Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections — Special Edition for Saturday, December 22, 2012


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections — Special Edition for Saturday, December 22, 2012

These two senior dogs lost their home when their owner died and the heirs turned them in to Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, where they are available for adoption for the discount rate of $30 each.

The Jack Russell Terrier mix is a female. She is 10 years+, according to the family she is spayed but I cannot confirm this. Her name is Bailey. The family says that she is pooping and peeing all over the house but I don’t know if that is because she is incontinent or if she is just confused by her owner’s death and being moved into a busy household with a 1 and 2 year old (Not really thrilled with the kids either).

The chocolate Labrador retriever mix is male. He appears to be neutered. His name is Charlie. The family said he did really well with the little kids climbing all over him. He is probably between 7-8 years old. Both dogs are super sweet! These guys really need a second chance and a home to stay in until the end.

Giving a foster or adoptive home to a senior pet is a profound act of kindness that will repay itself through the love of an old dog, one of life’s great rewards. Anyone adopting or fostering these dogs can email me for reimbursement of the adoption fee by a sponsor.

GwinnettBabyLabThis baby lab is available for adoption on December 25, 2012 from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Ashley Freedman, an attorney with the Social Security Administration, has organized a Super Pet Adoption Day today, Saturday, December 22d, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the North Atlanta Trade Center, located at 1700 Jeurgens Court in Norcross.

Many people seek a last-minute pet for Christmas, said Freedman, a longtime volunteer with pet rescue groups and Fulton County Animal Services.

The Atlanta Humane Society, where many turn, runs out of puppies in the weeks before the holiday, she said, and time is running short to adopt a rescue pet from a foster parent.

That prompted her to organize the Super Pet Adoption day.

“It’s one-stop shopping,” Freedman said, adding that people can bring their pets with them to make sure they will get along with prospective adoptees.

All pets available for adoption will be spayed, neutered and current on vaccines.

Surprising someone other than your children with a dog or cat for Christmas is generally a bad idea. Taking a friend, family member, or loved one who has decided to get a pet shopping for their new best friend is fun and you will hold the memory dearly for years.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

State Rep. Sean Jerguson, running for the Senate District 21 seat vacated by Chip Rogers, is under attack for how he defines “Fiscal Conservatism,” a key plank in his election platform. Linda Flory, with the Cherokee Coalition for Responsible Growth, says Jerguson’s understanding of the term apparently includes allegations of defaulting on a loan to a business part-owned by Jerguson, and accepting $755,000 in government cheese federal stimulus funds.

Bank of the Ozarks (which took over the loan from a failed North Georgia bank) says Jerguson and his associates from Sapphire Pointe, LLC, owe more than $640,000 on a loan for a mobile home park in Polk County. In court papersJerguson’s attorneys admit the group has not paid back the whole loan but dispute the amount.

In an interview Jerguson said Sapphire Pointe is doing fine as a business and had made every loan payment. Bank of the Ozarks declined to renew the loan and abruptly sued for the balance in September, Jerguson said. He said the parties are negotiating a settlement and he believes they are close to a deal.

“It’s a business dispute,” Jerguson said. “The property hasn’t been foreclosed on. We’re in a settlement process with them on the dispute.”

Flory also points out that Jerguson’s gun shop, Hi Caliber, got a federal Small Business Administration loan in 2010 that Pro Publica identifies as funded by the 2009 stimulus — even though Jerguson is a critic of said stimulus. Jerguson spokesman Robert Trim noted that SBA loan programs far predate the stimulus.

The campaign of Jerguson’s opponent Brandon Beach says that the new early voting office in Alpharetta may make a difference in the election results.

“We had to fight to get them to move the Fulton early voting place from the Fulton County North Annex in Sandy Springs to one in Alpharetta,” [Beach Campaign Manager Ron] Wallace said.

It finally dawned on the Secretary of State’s Office that the lone voting site for Fulton voters ought to be in the same precinct as the seat that is being contested.

The other early balloting site is at City Hall in Canton.

Early voting in Alpharetta will be Dec. 17-21, Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-4, due to the fact that voting will not take place on weekends or on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“This is the first time an early election location has been put north of the Chattahoochee,” Wallace said.

Wallace noted that special elections are notorious for their low turn-outs among voters. This one is rather unique, however.

The Jan. 8 election day is just two days after the Super Bowl and days after Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Walter Jones writes in Southern Political Report that Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) is actively seeking the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, on which she already serves.

In a two-page letter to the leadership obtained by Morris News Service she lists her loyalty, competency and social skills. She also notes that Republicans could benefit by putting more women in leadership roles.

“Elected officials can speak all they want about equality and being ‘for’ women’s issues, but when one has the power to elevate a woman thru the glass ceiling, it is much more resonate and remarkable on their own personal record to have that courage to make history,” she wrote.

The rules chairman has been Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, who is widely expected to be replaced.

Observers say the choice is between her and Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, the current chairman of the Transportation Committee. He has been in the Senate one term longer than Unterman, who has more legislative seniority when her tenure in the House is counted.

Mullis didn’t return calls seeking a comment.

Also, add media relations to the list of differences between the two contenders.

Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley wrote in an email,

“I think Renee would be excellent.

Renee would help restore confidence in the process and the State Senate.

Many activists see the State Senate as a good ole boy network. Having Senator Unterman as Rules Chair would help squash that sentiment.

Over 26 years of near-continuous service in elected office, Unterman has represented large swaths of Gwinnett County, which contributed nearly 300,000 votes (1 of 13 votes cast) in the 2012 General Election and 1 of every fourteen votes in the 2012 Republican Primary. Also, in the 2012 General Election, the Presidential vote for Mitt Romney was within a point of the statewide vote breakdown; as Gwinnett goes, so goes Georgia.

Senator Unterman also announced she will pre-file legislation to create an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force.

As the state’s Alzheimer’s population is expected to double by 2025, Georgia must be prepared with an active plan to share the burden of taking care of its citizens who are likely to require government assistance in the final stages of their lives due to the effects of dementia,” said Sen. Unterman. “I challenge the Departments of Human Services and Aging, the Department of Public Health, the Executive branch and General Assembly to actively participate in developing this plan by approving this legislation.”

Georgia is one of only 16 states in the nation that has not developed a statewide Alzheimer’s response plan. The creation of this task force would set the groundwork for the infrastructure necessary to build the programs capable of serving individuals afflicted by this disease. In addition, individuals appointed to serve on the task force will be responsible for examining the state’s existing infrastructure and determining the need for additional legislation.

In Senate District 11, in the lower left-hand corner of Georgia, Democratic candidate Lisa Collins withdrew her name from the ballot, leaving five Republican candidates and a Librarian Libertarian.

In Fulton County Superior Court, Judge Doris Downs will announce by the end of next week her decision whether or not to enjoin enforcement of the Fetal Pain bill passed by the General Assembly this year, which bans most elective abortions performed before the 20-week mark.

The challenge was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three obstetricians. ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas argued the judge should block the law because otherwise Georgia women will suffer irreparable harm.

“Many of them seek abortions because they’re in the process of miscarrying, there are a number of health conditions that are caused by pregnancy or made by worse by pregnancy, and some have only just received the devastating diagnosis that the fetus is suffering from a severe or potentially lethal anomaly.”

But state attorneys argued preventing the law from moving forward as scheduled will harm the state by going against the will of the Georgia legislature.

Another Fulton Superior Court Judge, Wendy Shoob, ruled that Atlanta Public Schools cannot withhold funds from charter schools in a dispute over whether the charters must pay into the Atlanta Teachers’ pension fund.

State Representative-elect Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) has pre-filed four bills that “that would sweep away any restrictions on carrying firearms in Georgia — including on college campuses and in churches.” The pre-filed bills are House Bills 26 through 29.

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge supports the NRA proposal for school safety.

The National Rifle Association’s call Friday for armed officers in every school drew quick support from Georgia School Superintendent John Barge, who said it would deter the type of mass killings carried out last week at a Connecticut elementary school.

But Barge said financially struggling school districts in Georgia would need help from the state to pay for armed officers.

“Having a school resource officer would certainly be ideal,” Matt Cardoza, director of communications at the Georgia Department of Education, said Friday after a conversation with Barge. “It makes the school a safer place, but the state would have to pick up a significant part of that cost. Districts aren’t really in a position to pay for more than what they’re already struggling to pay for.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) has pre-filed legislation to slow the incorporation of new cities. She told the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

“I support people being able to decide how they want to be governed, but I think they should have a harder road … because the financial impact is not just on them but on the rest of us.”

State Representative-elect Kevin Tanner (HD9-Dawson and Lumpkin Counties) is leaving his job as County Manager for Dawson County and Cindy Gilleland Campbell will succeed him in the job.

Campbell currently serves as the county’s chief financial officer, a position she has held since 2008. She also served as the county’s interim manager earlier this year when Tanner took a leave of absence to run for state office.

The first woman to hold the position, Campbell, 40, said she looks forward to the new year and beginning her new role.

Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is likely to be discussed again in the 2013 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

A proposed horseracing track in the Atlanta area with live racing 40 days a year and simulcast facilities on other days could generate $534 million in its first year of operations, a supporter said Thursday.

Jack Damico of Cumming, Ga., an accountant and member of the Georgia Horseracing Coalition, told a Georgia Senate study committee investors would line up to finance a project with such a strong potential return.

He said his projections were based on a track that would feature racing on 20 days in the spring and 20 days in the fall. The numbers also assume the track would not include a casino.

Opponents of legalizing pari-mutuel betting in Georgia have cited studies that argue horse racing is declining across the country and that tracks can’t make money without casino operations.

But the proposal faces an uphill battle. Religious organizations are lining up to oppose the expansion of gambling in Georgia on moral grounds.

“Our concern is for the citizens who will be attracted to the racetrack who can least afford it,” Ray Newman of the 1.4-million member Georgia Baptist Convention told the study committee. “It will turn the state into a predator.”

Gov. Nathan Deal also has spoken out in opposition to any legislation that would expand legalized gambling in Georgia.

Dennis O’Hayer of WABE has an extended interview with horse-racing proponent State Rep. Harry Geisinger, a Republican.

State Rep. Tom Taylor (R) and Senator Fran Millar (R), both from Dunwoody, discussed their take on legislative priorities for the 2013 Session.

A committee of the General Assembly discussed measures to help victims of human trafficking.

Eliza Reock of the Washington D.C.-based Shared Hope International said there’s room for improvement. She pointed out Georgia still allows law enforcement to charge minors with prostitution.

“Prostitution is one of the only crimes that I know of that the crime can actually be charged against the victim of the crime and that’s especially egregious when we’re talking about victims of human trafficking and children.”

Georgians own more than 22,000 weapons required to be registered under the National Firearms Act. The firearms industry is important to Georgia’s economy.

The state has 20 percent of the country’s best-selling gun dealers. It’s home to big-name manufacturers, such as Glock Inc. And, there are more than 100,000 registered weapons in the state.

Each year, the gun industry brings an economic impact of more than $500 million to the state and accounts for around 4,000 good-paying jobs.

Savannah Morning News has an interactive feature about gun control laws and gun statistics. The SMN also urged the Chatham County Commission to vote against their own pay raise. The Commission voted to raise their pay anyway.

Chatham County Commissioners on Friday morning approved increasing the base salary for commissioners by 44 percent to $25,000 and the chairman’s by 15 percent to $57,500.

Commissioners Helen Stone and David Gellatly cast the two votes against the increase.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has scheduled the Special Election for House District 71, recently vacated, for February 5, 2013, although no Writ of Election appears on the website for Governor Nathan Deal. Premature election?

a special election shall be held in portions of Coweta and Fayette Counties to fill the vacancy in State House District 71; on February 5th, 2013. A run-off election, if needed, shall be held on March 5th, 2013.

Qualifying for the special election shall be held in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. The dates and hours of qualifying will be Monday, January 7th, 2013 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 12 o’clock noon. The qualifying fee shall be $400.

All persons who are not registered to vote and who desire to vote in the special election must register to vote before the close of business on Monday, January 7th, 2012. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013.

Wells Fargo has sued Fulton Science Academy over a default on $19 million worth of bonds.

The Chatham County E-SPLOST sales tax for education has not delivered on the promises made by proponents of its passage.

“The reason ESPLOST II passed is because people in those communities felt they were going to get new schools. Now, we’re saying Spencer and Port Wentworth are not going to get new schools,” [School Board Member Ruby] Jones said. “It looks like a bait-and-switch.”

She was right.

“If we don’t get the schools that we were pretty much promised, this ESPLOST will be the last,” said Port Wentworth Mayor Glenn “Pig” Jones.

In other news, Georgia has at least one Mayor who answers to “Pig.”

Forsyth County’s Board of Ethics has scheduled a meeting January 2, 2013 to begin reviewing a complaint filed against an Assistant District Attorney.

Bill Floyd is resigning effective January 7th as Mayor of Decatur to join Pendleton Consulting Group, which was co-founded by then-State Senator Chip Pearson.

A private probation company will no longer serve Richmond and Columbia County Superior Courts.

“Sentinel provided a new contract for services to the Court for consideration and asked to receive signature as soon as possible. Because the Court has not yet signed the new contract, and because of circumstances arising from the barrage of lawsuits filed by Jack Long, Sentinel was left with no choice but to suspend its operations in the Superior Courts of Richmond and Columbia County as of December 19, 2012,” the statement said.

Sentinel provided probation services for the Superior Court for people convicted of misdemeanor charges for the past 12 years.

There really is a new Sheriff in town as Richard Roundtree was sworn in as Richmond County Sheriff. Also newly-sworn in is Bibb County Sheriff David Davis.

GOP Congressman Austin Scott (Tifton) adds the title of Chairman as he takes over leadership of the House subcommittee for Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture.

Driving on a suspended license usually leads to an immediate arrest if you’re pulled over — unless you’re on the Atlanta City Council.

An Atlanta City Council member was allowed to go free after it was discovered that he was driving on a suspended license Friday in DeKalb County.

Councilman Aaron Watson was pulled over during a routine traffic stop, DeKalb County authorities told the AJC.

County spokesman Burke Brennan said Watson, the at-large councilman for Atlanta’s Post 2, was driving on a suspended license.

Typically, such an infraction warrants an immediate arrest if there is no alternate eligible driver in the car, according to authorities.

But Watson remained free, county officials said.

“The police department will be looking into the circumstances as to why someone who has a suspended driver’s license in the system was allowed to drive away,” Brennan said.

Governor Deal announced an $80 million investment and 660 new jobs by a Korean auto parts manufacturer in Meriwether County.

Two Georgia schools received hoax bomb threats: the FBI received a letter that a teacher planted a bomb at Whitewater Middle School in Fayette County and a 16-year old student was arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up Walker County’s Ridgeland High School.

The Catoosa County Commission approved an ordinance allowing Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink.

The Decatur County Commission may have a full slate in early January, as they discussed filling a seat being vacated December 31.

During a called meeting Friday morning, commissioners discussed the process of appointing someone to fill the seat that is currently held by District 1 Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry. Perry is resigning from the seat on Dec. 31, and state law allows for the remaining board members to appoint a Decatur County citizen to fill the remainder of Perry’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2014.

Earlier this month, the county voted to advertise the open seat and invite any citizen to apply for consideration. The only criteria are that the citizen must reside in District 1, must be a registered voter, and must be at least 21 years old.

Making rude comments about colleagues on Facebook may make you a jerk, but it doesn’t make you unethical, according to the Spalding County Ethics Review Board.

Yet another skirmish in Fayette County, which is developing a reputation as the “Snellville of South Metro Atlanta” for its years of political infighting as County Commissioner Robert Horgan has filed an ethics complaint against Commissioner Steve Brown.

The complaint alleges that Brown violated three county ordinances by making an order to a county employee, disclosing information discussed by the board in executive session and also violating attorney client privilege: the latter two of which he did without first seeking approval from his fellow commission members.

Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace has delivered its first G650 aircraft.

The highly anticipated business jet, whose maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.925 makes it the fastest certified civilian aircraft in production, was delivered to a U.S. customer.

Jay L. Johnson, chairman and CEO of Gulfstream’s parent corporation General Dynamics, said the G650 sets a new world standard for business-jet performance, range, speed and comfort.

The Ocean Terminal owned by Georgia Ports Authority plays a major role in the United States military’s capacity for deploying overseas.

Of the more than 300 seaports in the United States, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation have designated 15, including Savannah’s, as “strategic ports.”

In the event of a large-scale military deployment, the DOD would transport more than 95 percent of all equipment and supplies needed for military operations by sea, almost all of them through these ports.

East coast ports may be headed toward a strike of longshoremen, which would hurt our state’s economy if the Port of Savannah is affected.

Talks between shipping companies and the dockworkers union broke off on Tuesday. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, a strike will begin after midnight December 30th.

Curtis Foltz, head of the Georgia Ports Authority, says that would close down the Garden City container terminal in Savannah, leading to a ripple effect across the state.

“Our container business represents, oh between 75 and 80 percent of all of our port-related business throughout the state. So when you think of the 350 thousand plus jobs that are tied to port-related activity, really touching each and every county of the state.” he says.

Foltz says that would shut down Georgia’s container port, which does about 75 to 80 percent of the state’s port-related business.

He says “We’re really talking about the Garden City container terminal in Savannah. Our ocean terminal facility in Savannah that works general cargo should continue to be open for business. And we expect that our port facilities in Brunswick should not be affected by this strike.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

Georgia’s public and private ports account for nearly $40 billion in statewide economic impact and support more than 150,000 related jobs, according to a University of Georgia study. Metro Atlanta, a major distribution hub, reaps roughly 70 percent of the ports’ economic benefit.

Roughly 1,500 union jobs are in jeopardy at Savannah, the nation’s fourth busiest container port.The Authority’s 700 non-union employees, though, will remain on the payroll if the strike happens, Foltz said. Brunswick doesn’t handle containers and won’t likely be impacted.

It’s impossible to gauge the financial pain of an East and Gulf coasts strike. A 2002 walkout on the West Coast cost an estimated $1 billion a day, according to the National Retail Federation. Savannah, though, benefited mightily from the strike as retailers and manufacturers shifted imports closer to East Coast customers.

Check out the Berry College “Bald Eagle Cam,” which will make you even more proud to be an American and a Georgian.

Comments ( 0 )