Category: Pro-tip for politics

25
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 25, 2012

Cobb County Friends of Shelter Animals is raising funds to export 16 dogs to Minnesota, where apparently there’s a shortage of adoptable animals. Online donations are processed through Dogs on Death Row, who is matching all donations. It’s a dogpocalypse out there in the shelters, where most facilities are packed and receiving more animals every day. The only way to accomodate the influx is through aggressive euthanasia.

Gucci is a little lab mix puppy who is available for rescue or adoption from the Floyd County Animal Shelter in Rome. He should be considered in urgent need.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Robert Draper has written a long article in The Atlantic about redistricting that will be of interest to a broad audience, from those for whom it will be “Redistricting 101” to those who have been in the trenches, drawing maps with crayons on the back of an envelope, or with Maptitude. Draper was also interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air about his article, and it’s a good listen.

Redistricing led to some of the problems in Fulton County voting during the primary elections, including a precinct that reported 3300% turnout. Also a possible problem? An Elections director who thought he could serve ten days in jail without anyone noticing.

Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections has accepted the resignation of its embattled department director, Sam Westmoreland.

At a special-called meeting Monday where Westmoreland was expected to be terminated, the 5-member board deliberated in closed session for about 45 minutes before voting unanimously to accept his resignation. He sent his resignation letter Saturday while incarcerated at the Alpharetta jail.

Westmoreland just finished a 10-day stint for violating probation on a 2009 DUI charge, and he’s now awaiting transfer to the Laurens County jail, in middle Georgia, for failing to show up for court after a 2008 DUI there.

“After much reflection,” Westmoreland’s letter says, “I believe it is in the department’s best interest to have a leader that enjoys the full support of this board as we move forward toward this important general election.”

Several board members have said they were unaware their director had to serve time in jail until Sept. 19, five days into his incarceration [emphasis added]. Edmond said they knew he had received a Fulton County DUI, but thought his sentencing was complete. The board only learned of the Laurens County case last week, the chairman said.

According to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, a warrant was issued for Westmoreland’s arrest after he failed to appear in court there on Sept. 10 in connection with a Sept. 15, 2008, DUI charge in that county, also involving drugs.

Two pro-tips here: first, if you think you can get away with being absent from work for ten days without explanation, either your supervisors may be letting you get away with too much or you’ve already given up; second, if you fax in your resignation from jail, you can bet it will be accepted post haste.

Dennis O’Hayer has an interview with Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts about what kind of foulups issues we may look forward to in the General Election.

“I’m more confident today than I was last week, because of the actions that the  [Elections] Board took today, specifically bringing in an interim [director] and agreeing to bring in some outside consultants….and we will be taking advantage of the Secretary of State’s offer to help us.”

The AJC has more about the impending train wreck:

staffers will be adjusting to new leadership and directives as early voting begins Oct. 15. Fulton County has a recent history of elections difficulties and is currently part of nine open investigations by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Georgia’s largest county, Fulton includes nearly 10 percent of the state population. Election problems in Fulton could affect the Obama-Romney race, casting the state and county in a negative light worldwide.

Fulton drew heat in the Obama-McCain election four years ago, when the office’s absentee ballot processing went so slow that the county had to hire FedEx to ship nearly 4,000 ballots to voters overnight, costing more than $300,000.

Then, after closing the polls, workers spent 53 hours in a warehouse counting absentee and provisional ballots. At the time, the results of a U.S. Senate race hung in the balance.

“Regardless of this unfortunate circumstance,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a written statement, “Fulton County still has a legal obligation to provide safe and secure elections. Our office will work with them as closely as possible to make sure this takes place on Nov. 6.”

Serious policy proposal here for the General Assembly: consider whether there should be a mechanism for the Governor or Secretary of State to either suspend or remove local Elections Board members and administer elections where there is a history of botched voting administration and a reasonable basis to suspect the next election will be compromised.

Particularly topical given the issues in Fulton is a book signing tomorrow, September 26, 2012 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, with former member of the Federal Election Commission Hans von Spakovsky and his new book, Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, at Capital Grille in Buckhead, located at 255 E. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305.

Hans von Spakovsky is a former Chairman of the Fulton County Republican Party and served on the Fulton County Elections Board. He is a graduate of the Coverdell Leadership Institute and currently serves at the Heritage Foundation as Senior Legal Fellow, where he manages the Civil Justice Reform Initiative. Please R.s.v.p. to Kathryn Gartland.

Chalk one up for Georgia Republican Party Chairman Sue Everhart. Last week she called the Obama campaign’s print of a flag with the Obama campaign logo “utterly disrespectful and outrageous.” The Democrats called her and the GOP hypocrites

“I think this is desecration, just like over in Egypt and these places that are burning our flag, stomping on the flag.  This is a symbol of our country,” Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart told Channel 2’s Lori Geary.

The Obama campaign is selling its print for $35.

“If ever a time we should be flying old glory is now, not coming up with some sales pitch to sell the Obama flag. Does he think he is the most important thing that has ever happened to the United States of America?  I’m going to start calling him ‘King Obama’ instead of ‘President Obama,’” Everhart said.

She has called on Democrats to denounce the campaign print.

Georgia Democratic Chairman Mike Berlon said….“I think it’s a little bit disingenuous to stand up and beat your chest and say, ‘Oh my God, this is an abomination,’ when the Republican Party has been doing it for years.”

But over the weekend, the flag print disappeared from the Obama campaign website.

A page where the flag was now returns an error page. A cached version of the website still shows the product but returns a error page when attempting to add the item to the cart. An Obama campaign aide says the item quickly sold out and that sold out items are automatically removed. However, a similar item to the flag print that was also sold out was not automatically removed and appears on the site with “out of stock” below it.

Former Dougasville Mayor Mickey Thompson has been indicted for 91 counts of theft, in an indictment alleging he took more than $28,000 in payments for the city for meetings he did not attend or for which he was not entitled to payment.

As a result of the [Douglas County] Sentinel investigation, we asked the GBI to investigate and that is what I presented to the grand jury,” [District Attorney David] McDade said. “He had submitted meetings and received payments for 91 meetings that he was not entitled to under city ordinance. The way it was set up, he was the sole arbiter in deciding what was paid and what wasn’t.”

McDade said that the meetings ranged from ribbon cuttings, luncheons, bus tours, swearings in of other officials and phone meetings that are not allowed by city statute.

Unlike every municipality with a similar population in the metro area, where a straight salary is paid to elected officials, the mayor and council members in Douglasville are compensated based on meeting attendance. Council members are paid $125 per meeting, with the mayor receiving $313 per meeting. The ordinance gives a very specific list of meetings that are eligible for payment. In addition to paying by roll call, elected officials can also turn in meetings that they have attended as an invoice for payment.

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

The GBI report found Thompson asked for and received payments for 91 meetings since 2007 that did not appear to be appropriate for payment under city statute. Many of those meetings were tele-conferences, that clearly do not fit criteria for payment.

The probe also found that every Douglasville elected official with the exception of current Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons was paid for and kept payments for meetings that did not fit the city’s defined criteria. The payments ranged from one meeting for one current council member, to more than 20 for others, meaning that council members received from $125 to $2,500 they were not entitled to under the law that they were sworn to uphold.

The council members were not indicted because some had been told to submit anything that could possibly be a meeting and a determination would be made on payment. Others didn’t turn in the “illegal meetings” but were paid improperly nonetheless.

Mike Miller was locked in a tight primary race with Bob Snelling and Thompson for the newly created GOP House District 66 seat. He agreed that even allegations cause distrust, but stressed that these are allegations.

“Its kind of an interesting set of circumstances,” Miller said. “We put this to the voters because our campaign was aware of the situation with Thompson in the primaries and we believed it was important for our constituents to know. But as a lawyer, it’s important to trust our criminal justice system. That holds that those who are accused are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

You might recall that the Republican primary election saw some nastiness between Thompson and Miller; former State Rep. Bob Snelling won the primary runoff against Miller.

The Douglas County Sentinel, which broke the story, opines that the City should be reimbursed for all incorrect payments made to officials, and fix the goofy “pay per meeting” system.

Speaking of ethics, Governor Nathan Deal’s campaign is seeking attorney fees from George Anderson, who filed ethics complaints against Deal

On Sept. 20, Governor Nathan Deal filed for attorney’s fees against George Anderson, claiming that Anderson “filed unsubstantiated, as well as, frivolous accusations concerning payments to Southern Magnolia LLC, alleging kickbacks to Respondent, untrue allegations of personal profit from campaign funds, as well as, allegations regarding good friend and appointee Patrick Millsaps to the State Ethics Commission.”

Local businessman and concerned Gwinnett County resident Kenneth Stepp believes the complaint and others like it are indeed frivolous, and take up taxpayer money and time in the courts. He has launched a nonprofit called Gwinnett Ethics in response to what he sees as a series of frivolous ethics complaints by Ethics in Government Director George Anderson and others like him.

Stepp’s nonprofit is pursuing a change in law that would require an “under oath” amendment. The proposed amendment would require those who file ethics complaints to divulge who, if anyone, is paying them.

I guess we’ll file this one under “Ethics” too. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says Republicans don’t have to cheat to win in November.

Members of the state Senate Republican Caucus and some of their very best friends will spend two days in Adairsville this week to play golf and display their expertise with shotguns.

One can pay $500 for a dinner-time chat, but the main events on Wednesday and Thursday are open only to those willing to give $2,500 to $10,000 to the caucus’ campaign arm, the Georgia Republican Senatorial Trust.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has sent an email to Republicans to inform them, in very strong language, that he’s not going.

He has problems with the way $140,000 of caucus money was handed to an allegedly independent committee – based in North Carolina – to defend GOP senators from primary challengers this summer.

But most specifically at issue is the Trust’s decision earlier this year to put its cash in the hands of the independent political committee.

In a July email to their fellow senators, three Republican senate leaders – Rogers, Bill Cowsert of Athens, and Greg Goggans of Douglas – explained that they had given the committee not just the cash, but the message to voters that they wanted delivered, and a list of the incumbents to be protected.

“This is completely legal and does not violate any finance campaign laws,” the three wrote.

Cagle apparently thinks that there’s a high probability that they’re wrong.

In a surprise to no one, campaign signs are being stolen everywhere in Thomas County.

Did you hear the one about when the Savannah City Council tried to hold an illegal meeting  but messed up and inadvertantly complied with the law?

SAVANNAH CITY Council got lucky last week. Each of its members could have been nailed with up to $6,000 in fines if state officials determined that the local group violated Georgia’s open meetings law on Sept. 2

But because one council member was late in arriving on that date, a quorum wasn’t present. Hence, no technical violation occurred, according to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.

Yet that Sept. 20 finding from the state is of little comfort. Just because city officials attempted to hold an illegal meeting, and failed, is inexcusable considering City Hall’s history.

And it hardly “affirmed” the city’s actions on that date, as City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter spelled it out in plain language in his Sept. 20 letter to Ms. Small-Toney. “From this Office’s review of the materials provided by Mayor Jackson, it is evident that an attempt was made to hold a meeting in violation of the Open Meetings Act, since a meeting was called without notice or an agenda and without making it open to the general public.

“Were this meeting to have occurred, it would have been a serious violation of the Act, potentially subjecting the City, yourself, and the council members to fines up to $6,000. It would also have been a substantial breach of the public trust, since the public and the press rely on transparency in government to know what their officials are doing.”

He stated the attorney general’s office was willing to accept the city’s claim that, though five council members attended, they were not all in the room at the same time. “Thus, under the circumstances, an illegal meeting was narrowly averted only by happenstance, not by plan,” Mr. Ritter wrote.

A group of solar advocates and vendors has proposed a solar utility that would set up a solar farm and sell electricity directly to end users via the interstate electrical grid.

To proceed with its long-range plan of developing 2 gigawatts of solar power, the start-up, Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., wants to start by building an 80-megawatt “solar farm” near Milledgeville as soon as it gets a green light from the Georgia Public Service Commission.

“There are obstacles. There’s no question there are obstacles, but you have to look at the rewards,” GaSU President Robert E. Green said at a Capitol news conference. “We don’t know what it’s going to take, but we are prepared to go through legislative action if necessary.”

Legislative action is indeed likely to be necessary, according to observers. A 40-year-old law divides the state up and gives regional monopolies to Georgia Power, the electric-membership cooperatives and nearly 50 cities.

GaSU could build its solar farm without action by the legislature or the PSC, and existing federal law would require Georgia Power to buy its electricity. But it would only pay GaSU an amount equal to what it could buy electricity from its cheapest, wholesale supplier.

The start-up wants instead to sell its electricity directly to retail customers who would be billed by Georgia Power or the other existing utilities, similar to how natural gas is marketed here. GaSU would pay the utilities for the use of their wires in the electric grid and any profits would be shared with customers like a cooperative.

Not mentioned in the article are requirements that electric power producers register with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Commission (“SkyNet”).

Polling Report

Polling analyst Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog was referring to competing polls that showed contradictory findings:

I’d just seen a Marquette University poll of Wisconsin, which put President Obama 14 points ahead of Mitt Romney there. This came after a Rasmussen Reports poll of New Hampshire, published earlier that day, which had given Mitt Romney a three-point lead in the Granite State.

but he could easily have been speaking of the Peach State, where local “pollster” Insider Advantage showed Romney with a 21-point lead over President Obama, while a competing poll by YouGov showed only a 6-point Romney lead.

A little over two weeks ago, we released our own polling on the Charter School Amendment. At the time, we did not include the Presidential Ballot question that we asked in the same survey, but our results at that time were Romney 50.7% to Obama with 42.2%, and Librarian Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson 4.2% and Undecided 2.7%. I’m not convinced that Undecideds are that low, but I think the Romney-Obama matchup is plausible. If you want the question wording or statement of methodology, email me.

So, what’s going on when different “scientific” polls show vastly different results? Silver has one set of plausible explanations.

There are also going to be some outliers — sometimes because of unavoidable statistical variance, sometimes because the polling company has a partisan bias, sometimes because it just doesn’t know what it’s doing. (And sometimes: because of all of the above.)

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article out that discusses factors that may explain differences in polling outcomes.

At this time of year, the difference between poll results can be explained by everything from who is being surveyed (are they “likely” voters or just “registered”) to how many cell phone users (who are generally younger and from more diverse backgrounds) are contacted to how the questions are worded.

And while top pollsters try to adhere to common standards and best practices, there is a lot of room for interpretation in the way each constructs their universe of respondents.

“It’s a mixture of magic and science and research – and there’s more magic now because we have less science to guide our decisions,” said Oakland pollster Amy Simon, who is a leading expert in public opinion on same-sex marriage.

They also have suggestions for how to interpret polls, given the variance that is out there.

Consider the respondents: “Likely voters” are more credible, as they’re, well, more likely to vote. “At this point, don’t look at anything from registered voters,” said Oakland pollster Amy Simon. See if the poll includes cell phone users, who tend to be from more diverse backgrounds, younger and more likely to live in urban areas.

Examine the wording of questions: UC Berkeley Professor Gabe Lenz often teaches his students about a poll from the 1970s where 44 percent of Americans said they would not allow a Communist to give a speech, but only 22 percent would “forbid” it. The difference: Many people are often reluctant to sound harsh to a live interviewer, which “forbid” implies.

Treat a pollster like a movie critic: “Pick a poll and follow it,” said Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center. “You can follow its nuances and learn its tendencies.” Others, like Lenz, said peace of mind can be found with those who aggregate the major polls and incorporate them into a trend, like Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog and RealClearPolitics.com

At the end of the day, here’s my recommendation for public consumers of polling data. Take the Olympic scoring approach, where you toss out the highest and lowest numbers, and average the rest based on the sample size. In statistical terms, you’re removing the outliers, and broadening the sample size. That’s not precisely correct, but it’s a pretty good back-of-the-envelope method that might help you make some sense out of competing polls.

24
Sep

What to do when the polls stop making sense

Polling analyst Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog was referring to competing polls that showed contradictory findings

I’d just seen a Marquette University poll of Wisconsin, which put President Obama 14 points ahead of Mitt Romney there. This came after a Rasmussen Reports poll of New Hampshire, published earlier that day, which had given Mitt Romney a three-point lead in the Granite State.

but he could easily have been speaking of the Peach State, where local pollster Insider Advantage showed Romney with a 21-point lead over President Obama, while a competing poll by YouGov showed only a 6-point Romney lead.

So, what’s going on when different “scientific” polls show vastly different results? Silver has one set of plausible explanations.

There are also going to be some outliers — sometimes because of unavoidable statistical variance, sometimes because the polling company has a partisan bias, sometimes because it just doesn’t know what it’s doing. (And sometimes: because of all of the above.)

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article out that discusses factors that may explain differences in polling outcomes.

At this time of year, the difference between poll results can be explained by everything from who is being surveyed (are they “likely” voters or just “registered”) to how many cell phone users (who are generally younger and from more diverse backgrounds) are contacted to how the questions are worded.

And while top pollsters try to adhere to common standards and best practices, there is a lot of room for interpretation in the way each constructs their universe of respondents.

“It’s a mixture of magic and science and research – and there’s more magic now because we have less science to guide our decisions,” said Oakland pollster Amy Simon, who is a leading expert in public opinion on same-sex marriage.

They also have suggestions for how to interpret polls, given the variance that is out there.

Consider the respondents: “Likely voters” are more credible, as they’re, well, more likely to vote. “At this point, don’t look at anything from registered voters,” said Oakland pollster Amy Simon. See if the poll includes cell phone users, who tend to be from more diverse backgrounds, younger and more likely to live in urban areas.

Examine the wording of questions: UC Berkeley Professor Gabe Lenz often teaches his students about a poll from the 1970s where 44 percent of Americans said they would not allow a Communist to give a speech, but only 22 percent would “forbid” it. The difference: Many people are often reluctant to sound harsh to a live interviewer, which “forbid” implies.

Treat a pollster like a movie critic: “Pick a poll and follow it,” said Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center. “You can follow its nuances and learn its tendencies.” Others, like Lenz, said peace of mind can be found with those who aggregate the major polls and incorporate them into a trend, like Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog and RealClearPolitics.com

At the end of the day, here’s my recommendation for public consumers of polling data. Take the Olympic scoring approach, where you toss out the highest and lowest numbers, and average the rest based on the sample size. In statistical terms, you’re removing the outliers, and broadening the sample size. That’s not precisely correct, but it’s a pretty good back-of-the-envelope method that might help you make some sense out of competing polls.

Check back later today for more on this issue, and our recent survey on the Presidential race in Georgia.

13
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 13, 2013

Alvin is a 47-pound, 2-year old Golden Retriever mix boy who is available for adoption today from the Cobb County Animal Shelter.

Alvin will be neutered, tested for heart worms and micro-chipped when adopted. He is in run 107 and his ID# is 548132.

When calling the shelter about a cat or dog, please use THE ID NUMBER, the names are oftentimes made up by volunteers. This beautiful pet and many others need a forever, loving home and are available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter, 1060 Al Bishop Drive Marietta, Georgia 30008, call (770) 499-4136 for more information.

Corky is a black lab mix and the volunteers at Cobb Animal Shelter say he’s the sweetest boy, and about 1-year old and 55 pounds. He is in run 25 and his ID# is 548038. Just look at that cute face and big pink tongue.

Nat and his brother Geo are 2-month old, 15# Shepherd mix puppies who are available for adoption today from Walton County Animal Shelter.

Also available from Walton Animal Shelter are Duncan, Davie and Darla, who are three months old and weigh about 7 pounds each.


These three puppies were turned in by their owner, which typically means no mandatory hold time, and they are immediately at risk of euthanasia, especially during this time of the year when shelters are overflowing.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Please take a moment to vote in our online survey on the Charter School Amendment. We ask how you will vote, and give you an opportunity to state why you are voting for or against the Amendment. We’ll be running some of the responses when we release the results. If you have any problems with the online vote, email me.

Former Speaker of the Georgia House Glenn Richardson qualified yesterday for the Special Election in Senate District 30, which was vacated when Bill Hamrick was appointed to the Superior Court.

“So why would I want to go into this?” said Richardson, 52, asking the question many are wondering. “I’m at peace. I think I can sympathize with people more than ever. I’ve struggled.”

Richardson, the one-time back bencher who became the first Republican state speaker since Reconstruction, admitted he was a bit nervous as he walked passed his old office for the first time in three years. He will have a tough primary election ahead of him. He faces a field that includes state Rep. Bill Hembree (R-Winston), a popular legislator who has been at the state house for 18 years.

“It’s a perfect fit,” said Hembree of the west metro Atlanta senate post he is seeking. “I’ve represented Douglas County and Paulding County, and I’m a native of Carroll County.”

Hembree, a self-proclaimed “social conservative,” served under Richardson in the House and represented a neighboring district. Hembree, 46, said he hasn’t spoken with Richardson since 2009, adding the former speaker’s decision to run was “somewhat surprising because it’s just three years since all the events that occurred in his life.”

Hembree said he would not get into dissecting those events. “I’m going to have a grassroots campaign and contact as many people as we can,” he said. “I’m not going to get distracted.”

Jim Naughton, a Carroll County businessman, also qualified.

Bill Hembree also qualified yesterday, although you wouldn’t know it from the AJC’s non-coverage.

From the Neighbor Newspapers coverage:

Richardson said he wanted to seek the seat because “this just came up and under such rare circumstances.”

“It seemed like an opportunity to seek a leadership position. I feel like this was the time to do it,” he said.

Richardson said it is “not my job to say if people have forgiven or forgot” the events which led to his 2010 resignation.

“I had to step up when I saw an opportunity,” he said. “I may achieve it and I may not.”

Hembree, a Winston resident, served a total of nine terms in the House. He resigned his House District 67 seat last week to seek the vacant Senate seat.

In a prepared statement, Hembree said, “We need a leader we can trust to be on our side. Like you, I am tired of the politicians who put the special interests above the interests of the taxpayers they represent. Too many politicians let us down and embarrass us.

“I’m running for Senate with a simple promise: you have my word that I’ll be on your side. I’ve got your back, and I’ll represent you. While I won’t make promises I can’t keep, I’ll do everything in my power to slash wasteful government spending, stop tax increases and attract new jobs to get our families back to work,” he stated.

Hembree lost a 2010 bid for Speaker of the House to current Speaker David Ralston.

I predict Bill Hembree will be elected. We ran a poll in that district a couple weeks ago with the names of the three candidates who had announced at the time and Hembree had a substantial lead.

Bill Hembree  36.6%
Glenn Richardson  13.1%
James Camp 12.1%

Because the Special Republican Primary Election will take place November 6, at the same day as the General Election, it’s likely to have higher turnout, which likely benefits Hembree more than Richardson.

The Times-Georgian writes:

Hamrick ran unopposed for re-election to the District 30 state Senate seat in the July 31 Republican primary. No Democratic candidates ran for the seat in the July 31 primary.

“Since no Democrats qualified during the original primary, the law requires that only a special Republican primary be held on Nov. 6,” said Jared Thomas, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Thomas said the law also requires that a special election for the District 30 seat be held on Jan. 8, with a runoff election on Feb. 5, if needed.

On November 6th, voters within the 30th Senate District who show up at the polls will be offered an opportunity to vote in the General Election and the Republican Primary. According to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office:

Poll workers will be instructed to ask eligible voters if they would like to participate in the Special GOP Primary in addition to the General Election, or just the General Election.  The Special and General can be included on the same card.  In addition, sample ballots will be posted.

Qualifying for that election continues today from 8 AM to 5 PM and tomorrow from 8 AM to Noon. To qualify as a Republican, you will go to Qualifying for the Republican Special Primary Election shall be held in Room 341 of the Georgia State Capitol, 214 State Capitol, Atlanta, 30334, and your qualifying fee of $400 must be paid by certified funds. To qualify as an Independent for the Special Election on January 8th, you will go to the Elections Division of The Office of Secretary of State, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 802 Floyd West Tower, Atlanta, 30334 during the same time period.

Here’s how that works: the winner of the November 6th Special Republican Primary Election (runoff will be December 4th if necessary) will be on the ballot again on January 8th in the Special Election, even if no independent candidates qualify. If enough candidates qualify as independents to force a runoff in the January election, that runoff will be held February 5th, 2013.

So the best chance at winning that election if your name is not Bill Hembree might be to try and ambush him in January 8th by qualifying as an Independent. Turnout will be much lower on that date, and a candidate with a small but loyal following might have a snowball’s chance, but probably not.

Micah Gravley [note spelling], the Republican candidate for House District 67 to succeed Bill Hembree is off to a strong start.

Micah Gravely said he was unsure about seeking a chance to run for a Douglas County legislative seat until he got a call from two people in high places: House Speaker David Ralston and District 68 state Rep. Dusty Hightower.

“I thought, “This could be an opportunity to serve our community,” he said. “[Wife Heather] was very quick to say, ‘I’ll support you 100 percent.’”

Gravely, 38, was named by the State Republican Party Executive Committee last week to replace District 67 State Rep. Bill Hembree, R-Winston, as the Republican nominee for Hembree’s House seat. Gravely will face Democratic nominee Leigh McMutry of Winston in the Nov. 6 general election.

[Gravley] served as a staff member for former Georgia U.S. Rep. Bob Barr and former Gov. Sonny Perdue. He also served as the Paulding County coordinator for both the Mike Huckabee and John McCain presidential campaigns in 2008.

He said he was approached by “several folks in the community” to consider the post and counts among his supporters Douglas County District Attorney David McDade and Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan.

Gravely recently has worked with the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association as the statewide grassroots director.

He also serves as president of Paulding Public Safety Appreciation Inc., which organizes the annual Paulding Public Safety Appreciation Day in October. He awarded the county’s three law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue department $1,000 each to begin their own benevolent funds for survivors of those killed in the line of duty last week, Gravely said.

He said he planned to be an advocate for public safety workers and wanted to work closely with the school boards in Douglas and Paulding counties.

Pro-tip for writers: spellcheck will often suggest a that you change a surname to something else when the surname spelling is close to that of a regular word. Double check last names like “Gravley”. In fact, go back and triple-check that one right now.

Former Executive Secretary of the State Ethics Commission Stacey Kalbermann continues to live in a fantasy world in which her firing was the result of a vast right-wing conspiracy against her, rather than because of budget cuts that hit the Commission with the same severity as most of the rest of state government, including the Governor’s Office.

In my opinion, Kalbermann is likely responsible for the outages and lack of capacity that plague the Campaign Finance Filing System for failing to recognize that job one of the Commission is receiving and making public campaign disclosure.

In an amended complaint in her whistle-blower suit against the state, former commission director Stacey Kalberman claims that former commission chairman Patrick Millsaps contacted Randy Evans about campaign work while the commission was investigating Evans’ client, Gov. Nathan Deal. Evans also served as an attorney for Gingrich.

Kalberman’s new complaint was filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court.

Evans said Kalberman’s charges amount to a “fantasy,” while Millsaps said it is “absolutely a false allegation, and the more that she amends her complaint, the more frivolous the lawsuit of a disgruntled employee becomes.”

The AJC’s PolitiFact confirms the obvious that a poll tax and a voter ID requirement are not actually the same thing.

The ACLU newsletter labeled the new voter ID requirements as a “modern day poll tax.”

The historical poll tax emerged in parts of the U.S. in the late 1800s as a blatant effort to restrict voting. Primarily aimed at minorities, these laws — along with literacy tests — disenfranchised many black, Native American and poor white citizens. The poll tax was outlawed in federal elections in 1964.

The poll tax portion of the ACLU claim, as a historical comparison, does not hold up.

The claim that the voter ID laws are the functional equivalent of a poll tax is difficult to prove.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has not definitely settled this debate, although its 2008 decision in the Indiana voter ID case suggests that the poll tax claim faces an uphill battle,” said Edward Foley, executive director of an election law center at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

In that case, the high court found that Indiana’s requirement that voters present government-issued photo IDs did not violate the Constitution. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the main opinion in the 6-3 ruling, which said, “The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”

We rule the ACLU’s statement Mostly False.

In Stephens County, Debbie Whitlock emerges as the winner of a County Commission seat after two recounts, including hand recounts of mail-in absentee votes2. The final total shows Whitlock with a two-vote win out of more than 3000 votes cast, though the first recount showed a single-vote margin.

The hand recount of the mail-in absentee ballots took place as the result of a consent order reached this week by the candidates and Stephens County to deal with Willis’ challenge in Superior Court of the election results.

In that challenge, Willis requested a manual count of the mail-in absentee ballots.

Willis said he wants to be clear as to why he requested the hand count.

“The electronic scanning machine that is used to count the ballots gave four different sets of numbers when the ballots were scanned,” said Willis. “There was never any consistency in the results. Therefore, we had no reliable vote results. As the electronic scan device was not reliable, the only way to obtain an accurate tally of the paper ballot votes was by a hand count. Be sure that this hand recount of the votes had absolutely nothing to do with my opponent, Debbie Whitlock. It had everything to do with making sure that the voting results are as accurate as possible.”

He said he thinks the state should look further at the process for counting mail-in paper absentee ballots.

“I think this incident should send a clear message to the Secretary of State’s Office that their electronic paper ballot scanners are not reliable,” said Willis. “Something should and must be done or else no one who votes using a paper ballot can ever be guaranteed that their vote is counted properly. For the secretary of state to ignore this type of problem in our election system would be a great disservice to myself, Debbie, and every single voter in the state of Georgia.”

The Cobb County Board of Education voted 4-3 against moving forward to censure one of its members, David Banks.

Erratum: yesterday, I incorrectly cited the case in which the Supreme Court of Georgia declined to review part of the 2005 Tort Reform that allows attorney’s fees to be recovered from a plaintiff. The correct citation is to Great West Casualty Company et al. v. Bloomfield et al., in which the Georgia Supremes denied cert. That’s what I get for trying to think too early in the morning. Sorry.m

11
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections


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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

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

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

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

WABE has a list of local commemorations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

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

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

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

[citing audio recorded by Jamie Dupree]

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

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

20
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 20, 2012

26397 is a young male lab; he looks out of pen 114 waiting for his family to come get him and save him from being euthanized. They aren’t coming. During a recent four month period, 744 cats and dogs were euthanized at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. This young male lab can go home with you for $30 adoption fee and a $60 vet fee. Citizens 55 and older adopt for free and pay half the vet fee for a total of $30. Gwinnett County employees adopt for free and pay only the vet fee. Adopt this dog and email me and I’ll reimburse the adoption fee.

Georgia Politics, Campagins, and Elections for August 201, 2012

Tomorrow is the primary and nonpartisan judicial runoff election. Polls will be open from  7 AM to 7 PM.

A warning to campaigns who are considering a last minute attack based on your opponent’s apparent failure to file a campaign contribution report that was due six days before the runoff — the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website appears to be lagging in making timely-filed reports available when searched for.

The best story about runoff craziness comes to us from Glynn County, where a magistrate judge had to tell a preacher to behave.

The Rev. Ken Adkins became the only person in Glynn County Friday who can’t call a school board member a fool.

In issuing two good behavior warrants against Adkins, Magistrate Steven Morgan forbade him from using Facebook and other means to call school board member Venus Holmes “a fool” or a “runaway slave” or tow truck driver Robbie Tucker a “child molester” in his work for two local campaigns. It was, however, a mutual good behavior warrant, which forbids Holmes and Tucker from doing anything to harm Adkins.

“Political discourse or not, this has crossed the line,’’ Morgan said before issuing the warrants.

Adkins’ lawyer Robert Crowe argued that he was just expressing his political opinion.

But Morgan stuck with his ruling saying, “You are not to call [Tucker] a child molester unless you’ve got proof of it. You can’t call [Holmes] a runaway slave or a fool.”

But as a result of Morgan’s order, Tucker’s and Holmes’ election opponents both said they are withdrawing from the races.

Republican Darlynne Rogers was running against Holmes for the District 5 seat on the county school board. Tashawnta Wells is in Tuesday’s Republican runoff against Tucker for the District 5 seat on the County Commission. Adkins was advising both in their campaigns.

Also gone off the rails is Loree Anne Thompson, spokesperson for the Doug Collins campaign for the Republican nomination for Ninth Congressional District. At a forum held by the South Hall Republican Club,

The setup of Tuesday night’s forum was different than in the past. Candidates were not asked questions; instead, they were allowed to speak for a set amount of time and follow up with a shorter statement after their opponents had their say.

With or without the format, signs the campaign season is beginning to wear on the candidates’ composure were visible early in the meeting.

The first surfaced when Martha Zoller, candidate for the U.S. House 9th District seat, addressing the video- and audio-recorded statements opponent Doug Collins’ campaign has used against her, said she felt “sorry for the poor little intern” who Zoller said had to sit and watch her talk for “hours and hours.”

Then, Zoller said that the intern only found “two minutes” of ammunition for the campaign. The statement prompted Collins’ campaign spokeswoman Loree Anne Thompson to interrupt Zoller’s speech.

“It was a lot more than two minutes, Martha, I can promise you,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s interjection was immediately followed by a shout from a woman in the front of the room, “Why don’t you shut up?”

As Zoller made her closing statements, Collins’ himself interrupted, saying statements Zoller was making about a vote of his were “not true.”

Earlier in the week, Loree Anne Thompson had emailed out Martha Zoller’s cell phone number asking recipients to call Martha and ask her loaded questions. I consider this a cheap, unprofessional attempt to harass the opponent.

So then, Loree Anne Thompson turned to harassing me because I had the audacity to notice what she did. Thompson sent me a self-serving “response” that I declined to publish or write about. Then after calling me three times, she emailed me this:

Todd, I’ve called you 3 times today with no response. This doesn’t take into account the multiple number of times I’ve called you on this campaign with – wait for it - no response. I’ll be HAPPY to talk with your editor about your inability to communicate with anyone on the Collins campaign, and by the looks of it you probably speak with Martha pretty regularly.
How dare you try to throw me under the bus, and then refuse to update a comment I freely offered you regarding the subject.
When you want to be a responsible journalist and include both sides of the story – give me a call.

The manure spreader and what the Augusta Chronicle calls “a cartoonish splatter of mud” certainly deserve dishonorable mention in any discussion of runoff craziness.

Maybe the runoff fever is understandable when candidates put so much time, money and effort into it.

Dennis Reese was one of three men mired in a contentious Tift County Sheriff election. He says there is a lot of work that goes into it.

“It can be very overwhelming financially, mentally, even physically. A lot of people don’t even realize that it can be very overwhelming,” Reese said.
Between speaking engagements, knocking on doors, and waving from the street, many sacrifices had to be made including a good night’s sleep.
“I probably got anywhere from five to six hours,” Reese said. “I was always constantly going, constantly thinking, preparing the next day if I had a speech, going down my list of who I am going to see tomorrow and the next day. So, it’s really never ending.”
That never ending schedule has kept many candidates with their feet planted on Tift Avenue for long hours.
For seemingly months, candidates have occupied  street corners during their campaigns- so much so that tax commissioner candidates have joked that they should start charging property taxes there.
Dennis Reese lost to Steve Wood and Gene Scarbrough who are in Tuesday’s run-off.

If Cobb County Commissioner Woody Thompson meant to suggest that moms won’t have time to serve in elected office, he might just find out whether they have time to vote in runoff elections.

In recent Marietta Daily Journal article, entitled “Thompson touts experience on job,” Thompson pointed out that Cupid is 35 and he is 65.

The paper stated, “Thompson also questioned whether Cupid, a married mother of two young children, would have time to dedicate to the job.”

Cupid, who graduated with an engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and will graduate with graduate degrees in law and public administration from Georgia State University in December, has two sons and is married to her college sweetheart, Craig Cupid.

Cupid responded to Thompson’s claim of experience as a commissioner, saying “Having a lot of years on the commission board does not equate to having a lot of results or being effective. I think that people want to see more results.”

She called Thompson’s comments that a mother of two young children may not have time to dedicate to the job of commissioner “a slap in the face.”

And she was quoted in the article saying, “While I was in school, I worked, I had children, I was very involved in my community and was more visible than he was. So what was Woody’s excuse?”

On Friday, Cupid’s campaign sent out an e-blast encouraging South Cobb residents to go vote and adding remarks about Thompson’s mother comments.

Governor Nathan Deal recorded a robocall for Doug Collins that has been sent to likely runoff voters. In Hall County, Deal received more votes in the 2010 primary runoff election than were cast for all candidates in the primary itself. I’m not aware of another example of that ever happening.

In the Second Congressional District Republican Primary Runoff between Rick Allen and John House, Dougherty County reports only 29 ballots cast during early voting. Chatham and Effingham County elections officials also report little voter interest.

The Augusta Chronicle examines the voting records of the candidates in runoff elections this year.

Only two – District 5 incumbent Commissioner Bill Lockett and school board member Patsy Scott – made it to the polls every time.

Lockett, retired from careers in the military, U.S. government and board of education, said he was stationed overseas during much of the civil rights era but recalled the sacrifices his parents and others made as a reason to always vote.

“We knew people that lost their jobs because they chose to vote, and there were even people that made the ultimate sacrifice … I don’t want their work to go down in vain,” said Lockett, who – like Scott – is unopposed for re-election and voted in 31 of the 31 opportunities he had.

A strong work ethic also sent him to the polls every time, Lockett added.

“In too many instances we choose not to vote, then complain about the decisions made by elected officials,” he said.

All four runoff slots in Gwinnett County judicial election belong to women, with Emily Brantley and Pam Britt facing off for State Court and Kathy Schrader coming in with a healthy 2-1 margin over Tracey Mason Blasi in the runoff for Superior Court.

My predictions for Gwinnett County: Emily Brantley for State Court and Kathy Schrader will open up her 2:1 margin to win the Superior Court race. Schrader is my client, so there’s that, but watch the margin and see if it doesn’t actually increase.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau faces perennial candidate Tommy Hunter in the runoff election for District 3.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer calls Senator Don Balfour the poster boy for the ethically-challenged and misquotes Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams saying that proponents of limiting lobbyist gifts to legislators were limited to “media elites and liberal interest groups.” I’m pretty sure it was Speaker David Ralston who is credited with that last statement.

The seven-candidate Republican Primary for Jackson County Sheriff has been winnowed to  Janis Mangum, a 23 year-veteran of the Sheriff’s office, and Ramone Gilbert, who worked in the Hall County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years before he retired.

Madison County voters will choose between incumbent sheriff Kip Thomas and former sheriff Clayton Lowe; Julie Phillips and John Sartain meet in a runoff for Coroner.

Murray County voters return to the polls on Tuesday for the Republican primary runoff for Sheriff between Gary Langford, a 38-year law enforcement veteran who served with the Chatsworth Police Department, Murray County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia State Patrol and Wyle Keith Pritchett, a patrol officer for the Eton Police Department who also worked at the Resaca Police Department and Murray County Sheriff’s Office. Democrat incumbent Howard Ensley will meet the winner in November’s general election.

In Whitfield, incumbent Clerk of the Superior Court Melica Kendrick was forced into a GOP primary runoff against Susan Miller; no Democrat qualified for the office. More information on that Clerk’s race is available here.

Political Science

Dalton State College President Emeritus Jim Burran will give talks about “Southern Politics” twice this week.

He will speak at a Coffee & Conversation program in Chatsworth on Thursday, Aug. 30, and at a Lunch & Learn program at DSC on Friday, Sept. 7. Both programs are hosted by the Dalton State Foundation.

“Georgia’s 1966 campaign for governor proved one of the most interesting in the state’s history,” Burran said. “This was the first time since Reconstruction that a Republican candidate emerged as a legitimate contender. It was this campaign that thrust future President Jimmy Carter into the limelight. And it was this election that put restaurant owner Lester Maddox into the governor’s chair.”

Apparently, the South is no longer solidly Democratic. Who knew?

The “Solid South” was a political fact, benefiting Democrats for generations and then Republicans, with Bible Belt and racial politics ruling the day.

But demographic changes and recent election results reveal a more nuanced landscape now as the two major parties prepare for their national conventions.

Southern strategists and politicians say results will turn again this year on which party and candidates understand changing demographics and voter priorities.

New citizens, birth rates, and migration patterns of native-born Americans make high-growth areas less white, less conservative or both. There is increasing urban concentration in many areas. African-American families are moving back to the South after generations in Chicago, New York or other northern cities.

Young religious voters are less likely than their parents to align with Republicans on abortion and same-sex unions. Younger voters generally are up for grabs on fundamental questions like the role of the federal government in the marketplace.

Virginia grew from 7 million people to 8 million from 2000 to 2010, according to the census. North Carolina went from 8 million to 9.5 million. Both states were 65 percent white, a drop from 72 percent in each state. Native North Carolinians made up 58.6 percent of the population, a proportion that topped 70 percent two decades ago. Virginia is now half transient or immigrant.

“The North Carolina that Sen. (Jesse) Helms ran in was certainly different than today,” said GOP campaign strategist Brian Nick, referring to the cantankerous five-term Republican senator. Nick worked for Helms’ successor, Republican Elizabeth Dole.

My own mentor, Dr. Merle Black at Emory, discusses negative campaigning and changes in technological delivery of campaign manure.

15
Aug

Pro-tip: hyperlinks are your friends when possibly defaming someone

Abovethelaw.com brings us a tasty little piece of advice for bloggers: including hyperlinks can help in defending yourself against a defamation suit.

Gizmodo, Gawker Media’s tech-centric blog, was sued over a 2011 article entitled, “Smoke & Mirrors: The Greatest Scam in Tech.” According to a write-up by professor Eric Goldman, the piece purported to describe “Peep Telephony, a service that claimed to offer free cellular phone service through the power of mesh networking.” As you might guess from the title, it wasn’t exactly a fluff piece. (The company is also known asPeep Wireless.)

Scott Redmond, who owns Peep, was quite unhappy with the coverage, so the site ran a follow-up piece that included his objections to the original. That wasn’t enough to appease his frustration, so he sued.

A California court tossed the lawsuit last week, partly for a few commonplace reasons. For one, the court said the issues raised by the article were a matters of public interest. Also, the court said Redmond was upset about statements of opinion, not facts.

But most awesomely interestingly, Judge Sandra Margulies specifically pointed in her opinion to Gizmodo’s extensive use of hyperlinking as helpful to their defense. From the ruling:

“The sources upon which the authors rely for their conclusions are specified, and the article incorporates active links to many of the original sources—mainly Web sites and promotional material created and maintained by Redmond and his ventures….”

“Having ready access to the same facts as the authors, readers were put in a position to draw their own conclusions about Redmond and his ventures and technologies…. Statements are generally considered to be nonactionable opinion when the facts supporting the opinion are disclosed.”

Govern yourselves accordingly.

7
Aug

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s what she said!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” she said.

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

Ask Smyre if Buckner asked him and Hugley for help.

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

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

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

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

So this little fishing expedition is now over.

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

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