Archive for July, 2009

Atlanta bounced from 2012 RNC race

We’re less than a year past the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul., Minn., and already the list of 2012 sites has been narrowed.

And Atlanta is a victim of the narrowing.

Not that our fair city had yet launched much of a campaign, or even said it was interested. But, according to The Hill, a D.C.-based newspaper, Atlanta has been eliminated because someone from Georgia is serving on the Republican National Committee’s official site selection committee.

A new RNC rule prevents the committee from choosing a state that is represented by someone on the committee. The newspaper does not say which of Georgia’s RNC members are serving, and a Georgia GOP spokesman was not immediately available for comment late Friday, but Georgia’s RNC members are state chairwoman Sue Everhart, Alec Poitevint and Linda Herren.

As for the Atlanta bid that never-will-be, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a 2010 candidate for governor, declared his intention to bring the 2012 …

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Chambliss staffer among D.C.’s ‘most beautiful’

Her boss didn’t make the list, but Bronwyn Lance Chester, a media strategist for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is one of the 50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill.

The Hill newspaper, which covers all things political in Washington, annually reports its take on the most fetching Beltway insiders. While 50 are listed, only the top 10 are actually ranked. Lance Chester, whom the newspaper describes as a “statuesque brunette with flowing hair” and a “Southern lullaby voice,” falls somewhere between 11 and 50.

Lance Chester, who is 40 and married, describes herself as just a “mountain gal” who is descended from a “long line of bootleggers and moonshiners.”

A former journalist, Lance Chester worked for U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) before joining Chambliss’ staff.

This isn’t the first time Lance Chester grabbed The Hill’s fancy. Back in March 2008, when she joined Warner’s staff, the newspaper reporter that her mere appearance set hearts aflutter.

Sen. John Warner’s …

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Updated: Alabama gov. says Perdue claim ‘disingenuous’

Updated throughout at 11:24 a.m.

In an interview with WABE radio on Thursday, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said that any claim that Alabama walked away from a water deal with Georgia in 2007 is “somewhat disingenuous.”

Go here to listen to part one of Riley’s interview with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer. Part two of the interview will air this afternoon on 90.1 FM during “All Things Considered.”

Riley’s comments came a day after Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the two states were hours away from signing a deal in 2007 to solve a major part of the nearly two-decades old water wars involving Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

“If I stand up and say I’m willing to negotiate, but I never can make it and I don’t come, what does that say?” Perdue said Wednesday. Alabama “very clearly favored a litigation strategy rather than a negotiating strategy.”

But in his interview with WABE, Riley refused to take the blame for the 2007 deal falling apart and said Georgia …

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Perdue calls Riley, Crist’s bluff, invites govs to water talks

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue on Thursday moved to restart stalled negotiations over the rights to Lake Lanier, offering the governors of Alabama and Florida 40 separate possible dates for talks.

In a letter to Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Perdue said he’d host any meeting or go wherever necessary.

“Water issues have dominated the headlines in recent days, and I have read statements from both of you that indicate your willingness to resume water negotiations,” Perdue said in the letter.

The governor said that the federal judge’s order barring Georgia from using Lake Lanier as a water source in three years if no deal was reached makes it imperative the three leaders return to the negotiating table.

“I have always believed that a negotiated settlement that protects the rights and resources of all three states is the most lasting solution,” he wrote.

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Education cuts, unemployment “devastating” without federal stimulus money, officials say

By KRISTI E. SWARTZ
kswartz@ajc.com

Without the $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money that’s started flowing to Georgia school districts, the budget cuts to education would be “devastating,” School Superintendent Kathy Cox told a senate panel Thursday morning.

“They’re down to the bone,” Cox said. “The fat was gone a long time ago. They’re down to the bone.”

Cox is staring at a 20 percent budget cut that she knows will increase as the state struggles to pull out of a recession. Yet, she’s under pressure to account for every dollar in stimulus money that’s been flowing into the state and down to school districts.

“We’re struggling to ensure that we’re going to have that transparency and accountability and trying not to get caught two years from now with federal auditors saying, ‘Why didn’t you know.’”

She’s not the only one feeling that heat. The senators who gathered as part of the Committee on Smart Recovery all had the same …

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Inspector finds DNR gave ‘excessive’ raise to employee

The state Inspector General has found that the Department of Natural Resources paid excessive salaries to at least one employee and that another high-ranking official admitted during an investigation that “I do nothing.”

But the 24-page report found that a series of other allegations filed against the agency by an employee were unsubstantiated, including claims that agency leaders funneled money and jobs to friends and associates.

The investigation, prompted by an unnamed employees’ complaint, found that Bob McPherson was allowed to keep a 20 percent salary increase after he was promoted from budget analyst to acting assistant fiscal officer. But, after he requested a return to his former position, he was allowed to keep the pay increase. That, the investigation found, was inappropriate.

John Thompson a 29-year employee of the agency, was transferred from chief of operations for state parks to assistant director of financial services and given a 22 percent salary increase. …

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Former rep indicted for tax evasion

Former Georgia state Rep. Jeannette Jamieson (D-Toccoa) was indicted Monday on two counts of income tax evasion, the state Department of Revenue and the attorney generall’s office said.

Jamieson was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury. Each count carries a sentence of one to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

According to the Revenue Department, Jamieson failed to file state income tax returns in 2006 or 2007 despite having adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 in that time. She had less than $150 in income withheld for state income tax purposes, the department said.

This is not Jamieson’s first trouble with the state tax authority. The state filed a lien against her in 2008 for owing more than $45,000 in back taxes and interest from 1998 through 2005. Jamieson satisfied the lien a few months later.

Jamieson lost her bid for re-election in 2008. She had served in the General Assembly since 1985.

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Perdue vows multi-pronged attack on water issue

BY KRISTI E. SWARTZ
kswartz@ajc.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue said the state would take a multi-pronged attack in challenging a federal judge’s decision that prohibits Georgia from using Lake Lanier as its primary water supply.

Flanked by business and civic leaders on the steps of the governor’s mansion, Perdue backed away from immediately trying to come to an agreement with the governors of Florida and Alabama — saying instead he wants to make Congress understand that Georgia’s water issue should be one of national concern.

“Water supply is a national issue,” Perdue said.

Standing next to Perdue was Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, appearing publicly for the first time since having spinal surgery.

Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been fighting for 19 years over how to use water that comes from the Apalachiocola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin. A judge ruled last Friday that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been illegally reallocating water from Lake Lanier to meet metro …

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Perdue calls on teachers to take furloughs to fill $900 million hole

Public schools and Medicaid will face 3 percent cuts to their budgets, and teachers face the rare prospect of unpaid furloughs as state leaders move to fill a $900 million budget hole.

Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday announced that he and top lawmakers have struck a deal that allows them to avoid a special legislative session and provides the governor flexibility to tackle the latest in a heartbreaking string of cuts.

Most agencies will face a 5 percent budget cut. Some will be higher; some lower, Perdue said. Every state employee, meanwhile, must take three furlough days before the end of the calendar year, he said.

These moves are anticipated to keep the state’s 2010 spending levels equal to fiscal 2009, which ended June 30 and featured more than $2.8 billion in cuts from the year before. The reductions announced Tuesday will bring Georgia to a budget level nearly equal to that of 2005.

But, as Perdue pointed out, an additional 1 million people live in the state today as …

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Perdue to discuss water wars, state budget

Gov. Sonny Perdue will brief the media and the public this afternoon on the battle over access to the waters of Lake Lanier.

The 3:45 p.m. news conference from his Capitol office will likely follow a conference call between Perdue and the state’s congressional delegation in Washington. A release from the governor’s office said he will also discuss the state budget, but it included no other details.

The state’s entire congressional delegation is expected to gather this afternoon in Washington to discuss how to proceed after a federal judge ruled last week that Georgia has limited rights to use Lake Lanier for its water needs. The judge said that Georgia, Alabama and Florida has three years to find a solution before he turns the figurative spigot off for Georgia.

Perdue and his staff will join the emergency session via conference call, the governor’s spokesman Bert Brantley said Monday evening.

Perdue is “willing to negotiate … but there are the other options as well,” Brantley …

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