Category: Brian Kemp

11
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections


Anna is a 49-pound, one-year old Pit mix who illustrates one of the heartbreaks of shelters across Georgia. Because she looks like a dog breed with a bad reputation, she’s much less likely to be adopted. She’s available today from Walton County Animal Shelter. Some shelters have developed a reputation for classifying any dog with a wide snout or any muscularity as a Pit bull and condemning them to death.

There’s something about the second picture of Anna that’s oddly compelling and convinces me she’ll make someone a great new best friend.

The Atlanta Underdog Initiative works on promoting responsible dog ownership, providing breed information on pit bulls and mastiffs, finding alternative solutions to breed specific legislation and working with communities to alleviate the pet overpopulation problem.

Their website also has links to other breed-specific groups that promote responsible ownership and information about these breeds. If you’re considering adopting a dog that is described as a Pit Bull or Pit-mix, a great first step would be talking with owners to learn more about the breeds, its temperment, and needs. I’ve received several emails in the last few days from proud and happy owners of Pit-type dogs, including a gentleman who says he trusts his dog to watch out for his grandkids.

Juno is a lab-mix who is estimated to be about six years old. She loves toys and children and is housetrained and gets along with other dogs. From the photo, I’m guessing she likes getting her belly rubbed. She is available for adoption from the Cherokee County Humane Society. You can email the foster home Juno is in if you have questions about her.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

One year ago today, the State of Georgia marked the tenth anniversary of 9/11/2001 with a solemn ceremony at the State Capitol.

“As a result of the attacks of 9/11, nearly 3,000 people perished, not soldiers on a battlefield, but civilians,” Deal said. “Men and women who had simply gone to work that day in New York City and Arlington, Va., became victims of senseless violence.”

“The tragedy would also claim the lives of many brave firemen, police officers and emergency responders. On this occasion, we recognize those who serve in our military, those who travel to dangerous places in the name of freedom and all those at work here in our nation to ensure our safety.”

WABE has a list of local commemorations.

Attorney General Sam Olens has asked the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to consider lifting an injunction preventing enforcement of part of House Bill 87, Georgia’s Immigration law; the injunction was upheld by a three judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit and Olens is asking the entire Court to rule.

United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, in the Southern District of Georgia, will allow the Navy to move forward with a submarine training range off the coast of Georgia and north Florida, despite concerns about the impact on endangered right whales.

Federal mediators will seek to broker a truce between the dockworkers’ union and employers at East Coast ports to prevent a possible strike that would affect Savannah and Brunswick.

Walter Jones writes about a survey we released yesterday showing that nearly a majority of Georgia voters favor the Charter School Amendment.

The results are the first made public of voter sentiment since the legislature put the amendment on the ballot. Both sides are raising funds for a campaign, although neither has begun advertising.

“With eight weeks before the General Election, I’d rather be in the place of charter-school proponents than that of the opposition,” said Sand Mountain pollster and political consultant Todd Rehm. “For opponents of the charter-school amendment to win, they have to either convince every undecided voter or win a substantial majority of those voters and convert some current supporters.”

Among every age group political party and gender, supporters outnumber opponents.

Gov. Nathan Deal has come out in favor of the amendment, saying it provides parents a choice besides sending their children to a struggling school.

State school Superintendent John Barge broke with his fellow Republicans and opposed it, warning that it would draw needed funding from traditional schools at a time when they face reduced budgets.

The question is on the ballot because the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law that had created an appointed commission at the state level to grant operating charters to parents rejected by their local school boards.

Here is the full release, along with links to the frequency counts, crosstabs, and statement of methodology, if you’re into that. Charter School Amendment proponents should be careful to not allow opponents to define what the vague wording of the ballot questions means. T-SPLOST supporters probably had a poll showing greater support at some point and we know how that turned out.

Meanwhile, we’re asking you to vote in our online survey on the Charter School Amendment and to give us some insight to your reasons for voting for or against it.

Meanwhile, opponents of the Charter School Amendment are accusing supporters of bullying to force them into neutrality.

Angela Palm with the Georgia School Boards Association says one example involves a switch in position by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

“The main reason I think this is going on is to try and distract us and thwart us from moving forward with our campaign.” — Angela Palm, Georgia School Board Association

Until recently, the Chamber had been opposed to the amendment and planned to hold a fundraiser for supporters but has now adopted a neutral stance. Palm says her organization was told from a source that she declines to name that the chamber changed its position after meeting with members of the Gwinnett delegation. She says during that meeting state lawmakers threatened to take away funding for the Gwinnett School System, Gwinnett College and Gwinnett Technical College unless it changed its stance.

It’s also possible that legislators were concerned about the possibility that payments by the Gwinnett County Public School System to the Chamber that may have had the effect of subsidizing lobbying and “voter education” efforts by the Chamber.

Thelonious Jones has dropped out of the election for Augusta Commission District One.

Jones, who revealed his plans after speaking at a West Augusta Neighborhood Alliance candidates forum, said there was “too much division in the community and I don’t want to be a part of it.” He said he could probably do more for the community through his job than by getting elected “where people still have the mindset of yesteryear.”

Jones became the second candidate to drop out of the District 1 race. Harrisburg activist Lori Davis, who doubles as president of the alliance, withdrew from the race before the August qualifying, also citing division in the community.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office is investigating a voter’s complaint that she was placed in the wrong district in Cherokee County for the Primary election.

Secretary of State Chief Investigator Chris Harvey said the investigation will determine if there was a mistake and if it was a single incident.

“Cherokee County is not alone in this particular problem since redistricting,” Harvey said, noting that several complaints across the state are being investigated after the July 31 primary elections.

Harvey said findings would be considered by the state Elections Board, but it may be several months before the complaint resolution is available. He said the investigation would not affect the outcome of any election — elections must be contested in Superior Court.

“I have the data to prove we are almost 100 percent accurate,” [Cherokee elections superintendent Janet] Munda said. “We worked around the clock and weekends to get this done, and we are confident all voters were assigned to the right district.”

The problem with voting from an administrative point of view is that “almost 100 percent accurate” isn’t good enough.

A plan by Cherokee County to implement a fire district tax is running into questions from the Attorney General’s office.

Written by Senior Assistant Attorney General Warren R. Calvert, the opinion calls into question the city’s proposal to impose an ad valorem tax on real property.

That tax, which was slated to have a 1.25 millage, would have paid for the construction of at least two fire stations.

The council has since abandoned plans to implement a district and is mulling other options of raising the revenue needed.

Calvert noted in the letter it was “more than a little doubtful that Canton officials can levy an ad valorem tax for 2012 and thereby retroactively impose a lien as of Jan. 1, 2012, on property that was not located in the fire protection district then because the district had not yet been created.”

Calvert also addressed Dyer’s question about whether the millage would have been considered a tax or a fee.

Calvert notes a tax is “an enforced contribution” backed by the law “for the purpose of raising revenue to be used for public or governmental purposes, not as payment for a special privilege or a service rendered.”

A fee, he added, is a “charge fixed by law as compensation for services rendered.”

Hakim Hilliard, an attorney from the McKenna Long firm, will be the new Chief of Staff to DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

Government gadfly George Anderson is giving legitimate supporters of increased enforcement of ethics laws a bad name by showing up at the Snellville City Council meeting to again announce that he’s filed a complaint against Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts. I know nothing about this matter, but when Anderson puts in an appearance, I assume (1) that the complaint is backed by political opponents of the complaint’s targe, and (2) that it’s so clearly deficient that those political opponents couldn’t find anyone with half a brain to file it on their behalf.

Witts said he consulted attorneys at the time and was told the back taxes [he admits to owing] were not an issue. Snellville City Attorney Tony Powell expressed a similar sentiment last month, saying there did not appear “to be a valid ethics claims that the council could act on.”

Anderson doesn’t agree. He said Monday that he has filed a complaint with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Here’s a pro-tip for politics: we know that your complaint is baseless when George Anderson files it you file it with a body that has no jurisdiction over the subject of the complaint and cannot do anything about it. In this case, the Campaign Finance Commission has no jurisdiction over Witt’s qualification to serve or the truthiness of any oath he took.

10
Sep

Results of statewide poll on Charter School Amendment

 

Press Release

For immediate release:
September 10, 2012

For more information, contact Todd Rehm

First publicly released poll on Charter School Amendment shows broad support, with nearly 50% of voters in favor

Todd Rehm, an Atlanta-based pollster and political consultant released the first public voter survey on the Charter School Amendment that will appear on the General Election ballot on November 6th, 2012.

The question, which uses the same language that will appear on the ballot, shows that 48.3% of likely General Election voters, defined as those who voted in the 2008 or 2010 General Elections, currently favor the measure.

“It’s too early to say that the Charter School Amendment is likely to pass, but it does appear to have a head-start,” said Rehm. “With eight weeks before the General Election, I’d rather be in the place of Charter School proponents than that of the opposition. For opponents of the Charter School Amendment to win, they have to either convince every undecided voters or win a substantial majority of those voters and convert some current supporters.”

While nearly a majority favor the measure, those who did not indicate they would vote for it are evenly split, with 26.2% saying they will vote against it, and 25.5% undecided.

“When you drill down into the results, two things become apparent,” said Rehm. “First is that the measure enjoys widespread support among most of the demographic categories we looked at. Second is that the only group among whom the measure doesn’t receive more support than opposition is voters who don’t identify with a political party, who are primarily undecided on the Charter School Amendment. But with Georgia’s electorate being highly partisan, there aren’t enough of these voters to make the difference on their own.”

Rehm noted that the ballot question is very generic and doesn’t give voters much to go on.

“If you don’t know about the Charter School Amendment before you look at the question, it’s hard to know what it’s intended to do or what effect it will have. That may make that the preamble to the question very important for the ultimate results.”

###

The survey was conducted on September 4, 2012 and includes 1331 respondents who answered all the questions. Respondents were drawn from people who voted in either the 2008 or 2010 General Election, with commercially-available phone matches appended. The margin of error is +/- 2.68 points at the 95% confidence level. The technology used was Interactive Voice Response, (IVR) which is commonly referred to as a “robopoll”.

Results of the survey may be downloaded here.

A statement of methodology is available here.

5
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 5, 2012

Jessie and Woody are sister and brother Pointer mix puppies, who are 6-8 weeks old and weigh eight pounds each. Dixie is a 2-year old, 45-pound pointer mix female. Each is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services today. The two puppies were owner surrenders, which means there is no mandatory holding period, putting them at immediate risk of euthanasia.

Autumn is female, approximately two months old, and weighs ten pounds. She will be available for adoption beginning Friday.

Lola is a year-old, 60# black lab mix. She’s said to be very sweet and friendly, and “wags her whole butt back and forth.” Bailey is a six-month old, 30# black lab mix turned in by her owner, again meaning no mandatory hold, at risk of euthanasia. Finally, we have what is described as a Beagle, but looks to me like a Beagle/Basset Hound mix, estimated to be one-year old and 25 pounds. These dogs are all available for adoption today from Walton County Animal Shelter.

This is the happy ending for the black lab formerly known as Gwinnett County Inmate 26397, who was featured here a couple weeks ago. He was adopted by a reader, who has also adopted a yellow lab who was featured in our emails. So I guess that means I’m stuck doing these every morning until there are no more dogs in need.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

If there isn’t already a word for when satire becomes reality, there should be.

Jim Galloway brings us this: speaking of Republican criticisms of President Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowery said,

”I think people recognize that it’s not good to change horses in the middle of the recovery stream. I think the closer we get to the election, the more people are going to recognize that what [Republicans] are talking about is rather dangerous. And we don’t want to risk it.”

[citing audio recorded by Jamie Dupree]

Aside from the laughability of the idea that we’re in the middle of an economic recovery stream, it reminded me of  “Wag the Dog”, starring Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, where the fictional candidate’s slogan became “Don’t changes horses in mid stream”.

Andre Walker at Georgia Unfiltered asked whether Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon is better off today than he was four years ago and found one indicator that he isn’t.Continue Reading..

31
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 31, 2012

Thelma and Louise are pit-type sisters who were terrified, emaciated, and abandoned across the street from a dog rescue group, where they are now living, waiting for a permanent home.

The girls have quickly learned their routine and are very obedient. Louise enjoys training, learning good manners and tricks while Thelma prefers to receive love. The girls require a special home with people who understand their breed and have no other pets. They will be the most grateful, loyal and loving companions!

Louise is white with brown spots and Thelma is brown with white spots. In the first picture, the girls are demonstrating their polite “sit.” The second picture is of Louise “praying” which is a complex trick one of our camp counselors taught Louise.

Many folks are apprehensive about Pit-type dogs, and an equal number think they’re the best breed around. I don’t know that there is a truth about these dogs other than to suggest you consider each one as an individual, and with any breed, it can be helpful to adopt from an experienced rescue organization that has spent time with your prospective dogs, and is able to advise you about their individual temperment and behavior.

Yesterday I received two emails from readers wondering how many of the dogs we feature get adopted. I don’t know, but here are a couple of things I do know. The yellow lab featured yesterday got rescued. The daughter of a reader was prepared to pick up Monday’s lab mix but the shelter was closed; the dog was rescued but I’m not sure by whom. Riley received ten inquiries to the rescue group from the mailing list and three completed adoption applications.

So I believe that including these dogs makes a difference in some of their lives, and I believe that seeing so many beautiful dogs will encourage some others to rescue rather than buy when they are ready for their next dog. But the scale of the problem is huge, with an estimated 300,000 dogs and cats euthanized each year in Georgia. That’s not acceptable. Next week, we’ll highlight some folks who are working to reduce the number of abandoned dogs and cats by raising money to fund low-cost spay and neuter in Georgia.

 

 

 

As a bonus, here’s Louie, a 17 pound 3-4 month old lab/border collie mix who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. He and his brother Huey were turned in as strays, and Huey’s been adopted, but Louie here is still waiting to find his home.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Texas has had a rough week in the federal court system. First, a three-judge panel in Washington rejected their redistricting maps for Congress and the state legislature. Now, the state’s voter ID requirement has been struck down.

A three-judge panel in Washington unanimously ruled that the law imposes “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.

Thursday’s ruling almost certainly prevents the Texas law from going into effect for the November election, but state Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court “where we are confident we will prevail.”

In the Texas case, the Justice Department called several lawmakers, all of them Democrats, who said they detected a clear racial motive in the push for the voter ID law. Lawyers for Texas argued that the state was simply tightening its laws. Texas called experts who demonstrated that voter ID laws had a minimal effect on turnout. Republican lawmakers testified that the legislation was the result of a popular demand for more election protections.

[Judge David] Tatel, writing for the panel, called the Texas law “the most stringent in the nation.” He said it would impose a heavier burden on voters than a similar law in Indiana, previously upheld by the Supreme Court, and one in Georgia, which the Justice Department allowed to take effect without objection.

The decision comes the same week that South Carolina’s strict photo ID law is on trial in front of another three-judge panel in the same federal courthouse. A court ruling in the South Carolina case is expected before the November election.
The ruling comes two days after a separate federal three-judge panel ruled that Texas’ Republican dominated state Legislature did not draw new congressional and state Senate district maps “without discriminatory purposes.”

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has certified all the primary and primary runoff results for state races, but certification of federal races remains open until August 31st because of federal requirements for overseas absentee voting.

Continue Reading..

28
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 28, 2012

Horace and Honey are both available from the Cobb County Animal Shelter. Horace is a 2-year old, 54 pound male who came to the shelter as a stray with ID and appears to be house trained. He is already neutered, microchipped and current on vaccinations. He is in run 78 and his ID# is 547084. He’s described as a pointer, but if you told everyone he’s a chocolate lab, I don’t think they’d say any different.

Honey is 8 months old and weighs 42 pounds. She came to the shelter as a stray with ID more than a month ago and her family chose not to come for her when they were contacted. She knows to sit and stay and is leash trained. She is already spayed, micro-chipped, and current on vaccinations including rabies. Honey has been heartworm tested and is negative. She is in run 58 and her ID# is 546467.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Former President George W. Bush spoke to a sold out audience last night at the opening night of the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum sponsored by Columbus State University.

“They often ask me if you miss being president and the answer’s no!” joked Bush, a two-term Republican president who left office in January 2008. “It’s a little irritating having to stop at a stoplight when I was coming here. And I had to shower on the airplane.”

“I’m not poetic enough to describe what it means to salute a man or a woman who has volunteered in the face of danger,” Bush said. “But ours is a unique country that produces hundreds of thousands of such individuals. I’m particularly proud to be here with privates and the sergeants and, of course, the officers such as H.R. McMaster, Gen. McMaster.”

The former president, of course, was referring to the two-star general who took charge of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning in June.

“The guy wrote a book, and much to the amazement of the New York Times, I read it,” quipped Bush. “It was influential in my decision-making and I want to thank you, and I’m glad to see you taking on such a big responsibility.”

Until and unless the schedule changes again, Attorney General Sam Olens will address the Republican National Convention at around 8:20 PM on Wednesday night.

Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens will be a prominent speaker at this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa. Olens will be making a ‘prime-time’ appearance with Forida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Both attorneys general have been strong supporters of Mitt Romney during the primary. Olens and Bondi were also both part of the 26 state lawsuit challenging President Obama’s health care plan.

Olens says the location of this year’s convention is crucial because Florida is a ‘swing state’ and could bring much needed electoral votes to the Romney camp:

“President Obama has been behind in Florida for a while, and the Romney team is spending a lot of time in Florida, it’s a huge state, a lot of delegates and it’s a state that’s clearly needed for a victory November 6th.”

The Republican National Convention may provide teachable moments, and GPB has some suggestions for teachers looking for ways to discuss the Conventions in class.
State Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) checked in with a photo and short quote from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s talk to the Georgia delegation.

Atlanta Tea Party organizer Julianne Thompson had more to say, discussing proposed rules changes that would affect the 2016 Convention.

As a National Delegate to the 2012 RNC, I am extremely disappointed that a rule would be passed through committee that essentially strips the grassroots of all of it’s representative power by ridding State Parties of their ability to choose whom they will send as delegates and alternates to represent their State to the Republican National Convention. The rules change would allow the Presidential nominee sweeping new power to override that process and choose their own National Delegates. The rule also allows the RNC (with only a 3/4 vote) the power to amend the party’s rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention.

During a time that should ring of unity, you have put the GOP at a crossroads. Do you want to win this election and future elections? Now is your opportunity to prove it. Either take it to the floor and let us vote it down, and better yet, pull this insulting attempt to disenfranchise the heart and soul of our Republican Party!

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has asked a federal judge to dismiss the US Department of Justice lawsuit claiming that Georgia’s runoff procedures for federal offices violate rules designed to help overseas and military voters to participate in elections.

State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta) told WABE that he is hopeful the appellate court decision to allow Georgia to enforce most provisions of HB 87 will put pressure on the federal government to undertake comprehensive immigration reform.

Lindsey co-sponsored the legislation, which led to the immigration law ruled on by the court. He says now that the U.S. Supreme Court and the 11th circuit court of appeals have weighed in it’s time for the federal government to act.

“Now we can move beyond these measures, which states are having to do in a reactive mode, given the federal government’s refusal to take seriously this issue. Now we demand the federal government come in and do its job.”

Lindsey says there are a number of immigration issues the federal government needs to address:

“In terms of guest worker programs, in terms of what do you do with the youth here who have followed their parents across the border? What do you do with adults who are here who are not otherwise violating the law, in terms of getting them out from the shadows of an underground economy?”

Despite the appellate court decision upholding parts of HB 87, it may not change things dramatically for local law enforcement.

“Departmental procedures already require that deputies have a legal reason to stop and detain anyone regardless of who they are,” Douglas County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said. “Once they are detained for a legal reason, this opinion gives deputies the authority to require identification to verify citizenship, not just for a warrant check.”

The department has purchased several portable fingerprint scanners that are used in the field to identify people who cannot produce positive identification.

“Deputies already had the authority to check a person for (warrants) and this simply expands that authority to also check immigration status,” Copeland said.

The department also has ways to monitor racial profiling if it was to occur.

“Racial profiling will continue to be monitored through reviewing videotapes and ensuring that no one is detained except for a legal reason,” Copeland said.

Despite the effort of local law enforcement, he explained that the problem still remains with the federal authorities.

“If deputies run across persons who are in the country illegally, it is still up to ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) to agree to pick them up from the jail, and at this point, that is very uncertain,” Copeland said. “The department will monitor the response by ICE over the next few months to determine what they are willing or not willing to do.”

Nuclear Power

Savannah celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first commercial nuclear-powered ship, NS Savannah.

The Savannah was named for the SS Savannah, the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic. The first Savannah made its historic voyage in 1819. Wendy Melton of Savannah’s Ships of the Sea Museum says, like the first Savannah, the nuclear ship was ahead of its time.

“It was short of a showpiece,” Melton says. “It was a demonstration piece to sort of calm the fears after World War Two of nuclear power to demonstrate that it could be used in a peaceful manner.”

The NS Savannah was built to carry both cargo and passengers. And some historians say, it never could do both very successfully. It sailed around the world 21 times without ever refueling, or making a profit, before it was decommissioned in 1972. It now sits in a Baltimore shipyard, where some hope it will become a museum. Todd Groce of the Georgia Historical Society presided over the marker dedication.

Some people also would like to see that ship and museum here, an expensive proposition for sure. For now, though, Savannah has a historic marker near the convention center on Hutchinson Island.

Construction at Plant Vogtle reactors 3 & 4 has gone at a quicker pace since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the construction license.

Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion expansion – which includes the first new commercial reactors built in the U.S. in decades – has accelerated rapidly since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved final permits in February.

At the Vogtle site, where as many as 2,200 workers come and go daily, the two emerging “nuclear islands” that will house the new reactors are surrounded by offices, equipment, concrete plants and security gates.

Rising from it all, just a few hundred yards from the giant crane, is a steel structure – taller than a 10-story building – known simply as “MAB,” or modular assembly building.

Inside, workers weld together sections of a 70-foot-tall component that will house piping, maintenance corridors and other functions of the Unit 3 reactor. It is designed to be locked into place like a piece of a giant puzzle.

“When it’s done, they take the end off this building, pick it up and roll it out – just like they do with the space shuttle,” [South­ern Nuclear executive vice president for nuclear development Buzz] Miller said.

Site-specific Vogtle issues include noncompliant rebar and a series of proposed license amendments and stalled negotiations for a federal loan guarantee that would provide $8.3 billion in financing.

From Miller’s perspective, it comes with the territory.

“We’re first, and obviously a lot of learning is taking place as we go along,” he said. “There has been a lot of focus on the negative, but there is also a lot of positive.”

The biggest challenges, he said, involve re-establishing a nuclear culture that has been dormant for decades and ensuring materials supplied for the Vogtle reactors meet all the standards.

The company has expanded its oversight and quality assurance programs, which place inspectors in places where key parts are being manufactured – including venues as far away as Korea and Italy.

“It’s like triple-checking, over and over, everything that’s done,” he said. “When you do that, you find things – and you deal with them.”

A freeze on issuing further licenses by the NRC is not expected to directly impact Vogtle.

The move will strand 19 final reactor licensing decisions, including nine construction and operating licenses for planned new projects.

Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion expansion, licensed earlier this year, and SCANA’s V.C. Summer expansion in South Carolina were not addressed in the NRC order, however, and may continue as planned, said Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman at its headquarters in Maryland.

The Vogtle project is well under way – with about 2,200 construction workers on the Burke County site daily – but the licensing freeze is not expected to have any major impacts, said Southern Company spokesman Steve Higginbottom.

Georgia Power and the other utilities financing Vogtle have filed a countersuit against the vendors in charge of building the new reactors.

Georgia Power Co. and other Plant Vogtle owners filed a lawsuit this week seeking a refund of more than $29.5 million from the contractor consortium building the site’s two new nuclear reactors.

During site preparation for the project, contractors removed 3.9 million cubic yards of earth during the excavation of 90-foot-deep holes for the two reactors and refilled those areas with 3.6 million cubic yards of backfill.

During that project, extra costs were incurred because of the need for additional backfill, for which the contractors were paid an additional $61 million, the complaint said.

Although the owners disputed the added costs, they paid 50 percent of the bill – $29,253,500 – on June 9, the complaint said.

The contractors filed suit against the owners July 25, seeking the remainder of the bill, in violation of the 2008 agreement, which requires that mediation efforts be exhausted before lawsuits can be filed.

For those inclined to hysteria over nuclear construction cost overruns, the amount of money at issue in the lawsuit is less than half-a-percent of the cost of the new reactors.

Ends & Pieces

Dalton, Georgia suffered the worst job losses of any American city from June 2011 to June 2012, shedding 4600 jobs.

“First of all, to lose the most jobs, you have to have had the jobs to begin with, and we’re still a very dynamic employment center,” says Dalton Mayor David Pennington.

“Nobody seems to want to address that. They’ll mention jobs but then they go about bashing the other person,” he says. “We would love to have other manufacturers here. We would love to have any kind of high-tech business here. But it’s not as easy as people think it is to be able to attract that. If it is, Atlanta would like to have it, too.”

Even with the losses, the mayor says the Dalton area still provides more than 50,000 jobs. He says the state should abolish the income tax so Georgia cities can be more competitive.

Besse Cooper from Walton County is the oldest living person in the world at 116 years old as of Sunday.

Cooper says his mother takes her designation as the world’s oldest living person in stride, and Young – who has met several people who’ve held the title – says Cooper meets the typical profile of those who beat the odds and earn the record.

According to Young, “They tend to have a self-sufficiency, a self-reliance, a belief in themselves, and they don’t get overly stressed about things.”

And Besse Cooper’s son expects her to retain the title for a while. “She’s in good health and doing well, and we’ll probably have another birthday next year.”

In 1896, the year Besse Cooper was born, William McKinley was elected President, and Utah was admitted to the union as the 45th state.

21
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 21, 2012 — Primary Runoff Election Day

Timothy is the tan-colored puppy above (the black one is adopted), he is two months old and has spent a month in the Cobb County Animal Shelter, where he lives in cage 332. If you adopt him, he will be vaccinated, chipped, and neutered.

Suri and Kimmi, the black puppies, are his sisters, and are still available from the Cobb County Animal Shelter (the tan girl has been adopted). They are right next door to Timothy in Cage 331 in the puppy are. Adoption also includes vaccinations, micro-chipping, and spaying.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is Primary Runoff Election Day and includes runoffs in nonpartisan elections, such as most judges. You may vote today, even if you didn’t vote in the Primary, although if you voted in a partisan primary in July, you may not vote in the other party’s runoff. Polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM. You will need to bring your photo ID and the Secretary of State’s office has information on which forms of ID are acceptable. If you do not have your ID when you arrive to vote, you may still cast a provisional ballot, as you may do in case of certain other problems. If you cast a provisional ballot, you will have three days to produce proper ID to election officials to have your ballot counted.

When you vote today, I’d be interested in hearing how it went. Relevant information includes your county and precinct, what time you voted, how crowded it was, your voter number (ask the poll workers), and any impressions you or the poll workers have about the pace of voting. Visit the website and put it in the comments or email me.

Last week, Karl Rove updated his electoral map, moving Georgia from “safe Romney” to “leans Romney” but that may reflect a dearth of publicly-released polling in the state, rather than an actual change in the electorate.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals let stand the “show your papers” provision of Georgia’s House Bill 87, an immigration reform bill.

The decision upholds an injunction against Section 7 of the law, which made it illegal to transport or harbor an illegal alien in Georgia. But it reverses an injunction against Section 8 of the law, which authorizes law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of criminal suspects who cannot provide particular documents to prove their status.

The opinion of the panel is available here. The next step is a decision by the litigants whether to appeal to have the case heard by the entire Eleventh Circuit.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said, via press release,

“I am pleased that the the 11th Circuit has reversed the lower court’s injunction and allowed Section 8 of HB 87 to stand. While I disagree with the Court’s decision on Section 7, after over a year of litigation, only one of the 23 sections of HB 87 has been invalidated. We are currently reviewing the 11th Circuit’s ruling to determine whether further appeal would be appropriate at this stage of the case.”

Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) is a member of the Senate Ethics Committee and a leader in the movement to adopt limitations on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. He released yesterday his Minority Report in which he dissents from the negotiated settlement of ethics charges against Senator Don Balfour.

The Minority agreed that Respondent had violated Senate Rules by failing to maintain accurate records and submitting false expense reports; however, dissented from the negotiated sanction.

It is clear to the Minority that both the Christian and Dooley complaint meet the jurisdictional threshold of Title 45 and should have been handled under Title 45. Both complaints alleged that the Respondent used his position as State Senator to file false expense reports which provided for a direct, unique, pecuniary and personal benefit, namely the monies wrongfully disbursed to Respondent. The amended Dooley complaint went a step further, alleging that by failing to authorize the Audit Subcommittee as required by O.C.G.A. 28-1-8 that the Respondent was able to insure that the false expense reports would never be reviewed.

Instead of proceeding under Title 45 with the complaints presented which would have necessitated a public hearing of these matters, the Committee chose to proceed under the other route available which did not require a public hearing. The opinion of the Minority is that this decision was made in error and that the public, including the complainants, were entitled to be present for the proceedings held by the Committee.

In addition to the charges of filing false expense reports in this case, the Respondent also admitted to violation of O.C.G.A. 28-1-8 which provides for the Audit Subcommittee to review the expense reports of all Senators.

In the view of the Minority, this compounds the other offense as by the Respondent’s failure to appoint the Audit Subcommittee he removed the safeguard against false filings, not just in his case but in the case of any Senator that might have done so over the last decade he has been charged with the responsibility of chairing the Senate Rules Committee.

[I]t is the opinion of the Minority that a recommendation should issue for a Censure Resolution to be introduced with a do pass recommendation regarding the conduct of the Respondent, that the Committee recommend to the Committee on Assignments that Respondent be removed as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and that a fine equivalent to the cost of the proceedings of the Senate Ethics Committee be imposed on Respondent.

The Minority is of the opinion that to fully conclude this matter, that an appropriate authority should investigate these matters and determine finally if any violation of these statutes has taken place. The Minority will transmit this report to the Attorney General with its recommendation that his office conduct such an investigation.

I apologize for such a long pull quote, but here’s the tl;dr version:

1. McKoon believes that a public process was authorized and appropriate here and that the Ethics Committee erred in proceeding in the manner it did;

2. The failure by Balfour to appoint an audit subcommittee kept improper expenditures from being detected;

3. The negotiated penalty was inadequate and Senator Balfour should be Censured by the Senate as a body;

4. The case should be referred for consideration of possible criminal sanctions.

Also failing to do their job is the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Runoff candidates are required to file a campaign contributions disclosure six days before the runoff so that voters know where their funding comes from. The Commission’s website, while accepting such filings from candidates does not appear to be displaying them when they are searched for. Nor does it appear to be properly displaying two-business day reports in some cases. This is unacceptable.

Georgia’s current campaign finance regime is premised on timely disclosure, and the biggest impediment to voters learning how campaigns are financed in a timely manner is the Commission charged with collecting and distributing disclosures.

Ultimately, I believe that this reflects in part a misconception about what the Campaign Finance Commission is. It is no longer primarily an enforcement agency. Its statutory charges makes it primarily an IT agency charged with maintaining a campaign and lobbyist disclosure database. It should be putting most of its resources into IT infrastructure and services, and its most-highly paid staffer should be a database administrator. Its continuing failure to do its job negatively affects public confidence in the Commission and in our elected officials.

Click Here

In Cobb County, the runoff election for Commission Chairman between incumbent Tim Lee and former Chair Bill Byrne may be a battle between old Cobb and new, if the Marietta Daily Journal is correct.

“In some ways it’s a battle of old Cobb versus new Cobb,” said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint, who specializes in campaigns and elections.

It’s also a battle between old-style campaign tactics and new.

“I know Bill Byrne has friends in Cobb County, and I think he’s depending on people he and his wife know getting out the troops, and where Tim Lee is concerned, I think it’s a matter of using his financial edge to make phone calls, beat the bushes and get his voters to come back out for him again,” [said Swint].

In Gwinnett County, Sheriff Butch Conway has endorsed Tommy Hunter, who is challenging incumbent Mike Beaudreau for Commission District 3 in the GOP runoff.

Conway, who is unopposed for his fifth term, has been involved in county commission races before. He campaigned for challenger Lorraine Green, when the commissioner mounted an unsuccessful challenge to then-Chairman Charles Bannister in 2008.

Conway might be the most popular politician in Gwinnett County, but his endorsement may not be very valuable after today. The Conway-endorsed candidate for one of the open judicial seats will be defeated soundly. Will a Beaudreau win make it 0 for 3?

Republican delegates to the Republican National Convention will be given free copies of  Georgia Tech grad Mark Rogers’s self-published fiction book, “Smeared.”

“SMEARED” is a political fiction story about a man from the days of America’s founding fathers who suddenly appears in modern-day America. The self-published political novel answers the question of what a man from early American history would think, say and do when confronted by today’s politicians and shows the fallout of their interactions.

The Savannah Morning News writes about QR codes linking smartphones to campaign videos. Pure BS. Nobody uses QR codes except marketing firms with gullible clients, and then the real use of the QR codes is to extract money from the client for useless gewgaws. If some marketing expert tries to get you to spend money on QR codes, escort them out immediately.

In 2008, said a recent article in Campaigns and Elections magazine, just 10 percent of the population had a smartphone.

Now, it added, more than half do, and a third of them use their phones to scan such codes to access advertising.

“We’re going to see a lot more of them in politics,” said marketing specialist Rick Monroe, who is helping DeLoach.

Monroe said his candidate’s application is an improvement over Gaster’s.

Gaster’s codes were on his campaign signs, and unless you were within 3 feet, you couldn’t scan them with your smartphone, Monroe said.

In contrast, DeLoach’s mailer went directly to the addressees.

I’m open to hearing differently about my skepticism about QR codes, but unless you have analytics, don’t bother.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal reminds you that “Stop means stop” when it comes to school buses with their stop signs and lights deployed.

Georgia’s First Lady came to Dougherty County Monday to discuss the importance of the “Stop Means Stop” program. She’s teaming up with several state groups to keep children safe.

Thousands of drivers in Georgia illegally pass school buses every day. In fact, a statewide survey showed bus drivers saw more than 4,000 violators in one day.

“We had had several children killed and more in the last two years and probably three years. We’re afraid that we may get the record for it again, to have the most children killed in school bus accidents,” said Mrs. Deal.

Now the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Department of Education are teaming up to educate drivers with the help from Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal.

“When you see a stop arm on a school bus, unless you’re on a highway with a divided median, you have to stop in either direction. That’s the law. It will cost you about $1,000 fine and up to six points on your driver’s license,” said Harris Blackwood, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Listen to Mrs. Deal and pay attention on the roads, please.

Grayson voters will vote in November on whether to allow Sunday sales of packaged beer, wine and liquor. In a particular brand of goofiness, the city, which already allows beer and wine sales, will vote on adding liquor, but if adding Sunday sales of liquor fails, it will also end beer and wine sales on the Sabbath.

14
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 14, 2012

Bandit is a 3-4 month old, 15 pound puppy who likes nothing better than riding around in the passenger seat of your Trans-Am, dodging the law. The male lab mix is available for adoption today from Walton County Animal Services.


These “Spice Girls” are 3-4 month old Weimaraner mix puppies who weigh about 15 pounds each. Also available from Walton County Animal Services, any dog adopted from Walton is the best deal in new best friends, costing only $40 and including all shots.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Susan Weiner, the first female Mayor of Savannah and a major figure in the 1990s history of the Georgia Republican Party has died at the age of 66.

Known as a trailblazer for women, Mrs. Weiner (pronounced Why-ner) was elected mayor in 1991 and lost her bid for re-election by fewer than 260 votes.

In 1996, she helped U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell establish the Coverdell Leadership Institute, a training program designed to increase the number of Georgia Republicans in elected and appointed government positions. Then, in 2004, Gov. Sonny Perdue named her as the executive director of the Georgia Council for the Arts, a position that allowed her use her political knowledge to bolster theater and other arts.

Speaker David Ralston will propose an absolute ban on lobbyist gifts to legislators next Session, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Ralston told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that a simple cap on the value of those gifts would do little to stem the influence of special interests. Instead, he said, he will propose to end the practice outright.

“I have always said while I believe the current system is a good system because it does provide information and it’s open and transparent that if we didn’t have that system then a prohibition would be better than a cap, and I haven’t changed my mind,” Ralston said.

Voters “spoke on the issue in the primary,” Ralston said. “I’m committed from the House side to making sure we have real, serious ethics reform.”

If results of a non-binding ballot question are sufficient to change the Speaker’s position, a good question is where the threshold lies. Did the Personhood ballot amendment or casino gambling measure attract enough support to translate into a vote on the floor of the State House?

Fifteen extra votes were “found” during the recount for Fulton County Sheriff.

The found votes didn’t make enough difference to give the losing candidate, former Sheriff Richard Lankford, the runoff he wants. Current Sheriff Ted Jackson still won outright with 50.05 percent of the vote, according to recount results certified by the elections board on Monday.

“If you do a recount, you ought to get the same results you do the first time,” Lankford said.

The found votes might not have made a difference in that election, but we hope they will spur the General Assembly to take a close look at Fulton County’s elections office and consider whether the Secretary of State should have some level of oversight where a county has a history of election mistakes like Fulton County does.

The Gwinnett County Republican Party will host a runoff forum for the remaining candidates for County Commission District Three, Gwinnett County Superior Court, and Gwinnett County State Court on Wednesday night, August 15 beginning at 7 PM at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville. Doug Richards of 11Alive will moderate the forum.

Invited candidates include:
District 3 – Mike Beaudreau and Tommy Hunter
Superior Court – Kathy Schrader and Tracey Mason Blasi
State Court – Emily Brantley and Pam Britt

Republican State Representative Buzz Brockway has endorsed Kathy Schrader in the runoff for Gwinnett Superior Court.  “I’m endorsing Kathy Schrader because her experience and qualifications make her the best candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court. I encourage voters to join me in voting for Kathy Schrader in the August 21st runoff election,” said Brockway. Brockway joins Senator David Shafer and State Rep. Brooks Coleman, who previously endorsed Schrader.

Snellville City Council voted 4-2 to consider restricting the Mayor’s power to appoint and nominate to some city board’s and jobs.

Though the action voted on Monday took no formal action, it set the stage for possible future changes that would prohibit Mayor Kelly Kautz in terms of making nominations for positions like city attorney, city manager and various boards.

Kautz and ally Councilman Mike Sabbagh voted against the move.

“I believe this is only going to intensify the conflict in our city,” Kautz said. “I have tried to compromise on many things, on many nominations, as you’ve seen here tonight … The charter is something that I have to stand strong on, and that I have to protect not just for the current mayor but for the future mayors of Snellville.”

Councilman Dave Emanuel said Snellville’s current charter and mayoral appointment capabilities was “out of step with at least six other cities in Gwinnett County.”

“I don’t see it as taking away power from the mayor, I see it as taking an out-of-date charter and bringing it up to date … I think frankly it will make the council work better together,” Emanuel said. “This isn’t about power, this is about moving forward, this is about overcoming hurdles.”

Candidates for the newly-formed City of Brookhaven began qualiying this week.

J. Max Davis
• District 1:
Alan Cole
Kevin D. Fitzpatrick Jr.
• District 2:
• District 3:
Hope Bawcom
Ben Podgor
Erik Steavens
• District 4:
Kerry Witt
Qualifying for candidacy ends Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 4:30 p.m.

J. Max Davis, who served as President of Brookhaven Yes, and the only announced candidate for Mayor of Brookhaven, first ran for office against State Rep. Mike Jacobs, who sponsored the incorporation bill.

In the Ninth Congressional District, a new survey puts Martha Zoller ahead of State Rep. Doug Collins for the Republican nomination by 43-39. The poll was conducted by Wenzel Strategies, which has been criticized for bias in surveys for right-wing organizations and on behalf of Republican candidates.

The Marietta Daily Journal writes that the bags of money thrown at passing T-SPLOST went down the drain, “it would appear that the campaign spent roughly $26.21 for each vote it received. Not much bang for its bucks in the metro region, in other words.”

The election for State House District 139 may or may not be about race, depending upon whom you ask.

“Well they’re trying to present that it’s about race, and it is not. It’s not when it comes to Commissioner Bentley and Representative Lynmore James,” says Bentley.

But blogger Keith McCants, who is managing the campaign of Bentley’s opponent Thomas Coogle, writes that Bentley played the race card against Coogle.

Thomas Coogle & Patty Bentley will meet in a runoff to determine who will succeed Lynmore James who retired after this year’s legislative session.

But as expected. the use of the Race card is now being thrown around in attempts to keep HD 139 “BLACK” or in Black Control.

My high ranking sources down in Vienna & elsewhere have been emailing me, as well as texting me that retiring State Representative Lynmore James, along with his Bentley this week alone has been making the rounds in the swing county (in which Coogle got 47.9% of the vote, while Bentley got 34%) telling voters & county/city officials that the district needs to be, it has to be represented by a Black, not a white & that folks in Atlanta are used to seeing a black face representing HD 139 (formerly HD 135). In other word..LET’S KEEP HD 139 BLACK

Now, the district has a 57% Black Population, 62% minority population with hispanics included.

Events

On August 15th, beginning at 6 PM, Josh Romney will headline a fundraiser aimed at young professionals at the Park Tavern at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Georgia Finance Chair Eric Tanenblatt will host with Congressmen Tom Graves, Rob Woodall, and Austin Scott expected to attend.

Host / Private Reception / Photo — 6 p.m.
$1,000 per Person (Give or Raise)

Photo Opportunity — 6:30 p.m.
$250 per Person

General Reception — 7:00 p.m.
$100 per Person

Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal will host Governor Mike Huckabee at a reception and dinner supporting the Romney Victory Committee on August 16th at 5:30  (Photo Op) & 6:15 PM (Reception) at the Robson Event Center, located at 310 Broad Street in Gainesville, GA 30501. The full invite is available here.

5:30 PM Photo Op – ($5,000 PER PERSON/ $10,000 PER COUPLE)

6:15 PM General Reception – ($1,000 PER PERSON)

To RSVP for either of these events, please contact Dabney Hollis at (404) 791-7179 orDabneyH@me.com, or Stephanie Jones at (404) 849-7211 or StephanieGJones@me.com.

13
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 13, 2012

“26447” and “26456” are dogs whose lives are in peril; both are in the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, their hold times are up, and they suffer from the dreaded “black dog syndrome,” in which black dogs appear to be adopted at a lower rate than others. Both are friendly, and 26447 is more playful, being a younger dog. 26447 is male and is described as a lab mix, while 26456 is female and called a border collie by the shelter, but I think she looks more like a flat-coated retriever.

Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200 or visit Gwinnett County Animal Control at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early and advance voting starts today and runs through Friday for the August 21st runoff elections. Contact your county elections office if you have questions about the runoffs, or consult the SOS website for advance voting details for your county. To check your voter registration or see a sample runoff ballot, visit the SOS website and use the MVP tool.

Pro-tip: if you cast a provisional ballot for any reason, make sure to follow-up within the time limit to ensure your vote counts. In Floyd County, 10 of 52 provisional voters did not return with the required documents to have their votes counted.

Walker County elections officials will be working the August 21 primary election runoff because of a close Republican primary in the race for House District 1.

“We thought we were out of it,” Elections Supervisor Barbara Berry said. But [John] Deffenbaugh’s 2,501 votes weren’t enough to knock off [Alan] Painter, who trailed with 2,398.

Catoosa’s only contest is the Republican race for sheriff between Larry Black, who had 3,808 primary votes, and Gary Sisk, who came in second with 1,956 votes.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press write about runoffs elsewhere in northwest Georgia:

• Chattooga County: Incumbent Democratic Sheriff John Everett, who got 1,300 votes, will face Democratic challenger Mark Schrader, who received 2,039 votes.

• Dade County: Six races will be on runoff ballots: Judge of Probate Court nonpartisan candidates Kerri Carter and David Duvall Jr.; Republican sheriff candidates Patrick Cannon and Ray Cross; Republican Clerk of Superior Court candidates Carolyn Lane and Kathy Page; Republican District 3 Board of Education candidates Ronnie Page and John Warren; Republican District 5 Board of Education candidates Careyee Bell and David Powell; and Georgia House of Representatives District 1 Republicans Alan Painter and John Deffenbaugh.

• Walker County: Ballots will go to Republican and nonpartisan voters in precincts that belong to Georgia House of Representatives District 1, including all or portions of Center Post, Lookut Mountain, Chattanooga Valley, Fairyland, Fairview and Rossville.

• Whitfield County: Republican race for Clerk of Superior Court: Melica Kendrick and Susan Miller; nonpartisan race for Magistrate: Kay Cope vs. Jerry Leonard.

Early voting starts today and runs through Friday in every county except Dade, which hadn’t received its ballots Friday. Dade officials hoped to start early voting on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Macon Telegraph has coverage of middle Georgia runoff elections.

Bibb County Elections Supervisor Elaine Carr said people who cast a vote July 31 can’t change parties in the Aug. 21 races.

“Whatever party they chose July 31, they can’t alter that in the runoff,” Carr said. People who did not vote July 31 can vote in either party Aug. 21.

Rick Allen and John House both hope to become the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of Bibb County and all of Crawford, Peach, Macon and Dooly counties.

Republican voters in the 12th Congressional District also need to pick a nominee against U.S. Rep. John Barrow. The contenders are Lee Anderson and another candidate named Rick Allen.

Democratic voters also have to pick a Democratic nominee for state Senate District 26, where David Lucas is challenging incumbent Miriam Paris. The winner will face Republican Bobby Gale in a district that includes all or part of Bibb, Hancock, Jones, Twiggs, Washington and Wilcox counties.

Democrats in House District 139 will also have to pick a de facto winner from Patty Bentley and Thomas Coogle to represent an area that includes the southern part of Peach County as well as Dooly, Macon and Taylor counties.

Carroll County has two runoff elections:

the county commission chairman race, with incumbent Bill Chappell and challenger Marty Smith; and the County Board of Education, District 1, race with incumbent Bernice B. Brooks and Rob Cleveland.

Walter Jones writes that several Georgia families have multiple members appointed to boards by Governor Nathan Deal. The most interesting example, and one that disproves any conspiracy theory is this one:

• Joe Rogers is on the ports authority, while his wife, Frances, is on the lottery board.

And Joe Rogers’s only contribution in the last four years was $3,600 to Deal’s opponent, Karen Handel.

No one interviewed could point to an instance of any appointee making a direct profit financially from their service on a board. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t skepticism.

10
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 10, 2012

Scooter, Lilac, and Ozzie are puppies who are available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. Scooter is 2-3 months old and weighs 10 pounds. Lilac is about two months old and 15 pounds. Ozzie is about ten months olds and weighs 15 pounds. Take your pick for $40, which includes a voucher for a discounted spay/neuter, up-to-date shots and de-worming.

Brewster is 8-10 months old and weighs 15 pounds; Mama Dog is 2 years and 15 pounds; Jack is a seven-year old black lab mix who is neutered and whose owners have been notified but have not picked him up from the shelter. Old dogs have great value and great hearts, but are not as adoptable as puppies. Please consider adopting one of these old souls or fostering.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Advance voting begins on Monday for the August 21 runoff elections, as far as we know. Check your county’s voting information on Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s website. Current information on advance voting for the runoffs is limited, so if you have any questions, please call your local elections board.

Early voting has already begun in Hall County.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are both whining about negative ads and blaming the other without taking any responsibility. That tactic might be embraced by other candidates.

The Republican National Convention announced yesterday that Attorney General Sam Olens will co-chair the platform sub-committee on Healthcare, Education and Crime with Idaho State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and Oklahoma RNC National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty.

We will be receiving updates for at least one delegate to the National Convention and will include it in our morning emails. If you’ll be in Tampa as a Delegate or guest and would like to send us reports, photos, or souvenir twenty-dollar bills with Ronald Reagan’s likeness, please email us.

My attention was directed yesterday to the fact that Democratic State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick faces Republican Tina Hoffer in house district 93′s general election.

After the recount in the 12th Congressional District Republican Primary election, Wright McLeod remains in third place. State Rep. Lee Anderson meets Rick W. Allen in the runoff.

Millard Grimes writes that the Republican Primary between Regina Quick and Doug McKillip was the worst he’s ever seen.

It was poetic justice that only 64 votes separated the totals for Regina Quick and Doug McKillip in the July 31 Republican primary that decided the occupant of the House District 117 seat in the Georgia General Assembly. They both deserved to lose. A virtual tie was next best.

As a political junkie, I’ve been following campaigns for more than 60 years. The Quick-McKillip campaign was the worst I’ve seen, and it was fought over such a minor stake — two years in the Georgia House of Representatives.

There were constant campaign mailouts, hundreds of minutes of radio ads, and even the newspapers got in on the cash flow.

In Muscogee County, Sheriff John Darr won the Democratic primary with a narrow 71-vote margin after a recount. Strangely, each candidate gained 19 votes during the recount. Doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in the voting system, does it?

James Grogan was sworn in as Mayor of Dawsonville to fill the term of the late Mayor Joe Lane Cox.

In the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, which comprises Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker Counties, a recount was requested in the District Attorney election, where incumbent Herbert “Buzz” Franklin received 42 more votes than his opponent, Doug Woodruff.

Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers endorsed Gary Sisk in the runoff election to succeed Summer. Sick will meet Larry Black in the runoff.

Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has been endorsed by two of the six candidates who did not make the runoff against incumbent Kem Kimbrough.

Runoff for Gwinnett County Superior Court

Tracey Mason Blasi was the runner-up in the election for Gwinnett Superior Court and was attacked by one opponent, Chris McClurg in the primary; she hit him back with a negative robocall. Fair enough, though both candidates lost votes from where they stood before the negativity started. McClurg actually went from a tight third-place one week out to fourth on election day according to internal polling.

Yesterday, a letter from Tracey Mason Blasi hit mailboxes, claiming that “[i]t is so important for our judicial system that elections for judge remain above those kinds of tactics using ‘attack robocalls’” and attributing them to her ‘opponent,’ which leaves open the implication that she means her opponent in the Runoff election, Kathy Schrader, who is my client.

Tracey Mason Blasi knows that is a false implication. I will state here that neither I nor Kathy Schrader had anything to do with the negative mail or robocalls that targeted Blasi during the primary. Kathy Schrader told Blasi the same thing.

In fact, I suspect that implication is the result of a poorly-written letter rather than what the writer meant to say, because I have read another letter written by Tracey Mason Blasi, addressed to Mike Bowers as head of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and Governor Sonny Perdue, in which Blasi wrote:

It has been my experience that Mrs. Schrader is the attorney to whom the most experienced attorneys in Gwinnett County will refer cases. I believe that she has earned her impeccable reputation over the eighteen years that she has practiced law in Gwinnett County by effectively representing her clients, by treating clients and fellow attorneys alike with respect, and by doing it all with integrity.

As an eighth generation Gwinnettian, I am confident that our community will continue to be a place families want to live with the strong leadership, the good works, and the integrity of professionals like Kathryn Schrader. I support her wholeheartedly as the new addition to the Gwinnett County Superior Courts.

That last letter appears on Tracey Mason Blasi’s letterhead with a signature and was faxed from her fax machine.

Kathy Schrader for Judge Banner

Given Tracey Mason Blasi’s earlier assessment of Kathy Schrader’s integrity, it is unlikely that she now questions Schrader, since the only thing that’s changed is that Blasi is now seeking the Superior Court bench herself.

Ethics

The State Ethics Campaign Finance Commission website was malfunctioning yesterday and wouldn’t allow viewing of filed campaign disclosure reports on an intermittent and annoying basis throughout yesterday. As I write this it is down yet again.

Click Here

During the days leading up to the last report due date, there were extensive problems reported by candidates filing online. With the reduced number of filers for the runoff period, some of the pressure on the system may be lessened, but recent reliability problems don’t give us confidence.

Speaking of disclosures during the runoff, Rick Thompson had some tips for candidates.

“There are additional reporting requirements for candidates in a runoff election,” said Thompson, who formerly served as head of the State Ethics Commission and is currently managing partner of R. Thompson & Associates, specializing in compliance reporting and ethics strategy.

“The first report is your typical Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report (CCDR) for August 15; this is referenced as the ‘6-Day Before Primary Runoff’ report,” Thompson said, “Candidates who did not win their primary bids have statutory reporting requirements that continue for the campaign through termination the end of the year.  This is something often overlooked by candidates and it can be a significant issue, especially if the candidate seeks election at a later time.”  Thompson’s firm offers a package for reporting and termination for campaigns that end before the year does.

Dariel Daniel chose to mail his disclosures rather than fight with the online filing system. I bet he wishes he had paid for a return receipts.

the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission said Wednesday that Board of Education candidate Dariel Daniel has paid his fines, but the commission did not have his campaign disclosure report.

“We do not have any report from him that are waiting to be checked in, or are in the ‘have a problem and filer has been contacted’ pile,” said Holly LaBerge, executive director of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, in an email. “This isn’t to say that the report isn’t in the mail, but if he didn’t sent it certified or overnight delivery – which is statutorily required – then there is no way to know where it is or if it will ever get here.”

Daniel, after being told about LeBerge’s response, said he had sent his disclosure through U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail “long ago.”

“When I called to ask why it wasn’t posted, (a representative) said ‘We are swamped with these forms and we will post it when we get to it,’” Daniel said.

LaBerge said there was a backlog of paper-filed reports waiting to be entered into the commission’s system due to a problem with the way they were filed, and the filers had been contacted. It is up to the filer to correct the problem.

Daniel is facing Board of Education incumbent Sheila Rowe in a runoff on Aug. 21. Rowe on Tuesday announced she had filed an ethics complaint with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission over Daniel’s late fees for not filing, which were listed owed for December, March and June for the current election, plus $65 overdue for his 2004 run for the same seat.

Jim Galloway writes for the AJC that House leaders may be considering a total ban on lobbyist spending on legislators.

We’ve gotten reliable information – and not from a single source — that House Republican leaders are considering legislation next January that would ban all lobbyist spending on lawmakers altogether. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And that Ralston is among those who have expressed interest in this path.

The impact on the culture of the state Capitol would be tremendous.

Leaders of the state Senate have signed onto the petition pushed by Common Cause Georgia and tea party groups, endorsing the $100 cap.

[Jim - see how easy it is to include a hot link?]

Events

On August 15th, beginning at 6 PM, Josh Romney will headline a fundraiser aimed at young professionals at the Park Tavern at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Georgia Finance Chair Eric Tanenblatt will host with Congressmen Tom Graves, Rob Woodall, and Austin Scott expected to attend.

Host / Private Reception / Photo — 6 p.m.
$1,000 per Person (Give or Raise)

Photo Opportunity — 6:30 p.m.
$250 per Person

General Reception — 7:00 p.m.
$100 per Person

Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal will host Governor Mike Huckabee at a reception and dinner supporting the Romney Victory Committee on August 16th at 5:30  (Photo Op) & 6:15 PM (Reception) at the Robson Event Center, located at 310 Broad Street in Gainesville, GA 30501. The full invite is available here.

5:30 PM Photo Op – ($5,000 PER PERSON/ $10,000 PER COUPLE)

6:15 PM General Reception – ($1,000 PER PERSON)

To RSVP for either of these events, please contact Dabney Hollis at (404) 791-7179 or DabneyH@me.com, or Stephanie Jones at (404) 849-7211 or StephanieGJones@me.com.

9
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 9, 2012

This good-looking puppy is on his way to becoming a tragic statistic unless someone steps up to adopt or foster him. A large, friendly, playful little guy, the volunteers with Gwinnett County Animal Shelter write that he’ll be the first to be put down if the puppy section fills up. If you want to adopt him, Call the shelter for more information 770-339-3200 and refer to his number 26296.

These little hound or lab puppies apparently get along pretty well and would make a nice pair of friends.They were found stray and are apparently littermates or at least very good buddies. 26437 is male, and 26436 is female, and both are available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will speak to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month. I suspect this is related to his role at the top elected supporter of Mitt Romney in Georgia. Congratulations to Sam.

Congressional candidate Wright McLeod has asked for a recount in the twelfth district Republican Primary, where he currently is narrowly out of the runoff.

But no one — apparently including McLeod — expects the recount, due to be finished by noon today, to change the result.

“He’s got basically two chances, slim and none,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. “Put the emphasis on none.”

The reason: All but about 2,400 of 60,000-plus ballots in the primary were cast on computerized touch-screen voting machines.

They’ll be retabulated by the district’s 19 counties, said Jared Thomas, spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in charge of Georgia elections.

Thomas said he doubts that will change the total very much, if at all.

Experts compare the retabulation process to using a calculator to tally up — yet again — the sum of two plus two.

“It may not change at all unless they find some voting machines had totals that somehow got left out,” Bullock said.

That recount should be finished by noon today. I wonder if any recounts in Georgia have changed election results since the implementation of computerized voting. Email me if you know of any.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s spokeperson isn’t aware of any such cases, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Recounts are “overseen by us and done by the counties just like election night,” said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

“They will re-scan all the absentee ballots and re-tabulate results” from voting machines, he said.

In a written statement after Georgia verified the first count, Staton said the certification made his “campaign victory official.”

Thomas said he was not aware of any case of a recount changing an outcome.

Since 2002, all Georgia voters have used electronic voting machines.

Potentially more interesting are Senator Cecil Staton’s comments about his role in the Senate Republican Caucus.

But it’s not clear if the tepid endorsement from voters in the district will be followed by a struggle for Staton to remain Senate majority whip. The Senate GOP caucus will vote on leadership after the November general election.

“I have not decided about whether I will run for (majority whip), some other office or return to being a committee chair. You can’t be whip and a full committee chair at the same time,” Staton wrote in an e-mail.

Staton led the Senate Science and Technology Committee before being voted whip two years ago.

There likely will be 36 to 38 Republicans in the state Senate by late November and some of them, wrote Staton, are undecided about who they will support for leadership.

“Conversations at this point about caucus positions invite premature speculation,” he said.

This could lead to an extended conversation about the role of the Georgia Republican Senate Caucus Promotion PAC, which is thought to have funded incumbent protection mailpieces for several Senate Republicans.

One might wonder how efficient and effective an operation the Senate Caucus Promotion PAC was when the organization appears to have poured seven mailpieces into the lopsided victory by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers while spending considerably less in the very close campaigns for Senators Murphy and Staton, who barely won, and Senator Johnny Grant, who was defeated.

Republican Senators may be in for extended discussion of the legality and independence of the Republican Caucus Promotion PAC:

some members of the Republican Caucus in the Senate are wondering exactly who made the decision to donate money that they helped raise to an brand-new independent committee that hired a previously unknown company to assist in the re-election efforts of six of their colleagues.
Publicly, they are saying nothing. Privately, they are furious. “None of us knew anything about” the donation or the mailings, said one Senator.
Another Senate veteran has also denied knowledge of the decision behind the donations, and said he was “surprised embarrassed, mortified and angry,” to learn of them.
Another Senator claimed the donations were “inherently illegal,” not for the lack of disclosure, but because the donation appears to have violated the campaign contribution limits.
And while Republican Senators may be ducking calls and avoiding questions from the press, they’re also getting calls from the people who wrote the big checks to the Republican Senatorial Trust. Those donors want to know why their money is being spent this way, and whether or not their donations were used illegally.

The Savannah Morning News headline, “John Barrow hits prospective foes Lee Anderson and Rick Allen; they hit back — and each other” makes the General Election sound like a Three Stooges move.

Why did U.S. Rep. John Barrow attack two prospective foes this week without knowing which one he’ll run against?

People wondered out loud about that when the Augusta Democrat teed off on Republicans Lee Anderson and Rick Allen.

One possible answer surfaced quickly: Anderson and Allen responded by blasting each other almost as much as Barrow.

“It’s probably what Barrow wanted,” said Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint. “He drew them out and got them to beat each other up.

David R. Werner has been promoted by Governor Nathan Deal to Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and External Affairs. According to the press release,

Werner previously served as deputy executive counsel and the policy adviser on public safety. He also held staff positions in both the state House and state Senate. He is the co-chairman of the Governor’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, co-chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia and a member of the Federalist Society. He and his wife, Suzanne, reside in Atlanta and are members of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

Kathy Schrader for Judge Banner

Springfield will elect a new Mayor after the resignation of Mayor Joe Quimby Jeff Northway.

Qualifying will cost $35 and will be held from 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 27, through 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Springfield City Hall, 130 S. Laurel St.

City officials said they recently discovered that Northway was convicted of three felonies in Texas in the 1980s. They said he lied and said he was not a convicted felon when he applied to run for mayor.

Northway resigned July 12 and has declined to comment.

The city said Northway was convicted of two felonies — theft by receiving and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 1983 in Harris County, Texas. He received a three-year sentence on those charges.

After serving the sentence, he was convicted in 1989 of a third felony for unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Lesli Messinger won the Democratic Primary to take on Republican Congressman Jack Kingston. Apparently, her “Midwestern values” are one of the reasons Georgians will vote for her. Hmmm, blonde hair and midwestern values. Sounds like another candidate named “Leslie”.

Among the recounts that affirmed election night figures was the reelection of Senator Jack Murphy in Forsyth County and Geoff Duncan’s win over former State Rep. Tom Knox.

Incumbent Sen. Jack Murphy received 13,290 votes to challenger Steve Voshall’s 13,176. Murphy’s total was unchanged. Voshall’s final tally represents a loss of one vote.

There was no change in the election night totals in the House District 26 race. Former major league pitcher Geoff Duncan defeated former State Rep. Tom Knox by a count of 4,507 to 4,452.

More than 30 percent of Forsyth County’s registered voters voted in the election.

“I was very happy with that turnout,” [County elections supervisor Barbara] Luth said. “Usually we have a lower turnout in the primary elections.”

Fulton County is doing its usual efficient job of recounting votes in the Sheriff’s race; originally expected to take two days, they finished early by taking some shortcuts.

The law mandated a recount of the sheriff’s Democratic primary because the July 31 results had Jackson winning without a runoff by less than 1 percent. The counting took place in a drab warehouse in northwest Atlanta, where about 20 election workers re-fed absentee and qualified provisional ballots into the computer.

But instead of feeding precinct voting machine results directly from memory cards to the computer, Fulton reused master memory cards of the votes from each precinct created by election workers on election night, which may again cloud the result.

[Sheriff candidate Richard] Lankford asked officials to feed each voting machine’s card separately into the computer. At the very least, officials should have re-created new master memory cards rather than using the old ones, he said.

“Any manual process is not a tamper-proof system,” he said. “You’re almost at a point that it is not worth running for office in Fulton County because you can’t trust the vote counting.”

Serious policy proposal here: the legislature should consider giving the Secretary of State greater authority to supervise elections, including possibly replacing local officials,  where the locals have a record of fumbling procedures.

House District 66 runoff candidates Bob Snelling and Mike Miller answered some questions by the Douglasville Patch. Both candidates agree that Snelling previously served eight years in the State House, but they disagree on what it means.

Bob Snelling: “I have eight years of experience in the Georgia House of Representatives. I learned about the many intricacies of our legislative system. But, more importantly, I built relationships with community leaders throughout the state. That was my strong suit during my years of service, meeting and working with people. Many of those relationships remain to this day. These relationships will be invaluable a I seek to bring local legislative ideas to the process.”

Mike Miller: “My opponent has served in the Georgia Legislature before for some eight years in office. He seeks to return to office to reunite with friends at the State Capitol. We are running for very different reasons and have very different records in elected office. I am running to bring change and conservative principled leadership to the State Capitol.”

“I have been speaking up about the need to improve our ethics laws to include restrictions on lobbyist gifts for bureaucrats and to require candidates to disclose anonymous mailers and robocalls. My opponent has been silent on these matters.”

According to Democratic State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who cruised to reelection, Snellville has the highest foreclosure rate in Gwinnett County.

One in every 300 homes in Georgia is in foreclosure, according to the AJC.  That’s double the national average.

In Snellville, (including unincorporated), it’s even worse: 1 in 127 homes are in foreclosure (as of June 2012).

Last month, around 40 percent of home sales in Snellville were foreclosures.

Foreclosure reform is something that is high on Kendrick’s list of priorities.  She has attempted to have bills passed, including HB 781, that would revolutionize the foreclosure process, according to Kendrick, but so far they have all been shut down.

“Next year,” she said, “I want to break down the bill into separate components.  If they won’t pass the whole thing, maybe parts of it will pass.”

One thing she wants to do is change Georgia from a non-judicial foreclosure state to a judicial one.  Every other legal procedure requires a person to hand you the papers, according to Kendrick, but that is not the case with foreclosures.

“Under our current system,” she said, “you get a certified letter and they sell your house on the courthouse step.  It doesn’t go through a judge.”

This one reminds me of a bawdy old rugby song: “Woman says she went to court for a warrant, left with proposition from the judge”.

The alleged incident occurred April 9 after Angela Garmley says she was assaulted by three people who once rented a trailer from her and her husband in Murray County. Garmley said when she went to take out the warrant, Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran propositioned her for sex when she was alone with him in his chambers.

“He asked me if I cheated on my husband,” Garmley, 36, of Chatsworth, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He said he wanted to have a mistress he could trust.”

Cochran says that never happened.

“We’re denying all allegations,” Cochran, who was reelected last month, said Wednesday. “The truth will come out. Right now, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on.”

Cochran did not sign the warrant on April 9. Instead, Garmley said, he asked her to return to court a few days later and to wear a dress but no underwear.

“He said if I did that I would be very satisfied with the decision he’d make on my case,” she said.