Category: Port of Savannah

30
Dec

Port project included in federal budget bill – The Newnan Times-Herald

Funding for expansion of the Savannah port is in the budget bill approved by the U.S. Senate.

State officials have been pushing for expansion of the port in Savannah so it can serve larger vessels when the Panama Canal expansion project is completed. The Savannah port has a major impact on local businesses — bringing in raw materials and products for local companies and shipping out finished goods made in Coweta to points all over the globe.Continue Reading..

21
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

In honor of “Black Friday” at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, where all black or majority-black dogs and cats can be adopted for $30, a saving of $60, here’s your song of the day.  27459, a female lab, is one of the dogs who is eligible for the discount.

Rally is a Shepherd puppy from Walton County Animal Shelter whom we featured for several days. He was rescued by Pound Puppies ‘n Kitties, and we encourage you to consider donating to support their work saving dogs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Rasmussen released a poll that indicates that 64% of Americans believe that too many people rely on government aid.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Adults think there are too many Americans dependent on the government for financial aid. Just 10% think not enough Americans are dependent on the government, while 16% say the level of dependency is about right.

Even most of those who say they are currently living in poverty (56%) feel there are too many Americans dependent on government financial help.

There are sharp partisan differences over this question, however. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans and 61% of those not affiliated with either of the major parties believe too many Americans are dependent on the government for financial help. But just 40% of Democrats agree. One-in-three adults (33%) in President Obama’s party believe the level of dependency in America today is about right.

Among all Americans, 34% rate government programs designed to help people get out of poverty as effective, while 59% say those programs are not effective. This includes just four percent (4%) who think government anti-poverty programs are Very Effective and 20% who feel they are Not At All Effective.

Only 13% of those currently in poverty consider the government programs effective, compared to 36% of those who are not poor.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of all Americans believe current government anti-poverty programs actually increase the level of poverty in the country. Only 20% think the programs reduce poverty, while just as many (20%) feel they have no impact.

So maybe it’s the mainstream media who are out of touch with Americans, not Mitt Romney. Who would have thought?

The Marietta Daily Journal opines that Romney should continue his discussion of taxes and entitlements.

Romney was 100 percent right to point out that a significant portion of today’s Americans — and especially those who typically support liberal candidates — are voters who see government as the answer to all problems. Too many such Americans have turned John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech admonition inside out. “Ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country!” has been dumbed down into “Ask not what I can do for my country: Ask what my country can do for me!”

It’s the difference between the “hand up” philosophy of conservatives and the “hand out” philosophy espoused by many liberals.

To his credit, Romney, as of this writing, has not backed off his remarks. Yes, it surfaced at an unfortunate (for him) time, as he and others were sharply criticizing the incumbent for his incompetent, bungled Middle East policy. But successful candidates play the hand that is dealt them and find ways to trump unfavorable circumstances. And that is what Romney must now do.

The candidate must keep hammering home the fact that Obama has driven the country off the fiscal cliff. He must remind people at every opportunity of Obama’s redistributionist policies and efforts to transform the United States from a free-people, free-market capitalist country into a government-centered entitlement society — an effort that probably has a tax-cutter like JFK spinning in his grave.

Romney is on the right track, as his comments Tuesday on Fox News showed.

Last night, Governor Nathan Deal took to the stage at a Gwinnett County Republican Party rally and spoke about Romney’s comments.

Deal said Romney’s recent comments about a growing percentage of Americans relying on government programs, with a shrinking group of those paying taxes, echoed concerns of political philosophers when this country was created.

“We’re getting outnumbered by people who don’t pay … The truth is the truth,” Deal said to a group of more than 100 GOP leaders. “It is something we ought to wake up and realize because it jeopardizes the country on many levels.”

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers defended his acceptance of reimbursements for expenses paid by his campaign through his lawyer, Doug Chalmers.

“They were not campaign mailings, they were constituent mailings and had nothing to do with his election or re-election,” Chalmers said, who was hired by Rogers last week.

“It was proper for him to be reimbursed because he had loaned his campaign tens of thousands of dollars which were used to make these expenses in first place. There will be no double dipping—it’s perfectly legal,” Chalmers said.

Chalmers said Rogers has already taken steps to correct the matter.

“Even to avoid an appearance of impropriety, when the issue was brought to his attention, he cut a personal check to his campaign for $8,500,” Chalmers said.

Chalmers said that $8,500 check will be on Roger’s Sept. 30 campaign disclosure

But William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, said in an interview with the Tribune that Rogers could still face possible consequences.

“I think it could potentially be a problem because the senator notarized a document certifying that everything in the report is true,” Perry said. “I think it would raise a red flag that the campaign, if it was paying for the expenses, is against the law and swearing he paid for himself would potentially be a problem.”

Georgia law prohibits using taxpayer money to pay for campaign costs. Lawmakers can use state funding for newsletters and other printed materials intended to keep constituents informed about issues, which Chalmers said the funds were used for.

Perry said he did not think anyone was out to steal money, but because of lack of oversight, politicians become careless.

It is permissible for a campaign to pay for expenses incurred in the elected official’s performance of his or her duties. (OCGA §21-5-33(a)).

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Speaking of political direct mail, NPR has a story this morning about the barrage of direct mail that will start filling your mailboxes any day.

In the coming weeks, candidates will bombard your mailboxes with ads. It may seem old-fashioned, but the consultants who devise direct-mail campaigns have become sophisticated about knowing whom to reach and what to say.

“It’s almost because of the changing media landscape that direct mail remains relevant,” says Anil Mammen, who runs a small direct-mail shop in Washington, D.C.

“Direct mail is one of the few mediums left where you can go reach a voter and convince your voter to consume your information, without them having to choose to do it,” says Mammen, who works for Democratic candidates and campaigns. “It’s forced upon them.”

Mammen says direct mail is an ideal medium for negative ads. People are more inclined to believe what they read.

“You can show the citation. You can show the proof if there’s a court document. You can show the court document maybe not in its entirety but enough of it,” he says. “You can deliver negative messages that require a hurdle of believability. That’s what direct mail is really good at.”

Campaigns are spending about 15 percent of their ad budgets on direct mail, says Kantar Media/CMAG, a campaign-ad tracking firm.

Costas Panagopoulos, who teaches political science at Fordham University in New York, says direct mail — unlike broadcast media, TV and radio — is a great way to reach very specific targeted groups of voters

“Political campaigns can use the mountains of available data, demographic, psychographic data about, you know, who people are, what their gender is, what their occupations are, as well as things like what magazines they subscribe to or whether they have children or a pet at home or whether they have a gold [credit] card,” Panagopoulos says.

Like taxes, direct mail isn’t going away anytime soon. This year, campaigns are expected, Panagopoulos says, to spend more than $1 billion to get their messages delivered to your door.

I received the first mailpiece of the General Election two days ago from J. Max Davis, the first Mayor of Brookhaven, who will be elected in the November 6th General Election, though some city council posts will have to be filled in runoff elections.

Professor Alan Abramowitz (D-Emory) says that increasing polarization of the electorate decreases the advantage of incumbency, leading him to tweak his presidential prediction model, which tightens his predicted margin in favor of Barack Obama.

A Georgia business is making national news with its signs in opposition to President Obama’s reelection.

Businesses take a big chance by outing their politics, says Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at New York’s Fordham University.

“They need to weigh the risks against the potential benefits of making such a visible expression of their preferences,” he says.

But the owner of one Georgia business says response to his political missives has been mostly supportive.

At Premier Platforms Inc., which sells, rents and services various kinds of aerial platforms and forklifts, David Cooper uses his giant highway marquee to broadcast his politics.

He’s no fan of President Obama, as anyone driving along Interstate 75 near Byron, Ga., could tell: “Things could be worse. Re-elect Obama — he’ll prove it,” one recent message read, according to Macon newspaper The Telegraph. Cooper told the newspaper he could “count on two hands the number of complaints” he’s gotten; one person threatened to picket the business, but the threat never materialized.

Real Housewives of Campaign 2012? Sounds like a blockbuster reality show.

See, just like our casts, these characters are hyper-competitive and more than willing to have it out in front of a worldwide audience. It’s like, “Who cares what they’re saying about us — as long as they’re talking about us! Consequences, be damned!” I mean, have you SEEN Romney’s secret video where he badmouths 47 percent of Americans? With those loose lips, it’s no wonder his ship is sinking!

Each has questioned the other’s credentials (along with jokes and jabs of birtherism and felony tax fraud) so often, that if you take out Wolf Blitzer and a debate stage and insert Andy Cohen and a “Watch What Happens Live” set, the drama is not as different, as you’d think. By the way, Andy, I can’t wait for the post-election reunion special. The ratings will be HUGE!

The race even has incredibly powerful women that are loved by their fans and feared by their opponents: Ann Romney and Michelle Obama. Each was cheered for having one of the best speeches at her convention. Each possesses a wardrobe many would love to call their own. And each can win over swing voters who may think that the Housewife’s husband is more “Desperate” than “Real.”

Former Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson was interviewed on a local Paulding County website, in which he suggests moving away from Georgia’s antiquated and uncivilized system of foreclosure sales literally on the steps of county courthouses, and into a process that allows homeowners being foreclosed upon a day in court. Given what we know about systematic fraud by foreclosing banks, wrongful foreclosures, robo-signing, and the impact of a foreclosure on families, I might support such a measure, and certainly think we should consider moving away from the status quo.

Samuel Westmoreland, the director of the Fulton County elections and voter registration office was jailed for ten days after his probation was revoked for failure to complete DUI school and community service, which were conditions of his probation for a 2009 DUI.

State Court Judge Wesley B. Taylor, in a July 16 probation revocation hearing, handed down an order postponing Westmoreland’s 10-day sentence until after the county primary elections in July “in order to prevent a potential hardship upon the voters of Fulton County.”

The elections board is scheduled to take up the matter at a specially called meeting that Matarazzo said is scheduled for noon Monday.

Westmoreland already was under fire from voters and election board members for an array of errors that occurred during the July primaries.

The missteps included the elections department assigning 690 voters in Sandy Springs and southeast Atlanta to the wrong state Senate and state House races. It also missed the deadline to certify election results by an hour and a half, leaving the county subject to fines by the state Election Board.

“He needs to be gone,” Commissioner Bill Edwards told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “It just goes to your character.”

Former Governor Sonny Perdue joined the Governors’ Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which seeks to bring a state perspective to national issues.

In Augusta, Lori Davis, a former candidate for Mayor, has endorsed Stanley Hawes for City Commission District One.

Former State Rep. Burke Day (R) has applied for an appointment to the Tybee Island City Council to fill the term of council member Frank Schuman who died in office.

Dockworkers unions have agreed to extend the deadline for negotiating a new contract with employers at East coast ports.

“I am pleased to announce that at the close of today’s productive negotiation session, in which progress was made on several important subjects, the parties have agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement due to expire on September 30 for a 90-day period, (taking it) through Dec. 29,” said George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

After talks broke down last month between the ILA and the alliance, which represents management at 14 deepwater ports between New York and Texas, Cohen coaxed both sides back to the table in hopes of averting an imminent work stoppage

Power Station

Environmentalists think that Georgia should deploy more wind turbines for power generation off the Georgia coast, but Governor Deal disagrees.

“Georgia has a little over 60 gigawatts (of wind resource),” said Jennette Gayer, advocate for Environment Georgia, which helped launch the report. “That’s like 75 average-sized power plants.”

Unlike 11 of the other coastal states, Georgia hasn’t joined the Atlantic States Offshore Wind Consortium, a federal program designed to coordinate and streamline wind development off the Atlantic coast. South Carolina and Florida are the only other hold outs.

But Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson indicated via email that the governor is not inclined to support wind energy development now.

“When the markets and the technology advance further, we believe there will be a day when wind energy is a viable option for our state,” he wrote. “Georgia will start using wind energy when the prices are right and the technology is right for the unique nature of our wind energy off the coast.

“Studies show the current technologies available won’t work in Georgia’s environment. There is in fact wind energy potential in Georgia and we have every hope that improvements in technology will one day allow us to use this clean, renewable resource.”

Gov. Deal is correct. As we have seen with solar power, states that adopted utility scale solar power generation paid 3-4 times the current cost for photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity. Today, states considering implementing solar will benefit from dramatic cost reductions brought about through market forces, not goverment subsidies.

Plant Vogtle’s Unit 1 nuclear reactor is offline this week as it’s being refueled, a process that occurs roughly every 18 months.

Steel plates that reinforce concrete construction at the new reactors being built at Vogtle failed safety testing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and have not been installed.

A more detailed investigation to determine the extent of the problem – and any potential effect on the project – will be completed by Nov. 6, the report said.

The inspectors and officials from Shaw Group, the company hired to build the $14 billion project, identified the issues before any plates had been installed, an NRC spokesman said.

In an Aug. 31 interview, Buzz Miller, the executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, told The Augusta Chronicle that as many as 150 additional workers could be needed to bolster oversight programs that ensure materials meet strict nuclear standards.

In its most recent report to the Georgia Public Service Commission, the company said final projected costs for quality assurance, oversight, operational readiness and regulatory compliance rose from a projected $621 million in 2009 to $755 million in 2012.

Ends & Pieces

A World War 2-era B-17 bomber called “Memphis Belle” is receiving maintenance at Cherokee County Regional Airport until it continues its tour on Monday, but you can visit the plane until then and it will remain based at Cherokee for the next year.

19
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 19, 2012

Patsy (F) and Parker (M) are 2-3 month old puppies weighing in at about 11 pounds each. The are available for adoption for $40 each from Walton County Animal Services and have been vaccinated and de-wormed and will come with vouchers for discounted spay/neuter.

Gwinnett Urgent Care and Suwanee Station Dentistry in Gwinnett County have a therapy dog named Ruckus.

Ruckus, who will be 7 in July, is a chocolate spaniel who serves as a therapy dog for both sides of the office. The Perrys believe having Ruckus around fosters a more comfortable and family atmosphere that calms the nerves of anxious patients.

“When people come in they don’t feel well, that’s why they’re here, they’re sick,” Ron said. “If Ruckus will come in the room, their whole face just lightens up. They suddenly just start feeling a bit better.”

Gift, and her mother, Ashley, agree.

“He probably helps them feel better because they have somebody to talk to,” Myla said. “It makes it more fun that there’s an animal friend.”

Ashley Gift said Ruckus makes it easier for her daughter to visit the doctor’s office.

“She doesn’t dread coming here, she knows she gets to see him,” Ashley said. “It makes it more fun. She asks for him every time we come.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Beginning next week, satellite early voting stations open in some jurisdictions, and this Saturday is the only Saturday early voting for the July 31st elections.

The Secretary of State’s website has “My Voter Page” where you can sign in and find advanced and early voting information, as well as your new districts for State House, Senate, County Commission and other offices. This page will help you find contact information for your county board of elections if you have questions.

Governor Nathan Deal stated his support for Chuck Eaton in his reelection to the Public Service Commission. Deal said:

“During his tenure on the Public Service Commission, Chuck Eaton has assisted my efforts  for economic development and job creation in Georgia. Chuck Eaton shares my top priority to make Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do business. By working to repeal of the tax on energy used for manufacturing, Chuck’s strong, conservative record helps make this goal a reality.”

Attorney General Sam Olens and Congressmen Phil Gingrey and Tom Price discussed the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s ObamaCare ruling with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Club.

In Senate District 21, direct mail purportedly paid for by TrafficTruth.net is targeting Brandon Beach, the challenger to Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, while signs that say “Boot Chip – Are you better off than you were eight years ago” appear to have been paid for by Neighbors for A Better Cherokee.

Also in Cherokee County, the anonymous robocalls against Janet Read have continued, obviously paid for by a coward.

Pro-tip: putting flyers of any kind on mailboxes is illegal.

A group circulating a flier against Cherokee County District 2 Commissioner Jim Hubbard is in violation of U.S. Postal Service rules, postal officials say.

The flier was found taped onto mailboxes in the communities, which violates U.S. Postal Service rules, according to postal officials.

Postal Service spokesperson Michael Miles said it’s against postal policy to place anything on or inside mailboxes.

U.S. Code Section 1725 prohibits the distribution or mailing of items without paying postage.

“Many people are not aware that it is a violation of USPS policy and law to place items on or in a mailbox,” Miles said. “When this is brought to their attention, they usually refrain from this behavior and there is no need for further USPS action.”

If the violations persist, Miles said the postal service can then collect the mailers and determine how much postage is due to the service.

Once they are able to determine a cost, Miles said they can actually bill the originator for the postage.

Democrat Lesli Messinger, who is running for Congress from the First District issued a press release stating that she is “The only woman running for a national office this election season in Georgia, she’s a lone  coastal Democrat amid the state’s Congressional candidates.” Maria Sheffield (R-12) and Martha Zoller (R-9) might take issue with that, but I can see how the names “Maria” and “Martha” might be confusing on that point.

The Republican candidates in the Twelfth Congressional District met in a debate last night.

UGA Political Scientist Charles Bullock appears to be predicting defeat for the T-SPLOST.

“So although tons of money is being spent to encourage voting for the T-SPLOST and thesupport of the Chamber of Commerce, it looks like it will go down to defeat,” Bullock said in an analysis emailed to Patch. “We have the interesting phenomenon of disagreement between many GOP leaders and a group usually closely associated with the GOP (the Chamber).”

Bullock concluded: “With GOP leadership unwilling to step forward and reassure conservative, anti-tax voters that the projects to be funded with the T-SPLOST are meritorious, there is scant prospect for approval.”

Gun store owners might start lobbying for elections every year, as gun sales appear to be rising in advance of this year’s elections.

Gun sales are soaring nationwide and retailers say that’s not unusual to see during a presidential election year. “Basically the situation you have now is 2008 all over again,” said Steven B. Drew, Owner of Georgia Gun and Loan.

Analysts say the 2008 spike came from fear that new gun control legislation would make it more difficult to acquire firearms. “People were uncertain what the new President and the new administration was going to do so there tends to be a upsurge in fire arm sales in general,” said Drew.

Four seats on the DeKalb County School Board are up for election this year, and all seats will be up in 2014. All twelve candidates for those seats will be at a forum tonight from 6:45 to 8:30 PM in the  Arabia Mountain High School auditorium, at 6610 Browns Mill Road in Lithonia. RSVP to ptsa@arabiaptsa.org or 770-875-0213.

In Cobb County, school board candidate Linda Hanson has accused incumbent David Banks of invading her childrens’ privacy.

Banks distributed his e-newsletter, David’s Grapevine, in which he wrote: “This week one of my opponents made it known through the Marietta Daily Journal that the Cobb County Associations (sic) of Educators had given their endorsement based on my opponents ‘activity’ in education. To determine the validity of this claim, I personally contacted the schools where their children had either attended or were presently attending and in no instance could I validate or substantiate any participation in school activities or organizations by either of my opponents.”

Hanson said she was “very concerned and most disturbed” by the newsletter.

“For him to go to my children’s schools for information for political gain is highly unethical and way beyond the realm of what a board member should be doing,” she said. “The parents in Cobb County Schools deserve better than to feel like their information, privacy is being encroached upon, regardless if it’s a board member or just someone off the street.”

Banks, meanwhile, called her concerns “silly” and insisted he did nothing inappropriate. Banks said he did not receive any records about Hanson’s children.

Gwinnett County developer Dan O’Leary still believes the casino gambling ballot question on Republican ballots will fail, and continues trying to distance his proposal for “video lottery terminals” in a casino-gambling style setting.

O’Leary believes the vote is destined to fail because of the ballot’s wording, and he’s been quietly working business crowds and boardrooms to uncouple his proposal with the outcome of the vote. His plan, he tells them, doesn’t involve a casino but video lottery terminals, which resemble a slot machine but would be operated by the lottery board.

“God as my witness, I had nothing to do with that question,” he said, arms held aloft, at a recent meeting of Gwinnett County business leaders in a cramped office across the street from the proposed site of the gambling resort.

Republican chairwoman Sue Everhart, who said she put the question on the ballot after years of urging from some GOP heavyweights, said the vote will measure the appetite for expanded gambling among Republicans.

If it passes by a clear margin, she said, it will force lawmakers to “seriously” consider the prospect of video lottery terminals. But if it fails, an outcome she expects, “it would send the message that Georgians don’t want gambling.”

“At some point the question has to be answered, and I think this will answer it,” Everhart said. “This will settle it so we can move forward.”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle would like to appoint Clark Howard to the citizen review panel if T-SPLOST passes, but Howard has said he might not have time for the commitment.

Cagle had hoped Howard’s membership on the panel would assuage worries about the money being spent properly. The state is divided into 12 regions for the referendum; each has its own project list for voters to consider, and each would have its own citizen review panel.

“Voters should have as much information as possible, and the citizen oversight committee is a key part of this process,” Cagle said.

Former Cobb County Commission Chair Bill Byrne picked up the endorsement of D.A. King and the Cobb Taxpayers Association in his quest to unseat incumbent Tim Lee.

D.A. King says he’s backing Bill Byrne for county chairman. King said his original intention was to remain neutral in the chairman’s race.

“When it became clear to me that the BOC was not going to move forward on saving jobs for American workers on taxpayer funded projects by taking the next logical step with the IMAGE certification, I voted for Bill Byrne for chairman by absentee ballot and proudly support him,” King said. “Bill, an old friend, was the only candidate to reach out to me and promise, without condition, to require all public contractors and subcontractors to become IMAGE certified. I believe him when he says that he understands that illegal immigration is not a separate issue from jobs, taxes, health care and education.

“Frankly, I haven’t heard anything from the other challengers. The current chairman, who I like very much, has been dealing with the IMAGE certification issue for at least 18 months and pronounced it a great move for Cobb when he signed the IMAGE agreement. The concept that the same requirement for public contractors needs more study time strikes me as absurd and transparent. State legislation, much of which I have worked on myself over the years is written, vetted and signed into law in a three month window.”

In House District 66 (Douglas and Paulding counties), Republican Mike Miller has out-raised and out-spent both his opponents.

Bryant Cochran, the third-term incumbent Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge, and challenger Dwayne Hooper, are profiled in the Dalton Daily News.

Dr. Bernice Brooks is back on the ballot, running for reelection to the Carroll County Board of Education.

Coweta Circuit Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby signed the order, saying it would be “unjust” to leave the 12-year school board member off the ballot.

“Clearly this was an error, simply a mistake that was made,” Kirby said. “It would be incredibly unjust for Ms. Brooks to be knocked off the ballot.”

Kirby called the error a “scrivener’s error,” a clerical error made in legal documents. The hearing to address Brooks’ writ of certiorari, or appeal, was Tuesday afternoon at the Coweta County Justice Center.

Brooks was unanimously disqualified by the Board of Elections and Registration in a special hearing last Tuesday after it was discovered her house is in a different district that the district she is running to represent. While the majority of Brooks’ Villa Rica property can be found in District 1, her home and street address are actually in District 3 because of a technical error.

Computer problems aren’t the only problem facing the State Campaign Finance Commission and voters seeking to learn where candidates raised money.

whereas statewide candidates are required to file electronically, local candidates are allowed to file paper reports, and a processing backlog means they can be delayed indefinitely.

Kennesaw State University political science professor and former secretary of state advisory board member David Shock said it all spells out a “huge disservice” to voters with many contributing factors.

“The biggest reason is that, a year or so ago, a new state law kicked in that requires candidates to file with the state ethics commission. I think there’s still a lot of confusion among local candidates on what they need to do,” he said.

Many of the candidates who hadn’t filed their PFD as of last week said they thought the report had already been filed.

Before 2011, local candidates filed reports with their local election board. Shock said he believes the change was made to standardize the process, however, the increased workload on the ethics commission has stretched its resources and caused the backlog.

Other causes in the high number of late filers may be a lack of drive in collecting fines. Initial late fees have increased from $25 to $125, but may go uncollected for long periods of time.

“Voters deserve to know who is funding their candidates,” Shock said. “I don’t know what the solution is. There needs to be more people reviewing the reports. There is probably a need for more education as well for candidates on what needs to be done.”

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President Obama announced the administration’s commitment to completing federal reviews for the Savannah Harbor Deepening Project, intended to increase river access to the Port of Savannah by dredging portions of the Savannah River. In fact, the commitment is that federal review will be finished by November 2012, just in time for Congressman John Barrow to take credit for it.

17
May

Georgia Ports support 350,000 jobs

Via press release from Gov. Deal’s office:

 

UGA study: Georgia ports support more than 350,000 jobs

One in 12 Peach State jobs – in all regions – related to Savannah, Brunswick

 

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the release of the study “The Economic Impact of Georgia’s Deepwater Ports” by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at UGA’s Terry College of Business. According to the fiscal year 2011 study, Georgia’s deepwater ports support 352,146 full- and part-time jobs across the state, up from 295,422 found in a 2009 study. Georgia ports now account for 8.3 percent of total state employment, or one out of 12 jobs.

“The research shows strong employment opportunities – linked directly or indirectly to the ports – exist in each of Georgia’s 159 counties,” said Deal. “The findings are a testament to the ports’ sustaining power to create jobs. Our transportation and logistics industry drives statewide and regional commerce while our deepwater ports generate revenue, create jobs and offer opportunities for growth in every corner of the state through our global transportation network. This puts Georgia even closer to being the No. 1 state to do business.”

Selig Center Director Jeff Humphreys conducted the study, which found statewide FY11 impacts also include:

·         $66.9 billion in sales (9.5 percent of Georgia’s total sales);

·         $32.4 billion in state GDP  (7.8 percent of Georgia’s total GDP);

·         $18.5 billion in income (5.2 percent of Georgia’s total personal income);

·         $4.5 billion in federal taxes;

·         $1.4 billion in state taxes; and

·         $1.1 billion in local taxes.

 

“These economic impacts demonstrate that continued emphasis on imports and exports through Georgia’s deepwater ports translates into jobs, higher incomes, greater production of goods and services and revenue collections for government,” said Humphreys. “Port operations help preserve Georgia’s manufacturing base, support Georgia’s agricultural economy and foster growth of the state’s massive logistics, distribution and warehousing cluster.”

 

The Terry College of Business study showed that the total impact of Georgia’s deepwater ports on the state’s economy was $66.9 billion, or 9.5 percent of Georgia’s output in FY11.

Measured in terms of income, Georgia’s deepwater ports contributed $18.5 billion in personal income to the state in FY2011, which is 5.2 percent of Georgia’s total.

“The results of the Terry College study are very encouraging,” said Curtis Foltz, Georgia Ports Authority executive director. “It is clear from the study that the ports fuel a dynamic economic engine, especially considering the research was done at a time when the national economy marked slow to no growth.”

For the first time, Dr. Humphreys and the Terry College of Business examined the impact of Georgia’s deepwater ports on every county in the state, which revealed new results. In the 10-county Atlanta region, for example, more than 150,000 jobs are port-related. The second largest employment impact is in the Coastal Georgia region, representing six coastal and four inland counties and including the ports of Savannah and Brunswick.

In addition to the Terry College study, the GPA tracks the industry categories for import and export trade by county and economic development region. Below are statistical profiles for Georgia’s seven major metropolitan regions, including the study’s job findings and trade details.

FY 2011 Regional impacts

 

Metro Atlanta

In the Atlanta region, 156,698 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 57,625 are in Fulton County, 24,538 in Cobb, 23,193 in Gwinnett and 22,660 in DeKalb. Atlanta area businesses shipped or received almost 165,000 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in FY2011, for more than $8.6 billion in business. Of that, $6.12 billion were in exports. Top exports were poultry ($312.7 million), paper and paper board ($127.4 million) and kaolin clay ($50.28 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $2.51 billion, was in imports. Top imports were furniture ($132.4 million), auto and truck tires ($79.3 million) and air conditioners ($153.9 million).

  • Fulton County industries did $4.1 billion in port business. Of that, $3.5 billion were in exports. Top three exports by volume were poultry at 21,743 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs); kaolin clay, 8,651 TEUs; and paper and paperboard, 5,304 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $656.1 million, were in imports. Top three imports by volume were furniture, 6,139 TEUs; general cargo, 1,024 TEUs; and cement and concrete products, 550 TEUs. Top three port customers by volume in Fulton include AJC International, Imerys Clay and Georgia Pacific.
  • Cobb County industries did $935.9 million in port business. Of that, $644.6 million were in exports. Top three exports by volume were paper and paperboard at 6,480 TEUs; poultry at 741 TEUs; and starch and chemicals at 533 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $291.3 million, was in imports. Top three imports by volume were medical equipment and supplies, 508 TEUs; furniture, 421 TEUs; and bags, 338 TEUs. The top three port customers by volume in Cobb include Graphic Packaging International, Bal Shipping Line and USA Shipping.
  • Gwinnett County industries did $1.56 billion in port business. Of that, $619.7 million were in exports. The top three exports by volume were logs and lumber at 560 TEUs; mixed metal scrap, 288 TEUs; and paper and paperboard, 238 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $942.2 million, was in imports. Top three imports by volume were air conditioners, 2,707 TEUs; furniture, 1,845 TEUs; and auto parts, 1,440 TEUs. The top three port customers by volume in Gwinnett include Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics; Cheng Shin Rubber Industry and Kia.
  • DeKalb County industries did $533.6 million in port business. Of that, $336 million were in exports. Top three exports by volume were poultry, at 1,862 TEUs; furniture, 550 TEUs; and grocery products, 181 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $197.5 million, was in imports. Top three imports by volume were furniture, 1,541 TEUs; medical equipment and supplies, 394 TEUs; and synthetic resins and plastics, 299 TEUs. Top three port customers by volume in DeKalb include Meta Foods, Factory Direct Wholesale and Green Worldwide Shipping.

Coastal Georgia

In the Coastal Georgia region, 55,384 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 37,319 are in Chatham County, 4,134 in Liberty County and 3,529 in Glynn County. The region accounted for $1.45 billion in export trade and $1.57 billion in imports, for a total of $3.02 billion in port business.

“Georgia’s ports serve as hubs of diverse economic activity linking waterborne commercial vessels with economic opportunities throughout the state,” said Allen Burns, Coastal Regional Commission executive director. “Our ports generate thousands of family-sustaining jobs which helps enhance the quality of life of all Georgians. Often taken for granted, our ports are deeply rooted in Georgia’s history and will continue to play a major role in the state’s economic future.”

  • Chatham County industries did $1.74 billion in port business. Of that, $375.9 million was in export trade. Top three exports were automobiles ($104.2 million), mixed metal scrap ($54 million), and saccharin and vanillin ($29 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $1.37 billion, was in imports. Top three imports were furniture ($225.7 million), chemicals ($84 million), and olive, palm and peanut oil ($67.2 million). The top three port customers by volume in Chatham County include Ikea, Pier 1 Imports and Expeditors International.
  • Glynn County industries did $44.46 million in port business. Of that, $5.24 million were in exports. Top exports were gums ($1.21 million), wood pulp ($702,172) and synthetic resins ($663,965). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $39.21 million, was in imports. Top imports were automobiles ($28.2 million), buses and campers ($2 million) and auto parts ($1.7 million). Top three port customers by volume in Glynn County include Pinova Inc., Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Char Griller.

Northeast Georgia

In the Northeast Georgia region, 13,498 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 4,180 are in Clarke County, 1,756 in Walton and 1,509 in Newton County. The region accounted for $278.3 million in export trade and $266.2 in imports, for a total of $544.5 in port business.

“Georgia’s ports provide our state, and the Northeast Georgia region, with a tremendous advantage regarding the recruitment of industries and businesses. This is evidenced by the recent decision of Caterpillar to develop a state-of-the-art facility in this area,” said Jim Dove, Northeast Georgia Regional Commission executive director. “Without access to world-class port facilities, the location or expansion of many manufacturing facilities in our region simply would not occur.”

·         Clarke County industries did $172.5 million in port business. Of that, $13.4 million was in export trade. Top exports were fans, blowers and compressors ($5 million); fabrics including raw cotton ($4.22 million) and auto parts ($1.5 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $159.1 million, was in imports. Top imports were fabrics including raw cotton ($144.8 million), staple fibers ($2.98 million) and terra cotta ($1.87 million). The top three port customers by volume in Clarke County include SKAPS Industries, Baldor Electric and Eaton.

Central Savannah River Area

In the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA), 18,924 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 10,168 are in Richmond County, 3,895 in Washington and 2,380 in Columbia County. CSRA area businesses shipped or received 25,229 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). The region’s industries did $2.1 billion in port business. Of that, $1.48 billion was in export trade. Top exports were chemicals ($585.3 million), lamps ($248.2 million) and kaolin clay ($228.8 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $614.2 million, was in imports. Top imports were phosphoric-sulfuric acids ($277.1 million), aliphatic hydrocarbons ($142.7 million) and batteries ($24.7 million).

The top three port customers by volume in the region include DSM Chemicals, Thiele Kaolin and Club Car.

  • Richmond County industries did $1.2 billion in port business. Of that, $686.4 billion was in export trade. Top three export commodities by volume were chemicals at 7,495 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs); plastic film, 154 TEUs; and Bone Ash/Phosphate, 126 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $526.1 million, was in imports. Top imports were amino acids, 268 TEUs; auto parts, 258 TEUs; and fabrics, 199 TEUs. The top three port customers by volume in Richmond include DSM Chemical, RBW and Nutrasweet.
  • Columbia County industries did $77.7 million in port business. Of that, $60.2 million was in export trade. Top three exports by volume were automobiles at 905 TEUs; auto parts, 101 TEUs; and metalware, 86 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $17.5 million, was in imports. Top three imports by volume were auto parts, 239 TEUs; auto and truck tires, 62 TEUs; and springs, 27 TEUs. The top three port customers by volume in Columbia include Club Car, Uniparts and John Deere.
  • Washington County industries did $720.5 million in port business. Of that, $708.3 million was in export trade. Top three exports by volume were kaolin clay at 9,234 TEUs; bags, 304 TEUs; and pet supplies, 120 TEUs. The remainder of the port-related trade, or $12.2 million, was in imports. Top three imports by volume were sheets/towels/blankets, 174 TEUs; auto parts, 19 TEUs; and bags, 8 TEUs. The top three port customers by volume in Washington County include Thiele Kaolin, Burgess Pigment and Shiraishi Calcium Kaisha.

Middle Georgia

In the Middle Georgia region, 14,627 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 7,310 are in Bibb County, 3,583 in Houston and 1,090 in Baldwin County. The region accounted for $178.3 million in export trade and $88.3 million in imports, for a total of $266.7 million in port business.

“This economic impact study clearly demonstrates the level of importance Georgia’s ports occupy in the economic well-being of Middle Georgia,” said Ralph Nix, Middle Georgia Regional Commission executive director. “The number of jobs in the region which are dependent upon the ports’ activity make up a large percentage of the region’s employment.”

·         Bibb County industries did $209.6 million in port business. Of that, $149.8 million was in export trade. Top exports were kaolin clay ($99.9 million), copper and brass wire ($9.2 million) and molds ($8.3 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $59.8 million, was in imports. Top imports were zippers ($10.6 million), writing articles ($8.1 million); and fans, blowers and compressors ($7.1 million). The top three port customers by volume in Bibb County include Kamin, YKK and Freudenberg Texbond.

 

River Valley

In the River Valley region, 9,613 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 5,607 are in Muscogee County, 762 in Sumter and 700 in Chattahoochee County. The region accounted for $32.3 million in export trade and $96.7 million in imports, for a total of $129.1 million in port business.

“Georgia Ports are a vital link for businesses in the River Valley Region providing an important import/export resource,” said Patti Cullen, River Valley Regional Commission executive director. “The Savannah Port is also crucial for the inland port in Crisp County, which has created dozens of jobs both directly and indirectly and is expected to create many more jobs in the near future. The impact of the Georgia Ports to our region is enormous.”

·         Muscogee County industries did $95 million in port business. Of that, $10.5 million were in exports. Top exports were photo equipment ($8.1 million), odoriferous compounds ($838,159) and office machines ($437,107). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $84.8 million, was in imports. Top imports were batteries ($24.4 million); vanadium, zirconium and miscellaneous ore ($14.7 million) and photo equipment ($6.9 million). Top three port customers by volume in Muscogee include Panasonic, NCR and Masterbuilt Manufacturing.

Southwest Georgia

In the Southwest Georgia region, 9,926 jobs are tied to the ports. Of those, 3,473 are in Dougherty County, 1,321 in Thomas, and 1,115 in Colquitt County. The region accounted for $243.2 million in export trade and $108.1 million in imports, for a total of $351.4 in port business.

·         Dougherty County industries did $263.3 million in port business. Of that, $181.3 million was in export trade. Top exports were pumps ($176.8 million), grocery products ($2 million) and printing machinery ($1.49 million). The remainder of the port-related trade, or $81.9 million, was in imports. Top imports were auto parts ($20.7 million), staple fibers ($9.8 million) and aircraft parts ($8.3 million). The top three port customers by volume in Dougherty County include the defense distribution depot, the U.S. military and Coats & Clark

14
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections News for May 14, 2012

“54312” is a one-year old, 57# male dog who is said to be good with children and other dogs. He has been in the Cobb County Animal Shelter since being dropped off by his former family on Friday and is available for adoption now. Dog and puppy adoptions cost $110 and include vaccinations, heartworm testing and treatment and spay/neuter/

To adopt him or any other animal from Cobb County, call Cobb County Animal Shelter, at (770) 499-4136 for more information or visit at 1060 Al Bishop Drive Marietta, Georgia 30008, and be sure to have the animal’s number available.

We will be featuring animals from Cobb County all week as they prepare for their adopt-a-thon on Saturday, May 19th from 10 AM to 4 PM. Visit Friends of Shelter Animals for Cobb County on Facebook for more adoptable dogs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Senator George Hooks, Democrat of Americus, Georgia

Senator George Hooks (D-Americus), one of the longest-serving members of the State Senate, will not run for reelection. In 22 years in the Senate, after being first elected to that body in 1990, Hooks served ten years as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee as Georgia achieved a AAA Bond Rating, the highest in the nation. The Americus Times-Recorder has a good local perspective on what his service has meant to his district through the years.

President Obama returns to Atlanta on June 26th to hoover up all the Democratic campaign cash for a series of fundraisers. No word on whether Democratic Party of Georgia Political Director Rashad Richey will receive security clearance for the visit.

Republican blogger Andre Walker has filed a response to Richey’s lawsuit that alleges Walker libeled him when he published true facts about Richey’s criminal background. The main defense asserted by Walker is that the assertions were either true, or were protected political opinions.

R.J. Morris is running against incumbent Arthur Ferdinand for Fulton County Tax Commissioner, the highest-paid state office, which earned the incumbent $347,000 last year. Cherokee County Tax Commissioner Sonya Little faces challenges from Kenny Phelps and Wade Wilkie.

Raymond Gunnin, who has served as Cherokee County Fire Chief will run for County Commission Post 2 against incumbent Jim Hubbard in the Republican Primary.

Former State Rep. Clint Smith, who is running for State House District 9, held a successful fundraiser with special guest Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who gave an interesting talk on their service together in a Republican minority under former Speaker Tom Murphy. You can watch a biographical video of Clint Smith here.

On Friday, May 18th, Govenror Nathan Deal will speak at the kickoff for the Special Olympics on the Washington Street steps of the Georgia State Capitol.

Rumor has it that State Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) has two potential primary opponents.

Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon is running for reelection as a Democrat.

Common Cause of Georgia and Jim Walls of AtlantaUnfiltered are hosting an event on the Georgia Transparency Project on Monday, May 14, 2012 at PeopleTV, located at 190 14th Street in Atlanta. A reception runs from 6 to 6:45 PM, followed by taping.

The Paulding County Republican Women’s Club will sponsor a debate among the Georgia District 31 Senate Candidates on June 5, 2012 at 7:00 PM in the Becky and Hal Echols Room at the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce Building located at 455 Jimmy Campbell Parkway, Dallas, Georgia. AJC Political Insider, Jim Galloway, will moderate. The announced candidates are Senator Bill Heath (I), Bill Carruth, former Paulding County Commission Chair, and Jason Rogers, chief investigator for the Cobb County Solicitor General. The debate is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton will debate challengers Lauren McDonald and Duane Piper at 7 PM tonight in the county administration building, in an event sponsored by the Forsyth County Tea Party Patriots Alliance. The next debate on May 24th will feature candidates in the Ninth Congressional District.

The Greater Columbia County Republican Women and the Columbia County Republican Party are holding a forum for candidates in the Twelfth Congressional District on June 30th at 10 AM at the library in Evans, with Phil Kent moderating. That’s the first time “Phil Kent” and any form of the word “moderate” have appeared in the same sentence.

The Augusta Chronicle has a review of the history of the Twelfth Congressional District.

Most of our other congressional districts date back more than a century and a half. The 2nd and 3rd, like the 1st, were present at the creation of the Republic.

Others got added — according to the constitutional formula — as Georgia’s population grew.

Not until 1913 did that growth spawn the 12th, which then elected Hughes, a Twiggs County farmer. Only the 13th, created in 2002, and the 14th, born in 2010, have shorter histories.

[A]fter the 1930 census, we lost the 12th — and the 11th, too.

Renewed Peach State population growth led to the resurrection of the 11th — which used to include part of Savannah — in 1993. Anyone remember Cynthia McKinney? Oh, well; forget I asked.

It took until the 2000 census for the numbers to revive the 12th.

The Forsyth News has more on the challenge of Sen. Jack Murphy in District 27 by local businessman and tea party activist Steve Voshall in the Republican Primary.

Voshall said his disappointment with Murphy is what inspired him to run for office.

“He was in the position on the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee to have helped the [bank failure] situation and instead that didn’t happen,” he said. “I think the people in this county are seeing through that now,” he said.

“I’ve had a great deal of interested people who contacted me and asked me to consider running … I looked into it, put a lot of thought into it, did a lot of research on Jack and I didn’t like the things I saw and I heard.”

Murphy said he will be running on his experience in the state legislature, adding he will “look forward to any debates that we may have and will be glad to put my record up for what I’ve done for the county and the state over the past 10 years.”

Tommy Hunter will campaign as a Republican for Gwinnett County Commission District Three against incumbent Mike Beaudreau, in what is shaping up to be a “clown car primary.”

“This is a wonderful district that I have loved my entire life, it deserves a County Commissioner who has an open-door policy toward constituents,” the Republican said in a press release. “I will offer that open door if I am fortunate enough to serve you in this office. I will not forget who my boss is when elected, which are the residents of District 3.”

State Rep. Rick Jasperse has announced his campaign for reelection in the Republican Primary to continue representing Pickens County and parts of Bartow and Gordon counties.

State Rep. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) also will seek reelection.

Carrollton businessman Marty Smith will challenge incumbent Carroll County Chairman Bill Chappell in the Republican primary.

The Macon Telegraph editorial board writes that race-based redistricting, and a failure to communicate combine to make redistricting an explosive mixture.

There is a dirty little process called reapportionment that occurs every decade when the latest census statistics are released. The process is a raw display of power politics. While the framers of our Constitution invented this exercise to insure adequate representation for every American, it has been bastardized to decide which party will do the representing. When Democrats hold the wheels of power it is their prime directive to draw district lines to make sure they win and Republicans lose. Same thing happens if Republicans hold power.

The Savannah Morning News editorial board is declaring war on four South Carolina legislators whose actions allegedly threatened the future development of Port Jasper.

Here are the names of four area lawmakers who recently supported a bill that would have killed the proposed Jasper port on South Carolina’s side of the river.

Voters should make note of this gang of four:

• State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton.

• State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island.

• State Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort.

• State Rep. Curtis Brantley, D-Ridgeland.

Last week, these port killers voted for a bill that would have essentially shut down the Jasper Ocean Terminal Board. That’s the board of appointees from South Carolina and Georgia that has been diligently working for several years to make the Jasper port a reality and bring much-needed jobs to one of the poorest areas of the Palmetto State.

Instead, this quartet supported a bill that would have put South Carolina’s Jasper appointees under the thumb of the Savannah River Maritime Commission. That’s a separate S.C. panel that’s trying to kill Savannah’s port deepening project, at the behest of backers of Charleston’s port.

With four “friends” like these, the Jasper port doesn’t need enemies.

Dueling editorials

This weekend’s AJC brought dueling editorials on ethics and T-SPLOST.

Jet Toney, a long-time professional lobbyist and President of the Georgia Professional Lobbyists Association traces Georgia’s establishment to lobbying by James Edward Oglethorpe of England’s King James II, and argues that professional lobbyists play an important role in the running of the state legislature.

Georgia state lawmakers depend on a limited number of research staff and committee aides. Professional lobbyists educate officials and staff with information, expertise and perspective that is not always readily available.

Lobbyists also serve as filters of new ideas, pointing to flaws and unintended consequences.

The Founding Fathers made quite clear in the U.S. Constitution that freedom of speech and the right to seek redress from the government are protected.

All citizens should embrace these rights to advocate for his/her beliefs and values. If they do, the role and impact of professional lobbyists will diminish.

Until then, lobbyists will continue to serve as primary participants in public policy discussions, whether it is over a plate of barbecue in the legislator’s hometown or in the starkly clinical setting of a government building.

Toney questions whether a gift ban or limit will improve the results of the legislative process.

Before this is seriously considered, one should look to states where legislators are prohibited from receiving any gift or entertainment, even a cup of coffee.

Are the laws passed in those states more effective than in Georgia? Do the legislators there make better decisions because they’ve interacted less socially with professional policy advocates?

An opposing viewpoint is presented by Don McAdam, who argues that lobbyist gifts to legislators create a perception of conflicts of interest that are damaging to our state government, even in the absence of actual wrongdoing.

This mere perception of a conflict is doing great damage to the integrity of our legislative process. It is maddening to endure the denials of our state’s political leaders. This is why we must toughen lobbying and campaign finance laws. We should have every confidence that laws are considered based on our best interest.

As it is, there are substantial questions regarding the priorities and policies considered by theLegislature, but its leaders refuse to acknowledge that anything is wrong. Unfortunately, their corruption may be correctable only through removal from office.

McAdam points to tax reform that does away with the yearly ad valorem in favor of a sales tax that is called a title transfer fee as an example of what goes wrong when lobbyists wield influence.

[D]id citizens in mass contact their legislators to petition for a tax that would include private car sales? No legislators said that was the case. Although many Georgians cheered the end of the ad valorem tax, questions remain about the influence of lobbyist gifts on the swap that replaced that tax with a broader-based fee.

The fact that auto dealers lobbied for a tax on car sales between individuals and greased the axle of passage with $24,000 in campaign contributions should have prompted lawmakers to pull the emergency brake.

Legislators should have rejected the gifts and campaign contributions. But the “relationship” between auto dealers and our legislators has been cultivated over many years. Legislators and dealers both benefit. The former receive meals, sporting event tickets and election funds, and the latter get favorable treatment.

Of course, that’s not how our legislators see it. Said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers: “Overall, I know of no impact that any donations had on the tax reform measure.” Most of us don’t believe that, and for good reason. We were not clamoring for this new fee; only auto dealers were.

Kari Storla is a student at Georgia State who writes at the Common Cause Georgia blog, and raises an insightful point.

Think of it this way: Let’s say you’re a college student and you go to the same meeting every week for free food. Eventually, odds are you’re going to start talking to somebody. Maybe you’ll go to a volunteer event or help out with something else because people are starting to recognize you as a regular. If you don’t help them out, you’re not getting any more food and it’s back to ramen. You make a few friends. You agree to pass out flyers and you go to social events because there’s even more free food and free tickets to a concert and what kind of idiot is going to pass that up? And then all of a sudden you’re standing in front of your class, making an announcement promoting the group or organizing a campus rally.

That’s sort of what it would be like to be a legislator dealing with lobbyists. It’s not that you’re the Big Bad Legislator who’s morally corrupt, like a two-dimensional villain in a kid’s cartoon; it’s that you’ve formed relationships. It’s not the one lunch here or there that’s a problem, it’s the months or years worth of lunches that we’re concerned about.

Maybe we shouldn’t even say that legislators are being “bought.” Legislators aren’t commodities to be bought and sold at auction to the highest bidder. They’re people who can make their own decisions. But like all people, they can be influenced. So can legislators be influenced for a lunch? I’d have to see some research on that, but my guess would be it depends on a whole bunch of different factors.

PeachTEAParty suggests that citizens’ failure to actually read up on lobbyist expenditures  is part of the reason lobbyists wield the influence many think they do.

Ever wondered why things never quite go the way you EXPECT at the capitol? Its because the public rarely INSPECTS what actually moves legislation. WHO PAID YOUR LOCAL LAWMAKER”S LUNCH? Find out!!

The Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club’s director argues that T-SPLOST does not include enough transit and remains mired in an outmoded vision for transportation.

There is good reason for cities to embrace transit. It’s increasingly clear that the workforce of the 21st century desires walkable urban living instead of being forced to drive everywhere. One recent study found that from 2001 to 2009, the number of miles driven by young Americans (age 16-31) fell 23 percent, while miles traveled on transit increased 40 percent and bicycle trips increased 24 percent. Georgia needs to attract these workers in order to attract their 21st century jobs.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s proposed response to this national trend — the July 31 T-SPLOST — remains stuck in the past. While the tax would fund initial segments of some popular transit projects like the Beltline, every new track-mile of light rail built would be matched by 16 lane-miles of road expansion — enough asphalt to cover Turner Field more than 200 times. Despite talk of the tax “transforming” metro Atlanta, in reality this plan is largely a business-as-usual approach.

The campaign manager for Citizens for Transportation Mobility writes

Of course, we can’t fix our transportation woes for free. But as opposed to a punitive “parking tax” or a brand new “multimodal gas tax,” a one-penny sales levy actually helps offset the fuel we waste and valuable time we lose stuck in traffic. That “congestion tax” costs the average metro commuter $924 a year. The one-penny sales levy can reduce the congestion tax over time — and most consumers won’t come close to spending $924 in additional sales tax (that would require annually buying $92,400 worth of stuff).

As for the Sierra Club’s criticism that the project list is a “hodge-podge of conflicting priorities,” we’re proud that it doesn’t reflect the priorities of one group with one agenda. Instead, it reflects the voices of more than 200,000 people who participated in compiling the project list — some of whom wanted more roads and others who wanted greater mobility through transit. The project list reflects the needs of the people of metro Atlanta.

Tea Party Patriots oppose T-SPLOST because they believe it will create a large new bureaucracy that takes local control from counties and invests in transit projects that will have a low return on investment.

T-SPLOST… will be the largest tax increase in Georgia history if it passes all regions. The T-SPLOST also creates a regional mass transit entity that will oversee mass transit in each region, instead of leaving that to the counties.  The T-SPLOST will take local control over transportation projects from counties and give it to a region.

The Metro Atlanta T-SPLOST is just an expansion of MARTA in counties that have already voted it down years ago.  85% of the tax dollars will go in a regional “pot” that is distributed to projects for the good of the region..

We don’t have an issue with mass transit itself. We have an issue with its funding mechanism. Mass transit is very heavily subsidized by the tax payer and further expansion of an entity that is hemorrhaging red ink is fiscally irresponsible. Only 5 – 10 % of the taxpayers in the Metro-Atlanta area ride mass transit, yet the other 90-95% of the taxpayers are being asked to pay for it.

Ends & Pieces

Cherokee County foreclosures are up for May, after a decline in April.

Dalton has a thriving railfan community and celebrated National Train Day on Saturday.

Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt will play July 19 at the Lady Antebellum Pavilion inside Evans Towne Center Park, with tickets on sale now.

Harold’s Barbecue has fans as far as Athens.

But y’all! Harold’s can’t be allowed to close. They do barbecue right.

They offer succulent pork, slow-cooked for hours, along with ribs and Brunswick stew that I easily deem fit to eat — and I don’t endorse many folks’ Brunswick stew.

The atmosphere at Harold’s is what the atmosphere should be at an authentic barbecue place — especially one in a big city.

By that I mean that it is unpretentious. They don’t put on airs.

They serve white bread with their pork, and blue-collar workers and men in $500 suits sit elbow to elbow.

20
Apr

Georgia Political News for April 20, 2012

Vote today in our online survey on the July 31st T-SPLOST election. We’ll roll out the first set of results on Monday morning.

“23398” is a playful, friendly, baby female lab available for adoption beginning Sunday from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

The adoption fee is $30, plus a $60 required vet fee. Seniors age 55 and older and county employees adopt for free with seniors paying only half the vet fee, and county employees paying the $60 vet fee.

Governor Deal signs tax reform bill and announces 1500 new jobs

Gov. Deal signed HB 386, the “Georgia Jobs and Family Tax Reform Plan” during the Governor’s Awards for the 2012 Manufacturers of the Year.  The legislation reduces the marriage penalty tax and eliminates the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing.

“This tax reform package makes Georgia a better place to run and grow a business, and makes it an even better place to raise a family,”said Deal“These reforms could not have been made without the leadership of the General Assembly, and these significant changes will serve Georgians well.”

“The elimination of the marriage penalty in our income tax code will cut costs for Georgia families, totaling an estimated $140 million a year,”Deal said“Furthermore, the removal of state sales tax on energy used in manufacturing is key to competiveness and to reaching our goal to make Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do business.”

Additionally, the tax reform legislation:

● Eliminates the “birthday tax” on motor vehicles, substituting a sales tax payable when a car is titled;
● Reinstates sales tax holidays for back-to-school and green energy purchases;
● Revises sales tax exemptions on agriculture to ensure fairness and consistency;
● E-Fairness: Broadens the tax base and increases fairness by making online retailers play by the same rules as everyone else;
● Curtails abuse in our conservation easement income tax credit program;
● Caps retirement income exclusion for seniors at current level of $65,000 ($130,000 per couple);
● Eliminates sales tax exemption for film productions;
● Creates a one percent sales tax exemption on commercial aviation fuel to make our fuel rates more competitive with other major airports.

The bill signing came the same day that Gov. Deal announced that Baxter International will invest $1 billion and bring 1500 new jobs to Stanton Springs business park in Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties.

Baxter was lured with a mixture of incentives, including up to $32 million in job tax credits for actual jobs being created and $32 million in sales tax exemptions on machinery and equipment. A $13.75 million grant was made from the OneGeorgia fund.

QuickStart, part of the Technical College System of Georgia, will assist the company in recruiting and training workers, and has played a major role in other economic development projects.

Having a good trained workforce is very important in site selection for companies like this. We want Georgia to be a home for Bio-tech industries and Bio-science industries like Baxter and this is a huge step in the right direction for us to do that.” Deal said.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle has an extensive interview with Governor Deal and representatives of Baxter and Department of Economic Development on how the deal came together. That publication also has a longer piece on the significance of the announcement to both the company and to Georgia’s burgeoning bio-pharm industries.

The Covington News discusses in-depth the local impact of the Baxter announcement and local involvement in luring the company, and a story on the office park where Baxter will become the first occupant.

The four-county Joint Development Authority agreed early Thursday to purchase the land on behalf of Baxter from TPA Realty Services, the group that designed the park and has been purchasing the land in installments. The purchase will be made with state grants and the authority will lease the land to Baxter for 10 years, after which the title will pass to Baxter upon payment of a nominal sum, said authority attorney Tommy Craig.

Craig said significant state and local incentives were provided; state incentives were $80 million according to the governor’s office, but local total incentives were not immediately available.

Deal also signed three bills altering education funding.

Gambling Proposal for Gwinnett unlikely to succeed

A $1 billion proposal to build a video casino is Gwinnett County that was pitched yesterday to the Lottery Board appears to be stalled.

Georgia Lottery Board ChairmanJames Braswell says even if the board has the power to act on its own it doesn’t plan to without the support of the Governor or the state legislature.

“We believe it’s a public policy decision that a seven member appointed board should not unilaterally decide on its own.”

Governor Deal has expressed opposition to expanding gaming in the state and legislative efforts to back the project stalled during this year’s legislative session.

Campaigns and Elections

Georgia has settled a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter registration procedures, subject to approval of the federal district court judge overseeing the case. If approved, the settlement will require the state to allow voter registration when a person applies for public assistance.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) condemned the lawsuit, calling it ludicrous.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-4) will be challenged by Rockdale County businessman and pastor Courtney Dillard in the Democratic primary. Lincoln Nunnally, also from Rockdale County will join the primary challenge, but his “faux hawk” hairstyle makes him a very long shot.

Herman Cain endorsed Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) in the young lawyer’s reelection bid.

“Josh is a great young man,” Cain said during McKoon’s noon announcement Thursday on the plaza level of the Columbus Government Center. “He finished his first term in the Georgia Senate, and I’d like to see him go back to the Senate.”

McKoon, 33, has no announced challengers in the July 31 Republican primary.

If he is re-elected to the Senate, McKoon said he will focus again on ethics reform, reducing $4-a-gallon gasoline and introducing a bill to phase out the state income tax.

Currently, McKoon said a lobbyist could walk up to him, hand him the keys to a new car and it would be perfectly legal under Georgia law.

“Demanding honesty in government is not a Republican value or Democratic value,” he said. “It is an American value.”

To reduce $4 a gallon gas, the state senator said he wants the fleet of state vehicles to use compressed natural gas.

“It will reduce demand for gasoline,” he said.

If the state could phase out its 6 percent state income tax, McKoon said it would help hundreds of business owners. If re-elected, he plans to join forces with another lawmaker to change the law. State income tax generates about $9 billion per year but could be reduced in phases.

“I will put the state income tax where it belongs, in the history books,” McKoon said.

In Albany, a former high school principal, Robert Youngblood, will run for the open seat on Dougherty County School Board for District One. Last month, Lane Price announced a challenge to at-large board member Anita Williams-Brown. Districts three and five will also elect school board members, but no challenges have been announced to the incumbent members.

Lawyer Shawnn Kachmar will run for Savannah-Chatham school board district four.

Yesterday, NPR ran a story on Congressmen stalking lobbyists for contributions and today discusses how money can help lobbyists gain access to lawmakers.

 

Stories from across Georgia

The Georgia Ports Authority announced a record month for freight shipment through the state’s ports with 2.37 million tons shipped. The Port of Brunswick is the nation’s third-busiest port for automotive parts.

Former President George W. Bush addressed the opening ceremony banquet at the Junior Invitational golf tournament at Sage Valley in Graniteville on Wednesday.

Part of the river deepening project for the Port of Savannah will include conserving the remains of the CSS Georgia, a confederate ironclad that sank in the harbor in 1864. A program about the Georgia will be held in celebration of Confederate Memorial Day on April 29th at 2 PM at Westview Cemetery in Augusta.

“A number of the crew members were from the this area,” Young said. “We’ve identified some of them from Jefferson County and from Warren County.”

One of the little known facts about the ship was that its cannons were named for Georgia cities, he said.

“They gave city names to 10 cannons,” he said. “The first one was named Augusta.”

Confederate Memorial Day is officially celebrated in Georgia on April 26.

Conservationists working on preservation of the Hunley, a confederate submarine that also sank in 1864 unveiled the conserved lantern that may have produced the mysterious “blue light” a Union sailor reported.

Charleston, SC Mayor Joseph Riley, Jr. spoke at a fundraiser for the Hale House Foundation in Augusta on Thursday.

Power4Georgians, the private developer of a $2.1 billion coal-fired electric plant announced that Taylor Energy Fund has joined the financing of proposed Plant Washington near Sandersville.

Mayors of three Houston County municipalities expressed different opinions about consolidating city and county governments as neighboring Macon city and Bibb county governments move toward a July 31 referendum on consolidation.

Sara Blakely, founder of Atlanta’s Spanx, was named to Time Magazine’s “100 most influential” list. Blakely also recently joined the Forbes “rich list.”

Kia was named Georgia Large Manufacturer of the Year.

Savannah City Attorney James Blackburn will retire after serving the city for 42 years.

Savannah is the 11th best city for hipsters in the nation, with Atlanta placing 32d. The rankings tell you where to avoid find hipster hot spots in the cities.

18
Apr

Georgia Political News for April 18, 2012

“Smokey” is approximately two months old and weighs 5.6 pounds. A mixed-breed male puppy, he is available for adoption tomorrow from Walton Animal Control Services. If you’re looking for a female puppy or a pair, his sister “Stella” is also available.

Sponsored posts - Yesterday we announced that we will be accepting sponsored posts for the rest of the month to raise money for dog and cat rescue in Georgia. For $1 per word, you can place your message on our website and morning emails. Make a donation to a dog or cat rescue, send us proof of the donation and what you want to say. Sponsored posts will be clearly identified as such and we reserve the right to edit them. No attacks, please.

Bibb County Commissioners are considering building a new animal shelter with four times the space of the existing facility as part of a move to reduce the number of euthanizations performed.

Governor Deal signs bill strengthening Sunshine Laws

Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 397 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) yesterday, which strengthens Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws by increasing the fines for violating the law, reducing the cost of photocopies of requested records from .25 per page to .10 per page, and updating the law’s language with respect to electronic records.

In a press release, Gov. Deal said, “This legislation toughens enforcement of our Open Records law by substantially increasing penalties for noncompliance, allows for civil as well as criminal procedures and requires that all votes take place in a public forum. We have crafted a document that makes it easier for Georgians to keep track of their government’s activities and to know their rights, and it clarifies the responsibilities of public officials.”

Republican Attorney General Sam Olens said, “The law signed today will enable Georgians to clearly understand their rights and assist governments in more effectively responding to citizens. Moreover, it provides my office the tools needed to properly enforce the law.”

Full text of the press releases is available on our website.

Georgia Democratic Party Political Director Faces Allegations

The background of Georgia Democratic Party Political Director Ali Rashad Richey and his future in politics are in question as Georgia Unfiltered writes:

Between 1998 and present day, Democratic Party of Georgia Political Director Ali Rashad Richey became very intimate with the DeKalb and Fulton county jails.

You see, Rashad Richey was arrested twelve times on a variety of charges including:

  • Burglary;
  • Driving with revoked license;
  • Battery;
  • Family violence;
  • Obstructing an officer; and
  • Violating probation.

Richey’s last arrest was in 2010.

This is likely to provide fodder in the ongoing struggle within the Georgia Democratic Party between supporters and detractors of Chair Mike Berlon.

Campaigns and Elections

The Gainesville Times notes that attendance at political events in their area appears to be increasing.

Congressman Jack Kingston has raised $1.25 million to defend his seat. His opponent, Democrat Nathan Russo has not filed with the FEC, stating that he has not raised or spent the $5000 threshold amount to trigger the reporting requirement.

Continue Reading..

10
Apr

Georgia Political News for April 10, 2012

Ari (left) and Anabella are female Golden Retriever mixes available separately for adoption from Angels Among Us Rescue. Ari is about two years old and both dogs come up-to-date on their shots.

Rome City Commissioner Sue Lee is working to upgrade the animal control shelter, which she calls “the dungeon.”

“The Animal Control shelter is abysmal,” said Lee. “I tried at this last SPLOST to get them to put a new Animal Control shelter on the SPLOST, but not only was I turned down, but I was turned down big time.”

We really just need a new one altogether,” she said. “The county is in charge of that, and it’s just not a priority with them. With two new commissioners coming on, I would hope this would be a priority for them. But your chain is just as strong as your weakest link. The chain isn’t just weak; it’s broken.”

Rome historians and the local newspaper tell the interesting story of “Brownie, the Depot Dog,” who greeted visitors in the 1920s and 30s, and is buried on the grounds with a tombstone.

Executive Branch Announcements

Governor Nathan Deal announced that March revenues were up 5% over March 2011 to $1.16 billion. In a press release, Deal said, ““Though there is still a lot of room for improvemen. This upward economic growth pattern alongside several other solid economic indicators proves we are moving in the right direction.”

Attorney General Sam Olens announced that WellCare, an HMO, has settled fraud allegations with Georgia and eight other states and the Feds for $137.5 million plus interest, payable over four years. Georgia will receive $33 million and WellCare will undergo three years’ regulatory oversight in the settlement of MediCare fraud charges that also resulted in fraud charges against six current company executives.

Georgia DNR announced that Bald Eagle nesting sites in Georgia are up over last year, along with the number of fledgling Bald Eagles. The study also documents the first known Bald Eagle nest at Lake Lanier.

The State Ethics Transparency Commission found no basis for proceeding on an ethics charge filed against Governor Deal by Rome gadfly activist George Anderson. Deal’s lawyer, Randy Evans, called the remaining charges “frivolous.” The remaining charges include goofy charges related to airplane travel during the 2010 campaign that have been thoroughly debunked.

Campaigns and Elections

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols hit a sour note when he solicited campaign donations in his Easter email to some activists.

His behavior on the PSC has been embarrassing. His excuses to repeated appearances of impropriety do not really hold up. And today he sends out an email that I struggle to reconcile with any sense of good decency for any Christian politician who is not a huckster, charlatan, or fraud.

The other Public Service Commission may take umbrage at Echols’s self-serving Op-Ed in the Athens Banner-Herald defending his vote to override a business decision made by Georgia Power and substitute his own judgment for that of the people who actually run the company. In addition to imposing costs of up to $3 billion on Georgia Power ratepayers, such action would be far in excess of the PSC’s authority to review utility decisions for whether they are prudent. A “strong conservative voice for less government interference,” indeed.

South Carolina GOP incumbents are facing a high number of primary challenges, apparently resulting from redistricting and Tea Party anti-incumbent sentiment.

Former Floyd County Commissioner Chad Whitefield has withdrawn from the race for state Senate district 52, which comprises Floyd County and parts of Chattooga, Bartow and Gordon counties. The only candidate currently in that race is former DOT Board Chair David Doss, who reported more than $26,000 cash on hand.

Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) announced that he will run for reelection in new District 140, which comprises all of Crawford County and parts of Bibb, Houston, Monroe and Peach counties.

“I am proud to say I have delivered on many of the issues I campaigned on,” Dickey said in a news release. “I have supported two balanced state budgets that reduced state spending to nearly 2001 spending levels. I supported comprehensive tax reform that will reduce taxes on our families and spur job growth.

“To cut waste and make government more efficient, I supported zero-based budgeting requiring state departments to justify every dollar spent. In addition, I supported efforts to save the HOPE Scholarship, crack down on metal theft, and grow our economy.”

The Augusta Commission voted unanimously to ask a federal judge to draw new district lines for Commission and Richmond County Board of Education seats after the local legislative delegation deadlocked during the session.

In Gwinnett County, Brian Whiteside will seek election as Clerk of Court following the death of Tom Lawler.

Gerald Couch leads fundraising for the quarter in the race for Hall County Sheriff, with more than $13,000 collected, plus a personal loan from the candidate. Jeff Strickland has raised the highest total to date with $31,000 cash on hand.

Brook Davidson is running for Hall County Probate Judge.

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson gave $500 to Regina Quick (R), former Treasurer of the local GOP, in her campaign against Doug McKillip (DR?). Quick raised more than $32,000 for the quarter and has nearly $28k on hand to McKillip’s $40k on hand.

Democrat Spencer Frye raised more than twice the amount of his opponent, Rep. Keith Heard (D-Athens).

Dougherty County Commissioner Muarlean Edwards may run against incumbent State Rep. Carol Fullerton (D-Albany), who has announced her reelection campaign.

Ports

Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) accompanied FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on a briefing and tour of the Port of Savannah, saying

“One of the core missions of the FDA is to ensure that the food on our dinner tables and in our school cafeterias is safe to eat,” Kingston said. “That effort includes keeping a watchful eye over the food imports that enter our country through our ports.”

More than 40 percent of US poultry exports ship through the Savannah port each year.

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear a challenge by environmental groups including the Savannah Riverkeeper, which is based in Augusta, GA, to the proposed deepening of the Savannah River Channel to accomodate post-Panamax ships to the Port. The groups seek to overturn the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s decision to issue a dredging permit to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Random Remainders

The Houston County school board is considering whether to teach elementary school students about sexual predators in an attempt to prevent children from being lured and abducted or sexually harassed. Similar material is already being presented to students whose parents approve, but the materials are considered outdated.

2012 County Health Rankings suggest that Middle Georgia suffers from a healthcare gap, demonstrated by the finding that Bibb County residents die at an earlier age than other Georgians.

Former Gwinnett County Commission Chair Wayne Hill, who is also a private pilot, said he would vote against privatizing Briscoe Field if he still sat on the Commission.

Snellville’s police chief now also will act as interim City Manager. A city resident noted, “obviously you all need somebody to baby-sit you; you can’t even agree on what to do for 60 days. Listening to this is like listening to my kids bicker.”

Howard Finster’s “Paradise Gardens” in Summerville, GA has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

DeKalb County’s Jan Selman, a political coach, will address the April 14 League of Women Voters of Carrollton and Carroll County’s annual meeting about the political process and how to prepare for electoral success.

The Columbus Charter Review Commission voted to remove from November’s ballot a proposal to empower the city to impose a $500 “basic services fee” on property owners.

The Whitfield County Commission will seek a new finance director, after the resignation of the new director after five days on the job.

Lowndes County is renegotiating the disposition of LOST tax proceeds with its municipalities.

The Dalton Daily Citizen has a four-part series on the Great Locomotive Chase from 1862.

14
Feb

Georgia Political News for February 14, 2012

Elizabelle is an adoptable Flat-Coated Retriever mix, who weighs in at about 40#. The Flat Coat is widely known for being “just like a Golden Retriever but black.” Elizabelle will be spayed shortly, and after a short convalescence in her foster home, will be available to a loving home.

The agency that rescued her said this about Elizabelle:

Once in blue moon we save a perfect dog! Here she is. Comes when called, great calm manners, house trained etc etc. This Flatcoat will be available after her spay. You can email info@angelsrescue.org. She is looking for someone who is home and not crating for many hours. She loves other dogs and like all flatcoats love life!!!

Today is St. Valentine’s Day. Make of it what you will.

Former Governor Roy Barnes is complaining that the redistricing of county commission districts in Cobb County, which splits the City of Mableton between two districts is “petty politics.”

The tri-state water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida may be headed to the Supreme Court as the other two states have petitioned for certiorari for the Court to decide the decades-long dispute.

Meanwhile, the Athens Banner-Herald opines that Georgia should give up its recent border dispute with Tennessee. The Banner-Herald editorial board believes that the long acceptance of the current border should trump the law that holds that borders are decided by the legislatures of both states, and approved by Congress.

Last week, Gov. Deal met quietly with SC Gov. Nikki Haley to discuss differences in opinion between the SC legislature and the rest of the civilized world about deepening the Savannah River channel to allow New Panamax container ships to reach the Port of Savannah.

President Obama’s FY 2013 budget includes an additional $2.8 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, in addition to $180 million committed by the State of Georgia.

The Times-Free Press is encouraged by NRC approval of units 3 and 4 at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle, stating that “we have every confidence it will safely generate power for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.”

The Marietta Daily Journal has an editorial calling for limits on lobbyist gifts to elected officials.

Savannah’s annual legislative reception cost nearly $88,000, representing the largest single lobbying event disclosed this year. Over the weekend, the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran an investigatory piece in which it said that lobbyists failed to properly disclose part of the expenses for the 2012 Wild Hog Supper.

This week marks the halfway point for the 2012 Session of the Georgia General Assembly. I predict it will last at least until April 1.

The Times-Herald detects a Santorum surge from behind in recent polls released on the Presidential race in Georgia.

Twelve hippies from the Occupy Atlanta cluster movement were arrested at AT&T yesterday, protesting the telecom giant’s layoffs.