Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 11, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 11, 2013




Sport (above and left) is a yellow lab mix, approximately eight months old and 48 pounds.

He is a good-natured and happy dog.  He is neutered, housebroken, and current on all vaccines.  In just his short time here we can see he loves to play and his owner said he is good with kids and with other dogs. He was turned in because he was a little too interested in the cats and perhaps wanted to play a little too roughly with them.

Sport is available for adoption today from the Walton County Animal Shelter.

Despite being a yellow dog, Sport would adapt to living with Republicans quickly.



Frito (below and left) is an eleven-month old yellow lab mix, possibly boxer if I had to guess. “Frito” was turned in because “he has outgrown the yard”; But at 68 pounds at 11 months, he’s your average Yellow Lab.

“Frito” has been very friendly toward staff and other dogs at the Walton County Animal Shelter, where he is available for adoption.

Frito1His former owner said he loves to go out and play and gets along well with other dogs and cats. His former owner also said he is very playful and has a tendency to jump so may not be great with toddlers (until trained).





These two seniors found themselves in the Walton County Animal Shelter, presumably having had families. Aesop is about eight years old and forty pounds, while Rusty is about nine years old and 60 pounds. Both have some health issues, but don’t we all. These guys are likely doomed to be euthanized unless someone steps up to foster or adopt one of them. I can tell you that there’s nothing better than the love of an old dog, and that I believe there’s a special place in heaven reserved for those who are kind to old dogs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Embattled State Senator Don Balfour’s fate may be in the hands of Attorney General Sam Olens, as Jim Walls of writes.

The GBI has completed an investigation of state payments to soon-to-be-deposed Senate Rules chairman Don Balfour, but there’s no word yet as to its findings.

Attorney General Sam Olens won’t say what the next step might be, if any. Balfour, meanwhile, appears to have retained Andersen, Tate & Carr, a Duluth law firm that is defending former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly against bribery charges.

The GBI had been looking into Balfour’s compensation for legislative service and expenses after he acknowledged “inadvertently” submitting claims for per diem and mileage on days when he was actually out of the state. He agreed to a $5,000 fine last summer to settle a complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee.

The case has cost the Snellville Republican much more, though. Senate leadership is about to replace him as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, and his campaign has paid nearly $80,000 in legal fees since June, including $35,000 to Andersen, Tate & Carr on Dec. 13.

Olens asked the GBI to investigate based on a request by Sen. Josh McKoon, the only Ethics Committee member who voted against the settlement.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Wednesday that investigators met with Olens and his staff on Dec. 14 to turn over the investigative file. Bankhead would not discuss the findings.

“It’s up to the prosecutor now,” he said, to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Olens’ office confirmed that it has the investigative file but declined further comment.

noted in May and September that lawyering up would be a smart move for Balfour, as anything he did in the legislative inquiry into the reimbursements would be fodder for a criminal investigation.

On Monday, the General Assembly begins the 2013 Session, convening at 10 AM. Once the Rules Committees start operating, we’ll begin each morning with links to the Committee Calendars. Take a moment now to visit the website and look around, paying special attention to the right-hand column. Those boxes will include live updates of the action on the Senate and House floors, unless and until the General Assembly’s webmaster does something to break them. You will also find the headlines from all Press Releases from the House and Senate Press Offices.

Today, the Joint House and Senate Committee on Human Trafficking will meet from 10 AM to noon in room 132 of the Georgia State Capitol. The MARTA Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) will meet from 10 AM to 1 PM in room 406 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Governor Nathan Deal is scheduled to address a joint session of the General Assembly and present the State of the State on January 17, 2013.

Among the notable successes Deal may speak about is the announcement yesterday that Government General Motors is bringing 1000 new jobs to Roswell when it opens an IT Innovation Center.

“I am immensely proud that our bright university students as well as our skilled veteran workforce are attracting innovative multinational companies such as General Motors to Georgia,” said Deal. “As a workforce-rich, technology-focused state, Georgia has attracted a cluster of such global innovation centers, and is ideally suited to helping GM achieve its business goals. GM’s strategic decision to locate here moves us closer to becoming the No. 1 place in the nation in which to business. ”

GM will purchase a 228,000-square-foot former UPS facility on Warsaw Road in Roswell for the Innovation Center, the third of four such centers it is opening in the United States to strengthen its internal innovation capabilities as part of the company’s transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of on-going operations and increase its delivery of innovation.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said that healthcare finance will be a major issue for the 2013 Session.

In an interview Thursday, the Blue Ridge Republican did not explicitly endorse the details of a proposal from the hospital industry to tweak but continue the tax on net patient revenue. It expires this year.

However, Ralston endorsed the concept, and says lawmakers should not be swayed by political pressure from groups threatening to campaign against legislators for raising taxes. The General Assembly convenes Monday for its annual session.

The financing scheme uses the hospital money to secure federal support for Medicaid. Ralston says without that arrangement, several hospitals in Georgia would have to close.

Walter Jones of the Morris News Service identified some other budget concerns that will be aired during the session. Walter told Charles Edwards of WABE:

“The biggest challenge is there’s not enough money. There are two aspects to that. First, the revenue estimate, the tax collections, is down, that’s going to leave a hole in the budget. Another factor is MedicAid, the spending for the healthcare program for the poor is somewhere around $300 million in the ole. In addition to that, there is a tax, the hospital [bed] tax or what the politicians are calling the hospital provider fee, well that expires this year, and that’s another $400 million if that’s not reviewed. That makes the budget a huge issue and every other piece of legislation is affected by whether there’s money in the budget to actually carry out that legislation.”

If you have four minutes and want to catch up on some of the budgetary issues, the entire interview is worth a listen.

Scot Turner, the Republican who came in first in the Special Election for State House District 21, will debate second-place Brian Laurens on January 22 at the Depot in Holly Springs. If you’re Googling for directions, you’re looking for the Holly Springs Community Center at 164 Hickory Rd Holly Springs, GA 30115.

The field is set in State House District 71 for the Special Election on February 5, 2013.

Thomas G. Crymes, Republican, General Contractor from Sharpsburg

Michael Farbo, Jr., Republican, Retired from Newnan

Darryl Marmon, Republican, Lawyer from Sharpsburg

David J. Stover, Republican, Business Owner from Newnan

Richard Weisser, Republican, Real Estate Broker from Sharpsburg

Cynthia Conradt Bennett, Democrat, Educator from Newnan

Two of these folks are frequent flyers in legislative races. Last year, Darryl Marmon ran for the same house seat in the Republican Primary, against eventual winner Robert Stokely. Democrat Cynthia C. Bennett ran in the November 2011 Special Election to replace Mitch Seabaugh, in which Senator Mike Crane eventually won a runoff.

Also lawyered-up is former Floyd County Chief Magistrate Chris Mathis, whose trial has been set for the week of June 10th by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Grant Brantley.

Mathis was charged in July 2010 with 27 various charges ranging from theft by taking, theft by deception and deposit account fraud in connection with cattle sales. Following his arrest he was released on $500,000 bond.

He was jailed after being indicted on 54 counts in August 2012 and reportedly leaving the state.

Mathis is accused of violating his oath of office by committing the offenses while chief magistrate, according to the indictments.

In Coweta County, Winston Dowdell will take the reins as Chairman of the Board of Education, having been elected by his colleagues.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told the Atlanta Press Club that he believes Atlanta will get a new stadium despite public outcry.

“I think we’ll get a deal done on the stadium and that we’ll have a world-class stadium in the city of Atlanta,” Reed said Thursday at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon.

The first-term mayor also said he believed a new stadium would help the city compete for a Major League Soccer team.

Asked whether hotel-motel tax revenue would be better spent on transportation projects or other priorities, Reed said that is a “false choice.”

Reed said that, under current Georgia law, the funds that may be allocated for the stadium cannot be used for other purposes. He said he doubted the General Assembly would be inclined to devote the money to other purposes.

In 2012, Atlanta had the second-lowest homicide rate it’s seen in the period since 1963.

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