Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 20, 2012

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 20, 2012

Here we have two lab mix puppies who are available for adoption from the Murray County Animal Shelter in Chatsworth, Georgia. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, their deadline is tomorrow morning before they are euthanized. Ironic.

This is a one-and-a-half year old Lab boy who is great with other dogs and with people, also available from the Murray County Animal Shelter, and also under a deadline of tomorrow.

Transportation for any of these dogs to the Atlanta area is available for free and we have sponsors who are willing to pay the adoption fee for any of these dogs. Email me if you’re interested in adopting and have any questions.

Macon City Council and the Bibb County Commission are both considering an ordinance that would require spay/neuter for all pets with some exceptions.

The proposed ordinance would require all dogs and cats over the age of six months to be spayed or neutered, with certain exceptions.

Police and rescue dogs, service animals, herd dogs or trained hunting dogs, animals in a kennel for training or resale, and cats or dogs registered or kept for field and agility trials would be exempt.

Others could buy a license permitting a cat or dog to breed, but for no more than one litter per year. The license cost is unspecified; White has said it would have to be set by the county.

Timley said the ordinance would force pet owners to pay for something they may not be able to afford.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Speaking to the Georgia Ports Authority yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal said that he will ask the General Assembly for an additional $50 million toward the cost of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

 The $50 million would increase total state funding for the deepening project — which has an estimated total price tag of $652 million — to $231.1 million.

“Expanding the … harbor is vital to our renewed economic growth,” the governor said, “and plays an integral role in helping make our state the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business.”

Studies estimate Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state.

They also say that network generates $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes for Georgia.

Deal cited another study’s finding that the project would generate five and a half times its cost in economic benefits.

Deepening also will reduce shipping costs by at least $213 million a year, said authority board Chairman Robert Jepson.

Deal said he’s confident the General Assembly will approve the $50 million, which will be part of his proposed bond package for capital projects. 

Despite an ongoing state budget crunch, Deal showed “backbone,” in pledging more bond money, said state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah.

“The governor,” said Stephens, chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, “is a man of his word and knows it’s all about jobs.”

The Savannah Morning News editorial staff writes that Governor Deal’s actions reflect his experience in Washington, his understanding of the need for state’s to show the feds that they have skin in the game, and for “making a smart play at the right time.”

File under Irony: the Georgia Supreme Court will no longer hear speedy trial appeals because the appeals cause further delays. In a concurring opinion, Justice David Nahmias wrote:

“No longer will defendants in Georgia be able to invoke the right to a speedy trial to achieve exactly the opposite of the constitutional guarantee — lengthy and unnecessary delays in criminal trials.”

In Hall County, liquor stores report that Sunday Sales have not caused an appreciable rise in sales numbers.

It’s been almost a full year since voters approved Sunday alcohol sales, and local package stores have been reporting average sales despite the added day of business.

“As far as the sales go, obviously we were anticipating more sales, but what we’ve come to find out is that it has actually taken away from Saturday sales,” Brown said. “However, when you look at the overhead in terms of the labor, lights, heating, it’s costing you more to do business.”

Williams echoed Brown’s findings, describing Sunday sales as “OK.”

“It’s nothing we couldn’t have gotten Monday through Saturday,” he said, adding that Saturday and Monday sales dropped after the store opened for Sundays.

Brown said sales on Sunday are more for the benefit of customers.

“It is a convenience for the customer, and we’re out to make sure our customers are satisfied,” he said. “I’m glad for the customers in the fact that they do have the option to buy seven days a week, and obviously we want to be here to serve them.”

A “diverging diamond” intersection on Ashford-Dunwoody Road at I-285 appears to have reduced accidents.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services will begin posting expected wait times for local offices on its website. Pro-tip: Tuesdays are usually the busiest days.

On April 15, the trial of former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis and his Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid and Reid’s ex-husband Anthony Pope is scheduled to begin.

All three are charged with racketeering and stealing from taxpayers. Lewis and Reid also are charged with using their positions to enrich themselves, taking tickets from contractors to professional and college sporting events, shows and balls.

Reid, who was at one time a partner in her then-husband’s business, is also accused of steering construction projects worth millions of dollars to Pope.

ParkAtlanta will have new rules about its ability to ticket, and will be required to improve its improvement in handling complaints. The City will be able to require ParkAtlanta to fire employees against whom numerous complaints have been filed. We think citizens who have been victimized by ParkAtlanta should be able to boot the cars of ParkAtlanta executives.

Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division is considering rules under which permit applicants would be able to pay additional fees for expedited handling.

Howard Mander is charged with practicing dentistry without a license between 2008 and 2012, though his dentistry office has been in business since 1981.

The Muscogee County School Board tabled its discussions of reprioritizing projects under the 2009 SPLOST.

Forsyth County restructured its ethics panel to remove five citizen members and replace them with a pool of on-call lawyers.

Under the new setup, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said, three out-of-county lawyers would be randomly selected to hear a matter when a complaint is filed.

“The hope is that this will take any potential element of conflict of interest or associational interests out of the equation altogether,” Jarrard said.

He added that the new ordinance also removes the board’s ability to investigate, since it will assemble only to hear a complaint.

Tonight at 7:30 PM, the Concert for Adina will be held at the Center Stage in Midtown to benefit the Georgia Department of Public Health attorney who was shot by her husband. Tickets are $20 and the doors open at 7 PM. The Atlanta Institute of Music All-Star Monster Band will play. I assume their name means they all dress like monsters. More information is available here. If you can’t attend but wish to help, kindly send your donation to Adina care of Ms. Lenora Johnson, Georgia Department of Public Health, 15th Floor, 2 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta GA 30303.

Energy News

If you live near Plant Vogtle be prepared for a test of the emergency notification system to be held November 27, 2012.

During this test, outdoor emergency sirens and weather alert radio will be activated.

A Plant Vogtle fire alarm that was unaccompanied by an actual fire caused Southern Nuclear, which operates the plant to report an “unusual occurence” to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Environmental groups criticized Vogtle for its water consumption, which will increase as the Unit 3 and 4 reactors are brought online.

Vogtle’s two existing reactors withdraw an average of 69 million gallons a day of river water, of which about 43 million gallons a day is dispersed as steam, meaning that only about one-third of the withdrawal is returned to the river.

The new reactors, scheduled to begin operation in 2016 and 2017, would require from 53.6 million gallons daily during normal use up to as much as 83.2 million gallons a day at maximum use, with 50 to 75 percent of that volume potentially dispersed as steam.

Southern Nuclear countered that the new reactors would increase water use from 1 percent of the river’s average annual flow to about 2 percent and would not create a significant impact.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ultimately agreed, affirming the site’s final permit earlier this year.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is scheduled to consider an application by Georgia Solar Utility to build solar farms and offer electricity for sale directly to consumers.

Georgia Solar Utilities proposes to build and operate two gigawatts of large-scale solar farms and sell the energy directly to residents. The first project would generate 80 to 90 megawatts of electricity in Putnam County near Georgia Power’s Plant Branch, where two coal-fired generators are slated to close next year, said Robert Green of Macon, president of Georgia Solar Utilities.

Georgia Power has only 11 megawatts of solar generation now. Fifty more are scheduled to go on the grid by the middle of 2015, but the company proposed them only in response to a challenge by Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr.

Green said, “The reason we filed the way we did was because Georgia Power had steadfastly refused to develop (Georgia’s) solar resources,” estimated by Electricity Journal to be the third greatest among U.S. states.

In its response to the proposal, Georgia Power noted that Georgia Solar Utility apparently has no plan or infrastructure for providing electricity to end users, no mechanism for billing customers, and no plan to guarantee 24/7 power. Because these are the hallmarks of an actual utility, the “application” by Georgia Solar Utility is probably premature.
There’s also the little matter of the fact that it violates the Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act.
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