Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 28, 2012


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 28, 2012

This is “Nacho,” as in “I’m nacho dog yet, but I could be.” He’s described as a sweet, goofy, loveable puppy and is available for adoption from the Fayette County Animal Shelter.

Lacee is a young female hound mix who is described as a sweet, mellow, affectionate girl who really wants to be near you and please you. She is also available for adoption from the Fayette County Animal Shelter. More information about adopting from Fayette County is available on their website, but $30 adoption and 25% off the first vet visit with a local vet, half off spay or neuter, and a free leash, toy, and adoption packet is a pretty good deal on a new best friend. Even better, puppies like Nacho above are $15.

27701 is a small black Chihuahua puppy who is friendly and playful and is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. Because it’s “Black Friday,” and all black or majority-black dogs and cats in the Gwinnett Shelter are discounted to $30.

27760 is a playful and friendly female hound dog puppy at the Gwinnett Shelter. I think they’ll let you have her if you argue that she’s majority black, but if they insist on full price, we’ll pay the difference for you. Email me if you want to take us up on this offer.

Here are three cute little boxer puppies, all males, all cuddly, playful and friendly. For two of these, I could argue with a straight face that they’re majority black, the third, I’d just have to pay full price, but wouldn’t mind. They’ll be available Wednesday from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

The last puppy of the day is 27644, a female, shepherd-looking puppy who is available now. All dogs at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter should be considered to be urgent.

Here’s a report on one of our “alumni.”

This pitiful creature was tentatively identified as a Golden Retriever, possibly a Senior, in the Augusta Animal Shelter. By the time I sent his information to Adopt A Golden Atlanta to see if they might have room for him, they had already arranged to pick him up. Here’s who showed up:

That’s a gorgeous dog. Probably got some non-Golden in his background, but the AGA volunteers say his heart is pure Golden. He’s about three years old and has a slight ear infection that’s being taken care of. He’s already neutered and travels very well in a car, curling up in a little ball on the back seat. He’s under a quarantine to ensure his health, but will be available for foster and eventual adoption soon from Adopt A Golden Atlanta.

A Columbus woman whose dog was killed by an intruder wants the Georgia General Assembly to pass a measure designed to prevent serial pet abuse.

“If someone abuses animals they will have to register in the animal abuse offense registry. If they abuse animals then they have to register just like a child or sex offender registry,” said [Lisa] Painter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has asked the Clayton County Board of Education to refrain from further embarrassing the rest of the state.

However, Deal says at the moment he can’t intervene.

“Any time you have an indication that accreditation is in jeopardy that is of concern to me because it affects the children of the district in which that issue arises. We will be monitoring, but there is nothing legally at this point in time the governor’s office can do about it.”

According to a spokesperson for the parent company of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the governor can only step in when a school system is placed on probation.

Think of this as the “Judges Gone Wild” edition. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is serving as a Special Prosecutor looking into allegations that former Brunswick Superior Court Judge Amanda Williams abused her office.

Among the allegations is that she sentenced a drug-abuse offenders to solitary confinement without a public hearing and without being able to consult an attorney. The Qualifications Commission also charged her with ordering a student in the audience handcuffed for chuckling and assigning cases to her daughter, who is an attorney, and then taking the daughter’s side without hearing any other side.

It also accused her of lying to the commission’s investigators.

Maybe when Mr. Howard is done with that case, he can look into some allegations of official misconduct that actually originate in Fulton County. Cough, Gold Dome, cough.

The FBI appears to have spent hours searching the office of Hancock County Probate Judge Marva Rice. This comes the day after Feds seized boxes of documents from the courthouse.

Click HereSpeaking of Ethics Transparency, candidates in the November General Election are reminded that the next campaign contribution disclosure is due September 30th, and the grace period runs through October 5th. Remember that the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission’s website tends to suck get bogged down during the last days of a filing period.

Laurie Penney of has an interview with Micah Gravley, who was appointed to replace State Rep. Bill Hembree on the ballot for State House District 67 after Hembree qualified to run for Senate District 30. Micah’s a good friend and a good man. If you live in that district, he’ll do you proud. Please visit his website and consider donating to him.

Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton has an Op-Ed in today’s Atlanta Business Chronicle that discusses why, as a Conservative Republican, he is looking at implementing solar power generation.

The Georgia Public Service Commission has been criticized by the left for not developing enough solar capacity on a timeline to satisfy their ideological desires. Since solar is almost 100% capital costs, with relatively small ongoing costs and no fuel requirement, the dramatic drop in solar panel costs will save Georgians millions of dollars over states that implemented solar earlier when the technology was less mature and much more expensive.

By being cautious and responsible, instead of following liberal special interests groups, the Georgia Public Service Commission can now consider adding solar to our power portfolio at much lower costs to Georgia families. This helps keep our rates low and gives our state a significant economic advantage in attracting jobs over other states that have implemented solar before it was economically viable.

As we have seen with the repeal of the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing, which the members of the Public Service Commission supported, and Governor Deal signed into law, lower energy costs not only benefit families, but it can help Georgia attract more new jobs.

Walter Jones, of Morris News Service, has more on the ideological debate over solar power.

Thursday, Democratic challenger Steve Oppenheimer attacked Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, his opponent, for being a Johnny-come-lately because Eaton is backing a proposal Georgia Power Co. filed the day before. The giant utility is seeking commission approval to issue limited-size contracts for solar power instead of the biomass it was already authorized to use because the biomass producer backed out.

Eaton trumpeted Georgia Power’s plan, saying he had helped shape it so that customer rates would not increase.

“The Georgia Public Service Commission has been unduly criticized by special interests and others with radical “solar first’ political agendas for not developing solar capacity on a timeline that satisfies their liberal ideological desires,” he said. “Until now, the cost of solar power was not competitive without taxpayer or ratepayer subsidies to politically connected solar firms like Solyndra.”

Solyndra was a company that made solar panels and came under national attention when it went bankrupt after getting large loans from the Obama administration.

In a recent Op-Ed emailed all over the state, liberal Democrat Steve Oppenheimer, who is running against Republican Eaton, wrote that

Eaton’s public and private positions on solar have been unchanged for the past five years, until late last month –– two months before he faces a difficult re-election effort. What a convenient coincidence.

The problem with Oppenheimer’s statement is that he’s lying. More than a year ago, Eaton noted that as solar prices came down he was willing to consider adding solar to Georgia’s power generation mix. It also ignores last year’s unanimous PSC vote to approve adding 50 megawatts of solar in Georgia.

Doubling down on his lies, Oppenheimer had his political consultant send the same article out under the guise of “Green10x10”.

Rather than use electronic mapping, which has been in use in redistricting for at least the last twelve years, the Fulton County Elections Office must have had a room full of people throwing darts at a map to determine where a voter should be assigned.

When Fulton’s elections office adjusted district lines to account for reapportionment this year, it didn’t use electronic mapping, the new interim department director revealed Thursday.

Now the office is going back over the process using geographic information system technology (GIS), with help from the county’s computer experts in the Information Technology Department. The county is desperately trying to avoid another embarrassment in November like the one in July.

In the primary election, 690 voters in Sandy Springs and southeast Atlanta wound up on the wrong sides of boundary lines, putting them in the wrong state Senate and state House races.

“We believe that we’ve done a significant amount of cleanup on that process,” Interim Elections Director Sharon Mitchell told the Board of Registration and Elections in her first formal report to her bosses since taking over the job.

Board members also pledged that they would step up scrutiny of elections office operations, meeting weekly to keep tabs and moving extra staff to the office as needed, with an eye on the Oct. 15 start of early voting.

Athens Democrats don’t like the Charter School Amendment.

Democratic candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives Spencer Frye summed up his feelings toward the proposed charter school amendment with an analogy: “If your house is on fire, you put the fire out. You don’t go right next door and build a house the same exact way.”

To hear it described by the panelists, the amendment would strip localities of control over their education system and allow for-profit interests to scoop up state money — and scoop it from public school pockets — to pay for services the state already provides.

Its proponents argue the amendment would allow more innovation in education and options for parents.

And neither do a number of school board members in North Georgia.

Education officials across Northwest Georgia are urging constituents to “Vote Smart” come Nov. 6 regarding the constitutional amendment on the ballot that would create a commission with the power to approve charter schools in local communities across the state.

More than 200 representatives from 16 school systems met at the Civic Center on Thursday evening for a public awareness meeting. The language in amendment, they maintain, looks great on ink and paper, but is actually very misleading.

As I predicted nearly three weeks ago, Charter School Amendment opponents are zeroing in on the preamble to the ballot question.

“If I read this, I’d think, this sounds pretty darn good,” he said. “When I read the preamble, it’s going to make it even sound better.”

Margaret Ciccarelli, Legislative Services director and staff attorney of the Professional Association of Public Educators chimed in.

“The preamble says, ‘For the purposes of increasing student achievement and parent involvement,’ and then you’ll see the constitutional amendment so, my gosh that sounds like grandma and apple pie,” she said sarcastically. “I mean, who wouldn’t want that?”

The amendment as it stands reads, “Shall the Constitution be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” and Johnson explained the meaning in between the lines.

“What this really means is that the only person getting additional approval authority is going to be the state getting it through an appointed commission that will have no accountability to the local tax payers and very little (accountability) to the state tax payers,” he said.

Local communities already have the ability to approve charter schools. In fact, there are already 110 charter schools in Georgia, Johnson said. However, if the amendment passes, the ultimate decision won’t belong to the voters.

When people ask me what I would do about lobbyist-on-lobbyist violence, I usually say, “Bet on the meaner one.” But Senator Emanuel Jones wants the law to step in over allegations that a Charter School Amendment advocate may have jostled or pushed a lobbyist for the Georgia PTA.

Writer and poet is not a traditional background for a County Commission Chair, but Irving Martinez is running for the job.

“These crooked politicians as well as those crooked city officials, judges, and lawyers…we have lawyers sitting on their hands doing nothing about these kids in jail. We have so many problems here in Macon; we made national news. What a disgrace and I want to make sure that there is somebody speaking up finally. Not afraid at all to make sure that people get called to the carpet to put up and make sure that we are safe. I feel endangered in this city,” said Martinez.

Dude, that doesn’t even rhyme.

Pro-gay rights organization Georgia Equality claims to be a bipartisan organization, but they’re coming out and openly supporting Democratic candidates with the goal of reducing the number of Republicans in the legislature.

LGBT Georgians will suffer if the GOP solidifies total control of the state legislature, Cathy Woolard, lobbyist for Georgia Equality, explained at a Sept. 24 briefing at the Phillip Rush Center.

“I can’t overstate how important it is that this [constitutional majority] not happen this time around, or the next time around. We need to not be moving toward this, we need to be moving away from this. This is too close to the edge,” Woolard said.

Georgia Equality is a bipartisan organization and has a Fair Majority campaign, Woolard added. But with Republicans so close to completely controlling the General Assembly, it is time to ensure Democrats are voted back in office or to office for the first time.

“There is a lot at stake — the presidential race, a constitutional majority and sponsors for FEPA,” Woolard said of the upcoming election.

In the state House, Georgia Equality believes four out of five key races must have Democrats win to block a GOP constitutional majority. The races are:

• Kimberly Alexander(D) vs. Bob Snelling (R). This is the newly drawn District 66 in the Douglasville area west of Atlanta. Snelling has name recognition because he was a state representative in 2002, Woolard said.

• Rep. Carl Von Epps (D-LaGrange) vs. Gene King (R) in District 132. Von Epps is a long-time incumbent and a sponsor of FEPA.

• Renita Hamilton (D) vs. Joyce Chandler (R) in the new District 105 that includes Lawrenceville and Grayson of Gwinnett County. Hamilton also received an early endorsement from GE.

• Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) vs. Chris Boedeker (R) in District 81 that includes North Central DeKalb and a section of Gwinnett. Holcomb is the incumbent and a sponsor of FEPA.

• Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Duluth) vs. Mark Williams (R) in District 96. Marin is also a long-time incumbent and FEPA sponsor.

“These are all very tough races,” Woolard said, recommending GE supporters donate time and money to Democrats in these races.

Ends & Pieces

Mashable has an interesting look at the Presidential Campaign websites from 1996. I’m just surprised they didn’t have animated waving American flags.

Emory University History Professor Joseph Crispino has published a new biography of Strom Thurmond called Strom Thurmond’s America and Steve Goss of WABE has an interview with the author.

Matt Towery describes how to win a Presidential debate:

There’s no shortage this week of columns and analyses that say debates have little impact on presidential elections. As a pollster, I fully understand how “the numbers” might lead to this misimpression. But I was involved in the world of competitive debate starting at age 14, and in political debate since I was 20. And what I’ve learned over the years compels me to see things differently than most do as we approach the Obama-Romney debates.

The key to winning televised presidential debates, and ultimately the election, is for a candidate to come across as being the “aggressor,” rather than being “aggressive.” It’s an important distinction.

The aggressor is the candidate who has the facts at his command. The one who answers quickly and with assurance, with forceful language and a laser focus that takes advantage of both the mood of the moment and the opponent’s hesitancy and faulty logic.

Maybe some day I’ll describe to him how to run a poll that doesn’t suck.

There are three recent polls that show Romney margins ranging from six percentage points to a whopping 21 percentage points.

That’s a range way beyond any reasonable margin of error, which means someone is badly mispolling the state.  But which one?

Matt Towery’s InsiderAdvantage conducted a poll for Fox 5 TV in Atlanta that showed Romney beating Obama by 56-35 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

Those poll results are widely at variance with other recent polls, suggesting that it could well be an outlier.

Two other polls show a narrower margin of support for Romney among the state’s voters.

YouGov conducted an online poll in Georgia during the period between Sept. 7-14 and found Romney with a 50-44 percent lead over Obama.

The YouGov findings are in line with a poll conducted by Republican consultant and blogger Todd Rehm.

While polling on the charter school constitutional amendment earlier this month, Rehm included a question on the presidential race.

“Our results at that time were Romney 50.7% to Obama with 42.2%, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson 4.2% and Undecided 2.7%.,” Rehm wrote. “I’m not convinced that Undecideds are that low, but I think the Romney-Obama matchup is plausible.”

If you factor in a dropoff of support for Obama because of the bad economy, offset somewhat by the increase in non-caucasian voters, then the YouGov and Rehm poll numbers appear to be the more credible ones.

A University of Georgia Alumna will be appearing on “The Bachelor.” Billed as a “lobbyist,” Lesley Murphy actually works for a Strategy and Communications firm in Washington DC. She helped the Obama campaign in Athens in 2008. My lobbyist friends should be warned that whatever she does on that show will affect what people in the real world think of your profession.

Atlanta developer John Dewberry describes walking away from his airplane that wrecked as it landed in Macon recently. If I had to guess, he probably walked away slowly and didn’t look back as the plane exploded spectacularly, just like in every action movie made since 1982.

Comments ( 1 )
  • ReidWilborn says:

    “My lobbyist friends should be warned that whatever she does on that show will affect what people in the real world think of your profession.”

    Pretty sure most rational people in the real world already place lobbyists in the same circle of Hell that lawyers occupy.