Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 13, 2013

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 13, 2013

Special Elections Called for January 7, 2014

Special elections to fill vacancies in House District 2 (Rep. Jay Neal) and House District 22 (Rep. Calvin Hill) have been scheduled for January 7, 2014 and qualifying will be open Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 through Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Qualifying on Monday will run from 9 AM to 5 PM; Tuesday 8 AM to 5 PM; and on Wednesday 8 AM to noon in the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

Over the weekend, I wrote that Doug Woodruff might have an advantage in House District 2 based on a strong showing for District Attorney in a four county circuit in which he carried two of the three counties that compose District 2.

Last night at the Canton Tea Party Candidate Forum for the Eleventh Congressional District, two candidates for House District 22 introduced themselves.

Nate Cochran is a Canton attorney whose practice includes a specialty in NFA Trusts, presumably he’s a Second Amendment supporter. Sam Moore has a website that’s under construction, but the most important part appears to be online – the donation button.

Other announced candidates include Meagan Biello, who teaches at Creekview High School. Jeff Duncan is a former Chair of the Cherokee County Republican Party. Francis Parmar told the Cherokee Tribune he would enter the race.

Canton Runoff Confusion

Two different sections of the Canton City Charter that were adopted on the same day set different thresholds for election to City Council.

The city’s charter — it’s governing document — lists in two separate places how officials should be elected. Sec. 2.12, under government structure, says “The council member for each ward and the mayor shall be elected by the qualified electors of the city at large, and each candidate for City Council receiving a majority of the votes cast from the city at large shall be declared elected as City Council.”

And, Sec. 5.13, under elections and removal, says, “The person receiving a plurality of the votes cast for any city office shall be elected.” Election by plurality means the candidate with the most votes wins the seat.

Both sections in the city charter, according to the document, were updated on Sept. 1, 2005. However, the update wasn’t done properly, according to City Attorney Bobby Dyer.

Election changes in the charter must be approved by the Georgia General Assembly and cannot be done by home rule.  The updated 2005 charter was not approved by the general assembly, and, therefore, the rule that had existed since the 1960s stands, Dyer said.

Two runoffs for City Council will be held December 3d in Canton.

Stadium Pushback begins

The Atlantic Wire calls the Cobb County stadium “a really crappy deal for taxpayers,” and runs the numbers of typical stadium promises and delivery.

[S]ignificant economics research suggests that residents will be getting a “really crappy deal,” according to Neil deMause, the co-author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. “The notion of stadiums as an economic catalyst is a complete myth,” he told The Atlantic Wire. “The notion that you are somehow going to get economic benefits from a new stadium and a baseball team in your county that is going to make up for a loss of $450 million. … Any economist in the country is going to say there’s no possible way to earn that back,” he explained.

Government spending to create jobs isn’t always a terrible idea, but the efficiency of stadium deals leaves a lot to be desired. Compare the $450 million offered up by the county to the supposed gain of 5,227 jobs, which comes out to about $86,000 per job. “Anything over $50,000 a job is, in economic development terms, a really crappy deal,” deMause said. There’s also the quality of the jobs to consider, since many of those workers (like stadium vendors, parking attendants, and security guards) will be working just 82 days a year.

The Braves have now said that the Cobb County contribution will not be $450 million, but hasn’t said what the figure will be.

The Marietta Daily Journal Editors, while overall still enthusiastic, have sounded a cautionary note against some financing mechanisms and against “deal creep.”

Based on what is known at the moment, it clearly has the potential to be a great deal for Cobb.
That hinges, however, on the release of the financial details behind the move, and specifically what the impact will be on Cobb taxpayers. Chairman Lee has played it close to the vest and has declined to say whether property or sales taxes would be increased. Once the euphoria of the Braves announcement wears off, he might find those such increases a tough sell to county residents, if they aren’t already.[Commission Chair Tim] Lee, the commission and the Exhibit Hall Authority should not let themselves be blinded by the excitement of the moment. Big-league sports teams are notorious for playing one community against another in order to benefit themselves. And there’s no guarantee that even if the Braves move here is finalized, that the Braves won’t start playing hardball against Cobb for a better deal later on.

With that in mind, Lee and the Commission need to negotiate the strongest deal possible up front in order to protect Cobb taxpayers of today and tomorrow.
Only then will a majority of Cobb residents be comfortable saying “Play ball!”

Democrat announces for State School Super

State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan, a Cobb County Democrat, announced that she will run for State School Superintendent, becoming the first announced Democratic candidate.

Morgan calls for Georgia’s school system to join the 21st century by providing students with new technology in the classroom. She hopes to boost classroom involvement where students are hands on with what and how they are learning.

Morgan has been a strong proponent of charter schools and her husband is a lobbyist for a school choice group, which means she is likely to face significant opposition for the Democratic nomination by a party that by-and-large disfavors charter schools.

Earlier this week, Maureen Downey of the AJC Get Schooled blog wrote that the race could be between Morgan and Republican Nancy Jester, who announced on Monday.

The 2014 race for state school superintendent may come down to two charismatic women, neither of whom has a background in education, Nancy Jester on the GOP side and Alisha Thomas Morgan on the Democratic side. Today, Nancy Jester makes official her intent to run for John Barge’s job at the state Department of Education. Jester is the fourth Republican to announce.

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