Archive for June, 2012

Report: Former ethics director sues, claims wrongful firing

As we’ve talked about possible ethics reform in Georgia on this blog, some state leaders have suggested the better option is to empower the agency formerly known as the State Ethics Commission with more independence and better funding. While I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive, they do have a point about the need for shoring up the ethics commission (excuse me, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission).

That discussion is about to get much more interesting with a reported lawsuit filed by the commission’s former executive director, Stacey Kalberman, claiming she was wrongfully fired for investigating ethics complaints against Gov. Nathan Deal.

According to legal documents posted at (h/t: Peach Pundit), Kalberman claims that in spring 2011 she was forced into a position to resign by the commission’s chairman at the time, Patrick Millsaps, who had made public statements that she already had resigned. The specific events …

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2012 Tuesday: The one thing both sides agree on

There has been one consistent message from both President Obama and Mitt Romney (and, before him, the other GOP candidates) about what’s at the heart of this 2012 election. Everything else revolves around that one thing: the size and scope of government.

In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib put the difference between the two men’s plans — Obama’s for Washington to spend 22.5 percent of GDP in the coming years, vs. Romney’s to reduce spending levels to 20 percent — at $6 trillion over 10 years:

In the view of Obama partisans, it’s the difference between a government that keeps its promise to senior citizens counting on Medicare and one that doesn’t, and the difference between a country that invests in the education, infrastructure and basic research needed to be competitive, and one that falls behind the Chinese and the other roaring new economic powers.

In the eyes of Romney partisans, it’s the difference between a country that trims spending close to the …

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Did Jeb Bush really say today’s GOP would spurn Reagan?

A lot of people seem much more confident than I about what Jeb Bush meant in this rambling statement he made to Bloomberg:

“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

Come again?

Streamline the statement, and it would appear the former Florida governor said:

“Ronald Reagan … based on his record of finding … common ground, similar to my dad … would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party … as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”

That’s how it’s being interpreted on the left, anyway. But Bush himself doesn’t even agree with that statement, as the “and I don’t” interjection makes clear. Instead, he appears to be agreeing with liberals that their common complaint that today’s GOP is out of step with Reaganism would be true, if …

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T-SPLOST vote comes down to time vs. money

“The tyranny of the urgent” is how Charles Hummel described the way other people’s demands can get in the way of one’s own priorities. He was talking about personal time management, but the concept also applies to those frequent calls for government to “do something … now!” Kind of like the T-SPLOST.

The latest argument from advocates of the tax, which would raise $7.2 billion over 10 years to fund 157 transportation projects, is about urgency:

“The metro Atlanta region adds one person every seven minutes to its population,” pro-tax Untie Atlanta claims in a recent email. “By 2040, we are expected to add 3 million people — three times the population of Fulton County. Now is the time to invest in our transportation infrastructure.”

The fear factor may be the campaign’s most persuasive argument. Forecasts of how much congestion will ease if the projects are built are fine, but it’s hard to know how reliable they are. Or how much congestion will improve where any given …

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Obama flops with ‘private sector is doing fine’

Oh, boy. President Obama and his supporters will be hearing this line for a while:

“The private sector is doing fine.”

Obama made that remark during a press briefing today about the U.S. and European economies. Now, he and his supporters will almost certainly counter that the line is being taken out of context. Via ABC News’ Jake Tapper, here is that context:

“We’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last … 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone,” the president said, “the private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility of the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

Michael Scherer of Time notes that Obama and the Democrats did not give John McCain the same benefit of context when they …

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Poll Position: Lower sales taxes on Georgia-made products?

Today we’ll continue our series of ballot questions for next month’s primary and look at a query that will face Democratic primary voters. As reported by Peach Pundit, the fourth question on Democratic ballots will be:

Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?

From a political standpoint, this is a fascinating concept for a party doomed to be a  legislative minority until at least the next redistricting in 10 years: Democrats aren’t often associated with tax cuts; this runs counter to Georgia Republicans’ stated goal of flattening and simplifying the tax code (although it fits perfectly with what they’ve actually done); and it carries a whiff of populism and whatever the state version of nationalism is.

Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?

  • No (43 Votes)
  • Yes (21 Votes)
  • I don’t know (3 Votes)

Total …

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We’re going to need more leaders to make ‘tough decisions’

From Wisconsin to the West Coast, voters Tuesday sent a message: The era of gold-plated pay packages for civil servants is coming to an end.

Actually, they sent two messages. The other is voters will support elected leaders who act to fix fiscal crises. There could be no better signal sent to politicians everywhere in this election year.

In San Jose, a ballot measure limiting pension benefits for new city hires, as well as those for current workers going forward, got 70 percent of the vote. In San Diego, a similar initiative won by a 2-to-1 margin.

And in Wisconsin, 2012’s most intense state contest saw Gov. Scott Walker, who pushed through public-sector union reforms last year, resoundingly beat back a recall attempt backed by Big Labor. His 7-point win represented a larger share of a larger turnout than in 2010.

None of these locales is a hotbed of conservatism: In 2008, Barack Obama won all three by double digits. Yet, their voters Tuesday made clear that public workers, …

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The many lessons from Wisconsin

I stand by my comments yesterday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election does not necessarily translate to Mitt Romney’s campaign in the state against President Obama. That said, there are some lessons to take away from last night’s results:

1.The political momentum is firmly against public-sector unions. That is the biggest takeaway message from the 18-month saga in Wisconsin. The public is tired of paying for this arrangement of better pay and benefits for people who are supposed to work for the public, but who are ready to hold the public hostage though strikes and collective bargaining. Once upon a time, those on the left understood the distinction between organizing private labor and organizing public labor, and why the latter goes against the public’s interest. Slowly, the public is re-teaching them.

2. Money still matters in politics, but it reflects popular sentiment rather than driving it. Yes, Walker outspent Barrett by tens of millions of …

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The best plan for a college football playoff

This topic is a departure from our normal diet of politics. I don’t do this often, and ask the indulgence of my regular, non-pigskin readers.

The college football world has been abuzz for weeks with the prospect that, in a series of meetings this month, the powers-that-be will finally settle on a system for a playoff. Major college football is the only team sport that lacks one, in the NCAA or professional leagues. Controversies over the years about which teams are chosen to play for the national championship have led the sport to the threshold of adopting a playoff. The questions have centered on how to do it. Among the thorniest: Should the field include only teams that won their conferences, or be opened to other highly ranked teams? Should the games be played apart from the traditional bowl games, or incorporate those games in the format?

So far, the fan’s voice has been missing from the debate, if only because few fans have the kind of platform available to university …

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2012 Tuesday: Wisconsin recall won’t tell us too much about November

All eyes will be on Wisconsin tonight as the results of that state’s gubernatorial recall election are tabulated. Every major poll since March has Gov. Scott Walker in front, most of them by more than the poll’s margin of error. Among recent polls, he leads by an average of 6.7 percentage points. There has been a last-minute infusion of money by Walker’s labor-union opponents, which may help with get-out-the-vote efforts. That may narrow the final margin and help to dampen the prospects for labor-union reforms in other states, and that just might be their only goal. In any case, it would be very surprising at this point if he were not able to hang on and finish his first term as governor.

Should Walker win, the commentary will immediately turn to the potential impact on Mitt Romney’s chances of pulling off a Badger State upset against President Obama come November. I’ve alluded before to the prospect of a Walker springboard for Romney in Wisconsin. But as we’ve approached …

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