011, Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on immigration enforcement and farm labor.

But then as courts began blocking significant elements of the law and some loopholes became apparent, some of the workers who had fled for fear of arrest and deportation returned. Others were drawn back by their longstanding ties to the communities.

ProtestGAGOP2A group on Facebook is planning a pro-immigration rally at the Georgia Republican Party Headquarters on Tuesday at 3 PM. The event doesn’t appear to have a lot of attendees so far, but it appears to be designed as a media event.

Gov. Deal to name panel to review Burrell Ellis indictment

Governor Deal is expected to name this week two members who will join Attorney General Sam Olens on a panel to review the indictments against DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and recommend whether to suspend him from office.

President Carter offers advice to Paula Deen

Former President Jimmy Carter had some advice for fellow Georgian Paula Deen, who is in the midst of self-immolating her career and media empire.

“I’ve known Paula Deen quite well for a long period of time. I advised her to let the dust settle and to make apologies,” Carter said in interview clips aired Friday on CNN. “My heart goes out to her but of course there’s no condoning the use of a word that abuses other people.”

CNN reported that Deen reached out to Carter, an old friend, for his take on what she should do after the fallout that came when it was confirmed she had a used derogatory term to describe African-Americans in the past. The former president, sympathetic, though making no excuses for Deen, told her that her best bet was to reach out to her community, which she has helped.

“She has some very beneficial human programs in Savannah, Georgia, where she lives that benefit almost exclusively oppressed and poverty-stricken black people, African-American citizens in her own community. And I advised her to get some of those people who she’s helping every day to speak out and show that she has changed in her relationship with African-American people, with minorities in the last number of years,” Carter added.

When dogs behind bars are a good thing

WABE has a great story on the Fulton County Jail program that matches dogs set to be euthanized with inmates.

Dogs like Daphne are set to be euthanized by Fulton County. But under this program, dogs are paired with inmates, like Mari, who will take care of and train them so they can be adopted.

“Any inmate is lucky to be able to enter such a program and help a dog out because if anyone understands a dog, it’s one of us inmates,” Mari says.

But it’s not just the dogs that benefit.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 67 percent of those who are released from prison or jail are arrested again within three years. And some jails across the country have found dogs actually can reduce the recidivism, or re-offense, rates of inmates.

There are about 25 jail dogs programs nationwide, and three in Georgia.

In Chatham County in southeast Georgia, the recidivism rate dropped considerably since the program started last year.

Lt. Robert Brooks, who coordinates the program, says that of 35 inmates who’ve been through the program last year, only 4 came back.

Without the program, he says the number would be more like 17 inmates.

“It’s really made an impact because these guys get in here and they get attached to the animal. And they bond with it, Brooks says. “There is someone else counting on them to make a good decision.”

Deputy Stephanie Martinez-Peres, who oversees the [Gwinnett County Jail Dogs] program, says that patience, among other things, is what the dogs can teach inmates.

“They learn to have unconditional love for something and some of them haven’t experienced that before, or have something love them in the way, like a dog loves you,” Martinez-Peres says.

Gwinnett County doesn’t track recidivism rates in the program because she says it’s a holding facility and some inmates go on to prison, but she talks about the behavioral changes she’s seen.

“The guys in that unit are a lot less depressed. They have more hope for each day. They get up and they have a purpose,” she says.

She says over the last three years, there have been virtually no fights in the unit – something that happens regularly at the jail.

To date, 400 inmates have gone through the program and about 150 dogs have been adopted, several by inmates after they’ve been released, she says.

Here’s a great video about how the Jail Dogs program works in Gwinnett County, where private donations pay for all the program expenses and no cost is passed on to taxpayers.


Tonight from 6-8 PM, the Clarke County Republican Party will hold its monthly meeting at Country Inn & Suites – Athens. Call 706-207-1500 or email for more information.

Tonight from 7:30 to 9 PM, the Greater Gwinnett Republican Women will host State Rep. Donna Sheldon, who is running for the Tenth Congressional District. The meeting will be at The Uptown Grille – Suwanee, located at 340 Town Center Avenue Suite #A8, Suwanee, Georgia.

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