Category: Georgia Public Service Commission

11
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 11, 2012

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.

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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.

10
Jul

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

These puppies are among the dogs and cats available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. It would be nice if I could tell you that the $30 special Gwinnett County Animal Shelter is running on adoptions is because their services are no longer needed and they’re going out of business. But the sad truth is that like countless shelters across the state, they’re receiving more animals than they can care for.

Last week in Bibb County, 15 dogs were euthanized when the shelter went over its state-approved limit. Bibb has had some problems over the last year, and continues to struggle, as Commissioners are investigating the recent euthanizations that some advocates are saying were “unconscionable.”

15 dogs were euthanized last week after the shelter temporarily went over its state-mandated 80-dog limit and remained well over its practical capacity of about 55 dogs.
When the animal shelter opened Monday morning, it had 61 dogs. A litter of nine puppies, three captured strays and one surrendered dog brought the count to 74 in just four hours

If you are unable to adopt a dog or cat, you might consider fostering through a reputable animal rescue group or donating to help them continue saving dogs and cats. We recommend Angels Among Us as having a sterling reputation among people who know who have worked with them.

In positive news for dogs, the Army held retirement ceremonies last week for two Military Working Dogs who are entering the private sector and being adopted by soldiers.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The grace period for filing campaign disclosures for the period ending June 30th closed yesterday, and predictably, the Campaign Finance Commission website was running slower than molasses most of yesterday. A candidate reported trying 45 minutes to enter a single expense and have it accepted. If you were able to file timely, congratulations. If not, you might consider your next step: seeking a waiver of the fine. The Campaign Finance Commission is aware of the problems, which we’ve documented on our blog for at least a week. Should you find yourself in need of assistance in dealing with this issue, you can contact me for recommendations for who I would hire if it were me.

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Secretary of State Brian Kemp told Jim Galloway that the General Assembly may have to consider eliminating runoff elections in order to comply with federal voting laws.

Ballot requirements insisted on by the U.S. Justice Department and upheld by the court last week all but invalidate a current state law requiring that winners in all general elections receive 50 percent plus one vote, Kemp said – given that federal runoffs in those contests would have to be delayed until late December.

“We’d be voting during Christmas. There may be people getting certified while other people are getting sworn in. It’s really a logistical nightmare,” Kemp said.

Primary calendars may also need to be changed if runoff elections are to be preserved in those contests, Kemp said. This year’s primary balloting will occur on July 31. To comply with the federal court ruling, Kemp this year has agreed to allow runoff ballots from overseas to be collected and counted for 10 days beyond the Aug. 21 voting date.

“We could do away with runoffs in federal elections, which is what Florida does. You get the most votes, you’re going to Congress,” Kemp said. If the Legislature wants to preserve primary runoffs, then the date of Georgia’s mid-summer primary would have to be pushed into mid-June. Which would require qualifying – the period in which candidates declare themselves – to be held in April instead of May.

Runoffs in elections for state or local offices aren’t affected by the federal judge’s ruling, but the costs of the extra balloting could tempt county election boards to press for similar treatment.

As a professional campaign consultant, I can tell you that eliminating runoff elections is part of President Obama’s plot to destroy our federal system of government and replace it with a single benevolent level of government, which is just a waypoint on the road to Communism.

Early voting has started for the July 31 party primary elections and nonpartisan elections. Gwinnett County reported more than 200 people casting ballots yesterday.

That is a big number for the first day, [Elections director Lynn] Ledford said, but she noted that a 2012 law change means that people can begin voting in person 21 days before the July 31 primary instead of the 45 days in previous years.

At this point in the previous cycle, she said, 200 voters would not seem like a lot.

For the next three weeks, registered voters can cast ballots for any reason during normal business hours at the county office, located on Grayson Highway. Voters must show a photo ID.

Bibb County reported “dozens” of voters on the first day.

Besides local, state and congressional races this year, Bibb County voters will also have their say on whether to consolidate Macon and Bibb County governments.

Bibb County residents can cast an early vote at the Board of Elections office, located at 2445 Pio Nono Ave.

The consolidation of Bibb County and the City of Macon governments continues to be controversial among some,

Race is a big factor in the July 31 Macon-Bibb County consolidation vote, despite a proposed countywide map that leaves a majority of the consolidated-government districts with voting-age populations that are at least 61 percent black.

Blacks should comprise a majority of voters who turn out for those elections, making them fairly safe for black candidates, said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor.

Bullock said resistance to consolidation may come from politicians who fear losing their seats. Bibb County likely will continue to be represented by a thin black majority, he said.

“What it will mean is you go from 11 African-Americans holding elected office down to five, and that’s the concern,” Bullock said. He said current officeholders realize there won’t be seats on a consolidated commission board for all of them.

Four of the nine consolidated commission districts are predicted to have white voting-age populations of between 62 and 71 percent. Whites are now in two of the commission seats, seven of the City Council seats and the mayor’s office.

Rather than being an issue of race, couldn’t it be more of a case of no sitting politican wanting to be left standing up in the political musical chairs that will ensue? Elaine Lucas doesn’t think so:

Councilwoman Elaine Lucas said the consolidation plan would dilute the voting strength of blacks and others.

“The way the lines are drawn, the Republicans would hold an advantage, and they are anti-black, anti-women and anti-Democrat,” said Lucas, who is black.

She said some of the loss of representation comes from reducing the number of representatives from 21 to 10.

“When you reduce, you of course get rid of some of your Democratic officials. It’s about party, then it’s about policy and it’s about a dilution of black voting strength.”

Lucas refused to say how Republicans would have a majority.

And Professor Bullock suggests that racial politics might actually work the other way:

Bullock said voters nationwide aren’t color blind, though the pattern of voting has changed.

“What you generally see these days is that whites are generally more likely to vote for a black candidate than blacks are willing to vote for a white candidate,” Bullock said. “It used to be the other way around.”

We also learned from Jim Galloway and Ariel Hart at the AJC that Toby Carr was unanimously confirmed by the Georgia Senate Transportation Committee as State Transportation Planning Director. The House Transportation Committee will hold hearings on the nomination after the primary elections. Congratulations to Toby and to Gov. Deal on the progress. Having worked in transportation planning under a Republican Governor of Virginia, I can tell you that the position is unlikely to involve any engineering or routing such as would require a degree in engineering. It is more likely to entail ensuring that the Governor’s policy preferences are followed, such as ensuring that projects are analyzed for their cost:benefit ratio, and that reducing traffic remains a priority.

Fulton County’s Board of Elections is advised to spellcheck documents after sample ballots for the Republican Primary misspelled “incumbent” under Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton’s name.


Whoever laid out the sample ballot spelled incumbent correctly 22 times on the first page of a three-page ballot.

The Speaker of the Georgia House is touring the state with Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal. They stopped in Rome on Sunday, hit Dalton, Columbus, and Valdosta yesterday, Brunswick and Augusta today, and Cobb McCollum Airport tomorrow.

A Fulton County code enforcement officer was arrested for stealing campaign signs in Douglas County.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Investigator Trent Wilson told Channel 2 that he was out with his family Saturday when he saw a youngster jump out of a truck [Marnita Jonta] Ballard was driving, grab a campaign sign from the side of the road and toss it in the back of the vehicle.

The signs were for the re-election of Wilson’s boss, Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller.

The DeKalb County school board voted to raise the property tax rate and member Paul Womack introduced a motion to ask the Governor to investigate the system’s Finance and Human Resources departments, but the motion failed.

The Cartersville Board of Education also voted to raise their millage rate.

Today is the second and last day of re-qualifying for Bibb County school board seats after a federal court ordered the primary election moved to August 21 and re-opened qualifying.

As a paid door-to-door beggar canvasser for the Georgia Democratic Party, Savannah’s Andrea Conrad happened last week to knock on the door of Republican County Commission candidate Eddie DeLoach.

Conrad, 25, is the only neighborhood canvasser the party has in Savannah; there are about 20 in Atlanta.

“It’s been great,” she said. “People are almost always nice. They’re generally thankful that I’m out there. They appreciate being contacted personally.”

She’s met artists, a feminist author, former state Rep. Tom Bordeaux, and the parents of state Sen. Lester Jackson.

“I’ve made some good friends,” she said. “I even make friends with dogs. Some are not too happy to see me. That’s why I carry the treats.

“No two streets are alike. No two days are alike. Every day there is something unexpected and exciting.”

In Houston County, Solicitor Amy Smith faces a challenge in her nonpartisan special election that follows her appointment to the seat last year. Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn faces a follow-up challenge by the same candidate he whipped in 2008; Nunn has served for 26 years on the bench.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has released its candidate surveys on their website.

The Georgia League of Women Voters also released its online voter guide.

Events

The Whitfield County Republican Party’s “Conservative Roundtable” will hear from candidates for state and local offices tonight at 6 PM at their headquarters, located at 415 E. Walnut Ave., Suite 310. For more information, contact Dianne Putnam, chair of the Whitfield County Republican Party, at (706) 278-2933, or by email. You may also go to their website.

North Fulton Tea Party hosts a battle royale tonight, when Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers debates challenger Brandon Beach. The event is from 7 to 9 PM at the Crooked Creek Homeowners Association Club House. Directions are  the group’s website.

9
Jul

Senator Josh McKoon endorses Chuck Eaton for Public Service Commission

Republican State Senator Josh McKoon (Columbus) today endorsed Chuck Eaton for reelection to the Georgia Public Service Commission.

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 who, I am told, is trying to suggest Chuck is not an ethical elected official.

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.

 

9
Jul

Fulton County Board of Elections misspells “Incumbent” on sample ballot

More proof that the Georgia Public Service Commission is the Rodney Dangerfield of statewide elections.

Just off the top of my head, I’d guess that “Incumbent” is probably one of the most-frequently used words by people laying out sample and actual ballots. Here, the Fulton County Board of Elections proves that there’s no excuse for failing to use spellcheck.

Here’s the full first page of the sample ballot in question.