Your Georgia Desk
The day as we saw it on Facebook
Your Georgia Desk
The day as we saw it on Facebook
1. An important day in Georgia history
2. Poll: Deal leads Carter by 2-1 margin
3. Campaign announcements
4. Two events with Allen West
In the coming days, we’ll be releasing GaPunditPro, a tool for professionals and citizen-lobbyists at the Capitol that will include an electronic version of the White Book, as well as constantly updated information from both chambers and headlines from GaPundit.com.
As a preview, here’s the new State House of Representatives Committee Assignments and Chairmanships.
On January 10, 2011, Nathan Deal was sworn in as Governor of Georgia for his first term. The celebratory inauguration was cancelled because of snow and ice, but Deal took the oath of office before a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly. Deal became the second Republican Governor of Georgia during the modern era, taking over from Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Polls open for the 2014 Georgia Republican Primary Election in 134 days. Polls open tomorrow at 7 AM for Special Elections in Georgia State House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield) and District 22 (Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton Counties.
If you live in one of those counties and have questions about whether you’re eligible to vote tomorrow and where, please login to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You may also check with your county Board of Elections.
On January 5, 2001, Congress certified George W. Bush as winner of the 2000 Presidential election.
On January 6, 1785, Samuel Elbert was elected Governor of Georgia by the General Assembly and later served as Sheriff of Chatham County.
On January 6, 1961, United States District Court Judge William Bootle ordered the University of Georgia to enroll Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, ending the segregation of UGA.
Jack Kingston, US House Representative for Dist 1 and US Senate Candidate for GA, is appearing in the fourth of our US Senate candidate forums We are expecting a large crowd so come early to get your seat and to spend time talking with Rep Kingston before the program begins. Short candidate speech followed by questions posed by our panel Please bring a friend, neighbor, spouse – or even a stranger – who is interested in learning more about candidates…
The Floyd County Republican Women meeting - guest speaker will be Sam Olens, GA Attorney General. Please come and bring a friend.
Please join Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Brookhaven Mayor J Max Davis, Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis at a campaign fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs. With Ron Paul inspired primary opposition set to formally announce after the start of the legislative session, we need your help now. Olde Blind Dog is located in Town Brookhaven, off of Peachtree Road just south of Oglethorpe University.
You are Invited to a Reception For Senator Judson Hill, Vice Chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, Chairman Senate Finance Committee. Suggested Contribution $250 Contributions may be made payable to Friends of Judson Hill, 3102 Raines Court, Marietta, GA 30062. In lieu of your appearance, please consider making an online contribution at www.judsonhill.com
The Gilmer County Republican Party with David Pennington, candidate for Georgia Governor. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend this very important meeting.
The monthly meeting of the Henry County GOP with DAVID PERDUE Candidate for U.S. Senate and NANCY JESTER Candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent
PROGRAM: Forum of Candidates for 1st District Congressional Seat Candidates: Buddy Carter, Darwin Carter, Jeff Chapman, Bob Johnson, John McCallum and Earl Martin. PERMANENT RESERVATION LIST: If you are on permanent list and you fail to show or notify otherwise, you are responsible for paying for lunch. You will be removed from the permanent list after two infractions. You must cancel by Monday before the luncheon. Please RSVP: Reservations to: Rebecca Rhinehart (398-0111) email@example.com Reservation’s by Noon, Monday, January 6,…
The Greater Fayette Republican Women’s Club will hold their installation of officers for 2014-2015 on Thursday, January 9th. The officers to be installed are President Alberta Lucas, Vice President Mary Kay Rudd, Secretary Becky Steely, and Treasurer Debby Dickinson. For more information, please contact Debby Dickinson, 404-376-4132 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 168 years the Chamber has been working for you in the Greater Columbus region. Join us for our Annual Meeting as we celebrate the successes of 2013. A review of 2013 and a preview of 2014 will be presented. There is no cost to attend this event. Reservations on-line only by January 6, 2014.
You are invited to support Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer at this fundraising reception for his re-election campaign. Authorized by the David Shafer Senate Committee. Kindly RSVP to Denise Deal at 678.617.1625.
Our speaker, Dr. Linda Tucciarone, is the Executive Director of Heritage Academy in Augusta, Georgia. She will discuss Georgia’s GOAL Scholarship program, school choice as well as the mission and success of Heritage Academy in providing quality education for students who would normally be in poorly performing schools. Social/Dinner is 6-7 pm. Meeeting is 7-8pm. $12 buffet style dinner per person.
Happy New Year! We enjoyed our break after the Holiday Party and look forward to catching up with everyone at our January Happy Hour. With the venue just down the street from the Georgia Capitol, we hope that interns and staffers (and any interested legislators) can drop by as well.
Charlton County GOP We will hold our first meeting of 2014 this Thursday, January 9th at 7pm in the Meeting Room of the Charlton County Public Library.
Our January meeting. Featured speakers will include U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel and Mike Collins for Congress, candidate for the 10th Congressional District.
Cobb GOP January Pancake Breakfast with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
Houston County Republican Party welcomes to its January meeting Phil Gingrey, Republican candidate for Senate and Congressman representing Georgia’s 11th District
Please join us for the monthly Coweta GOP breakfast meeting. This month’s speakers will be U.S. Senate candidates Karen Handel and David Perdue. This will be your opportunity to meet the candidates in person and ask them questions about their vision for Georgia and America. We encourage everyone to come early and have breakfast. We look forward to seeing you Saturday!
Congressman Phil Gingrey and Allan Levine will be joining us to talk about their respective campaigns for US Senate and US Congress. We look forward to a productive and exciting 2014 with you!
Guest Speaker: Sen. John Wilkinson
Join us as we invite the candidates for the State School Superintendent to present their insights and vision for education in Georgia. Contact : Linda Kelley Smith, Chairman, Dekalb GOP Likesmith@aol.com 404-422-5462
Fayette County Teens Republicans have planned out their winter season projects and are ready to roll. Chairman Tylan Jones, VC Matt Stordy, Secretary Arik Li and Treasurer Jack Fredrikson are the newly elected Executive Board and ask you to attend the first meeting. Teens are very welcomed from the ages of 14-18 years of age and have the desire to learn of the political process especially with an upcoming active 2014 campaign year. Becoming a leader and learning lifelong skills…
The “Wild Hog Supper,” a Georgia tradition dating to 1962, marks the opening of the legislative session each year. In recent years, the Atlanta Community Food Bank has collected non-perishable food items donated by attendees. Please join our Honorary Host Committee Governor Nathan Deal, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Chairman John Wilkinson, Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, Chairman Tom McCall, House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and the Executive Directors of Georgia’s 7 Regional Food Banks as we celebrate the…
“Israel Alone?” A Lecture with Michael Medved How Israel can continue to flourish in an increasingly hostile world
First Day of Session – 2013 Georgia General Assembly
On Monday, Jan. 13, SGA, in partnership with the Office of Government and Community Relations, will host its annual Georgia Tech Day at the Capitol and is inviting all students to join. At this event, students will learn more about what happens under the gold dome and can thank state leaders for their commitment to higher education. Students who attend will have the opportunity to: – Interact with representatives – Take a tour of the Capitol, receiving a special…
Register for Free Event Today! Invite A Friend! Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia in partnership with American Principles Project is excited to announce the upcoming Confronting the Common Core education event in Gainesville, Georgia. Come hear a panel discussion that exposes the threat of the Common Core to Georgia’s educational sovereignty. Be ready to be educated, equipped and empowered to stop the Common Core! Walk away with the tools you will need to help Georgia reverse course and return…
The January meeting of the GGRW will be on Monday, the 13th at Mimi’s Restaurant in Buford near Mall of GA. The featured speaker will be Mark Rountree, noted political consultant and campaign advisor for some of the most prominent Georgians. Since this is an election year. and Georgia will be electing a new Senator and several Congressmen, Mark will discuss “winning in 2014” a strategy for Republicans. All are invited to attend what will surely be a topical and interesting meeting.…
Congressman Rob Woodall Telephone Town Hall Please join me for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on January 13th. Dial-in: 877-229-8493 Password: 17849
Big announcement coming soon!— Donna Sheldon (@Donna_Sheldon) April 9, 2013
Scooter, Lilac, and Ozzie are puppies who are available for adoption from Walton County Animal Services. Scooter is 2-3 months old and weighs 10 pounds. Lilac is about two months old and 15 pounds. Ozzie is about ten months olds and weighs 15 pounds. Take your pick for $40, which includes a voucher for a discounted spay/neuter, up-to-date shots and de-worming.
Brewster is 8-10 months old and weighs 15 pounds; Mama Dog is 2 years and 15 pounds; Jack is a seven-year old black lab mix who is neutered and whose owners have been notified but have not picked him up from the shelter. Old dogs have great value and great hearts, but are not as adoptable as puppies. Please consider adopting one of these old souls or fostering.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Advance voting begins on Monday for the August 21 runoff elections, as far as we know. Check your county’s voting information on Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s website. Current information on advance voting for the runoffs is limited, so if you have any questions, please call your local elections board.
Early voting has already begun in Hall County.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are both whining about negative ads and blaming the other without taking any responsibility. That tactic might be embraced by other candidates.
The Republican National Convention announced yesterday that Attorney General Sam Olens will co-chair the platform sub-committee on Healthcare, Education and Crime with Idaho State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and Oklahoma RNC National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty.
We will be receiving updates for at least one delegate to the National Convention and will include it in our morning emails. If you’ll be in Tampa as a Delegate or guest and would like to send us reports, photos, or souvenir twenty-dollar bills with Ronald Reagan’s likeness, please email us.
My attention was directed yesterday to the fact that Democratic State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick faces Republican Tina Hoffer in house district 93′s general election.
After the recount in the 12th Congressional District Republican Primary election, Wright McLeod remains in third place. State Rep. Lee Anderson meets Rick W. Allen in the runoff.
Millard Grimes writes that the Republican Primary between Regina Quick and Doug McKillip was the worst he’s ever seen.
It was poetic justice that only 64 votes separated the totals for Regina Quick and Doug McKillip in the July 31 Republican primary that decided the occupant of the House District 117 seat in the Georgia General Assembly. They both deserved to lose. A virtual tie was next best.
As a political junkie, I’ve been following campaigns for more than 60 years. The Quick-McKillip campaign was the worst I’ve seen, and it was fought over such a minor stake — two years in the Georgia House of Representatives.
There were constant campaign mailouts, hundreds of minutes of radio ads, and even the newspapers got in on the cash flow.
In Muscogee County, Sheriff John Darr won the Democratic primary with a narrow 71-vote margin after a recount. Strangely, each candidate gained 19 votes during the recount. Doesn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in the voting system, does it?
James Grogan was sworn in as Mayor of Dawsonville to fill the term of the late Mayor Joe Lane Cox.
In the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, which comprises Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker Counties, a recount was requested in the District Attorney election, where incumbent Herbert “Buzz” Franklin received 42 more votes than his opponent, Doug Woodruff.
Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers endorsed Gary Sisk in the runoff election to succeed Summer. Sick will meet Larry Black in the runoff.
Former Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has been endorsed by two of the six candidates who did not make the runoff against incumbent Kem Kimbrough.
Runoff for Gwinnett County Superior Court
Tracey Mason Blasi was the runner-up in the election for Gwinnett Superior Court and was attacked by one opponent, Chris McClurg in the primary; she hit him back with a negative robocall. Fair enough, though both candidates lost votes from where they stood before the negativity started. McClurg actually went from a tight third-place one week out to fourth on election day according to internal polling.
Yesterday, a letter from Tracey Mason Blasi hit mailboxes, claiming that “[i]t is so important for our judicial system that elections for judge remain above those kinds of tactics using ‘attack robocalls’” and attributing them to her ‘opponent,’ which leaves open the implication that she means her opponent in the Runoff election, Kathy Schrader, who is my client.
Tracey Mason Blasi knows that is a false implication. I will state here that neither I nor Kathy Schrader had anything to do with the negative mail or robocalls that targeted Blasi during the primary. Kathy Schrader told Blasi the same thing.
In fact, I suspect that implication is the result of a poorly-written letter rather than what the writer meant to say, because I have read another letter written by Tracey Mason Blasi, addressed to Mike Bowers as head of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and Governor Sonny Perdue, in which Blasi wrote:
It has been my experience that Mrs. Schrader is the attorney to whom the most experienced attorneys in Gwinnett County will refer cases. I believe that she has earned her impeccable reputation over the eighteen years that she has practiced law in Gwinnett County by effectively representing her clients, by treating clients and fellow attorneys alike with respect, and by doing it all with integrity.
As an eighth generation Gwinnettian, I am confident that our community will continue to be a place families want to live with the strong leadership, the good works, and the integrity of professionals like Kathryn Schrader. I support her wholeheartedly as the new addition to the Gwinnett County Superior Courts.
That last letter appears on Tracey Mason Blasi’s letterhead with a signature and was faxed from her fax machine.
Given Tracey Mason Blasi’s earlier assessment of Kathy Schrader’s integrity, it is unlikely that she now questions Schrader, since the only thing that’s changed is that Blasi is now seeking the Superior Court bench herself.
Ethics Campaign Finance Commission website was malfunctioning yesterday and wouldn’t allow viewing of filed campaign disclosure reports on an intermittent and annoying basis throughout yesterday. As I write this it is down yet again.
During the days leading up to the last report due date, there were extensive problems reported by candidates filing online. With the reduced number of filers for the runoff period, some of the pressure on the system may be lessened, but recent reliability problems don’t give us confidence.
Speaking of disclosures during the runoff, Rick Thompson had some tips for candidates.
“There are additional reporting requirements for candidates in a runoff election,” said Thompson, who formerly served as head of the State Ethics Commission and is currently managing partner of R. Thompson & Associates, specializing in compliance reporting and ethics strategy.
“The first report is your typical Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report (CCDR) for August 15; this is referenced as the ‘6-Day Before Primary Runoff’ report,” Thompson said, “Candidates who did not win their primary bids have statutory reporting requirements that continue for the campaign through termination the end of the year. This is something often overlooked by candidates and it can be a significant issue, especially if the candidate seeks election at a later time.” Thompson’s firm offers a package for reporting and termination for campaigns that end before the year does.
Dariel Daniel chose to mail his disclosures rather than fight with the online filing system. I bet he wishes he had paid for a return receipts.
the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission said Wednesday that Board of Education candidate Dariel Daniel has paid his fines, but the commission did not have his campaign disclosure report.
“We do not have any report from him that are waiting to be checked in, or are in the ‘have a problem and filer has been contacted’ pile,” said Holly LaBerge, executive director of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, in an email. “This isn’t to say that the report isn’t in the mail, but if he didn’t sent it certified or overnight delivery – which is statutorily required – then there is no way to know where it is or if it will ever get here.”
Daniel, after being told about LeBerge’s response, said he had sent his disclosure through U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail “long ago.”
“When I called to ask why it wasn’t posted, (a representative) said ‘We are swamped with these forms and we will post it when we get to it,’” Daniel said.
LaBerge said there was a backlog of paper-filed reports waiting to be entered into the commission’s system due to a problem with the way they were filed, and the filers had been contacted. It is up to the filer to correct the problem.
Daniel is facing Board of Education incumbent Sheila Rowe in a runoff on Aug. 21. Rowe on Tuesday announced she had filed an ethics complaint with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission over Daniel’s late fees for not filing, which were listed owed for December, March and June for the current election, plus $65 overdue for his 2004 run for the same seat.
Jim Galloway writes for the AJC that House leaders may be considering a total ban on lobbyist spending on legislators.
We’ve gotten reliable information – and not from a single source — that House Republican leaders are considering legislation next January that would ban all lobbyist spending on lawmakers altogether. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And that Ralston is among those who have expressed interest in this path.
The impact on the culture of the state Capitol would be tremendous.
Leaders of the state Senate have signed onto the petition pushed by Common Cause Georgia and tea party groups, endorsing the $100 cap.
[Jim - see how easy it is to include a hot link?]
On August 15th, beginning at 6 PM, Josh Romney will headline a fundraiser aimed at young professionals at the Park Tavern at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Georgia Finance Chair Eric Tanenblatt will host with Congressmen Tom Graves, Rob Woodall, and Austin Scott expected to attend.
Host / Private Reception / Photo — 6 p.m.
$1,000 per Person (Give or Raise)
Photo Opportunity — 6:30 p.m.
$250 per Person
General Reception — 7:00 p.m.
$100 per Person
Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal will host Governor Mike Huckabee at a reception and dinner supporting the Romney Victory Committee on August 16th at 5:30 (Photo Op) & 6:15 PM (Reception) at the Robson Event Center, located at 310 Broad Street in Gainesville, GA 30501. The full invite is available here.
5:30 PM Photo Op – ($5,000 PER PERSON/ $10,000 PER COUPLE)
6:15 PM General Reception – ($1,000 PER PERSON)
To RSVP for either of these events, please contact Dabney Hollis at (404) 791-7179 or DabneyH@me.com, or Stephanie Jones at (404) 849-7211 or StephanieGJones@me.com.
Word on the street has it that Ron Mabra, whose law firm represented Georgia Democratic Party Political Director in his SLAPP lawsuit against our friends and colleagues at Georgia Unfiltered and Blog for Democracy, has been disqualified from running for the State House of Representatives.
It’s not an actual done-deal qualification, but a recommendation to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who will make the final determination.
Usually, I expect karma to take a little bit longer.
In related news, another state Administrative Law Judge recommended to Kemp that candidate Clarence Johnson, who qualified for Fulton County Superior Court, be disqualified.
If you’ve always wanted to lead a pack of sleek Basset Hounds, Gwinnett County Animal Shelter has got a pair for you. An adult male on the left, and young male, probably mixed, on the right, both are said to be friendly.
The deal is that Gwinnett is offering $30 adoptions through July 28th, which include microchip, first round of shots, and spay/neuter. That’s less than the average cost of microchipping alone in a veterinarian’s office. $30 for your new best friend. Also, I’m pretty sure adopting a dog is good luck for you candidates out there.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Republican Senator Josh McKoon (Columbus) has endorsed Chuck Eaton for reelection to the Public Service Commission. Senator McKoon said:
There is a very important statewide race on the Republican Ballot for Public Service Commissioner. Chuck Eaton, one of our incumbent Commissioners is on the ballot and has a primary opponent.
I have known Chuck Eaton for many years. He takes his obligation to serve the people of Georgia seriously and is a man of integrity.
I hope you will stand with me in voting for Chuck in his primary election. Chuck has earned re-election in my view, by being an advocate for consumers at the PSC and always looking for ways to innovate in the regulation of utilities. So please vote Chuck Eaton for PSC in the Republican Primary.
Eaton is running against a Democrat in the Republican Primary and another Democrat in the General Election. Matt Reid, who qualified as a Republican, has never voted in a GOP Primary and has given $250 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Expect further endorsements by real Republicans for Eaton.
The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund rated Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers “B” on his legislative record last year for the stated reason, apparently because they blame him and Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams for killing a bill that would have protected the right of employees to keep firearms in their cars at work parking lots. His opponent, Brandon Beach, received an “AQ” which means an “A” grade based on a questionnaire rather than a legislative record. The rest of the NRA ratings in contested primaries are available here.
In the North Fulton Tea Party debate last night, Rogers attributed his grade to a political game being played by a lobbyist with whom he has a frosty relationship. I’m not sure which of these lobbyists he means.
Here’s my takeaway from the debate: first, Chip Rogers put on a display of professional politics that makes me move his electoral target in the primary to 65-35. Second, Beach’s service on the GDOT board may end up being a liability among voters who spend part of every day in rush hour on GA-400.
The surprise of the night for me was that Senator Rogers answered a question on the proposed video casino in Gwinnett County in a way that sounded a lot like he would at least not oppose it, and might actually support it. He answered a follow-up question about the Republican primary ballot casino gambling issue saying that he will vote for it.
The Georgia Supreme Court upheld provisions of the 2005 tort reform law that allow juries to consider the actions of third parties that led to the action and reduce the defendant’s liability on that basis.
Justice Harold Melton, writing for the court’s majority, said the law “makes all persons responsible according to their respective percentages of responsibility.”
Bryan Tyson has a quick summary of the decision on his SCOGblog.
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson will take over as Presiding Justice on July 18th.
Governor Nathan Deal has appointed John “Trea” Pipkin III as solicitor for the Flint Judicial Circuit, comprising Henry County. Pipkin had qualified for State House district 111 in the Republican Primary but will end his campaign, leaving Brian Strickland the presumptive GOP nominee; Strickland will face a Democratic opponent in November.
Despite a 2010 decision by the United States Supreme Court, local courts across Georgia continue to close proceedings to the public. The Cordele Judicial Circuit is being sued to force open courtrooms.
John Allen, chairman of Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), has warned judges that closing courtrooms “could be a violation” of state judicial canons “depending on the set of facts surrounding the closing.”Even lawyers have been stopped by security asking about their business before the court. JQC Director Jeffrey Davis told the Daily Report: “I’ve personally experienced the chill that members of the public would feel,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. It’s not that I’m under-dressed for court.”Davis added that once a visitor has passed through courthouse security at the entrance, “No citizens should be questioned about the reason they are in a public courtroom.”
Candidates for the open seats in Gwinnett County Superior Court and State Court addressed a forum at Berkmar High School last night.
Kathy Schrader, who is running for Superior Court was endorsed by fellow Gwinnett County Bar Association past president Sheriann Hicks.
Court-ordered requalifying for Bibb County Board of Elections using the new district maps has produced changes in the races, moving a previously unopposed incumbent into a three-way race for reelection.
Hall County Commission Chair Tom Oliver leads in fundraising for the recently-closed disclosure period, with just under $25k cash on hand.
Early voting turnout is strong in Henry County:
Officials in the county’s Elections and Registration Department processed 685 voters as of 3:35 p.m., Tuesday, for the July 31 primaries — “a good indication that we’ll have a better turnout than normal,” said Elections and Registration Director Janet Shellnutt. “But then again, a good many come the first day and then we slack off a little bit.”
Shellnutt said although the county sees a 40-percent turnout, at the highest, during most July primaries, she expects this year to be different.
“I do think we’ll have a higher turnout during this presidential year,” she said.
One election official, who asked not to be identified, said many of Monday’s voters were particularly interested in the county’s partisan races, as well as a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum.
“25571” is a dachshund puppy and “25570” is being called a shepherd puppy, and both are friendly, playful (duh, they’re puppies) and will be available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. The Dachshund will be available on Saturday and the Shepherd can be adopted tomorrow.
MacCallan is a black lab mix who wears a red collar and was lost last night when he jumped the fence at his home. He is mostly black with a white chest and friendly disposition and he answers to “Mac” or “Pig” and may be skittish around strangers. Last seen leaving the Candler Park MARTA station after apparently riding a train. Seriously. In addition to his owner’s gratitude, there may be a reward from MARTA for information leading to his arrest for fare-jumping.
If you see Mac or capture him, please call Will at 706-977-8947 or email him.
Florida’s United State Senator Marco Rubio will be autographing copies of his book An American Son: A Memoir at NOON today at the Books-A-Million at 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville, GA 30043 [Click for a map].
Candidates now have four days to file their campaign disclosure statements for the period ending June 30th. Here are some recommendations in case you’re having problems with the State Ethics Campaign Finance Commission filing system.
As we get closer to Primary and Nonpartisan elections on July 31st, we can expect campaigns to get increasingly nasty.
Example 1 is the campaign in Gwinnett County for an open seat on the State Court. Former Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden, who lost his reelection in 2008 and is attempting a judicial comeback to the lower court.
After a recent in-person forum got testy, its not surprising that opponents of Winegarden are taking to the internet. In an anonymous website, local lawyers are sounding off on what they say was Winegarden’s judicial
distemper temperment. Quote of the day goes to Lawrenceville attorney Christine Koehler, quoting District Attorney Danny Porter.
[M]y co-counsel, as well as [District Attorney Danny] Porter went with me to see then Judge Winegarden regarding my health.
Judge Winegarden’s main concern was for the schedule of the case. In an attempt to not have a delay in the trial, Judge Winegarden asked me to postpone my surgery since doctors weren’t even sure I had cancer.
I told him that since he wasn’t a doctor I wasn’t inclined to follow his suggestion over that of my doctors.
He then continued on and on about himself until DA Porter said, “You’re an a**hole. Christine has come in here to tell you she may have cancer and she needs to have surgery and you have managed to make this all about you.”
I can find no campaign disclosures filed for any group called Citizens for Integrity on the Bench. Some of the allegations against Winegarden are signed by attorneys who are taking a risk in doing so, but other entries are unsigned. Make of it what you will.
Example 2 is the ongoing saga of the return of Beth Merkelson, a fictitious sockpuppet persona used to attack Republican senators allegedly by people connected to State Senator Cecil Staton. Staton’s Republican Primary opponent Spencer Price is fighting back against charges once again leveled via email against a political opponent of Staton.
It all started with an email from a man named Brian Zorotovich. It was sent to Monroe and Bibb County Republicans. In it, Zorotovich claims Price has unpaid taxes.
“Which is false,” Price says. “I have documentation demonstrating that I, in fact, did pay a number of taxes that were overdue–due to circumstances relating to my son’s illness and my time lost from work.”
He continued, “I had a significant reduction in income for a number of years and Mr. Zorotovich has attempted to mischaracterize that circumstance.”
He also says Price, an officer in the NationalGuard, had a business transaction with a loan that was unpaid.
Price says he got behind while deployed to Iraq.
“It was an investment in a business entity that I was developing when the investor decided to withdraw the investment based on my deployment overseas and the fact that I was no longer able at that time to continue developing the business entity. I returned the investment in full to the last penny.”
Price showed 13WMAZ his email exchanges with the State Ethics Commission. He said he sent them in an effort to correctly submit his campaign disclosures. He says that’s why several campaign disclosures were sent in late.
He says it wasn’t because he’s hiding anything, as Zorotovich’s email suggests.
Zorotovich says the Medical Center of Central Georgia sued Price over an unpaid bill of more than $100,000, but Price says this is a copy of a check showing that he paid back more than he owed.
In the email, Zorotovich denies he is associated with any campaign, but Price’s camp says Zorotovich played on the same intramural basketball team as Zachary Lewis, Staton’s aide.
“My opponent has a tremendous amount to lose if he is unseated he is the majority whip in the state senate,” says Price.
He says the email was an attack on his character and he says you don’t really know someone’s character until it’s challenged.
“I lost a child tragically. I lost a tremendous amount of time from work. I committed to paying all of the bills associated with his illness in honor of him and his life,” Price says, “And to have done that–rather than take the advice from the financial administrators at Egleston and file for bankruptcy–is a demonstration of my core character and what I’m all about.”
Price says he’s running because he’s lived a life of service as a doctor and in the military and he wants to serve the people of district 18.
Price’s camp did respond to the email and they say once Zorotovich realized they connected him with Staton’s camp the emails stopped and he withdrew all of his previous posts.
“I am calling on my opponent, Cecil Staton, to publicly disavow this type of character assassination as unworthy of our American democratic process,” Price said.
Price provided a roster from a Georgia Southern University intramural basketball team that lists both Zorotovich and Zach Louis, who is Staton’s campaign manager.
Louis declined to answer questions by telephone Tuesday, but he e-mailed the campaign’s official response to several questions. Regarding Zorotovich, the e-mail reads: “He is not connected to the Staton Campaign. The fact that his name is on an intramural roster along with that of other students including Zach Louis does not connect him to our campaign.”
Attempts by The Telegraph to locate Zorotovich for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. Though he is listed as having a Marietta address, he does not have a listed phone number.
One thing that appears to be clear is that Senator Staton does stand behind other attacks against Price. A website that bears the disclaimer “Paid for by Staton for Senate” reiterates some of the same allegations.
Example 3 is the Democratic Primary in Congressional District One for the honor of being whipped by Republican Jack Kingston in the General Election. Lesli Rae Messinger is calling on her Primary opponent Nathan Russo to exit the primary.
Messinger says Russo doesn’t have Democratic endorsements and can’t beat Kingston, who is seeking a 10th term.
“Nathan Russo,” Messinger said in a news release “… needs to step down immediately.”
She called Russo, a retired businessman who lives on St, Simons Island, a “supposed Democratic candidate.”
Messinger, who has an antiques business and who lives on Skidaway Island, says she is backed by Bill Gillespie, Kingston’s 2008 opponent.
But Russo’s not budging.
“Look at the calendar on my website, and you’ll find lots of campaign events,” he said.
Contending he’s been too busy with other things to round up endorsements, he says Messinger has things backward.
“You can’t win in this district by appealing just to Democrats,” he said. “You need to appeal to Republicans and independents. I can do that because I’m more conservative than Kingston when it comes to cutting government waste.”
Messinger countered that Russo wants to “legalize marijuana,” re-instate the draft and “eliminate and reduce” federal farm subsidies.
“I’m certain Mr. Russo means well,” she said. “However, he seemingly has no idea that marijuana often leads to more serious addictions and, ultimately, death.”
Speaking of political cage death matches, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon will take another shot at the
title bout United States Senate from Connecticut.
This time it’s the seat being vacated by Sen. Joe Lieberman, the one-time Democratic vice presidential nominee and later self-declared independent. In 2010 it was seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. McMahon is again casting herself as the outsider, and her opponent as a polished establishment pol.
But she’s hardly the upstart underdog this time. She enjoyed a nearly 2-1 edge in delegates over former Rep. Christopher Shays at the state’s Republican convention in May. The most recent statewide poll of registered Republicans showed her with 59 percent to 30 percent for Shays heading into the Aug. 14 primary.
Shays’ supporters, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and GOP strategist Karl Rove, say McMahon can’t win in November in a Democratic-leaning state like Connecticut. Rove said she had her chance in 2010 and said it’s now time to support someone with experience.
At the debate, Shays went after her record running WWE, bringing up everything from wrestler deaths to how her husband, Vince McMahon, demanded that a female wrestler remove her clothes and bark like a dog on stage during a now-infamous skit.
“Her work, her ownership of WWE, does not qualify her for a second to be the next United States senator,” he said. “The question is, who has the experience, what are they going to do when they get elected and how are they going to get it done. And I know how to get it done because I’ve done it.”
Walter Jones notes that after years in the wilderness in a solidly-Democratic state, Republicans are now the cool kids on the block.
Well, in Georgia politics, suddenly it’s cool to be a Republican. So much so, that in multiple counties all of the candidates qualified to run under the GOP standard, including dozens of incumbents who switched parties.
Considering elections are won by attracting large numbers, Republicans might be expected to welcome the newcomers with open arms. Their hesitation comes from fears of infiltration by the insincere.
Stalwarts even have a quaint name for those who get elected but don’t always hew the party line in Congress or the legislature, RINOs for Republican In Name Only.
Accusations of false-flag candidacies are popping up regularly this summer.
Here are just a few examples, starting with the only two statewide contests.
Pam Davidson endorsed the Democrat after she lost the 2008 GOP nomination for Public Service Commission to Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the eventual winner and a former Democratic elected official. Now, she’s running for a different seat on the commission, and her bona fides are being questioned by the incumbent Stan Wise she is trying to unseat.
In the other PSC race this year, Matt Reid is running for the GOP nomination against incumbent Chuck Eaton. As Eaton’s campaign consultant Todd Rehm notes on his blog, Georgia Pundit, Reid has voted consistently in Democratic primaries for the last 12 years and contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign.
“I believe that Georgia Republicans will think that the answer to our economic problems is not a liberal Democrat cross-dressing as a Republican who wants to get into office and push a radical Obama green agenda that costs ratepayers and businesses in Georgia more money every month,” Rehm wrote.
Conasauga Judicial Circuit Public Defender Mike McCarthy has been reappointed for four more years by W. Travis Sakrison, Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council.
In Bibb County, voters who choose a party primary ballot on July 31st cannot vote in the other party’s election for Board of Education on August 21st or potential runoff on September 18th.
“The judge made the ruling that the parties can not alter from the time the voter begins voting,” said [elections supervisor Elaine] Carr. “If they vote on July 31st, that party stays through September 18th.”
If Victor Hill is elected Clayton County Sheriff again, the suspension of his POST certification following indictment on 37 counts may prevent him from actually serving.
The Dawsonville City Council voted unanimously Monday to change the date for the special election to fill the unexpired terms of two council posts.
The special election has been moved from Sept. 18 to Nov. 6.
Candidates wishing to seek one of the two seats must qualify between Aug. 28-30.
The special election is required following the resignations of James Grogan and Calvin Byrd, both of whom resigned to run for mayor following the death of Joe Lane Cox.
Grogan is now acting mayor.
The two vacant council positions have been temporarily filled by Caleb Phillips and Angie Smith. The changing of the dates means both must serve for an additional two months.
Lake Park Mayor Ben Futch has resigned following a physical altercation with the Mayor Pro Tem.
witnesses said the outgoing mayor cited “political forces that were pressuring him” and stated that “he no longer wanted to be a divisive element in the community.”
With the city’s mayoral job vacated, mayor pro-tem Sandy Sherrill will be acting mayor of the city. Tension between Sherrill and Futch escalated into a physical altercation on June 8. Though the incident was brief and no charges were filed, it has done nothing to assuage tensions that some say started when Futch took office.
“I think we need to do a forensic search on their computers before anyone takes over,” said former Police Chief Bert Rutland who was fired along with the city clerk and fire chief in January immediately following Futch’s swearing-in ceremony.
In Carroll County, two Republicans will meet in the Primary for Coroner and the winner will face Democratic
retread repeat candidate LaDonna Fryar in November. Incumbent Sammy Eady is running as a Republican for the first time since first being elected in 1988 and faces former Carroll County deputy Jamie Godbee on July 31st.
Jimmy Bobo’s recycling company will leave the Ball Ground Recycling facility after a US Bankruptcy Court judge ordered him to vacate.
Under the lease agreement, the land and equipment involved in the $18 million project bonded by the RRDA becomes the county’s property.
Bobo, of Ball Ground Recycling, filed May 25 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Cherokee County backed an $18.1 million bond issue through its Resource Recovery Development Authority in 2007 to finance consolidation of Bobo recycling operations, which were spread around the county, into an industrial area.
At the time, because of intense residential construction growth, the decision looked attractive, county commissioners have said, but in hindsight, they all agree it was a bad move.
Commissioners say the reason the $18.1 million in bonds were issued to consolidate Bobo’s mulching operations was because they were under such heavy pressure to move Bobo from his sites near rapidly growing residential areas.
In a forum sponsored by the Cherokee County Republican Party, State Rep. John Carson and challenger Martin Hawley both said they would support legislation recognizing personhood as beginning at conception.
The candidates also agreed if elected, they each would support the piece of legislation regarding the right to life — a resolution that gives personhood status to all humans from conception to natural death.
For Carson, it was a personal issue, as his daughter, who is now 4, was born at 28 weeks old. He voted for the bill this past year that limited abortions from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.
“She hung onto life in the NICU,” he said. “I was already pro-life, but this more than anything else helped make my decision for me.”
Hawley said he, too, believes life begins at inception and every life must be considered precious.
Carson and Hawley also agree on their opposition to T-SPLOST.
Georgia Power and Atlanta-based Solar Design & Development have been recognized by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) for the development and installation of 19 megawatts of solar power generation throughout Georgia.
The 19 MW of solar capacity, part of Georgia Power’s 50 MW large-scale solar initiative approved last year by the Georgia Public Service Commission, will be added to the company’s growing renewable energy portfolio. Georgia Power has contracted to purchase the output for the next 20 years.
Ends & Pieces
Porsche Cars North America paid $34.3 million for 56.2 acres on which it will build its new headquarters at Aerotropolis on the site of the old Ford plant in Hapeville.
Porsche also announced that June sales were up 18% over the same period in 2011, largely on the strength of sales of the new Boxster. Here’s a gratuitous photo of the new Boxster.
Shares of Volkswagen, AG, shot up on news that it will complete its merger with Porsche.
Shares in Volkswagen AG soared higher on Thursday after Europe’s biggest automaker announced a deal to complete the takeover of sports car manufacturer Porsche by the end of the month, which the company said will result in savings of some (EURO)700 million ($880 million) per year.
Volkswagen’s shares were up 5.9 percent at (EURO)135.75 in Frankfurt trading. The Wolfsburg-based company announced Wednesday night that Porsche will become a fully integrated brand as of Aug. 1 – joining others such as Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley.
On July 23d, the Blu-Ray release of Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One will be promoted with screenings in full-size theaters to show off the remastering of the series. Two episodes from Season One, Where No One Has Gone Before and Datalore will be shown.
Gerry Brown, of Cumming, Georgia, will handle one short leg of the Olympic Torch Relay in Winchester, England.
The selection process started out during a group meeting at Coca-Cola Refreshments IT Department.
“We were asked if anyone would be interested in applying to carry the torch and folks pointed at me, so I went ahead and filled out the required paperwork,” Brown said.
Brown didn’t think he would be chosen, but says he is thrilled he was picked.
Older sister Ronica Searcy proudly talks about her brother.
“He served in Desert Storm, is a great father and husband, son, and an outstanding brother,” Searcy said. “We are thrilled that he was selected to be a torch bearer. He honors our family and we are very proud of him.”
Searcy describes her brother as, “awesome and amazing.”
Brown believes serving others is the most important aspect of his life.
In addition to working for Coca-Cola Refreshments, Brown is the founder and former president of the non-profit organization, “Because We Care,” that provide community assistance to poor, distressed and underprivileged people.
Jerri Peterson and Thierry Laurent, both of Roswell, also carried the Olympic Torch.
Peterson and Laurent, who are both information-technology professionals, were nominated by their co-workers at InterContinental Hotels, which is providing all the Olympic lodging. As one of the primary sponsors of the Games, the corporation had torchbearer slots to bestow on worthy candidates within its ranks. Among Peterson’s many community-minded activities that got her nominated are her chairmanships of both the Empty Stocking Fund campaign and Project Healthy Grandparents as well as participating in fundraisers for the likes of Susan G. Komen, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity and the American Heart Association.
She and her husband, Rick, have been a host family for children of international colleagues through the American Youth Foundation, and she mentors elementary-age girls.
Laurent is a real-life example of dealing with physical adversity.
“I have Parkinson’s Disease and am currently participating in a study group with Emory University and the Atlanta chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association,” he said.
“In addition, I have had discussions with fellow co-workers who have PD, or their family members, to help them understand how I cope with the disease. Mostly it has been co-workers who have family members who have PD, and they are trying to figure out how to best work with them and make sure they take medicines and exercise.”
This is “Reeces,” a black lab mix who is in run 118 at Cobb County Animal Services and his ID# is 544247. He is probably in immediate danger of euthanasia, as his hold is expired and Cobb County had 63 animals come into the shelter on Tuesday, and possibly even more yesterday.
If you’re considering getting a dog or cat, please consider a shelter animal or adopting from a rescue organization. Thousands of healthy dogs and cats are put down every year in Georgia, and we’re in the middle of the worst part of the year for strays.
Cobb County’s Shelter hours for Adoptions are: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 AM. to 5:30 PM and Sunday 2 to 5 PM.
Happy belated birthday to Augusta, which celebrated with 276 candles on their cake yesterday.
[I]n a letter that was dated June 14, 1736, James Oglethorpe ordered authorities to lay out our town.
In 1739, Oglethorpe himself came to visit the town he had created. He stayed 10 days, then left, but not before leaving Augusta leaders with a thoughtful and logical growth plan.
Augusta’s leaders appear to have disregarded much of it, beginning a tradition that some would say continues.
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Republican State Rep. Robert Dickey is holding a Peaches and Politics fundraiser at Dickey Farms on Thursday, June 21st from 6 to 8 PM. It will feature Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, House Majority Secretary Allen Peake, Ag. Commissioner Gary Black, SOS Brian Kemp, and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Peachtree City’s council is docked the Mayor’s pay from $750 per month to $75 in order to reimburse the city for expenses incurred to defend the Mayor against a libel suit. Former Mayor Harold Logsdon sued current Mayor Don Haddix personally, not as Mayor; the city’s insurance company denied coverage to Haddix twice before agreeing to cover defense costs. Haddix is threatening to cost taxpayers even more money by either resigning and triggering a special election or unspecified legal action.
Apparently, PTC council is serving as a cautionary tale; when the Fayette City Council started arguing, Mayor Greg Clifton said, “I don’t want this to turn into a Peachtree City Council. I want this to be a council that gets along.”
Fayette County Commissioner Robert Horgan is running for reelection in the Republican Primary, and PTC municipal judge Stephen Ott qualified for Fayette County State Court Judge against incumbent Judge Carla Wong McMillian.
Richmond County Sheriff candidate Scott Peebles had campaign signs set on fire last week, one-upping candidate Richard Roundtree, whose sign was used as a weapon in a fight between two women. Roundtree will remain in the race after a complaint alleging he owed back federal taxes was dismissed upon a showing that Roundtree has a payment plan.
Five candidates have announced challenges to incumbent Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken. Qualifying is next week.
Jeremy Hobbs remains on the ballot for Columbus Council District 8 after producing a Georgia Power bill that was accepted as proof that he meets the residence requirement.
Democratic lawyer Scott Drake announced his campaign against incumbent Republican Senator Don Balfour, saying, “I can no longer stand silently on the sidelines. Democracy is not a spectator sport and public office is about service, not feathering one’s own special interest nest.” In a heavily Republican district, I’ll go ahead and predict that Drake does indeed stay on the sidelines after being crushed in the General Election.
Former state Senator Lee Hawkins, who is unopposed in the election to succeed State Rep. Doug Collins, has signed the pledge to support a cap on lobbyist gifts to legislators. He is the only Hall County legislative candidate to do so.
The South Hall Republican Club will host a debate for candidates for County Commission next Tuesday, June 19th at 6:30 PM at the Spout Springs library in Flowery Branch.
Governor Deal sat for a Q-and-A last week to discuss the $1 billion project to add lanes to I-75 and I-575 in Cobb County.
GPB’s Orlando Montoya discusses the race in the 12th Congressional District:
Dublin attorney Maria Sheffield is courting Tea Party voters focusing on her history as a grassroots organizer.
“This race is just about electing a true conservative who comes from our movement.” Sheffield says. “I think it’s about going to Washington and not just simply casting a vote but it’s about doing the hard work that needs to be done.”
Cherokee County school board district 2 candidates debated.
The candidacies of Willie Saunders against Augusta Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet, and Christopher NeSmith against Northern Circuit Superior Court Judge Thomas Hodges have been challenged in letters to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Clarence Johnson’s campaign against Fulton County Superior Court Judge Todd Markle is also being challenged. The eligibility challenges in all three cases relate to taxes owed.
The Atlanta Tea Party sent out a press release yesterday saying the campaign to increase your taxes via T-SPLOST is deceptive and calling T-SPLOSt advocates are “worried and desperate.”
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
Ethics Campaign Finance Commission will meet today and may consider complaints filed against Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign.
Snellville’s City Council will consider banning guns in city parks at the July 9th meeting. Mayor Kellie Kautz, a Democrat, said, “I’m all for people having the right to carry their weapons but, we want to make sure that they’re using them properly.” They may have a problem doing that, as Georgia law preempts municipalities from regulating gun rights.
President Obama is not only leaking white voters, he’s also leaking dollars as roughly 90% of donors of more than $200 to his 2008 campaign have not yet renewed their pledges.
“The 2008 donors who were most likely to give again in 2012 are those with ideological scores most similar to Obama’s, whereas moderate-to-conservative donors and those on far left are significantly less likely to re-up,” [Stanford political scientist Adam] Bonica said.
Obama may try to make up for the shortage of donors by hitting their cells: a ruling by the Federal Elections Commission will allow his campaign to tap its database of more than a million mobile numbers for donations via text. According to The Hill:
Text donations would be capped at between $10 and $50 per billing cycle and campaigns would enforce that restriction through tracking donations from a single user’s mobile phone number to a single premium short code assigned to the political committee. The short code would also enable the aggregator and carriers to ensure “the $50 limit is never exceeded for one political recipient.”
Newt Gingrich’s former head of digital operations Vincent Harris says it will be a game-changer:
The ability to accept donations via text will greatly increase the percentage of donations coming in from mobile users as a whole. On the Gingrich campaign mobile users made up 18% of visitors to the campaign website but only 8% of our donations came via mobile users. The ability to text in a donation should help close that gap. In 2009 I ran the mobile operations for Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial race in Virginia. We briefly tried raising money off of our opt-in list and had users text back a donation amount that was followed up by a live caller who took credit card information. If we had used the technology discussed on Monday, our program would have been much more successful.
Contrary to previously-published reports, a Gingrich spokesman says that the Newtster’s speaking fees have gone up in some cases and remained steady in others.
Gingrich spokesman RC Hammond said the new rates are not in fact a discount:
Inside the beltway has bounced from $20,000 to $25,000. Continental U.S. remains at $60,000 a speech. And, heading abroad is as much as $150,000.
Turns out there is a demand for new ideas, solutions and innovation Newt is booked into the fall.
Former Georgia State Rep. Gloria Bromell Tinubu (D) may not have escaped a runoff in the Democratic Primary for South Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District after all. A lawsuit asks a judge to order a runoff election.
The state Election Commission will decide Friday whether to call a runoff between Coastal Carolina economics professor Gloria Bromell Tinubu and attorney Preston Brittain. At issue is whether to count the votes of state Rep. Ted Vick, who withdrew May 25 following his arrest on a drunken driving charge, but remained on the ballot.
Without Vick’s more than 2,300 votes, Bromell Tinubu won the four-way race outright, with 52 percent of the vote to Brittain’s 39 percent. But five names were on the ballot. Both the Democratic Party and Brittain’s campaign argue none of the five received a majority, so a runoff is necessary; otherwise, voters are being disenfranchised, they argue.
Days after Vick withdrew, top Democrats called a news conference to endorse 32-year-old Brittain of Myrtle Beach, including U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn.
The director of the state Republican Party, Matt Moore, on Wednesday accused Harpootlian and Columbia insiders of “trying to steal the nomination from Gloria Tinubu,” after getting egg on their face with the endorsement.
But Harpootlian called that nonsense, saying the party is only trying to ensure voters aren’t disenfranchised.
Republicans “need to take a deep breath and some medication, and go home and let us try to resolve this in a legal fashion,” he said.
Nydia Tisdale, who was ordered out of the Cumming City Council chambers by Mayor Ford Gravitt for daring to assert her rights under the state Open Meetings Act, filed a federal lawsuit against Gravitt, also naming the police chief, and deputy chief.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against Gravitt last week by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.
Tisdale’s attorney Gerry Weber said while his client appreciates what Olens is doing, her lawsuit seeks personal damages.
“[First] we’re seeking an order from the court ensuring that Ms. Tisdale and other citizens are able to attend the Cumming City Council meetings and to film them,” said Weber.
“We’re also seeking damages for her for what happened to her on the day that she was physically pulled out of the meeting by the chief of police and deputy chief. And the last thing we’re seeking is under the new Open Meetings Law, when it’s violated, that there are civil penalties.”
In the suit, Tisdale asks for a jury trial to hear the case.
“City council meetings are the public’s business,” said Weber. “We think it’s entirely appropriate for a jury to evaluate the excluding of a citizen, a taxpayer from a public meeting.
Tisdale is a blogger for AboutForsyth.com, and Weber said she was recording the meeting so that citizens who could not attend would have access to the proceedings.
According to personal financial disclosures on file with the Georgia
Ethics Campaign Finance Commission, Chatham County legislators did nearly $6.5 million in business with the state in 2011. The vast majority of the money was from Medicaid payments for consumers who chose to do business with pharmacies, a home healthcare company, or medical offices owned by legislators.
Speaking of Medicaid, Georgia’s program may be $300 million short for the next fiscal year.
The state Department of Community Health plans to ask the state legislature for roughly $308.2 million to make up the gap for fiscal 2013, Vince Harris, the agency’s chief financial officer, told board members.
The looming deficit comes at a time when the state health agency is also facing the addition of another 600,000-plus Georgians to its Medicaid rolls starting in 2014, as part of the program’s expansion under the health care law.
“The budget numbers that we have are very daunting,” Commissioner David Cook said.
The health care program is also looking at a $90 million deficit for the current fiscal year.
Florida legislators’ net worth got hammered by property value declines and stock market losses. If you think that’s tough, Florida Governor Rick Scott was dead, according to state voter rolls.
Georgia leads the nation in foreclosures with a 30% increase over May 2011, and Atlanta is in second place among the twenty largest metro areas. Carroll County also saw foreclosures up both month-to-month and over the past year.
“There’s no positive news in foreclosures in our region,” said Dr. Joey Smith, assistant professor of economics at University of West Georgia. “We’re seeing foreclosures going up from last year and last month.”
Smith said housing prices are starting to rise some in the area because buyers are bidding against one another for foreclosed homes.
“A lot of neighborhoods where we’re seeing foreclosures are transitioning from owner-occupied homes to rental units,” he said.
The Grantville City Council says, “I’ll see your foreclosure and raise you two demolitions,” as it moves forward to demolish two houses owned by Mayor Jim Sells.
“Some of you think this is about houses that need to be demolished,” Sells said. “What it is about is contempt for your mayor.”
Carrollton’s open carry ordinance — for alcohol — appears to be working for the community.
The Carrollton City Council on June 4 approved two amendments to its alcoholic beverage ordinance. One amendment allows people to carry drinks they have purchased at downtown businesses anywhere in the downtown business area. The second amendment gives the city manager authority to issue special-use permits for organizations to serve alcoholic beverages on city property, such as the amphitheater or city parks.
“What I’m proposing is for people of legal age, if you legally purchase the alcohol, that you be allowed to go from place to place, with the drink in a solo cup,” Coleman said at the June 4 council meeting. “If it’s a Styrofoam cup, with an Irish Pub logo on it, it’s even better, because it shows it was legally purchased there. You can’t sit on the square and bring your cooler and knock down two dozen beers. This is not Savannah, New Orleans or Las Vegas.”
If you’re considering filing a false lien against a public official, you may want to rethink that, as it’s now a felony.
a new state law against so-called sovereign citizens who engage in “paper terrorism” to harass public officials…. makes it a felony to knowingly file false liens against government employees.
Sammy is a little male puppy who was given to a kid without finding out whether his parents would allow it, so Sammy is at Walton Animal Control, where he can be adopted today for $40, which includes his vaccinations and deworming, as well as a voucher for reduced-price neutering. The shelter has no idea Sammy’s breed, but he is 5-6 weeks old and weighs about four pounds
Qualifying continues for 2012 Georgia Primary Elections
Qualifying for state offices continues today from 8 AM to 5 PM and tomorrow, May 25th, from 8 AM to Noon. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has most of the information you’ll need as a candidate on his website, where you can also find links to local elections offices for information on qualifying for local office.
Tuesday night, I was at the Common Cause Ethics-palooza in Sandy Springs, and spoke to Debbie Dooley, who holds a leadership position with Tea Party Patriots. She firmly resisted the “Draft Debbie Dooley” suggestions from several folks there, so nobody printed up bumperstickers to sell on the internet. So I was naturally skeptical when I heard Wednesday that she planned to qualify against Don Balfour for State Senate. She had just learned the day before that she’s in his district and had more to say about an Amended Complaint she planned to file with the Senate.
That’s the complaint she’s holding there, in the House Chamber, talking with Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams. I have a copy and will post it around 7:15 AM.
Anyway, Debbie said she plans to qualify today for Balfour’s Senate seat. Essentially, she had been talking to several potential candidates and when it appeared no one would qualify, she decided to put her money where her mouth is and sign up for the rodeo herself. I do respect that. Tea party activist Steve Ramey also is expected to qualify.
There were some early problems with connectivity the the Secretary of State’s qualifying website in the Democratic and Republican qualifying areas, but most problems appeared to have been fixed by lunchtime.
Rather than recap all of the matchups that will happen, and some that might not, I’ll refer you to the Secretary of State’s list of qualified candidates, which is updated in pretty close to real time. Aaron Gould Sheinin did a good job of keeping up with qualifying on the AJC website yesterday, and I expect he’ll be doing the same today.
Also at the AJC, Jim Galloway writes about how the casino gambling question made it onto the Republican ballot as a non-binding referendum question.
The very topic stunned the highest-perched Republicans in the land. “The casino question was a shock coming out of the convention — given the prominence of social conservatives in the party infrastructure,” said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Deal. “The governor’s office was as surprised as anyone to hear about it.”
The one exception was state GOP chairman Sue Everhart, who this week took responsibility for the decision. No monied interests had pushed for the question, she said. And the party’s most recent financial disclosure, for the month of April, shows no contributions from the gambling world. (We’ll check again later.)
Everhart said the casino question was prompted by emailed messages from two or three GOP activists who complained of the cash that was leaking away to gaming havens in Mississippi and North Carolina. “They said, if we didn’t do something before long, the Indians were going to do something – and we wouldn’t get any tax revenue out of that,” Everhart said.
To a person, members of the executive committee we spoke with said they were given no advance notice of the casino question – which lost on a first vote by the committee, and won only after it was emphasized that placing the question on the ballot didn’t constitute an endorsement.
I spoke earlier to a member of the GOP leadership who gave a similar explanation, saying, “I asked Sue, and she said she just wanted to know what the voters thought.”
Nearly twenty candidates signed the Common Cause Georgia pledge to sponsor legislation limiting lobbyist gifts to legislators to $100 per lobbyist, per legislator, per day.
Common Cause Georgia, the Georgia Tea Party Patriots and Georgia Conservatives in Action promised to make ethics reform a top issue in the July primaries as well as the November general election. The topic has gained momentum in the past week after Georgia Republicans, at their annual convention this past weekend, agreed to put the matter before voters in a nonbinding referendum during the July 31 primary.
Julianne Thompson, representing both the Tea Party Patriots and Conservatives in Action, said Wednesday that the coalition of groups will use the pledge as a kind of litmus test in a number of races. The coalition will announce those targeted contests once qualifying ends Friday.
House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said there are opportunities to strengthen the state’s ethics laws, but he remains steadfast that a cap is not the way to do it.
“I’m always open at looking at different ways of improving our law,” Ralston told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “Really, the fundamental difference I have with a few of the other people on this issue is I trust the people to give them information, full transparency and open information and let them make a decision.”
Ralston said that’s preferable to “an arbitrary, unworkable line that, frankly, I think is a gimmick.”
Among the signers was Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), according to a Press Release by Common Cause:
“We are very enthusiastic that Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams signed the pledge today to co-sponsor a bill to limit lobbyist gifts to legislators to $100,” said Julianne Thompson of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots
“Senator Williams has shown strong leadership in many areas and we have every confidence that he will take the lead on comprehensive ethics reform in the Georgia State Senate.”
“The Georgia Republican Party sent a strong message to its legislative leaders this past weekend by passing both the ballot initiative and resolution calling for the lobbyist gift cap. We encourage all legislative candidates to sign this pledge.”
Denis O’Hayer has an excellent interview with retiring Dean of the Senate and Senate Historian George Hooks of Americus. Hooks has served in the legislature for more than 30 years and WABE’s website has both the 5-minute broadcast version, and the extended 18-minute director’s cut. If you’re a student of Georgia politics and history, it’s not to be missed.
Elections officials in Fayette County have been dealing with rumors that federal lawsuits over district lines will affect elections, but say that only qualifying will be affected. A federal judge delayed qualifying for the Fayette County Commission because US Justice Department preclearance was pending but has now been issued. Commissioner Herb Frady will not seek reelection.
Candidates for Augusta Commission and Richmond County Board of Education will not qualify this week due to a federal lawsuit prompted by the General Assembly’s failure to adopt new district maps.
Fayette County school board member Janet Smola will not run for reelection. She says her successor should be “[a] believer in public education, not home schooling or private schooling.”
Cherokee County Commissioner Karen Bosch will not seek reelection. Her announcement came after local tea party activists alleged that the owner of a local recycling operation concealed campaign contributions to Bosch’s earlier campaign. The Cherokee County Commission used SPLOST funds to pay $1.8 million in payments that the recycling owner failed to make after the county issued $18 million in bonds to finance the facility. Bosch says her decision to forego reelection was a personal one, not motivated by the allegations.
Plans to trim the role of Fulton County by legislators may lead to federal court.
During a meeting with constituents earlier this month in Alpharetta, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, was quoted by a local weekly paper saying her “goal is to end Fulton County.”
“We can cut Fulton County down to size until we get Milton County,” Jones said, according to Neighbor Newspapers. “My goal is that we reduce the thumbprint … of Fulton County on your lives and your pocketbooks such that in a very few years, Atlanta and south Fulton will not fight us on re-creating Milton County because Fulton County will be insignificant.”
“People are not going to stand by and allow themselves to be manipulated like this,” said state Rep. Roger Bruce, a Democrat from unincorporated south Fulton. “They’re rigging it. There are people who like the county the way it is.”
Four candidates qualified yesterday for Chatham County Commission Chair, and Effingham also will have a spirited election with three candidates qualifying on the first day.
The Augusta Chronicle notes that a large number of candidates qualified for local offices yesterday, including five of the six announced candidates for Richmond County Sheriff.
Gwinnett County will have a full ballot as more than 60 candidates qualified yesterday.
The Macon Telegraph covers midstate election qualifying after the first day.
The Judicial Nominating Commission has opened the process for appointing a new judge to Superior Court for the Ocmulgee Circuit, which includes Baldwin, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam and Wilkinson counties.
Nathan Roberts qualified for Floyd County Commission District One.
Hot races in Hall County will include the election for Sheriff, where the Republicna primary has five candidates qualified so far.
Former Camden County Sheriff Bill Smith, who attracted national attention when a grand jury investigated his use of federal money from drug seizures,
He purchased boats that some people wisecrack are his Camden County navy. Some purchases were more exotic. There was the $90,000 Dodge Viper for the sheriff’s DARE anti-drug program.
“The year we took this out to Las Vegas for the national DARE convention, it was the No. 1 DARE car in the country,” says Lt. William Terrell.
Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee had three opponents qualify against him in the Republican Primary. Bill Simon has announced that he will not be a candidate.
Nearly forty percent of Georgia children are overweight and obese, and the government is here to help.
“This affects all of us,” said Gov. Nathan Deal in a press conference Tuesday. “We must work together to improve the health of children in our state. Some suggest that we’re raising the first generation of American kids to have shorter life expectancy than their parents because of problems related to obesity. We can and will do better to promote healthy lifestyles.”
Mohawk Industries will expand its Summerville, Georgia plant, creating 500 new jobs.
“Mohawk is one of Georgia’s flagship Fortune 500 companies, and we are pleased to see its continued investments in our state leading to the creation of meaningful jobs in Summerville and other communities,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a press release. “This expansion is a great indicator of the resilience of the carpet and floorcovering industry. Mohawk has Georgia’s full support for its continued investments in our state.”
Two Metro Atlanta OB-GYN offices have been set afire, and three others burglarized.
[P]hysicians who practice obstetrics and gynecology, however, worry that the incidents — three burglaries and two suspicious fires in all — weren’t a coincidence, but were committed by someone bent on retaliating against them for raising concerns about the so-called “fetal pain” bill that passed in March.
Porsche Cars North America, which is headquartered in Atlanta, announced that it will relocate its motorsport operation from Santa Ana, California to a new Experience Center in Carson, California.
The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who cast the only vote against the license for Plant Vogtle’s new reactors, is retiring.
Last year, all four of his fellow commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans — sent a letter to the White House chief of staff complaining about his management style. They told a House committee in December that Dr. Jaczko had withheld information from them, unprofessionally berated the agency’s professional staff and reduced female employees to tears with his comments.
But beyond friction with his fellow commissioners, he often found himself the lone dissenting vote on important issues. Among them were the speed with which American reactors should be reanalyzed and improved to incorporate the lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi and whether licenses should be granted for new reactors before those changes were in the pipeline.
Green energy and your wallet
Notoriously liberal New York Times published survey results that suggest that Americans are willing to pay more for electricity in exchange for more use of “Green Energy.”
That willingness is fairly modest, to be sure. Analyzing a survey they conducted in 2011, researchers at Harvard and Yale found that the average United States citizen was willing to pay $162 a year more to support a national policy requiring 80 percent “clean” energy by 2035. Nationwide, that would represent a 13 percent increase in electric bills.
The willingness to pay was higher among Democrats than Republicans. More interesting, however, was that support dropped off when the definition of clean energy was expanded to include natural gas or nuclear power.
Republican Georgia Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, who qualified yesterday for reelection wants to know if Georgia voters agree. Text “CHUCK” to 28748 or visit his website to let him know if you’re willing to pay 10% more for electricity in order to have more alternative energy sources used.
Pam Davidson, who took 47.7% of the GOP Primary vote against Lauren “Bubba” McDonald in 2008, qualified against incumbent Commissioner Stan Wise yesterday. Stan’s campaign notes that after losing the GOP Primary that year, Davidson endorsed the Democratic nominee, who openly supported President Obama’s election. Davidson has worked as a lobbyist for the Green Energy industry and ran in 2008 on a platform of more mandated green energy.