Category: Brian Kemp

8
Aug

Wright McLeod asks for recount in 12th Congressional Republican Primary

Just received this via email from Wright McLeod’s campaign:

Dear Friend,

Since last Tuesday, I have been overwhelmed by the encouragement that has resonated from supporters throughout the 12th District. Your message has been clear: Don’t give up! Our campaign has been awaiting the Secretary of State’s official certification of the July 31, 2012 primary so that we would have the best idea of how to proceed. No matter what, we don’t want to lose the ultimate goal – which is to beat John Barrow in November.

Last night, the final numbers posted, and we have remained within 1% of our nearest competitor. We have requested that Secretary of State Brian Kemp conduct a recount to ensure that the numbers are accurate.

No matter what the outcome of the recount, we have heard you.

Fly, Fight, Win,

8
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 8, 2012

The “football puppies” are a group of eight Golden Retriever mix puppies who are available for adoption through Angels Among Us Rescue. They were abandoned in an office park and ended up in an animal control shelter. “Texas” is the puppy pictured below. It is primarily rescue organizations like Angels who are able to take an entire litter of puppies, which are distressingly common at shelters. You can donate online or download applications to foster or adopt through this excellently-run organizations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Pro-tip: runoff candidates are required to file a campaign contribution disclosure six days before the runoff.

Click Here

Here’s the newest three-step runoff move.

Step One: edge your way into a runoff.

Step Two: challenge you opponent to a series of debates.

Step Three: express amazement when the front-runner declines the invitation, and use it to bludgeon him for the rest of the runoff.

Senator Bill Heath kicked off this year’s runoffs by challenging Bill Carruth to a series of “Show the Facts” debates in Haralson, Paulding, and Polk counties.

Heath stated that he has reserved the Paulding Chamber of Commerce in Paulding for Monday, August 6th; the Sewell Mill – Cherry Blossom Room in Haralson for Tuesday, August 7th; and the Rockmart Community Center in Polk for Thursday, August 9th.

“Every single thing I have said during this campaign about myself and my opponent has been 100% true and documented. In stark contrast, Bill Carruth has consistently and intentionally lied and misled the voters about his record and mine. It’s time for Carruth to put up or shut up. I challenge him to meet me at these locations and bring the documentation. I can back up everything I have said and will gladly present it to the public at these debates,” said Heath.

“Let’s see if Carruth has the courage to actually face real scrutiny from public documents standing in front of the voters and the media.”

Carruth replied that he’d gladly debate as long as Heath would first sign the pledge to support a cap on lobbyist gifts and address that pesky ethics complaint filed against Heath

Carruth apparently accepted the challenge Friday evening by email.

“While this is clearly another desperate attempt to deflect attention away from your lackluster record as a State Senator nevertheless, I welcome the opportunity to debate the real issues facing the voters,” Carruth wrote in his response. “I think there are many differences between me and you of which the voters of the 31St Senate District need to be made aware. I look forward to highlighting those differences in a public forum.”

In the runoff election for Cobb County Chair, Bill Byrne skipped step two and is using incumbent Tim Lee’s refusal to participate in a debate sponsored by the East Cobb Civic Association as an excuse to bring up everything Lee has going against him.

On Sunday, Jill Flamm, president of the East Cobb Civic Association, emailed our campaign, telling us that she had cancelled a chairman candidate forum because Lee had refused to participate.

In addition, in a Monday afternoon email to MDJ editorial page editor Joe Kirby, Lee declined to participate in an MDJ-sponsored debate with Byrne next week, which would have been carried live by TV 23.

With unemployment in Cobb County at 16%, foreclosures increasing monthly, Chairman Tim Lee led the effort that raised property taxes by 16%, water rates were increased by 12%, while public safety employees were furloughed in Cobb County for the first time in history. Tim Lee was wrong to raise your property taxes. There were alternatives.

Even after the T-SPLOST was defeated overwhelmingly in Cobb County and the region, Tim Lee is pushing for an additional 1% HOST sales tax for the general budget. But he is misleading Cobb County voters in stating that it will offset 100% of property taxes. It doesn’t. As you know, 67% of property taxes goes to the school board. So now Tim Lee wants an additional sales tax that will force seniors and all taxpayers to pay more for groceries and their prescriptions!

In House District 66, second-place finisher in the Republican primary Mike Miller is accusing former State Rep. Bob Snelling of ducking debates.

Mike Miller,candidate for Ga. State House District 66, called on his opponent Bob Snelling to stop ducking debates after Mr. Snelling was a no-show at Saturday’s scheduled Douglas CountyGOP candidate forum for the House District 66 Run-off.

The PCRE has also learned that Miller further challenged Bob Snelling to three debates on ethics, education, and the economy in the district before the August 21st GOP Primary Run-off.

“I am disappointed that Bob Snelling would duck a scheduled forum for candidates in the House District 66 Run-off hosted by the Douglas County GOP,” said Miller. “The voters of Douglas and Paulding Counties expect candidates to explain their positions and debate their opponents before earning the opportunity to represent them. I challenge Mr. Snelling to a series of debates in the district so that voters can form informative opinions about this race before the Run-off.”

Speaking of HD 66, the GBI has completed its probe into payments to Douglasville officials for attending meetings that sometimes were not actual meetings but conference calls.The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has completed its preliminary investigation into whether some Douglasville elected officials received payments they weren’t entitled to.

GBI officials confirmed Tuesday that there are plans to present the findings of that probe to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade this week, saying that meeting would determine if the investigation would be extended and what comes next.

Unlike every municipality with a similar population in the metro area, where a straight salary is paid to elected officials, the mayor and council members in Douglasville are compensated based on meeting attendance. Council members are paid $125 per meeting with the mayor receiving $313 per meeting. At standard meetings, attendance is taken and submitted, but other meetings are sometimes turned in by individual elected officials. It was those submissions where the issues seem to arise.

Records viewed through an open records request by the Douglas County Sentinel showed that some elected officials often submitted items for payment that didn’t appear to qualify for payment and others that needed legal interpretation to see whether they qualified. Either way, payment for as many as 50 meetings that didn’t appear to fit the statute criteria were paid to some Douglasville elected officials in the last three years.

That ordinance was enacted in 1997 and clarified in 2007 and a provision that reads “In Sections One, Two, Three and Four, ‘attended’ means the elected official’s personal physical presence at more than half the duration of a particular meeting or session; ‘attended’ does not mean or include participation via electronic means.”

In the three years worth of records examined, the Sentinel found that five council members and former Mayor Mickey Thompson had been paid following their requests for payments for some meetings that did not appear to fit within the ordinance, for one reason or another. The former mayor had 20 submissions that fell into that category and two council members had 10 such meetings that were paid. The others had four or fewer during that time period that did not appear to fit into what is proper for compensation.

All the elected officials contacted about the payments by the Sentinel denied any wrongdoing or that they were paid for anything outside the ordinance.

Surprising no one, Todd Johnson’s attempt to qualify for Douglas County Sheriff as an independent failed to produce enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot.

Johnson intended to run as a Democrat and began his campaign in January of 2011. However, he failed to qualify for the Democratic primary after submitting fingerprints on file with his employer, the Clayton County Police Department. Johnson was supposed to have his fingerprints taken by Douglas County Probate Judge Hal Hamrick, thus the ones he submitted did not suffice.

The Douglas County Board of Elections voted 4-1 to not allow his name on the ballot at a hearing a few days after qualifying ended on May 25. Ingrid Landis-Davis, the board’s only Democrat, voted against the motion.

Johnson then launched the campaign to run as an independent candidate. Getting his name on the ballot would require signatures from 5 percent of the registered voters in Douglas County, or about 3,810 signatures. Unfortunately for Johnson, that did not happen, leaving Democrat Derrick Broughton and incumbent Republican Phil Miller as the candidates who will appear on November’s general election ballot.

Georgia Senator Jason Carter is not running for Rhode Island House District 54, but his platform, in some cases word-for-word, is.

a local teacher who aspires to be the next representative in House District 54 lifted nearly all of his election platform from the website of Jason Carter, a member of the Georgia State Senate.

A North Providence resident and Providence educator, second-time District 54 candidate William “Bill” O’Brien copied approximately 1,000 words of Carter, an incumbent state lawmaker in Georgia and the grandson of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and pasted them onto his own website,www.williamobrien2012.com .

But for a changed word or two here and there, like “North Providence” for “community,” O’Brien attributes almost all of Carter’s words on the two topics of education and jobs, found at www.carterforstatesenate.com , to himself.

www.carterforstatesenate.com/page/jobs

www.carterforstatesenate.com/page/education

* On jobs, statements by O’Brien and Carter reveal exactly the same sentiments:

“As I talk to families throughout the district, it’s clear that our economic struggles remain a major concern for most,” reads one snippet from O’Brien’s site, which remains virtually unchanged from when he ran two years ago.

“Our community is ripe for expansion in two of the nation’s most promising industries: bioresearch and green energy,” reads another statement that is identical on both sites. Carter then adds that his community has the potential to become a “Silicon Valley of the South,” while O’Brien believes his community can become the “Green Valley of the Northeast.”

O’Brien this week defended his decision to take Carter’s campaign statements and use them as his own. The action was not “plagiarism,” O’Brien emphasized, but a case of two “very good friends” and “liberal Democrats” each deciding to run for office two years ago and “coordinating” their “efforts” in doing so based on ideas formulated during their time together in the Peace Corps.

O’Brien said he sees what he did as no different from President Obama offering speeches written by someone else, though he did concede a difference, that the public is aware that Obama uses a speechwriter.

Carter also sees nothing wrong with O’Brien taking his material, especially since the Georgia lawmaker said he could do so in the first place.

“Bill has his permission to use my stuff,” he said. “I know Bill. He certainly didn’t do anything to make me mad, (and this) doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.”

Voting problems that affected 345 voters in HD 56 didn’t prevent Simone Bell from being certified as the winner of the Democratic primary against fellow incumbent Ralph Long.

The final vote count in the Republican Primary for CD12 shows Rick W. Allen and Wright McLeod close enough for McLeod to request a recount.

The final tally certified by Secretary of State Brian Kemp showed Allen edging McLeod by less than 1 percent of the 60,062 votes cast in the east Georgia district now held by Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Augusta. Because of the thin margin, state law guarantees McLeod a recount if he requests it within two business days.

McLeod’s spokeswoman, Holly Croft, said the Augusta attorney would not announce a decision immediately.

State Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown emerged as the GOP frontrunner in last week’s four-way primary, finishing with 34 percent of the vote – more than 5,000 votes ahead of his nearest competitor, but far from the majority he needed to avoid a runoff.

That left Allen and McLeod neck-and-neck for the runner-up slot needed to advance to the runoff. Even if McLeod asks for a recount of the vote, the result is unlikely to change. In an era of electronic voting, recounting ballots is much like punching the same numbers into a calculator a second time.

Someone in the Fulton County Board of Elections might want to borrow that calculator to figure out whether a reported 23,300% turnout in a single-voter precinct is plausible. Three other precincts in Fulton County reported turnout greater than 100%.

One precinct reported a 3,300 percent voter turnout. Fulton County said it is aware of the strange numbers and have reached out to the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State. The Secretary of State’s Office said they are also looking into why some of the turnout numbers are so far off.

“How does a precinct have a 154 percent turnout? Thirty-three hundred percent turnout. There’s a glitch somewhere,” [Sheriff candidate Richard] Lankford said.

Fulton County Board of Elections Chairman Rod Edmond said Monday night he is very confident in the results after Monday’s primary results certification.

Fulton County was the last county in the state to certify its election results and could face state fines over the delay.

Louis DeBroux writes that 32.6% voter turnout for the Bartow County Republican Primary is disappointing because the GOP races are de facto general elections.

Congressman Tom Graves endorsed Cindy Jones Mills in the GOP Runoff for Forsyth County Commission district 4.

“Cindy Jones Mills understands what it takes to run a business, create private-sector jobs, balance a budget and meet tough deadlines — that’s key for Forsyth County,” said Congressman Tom Graves. “Cindy Jones Mills will stand up for taxpayers and place principles above politics. She is the right kind of leader for Forsyth County.”

There’s a new Sheriff in town in Fayette County, where Republican primary voters turned out incumbent Wayne Hannah.

[V]oters still have to settle three runoff races on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Two county commission posts and the race for the 63rd District seat in the Georgia House of Representatives remain for the taking since none of those candidates got more than 50 percent of the votes.

That means three more weeks of campaigning for county commission Post 2 candidates Sheila Huddleston and David Barlow and for commission Post 3 candidates Lee Hearn and Randy Ognio. Both races are on the Republican ballot and voters countywide are allowed to weigh in on both posts.

Campaigning is also extended for two Democrats seeking the new 63rd District seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, as the two leading vote-getters will face off: Ronnie Mabra and T.J. Copeland. Not all Fayette residents will vote in this race as the 63rd district is limited to the unincorporated Fayette area north and east of Fayetteville, along with nearly all of Fayetteville.

Voters are reminded that if they voted a Democratic or Republican ballot in the primary, they will have to use the same party’s ballot in the runoff election, said Elections Supervisor Tom Sawyer.

However, voters who chose a non-partisan ballot in the primary will be able to choose a Democrat or Republican ballot in the runoff election.

Call the result in that Sheriff’s race sweet payback for Barry Babb.

Babb and Hannah both worked for Fayette County when they ran against each other in 2008.

In what was seen as controversial move at the time, after winning the election, Hannah demoted Babb from captain to deputy and placed him at the county jail. Babb’s pay was cut as well.

“It was a time of solitude. It was a time of discomfort. It was a time of loneliness,” said Babb.

And speaking of state house candidate Ronnie Mabra, he’s the subject of a complaint for giving free wings to voters, regardles of whom they voted for. According to Andre Walker of Georgia Unfiltered,

O.C.G.A. §21-2-570 states, “Any person who gives or receives, or offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony.”

It is illegal, in Georgia, to offer incentives to voters for voting.

Chris Harvey, lead investigator in the Secretary of State’s office, acknowledged receiving the complaint and opened an investigation August 6th.

I didn’t ask Andre, but I’m pretty sure this is totally unrelated to the fact that it was Mabra’s law firm that filed suit against Walker on behalf of Democratic Party of Georgia Political Director Rashad Richey.

Tom Crawford writes that the overwhelming passage of the ballot question about limiting lobbyist gifts was a message to Georgia’s elected officials that voters distrust them.

In the Republican primary, the vote was 87-13 percent in favor of “ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts.”

In the Democratic primary, voters approved a similar ballot question by a 73-27 percent margin.

Those votes were a rebuke of House Speaker David Ralston, who took a $17,000 lobbyist-paid trip to Europe with his family in 2010. Ralston has blocked legislation that would limit lobbyist spending, and says the current state law requiring disclosure of expenditures is sufficient.

When he spoke to the Republican Party’s state convention in May, Ralston contended that “liberals” and “media elites” were the only ones pushing for ethics reform – an argument that lost much of its credibility when 87 percent of Republican voters supported the lobbyist spending cap.

Ralston seems to be falling into the same trap as Tom Murphy, who was speaker of the Georgia House for more than 28 years. Murphy became so blinded by the power of his office that he could not see how the political landscape in Georgia was changing.

Republican Insurace Commissioner Ralph Hudgens writes that state health insurance exchanges required by Obamacare are not in the best interests of Georgians.

It is my opinion that the creation of a Georgia exchange is not in our State’s best interest because such an exchange would be subject to the federal law, the mountains of regulations the have been promulgated since its passage, and the regulations that, to this date, have still not been finalized.

I welcome any action by the federal government that truly shifts authority from Washington D.C. back to Georgia and which allows our State to set policy in areas so important to the lives of our citizens. However, as the situation currently exists, the creation of a Georgia exchange would make our State little more than a tool to be used by the Federal Government to implement a law which I believe is misguided. I cannot recommend the creation of an exchange when doing so will not, in any meaningful way, allow our State to make decisions that we believe to be in our own best interest.

Paulding County Commission Chair David Austin is doubling-down on his support of T-SPLOST by criticizing legislators for being insufficiently supportive of the largest tax hike in Georgia history.

“The Legislature abandoned us,” Austin said. “Our own delegation turned their backs on us.”

He said District 31 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, did little to support the initiative and District 17 State Rep. Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas, “was on the fence” about his support. Heath and Maxwell voted for the bill in 2010 which set the vote this year for the 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects.

“The Legislature never did anything,” Austin said. “I thought they abandoned the governor and the Speaker of the House.”

However, Heath said in an e-mail, “I have consistently opposed raising taxes. I believe that one should live within their means.”

Events

Tomorrow, August 9th at 5:15, Congressman Jack Kingston and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will headline a rally for the Romney campaign at the Charles Morris Center, located at 10 East Broad Street in Savannah, 31401. To R.s.v.p. or for more information, contact Dabney Hollis via email dabneyh@me.com or Stephanie Jones stephaniegjons@me.com 404-849-7211.

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.

7
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 7, 2012

Sophie is a Viszla/Lab mix who is heartworm negative, approximately 3 years old and weighs 65 pounds.

Wally is a “Bassador” or Basset Hound/Lab mix who is one-year old and weighs 40 pounds.

Finally, Junior is a 54-pound Shepherd mix, that around here we call a Roxboro Hound. He is an owner turn-in, and his former person says he is great with other dogs, smart, and walks well on a leash.

These three dogs are all available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. Forty bucks gets you a new best friend who is up-to-date on his or her shots, heartworm-tested, flea-treated, and comes with a voucher for discount spay/neuter and a sack of kibble. Adopt one of these dogs, and I’ll pay half the adoption fee. Seriously.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

We are now two weeks away from the 2012 Primary Runoff and Judicial Runoff elections. Things are going to continue getting crazy out there. As far as we know, in most jurisdictions, early voting for the August 21st runoff elections will start Monday and continue through Augus 17th.

Crazy as in someone photoshopping a photo of Congressional candidate Lee Anderson’s head onto another man’s body engaged in sexual activity. And then posting it anonymously on Facebook and Anderson’s website before it was deleted.

Crazy as in photoshopping a Hitler mustache on incumbent Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau and dedicating a website to calling him “Mike the Sleaze.” To be fair, the owner of that site posts his name and phone number on the front page and makes himself available to talk about it. Just like a crazy person might do.

Crazy as in accusing another candidate of paying $50,000 for the endorsement of a candidate who didn’t make the runoff.

Crazy as in switching the website for a DeKalb County Commissioner you used to work for into an endorsement of her opponent.

If you clicked on a link to DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer’s website on election night last week and found yourself staring at an endorsement for her challenger, your computer wasn’t malfunctioning.

former website for the District 1 commissionercarried an endorement of her primary challenger Larry Danese – who she trounced in the July 31 primary – with the line: “Replace Elaine Boyer” and “It’s Time for Better Representation.”

Danese posted a note on his website on election night, saying the endorsement was the work of a web designer, Dave Carlson, who has worked for Boyer and owns the old website domain. Danese said he played no role in the site change.

“A website designer who formerly worked for Elaine Boyer has revised one of her campaign website [sic] that he owns to include information taken from my campaign. Based on how my information has been changed, the designer and I appear to agree that Boyer is not the best choice for DeKalb’s District 1,” Danese wrote on his homepage.

Boyer’s website is now hosted at www.commissionerboyer.com. The Carlson-owned site is hosted at www.commissionerelaineboyer.com.

Pro-tip #1 for politicos: it’s a good idea to own the website domain registration for your own campaign website. For the low price of registering a site, you should probably register the .com, .net, and .org versions if they’re available.

Speaking of crazy, the Green Party candidate for President of the United States, Dr. Beth Stein, was in Atlanta last week, visiting the Capitol for a press conference and prison visits. For the time being, those are separate activities.

“This week’s defeat of the one-percenters’ transit plan at our expense shows that Georgia’s political life is neither people-proof or democracy-proof,” said Bruce Dixon, Co-Chair of the Georgia Green Party, which is hosting this tour. “We hope voters will continue to critically weigh their options and will come out to meet a candidate ready to address real issues and work in their interests. Greens offer an option to those sick of puppets financed by the banksters who tanked our economy and and fund a billion-dollar ad-fest passing for a presidential campaign.”

Dr. Stein expects to visit with families of some of Georgia’s nearly 60,000 prisoners. With one in thirteen (more than any other state) Georgia adults in prison, on bail, probation, work release or other forms of correctional or court supervision, the state has yet to shake its founding reputation as a penal colony.

Pro-tip #2: prisoners can’t vote, so you might think about more vote-rich environments for your next trip.

Georgia Greens hope to introduce their candidate to members of Georgia’s immigrant and undocumented communities who are struggling against HB-187, 287(g) agreements between local law enforcement and Federal immigration officials, the nation’s largest immigrant detention center in Stewart County and an ongoing wave of family-shattering deportations.

Pro-tip #3: also, undocumented immigrants can’t vote. That’s strike two.

In fact, before boarding her on her Atlanta bound flight, the Stein campaign is working this morning to bond the Presidential candidate and her running mate out of a Philadelphia jail following their arrest yesterday at the Fannie-Mae officeswhere they participated in a peaceful sit-in intent on preventing the eviction of home-owners in that city.

Pro-tip #4: being in jail in a jurisdiction other than the one in which you are registered to vote probably makes voting for yourself difficult.

Dr. Stein will also visit House District 57 stretching from Atlanta’s West End through to the Morningside community on the DeKalb border, where the Georgia Green Party’s candidate Kwabena Nkromo is winding up a petition drive to get on the ballot for state representative in the November 2012 election.

“Nkromo, Stein and Georgia Greens face the nation’s most anti-democratic and unfair ballot access laws explicitly crafted to restrict the choices of Georgia voters to limited options provided by the corporate parties,” said Dixon. Candidates of the corporate parties access the ballot by paying a filing fee, while those of emerging political parties labor under onerous signature collection requirements, twenty thousand and more for congressional candidates, and nearly sixty thousand for candidates who would appear on statewide ballots.

So, how successful was Dr. Stein’s visit to Georgia? Prospective State House District 57 candidate Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo waited until she was gone to announce his failure to secure a ballot slot, even with the assistance of the top candidate on the Green Party ticker.

“I have decided to officially cease my race for State Representative due to our campaign’s unlikelihood of meeting the requirements by the August 6th deadline. Georgia continues to have the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country for both legislative district races like mine, as well as higher offices,” [said Nkromo].

According to the AJC, Georgia has been labeled as having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country by Ballot Access News, an independent chronicler of election law in the states.

The Green Party, continues to make strides within the SW Atlanta community and received a number of signatures from the community who agreed with the Party, that the electorate deserves a choice and that they have a right to be on the ballot.

“We will continue to fight for the issues our campaign sought to include in the debate about the future of District 57 and the neighborhoods of Atlanta. The victory of the 99% in the defeat of the TSPLOST referendum demands that we stay vigilant and engaged in the struggle for affordable and equitable public transit as a priority for transportation investment in our region,” [said Nkromo].

Muscogee County Coroner Bill Thrower, whose wife inadvertantly wrote his qualifying check on the wrong account, leading it to bounce, has given up on gathering enough signatures to qualify as an Independent to keep his check.

Thrower needed to turn in close to 6,000 signatures from registered voters in Columbus by noon Monday to qualify to run as an independent in the November elections.

Thrower spent most of his Sunday in Lakebottom Park getting signatures on his petition.

He was disqualified from the coroner’s race after his $1800 check to pay his qualifying fee bounced.

Thrower will likely run as a write-in candidate on the November ballot against Buddy Bryan.

Pro-tip #5 – even where it’s not required for qualifying, a bank or cashier’s check for your qualifying fee is always a good idea.

Following its tradition of being one of the last counties to report election results, Fulton County this year went dead last.

Fulton County has finally certified its election results from the July 31 primary, but it still missed the state’s deadline to avoid potential fines.

“It’s certainly troubling to us. We have deadlines for the count to be completed,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is launching an investigation into the delay.

Fulton was the last county in Georgia to declare its results official, almost a week after voters went to the polls.

Fulton election officials were still counting votes this past weekend and were slow to input some of the early ballots.

The state says they reached out to the county several times, but never heard back from anyone.

“We don’t know exactly what the problem is. That’s one of the frustrating things for me. It would be nice if we did know. We don’t, but we’re going to find out,” Kemp told Channel 2 Action News.

Pro-tip #6 – for Brian Kemp, try turning off your Caller ID on your iPhone the next time Fulton County screws up and you need to talk to them. They may have been screening calls and avoiding you.

Fulton County is currently recounting votes in the Democratic Primary for Sheriff and predicts they will finish by Wednesday. I predict they’ll miss that deadline too.

Whomever writes headlines for the Marietta Daily Journal must be pleased with this one: Elections board leader decries tardy vote tallies.

Cobb’s elections board certified the results of Tuesday’s primary vote and acknowledged the need to get results made public sooner.

Board vice chairman Rob Garcia, who was acting as chairman during the Monday morning meeting because Beverly Smith was out sick, said he heard from some of those people who couldn’t understand why the Secretary of State’s website didn’t have results from Cobb sooner.

The ballot included such major votes as the proposed TSPLOST transportation sales tax referendum; and in partisan races, GOP candidates for county chairman and Democratic contests for the southwest Cobb commission seat.

“Cherokee County was at 67 percent reported before we had the first votes uploaded,” Garcia said. “I got a lot of smart-alecky emails saying, ‘Are you counting those by hand?’”

Elections director Janine Eveler said the first results were uploaded at 8:52 p.m. but couldn’t be seen online until after 9:30 p.m., nearly three hours after the polls were to close.

Eveler defended the delay in releasing early-voting results. She said that even though early voting ended July 27, the county can’t close those machines out until after polls close, because they can’t have results ahead of time. That meant that the early-voting results weren’t released until nearly 10 p.m.

Eveler said that several other unexpected factors added to the delay. Sixty-five percent of Election Day voters cast their ballots after 3 p.m., includes a number of people who were in line at 7 p.m. and thus were allowed to vote.

“You’re looking at two-thirds of the voters in one-third of the time,” she said.

Eveler also said that while workers had tested the new statewide reporting system with the Secretary of State’s office, they had not done a test using partial results.

Eveler said results of all votes, except for some of the nearly 6,000 mailed-in ballots, were online by midnight, but the mail-in ballots weren’t fully counted until 4:27 a.m., which is normal for a large county-wide election. Those paper ballots were hand-inserted into an optical scan machine.

She said the number of races on the ballot also contributed to the delay, with Cobb’s paper ballot being 18-inches long, compared to a 14-inch ballot for Gwinnett County.

That’s what she said!

Opponents of Brookhaven cityhood are asking Governor Deal for two of five slots on the  Commission that will oversee the pre-incorporation preparation.

The organization’s request appeared in the August 1 edition of “a:Times News,” which was distributed in several Brookhaven communities this past weekend.

“Recognizing the closeness of this election requires oversight by the No side to make sure all citizens in the new city are represented,” the [Ashford Neighbors] organization said. “Since this vote was so close, we want two No-City group people to be appointed by you to give us equal representation on the five-member commission to form the city.”

The legislation creating the Brookhaven cityhood vote stipulates that Deal’s commission is to review candidates for city manager, attorney, clerk and accountant, as well as finding the best locations for municipal offices. Those recommendations will be passed onto the mayor and city council, who will be elected on Nov. 6.

Deal spokesperson Stephanie Mayfield said the governor has until Sept. 1 to appoint the commission, and has not made the appointments yet. She added she was unsure of when the governor would announce the appointments.

In case you don’t live in Brookhaven and follow our local politics obsessively, the newspaper referenced above isn’t a real newspaper. It’s a thinly-disguised liberal rag that is run by the person who ran the Democratic campaign against State Rep. Mike Jacobs two years ago and appears to exist solely for the purpose of pushing the agenda of local liberals.

I generally refrain from offering Governor Deal unsolicited advice, but will make an exception here. The hippies who opposed Brookhaven’s incorporation are just crazy enough to try to make the new city fail with the hope that we’ll run back to the sheltering arms and confiscatory tax regime of DeKalb County. There might be people who opposed incorporation who will make a great contribution to our city: members of Ashford Neighbors do not fit that description.

The Governor said in a private event earlier this year that one challenge of being Governor is knowing enough people for all the appointments he has to make. If anyone in the Governor’s office is struggling to compile a list of potential appointees, I might have some suggestions. Email me. I won’t hold my breath waiting, however.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre demurred when asked to record a robocall for his Democratic colleague, Debbie Buckner, who faced a primary challenge to her reelection. At least according to Buckner:

After the qualifier, Buckner did answer the question: Did you ask Calvin to endorse you in a campaign flier?

“Yes,” she said.

Smyre’s response to Buckner at the time: “He said he is running his own race in November, and it is customary to run your own race and stay out of other people’s campaigns. He had his own race to run, and I understand that.”

Ask Smyre if Buckner asked him and Hugley for help.

“She didn’t ask us to do anything,” Smyre said.

Then Smyre calls the question a fishing expedition, trying to deflect the question by saying “the campaign is over.”

There was a rumor — and it was just that, a rumor — that in the wake of the election Buckner might jump to the Republican Party. She would not be the first rural white Georgia Democrat to make such a leap.

“I am a Democrat, and I have always been a Democrat,” Buckner said. “It allows me to focus on the issues I care about — health care, education and the environment.” [without the burden of actually passing legislation - Ed.]

So this little fishing expedition is now over.

Patrick Burns of Arc 3 Communications has written an insightful analysis of the social media aspects of the T-SPLOST vote, and found significant cultural differences in the preferences of pro- and anti- T-SPLOST voters. Among the findings:

  • Supporters and opponents of the T-SPLOST relied on very different news sources. T-SPLOST supporters’ favorite news source was National Public Radio, while opponents preferred Fox News.
  •  T-SPLOST supporters’ favorite program was The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, while opponents program of choice was House on the Fox Network.
  • Supporters of T-SPLOST were NFL fans, while opponents were NASCAR fans- both groups agreed that theAtlanta Braves was their favorite sports team.
  • Both sides tended to agree in the area of prominent consumer choices, with both groups most favorite food and beverage product being Chick-Fil-a.
6
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for August 6, 2012

26200 is a young labrador mix who is said by volunteers to be very sweet and friendly and she is available for adoption today from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville. Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As of Saturday, Fulton County was not finished counting votes in last Tuesday’s elections and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is not amused.

Brian Kemp said he is concerned about “numerous and substantial issues” surrounding Tuesday’s primary election in Fulton County and more concerned with a lack of communication with local voting officials.

WSB-TV reports that Fulton County was scheduled to certify the results of Tuesday’s primary by noon Saturday. That deadline came and went. Now county election officials plan to meet tonight.

“This process does not usually take this long and every time that we’ve worked a deadline out with them that deadline has been moved,” Kemp told the TV station in an interview.

Maybe the General Assembly should consider a mechanism for the Secretary of State’s office to remove or supervise elections officials whose departments aren’t performing well enough.

Kennesaw State University hosts the Center for Election Systems, which provides support for the state’s voting system.

“They provide an invaluable service to the state of Georgia,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “This investment of taxpayer dollars provides a safe, secure and uniform election system that Georgia can be proud of.”

In late 2003, the center began preparing the election databases, also known as ballot building.

An election database maps precincts, races and candidates and provides for the storage of votes and eventual reporting for that election. The ballot is derived from the election database. Months before Election Day, the center begins preparing databases that produce the electronic printed and audio ballots used during an election.

There are specific election board rules that outline such things as how large a candidate’s name can appear on the ballot, the font size and the placement of a candidate’s name.

“By having a centralized building component, you have one spot where you can control that to make sure what’s seen by a voter in Fulton County in display, in receptiveness, in feel, looks the same as it does in Camden County,” [center director Michael] Barnes said.

The center builds ballots for 157 of the 159 counties to date, with only Cobb and Richmond counties doing it themselves.

“When we’re doing this in some cases it’s in a time window that’s extremely small,” Barnes said. “The election ended (Tuesday). Voters are anticipating to be voting on a ballot a week from Monday. You have no idea who’s in the runoff. You can’t guess. You have recounts going on. I calculated this morning that out of 159 counties we have 124 counties that have some form of a runoff, so that means we have to prepare 124 databases. Not only do we have to prepare them, they have to be built, they have to be viewed, they have to be checked, and then when we’re finished saying it’s good, they’re only given at that point to the counties for them to proof, because it’s the responsibility of the county to make sure that it’s correct.”

Some candidates in Cobb County complained that election results took too long to be released:

The first results from Cobb were not posted online until 9:39 p.m., more than two and a half hours after most polling places had closed. The nearly complete results were not available until 10 minutes before midnight. And it was 4:27 a.m. Wednesday before all the results were reported.

“You couldn’t get any results, and you had to go to the state level to do it,” said former county Commissioner Butch Thompson. “In somebody’s wisdom they decided that they didn’t want Cobb County to have the election results so normal people could see where we’re at. I don’t know why it now has to come under state control. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I found it real frustrating.”

State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell), added: “Something needs to be done. Cobb used to be one of the counties that always had the earliest results coming in. At some point, people will start to question the process when you have that long of a delay.”

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler was doing things by the book and ensuring that the numbers posted were accurate, and she deserves credit for that.

“Everything went according to plan,” Eveler told the MDJ the next day. “We felt very good about the whole process. Our processes worked great.”

Coweta County election officials were disappointed with 27% turnout:

Turnout, however, was low, with only 27.17 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

“I was thinking we would have between 30 and 40 percent turnout,” Scoggins said.

And even so, “I think we were a little bit higher than the state,” she said.

While Chatham County’s 26% was higher than predicted.

About 26 percent of Chatham’s 141,282 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, according to unofficial results.

Elections Supervisor Russell Bridges said there were no major problems.

“Everything went pretty well,” Bridges said.

The turnout was slightly higher than Bridge’s expectation of 20 percent. During the last primary before a presidential election in 2008, almost 23,000, or about 19 percent, of registered voters cast ballots.

The takeaway here: election turnout predictions by the people charged with administering elections are wild guesses.

Candidates for Augusta Commission and Richmond County Board of Education begin qualifying today.

Qualifying for five commission posts and five school board seats begins at 9 a.m. today in the office of Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey. It was moved from May by a federal judge while a lawsuit over district lines was contested.

Qualifying will be held during business hours today and Tuesday but ends at noon Wednesday. The qualifying fee for a school board seat is $100. The qualifying fee for a commission seat is $360, and candidates must live in the district they want to represent.

At least 13 candidates have expressed an interest in the Dis­tricts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 commission posts, but only one person has announced plans to seek a seat on the school board.

School board incumbents are not term-limited and have a combined 43 years of experience. Two of the longest-serving, District 1’s Marion Barnes and at-large member Helen Minchew, first took office in 2000.

Richmond County Repub­li­can voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for school board members in a primary straw poll, but implementing them would take an act of the Georgia Legislature.

According to the Savannah Morning News, the challenge of runoff elections is turning out your voters.

Primary leader usually wins

If history’s any guide, Anderson and Hoskins have a leg up, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

The leader in the primary wins runoffs about 70 percent of the time, said Bullock, who’s written extensively about them.

He and other experts say runoffs demand a different approach than primaries.

Bullock cited two key factors — lower turnout and a campaign that lasts less than three weeks.

“Your first objective,” Bullock said, “is to make sure the people who voted for you in the primary get back to the polls. There is usually a drop off.”

Savannah College of Art and Design political science professor Robert Eisinger agreed.

“Every campaign ought to know who their supporters are and let them know it’s not over,” Eisinger said.

But, especially in local campaigns, said Savannah political consultant David Simons, that’s not always easy.

It’s smarter, he said, to make “extremely targeted” appeals to people most likely to vote.

Voting history and demographic data such as age and race — all public record — can locate such people, Simons said.

Simons recommended that candidates use mostly phones and mailings.

“I wouldn’t spend a dime on TV or radio in a local race,” he said. “You’ll pay too much to reach people who won’t vote.”

Because there’s so little time, he and Bullock agreed, it makes little sense to try of drum up new support.

Center Forward has reserved $357,000 worth of television airtime in the 12th Congressional District to support the reelection of Democrat John Barrow.

A complaint has been filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission accusing Gwinnett County State Court candidate Pam Britt of stealing signs from other candidates.

Britt said she has run an honest campaign and strongly denied stealing any signs. She said she did remove two signs from a campaign supporter’s property at their request about five weeks ago, because other candidates did not have permission to place signs there.

Britt said one of the signs was broken, laying in the street and had been run over by cars. She said she threw the sign, which was for Richard T. Winegarden, in the trash. Britt said she returned the other sign, which looked reusable, to its owner, Greg Lundy.

“The timing on this being the week of the election is suspicious,” Britt said. “I think it’s an attack on my character, and obviously I’m upset by it.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution attempted to contact the other four primary candidates for State Court Thursday — Brantley, Winegarden, Lundy and Norman Cuadra — but only Winegarden returned calls seeking comment.

When informed of the investigation, Winegarden declined to discuss the situation. “The JQC investigation is confidential, so I don’t think I should be talking about it,” he said.

Sign-stealing is a common complaint during election season, but it’s difficult to prove without witnesses or photographs, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said.

“It’s just not something you expect in a judicial race — it’s more often city councils, county commission, state House,” Conway said.

Winegarden’s campaign manager called Duluth police Tuesday to report someone stole his campaign signs, spray-painted them with a black skull and crossbones and re-posted them at the intersection of Old Peachtree Road and Sugarloaf Parkway, according to an incident report.

At Saturday’s Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast, State Court candidate Emily Brantley accused Britt of something arguably worse in a Gwinnett County runoff. Brantley said that Britt voted in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary for either Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton. Maybe she voted for Bill Richardson?

In the Cobb County Commission Chair Runoff between incumbent Tim Lee and former Chair Bill Byrne, the challenger has picked up support from Larry Savage, who ran fourth in the primary election, while third-place finisher Mike Boyce will not endorse anyone.

Former county chairman candidate Larry Savage said he would campaign for Bill Byrne in the Aug. 21 runoff that will decide the next chairman if asked, while former candidate Mike Boyce said he would not be making an endorsement.

Voters sent Byrne and incumbent Tim Lee into the runoff in the Tuesday Republican primary race for county chairman. Lee led the pack with 29,024 votes, followed by Byrne, who received 19,388 votes, Boyce, who received 17,025 votes, and Savage, who received 7,662 votes.  About 60 percent of all voters cast a ballot against Chairman Lee.

Savage said he would work to help Byrne get elected if Byrne wanted.

“Bill sees the same thing that I saw starting more than two years ago — that we have lost our direction, we have gone adrift to the left, we’ve become decidedly more liberal in our approach to local government, and we just can’t continue that unless we want to turn out like everybody else that’s ever tried it,” Savage said Thursday. “That’s a natural thing that governments do over time is tilt to the left. They provide more and more services to more and more people and ever smaller groups, and it never works in the long run, and the only way it seems that people get over that is they go all the way to the end and to failure, and then they get to reset and start over, and I think we ought to be smart enough to be able not to do that.”

Were it to come down to picking a next-door neighbor, Savage said he might choose Lee because, on a personal level, Lee is likable.

“But Tim, I don’t know if Tim even has a personal view about government or if he has any philosophy about government,” Savage said. “He gets his direction from other people, and those other people, they may be upstanding citizens and successful business people and all that sort of thing, but they are not tuned in or obligated or committed in any way to the best interests of the county at large. They’ve got other interests that are a lot more parochial, and that’s the direction that the county follows.”

However, Savage said this is not about electing a next-door neighbor.

“We’re not electing a homecoming queen,” Savage said. “We’re not electing someone to be nice. We’re electing someone to deal with issues.

That Cobb Commission Chair runoff is likely to come down to voter turnout, according to even more politicos.

Marietta attorney Chuck Clay said it’s hard to say who could win the runoff because there should be a slight advantage to the incumbent, but with both Lee and Byrne being “known entities” in Cobb, it will all depend on who can get the most people back to the ballots in three weeks.

“The traditional rule is that if you’re an incumbent and you’re down, then you’re in trouble, but this is a little different scenario with the (TSPLOST) on and off, and both of these people have records that are known,” he said. “You don’t have an incumbent challenging a fresh face. It kind of throws that traditional view off.”

For Lee, Clay said he’s has the advantage in fundraising and seems to be well-liked, but Byrne is a hardworking candidate and within “striking distance.”

He also said that traditionally, around 15 to 20 percent of registered voters turn out for the primaries, and somewhere around half of that will make a showing for runoffs.

“At this time, it’s purely a turnout issue — who can get folks to come back to the poll?” he said.

First-time Cobb Commission candidate Lisa Cupid forced incumbent Woody Thompson into a runoff as well.

Lisa Cupid … said she’s been endorsed by former candidates Monica DeLancy and Ruth Negron

Cupid said she is confident about the race, given that more than 70 percent of voters opposed Thompson.

“We were pretty successful knocking door to door and calling people directly,” she said. “That may have to continue.”

Thompson said he talked with Connie Taylor, whom he appointed to the SPLOST Oversight Committee and Board of Tax Assessors, about an endorsement.

While nothing is official, he feels confident about the endorsement from Taylor, who finished fourth in the race, just behind Dr. Michael Rhett.

“I think she’s on board to help,” Thompson said.

Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr holds a 76-vote lead over challenger Pam Brown in the Democratic primary.

Elections supervisor, Nancy Boren, says more than 260 military ballots were mailed out 45 days ago, some going as far as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based upon previous elections, only 6 to 8 percent are normally returned to the office before the deadline. Soldiers have until Friday to submit their mail-in ballots.

“I am not expecting those ballots to make a big difference in the outcome,” explained Boren.

[Pam] Brown… stated she will request a recount if Darr is declared the nominee.

Henry County Commissioner Warren Holder has requested a recount in his narrow loss to challenger Bo Moss, which will be conducted today by the county elections office.

For now, unofficial and incomplete returns have businessman William J. “Bo” Moss defeating long-time incumbent District I Commissioner Warren Emory Holder. Moss received 50.2 percent of the vote, or 1,898 votes, while Holder secured 49.8 percent, or 1,883 votes.

“Unofficially, there is a 15-vote difference between ‘Bo’ Moss and Warren Holder for the District I Commissioner seat,” said election clerk Brook Schreiner. “Our office is still waiting on military absentees; they have until Friday at 3 p.m. to get their absentee votes to us. After 3 p.m., we will certify the election.”

Schreiner said although the Henry election office has completed the count for provisional ballots, the number of votes for Moss and Holder remains the same as election night.

“As of [Wednesday], we had not received any military votes in the mail,” said Shellnutt. “There will be an official and complete report on Friday, when will do a final count after the mail runs.”

Muscogee County coroner Bill Thrower, who was bounced from the ballot for paying with a bad check, is trying to collect nearly 6000 signatures by Thursday to qualify for the ballot.

Thrower says he has at least 4,000 signatures so far. Officials say by August 3 at noon, he must pay a $1800 qualifying fee and turn in a declaration of intent to run as an independent candidate.

Pro-tip: collect at least 50% more signatures than you need, so that you still have enough after a bunch of them are challenged and thrown out.

Clayton County voters will get a second bite at the apple in runoff elections for County Commission Chair, Sheriff, Commission District 3, and Senate district 44. In each of those races, the incumbent was forced into a runoff.

In the District 44 senate race, challenger Gail Buckner and incumbent Gail Davenport ran neck-and-neck throughout the evening. The results show Buckner finishing with 45.8 percent of the vote to Davenport’s 45.2.

In the race for sheriff of Clayton County, incumbent Kem Kimbrough led throughout the evening but challenger and former sheriff Victor Hill remained on his coattails. Kimbrough garnered 42.4 percent of the vote to Hill’s 37.5 percent.

The only remaining candidate in that race to finish with more than one percent of the vote was Clayton County Police Lt. Tina Daniel, who finished third with 12.9 percent.

The commission chairman’s race saw challenger Jeff Turner and incumbent Eldrin Bell neck-and-neck throughout the evening on Tuesday and, when the final votes were tallied, the two were separated by four tenths of a percentage point with Bell garnering 41.95 percent of the vote to Turner’s 41.91 percent.

The third candidate, Roberta Abdul-Salaam, finished with 16.1 percent.

In the Clayton County Commission District Three race, incumbent Wole Ralph and challenger Shana Rooks ran a close race throughout the evening with Ralph finishing on top with 44.07 percent of the vote to Rooks 42.7.

New District Attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit (comprising  Hart, Elbert, Franklin, Madison, and Oglethorpe counties) Parks White is preparing to take over from incumbent Bob Lavender, whom he defeated in the Republican primary. Awkward.

Click Here

1
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 1, 2012

This little low rider looks like a cross between a blue tick coon hound and a basset and is available for adoption from Cobb County Animal Shelter. He is said to have a great, friendly personanilty, is up-to-date on his shots, and will be neutered, microchipped and tested for heartworms before he goes home. His ID is 546592, he is in run 850 and he weighs 49 lbs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This is far from exhaustive, as I was up too late last night watching election returns, but I’ll delve deeper into some of the happenings in yesterday’s elections, including ballot questions and local races over the next few days.

Two things became clear in last night’s elections: T-SPLOST was soundly rejected and most GOP incumbents were reelected.

T-SPLOST passed in three districts, Central Savannah River, River Valley, and Heart of Georgia regions will see their sales taxes go up when the measure goes into effect.

Chuck Eaton beat Matt Reid for the Republican nomination for PSC District 3 by a margin of nearly 60-40. Stan Wise beat Pam Davidson for PSC District 5 by 56.5-43.5.

Eaton said:

“I am grateful to the people of Georgia for allowing me the opportunity to represent the Republican party in November.

I also want to thank Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, Attorney General Olens and all the grassroots activists who supported our campaign.

As we move toward November, we will continue the discussion of whether Georgia wants lower rates, reliable utilities, and more good jobs, or whether we wish to change course and pursue a radical agenda that will cost more money from consumers, and make our state less competitive for new jobs.”

Wise said,

“We’ve made a commitment over the years of promising just a few things – reasonable rates, reliable generation and clearly we’re building an infrastructure for the future, whether it comes from increased natural gas infrastructure in the state or growing nuclear transmission for generations to come.”

Congressional Primary Election

Ninth Congressional District – Runoff between Doug Collins (41.80%) and Martha Zoller (41.14%). The math geek in me notes that both of those percentages are evenly divisible by 11; the politics geek notes that this means three more weeks of dueling press releases piling up in my inbox.

Line of the night goes to Doug Collins.

Asked about the nail-biting returns, Collins said, “we’ve got plenty of nails left.”

As in the election, Martha came in second for line of the night by a slim margin,

“Well, I didn’t get crushed tonight,” she said. “I did pretty darn good.”

Twelfth Congressional District appears to be headed for a runoff between Lee Anderson (34.22%) and a player to be named later. Currently, the Secretary of State’s website shows Rick Allen with a 558-vote lead over Wright McLeod, but it also indicates that not all precincts are reported, so this may change .

At midnight, Augusta businessman Rick Allen was leading Evans lawyer Wright McLeod by about 500 votes, but neither was conceding the second-place finish that would place one of them in the runoff. The Asso­ciated Press didn’t call the runner-up results because of the closeness of the race.

The margin is close enough to guarantee McLeod a recount if it holds in the official count, The Asso­ciated Press said.

Senate Primary Elections

Senate District 6 – appears to be Hunter Hill with 52% over his opponents, but irregularities in voting, which included voters assigned to incorrect precincts and paper balloting in midtown Atlanta may mean that the race is not truly called for several days.

Senate District 7 – Tyler Harper beat Mark Hatfield, who was trying to move up from the State House.

Senate District 9 – Don Balfour cruised to an easy reelection with nearly 63% against two challengers.

Senate District 18 – Cecil Staton appears to have squeaked out a victory in a race where the candidates were separated by a single point, or roughly 200 votes.

Senate District 21 – Chip Rogers appears to have beaten Brandon Beach by 59-41

Senate District 25 – Johnny Grant defeated by Burt Jones 47-53.

Senate District 27 – Jack Murphy appears to have been reelected by less than half-a-point, a 117 vote margin.

Senate District 31 – Bill Heath (45.3%) meets Bill Carruth (41.1%) in a runoff on August 21.

Senate District 44 – Gail Davenport (33.9%) came in second to challenger Gail Buckner (42.4%) and is probably at a disadvantage headed into the runoff.

Senate District 47 – Frank Ginn wins.

Senate District 52 – Chuck Hufstetler appears to win without a runoff with a 54-30 margin over David Doss.

Selected House Races

House District 2 – Jay Neal over challenger Steve Tarvin with a 57-43 margin.

House District 16 – Trey Kelley wins over Jennifer Hulsey by 58-42.

House District 20 – Challenger Michael Caldwell beats incumbent Charlice Byrd by 53-47.

House District 21 – State Rep. Sean Jerguson reelected over Scot Turner.

House District 26 – Geoff Duncan appears to have a 55-vote margin over former State Rep. Tom Know.

House District 34 – Charles Gregory defeats incumbent State Rep. Judy Manning.\

House District 44 – State Rep. Don Parson reelected.

House District 45 – State Rep. Matt Dollar reelected.

House District 46 – State Rep. John Carson wins his re-nomination for his first full term but faces Kevin “Funny Mustache Hipster” West in the General. It is notable that Carson’s GOP opponent took more than twice as many votes in losing 68-32 than Democrat Kevin West took in his uncontested primary.

House District 56 – “Able” Mable Thomas handily defeated Ken Britt in the Democratic Primary, winning reelection by a 65-35 margin.

House District 57 – Democrat incumbent Pat Gardner appears to have whipped Rashad Taylor by a 63-37 margin.

House District 117 – Regina Quick beats Doug McKillip by 64 votes.

In Athens-Clarke County, Quick claimed almost 63 percent of the nearly 3,200 votes tallied. For McKillip, Tuesday’s race came less than two years after he switched to the GOP just weeks after his re-election as a Democrat in what was then an exclusively Athens legislative district.

McKillip led balloting in Oconee County (56 percent), Jackson County (63 percent) and Barrow County (66 percent).

House District 118 – Spencer Frye defeats incumbent Keith Heard in the Democratic Primary, while Carter Kessler won the GOP nomination.

House District 58 – Simone Bell won the matchup against fellow incumbent Democrat Ralph Long.

House District 63 – Ronnie Mabra leads into the runoff with 49.2%.

House District 66 – Bob Snelling, (49.63%) a former State Rep. will be in a runoff against Mike Miller (27.17%).

House District 75 – Democrat Mike Glanton appears to have knocked-off incumbent Yasmin Neal by 56-44.

House District 81 – Chris Boedeker over Carla Roberts by 70-30.

House District 97 Brooks Coleman whipped Robert McClure, a 20-something Ron Paul supporter by 70-30.

House District 103 Timothy Barr appears to have won the Republican Primary, but voting problems appear to have occurred in some early and absentee ballots.

House District 109 – Dale Rutledge beat incumbent Steve Davis.

In one of the more contentious legislative races, state House Rep. Steve Davis (R-District 109), lost to businessman Dale Rutledge by more than a 2 to 1 margin, 3,942 votes to 1,761, in the Republican Primary. There is no Democratic challenger.

House District 121 – Barry Fleming makes a return to the state house as a Republican, the only one of four attempted state house comebacks to clinch a win so far.

House District 167 – Jeff Chapman, a former Republican state senator will return to the Capitol as a new member of the lower house.

House District 180 – Jason Spencer beats Adam Jacobson with a 262-vote margin.

Other Notable Runoffs

Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee faces former Commission Chair Bill Byrne in a runoff. Grab some popcorn, this one’s going to get nasty.

In Gwinnett County Commission District Three, incumbent Mike Beaudreau took 47.34% and lands in a runoff, most likely with Tommy Hunter.

Kathy Schrader took more than 43% in the election for an open seat on the Gwinnett County Superior Court, more than double the vote total of second-place finisher Tracey Mason Blasi.

Emily Brantley and Pam Britt appear headed for a runoff for Gwinnett State Court, narrowly edging former State and Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden out.

30
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 30, 2012

Payday is a 4-year old yellow lab mix boy who is being left at Walton County Animal Shelter by his owners. $40 brings him home with you with a microchip, $15 voucher for spay/neuter, and up-to-date vaccinations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today’s Georgia Pundit is both late and short because, in the ultimate irony, Georgia Power has chosen today to trim some trees I’ve been complaining about for years. Power outages mean no internet at home.

Tomorrow is election day. That will mean a brief respite from robo-calls on Wednesday until the runoff campaigns get cranked up. I’ll spend Tuesday night not going to any victory parties but watching the returns on the new Election Night Reporting system on Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s website.

The pro-gambling, and pro-T-SPLOST “Neighbors for a Better Cherokee” have put these signs up all over the county in support of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who faces Brandon Beach in the Republican Primary tomorrow. That’s what these signs mean, right?

For a recap of issues in the Rogers v. Beach race, the Cherokee Tribune has a profile of the election.

In Athens, some local Democrats are suggesting that fellow Dems cast Republican ballots this year for the purpose of voting against Doug McKillip, who switched from the Democratic party to the GOP.

Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly has asked the bankruptcy court overseeing his proceeding to dismiss the case.

According to the motion to dismiss the bankruptcy, Kenerly “has resolved or is well underway with the process of resolving problems and issues with his secured creditors and there is very little unsecured debt in his case.”

In addition to his private creditors, county records show Kenerly owes nearly $21,000 in late property taxes, penalties and interest on his Braselton home and an adjoining lot.

In a robocall supporting Martha Zoller in the Ninth Congressional District, Sarah Palin apparently mispronounces Zoller’s name. Or maybe it’s a clever ploy to get the AJC to write yet again about Martha Zoller being endorsed by Sarah Palin.

27
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 27, 2012

Pen 231 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter holds this cute Lab mix, who has been misclassified as a “Pibble.” She’s accurately described as playful and friendly.

Tomorrow, a fundraiser will be held for the Society of Humane Friends, who run the spay/neuter clinic at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter and support the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Operation Second Chance Jail Dogs ProgramThe event is Saturday, July 28th from 10 AM to 3 PM at Gwinnett County Animal Control, located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, and will feature a raffle, bouncy house for kids, hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks. Saturday is also the last day for discounted adoptions at the Gwinnett Shelter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Owners of convenience stores tied to illegal gambling have contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater, Muscogee County Sheriff John T. Darr, Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Judge Steven D. Smith among other candidates.

The contributions have raised questions as employees and relatives of campaign supporters — and at least one contributor himself — have been ensnared in a broadening Columbus police crackdown on illegal cash payouts from electronic gaming machines.

Businesses raided for alleged gambling since 2008 have given at least $28,000 to local candidates over the past four years, including nearly $10,000 to Slater and about $6,000 to Darr, according to an analysis by the Ledger-Enquirer.

The officeholders said they had not considered returning any contributions after the gambling raids, noting the defendants haven’t been convicted. They insisted they have never given or been asked for preferential treatment in exchange for the contributions.

Atlanta Unfiltered writes that Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers is accused of working on mailings for casinos and phone-handicapping services after he was elected to the General Assembly.

Chris McClurg, soon to be unsuccessful candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge has been named as the biggest offender for political campaign signs in the rights-of-way.

Gwinnett code enforcement officers said the “biggest offender award” goes to Chris McClurg who is running for superior court judge.

Police said of the 150 illegal signs they picked up, 90 belonged to McClurg.

McClurg also has a voting record that includes 2004 Democratic Primary and Primary Runoff elections, and the 2008 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp ruled that Augusta Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders is eligible to run for Superior Court.

A formal challenge to Saunders’ candidacy was filed in May by Augusta attorney Jack Long. Long claimed that Saunders should not be allowed to challenge Chief Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet for his seat in the Augusta Circuit because state law bars anyone who has defaulted on tax obligations from holding office.

Kemp, who has the final say in such election challenges, decided to adopt Judge Michael M. Malihi’s July 16 ruling, which said although Saunders owes federal taxes, his plan to pay the IRS under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy settlement meets the standard for a payment plan required by state law.

SOS Kemp also announced that his agency’s website will feature a new elections return tool for the primary elections.

“Our Agency’s new ENR system is a great resource for Georgia voters,” said Kemp.  “Information will be distributed efficiently, be interactive, and be able to be broken down to the precinct level.”

Would-be state Senate candidate Garry Guan has dropped out of the race after his residency challenge. Senator Curt Thompson is now unopposed.

Kemp rejected residency challenges against Republican Carla Roberts in HD 81 and Brooke Siskin in HD 95, in both cases adopting the recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge who took evidence.

Ashley Fielding of the Gainesville Times writes about the Republican Primary in the Ninth Congressional District.

One calls herself a “firebrand.” Another repeats that he’s the only “consistent conservative.” And the third rarely sits down without mentioning the U.S. Constitution.

A seven-month campaign for the Republican nomination to run for the newest U.S. House seat in Georgia, which once drew five Republicans from three counties, culminates Tuesday with just three candidates on the Republican ballot.

Those left are a former state representative from Hall County, a retired principal from White County and a former conservative radio talk show host, also from Hall.

If neither Doug Collins, Roger Fitzpatrick nor Martha Zoller is able to garner more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the two with the most support will face off in an Aug. 21 runoff.

The winner of the election will face Democrat Jody Cooley of Gainesville in November’s general election to represent all or parts of 20 counties in Northeast Georgia in Congress.

Former Governor Zell Miller has endorsed the reelection of state Senator Cecil Staton, according to a website owned by Cecil Staton

Senator Miller said, “Shirley and I have known Catherine and Cecil Staton for many years. I don’t do this frequently, but I feel so strongly about this race that I wanted to let you know that I’m supporting Cecil Staton for re-­‐election. I know a conservative champion when I see one.

Don’t let anyone fool you. Senator Staton is pro-­‐life, pro-­‐family, and pro-­‐business. He is a tax-­‐cutter, a budget-­‐balancer, and a job-­‐creator. We need him to keep fighting for our conservative values under the gold dome. I encourage everyone in the six counties of the 18th district to join me in supporting your Senator-­‐-­‐Cecil Staton.

An ethics campaign finance complaint has been filed against Fulton Magistrate Judge Melynee Leftridge over campaign expenditures. According to the filer of the complain,

“The most troubling of these allegations is an apparent elaborate scheme to funnel campaign contributions to a company responsible for maintaining a website www.pirouettesexy.com … the Pirouette Dance Company, whose name was changed to Pirouette Company with the Secretary of State in February 2012, currently maintains a website featuring pictures of scantly clad women and a current schedule of dates and fees,” [complainant Charlie] Statdlander said in a statement.

Other clients of Pirouette include DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Democratic State Rep. Pat Gardner, State House candidate Ronnie Mabra, Gail Davenport, DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez, and Citizens for Transportation Mobility. Sound like a legitimate political consulting practice to me, but that does give me some ideas for my website.

Chuck Eaton, running for reelection to the Public Service Commission, is supported by Charlie Harper, editor of Peach Pundit.

Much of the decisions that the PSC makes are handcuffed by Georgia law and an increasing appetite for  the General Assembly to regulate utilities via every more friendly regulations codified as state law.  Senate Bill 31 continues to resonate as an example, with the legislature, not the PSC, deciding to pre-fund Georgia Power’s return on investment for two new nuclear reactors at plant Vogtle.

One of Chuck Eaton’s strong points is that he is intellectually curious.  He is a person who is willing to admit he doesn’t have all of the answers, and solicits opinions regularly on topics that interest him.

He has a keen grasp on the various risks associated with coal as the EPA continues to push coal powered electric plants toward extinction.  He understands that while natural gas prices are at historic lows right now, the history of the fuel is one of price volatility which could lead to wide variances in power costs.  He understands that nuclear is cheap once the power plants are operational, but getting a plant built after 30 years since the last plant was built will present unique challenges.

Eaton prefers a balanced approach, with Georgia not putting all eggs in one basket.  He’s generally pragmatic about the needs of the state, and balances the needs of Georgians with the requirements that those the PSC regulates are entitled to earn a profit as defined in state law.

While not someone I always agree with, Eaton is someone who can explain and is willing to defend his positions based on fact and underlying law.  That’s a rarity in politics.

In short, I trust him.  That’s also rare.  He’s an incumbent that gets my vote.  That’s getting more rare.

Eaton is also supported by Governor Nathan Deal, Congressman Tom Graves, Attorney General Sam Olens, and numerous other Republicans.

T-SPLOST opponents outnumbered supporters at a debate over the sales tax hike last night at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said her displeasure with the proposal came last year when the toll lanes were activated along Interstate 85. She said her inquiries into the issue, which actually increased congestion, caused her to realize the problem with the bureaucracy.

And, as far as the project list is concerned, she added that a proposal to convert Gravel Springs Road to an interchange angered her Buford constituents.

While debates in the Legislature lingered for years before the current Transportation Investment Act was adopted, Unterman said leaders would be anxious to take on the issue again in January if voters say no to the proposal.

“That’s the risk,” she said of politics intervening in the Legislature, “but I still say that risk is better than dumping billions of dollars into a system that is not working.”

Also in Gwinnett, T-SPLOST opponents are questioning whether county funds are being used to support the T-SPLOST.

Partnership Gwinnett, funded by businesses and government agencies, has won national acclaim for efforts to attract jobs to metro Atlanta. But on Thursday citizens groups questioned whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.

They also were skeptical of claims the Chamber of Commerce hasn’t used public money to support the transportation sales tax measure on Tuesday’s ballot.

Some Hispanic leaders joined Mayor Kasim Reed in supporting the T-SPLOST; a group called “Georgia Hispanic Republicans” are unanimously opposed to T-SPLOST. Make of it what you will.

The American Communist Lawyers Civil Liberties Union seeks to intervene in a lawsuit over Sumter County Board of Education district lines.

The Georgia Ports Authority is seeking to intervene in the federal lawsuit challenging the dredging of the Savannah River to improve access to the Port of Savannah.

The Georgia Ports Authority wants to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel saying its contractual and economic interests are at risk.

The authority also asked a judge to block South Carolina’s Savannah River Maritime Commission from entering the suit, saying that would expand the action and simply bring in extraneous issues.

The authority wants the river shipping channel deepened to handle larger ships that will be routinely calling when the Panama Canal is deepened in 2014. It filed the motions on Wednesday and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday gave the other parties in the case until Aug. 6 to respond.

The lawsuit filed by environmental groups contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs a South Carolina pollution permit before the deepening work can begin. The suit alleges toxic cadmium from river silt will be dumped in a dredge spoils area on the South Carolina side of the river.

The suit was brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper, based in Augusta, Ga., as well as the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Forsyth County Elections

Senate district 27 pits Republican Senator Jack Murphy against Forsyth County Tea Party  founder Steve Voshall.

House district 26 is a contest between formers: former State Rep. Tom Knox and former Florida Marlins pitcher Geoff Duncan.

Walker Bramblett, the incumbent Chief Magistrate Judge meets former Chief Magistrate Barbara Cole. In 2008, Cole stepped down as she did not meet then-new requirements for years as a member of the State bar, but she now has enough time as a lawyer to mount a comeback.

The race for County Coroner features a retired medical examiner, a funeral director and a nurse, seeking to succeed Lauren McDonald, who is running for Sheriff.

The Republican primary for County Commission District 2 will decide whether incumbent Brian Tam or one of his challengers, Dennis Brown and Scott Padis, take a seat on the Commission, as no Democrat is running.

County Commission District 4 will also be decided in the Republican primary between incumbent Patrick Bell, and challengers Tim Hubbard, Charles Meagher, Cindy J. Mills and Bill Mulrooney.

One of those candidates for District 4, Cindy Mills, had an ethics complaint filed against her because she failed to list her role as an officer in the Forsyth County Parks Foundation on her Personal Financial Disclosure. She amended her PFD that day.

Holly LaBerge, spokeswoman for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, said the complaint will not be pursued until after the July 31 election.

“If it was filed within 30 days of an election, we can’t do anything with it until the election is over by law,” LaBerge said.

Click Here

State Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Forsyth) was appointed chair of the Jekyll Island State Park Oversight Committee, on which he currently serves as a member. Tough duty.

A former Forsyth County deputy who was terminated during his probationary period claims his firing was because he posted on Facebook that he supports Duane Piper, who is challenging Sheriff Ted Paxton in the Republican Primary.

Ends & Pieces

Rocky Creek Solar Farm in Upson County is the first facility of its type in Georgia, and is now producing up to 1 megawatt, enough to power 300 homes. Georgia Power purchases electricity produced at the facility, with an additional 18 megawatts under development.

Effingham County Sheriff’s Office took second place in its division in a national law enforcement highway safety challenge.

Rome-based Bubba will compete in dock diving at the Summer at the Rocks event in Stone Mountain this weekend. The event runs today through Sunday. Bubba is a four-year old chocolate Lab who enjoys food, licking himself, and belly rubs.

Model High School in Rome is holding it’s annual band camp. This is not a one time occurence, but annual.

26
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 26, 2012

Pen 107 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter houses this young, male Shepherd mix. Shepherd mix is what the shelter calls him, I’d say he looks like the other parent was a Golden Retriever. He’ll be available for adoption beginning Sunday.

On Saturday, a fundraiser will be held for the Society of Humane Friends, who run the spay/neuter clinic at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter and support the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Operation Second Chance Jail Dogs Program. The event is Saturday, July 28th from 10 AM to 3 PM at Gwinnett County Animal Control, located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, and will feature a raffle, bouncy house for kids, hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks. Saturday is also the last day for discounted adoptions at the Gwinnett Shelter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today, we start with congratulations to Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Billy Ray and Atlanta lawyer Lisa Branch, who have been named to the Georgia Court of Appeals by Governor Nathan Deal.

Judge Ray will join the Court on July 30th and Branch on September 1st. Judge Ray previously served as a Republican member of the State Senate and was the founder and presiding judge of the Gwinnett County Drug Treatment Court.

Speaking of Gwinnett County Superior Court, two of the candidates out there have gotten involved in a knife fight involving mail, robocalls, and allegations of ongoing corruption.

Harsh to be sure, but the assertions of fact appear to be true. Then there’s the robocall, which states:

“This is an important alert for Gwinnett voters.”

“Superior Court Judge candidate Tracey Mason Blasi was appointed to be a zoning judge by Shirley Lasseter, who has pled guilty to bribery charges.”

“Today it was announced that Lasseter’s sentencing for bribery has been delayed to allow the investigation to continue into corrupt public officials.”

“It would be irresponsible to elect a candidate such as Tracey Mason Blasi to a judgeship in Gwinnett, especially considering the connection to corrupt public officials”

“We don’t know where this investigation will go, and we don’t need to risk letting Miss Mason Blasi be elected as a judge.”
Please remember to vote No to Gwinnett corruption and vote No to Tracey Mason Blasi on July 31st.”

That call may just violate Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct promulgated by the Judicial Qualifications Commission if it was paid for by a candidate for Superior Court. I’d give 50/50 odds that a complaint is filed.

Canon 7(c) states that candidates for judicial office

“shall not use or participate in the publication of a false statement of fact concerning themselves or their candidacies, or concerning any opposing candidate of candidacy, with knowledge of the statement’s falsity or with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.”

Tracey Mason Blasi fired back with her own Robocall, using the voice of Gerald Davidson,

“Chris McClurg chose to mail false statements about one of the most reputable attorneys in this county, Tracey Mason Blasi.”

“Mr. McClurg knows his comments are untrue and misleading but sent them anyway.”

Here’s where it gets interesting: I think that robocall by Gerald Davidson might also violate Canon 7 if it was done by the Blasi campaign, unless she can point to a statement of fact on Chris McClurg’s mailer that is untrue. Odds on a JQC complaint being filed concerning this call are also 50/50.

Blasi also sent out an email blast in which she writes:

Some of my opponents have stooped to unfounded personal attacks on me but they cannot attack my proven record of service in Gwinnett County.

Seriously, Tracey, you shouldn’t be slinging mud at all of your opponents, when you know (a) that Chris McClurg or his candidates did the mail and robocall; (b) that one of those other candidates will be the next Superior Court Judge in Gwinnett County; and (c) that Governor Deal will soon be appointing another Superior Court Judge in Gwinnett and the Judicial Nominating Commission is unlikely to look kindly upon this.

DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson has apologized for an alcohol-and-grief induced tirade at the Tanqueray Lounge.

“I was a little despondent and upset over my wallet,” Watson said in a phone interview with the AJC. “I have apologized to the constituents and I will apologize to the officer.”

Watson admitted he was in no shape to drive.

“I had a moment where I was trying to console myself and I had a few drinks. I at least had enough sense not to drive myself home,” he said. “Hopefully voters will forgive me that.”

Before leaving the club, the incident report states, Watson engaged in a profanity-laced tirade directed at two women he believed had pilfered his wallet, which contained $200. He acknowledged he did not witness them steal it.

“I’m going to act a [expletive deleted] fool in the morning,” said Watson, as quoted in the report. “One of those two [expletive deleted] stole my wallet.”

Parker wrote that he encouraged Watson to “behave like a public official,” but the commissioner continued to direct slurs toward the two women.

One of them, Sheneeka Latessa Bradsher, of Hampton, Va., was briefly arrested for disorderly conduct after ignoring Parker’s warnings to calm down, according to the report.

But the officer chose to give her a warning because, “I did not feel I would be justified in arresting Ms. Bradsher for disorderly conduct and not arrest Mr. Watson.”

In Forsyth County, a supporter of Sheriff Ted Paxton is being investigated for a roadside beautification program sign-stealing spree.

Channel 2 News reports that one of Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton’s campaign workers is being investigated for stealing more than 30 campaign signs belonging to Paxton’s opponents.

Authorities said they responded to a domestic dispute at Joni Owens’ home and saw a stack of signs outside her garage. Paxton’s campaign manager said Owens has since been fired from the campaign.

This is the same person who had earlier been accused of stealing signs for Senator Jack Murphy’s opponent. Senator Murphy emailed me to say he had no idea about the sign-stealing and I believe him. The fact that the person accused of sign-stealing was found with the signs of ten different candidates looks more like a crazy person and less like a campaign tactic.

Some of the specific allegations in the ethics Campaign Finance Commission complaint against Senator Chip Rogers include:

that Rogers “masterminded a scheme to violate the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act by causing the transfer of $140,000 from the Georgia Republican Senatorial Trust to a political action committee (PAC) he caused to be created.” Manuel claims those funds were then used “primarily for his own benefit in the form of in-kind contributions to his campaign.”

[Complainant Colleen] Manuel also alleges that Rogers violated an additional campaign finance rule by soliciting a vendor, “instructing that vendor to mail on behalf of candidates including himself, suggested specific messaging and then funded this vendor’s operation.” She said the value of the mailing is alleged to exceed $2,500, violating the Section 21-5-41 of the state Campaign Finance Act, which limits maximum allowable contributions. “The Rogers PAC filed disclosures showing that $72,552 was spent to benefit Rogers,” she said, referring to the Georgia Republican Senate Caucus Promotion (GRSCP) PAC.

Manuel said in the complaint that Rogers hired Michael Luethy, who registered the GRSCP PAC (an independent committee) on May 18. The Senate Caucus trust then transferred a total of $140,000 to the GRSCP, she said.

Manuel said the GRSCP PAC then paid for at least six mailings expressly advocating the re-election of Rogers.

Rogers’ only response was to say the complaint was not newsworthy.

“Surely a last-minute bogus ethics complaint from a member of my opponent’s campaign is not worthy of news coverage,” he said.

Senator Cecil Staton has also drawn a complaint.

The complaint has been filed by State Senate candidate Dr. Spencer Price.

Price says the senator got an illegal campaign donation in the form of mailed campaign material. Price reported the alleged violation to Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

The complaint says that Staton received a contribution from the a group allegedly funded by the Georgia Republican Senatorial Trust, which wasn’t reported on his campaign disclosure. Staton says his campaign wasn’t responsible for the mailings, it was not from the trust, and that he properly reported campaign contributions.

“The Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that third party organizations can spend what they want to that’s their first amendment right, the only problem would be if there had been any cooperation between our campaign and that organization and their has been none, absolutely none,” says Staton.

Staton called the complaint frivolous, and a distraction from the real issues surrounding the senate race. The senator maintains there’s no merit to Price’s allegations.

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Obama for America must not like gay people or they wouldn’t have spent $62 at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A, right?

Jane Morrison is running for Fulton County State Court, hoping to become one of the first openly-lesbian judges in Georgia.

Morrison has her own civil practice where she works full-time, but she is also a part-time solicitor for the cities of Sandy Springs and Johns Creek. She’s also served as a judge on a part time basis for Atlanta Municipal Court as well as a part-time Fulton Magistrate judge.

Morrison said she also has experience with criminal defense when early in her career she represented defendants in Atlanta Traffic Court.

“What I bring is a broad base of experience,” said Morrison, who is endorsed by Georgia Equality and the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats.

Wait, I guess she actually is an openly-lesbian judge already.

Michael Caldwell drew 45% of the vote against State Rep. Charlice Byrd in 2010 and is back for a second bite at the apple. The winner of the Republican primary faces Lillian Burnaman, the only Democrat running against an incumbent in Cherokee County.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp ruled that Ronald Mabra is a resident of House District 63 and can stay on the ballot, rejecting the findings of an Administrative Law Judge that Mabra was not a resident and therefore not qualified to run for State House.

 

Ends & Pieces

Willie Nelson will headline a concert at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth on October 20th, 2012 as part of the Railroad Revival Tour.

Performers will arrive in a vintage train for the Oct. 20 concert at the museum located at 3595 Buford Hwy. About 8,000 to 10,000 fans are expected to attend the Saturday concert.

“The Railroad Revival Tour is a concert tour which seeks to focus attention on the importance of railroads to our nation’s past, present and future by holding concerts at railroad-affiliated locations and touring by train rather than by the more familiar bus,” acording to Jeffrey Hildebrand, marketing manager for the museum. “The Southeastern Railway Museum is pleased to have been selected as the kickoff location for the 2012 concert series.”

Concert attendees will be able to tour the museum and see the special train assembled for the tour, Hildebrand said. “The museum will gain considerable publicity, and we hope to be able to turn many of the music fans into repeat visitors to the museum,” he said.

The Duluth City Council in a called meeting Monday (July 23) approved a special-use permit request by David Conway representing the Dripping Springs, TX-based tour to allow loudspeakers to operate within 1,000 feet of residential areas near the railroad museum from 2 to 11 p.m. for the one-day concert.

There is no way I’m missing this show. Hope to see you there. Early bird discount $55 tickets go on sale at 11 today.

Canon has announced a great new camera called the EOS M, which takes the innards of an 18 Megapixel DSLR and puts them in what is essentially a point-and-shoot body with interchangeable lenses.


The EOS M is expected to be available in October and will sell for $800 in a kit that includes a 22mm f2 lens. It will also mount existing Canon EOS lenses with an available adapter. When yours arrives, let me know, because I’d like to see and play with one of these.

24
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 24, 2012


“Joelle” is the dark brindle mixed breed shown with her best friend. She is spayed, up-to-date on her shots, house-trained and knows how to use a doggie door. She weighs about 40 pounds and sheds very little. She is available to foster or adopt through Angels Among Us Rescue.

Ethics

Yesterday, the AJC reported that Governor Deal’s 2010 campaigned settled all outstanding complaints before the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission. Their initial story reported that two major issues remained unresolved, but they eventually updated it eight hours later to reflect what actually happened – the “major” charges were dismissed including those related to private air travel, and the campaign paid administrative fees for filling out some paperwork incorrectly.

The Gainesville Times, in an AP story written by Errin Haines, correctly notes:

A commission investigation concluded that the law on the aircraft fees issue was vague, and staff attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein said she did not feel a violation of the rules had occurred.

Check out how the mainstream media works and fails to acknowledge its role in a witch hunt against a popular Governor. From the AJC yesterday:

But it was the complaints regarding the campaign’s air travel and Deal’s legal bills that had brought the most attention over the past several years.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September 2010 that Deal’s campaign had paid a company that he partly owned $135,000 for the use of an airplane. Rome-based ethics watchdog George Anderson later filed an ethics complaint that accused Deal of financially benefiting from campaign expenditures.

But the ethics commission unanimously said Monday that there was no probable cause to believe Deal violated the law that prohibits such a personal benefit.

Ten months ago yesterday, I wrote 2500 words that analyzed the law applicable to Georgia campaign finance and concluded that the laws the AJC cited in its article did not apply, and even if they did there was no violation.

Richard Halicks, an editor with the AJC then came onto the website where I originally published my analysis and claimed that I got some of my facts wrong. Pot, kettle. I refuted point-by-point that editor’s claims and he never replied again.

Now the Campaign Finance Commission has dismissed the charges related to aircraft, and the AJC’s initial reporting was wrong. Is anyone really surprised anymore?

So let’s review the AJC’s behavior on this issue:

  1. Run a story claiming some nefarious misdeeds because you don’t understand what’s going on.
  2. Report on some subpoenas that were supposedly prepared but never issued and that no one but the reporter and the staff who allegedly prepared them have seen and do not release copies of the alleged subpoenas.
  3. Whitewash any criticism on blogs.
  4. Report yet another baseless complaint by George Anderson of Rome as though he doesn’t have a history of filing baseless ethics complaints and refer to Anderson as a “government watchdog.”
  5. Leverage the unconfirmed subpoenas into allegations that the staff members who allegedly prepared them were fired over the content of the subpoenas.
  6. Misstate for hours the outcome of the case when the complaints are dismissed and take no responsibility for the year-and-a-half witch hunt you prompted.

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From Lori Geary at WSB-TV, we now have an idea where the millions of dollars of wasted money being spent on the T-SPLOST campaign are coming from: corporate coffers.

Documents show Stockert’s group has raised $6.5 million so far, including $250,000 each from the Georgia Association of Realtors, Georgia Highway Contractors Association, Georgia Power, The Coca-Cola Company, Yancey Brothers and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of WSB-TV.  Clear Channel donated $300,000 in billboard space.

Opponents of the sales tax claim big business and contractor who stand to gain from the road and transit projects are pumping money into the campaign.

Stockert told Geary about 20 percent of the money raised came from contractors who would benefit directly from the projects, but he disagrees about their motives.

“They’ve been decimated along with the rest of the construction business in this region with the financial downturn. They’d like to put people back to work,” Stockert said.

Take note: Cox Media, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, gave a quarter-million dollars to pass the T-SPLOST.

But you won’t learn where all the pro-T-SPLOST money comes from because the “education” component of the tax hike campaign doesn’t have to disclose that:

While the pro-T-SPLOST advocacy effort revealed its 685 donations on Monday, some donors to a separate education effort may remain secret.

Organized as a 501(c)(3) under federal tax laws, the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network is not legally required to disclose its contributors. Under federal law, the group — called MAVEN — cannot specifically call for residents to vote for the T-SPLOST. Instead they have called it “one solution” to metro Atlanta’s traffic woes.

MAVEN is funding education efforts as well as some get-out-the vote activities, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead said.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has ordered the removal of two state house candidates from the ballot for failing to meet qualification requirements.

Kemp’s office announced Monday that Anne Taylor, a Democrat from Mableton, does not meet the residency requirement to run for the District 39 seat in the House of Representatives. That means Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan will be unopposed in the July 31 primary election.

Kemp also decided that Richie Smith, a Democrat from Lake, is ineligible to run for the District 151 seat in the House. Smith failed to appear at a legal hearing after he was accused of owing taxes.

The City of Blythe will vote on Sunday sales next Tuesday.

The owner of Mack’s Country Store on Georgia Highway 88 said he’s losing $1,500 to $2,000 each Sunday to the competition only a mile and a half away.

Because customers want to buy their gas, cigarettes, beer, wine and other items at one time, they’ve been taking their business to the nearby CITGO station, which lies outside the Blythe city limits in Richmond County and can sell alcohol on Sundays.

“It would mean a whole lot for my business. I need it approved,” Rose said. “Good customers of mine tell me that is exactly what they’re doing on Sundays. I hope that the people in the city of Blythe will understand and vote yes when it comes time to vote it in.”

Mark Hatfield released a YouTube video asking:

In the race for the 7th state senate district, Tyler Harper tells voters that he can be trusted to protect our “Christian, Conservative values” in South Georgia. But given Tyler’s close association and involvement with a company that has received multi-millions of taxpayer dollars in AFFIRMATIVE ACTION contracts from the federal government over the years, how conservative can Tyler really be?

Jim Galloway writes of the video:

the video ties [Hatfield's opponent] Harper to a Bloomberg report, published last February, on white businesses that tapped more than $1 billion in preferential federal contracts by creating minority fronts. Among the individuals cited were “two Ocilla, Ga., modular-building sales companies that had different minority owners with the same white managers:”

Speaking of Jim Galloway, he also noted some shenanigans involving robocalls.

Earlier this month, a Republican candidate for chairman of the Cherokee County school board found herself the object of some underhandedness. From Rebecca Johnston and the Cherokee Tribune:

For School Board chair candidate and current School Board Vice Chair Janet Read, a couple of robo-calls that went out to voters have her calling for answers.

The first, which is said to have gone out from a phone number identified as one belonging to Grassroots Conservatives of Cherokee leader Bill Dewrell, told those receiving the call to contact Read at the Cherokee County School District offices.

The latest, though, not only gave Read’s home phone number for those who might want to contact her, but also appeared to originate from Read’s home phone. The call was so inflammatory that Read called for extra patrols at her home.

However, the political signs in Read’s front yard and that of her neighbor were torn down, neighbors said, and thrown in the street where they were run over repeatedly.

Somebody apparently thinks turnabout is fair play. Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers on Sunday posted the following on via Facebook:

Today, my opponent’s campaign sunk to a new low. We have received calls this afternoon confirming that my opponent’s campaign is making robo-calls against me and claiming to be from Grassroots Conservatives. They have even pirated the cell phone number of innocent 3rd party to make these calls. Bill Dewrell is now taking the extraordinary step to call voters and alert them to the Brandon Beach phone call scam.

It’s not an election season until folks in politics are throwing around threats of defamation suits, this time in Cherokee County.

Cherokee County politics continued to heat up Friday when a political consultant sent a scathing email to a local political action committee and its chairman, which was subsequently published on the group’s website.

Robert Trim, whose clients include Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), wrote the email to Board of Education Chairman Mike Chapman, who is also chair for Neighbors for A Better Cherokee, a PAC working for pro-public education candidates in Cherokee County.

In Thursday’s email, Trim writes: “I’m pretty busy these days as a professional in my field, and although I thoroughly enjoy crushing amateurs as a hobby… right now I’m busy enough that paying attention to you will be more annoying that you are worth (sic). For that reason, and that reason alone, I’m giving you a warning shot across the bow instead of grinding you into concrete like a bug.”

Chapman said Trim sent the email to the Neighbors for A Better Cherokee Gmail account Thursday morning.

He said the webmaster for the group then responded with an apology explaining that it had been removed. Trim responded with the final email, making threats directed toward Chapman.

“The bottom line is, we immediately did what he asked and we apologized,” Chapman said. “My beef is not with Robert Trim, it’s about getting the facts out. We changed the verbiage he requested we change immediately.”

Trim goes on in the email to say that if Chapman plans to accuse him of law breaking, Chapman “better be sure” he has committed a crime.

“In my case, I haven’t…and your site is defamation per se,” Trim wrote. “Check with your lawyers…you aren’t protected by NYT v. Sullivan and can no more accuse me of crimes than I can set up a website and start identifying you as anything other than a failed candidate.”

Trim’s reference to the New York Times v. Sullivan case is referencing the 1964 lawsuit that established actual malice must be proven to be considered defamation and libel in regard to press reports about public officials and public figures.

Other silliness related to campaign season? More questionable robocalls.

Robo calls over the weekend claiming to be associated with the Oconee County GOP are not related to the organization in any way, Chairman Jay Hanley said in a news release Monday.

The news release came in response to “numerous reports from citizens” saying they had received calls regarding the Georgia House District 117 race.

Callers were told the polling came from “Elaine from Watkinsville Republicans” and it asked them to respond to a question about the primary race between incumbent Doug McKillip and challenger Regina Quick, the release noted.

Respondents who chose McKillip’s name heard negative information about him, but if they selected Quick’s name, the caller was reminded to vote in the primary election on July 31.

The following post on Regina Quick’s Facebook page states the campaign is not responsible for the calls.

“There is someone making autocalls from a 719 exchange saying they are a ‘Watkinsville Republican.’ Let me assure you, its not our campaign. If you hear about it, please let your friends know.”

The Cherokee Tribune profiles four candidates in the election for House District 23.

Those vying to be the first state representative from the new district include Mandi Ballinger, Dean Sheridan, Alan Shinall and Harold Welchel.

and covers the contest between State Rep. Sean Jerguson and his challenger Scot Turner.

US Attorneys have asked to delay the sentencing of Shirley Fanning-Lasseter for accepting cash in exchange for zoning votes so that the government can “facilitate matters related to the defendant’s cooperation.” I suspect that last phrase means that more arrests will follow based on SFL’s cooperation.

That might make it difficult for Tracey Mason Blasi, a candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court to explain how she was Shirley Fanning-Lasseter’s personal “zoning judge” when Lasseter was Mayor of Duluth.

Tracey Mason Blasi, an attorney practicing in Lawrenceville, has been appointed assistant municipal judge for Duluth.

Duluth has established a zoning court, and Blasi will hande strictly zoning issues.

“This is really her forte,” said Mayor Shirley Lasseter.

Two candidates for Hall County Board of Education peg the system’s problems as related to budgets that continue to shrink while student numbers swell.

Ends & Pieces

The story doesn’t mention whether he said, “hold my beer, y’all watch this,” but a Richmond County man has been hospitalized after a bet.

Video surveillance from Alley Katz, off Washington Road, shows two men approaching William Bonner Jr., throwing a shot of alcohol on his head and lighting it around 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Blaise Dresser said no criminal charges will be filed because Bonner admitted to investigators that he had agreed to the act.

If her dad was the “Godfather of Soul,” his eldest daughter appears to be a lost soul.

James Brown’s oldest daughter is wanted by North Augusta Public Safety after she was accused of stealing a car from St. Stephen Ministries in Augusta and injuring her boss outside a bank in North Augusta when the boss tried to get the car back, authorities said.

[a witness] reached into the car to try to take the keys, but Brown quickly accelerated, dragging Campbell into and over the hood of another vehicle parked in front of the Suburban, according to Thornton. The extent of her injuries was not released.

Brown drove away and was last seen headed into Georgia across the 13th Street Bridge.Brown is charged in warrants with possession of a stolen vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident and first degree assault and battery.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2012

“Cat” and “Finch” are 12-pound female mixed-breed puppies, thought to be about three months old. $40 saves the lives of both of these pups, as Walton County Animal Services is offering them as a pair at a discount. They will come with their vaccinations, microchips (if you want them), de-wormed, and flea/tick treated.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has a list of some hotels that welcome dogs and cats, including the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, some of which include alfresco dining and canine cocktail hour.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Advanced voting continues this week, with some counties offering expanded locations. Check your county’s voting information on Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s website.

Governor Nathan and Mrs. Sandra Deal serving guests.

The Georgia Department of Education is freezing some federal funds to the Dougherty County school system because of accounting questions. The funds in question may include up to $10 million of the system’s $114.8 million budget.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has reprimanded Willie Weaver Sr, who is the municipal court judge for Albany, Dawson, and Sylvester.

The JQC opened an ethics investigation following media reports of Weaver’s arrest on a charge of aggravated assault. Albany news reports stated that Weaver was charged with hitting his wife in the face with a beer bottle. According to news reports, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had been called in after Weaver’s wife was taken to a local hospital with facial cuts that required stitches following what the DA described at the time as an alleged incident of domestic violence.

According to the JQC report, a special prosecutor subsequently was appointed to investigate the charge, and Weaver agreed at the time to a suspension without pay pending resolution of the case.

But Weaver’s wife, Vester Weaver, last month convened a news conference with her church pastor to deny that her husband had ever struck her, although she acknowledged at the time that a protective order was in place that barred him from contacting her. Weaver told local news media at the time that she did not ask for the protective order and wanted it lifted.

According to the JQC report, Weaver eventually entered a plea deal that dismissed the assault charge. In return, the report said that Weaver agreed to attend marital and stress counseling.

In its report, the JQC said that it had “attempted to balance its responsibility to the public to insure an honorable and independent judiciary with its responsibility to deal fairly with a judge who understands that while the criminal charge was dismissed, the event, and the publicity which followed it, brought discredit upon the judge and the judicial system.”

Both Weaver and his Albany attorney, Mark Brimberry, consented to and signed the JQC report.

The National Journal lists Georgia’s Twelfth Congressional District as the 14th-most likely for an incumbent defeat in November.

 “Republican state legislators targeted Barrow via redistricting earlier in his career, and he survived. The latest attempt planted the Blue Dog Democrat in a solidly conservative seat, though, and he’ll have a major challenge on his hands against whoever emerges from a bruising, contested Republican primary.

Centrist Democratic groups are already on TV in Savannah praising Barrow’s moderate record, but Republicans will counter in the fall with clips of Barrow claiming to have worked “hand in hand” with Obama during a tough Democratic primary in 2010.

That could be enough to unseat Barrow in a district where Obama might struggle to top 40 percent of the vote.”

Republican candidates in the primary to run against Barrow met in a televised debate last night.

Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell and his opponent in the Republican primary election, Eugene Moon, have different takes on Powell’s record.

As a commissioner for two terms, Powell, who is 55, is offering his record of no tax increases, his efforts in the construction of the new county jail and new parks and his role in moving county departments into the old Liberty Mutual Building as evidence of his leadership.

Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Moon is attacking some of those efforts, calling them a record of expanding government during a recession.

“He crows about all of his accomplishments. The things he talks about when he’s out stumping are all of the things he’s built in Hall County,” said Moon, with a sarcastic edge to the word “built.”

“What he is talking about is how he has grown government.”

For many, this issue is at the core of what it means to be a Republican in state and local government.

This past Saturday saw the state’s first Saturday voting, which appears to be a success for some voters.

Doug Collins and Martha Zoller have opened the money spigots in their race for the Republican nomination for Congress in the new Ninth District.

Collins … led the race to raise money, pulling in some $81,685 in contributions.

Collins also had the most cash left over at the end of the quarter.

Following behind him in the fundraising race, Zoller, a former conservative radio talk show host, raised more than $73,510; Fitzpatrick, a former White County school principal, pulled in some $11,811.

But Collins, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, also spent more than double the campaign cash he’s spent in each of the last two reporting periods.

According to his filing with the elections commission, Collins’ campaign spending last quarter neared $142,000.

In contrast, Collins spent less than $60,000 in the first three months of this year; and in the final quarter of 2011, the campaign reported spending $70,957.

Zoller’s campaign spending, reported at $72,062, was also the highest it’s been since she joined the race last fall.

Fitzpatrick, who filed his first campaign disclosure report with the FEC on Monday, reported some $6,200 in campaign expenses.

Spokespeople for both Zoller and Collins attribute the higher spending to last-minute efforts to garner voters’ attention.

Click Here

If this race goes to a runoff, as appears likely, the first task for each candidate will be to top up their campaign accounts. If you’ve donated to one of them, brace yourself.

In Cherokee County, several weeks ago, anonymous robocalls attacking Janet Read went out using her cell phone number as the Caller Id.

While the usual election sign wars have many candidates up in arms, robo-calls seem to be causing even more concern as many local races heat up in the last weeks before the July 31 primary.

For School Board chair candidate and current School Board Vice Chair Janet Read, a couple of robo-calls that went out to voters have her calling for answers.

The first, which is said to have gone out from a phone number identified as one belonging to Grassroots Conservatives of Cherokee leader Bill Dewrell, told those receiving the call to contact Read at the Cherokee County School District offices.

The latest, though, not only gave Read’s home phone number for those who might want to contact her, but also appeared to originate from Read’s home phone. The call was so inflammatory that Read called for extra patrols at her home.

Then yesterday, karma some tricksters struck back when anonymous robocalls targeting Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers transmitted the cell phone number of a political operative associated with Rogers..

If morale within the Hall County Sheriff’s Department kept coming up in a forum for the five candidates running to replace Sheriff Steve Cronic, maybe that means it’s currently an issue.

Fifty-six state legislative candidates either owe or have owed back taxes to the government. State Senate candidate David Doss responded to his inclusion on the list.

The factual part of the AJC article is that the taxes in question have been paid. In fact, the only taxes that David Doss had any liability for were paid some 8 years ago.

Unfortunately, this AJC article will now become new fodder for the Chuck Hufstetler campaign to distort and use in his negative smear campaign against me. Just like the attack mail piece from last week that was so slanderous, that Hufstetler campaign refused to put their name on it. The citizens of the 52nd District deserve more than this type of gutter politics from Chuck Hufstetler.

Among Savannah’s Democratic state representatives, it’s a split decision on T-SPLOST.

Four Democratic state lawmakers that represent the area took turns Saturday morning arguing for and against a proposed sales tax going before voters on July 31.

State Rep. Mickey Stephens and State Sen. Lester Jackson, of Savannah, voiced their opposition to the 1-percent sales tax, while Representatives Bob Bryant, of Garden City, and Craig Gordon, of Savannah, tried to convince about 30 residents of the proposal’s merits during a forum at the Savannah Arts Academy.

The Savannah Morning News endorses Bill Hitches in the Republican primary for house district 161, an open seat.

Mr. Hitchens, 65, has spent a lifetime in the military and in law enforcement, mostly with the Georgia State Patrol, where he rose to the rank of colonel. Prior to his retirement, he served as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety and director of the Georgia Department of Homeland Security.

If elected, he immediately will become one of the go-to guys in the House on public safety, crime and security issues. Such expertise will come in handy. The legislature has limited tax dollars to spend, and crime and punishment can get expensive.

Jace Brooks, running for Gwinnett County Commission district 1, has received the endorsements of the Mayors and city council members in the district.

Ethics is an issue in Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau’s reelection campaign, not because of specific allegations against the longest-serving Commissioner, but because of problems he helped bring to the public’s attention.

“Any incumbent has got to defend himself. That’s OK,” Beaudreau said of the race, where he has fired back against robo-calls, mailers and other public accusations, trying to focus on his accomplishments and record. “The difficult decisions are not over. I’ve got plenty of experience in dealing with them.”

While his opponents have cast him in the same negative role as the commissioners who left the job in disgrace, Beaudreau said many of his constituents remember that he was the one who called attention to the land deals and asked for ethics reform before the problems came to light.

But Beaudreau was deposed as part of the scandal, pointed out Mike Korom, a Dacula man who emerged on the political scene to fight against the now-defunct proposal to add commercial flights at the county airport.

The election for DeKalb County Clerk of Courts is a lively race this year with five candidates. Even more lively is the Clayton County Sheriff’s election, as indicted former Sheriff Victor Hill is among the eight candidates.

The eight people running for Clayton County Sheriff include the incumbent and the man he unseated and six people who have worked for one or both of them…four of whom were fired.

There is little that is simple or uneventful about the office of Sheriff in Clayton County.

The residents of Clayton hope this election will bring some sanity and respect to the office that some believe has contributed to the “black eye” on the county for the past several years. A special grand jury is investigating local officials, including the travel of some of the county commissioners. The county school system is still smarting from Southern Association of Colleges and School decision to revoke its accreditation because of dysfunction on the school board.

“There is just a climate of corruption in the county,” said resident Dave Clark. “The whole thing is absolutely embarrassing.”

Surprisingly no one, Fulton County Elections is having trouble with redistricting and assigning voters to new districts.

Inaccuracies on precinct cards in Fulton appeared to affect more than 300 voters who had already cast their votes. The problem involved wrong precinct information printed on cards. “Due to database entry mistakes within the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections, voters on some streets were placed in the wrong districts,” the department said in a statement Friday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As a result, some Fulton voters received incorrect absentee or advance-voting ballots that omitted a race they should have voted in. The department said new “corrected” precinct cards have been printed and mailed.

Officials were also sending new ballots to voters who cast absentee ballots and have asked those who voted in-person to come back and vote in the additional race.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer profiles the contested primary for Muscogee County school board district 1.

Local governments whose budgets exceed $1 million must now post online information, but only one-third of those required have done so.

“It’s a toothless law that probably needs to be adjusted,” said Jack Starver, chairman for the Northwest Georgia 9-12 project, an organization with roots in the tea party. “If these guys are lighting cigars with $5 bills, we should probably know that.”

Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, who backed the law, said the goal was to make it easier for taxpayers to find budgets. He said he would consider trying to add penalties to the law if local governments do not comply.

“We went out of our way to make this not hard,” he said. “These cities, counties and school districts are doing a disservice to their own constituents. In the interest of open government, they need to step forward.”

DeKalb County, the cities of Buford, College Park, East Point and Lawrenceville and the Clayton County school district are among the local governments that still have not submitted their budgets for electronic publication.

“We erred,” said Burke Brennan, a DeKalb County spokesman. “We’re disappointed that we missed this one but we’re going to make it right.”

Maybe DeKalb County’s highly-paid lobbyist could have spent more time letting the county know which laws passed, and less time opposing residents seeking to incorporate the City of Brookhaven.

Economic Development

The Savannah Morning News lauds the decision to fast track the federal approval process for the deepening of the Port of Savannah.

The president may wrongly see government as the overriding force in making all businesses successful. But government does have a primary role in providing essential infrastructure, like ship channels for U.S. seaports. He deserves credit for putting Savannah’s port deepening project near the top of the list.

Here’s a thought for you all. If transportation infrastructure improvements are meant to increase economic development, moving freight is more important than moving people. Look back at all the economic development announcements made by Governor Deal this year and see how many of them mention access to Georgia’s privately-owned freight railroad network and to the ports, and see how many mentioned transit. The answers are (1) all of them; and (2) none of them. That’s your economic development lesson for the day.

Disney parks merchandise will now flow through the Port of Jacksonville, rather than Savannah,

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is diverting 75 percent of its inbound cargo that used to go through the Port of Savannah to the TraPac Container Terminal at Dames Point.

The switch reduces transportation costs for the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) division, while the new business at the Asian terminal is expected to add about 1,300 40-foot containers in volume annually. Top public- and private-sector leaders said the move is a win for the city, the Jacksonville Port Authority, the state of Florida and the company.

“It was about optimizing our supply chain and being able to minimize the cost associated with bringing freight here,” said Anthony Connelly, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the U.S. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “So to us, it was about saving money and certainly we’re excited to be able to participate in growing Florida’s economy as well as Jacksonville’s economy.”

[Florida Governor Rick] Scott said Florida has a big economic opportunity with the state’s 15 seaports. More shipping will create jobs in related industries, such as manufacturing. The seaports will create a lot of jobs, but the state has to continue to build its infrastructure.

“We’ve put Florida on the map with regard to our seaports,” Scott said. “We have a big opportunity right here in Jaxport.”

Ends & Pieces

Jim Galloway has a great piece on the “late life conversion” of former Governor and US Senator Zell Miller. It’s worth reading in its entirety.

Sea turtles are beginning to hatch on Georgia’s coast.

A nest at North Beach began hatching Wednesday. Another nest, near 11th Street, hatched last night. It’s a record-breaking nesting season on the island, with at least 17 nests.

A restored Civil War flag originally issued to the 65th Georgia Infantry will go on display tomorrow at the Kennesaw Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.

The flag is the only known surviving example of an Army of Tennessee flag that has both the unit and state designations sewn onto both sides. Following its donation in February 2010, the Museum sent the flag to a West Virginia company that specializes in the restoration of historic artifacts.

The bloodstained flag is riddled with 41 bullet holes that it received during the Atlanta and Tennessee campaigns. By the War’s end, the flag saw action during a number of battles, including Resaca, New Hope Church/Dallas/Pickett’s Mill, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek and Atlanta.