Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2015

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead for the Eizenstat Memorial Lecture: “Challenges Facing the U.S. and the World in the 21st Century” from 7:30 to 10 PM Thursday night. Expect horrible traffic that day. This is what happened when Biden came to town in 2013.

Search warrants were served yesterday seeking emails between DeKalb County iCEO Lee May and two former county employees.

[Kelvin] Walton is DeKalb’s former director and chief procurement officer. [Morris] Williams is the former DeKalb County government chief of staff.

The emails for May, Walton and Williams were ordered to be turned over for the period of Dec. 13, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2011 and concern conspiracy to defraud and making false statements.

May issued a statement promising his cooperation. “Today, DeKalb County received search warrants issued by DeKalb Superior Court for emails for myself and two former DeKalb County employees,” May said in the statement.

“I have said from the very beginning that I expect full cooperation from all county employees as it pertains to the ongoing investigations into DeKalb County government.  I include myself in that directive, and I have ordered staff to comply completely and as rapidly as possible.”

“I share the sentiments of everyone who wants to get to the bottom of corruption and wrongdoing, and these search warrants are a step in this process.  Personally, I have nothing to hide; and there will be nothing in my email to suggest I have done anything wrong.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution rehashes earlier allegations that appear to be related to the search warrants.

The warrants, from DeKalb Superior Court, allege that the messages may contain information about a conspiracy to defraud the county.

Based on the date range of emails sought, the investigation involves May’s dealings with Water Removal Services, an Alpharetta company that made sewer damage repairs at his home in late 2010, then won a $300,000 county contract less than a year later.

Doug Cotter, the man who arranged the home repairs and once organized a campaign fundraiser for May, has told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News that the $4,000 check was intended to help May with his personal financial problems.

But May says he never received the check, knew nothing about it and never received a dollar of the money.

The warrants seeking May’s emails were issued under seal by Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson, meaning the public can’t see the affidavits detailing what investigators hope to find nor what the search turns up.

Though Cotter and others said they had been questioned by the FBI, the warrants issued Tuesday were requested by local police and could mean DeKalb District Attorney Robert James would handle any prosecution. James’ office did not respond to an interview request from the AJC.

An additional candidate qualified in Brookhaven for City Council District 1, currently held by Linley Jones, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year by Mayor Rebecca Chase-Williams, who was in turn appointed to the seat she holds.

Eve Erdogan, a candidate for the District 1 city council seat, qualified Tuesday, according to the city’s website.

Williams, who was appointed mayor by the council in June to replace J. Max Davis when he resigned to run for the District 80 state House seat, will face election [as Mayor] for the first time. So will District 1 council member Linley Jones, who was appointed by the council in June to replace Williams.

Georgia taxpayers could be on the hook for a million dollar legal bill covering appeals for Atlanta Public Schools employees convicted in the cheating scandal. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has a Georgia Leadership team in place, according to Walter Jones of Morris News.

15 veteran Republicans are joining her Peach State leadership team as she pushed for inclusion in the next televised debate.

“The U.S. Senate race was the most recent example that the voter base is not satisfied with what’s going on in Washington, and they want real-world experience, and they recognize that Carly Fiorina has that experience just like (Sen.) David Perdue,” said Loretta Lepore, a public-relations consultant and onetime candidate who is co-chairing the former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s Georgia campaign.

The list Morris News Service obtained Monday includes Rep. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, the longest-serving Georgia legislator originally elected as a Republican, and Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

It also includes Donna Sheldon of Dacula, who chaired the House Republican Caucus before she resigned her House seat to run unsuccessfully for Congress in the 10th District.

CNN has revised the criteria for inclusion in their GOP candidates debate.

The cause: a lack of national public polling following the August 6 debate has so far provided only three new polls to determine the lineup for the Reagan Presidential Debate, according to a CNN statement.

As a result, CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August, the network announced Tuesday.

Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 7 and September 10 will be included.

The adjustment may result in additional candidates joining the top-tier debate, but the final podium placements will not be known until the eligibility window closes on September 10.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal toured the Macon Charter Academy yesterday. Tomorrow, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will tour Albany Technical College.

Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says a leaner Georgia Lottery operation could contribute more money toward HOPE Scholarships.

Albany businessman Chad Warbington resigned from two Boards to focus on his City Council campaign against Post IV incumbent Roger Marietta, according to the Albany Herald.

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard faces opposition for reelection from dental assistant Tracy Taylor.

Black and Latino residents are protesting a precinct change in Hall County.

Commerce

Photo courtesy Norfolk Southern Corp.

Photo courtesy Norfolk Southern Corp.

Norfolk Southern released into service in Atlanta a series of locomotives specially refurbished to meet higher EPA standards.

With Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on hand to celebrate the success of a public-private partnership for cleaner air, Norfolk Southern today unveiled the nation’s first of a new class of rail yard locomotives developed with federal funding assistance to reduce emissions in urban areas.

“Norfolk Southern has been a valued partner for economic growth in Georgia for many years,” said Gov. Deal. “I applaud the company’s environmental consciousness and its work to achieve public benefits through cooperative efforts with municipalities and government agencies like the one we celebrate here today.”

Gov. Deal and Mark Manion, Norfolk Southern’s chief operating officer, dedicated five of the locomotives during a ceremony at Norfolk Southern’s Inman Yard, a major hub of interstate commerce and intermodal transportation just northwest of downtown Atlanta. The engines are branded “Eco” locomotives for their operating efficiencies in reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

The 3,000-horsepower engines meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s strict Tier-3 emissions standards for locomotives. Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta yard eventually will put to work 10 low-emissions Eco locomotives this year. Annually, the 10 units will account for 6.6 fewer tons of particulate matter and 155 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides pollutants generally associated with smog and acid rain.

As more Eco units are delivered to Atlanta in 2016, the clean-air benefits will be even greater.

In Georgia, Norfolk Southern employs 4,735 people and operates a network of 1,779 rail miles. The company annually transports 1.3 million shipments by rail in the Peach State alone, totaling 55 million tons of freight for some 1,200 customers. Together with industrial development activity that brings new business, jobs, and investment to Georgia, and service to the state’s ports, Norfolk Southern’s rail network connects Georgia communities to the marketplaces of the world.

Meanwhile, Governor Nathan Deal gave the idea of passenger rail a polite brushoff cautionary note.

“As with most major expenditures, and of course passenger rail would constitute a major expenditure to make it workable, the question is sustainability. Most passenger rail systems do not in and of themselves produce enough revenue to sustain themselves,” Deal said.

“So, therefore, you have to tap into revenue of the state or federal government as the case may be, or even local jurisdictions.”

Simply put, passenger rail usually needs a subsidy.

But before Deal can say if it’s worth any money from Georgia’s coffers, he listed some questions that he said lack answers right now.

The cost questions, if not the political ones, could be answered by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The department is working on an update of state rail policy that may include millions of dollars in studies of potential passenger rail connections in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Macon or Columbus. Deal made the remarks Tuesday at a Norfolk Southern freight rail yard in Atlanta, just after he and others christened a new low-emission locomotive that will ferry cargo across the site.

Passenger rail advocates want to put their trains on one of Norfolk Southern’s rail lines between Macon and Atlanta. One difficulty is that all those boxes of cargo already use the lines.

Georgia Ports Authority issued a Press Release touting their role in bringing 175 jobs to Carrollton, Georgia, hundreds of miles from the coast.

Trident Seafoods has opened a $40 million production and distribution center in Carrollton, Ga., providing 175 full-time jobs and the capacity to produce 50,000 tons of finished products annually for the U.S. market.

“We are excited to add Trident to our family of customers, especially within the valuable refrigerated cargo market,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “This is an important win for Georgia, and for the Port of Savannah.”

“Savannah’s refrigerated cargo infrastructure is unmatched on the U.S. East Coast, and is an important asset as Georgia seeks to lure more business in the area of food production,” Foltz said. The Seattle-based company’s Carrollton site is 7 miles from I-20, 30 miles from I-85, and approximately 50 miles west of Atlanta.

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