Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 22, 2013

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Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for July 22, 2013

Cherokee County School Board’s New Venue

Entering the RingBecause of anticipated crowds at Wednesday’s meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education, in which a motion to censure member Kelly Marlow is scheduled for discussion, the school board has moved the meeting to a more suitable location.

“The decision was made based on numerous indications that attendance levels likely will exceed the School Board auditorium capacity,” Jacoby said. “Including inquiries from citizens, correspondence to school board members, media coverage and social media activity.”

The Cherokee High School auditorium is at 930 Marietta Highway in Canton. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the meeting will start at 7 p.m.

The meeting agenda, which was published online July 17, includes a vote on be whether the board will conduct a School Board Code of Ethics Violation Hearing regarding recent action by Marlow, as well as the second opportunity for public comments on the 2013-14 budget and a vote to approve the budget.

The agenda item to consider a code of ethics hearing was requested by Board Chair Janet Read two weeks in advance of the meeting, as shown through an open records request.

Read said Tuesday her request for the code of ethics hearing was regarding a complaint letter that Marlow sent to AdvancED SACS in June. AdvancED SACS is the agency in charge of school accreditation in the South. In her letter to SACS, Marlow claimed that the board was “no longer able to effectively govern.”

Also factoring into the use of the high school auditorium was the fact that they already have large popcorn machines in place.

Making Moves

A staffer for Congressman Jack Kingston confirmed Friday that the Rep. has closed on a condo in metro Atlanta. Given the amount of time he’s spending at metro GOP events, it wouldn’t be surprising if it will be used as a base for campaigning here and across North Georgia, although his financial disclosure shows he already owns some rental properties.

State Rep. Edward Lindsey has listed his home in historic Brookhaven (but not in the City bearing that name) for just under $2 million. Lindsey and his wife have hosted numerous events over the years for the Fulton County Republican Party and local Young Republican groups.

And Moving Violations

State Rep. Chuck Sims (R-Ambrose) was arrested and charged with DUI for the second time this year.

It is the third time since 2010 that Sims has been arrested for alleged drinking behind the wheel, and his attorney, Patrick Ferris, said in a statement the lawmaker is entering an unnamed treatment facility to “address his alcohol use.”

“He hopes that what he learns in the coming weeks will make him a better person, a better father and a better civil servant,” Ferris said. “He intends to seriously reflect on his future and how he can best serve his community and this state moving forward.”

In my humble opinion, his chairmanship of the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee should be yanked. “Innocent until proven guilty,” and all that, but in this case, even the appearance of continuing impropriety serves to degrade public opinion and confidence in the State House of Representatives. If Rep. Sims is protected from the consequences of his actions, even his alleged actions, it only enables him to continue as he has and inhibits his recovery. Enablers do no favors.

Property Tax Hikes in 2013

If you asked me to identify a 2013 trend in local government in the Peach state, I’d be hard pressed to come up with something other than “county governments and boards of education raising property taxes.” But the award for largest proposed tax hike may go to the Douglas County Commission, which is considering a range of up to nearly 30% higher property taxes. From the Douglas County Sentinel:

Commissioners Ann Jones Guider and Mike Mulcare held separate forums Saturday in advance of Tuesday’s final public hearing and vote on a millage increase. Residents have been vocal in opposition to the move that could potentially bump the county portion of tax bills by nearly 30 percent. The news was mixed as commissioners say they are looking at cuts, but were realistic.

“There is going to be a tax increase,” District 4 Commissioner Guider told the 30 residents who showed up at her meeting at the Dog River Library. “If you want to lynch from that tree out there go ahead I guess. As much as I hate it and you hate it it’s too late in the game not to have one. The bills have to be paid. We just have to work now to see if we can knock it down as much as possible.”

About 60 residents total showed up at the meetings Saturday. The theme was the same – cut spending and don’t raise taxes. As Guider pointed out the budget is in place and it has to be funded.

The Board of Commissioners have advertised a plan to increase county property taxes by 30 percent. The 2013 county budget, which passed by a 3-2 vote last December, was based on a roughly 3 mill increase in property taxes. The BOC is looking at raising the rate from 9.949 mills to 12.900 mills — a 29.66 percent hike.

As far as raising taxes, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree should win an award for creativity. Roundtree has proposed creation of a self-taxing “Continually Patrolled District,” along the lines of a CID, in which property owners could vote to raise taxes in the district to pay for extra police services. I appreciate creativity by elected officials, but that one sounds too much like it creates a risk of a de facto shakedown of property owners.

Kingston Opposes Common Core?

It sure sounds like it, but a statement from Cong. Kingston never comes out and says clearly that he opposes Common Core. Here are some excerpts:

The law governing federal education policy has been due for reauthorization since 2007. Rather than work for an overhaul and much-needed reforms, the Obama Administration has embarked on an effort to increase federal government control and one size fits all education standards like Common Core.

This week, the House advanced legislation that would turn back the Obama Administration’s overreach in our classrooms and empower those who know students best – parents, teachers, and local school systems – to fix our education system.  It replaces bureaucratic red tape and mandates with freedom to direct resources to the programs best fitted for individual students.

The Student Success Act would replace federal metrics that hamper innovation with state-determined accountability systems and put responsibility back on state and local school systems to create improvement strategies for failing schools.

Finally, the Student Success Act protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by stripping the Secretary of Education with the ability to inappropriately influence states to adopt Common Core or similar standards or assessments.

For many of us, education is the foundation from which we strive to achieve the American Dream.  The laying of that foundation is far too important to leave in the hands of bureaucrats or special interest groups looking to advance their own agendas on the backs of our students.

Centralized planning and one size fits all standards and mandates like Common Core have allowed too many students to fall through the cracks.

Kingston’s low-key personal style is part of his appeal to Republicans who are either moderate politically, or moderate behaviorally, but I wonder if it won’t get in the way of his effectively communicating his policy preferences to the red meat Republicans who make up an important and vocal part of the electorate.

Speaking of Common Core, the Washington Post has an interesting critique of the early childhood education component of Common Core that’s filled with actual facts and education theory.

Recent critiques of the Common Core Standards by Marion Brady and John T. Spencer have noted that the process for creating the new K-12 standards involved too little research, public dialogue, or input from educators.

Nowhere was this more startlingly true than in the case of the early childhood standards—those imposed on kindergarten through grade 3. We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.

It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process.

Retired Georgia Tech nuclear engineering professor James Rust has a critique of the Common Core science standards, which he says are based on “propaganda” promoting the view that human activity is causing global warming climate change.

Automatic From the People?

I find this odd: some Newton County elected officials are poised to receive automatic pay raises once the population officially exceeds 100,000. From CovNews.com:

Several of Newton County’s elected officials are set to get a raise once the state of Georgia officially says the county’s population has exceeded 100,000, but at least one county commissioner doesn’t believe any raise should apply to commissioners.

Under Georgia law, once a county’s population exceeds 100,000 people based on an official government count or estimate, certain elected, constitutional officers get an automatic raise, including the magistrate judge, probate judge, sheriff, superior court clerk and tax commissioner. There are several other population levels at which automatic increases, or decreases should the population fall, are also required.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs can put out an official census estimate by July 1 of any year, but has not yet done so since the 2010 Census, according to Kelly Pridgen, assistant general counsel of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). A representative with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs could not be reached for comment Friday.

 

Immigration law challenge dismissed

United States District Court Judge Thomas Thrash dismissed the lawsuit and lifted the injunction that prevented parts of Georgia House Bill 87, a Conservative immigration reform bill, from going into effect. At issue was the “show your papers” provision which now may be enforced.

Obama Administration Foreign Policy run by political hacks?

FoxNews has noticed that President Obama’s picks for cushy overseas ambassadorships are dominated by his donor and bundler list, specifically mentioning that Singapore was given to a bundler. The connection? Former Georgia Democratic state Senator David Adelman is the aforementioned bundler, and currently serves as US Ambassador to Singapore.

Obama’s pick for Ambassador to the United Nations has an Atlanta connection; Samantha Power graduated Lakeside High School in DeKalb County and her nomination is being sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss.

Bruce Thompson Announces for State Senate today

Bruce Thompson Georgia Senate GaPunditI’ll be headed to Cartersville this afternoon to attend the announcement by my friend, Bruce Thompson, that he is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Barry Loudermilk.

Businessman and serial entrepreneur Bruce Thompson will be announcing his impending run to be the next state Senator from Georgia’s 14th district, replacing outgoing Senator Barry Loudermilk. Thompson’s campaign announcement will occur on the steps in front of the Bartow County courthouse in Cartersville. Thompson will be spreading his plan to create jobs, lower taxes, and practice fiscal responsibility when elected to office.

What: Bruce Thompson campaign announcement for Georgia Senate District 14

When: Monday, July 22nd ; 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Where: Bartow County Courthouse steps, 135 W Cherokee Avenue, Cartersville, Georgia 30120

In case of inclement weather, the campaign may cancel said event in which a case a rescheduled event will be planned and a new media advisory will be released.

Bruce Thompson is a businessman and true conservative running for Georgia senate district 14. Bruce is an entrepreneur and Insurance Agent with Allstate Insurance. He has previously served as the Chairman of the Cartersville/Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, and is currently a Board Director at Northside Bank and Personnel chair at First Baptist Cartersville. Bruce and his devoted wife of 15 years reside in the Cartersville area.

If you live in the district, I encourage you to get to know Bruce Thompson, a solid conservative who will make you proud. If you have a recommendation for good barbecue in the Cartersville area, I encourage you to email me your suggestion.

Motion Picture Industry worth billions to Georgia

Last week’s filming at the State Capitol underlines the fact that the burgeoning film industry contributes billions to Georgia’s economy.

With Georgia’s versatility from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coast line in Savannah, filming and production has become a $3.1 billion industry here.

Tax incentives have helped.

“We have a whole package of incentives, perfect climate, diverse cities, mountains, coasts, and infrastructures. Everything put together creates a firestorm here,” said Lee Thomas, division director of Georgia’s film, music and digital entertainment office.

One of the major benefits of filming in Georgia is the 30 percent tax credit.

The state provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in either a single project or on multiple ventures.

The state also grants an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished product promotes the state with the peach logo or offers something with equal value.

Credit former Georgia Senator Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) for initiating this successful policy.

Whiskey Sour: You’re going to need some water with that

A planned whiskey distillery in Kennesaw hit a snag: after deciding on Kennesaw because they thought a fire code waiver would be forthcoming, the would-be distiller has learned that any waiver must be granted by the Cobb County Fire Marshall, who is not so inclined.

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