Archive for May, 2011

After anti-charter schools ruling, no more hemming and hawing over real school choice

The Georgia Supreme Court has struck down the law creating the state’s Charter Schools Commission, ruling that the Georgia Constitution permits only local school systems to operate public k-12 schools except under a very narrow set of circumstances.

The school administrators and board members giving one another high-fives this morning are no doubt educated enough to know what a Pyrrhic victory is. May they learn, very soon, exactly what such a victory looks like.

For some time now, charter schools have been the preferred instrument of school choice for those people — and particularly state lawmakers — conscious enough to recognize the failings of our public schools but too timid to support any game-changing reforms. The problem until 2008, when the Legislature passed the Georgia Charter Schools Commission Act, was that only local school systems had the authority to approve charter schools. Given the education establishment’s hostility to competition, many applications were …

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Should public money be used to lure companies like Porsche?

One of the big pieces of local news last week was Porsche’s announcement that it would relocate its North American headquarters from Sandy Springs down to the old Ford plant near the airport. The move can be measured by more than the 22 miles from North Fulton to South Fulton: The old HQ was a rental, while the new one will be a $100 million facility that includes a test track and an employment boost of as many as 200 new jobs.

And if you’ve followed these sorts of deals before, your first inclination may have been to wonder how much this expansion will cost local and state taxpayers by way of an incentive package.

The answer, according to the AJC’s Rachel Tobin: About $14 million.

The incentive package includes $1.75 million in job tax credits from Georgia, $400,000 in infrastructure improvements from the Department of Transportation, and discretionary money from the Regional Economic Business Assistance Program, or REBA, said Alison Tyrer, a spokeswoman for the Georgia …

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Gingrich gets raves, Cain roars from GOP convention crowd (2nd update)

2ND UPDATE at 4:45 p.m.:

Sue Everhart was re-elected chair of the Georgia GOP on the second ballot, 946 to 755 over Tricia Pridemore.

“Now is the time for us to come together, set aside the petty talk, set aside the petty differences, and work hard to further our conservative cause across Georgia and across these United States of America,” Pridemore said moments after the vote totals were announced.

UPDATE at 4 p.m.:

In the Georgia GOP chairman’s race, incumbent Sue Everhart got 48 percent of the vote on the first ballot, precipitating a second ballot. It’s down to Everhart and Tricia Pridemore, Gov. Nathan Deal’s favored candidate, who got 36 percent. The lowest vote-getting candidate, Carter Kessler, will be dropped from the ballot and third-place Shawn Hanley has decided to drop out.

ORIGINAL POST:

Macon – The election for chair of the Georgia GOP is minutes away from beginning. Incumbent Sue Everhart of Cobb County has two challengers: former Fulton County GOP Chairman …

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Raising debt ceiling no longer on autopilot

There is a simple brilliance to John Boehner’s position on the federal debt ceiling.

The House speaker warned last week that Republicans in his chamber won’t vote to raise the ceiling beyond the current $14.3 trillion without a greater amount of spending cuts. That is, a $2 trillion increase in borrowing authority — what the Obama administration says it needs to make it through the rest of this fiscal year and the next one — would require spending cuts of more than $2 trillion in the near future (defined in some news reports as the next five years).

The brilliance isn’t in the numbers. Think about it for even a moment, and you’ll quickly realize that cutting spending at just one-fifth the rate of new borrowing is inadequate. It’s really the very least Congress could do, given the persistent trillion-dollar deficits fueling our debt crisis.

No, the brilliance lies in the creation of a political price for new deficits and debt.

A debt ceiling that can be lifted at any …

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On my way to state GOP convention

I’ll be in Macon this afternoon through tomorrow covering the Georgia GOP Convention. You can check back here for updates, but for more frequent postings follow me on Twitter.

Newt Gingrich is the featured speaker tonight, while Herman Cain will give it a go tomorrow. There will also be remarks from other assorted Republican elected officials, as well as the election tomorrow afternoon for state party chairman — which has been a heated contest among incumbent Sue Everhart, the Nathan Deal-backed Tricia Pridemore, and former Fulton County GOP Chairman Shawn Hanley.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Thankfully, Atlanta won’t get in a shootout to keep Thrashers

Given this state’s flirtation with forking out hundreds of millions of dollars for a spare football stadium, and the Glendale, Ariz., City Council’s decision to pay another $25 million ransom to keep the Coyotes NHL team in Phoenix for another season, it is reassuring to hear that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed isn’t interested in having his cash-strapped city pay millions to prevent the Thrashers from migrating to Canada.

From the AJC:

Reese McCranie, spokesman for Reed, said Atlanta has not been approached by the NHL about making a financial deal such as Glendale’s. Even if approached, the city — in the midst of pension reform and possible layoffs in 2012 — would not consider it, McCranie said.

“We are aware that the ownership of the Thrashers is having difficulty and they may leave,” McCranie said. “The mayor has had robust discussions with business leaders in the metro region [who might] potentially buy or join a team of buyers to keep the Thrashers here.

“He has gone through …

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Today, Romney tries to remove his RomneyCare weakness

Yesterday it was Newt Gingrich; today, the political spotlight turns to another Republican vying for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, Mitt Romney. And the spotlight is particularly bright because Romney today is making a two-pronged effort to attack the central weakness in his candidacy: health care.

It’s a weakness because, as just about everyone knows by now, Romney as governor of Massachusetts pushed for and signed into law a health reform that’s similar in many ways to the one President Obama pushed for and signed into law. ObamaCare has been such an animating concern on the right that RomneyCare is a huge, maybe insurmountable, obstacle for Romney.

Unless, of course, Romney can explain satisfactorily why his plan for Massachusetts was not only substantively but philosophically different from Obama’s plan for the whole country (or, I suppose, unless the rest of the GOP field is so weak as to not be able to take advantage of this weakness in Romney’s candidacy). …

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Why ‘making it in America’ has become so difficult

Oil-and-gas man T. Boone Pickens and the presidents of Georgia Tech and Southern Company are among a thousand people expected in Dalton next week for a summit about the state of U.S. manufacturing. If you want to know why Dalton, you need to know a bit about how good things used to be in one of the cities hit hardest by the recent recession.

When I was a freshman at the University of Georgia, I had a fender bender on I-85 while driving home to Dalton for Thanksgiving. The damage: $800 to the hood of my car. To pay for it, I simply went to work over Christmas break at the same carpet mill where I’d worked the summer before.

I was available for just three weeks. No matter. There was plenty of work to go around, and I was given plenty to do during those three weeks. To be able-bodied and unemployed in Dalton practically required an aversion to work itself.

If it was pretty hard to be unemployed in Dalton 14 years ago, the opposite is true today. Unemployment in Whitfield and …

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Can Newt win the nomination, beat Obama?

UPDATE at 4:40 p.m.: A couple of hours ahead of schedule, he’s in.

ORIGINAL POST:

Tonight, Newt Gingrich will announce he’s definitely running for president. At least, that’s what he appeared to announce Monday. And, really, everyone has considered him a part of the race for months now.

Opinion polls are rating him third or, more commonly, lower among what pretty much everyone agrees is shaping up as a lackluster GOP field. The last time he rated in the top two, according to the aggregation at Real Clear Politics, was in November. And that was a bit of an outlier, given that no pollster besides that one (Public Policy Polling) has found Gingrich higher than third. The RCP average of seven recent polls shows Gingrich fifth, a fraction of a percentage point ahead of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

And yet…

Gingrich will surely soon rise above Donald Trump, who’s been running ahead of him for the past few weeks. Two of the others ahead of him on average, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, …

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The sticking point in Obama’s immigration-reform pitch

President Obama went to El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday to make another pitch for immigration reform. And, as Allahpundit notes at Hot Air, you’ve heard it all before.

To the degree that one could find in Obama’s remarks even the rough outlines of a plan for comprehensive immigration reform, it was in this section:

First, we know that government has a threshold responsibility to secure the borders and enforce the law. Second, businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. Third, those who are here illegally have a responsibility as well. They have to admit that they broke the law, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. And they have to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they can get in line for legalization.

And fourth, stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration. We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only study here, but also to start businesses …

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